June 2013 Archives

Arctic Ice - coming or going?

A bit of each it seems. The warmists cry to the heavens that the arctic ice is getting thinner and sometimes (GASP!) disappears for months at a time. Not like it was a hundred years ago when everything froze solid every winter. I used to like to point them to the St. Roch -- this famous ship is in the Vancouver Maritime Museum and was in service from 1929 through 1954 and made several single-season transits of the Northwest Passage including one where she circumnavigated the North American continent. Now, thanks to the Manitoba Historical Society, we have records of ships belonging to the Hudson�s Bay Company:
Navigation of Hudson Bay and Straits
MHS Transactions, Series 1, No. 7
Read 10 May 1883

The regular meeting of the Historical and Scientific Society was held Thursday evening, with a good attendance. Rev. Professor Hart presided. At the usual meeting of the Executive Committee, Mr. J. M. MacGregor was proposed as a member, and afterwards duly elected. Mr. Chas. N. Bell was then called upon to read his paper upon the:

Navigation of Hudson�s Bay and Straits
This paper is a sequel to Mr. Bell�s letter which appeared in the Free Press last Monday, and is as follows:
Until a year or two ago, the general public were under the impression that the Hudson�s Bay and Strait were navigated only by one or two vessels belonging to the Hudson�s Bay Company, which carried the trading goods for their annual business from London to York Factory and other posts about the Bay, and returned with the previous years� yield of furs. Even the accounts of the voyages of these vessels were wrapped in an envelope of misty vagueness. Little or no information was obtained through the medium of the press, and the old books of Dobbs, Robson, Ellis, Hearne, Chappelle, Black, and others, who had sailed in those waters, or written out the accounts of those who had from 1733 to 1838, are too costly and rare to be found in ordinary libraries.

The records of the Hudson�s Bay Company could only be inspected in London, and even the existence of those records was unknown, except to a very few, and that few seem to have kept their contents to themselves.

Prof. Bell was readily and cheerfully supplied with valuable information by the Hudson�s Bay Company people, both in London and at the posts about the Bay, and he has presented it in his annual geological reports.

That a large number of whaling vessels seek the waters of the Hudson�s Bay annually, and take out oil, whalebone, etc., to the ruling market value of $1240,000 as an average season�s �catch� (as we find by the U.S. Government fisheries returns for the past eleven years), seems to have passed unnoticed.

An examination of the works of the old-time navigators, and a comparison of their statements of the subject of the navigation of these seas with the statements of whalers who now pass each season there, may prove both interesting and instructive.

The extracts given in this letter are taken directly from the works quoted, and from manuscript copies of the original log-books of whaling vessels sailing from New Bedford, Mass., and New London, Conn.

It must be borne in mind that all the vessels mentioned in the paper are sailing ships.

More and more satisfactory evidence is being produced very year to prove that the navigation of Hudson�s Bay and Strait is not as formidable as we have been led to suppose.

It is now almost considered as a fact that not only does the Bay itself not freeze over, but that the strait, with its high tides and strong currents, remains open all winter as well.
Much more at the site, the names of Ships and Captains, places and dates. Yes, the Earth has been warming up from the last glacial period but the idea that it is humans causing this warming is hubris. These are natural cycles and everything is now pointing to a period of cooling similar to the Maunder Minimum. Also, there are a lot more factors affecting the thickness of sea ice than just the temperature. Wind and currents have just as much if not greater effect. I will be digging into this website a lot more -- great stuff...

Foundation for the Law of Time

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Proof that anyone can set up a website - check out Foundation for the Law of Time I am fascinated by time and timekeeping but this is just a little too far out. But then again, my master clock uses a vibrating crystal that is governed by sensitive electronics that receive faint emanations from bodies orbiting Planet Earth. Put it that way and we both sound like we are a few bubbles off the plane...
Quite the day yesterday -- wish I was over there to observe. From Cliff Mass:
Eastern Washington Gets Hit Hard By Strong Thunderstorms
Saturday was an amazing day over and east of the Cascade crest with numerous very strong thunderstorms, particularly along the eastern Cascade slopes. Large hail, strong winds and heavy rain hit from Yakima to Wenatchee, with some observers describing dime or quarter size hail. Strong winds have downed trees and powerlines, and localized flooding has occurred.
Maria Langer is a commercial helicopter pilot and she contracts with cherry orchards to use the propwash to dry the cherries. She was busy all week. From her website -- An Eclectic Mind:
A Hellish Week
I�ll admit it: when I�m on contract to dry cherries, I hope for rain.

Yes, I�m in Washington state. But no, it doesn�t usually rain much here. I�m on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. That�s the dry, desert side.

In past years, rain has been light. I could count the number of days I had to fly on the fingers of one hand. Last year, I think I went to the second hand. We had one brutal day when I flew more than 6 hours last year, flying over one orchard after another until every single one under contract had been dried. But there isn�t usually much rain.

And although I do get paid to sit around and wait for the rain � which sometimes requires me to sit around my base all day watching radar � I also get paid to fly. It�s the combination of the two forms of revenue that make the season worthwhile.

So I hope for rain.

This week, however, I got more than I wanted. A lot more.
I love living where we are but sometimes, I really miss the extreme weather. Give me a good thunderstorm and I am happy for a week...

Back from market

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Had a nice day -- it got really hot so we folded our tent at 2PM instead of 3PM. Not that many people out but the vacation season has not started yet -- generally the middle of July is when we start to really notice the influx of tourons. People really liked Kaloha's music. The food truck had a very loud generator set up right next to where we were set up so it wasn't the best of situations. A local restaurateur asked him to come by and talk about playing. There is a power line extending to the property so I will be checking with our local electrical utility to see about getting a meter and some outlets. I will need power for the blacksmithing too. Fixing some beef stew for tonight, water board meeting tonight at 7PM and then come home and unload the truck when it is cool(er).

Off to market

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Our Farmer's Market is today -- gorgeous weather and it is Canada Day tomorrow so we should have a lot of friends from across the border. From Huntingdon all the way to Vancouver is one large conurbation so Canadians looking to get a piece of land frequently come down to our neck of the woods where the land is a lot less developed and a lot cheaper. No blogging until 5PM or so. Cooking some beef stew for dinner tonight -- pressure cooker makes it a 45 minute task.

Hit a milestone a few entries ago

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The post titled A shift in the wind was my 16,000th post on this blog.
post_16002.png
October 27 will mark my ten year anniversary of this blog. This represents a bit more than 4 entries per day. I had been very active in the BBS world with a multi-line Wildcat! system and kept that running for ten years before I pulled the plug. Not planning to pull the plug here anytime soon. This post is number 16,003

Tractors

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A nice meditation on older tractors over at Adaptive Curmudgeon. Part One, Part Two A brief excerpt from Part Two:
Every time I start my tractor a microscopic wave of common sense reverberates through the cosmos. OSHA hyperventilates. Ralph Nader weeps. Al Gore shudders. Obama�s teleprompter falls over. Nancy Pelosi drops kicks her armed bodyguard in the shin. Michael Bloomberg spills his big gulp. Domestic aerial drones lose their beaings. Twitter is delayed a half second. The NSA accidentally deletes someones� Facebook profile. I smile!
Wonderful writing...

Anti-gun - fscking hypocryte

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The rules are for thee, not me. From Breitbart:
Three Things Mark Kelly Probably Won't Say on Upcoming Gun Control Tour
As Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly undertake their national tour for gun control beginning July 1, here are three things Kelly probably will not say:
1. The background check system prevented his purchase of a handgun in February
2. The current background check system prevented his purchase of an AR-15 in March
3. He keeps a "high capacity" magazine in a Glock 9mm.
Regarding the first point, Kelly failed in his first attempt to purchase a .45 handgun from Diamondback Police Supply in Tucson, AZ in February because he brought the wrong ID into the store. Part of the background check laws currently in place require that an individual purchasing a handgun be a resident of the state in which he or she is purchasing it. Therefore, to buy a handgun in AZ you have to have an ID proving you are an AZ resident. When Kelly marched into Diamond Police Supply he showed a Texas ID and they told him they could not sell him a handgun.

Regarding the second point, even with the correct ID Diamondback Police Supply store owner Douglas MacKinlay halted Kelly's AR-15 purchase because he did not think Kelly could pass question 11a on form 4473 of the current background check system. Question 11a requires a person to acknowledge they are purchasing the firearm for themselves, which is something MacKinlay feared Kelly was not doing.

Here's how MacKinlay explained it when he halted Kelly's AR-15 purchase in March:
While I support and respect Mark Kelly's 2nd Amendment right to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible way, his recent statements to the media make it clear that his intent in purchasing the Sig Sauer 5.56 mm rifle was for reasons other than his own personal use.
Lastly, it seems highly unlikely Kelly will take time out on his gun control tour to talk about the 17-round "high capacity" magazine he keeps in a Glock 9mm--especially since Kelly spoke in favor of banning magazines above 10 round capacity as recently as February.
I feel sorry for the Giffords' in that the 'system' should have caught Jared Loughner before he committed his heinous acts. His conditions were well known for at least a year prior. After all, if we locked up all of the guns, things like this would never ever happen right? I also find it odd that the scary black assault rifles are being targeted for regulation while the vast majority of these murders are committed with handguns. Mark is contemptible -- using his handicapped wife to further his political ambitions...

A shift in the wind

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Frustration with the 'old guard' Republican party is building. From The Right Scoop:
THIRD PARTY? Sarah Palin warns GOP: If you abandon us, we�ll abandon you�
Today Sarah Palin sent a warning shot over the bow of the GOP, suggesting that if they continue to back away from the principles in our party, people are going to form a new party and she might be among them (h/t: Daily Caller):
I love the name of that party � the �Freedom Party�. And if the GOP continues to back away from the planks in our platform, from the principles that built this party of Lincoln and Reagan, then yeah, more and more of us are going to start saying, �You know, what�s wrong with being independent,� kind of with that libertarian streak that much of us have. In other words, we want government to back off and not infringe upon our rights. I think there will be a lot of us who start saying �GOP, if you abandon us, we have nowhere else to go except to become more independent and not enlisted in a one or the other private majority parties that rule in our nation, either a Democrat or a Republican.� Remember these are private parties, and you know, no one forces us to be enlisted in either party.
Sarah Palin is not the first to warn the GOP of a possible third party. Just the other day Mark Levin gave the Republican leadership a similar warning:
And I want to warn the Republican Leadership about something. If I and millions of us decide to leave you; if I and millions of us � the conservative base, the constitutionalists, that taxpayers, the people who make this country work � if we decide to leave you, you�re finished. You�re kaput. You�ll never be in the majority again.

And God knows you�re provoking us.
We need another Ronald Regan, we need some adults in the room. The time for power games is over. Our representatives are out of touch with reality. The next six months will be interesting. I know that Dr. Levin has a book coming out in a few months dealing with this very issue.
From the VanDerBrink Auctions website:
Summary: Amazing Collection of Chevrolet Cars still on MSO and Low miled Trades-True Survivor Cars. Also approx. 500 Collector cars for project, parts and Rod. Parts, Tools and More!
And the story:
The Story of Ray P. Lambrecht and Lambrecht Chevrolet Company by Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell
Urban legends speak of a former Midwest Chevy dealer with a collection of hundreds of vehicles hidden away in a rural setting. Rumors abound regarding this man and the mystery of that collection. The man behind that legend is my father, Ray P. Lambrecht. Dad owned and operated Lambrecht Chevrolet Company from 1946 until 1996, selling new Chevrolets to multiple generations of families all over the Midwest and beyond. This is his story.
And the upshot:
The decision to auction the inventory of Lambrecht Chevrolet Company was a difficult and painful one. The collection of over 500 true survivor vehicles comprise a lifetime of hard work, tears, and joy for both of my parents. The dealership today is a virtual time capsule that will be opened and all contents will be sold at auction. The inventory of the dealership�s vehicles includes many new cars with original MSO�s as well as hundreds of rare 50�s and 60�s Chevys ideal for restoration projects. Looking back at the history of Lambrecht Chevrolet, my parents have no regrets, and are proud of the thousands of new cars and trucks they sold to many generations of happy customers. They hope that these rare collectible vehicles will now be the source of joy and inspiration for car enthusiasts everywhere.

VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC is honored to offer this Time Capsule of Chevrolets. It's amazing. A 1956 Chevrolet Cameo Pickup with less than 10 miles on MSO, a 1963 Chevrolet Impala with less than 10 miles on MSO, and the list goes on including many from the 1950's, 60's including Tri-Fives, Chevelles, Impalas, and more. There is also an assortment of cars that were Trades and were parked away and not sold. There is also an assortment of NOS parts, tools, some advertising, and more. Plan now to come to Pierce, NE on the weekend of September 28th & 29th, 2013 at 9:30 Am. This is a once in a lifetime auction that collectors only dream about- finding a "new" old Car in a barn- a True Survivor- The True Barn Find. This collection has been talked about and Urban Legend for years. But now the Time Capsule will be opened and auctioned to the Highest bidder. For more information www.vanderbrinkauctions.com or call VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC at 605-201-7005. Preview will be before the auction and a video will be posted prior to the auction. You won't want to miss this auction!
Just wow -- I am not into old cars. I know people who are and I love their vehicles but there is just too much money that goes in to doing a decent job of restoration. That being said, I would love to be there for the auction -- this is truly a once in a lifetime event. MSO stands for "Manufacturer's Statement of Origin" and is the equivalent of a vehicle title as it comes from the manufacturer to the dealer. Basically, a vehicle with an M.S.O. has never been sold.

Done for the day

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Did a lot of yardwork today and a neighbor came over to help fix my riding mower. It broke while he was borrowing it so he is making the repairs. Was in for lunch and now done for the day -- getting an early start on the garden tomorrow as the Farmer's Market is tomorrow too. Shopping run on Monday so a full next couple of days... Got some burger patties chilling in the fridge and the BBQ cranked up and ready to go -- we will be eating outside as the weather is just gorgeous. Surfing later tonight and an early bedtime -- got to get into farmer mode now that the weather is cooperating...
From Bloomberg:
U.S. House Backs Bill to Expand Coastal Oil, Gas Drilling
Oil and gas exploration off U.S. coasts would be expanded under legislation the U.S. House of Representatives passed over the threat of a presidential veto.

The vote on the bill, H.R. 2231, was 235-186.

The measure would require the Obama administration to conduct additional sales of oil and gas leases off the coasts of Virginia, South Carolina, southern California and Alaska over the next five years, reports Bloomberg BNA.
And of course:
The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a June 25 statement of administration policy warning of a potential veto. The measure �would undermine the targeted, science-based and regionally tailored development strategy that the American people and the states have helped development,� according to that statement.
Why doesn't our government just stand back and let Americans get back to work. Stop meddling!
From the UK Independent:
Hollywood helped Adolf Hitler with Nazi propaganda drive, academic claims
Hollywood is not widely thought of as providing much support to Hitler's regime, instead producing a wealth of anti-Nazi films during the Second World War, ranging from Casablanca to The Great Dictator.

But now a young historian says that in the years before the war, Tinseltown was marching to a very different tune. Ben Urwand, 35 has written a book, The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact With Hitler, in which he cites documents that prove, he says, US studios acquiesced to Nazi censorship of their films actively cooperated with the regime's world propaganda effort.

�Hollywood is not just collaborating with Nazi Germany,� Urwand told the New York Times. �It�s also collaborating with Adolf Hitler, the person and human being.�
Some more:
The book describes many Jewish studio bosses not only censoring films to suit the regime, but also producing material that could be inserted into German propaganda films and even financing German weapons manufacturing. The collaboration of Hollywood with the regime began in 1930, says Urwand, when Carl Laemmle Jr of Universal Studios agreed major cuts to the First World War film All Quiet On The Western Front after riots in Germany instigated by the Nazi party.

�I would say there were a few shocking moments, probably starting with the document I discovered in the National Archives in Washington which explained how MGM was insulating its profits,� Urwand told the Times of London.

�There was a law in Germany that foreign businesses couldn't export currency. They made an exception for MGM because they were financing the production of German armaments.�

After Hitler came to power, the book details regular studio visits by representatives of the regime, including Georg Gyssling, the special consul assigned to monitor Hollywood, who watched films and dictated scene-by-scene requests for cuts. In June 1939 MGM gave 10 Nazi newspaper editors a tour of its studio in Los Angeles, and during the 1930s hardly any Jewish characters appeared in Hollywood films.

Despite some raised eyebrows from other academics over the book's title, Urwand is unequivocal about it:
�Collaboration is what the studios were doing, and how they describe it.�
Does not surprise me at all -- the current culture had to come from somewhere.

Glad I do not live in the city

The Zimmerman case is a perfect example of self defense. When George Zimmerman is acquitted, there may be riots. From Pat Buchanan writing at Real Clear Politics (article from May of 2012):
What If Zimmerman Walks Free?
Three months ago, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

Handcuffed, taken in and interrogated, Zimmerman told police Trayvon had been acting suspiciously that dark and rainy night, that he had followed Trayvon, been knocked down and battered on the ground, and, fearing for his life, pulled a concealed handgun and shot him.

Sanford police and prosecutors concluded that Zimmerman acted in self-defense and had not committed a provable felony. They let him go.

A racial firestorm followed. "Blacks are under attack," railed Jesse Jackson. "Killing us is big business." Arriving in Sanford, the reverend dialed it up. Trayvon was "shot down in cold blood by a vigilante ... murdered and martyred."

Rep. Maxine Waters' charge of "hate crime" was echoed by radio talker Joe Madison. Rep. Hank Johnson said Trayvon had been "executed." The Grio compared his killing to the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955.

The New Black Panther Party put Zimmerman's face on a "Wanted Dead or Alive" poster, called for 5,000 black men to run him down and said Trayvon had been "murdered in cold blood."

Spike Lee twittered Zimmerman's home address.
Pat concludes with the following:
With this evidence, how can a jury convict Zimmerman of murder?

Yet the public mind has been so poisoned that an acquittal of George Zimmerman could ignite a reaction similar to that, 20 years ago, when the Simi Valley jury acquitted the LAPD cops in the Rodney King beating case.

Should that happen, those who fanned the flames, and those who did nothing to douse them, should themselves go on trial in the public arena.
Seattle shouldn't be too bad but I pity those living in the large urban areas.

Finally some nice weather

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Been a long wet spring but we are finally getting some great weather. Got a bunch of outside projects to work on. Lulu's son is out for a visit so will put him to work...

Corruption - the cycle continues

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Excellent bit of history from Michael Walsh writing at PJ Media:
Ring of Fire, Den of Thieves
�The whole crowd are a complete ring: the Chief of Police, the Chief of Detectives, the Mayor and the City Attorney.� Thus spake special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, the gang-busting lawyer and politician, when he was trying to extradite Lucky Luciano from his protected redoubt in Bill Clinton�s home town of Hot Springs, Ark., back in 1936. After the assassination of fellow gangster Dutch Schultz in the fall of 1935, Charlie Lucky had fled to Bubbles, where he sought the protection of Owney Madden, the English-born Irish gangster who had recently moved his base of operations from Manhattan to Hot Springs.

The charge was pimping, but everyone knew that was just a placeholder for all the other crimes Luciano had committed. As the last man standing after the Castellammarese War of 1930-31, the mob-sanctioned takedown of the Dutchman and Madden�s simultaneous relocation to Hot Springs, the Sicilian-born Salvatore Lucania had survived various attempts on his life (hence his nickname, �Lucky�) to become the mob�s kingpin � and Dewey�s principal target. So when Dewey turned up the heat in New York, Luciano headed down to Madden�s protective embrace in the delightfully corrupt spa burg in the Ouachitas.

Hot Springs was ideally located, just 55 miles or so from the state capital at Little Rock, which was close enough with which to do business and far away so as not to be nosy. When Madden needed something done, he would simply order the governor to meet him somewhere in the woods between the two cities, orders would be given, money would exchange hands, and business would proceed at usual.
Read the whole thing -- Walsh brings it up to today and Clinton and Obama. The connections are pretty obvious once pointed out...

13 out of 13

Fun little test here: Science and Technology Knowledge Quiz Hat tip to Grouchy Old Cripple for the link.
Home Depot, Sears, Target, J.C. Penney and WalMart From CBS News:
Paula Deen's upcoming book nixed by publisher
Paula Deen's upcoming cookbook, currently the No. 1 seller on Amazon.com, has been dropped by its publisher.

In a brief statement Friday, Ballantine Books announced it had canceled publication of "Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up." The book was scheduled for release in October, and in recent days pre-orders have raised it to No. 1 on the online bookseller's sales ranks. Her 2011 cookbook, "Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible," has risen to the second spot.

Deen has lost many of her business relationships following revelations that she used racial slurs in the past. Sears Holdings Corp and J.C. Penney Co. Friday that they're cutting ties with Deen, following similar announcements from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Home Depot.

Last week, the Food Network said that it would not renew her contract. She was also dropped by Smithfield Foods, Caesars Entertainment stripped her name from restaurants and drug company Novo Nordisk said it was suspending its work with her.
All this over one person's claims from thirty years ago. Hell, I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 1950's and everybody called each other by their ethnic slurs. Wop, Kike, Nigger, Pollack -- these names only have power when someone gives them power and that, is racism... I wish I had ties to the publishing industry -- I'd snap her book up in a heartbeat.

Union entitlement - a two-fer

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First - from Reuters:
Public pension costs swamp revenues of 10 U.S. states -Moody's
Ten U.S. states have public pension liabilities that are at least as big as their annual revenues, according to a Moody's Investors Service report released on Thursday that found the Illinois pension bill was equal to 241 percent of its revenues.
The others:
After Illinois, Connecticut had the highest pension burden in the country, with a pension liability equal to 189.7 percent of revenues. That was followed by Kentucky, at 140.9 percent; New Jersey, 137.2 percent; Hawaii, 132.5 percent; and Louisiana, s 130.2 percent. Colorado's net pension liability was slightly more than revenues at 117.5 percent and Maryland's slightly less at 99.5 percent.
Second - from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
UAW ate Detroit: Chattanooga could be its next meal
Will Chattanooga�s Volkswagen plant expand and hire more workers?

That�s what Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and City Mayor Andy Berke hope. The two men recently traveled to Germany to meet with Volkswagen officials, hoping to convince them to expand the Chattanooga facilities� production to include a new SUV.

Expansion would be good for Chattanooga; since the plant opened in 2011 it has employed thousands of workers and pumped millions of dollars into the local economy. But a shadow looms over the prospects of possible expansion, indeed over the very existence of the plant itself: the United Auto Workers union.

The UAW would love to organize VW to staunch the bleeding of membership that has turned the former giant into a phantom of its former self: Since 1979 membership has declined 74 percent.

Why has it declined so drastically?
Why not revive Detroit and make it a worker's paradise instead of trashing Chattanooga. Unionization had its day but no more -- it needs to fade away gracefully.

School loans - a grim outcome

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I guess that degree in Underwater Basket Weaving didn't pan out that well. From CBS Moneywatch:
Third of student loan borrowers never earned degree
One out of every five adults 20 years of age or older owe money on student loans, and more than half of them are worried about this debt, according to a new study by the Urban Institute.

The exact figures for American adults: 19.6 percent have student loans and 57 percent are concerned about repayment.

A third of the debtors are not college graduates, and 9 percent of them possess only a high school degree. The high school graduates may have incurred debt by pursuing nondegree training or helping to pay for a child's education. Some 25 percent attended college but did not graduate.
And of course, the colleges and universities get their money up front...
From Reuters:
World Bank plans to limit financing of coal-fired power plants
The World Bank plans to limit the financing it provides for coal-fired power plants to "rare circumstances" as part of the global financial body's efforts to address the impact of climate change.

The move was detailed in a 39-page strategy document seen by Reuters. It came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama - as part of a sweeping package of climate measures - said that the United States would stop investing in coal projects overseas and called on multilateral banks to do the same.

"The World Bank Group will help clients identify alternatives to coal power as they make transitions toward sustainable energy," the report said.

The bank plans to cease providing financial support for new coal power generation projects, "except in rare circumstances where there are no feasible alternatives available to meet basic energy needs and other sources of financing are absent."
This will cause more deaths than can be imagined. Cheap plentiful energy is the one thing that raises life expectancies, increases overall health and boosts local economies. By denying countries this, they are condemning them to remaining a third-world hell-hole dependent on the World Bank for miserly handouts. Of course, Russia and China are going to follow the World Bank's rules. Believe that and I have a bridge to sell you...

Good legislative news from Canada

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From the Ottawa Sun:
Hate speech provision in Human Rights Act struck down
An Alberta MP has succeeded in his bid to repeal a section of the Canadian Human Rights Act long seen by free-speech advocates as a tool to squelch dissenting opinions.

Conservative MP Brian Storseth saw the Senate give third and final reading late Wednesday to his Bill C-304 which repeals Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, an act that had been used to, among other things, attack the writings of Sun News Network's Ezra Levant and Maclean's columnist Mark Steyn.

Section 13 ostensibly banned hate speech on the Internet and left it up to the quasi-judicial human rights commission to determine what qualified as "hate speech."

But, unlike a court, there was no presumption of innocence of those accused of hate speech by the commission.

Instead, those accused had to prove their innocence.
Mark's dealings with this beggars belief -- you can read more here (long form) or here (synopsis).

Pants on fire - Zimmerman trial

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Reading more on the Zimmerman trial and came across this lil' nugget from ABC News:
George Zimmerman Witness Can't Read Letter She 'Wrote' About Shooting
A teenage friend of Trayvon Martin was forced to admit today in the George Zimmerman murder trial that she did not write a letter that was sent to Martin's mother describing what she allegedly heard on a phone call with Martin moments before he was shot.

In a painfully embarrassing moment, Rachel Jeantel was asked to read the letter out loud in court.

"Are you able to read that at all?" defense attorney Don West asked.

Jeantel, head bowed, eyes averted whispered into the court microphone, "Some but not all. I don't read cursive."
Christ on a corn dog -- if I was nineteen and could not read, I would spend the next month or two learning. What kind of fscking idiot would not consider that something to be remedied at the earliest possible moment. Considering that these people vote, it is no wonder we are suffering through another four years of Obungler...
From The Smoking Gun:

Twitter Account Gets Scrubbed In Zimmerman Case
In a late-night scrubbing spree, dozens of embarrassing and incriminating posts were deleted Tuesday evening from the Twitter account of a Florida woman who has been described as a star government witness in the George Zimmerman murder case, The Smoking Gun has learned.

The sanitizing of Rachel Jeantel's Twitter account came as the 19-year-old Miami resident prepared to take the stand and testify about a phone call she had with Trayvon Martin immediately before the unarmed 17-year-old was shot to death by Zimmerman in February 2012.
I thought tampering with evidence was a Federal crime. More:

As TSG reported yesterday, Jeantel, pictured above, maintains a Twitter account (@MsRachel_94) to which she has made more than 200 posts over the past five months. Many of the teenager's tweets referred to drinking, smoking, and getting high. She also made references to Martin's death, referred to acquaintances as "bitch" and "nigga", and wrote about having "jackass lawyers on my ass."

Yesterday afternoon, after TSG sought to contact several of Jeantel"s Twitter followers and Facebook friends, 14 tweets -- and 13 linked Twitpic photos -- were deleted from her Twitter account (which carries the personal motto "My Character And Action Describe Who I Am"). The removed tweets included references to drinking and a link to a sexually suggestive set of photos. Another killed tweet, from June 23, read "Court nails" and linked to a photo of fingernails (presumably Jeantel's) with fresh orange polish. Additionally, several Twitpic images of assorted liquor bottles were deleted.

The scrubbing of Jeantel's Twitter account, however, did not end there.

After 10 PM (Eastern) last night, 43 other tweets were deleted. The postings disappeared about two hours after TSG published a story about Jeantel's social media musings. A TSG comparison of Jeantel's sanitized Twitter account with the version from early Tuesday afternoon showed that the number of published tweets plummeted from 202 to 146.

A compilation of the 43 deleted Jeantel tweets can be found on pages beginning here. The 14 tweets deleted yesterday afternoon can be found here.

The material deleted last evening included nearly all remaining references to the underage Jeantel's partying, including tweets like "When u drinking & smoking u need good music in ur ears hahaha I feel so good on Sunday" and "I need a drink to sleep dis off fuck dis shit boi."
I wonder if there is any possibility of a class action lawsuit against the Florida Public School teachers -- this is not an educated person by any stretch of the imagination...
It just keeps piling on... From CBS Evening News:
Probe: IRS contractor won up to $500 million in questionable bids
The Internal Revenue Service got some more unwanted attention Tuesday, but not for targeting political groups. This time, a congressional investigation has revealed a technology contractor won questionable bids worth up to $500 million.

Braulio Castillo began winning hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts with the IRS within months of founding his technology company Strong Castle in early 2012.

"We've found the kind of wrongdoing that should have caused this contract to be cancelled," said Republican Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, which investigated Castillo's rapid rise.

They found that just before opening Strong Castle, Castillo filed for a "disability rating" with the Veterans Administration, citing a "foot injury he suffered in 1984" -- 27 years ago -- while playing sports at a military prep school.

That rating enabled Castillo to register Strong Castle as a "service-disabled, veteran-owned small business," eligible for preferential treatment in bidding competitions.

"Understand -- never served a day on active duty, went to a school at taxpayers' expense and had a minor injury that didn't keep him from going on to play college ball," Issa said.
This was not an independent business, this was a business founded for one purpose -- the defrauding of a Government Agency. Phantom employees, location specifically targeted towards favorable bidding. More at the site. Darrell is on a roll -- go for it!!!
Sundance over at The Last Refuge has been covering this since the beginning. It took a while for Trayvon's Facebook pages to be taken down and the evidence collected there, along with autopsy reports, paint the picture of long-term drug use and the drug of choice:
Chronic use may cause depression, psychological dependency, and possibly brain damage. Large doses may be associated with psychotic breaks.
Trayvon was dealing as well -- again, Facebook pictures and text. I started getting into it with these two posts: Part 1 and Part 2 There is a lot more at the site and George Zimmerman should be acquitted of all charges. Self defense pure and simple. The home page is here -- current trial information is posted daily.
Greta Van Susteren has a brilliant solution. One page and it uses the mechanisms that are already in place. From her website at FOX News:
MY ONE PAGE IMMIGRATION BILL (not 1200 page) � HOW ABOUT A SIMPLE IMMIGRATION SOLUTION? (not perfect � but simple?)
With regard to our nation�s illegal immigration problem, the goal should be to SOLVE it, not WIN some political battle.

If you want to solve a problem, and not win some fight, it means no one will get everything he or she wants but will have to compromise (give up some things) but in the end we achieve a workable solution.

The solution, to work, must but be simple, not complex. The more complex, the more problems that will arise from it. Complex solutions are not solutions and a recipe for more fights and confusion.

So�I thought I would take a stab at a simple, not perfect, solution for illegal immigration. I may be missing something (you will tell me) but I am trying to make this bare bones easy while achieving the goals of the nation. Read the entire proposal below, and tell me what you think. DO NOT EXPECT MY PROPOSAL WILL BE 100 per cent of what YOU want � instead ask yourself if it is a giant step forward and addresses the issues in a simple and manageable way:
1/ PROBLEM: every day we get people entering the USA illegally (or staying beyond visas � I will get to this later.)
SIMPLE SOLUTION: SEAL THE BORDERS. Don�t tell me we don�t have the money � we do. We can stop doing stupid thinks like the IRS, in just 2 years, spending $50 million on conferences involving line dancing and trinkets. (They don�t have receipts for the other years and you can expect the same absurd waste.) We can sell empty government buildings (the number of buildings is staggering!) and everyone, including the President, can tighten the belt (is this really the right time to be going to Africa to the tune of $60-100 million dollars?) Cost overruns and waste at the Pentagon are breathtakingly large�and I could go on and on and on. We just need to start being smart about our money.

We can figure out how to seal the borders (it just isn�t that hard!) and we can afford it.

2/ PROBLEM: What about the 11 MILLION IN THE USA ILLEGALLY NOW? If you speak to the 11 million, you know their big fear and that is that ICE will deport them. That is what THEY want solved.
SIMPLE SOLUTION: give them special green cards (we already know how to do that and have a mechanism) but make them ineligible for citizenship with their special green cards since there should be some price for violating our laws. They can stay and work forever and be good neighbors with green cards � but they can�t be citizens for violating our immigration law and then getting lucky. Green cards are a solution in that they will give them the wanted security ICE is not coming for them in the middle of the night and we will have them working legally and paying taxes. They will be good neighbors.

If by chance some want to become citizens, there is a path � the old fashion one that every immigrant who became a US Citizen followed. They should follow the rule for immigration that have been in effect for decades. The person with the green card can return home to his or her country, stay there for a period of time and make application for citizenship. We don�t have to invent any new red tape under my proposal � do it the old fashion way. It takes some work to become a citizen � and inconvenience of going home for a period of time � but it will show the level of desire and commitment. It will also confirm to us the person really wants to be a citizen.
More at the site. Beats all the loopholes and pork in the current bill. Some fun comments too -- complete moonbat and preaching to the choir.
From Florida station WFLA:
Close encounter with huge Fla. wasp nest
Jonathan Simkins is an expert in flying insects. He has a degree in entomology from the University of Florida, and has been working in the industry for more than twenty years.

Simkins is the owner of Insect I.Q. He travels all over Florida to deal with honey bees, Africanized bees, yellow jackets and other stinging insects.

Recently, he faced the challenge of his life.

Simkins was called to a large, privately-owned tract of land in Central Florida to deal with a huge yellow jacket wasp nest.

"I have never seen a nest this large in my entire life," said Simkins. "This is the prehistoric nest from the dinosaur ages."

He says the nest was more than six and half feet tall, and eight feet wide. It may have contained more than a million insects.

"To put it into perspective, a nest we deal with on a day to day basis might have a thousand to five thousand," Simkins said.

Simkins shot his own video of the nest before he eradicated it.

As he approached the nest, the worker wasps attacked him and his equipment.

In the video you can hear hundreds of wasps hit the camera. The buzzing is non-stop, and Simkins' voice is clearly tense.

"I have to be honest with you, I was terrified at one point, and there were several times that I had to pull out and get a breather. My heart rate was racing, I had hundreds of them on my veil," said Simkins.

He used a spray and his own technique to kill the entire nest.

Simkins says if someone had walked up to the nest unawares, and riled the wasps, they could have been killed..
Simkins works for these people: ALL Florida Bee Removal Fun website with lots of information and case stories.
From The Daily Beast:
Greenwald: Snowden�s Files Are Out There if �Anything Happens� to Him
As the U.S. government presses Moscow to extradite former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, America�s most wanted leaker has a plan B. The former NSA systems administrator has already given encoded files containing an archive of the secrets he lifted from his old employer to several people. If anything happens to Snowden, the files will be unlocked.
There are so many options available to Snowden -- it is one thing to try to decrypt a file when handed to you on a thumbdrive. It is another thing entirely to try to find each and every fragment of the file when it is distributed through the internet. Especially when the decryption key has been broken into ten parts but you only need three random fragments to successfully decrypt. Especially when the agent has had several months to plan. The keys could be anywhere from steganography in someone's Facebook page to a hidden folder in an SD card in someone's brother's camera. This story writ large...

The IRS - a two-fer

Physician, heal thyself... First - from Breitbart:

IG: IRS credit cards used for wine, pornography
A government watchdog says lax oversight by the Internal Revenue Service allowed workers to use agency credit cards to buy wine for an expensive luncheon and, in one case, romance novels, diet pills and baby clothes.

Two IRS credit cards were used to buy online pornography, though the employees reported the cards stolen. One of the workers reported five agency credit cards lost or stolen.

A report Tuesday by the IRS inspector general found the vast majority of purchases by IRS employees legitimate. However, the report said the IRS has inadequate controls to stop inappropriate purchases.

The report said IRS credit cards paid for 28 bottles of wine at a 2010 luncheon for tax officials from other countries. There were 41 guests.

Second - from Americans for Tax Reform:

IRS Credit Cards Used to Purchase Kazoos, Stuffed Animals, and Nerf footballs
A report released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) documented improper items purchased by IRS employees using taxpayer-funded credit cards. Items include:
  • Plush animals, sunglasses and stove top hats used for give-away prizes
  • Kazoos, bathtub toy boats, and Thomas the Tank Engine rubber wristbands for managers meetings
  • Nerf footballs purchased for team-building exercise but never used - which are currently stored in a filing cabinet
  • Jigsaw puzzle and the world's largest crossword puzzle purchased for team building.
IRS employees also used their purchase cards for extravagant outings including:
  • Dinner at a price of $140 per person, four times the Federal Government per diem rate
  • Lunch at the cost of $100 per person, five times the Federal Government per diem rate
  • 28 bottles of wine for 41 guests

The report (PDF) is linked in the Second entry. Sure, some spending for morale is good but this is way over the top.

Hmmmm - a geeky opportunity

Buy a Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet at a close-out price -- from Reuters:

Barnes & Noble retreats from tablet wars as Nook sales plummet
Barnes & Noble Inc will stop manufacturing its own Nook tablets, marking the end of its expensive attempt to compete alone with deep-pocketed rivals Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc and Google Inc in the tablet wars.

The top U.S. bookstore chain reported another quarter of dismal results on Tuesday, led by a 34 percent drop in sales of Nook devices and e-books business, and said it expects sales to continue to decline this fiscal year at its bookstores.

34% drop? WINCE! Wait until they have their close-out sale, pick up one or two for cheap and then visit here:

Welcome to nookDevs
a community dedicated to hacking the nook (classic), nook Color, Nook Simple Touch and Nook Tablet and exposing the possibilities

Nice platform, lots of accessories and now, run whatever you want to with no DRM hassles. The underlying OS is Android.

Where I live is at the end of the road - literally. State Route 542 ends at Mt. Baker and doesn't continue through to Eastern Washington like all of the other major state routes (SR-20, SR-2, I-90, etc...) For some reason, this seems to attract a certain set of people who want to get out of the city but who also do not want to function in society or otherwise earn their keep. We generally get one or more of these people drifting through each summer. Some just have mental issues (we had a very persistent one of those last summer), others are just sociopaths who "earn" their keep by ripping off other people, breaking into houses, cars, etc. We seem to have had one of those move in last week. Got a call from my store manager that our alarm company noticed something last night around 4:00AM. Time to break out the shotgun and borrow my neighbors backhoe...

Capacitor plague

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Capacitors are an electronic component essential to any kind of circuit that deals with analog (ie: variable) signals. Audio, power supplies, radio, video, etc... A huge list. The problem is that some of these are made with an electrochemical component and as the race to the bottom (cheaper prices) developed, quality was not given the consideration that it should have had. This summer, I will be restoring two cherished pieces of electronic music equipment -- an Oberheim two-voice and an Oberheim Xpander -- and the first order of business will be to replace all the capacitors. Wikipedia has an excellent article on this problem -- non-technical people can skim over the MEGO parts and still get a good understanding of the problem. MEGO -- My Eyes Glaze Over
Capacitor plague
The capacitor plague was a problem with a large number of premature failures of aluminum electrolytic capacitors with non-solid or liquid electrolyte of certain brands, especially from some Taiwanese manufacturers. The capacitors failed because of a special water based corrosion effect, due to a poorly formulated electrolyte.

The first flawed capacitors were reported in September 2002. Many publicized press releases about the widespread problem with premature failures of Taiwanese electrolytic capacitors appeared. Most of the affected capacitors failed in the early to middle years of the first decade of the 2000s. High failure rates occurred in various electronic equipment, particularly motherboards, video cards, compact fluorescent lamp ballasts, LCD monitors, and power supplies of personal computers. News of the failures (usually after a few years of use) forced many equipment manufacturers to repair the defects. As of 2013 the problem seems to have receded, with the last major surge of complaints being reported in 2010.
There are also some kinds of cap chemistries (Tantalum) that fail after 20-30 years of operation -- these are my primary focus for these two projects. I have worked on a lot of computer systems and have seen my share of blown caps on recent systems -- shop on price and you do really get what you pay for.

Best Snowden comment ever

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There is a growing body of evidence that Edward J. Snowden may actually not exist at all but is a stalking horse creation for distracting our attention. He was booked on a known public flight out of Moscow but failed to show up. The flight from HKG to SVO was on a private craft. Funded by whom? Ran into this:
Tweet
And a big tip 'o the hat to Glenn for the link.
The store buying run was longer than usual -- got home around 5:30PM, usually get home well before 4PM. Working on two large projects in the shop so next few days will be busy as well. My Brittany Spaniel Finnegan has been having a bit of a behavioral shift in the last week so we have an appointment with the Veterinarian tomorrow -- he is getting pretty old but I would sorely hate to lose him -- a really dear dear buddy. Surf for a bit and then up to an early bed...

Good news from the Grand Canyon

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I did not watch Nik Wallenda's Canyon Cross -- not into sensationalism and did not want to view what would happen if he fell. Went online after the event to find that he was successful although had to pause twice on the 1,500 foot crossing:
Daredevil Nik Wallenda completes tightrope walk near Grand Canyon
Aerialist Nik Wallenda completed a tightrope walk that took him a quarter mile over the Little Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona on Sunday.

Wallenda performed the stunt on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the river on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon. He took just more than 22 minutes, pausing and crouching twice as winds whipped around him and the rope swayed.

"Thank you Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God," he said about 13 minutes into the walk.

Wallenda didn't wear a harness and stepped slowly and steady throughout, murmuring prayers to Jesus almost constantly along the way. He jogged and hopped the last few steps.
Good that his prayers were answered. I can not imagine the level of focus needed to perform something like this -- the altitude is not the issue; over 30 feet and you are pretty much toast if you fall.

A modest proposal

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A great story out of London - from Paul Driessen, writing at Watts Up With That:
Greedy Africans are starving our cars
�You�ve heard of Live Aid? Well, this is Drive Aid,� an ardent young man says, as he approaches London pedestrians. �Greedy people in developing nations are eating huge amounts of food that could easily be turned into biofuel to power our cars. African acreage the size of Belgium is being used for food, and we�re saying it should go to cars here in the UK. Can we have your support?�

Londoners reacted with disbelief and outrage, the ActionAid UK video shows, and refused to sign his mock petition. The amusing stunt drove home a vital point: Biofuel programs are turning food into fuel, converting cropland into fuel production sites, and disrupting food supplies for hungry people worldwide. The misguided programs are having serious environmental consequences, as well.

Why, then, can�t politicians, bureaucrats and environmentalists display the common sense exhibited by London�s citizenry? Why did President Obama tell Africans (many of whom are malnourished) in July 2009 that they should refrain from using �dirty� fossil fuels and use their �bountiful� biofuel and other renewable energy resources, instead? When will Congress pull the plug on Renewable Fuel Standards?
Paul goes on to bring some realty into the equation:
In fact, biofuels and Renewable Fuel Standards cannot be justified on any grounds.

The United States is using 40 million acres of cropland (Iowa plus New Jersey) and 45% of its corn crop to produce 14 billion gallons of ethanol annually. This amount of corn could feed some 570 million people, out of the 1.2 billion who still struggle to survive on $1.25 per day.

This corn-centric agriculture is displacing wheat and other crops, dramatically increasing grain and food prices, and keeping land under cultivation that would otherwise be returned to wildlife habitat. It requires millions of pounds of insecticides, billions of pounds of fertilizer, vast amounts of petroleum-based energy, and billions of gallons of water � to produce a fuel that gets one-third less mileage per gallon than gasoline and achieves no overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Ethanol mandates have caused US corn prices to rocket from $1.96 per average bushel in 2005 to as much as $7.50 in autumn 2012 and $6.68 in June 2013. Corn growers and ethanol makers get rich. However, soaring corn prices mean beef, pork, poultry, egg and fish producers pay more for corn-based feed; grocery manufacturers pay more for corn, meat, fish and corn syrup; families pay more for everything on their dinner table; and starving Africans go hungry because aid agencies cannot buy as much food.

By 2022, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (amending the 2005 law) requires 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol and 21 billion gallons of cellulosic and other non-corn-based biofuels. That will monumentally worsen all these problems.

Equally insane, the Environmental Protection Agency�s draft rule for 2013 required that refiners purchase 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels. There�s a teensy problem: the fuel doesn�t exist. A mere 4,900 gallons were produced in March, and zero the other months. So companies are forced to buy fantasy fuel, fined big bucks if they do not, and punished if they get conned into buying fraudulent �renewable fuel credits� from �socially responsible� companies like Clean Green Fuel, Absolute Fuels and Green Diesel.
Much more at the site -- this is a political scam and has nothing to do with actual energy. The initial intention may have been noble but once the politicians got their grubby little mits on it, it devolved into a power grab -- companies like Archer Daniels Midland make billions off this and return just a few million in campaign contributions. Title? Full title is this: A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick written in 1729 by Jonathan Swift From the Wikipedia entry:
Swift suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.

Swift goes to great lengths to support his argument, including a list of possible preparation styles for the children, and calculations showing the financial benefits of his suggestion. He uses methods of argument throughout his essay which lampoon then-influential William Petty and the social engineering popular among followers of Francis Bacon. These lampoons include appealing to the authority of "a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London" and "the famous Psalmanazar, a native of the island Formosa" (who had already confessed to not being from Formosa in 1706). This essay is widely held to be one of the greatest examples of sustained irony in the history of the English language. Much of its shock value derives from the fact that the first portion of the essay describes the plight of starving beggars in Ireland, so that the reader is unprepared for the surprise of Swift's solution when he states, "A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout."
I have not been blogging about the Snowden affair -- a lot of other people have, go and read them. I am appalled at the extent that our government is snooping on us but Snowden is just a distraction. A bauble to keep our eyes off the main issue. Interesting to see his movements though -- from the New York Times:
Snowden, in Russia, Said to Seek Asylum in a Third Nation
Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for leaking classified documents about global American surveillance, fled his Hong Kong hide-out for Moscow on Sunday aboard a commercial Russian jetliner, in what appeared to be the first step in an odyssey to seek political asylum in Ecuador.

In a day of frustrated scrambling by American officials who are seeking Mr. Snowden�s extradition � and had annulled his passport in attempts to foil any escape � he boarded an Aeroflot jetliner in Hong Kong that reached Moscow on Sunday afternoon. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Mr. Snowden was in a Moscow airport transit area, apparently awaiting a connection to another country.

Ecuador�s foreign minister said that Mr. Snowden had submitted a request for asylum, an assertion corroborated by WikiLeaks, the organization that discloses government secrets and has come to the assistance of Mr. Snowden. In a statement on its Web site, WikiLeaks said �he is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.�
It was this line on page three that caught my eye:
Mr. Snowden is reportedly carrying four laptop computers with American intelligence documents that he downloaded to a thumb drive this spring while working in Hawaii for the National Security Agency as an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton.
The fact that he is carrying laptops as well as the thumb drives indicates that he is also bring working applications with him -- crypto programs complete with keys. Of course, the keys will be changed in a heartbeat were changed many days ago but there will be the huge body of intercepts that have yet to be decoded. Lots of goodies there to discover! The general public needs to remember that there is not one scandal of the day, there is also Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service, Immigration, Fast and Furious and these are just the biggies...
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez is in the news again -- from The Blaze:
Report: Dem. Senator Implicated in Another Potential Sex Scandal
Sen. Bob Menendez took a �romantic getaway� with a married newspaper publisher, the latest sex scandal allegation to hit the New Jersey Democrat, the New York Post reported:
The New Jersey Dem and Cecilia Reynolds jetted to Puerto Rico, where they stayed at the isolated beach retreat of the island�s then-governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila.

In a photo provided by the anonymous informant, Reynolds is sitting naked on a beach and suggestively smiling at the camera. In another set of pictures, they take turns posing against the same sunset backdrop.
And if the name sounds vaguely familiar, you might be remembering this:
Menendez was first implicated in a potential sex scandal in October after the Daily Caller reported visited prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. Multiple reports subsequently emerged about women coming forward saying they had been paid to lie. Menendez has flatly denied the prostitution allegations.
I do not care what you do in private life but when you sign on to represent your constituents, you need to hold yourself to a higher moral standard. You are now a Public Servant and need to act as such.
Now this is a crowded house -- from CNS News:
IRS Sent $46,378,040 in Refunds to 23,994 �Unauthorized� Aliens at 1 Atlanta Address
The Internal Revenue Service sent 23,994 tax refunds worth a combined $46,378,040 to �unauthorized� alien workers who all used the same address in Atlanta, Ga., in 2011, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

That was not the only Atlanta address theoretically used by thousands of �unauthorized� alien workers receiving millions in federal tax refunds in 2011. In fact, according to a TIGTA audit report published last year, four of the top ten addresses to which the IRS sent thousands of tax refunds to �unauthorized� aliens were in Atlanta.

The IRS sent 11,284 refunds worth a combined $2,164,976 to unauthorized alien workers at a second Atlanta address; 3,608 worth $2,691,448 to a third; and 2,386 worth $1,232,943 to a fourth.

Other locations on the IG�s Top Ten list for singular addresses that were theoretically used simultaneously by thousands of unauthorized alien workers, included an address in Oxnard, Calif, where the IRS sent 2,507 refunds worth $10,395,874; an address in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the IRS sent 2,408 refunds worth $7,284,212; an address in Phoenix, Ariz., where the IRS sent 2,047 refunds worth $5,558,608; an address in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where the IRS sent 1,972 refunds worth $2,256,302; an address in San Jose, Calif., where the IRS sent 1,942 refunds worth $5,091,027; and an address in Arvin, Calif., where the IRS sent 1,846 refunds worth $3,298,877.
And these are the people that are going to administer Obamacare? A few lines of code could flag more than 10 people living at a specific address. These "citizens" are probably long gone -- their checks were cashed at a payday loan store and are such untraceable. Looking at that first event, these checks average out to $1,932 each -- not exactly chump change. I wonder if there is some trigger at $2K that looks more closely at the transaction...

The Immigration Bill - page 66

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Our political masterminds at work -- from Breitbart:
CASINO CRONY KICKBACK: Reid, Heller Slip Las Vegas Tourism Handout into Immigration Bill
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) have inserted a provision that amounts to little more than a handout to Las Vegas casinos into the repackaged immigration reform bill, Breitbart News has learned. This provision, a brazen example of crony capitalism, was inserted into the immigration law enforcement section of the bill despite the fact that it has nothing whatsoever to do with "immigration" or "law enforcement."
Text of the pork at the site. Rope, tree. Some assembly required.
I belong to an email list for people interested in accurate timekeeping. There has been a fascinating discussion whether a Global Positioning Receiver (GPS) could be built with Vacuum tubes. It was first broached as a joke on a different thread but as threads are wont to do, it has taken on a life of its own and people are seriously analyzing this non-trivial problem. The upshot is that it looks feasible. Even maintaining an almanac can be done with 1940's synchronous resolver technology and some analog computing. Fun stuff!

Happy happy happy

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The first Farmer's Market of this year is scheduled for tomorrow. Also scheduled for tomorrow are rain-showers. Today is gorgeous -- Lulu and I were both working in the garden until a few moments ago, came inside for a cold beer and I have some hamburgers prepped and chilled in the fridge. Grill is warming up. The dogs are happy to be free of their winter's coats although they will probably speak differently tomorrow... I do love this area but sometimes, the weather can get in the way a bit too much. Oh well...

The flooding in Calgary

A commenter from Anthony's website brings some information on the "catastrophic" flooding going on in Calgary:

CodeTech says:
Wayne Delbeke has mentioned the floods in Calgary, and linked to a (horribly biased and uninformed) news item about it.

Here's the deal: there's no "horrible floods" in Calgary. This city has two rivers flowing in, they join, and a single one flows out. Both are high from spring runoff from the mountains. As most WUWT readers know, there was a LOT of snow in the mountains this year, and it's a higher than usual amount (not uncommonly high, but above average). Couple that with a storm system that spun in from Montana, and you get flooding. It's not even catastrophic, although if you watch the news you'd think it is.

Our biggest problem is that we have a politically naive and currently unpopular mayor looking to score brownie points and hoping to win the next election, hence the pro-active and largely unnecessary evacuations. Now, instead of being able to man their sump pumps and keep an eye on their property, homeowners are being forced away, the power shut off, and police and fire are watching the waters rise.

We had a similar flood in 2005, that did not require evacuations, and I predict that when this is all over the forced removal of residents from their potentially waterlogged basements is going to seriously hurt the city emergency handlers. Also another similar flood in 1995, and 1989, 1988, a few in the 70s, and so on back in time.

Meanwhile, while I was attempting to explain this on the CNN news item (yes, we made CNN). and if you think the CBC news item got it wrong, CNN and FoxNews both have them beat by a lot!) but apparently CNN is only interested in blocking any comment that could possibly lead someone to believe that this has nothing to do with "climate change". But hey, it's mostly what I expect from the mainstream media. They don't get it right, and their "fact checking" could barely be more lackadaisical.

So, anyone wondering how Calgary is doing, we're fine. Less than 10% of the city was forced out of their homes at a time they most need to watch over them, but the vast majority of those homes are not in danger.

(I live on a lake, 100 feet above river level, because I'm not stupid enough to build on a floodplain)

Here is CBC's reporting (06/20):

Calgary mayor to flood evacuees: 'Gather your valuables and go'
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is urging residents affected by flooding evacuation orders to "gather your valuables and go," while telling the city as a whole to avoid all non-essential travel on Friday.

"The message tonight is that we are still expecting that the worst has not yet come in terms of the flow," Nenshi told CBC News early Friday in a telephone interview from an emergency operations centre. "The dams will crest on both the Bow and Elbow river over the course of the next little while and the downstream impacts will be significant.

"If you live in any of the neighbourhoods that have now been affected by the mandatory evacuation it is time to leave. Gather your valuables and go," said Nenshi, who returned early from an economic development trip in Ontario to deal with the flooding response.

They know how much water is coming down the Bow and Elbow rivers and they know within a foot or two how high the floodwaters will crest. Why evacuate when they have already been through floods of this severity before...

Busy day today

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Our three dogs are going to the groomers today -- Grace is blowing her coat so it is time to have her shaved down to 3/8" or so. The first day of the Farmers Market is tomorrow so getting some last minute stuff taken care of -- the weather is supposed to be really nice today and tomorrow (but overcast tomorrow) so doing some yard work as well as work in the forge.

You are what you eat

Eight horrible chemicals that are in our food. Really! From Derek Lowe over at In the Pipeline:

Eight Toxic Foods: A Little Chemical Education
Many people who read this blog are chemists. Those who aren't often come from other branch of the sciences, and if they don't, it's safe to say that they're at least interested in science (or they probably don't hang around very long!) It's difficult, if you live and work in this sort of environment, to keep in mind what people are willing to believe about chemistry.

But that's what we have the internet for. Many science-oriented bloggers have taken on what's been called "chemophobia", and they've done some great work tearing into some some really uninformed stuff out there. But nonsense does not obey any conservation law. It keeps on coming. It's always been in long supply, and it looks like it always will be.

That doesn't mean that we just have to sit back and let it wash over us, though. I've been sent this link in the last few days, a popular item on BuzzFeed with the BuzzFeedy headline of "Eight Foods That We Eat in The US That Are Banned in Other Countries". When I saw that title, I found it unpromising. In a world that eats everything that can't get away fast enough, what possible foods could we have all to ourselves here in the States? A quick glance was enough: we're not talking about foods here - we're talking about (brace yourselves) chemicals.

This piece really is an education. Not about food, or about chemistry - on the contrary, reading it for those purposes will make you noticeably less intelligent than you were before, and consider that a fair warning. The educational part is in the "What a fool believes" category. Make no mistake: on the evidence of this article, its author is indeed a fool, and has apparently never yet met a claim about chemicals or nutrition that was too idiotic to swallow. If BuzzFeed's statistics are to be believed (good question, there), a million views have already accumulated to this crap. Someone who knows some chemistry needs to make a start at pointing out the serial stupidities in it, and this time, I'm going to answer the call. So here goes, in order.

Number One: Artificial Dyes. Here's what the article has to say about 'em:
Artificial dyes are made from chemicals derived from PETROLEUM, which is also used to make gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and TAR! Artificial dyes have been linked to brain cancer, nerve-cell deterioration, and hyperactivity, just to name a few.
Emphasis is in the original, of course. How could it not lapse into all-caps? In the pre-internet days, this sort of thing was written in green ink all around the margins of crumpled shutoff notices from the power company, but these days we have to make do with HTML. Let's take this one a sentence at a time.

It is true, in fact, that many artificial dyes are made from chemicals derived from petroleum. That, folks, is because everything (edible or not) is made out of chemicals, and an awful lot of man-made chemicals are derived from petroleum. It's one of the major chemical feedstocks of the world. So why stop at artificial dyes? The ink on the flyer from the natural-foods co-op is made from chemicals derived from petroleum. The wax coating the paper wrapped around that really good croissant at that little bakery you know about is derived from petroleum.

Now, it's true that more things you don't eat can be traced back to petroleum feedstocks than can things you do eat. That's because it's almost always cheaper to grow stuff than to synthesize it. Synthesized compounds, when they're used in food, are often things that are effective in small amounts, because they're so expensive. And so it is with artificial dyes - well, outside of red velvet cake, I guess. People see the bright colors in cake icing and sugary cereals and figure that the stuff must be glopped on like paint, but paint doesn't have very much dye or pigment in it, either (watch them mix it up down at the hardware store sometime).

And as for artificial colors causing "brain cancer, nerve-cell deterioration, and hyperactivity", well, these assertions range from "unproven" all the way down to "bullshit". Hyperactivity sensitivities to food dyes are an active area of research, but after decades of work, the situation is still unclear. And brain cancer? This seems to go back to studies in the 1980s with Blue #2, where rats were fed the dye over a long period in much larger concentrations (up to 2% of their total food intake) than even the most dedicated junk-food eater could encounter. Gliomas were seen in the male rats, but with no dose-response, and at levels consistent with historical controls in the particular rat strain. No one has ever been able to find any real-world connection. Note that glioma rates increased in the 1970s and 1980s as diagnostic imaging improved, but have fallen steadily since then. The age-adjusted incidence rates of almost all forms of cancer are falling, by the way, not that you'd know that from most of the coverage on the subject.

Seven more at the site. Amazing that this crap keeps getting republished without anyone doing the basic high-school science to debunk it.

Be sure to read the comments -- some erudite ass-whuppin'

Affairs of State

Is there no part of Government that is not having a scandal these days? From Ed Morrissey, writing at Hot Air:
State Department: Quash an investigation? Who -- us?
Yesterday, CBS News published documents that showed the State Department had quashed or obstructed Inspector General investigations into serious wrongdoing by high-ranking officials, including one Ambassador who ditched his security team to importune prostitutes in public parks. Today, that story gets more sordid in NBC's follow-up, which shows that investigators suspected the same Ambassador of targeting minor children Meanwhile, the State Department calls allegations of obstruction and interference "preposterous":

The ambassador who came under investigation "routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children," according to documents obtained by NBC News.
This ambassador got recalled to Washington for a meeting with Patrick Kennedy, Hillary Clinton's right-hand man at Foggy Bottom. Instead of getting relieved and investigated, CBS reported yesterday that the man was "permitted to return to his post." Did Kennedy make that decision? Or did Hillary Clinton?
Much more at the site including this little gem:
A DS agent was called off a case against US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman over claims that he solicited prostitutes, including minors.

"The agent began his investigation and had determined that the ambassador routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children," says the memo.

"The ambassador's protective detail and the embassy's surveillance detection team . . . were well aware of the behavior."
Gutman was a big bundler for Obama in 2008, raising over $500,000 for his campaign and cutting checks for the inaugural. That may not be terribly unusual for ambassadors in any administration, but the bizarre decision to keep Gutman in place certainly suggests a possible connection between his donations and State's decision to cut off the investigation.
Don't touch our people but throw the book at their people. The Chicago Way. It is really time to get some adults in the room...

Back to the Senate - Farm Bill

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Pure pork. From USA Today comes this great news:
U.S. House rejects $500 billion farm bill
The U.S. House failed to pass a sweeping five-year farm bill with sharp cuts to food stamps, a surprising development that sets the stage for an uphill fight in Congress to craft a new law.

The Republican-led House soundly rejected a $500 billion measure by a vote of 195-234, failing to muster enough support from conservative Republicans concerned about costs and Democrats concerned about deep cuts to the country's popular food stamp program.

Top leaders on both sides of the aisle quickly fell to finger-pointing: Republicans claimed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi failed to deliver the Democratic votes she promised, while Democrats pinned the blame on the GOP for its inability to bring enough support from the more than 60 members within their own party who opposed the bill.
And, to the House of Representatives -- keep sending this monstrosity back until the majority of the pork is taken out. 195-234 is a fantastic margin. Memo to the Senate -- cut spending. Cut! Cut! Cut! I do not care if your favorite bit of pork is on the chopping block -- cut it and turn around and cut some more. Our unfunded liabilities are enormous and we need to start taking care of this mess before we add any more to the entitlement programs...

Fun times in Egypt

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Egypt has been making some really bone-headed decisions and now they are going to be running low on water for a while. The Egyptian government has been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. Our Sec. State, John Forbes Kerry in his wisdom is handing over several billion (our tax dollars) in aid and some jet fighters for their military (our tax dollars yet again). Tourism is on the skids there and it is once was the number four source of income (behind agriculture, textiles and food processing) And now this -- from Ahmed Kamel writing at PJ Media:
Will Ethiopia�s Proposed Dam Crush Egypt�s Economy?
As Ethiopia�s planned Grand Renaissance Dam reduces Egypt�s share of Nile waters, repercussions will inevitably hit Egypt�s cash-strapped economy.

Rational use of water reserves at Nasser Lake, estimated at 70 billion cubic meters, may help ease the situation for a while. The government may also have groundwater resources that may add four billion cubic meters. But according to government estimates, Egypt will need an extra 32 billion cubic meters of water by 2050 as its population grows.

Egypt gets more than 95 percent of its water from the Nile, and already suffers from water scarcity � supplies have fallen to 750 cubic meters per capita a year. (The international average is 1,000.) Egypt�s current share of Nile water totals 55.5 billion cubic meters � experts say the share may be halved over the coming three years until a lake is created in front of the Ethiopian dam, and supplies may fall below 400 cubic meters per capita in the interim period.

The most populous Arab country with 90 million inhabitants, Egypt has 8 million cultivated acres of land. Roughly 6.5 million people work in agriculture, accounting for 25 percent of the country�s labor force. Any shrinking of the agricultural sector will ultimately affect labor. Unemployment in Egypt is currently reported at 13 percent, but unofficial reports put the actual rate over 20 percent.

Egypt consumes around 18 million tons of wheat and 4 million tons of rice annually, according to the Supply Ministry. It imports roughly 10 million tons of grain a year to meet growing demand. As the country�s population grows by 1.2 million annually, the water-supply gap may jump to 20 million tons as local grain harvest declines. Total cultivated land may plummet by half due to falling water resources.

Urbanization in the Nile Delta and scarcity of water will reduce the country�s crop output. Consequently, the country�s bill of food imports will be on the rise. Egypt is expected to consume more than 19 million tons of wheat in the fiscal year 2012-2013 that ends on June 30, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The gap between grain imports and exports may widen in the future.
There are some huge deep aquifers that can be tapped but that is expensive -- they need to go nuke ASAP -- LFTR and desalinization plants. And of course, our current administration will be more than happy to ship them wheat without any tit-for-tat agreement on rights for Christians, Women, Children, etc... I am really happy to see Ethiopia in its ascendency - an ancient and still great nation, a Federal parliamentary republic, multi-ethnic and was (in the 4th century) the first major empire in the world to officially adopt Christianity as a state religion. About one third Muslim today. Spiritual home of the Rastafarians. I would love to visit there some day...

Doings in Boston

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From here:
Seventy two killed resisting Gun confiscation in Boston
National guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed on April 19th by elements of a Para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement. Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group's organizers as "criminals," issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government's efforts to secure law and order. The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide-spread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons.

Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.

One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that "none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily." Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government's plans. During a tense standoff in Lexington's town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists. Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.

Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units.

Colonel Smith, finding his forces over matched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.

Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as "ringleaders" of the extremist faction, remain at large...



If today's media had reported on the start of the American Revolution in 1775 this is probably how they would have presented it to the public.

The benefits of Global Warming

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A lot of people are wringing their hands over the last hundred years as temperatures were gradually rising (the last 17 years notwithstanding). Chip Knappenberger at Master Resource explores the benefits of warmer weather - linked by Anthony Watts:
Global Savings: Billion-Dollar Weather Events Averted by Global Warming
Last week, the government�s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) finalized its list of �Billion Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters� for 2012. They reported 11 such events with the combined loss exceeding $110 billion, making it the second costliest year since their compilation began in 1980.

Since the number of billion dollar weather disasters has been increasing over time, the temptation to point a finger at anthropogenic global warming is too great for many global warming addicts to resist, despite the known problems with the list (for example, the lack of proper accounting for changing population demographics � a factor which explains virtually all of the increase).

It seems folks are extremely creative at coming up with reasons why virtually every weather disaster is �consistent with� human-caused climate change and how things will get worse in the future. However, such creativity evaporates when trying to come up with any positive weather/climate effects that are �consistent with� anthropogenic climate change.

To see this creativity/lack thereof in action, go read a few pages of the latest version of the government�s report from the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee. Or, to save some time, you can pursue my (and colleagues) comments on the report.
Some examples:
Hurricane Debby, June 2012. Hurricane Debby never formed. Increased vertical wind shear �consistent with� expectations from global warming prevented the development of tropical storm Debby into hurricane Debby. Damage estimates from tropical storm Debby have been estimated at $250 million with 5 direct and 3 indirect fatalities from the storm. Had global warming not helped to inhibit the growth of the storm system, these totals may well have been higher, exceeding a billion dollars. (For more information of the life of Debby, see here.)
And another:
California Freeze, January 11-16th, 2013. A 6-day major freeze event occurred across California�s agricultural regions, threatening a variety of crops including the state�s 2 billion/year citrus harvest. However, the region narrowly escaped widespread damage. Since an increased greenhouse effect from human carbon dioxide emissions preferentially warms the nighttime winter air, it is entirely �consistent with� expectations from global warming to hypothesize that absent global warming, a multi-billion dollar weather-related disaster would have occurred�much like the ones that have occurred there in the past.
Much more at the site.

Look up - Sunday's supermoon

From Yahoo/Space:
Supermoon Rises in Weekend Night Sky Sunday
The largest full moon of 2013, a so-called "supermoon," will light up the night sky this weekend, but there's more to this lunar delight than meets the eye.

On Sunday, June 23, at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT), the moon will arrive at perigee � the point in its orbit bringing it closest to Earth), a distance of 221,824 miles (356,991 kilometers). Now the moon typically reaches perigee once each month (and on some occasions twice), with their respective distances to Earth varying by 3 percent.

But Sunday's lunar perigee will be the moon's closest to Earth of 2013. And 32 minutes later, the moon will officially turn full. The close timing of the moon's perigee and its full phase are what will bring about the biggest full moon of the year, a celestial event popularly defined by some as a "supermoon."
Tides will be a lot bigger too depending on the coastal geographies. Good time to go beachcombing. 40% chance of rain Sunday night here. Oh well...
From The Blaze:
Dem Rep. Asks FBI to Stop �Publicizing� the �Faces of Global Terrorism� in Seattle � The Reason Why Probably Won�t Surprise You
U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) on Wednesday sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller urging him to stop using �offensive� bus ads that show sixteen faces of wanted terrorists.

The ad campaign, created by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force for the State Department�s Rewards for Justice Program, is �not only offensive to Muslims and ethnic minorities, but it encourages racial and religious profiling,� McDermott claims.
What a maroon. McDermott is out of touch with reality and needs to be put out to pasture -- he has done enough damage.
From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Senator: IRS to pay $70M in employee bonuses
The Internal Revenue Service is about to pay $70 million in employee bonuses despite an Obama administration directive to cancel discretionary bonuses because of automatic spending cuts enacted this year, according to a GOP senator.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says his office has learned that the IRS is executing an agreement with the employees' union on Wednesday to pay the bonuses. Grassley says the bonuses should be canceled under an April directive from the White House budget office.
A bit more:
"The IRS always claims to be short on resources," Grassley said. "But it appears to have $70 million for union bonuses. And it appears to be making an extra effort to give the bonuses despite opportunities to renegotiate with the union and federal instruction to cease discretionary bonuses during sequestration."

The IRS said it is negotiating with the union over the matter but did not dispute Grassley's claim that the bonuses are imminent.
The IRS has about 90,000 employees -- this bonus would amount to about $770 per employee if distributed evenly. I doubt that this will be the case so we are looking at a minimum of tens of thousands for mid-level management and even more for the higher-ups. The union is famous for litigation -- from their Wikipedia entry:
The NTEU has been famous for aggressive use of the courts to supplement their statutorily-limited powers to bargain and restraints on traditional labor tactics such as strikes and boycotts.
So, when they do not get what they want, when what they want is illegal, they sue. This union was founded in 1939. The President? FDR. No big surprise.
From The Hill:
Boehner: Obama climate proposal 'absolutely crazy'
President Obama's soon-to-be-revealed second-term climate change proposal is �absolutely crazy,� Speaker John Boehner said Thursday.

The Ohio Republican was incredulous when asked to react to reports that the White House plans to regulate carbon emissions from power plants as part of its climate change strategy.

�I think this is absolutely crazy,� Boehner said at his weekly press conference. �Why would you want to increase the cost of energy and kill more American jobs at a time when American people are asking, 'Where are the jobs.' "

Obama's top climate adviser on Wednesday vowed that �meaningful� action on global warming was coming soon.

Heather Zichal, the deputy assistant to the president on energy and climate change, spoke of bolstering energy efficiency, expanding clean energy on public lands and using various �tools� � including the Clean Air Act � to address climate change.

Obama in his State of the Union address though vowed to act on climate change if Congress does not, saying it would be a second-term priority.
Obama reached his level of incompetence when he was a Community Organizer. The Peter Principle writ large. For Barry's personal world view, a steaming pile of Dunning�Kruger. A tip of the hat to Anthony for the link.

Barry and the Environment

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From the New York Times:
Obama Readying Emissions Limits on Power Plants
President Obama is preparing regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, senior officials said Wednesday. The move would be the most consequential climate policy step he could take and one likely to provoke legal challenges from Republicans and some industries.

Electric power plants are the largest single source of global warming pollution in the country, responsible for nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. With sweeping climate legislation effectively dead in Congress, the decision on existing power plants � which a 2007 Supreme Court decision gave to the executive branch � has been among the most closely watched of Mr. Obama�s second term.
Actually, Microbes account for about 60% of all CO2 emissions. Meet Heather Zichal:
Heather Zichal, the White House coordinator for energy and climate change, said Wednesday that the president would announce climate policy initiatives in coming weeks. Another official said a presidential address outlining the new policy, which will also include new initiatives on renewable power and energy efficiency, could come as early as next week.
More:
Ms. Zichal suggested that a central part of the administration�s approach to dealing with climate change would be to use the authority given to the Environmental Protection Agency to address climate-altering pollutants from power plants under the Clean Air Act.

�The E.P.A. has been working very hard on rules that focus specifically on greenhouse gases from the coal sector,� she said. �They�re doing a lot of important work in that space.�

She did not specifically mention standards for existing power plants, but other senior officials have said in recent days that Mr. Obama has decided to start work on such regulations.

A 2007 Supreme Court decision gave the E.P.A. authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and it has already done so for vehicles. Environmental advocates said that addressing power plant pollution must be the centerpiece of any serious climate policy.
So instead of using the Constitutional regulatory path of going through Congress, Obama is sidestepping the entire process and legislating by decree...

Whoops - TigerDirect President in hot water

From the Wall Street Journal:
Former TigerDirect President Indicted in $230 Million Laundering Scheme
The former president of a unit of Systemax Inc. was indicted in New York federal court on seven counts of fraud and money laundering charges.

Carl Fiorentino, who was arrested in Coral Gables, Fla., allegedly took more than $7 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for steering more than $230 million in business to the Taiwanese and California companies that made the payments.

He allegedly used the kickbacks to buy an $8 million residence in Coral Gables, Fla., furnishings for the home and pay his credit card bills, as well as pay for tennis coaching and the use of a hip-hop production company.

�Fiorentino had it all � a lucrative job and a high-flying lifestyle,� said Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement. �But� his loyalties were neither to his employer nor its public shareholders but solely to himself,� she said.

He�s being held on $1 million bond, and an arraignment is scheduled for July 8 in federal court in Central Islip, N.Y. Sylvia Pinera Vazquez, an attorney for Fiorentino, didn�t respond to a request for comment.

Fiorentino worked for Sytemax from 1995 through May 2011 and he was the president of TigerDirect, its computer and electronics unit. As president, he was involved in picking suppliers and approving the quantity of the purchases from those suppliers.
Quite the lifestyle. I am still amazed that people think these activities can continue unnoticed. That there is a graceful exit strategy to them. They will always be caught. Now it is time to pay the piper...

XBox does the right thing

From Zero to Hero in four days.

Last June 15th, it was announced that the Xbox would only work if it was able to connect with MSFT servers once/day.

For a anyone in an urban environment, this is a non-issue. For people living in rural areas or Military deployed in areas where broadband is strictly regulated -- no joy. Also, the games are locked to the players region so if Aunt Maude bought you a copy of the latest game from Wal-Mart in Peoria, Il. and shipped it to you in Japan, no joy. Finally, the microphone is always on -- even when the Xbox was in sleep mode.

Today, from Microsoft:

Your Feedback Matters - Update on Xbox One
Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.

For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.

Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.

You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.

So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:
  • An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games - After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
  • Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today - There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console -- there will be no regional restrictions.

Now that is how you run a business. It does not hurt that the new Sony PlayStation is breathing down their necks with a bit better performance and a $100 less purchase price...

Jury Duty

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Got a summons for Jury Duty in the mail this morning. I thought that it might be fun to do until I re-read the paper just now and saw that it was for the Seattle courthouse. That is 120 miles away from here. Filing for an exemption. County? No problem. Seattle? No way.

Pond Scum in the news

Every so often, something really weird pops up over the horizon only to sink back down quietly.

Case in point -- from FOX News:

Mystery organization with UN ties issues diplomatic IDs -- except they aren't
EXCLUSIVE: A controversial organization with tenuous ties to the United Nations -- and which counts Kenyan relatives of Barack Obama among its good-will ambassadors -- is supplying its officials and advisers with travel documents designed to look much like U.N.-affiliated diplomatic passports. The problem is, they aren't.

The documents, known in diplomatic parlance as 'laissez passers,' or LPs, ask national authorities to grant privileges and immunities to their holders on official business for the grandly named International Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMSAM), which claims that it will solve the world's hunger problems through the cultivation of algae as food.

Photocopies of IIMSAM documents examined by Fox News show that bearers have titles such as special adviser, and special envoy, as well as good-will ambassador, and that the documents have been issued to people born in a variety of countries, including Iran, Jordan, India and Germany, as well as Hong Kong, which is a special administrative region of China.

The most recent photocopy of the identity pages of an IIMSAM LP examined by Fox News showed the date of issuance as April 21, 2013.

All were signed by IIMSAM's Secretary General, Remigio Maradona, who has apparently held that position since IIMSAM's inception about a decade ago. Emails sent by Fox News to various email addresses used by Maradona had not been answered by the time this article was published.

Some more:

The brick-red IIMSAM travel documents are a different color than U.N. diplomatic passports, which come in a brighter red (for senior officials) and light blue (for lesser functionaries), and are prominently labeled with the full name of IIMSAM, the organization's logo, and the words DIPLOMATIC LAISSEZ PASSER. U.N. passports bear the name of the United Nations in English and French, and the words LAISSEZ PASSER only.

The misleading travel documents are the latest manifestation of the strange existence of IIMSAM, which claims its main purpose is to make spirulina, a type of algae, "a key-driver to eradicate malnutrition, achieve food security and bridge the health divide with a special priority for the developing world and the least developed countries."

IIMSAM has reinforced its claim of U.N. affiliate status with a voluminous but erratic flow of press releases since 2006, urging support for its work; extolling the health and nutritional advantages of spirulina platensis, a common algae that is used as a dietary supplement and fish food; issuing elaborate statements on various U.N. issues; and announcing partnerships and projects involving various organizations, corporations, international institutions and individuals -- including the Kenyan branch of the Obama family.

And a bit more -- this stuff is unreal:

Whether President Obama's Kenyan relatives are aware of their current status with IIMSAM is another intriguing question. On its current website (www.iimsam.org), IIMSAM prominently lists President Obama's grandmother, Sara Obama, and his uncle, Said, as goodwill ambassadors for the program in East and Central Africa, and says they will play a pivotal role in an IIMSAM feeding program 'to alleviate severe malnutrition and hunger.'

The Obama photographs, and similar claims about the relatives, had appeared on IIMSAM's website for years, but disappeared for a time after Fox News noted on their existence in January 2011, and reported that the White House is not familiar with this organization, nor with the photographs of the President. Questioned again about the website this week, the White House said it was unaware of it.

According to an email examined by Fox News, Said Obama and his mother apparently resigned their goodwill ambassador status with IIMSAM in mid-2012, citing dissatisfaction with "the ongoing negativity of the organization." Among other things, the email charged that IIMSAM's Kenyan staff had not been paid in a year and were themselves malnourished.

If I didn't know for a fact that Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was dead and buried, I would suspect his hand behind this -- it is just that twisted. Their website is a mish-mash of cut and paste and bad graphics...

Well Crap - RIP James Gandolfini

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From FOX News:
Actor James Gandolfini of 'The Sopranos' dies at 51
Actor James Gandolfini, who rose to fame as crime boss Tony Soprano on the �The Sopranos,� has died of a possible heart attack in Italy, HBO confirmed to Fox News.

There were few immediate details surrounding his death at 51, although he was on vacation in Rome, his managers said.

Gandolfini, a New Jersey native, appeared in films and on the stage before his breakthrough part in 1999 as Mafia boss Tony Soprano in the HBO series, which brought him three Emmys during its six-year run.

�We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,� said a statement from HBO. �He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect.

�He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us. �
Our prayers go out to those he left behind. Fifty-one is way to young.
More lethal although this is just the preliminary and there could be a number of non-lethal low-level cases out there unreported. From The Washington Post:
SARS-like virus has high mortality rate in Saudi Arabia, specialists say
A new virus responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness in the Middle East may be more deadly than SARS, according to a team of infectious disease specialists who recently investigated a set of cases in Saudi Arabia.

Of 23 confirmed cases in April, 15 people died � an �extremely high� fatality rate of 65 percent, according to Johns Hopkins senior epidemiologist Trish Perl, a member of the team that analyzed the spread of the virus through four Saudi hospitals.
There is a cultural preference for inbreeding over there -- I know that a lot of the Saudi Royal family have issues with hemophilia due to this. I wonder if this makes a person more sensitive to respiratory problems too...

I guarantee it

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I guess not -- from FOX News:
Men's Wearhouse Ousts Founder Zimmer
Clothing retailer Men's Wearhouse (NYSE: MW) on Wednesday, in a wholly unexpected move, fired George Zimmer, the company�s founder and longtime face of the business.

For years the company�s television advertisements have ended with the bearded and nattily dressed Zimmer intoning, �You�re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.�

In a statement, the company gave no reason for terminating Zimmer, who served as executive chairman, saying only that the board �expects to discuss with Mr. Zimmer the extent, if any, and terms of his ongoing relationship with the company.�

Zimmer released a statement Wednesday saying, �Over the past several months I have expressed my concerns to the board about the direction the company is currently heading.� He added that the board has �inappropriately chosen to silence my concerns by terminating me.�
This is an odd move because the company is doing fairly well financially. Their five year stock prices show some fluctuation but a steady growth. He took a large amount of flack for promoting the Occupy movement last summer.

Color me surprised - NOT!

From Gallup:
Americans' Confidence in Newspapers Continues to Erode
The percentage of Americans saying they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in newspapers has been generally trending downward since 1979, when it reached a high of 51%.

Newspapers rank near the bottom on a list of 16 societal institutions Gallup measured in a June 1-4 survey. Television news is tied with newspapers on the list, with 23% of Americans also expressing confidence in it. That is up slightly from the all-time low of 21% found last year. The only institutions television news and newspapers beat out this year are big business, organized labor, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), and Congress.
The newspaper story is bad enough but I love who they beat out. Congress has a 10% confidence rating. Organized Labor has 20%. Pure schadenfreude...

RIP - Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr.

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Not exactly a household name but his singing saved our planet in the film Mars Attacks. From Breitbart:
Country Singer Slim Whitman Dies at Age 90
Country singer Slim Whitman, the high-pitched yodeler who sold millions of records through ever-present TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and whose song saved the world in the film comedy "Mars Attacks!," died Wednesday at a Florida hospital. He was 90.

Whitman died of heart failure at Orange Park Medical Center, his son-in-law Roy Beagle said.

Whitman's tenor falsetto and ebony mustache and sideburns became global trademarks--and an inspiration for countless jokes--thanks to the TV commercials that pitched his records.

But he was a serious musical influence on early rock, and in the British Isles, he was known as a pioneer of country music for popularizing the style there. Whitman also encouraged a teen Elvis Presley when he was the headliner on the bill and the young singer was making his professional debut.

Whitman recorded more than 65 albums and sold millions of records, including 4 million of "All My Best" that was marketed on TV.

His career spanned six decades, beginning in the late 1940s, but he achieved cult figure status in the 1980s. His visage as an ordinary guy singing romantic ballads struck a responsive chord with the public.

"All of a sudden, here comes a guy in a black and white suit, with a mustache and a receding hairline, playing a guitar and singing `Rose Marie,'" Whitman told The Associated Press in 1991. "They hadn't seen that."

For most of the 1980s, he was consistent fodder for Johnny Carson's monologues on late night NBC-TV, and the butt of Slim Whitman look-alike contests.

"That TV ad is the reason I'm still here," he said. "It buys fuel for the boat."
An American Icon.

Droning on

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Domestic use of drones? From Russia Today:
FBI director admits domestic use of drones
The FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance purposes, the head of the agency told Congress early Wednesday.

Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, confirmed to lawmakers that the FBI owns several unmanned aerial vehicles, but has not adopted any strict policies or guidelines yet to govern the use of the controversial aircraft.

�Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?� Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Mr. Mueller during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

�Yes,� Mueller responded bluntly, adding that the FBI�s operation of drones is �very seldom.�
I am not surprised -- I live a few miles from the Northern border and expect to see them flying overhead in the next year or two. We certainly have enough helicopters overhead -- drones are probably cheaper to run.
UPDATE: Memo to self -- never post before my coffee kicks in fully. The Daily Mail article was 2009 and was about the demonstration then not today. Easily one million people showed up to protest this administration. From the London Daily Mail:
A million march to US Capitol to protest against 'Obama the socialist'
As many as one million people flooded into Washington for a massive rally organised by conservatives claiming that President Obama is driving America towards socialism.

The size of the crowd - by far the biggest protest since the president took office in January - shocked the White House.

Demonstrators massed outside Capitol Hill after marching down Pennsylvania Avenue waving placards and chanting 'Enough, enough'.
There is another demonstration at the IRS offices but I don't have any reports on it -- this is happening right now; more news will be available later today.

The environment - a four-fer

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First - from the Canadian Broadcasting Company:
4 Vancouver men aim to row the Northwest Passage
Four Vancouver adventurers say they hope to spark discussion about climate change by attempting to become the first people to row the Northwest Passage this summer.

On July 1, the four men will begin their journey in a specially designed 25-foot boat, starting from Inuvik and ending in Pond Inlet, Nunavut on the east coast of Baffin Island in the early fall.

The modern-day explorers say the Northwest Passage has become semi-navigable due to the deterioration of arctic ice from climate change.
Excuuuuuse me but the Northwest Passage has been routinely navigable. Considering that these people are from Vancouver, they should explore their own wonderful Maritime Museum and walk the decks of the St. Roch. From the website:
The St. Roch was the first vessel to sail the Northwest Passage from west to east (1940-1942), the first to complete the passage in one season (1944), and the first to circumnavigate North America.
Second - from The Beeb:
Met Office experts meet to analyse 'unusual' weather patterns
About 20 of the UK's leading scientists and meteorologists are due to meet at the Met Office to discuss Britain's "unusual" weather patterns.

They will try to identify the factors that caused the chilly winter of 2010-11 and the long, wet summer of 2012.

They will also try to work out why this spring was the coldest in 50 years - with a UK average of 6C (42.8F) between March and May.

The Met Office hopes the meeting will identify new priorities for research.
What about their great and all-powerful supercomputers? Weren't these supposed to make their forecasts accurate? Seriously, the Met office has been spending huge stacks of British taxpayer money on two large supercomputers and their forecasts have been completely decoupled from reality. How about admitting that the models do not work and going back to the traditional wet finger in the air and a peek at your barometer... Third - from Melbourne Australia's Herald Sun comes this from Andrew Bolt:
Climate Commission�s dupe: �one in two chance� of no humans by 2100
Retired admiral Chris Barrie is disturbingly prone to alarmism. He tells the ABC he�s read a book, Lord Rees� Our Final Hour, which he says warned we�d be wiped out if we didn�t face �the climate change consequences and some other behaviours that are not so good�:
There�s a one in two chance that by 2100 there�ll be no human beings left on this planet. The planet will exist, but it�s just that my granddaughter won�t be part of it. And I think that�s a pretty alarming statistic, probability, one in two chance if we don�t correct our behaviours.
Referring to the Climate Commission�s report he �assisted� in launching, Barrie adds:
If anybody reads through this report and gets to the alarming conclusion that if we don�t correct our behaviour by the end of the decade, that is in seven years time, then our future looks pretty bleak.
The Climate Commission presents Barrie as some kind of global warming expert, and had him help launch their latest scare report. The ABC did not question Barrie�s credentials or his absurd claims.

Can they explain why?
Typical Malthusian -- making some hand-wringing claim about a future catastrophe too far away for us to reliably experience and the history books will always record them as being dead wrong. But they get their ink in the newspapers of the day. Bad news always sells newspapers... Fourth - from Bloomberg - an inadvertent side-effect of the Ethanol scam:
Gulf of Mexico's Extinction-by-Ethanol
Less than a year after the summer drought of 2012 baked the U.S. grain belt, farmers in the region have been deluged by rain.

Aside from the threat that weather might pose for a second year to the U.S. harvest, the heavy rains may help fulfill of a prediction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: A swath of the northern Gulf of Mexico that each summer turns into a dead zone, drained of oxygen and devoid of life, will be larger than usual.
Dead zone? More:
The dead zone starts innocently enough. Each year, when the snow melts and spring rains fall on Midwest farmland, millions of tons of nitrogen-based fertilizer that was applied to barren fields the previous autumn are washed into Mississippi River tributaries.

In years when there is more rain, more nitrogen ends up in the water -- and vice versa. Last year's drought is considered the main reason the 2012 dead zone covered only 2,889 square miles in the Gulf, the smallest in several years, and down from 6,767 square miles in 2011. If conditions are right this year, the dead zone might occupy an area the size of New Jersey, or 7,800 square miles. Researchers usually take an official measurement in July.
Ethanol? More:
The culprits behind the dead zone are many, but one deserves special attention: corn. Unlike, say, soybeans, which can grow without fertilizer, corn can't grow without it. It takes 195 pounds of fertilizer to grow an acre of corn.

And the U.S. grows a lot of corn -- more than any other country. What's more, 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is devoted to making ethanol, which fuel companies must blend with gasoline under a congressional mandate. The Gulf dead zone is yet another reason for Congress to kill that mandate.
Yeah -- bad for engines, takes more energy to produce than it yields on combustion, makes obscene money for a few crony capitalists (Archer Daniels Midland - I am looking at you). Bad news all around. To keep your tank Ethanol free, check out the Pure Gas website. I use it to buy gas for my smaller engines -- these can get really chewed up by Ethanol. It is hygroscopic so you get a lot of corrosion regardless of what kind of fuel treatment you use. Best just not to buy it...

Robot Wars

Great set of interviews with the people who started the Robot Wars phenomenon. From SB Nation:
Robot Wars -- An oral history of the birth and death of BattleBots
Marin County, Calif., 1992. The Internet has yet to take hold, Jay Leno is the fresh new face of "The Tonight Show," Bill Clinton has just shown off his saxophone bona fides on "Arsenio Hall," and Comedy Central is four years away from the premiere of "The Daily Show" starring Craig Kilborn.

Meanwhile, the best and brightest engineering minds that money can buy gather at Skywalker Ranch, the creative compound filmmaker George Lucas built with his "Star Wars" money, and the nearby headquarters of Industrial Light & Magic. The various departments of Lucas' empire are incestuous and without many barriers; employees cross from one department to the next as easily as Darth Vader crushes necks with his mind. Besides ILM and LucasFilms, a newly created LucasToys division is charged with creating toy replicas of your child's favorite on-screen heroes. Among the toy designers is 44-year-old Marc Thorpe, who prepares a new product pitch for a meeting with Mattel.

Marc Thorpe: I presented an idea that would involve vehicles that had weapons. Hammers and saws and things like that. And Mattel looked at the idea, and their comment was, "Somebody's going to figure out how to do this." And that was that. Meanwhile, I was pursuing an idea of a radio-controlled vacuum cleaner, something to make vacuuming fun, and it wasn't going anywhere. So when I got turned down in the toy presentation, I decided to take the vacuum cleaner off my radio-controlled tank and put weapons on. Then, I decided to stage an event: Robot Wars.
A fun trip down memory lane...
A thoughtful comment that was elevated to a full post - at Watts Up With That:
The �ensemble� of models is completely meaningless, statistically
Saying that we need to wait for a certain interval in order to conclude that �the models are wrong� is dangerous and incorrect for two reasons. First � and this is a point that is stunningly ignored � there are a lot of different models out there, all supposedly built on top of physics, and yet no two of them give anywhere near the same results!

This is reflected in the graphs Monckton publishes above, where the AR5 trend line is the average over all of these models and in spite of the number of contributors the variance of the models is huge. It is also clearly evident if one publishes a �spaghetti graph� of the individual model projections (as Roy Spencer recently did in another thread) � it looks like the frayed end of a rope, not like a coherent spread around some physics supported result.

Note the implicit swindle in this graph � by forming a mean and standard deviation over model projections and then using the mean as a �most likely� projection and the variance as representative of the range of the error, one is treating the differences between the models as if they are uncorrelated random variates causing deviation around a true mean!.

Say what?

This is such a horrendous abuse of statistics that it is difficult to know how to begin to address it. One simply wishes to bitch-slap whoever it was that assembled the graph and ensure that they never work or publish in the field of science or statistics ever again. One cannot generate an ensemble of independent and identically distributed models that have different code. One might, possibly, generate a single model that generates an ensemble of predictions by using uniform deviates (random numbers) to seed �noise� (representing uncertainty) in the inputs.
This is just a small excerpt -- the entire thing is a wonderful eye-opener and wonderful smack-down on the global warming crowd. Models are only good if they accurately model the behavior of what they are based on. The climate change models have never ever worked. The simplest test is to see how well they hindcast. There are all sorts of doom and gloom forecasts but when you plug the last 200 years of climate data into these models, they do not hindcast accurately -- the climate conditions the models say we are supposed to have now do not match what we measure now. No match!

Light posting tonight

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Internet is sluggish again tonight -- fine this morning but slow as molasses in January now. Quick trip into town tomorrow -- building a portable forge and need some castable refractory cement. Bellingham is the last major American port city before you get to Alaska so all of the major industrial companies have outlets here -- don't need to drive down to Seattle for this. Yay! Using an old propane bottle for the body of the forge -- the old ones without the anti-spill valve are prohibited for use so they make excellent bodies for small projects. I have another 10 pound bottle that I am going to make into an aluminum foundry furnace. Fun stuff...

Broadband?

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Very slow internet tonight -- see what happens later but even browsing text sites is painful. Very much looking forward to DSL - no word as to ETA though...
From the Associated Press:
Court: Ariz. citizenship proof law illegal
States can't demand proof of citizenship from people registering to vote in federal elections unless they get federal or court approval to do so, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a decision complicating efforts in Arizona and other states to bar voting by people who are in the country illegally.

The justices' 7-2 ruling closes the door on states independently changing the requirements for those using the voter-registration form produced under the federal "motor voter" registration law. They would need permission from a federally created panel, the Election Assistance Commission, or a federal court ruling overturning the commission's decision, to make tougher requirements stick.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the court's majority opinion, said federal law "precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself."
And the two dissenters:
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were the only two dissenters.
Definitly the two smartest Justices. Couple of things about this ruling -- it is unconstitutional - eg:
"All persons born or naturalized" "are citizens" of the U.S. and the U.S. State where they reside (14th Amendment, 1868)

"Race, color, or previous condition of servitude" - (15th Amendment, 1870)

"On account of sex" - (19th Amendment, 1920)

In Washington, D.C., presidential elections (23rd Amendment, 1961)

(For federal elections) "By reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax" - (24th Amendment, 1964) (For state elections) Taxes - (Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966))

"Who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age" (26th Amendment, 1971)
What the fuck is going on here?

A full day today

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Had some people come out to shear the Llamas -- they were actually pretty good about it this year but, they were forewarned and it took a while to catch them. There is a good spot to set up the shearing stall and since my riding mower (Lil' Butt) is down for repairs, I was out there yesterday using the walk-behind mower and string trimmer getting the grass down. The Llamas were watching me and taking notes... This morning, I am out in the field with a bucket of the best treats -- rolled ration+molasses mixed with cut up carrot bits and they were having nothing of it. This stuff is crack to Llamas so I knew that something was up. We finally managed to corral them and the shearing went a lot better than last year -- they are getting used to the process and they feel so much better after it's done. I know a couple fiber people in town so the fleece will not go to waste. Lulu and her son took me out to Father's Day dinner at the new local restaurant. Altogether a fun day -- early to bed since I do the store buying run tomorrow...

Scanning the Middle Ages

Fascinating letter to Dr. Jerry Pournelle from one of his readers. The technology is bringing about some really wonderful dividends:
THE END OF OBSCURITY
Dear Jerry :

As we have both experienced the often-frustrating reality of �original archival research� in the great libraries of the world, I want to report that change is in the dusty air. It used to be the case that the more distant events were in time, the less the likelihood of retrieving novel information about them. The problem was not the lack of ancient records, but their sheer abundance.

There is nothing novel about the latest NSA privacy scandal- the tendency of state bureaucracies and courts to gather and hoard information about citizens is as old as time, and it is from the court�s own realization of the horrors of information retrieval in bottomless archival pits that modern statutes of limitation have arisen.

The consequence of manuscript hoarding was to sink most of the historical record in oceans of trivia deep enough to drown all but the most persevering scholars. You could easily spent a month in the archives or the stacks retrieving just one new kilobyte to add to the sum of history, and far more of that time would be spent flipping through thousands of cards in a paper catalogue than reading the few documents you elected to retrieve.

Nowhere was this problem more evident than in the dozens of Staatsbibliotek holding the gathered sum of paper once held in the archives of the 300-odd principalities and city-states that preceded the unification of Germany under Bismarck. This archival opacity did not pass un-noticed, and a few decades ago many foundations, like Volkswagen, committed future cash flows to synoptic efforts to map both archives and archaeology with equally Teutonic thoroughness. In short, they decided to upload the middle Ages.

But as the foundation subsidized scanning began, something unexpected happened. Computer search software got smarter at a pace eclipsing Moore�s Law, and the project began to run ahead of schedule, as software fixes reduced the redundancy of uploading the same documents from many different archives, creating a positive feedback that eliminated multiple record entries that wasted scholarly reading time. So while a generation ago, it could take a lifetime of scholarly stack time to find enough new material to extend history by a handful of pages, the intellectual productivity of the paper chase has soared.

Today anybody can go online and find material that holds new meaning in a matter of hours rather than months.
Much more at the site -- fascinating meld of history and geekdom. Two subjects near and dear to my heart.

I am really liking Pope Francis -- from the Associated Press:

Pope blesses hundreds of Harley-Davidsons
Biker culture came to the Vatican on Sunday as Pope Francis blessed thousands of Harley-Davidsons and their riders celebrating the manufacturer's 110th anniversary with a loud parade and plenty of leather.

Thundering Harley engines nearly drowned out the Latin recitation of the "Our Father" prayer that accompanied Francis as he greeted the crowd before Mass. Standing in his open-top jeep, Francis drove up the main boulevard leading to St. Peter's Square, blessing the thousands of people in what was a giant Harley parking lot.

Once the service got under way, bikers in their trademark leather Harley vests sat in the square alongside nuns and tens of thousands of faithful Catholics taking part in an unrelated, two-day pro-life rally.

Francis addressed them both afterward, giving a blessing to the "numerous participants" of the Harley gathering.

Tens of thousands of Harley owners from around the world descended on Rome for the four-day anniversary of the American manufacturer.

And I love that the Popemobile is just an open-topped Jeep. Humility is a virtue.

Homeland Security - a three-fer

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First - from The London Daily Mail:
Facebook got 10,000 requests for data from NSA in just six months (and Microsoft received 7,000 orders)
Facebook and Microsoft were able to reveal limited information on Friday night about the government orders they have received to turn over user data to security agencies.

Ted Ullyot, Facebook's general counsel, said in a statement that they had between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from all government entities, from local to federal, in the last six months of 2012.

The orders involved the accounts of between 18,000 and 19,000 Facebook users on a broad range of surveillance topics, from missing children to terrorism.

Microsoft said they had between 6,000 and 7,000 orders, affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts, but downplayed how much they had revealed.
Second - from c|net:
NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."

If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.
Third - from Politicker:
Janet Napolitano Denies Existence of �Orwellian State�
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano weighed in on the NSA intelligence leaks on Friday, telling NY1 that fears over government surveillance were overblown.

�I think people have gotten the idea that there�s an Orwellian state out there that somehow we�re operating in. That�s far from the case,� she told Errol Louis during an appearance on Road to City Hall.

Despite civil liberties advocates� fears that monitoring efforts have gone too far, �there are lots of protections built into the system,� Ms. Napolitano said, pointing to a privacy office embedded in her own department that is �constantly reviewing our policies and procedures.� She further stressed the court review system.

�No one should believe that we are simply going willy-nilly and using any kind of data that we can gather,� she said.
Excuse me? Denies Existence of �Orwellian State�? Hell -- she is the very embodiment of an Orwellian State -- the Big Sister overseeing us, nudging us along the correct path, guiding our life to serve the state and to let the state serve us. None for me thanks -- I prefer to do my own thinking...
From the NBC affiliate WMAQ:
7 Dead, 30 Wounded in Weekend Violence
Seven people were killed and at least 30 others were shot in violence that plagued Chicago over Father's Day weekend.

Six of the fatalities and 11 other shootings occurred overnight Saturday leading into Father's Day, including the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy.

On the Southwest Side, five people were shot, one fatally, in two shootings in the Little Village neighborhood.

At 10:50 p.m. Saturday 21-year-old Ricardo Herrera was killed and two others were shot in the 2500 block of South Ridgeway Avenue, police said.

The two injured were taken to Mount Sinai. Their condition was not immediately known.

At 12:30 a.m. Sunday, an 18-year-old man was shot in the head, chest and shoulder in a drive by shooting that also injured a 22-year-old woman in the thigh near 31st Street and Pulaski Road.

The man was taken to Mount Sinai in critical condition, according to Police News Affairs Officer Mirabelli.

At 11:45 p.m. Saturday a 16-year-old boy was shot by a gunman on a bicycle in the 4100 block of West North Avenue, police said.

The boy tried to flee but collapsed a short distance from where he was shot.
Altogether too many more at the site. When guns are outlawed there will be paradise on Earth. A true utopia.
From a speech delivered to the Faith and Freedom Coalition today in Washington DC:
�Our government spied on every single one of your phone calls but couldn�t find two pot-smoking deadbeat Bostonians with a hotline to terrorist central in Chechnya. Really?� And it�s built an apparatus to sneak into all of the good guys� communications but�whoopsi-daisy� It missed the Fort Hood murderer of our own troops despite this Islamic terrorist declaring his ideology in numerous army counselling sessions and on his own business cards. But, whoops, no red flags there. Really?�
Hat tip to Gateway Pundit

Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker takes us back to a security conference held in 1999 and talks about the implications today:

But They Would NEVER Do That....
My oh my you folks have short memories....:
Two weeks ago, a US security company came up with conclusive evidence that the second key belongs to NSA. Like Dr van Someren, Andrew Fernandez, chief scientist with Cryptonym of Morrisville, North Carolina, had been probing the presence and significance of the two keys. Then he checked the latest Service Pack release for Windows NT4, Service Pack 5. He found that Microsoft's developers had failed to remove or "strip" the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for the two keys. One was called "KEY". The other was called "NSAKEY".

Fernandes reported his re-discovery of the two CAPI keys, and their secret meaning, to "Advances in Cryptology, Crypto'99" conference held in Santa Barbara. According to those present at the conference, Windows developers attending the conference did not deny that the "NSA" key was built into their software. But they refused to talk about what the key did, or why it had been put there without users' knowledge.
The dateline on this story?

1999.

Now for the punchline:
According to one leading US cryptographer, the IT world should be thankful that the subversion of Windows by NSA has come to light before the arrival of CPUs that handles encrypted instruction sets. These would make the type of discoveries made this month impossible. "Had the next-generation CPU's with encrypted instruction sets already been deployed, we would have never found out about NSAKEY."
There wouldn't be any such sort of capability in chips nowdays, would there?

I still have all of my Windows NT4 distribution disks -- I will have to take a look. Windows has a lot of stuff going on under the hood -- I am running Win7 and have it pretty well stripped down -- currently have my browser and Outlook running and there are 58 processes running in the background. A lot of these are benign -- sound, printing, mouse, display, etc... but do I know what each and every one is doing? No.

Maxine Waters in the news again

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You may have heard of Ms. Waters before -- she is the Representative from California with quite the scandal ridden past -- a bit ethically and intellectually challenged would be putting it mildly (here, here, here, here, here and here) It seems that she has this thrill going up her leg about an all-powerful database that President Obama has put together and went and talked about it on television. From Godfather Politics:
Democrat Unknowingly Revealed Scope Of Obama�s Spying Database
California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters fits well in the style of today�s Democrats. She�s kind of a cross between Joe Biden and his gaffs and Nancy Pelosi for stupidity.

Water�s Nancy Pelosi mentality led her to a number of irrational and stupid things. Over a year ago, she was pushing for another $1 trillion to spend on social programs, claiming it would solve most of the nation�s problems. Virtually every study made on social programs show that the more you spend on social programs the more people quit being responsible and rely on them. Welfare creates more welfare.

In 2004, Waters sat as a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee that held hearings on the financial state of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Ignoring a series of red flag warnings, Waters defended her fellow socialist Frank Raines when she said,
�We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Frank Raines.�
During the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, she referred to them not as riots but as a rebellion.

However, when Waters makes some of her Bidenesque gaffs, she sometimes spills out more truth than the Obama administration would like to hear from her.

When talking about Barack Obama, Waters once said:
"Guess what this liberal would be all about? This liberal will be about socializing...uh, um...Would be about, basically, taking over, and the government running all of your companies."
The last thing Obama wanted any of his fellow Dems to reveal was his socialist plans of taking over the government and running all businesses.
That last item is quite the dystopian vision. Now this little gem:
Now, a video has re-surfaced revealing Waters talking about President Obama�s extensive database on every American. In the video Waters stated:
�I think some people are missing something here. The president has put in place an organization with the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life.�

�That�s going to be very, very powerful. That database will have information about everything on every individual on ways that it�s never been done before.�

�And whoever runs for president on the Democratic ticket has to deal with that. They�re going to go down with that database and the concerns of those people because they can�t get around it. And he�s [President Obama] been very smart. It�s very powerful what he�s leaving in place.�
Waters revealed that the feds are not just spying for national security purposes but for the illegal gathering of data on every American. Can there be any question about the extent or purpose of the government spying on American citizens? With the NSA and FBI spying along with the 60 million medical records the IRS illegally seized, the federal government knows more about us than we know about ourselves.

Now add Waters� two statements together about Obama taking over the government and running all of our businesses and his database on every American and what does that equal? The end of America as we know it and the establishment of a new socialist nation run indefinitely by Comrade Obama.
A new socialist nation run indefinitely? Why not call it by its real name - tyranny. Our forefathers would be loading up their muskets right about now...

It's corruption all the way down

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I am in the wrong business -- I need to be selling personal electronics to Democrats. From ABC News:
Democratic Convention Organizers Claim $500K of Lost Electronics
The Democratic National Convention may be long over, but its organizers have not forgotten the almost half a million dollars worth of electronics they seem to have lost.

Organizers of the Charlotte, N.C., convention have filed a police report for lost and stolen electronics, some of which they appear to have valued at as much as 62 times the listed market prices.

A reportedly stolen 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop? $75,537. The price listed on the Apple website is $1,199. A lost iPhone? $30,503. A lost Blackberry? $54,250.

The DNC did not respond to a request for comment.

Calls to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for elaboration on the report were not returned.
Good Lord -- I can see assigning some cash value to the data but that is all backed up isn't it? Time spent getting a replacement but not several thousands of dollars worth. And of course, the obvious presents itself -- who is doing the swiping? After all, it's all just Democrats there. These citizens file their tax returns and are never audited for these outlandish claims. Geeeee -- I wonder why? Title? This story.

Never visited India but really want to someday. From the Christian Science Monitor:

India to send world's last telegram. Stop.
At the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India's state-owned telecom company, a message emerges from a dot matrix printer addressing a soldier's Army unit in Delhi. "GRANDMOTHER SERIOUS. 15 DAYS LEAVE EXTENSION," it reads. It's one of about 5,000 such missives still being sent every day by telegram - a format favored for its "sense of urgency and authenticity," explains a BSNL official.

But the days of such communication are numbered: The world's last telegram message will be sent somewhere in India on July 14.

That missive will come 144 years after Samuel Morse sent the first telegram in Washington, and seven years after Western Union shuttered its services in the United States. In India, telegraph services were introduced by William O'Shaughnessy, a British doctor and inventor who used a different code for the first time in 1850 to send a message.

Some more:

At their peak in 1985, 60 million telegrams were being sent and received a year in India from 45,000 offices. Today, only 75 offices exist, though they are located in each of India's 671 districts through franchises. And an industry that once employed 12,500 people, today has only 998 workers.

One of them is R.D. Ram, who has been working in the Delhi office for 38 years. "They will now move me to another department where I will feel like a fresher [beginner]," he complains.

Mr. Ram once learned the Morse code technology for telegraphy, but today oversees staff who type out and send telegrams over a Web software. He tries to put up a spirited defense of the obsolete technology in the age of the smartphone, arguing that mobile penetration is much lower than it is hyped to be. Mobile penetration is indeed a dismal 26 percent, but even in the remotest village, at least someone has a phone.

Ram notes that the telegram has legal benefits as well. "It is still accepted by the courts as a valid form of evidence. And is taken seriously by a judge when a government official sends a telegram to say he is unwell and cannot be present in court today," he says.

What God hath wrought passes from the face of this earth.

The truth comes out - Oregon GMO wheat

A few weeks ago (May 31st, 2013 to be exact), I posted this story:

Just wonderful - GMO plants in the wild in Oregon

Going to be an interesting lawsuit for sure - from the New York Times:
Modified Wheat Is Discovered in Oregon
Unapproved genetically engineered wheat has been found growing on a farm in Oregon, federal officials said Wednesday, a development that could disrupt American exports of the grain.

The Agriculture Department said the wheat was of the type developed by Monsanto to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup, also known as glyphosate. Such wheat was field-tested in 16 states, including Oregon, from 1998 through 2005, but Monsanto dropped the project before the wheat was ever approved for commercial planting.

Now this -- from Reason Magazine:

Was the Biotech Wheat Found in Oregon Surreptitiously Sowed by Anti-GMO Activists?
Glibert Ross, who works with the American Council on Science and Health has published an op-ed today over at Canada's Financial Postsuggesting possible activist involvement:
There is no other explanation for the Oregon discovery. Roundup is Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide or weed-killer, among the commonest used since 1974; a Roundup Ready crop means it is gene-spliced to be resistant to the chemical, while the target weeds are killed by it. Monsanto has strenuously denied having any RR wheat trials in Oregon over the past nine years, and tests of over 30,000 wheat specimens in that region in 2011 showed no evidence of the trait.

Considering that this could cause a problem with exports (some countries are knee-jerk against GMO foods and will not accept crops if there is even the faint suspicion of a potential taint), the financial impact could be quite large. Will this be investigated and the people brought to justice? There will be a lot of hacked-off wheat growers if this was willful sabotage.

From The Virginian:
If Sarah Palin Had Become President
Remember the 2008 election? Democrats in and out of the media told us that McCain was old and it was possible that he could die in office, leaving Sarah Palin as president. The horror!

Well imagine that McCain had not self-destructed, become president and died, leaving Palin as president.

Beginning on day one:
  • Palin would not have dismissed the Black Panther intimidation lawsuit that the government had already won.
  • Palin would not have seized two auto companies and give them to her cronies in and out of the UAW.
  • Palin and her supporters would not be claiming that her opponents were racists for disagreeing with her policies.
  • Palin would not have tried to block Boeing from building a factory in South Carolina as a gift to her union buddies in Washington state.
  • Palin would not have toured the world apologizing for America.
  • Palin's Homeland Security Department would not have classified patriots as security threats.
  • Palin would have expanded oil and gas exploration on federal lands instead of reducing it, make the US even less dependent on foreign oil.
  • Palin would not have allowed the Pigford suit to be settled that gives billions of dollars to �farmers� that never farmed.
  • Palin would not have shipped thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels so that they could be found next to the bodies of murdered Mexicans and American agents.
  • Palin would not have encouraged the IRS to harass Tea Party groups.
  • Palin would not have encouraged the IRS to illegally reveal the names of contributors to conservative groups to Liberal organizations so that contributors could be harassed.
  • Palin�s IRS would not ask groups seeking 501(c)4 status about their prayer life.
A lot more at the site. A tip of the hat to the House of Eratosthenes by way of Gerard.

Instant karma

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From the UK Telegraph:
Bolivian man 'buried alive in grave of his murder victim'
Police had identified 17-year-old Santos Ramos as the possible culprit in the attack on 35-year-old Leandra Arias Janco Sunday in a Quechua community near the municipality of Colquechaca, said Jose Luis Barrios, the chief prosecutor in Potosi province where the community is located.

Enraged, more than 200 Bolivian community members seized Ramos and buried him alive alongside his alleged victim Wednesday night, according to Barrios. He said residents on Thursday blocked the road to the community, preventing police and prosecutors from reaching it.

A local reporter for an indigenous radio station, who would only speak on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, told The AP that Ramos was tied up at the woman's funeral. Mourners threw him into the open grave, placed the woman's coffin in it and filled the grave with earth.
Now that is swift and appropriate punishment -- no word on his history or personality but when you rape and murder a fellow citizen, your life is forfeit. Better than letting it drag out for 30 years in the court system at taxpayer expense. 100% sure? Smoking gun? Done.

The new XBox - not for the military

You would think that MSFT could ease the Digital Rights Management a little bit. From ArmyTimes:

New Xbox 'a sin against all service members'
Navy Lt. Scott Metcalf was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new Xbox One. Now he's not even sure if he'll buy one.

Indeed, for many in the military, the next-gen Xbox console may offer more endemic frustration than grand epic gaming, particularly for those deployed downrange, aboard ships and stationed overseas.

Xbox One, Microsoft's much-anticipated new console, got its big reveal at the Electronic Entertainment Expo gamers convention in Los Angeles. Company honchos are confident it will come to dominate living rooms over the next decade not only as the gaming delivery vehicle of choice, but also with a barrage of other content, including a suite of apps, streaming video and music.

There's one big but, however: To get all this entertainment awesomeness, the console will have to check in online with the Microsoft mothership at least once a day.

"With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection," an Xbox spokesperson tell Military Times.

That just plain sucks -- there are a lot of people in rural areas without broadband and this will affect them too. A bit more:

And it gets worse for on-the-go troops. The Xbox One:

Can play only in Xbox One-friendly countries. Even if you're lucky enough to have a regular, reliable Internet connection while overseas, you'll have to be in one of 21 countries included in Microsoft�s server network. So, if you're stationed in, say, Germany, Italy or Great Britain, you're good to go. But if you're based in Japan, Kuwait or Afghanistan, you're out of luck.

Will have region-locked games. Games bought in the U.S. can be activated only in the U.S. That means no more ripping open the latest title that just arrived in a care package from home while you're deployed. And forget about buying games locally when overseas - if your Xbox Live account isn't tied to the region when you activate a game, it won't play.

Serious security concerns. Even when the Xbox One is in sleep mode, its built-in microphone can always listen in. It's a feature developers say will provide quick voice-command access to games and apps - but that could spook commanders who might worry the always-connected device could also capture more than just idle chit-chat among troops.

"Microsoft has single handedly alienated the entire military. And not just the U.S. military - the militaries of the entire world," says naval aviator Jay Johnson.

The Internet connection requirement is "the single greatest sin Microsoft has committed against all service members," he writes in a post on the game developers site Gamasutra.

But don't worry -- some of the higher-ups at MSFT have a work-around:

Not to fear, says Xbox exec Don Mattrick, president of the Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment division. The company has a solution for those in the military: Just use the old Xbox 360 instead.

"Fortunately we have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity, it's called Xbox 360. If you have zero access to the Internet, that is an offline device," Mattrick told Game Trailer at E3 in an interview posted online.

Morons... I bet Sony is very very happy right now - their new PlayStation 4 is due out this Fall and it looks really nice.

$100 cheaper, no DRM, full HDMI graphics, bigger graphics processor, faster RAM speeds -- looks to be a much better deal than the XBox and probably a sure hit for our military...

A fine French whine

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From VINOGRAPHY: a wine blog:
France, WTF?!?
There are times when those we love need tenderness, affection, and understanding. That's probably most of the time. But then there are times when we see the people we care about making horrible mistakes, again and again and again. And then it's time for some tough love.

So here goes.

France, what the fuck do you think you're doing? Are you completely and utterly insane? Are you really going to let these extremist anti-alcohol bastards drive your already ailing wine industry into the grave? For a country that supposedly cares a lot about its cultural heritage, you seem altogether sanguine about cutting the (already tottering) legs out from underneath your struggling winemakers. You need to get your shit together and tell those teetotaling morons that unbelievably seem to be able to set your governmental agenda where they can shove their latest recommendations.

How criminally stupid do you have to be to believe that somehow if we just ban everyone in France from talking about wine online (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, wine review web sites) that your teenagers will drink less? Let's leave aside the fact that your country's wine consumption is at a 40-year low, and what you DESPERATELY need is for your young people to actually want to drink MORE wine not less. But the idea that somehow banning discussion of alcohol online where young people could see it will reduce drinking is akin to suggesting that banning sexual content in movies will make kids have less sex. Not to mention the fact that your ban will also mean that no one can write anything about wine that encourages moderation and reinforces your country's historical values of treating wine as food and a part of local culture.

I have no idea who this bozo Michel Reynaud is or how he manage to stay employed in a so-called institution of learning churning out the crap that he passes off as research. Worse, it's insulting to the intelligence of people everywhere that you're taking him at his word when he says that the fact that kids who have access to the internet and smartphones are more likely to drink alcohol than those who don't, and that means that reducing wine content accessible to these kids will reduce teen alcoholism.

Did you ever think that the fact that these kids own smart phones and computers might mean that they can better afford to buy booze for themselves than those who can't scrape together the cash to buy a phone? Clearly the principles of correlation and causality aren't taught wherever Michel Reynaud holds his sorry-ass professorship.
Another mastermind completely out of touch with reality. Sad to see that this pox is not unique to District of Columbia. Stupid people voting stupid crap into office because they will get their little gimme...
$60 to $100 Million of our tax dollars are being spent for this family vacay. I thought we had a budget crisis -- a sequester. From Breitbart:
Report: Obama Family's Africa Trip Will Cost $60 to $100 Million
You may not be able to tour the White House because of the spending increase slowdown from sequestration, but the Obama family can tour Africa for the small sum of $60 or $100 million.

President Barack Obama will hold bilateral meetings with leaders in Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania between June 26 and July 3, and the wife and kids are going along for the ride.

The Obama family vacation will include air transportation for 56 vehicles, among them 14 parade limousines, trucks carrying bulletproof glass to install at hotels, and two ambulances: one for dealing with biological and chemical contaminants, one with x-ray equipment.

Adding to the costs are 100 Secret Service Agents for the first three cities on the itinerary, 65 agents at the fourth, and 80 to 100 more to guard the Obama family 24/7.

Further, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier functioning as a hospital comes with the package, and fighter jets will patrol the area 24/7.

The White House had planned a safari with 35 more security agents. Why so many? The Washington Post, which saw those plans nixed once it asked questions about the cost of the Africa trip, said the 35 agents were �the president�s special counter-assault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat, according to the planning document.�
Three more years...

#1 Gun salesman of the year

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From CNN Money:
Smith & Wesson booked record sales as gun debate raged
The gun maker reported preliminary results Thursday showing that sales for the fiscal year ended April 30 hit a record $588 million, a 43% increase versus the year prior. Earnings were a record $1.22 a share, up from 40 cents a share in the prior fiscal year.

Both figures came in slightly ahead of analyst expectations. Smith & Wesson shares rose 5.3% in after-hours trading.
We are an armed nation -- no getting around it. Also, the areas with the most draconian gun restrictions enjoy the highest crime rates. The two go hand in hand...
Thirty years ago, it was a workers paradise -- a vibrant city with a gangbusters economy. And then, the people started voting themselves money and benefits. From Breitbart:
Emergency manager: Detroit won't pay $2.5B it owes
A team led by a state-appointed emergency manager said Friday that Detroit is defaulting on about $2.5 billion in unsecured debt and is asking creditors to take about 10 cents on the dollar of what the city owes them.

Kevyn Orr spent two hours with about 180 bond insurers, pension trustees, union representatives and other creditors in a move to avoid what bankruptcy experts have said would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Underfunded pension claims likely would get less than the 10 cents on the dollar.

An assessment of the plan's progress will come in the next 30 days or so.
I feel sorry for the poor people who trusted the unions and whose retirement finances are shot. A bit more:
Orr said everyone involved needs to come to grips with Detroit's dire financial situation that has been worsened by years of procrastination and denial.

"If people are sincere and look at this data, you would think a rational person will step back and say, `This is not normal ... but what choice do we have?'" Orr said.

The city's budget deficit could top $380 million by July 1. Orr believes long-term debt tops $17 billion.

The Washington-based bankruptcy attorney hired by Michigan in March reiterated that the chances of bankruptcy are 50-50 for Detroit, the largest U.S. city placed under state oversight.
If the economy was any better, Detroit could become a hotbed of innovation and new industry -- startup costs would be minimal because property values are so low. Unfortunately, the current administration stumbles along with its Keynesian economic policies and its stupid energy policies.

Working in the shop today

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Spending some time in the shop. Building a small portable forge for the farmer's market. More posting this evening...

ATTENTION - NOTICE TO ALL

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From the Navy Times:
ALL-CAPS MESSAGES ... no more
Call it the message read �round the world.

On May 8, the Navy�s personnel chief issued a policy directive likely unique in the annals of naval messages that came before it � a bulletin that featured lowercase letters.

For sailors who find it hard to get through all-caps messages or think that they READ LIKE YOU�RE BEING SHOUTED AT, your time has come: The Navy is shifting to a new message-routing system that is cheaper and easier to operate and has the side benefit of sending messages that are easier to read.

The ability to mix upper- and lowercase letters and special characters �makes the readability better for the folks that are actually monitoring in a chat room or reading messages off a portal site,� said James McCarty, the naval messaging program manager at Fleet Cyber Command who is overseeing the changes, which oddly were first announced in an all-caps dispatch.
A hangover from the early teletype machines which were uppercase only. National Weather Service still issues its weather advisories in upper case.
When something is published on the internet, it will remain there forever. Attempts to redact it will only result in its being copied and spread around. Case in point -- radical islamist preacher Anjem Choudary. From The Sun:
Mad mullered
Hate preacher Anjem Choudary is today exposed as �the biggest hypocrite around� � by ex-student friends who knew him as a drunken, womanising buffoon called Andy.

Choudary�s old pals spoke out as the Muslim fanatic tried desperately to get embarrassing photos deleted off the internet.

The pictures show the young Choudary boozing, playing drinking games and laughing at a soft-porn mag.

One former student at Southampton University said: �He always turned up late for lectures, if he turned up at all, and sat at the back mucking about.

�He lived with some other guys who had the reputation for being the hard-drinking party crowd who did very little work. I used to see him stagger out of a nightclub pretty much every weekend.

�Choudary lived in an area of Southampton called St Mary�s, which back then was very seedy with a lot of prostitution and drugs. It is staggering that he�s pushing for sharia law. He is the biggest hypocrite and loser around.�

Dad-of-four Choudary, 46 � who gets �25,000 a year in benefits � has repeatedly called for the strict law in Britain, with all women forced to wear burkas, drinkers given 40 lashes in public and adulterers stoned to death for sex outside marriage.

But his uni peers said Choudary had sex with numerous non-Muslim girls while studying from 1987 to 1990.

One former pal added: �Before he grew his beard and turned to fundamentalism we knew him as Andy and he was famed for his party piece which was downing a pint of cider in seconds.�

The Sun is leading a campaign for Choudary to be arrested for his sick rants on terrorism.

The photos emerged after he said Brits live �like animals in a jungle� amid booze, gambling, prostitution and porn.

A follower revealed humiliated Choudary was furious at the images showing him flouting the strict laws. The source said: �Anjem is deeply embarrassed."
Lots of fun photos at the site. And the moke is getting �25,000 in "benefits" -- paid from the British taxpayers. That is $39,212 USD. Hat tip to Firehand for the link.
Things are getting interesting and not in a good way. A Syria three-fer. First - from CBS News:
U.S.: Syria used chemical weapons, crossing "red line"
The Obama administration has concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government used chemical weapons against the rebels seeking to overthrow him and, in a major policy shift, President Obama has decided to supply military support to the rebels, the White House announced Thursday.
And they seem to be planning some 'humanitarian' effort. Second - from Breitbart:
Obama Admin Considers Resettling Thousands of Syrian Refugees in U.S.
The Obama administration is considering resettling thousands of refugees who left Syria during the country's ongoing civil war to multiple towns and cities across the United States, the L.A. Times reports.
A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families.

The State Department is "ready to consider the idea," an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure.

The United States usually accepts about half the refugees that the U.N. agency proposes for resettlement. California has historically taken the largest share, but Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia are also popular destinations.
Now what could possibly go wrong? Third - from USA Today:
Syrian rebels pledge loyalty to al-Qaeda
A Syrian rebel group's pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda's replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group's influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The pledge of allegiance by Syrian Jabhat al Nusra Front chief Abou Mohamad al-Joulani to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri was coupled with an announcement by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, that it would work with al Nusra as well.

Lebanese Sheik Omar Bakri, a Salafist who says states must be governed by Muslim religious law, says al-Qaeda has assisted al Nusra for some time.

"They provided them early on with technical, military and financial support , especially when it came to setting up networks of foreign jihadis who were brought into Syria," Bakri says. "There will certainly be greater coordination between the two groups."
These people are laughing at us behind our backs -- we are playing into their hands and the overall damage will take years to reverse. We are at war and our enemy understands us much better than we understand them. This transcends stupidity and is encroaching on Willful Idiocy territory. Treason! I feel sorry for the poor communities that will have to deal with these murderous pigs. Can't prosecute -- not politically correct -- must be tolerant. I really hate the word tolerant... Title? Governor Tarkin, Episode IV - A New Hope

A new approach to datacenter cooling

Computers dissipate a lot of waste heat. You don't notice it in a single desktop system but put 48 high-performance servers on top of each other in a rack and you have some serious cooling problems. Not just the electronics, a high-performance hard disk drive also kicks out a lot of heat. I used to work for MSFT and one lab I managed had over 1,000 computers. The cooling system was very specialized and when it went down (a certain 'S' company), the temperature in the lab would go from shirtsleeve to over 100�F in 30 minutes. Facebook is thinking outside of the box with their new datacenter -- from Slashdot:
Facebook Saves Datacenter Costs with Frigid Arctic Wind
One year and seven months after beginning construction, Facebook has brought its first datacenter on foreign soil online.

That soil is in Lulea, town of 75,000 people on northern Sweden�s east coast, just miles south of the boundary separating the Arctic Circle from the somewhat-less-frigid land below it.

Lulea (also nicknamed The Node Pole for the number of datacenters in the area) is in the coldest area of Sweden and shares the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska, according to a local booster site.

The constant, biting wind may have stunted the growth of Lulea�s tourism industry, but it has proven a big factor in luring big IT facilities into the area. Datacenters in Lulea are just as difficult to power and cool as any other concentrated mass of IT equipment, but their owners can slash the cost of cooling all those servers and storage units simply by opening a window: the temperature in Lulea hasn�t stayed at or above 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours since 1961 (PDF), and the average temperature is a bracing 29.6 Fahrenheit.

Air cooling might prove a partial substitute for powered environmental control, but Facebook�s datacenter still needed 120megawatts of steady power to keep the social servers humming. Sweden has among the lowest electricity costs in Europe, and the Lulea area reportedly has among the lowest power costs in Sweden. Low electricity prices are at least partly due to the area�s proximity to the powerful Lulea River and the line of hydroelectric dams that draw power from it.

�We are proud to say that this is likely to be one of the most efficient and sustainable data centers in the world,� according to the blog item/Facebook page update about the center going live. �All the equipment inside is powered by locally generated hydro-electric energy. Not only is it 100% renewable, but the supply is also so reliable that we have been able to reduce the number of backup generators required at the site by more than 70 percent.�
Talk about win/win. Beats having to deal with clouds and rainstorms in your server rooms. The facility is three buildings, each 300,000 sq. ft. - that would be a single square floor 1,732 feet on each side -- big building. 6.9 Acres if you are a farmer...
Now this will be interesting -- from TechDirt:
Lawsuit Filed To Prove Happy Birthday Is In The Public Domain; Demands Warner Pay Back Millions Of License Fees
Happy Birthday remains the most profitable song ever. Every year, it is the song that earns the highest royalty rates, sent to Warner/Chappell Music (which makes millions per year from "licensing" the song). However, as we've been pointing out for years, the song is almost certainly in the public domain. Robert Brauneis did some fantastic work a few years ago laying out why the song's copyright clearly expired many years ago, even as Warner/Chappell pretends otherwise. You can read all the background, but there are a large number of problems with the copyright, including that the sisters who "wrote" the song, appear to have written neither the music, nor the lyrics. At best, they may have written a similar song called "Good Morning to All" in 1893, with the same basic melody, but there's evidence to suggest the melody itself predated the sisters. But, more importantly, the owner of the copyright (already questionable) failed to properly renew it in 1962, which would further establish that it's in the public domain.

The issue, as we've noted, is that it's just not cost effective for anyone to actually stand up and challenge Warner Music, who has strong financial incentive to pretend the copyright is still valid. Well, apparently, someone is pissed off enough to try. The creatively named Good Morning to You Productions, a documentary film company planning a film about the song Happy Birthday, has now filed a lawsuit concerning the copyright of Happy Birthday and are seeking to force Warner/Chappell to return the millions of dollars it has collected over the years. That's going to make this an interesting case.
Now this will be interesting to follow -- hat tip to BoingBoing for the link. Talk about a landmark case. And, of course, one of the comentors offered this:
Happy Lawsuit To You!
Happy Lawsuit To You!
This Song Is Public Domain,
Happy Lawsuit To You!
Heh...

The art of electronics

Electronics is a precise endeavor but there is a lot of room for artistry. There are many ways to build a device.

Jim Williams was one of the masters and EDN magazine has a nice writeup:

Jim Williams: The light side and classic electronics art sculptures
Jim Williams had the unique ability to integrate his different talents in science, art, inventing and engineering and to bring forth easily understandable tutorials, app notes and tech phone conversations with customers that enabled better designs to emanate from the field of electronics designers (I know because I was one who benefited from Williams' help back in the early 1980s as a young designer---I was designing a three op amp instrumentation amplifier with three chopper amplifiers---a daunting task at the time with the switching noise and spikes in the capacitive switching circuits inside the amp---he talked me through it and got it working for me! I think it was the LTC1052).

A wonderful read even if you don't 'do' electronics or geek stuff. Pages three and four have some fun pictures of Jim's projects.

Williams was also a cartoonist and when his son was born, worked from home. He took the evening shift and would be feeding his son every couple hours. During that period, whenever he would design a new circuit, he would annotate how many bottles of milk he had to feed Michael -- the more complex the circuit, the more bottles would be drawn on the schematic.

Williams was one of my two contemporary gurus, the other being Bob Pease. In one of life's strange coincidences, Williams passed away (stroke) in 2011 and Bob lost his life driving home from the memorial service.

They had another thing in common too -- something I can empathize with. From EE Times. Yes, my workbench is cluttered but I know where everything is!

The jobs market - WalMart

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What with Obamacare being mandatory for employees working more than thirty hours/week, employers are making changes. From Reuters:
Exclusive - Wal-Mart's everyday hiring strategy: Add more temps
Wal-Mart Stores Inc has in recent months been only hiring temporary workers at many of its U.S. stores, the first time the world's largest retailer has done so outside of the holiday shopping season.

A Reuters survey of 52 stores run by the largest U.S. private employer in the past month, including one in every U.S. state, showed that 27 were hiring only temps, 20 were hiring a combination of regular full, part-time and temp jobs, and five were not hiring at all. The survey was based on interviews with managers, sales staff and human resource department employees at the stores.

The new hiring policy is to ensure "we are staffed appropriately," when the stores are busiest and is not a cost-cutting move, said company spokesman David Tovar. Temporary workers, he said, are paid the same starting pay as other workers.

Using temporary workers enables the company to have adequate staff on busy weeknights and weekends without having to hire additional full-time staff.

Tovar said fewer than 10 percent of its U.S. workforce is temporary - or what the company internally calls "flexible associates" - compared to 1 to 2 percent before 2013. The majority of its workforce is still regular full-time staff, he said.
From one or two percent to ten percent is a huge jump. Makes sense though -- costs are going up and the economy is still in the tank.
Interesting comment -- from Newsbusters:
Ralph Nader: 'Has There Been a Bigger Con Man in the White House Than Barack Obama?'
Ralph Nader last week had some harsh words for the current President of the United States.

Appearing on Democracy Now!, Nader asked host Amy Goodman, "Has there been a bigger con man in the White House than Barack Obama?" (video follows with transcript and commentary).
Nader's comment:
RALPH NADER: Yeah, has there�has there been a bigger con man in the White House than Barack Obama? He hasn�t lifted a finger since he made those statements. And when he made the statements in the 2008 campaign, he said nothing for four years on raising the minimum wage. He made no pressure on Congress. He hasn�t even unleashed people in his own White House on this issue.
And back in 2010 -- an excerpt from this article at The Hill:
He said Obama's decision to allow tax-cut extensions for the wealthy in the lame-duck deal betrays the progressives who supported his campaign in 2008 and called the president a "con man."

"There will be a primary," Nader said. "Just a question of how prominent a person [will run against Obama]. This deal is the last straw."

"Obama's position has been that the liberal, progressive wing has nowhere to go, therefore they can't turn their back on the administration. But a challenge will hold his feet to the fire and signal that we do have somewhere to go."
Obama is not 'progressive' enough for Ralph. Yikes! I always knew that Ralph was around the bend but I didn't realize just how far...
The true costs of the Affordable Care Act are coming to light. Here are the numbers for California -- from CNN Money:
Obamacare: Is a $2,000 deductible 'affordable?'
States are starting to roll out details about the exchanges, providing a look at just how affordable coverage under the Affordable Care Act will be. Some potential participants may be surprised at the figures: $2,000 deductibles, $45 primary care visit co-pays, and $250 emergency room tabs.

Those are just some of the charges enrollees will incur in a silver-level plan in California, which recently unveiled an overview of the benefits and charges associated with its exchange. That's on top of the $321 average monthly premium.

For some, this will be great news since it will allow them to see the doctor without breaking the bank. But others may not want to shell out a few thousand bucks in addition to a monthly premium.

"The hardest question is will it be a good deal and will consumers be able to afford it," said Marian Mulkey, director of the health reform initiative at the California Healthcare Foundation. "The jury is still out. It depends on their circumstances."
Those numbers are just about what it costs for health insurance in the private sector. I am paying about $500/month in premiums (I'm 62 so that makes things a little bit pricey), have a $1K deductible, office visits are $20, generic medicine co-pay is $15 and max out of pocket is $5K. I pay more per month but all of the associated costs of treatment are substantially lower. If this is what the free marketplace can do, why is Obamacare so much more expensive? Big government meddling? Yup!
Who he? From TechHive:
Phone unlocking ban could hit you in the wallet
As of Saturday, your options for owning an unlocked phone become far more limited. You can ask your carrier to unlock it�and good luck with that�or you can pay a premium to manufacturers like Apple or Google for a new unlocked phone. You just can�t unlock your phone yourself�at least, not legally.

That decision was made not by voters, the courts, or even Congress. It was made by one man, 83-year-old Congressional Librarian James Hadley Billington, who is responsible for interpreting the meaning of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Billington decided last October that unlocking your phone yourself is a violation of the Act, which was originally written to prevent digital piracy.

When Billington made his decision, he also granted a 90-day exemption period in which people could still buy phones that they could later unlock, but only after asking their carrier to do it and getting �no� for an answer. That period ends Saturday. After that, the question of whether or not the smartphone you buy is truly your own gets a little fuzzy.

The idea that a decision that will affect so many, and involves so much money, could rest on a single unelected person is bizarre at best and absurd at worst.

But indeed, the law reads in Section 1201 of the DMCA: �Upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, the Librarian of Congress may designate certain classes of works as exempt from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.�
Odd that so much power can reside in the hands of one unelected person. Shame that he is wielding it so poorly -- proprietary systems always get hacked. This has never been proven wrong...

Congratulations Anthony

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A nice milestone for Anthony Watts over at Watts Up With That. From Christopher Monckton of Brenchley:
WUWT: 150 million hits and counting
The world�s most viewed site on global warming goes from strength to strength, and its audience grows with it. Let me be the first to congratulate Anthony and his team on 150 million hits. No one on the other side of the case even comes close. It�s no longer cool to be warmist, and they know it.

The differences between WUWT and sites such as these are interesting.
  • It puts more emphasis on hard-headed assessments of what has happened than on the fanciful predictions of what might happen that are their mainstay.
  • It discusses the science and economics of the climate debate, accessibly but in depth. They don�t do much science; and, when they do, their prejudices are so quaveringly intense that they distort it.
  • It does not take sides. It displays a genuine interest in all sides of the debate, and allows them space. They don�t do that.
  • It does not, as they do, sullenly refuse to post every comment that is critical of it. It allows both sides to be fairly heard.
  • It is tolerant of all but the most persistent and malicious trolls.
  • It is transparently, persistently, meticulously honest. Mistakes are admitted and corrected swiftly.
  • It is up to date. It posts more items daily than some of them post in a month.
  • It is on topic. Occasional departures are allowed, when something catches Anthony�s ever-interested eye, or when Willis is in story-telling mode, but otherwise you know what you are going to get.
  • It isn�t subsidized. They have taxpayers� money thrown at them to flog the long-dead horse of global warming. It gets by, but it does not reward Anthony at even a tenth the rate he deserves.
  • It is beautifully polished. Running any blog is hard work. Running a seriously good blog is even harder than running a restaurant. You have to be there just about every day. You have to keep the content and the quality up.

Above all, it is a cracking good read. Long may it and its genial host flourish. On to a billion hits. Justin Dribbler, eat your heart out.
Kudos to Anthony and the rest of the hard-working crew. WUWT is a daily read for me. Excellent reporting, accurate science.

Whoops - hydrogen is not your friend

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Sounds like bad labwork to me but the article doesn't go into too much detail. From the Bellingham Herald -- Kendall is just a few miles down the road from here:
Police: Kendall man injured in explosion of home science project
An explosion caused by a backyard science project sent a Kendall man to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle early Wednesday, June 12.

Investigators believe the 44-year-old resident conducted the project in a two-story shed: He used an electrical current to separate hydrogen from water, then captured the gas in a 5-gallon propane tank, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo. The man meant to use the hydrogen as a fuel supplement for his vehicles.

But about a minute after midnight the tank overpressurized and exploded. The blast rattled the neighborhood near the 8300 block of Golden Valley Boulevard.

"Our whole house shook," said Mark Metcalf, who lives about two blocks away. "Everyone in our whole cul de sac came out to look."

The man, identified by family members as Andrey Lukyanchin, suffered severe burns on his limbs and torso. He was airlifted to Harborview with critical injuries.

Lukyanchin remained in serious condition as of Wednesday afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Law enforcement found no evidence of a crime, Elfo said. Family members told investigators the man had a hobby of conducting his own science experiments based on videos he found on the Internet.
When I first read the headline, I was expecting a meth lab (there are a lot of them in a ten mile radius). Our prayers go out to Andrey -- hydrogen is nasty stuff. It is combustible over one of the largest ratios of fuel to air (Hydrogen - 4% to 75%, Gasoline - 1.4% to 7.6% by volume - Acetylene and Ethylene oxide are worse), its flames are near invisible and it causes iron and steel to become very brittle when held in contact with them. My other concern is that using electrolysis to generate it for use as a fuel is one of the most stunningly inefficient reactions out there. Especially if you are using stainless steel for your electrodes. You will see at best around a one percent return on your investment -- the very property that makes stainless steel 'stainless' also makes it one of the worst electrode materials for electrolysis. Commercial Hydrogen production is done through steam reformation of Methane Gas.

Light posting tonight

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The internet faeries are running on the slow side -- same symptoms: bursts of speed and then long periods of worse than dialup. Lulu's son is out for a week -- spend some time working in the forge and cleaning stuff up at the farm. Got a trailer-full of crap to haul to the transfer station. Next load is scrap metal for recycling -- the one just about pays for the other and a latte for the drive back home...

Red State Blue State

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Handing out the candy to those people who support the machine. From The Washington Post:
APNewsBreak: FEMA denies rebuilding funds to West, Texas, for deadly plant explosion
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the small Texas town where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people.

According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA said it reviewed the state�s appeal to help West but decided that the explosion �is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.�

The blast killed 10 first responders and brought national attention to the agricultural community. President Barack Obama traveled to the area to attend a memorial service for the first responders and others who died trying to help.

The FEMA funds would have helped pay for public repairs such as roads, sewer lines, pipes and a school that were destroyed.
Not that many Democrats in West I guess -- they are only looking at $57 Million of which, $40M will go to rebuilding the school that was destroyed.

What happened to Global Warming

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An interesting look at an alternative explanation for the missing global warming. From the Wall Street Journal:
Global Warming and the Gipper
Might it be that it was Ronald Reagan and not Barack Obama who began to slow the rise of the seas? That is one conclusion that could be drawn from a new paper by Canadian physicist Qing-Bin Lu of Ontario's University of Waterloo. Instead of carbon dioxide emissions, Mr. Lu argues that ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other halocarbons caused global warming. Thanks to the Reagan administration and the 1987 Montreal Protocol, CFCs have been phased out by developed countries. After a lag, Mr. Lu argues that global temperatures peaked around 2002 and predicts they are set to gradually fall over the next five to seven decades.

Upholders of the consensus argue that increased carbon dioxide is the only way to explain rising global temperatures. Now there is a competing explanation, with a chronology that better fits the evidence.

There was always a problem with the CO2-as-cause explanation�how to explain the decline in temperatures from the mid-1940s and relatively flat temperatures until 1975 when carbon dioxide levels were rising all the time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) did this by arguing that sulfate aerosols resulting from coal-fired power station emissions had a cooling effect that temporarily stopped the rise in temperatures.

There wasn't hard data on aerosols, so assumptions were used that couldn't be checked against reality. To anyone but a climate scientist, it was deeply unsatisfactory�especially as different climate modelers used different values to get similar results. Nonetheless, this was the story line the IPCC developed in its 1995 Second Assessment Report. By contrast, in Mr. Lu's telling, the effect of CFCs on the climate only became significant in the late 1970s (Mr. Lu's analysis suggests there is a delay of about nine years before CFCs reach the upper atmosphere and trap heat radiated from the Earth's surface).

More recently, reality intruded again. "The climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago," President Obama declared last month. Only it hasn't. As shown in the accompanying chart of temperature data from the U.K.'s Met Office, in the first decade of this century, the global average temperature flattened and started to decline, implying a negative correlation between carbon dioxide and temperature for the time being.

In contrast to the poor predictive record of CO2-driven warming, with CFCs it is a different story. According to Mr. Lu, global surface temperature has a "nearly perfect" linear correlation with CFCs and other halocarbons in the atmosphere since 1970. Making careful calculations of the warming effect of halogenated gases, Mr. Lu can reproduce observed temperatures since 1970 and a cooling trend for the past 10 years. But Mr. Lu cannot reconcile the observed temperatures between 1850 and 1970 or the recent cooling using the IPCC's equation for the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide.
Interesting -- some more nuts and bolts with a link to the original paper can be found at Science Daily. Makes a lot of sense to me -- the effect of CO2 on warming is minimal at best and it declines as the cumulative concentration increases.

Back from town

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Almost $800 lighter... Not money I was planning to spend but I want to replace the water heater with something that will last. I can get an average one for $500 and an exceptional one for $750 -- no brainer. Grabbed a quick bite on the road and two pints at my favorite roadhouse. Was listening to the radio while driving around and the NSA leaks are a lot of fun. Edward Snowden -- the leaker -- is just the distraction. Get people whipped up into a media frenzy so they will ignore the content; straight out of Spin 101. It is funny because we know more about Snowden's history, personal life and school records than we know about Obama's. See how the internet fairies are doing -- counting the days until we get real broadband at the house (and it's going to be cheaper!!!)

Heading into town soon

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Waiting on a delivery and then off to town to pick up the new water heater. More posting tonight. Cold and rainy for the next week...

Tip of the iceberg

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From Yahoo News/Associated Press:
Journalist in US surveillance case: More to come
The journalist who exposed classified U.S. surveillance programs leaked by an American defense contractor said Tuesday that there will be more 'significant revelations' to come from the documents.

"We are going to have a lot more significant revelations that have not yet been heard over the next several weeks and months," said Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.

Greenwald told The Associated Press the decision was being made on when to release the next story based on the information provided by Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old employee of government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who has been accused by U.S. Senate intelligence chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California of committing an "act of treason" that should be prosecuted.

Greenwald's reports last week exposed widespread U.S. government programs to collect telephone and Internet records.

"There are dozens of stories generated by the documents he provided, and we intend to pursue every last one of them," Greenwald said.
How many scandals do we have to have before we start to really clean up the federal government?

Fun times in Florida - big skeeters

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From West Palm Beach station WPTV:
'Gallinipper' mosquitoes: Oversized mosquitoes influx expected
Coming this summer: They're big! They're vicious! And they want YOUR BLOOD!

In what sounds like the plot from a 1950s horror flick, scientists at the University of Florida are warning an influx of oversized mosquitoes known as gallinippers (Psorophora ciliata) is expected this summer.

"Big" is in relation to most species of mosquitoes. A gallinipper has a half-inch long body and even longer legs. The "vicious" part is true, again, compared to other mosquitoes.

"Yeah, it's a vicious biter," said Ken Gioeli, natural resources agent for the St. Lucie Cooperative Extension Service, said of the gallinipper. "They can bite right through your clothing and give you a good pinch, more painful than an ordinary mosquito bite."

Doug Carlson, mosquito control director for Indian River County, Fla., has been bitten by gallinippers and said: "I'm not so sure the bite is all that much more painful than other mosquito bites. The gallinippers are so big they're certainly very noticeable. It can feel like a small bird has landed on you."
They are not an invasive species -- native to Southeast coastal regions; just having a 'good' year for them...

Operation Troll the NSA

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From their website: trollthensa.com:
Let's jam up the NSA's scanners
It millions of us, all at the same exact time, call or email someone with our keywords-of-terror script, we can give our Nation's impressive surveillance apparatus the kind of test it deserves.

They say they don�t read or listen to the contents of our messages. Why not test it out?

It'll be fun.
Set to go down 7:00PM Wednesday, June 12th. (tomorrow!) Here is the script:
Hey! How�s it going? I�m all right.
My job is so shitty I wish I could overthrow my boss. It�s like this oppressive regime where only true believers in his management techniques will stay around. I work marathon-length hours and he�s made all these changes that have made it the worst architecture firm to work at in Manhattan. Like he moved the office to the Financial District and fired my assistant. She was the only one who knew where the blueprints were! I need access to those blueprints to complete my job! F my life, right? And he keeps trying to start all these new initiatives to boost revenue, but seriously we just need to stick to what we do best. There�s only one true profit center. I seriously feel ready to go on strike at any second.

I just read this article about how these free radical particles can cause the downfall of good health and accelerate aging. These could actually cause death to millions of Americans. If these particles are flying around undetected everywhere, does that mean we�re all radicalized?

Have you seen the second season of Breaking Bad? I just finished it. I couldn�t believe that episode where they poison the guy with ricin! That was the bomb! I won�t say any more because I don�t want to reveal the earth-shattering events to come.

Oh! So I�ve been planning a big trip for the summer. I�m thinking of visiting all of the most famous suspension bridges in the United States. So probably like the Golden Gate Bridge, The Brooklyn Bridge, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. I�m gonna bring my younger brother and I know he�ll want to go to bars, so I�m thinking of getting him a fake drivers license, but I hope that doesn�t blow up in my face.

Okay, I gotta run! I�m late for flight school. I missed the last class where we learn how to land, so I really can�t miss another one. Talk to you later!
Heh...
Earlier, I had posted about how Bill Nye (the science guy) was bloviating about our planet's supposed overpopulation. I brought up the simple fact that the current world population could be housed in the state of Texas and have the same density as the island of Manhattan (and I forgot to mention that this is the entire island, not just the downtown parts). That leaves a lot of space left over for growing crops... Today, the Silicon Greybeard posted this:
The Truth Behind Overpopulation
Chances are that all your life you've heard about how overcrowded the earth is. It's a basic tenet of militant environmentalists, who always seem to talk about saving life on Earth by destroying humans - as if we're not a native animal on the planet. It's basic to Agenda 21, the massive UN program. From the story in that link I posted two years ago:
Central to the plan is the idea of being carbon neutral. That's right, "global warming" or "climate change" or whatever they call it this week, is the basis for mass murder on a scale that Mao, Pol Pot, or Hitler could never aspire to. You see, to quote from this piece at End of The American Dream, the population must be reduced:
�CNN Founder Ted Turner: "A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal."
�Dave Foreman, Earth First Co-Founder: "My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it�s full complement of species, returning throughout the world."
�Maurice Strong: "Isn�t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn�t it our responsibility to bring that about?"
Gee, the moderate guy only wants to kill off more than 95% of the human race. See the current world population is around 7 billion people. For Dave Foreman, 100 million out of 7 billion is 100 out of 7000 or 1.4 %. At 300 million, Ted Turner would generously let 4.3% live.
So how bad is the overpopulation that we need to kill off billions of people? John Robb at Resilient Communities runs this graphic of how large an area the population of the world would consume if we housed them in the style of six different cities.
An excellent graphic at the site -- even if we allowed for the population density of Houston, TX (3,371.7 per square mile -- 2000 census data), it would still only take about 2/3 of CONUS to house the entire world's population. The world would be a far better place if the Reverend Thomas Malthus had never been born.

Back from town

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Did the store buying run today -- back a bit early. Working outside while I have decent weather (40% chance of showers tomorrow) -- more posting later tonight (if the internet faeries are happy).

The internet on strike

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Just two days ago, I had posted that Broadband was finally arriving in my little hamlet. Now the 3G wireless service is going on strike -- performance is OK for five minutes and then it slows down to worse than dialup for 20. Back to fast again and then slow again. Oh well, it's days are numbered...

Minimal posting today

We just got back from the Deming Logging Show -- 50th anniversary so it was a really big turnout -- lots of fun. Lulu had never seen unlimited chainsaw class competition. Making a big pot of spaghetti sauce for dinner -- she is off to town for a few days so I'll have plenty of leftovers. More posting later tonight but not much -- long day tomorrow...
Heh -- from The Register comes this story of feel-good alt.energy going horribly wrong:
Facebook's first data center DRENCHED by ACTUAL CLOUD
Facebook's first data center ran into problems of a distinctly ironic nature when a literal cloud formed in the IT room and started to rain on servers.

Though Facebook has previously hinted at this via references to a "humidity event" within its first data center in Prineville, Oregon, the social network's infrastructure king Jay Parikh told The Reg on Thursday that, for a few minutes in Summer, 2011, Facebook's data center contained two clouds: one powered the social network, the other poured water on it.

"I got a call, 'Jay, there's a cloud in the data center'," Parikh says. "'What do you mean, outside?'. 'No, inside'."

There was panic.

"It was raining in the datacenter," he explains.

The problem occurred because of the ambitious chiller-less air conditioning system the data center used. Unlike traditional facilities, which use electricity-intensive, direct-expansion cooling units to maintain a low, steady temperature, consumer internet giants such as Google, Facebook, and others have all been on a tear building facilities that use outside air instead.

In Prineville's first summer of operation, a problem in the facility's building-management system led to high temperature and low humidity air from the hot aisles being endlessly recirculated though a water-based evaporative cooling system that sought to cool the air down � which meant that when the air came back into the cold aisle for the servers it was so wet it condensed.
Condensation is a killer for electronics -- circuit boards and hard disk drives especially. Drives are sealed but there is usually a port with a filter on it to let them equalize pressure for shipping. Not good to let it get warm in a humid environment and then cool down... My last post at MSFT was in a large lab (over 1,000 computers) and it had special HVAC systems but these were a one-off design and failed from time to time (a certain 'S' company) and when they did, the temp in the lab would rise from shirtsleeve to around 100�F in a short time. I can see the political cachet of using environmental methods to cool a datacenter but I would be sure to have a full HVAC system as backup. A bit more:
Some servers broke entirely because they had front-facing power supplies and these shorted out. For a few minutes, Parikh says, you could stand in Facebook's data center and hear the pop and fizzle of Facebook's ultra-lean servers obeying the ultra-uncompromising laws of physics.

Facebook learned from the mistakes, and now designs its servers with a seal around their power supply, or as Parikh calls it, "a rubber raincoat."
A patch, not a fix. Rotsa Ruck...

The sad truth of climate change

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Is that it is not and has never been human caused on a global scale. The loss of the Snows of Kilimanjaro are a direct result of rampant deforestation of its slopes. Global warming? No. The tragedy is that there has been a lot more damage done to Nations and the people in them by human meddling than by any normal random climate change. Take for example, the African nation of Malawi -- from E. Calvin Beisner writing at WUWT:
Is Fighting Global Warming the Solution to Water Shortages in Malawi (or Elsewhere)?
In late May two evangelical environmentalists, recently returned from visiting Malawi, published articles in which they said poor Malawians are suffering from reduced rainfall caused by manmade global warming.

Jonathan Merritt wrote for Religion News Service, �In America, climate change is a matter of debate, but in places like Malawi, it�s a matter of life and death.� Judd Birdsall wrote for Huffington Post, �In Fombe village, Malawi, climate change is not a matter of political or scientific debate. It�s a matter of survival.�

The implication was clear: To help the poor in Malawi (and other developing nations), we must fight global warming.

If either author had dug deeper, he might have concluded differently.

Although the controversial Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project reports about 0.6�C of warming for Malawi from about 1970 to about 2010, the data are highly suspect, coming from fewer than 10 monitoring stations in a country that stretches nearly 600 miles from north to south, averages about 75 miles wide, and is slightly larger in area than the State of Ohio. Granted the widespread deviance of temperature monitoring stations even in the U.S. from standards set to ensure accuracy, and the likelihood that �urban heat island� effect (which occurs even in small villages) accounts for about half of apparent global and regional warming in recent decades, it�s likely that BEST�s data for Malawi considerably exaggerate any warming there.
What follows is an examination of the differences of what Merritt and Birdsall "observed" and what the actual numbers are. There is no drought -- it is increased agriculture and mismanagement of irrigation causing the water shortage. There is no appreciable warming. Malawi�s problem is mis-management and bureaucratic incompetence. Too many chefs in the stew. Reader D.W. posts the following comment:
Another post that supports what I have always argued i.e. the real catastrophes of AGW have and will come, not from anything that climate has or is likely to produce, but from the greatly damaging, ineffectual, futile, and ultimately insane �solutions� that have been enacted already and are demanded for the future. �Solutions� to the �problem� of CO2 which it is increasingly evident is not one now nor likely to be much of one in the future. Indeed, if I was forced to make a guess, I would lean toward the suggestion that, when at some distant future point this matter is finally resolved scientifically, CO2 will be, like most of those things that have been ballyhooed as �bad� for us, ultimately found to be a net benefit.

In the mean time, even if all anti-carbon activity were to cease immediately, we would still be stuck with decades of work to unwind the waste, misery and death created by what has already been done in the name of carbon demonization.
The other comments are worth reading too -- people on this blog understand that the real situation is completely unrelated to the official situation. Politics and corruption trumps reality. Or as reader D.Y. commented:
Marxists have been working very diligently in Africa to insure that no nation becomes economically stable. Malawi with a strong economy, is the last thing they want.
So true -- if your neighboring Nation has a strong and vibrant economy and you are living in a mud hut, you might start asking some inconvenient questions of your "leaders".
From Yahoo/Reuters:
U.S. quietly allows military aid to Egypt despite rights concerns
Secretary of State John Kerry quietly acted last month to give Egypt $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid, deciding that this was in the national interest despite Egypt's failure to meet democracy standards.

Kerry made the decision well before an Egyptian court this week convicted 43 democracy workers, including 16 Americans, in what the United States regards as a politically motivated case against pro-democracy non-governmental organizations.

Rights groups believe Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is retreating from democratic freedoms, notably in a new civil society law and in proposals for judicial reform that critics see as a way to purge judges perceived as hostile to the government.

Despite stating in a May 9 memo that "we are not satisfied with the extent of Egypt's progress and are pressing for a more inclusive democratic process and the strengthening of key democratic institutions," Kerry said the aid should go forward.
The one lever we have over these pig-fsckers and Kerry caves. This despite 16 of our own citizens being convicted in an Egyptian court. These assholes are sniggering to our faces and laughing out loud when our backs are turned. None of this taxpayer money will go to foster Democracy -- it will go into the pockets of about ten people -- $130,000,000 is not a bad haul just for meeting with a stupid american dhimmi and shaking his hand. Bonus points for using your left hand to shake...

Working outside today

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Just in for a break... We are spending the day working outside, getting the last of the plants into the garden and weeding and spraying (tent caterpillars on the apple trees). Our new cat is integrating into the household pretty well -- she is an adult (three years old) so there are some territorial items to be worked out still... Got a couple pounds of pork shoulder in the smoker -- did a dry rub a few days ago. I cut them into meal-sized chunks and will cryovac them this evening. I plan to sous-vide one tomorrow for dinner.
Talk about being a pathological liar -- from Anne Broache writing at c|net News on January 8, 2008:
Obama: No warrantless wiretaps if you elect me
HANOVER, N.H.--Barack Obama may be leading the Democratic presidential pack in every major poll here, but that didn't dissuade the Illinois senator from a final early-morning rally with the Facebook generation.

Clearly not content to leave their votes to the whims of online politicking, the Illinois senator stepped onto a stage fashioned in a Dartmouth College gymnasium, pulled an index card from his inside jacket pocket, and launched into a familiar set of talking points centered on what has become a familiar theme for his campaign: change and hope.

"My job this morning is to be so persuasive...that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack," he told a crowd of about 300 Ivy Leaguers--and, by the looks of it, a handful of locals who managed to gain access to what was supposed to be a students-only event.

For one thing, under an Obama presidency, Americans will be able to leave behind the era of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and "wiretaps without warrants," he said. (He was referring to the lingering legal fallout over reports that the National Security Agency scooped up Americans' phone and Internet activities without court orders, ostensibly to monitor terrorist plots, in the years after the September 11 attacks.)

It's hardly a new stance for Obama, who has made similar statements in previous campaign speeches, but mention of the issue in a stump speech, alongside more frequently discussed topics like Iraq and education, may give some clue to his priorities.

In our own Technology Voters' Guide, when asked whether he supports shielding telecommunications and Internet companies from lawsuits accusing them of illegal spying, Obama gave us a one-word response: "No."
Pants on fire. Bush did start this in response to 9/11 and the fact that we were in an undeclared asymmetric war but Obama continued it, fostered it, expanded it and fed the hands of the people working this soft machine.
From Gizmodo:
Anonymous Just Leaked a Trove of NSA Documents
In the wake of last night�s revelation that everyone in the world has a creepy NSA-shaped stalker, defenders of online liberty and generally angry internet people Anonymous have leaked a treasure trove of NSA documents, including seriously important stuff like the US Department of Defense�s �Strategic Vision� for controlling the internet.

The documents � 13 in total � were posted online, along with an accompanying message full of the normal Anonymous bluster: people won�t be silenced, they have the memory of trivia-master elephants, the governments of the world will fall, your average press release really.
I love it -- technology has gotten to the point where the Genie is out of the bag. For all the shit they can do to us, a few motivated and well-placed individuals can do the same shit right back at them. Fun (and scary) time to be alive. A few parting words: Tor (free - open source), Hushmail (free for minimal personal use, $50/year for Premium services - closed source), do not enable Flash or Quicktime on your browser, consider using a Linux dual-boot system or boot from a thumbdrive.

Wooooooo-Hooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

Broadband comes to our little hamlet.

It's 'only' DSL but we are looking at connectivity in a couple of weeks.

There is a fairly large switch building "downtown" with fiber in, they just never saw the market potential to spend the $30K and install a DSLAM.

Right now I am using Verizon 3G but the signal path is byzantine. There is a cell tower on a 4,000 foot mountain. The signal squeaks over a 3,200 ft. mountain and bounces off a 5,000 ft. mountain. I have a large antenna and this does work but packet loss is hellacious.

It is substantially better than satellite with much more data allowed per month but still, it is close to $90/month. I spoke with the telco representative and committed to getting the highest speed they offer for my area (there are three levels of service).

When I first moved to the area, I saw the telephone switch building, noted the mileage and figured that DSL was a slam dunk. Now, nine years later, it is finally a reality.

Can... Not... Wait...

Another outstanding Obama speech

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The guy is clueless without the TOTUS or staff-prepared notes. From FOX News:
'Uhhh�Uh�Uhhh�.People!' Obama at Total Loss for Words When Staff Forgets His Speech
President Obama strolled out to the podium today in San Jose, CA and was immediately at a loss for words. Not only did the President not have teleprompter, his aides forgot his speech.

�My remarks are not sitting here,� the President declared awkwardly. �I�m uhhh�.people�.oh goodness�.uhhhh...folks are sweating back there right now.�

President Obama, who�s often mocked for an over-reliance on scripts, shifted uncomfortably smiling for several moments buying time. An aide sprinted out with a hard copy of the speech, tripping at one point, adding to the drama.
The emperors new clothes are getting pretty threadbare.
Talk about going overboard with 'political correctness' From the UK Telegraph:
Winston Churchill's cigar airbrushed from picture
In the well-known original image, Churchill makes a "V" shaped symbol with his fingers � while gripping a cigar in the corner of his mouth.

But in a reproduction of the picture, hanging over the main entrance to a London museum celebrating the wartime leader, he has been made into a non-smoker through the use of image-altering techniques.

It is unclear who is responsible for doctoring the photograph, with the museum � The Winston Churchill's Britain at War Experience � claiming not to have noticed the cigar was missing.

John Welsh, manager of the museum, admitted he was shocked to learn of the alteration, but declined to reveal who was responsible for the display and for enlarging the image.

He said: "We've got all sorts of images in the museum, some with cigars and some without. We've even got wartime adverts for cigarettes in the lift down to the air-raid shelter, so we wouldn't have asked for there to be no cigar."
Here's the edit in question:
Winston Churchill
What possibly could be the reason for this? And a really crappy edit too, even from the small image I have to look at. I hate to think of what the thing looks like at full-size...

A new dawn approaches

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Velociman knocks it out of the park:
A Redress of Grievances
That was, and is, the crime of the Tea Party groups. They are loose, and unaffiliated. When anyone attempts to wrest control of the Tea Parties at any level above the community they are whipsawed, and lashed.

That was the fearful thing. That is what keeps Obama awake at night. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of assembly and the right to redress grievances not as a sop of government, but as a natural right of man. From God, if you will. The Tea Parties were actually fomenting during the Bush bailout leading up to the 2008 election. They have never been specifically anti-Obama. Merely anti-spending. And yet they have been targeted and reviled as mutants, and racists.

The great thing about the IRS hearings is not that some apparatchiks will go to prison, although that seems inevitable. The great thing is that a month ago everyone was afraid of the IRS. They were truly the faceless long arm of the law, who could destroy you with impudence. The tax laws are constructed so that almost anyone can be deemed a criminal. That's the fucking idea. Not a bug. A feature. Now, however, the IRS is held in such disdain, I can envision people blowing off audits, and sending FUCK YOU texts to the IRS.

The revenue arm has lost all moral authority. Among all conservatives and a large percentage of liberals. You can't audit everyone. You cannot imprison everyone. The preference cascade has arrived. We are no longer afraid. And the beast is wounded. Time to finish it off.

I envision passive resistance against arbitrary audits, lawyering up amongst those that can afford to counter-sue individual agents, and a huge increase in like-kind bartering and any other method of starving the beast of fuel.

Depriving the Leviathan of money fuels is not only not sustainable, it ultimately imperils national security. So that cannot obtain on an extended basis. A sacrifice must be made. Lambs and goats must be slaughtered. Even a callow fiend like Obama knows that. And he is not exactly known for protecting the inconvenient imperiled beneath him.

This is huge. Bigger than Shay's Rebellion. Bigger than the Haymarket riots. Possibly bigger than Little Rock. I certainly don't want to see any IRS auditors get bricked in the head by their neighbor. But I wouldn't mind seeing a fuckload of early retirements to avoid prosecution.

This is huge.
And that is: early retirements to avoid prosecution, not 30 days of administrative leave and then transfer to another agency. We need to break the cycle. The idea that this might provide the impetus for implementing a Fair Tax is wonderful.
From the UK Guardian:
UK gathering secret intelligence via covert NSA operation
The UK's electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world's biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America's top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.

The US-run programme, called Prism, would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.

The use of Prism raises ethical and legal issues about such direct access to potentially millions of internet users, as well as questions about which British ministers knew of the programme.
And this -- also from the UK Guardian:
NSA PRISM program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others
The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation � classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies � which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of PRISM or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. "If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of PRISM.
Apple wants to remain at the top of its heap and squash possible upstart competitors just as they were once an upstart themselves. Now that they have arrived, they are willing to lay down with anyone to preserve their position as top dog. Same thing with Google. Same thing with FaceBook. Same thing with Skype. Same thing with YouTube. This is called Crony Capitalism and is what is tearing this nation down; no longer can a couple of people working in a basement or garage expect to come up with an idea, build it, market it and become wealthy. Now they cannot compete with the entrenched businesses or deal with the bureaucratic web of regulations put in place by the lobbyists working for the crony capitalists.
The National Security Agency has been getting a lot of press recently. Brand Name Recognition is not always a good thing... First, from The Washington Post:
Documents: U.S. mining data from 9 leading Internet firms; companies deny knowledge
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.

Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: �Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.�
Second, with everyone focused on the server farm being built in Utah, there are other facilities going up that deserve notice. From Data Center Knowledge:
NSA Building $860 Million Data Center in Maryland
As its current data collection makes headlines, the National Security Agency is continuing to expand its data storage and processing capabilities. The agency recently broke ground on an $860 million data center at Fort Meade, Maryland that will span more than 600,000 square feet, including 70,000 square feet of technical space.

Last month the NSA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began building the High Performance Computing Center-2, an NSA-run facility that will be located on base at Fort Meade, which is home to much of the agency�s existing data center operations. The data center will be supported by 60 megawatts of power capacity, and will use both air-cooled and liquid-cooled equipment.

The NSA is already building a massive data center in Utah, investing up to $1.5 billion in a project that will feature up to 1 million square feet of facilities.

The construction at Fort Meade will see investment of $400 million in fiscal 2013 and $431 million in fiscal 2014. Up to 6,000 workers will be involved in the construction and development phase, the NSA said.
Let me be upfront in saying that I have zero issues with the original mandates of this organization. We are at war and need to defend ourselves. That being said, there has been an awful lot of Federal Scope-Creep these last 20 years. People are nestling in and building power bases instead of doing their fscking jobs. We either need to start over or insist on full transparency -- something Obama campaigned on and has been shown repeatably to be yet another lie from our Commander in Chief. Regardless, we really need some adults in the room. I am wondering where is the cry from the progressive liberal media -- this crap is invading their privacy just as much as it is the conservatives...
Last night, I found out about this and posted it: Our EPA at work - managing their independent contractors Found the EPA report on the situation -- 17 page document here (PDF):
Early Warning Report: Main EPA Headquarters Warehouse in Landover, Maryland, Requires Immediate EPA Attention
Report No. 13-P-0272, May 31, 2013
Complete with 27 8�10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. The report is a quick read -- lots of photos and lots of boilerplate at the beginning and end. Conditions were really bad there -- not just the man caves. The initial motherlode can be found here (PDF):
Observations at EPA Warehouse , Landover, MD
Presented to Agency on May 16, 2013
Updated on May 31, 2013 for Public Release
This is 72 pages but it looks like a PowerPoint presentation converted to PDF - fast reading and damning to Apex Logistics, LLC. They had been dealing with this vendor since 2007. I find it amazing that nobody from the EPA had conducted an audit in those six years or were tracking the valuable inventory (computers, records, supplies, etc...) in parallel with the reports coming from Apex Logistics, LLC and comparing the differences. Makes me really curious as to just who Apex Logistics, LLC is -- I just spent about 15 minutes on the Maryland Business License Search website and zero hits on either any permutation of Apex or Logistics or Tim(othy) Graham. Online records only go back to 2011 though. Time to do some digging...
Was working in the garage and heard a hissing sound. Tracked it down to a slow leak in the water heater. Crap. The water heater is in a small closet off the main garage and the floor of the closet drains into the crawl-space under the house. This is why I didn't notice any water under the door or other symptom. Called my go-to place (Hardware Sales -- an incredible Bellingham resource) and I will be picking up a replacement on Tuesday. Wished it could have been sooner but the tank in place is eighty gallons and I want to replace it with the same size and Hardware Sales only stocks up to fifty gallons. The Bellingham Home Depot only carried GE ($778) and because of GE's political cronyism, I refuse to spend money on their products. The Lowe's had Whirlpool ($563) which is OK but I was looking for Bradford-White. These are the gold standard for water heaters and Hardware Sales quoted me $750. This way, I will only have to do the work once. Done deal... Lulu was looking to put a firepit out in the garden so the carcass will be split in half and legs welded on.

The Argyle Sweater

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The Argyle Sweater is a frequent read for me -- Scott is carrying on the wonderful tradition of Gary Larson's The Far Side. Today's was fun:
Argyle Sweater
Been there, done that and have the tee-shirt (quite a few of them actually)...
Back when he was on local Seattle television, he was funny and bright. Now he is just a bitter demagogue subscribing to all of the junk science fads out there. He has put his name to some videos that feature stunningly bad science. What makes this execrable is that these videos are for children's education -- children who are swayed by an authority figure and who do not have the mental toolkit to fact-check what they are being shown. Now this -- from Breitbart:
Bill Nye to College Grads: 'Change the World' by Fighting Overpopulation
In a rambling commencement speech to graduates of Lehigh University, Bill Nye, also known as The Science Guy to the under-40 set, told students that the world�s biggest threat was overpopulation. �As you commence your adult, taxpaying lives, these two troubles loom larger than ever. They both are readily expressed with numbers. The first is the number of us. People are being born much faster than they are dying. With every passing 15 seconds, the world has more people on it,� Bill Nye told the presumably riveted crowd. �The other problem is our air. Its gas fractions are changing faster ever than they have in the past 65 million years.�

How did this affect the graduates? �I want you to meet those two challenges,� Bill Nye said. �I want you to � dare I say it? � change the world!� He then went into a long rant about the history of population growth in the United States. �As a boy in the New York World�s Fair back in 1965, I remember well a large display, a tote board depicting the estimated world population of humans �. While we were at the World�s Fair, the world�s population changed from 2,999,999,999 to 3 billion people. Humans. On Earth.� He said we now have 7 billion people on Earth. �Wait, there�s more!� he said to the students. �By the time you graduates reach your billionth second here on Earth, when you�re a little over 60, we may be over 9 billion.�
Bill has a little problem with facts. You could fit seven billion people into the state of Texas and have a population density about one third that of Manhattan. Our Earth is huge and we are nowhere near to reaching the end of its resources. History has always shown that the higher standard of living, the fewer children parents will have. If overpopulation was an issue, our best solution would be to speed up the development of our natural energy resources including nuclear. Clean water and sanitation is crucial in the rural third world but implementing a cheap energy infrastructure makes these a very low-cost proposition instead of the limited attempts we are rolling out now. The rising tide floats all boats and cheap energy is that ocean. alt.energy just doesn't cut it...

The truth about recycling

We do not recycle. I do save aluminum cans in the shop -- there is a crusher on the wall and most of my soda consumption is there but we do not recycle cardboard or glass.

With the exception of a few areas, most of the glass just get put into a landfill -- same with most cardboard.

Michael C. Munger writing at the Cato Institute explains why:

Recycling: Can It Be Wrong, When It Feels So Right?
Almost everything that's said about recycling is wrong. At the very least, none of the conventional wisdom is completely true. Let me start with two of the most common claims, each quite false:
1. Everything that can be recycled should be recycled. So that should be the goal of regulation: zero waste.

2. If recycling made economic sense, the market system would take care of it. So no regulation is necessary, and in fact state action is harmful.
If either of those two claims were true, then the debate would be over. The truth is more complicated than almost anyone admits.

There are two general kinds of arguments in favor of recycling. The first is that 'this stuff is too valuable to throw away!' In almost all cases, this argument is false, and when it is correct recycling will be voluntary; very little state action is necessary. The second is that recycling is cheaper than landfilling the waste. This argument may well be correct, but it is difficult to judge because officials need keep landfill prices artificially low to discourage illegal dumping and burning. Empirically, recycling is almost always substantially more expensive than disposing in the landfill.

Since we can't use the price system, authorities resort to moralistic claims, trying to persuade people that recycling is just something that good citizens do. But if recycling is a moral imperative, and the goal is zero waste, not optimal waste, the result can be a net waste of the very resources that recycling was implemented to conserve. In what follows, I will illustrate the problems with each of the two central fallacies of mandatory and pure-market recycling, and then will turn to the problem of moral imperatives.

Heh - nails it! Do not forget that these subsidies for the recycling pickup and landfill use comes out of our taxes. We pay for it anyway, just from a different pocket.

A few months ago, I dropped our garbage collection entirely. We have little food waste so I just keep our trash in a couple cans in the garage. I go into Bellingham regularly so when there are a couple bags (about once/month), I do a dump run. My fee at the waste transfer station? Less than ten bucks. My cost for garbage collection? Sixty bucks/month. I don't count my diesel cost as I was heading into town anyway.

Penn and Teller did an excellent expose on the recycling scam with Season 2, Episode 5 of their Bullshit! television series.

It seems that some of our representatives thought that the Department of Homeland Security buying over one billion rounds of ammunition was a wee bit excessive. From The Hill:
House votes to delay bulk ammunition purchase by DHS
The House late Wednesday voted to stop the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from entering into new contracts to buy millions of rounds of ammunition until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports to Congress on the need for the ammo, and its cost.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) proposed an amendment to the DHS spending bill for 2014 that would require the report to Congress before it can pursue plans to buy 1.1 billion rounds of ammunition. Meadows said the speed bump is a necessary reaction to news of the huge purchase, which alarmed many Americans and prompted conservative groups to suspect that the government was stocking up on the rounds to fight citizens.

"Given this large purchase, the American people and members of Congress rightfully had concerns and questions," Meadows said. "This is a responsible amendment which ensures that Congress and the American people are aware of the necessity and the cost of ammunition prior to entering into new contracts for procurement."
And the good news:
The Meadows language passed late Wednesday night in a 234-192 vote.
From the London Daily Mail (and why is it that the best US political reporting comes from England. Our own media blacks out these stories):
'Things have got a little out of whack': Eric Holder admits failings on secretly pulling records on reporters but says he has no intention of standing down
Attorney General Eric Holder has admitted that investigators may have gone too far in their recent attempts to prevent leaks to the media and he said the Justice Department needs to do a better job of balancing national security with press freedom.

�I'm a little concerned that things have gotten a little out of whack,� Holder told NBC on Wednesday. �I think we can do a better job than we have. We can reform those regulations, reform those guidelines to better reflect that balance.�

Holder has been embroiled in a media storm over a Justice Department subpoena of Associated Press phone records and, in particular, an investigation into leaks to Fox News correspondent James Rosen.
And then there is that little Fast and Furious thing he was directly responsible for. Much more at the site. Oh yeah -- so far, he is showing zero signs of improvement -- from FOX News:
Holder misses deadline to clear up testimony on reporter surveillance
Attorney General Eric Holder has missed the deadline set by Republicans to personally explain questionable testimony he gave on reporter surveillance, as lawmakers threaten to subpoena Holder if necessary.

The deadline set by House Judiciary Committee Republicans was close-of-business on Wednesday. An aide told FoxNews.com they have "not received a response."

The Justice Department earlier this week penned a response to the Republican leaders of the committee. But it was authored by a lower-level official, and committee leaders complained it did not address their concerns.

"A letter from a subordinate that fails to answer many of our questions does not suffice," Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., wrote in a letter sent Tuesday.

The committee wants Holder to explain his May 15 testimony.
The rules do not apply to them -- as Louis XIV put it so succinctly: L'Etat c'est moi.

Domestic spying

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Yet another overreach of this administration -- from the UK Guardian:
NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk � regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The more I hear about what this administration is doing, the more I think that we are in a state of tyranny.

Run silent, run deep - our new economy

Og over at Neanderpundit expresses what I have been doing here for the last couple of years:
Since our FedGov
has- mostly due to our deliberate inaction- been reduced to a series of quasi independent but colluding soviets, the likelihood of our turning the ship around is dwindling into the distance.

The new frontier will be understanding how to thrive in our brave new world, and most of that has to do with camouflage. See, if you get big enough for anyone to notice you, you will be shorn off, like the tallest blades of grass in the lawn. The whole system will depend on gradual and invisible lateral growth. The days of one person achieving and doing visibly well are over- no matter how successful you are you cannot let anyone know it, and as much of your success as you can must be kept off the books. The cosmic game of whack-a-mole is in our future, and if you poke your head up, some agency of the fedgov will be there to peen you over.

The Ann Barnhardt model of asceticism is fine for an individual, but to succeed as patriots we have to play the game, and right now the game is to overwhelm liberalism by sheer force of numbers. They have defeated us thoroughly in an ongoing war of attrition; the only remaining plan is to keep our successes and our finances to ourselves so that we starve the beast. It will live for generations feeding off those not smart enough to hide their assets properly, but eventually it will be impossible for them to tax anymore, to borrow anymore, or to spend like the drunken sailors to buy the votes of the ill informed and the downright stupid.

At that point, the well provisioned, well hidden producers that have sat tight and avoided notice will have an opportunity to step in and actually accomplish something.

This is already how most people I know are approaching this issue. You are probably one of them- you pay cash for things, you don�t leave paper trails of transactions, you buy and sell and keep it to yourself. More than one person I know has the cash on hand to buy a decent used car. More than one person I know has their home paid for. And I bet there are more but they don�t share their information with me, and that�s how it should be.

This is not a 10 year plan or a 20 year plan but a 100 year plan. The people participating will pass it along. It may not happen in our grandchildren�s time, but if we keep our eyes open and our mouths shut, it will happen.

And if we ever allow the non productive to vote again, we deserve exactly what we get.
Lulu and I have increased the size of our garden, I am growing crops for trade and learning sufficiency skills (starting a Red Cross class in two weeks to go with my CERT training as well as learning food preserving), active in HAM Radio. All of this stuff cannot hurt and if the S. does H.T.F. at some point in the future, we will be safe, warm and well fed. These skills are not rocket science... Og mentions Ann Barnhardt -- her website is a frequent read for me both from a spiritual and a financial aspect.
And doing just a real fine job there Skippy -- from Government Executive:
Secret Man Caves Found in EPA Warehouse
A warehouse maintained by contractors for the Environmental Protection Agency contained secret rooms full of exercise equipment, televisions and couches, according to an internal audit.

EPA�s inspector general found contractors used partitions, screens and piled up boxes to hide the rooms from security cameras in the 70,000 square-foot building located in Landover, Md. The warehouse -- used for inventory storage -- is owned by the General Services Administration and leased to the EPA for about $750,000 per year.

The EPA has issued a stop work order to Apex Logistics LLC, the responsible contractor, ensuring the company�s workers no longer have access to the site -- EPA security officials escorted contractor personnel off the premises on May 17 -- and ending all payments on the contract.

Since awarding the contract in May 2007, EPA has paid Apex Logistics about $5.3 million, most of which went to labor costs. Conditions at the facility �raise questions about time charges made by warehouse employees under the contract,� the report said.

�The warehouse contained multiple unauthorized and hidden personal spaces created by and for the workers that included televisions, refrigerators, radios, microwaves, chairs and couches,� the IG report said. �These spaces contained personal items, including photos, pin ups, calendars, clothing, books, magazines and videos.�
A bit more:
In addition to the secret rooms, the IG found an incomplete and inaccurate recordkeeping system; numerous potential security and safety hazards, including an open box of passports; and �deplorable conditions� -- such as corrosion, vermin feces and �pervasive� mold.
Over 1,200 comments including this one which was my first question:
Can someone tell me why the *EPA* has a box of passports???
Google brings up about a dozen Apex Logistics -- the one I think it is is only shown in this Manta corporate profile:
Apex Logistics, LLC
9015 Rhode Island Avenue
College Park, MD 20740-1929
Phone: (301) 220-1818
Business Management Consultants in College Park, MD
No apparent website, the office is a modest two-story building. Timothy Graham is mentioned on the Manta profile but nowhere else on Google. Fox Muldar would be very interested -- talk about a shadowy non-governmental entity...
Remember the meltdown that accompanied the tsunami in japan? All the nuclear radiation? From the United Nations Information Service:
No Immediate Health Risks from Fukushima Nuclear Accident Says UN Expert Science Panel
"Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers," concluded the 60 th session of the Vienna-based United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effect of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

The effects of radiation exposure on humans and the environment following the accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 is one of the major issues being discussed at the Committee's annual session which started on Monday, 27 May. The second important issue is related to the short and long term effects of exposure to radiation on children. This covers medical as well as other kinds of exposure (not specifically related to the accident at Fukushima-Daiichi).
From the Australian site The Age:
Japan's radiation disaster toll: none dead, none sick
Heard much about Fukushima lately? You know, the disaster that spread deadly contamination across Japan and spelt the end for the nuclear industry.

You should have, because recent authoritative reports have reached a remarkable conclusion about a supposedly "deadly" disaster. No one died, nor is likely to die, according to the most comprehensive assessments since the Fukushima nuclear plant was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The accident competed for media space with the deaths of nearly 20,000 people in the magnitude 9.0 quake � 1000 times worse than the Christchurch quake � and tsunami, which wholly or partly destroyed more than a million buildings.

The nuclear workers were the living dead, we were told; hundreds of thousands would die if the plant exploded; even if that didn't happen, affected areas would be uninhabitable and residents' health would suffer for generations.

Instead, two independent international reports conclude that radiative material released from Fukushima's four damaged reactors, three of which melted down, has had negligible health impacts.

In February, the World Health Organisation reported there would be no noticeable increases in cancer rates for the overall population. A third of emergency workers were at some increased risk.

While infants in two localised hot spots were likely to have a 6 per cent relative increase in female breast cancer and 7 per cent relative increase in male leukaemia, WHO cautioned this was a small change. The lifetime risk of thyroid cancer, which is treatable, is only 0.75 per cent, so even in the worst-affected location it rose to only 1.25 per cent.

Now the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has drawn on 80 scientists from 18 countries to produce a draft report that concludes: "Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers."
Emphasis mine -- there is a growing body of evidence that some levels of radiation is actually healthy.
This is beyond the pale -- even for Kerry. From FOX News:
Kerry says US will sign UN treaty on arms regulation despite lawmaker opposition
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the Obama administration would sign a controversial U.N. treaty on arms regulation, despite bipartisan resistance in Congress from members concerned it could lead to new gun control measures in the U.S.

Kerry, releasing a written statement as the U.N. treaty opened for signature Monday, said the U.S. "welcomes" the next phase for the treaty, which the U.N. General Assembly approved on April 2.

"We look forward to signing it as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily," he said. Kerry called the treaty "an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists, and contributes to violations of human rights."
A perfect example of the idiots in charge in Washington. These masterminds have never worked in their life and they think they know how to run a nation. That bipartisan resistance in Congress is Democracy in action. These representatives are acting on the wishes of those citizens who elected them. The idea that this is something pesky to bypass is unconstitutional.

Our future in eighteen panels

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Friedrich A. Hayek's excellent The Road to Serfdom illustrated and presented in eighteen panels. Ironic in that it was originally published by General Motors. Check out: The Road to Serfdom
From Bryan Preston writing at PJ Tatler:
Tea Party Leader Becky Gerritson Tells IRS, Congress, Government: �You�ve Forgotten Your Place�
Today, Wetumpka Tea Party leader Becky Gerritson delivered a thumping to the Internal Revenue Service and to politicians in Washington. Gerritson explained how she came to be an activist, then told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that her group of Americans had come together because �our representative government had failed us.� The IRS abuse of her group provided proof, if more was needed.

�I am not here as a serf or vassal. I am not begging my lords for mercy. I�m a born free American woman, wife, mother and citizen. And I�m telling my government that you�ve forgotten your place. It�s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being, and to monitor my speech. It�s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty. You�ve sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered.�

Gerritson went on to detail the invasive questions that the IRS asked of her group, including contents of all their written communications, information on group members and speakers, and more. Gerritson says she and her husband considered dropping their application due to the IRS� actions. Gerritson also dropped a bombshell on the committee: Her group received an inquiry letter bearing Lois Lerner�s signature. Lerner has claimed that the IRS abuse of groups like Gerritson�s was the work of a couple of �rogue employees.� Lerner has since plead the Fifth Amendment in her refusal to testify on the abuse, and has been placed on administrative leave.
Now would be a fantastic time to disband that IRS and replace it with a flat national sales tax. No loopholes, no deductions. Done right, revenues to the government would substantially increase and it would only need to be around 10%.
Wonderful short speech - nails it.
A partial transcript from The Blaze:
�The president�s Justice Department sold weapons to narco-terrorists south of our border, who killed one of our finest.

The president�s State Department lied about Benghazi with false information provided by the White House.

The president�s attorney general authorized spying on a Fox News reporter and his family for reporting on a North Korean nuclear test.

The president�s Justice Department confiscated phone records of the Associated Press because they reported on a thwarted terrorist attack.

The president�s Treasury Department uses the IRS to target political opposition.

The president�s Health and Human Services secretary pressures insurance companies she is supposed to regulate to promote �Obamacare,� which is the same law she uses to force citizens to pay for abortion inducing drugs against their religious liberties.�
Gotta love his dig about Joe 'ashtray' Biden Heh -- we need more people like Representative Bridenstine.

Hummingbirds - a photo

Stuck the camera out tonight and got this photo.

Ten of them on two feeders -- this is typical during peak feeding times.

Hummingbird Gluttony

The gallon of nectar I made last night is about 1/3 gone.

Got the rest in portion containers in the fridge.

If you are interested in using your computer to record and edit music, you will need a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). I use Sonar (started out with their earlier application Cakewalk), other people use Pro Tools. There is a really nice open-source editor called Audacity. Harrison has long been known for high-end mixing consoles. They have a DAW product called MixBus but it has always been priced in the couple-hundred-bucks range putting it out of reach for someone just looking to get started. From now through June 12th, the price has been dropped from $219 to $39. Killer deal from a quality company. Also, from the DAW-osphere, Tracktion has come back to life as an independent product. It had originally been bought out by Mackie, it lay moribund for a few years and the original developer has now regained control of the product. $60 for the current version. Both MixBus and Tracktion will run on Windows, Linux and MAC OS 10(Intel).
From Mediaite:
Paul Ryan Blasts Dem Rep. For Claiming IRS Investigation Just �Political Theater�
During a congressional hearing into the scandal surrounding the IRS�s targeting of conservative groups, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) claimed that the actions of some mid-level staffers in the revenue service was �stupid� but was not a conspiracy against conservatives. He implied that the groups seeking tax-exempt status should have rethought applying for that status in the first place. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) blasted his Democratic colleague for suggesting that the groups that were targeted by the IRS invited that scrutiny.
McDermott is either covering for his minders or he is clueless as to what has been happening. Stupid either way -- covering for his minders when their collusion is being reported in the mainstream media is downright delusional. Shades of Baghdad Bob.
From National Review Online:
EPA Honors Fake Employee
Richard Windsor may be the most famous Environmental Protection Agency employee. Oddly, he does not exist. �Windsor� is the e-mail alias that Lisa Jackson, former head of the EPA and now an environmental adviser to Apple, used to correspond with environmental activists and senior Obama-administration officials, among others.

Windsor, we have learned, was also an employee of significant achievement. Documents released by the agency in response to a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that, for three years, the EPA certified Windsor as a �scholar of ethical behavior.�

The agency also documented the nonexistent Windsor�s completion of training courses in the management of e-mail records, cyber-security awareness, and what appears to be a counter-terror initiative that urges federal employees to report suspicious activity.
More at the site -- a classic case of EGAT -- Everybody Gets A Trophy What happened to getting noticed for your good work -- now, you don't even have to be real or on the payroll to collect an award...
From McClatchy news:
U.S. publishes details of missile base Israel wanted kept secret
Israel�s military fumed Monday over the discovery that the U.S. government had revealed details of a top-secret Israeli military installation in published bid requests.

The Obama administration had promised to build Israel a state-of-the-art facility to house a new ballistic-missile defense system, the Arrow 3. As with all Defense Department projects, detailed specifications were made public so that contractors could bid on the $25 million project. The specifications included more than 1,000 pages of details on the facility, ranging from the heating and cooling systems to the thickness of the walls.

"If an enemy of Israel wanted to launch an attack against a facility, this would give him an easy how-to guide. This type of information is closely guarded and its release can jeopardize the entire facility," said an Israeli military official who commented on the publication of the proposal but declined to be named because he wasn�t authorized to discuss the facility. He declined to say whether plans for the facility have been altered as a result of the disclosure.

"This is more than worrying, it is shocking," he said.
They could have so easily posted mock-up data with the real data being revealed when the bid is submitted. So easy to do it right but nooooo...

The growing IRS scandal

At the first outbreak, the higher-ups started tossing the lower regional workers under the bus. The regional workers did not like this and they are starting to talk and the facts are aligning to point high -- very, very, very, high... Follow on any of the new aggregators: Drudge, Breitbart, The Blaze This is turning out to be very big -- Holder will be gone in a few weeks. Making a bowl of popcorn and settling in to watch...

Hummingbird feeders

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A quick photo to show what I am dealing with:
Hummingbird Feeder
This photo was taken around 4PM -- I filled both feeders this morning and the rear feeder is almost empty. The dusk feeding frenzy has not started yet -- it will drain the feeders again and they will need to be filled before the morning rush. Got a gallon of nectar cooling on the stove -- it will be gone in two days. The light is bad right now (too contrasty) but I'll set the camera out on time-lapse this evening and try to get some photos that show the number of Hummingbirds that I am dealing with.

No posting tonight

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Internet is down for the count. Got three bars out of five on my WiFi adapter, just not connecting well at all. Of course after several attempts at posting this, I will be getting 4G for the next hour or two -- bouncing a signal off a mountain can be problematic at times...

Molson Labe - hard times in Turkey

From Ace of Spades:
Molson Labe: In Turkey, a Beer Rebellion
Turkey's Islamist president Erdogan continues imposing his Islamist way of life on the public. Recently he attempted to curb drinking, calling anyone who sips a beer an "alcoholic."

It spurred some demonstrations. The protesters were also objecting to Erdogan's development initiatives, tearing down parks to build shopping centers. There's also an anti-Islam element to this part of the protest: Protesters object to Erdogan's habit of targeting cinemas and other such places of Western depravity in order to build malls (with the construction contracts going to his cronies, critics say).
Public anger has flared among urban and secular Turks after police violently broke up an anti-development sit-in in the square, with protests spreading to other cities as demonstrators denounced what they see as Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian style.

As the furious protests entered its second day, police fired tear gas and turned on water cannons at angry demonstrators, some of whom threw rocks and bottles on their march toward the city's landmark Taksim Square.
...
At Taksim, protesters chanted "Tayyip resign!" Turkish celebrities joined the crowds, with thousands milling around the square, waving flags, and cheering and clapping at anti-government speeches. Many drank beer in protest of newly enacted alcohol curbs, singing "cheers Tayyip!"
More at the site -- nice to see such a strong push-back. Turkey has an incredible history and their citizens can see what fundamental islam can do to a vibrant society and they want nothing of it.
Back in February of this year, I posted about the upcoming nomination of Chuck Hagel to defense secretary. Dick Cheney had this to say:
Cheney: Obama Chose Hagel So A Republican Will �Take The Heat� For Defense Cuts
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday night that President Barack Obama has jeopardized U.S. national security by nominating substandard candidates for key cabinet posts and by degrading the U.S. military.

�The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,� Cheney said in comments to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party.

Cheney, a Wyoming native, said it was vital to the nation�s national security that �good folks� hold the positions of secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense.

�Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,� he said.

John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, has been confirmed as secretary of state. CIA designate John Brennan and defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel are still awaiting U.S. Senate confirmation.
Hagel is in the news today -- from the UK Guardian:
Chuck Hagel rebuked by Chinese general over US buildup in Asia
US defence secretary Chuck Hagel was challenged by a Chinese general Saturday to better explain the US military's Asia pivot, just moments after the Pentagon chief warned Beijing over cyberwarfare.

In a speech at a high-profile security conference in Singapore, Hagel said the US administration has concerns about "the growing threat of cyberintrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military".

The rebuke � coming in China's backyard and in front of a Chinese delegation � was countered by questioning of America's intent in the region, following a reposition of its military strategy.
The Chinese have us over a barrel because of the foreign trade imbalance (thanks labor unions!!!) and we do not have the backbone to call them on it. Hagel is a laughingstock.

Going out doing what you love

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Wrong place, wrong time -- from the Denver, Colorado ABC affiliate:
Colorado storm chaser Tim Samaras killed in Oklahoma tornado along with son, longtime partner
Colorado storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and longtime chase partner Carl Young were killed in the EF-3 tornado that tore through El Reno, Oklahoma Friday.

Tim and Paul were both born and raised in Lakewood, Colo. but most recently were living in Bennett. Tim is survived by his wife, Kathy.
From his Facebook page:
I'm Jim Samaras - Tim Samaras's brother. Thank you to everyone for the condolences. It truly is sad that we lost my great brother Tim and his great son, Paul. Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well as they are feeling the same feelings we are today. They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED. Chasing Tornado's. I look at it that he is in the 'big tornado in the sky...' We (the family) will keep folks aware of what the funeral estrangements are, but please in the meantime keep Tim and Paul in your thoughts and prayers.
These people were true scientists and compiled quite the list of extreme weather 'firsts'

And a fun time was had by all

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Just got back from the Highland Games. Lots of vendors and food trucks so we are all stuffed. Nobody had seen massed pipes before so when they started up it was quite the surprise -- that is what pipe music is like. Played by several hundred pipers with drums. Lulu's son has dental surgery (four wisdom teeth) Monday so they are spending the next couple of nights at the Bellingham house. Heading outside to do some yard work -- the rain has let up today and it looks to be sunny for the next couple of days. Yay! Still waiting for the new cat to show herself -- she is eating the food and using the litterbox but is not wanting to have anything to do with me... More posting later.
Life in America? Not so good. From Breitbart:
Harris Poll: Only a third of U.S. adults qualify as very happy
Only a third of U.S. adults say they are very happy -- minorities show particularly pronounced declines in the past two years, a U.S. survey indicates.

A Harris Poll of 2,345 U.S. adults surveyed online April 10-15 by Harris Interactive found certain groups, such as minorities, recent graduates and the disabled, trended downward in the last couple of years.

"Our happiness index offers insight into what's on the minds of Americans today and is a reflection of the state of affairs in our country," Regina Corso, senior vice president of the Harris Poll, said in a statement. "While the attitudes on the economy may be improving, we're seeing that this is not translating into an improvement in overall happiness."

Since last measured two years ago, the Happiness Index was especially low among the Hispanic-American population. It is important to note that a causal link cannot be established, it might not be a coincidence that this drop coincides with a political landscape that has seen frequent, sometimes contentious, discussion of immigration policy in recent months, Corso said.
Shades of Jimmy Carter's 'malaise' -- people are pointing to the smallest upticks in the economy and calling it the greatest thing since sliced bread. A drowning man grasping at anything. We really need to get some adults in the other Washington.

Off to the games

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The Bellingham Scottish Highland Games are yesterday through Sunday. Heading into town in an hour, pick up Lulu, her son, her son's sweetie and will spend a couple hours wandering around. Opening ceremonies are at 12:30 so plenty of time. The new cat is really shy. She is hanging out in the garage eating and using that litter box but doesn't come to me when I call to her. Nothing that she can get into so she should be fine.

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