August 2010 Archives

No posts tonight

Long day and had to take a three-hour certification course in Bellingham starting at 6PM...

I am now a state licensed Mixologist. Woo hoooo This is for the Chamber beer garden event which we are running second week of September. License is good for five years so it will be a handy thing to have for future events as well.

Some interesting news about climate scientist Bjorn Lomborg but a lot of that is hype with zero actual quotes. We will see in the next few days...

My name is Earl

No, not the 2005 TV Show, meet Hurricane Earl. Been an abnormally slow Hurricane season so far but we have had a couple in the last week. See what happens in the next few days:
If I still lived in Boston, I would be seriously battening down the hatches right about now. Lay in a couple days of water and food. East Coast hasn't had a really good blow in quite some time.

Now this could get interesting

The go-to place for metal information (gold, silver, etc...) is Kitco. Do not bother with any of the places advertised on the radio -- Kitco is the Mother Ship. Anyway, they post news about precious metals and Ron Paul is calling for something very interesting:
Ron Paul Calls for Audit of US Gold Reserves : Kitco News Exclusive
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul , R-Tex., plans to introduce a new bill next year that will allow for an audit of US gold reserves, he told Kitco News in an exclusive interview.

Paul dropped the news in the interview, indicating that the bill still does not have an official name yet but will be unveiled at the start of the new U.S. Congress.

�If there was no question about the gold being there, you think they would be anxious to prove gold is there,� he said of the Federal Reserve.

This is not the first time the congressman has made his pitch. �In the early 1980s when I was on the gold commission, I asked them to recommend to the Congress that they audit the gold reserves � we had 17 members of the commission and 15 voted not to the audit,� said Paul. �I think there was only one decent audit done 50 years ago,� he said.

Though Paul did not say whether there is any truth to claims that there is no gold in Fort Knox or the New York Federal Reserve, he said, �I think it is a possibility.�

�If we ever get around to deciding we should use gold in relationship to our currency we ought to know how much is there,� said Paul. �Our Federal Reserve admits to nothing and they should prove all the gold is there. There is a reason to be suspicious and even if you are not suspicious why wouldn�t you have an audit?� he said.

The gold audit follows his crusade last year looking to audit the Federal Reserve, which he says is the chief culprit behind the economic crisis.
This would be interesting to see -- we have zero assurances that the Gold is there and we are in a period where there is a lot of speculation on Gold so its price is at record highs. Odd in that Silver is only showing modest gains and Platinum is showing a gradual increase but very spikey numbers. Reminds me a bit of the Hunt Brothers Silver Bubble...
I have been a big fan of Thorium Fluoride reactors since I first read about them five years ago. They are a lot more efficient than Uranium water reactors and the waste products can be nuclearly "burned up" and the residue needs only a few hundred years sequestration. Uranium reactors are where they are today because of the Uranium industry that was invented to build the bombs. It was the most efficient use of materials to simply continue making uranium than to redesign a new technology. The problem is that we are now dealing with sixty years of development and there are some new designs out there that have operated successfully in small-scale reactors and show every sign of scaling up wonderfully. The UK Telegraph has a great article on Thorium and what might happen if someone grows a substantial pair and rams this through like he rammed ObamaCare:
Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium
If Barack Obama were to marshal America�s vast scientific and strategic resources behind a new Manhattan Project, he might reasonably hope to reinvent the global energy landscape and sketch an end to our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years.

We could then stop arguing about wind mills, deepwater drilling, IPCC hockey sticks, or strategic reliance on the Kremlin. History will move on fast.

Muddling on with the status quo is not a grown-up policy. The International Energy Agency says the world must invest $26 trillion (�16.7 trillion) over the next 20 years to avert an energy shock. The scramble for scarce fuel is already leading to friction between China, India, and the West.

There is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power.

Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal � named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor�s day or Thursday - produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week.

Thorium eats its own hazardous waste. It can even scavenge the plutonium left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. "It�s the Big One," said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering.

"Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it�s essentially free. You don�t have to deal with uranium cartels," he said.

Thorium is so common that miners treat it as a nuisance, a radioactive by-product if they try to dig up rare earth metals. The US and Australia are full of the stuff. So are the granite rocks of Cornwall. You do not need much: all is potentially usable as fuel, compared to just 0.7pc for uranium.
More. Faster. Please...

Awww crap - RIP David Hillel Wilson

Who is he? The Curator of the New England Synthesizer Museum Death notice here. Obituary here. He was 49 years old -- way to young.

No posting tonight

Busy day -- I had to run into town to give a friend some of the furniture from my Mom and Dad's house. This friend is moving out of the area and we were planning on transferring it Monday but today worked out to be better for her. Came back into town, worked for a bit at the store and then we had two friends over for dinner. Grilled up some half-pound grass-fed beef patties with organic Peaches and Cream sweetcorn and killer potato salad and dessert was an organic Sweet Baby watermelon cubed, drizzled with lime juice and dusted with chili powder. I am stuffed... Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) for email and then an early bedtime. Long day tomorrow as I will be walking a food special permit application through the county health department office and then come home to a water board meeting.

I have always wanted a powerful non-Red laser pointer but have always held off as the good Green pointers were in the $400+ range.

Well... Wicked Lasers now has the S3 Spyder Arctic -- a blue laser with a stunning One Watt beam power for just under $300.

The problem is that with one watt beam power, even the quickest flick across an eye will cause immediate and irreversible retinal damage. In a secured laboratory situation, I would feel perfectly comfortable working with this but in its role as a geek toy, the chance for accident is too high for me to feel comfortable owning it. Dang...

The text of Sarah Palin's speech today

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She gets it. From her Facebook page:
�Restoring Honor� Rally
August 28, 2010
Washington, D.C.

Thank you so much. Are you not so proud to be an American?

What an honor. What an honor.

We stand today at the symbolic crossroads of our nation�s history. All around us are monuments to those who have sustained us in word or deed. There in the distance stands the monument to the father of our country. And behind me, the towering presence of the Great Emancipator who secured our union at the moment of its most perilous time and freed those whose captivity was our greatest shame. And over these grounds where we are so honored to stand today, we feel the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who on this very day, two score and seven years ago, gave voice to a dream that would challenge us to honor the sacred charters of our liberty � that all men are created equal.

Now, in honoring these giants, who were linked by a solid rock foundation of faith in the one true God of justice, we must not forget the ordinary men and women on whose shoulders they stood. The ordinary called for extraordinary bravery. I am speaking, of course, of America�s finest � our men and women in uniform, a force for good in this country, and that is nothing to apologize for.

Abraham Lincoln once spoke of the �The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land.� For over 200 years, those mystic chords have bound us in gratitude to those who are willingly to sacrifice, to restrain evil, to protect God-given liberty, to sacrifice all in defense of our country.

They fought for its freedom at Bunker Hill, they fought for its survival at Gettysburg, and for the ideals on which it stands � liberty and justice for all � on a thousand battlefields far from home.

It is so humbling to get to be here with you today, patriots � you who are motivated and engaged and concerned, knowing to never retreat. I must assume that you too know that we must not fundamentally transform America as some would want. We must restore America and restore her honor!

Now, I�ve been asked to speak today, not as a politician. No, as something more � something much more. I�ve been asked to speak as the mother of a soldier, and I am proud of that distinction. You know, say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet, and you can�t take that away from me. I�m proud of that distinction, but it is not one that I had imagined because no woman gives birth thinking that she will hand over her child to her country, but that�s what mothers have done from ancient days.

In cities and towns across our country, you�ll find monuments to brave Americans wearing the uniforms of wars from long ago, and look down at their inscriptions, you�ll see that they were so often dedicated by mothers. In distant lands across the globe, you�ll find silent fields of white markers with the names of Americans who never came home, but who showed their dedication to their country by where they died.
Compare her to a harpy like Cindy Sheehan. This excerpt is about 40% of the speech and it is worth your time to go and read the rest. Talk about speaking truth to power...

Making the MSM squirm - Glen Beck

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I would loved to have been at that rally. I follow Beck's television show pretty regularly and like what he says -- he speaks from the heart and captures the spirit of what this Nation was like at its founding. Reading the Main Stream Media (The Washington Post for example) with their reports of thousands of people attending:
and then seeing images like this:
This will hopefully be a wake-up call to the rest of the American sleepy-heads that this Nation is being lead down a path from which recovery will be hard and that the 2010 and 2012 elections are among the most important ones this Nation has ever had.

Finally - some economic wisdom

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From the Wall Street Journal:
Spreading Hayek, Spurning Keynes
Peter J. Boettke, shuffling around in a maroon velour track suit or faux-leather rubber shoes he calls "dress Crocs," hardly seems like the type to lead a revolution.

But the 50-year-old professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia is emerging as the intellectual standard-bearer for the Austrian school of economics that opposes government intervention in markets and decries federal spending to prop up demand during times of crisis. Mr. Boettke, whose latest research explores people's ability to self-regulate, also is minting a new generation of disciples who are spreading the Austrian approach throughout academia, where it had long been left for dead.

To these free-market economists, government intrusion ultimately sows the seeds of the next crisis. It hampers what one famous Austrian, Joseph Schumpeter, called the process of "creative destruction."

Governments that spend money they don't have to cushion downturns, they say, lead nations down the path of large debts and runaway inflation.

Eight decades ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, the Austrian school and its leading scholar, Friedrich A. von Hayek, fell out of favor relative to the more activist theories of John Maynard Keynes. The British economist's ideas, which called for aggressive government spending during recessions, triumphed then and in the decades since, reflected most recently in measures like the $814 billion stimulus package. Austrian adherents were marginalized, losing influence in prominent journals and among policy makers.

But as the economy flounders, debt mounts and growth�revised downward Friday�flags, Mr. Hayek and his Austrian-school adherents like Mr. Boettke are resurgent as their views resonate with more people.

"What I'm really worried about is an endless cycle of deficits, debt, and debasement of currency," Mr. Boettke says. "What we've done is engage in a set of policies that's turned a market correction into an economy-wide crisis."
Read The Road to Serfdom. It is prescient. It is ranked as #86 in Amazon's best sellers -- not bad for a book written in 1944...

Cleaning up a little messy voter fraud

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Color me surprised - from the Election Law Center:
BREAKING: Houston election headquarters warehouse burns to ground
A few days ago we blogged how the Houston voter registrar had a press conference announcing widespread voter fraud and thousands of illegal and phony voter registrations submitted by an ACORN-like organization called "Houston Votes." Those stories are here and here.

Harris County Tax Assessor Collector [and voter registrar] Leo Vasquez accused the group of submitting thousands of bogus voter registration applications in recent months in what he said appears to be a campaign to taint the voter rolls.

Well this morning Mr. Vasquez's warehouse containing all of the voting machines, supplies and equipment burned to the ground. A note of caution: obviously law enforcement officials in Harris County will get to the bottom of this. We are posting this because, for now, Harris County is going to have a mess of an election in November because all of their equipment and supplies have been destroyed.

UPDATE: Every voting machine for Houston is destroyed.
Hat tip to Publius at Big Government for the link.

Like this is going to be well received

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eBay's base of operations is in California. California is short of cash. Therefore... From Breitbart's Big Government:
California Tax Enthusiasts Target eBay Sellers
Last week, Capitol Confidential reported on a new scheme being pursued by California Democrats to force out-of-state, online retailers to collect and remit California sales taxes.

But in a new development, it is now being reported that the proposal has attracted support from Republican State Sen. Roy Ashburn, making it technically bipartisan.

In addition, while proponents have been arguing that if pursued, this tax maneuver will not hurt smaller, online retailers, Capitol Confidential has learned that the preferred language of some movers and shakers in fact fails to exempt smaller retailers and would draw a surprising category of those selling to consumers online into the California sales tax net: Out-of-state small and medium-sized businesses that market through eBay.

Those familiar with one proposal floated this week say it would exempt from the requirement to collect and pay out California sales tax retailers who advertise with or market through California-based websites and who have not sold $10,000 or more worth of goods in aggregate to Californians during the prior 12 months.

However, even in a rough economy, experts say many small businesses who sell through California-based eBay could exceed that threshold.

If that is correct, such individuals speculate that it could hurt eBay, a big employer in the state, in addition to about 25,000 small online advertising businesses who carry ads by the likes of and

Not only would that potentially threaten California�s existing revenue stream, were ads at California-based sites and eBay listings yanked and were revenue at these businesses to correspondingly drop. It would also potentially threaten further job losses in a state already suffering from 12.3 percent unemployment, say critics of the proposal.
And in other news today, online auction company eBay announced today its plans to move its server farm and corporate offices to Dallas Texas. When asked why... Those idiots in office simply do not get it. They graduate from law school and move directly into politics without getting any real-world experience. They are that out of touch with reality.


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It's 8PM and outside is deep twilight. Wisps of fog are forming in the lower pasture where the Llamas live. I can smell the woodsmoke as people light up their fireplaces for the first time of the season -- talked with our wood guy about getting two cords in for the winter. Last winter was mild so we still have three cords left to use -- this winter is supposed to be a cold one so want an extra couple cords for insurance. Sitting down to a late dinner (rotisserie chicken and pasta with broccoli).

Not a way to go through life

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Talk about stuck on stupid -- from The Kitsap Sun:
Bremerton Man in Court on Meth Charge Found With Meth
A 33-year-old Bremerton man showed up for a court appearance on a meth charge Tuesday carrying a bag of the drug in his pants pocket, according to documents filed in Kitsap County District Court.

Before making his court appearance, the man had to be booked into and released from the Kitsap County jail. That�s standard procedure for these sorts of crimes, officials said.

While at the jail, a guard performed a security pat-down and found a bag of meth in the man�s right front pocket. The 33-year-old was then booked into the Kitsap County jail on $10,000 bail on the new felony possession charge.
DOH! Need a little clorox in that gene pool...

For want of a nail

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From CNet News:

Bad flash drive caused worst U.S. military breach
A malware-laden flash drive inserted in a laptop at a U.S. military base in the Middle East in 2008 led to the "most significant breach of" the nation's military computers ever, according to a new magazine article by a top defense official.

The malware uploaded itself to the U.S. Central Command network and spread undetected on classified and unclassified computers creating a "digital beachhead, from which data could be transferred to servers under foreign control," William J. Lynn III, U.S. deputy secretary of defense, wrote in his essay in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs.

"It was a network administrator's worst fear: a rogue program operating silently, poised to deliver operational plans into the hands of an unknown adversary," he wrote. This previously classified incident was the most significant breach of U.S. military computers ever, and it served as an important wake-up call. The Pentagon's operation to counter the attack, known as Operation Buckshot Yankee, marked a turning point in U.S. cyberdefense strategy."

That's got to hurt... When I worked for Microsoft, every so often an email would come out saying to not open a specific email or attachment. This was ten years ago before people were more savvy about malware. Security online is one thing -- a physical breach like this is another and is much harder to defend against.

Two days ago, I posted about a mass grave with 72 bodies. Now, the lead investigator is missing. From CNN:
Lead investigator in Mexico massacre is missing
A lead investigator and another official looking into the massacre of 72 migrants whose bodies were found this week in northern Mexico are missing, President Felipe Calderon said Friday.

Calderon, who was giving a speech on drug violence, initially said the body of one of the men had been found. But he was handed a note few minutes later and corrected himself, saying the investigator was missing but there was no information about his death.
News of a macabre archaeological dig in Pennsylvania from CNN:
Grandfather's ghost story leads to mysterious mass grave
"This is a mass grave," Bill Watson said as he led the way through the thick Pennsylvania woods in a suburb about 30 miles from Philadelphia.

"Duffy's Cut," as it's now called, is a short walk from a suburban cul-de-sac in Malvern, an affluent town off the fabled Main Line. Twin brothers Bill and Frank Watson believe 57 Irish immigrants met violent deaths there after a cholera epidemic struck in 1832.

They suspect foul play.

"This is a murder mystery from 178 years ago, and it's finally coming to the light of day," Frank Watson said.

The brothers first heard about Duffy's Cut from their grandfather, a railroad worker, who told the ghost story to his family every Thanksgiving. According to local legend, memorialized in a file kept by the Pennsylvania Railroad, a man walking home from a tavern reported seeing blue and green ghosts dancing in the mist on a warm September night in 1909.

"I saw with my own eyes, the ghosts of the Irishmen who died with the cholera a month ago, a-dancing around the big trench where they were buried; it's true, mister, it was awful," the documents quote the unnamed man as saying. "Why, they looked as if they were a kind of green and blue fire and they were a-hopping and bobbing on their graves... I had heard the Irishmen were haunting the place because they were buried without the benefit of clergy."

When Frank inherited the file of his grandfather's old railroad papers, the brothers began to believe the ghost stories were real. They suspected that the files contained clues to the location of a mass grave.

"One of the pieces of correspondence in this file told us 'X marks the spot,'" said Frank. He added that the document suggested that the men "were buried where they were making the fill, which is the original railroad bridge."

In 2002, the brothers began digging and searching. They found forks and remnants of a shanty and, in 2005, what Bill Watson calls the "Holy Grail" -- a pipe with an Irish flag on it.

They knew they were close, but Bill said they knew they needed "hard science" to get them to the next step.
I would love to read the entire story behind this -- the ghosts could be marsh lights caused by the decaying bodies.
Just sat down to dinner and got a call from the store -- the alarm system tripped again. Same sensor. I am halfway tempted to just start clipping wires until it just all goes away...

Nice work if you can get it

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Typical government worker -- from the Hampton Roads, Virginia Pilot Online:
A no-show for 12 years, worker in Norfolk still paid
A Community Services Board employee collected a salary with benefits for 12 years and never showed up for work, several City Council members said Wednesday.

The head of the agency refused to identify the employee but acknowledged in response to inquiries from The Virginian-Pilot that an employee was "on the board's payroll who had not reported to work in years."

Maureen Womack, the agency's executive director, said she fired the employee, informed the board that governs her agency and asked City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko to investigate the matter earlier this summer. Pishko's investigation is nearly complete and will soon be turned over to the Norfolk police, she said.

Womack also refused to divulge the employee's salary.
Don't these people realize that they will be caught? Of course, the penalty will just be a slap on the wrist but still...

This is not a good sign

From the UK Financial Times:

Banks back switch to renminbi for trade
A number of the world's biggest banks have launched international roadshows promoting the use of the renminbi to corporate customers instead of the dollar for trade deals with China.

HSBC, which recently moved its chief executive from London to Hong Kong, and Standard Chartered, are offering discounted transaction fees and other financial incentives to companies that choose to settle trade in the Chinese currency.

This move is a huge vote of no-confidence for the United States -- it says that the worlds financial institutions think that the Chinese currency will be more stable than the currency of the United States. Let's hope they have the grace to switch back after 2012...

How to be a leader

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I am really liking the new Governor of New Jersey:
I wish that all politicians had this level of candor, leadership and intellegence.

Salmonella - closer to the source

Interesting -- from FOX News:

FDA: Contaminated Chicken Feed Linked to Egg Recall
Food and Drug Administration officials say they have found positive samples of salmonella that link two Iowa farms to a massive egg recall.

The officials said investigators found salmonella in chicken feed that was sold to both Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. They also found salmonella samples at Wright County Egg.

More than 550 million eggs from the two farms were recalled this month after they were linked to hundreds of cases of salmonella poisoning.

It will be interesting to see what goes into the feed considering the cheapskate nature of the owner of these two businesses. He has been in trouble before for sanitation and health problems.

An interesting look at Trader Joe's

It was a big event when Trader Joe's opened a branch in Bellingham -- the place is solid busy every time I drive by. Beth Kowitt has an interesting look at Trader Joe's at CNN Money:

Inside the secret world of Trader Joe's
Apple's retail stores aren't the only place where lines form these days. It's 7:30 on a July morning, and already a crowd has gathered for the opening of Trader Joe's newest outpost, in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. The waiting shoppers chat about their favorite Trader Joe's foods, and a woman in line launches into a monologue comparing the retailer's West Coast and East Coast locations. Another customer suggests that the chain will be good for Chelsea, even though the area is already brimming with places to buy groceries, including Whole Foods and several upscale food boutiques.

But Trader Joe's is no ordinary grocery chain. It's an offbeat, fun discovery zone that elevates food shopping from a chore to a cultural experience. It stocks its shelves with a winning combination of low-cost, yuppie-friendly staples (cage-free eggs and organic blue agave sweetener) and exotic, affordable luxuries -- Belgian butter waffle cookies or Thai lime-and-chili cashews -- that you simply can't find anyplace else.

Employees dress in goofy trademark Hawaiian shirts, hand stickers out to your squirming kids, and cheerfully refund your money if you're unhappy with a purchase -- no questions asked. At the Chelsea store opening, workers greeted customers with high-fives and free cookies. Try getting that kind of love at the Piggly Wiggly.

A fun read -- I did not realize the difference in SKU's between TJ and a 'normal' retail store.

Fun fun fun fun fun...

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Been working long days at the store. The busy season should be ramping down but it is not showing any signs of doing so. We had to have a fire alarm system installed last year (County Fire Marshall and I do agree with his decision as there are apartments upstairs). Damn thing has done a false alarm three times now. Quit work at 7PM, went to a local restaurant and came home to find the phone ringing with yet another false alarm. The sensors are susceptible to buildup of dust and cooking oils, etc... and need to be hit with dust-off every six months or so. I will be doing this every month and see if this stops the problem. The sensors on the 30' cathedral ceiling at the store will be interesting to get to... Short night and long day tomorrow -- the local Chamber of Commerce is involved in a large bicycle and foot race event in September so getting plans and permits finalized. That on top of the store being busy. I think the next time I need to install a fire alarm system, it's going to be one of these:

Now this could be interesting

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I like going to auctions both as a people watching event -- the interplay between two people bidding for a $10K piece of equipment and the auctioneer playing them off one against the other is pure theater. That and there are some incredible deals to be had if you take the time to inspect the lots and know #1) - how to evaluate the quality and function of something you want and #2) - what the used market value is for that item. Some auctions I have just walked away with nothing as the bidding was insane. Others, I have cleaned up -- getting useful stuff in awesome condition for pennies on the dollar. This auction will be interesting: Key-SEC Security Services. Included are all sorts of high-security key cutters, lock pins, blank keys, etc... Medeco, tubular keys. If I had a larcenous heart and a couple thousand of disposable cash, I could cause quite a problem for people who thought their stores were secure. Medeco is very specialized and they don't just sell their machines to anyone. I am betting that the terms of sale will be updated to reflect the required bonding, insurance and certification needed to own this stuff...

Fun times in old Mexico

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What a wonderful little hell-hole -- from CNN:
72 bodies found on a ranch in Mexico
The Mexican navy has discovered 72 bodies on a ranch in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, a statement released by the agency said.

The bodies of 58 men and 14 women were found above ground Tuesday on the ranch about 14 miles (22 kilometers) away from San Fernando, a city of about 25,000 off Mexico's gulf coast and about 100 miles south of the U.S. border. The navy called it one of the largest discoveries of bodies in Mexico's 4-year-old war on organized crime.

Members of the Mexican navy were tipped off about the gruesome, makeshift, burial ground after a man who was suffering from a gunshot wound came to a navy checkpoint seeking help. The man said a criminal gang had injured him, according to the navy statement.

"The navy went to the area where the man came from and encountered gunfights. A naval officer was killed and three of the delinquents were killed," an officer who answered the phone at the navy's communication department told CNN. The officer, who was not authorized to speak on the record, declined to give his name.

During the confrontation, the navy found a stash of weapons, including camouflage uniforms, bulletproof vests and four trucks disguised to look like vehicles from the Ministry of National Defense, the statement said.
Shows what happens when you appease your enemies. These vermin need to be wiped out and the corruption in the Mexican government needs to be found out and prosecuted at all levels. Like that will ever happen...

Just wonderful - eggs in the USA

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From Google/Associated Press:
A supplier in egg recall has history of violations
Two Iowa farms that together recalled more than half a billion potentially tainted eggs this month share close ties, including suppliers of chickens and feed.

Both farms are linked to businessman Austin "Jack" DeCoster, who has been cited for numerous health, safety and employment violations over the years. DeCoster owns Wright County Egg, the original farm that recalled 380 million eggs Aug. 13 after they were linked to more than 1,000 reported cases of salmonella poisoning.

Another of his companies, Quality Egg, supplies young chickens and feed to both Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, the second farm that recalled another 170 million eggs a week later.
And a bit more:
DeCoster is no stranger to controversy in his food and farm operations:

_ In 1997, DeCoster Egg Farms agreed to pay $2 million in fines to settle citations brought in 1996 for health and safety violations at DeCoster's farm in Turner, Maine. Then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich said conditions were "as dangerous and oppressive as any sweatshop." He cited unguarded machinery, electrical hazards, exposure to harmful bacteria and other unsanitary conditions.

_ In 2000, Iowa designated DeCoster a "habitual violator" of environmental regulations for problems that included hog manure runoff into waterways. The label made him subject to increased penalties and prohibited him from building new farms.

_ In 2002, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a more than $1.5 million settlement of an employment discrimination lawsuit against DeCoster Farms on behalf of Mexican women who reported they were subjected to sexual harassment, including rape, abuse and retaliation by some supervisory workers at DeCoster's Wright County plants.
And a couple more violations listed in the article. I find it amazing that something as complex as our food chain can have such glaring single points of failure. Eat local.

A Neatorama two-fer

One of my daily reads is Neatorama -- a collection of interesting nerdy links. First -- an interesting bit about Dr. Seuss:

Dr. Seuss Invented the Word "Nerd"
According to the blog Your Mind Blown, the first documented use of the word "nerd" was in the 1950 Dr. Seuss book If I Ran the Zoo. Here is a synopsis:
[...] a boy named Gerald McGrew made a large number of delightfully extravagant claims as to what he would do, if he were in charge at the zoo. Among these was that he would bring a creature known as a Nerd from the land of Ka-Troo.

Link to original article at: Your Mind Blown Second -- a great hack to prevent birds from flying head-on into glass windows:

New Type of Glass Prevents Needless Bird Collisions


Perhaps 100 millions birds die every year in the United States due to collisions with glass. Ornilux, a new type of glass made by the German company Arnold Glas, may provide a solution. It has an ultraviolet coating that birds can see, but humans can�t under normal conditions.

Original article at treehugger

Just wonderful - double-dip recession

People like Roubini have been talking about it since 2008 or so. Now people at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank are talking about it. From Reuters:
Fed's Evans says double-dip risk has risen
The risks of a double-dip U.S. recession have risen in the last six months, Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said on Tuesday.

While a new contraction in the economy is still not the most likely scenario, high unemployment and a fractured housing sector make this recovery a fragile one, he said.

"A double dip is not the most likely outcome but I am concerned about how strong the recovery will be," Evans said at a housing event in Indianapolis.

Against that backdrop, Evans said the Fed's ultra-easy monetary policy is appropriate.

In response to the financial crisis of 2007-2009, the U.S. central bank cut short term interest rates to near zero, and also undertook a host of emergency measures such as U.S. Treasury bond and mortgage debt purchases to keep borrowing costs down.

The Fed announced earlier this month it would add to this stimulus by investing proceeds from maturing mortgages securities in its portfolio into Treasury debt.

Evans said unemployment, currently at 9.5 percent, is likely to remain uncomfortably high for the foreseeable future.

His comments came just before a report on existing home sales showed a record monthly drop in existing home sales to their lowest level in 15 years.
I wonder at what point, they will realize the error of their ways and try to correct. Keynes was brilliant but there is a big gulf between brilliant and wrong and brilliant and right and Keynes simply is not right. Cut taxes, reduce Federal and State meddling and the economy will take off like a rocket. Any economic growth we are seeing in 2010 is because the Bush tax cuts expire at the end and people are maximizing their profits. The economy is going to tank in 2011.

Looking forward to winter

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The last couple of months have been a blur -- looking forward to when things quiet down a bit. I was at the store until a few minutes ago (starting at 10AM). The business is doing really well and where one person was fine for a Tuesday evening, now a second person is needed. We do buying runs into town Tuesday and Friday and there is now not enough time in the evening for the night clerk to price and stock the new items. Wednesday and Thursday are our big delivery days so there is no spare time there either. I pay myself a flat salary so I got to play checkout clerk while the night person stocked. Heating some spaghetti leftovers and sitting down with a glass of wine...

Chilean miners are OK but...

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Good Lord -- what conditions to be under. From the Beeb:
Six steps to survival for Chile miners
The first supplies have reached the 33 miners trapped 2,300ft (700m) underground in a collapsed mine in Chile. With an estimated four months before they are rescued, what are the key challenges they face?

After the elation of learning they are alive comes the agony of waiting.

Seventeen days after the San Jose copper and gold mine collapsed, the news that all 33 men trapped inside are still alive was greeted with celebrations more than 2,000ft above them.

But their loved ones will probably have to wait until Christmas to see them again, because it will take that long to bore a new hole wide enough to pull them through.

Glucose, rehydration tablets, oxygen and medicine have made their way down from the surface through an 8cm lifeline and into the miners' refuge, which is thought to be about 50 square metres, although some reports say it could be larger.
Emphasis mine -- 8cm is just a tiny bit more than three inches in diameter. Imagine having your only connection being a tube three inches in diameter and 2,000 feet long. Something out of an Edgar Allan Poe story. The stories these poor souls will tell will be macabre but amazing.

That's it for the evening

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Working on some stuff in the DaveCave(tm) -- feeling a bit tired so an early bedtime...
Someone needs to tell Los Angeles this -- from Yahoo/Associated Press:
LA unveils $578M school, costliest in the nation
Next month's opening of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools will be auspicious for a reason other than its both storied and infamous history as the former Ambassador Hotel, where the Democratic presidential contender was assassinated in 1968.

With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation's most expensive public school ever.

The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of "Taj Mahal" schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.
And one person's comment:
"New buildings are nice, but when they're run by the same people who've given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they're a big waste of taxpayer money," said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. "Parents aren't fooled."
And this isn't the first one either:
The RFK complex follows on the heels of two other LA schools among the nation's costliest � the $377 million Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, which opened in 2008, and the $232 million Visual and Performing Arts High School that debuted in 2009.

The pricey schools have come during a sensitive period for the nation's second-largest school system: Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed. The district also faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation's lowest performing.
My thoughts -- cut the teachers unions, cut the entitlement programs for the parents. If Mom doesn't have to work, the kids will never learn the value of working and never see the reason for an education.

Blogging in Philadelphia

Looks like running a blog in Philadelphia just got expensive. From the Philadelphia City Paper:
Pay Up
For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to, over the last few years she says she's made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it's a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.

"The real kick in the pants is that I don't even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous," Bess says.
I can see requiring a business license if you are actually in business but this is extreme to say the least. Why not have a $10K minimum -- make below this each year and you don't owe anything. This is going to generate a lot of publicity for the City. Heh...

That's it

Helped an employee sort out some files from a reinstall of ACAD2007.

Worked at the store for a while and then went out to a local awesome Mexican restaurant.

Long day so an early night -- did f@@k-all on the T1 -- heading into town for some stuff for the store and a couple 5-port high speed switches and will fiddle with it when I get back.

Setting up a small computer in there (I have 64 IP addresses to play with so I can afford to dedicate a few to experimentation). Running CentOS -- an open source of Enterprise Red Hat Linux. Right now, evaluating different user and admin management packages. Looking at cPanel (more here) for front and back end but also looking for a billing module that will play nice and allow for automation. Part of the design is that for each 50 subscribers, there will be a seperate T1 but there will also be a bonded-pair coming into the store and that system will support the 20-30 households that do not have access to Comcast.

This node will also host the web server (Apache) and the email server (Postfix). That way, those servers have the majority of access to the net. Fun fun fun...

Cool tools for audio - Pacemaker

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High geekdom -- a free (for non-commercial use) tool to speed up and slow down the playback of any audio stream that WinAMP can process. You can either speed up with munchkinization (ie: the Chipmunks) or you can adjust the pitch as you slow down to cut the tempo in half while retaining the original pitch (great for learning a complex riff). Other uses are playing back a 78RPM record on a standard 33 1/3rd turntable and using Pacemaker to correct the pitch and speed. Even if you choose to register, it's under $20 and helps support the author. Download Pacemaker 2 from here: The PaceMaker Plug-in v2.3 There is a alpha version 3 here: PaceMaker v3.0 alpha-II for Winamp3 Hat tip to Doc Mercury writing at Maggie's Farm.
Sigh... From the San Francisco Chronicle's Delish blog:
45 Billion - Yes, Billion - Chopsticks
So, what exactly do you do with 45 billion pairs of chopsticks? If you have an idea, the government of China would love to hear from you.

Residents of the People�s Republic of China produce 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks each year, or 130 million pairs each day, according to Los Angeles Times, which reported on the story earlier this week.

The problem? Made from birch and poplar, China�s disposable chopsticks bring down about 100 acres of forests every day, estimates Greenpeace China. That�s 16 to 25 million trees felled each year for a single-use utensil. Across the East China Sea, Japan uses more than 20 billion disposable chopsticks annually, nearly 97 percent of which come from China.

In fact, for a brief time back in the 80�s, one American company tried to cash in on Japan�s penchant for hariwashi, as the throw-away chopsticks are called. At the cost of more than $3 million, the town of Hibbing, Minn. (better known as Bob Dylan�s hometown) attempted to make and export chopsticks made from local aspen forests. The factory failed and closed two years later, crushing townspeople�s hopes of providing jobs and dominating the Japanese disposable eating utensils market.
First of all, one of the commentors correctly pointed out that the Japanese term for these is not hariwashi but waribashi and that many Japanese are starting to carry a plastic set in a case for eating out. Second, so these things wipe out 100 Acres of Chinese forest every day. #1) - Poplar especially is a fast growing resource -- most of the USA's paper comes from Poplar trees. These aren't old-growth forests we are talking about, these are trees that are cut and replanted every ten to fifteen years. #2) - China's landmass is 9.5 Million Sq. Kilometers which converts to 2,371,451,223 acres so therefore, 100*365=36,500 or 0.001539% of China's landmass is clearcut to make all the waribashi that the world uses in one year. Giving that the trees can be completely grown, harvested and replanted in 15 years, this expands the land useage to 0.023%. Interestingly, the USA is slightly larger than China in terms of landmass (Alaska is huge), so playing with the calculator, we can see that with the USA at 9,826,675 sq km, 0.023% of this would be 2,260 sq km. Rhode Island is 3,144 sq km which is 48 miles North to South and 37 miles East to West at the thickest points. This is a vanishingly small amount of land that is being used to make all the chopsticks for all the world. Must be a slow day for the enviro-weenie news groups...

That's it for the night

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Jen picked up some great organic corn and a baby sweet watermelon at the Farmer's Market today. Had some olive and tomato bruschetta with some prosciutto over a toasted fresh baguette. Two ears of sweet corn each followed off with a cut-up watermelon soused with lime juice and dusted with chili powder. Very stuffed and very content... Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to work on some stuff. Still fun and games with the T1 -- I'll get it online tomorrow, it's supposed to rain so I'll spend the day inside.

Like this is going to end well

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From Yahoo News/Associated Press:
Iran starts nuclear reactor, says intent peaceful
Trucks rumbled into Iran's first reactor Saturday to begin loading tons of uranium fuel in a long-delayed startup touted by officials as both a symbol of the country's peaceful intentions to produce nuclear energy as well as a triumph over Western pressure to rein in its nuclear ambitions.

The Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant will be internationally supervised, including a pledge by Russia to safeguard it against materials being diverted for any possible use in creating nuclear weapons. Iran's agreement to allow the oversight was a rare compromise by the Islamic state over its atomic program.

Western powers have cautiously accepted the deal as a way to keep spent nuclear fuel from crossing over to any military use. They say it illustrates their primary struggle: to block Iran's drive to create material that could be used for nuclear weapons and not its pursuit of peaceful nuclear power.

Iran has long declared it has a right like other nations to produce nuclear energy. The country's nuclear chief described the startup as a "symbol of Iranian resistance and patience."
Yeah -- with all of their oil reserves, they really need a reactor for power generation...

Interesting news from Haiti

Singer Wyclef Jean was making a run for the Presidential Office of Haiti -- his country of birth. The Haitian government just announced that he is not a valid candidate for Presidency.

From the LA Times:

Haiti ruling ends Wyclef Jean's run for president
Singer Wyclef Jean's high-profile bid for Haiti's presidency ended after election officials on the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean nation disqualified his candidacy.

The Haitian-American hip hop star expressed disappointment at the late Friday ruling, but called on his followers to act "peacefully and responsibly."

"Though I disagree with the ruling, I respectfully accept the committee's final decision, and I urge my supporters to do the same," the former Fugees frontman said in a statement.

Haiti's electoral commission did not say why it had disqualified Jean, but the singer had faced a challenge to his candidacy in the Nov. 28 elections because he has not lived in Haiti for the past five years as required.

My guess -- that nation has received millions on millions of relief aid and cash and have fuck-all to show for it except for a ruling elite that lives very well and a destitute population.

They saw that Jean had the stones to shake things up and they didn't want to lose their precious little sinecure.

Clever idea - granny pods

A wonderful alternative to parking an elderly relative in a nursing home. From National Public Radio:
'Granny Pods' Keep Elderly Close, At Safe Distance
Of all the elderly people he's visited, the Rev. Kenneth Dupin remembers a woman named Katie in particular.

Katie had a houseful of treasured memorabilia, and she loved to regale him with stories of Washington high society in the 1950s. But after she was moved to a nursing home, "she started crying," Dupin says. "I went over to her, and she pulled me down to where I could hear her, and she said, 'Please take me home.'"

She never did go back home, but after she died, her memory stayed with Dupin. He tells NPR's Audie Cornish that it got him wondering if there was a way to keep people like Katie out of nursing homes and closer to their families. His idea might seem strange, but "granny pods" are catching on.

The granny pod's real name is the MEDCottage, and it's basically a mini mobile home that rents for about $2,000 a month. You park one in the backyard, hook it up to your water and electricity, and it becomes a free-standing spare room for Grandma and Grandpa.

The concept is catching on all over the country, but nowhere more so than Virginia, where the state government has eased zoning restrictions on these high-tech hideaways, which go on the market early next year.

The MEDCottage is homey on the outside, with taupe vinyl siding and white trim around French doors. Inside, it looks like a nice hotel suite, complete with kitchen and bathroom � and security cameras.

"This is something that we call 'Feet Sweep,'" Dupin says as he shows off a floor-mounted camera. It monitors only about 12 inches off the floor, or high enough to see a person's feet � but if that person fell, you'd see them lying on the floor.

Dupin says falls are one of the main reasons people end up in nursing homes, so the MEDCottage's technology could help them stay independent longer. The cottage also has safety lighting along the floors, a lift that can carry an immobile resident to the bathroom, and monitoring systems that let you check on Grandma's temperature, heart rate and whether she's taken her medicine.
Very clever idea -- it is on a mobile base so it can be installed easily. Has the basic medical care equipment -- monitoring, temperature, heart rate, etc... $2K/Month is not a bad price for this -- I would have done it in a heartbeat for my Mom and Dad.
Give me a break -- from The Hill:
Sen. Kerry: 'Very active' efforts under way to reach settlement with Taliban
Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Friday that there is a "very active" effort under way to reach a negotiated political settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Kerry (D-Mass.) acknowledged that "efforts" have begun after visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan this week, meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other officials.

"I can report without being specific that there are efforts under way. They are serious and I completely agree with that fundamental premise � and so does General [David] Petraeus and so does President Obama � there is no military solution," he told NPR. "And there are very active efforts now to seek an appropriate kind of political settlement."
That anti-war asshole with the nice boat thinks that we can negotiate with these islamofascists. I bet he has never heard of and is incapable of understanding the concept of taqqiya nor is he aware of his status as dhimmi in the Taliban's eyes. To quote Iron Fist writing at The Blogmocracy:
Not to rain on anybody�s parade, but what the fuck? Have they forgotten that the Taliban were the ones who sponsored al Qaeda, gave them safe-haven, and refused to turn them over after 9-11? Obviously they have. They have also forgotten that the Taliban ran the most repressive and brutal regime on the Planet before we went in and removed them from power in retaliation for 9-11. I think they have forgotten 9-11 completely. Can you imagine Eisenhower negotiating with the Nazis to put Heinrich Himmler back in charge of Nazi Germany after World War Two? That is exactly analogous to what the Obama Administration, and, yes, General David Petraeus are doing. Oh, they don�t put it that bluntly, but any negotiated settlement that allows the Taliban to come back to power, no matter what taqqiya assurances they give about no longer helping al Qaeda, is a de facto surrender by the United States of America. This is the way it will be seen by the Taliban, surviving members of al Qaeda, by all of the many other Mohammedan terrorist organizations out there, and it is how it will be viewed by the Mohammedan world at large. It is not, perhaps, unconditional surrender on our part, but what conditions do we realistically think we are going to impose on the Taliban? They�ll play nice or we�ll do exactly what?
And a big tip of the hat to iron Fist for the initial link to the story...

Crap - R.I.P. Jack Horkheimer

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From Sky and Telescope:
Jack Horkheimer: Ambassador to the Stars
Amateur astronomy lost one its most iconic figures today. Jack Horkheimer, known to millions as public television's ebullient "Star Gazer," died this afternoon at age 72. The exact cause of death was not disclosed, though he had been battled chronic respiratory problems for decades.

Horkheimer had been a fixture at the Miami Planetarium for more than 45 years, where he began as a volunteer and served as its executive director since 1973. But he'll be remembered most for his exuberant and often zany television persona, who helped us all appreciate the breadth and depth of eyeball-only astronomy.

The show started airing locally on WPBT in Miami, then went national in 1985. Along the way his nom de television morphed from "Star Hustler" to "Star Gazer," to sidestep aggressive web-browsing filters.

The shows are distributed free, via satellite to more than 200 stations across the U.S. and to other outlets like the Armed Forces Network. You can download any of the past year's episodes as well. Since Horkheimer and longtime planetarium colleague Bill Dishong produced several episodes in advance, the last one to feature Horkheimer � his 1,708th � will air the first week of September and feature the Summer Triangle. As always, he begins with a chortling "Greetings, greetings, fellow stargazers and ends with his signature phrase "Keep looking up!"
He was an ambassador to the stars -- got many people started with Astronomy as a hobby. His shows were short -- just five minutes long -- and covered one topic but afterwords, when you walked out into the night and looked up, you were enlightened. A great (and fun) teacher...

Union support of the working man

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Ever classy -- in times of economic hardship, the Union leaders are proving to be just as greedy and corrupt as the fat-cat 'bosses' they are protecting their workers from. From the Truth About Cars:
UAW Sells Out Members, Holds On To Black Lake Resort
Since taking office in June, UAW President Bob King has ramped up the rhetoric level at Solidarity Hall considerably, as he seeks to portray the union as a defender of the American middle class. But, as the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words� and King�s actions this week couldn�t paint a clearer picture of the UAW�s priorities.

On Tuesday GM announced that it would close its Indianapolis stamping plant next year, after workers there voted against a UAW-sponsored contract that would have sold the plant to Chicago-based Norman Industries and cut worker pay by as much as 50 percent. Local union members were so incensed by the UAW�s efforts to make them accept pay reductions, they shouted representatives down at angry meeting last Sunday (starting at 2:45 in the video above).

And if you think they were angry on Sunday, imagine how pissed the members of Local 23 were on Tuesday when the partially UAW-owned GM announced that the plant would cease production next June, and close by the end of 2011. Especially because they have no recourse, as the UAW agreed to a no-strike clause (ending in 2015) in exchange for its equity in GM and Chrysler.

To get the bitter taste of squelched brethren out of his mouth, UAW President Bob King took the union�s $33m Black Lake golf retreat off the market. Priorities.
I had written about Black Lake in December 2008 The resort's website is here: Black Lake Golf Club Mr. Jalopy has some photos and the story here: Inside The UAW's Opulent Lakeside Resort I wouldn't mind spending some time there -- Green Fees are only $85 and you can rent a 3-bedroom condo for the paltry sum of $225/night (if you are a UAW member). Must be nice to have that kind of money to toss around...

Wheels within wheels...

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From the department of Psychoceramics - Fidel is jumping the shark. From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Fidel Castro fascinated by book on Bilderberg Club
Fidel Castro is showcasing a theory long popular both among the far left and far right: that the shadowy Bilderberg Group has become a kind of global government, controlling not only international politics and economics, but even culture.

The 84-year-old former Cuban president published an article Wednesday that used three of the only eight pages in the Communist Party newspaper Granma to quote � largely verbatim � from a 2006 book by Lithuanian-born writer Daniel Estulin.

Estulin's work, "The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club," argues that the international group largely runs the world. It has held a secretive annual forum of prominent politicians, thinkers and businessmen since it was founded in 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel in Holland.

Castro offered no comment on the excerpts other than to describe Estulin as honest and well-informed and to call his book a "fantastic story."
One thing that stands out in this story is that the top Cuban Communist Party newspaper is only eight pages long. Our local gazzette runs 12 to 16 pages every two weeks. How little does the government of Cuba have to say to its citizens. A bit more:
The excerpt published by Castro suggested that the esoteric Frankfurt School of socialist academics worked with members of the Rockefeller family in the 1950s to pave the way for rock music to "control the masses" by diverting attention from civil rights and social injustice.

"The man charged with ensuring that the Americans liked the Beatles was Walter Lippmann himself," the excerpt asserted, referring to a political philosopher and by-then-staid newspaper columnist who died in 1974.

"In the United States and Europe, great open-air rock concerts were used to halt the growing discontent of the population," the excerpt said.
What unmitigated caca... Estulin is right up there with the Time Cube guy. His site for the Bilderberg book and his personal website.

Light posting tonight - busy day

Not too much online tonight. Had to go into town to meet up with a friend. I am parceling out my Mom and Dad's belongings and Lisa needed some furniture. Glad that those pieces are going to a good home. Came back to the store to meet with a new wine distributer -- ordered a couple cases of some nice Argentinian wines. High altitude and high mineral content of the soil make for some very nicely concentrated flavors. Tasty stuff and reasonably priced -- we will be able to sell these bottles for about $12 or so. A friend had a birthday party so we all went over to a neighbors house to celebrate -- a lot of fun visiting with people we only see momentarily at the store. Came home a few minutes ago. While I was in town today, I picked up an Ethernet crossover cable. I am blue-green colorblind and didn't feel like making one myself when I can buy one for $4 from a local computer store -- those wires are tiny and the color-coding stripes (there are eight wires) are hard to see... I'll be working on getting the T1 hooked up tomorrow.

Got some blinkey lights but no joy...

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Rats... Everything seems to see everything else. I guess I will just have to drag the netbook in tomorrow and start checking IP addresses and the like. There is light in the room I am using but it's pitch black outside where the Demarc is so it will have to wait until tomorrow. I guess that now might also be a good time to review the DVD that came with the CSU/DSU. RTFM is WTFD in this case.

T1 fun and games

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They finished the install of the T1 this afternoon so I'm waiting for a battery to charge and then I'll be hanging network cable into a room off the garage. Looking forward to getting rid of the satellite -- it is a lot better than dial-up but they heavily oversubscribed it and during 'prime time' it's a slug. Huge volumes of packet-loss too so running anything interactive is an exercise in frustration...

Quite the collection

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I am amazed that nobody is willing to pony up the $3Mil the guy wants. That is chump change for a collection like this. From the LA Times:
Collector doesn't want these tracks in the trash
For the record, "Music Man Murray" has tried his best to keep his rare 400,000-album collection intact.

Murray Gershenz has spent 72 years amassing his music trove, after all. He has century-old operatic performances captured on Edison cylinder tubes, 1930s-era Big Band crooners on fragile 78-rpm discs, early rockers on 45s, show tunes on LPs and pop artists on cassette tapes and CDs.

The collection is crammed into homemade shelves in a two-story cinderblock building on Exposition Boulevard, as well as two nearby warehouses.

Last summer Gershenz, 88, announced his intention to close his walk-in and mail-order record business so he could focus on a budding career as a character actor. He said he hoped to find a museum or college willing to acquire his $3-million trove.

That hasn't worked out, he said. So his next stop could be the dumpster.

"Selling individual records isn't paying the rent," Gershenz said. "I've found about five people with an interest in the collection. But they want me to give it to them. I really can't afford to do that. This is my life's work."
I know that the money is not there but I'm surprised that some geek hasn't stepped up to the plate -- could you imagine having this library digitized and on the web? Larry? Sergei?
From the Tacoma, WA News Tribune:
Banana-costumed Port Angeles man suspected of exposing self, brandishing gun
A man in a banana costume is accused of exposing himself and brandishing a shotgun while riding around with a bunch of friends in Port Angeles.

The Clallam County sheriff's office says the 21-year-old was arrested Tuesday evening for investigation of indecent exposure and reckless endangerment.

The Peninsula Daily News reports police first received a report of the costumed man exposing himself at a restaurant.

Sheriff's Sgt. Randy Pieper says they also drove through a neighborhood where the man got out brandishing the gun.

After his arrest, the man couldn't explain why he was costumed. The other man also was arrested, but an 18-year-old woman in the car was allowed to split.

The banana costume was seized as evidence.
Wonder what was going through his mind when he did this...

A bad day in the server room

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A chilling story from The Daily WTF:
Powerful Stupidity
Everything went dark and a chill wind went up Simon's back. A deep rumble rattled his brain in his skull. He glanced behind him to see Noel looming over him. "Simon, can you ping the Exchange server?"

When the trained bear that doubles as your IT manager asks that question, it's a bad thing. Simon tried to ping Exchange and failed. He then tried to ping an app server. And a database. And the outside world. All dead.

About a thousand users were about to discover that the only IT asset they could access were their desktop computers. Shortly thereafter, the phone next to them was going to ring. The person at the other end would likely scream. And then it would ring again. The ringing and screaming would continue until the network was back up.

They hustled to the server room, with Noel's bulk clearing a path through the corridor. It was hectic, and he may have trampled an intern. In one corner of the server room, a jump-suited man with a tool-belt bobbed his head to the music in his earphones. The server room was so quiet that the two could actually hear his music from across the room.

"What have you done?" Noel rumbled. The ominous wave of fury failed to penetrate the shield of Lady Gaga songs the electrician had surrounded himself with. Noel closed on him and repeated the question, with more volume and a heavy hand on the shoulder.
Turns out it was some REMF management that had the electrician there in the first place. Go and read the rest of the story for the double-plus good stupidity.

Quote of the week

From Tony Hoare's Turing Award acceptence speech:
There are two ways of constructing a software design; one way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult.

The Mann, et. al. Hockey Stick snapped

Very cool -- while some people have been poking holes in the data collection used by Dr. Michael Mann to create the (in)famous "Hockey Stick" curve of rapidly increasing temperature, two other people have been poking holes in Mann's statistics and analysis and finding his work to be less than satisfactory. What temperature rise. To continue with the Hockey metaphor, check out Statistician William Briggs' post on the topic:

The McShane and Wyner Gordie Howe Treatment Of Mann
Many -- as in lots and lots -- of folks wrote in and asked me to review the McShane and Wyner paper. Thanks!

Gordie Howe -- Mr Hockey to you -- didn't need his stick, his hockey stick, to plaster his opponents against the boards. Nor did he have to wave his blade, Tim-Dr. Hook-McCracken style, in order to fill the other team with fear. No, sir. Old Number 9 relied almost solely on his elbows to raise temperatures on the ice and score goals.

Statistically speaking, McShane and Wyner emulate Howe by applying a forearm check to the throat to Mann's proxy reconstruction of temperature, cracking his hockey stick irreparably, leaving his models sprawling on the ice.

Like old school players, McShane and Wyner start with a little trash talking, albeit using sophisticated phrasing: "In fact, Li et al. (2007) is highly unusual in the climate literature in that its authors are primarily statisticians." And they quote Boss Wegman who once picked on me, publicly in print, for being a prof. at a med. school, but I hold him no grudge; just don't let me get him out on the ice... While the literature is large, there has been very little collaboration with university-level, professional statisticians. The authors also show off their team, my pal Tilmann Gneiting, as well as Larry Brown and Dean Foster, all men of statistical brilliance.

But we can tell these taunts were included as a matter of form, thrown in because it is traditional. They don't spend much time on them, and instead focus their efforts where it counts, exploiting Mann's huge, gaping statistical five hole.

There's little point in summarizing the statistical methods the pair use to pummel Mann: the paper is not especially difficult and can be read by anybody. It's also so that the boys haven't said much new, but what they do say, they say well and plainly. It's the sheer spectacle that's worth attending to.

Heh... The original paper is posted at Climate Audit. Anthony is also having quite the field day with this.

The Beloit Mindset List

Beloit College does a mindset list each year for its incoming class of Freshmen. Here is their list for the Class of 2014:

Beloit, Wis. - Born when Ross Perot was warning about a giant sucking sound and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of this fall's entering college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit's Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. The Mindset List website at, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.

The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who's that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.

Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them. A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.

And here are three entries that caught my eye:

26. Unless they found one in their grandparents' closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.

35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.

46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

Seventy two more to wince at...

Paper or Plastic

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An interesting look at bags from the EPA:
Questions About Your Community: Shopping Bags: Paper or Plastic or . . .?
Did you know plastic grocery bags consume 40% less energy to produce and generate 80% less solid waste than paper bags? Did you know plastic bags can take 1,000 years to decompose whereas paper bags take about a month to decompose? The debate over whether plastic or paper bags are better for the environment has a long history and is often rekindled each time we check out at the grocery store when we hear that familiar question: Paper or plastic? Many of us have not been able to resolve this question, but there is an alternative --read on below.

There seem to be pluses and minuses on both sides of the debate. For paper bags, the life cycle stages consist of timber harvesting, pulping, paper and bag making, product use and waste disposal. For plastic (polyethylene) bags, the steps involve petroleum or natural gas extraction, ethylene manufacture, ethylene polymerization, bag processing, product use and waste disposal. In all of these steps, energy is required and wastes are generated.
They then list eight bullet-points and suggest that people use reusable bags. There have been studies done with the reusable bags that show they harbor bacteria if not sanitized. Hat tip to The Daily Bayonet for the links.

President Obama is smart

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How smart? Victor Volsky at American Thinker asks the question:
Just How Smart Is Obama?
The meteoric rise to the presidency of Barack Obama was fueled in no small part by the widely accepted contention that he was one of the smartest men ever to seek the Oval Office. He is not the first leader to be oversold.

"As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist, he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational art, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that he's a great military man -- I want you to know that."

It is an article of faith among the mainstream media, even on the squishy right (Bill O'Reilly comes to mind), to start any discussion of the 44th President with a ritual expression of utter amazement at his enormous brain power.

This immortal witticism of Gen. Normal Schwarzkopf ,after a lightning 1991 campaign that cut to pieces the Iraqi dictator's vaunted army, resonates with me each time I read or hear any discussion of President Obama.

Does Obama deserve his reputation? Not really -- unless of course, a "perfectly creased pant" is a true metric of rapier wit and towering intellect, as David Brooks seems to think. One can certainly take such things on faith merely on the basis of credentials: the right university, the right profession, the right crowd. Columbia and Harvard Law alum -- what other proof is needed that the accomplisher of such lofty achievements must be right up there with the Einsteins of the world? Assumptions of this sort could cause one acute embarrassment, such as the one experienced by the historian Michael Beschloss at the hands of Don Imus. Beschloss was extolling Obama's "sky-high IQ," but just as he was hitting his stride, the host interrupted his guest's rapture: "So what's his IQ?" The historian had to sheepishly admit that he didn't know.

But mindless sycophancy of Obama groupies aside, what gives his admirers the reason to believe in the incomparable intellectual faculties of their idol? An ability to more or less fluently read a prepared text? But each time he drops the life buoy of the teleprompter and ventures to go unscripted, Obama stumbles and mumbles in search of words, launching an avalanche of "uhs" and more likely than not putting his foot into his mouth. Watching him on such excursions into the terrifying world of improvisation, anyone can see that Obama would be wise to take a few speech lessons from purported lowbrow Sarah Palin. Are his glaringly poor off-the-cuff skills evidence of great intelligence?
A fun read -- Victor then points out a number of Obama's gaffes and closes with this parody of the earlier General Schwarzkopf quote:
So with compliments to General Schwarzkopf: As far as Barack Obama being smart as a whip goes, he has no clue in economics, nor has he any understanding of foreign policy; he is supremely arrogant and doesn't care if it rubs people the wrong way; he has few political skills and no administrative ability, nor does he have any desire to engage in the day-to-day drudgery of ruling, preferring to reign instead; and he revels in the luxury of presidential perks and delights in flaunting his excess. Other than that, he is a true genius.
Heh... The 160+ comments are a good read. Commentor dh (not related) had this to say:
Based on the obnoxious, all-about-me style if he had grades to be proud of, strong LSAT scores or exceptional writings they would not be under lock and key.

So close I can taste it

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The crew finished the T1 install a few minutes ago. I will not have it running until the central office flips the switch and that will be a day or two more. Dang. Patience grasshopper...
From The Energy Collective:
Is AECL down for the count?
Observers of the political turmoil now underway in Ontario over the media reports that AECL bid $26 billion to build two new ACR1000 reactors (2,220 MW) are in good company trying to make sense of these figures.

The news media, notably the Toronto Star, had a field day with the numbers sticking provincial politicians like they were morsels on a shish-ka-bob skewer. The problem with all the fire, smoke, and spit from the grill is that the numbers are undoubtedly wrong and wrongly reported in the news media.

First, $26 billion is an aggregate number that includes two reactors, turbines, transmission and distribution infrastructure (power lines or T&D), plant infrastructure, and nuclear fuel for 60 years as well as decommissioning costs. The most important number in the whole controversy has gone largely without notice and that is the delivered cost of electricity from the plants is in the range of five cents per kilowatt hour.
Emphasis mine -- yes, nuclear power is just that dirt cheap. Sure, $26Bn is a big scary number but when you take a look at the big picture, this is a pittance. AECL stands for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited Fortunatly, there are cooler heads in Saskatchewan. From the Vancouver Sun:
Saskatchewan energy minister touts small nuclear reactors
The Saskatchewan government reiterated its position Monday that it hasn't closed the door to the nuclear energy option.

While large reactors might not be the best fit, said Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd, small-reactor technology could work well in Saskatchewan � the world's second-largest producer of uranium.

"If there are export opportunities or emerging demand for electricity in the future, then we'll have to re-evaluate that, or perhaps look at small nuclear technology that can bring nuclear technology on in small increments," he said.

Speaking after a presentation at the Uranium 2010 conference � an international conference discussing the element � Boyd said he would like to see the province embrace nuclear energy technology. However, he added, the economics and demand base for a large reactor aren't yet at the level required to build in Saskatchewan.

"I'm pro-nuclear � make no bones about it � but it has to make economic sense," Boyd said.

Small reactor technology is still about five years away from being commercialized, said Jerry Grandey, CEO of Cameco Corp. Another decade or so, he added, would be required before any small reactor technology could be implemented in the province.

"To me, the 150- or 300-megawatt smaller reactors make eminent sense," Grandey said.
As for the smaller reactors, Toshiba has a nice design (their 4S) and Bill Gates is working with them to develop a new design. Here is a list of smaller reactors either in operation or under development. This is not new territory...
The logical choice for generating electricity is Nuclear Reactors. Cheap, clean and if you do not use the 60-year-old Uranium technologies, the waste is a trivial issue to deal with. From World Nuclear News:
Construction of Chinese 'Nuclear City' to start
Plans are advancing for the construction of the first industrial park in China to help with the rapid development of the country's nuclear power industry, with detailed engineering and construction preparation work at the site in Haiyan, Zhejiang province, expected to start soon.

The coastal city of Haiyan, on the Yangtze Delta, has been selected to house the 'Nuclear City'. It is some 118 kilometres (70 miles) southwest of Shanghai and close to the cities of Hangzhou, Suzhou and Ningbo. It also lies midway along China�s coast, where several nuclear power plants have been constructed or are planned.

In Zhejiang province itself, there are currently five nuclear power reactors in operation and two under construction at Qinshan. There are also two reactors under construction at the Fangjiashan plant. By 2014, when all nine units should be in operation, electrical generating capacity will total some 6300 MWe.

In addition to the nuclear power plants, the headquarters of 18 leading Chinese nuclear equipment suppliers are currently in Haiyan, as are branch offices of all the major Chinese nuclear design institutes and construction companies.

In March 2010, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) launched its nuclear power base - 'China Nuclear Power City' - in Haiyan. In April, the Zhejiang provincial government signed a "strategic energy cooperation agreement" with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC). The conceptual design of the Haiyan Nuclear City has been completed in Beijing. In July, local and provincial officials met to formally approve the project and to finalize the location, scope and industries involved. Detailed engineering and construction preparation work was expected to start almost immediately.
Meanwhile in the USA, we sit back and twiddle our thumbs and wait for the Unicorn Fart Generators to come online...

Strap on my jet-pack

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Two guys from the phone company showed up unannounced this morning to install the Demarc for the T1 line to the house. They said that it should be live sometime this afternoon. Kiss the satellite goodbye! (And get to make a lot of neighbors very very happy.)

An interesting situation

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From the Canadian Broadcasting Company:
Bears guarded B.C. grow-op: RCMP
Police in southeastern B.C. have raided a marijuana grow operation that was apparently guarded by black bears.

Officers conducting the raid two weeks ago at Christina Lake found a property with two residential buildings and a fenced-off grow-op with about 1,000 plants, police said Tuesday.

But they also found about 10 bears that the owner appeared to be using to keep people from stealing any pot plants, said RCMP Sgt. Fred Mansveld.

"[Officers] soon noticed the bears were docile and tame," Mansveld told CBC News. "One of them jumped on our unmarked car for a while. But it soon became apparent they were habituated to the grow operation."
OK -- so which one was called Smokey...

And the countdown begins

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From the Jerusalem Post:
'Israel has days to strike Bushehr'
Israel has only mere days to launch an attack on Iran�s Bushehr nuclear reactor if Russia makes good on its plan to deliver fuel there this weekend, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton warned Tuesday.

He said that once Russia has loaded the fuel into the reactor -- slated for Saturday � Israel would no longer be willing to strike for fear of triggering widespread radiation in an attack.
Israel has done it before in Iraq and Syria -- it will be interesting to see if Bushehr gets its share of special attention...
A wonderful essay from Victor Davis Hanson:
The Weeping, Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth

Posse on the Horizon
The usual rush to the exits from a sinking administration is now ongoing. The only difference in this cycle is that � whereas in the case of the Bush departed who, we were lectured, were rightfully bitter that their genius was not appreciated (e.g., Paul O�Neil, Richard Clarke, Scott McClellan, etc) by the Bush Neanderthals, and were men of conscience who were �blowing the whistle� � we are now told by the New York Times that the Obama parachutists are burned out and �exhausted,� from �blackberrying� all day long!

You see, we should not imagine that these technocratic careerists want to leave the bank before the posse arrives in November, or are moving on to lucrative seven-figure jobs after the requisite administration bumper-sticker billet, but rather after being on the cross suffering for our sins for 18 months, well, can suffer no more for the unworthy. We hoi polloi didn�t turn around the economy, and we couldn�t win the war, and we made them keep Guantanamo open, and we wore them out over healthcare, and we forced more of those once damn Predators and formerly unconstitutional renditions down their throats.

Al Gore just shrieked that his green war is over. He says he lost and is withdrawing from the front. His retreat from his epic Stalingrad-like stand-off had nothing to do with the green equivalent of the ice and cold, the Red Army, or his shaky Eastern European allies, but was simply a crisis of will among the faithful: no one was brave enough to follow Commander Gore into battle anymore.

So Gore did not bring up the recent green-gate email revelations, the weirdly cold weather the last two years in a variety of places (my grape crop is 2-3 weeks late here in once scorching California), the lack of green leadership shown by his splurging on multiple estates all the way to Montecito, or his own public devolution from Nobel Laureate to �sex poodle.� (Green gurus can�t fly on private jets; sorry, they just can�t � at least if they want still to remain green gurus.)

The Thrill Is Gone
Obama himself is not the Obama of 2008 when all America�s problems were declared coterminous with twangy George Bush, and executive governance was defined as sitting at a Senate hearing table in front of blaring cameras and pontificating before squirming witnesses. (Obama, Biden, and Hillary sitting in judgment of Petraeus [who in just three years would now offer them a life-raft for the moment] was one of the more bizarre moments of the last twenty years.)

The tingling legs are gone. The Newsweek editor who declared Obama a god is gone. Heck, there is not even a Newsweek anymore, wrecked on the shoals after sailing blindly to the siren song of hope and change. Even the left is saying if you sing �Close Guantanamo� for years, then, close Guantanamo.
Wonderful stuff -- Hanson also addresses the Republicans in this. Spot On. Hat tip to The Blogmocracy for the link -- some good comments over there...

A dangerous company

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Very high geekdom here -- if you are ever in the needs for odd bits of cable for networking or audio, or electronic components, or electronics racking or mounting equipment, check out Deep Surplus. They come highly recommended and look to be an awesome company. Please note that they are a Surplus company. They buy odd lots of equipment from companies so if you see something there today, there is no guarantee that it will be there tomorrow. Next time I need anything, these people will be on my short-list of places to check...

Which way the wind blows - the 9/11 Mosque

Spoken like a true politician -- from Breitbart/Associated Press:

Reid: Build mosque elsewhere
The Senate's top Democrat says a mosque should not be built near the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada on Monday became the highest profile Democrat to break with President Barack Obama, who on Friday backed the right for the developers to build a mosque near ground zero.

In a statement, Reid said the first amendment protects freedom of religion and he respects that, but the mosque should be built somewhere else.

Meanwhile, Obama stumps for building it -- something that, as a State Rights issue, he has zero authority to do. Excerpted from the L.A. Times:

At Ramadan Iftar dinner, Obama supports new mosque on private property near Ground Zero

The article is the text of his speech at the White House's Dinner -- the relevant part:

That is not to say that religion is without controversy. Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities � particularly in New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.

The guy is a classical Narcissist. At least Reid is a political realist.

That's one small shift for The Man...

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An interesting shift of power at the White House. From the Washington Examiner:
Obama closes curtain on transparency
President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.

Obama transferred "ethics czar" Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen's duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

Bauer is renowned as a "lawyer's lawyer" and a legal expert. His resume, however, reads more "partisan advocate" than "good-government crusader." Bauer came to the White House from the law firm Perkins Coie, where he represented John Kerry in 2004 and Obama during his campaign.

Bauer has served as the top lawyer for the Democratic National Committee, which is the most prolific fundraising entity in the country. Then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the caricature of a cutthroat Chicago political fixer, hired Bauer to represent the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the White House, Bauer is tight with Emanuel, having defended Emanuel's offer of a job to Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., whom Emanuel wanted out of the Senate race.
Great -- another fscking lawyer. The 380+ comments are a fun read. Looks like a page out of Nancy "Drain the Swamp" Pelosi's playbook.

Executive Honesty

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An interesting article at the Wall Street Journal:
How Can You Tell If A CEO Is Lying?
Conference call Q&As are a confusing and cryptic dance. Executives try to be attractive to investors, without giving away too much. In many cases, they are trying to put a good spin on bad results.

But what if an investor could read right through all of the posturing and careful prose to know if they were being strung along?

A pair of professors at Stanford recently tried to do just that. The team built a model that tries to flush out executive lies, using psychological and linguistic studies and transcripts of conference calls from companies that later restated earnings.

They fed their filter almost 30,000 earnings transcripts from 2003 to 2007 and found that it worked quite nicely. Executives who later had to revise their books displayed some very consistent clues.

For one, they seldom referred to themselves or their firms in the first person; �I� and �we� were replaced by terms like �the team� and �the company.� Deceitful executives passed up humdrum adjectives like �solid� and �respectable� in favor of gushing words like �fantastic,� and (not surprisingly) they seldom mentioned shareholder value.

They also tended buttress their points with references to general knowledge with phrases like �you know� and to make short statements with little hesitatation, presumably because they had carefully scripted the untruths in advance and had no interest in lingering on them.
Some fun and interesting findings. I just go with the tried and true -- if their lips are moving...
North Korea is feeling its oats these days. From Yahoo News/Agence France Presse:
N.Korea warns of 'severest punishment' over war games
North Korea's military threatened Sunday to launch the "severest punishment" against South Korea for staging massive joint war games with the United States this week.

The North's army and people will "deal a merciless counterblow" to the allies "as it had already resolved and declared at home and abroad", a spokesman for the country's army General Staff said in a statement published by state media.

"The military counteraction of (North Korea) will be the severest punishment no one has ever met in the world," he said.

The warning came a day before US and South Korean troops begin the 10-day computerised war games called "Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG)".
Yawn -- wake me when you have something real to talk about. This Stalinist Workers Paradise cannot even feed its own people -- it has to import food, electricity and water from China. Their military has been very good at hunkering down and building tunnels. This is what brought about the Cease Fire agreement. Invading them would be costly. But that was the old military and not the present military. They have stayed the same and we have evolved. If they actually did something actionable, it would be a great boon for their citizens as the invading forces would raise the standard of living by several orders of magnitude within five years.

Time Cube - a theory

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When writing that last post, I found that there was a Wikipedia entry for Gene Ray's loopy TimeCube website. In the entry, it lists what Mr. Ray was 'into' before codifying his masterpiece. From Wikipedia:
Before Time Cube, Ray advocated the sport of marbles. He authored a book titled Mr. Marbles - Marbles for Everyone, and got the city council of St. Petersburg, Florida to proclaim a "Marbles Week" in the 1970s. In 1987, this became a controversial attempt to establish a million dollar marble tournament inside a huge round structure and establish a philosophical "Order of the Sphere".
A perfect example of when someone loses theirs...

Alternately repulsed and attracted

I generally review the content of each comment spam to see if there are additional links that need to be clicked and added to the database of FAIL.

A lot of spammers will pad out their payload with text purporting to have some relevance to what they are spamming.

Online sports betting spam will have gibberish about NFL teams, etc...

This one makes me want (in some deeply sick way) to visit the site mentioned.

Alternatively, if this is what visiting the site does to your literary prowess, I want to stay away from it.


Reminds me of the Time Cube guy (more from Wiki here)...

Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to work on some stuff. Rearranging the space a bit.
From Protland, OR station KATU:
Today's Dumb Criminal Award goes to...
Two people visiting someone in jail Thursday ended up behind bars themselves.

Donelle Flores, 29, and Billy Evans, 24, were visiting Lerdo Detentions Center on Lerdo Highway when they were arrested, according to the Kern County Sheriff's Office.

Flores was arrested when deputies discovered she was wanted on outstanding felony warrants. She was also found with three syringes, two pouches containing suspected methamphetamine, a pill case containing suspected marijuana, a handcuff key and a small knife.

Evans, who accompanied Flores to the jail, was arrested for being a felon on jail grounds and for receiving stolen property. He was in possession of checks that deputies suspect were stolen.

Both visitors were booked into the Kern County Jail.
Words fail...

Odd spam - business

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Had some odd spams lately -- several offering small business development. It seems odd that anyone would trust a website when it advertises itself through unwanted and irrelevant comment spam. Buncha real smart ones over there -- if they have such business acumen, why are they still living and working from an apartment in their Mom's basement.

Busy day today

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As I said yesterday, we were down from four people to two people this morning and afternoon. I started work at 8:00AM and have just gotten off (taking about 90 minutes break). Whew! Gorgeous hot cloudless summer day. Yesterday was our best single day ever for gross sales. When I left at 8:00PM, we were within $80 of beating that record by $500. Make a salad, heat up some left-over pasta, blog for a bit and head out to the DaveCave(tm). Sounds like a plan...
It is always fun to see someones biases displayed and to mock them for all its worth. Robert Stacy McCain does a wonderful job. The story is hard to excerpt and still do justice so just go here and read the whole thing. And Nick Green -- next time, it might be prudent to not blow off someone just because they are a Republican. We remember things like this and prominent a**holes don't get very far in this world.

Good God not again - another vacation

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When does this guy ever sit behind his desk and work. From Breitbart/Associated Press:
Obama looks to boost Gulf tourism with family trip
President Barack Obama is heeding his own advice to American vacationers, taking his family to the Gulf Coast this weekend to help the sagging tourism industry.

The president will arrive Saturday and spend just over 24 hours in the Panama City, Fla., area, a quick jaunt in contrast to the family's upcoming 10-day vacation to Martha's Vineyard, known as a destination for the wealthy and privileged.

White House officials dismiss questions about the length of the family's stay, saying that has no relation to the president's commitment to the region's recovery.
I know that Bush spent a lot of time at Crawford but his house was outfitted as a second White House and he met with world leaders and held meetings with his staff there. Obama just flits all over and does nothing but give speeches. On our dime...

Long day...

One of our employees called in sick and another is bipolar and chose to go off her meds for a while. Needless to say, things were a bit hectic at the store today. Just got home, heating up some spaghetti leftovers and looking at an early bedtime. The joys of small business ownership. Anyone out there got a spare $500K and want to run a rural grocery store?
For waking up and seeing the meddling of the EPA for what it is. From Yahoo News/Associated Press:
Superfund cleanup in Idaho draws local opposition
People who live around a toxic former silver mining complex in Idaho have a message for federal environmental officials who want to expand a lengthy cleanup effort: Go home, your help is no longer wanted.

Despite the government's best intentions, some locals think a prolonged federal presence will scare away businesses by sending a message that the Silver Valley is a dangerous place to live. Residents and politicians in this conservative region also believe it's a waste of taxpayer dollars and that the real intention of the government is to shut down the remaining mines.

"They've got their environmental science degree from some place like Berkeley and they drive their Prius to the back hills of Idaho and here are a bunch of miners and they want to do what they think is best for us," said attorney James McMillan.

The Environmental Protection Agency has spent nearly 20 years cleaning up the Superfund site in Kellogg that was once one of the most-polluted places in the country, with arsenic and lead stripping the hillsides of vegetation and poisoning the blood of children.
Emphasis mine -- item one on the EPAs agenda A bit more -- why the people were protesting: Item #1):
The EPA wants to expand the cleanup to outlying and aquatic areas � some 300 square miles of the Coeur d'Alene River Basin. The expanded cleanup could take up to 90 years to complete.
Item #2):
...and Republican Idaho Gov. Butch Otter complained about the long timeframe for the work.

"I will not support an open-ended bureaucratic process that amounts to a blank check for the EPA," Otter said at a meeting Monday.
It is no longer about the environment, it is about politicized science and hoarding power and control. Pournelle's Iron Law writ large:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people. First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers are scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Dealing with idiots - spam activity up again

Getting a lot more attempts at spam in the last week or two. Seems to come in waves.

The latest ones are doing the old 'kitchen sink' approach of posting 50 different URLs without having the basic fscking brains to realize that if just one of the URLs is on my shit list, the entire spam gets banned.

Today's pathetic attempt has one new 'feature' -- if viewed in a browser instead of an ASCII editor the line that says:


would render the remaining 150 lines of URLs barely visible. Visible to a search engine but not to anyone reading it. SIZE=1 is really tiny.

Anyway, here are the first fifteen lines or so -- interesting that a lot of the URLs reference surviving 2012 -- don't know if these are Mayan Malthusians or Democrats -- idiots either way...


A short night and some good news

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Working on a few projects in the DaveCave(tm) Also, Jen had the follow-up eye exam after her Lasik surgery last week. She was 20:400 and she is now 20:15 Not bad for five minutes of surgery...

A story idea from Dan Simmons

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Dan Simmons is one of my favorite authors. He outlines an idea for a story at his website that sounds like a captivating read. Go and check out "The Fifth Heart" That time -- the 1880's through the early 1900's was a fascinating time both in America and abroad. Simmons has a rich palate to draw from.

Could have fooled me

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Color me surprised -- from the London Daily Mail:
The threat of the 'fake fishermen': How BP may be paying out millions in oil spill compensation to fraudsters
BP could be paying millions in compensation to 'fake fishermen', it has been revealed.

So far BP has paid $308million to those whose livelihood has been threatened by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But to receive compensation, fishermen must display a valid fishing licence - and applications for such licenses have spiked by nearly 60 per cent, despite most fishing grounds being closed by the disaster.

Three people suspected of abusing the system have been arrested in the past week in the U.S. - but there are fears there could be many more such 'fraudsters' at work.

One genuine fisherman even told reporters of being approached by two men who asked him to sign documents for them showing that they had worked for him.

He said he refused - but told the BBC that other captains have been offered thousands to sign similar such documents vouching for fraudsters trying to claim compensation.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has sold 2,200 licenses since the spill, Lt Col Jeff Mayne of the LDWF Law Enforcement Division told the BBC today.
Hey BP -- it is so simple a caveman could do it. Bring your licence. And your last two years tax returns. You are in the business of fishing? Then you should have sold some fish. Show me proof of income... This would also allow BP to more accurately compensate someone for their loss. Someone who pulls $60K from fishing is going to be out a lot more than someone who casually gets $6K. Upkeep on boats and gear, keeping licenses and permits current, etc...
The stunning incompetence of these people leaves me speechless -- almost... From MyWay/Associated Press:
Watchdog panel cites global impact of US bailout
$700 billion U.S. bailout program launched in response to the global economic meltdown had a far greater impact overseas than other countries' financial rescue plans did on the U.S., according to a new report from a congressional watchdog.

Billions of dollars in U.S. rescue funds wound up in big banks in France, Germany and other nations. That was probably inevitable because of the structure of the Treasury Department's program, the Congressional Oversight Panel says in a new report issued Thursday.

The U.S. program aimed to stabilize the financial system by injecting money into as many banks as possible, including those with substantial operations overseas. Most other countries, by contrast, focused their efforts more narrowly on banks in their nations that usually lacked major U.S. operations.

But the report says that if the U.S. had gotten more data on which foreign banks would benefit the most, the government might have been able to ask those countries to share some of the cost.

"There were no data about where this money was going," panel chair Elizabeth Warren said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. "The American people have a right to know where the money went."
Emphasis mine -- Ms. Warren, what The American people want to know is not where the money went rather, where OUR money went. The Federal Government's sole source of capital comes from money that we the citizens have earned and have paid to the government in the form of taxes. Where did our money go Ms. Warren? One sample:
Much of the $182 billion in federal aid to AIG - the biggest of the government rescues - went to meet the company's obligations to its Wall Street trading partners on credit default swaps, a form of insurance against default of securities. The partners included French banks Societe Generale, which received $11.9 billion in AIG money, and BNP Paribas, which got $4.9 billion, and Germany's Deutsche Bank, $11.8 billion.

Food supply unstable?

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Oh. Bloody. Joy. From Reuters:
ANALYSIS-Grain price rise may fuel Mideast, Europe unrest
Rising grain prices from Russia's drought and fires will pressure populations already hit by the financial crisis and could stoke unrest -- particularly in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe.

Wheat prices have risen by nearly 70 percent since June after Russia suffered its worst drought in 130 years and are at their highest since 2008, when the last major food price rally sparked protests and riots in a string of emerging nations.

Analysts warn that if prices stay high then the threat of street violence will increase -- at least up to a point.

"We could see some street riots but I wouldn't expect any governments to fall," said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst for consultancy Control Risks.

"On one level, we have much less of a problem than in 2008 because we have better food stocks. On the other hand, because of the financial crisis many countries are not in such a good position financially to deal with it."
Time to hunker down, pay off all of your debts and live frugally. Some interesting times not-that-far ahead...
Now this is downright sick on so many levels -- from Fox News:
Democrats, Advocacy Groups Blast Cuts to Food Stamps to Fund $26B Aid Bill
Some Democrats are upset and advocacy groups are outraged over the raiding of the food-stamp cupboard to fund a state-aid bailout that some call a gift to teachers and government union workers.

House members convened Tuesday and passed the multibillion-dollar bailout bill for cash-strapped states that provides $10 billion to school districts to rehire laid-off teachers or ensure that more teachers won't be let go before the new school year begins, keeping more than 160,000 teachers on the job, the Obama administration says.

But the bill also requires that $12 billion be stripped from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, to help fund the new bill, prompting some Democrats to cringe at the notion of cutting back on one necessity to pay for another. The federal assistance program currently helps 41 million Americans.
So they are taking food out of people's mouths to fund unionized teachers. The article said it would amount to a bit over $50/month by 2014 -- that is a lot when you are depending on food stamps for living. Unions have outlived their purpose -- 100 years ago, they were a necessity. Fifty years ago, they had their purpose. Now? They are a waste of worker money and the benefits they 'negotiate' are unsustainable.
From the UK Guardian:
Robert Gibbs says leftwing critics of Obama 'ought to be drug tested'
The Obama administration's most public face, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, has tried to climb down from angry remarks he aimed at leftwing critics, calling them "crazy".

In an interview with The Hill newspaper in Washington DC, Gibbs revealed frustration at attacks on the administration from liberal Democrats and others on the left, in terms likely to make relations even worse:
"I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested," Gibbs said. "I mean, it's crazy."

The press secretary dismissed the "professional left" in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality."
Crazy - pot meet kettle...
From The Market Ticker - Karl Denninger Fisks The FOMC Announcement:
FOMC Announcement - 8/10
The FOMC Announcement:
(Their statement inset, my translation outset.)

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that the pace of recovery in output and employment has slowed in recent months.
We never had a recovery. The Government borrowed a scadload of money and blew it to avoid recognizing what was a severe recession; as a consequence they reported at worst a 2% drawdown annualized, but this is fraudulent - the real drawdown has exceeded 10% now for more than two years.
Household spending is increasing gradually, but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.
Everyone's broke. Congratulations.
Business spending on equipment and software is rising; however, investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak and employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls. Housing starts remain at a depressed level. Bank lending has continued to contract.
Business is broke too. That claimed "record balance sheet cash" is of course offset by debt, and coverage ratios are worse now in terms of assets than any time in the last 50 years. That's not improving either.
Nonetheless, the Committee anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability, although the pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated.

We believe. Don't you?
Measures of underlying inflation have trended lower in recent quarters and, with substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to be subdued for some time.
The economy is going through deflation and our attempts to stop it have failed.
The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.
There's no growth, the economy is contracting at 10% per year and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We know this and we also know that at some point the government's ability to borrow and spend in order to fraudulently report "growth" will disappear. Of course we won't tell you that up front, because then Grandma will (correctly) surmise that her Social Security and Medicare will disappear (and she's rather likely to be unhappy.)
To help support the economic recovery in a context of price stability, the Committee will keep constant the Federal Reserve's holdings of securities at their current level by reinvesting principal payments from agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in longer-term Treasury securities.1 The Committee will continue to roll over the Federal Reserve's holdings of Treasury securities as they mature.
I said there is no recovery! We can't shrink the balance sheet but we can try to monetize Treasury Debt. Of course there is this tiny problem with that Fannie and Freddie paper - it's got huge embedded losses in it. We won't bother talking about the blatantly-unconstitutional act of allocating revenue that we just said we're going to do - and we hope Scott Garrett doesn't call us on it (again.)
The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and will employ its policy tools as necessary to promote economic recovery and price stability.
We suck and we know it. Ain't it grand that you let us get away with this crap?
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; James Bullard; Elizabeth A. Duke; Donald L. Kohn; Sandra Pianalto; Eric S. Rosengren; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Kevin M. Warsh.
The criminal cabal.
Voting against the policy was Thomas M. Hoenig, who judges that the economy is recovering modestly, as projected. Accordingly, he believed that continuing to express the expectation of exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period was no longer warranted and limits the Committee's ability to adjust policy when needed. In addition, given economic and financial conditions, Mr. Hoenig did not believe that keeping constant the size of the Federal Reserve's holdings of longer-term securities at their current level was required to support a return to the Committee's policy objectives.
And the one man with a brain.....

PS: To Mr. Hoenig: Don't get in any private planes. Nor take any late-night walks. Nor go bird hunting with anyone named "Cheney." And for God's sake, don't stand up in the bathtub. (Yes, that's sarcasm, if you're incapable of understanding it as-written.)
Spot on... Adding The Market Ticker to my daily reads.

Whoops - PWND

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The Quitting time - a twofer post? Not so much -- the second item was a hoax from The Chive
A word from Jenny (16 Photos)
We couldn�t have pulled this one off without the help of this adorable young woman. You�ll see in the coming days she�s as smart as she is sexy. Leo and I will now return to our bottles of Jim Beam and enjoy the rest of this wild ride�

The Broken Window Fallacy

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Excellent presentation -- the majority of the current government programs fall under this fallacy: tariffs and protectionism, high minimum wages, public works projects, larger government, cash for clunkers, etc... The list goes on and it is all bad. Keynes was wrong, the Austrians (Hayak, et. al.) are right. End of argument. Hat tip to The Gormogons for the link.

Vanuatu quake update - things are OK

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Turns out that Vanuatu gets fairly large quakes on a regular basis so they are quite prepared for them. From Fox News:
Small tsunami generated after powerful earthquake rattles Vanuatu in South Pacific
Panicked residents of Vanuatu raced for higher ground after a powerful earthquake rattled the South Pacific island nation and generated a small tsunami on Tuesday.

The 9-inch (22 centimeter) wave was observed off the capital Port Vila, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Police said there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries from the wave or the 7.5 magnitude quake that preceded it, though buildings shook and power lines were down.

"It was quite a significant earthquake, and we're still having a few aftershocks," Ben McKenzie of the New Zealand High Commission told The Associated Press by phone from Port Vila.

The quake hit about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Port Vila at a depth of 22 miles (35 kilometers), the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Police spokesman John Frat told the AP that officials had not received any reports of injuries or major damage, but described the temblor as "a very sharp quake � it was the worst I have felt in my life."

"Many people left the center of town and went to higher places, fearing a tsunami," he said by telephone from Port Vila. "We're still experiencing sharp aftershocks and all communications were lost for a time, but things are coming back to normal now."

The four-story office building housing the New Zealand High Commission suffered some damage, said McKenzie, first secretary at the New Zealand diplomatic post. Office shelves and ceiling tiles fell down and computers were "thrown across the office" by the jolt, he said.

"We're trying to ensure everybody is safe and we're evacuating the building" to check that it's not "structurally damaged," he said.
Glad to hear that people are all right. The building codes there must be quite stringent.

Our warming planet

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From the Whittier (California) Daily News:
Temperatures continue well below average in Southern California
It hasn't been the coolest summer on record, but it's been close, forecasters say.

The average temperature in July was 79 degrees, five degrees below normal, and the first eight days of this month also have been five to six degrees below normal, weather experts said.
And the reason:
"We normally get this kind of weather pattern when we are transitioning from an El Ni�o year to a La Ni�a year," National Weather Service meteorologist Jaimie Meier said. "It sets up this trough of moisture over the West Coast, and that's what's been happening. We end up with cooler-than-normal temperatures and cooler coastal waters."
And with La Ni�a coming in, this means that the Pacific Northwest will revert back to its normal snowfall levels. Good for skiing...

Quitting time - a twofer

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Two great stories about people quitting their jobs. From the Wall Street Journal:
Flight Attendant Pops Emergency Chute, Escapes Plane at JFK
A jetBlue flight attendant, upset because a passenger refused to apologize after accidentally striking him with luggage, allegedly spewed obscenities over the PA system, then activated and slid down the plane�s emergency chute before disappearing into a terminal at John F. Kennedy airport Monday, an airport official said.

JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh had taxied to a stop at Terminal 5, Gate C around noon Monday when flight attendant Steven Slater, 38 years old, was struck in the head with luggage that a passenger was trying to unload from an overhead compartment, according to an airport official with knowledge of the incident.

Slater demanded an apology from the passenger, the official said, but the passenger refused. The two argued before the passenger told Slater to �f� off�, the official said. Slater then got on the plane�s PA system and directed that same obscenity at all the passengers and added that he especially meant it for the man who refused to apologize.

Slater is alleged to have then activated the plane�s inflatable emergency slide, grabbed two beers from the galley, then slid down the chute, the official said.

The attendant then ran from the tarmac into the terminal. He made his way to his car and drove to his residence in Belle Harbor, Queens, the official said. jetBlue officials waited until about 25 minutes after the chute was deployed before they notified Port Authority Police. The wait enabled Slater to make the getaway, the airport�s police force. Steve Stampley, a jetBlue spokesman, declined to comment on the alleged reporting delay.
Item number two is from The Chive:
Girl quits her job on dry erase board, emails entire office (33 Photos)
We received the following photos last night from a person who works with this girl. Her name is Jenny (not confirmed) - we're working our contact for Jenny's last name. Yesterday morning, Jenny quit her job with a (flash)bang by emailing these photos to the entire office, about 20 employees we're told. Awesome doesn't begin to describe this office heroine. Check back as we will be updating if we get more details.
This last one was planned for a week or two and the results are awesome -- the boss is sooo busted.

Both a home and an office system have 64-bit Windows Vista and Flash was working just fine until a few days ago.

First, it would just not play. Now it crashes IE (including all of the other tabs I had open).

This is not the first time I have had these problems.

I am gobsmacked that a company as large as Adobe would let such bug-ridden bloatware out into the wild without testing it first. This software is crap and the sooner an alternative comes out, the better.

If they cannot manage a product like this, they do not have the right to claim such a marketshare...

From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Pentagon says Rolling Stone writer denied embed
The author of the Rolling Stone article that ended the military career of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, has been denied permission to join U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Defense Department spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters that freelance writer Michael Hastings was rebuffed when he asked to accompany, or "embed," with American forces next month.
Gee... Ya think? What a putz -- he consciously writes that article and then expects to get back into the game.

Crap - 7.5 quake in Vanuatu

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I monitor several feeds for extreme events and just received an email from the USGS. Preliminary report is for a 7.5 magnitude, shallow (35km -- the worst) with an epicenter just 39km from their main port city of Port Vila No word yet on the major media -- this happened less than one hour ago. Keep an eye on Team Rubicon -- some wonderful people. UPDATE: Not ten minutes later when I find there is a 5.8 shallow quake off Honshu Island

Long day today

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Posting will be non-existent tonight. Did some bookwork this morning, ran into town for a few errands and then had a Chamber meeting tonight. Tired. Just ran into this television show: American Pickers so set the DVR to record the series -- looks interesting from the trailer. Off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email.

An interesting story - Howard Hughes

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Should shake things up a bit if true -- from the Lincoln, NE Journal Star:
Musick: Howard Hughes lived on
There are a lot of woolly, fabulous tales out there about Howard Hughes, the famously reclusive, eccentric billionaire.

And the Wikipedia version of his life is not the only one that "needs additional citations for verification."

The Martin Scorsese movie "The Aviator" recently advanced the images and legends of Hughes and his obsessive compulsions.

Hughes officially died in April 1976, an emaciated, drug-addicted, long-haired, tragic, lonely old man who proved to some people money couldn't buy happiness.

But not really, according to a new book, "Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes," by Douglas Wellman, assistant dean of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, based on research done by the former commander of the Nebraska Air Guard.

The book says eight years before his "death," Hughes substituted a Las Vegas derelict for himself and escaped his identity yet continued to operate his business affairs until his stand-in died and his family overturned his famous will in court. It says Hughes spent his exile in the Panama Canal Zone, the Florida Panhandle, Arizona and Alabama in the privacy he craved. He assumed the identity of aircraft maintenance supervisor Verner "Nik" Nicely, the name of a real person who conveniently disappeared while working with or for the CIA in Panama.

Reportedly, as they say.

Hughes died in 2001, at age 96, according to the book.

Hughes had lost access to his fortune but won the heart of a woman, married her and stayed married 31 years until his death, according to the book.

The wife, Eva McLelland, who died last year, told her story to Mark Musick, who has been documenting this off-road saga for almost a decade. Wellman wrote the book for him.

"It is a wild story," Musick acknowledged. "It changes history."

This is the same calm, clear-headed Mark Musick who flew F-4s, commanded the Nebraska Air Guard for four years, worked for Stratcom and was keynoter at Lincoln's 2009 Patriot Day observance. He is a retired major general and is chief operating officer for a venture capital company.

Not some nut.
Even if it is not true, it sounds like a great story.

10 rules for Blues Musicians

An excellent list from Philly Blues:
1. The Stevie Ray Vaughn Clause. The blues calendar did not start with the birth of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Everyone appreciates SRV for what he did to help get blues out to a larger audience. You, however, are not SRV. Do not attempt to conjure him in any form, be it clothing, guitar straps, your playing style or your bad lyrics. The man is dead, let us all respect his memory and endeavor not to urinate on his grave by our poor interpretations of him. Playing his songs is one thing, trying to be him is, well...disturbing and never successful.
Nine more at the site -- excellent rules for any kind of music...
From The Hill:
Markey: Deniers of global warming should 'start their own country'
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) suggested a novel use Saturday for a 100-square-mile ice sheet that has broken off Greenland.

�An iceberg four times the size of Manhattan has broken off Greenland, creating plenty of room for global warming deniers to start their own country," Markey said in a statement. �So far, 2010 has been the hottest year on record, and scientists agree arctic ice is a canary in a coal mine that provides clear warnings on climate."

Some scientists have attributed the breaking off of the ice sheet to abnormally warm temperatures this year.

Markey, who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, co-authored the House version of the climate change bill that's currently stalled in the Senate.

He said it was "unclear how many giant blocks of ice it will take to break the block of Republican climate deniers in the US Senate who continue hold this critical clean energy and climate legislation hostage."
Talk about a target rich environment... First off: 2010 is not the hottest on record. In the past fifty years, 1998 was the hottest and each year after has been cooler. Second: "scientists agree arctic ice is a canary in a coal mine that provides clear warnings on climate Bzzzzztttt!!! The Arctic Ice is one of the primary drivers of the planet's climate and not the other way around. The Sun as well as wind and ocean currents are what drive the ice. The system is very complex and only now being figured out. Third: "Republican climate deniers in the US Senate who continue hold this critical clean energy and climate legislation hostage" It is not just Republicans. There is a Democratic majority in Congress and if it was just those nasty Republicans, the bill would have been voted in a long time ago. The truth of the matter is that the bill is a blatant power and money grab and does nothing to help the environment. It is all about subsidizing stupid ideas -- ideas that would not stand a chance of succeeding in the marketplace if they were not bankrolled with our tax dollars... If I were King - nuclear all the way. liquid-fluoride thorium reactor specifically.
The should be defunded and sent home. A clueless bunch of corrupt congenital idiots. From Yahoo News/Associated Press:
UN panel: New taxes needed for a climate fund
Carbon taxes, add-ons to international air fares and a levy on cross-border money movements are among ways being considered by a panel of the world's leading economists to raise a staggering $100 billion a year to fight climate change.

British economist Nicholas Stern told international climate negotiators Thursday that government regulation and public money also will be needed to create incentives for private investment in industries that emit fewer greenhouse gases.

In short, a new industrial revolution is needed to move the world away from fossil fuels to low carbon growth, he said.

"It will be extremely exciting, dynamic and productive," said Stern, one of 18 experts in public finance on an advisory panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

A climate summit held in Copenhagen in December was determined to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt to climate change and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide trapping the sun's heat. But the 120 world leaders who met in the Danish capital offered no ideas on how to raise that sum � $1 trillion every decade � prompting Ban to appoint his high-level advisory group.
And the ring-leaders of this folly:
Potential revenue sources include auctioning the right to pollute, taxes on carbon production, an international travel tax, and a tax on international financial transactions, as well as government grants and loans. Each could produce tens of billions of dollars a year, Stern said.

"No one single source will deliver $100 billion by itself. There is no silver bullet, no hole in one," he said.

Private capital also will be crucial, and governments must adopt policies reducing the risk to investors, he said.

The panel's recommendations will weigh the practicality, reliability, and political acceptability of each method, he said.

The advisory panel is chaired by the prime ministers of Norway and Ethiopia and the president of Guyana. Its members include French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, billionaire financier George Soros and public planners from China, India, Singapore and several international banks.
The usual gang of kleptocrats -- it will be a great day for this planet when George Soros crosses over and finds himself being processed for entry into Hell. These people could not find their own assholes with both of their hands. Raising this money to fight something that is not happening is outright theft. Time to defund the United Nations, raise the building and put in more office space and a park. Remove all traces of the UN so that people will eventually forget that we were so profoundly stupid. Be sure to page through the 1,200+ comments -- fun reading.

Oil Recovery

The oil that was leaking was light crude so a lot of it just evaporated. A lot more was gobbled up by bacteria. Now people are trying to put a spin on this. From the London Daily Mail:
Disaster that never was: Why claims that BP created history's worst oil spill may be the most cynical spin campaign ever
The warm, white sand stretches for miles as clean and flat as a freshly laundered bed sheet.

The turquoise sea is so clear that I can see silvery fish playing around my toes as I take a cooling paddle.

If there is any more pristine resort in which to spend a summer holiday than Pensacola Beach, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I would like to find it.

And yet, at a time of year when usually there is barely room to unfold a deckchair, the shore is eerily deserted.
A bit more:
Then, hungry for dramatic TV footage to support Barack Obama�s announcement, that the BP - or, as he preferred, �British Petroleum� - oil spill was �the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced�, news networks descended on their town.

They quickly found what they were looking for: shocking images of Pensacola�s famously white beaches thickly-coated with sticky, black crude oil and apparently beyond salvation.

The apocalyptic message was reinforced in doom-laden interviews with locals. �It�s damn near biblical. This place is done for!� lamented 36-year-old Kevin Reed, whose family have swum and sunbathed in the area for generations.

His anguish was understandable.

Yet, as I saw this week, nothing could be further from the truth. Strolling along the beach for an hour, I found just one, pea-sized tar-ball which crumbled to nothing between my fingers.
And a bit more:
But, of course, after a �catastrophic� oil spill, a spotless beach doesn�t make dramatic viewing and who wants to know?

Certainly not the politicians, nor the green-lobby tub-thumpers, nor the compensation claimants and their mega-bucks lawyers.

Until this week, it didn�t fit with the White House�s British-bashing script, either. In recent days, though, we have witnessed an extraordinary U-turn in America�s attitude towards the great spill.

It began when a respected Time magazine environmental writer voiced the near-heretical proposition: that the effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20 had been massively hyped.

His article was largely based on the opinions of Professor Ivan van Heerden, a brilliant but controversial marine scientist fired by Louisiana State University after publishing a book about Hurricane Katrina that said cataclysmic flooding was inevitable because the protection given to the coast was wholly inadequate.

He said: �There is just no data to suggest this is an environmental disaster - although BP lied about the size of the oil spill, we�re not seeing catastrophic impacts.�
Very interesting -- I Googled Professor van Heerden and the story behind his being fired is quite curious. His book: The Storm looks interesting -- a copy is on its way. Like I said before, if the Gulf Coast had voted strongly Democrat, this would have been handled in a completely different manner.

The next big bubble - Higher Education

Glenn Harlan Reynolds writing at The Washington Examiner:
Glenn Harlan Reynolds: Further thoughts on the higher education bubble
Back at the beginning of the summer, I had a column in this space in which I predicted that higher education is in a bubble, one soon to burst with considerable consequences for students, faculty, employers, and society at large.

My reasoning was simple enough: Something that can�t go on forever, won�t. And the past decades� history of tuition growing much faster than the rate of inflation, with students and parents making up the difference via easy credit, is something that can�t go on forever. Thus my prediction that it won�t.
Glenn offers some suggestions:
Well, advice number one - good for pretty much all bubbles, in fact - is this: Don�t go into debt. In bubbles, people borrow heavily because they expect the value of what they�re borrowing against to increase.

In a booming market, it makes sense to buy a house you can�t quite afford, because it will increase in value enough to make the debt seem trivial, or at least manageable - so long as the market continues to boom.

But there�s a catch. Once the boom is over, of course, all that debt is still there, but the return thereon is much diminished. And since the boom is based on expectations, things can go south with amazing speed, once those expectations start to shift.

Right now, people are still borrowing heavily to pay the steadily increasing tuitions levied by higher education. But that borrowing is based on the expectation that students will earn enough to pay off their loans with a portion of the extra income their educations generate. Once people doubt that, the bubble will burst.
Alternative careers:
Many people with college educations are already jumping the tracks to become skilled manual laborers: plumbers, electricians, and the like. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that seven of the ten fastest-growing jobs in the next decade will be based on on-the-job training rather than higher education. (And they�ll be hands-on jobs hard to outsource to foreigners). If this is right, a bursting of the bubble is growing likelier.
And for the schools themselves:
Just as I advised students not to go into debt, my advice to universities is similar: Don�t go on spending binges now that you expect to pay for with tuition revenues later. Those may not be there as expected.

Post-bubble, students are likely to be far more concerned about getting actual value for their educational dollars. Faced with straitened circumstances, colleges and universities will have to look at cutting costs.
We are blessed to have an amazing Technical College in Bellingham. I have taken a couple classes from them for Welding and CNC Machining and the overall level of instruction and classroom resources are first rate. Someone graduating their two-year Welding program can get a job in a local shipyard or refinery starting at around $35-$45 with full benefits. Pays a lot better than social work. Their medical support program is another good one -- radiology, nursing, etc...

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

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A good look at these two at the New York Times:
Housing Policy�s Third Rail
While Congress toiled on the financial overhaul last spring, precious little was said about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance companies that collapsed spectacularly two years ago.

Indeed, these wards of the state got just two mentions in the 1,500-page law known as Dodd-Frank: first, when it ordered the Treasury to produce a study on ending the taxpayer-owned status of the companies and, second, in a �sense of the Congress� passage stating that efforts to improve the nation�s mortgage credit system �would be incomplete without enactment of meaningful structural reforms� of Fannie and Freddie.

No kidding.
The author, Gretchen Morgenson, notes:
But attaining genuine remedies for our housing finance system could actually be harder than rocket science. That�s because it would require an honest dialogue about the role the federal government should play in housing. It also requires a candid conversation about whether promoting homeownership through tax policy and other federal efforts remains a good idea, given the economic disaster we�ve just lived through.

Alas, honest dialogues on third-rail topics like housing have proved to be a bridge too far for many in Washington. So, what we may hear instead about Fannie and Freddie before the elections is a lot of sound and fury signifying a stealthy return to the status quo.

This would be unfortunate, not only because the financial crisis presents a rare opportunity to reassess the supposed benefits of homeownership but also because there was a lot not to like about the way these companies operated and the ways their friends in Congress enabled that behavior.
There is a lot of swampland in Washington that needs to be drained and exposed to the strong light of day. As Gretchen said, this would have been a perfect time to reform the housing market and this governments involvement but no... Nobody in Washington has the clout or political vision to implement a true recovery.

Lazy day

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Slept in quite late and then wandered into town (two miles) for coffee and over to the store. Sundays are usually fairly slow but it was hopping. Surf a bit, have dinner and surf a bit more. Sounds like a plan...

Now let me get this straight

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General Motors avoids bankruptcy by accepting about $50 Billion dollars from the Federal Government and in return, gives the Government a 60% ownership. This money is given in two stages, about $6B as an emergency bailout to cover wages and pension payments and about $43B as a long-term development load. General Motors proceeds to raid the long-term cookie jar to pay the $6B loan off ahead of schedule -- big P.R. campaign there but the real story came out one day later. OK -- Government Motors is now using a chunk of that $43 Billion dollars to give to various political organizations. From the Washington Post:
GM donates $41,000 to lawmakers' pet projects
When General Motors went through bankruptcy last year, it suspended its political donations. Now that it's owned by the U.S. government, it's donating to lawmakers' pet projects again.

The carmaker gave $41,000 to groups associated with lawmakers, the vast majority of it -- $36,000 -- to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the company reported on a disclosure form last week. The CBC Foundation is a charity with 11 members of the Congressional Black Caucus on its board.
So it is OK for a government owned business that is funded by the government to take taxpayer money and hand it to various political groups? I am not a lawyer but this seems really fishy to me...

The Big Picture

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The Boston Globe introduced their Big Picture feature which became an overnight sensation. It is a web version of a traditional newspapers rotogravure edition -- a weekly 'magazine' included with the newspaper that is printed on a better paper stock and using a different printing process to give a very high quality image. Now, the Denver Post is taking up the torch and running. They have a Photo Blog series called Captured. This photo is from the series: America in Color from 1939-1943
These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America�s rural and small town populations. The photographs are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.
Some wonderful stuff...


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Jen was into Legos as a child and is getting back into them. We were at the mall Thursday walking around after her Lasik and we stumbled into a Lego store there and walked out with a Lego Fallingwater. Here is an example of what can happen when a Lego enthusiast goes off the deep end. (keep scrolling) Hat tip to the awesome Miss Celania for the link...

Long day

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Went down to Anecortes to pick up the fruit order. Two boxes of peaches and twelve melons (which are delicious!). They also had a case of tomatoes and a box of first-harvest apples so I came back pretty well loaded. The truck smelled wonderful on my drive back and the box with the apples got a little lighter during the trip back home. Stopped off at Reverie and picked up a large beef brisket and side of slaw (they use horseradish and it's a treat). Headed out to a very wet tractor show -- pouring buckets. Most of the people had left. I hung out in the Blacksmith shop for an hour or two and bailed back to the store. Eating a BBQ Beef sandwich right now and surfing the web...
Been out of town for two days and need to weed-whack the email. Tomorrow I am heading down to Anecortes to pick up the fresh organic produce for our store. We work with an orchard in Eastern Washington that trucks their produce to Anacortes every Saturday for a farmer's market. We call in ahead of time to see what is ripe and order the boxes of fruit that we need for the store. Smallwood Farms has about the best quality fruits that I have ever seen. Fourth generation and doing very well... When I get back, I will head north up to the Puget Sound Antique Tractor and Machinery show in Lynden, WA. There are a bunch of blacksmiths that exhibit and I want to get to know the local smithing community better.
From the London Daily Mail:
Co-op refuses to serve soldier after return from Afghanistan - because he was still in uniform
A soldier who had just arrived home from Afghanistan was refused service at a supermarket and told they didn't serve people in Army uniform. Sapper Anthony Walls called into a branch of the Co-op for some beers after a gruelling 34-hour journey from Kandahar.

The 27-year-old, of 21 Engineer Regiment, said it was his 'first hour back in the real world' after dodging Taliban bullets for four-and-a-half months helping build 'the most dangerous road in Afghanistan'.

But when he arrived at the till he says he was met with a blank stare from the cashier who refused to serve him and called for her manager.

The manager told Mr Walls he 'couldn't do anything about it' and refused to serve him while he was in uniform. The soldier - who was on his way to his three-year-old nephew Jack's birthday party - walked out of the shop in New Addington, Croydon, in a daze.
Christ on a Corn Dog. And what language did the cashier and the manager use to tell Mr. Walls that he could not have his beer? English? Gern geschehen...
From Bloomberg:
Boeing Loses Orders for 26 Jets Worth $5.82 Billion
Boeing Co., the world�s second- biggest commercial-jet builder, said orders were canceled in the past week for 26 jets valued at $5.82 billion at average list prices.

Boeing, based in Chicago, didn�t identify the customers who dropped orders for 15 787 Dreamliners, 10 777s and one 737, listed in today�s weekly update of its website. A company spokesman, Jim Proulx, declined to comment.
The economy is hurting everyone, not just our friends and neighbors. That deferred trip, the item ordered locally instead of shipped in from far away. This all affects airplane use and how many replacement planes are needed...
Shame on you -- all that participated in the WikiLeaks Afghan release. The blood is now on your hands and it is just starting. From Newsweek:
Taliban Seeks Vengeance in Wake of WikiLeaks
After WikiLeaks published a trove of U.S. intelligence documents -- some of which listed the names and villages of Afghans who had been secretly cooperating with the American military, it didn't take long for the Taliban to react. A spokesman for the group quickly threatened to "punish" any Afghan listed as having "collaborated" with the U.S. and the Kabul authorities against the growing Taliban insurgency. In recent days, the Taliban has demonstrated how seriously those threats should be considered. Late last week, just four days after the documents were published, death threats began arriving at the homes of key tribal elders in southern Afghanistan. And over the weekend one tribal elder, Khalifa Abdullah, who the Taliban believed had been in close contact with the Americans, was taken from his home in Monar village, in Kandahar province's embattled Arghandab district, and executed by insurgent gunmen.

The violence may just be beginning. According to Agha Lali, the deputy head of Kandahar's provincial council, threatening letters have been delivered to 70 elders in Panjwaii district. While it is unknown whether any of the men were indeed named in the WikiLeaks documents, it's clear the Taliban believes they have been cooperating with Western forces and the Afghan government. One short handwritten note, shown to NEWSWEEK, said: "We have made a decision for your death. You have five days to leave Afghan soil. If you don't, you don't have the right to complain." The screed, written on the letterhead of Mullah Mohammed Omar's defunct Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, bore the signature of Abdul Rauf Khadim, a senior Taliban official and former inmate at the American lockup in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who had been released into -- and subsequently escaped from -- Kabul's custody last year.
And of course either way, the Taliban will move into the power vacuum created by the elders absence and we will have lost what we spent years trying to achieve. Worse, it makes us look weak which is not what you want to do if you are trying to win hearts and minds over there. I do not see people volunteering any information in the future if this is how we treat people's identities. Added joy is that the son of a pig and monkey who is making these threats was once in our hands and safe at Gitmo. So Assange and presumably Manning are deserving of a special place in Hell but we must also hold a spot for some folks at the White House and the Media. Two weeks before the release of the data, Assange sent it to the White House to see if they wanted any information redacted. No reply. One week before the release, Assange sent it to members of the Media. No reply. This is unconscionable. Treason comes to mind. Murderer is another word that can be justly applied...

Quote of the Month

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"Too bad the only people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair."
--George Burns
Swiped from Theo


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Don't know if this was intended but it doesn't look like it. There doesn't appear to be anyone inside though...
Hat tip to That Will Buff Out

Under the knife - photos

Here are four photos of Jen's procedure today.

Stylin' with a new hat.

And boots to match...

Starting on the left eye.
The instrument in the nurse's hand is the
Micro Keratome which is used
to cut the flap in the cornea.

Working on the right eye.
A lot of times there were people crowding around
and blocking the view so I didn't take more photos.

There was also the video feed from the Doctor's microscope and watching that was really cool.

I am not an eye surgeon but watching all of the people at Pacific Cataract and Laser I can tell that they are true professionals. When the technician is looking through an instrument and reaches out to flip a switch, there is no fumbling around, she gets the switch without having to take her eye off the screen.

The Surgeon has very steady fluid and economical movements -- there is no wasted motion and it looks like he has done this a few times before... Good people...

Sick Bay

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One of my daily reads is Shorpy -- a collection of old photographs from various sources. A lot of fun as these are generally of 'regular people' -- not famous or well-known people. Gives you a taste of what life was like back then. Today's photo was of the Sick Bay aboard the cruiser U.S.S. Brooklyn circa 1898:
What jumped right out at me was the sharp angle of the walls and the support columns. This room is right at the bow (front) of the ship and is the worst place for movement in hard weather. Even in modest weather, those poor seamen will be tossed about like peas in a tin can and when the wind gets stiff, it will be downright miserable in that room. On the one hand, it is not the best place to recover from an illness or injury. On the other hand, I am betting that there will not be any cases of medical malingering. As soon as the seaman is feeling better, he will be outta there!

Back from the doc

Surgery went very well -- Jen was a good candidate for Lasik (small pupils and cornea was thick enough for the procedure).

Took photos and will post them later tonight.

It was really interesting to watch the instrumentation and the procedure. The viewing area had a video feed from the Doctor's microscope so I could see the shape of her cornea change as the laser ablated the surface -- completely automated and Jen noticed a huge improvement immediately after the surgery.

Things are a bit cloudy right now but that will dissipate over a day or two.

Again, if you are in the Northwest and need eye surgery, Pacific Cataract and Laser are the people to see...

Scientific Research

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Do big cats react to Catnip the way house cats do. The fine folks at BigCatRescue decided to find out:
Hat tip to Neatorama

The fast lane to Hell - Hamza Abuhamdeh

From Cleveland, Ohio station WEWS:

Police: Man stole money raised for dying wish
It took the Rocky River community and school district a while to raise $120,000 for 12-year-old Sabreen Haq.

She was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and dying wish was to have a home instead of an apartment, where she could live with her family. She wanted her own bedroom for the first time in her young life.

Her mother, Maysoon, gave the money to her cousin, 35-year-old Hamza Abuhamdeh because he had extensive knowledge about rental property and buying homes.

Police said Abuhamdeh bought the family a home in North Olmsted, but he never let them move in. Instead, he rented out the house to another family. Police said he also put the home in his name and not Maysoon's.

Police said they tried to get him to either give the money back or let Maysoon's family move into the home, but Abuhamdeh only came up with $30,000.

The Make a Wish organization stepped in and sent Sabreen and her family to Disney World, but shortly after, she passed away.

She never got to see her new home or have that bedroom she wished for.

Police arrested Abuhamdeh for grand theft. Abuhamdeh is currently out of jail on bond. He is scheduled for arraignment in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Aug. 11.

I think about 30 years in the slammer being tossed from inmate to inmate like a hackey sack will be a good start...

Hotel blogging

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Down in Bellevue for two days while Jen gets her eyeballs lasered by these people: PCLI These were the people that did my cataracts back in 2005. Cannot recommend them highly enough -- excellent team. Staying at the Hyatt just across from Bellevue Square so there is a lot to walk around and see -- surgery is tomorrow and then they want a post-op peep Friday morning. Head back home Friday afternoon...

Over 70% say Hell No

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Wonderful news from Missouri today. From Jim Hoft at Breitbart's Big Government: MISSOURI VOTERS REJECT OBAMACARE!
Prop C passes in Missouri!

Over 70% of Missouri voters rejected Obamacare by passing Prop C.

It�s too bad local KMOV St. Louis Channel 4 could not find any one who voted for the proposition.
This will be an interesting State's Rights battle which should lay bare to the citizenry just how far this Regime is bending the Constitution...
From The Washington Times:
Illegal immigrant who killed nun in accident was released by feds
The Virginia man suspected in a drunken-driving crash that killed a Catholic nun in Prince William County this weekend is an illegal immigrant and repeat offender who was awaiting deportation and who federal immigration authorities had released pending further proceedings, police said Monday.

Carlos Montano, a county resident, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and drunken driving. Mr. Montano had been arrested two other times on drunken-driving charges, and on at least one of those occasions county police reported him to federal authorities.

"We have determined that he is in the country illegally. He has been arrested by Prince William County Police in the past, said police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

He said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was notified at the time of one of those arrests. "At the time of this incident, the accident yesterday, he was in the deportation process and was out on his recognizance for court proceedings."
Emphasis mine -- Christ on a Corn Dog. The a__hole was a pinche Borracho and the Federales released him on his recognizance? Hey -- I am scheduled to be deported. All I have to do is show up to this court date and away I go. When to I have to appear?

A socialized medicine two-fer

First up - Sweden -- from the Stockholm, Sweden website The Local:
Jonas, 32, sewed up his own leg after ER wait
A 32-year-old took the needle into his hands when he tired of the wait at Sundsvall hospital in northern Sweden and sewed up the cut in his leg himself. The man was later reported to the police for his impromptu handiwork.

"It took such a long time," the man told the local Sundsvall Tidning daily.

The man incurred the deep cut when he sliced his leg on the sharp edge of a kitchen stove while he was renovating at home.

"I first went to the health clinic, but it was closed. So I rang the medical help line and they told me that it shouldn't be closed, so I went to emergency and sat there," the man named only as Jonas told the newspaper.

After an hour-long wait in a treatment room, he lost patience and proceeded to sew up his own wound.

"They had set out a needle and thread and so I decided to take the matter into my hands," he said.

But hospital staff were not as impressed by his initiative and have reported the man on suspicion of arbitrary conduct for having used hospital equipment without authorization.

While Jonas admitted to the newspaper that he has no prior experience of sewing up himself he sought to play down the fuss that his handiwork has caused, arguing that "through the ages people have always sewn themselves up".
A perfect example of Triage -- they set the sewing kit out in preperation of fixing his wound but they probably had a life-threatening case show up and the Medical staff rushed over to take care of that patient. Still, a simple wound wash and closure could have been handled by their equivalent of Nurse Practitioner. For a hospital to be this short staffed is not a good thing... As for reporting him to the Police -- if they didn't want him to touch the equipment, they should not have left it in the room with him. Reader KBIS26 left the following comment with an even worse story:
Take it easy Jonas..:)

i went to Malm� ER with a friend he had a fracture in one of his right hand bones at 8:30pm and they fixed it at 9:00 am day after, almost 13 hrs ....I think it is the same every where in Sweden not only in Sundsvall.. it looks like 24 hrs clinic not ER....
A lot more interesting comments too -- almost worth reading just to check out the comments. A more serious case from Canada -- from the Prince Edward Island Guardian:
Peakes woman loses her baby, dignity while awaiting hospital treatment
Losing her first baby was devastating enough but having to do it in a crowded waiting room is what angered Christine Handrahan the most.

The 29-year-old Peakes woman was nine weeks pregnant when on July 12 she started bleeding.

Fearing the worst, Handrahan and her husband, Michael, headed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital�s new emergency room.

There she waited more than three hours, blood seeping out of her jeans, tears rolling down her face as she feared she was losing her baby � or that she might be bleeding to death.

Still, she waited and waited.

More than three hours passed before Michael had enough.
She had miscarried -- some more:
Handrahan says nobody at the hospital showed her any compassion.

�They could have given me a room to go in. Not necessarily a room with a bed. Even if it had been their TV room, or their lunchroom, or their closet. That waiting room was jam packed full of people.

�Somebody should have cared enough to say �Oh my goodness, you�re going through a miscarriage, do you need some quiet time?� I was fighting my tears. I wanted a place to go cry.�
The hospital staff is, of course, "Launching an Investigation" -- bureaucratic-speak for C.Y.A. One last bit:
Handrahan, who works at a vet clinic, said she has never seen an animal being treated like she was treated at the province�s largest referral hospital. She came forward with her story in hopes nobody will ever have to go through what she went through again.
The 160+ comments on this story are worth reading as well. The British are backing away from their National Health Service as they are out of money. It will be interesting to see what Canada does as their system is a sort of hybrid between fee-based with insurance and the government teat - AKA: "free"

The nine levels of Internet Hell

From Neatorama(swiped from Gear Fuse):
Dante's Internet
This image of unknown provenance is going around the Internet. In reflection of Dante Alighieri�s Divine Comedy, it depicts a cosmology of Hell for Internet users. You can view a larger size at the link. Do you agree with its arrangement?
Click to embiggen...
Been there, done that, got the shirt...
The Eleven -- swiped from Mostly Cajun:
Eleven Rules They Don't Teach in School

Life is not fair -- get used to it.

The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with car phone, until you earn both.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping they called it Opportunity.

If you mess up,it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
Couple people around town who would be well served by remembering these. I sure could have when I was their age...

A fun evening

We get our four Llamas sheared every year. The people we have been using were due to come out later this afternoon. So we are waiting. The phone rings, it is the security alarm monitoring company and they are saying that there is a fire alarm in one of the building's upstairs apartments. Great. I am rushing out of the driveway and meet the Llama shearers driving in -- I yell to them what happened and we each went our various ways. Turns out to have been a bad sensor -- the tenant was sitting at home watching television when all hell broke out in his apartment. The alarms are very loud and attention-getting. By the time I was able to make the five minute drive to the store, we had collected quite the audience of neighbors. The fire trucks pulled up (volunteer department -- awesome people and they are our neighbors) and we talked. They went upstairs to check the apartment and one fireman crawled up into the rafters with a thermal imaging camera to take a look up there. The County Sheriff deputy showed up (he lives a few miles away) so we chatted while the fire crew was clearing the building. There is a red LED on each sensor that lights up when it is triggered. The light on that sensor was steady on so my guess is a defective unit. Nice to know that, like circuit breakers, they fail on the side of alarm rather than failing into dangerous and unprotected territories... Came home and helped to shear the remaining critters. Sitting down to a late dinner -- I was planning to cook some spaghetti sauce but we settled for Tuna Sludge instead. Can of Tuna, season with toasted sesame oil and cracked black pepper. Cook one cup+ of Elbow Macaroni. Combine. Yum. Cheap. Fast. Nutritious. I like to add green peas but Jen doesn't like them so I put a handful of frozen peas into a small colander and dip it into the macaroni water as it is cooking.

Meet Allison John

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Quite an amazing person -- been through a bit of bad luck. From The London Daily Mail:
Doctor Courage: Patient who endured heart, liver, kidney and lung transplants qualifies as a medic
She could easily be forgiven for never wanting to see the inside of a hospital again.

In a young life blighted by serious illnesses, Allison John has unwillingly made medical history by becoming the first person in Britain to have all her major organs transplanted.

She received a new liver, kidney, heart and lungs in a series of difficult operations spanning 12 years to tackle the major health problems that at one stage left her just three days from death.
And what is she doing with her life these days? She just became an Md:
Ever since she was a schoolgirl she had wanted to be a doctor - and now she has finally fulfilled the dream after graduating from medical college.

The 32-year-old, who took 14 years to complete her studies and who will soon begin work on the wards, said yesterday: 'I never thought this day would finally come. It's such a huge milestone for me.

'My life has been a bit of a rollercoaster and it's taken me a long time to get here but I got here in the end.

'After all that I've been through, I think I can use the experiences I've had with both good and bad doctors to help others.'
Just. Wow.
From the Australian website:
Rubbish threatens to jam China's Three Gorges dam
Layers of rubbish floating in the Yangtze river are threatening to jam China's massive Three Gorges hydroelectric dam, state media reported Monday. The garbage is so thick in parts of the river that people can walk on the surface, reports said.

Nearly three tonnes of refuse are collected from the dam every day, but operators are struggling with inadequate manpower and equipment as trash accumulates more quickly due to rain-triggered floods, the China Daily reported.

"The large amount of waste in the dam area could jam the mitre gate (a type of lock gate) of the Three Gorges Dam," Chen Lei, an official with the China Three Gorges Corporation, told the newspaper.

More than 150 million people live upstream from the dam. In several nearby cities, household garbage is dumped directly into the river - China's longest - because municipalities are unequipped for trash disposal.
Emphasis mine. One bit more:
A 60cm thick layer of garbage covering an area of more than 50,000 square metres began to form in front of the dam when the rainy season started in early July, according to the Hubei Daily.
It always amazes me that environmentalists in the USA develop a blind eyeball to conditions like this. There are various rare earths and minerals that could be mined here but noooooo -- mining is dirty and we must protect the environment. So the minerals are imported from nations that have no environmental protection at all. What chaps my ass is that for the simple cost of a few dollars/ton more; the US could build into the mining contract the stipulation that when the last of the mineral was extracted, the land be remediated and returned back to nature. Fifty years later, you would need a professional Geologist to know that anything had happened there. Blind -- utterly blind and willfully ignorant.

A great mom

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A perfect lesson to her little snowflake. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Angry mom refuses to bail out teen son accused of car theft
A teenager accused of stealing a pizza delivery guy's car was chewed out by a judge -- and his mom -- Sunday morning in court.

Ravontay Hutchins, 17, allegedly stole the 1996 Acura Integra after the driver left the keys in the ignition and the engine running outside Pompeii, 1531 W. Taylor, at 9:20 p.m. Saturday.

Two cops on a lunch break at the restaurant heard about the theft and quickly put out a description of the stolen car, which the delivery guy was following in another car, police said.

Hutchins and a 14-year-old accomplice were soon arrested after a brief foot chase in the 1300 block of South Albany, prosecutors said.

At a hearing Sunday in Cook County Criminal Court, Hutchins' mother told Judge Peggy Chiampas that Hutchins' father was serving with the military in Iraq and that she'd done everything she could for the boy, who was "spoiled."

When Chiampas set Hutchins' bail at $25,000, his mother told the judge "I've got [the money to bail him out], but he's staying here, locked up!" and stormed from the courtroom.

Chiampas praised her, saying, "I want to know why there's not more parents like this. ... I applaud her for her truthfulness."

As Hutchins was led back to the cells, she told him, "You think about that, while your dad's in Iraq."
Also interesting are the nine pages of comments left by readers. The general subject is like this one:
YOU GO MOM!!! If more parents were as tough as you there may not be as many young people in gangs with guns killing other young people. Parents should take note............
There are a couple of ones saying that the Mom is being too harsh and that Cook County Jail is not the place for her little snowflake. I would think that a night or two in a hell-hole like that will be enough to shock him into waking up and realizing what a life of crime can result in. A few nights is bad enough, imagine ten years or more... Funny as well that the ones criticizing the Mom have horrible grammar and spelling.

And another one bites the dust

It was thought that Representative Maxine Waters was going to be brought before the ethics board and now it happened. From Yahoo/Associated Press:
AP sources: 3 charges filed against Rep. Waters
California Democrat Maxine Waters faces a House trial this fall on three charges of ethical wrongdoing, setting the stage for a second election-season public airing of ethics problems for a longtime Democratic lawmaker.

The charges focus on whether Waters broke the rules in requesting federal help for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on the board of directors. She denied the charges Monday.

Persons familiar with the case said Waters is accused of violating:

* A rule that House members may not exert improper influence that results in a personal benefit.

* The government employees' ethics code, which prohibits granting or accepting special favors, for the employee or family members, that could be viewed as influencing official actions.

* A rule that members' conduct must reflect creditably on the House.
Pelosi's wish is coming true -- just not exactly what she had in mind...

Look to the heavens

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Big CME from the Sun yesterday. Prediction of aurora for those in high latitudes for the next day or two. Target date is tomorrow night but I'll be looking tonight as well.

Cuba runs out of other people's money

Must suck to have to admit you have been so wrong after 55 years of communist failure. From Breitbart/AFP:
Cuba eyes more self-employment as massive layoffs loom
President Raul Castro expanded self-employment fields on Sunday, ahead of looming government plans to slash as many as one million jobs -- 20 percent of communist Cuba's work force -- from state payrolls.

The economy, 95 percent of which is currently in state hands, does not have the ability to absorb such vast numbers of jobless. Castro's move aims to try to reduce the socioeconomic fallout, but it will be an uphill battle.

The Council of Ministers "agreed to expand the range of self-employment jobs, and their use as another alternative for workers who lose their jobs," Castro said as he gave a closing address at one of two annual sessions of the National Assembly.

After the crash of the former Soviet bloc, Cuba's cash-strapped government in the 1990s approved a wide range of self-employment. Positions such as beauticians, dog groomers, small restaurant owners and even lighter refillers were legalized as long as workers got licenses and paid taxes.

But social resentment emerged as an issue when some workers, particularly in small private restaurants, achieved dramatic levels of success.

The government began increasing taxation and regulation, and decreasing license-granting, until the self-employed sector was largely rendered paralyzed, like the rest of the economy.

Cuba has no regular access to international funding; it depends heavily on the cut-rate oil it gets from Venezuela in order to keep its fragile economy afloat. Tourism earnings and remittances from emigres also are key pillars of the Cuban economy.
Got to love that bit about:
Positions such as beauticians, dog groomers, small restaurant owners and even lighter refillers were legalized as long as workers got licenses and paid taxes.
and then, big surprise:
when some workers, particularly in small private restaurants, achieved dramatic levels of success
so the pure socialist government's response was:
government began increasing taxation and regulation, and decreasing license-granting, until the self-employed sector was largely rendered paralyzed
This is Economics 101 -- this is not rocket science and it shows up in culture after culture. It has been tried before and has failed every single time. Cuba has 90% of the economy locked into its government and 10% in public hands. Cuba has failed economically. The United States is hurtling toward the edge of the Abyss while other nations have looked into its depths and are retreating.

Fox News gets a new seat

Heh -- Helen Thomas' old front row one. From The Hill:
Fox News to move to front-row White House briefing room seat
The White House Correspondents Association voted unanimously Sunday afternoon to move Fox News to the front row of the White House briefing room.

The seating change was prompted by the resignation of veteran UPI reporter Helen Thomas.

According to Ed Henry, the senior White House correspondent for CNN and member of the WHCA board, the Associated Press will move to the front-row middle seat formerly occupied by Thomas.

Fox News will replace the AP in its former seat, also in the front row, and NPR, which lobbied for Thomas' seat along with Fox and Bloomberg News, will take Fox's former seat in the second row.
Ought to shake things up a little bit... Reminds me of the opening scene of the 1969 movie Putney Swope -- I'll have to get a copy for the store as I remember it being really funny...

Blogging the Periodic Table

Chemist Sam Kean has a book out and he is publishing excerpts at Slate.

Check out Blogging the Periodic Table:

Wild, weird, wonderful stories about the elements that make up our universe.
I'm blogging about the periodic table this month in conjunction with my new book, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World From the Periodic Table of the Elements. Now, I know not everyone has fond memories of the periodic table, but it got to me early�thanks to one element, mercury. I used to break those old-fashioned mercury thermometers all the time as a kid (accidentally, I swear), and I was always fascinated to see the little balls of liquid metal rolling around on the floor. My mother used to sweep them up with a toothpick, and we kept a jar with a pecan-size glob of all the mercury from all the broken thermometers on a knickknack shelf in our house.

But what really reinforced my love of mercury -- and got me interested in the periodic table as a whole -- was learning about all the places that mercury popped up in history. Lewis and Clark hauled 600 mercury-laced laxative tablets with them when they explored the interior of America -- historians have tracked down some places where they stayed based on deposits in the soil. The so-called mad hatters (like the one in Alice in Wonderland) went crazy because of the mercury in the vats in which they cleaned fur pelts.

He is publishing chapter excerpts as blog posts and the book sounds like a real hoot. A good writer. Here is the link to Ytterbium whose fascinating history was new to me. One of my favorite elements is Thorium. I am also fond of the Noble Gases but Sam dismisses them as:

The noble gases, which reside on the East Coast of the periodic table, are its aristocrats -- detached and aloof, never bothering to interact with the rabble of common elements that make up the vast majority of the world.

What I love about them is that you can apply electrodes to them and shock them and make them jump around. Your camera's photoflash is filled with Xenon gas. I can think of a Massachusetts yacht owner that I would like to place electrodes on his neck and administer a few lightning bolts. He resembles a certain fictional character a little too well...

From the Chicago Tribune:

Grains make gains: Wheat surpasses white in sliced bread sales
Whole grains are the hottest trend in sliced bread, with whole wheat edging out soft white bread in total sales for the first time.

Flooded with messages about heart health, fiber intake and the need for omega-3s, more consumers are looking for bread that can taste good and deliver nutrients.

That's why shopping for sliced bread is increasingly about one of two things: what's affordable, and what seems healthiest. And the breads in the middle of the market seem to be getting squeezed.

The best-performing breads are promoting credentials like "whole grain" and "natural," sometimes asking consumers to pay more for those loaves. And it seems to be working. Breads with "natural" in the name, or grains visible through the packaging, are among the best performing at grocery stores. Among them: Nature's Own, Nature's Pride, and Arnold.

It's part of a major turning of the tide. Packaged wheat bread recently surpassed white bread in dollar sales, according to Nielsen Co. For the 52 weeks ended July 10, wheat bread sales increased 0.6 percent to $2.6 billion, while white bread sales declined 7 percent to $2.5 billion. White bread is still ahead in volume, but the margin is shrinking. Americans bought 1.5 billion packages of white bread in the last year, a 3 percent decrease, and 1.3 billion packages of wheat bread, a 5 percent increase.

This certainly has been the case for our small country store. Discounting hots and hams (hotdog and hamburger buns), our bread sales is about 70% wheat and artisanal v/s 30% white. We sometimes get a great deal on some white breads and stock up but they usually wind up going out of date and being fed to Ernie's pigs (we save bread and vegie slops for him and receive the occasional package of porcine heaven).

The article goes on to talk about Sara Lee and how they introduced whole wheat into their bread but kept the flavor and consistency of white bread. They are also now adding Omega-3s. Customers these days don't want a bland bread, they want something with flavor and texture to it. If you want to introduce Omega-3s to your loaf, add some toasted flax seed -- a wonderful nutty taste and really good for you too...

If I was going somewhere and following directions on a GPS unit and I saw a sign saying Road Closed; I might want to reconsider my choice of routs. From the other ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Company):
Family rescued after GPS blunder
A family of four and their dog spent four days bogged in mud in far west New South Wales after being led astray by a GPS unit.

Police say the driver drove off the road while following instructions from the GPS on Thursday.

They say the GPS instructed the driver to travel along a closed road near Wilcannia, and the driver ignored the road closure signs.

Weather conditions prevented police from getting to the family sooner but they were finally rescued last night.

Sergeant Fisher from Broken Hill Police Station says a rescue team from Wilcannia was finally able to get them out yesterday.

"[The crew] braved extremely difficult and treacherous road conditions and travelled out there," he said.

"They actually slid off the road quite a few times and almost got bogged themselves."

Police say the local council may fine the family for damage done to the road.
And I am wondering just how many years it will take Daddy to live down his little experiment with infallible technology... I am guessing close to ten but by then, the event will be nostalgic so they will revive it and tell the story over and over a second time.

Why not hasten its demise with a well-placed large rock:

Swiped from Neatorama

Object of Desire

| No Comments
I want! Check out The Gamerator:
Welcome to Gamerator
Introduce yourself to THE GAMERATOR ... the ULTIMATE gaming machine in the world of home entertainment.

The Gamerator offers access to over 1,000 classic and current arcade games. Some of the most popular classic titles are offered locally and pre-installed on each unit, while hundred more are offered through our online programs.

The Gamerator also features ...
* A refrigerated interior capable of holding a pony keg of domestic beer (international options also available)
* A 26 inch flat-panel HDTV
* Two conveniently-placed cup holders to house your beverage while playing
* Professional, hand-built craftsmanship with each unit built to order for your specific needs
Only $3,500 -- it will be a hit with the neighborhood...

Switched at birth

Interesting story from Brazil with a great ending. From Yahoo/Associated Press:

Brazilian men swapped at birth work, live together
Two years back, Dimas Aliprandi and Elton Plaster didn't know of each other's existence. Then they learned they had been accidentally switched at birth more than 20 years ago.

The discovery didn't bring bitterness or recrimination. Rather, it led to the creation of a bigger family.

Today, the two 25-year-olds are living and working together with both sets of parents growing vegetables and coffee on a small farm in southeastern Brazil.

DNA testing and then:

He said the hospital then searched its records and found Elton Plaster was born there on the same day.

The records led Aliprandi to the 35-acre (14-hectare) farm where Plaster lived with his parents, Nilza and Adelson, in the town of Santa Maria de Jetiba, about 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the Aliprandi home in Joao Neiva.

The Plasters agreed to do DNA tests.

"They discovered that Elton was the biological son of the man and woman that I had been calling Mom and Dad for 24 years," Aliprandi said. "Meanwhile, Elton discovered that the couple he had always regarded as his biological parents were mine."

The discovery did not cause any upset, he said.

"Instead it sparked a desire to join our families," Aliprandi said. "Elton and I wanted to remain with those who raised us and with our birth parents. We wanted to expand our families."

So about a year ago, Aliprandi and the parents who raised him accepted an offer from the Plasters to move to their farm, where they built a home.

"This is the way it should be," Adelson Plaster recently told Globo TV. "We are all together and I now have two sons living and working here."

Heartwarming story...

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