July 2013 Archives

The Tar Pits

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Excellent post from Velociman:
The Tar Pits
I've never seen the La Brea Tar Pits in LA. But, like a nude Marilyn Monroe, and the Sea of Tranquility, I've seen pictures, and find my opinions pretty well-formed. We have something similar in Georgia: Stucky, a dog trapped in a hollow log who became fossilized. In all instances, Pit, Marilyn, the Moon, Stucky, we are transfixed voyeurs.

My desire to see the Tar Pits is singularly loath. I feel no suffering for the mastodon, ground sloth, or sabre-toothed tiger. I just want to see them. For personal gratification. As a lap dancer once told me in the Mons Venus in Tampa, "Sorry, guy. It is what it is." And indeed, it is.

I feel like that stilt-legged llama. I came to lap the cooling waters once, twice, thrice. Now my front legs are enmeshed in tar, up to the withers. There's nothing for me but to be buggered by the passing beast, until my ultimate demise, and encapsulation in the tars. Welcome to America 2.0, the Obama Edition.

I didn't vote for the fellow. As much as that may surprise you. I speak now of the youths, the poor, and the terminally liberal. The American camels, the scimitar cats, that voted for Obama. You voted for a drink of cool water from a dangerous pit of despair. The water hole other animals eschewed. It was convenient, it smelled tasty. You could not resist. Some animals were drinking! Yes, they were. The dumb ones. The short-faced bears and bison. Now the tar has grabbed you.

What concerns me is not that the terminally retarded get trapped by the tar. Hell, that happens. What's troubling is the doubling down, that the beast that is buggering you is going to save you. Hell, he probably nudged you in, idiot. You are not his friend. You are his dinner.

Is there a moral to this story? I don't think so. Other than if you must drink from the dangerous tar water, drink sparingly, and move on. That was a temporary oasis. But it is dangerous. There is a far better stream, or pond, upon your journey. It just takes hustle. It takes work to get there. Get off your hind quarters and find it. Keep your paws out of the tar.

Perhaps that is a moral. But only to a creature that has the prescience to understand it. I do not think I speak to that cohort.
Word...

Sweet rain

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It is lightly raining now -- a few peals of thunder earlier this evening. The land needs this water bad -- the last substantial rainfall was June 20th. Cliff Mass has this to say about our July:
The Best July Weather in Generations for the Northwest
July 2013 was probably the best Northwest weather in a half-century or more. Perfect temperatures, lack of rain, plenty of sun...this month had it all.

And we broke some amazing records this month: be prepared to be impressed. I had to wait until this evening to be sure about several of these records, as a band of convective showers moved northward across the region during the afternoon and early evening hours. But now the story is clear.
Much more at the site. Car not fixed yet but Lulu and son are back out at the farm. He will be playing at the local restaurant this weekend again so this should be fun.

Our government at work - Benghazi

From the Weekly Standard:
CNN: We Were Able to Interview Lead Benghazi Suspect for 2 Hours
John King reported this morning that a reporter from CNN was able to interview a lead suspect in the Benghazi terror attack for two hours:
The FBI has reportedly not been able to track-down the suspect, but CNN had no problem talking to him for two hours.

"It is interesting," says King. "The FBI has put some photos up on its website of people of interest, but they haven't arrested anybody. And I'll tell you this: We've been working on a project here at CNN for a special due out later ... And Arwa Damon, our great correspondent, went back to Benghazi. She sat down with one of the people the FBI says is a lead suspect for 2 hours. He says he's never been contacted by the Libyan government, never been contacted by the FBI, so that is why you have this exasperation among some leading Republicans in the Congress."
If Bush was in office, the media would be clamoring for his head. Progressives just shift the narrative.

Computing the weather

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A big upgrade to the National Weather Service at NOAA:
NOAA�s National Weather Service more than doubles computing capacity
Whizzing through 213 trillion calculations per second, newly upgraded supercomputers of NOAA�s National Weather Service are now more than twice as fast in processing sophisticated computer models to provide more accurate forecasts further out in time. And as the hurricane season ramps up, forecasters will be armed with an enhanced hurricane model that will improve track and intensity forecasts.
A bit more:
Nicknamed �Tide,� the supercomputer in Reston, Va., and its Orlando-based backup named �Gyre,� are operating with 213 teraflops (TF) � up from the 90 TF with the computers that preceded them. This higher processing power allows the National Weather Service to implement an enhanced Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model.

"These forecasting advances can save lives,� said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who helped get funding to add even more capacity to the supercomputer. �It's going to allow for better tracking of life-threatening storms and more accurately predict when and where they'll hit, and with what intensity."

With improved physics and a storm-tracking algorithm, the model has displayed up to a 15 percent improvement in both track and intensity forecasts, compared to last year's version of the model. The upgraded HWRF is also capable of processing real-time data collected from the inner core of a tropical system by the tail Doppler radar attached to NOAA�s P3 hurricane hunter aircraft, data which are expected to produce even greater forecast improvements.

�Next comes the quantum leap,� added Uccellini. Following this round of long-planned upgrades, funding requested in the FY 2014 President�s Budget, in addition to funding provided to NOAA by Congress in the spring of 2013 as part of the Hurricane Sandy emergency supplemental appropriations bill, would increase computing power even further to 1,950 TF by summer 2015. �That gives us the necessary computer power to run an enhanced version of our primary forecast model, the Global Forecast System,� said Uccellini.
Very cool -- there is a lot of parallel computing being done here and the more flops (floating-point mathematical operations) the better.

Justice in Saudi Arabia

Must be nice to live in such a repressive society -- from the Seattle Times:
Prison, lashes for liberal Saudi web forum founder
The founder of a liberal-minded website in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes after angering Islamic authorities in the ultraconservative kingdom, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Raif Badawi, through his website known as Free Saudi Liberals, had urged Saudis to share opinions about the role of religion in the country, which follows a strict form of Islam that includes harsh punishments for challenging customs.

A judge in the Red Sea port of Jiddah imposed the sentences but dropped charges of apostasy, which could have brought a death sentence, the Al-Watan newspaper reported. Badawi has been held since June 2012.
A bit more:
Hard-line Saudi clerics have raised repeated objections to social media, including one prominent Islamic scholar describing Twitter as a path to hell. He later withdrew the comment.
It's not about religion, it's all about control - the clerics do not want to lose their power over the people and fear social media.

Quote from Kafka

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Ran into this today:
"Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy."
--Franz Kafka
From Bellingham resident, author and Science Historian George Dyson. At Edge:
NSA: The Decision Problem
Shortly after noon, local time, on 19 August 1960, over the North Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, a metal capsule about the size and shape of a large kitchen sink fell out of the sky from low earth orbit and drifted by parachute toward the earth. It was snagged in mid-air, on the third pass, by a C-119 "flying boxcar" transport aircraft from Hickam Air Force base in Honolulu, and then transferred to Moffett Field Naval Air Station, in Mountain View, California�where Google's fleet of private jets now sit parked. Inside the capsule was 3000 feet of 70mm Kodak film, recording seven orbital passes over 1,650,000 square miles of Soviet territory that was closed to all overflights at the time.

This spectacular intelligence coup was preceded by 13 failed attempts. Secrecy all too often conceals waste and failure within government programs; in this case, secrecy was essential to success. Any reasonable politician, facing the taxpayers, would have canceled the Corona orbital reconnaissance program after the eleventh or twelfth unsuccessful launch.

The Corona program, a joint venture between the CIA, the NSA, and the Department of Defense, was coordinated by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and continued, under absolute secrecy, for 12 more years and 126 more missions, becoming the most productive intelligence operation of the Cold War. "It was as if an enormous floodlight had been turned on in a darkened warehouse," observed former CIA program director Albert D. Wheelon, after the operation was declassified by order of President Clinton in 1995. "The Corona data quickly assumed the decisive role that the Enigma intercepts had played in World War II."

The resources and expertise that were gathered to support the Corona program, operating under cover of a number of companies and institutions centered around Sunnyvale, California (including Fairchild, Lockheed, and the Stanford Industrial Park) helped produce the Silicon Valley of today. Google Earth is Corona's direct descendant, and it is a fact as remarkable as the fall of the Berlin wall that anyone, anywhere in the world, can freely access satellite imagery whose very existence was a closely guarded secret only a generation ago.

PRISM, on the contrary, has been kept in the dark. Setting aside the question of whether wholesale, indiscriminate data collection is legal�which, evidently, its proponents believed it was�the presumed reason is that for a surveillance system to be effective against bad actors, the bad actors have to be unaware that they are being watched. Unfortunately, the bad actors to be most worried about are the ones who suspect that they are being watched. The tradecraft goes way back. With the privacy of houses came eavesdropping; with the advent of written communication came secret opening of mail; with the advent of the electric telegraph came secret wiretaps; with the advent of photography came spy cameras; with the advent of orbital rocketry came spy satellites. To effectively spy on the entire Internet you need your own secret Internet�and Edward Snowden has now given us a glimpse into how this was done.
A wonderful read -- Dyson is a Bellingham treasure.

Long day - a wail of tow

Had to run into Lynden to check on something for my riding mower. This is a commercial grade zero turn unit and I had to replace some gears.

Drove down to get the oil changed on my truck -- dropped it off and went across the street for some lunch. Came back to see it in the same position with the hood up.

Turns out that the lube shop wasn't able to start it. It would crank but the engine would not engage and it showed a wrench sign on the dash console. Dang!

Called AAA and got it towed to a local Ford dealer -- turns out it is the 25th oldest car dealership in the USA (since 1908). There is a letter from Henry Ford II to the original owner posted on the wall. I'll find out more tomorrow.

More Clairy Browne

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I had referenced her band yesterday. Here is the 'official' video for the song:
Going to get the CD -- she reminds me of what Amy Winehouse could have been like if she didn't suffer from addiction. More on YouTube.

Flying is Magic

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Now this is funny -- from Topless Robot:
Air Force Bronies Can Bomb Your @$$ if You Mock Them
VanceClass14-05.jpg
This is an actual class badge from Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, once again proving that there's nothing unmanly about showing your love for pink cartoon horses. And if you say there is, they can probably kick your ass or drop a bomb on you.

An Equestria Daily commenter named charelz is being quoted everywhere as confirming it's for real (though the website linked above looks legit too). Anyway, here, let's quote him again anyway...
I couldn't take pictures because it would have embarrassed my stepson if I got all fanboy squee in front of his buddies. (He is in 14-04; this is 14-05's patch and they were present for the Track Select for 14-04 where trainee pilots are told what kind of planes they're going to be flying - my kid could have taken T-38 fighter track but he wants to be a commercial pilot so he picked T-1s which is the transport/tanker track.) Also the impression I got is that they vote on the patches and they have to get approved by the brass. This was their third try, so I don't know how much was genuine and how much was irony but there was at least one non-brony who straight up refused to wear it and I overhead another complaining to his mom about it. But the flight instructor (who was a captain) was wearing it and he had no problems with his masculinity...
For Mom, country and Apple Jack...
Heh...
From Newsmax:
Manning Guilty of Espionage but Not 'Aiding Enemy'
Military judge Col. Denise Lind on Tuesday found U.S. soldier Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy - the most serious charge he faced for handling over documents to WikiLeaks. She found him guilty of most of the other 20 criminal counts in the biggest breach of classified information in the nation's history.

The U.S. government was pushing for the maximum penalty for what it viewed as a serious breach of national security, which included battlefield reports from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, while anti-secrecy activists praised Manning's action as shining a light on shadowy U.S. operations abroad.

Army prosecutors contended during the court-martial that U.S. security was harmed when the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website published combat videos of an attack by an American Apache helicopter gunship, diplomatic cables and secret details on prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay that Manning provided the site while he was a junior intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.
Mr. Manning is still facing some serious jailtime. I think that he should have been charged with treason. In my opinion, the difference between Manning and Snowden is that Manning just dumped the files out on WikiLeaks. His files had the identities of undercover agents working for us -- Manning is directly responsible for their deaths. Snowden had the integrity to think about and took the time to actually search through his files and redact any sensitive information. Snowden is a whistleblower, Manning is a petulant little man-child.

Cool news - Art Bell back on the air

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From the San Jose Mercury:
Art Bell returning to radio with Sirius show about the paranormal
Art Bell, radio's master of the paranormal and outward edges of science, will return to the microphone on Sept. 16 with a new nighttime show on Sirius XM Radio.

Bell was one of radio's top syndicated voices in the 1990s before walking away from his nightly show in 2002 due to family issues. He worked occasionally after that but hasn't been on the air since Halloween 2010.

"I missed it terribly," said Bell, 68, whose weeknight show will air live from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET. Sirius is building a studio at Bell's rural Nevada home where he will work.
Very cool -- Bell was a nightly pleasure. My only gripe is that this time slot overlaps the David Webb show, also on Sirius and another nightly pleasure...

Great Heineken advertisement

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The music is Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes. Official website here.

Not news - GPS spoofing

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There has been a lot of press about GPS spoofing -- prompting a GPS receiver to indicate a different position than where it really is. Here is one example from Network World:
College students hijack $80 million yacht with GPS signal spoofing
A group of students at the University of Texas at Austin built and successfully tested a GPS spoofing device to remotely redirect an $80 million yacht onto a different route, the Houston Chronicle reports. The project, which was completed with the permission of the yacht's owners in the Mediterranean Sea this past June.

Because the yacht's crew relies entirely on GPS signal for direction, the students were able to lead the yacht onto a different course without the knowledge of anyone on-board. The GPS spoofing device essentially over-powered all other GPS signals using until the spoofed signal was the only one that the yacht followed. The yacht's navigation system merely recognized it as another signal, so the yacht changed course without setting off any alarms.
A couple of objections -- any boat driver worth their salt is not relying on only the GPS for navigation. They are using their eyes, a compass, RADAR bearings to known objects, depth soundings compared to published depths, an autopilot (which on large boats will get positioning data from several sources) as well as common sense. Larger ships will also have inertial navigation systems. The fact that one of your sources of positioning data is different than your others should be noticed immediately, not be the cause of the ships steering errors. GPS is also problematic when visiting areas that are not frequently visited -- charts can be off by several hundred feet. GPS spoofing? Sure. But no effect in the real world. No danger unless the crew is inept.

Ho Li Crap - move over Dr. Borlaug

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A very interesting bit of research from The University of Nottingham:
World changing technology enables crops to take nitrogen from the air
A major new technology has been developed by The University of Nottingham, which enables all of the world�s crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than expensive and environmentally damaging fertilisers.

Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils) have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere with the help of nitrogen fixing bacteria. The vast majority of plants have to obtain nitrogen from the soil, and for most crops currently being grown across the world, this also means a reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.

Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham�s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation, has developed a unique method of putting nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the cells of plant roots. His major breakthrough came when he found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar-cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonise all major crop plants. This ground-breaking development potentially provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The implications for agriculture are enormous as this new technology can provide much of the plant�s nitrogen needs.
And it is already at market by Azotic:
Natural nitrogen to boost agriculture
Azotic Technologies specialises in natural nitrogen which helps address the problem of nitrogen pollution. Our technology provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix its own nitrogen from the air. It also promotes plant growth and increases vigour.
The Dr. Borlaug I reference in the title is this man: Dr. Norman Borlaug. A world savior but not well known.
Bakerview Nursery & Garden Center is one of the jewels in Bellingham. Staffed by people who know their plants and service is beyond what most places have. From their news page:
Bakerview Nursery & Garden Center marks final season
Co-owners Larry & Toni Clark today announced that summer 2013 will be the final season of operation for Bakerview Nursery & Garden Center. This locally owned and operated nursery & garden center has been a long time popular destination for gardening enthusiasts. The Clark�s have made the decision to retire to spend more time with family and friends. Final day of operation will be September 30, 2013.

"Bakerview Nursery has given us and our children a wonderful healthy life for the past 42 years. We have enjoyed teaching and sharing our gardening knowledge with employees and customers all these years. We have met many wonderful people and have enjoyed seeing customer�s children, visit us when they were young, and then grow up and become homeowners and gardeners themselves,� said Larry Clark. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime dream to create one of the most beautiful full-service garden centers in the state. Toni and I made it happen along many wonderful employees. We had the opportunity to live out our dream and consider ourselves truly blessed. We thank everyone who shared in our success.
I wish them all the best and 42 years is a good long run but still, this is going to leave a great big hole...
From Financial Times:
Alwaleed warns of US shale danger to Saudi
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire Saudi Arabian investor, has warned that his country�s oil-dependent economy is increasingly vulnerable to competition from the US shale revolution, setting him at odds with his country�s oil ministry and Opec officials.

In an open letter addressed to Ali Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, the prince called on the government to accelerate plans to diversify the economy.

�Our country is facing continuous threat because of its almost total dependency on oil,� he wrote in the letter, copied to King Abdullah, Prince Alwaleed�s uncle, among others.
We could be independent of these royal bastards in fifteen years if we showed some backbone. Natural gas, clean coal, and Liquid Fluoride Thorium nuclear. These three would deliver a huge economic and industrial renaissance to the United States and indirectly to the world.

Back home again

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Did the shopping run for the store today and worked on a few projects at home. Having some left-over pasta and surfing. Lulu and son are in Bellingham at her house for a couple of days.

That's it for today

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Long day today and long day tomorrow -- shopping run for the store.

Blacksmithing - Purgatory Iron Works

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Excellent set of videos from Trenton Tye at his forge. Go Here These are of very high value and he offers a lot more with a monthly or annual subscription.

Military radio stations on Hawaii

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Very deep site -- there were two very unusual radio stations on Hawaii. One early one was an Extremely Low Frequency transmitter to communicate with submerged submarines in the Pacific Theater. There is one of these right in my backyard -- about 60 miles due South. (More on this facility can be found here.) The second one was one of the seven global Omega Navigation beacons in operation from the early 1970's through 1997. Check out Haiku Valley and major thanks to Dave Jessup for compiling and writing this page. The history of this place is amazing. Located on Oahu.

Coming in as fifth

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Swiped in full from Mostly Cajun:
Obama rated the 5th best president ever
Of the total of 44 US Presidents: Obama rated 5th best president ever. I was just reading a Democratic publicity release that said, �... after a little more than 5 years, Obama has been rated the 5th best president ever.�

The details according to White House Publicists:
  • Reagan, Lincoln, and 8 others tied for first,
  • 15 presidents tied for second,
  • 17 other presidents tied for third,
  • Jimmy Carter came in 4th, and
  • Obama came in fifth.
...rimshot...

Gas prices and the pipeline

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Idiot. From The Hill:
Obama criticizes pro-Keystone pipeline jobs, gas price claims
President Obama said the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline would not be a major job creator and could increase gasoline prices, but added that the White House decision will rest on climate change.

�Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that�s true,� Obama said in a New York Times interview published Saturday.
Words fail.

The Obama administration

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One of the things that the Communists did in Russia and China was to effectively re-write history. People were edited out of pictures, 'new' histories were written. This is a sure sign of tyranny. Now this -- from the Sunlight Foundation:
Obama Promises Disappear from Web
Change.gov, the website created by the Obama transition team in 2008, has effectively disappeared sometime over the last month.

While the front splash page for Change.gov has linked to the main White House website for years, until recently, you could still continue on to see the materials and agenda laid out by the administration. This was a particularly helpful resource for those looking to compare Obama's performance in office against his vision for reform, laid out in detail on Change.gov.

According to the Internet Archive, the last time that content (beyond the splash page) was available was June 8th -- last month.

Why the change?

Here's one possibility, from the administration's ethics agenda:
Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
Editing the past -- writing a new history. Sounds all too familiar if you remember your history.

Just wow - riding the space shuttle

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NASA mounted a couple of GoPro cameras on the solid rocket boosters for two launches:

Birds of a feather

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From yNet News:
Egypt's Morsi likely to go to same prison as Mubarak
Egypt's deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who has been accused of murder and other crimes, is likely to be transferred to the same Cairo prison where former leader Hosni Mubarak is now held, the interior minister said on Saturday.
They sure have a lot to talk about...
Farm Fun -- someone put a turbo engine in their tractor and is having way to much fun with it:

Project Free TV

Just got turned on to this site.

It seems to be an aggregator and there are a lot of popups but it is a source for free streaming and downloads of most television shows and movies. Here is a three minute video on its use:

This download utility is recommended: NCDownloader

A trip down memory lane

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A two-fer. First - Windows NT will turn twenty tomorrow. From Mary Jo Foley at ZD Net:
Microsoft's Windows NT turns 20
Twenty years ago tomorrow, July 27, Microsoft launched Windows NT, as Mark Morowczynski of Microsoft's "Ask Premier Field Engineering blog" reminded me this week.

NT's not ancient history, in spite of its age. The NT "core" is what's inside Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows Phone 8, Windows Azure and the Xbox One.

In 1993, Microsoft launched Windows NT 3.1. It was followed up by NT 3.5, 3.51 and 4.0. Microsoft's Windows releases still rely on NT-inspired numbering conventions. Windows 7's build numbers commenced with 6.1; Windows 8's with 6.2; and Windows 8.1 with 6.3.
I ran it for a long time -- still have my distribution disks and updates. It was the first true multi-tasking OS from MSFT. Second - Instrument Nostalgia Chemist Derek Lowe muses about old scientific instruments that he has used.
Instrument Nostalgia
Andre the Chemist is talking Lab Instrument Nostalgia at his blog. I know what he means, but mostly, when I think of old equipment, I'm just glad that I'm not using it any more. I remember, for example, the JEOL NMR machines with the blue screen and light pen, and a water-cooled 80MHZ NMR made by IBM, of all people. But if I saw either of them today, I would react with a sort of interested horror.
The 40 comments are a fun read if you have any lab experience. I own a Spec 20 which I purchased at auction. When I was living in Boston, a buddy of mine and I went in 50% each on an RCA EMU-2e Electron Microscope. Got all of the prep equipment too so we had a lot of fun. We were both working at an aquarium that had a research arm so diatoms went under the beam ASAP.

A lawsuit in the works - Scotia, NY

Talk about being so stupid it hurts.

From Albany, NY station WNYT:

Undercover police agent appears to plant drugs on Scotia businessman
Donald Andrews, Jr. operates a so-called smoke shop on Mohawk Avenue in Scotia.

It sells incense and other smoking paraphernalia, legal stuff but material that might also be re-purposed for other illicit activities.

Scotia and Schenectady County police became suspicious and targeted Andrews's shop, sending an undercover informant in twice in March.

The second time, Andrews's attorney Kevin Luibrand does play by play that appears to show the informant planting, then photographing crack cocaine that led to Andrews arrest.

"He comes in," Luibrand narrated over video shot on in-store surveillance cameras. "Places the crack on the counter. Crack, which under federal sentencing guidelines, would get him 4 years in jail. Under New York State law would get him 2 to 7 years in jail."

There are seven cameras in plain view in Andrews small store.

Members of the Schenectady chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference viewed the apparent framing of an African-American businessman and were outraged.

"It was a set-up and I believe that he was racially profiled and targeted," said Treasure Clayton. "It would be easy for them to say that he was selling drugs because he was black."

Neither the Schenectady County Sheriff nor the Scotia Police Chief were available to be interviewed about the apparent planting of evidence.

By phone the Sheriff acknowledged proper procedures were not followed but denied his investigators purposely framed the suspect.

The Sheriff blamed the informant, who has taken flight.

Andrews was arrested but released when he was able to get police to look at the multiple camera angles.

He's taken the first step toward filing a lawsuit for wrongful arrest.

I hope he has a real pit-bull of a lawyer -- this needs to hurt the City of Scotia hard. This kind of trolling is unconscionable. The undercover agent should have been prepped better and if this was the doing of the police department, there need to be some firings. The video at the site is pretty damning...

Not much posting today

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Been working on a couple of projects. Lulu's son played at a local restaurant last night and was really well received -- he got $25 in tips and whenever he played, the conversation at the tables stopped. He was not playing loud at all so it was the people stopping to listen, not being drowned out. Got a couple Costco cod fillets marinating and rice in the pot for dinner.

The Deepwater Horizon blowout

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They are just getting around to the final analysis of what happened on April 2010. From the United States Department of Justice:
Halliburton Agrees to Plead Guilty to Destruction of Evidence in Connection with Deepwater Horizon Tragedy
Halliburton Energy Services Inc. has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Department of Justice announced today. A criminal information charging Halliburton with one count of destruction of evidence was filed today in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Halliburton has signed a cooperation and guilty plea agreement with the government in which Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty and admit its criminal conduct. As part of the plea agreement, Halliburton has further agreed, subject to the court�s approval, to pay the maximum-available statutory fine, to be subject to three years of probation and to continue its cooperation in the government�s ongoing criminal investigation. Separately, Halliburton made a voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that was not conditioned on the court�s acceptance of its plea agreement.

According to court documents, on April 20, 2010, while stationed at the Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and related explosions and fire, which resulted in the deaths of 11 rig workers and the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Following the blowout, Halliburton conducted its own review of various technical aspects of the well�s design and construction. On or about May 3, 2010, Halliburton established an internal working group to examine the Macondo well blowout, including whether the number of centralizers used on the final production casing could have contributed to the blowout. A production casing is a long, heavy metal pipe set across the area of the oil and natural gas reservoir. Centralizers are protruding metal collars affixed at various intervals on the outside of the casing. Use of centralizers can help keep the casing centered in the wellbore away from the surrounding walls as it is lowered and placed in the well. Centralization can be significant to the quality of subsequent cementing around the bottom of the casing. Prior to the blowout, Halliburton had recommended to BP the use of 21 centralizers in the Macondo well. BP opted to use six centralizers instead.

As detailed in the information, in connection with its own internal post-incident examination of the well, in or about May 2010, Halliburton, through its Cementing Technology Director, directed a Senior Program Manager for the Cement Product Line (Program Manager) to run two computer simulations of the Macondo well final cementing job using Halliburton�s Displace 3D simulation program to compare the impact of using six versus 21 centralizers. Displace 3D was a next-generation simulation program that was being developed to model fluid interfaces and their movement through the wellbore and annulus of a well. These simulations indicated that there was little difference between using six and 21 centralizers. Program Manager was directed to, and did, destroy these results.
Trying to save a few bucks... Destruction of evidence is wrong -- at places I worked (including an Ocean Engineering company in Seattle) archiving all data was the only way to go. If the data doesn't work out how you want it, it is always best to have the full spectrum of stuff to analyze.

With all the waffling going on

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Obama is waffling more and more with each passing day. This clip came to mind:
Phony indeed...

Yeah - but it rains a lot!

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The Seattle area just got Number One on another list -- from Cliff Mass:
Secret Revealed: The Northwest Has the Best Summer in the Nation. But Why?
The secret is out.

A few days ago, a well known ratings group found Seattle to be the NUMBER ONE city in the U.S. for pleasant summer weather, while Portland followed in second place. Even major newspapers like the Los Angeles Times seem to agree. A table from the authoritative Sperling report says it all (see below). With comfortable average highs in the mid-70s, sleep-friendly lows in the lower fifties, and low dew points and relative humidities, Seattle is meteorological heaven during the summer months.
Cliff then goes on to list eleven reasons why this is so. Don't tell anyone though -- we want to keep it a secret... Just remember -- it rains a lot!

A top ten list - Obama's phony scandals

From Joel B. Pollak writing at Breitbart:

Top 10 Signs Obama Scandals Aren't 'Phony'
"But with this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. (Applause.) This needs to stop."
--President Barack Obama, Speech on the Economy and 'Phony Scandals,' Galesburg, IL, July 24, 2013
10. Someone pleads the Fifth. Lois Lerner, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during an oversight hearing. She was also suspended (with pay).

9. Documents go missing, officials fake e-mail addresses. Records of tax inquiries into Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell are gone; the former EPA chief made emails tough to find by using an alias.

8. You announce drastic policy shifts to minimize damage. When the Department of Justice was found to be snooping on the AP and Fox's James Rosen, Obama suddenly embraced a media shield law.

7. You make a show of "forcing" an official to resign. Obama theatrically announced the resignation of IRS chief Steven Miller; though his term was almost over, the gesture sent a clear signal of disapproval.

6. You try to arrest a low-level leaker. Though Obama himself minimizes the effort to catch Edward Snowden, the federal government is desperately trying to have him extradited for exposing NSA programs.

Five more at the site -- the 400+ comments are a fun read. If this was a Republican administration, the progressives would be crying for blood. Since it is their precious Magic Negro(tm), silence...

Back in May, I posted about a 50 foot diameter magnet being moved from the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York to the Fermilab in Batavia. It has arrived in Chicago and is scheduled to reach its new home this Friday. Here is a short video of it being moved through Chicago:
The company that is moving the ring is Emmert International. They specialize in unusual rigging and moving projects.
We do not need another Federal agency -- the CIA and FBI have the jurisdiction here and there is a lot of overlap. It is apropos that DHS is moving into an ex mental institution... From Bloomberg:
Homeland Security's Future Home: A Former Mental Hospital
Chris Mills frequently gives tours of St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a former mental institution where the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is building a $4.5 billion headquarters. It�s the largest construction project in the District of Columbia since the Pentagon was completed in 1943. So there�s a lot of ground to cover. Mills prefers to chauffeur his guests around the place in a golf cart.
$4.5 billion of our tax dollars -- this organization should not even exist and yet it is carving out huge swaths of real estate and governmental power for itself. Their 2014 budget is just under $60 Billion (PDF - page three) The Heritage Foundation has a list of fifty successful interdictions against terrorist plots in the United States.

Ammo sales - Hornady changing tactics

Leading ammunition manufacturer Hornady is suspending the production of some sizes of ammo for the rest of 2013. From Accurate Shooter:
Hornady Suspends Production of 150 Ammo Types and 150 Bullet Types for Balance of 2013
In order to increase deliveries of its most popular types of ammunition and bullets, Hornady announced that it will temporarily suspend production of 150 bullet types and 150 ammo types. IMPORTANT: These bullet and ammo products are NOT being discontinued. Rather, these less-popular, suspended items will simply not be produced for the remainder of 2013. By doing this, Hornady can reduce tool/machinery changes and thereby increase production of products in highest demand. On July 2nd, Hornady issued this statement.
More at the Hornady website. They are citing a 200% increase in demand. I looked at a couple of online retailers and common .22LR is selling for over 30�/round -- this up from under 20� two years ago.

George Gershwin

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As performed by Dr. Astrith Baltsan Narrated in Hebrew but with subtitles -- wonderful history and an electrifying performance.
I see from her website that she also does Bach -- will have to track down some recordings...
BillG set up a company called TerraPower It's goal is to design and build a Traveling Wave nuclear reactor. The design is interesting but complex -- the fuel rods need to be shuffled continually and the reaction happens only at one layer in the fuel assembly. I have been a fan of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors for the last ten years or so. Inherently safe, able to burn spent fuel from conventional reactors and decent power density. It seems that BillG is also interested -- from The Weinberg Foundation:
Bill Gates� nuclear company explores molten salt reactors, thorium
TerraPower, the Bill Gates-chaired nuclear company that is developing a fast reactor, is now investigating alternative reactor technologies, including thorium fuel and molten salt reactors.

While the company�s �big bet� continues to be on a fast reactor that TerraPower calls a traveling wave reactor (TWR), it is exploring other designs that could offer improvements in safety, waste and economics, CEO John Gilleland told me in a phone interview.

�We are an innovation house, so we like to look at other approaches,� Gilleland said. �Our big bet is on the traveling wave reactor because it fulfills so many of the goals that we would like to see nuclear achieve. But we�re always looking for innovations that lead to better safety or minimization of waste and so forth and so we have several things going there. Although those activities are small, that�s the way large activities get started.�

TerraPower�s interest in alternatives such as molten salt reactors (MSRs) came to light last month when the company�s director of innovation, Jeff Latkowski, surfaced in the audience at the Thorium Energy Alliance Conference in Chicago. The two-day gathering included presentations on thorium fuel and on reactors including molten salt reactors, high temperature solid fuel reactors, accelerator driven reactors, and others.
If you have a half-hour, this video goes into a lot of detail about Thorium.
Other nations are getting on the bandwagon - China, Norway and India.

A busy few weeks

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July and August are shaping up to be quite busy: Starting off on July 25th through the 28th is the Whatcom County Old Settlers Association picnic. Music, exhibitions, etc... The venue is a very nice park with a lot of restored buildings. July 31st through August 3rd is the Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association annual show. Old steam engines, blacksmithing, tractor pulls -- lots of fun. August 12th through the 17th sees the huge Northwest Washington Fair. Huge event with lots of critters, art, music, food. Fun for all. and winding things down from August 22nd through the 25th is the Western States Conference for Blacksmithing at Mt. Hood Oregon. I attended the last one two years ago and learned a lot. A couple of really good knife makers are attending. Fun will be had by all!

And it starts - ObamaCare layoffs

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From Investors Business Daily:
Hospital Layoffs Pick Up As ObamaCare Era Starts
That busy health care industry to-do list ahead of ObamaCare includes an increasing number of hospital job cuts. Since the start of May, hospital groups have announced plans to lay off nearly 6,000 workers. Add in several thousand additional positions seeing fewer hours or cuts through attrition and buyouts, and the work reductions impact more than 9,000 jobs.
And it is just starting... Look for Doctor shortages, massive unemployment. This is one bit of legislation that needs to be defunded now.
From USA Today:
Wife of ex-Detroit mayor loses job, lease on Texas home
With her husband, Kwame Kilpatrick, behind bars, Detroit's former first lady, Carlita Kilpatrick, has fallen on hard times in Texas, losing her job and her lease on the family's extravagant 5,000-square-foot home in posh Grand Prairie.

According to neighbors, the Kilpatricks' furniture and numerous household belongings were out on the curb on trash pickup day July 15, three days before the family officially moved out of the five-bedroom home they rented for $2,600 a month. According to Dallas real estate agent Will Butler, Carlita Kilpatrick was not evicted, but the owner of the house chose not to renew her lease. Butler did not elaborate, stating only that the house is now on the market to be leased again, this time for $2,799 a month.
More:
July has been a tough month for Carlita Kilpatrick. One week before she moved out of her house, she lost her $41,200 job working for the city of Duncanville, Texas, because, city officials said, she didn't meet the job's requirements.

Carlita Kilpatrick, who is now raising three sons on her own after Kwame Kilpatrick's public corruption conviction, was hired in January as a specialist at the Duncanville Fieldhouse, an athletic facility with basketball courts, a fitness center and meeting rooms. Her duties included organizing and scheduling sporting events, such as basketball and volleyball tournaments, and overseeing the facility's daily operations.

Claudia Garibay, Duncanville's public information officer, said Carlita Kilpatrick was on a 180-day probation period and did not meet the requirements of the job. She did not elaborate, beyond confirming that Kilpatrick's job officially ended July 10.
I feel sorry for the family but I would think though that the egregious corruption would have been evident to them and they could have done something. And what were they thinking renting a posh house at $2,600/month when her salary was only $3,433/month -- you have $833 left for food and necessities -- not enough for four people...

Killing birds - now more than ever

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From the "if you don't like the numbers, re-write them" department. Erika Johnsen writing at Hot Air:
Study: Feds underestimating the number of protected bird deaths at all the wind farms they aren�t prosecuting
The federal government has made it their especial business, not merely to restrict recreational and productive commercial access in many areas of the full one-third of the surface area of the United States it controls � often on the proclaimed behalf of the Spotted Owl, the Sage Grouse, the Golden Eagle, etcetera � but also to aggressively pursue and prosecute any hydrocarbon companies that they discover have been responsible for killing any protected birds via their industrial activities.

Miraculously, however, the Obama administration has so far neglected to prosecute nor level the heavy related fines against any wind-energy companies, despite the mass deaths of birds protected by the Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts that they often cause. Even better, the Daily Caller reports on a study that confirms that the feds have been conspicuously underestimating the number of bird deaths resulting from these swept-under-the-rug wind-turbine collisions.
Where is Greenpeace? Where is the Sierra Club? The enviros must be suffering a little bit of cognitive dissonance these days but that is not an unusual state of mind for a non-scientific environmentalist...

Fun times in Washington

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First -- from the Washington Examiner:
White House scrambles to defeat bill to defund NSA program
The White House took the rare step of releasing a statement opposing an amendment to a House bill Tuesday night, taking aim at a measure that would shut down significant parts of the National Security Agency�s surveillance activities.

In the statement, White House spokesman Jay Carney accused Republican lawmakers of trying to �hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community�s counterterrorism tools� and said the �blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process.�

The House is preparing to vote on an amendment, written by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that would cut off funds to the NSA if it collects data on individuals who are not under investigation � a move that would effectively shut down the sweeping Internet and phone data collection programs that have been revealed in news reports.

After hearing that the amendment would be given a vote as part of the Defense Appropriations bill Tuesday afternoon, the White House scrambled to try to defeat it. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander headed up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a question and answer session with lawmakers in a classified, members-only briefing.

�We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a seasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation,� Carney said.
I love it -- the House of Representatives holds the purse strings for the Federal Government. Time for them to get to work... Second -- from The Washington Times:
Lights, camera, economy: Obama uses rhetoric of class warfare in jobs speech
Deploying the rhetoric of class warfare against congressional Republicans, President Obama warned Wednesday that �social tensions will rise� if Washington doesn�t take steps to reverse the growing gap between wealthy Americans and the middle class.

In a campaign-style speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., the president proclaimed that America during his presidency has �fought its way back� from the recession and called on voters to �pressure Congress to invest in our future� on priorities such as education, clean energy and infrastructure.
Our president is a divisive demagogue.
A demagogue or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, prejudices, and ignorance of the less-educated citizens in order to gain power and promote political motives. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness. Demagogues have appeared in democracies since ancient Athens. They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population.
Obama's speech clocked in at a bit more than one hour. Is he setting himself up to be the next president for life? Fidel Castro was famous for his long-winded speechifying...

A bit of a wine from New York City

From the New York Times:
More Than a Flooded Cellar. A Vintage Mystery.
WineCare marketed itself as a high-security cellar that stores, catalogs and cares for 27,000 cases of wine in the basement of a Manhattan warehouse, charging substantial fees to safeguard collections worth tens of millions of dollars.

But there was one problem: the cellar was just 100 yards from the Hudson River. And when Hurricane Sandy struck, the water came rushing in.

Eight months later, WineCare has become the scene of one of the strangest stories to emerge from the storm, a classic Manhattan tale featuring boldfaced names, high-stakes legal battles and top-shelf luxury.

Shortly after the flooding, the owner sent customers a reassuring e-mail: �We believe at least 95% of the wine we are storing is fine.�

But since then, WineCare, which once offered a same-day delivery service from its warehouse in the Chelsea neighborhood, has steadfastly denied customers access to even a single bottle of Ch�teau Rayas Ch�teauneuf-du-Pape, Kistler chardonnay or Rousseau Chambertin.

Now, amid concern that century-old bottles have been spoiled or celebrated vintages rendered anonymous by lost labels, some of the city�s most prominent wine collectors � including Donald Drapkin, a hedge fund manager who estimated the value of his wine collection at $5.2 million � have sued WineCare, which is now in bankruptcy court.
What a choice for location. A bit more:
Meanwhile, Derek L. Limbocker, a onetime investment banker and society figure who founded WineCare and made it into one of the country�s largest wine-storage facilities, has publicly maintained that a vast majority of wine under his care is safe.

He did not return calls requesting comment.

But, under questioning at a creditors� meeting in March, Mr. Limbocker revealed that floodwaters and humidity lifted the labels off as many as 100 cases; cardboard boxes containing the wines disintegrated, and thousands of bottles broke as they were lugged up or down the stairwells of the warehouse.

Customers do not know the extent of the damage, because their repeated requests to view video from the round-the-clock, 16-channel surveillance system featured in the marketing materials have been denied.

�It�s the craziest thing I�ve ever seen,� said William C. Carmody, a trial lawyer who stored about 29 cases of wine at WineCare that he says are worth $104,000. �I�m still being charged a monthly fee. But you can never get a straight answer.�
He did not return calls requesting comment -- no shit Sherlock. I am betting that the losses are more like 95% than the quoted 5%. Flooding a basement with that much water is going to tear the place apart. I appreciate the desire for fast retrieval but locating a vault 100 yards from a River is not a good choice at all -- downright stupid...

Anthony Weiner in the news again

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He just can't help himself... From Breitbart:
Anthony Weiner admits to more lewd photos
New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner admitted on Tuesday to sending additional explicit photos and texts to a woman he met online -- correspondence she says began months after he resigned from Congress for similar behavior.

The allegation could severely test voters' willingness to forgive Weiner, who has said he spent the two years since the scandal trying to make things right with his wife and earn redemption.

Weiner, who resigned his House seat in June 2011 after acknowledging having sexual conversations with at least a half-dozen women, has been near the top of most mayoral polls since his late entry into the race this spring.

"I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out and today they have," said Weiner in a statement released by his campaign. "I want to again say that I am very sorry to anyone who was on the receiving end of these messages and the disruption this has caused."
What a little putz -- Wiener has not done a serious day's work in his entire life. Prep school, law school and straight into politics.

Music amplifiers

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A fun site -- check out Tone Lizard's Tales from the Tone Lounge A lot of history and nuts and bolts reverse-engineering of older guitar amplifiers.
Not just inspection -- maintenance, construction, repair, etc... One word: InspectAPedia� Was mentioned in an email and I just spent an hour paging through the site -- it is well written and deep. The site has a wonderful page on the virtues of Zinsco Circuit Breakers. I first ran into Zinsco products on a fixer-upper I bought when I first moved to Seattle in the 1980's. One look and I swapped it out for Square D and have been doing Square D since then. You do get what you pay for...

Everybody smile!

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People were encouraged to look up and smile on July 19th -- the spaceship Cassini was scheduled to take a picture of Earth and our Moon from its location behind the rings of Saturn. Can't quite make out my face... Here is the wide angle -- Earth is the blue dot above the arrow:
cassini_wide.jpg
And here is our closeup:
cassini_EM.jpg
Gorgeous stuff -- much more here:
NASA Cassini Mission Page
Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- Cassini Mission Page
The JPG artifacts -- especially the second photo -- are mine. I compressed the image for bandwidth and storage size. The originals in all their glory can be found at the two links above...
From Sean Linnane comes this bit on the origins of one aspect of "popular culture":
Origins of a Modern Urban Fad
I wonder if the young men who follow the saggy-baggy-pants-down-around-the-ass-with-underwear-showing fad understand the origins of this look?
Visit the site for the origins. And try not to laugh out loud when you next see these morons walking along...
What is this -- a little case of workplace violence? From the Beeb:
Iraq jailbreaks: Hundreds escape in Taji and Abu Ghraib
Hundreds of inmates have escaped from two Iraqi prisons after gunmen stormed two jails near Baghdad.

Fighting raged for several hours after the jails - Abu Ghraib to the west of the capital and Taji to the north - came under attack.

Mortar fire and suicide bombs were used to gain access to the jails, whose inmates include al-Qaeda prisoners.

At least 20 members of the security forces were killed as they struggled to regain control.

A senior Iraqi MP, Hakim Al-Zamili, said that about 500 prisoners had escaped from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

Most of them were senior members of al-Qaeda who had been sentenced to death, he told Reuters news agency.
These mokes should have lost all due process when they decided to wage an asymmetric war. Round 'em up and shoot them. They would do the same with us -- they already have.

Our geniuses in Detroit

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With all of the financial woes, this is still on the table. This June 19, 2013 article at The Detroit News:
$650M hockey arena district moves forward
For more than five years, Metro Detroiters and hockey fans have been asking where, when and how a new arena for the Red Wings would be built. And Wednesday, they got some answers.

Detroit�s downtown development arm approved a plan offered by the Ilitch organization � whose properties include the Wings, Detroit Tigers, Little Caesars Pizza, Fox Theatre and MotorCity Casino � for a $650 million multipurpose arena and entertainment district within easy walking distance of Ford Field and Comerica Park.
A bit more -- the DDA is the city-owned Detroit Downtown Development:
The DDA will own the arena, and Olympia Entertainment, another unit of the Ilitch organization, will manage it under a long-term contract.

The Red Wings will pay $11.5 million annually toward the project, as an arena concession fee. The DDA, a public authority that offers financing for economic development and jobs creation, will pay a projected $12.8 million per year from property taxes collected from within its boundaries.

This revenue stream, which could vary each year depending on the economy, would repay 30-year bonds, issued by the Michigan Strategic Fund, used to finance construction.
So Detroit is on the hook for the building -- maintenance, upgrades, etc... while the Ilitch group collects the money. Everything is funded with a 30-year bond (credit rating? potential for default?) The article claims 8,600 jobs which is suspiciously inflated -- probably 300 for construction and 200 for daily operation and all of these Union with commensurate salaries, benefits and pensions -- all billable to the City of Detroit. The place has not had a Republican in office since the 1960's and know what? It shows! Nothing but bread and circuses...

Shopping over for the day

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Did the Monday shopping run for the store. Sitting here with a nice cold Shiner Bock beer and waiting for some of last nights pulled pork to warm up. Picked a salad from the garden so that will be dinner. Out for a pint or two at my local later.
From EDN magazine:
Is China destroying the solar energy industry?
The NY Times reported on May 28 of this year that solar panels, covering a huge warehouse roof in east LA, began to fail only two years into their 25 year expected lifetime. Corners are being cut and most of the quality concerns center on China.

China manufactures the great majority of the world�s solar panels, but are flooding the market recently with below cost solar products severely hurting companies like SMA in Germany, one of the biggest developers of solar inverters. The Chinese government heavily subsidizes their solar products industry with the goal of increasing global market share even if it means selling products at a loss. Germany leads worldwide installations in the world solar market with 7.6 Gigawatts of installations last year, down by 50% in 2013! They have recently had major layoffs.

It�s not the low prices that disturb me so much, but the fact that China is severely curtailing the technical innovation and cost-saving efforts of companies like SMA by forcing layoffs and cut-backs. It seems to me that not much innovation is coming from China, but they might be the �last country standing� in this drastically reduced pricing effort that will slow industry innovation and thereby putting the brakes on the solar market, just as it was gaining some momentum.

The European Union organization, EU ProSun, comprised of European professionals in the solar industry, is blaming China dumping strategy as a direct cause of layoffs and closed factories of over 30 European solar companies.
A few of the commenters made the very valid point that it should have been the responsibility of the installers to see if the panels were indeed up to spec and able to last the full 25 years. There are ways to accelerate aging of components like this -- thermal cycling, corrosive spray, etc... and they could have known the quality of the panels in a month or two. Caveat Emptor...

Well crap - R.I.P. Bill Wysock

Not a household name (except for those few households with a Tesla Coil in their garage). Bill was the founder of Tesla Technology Research. His work was cutting edge -- his lightning was seen in many movies and television shows. He got into this when he became friends with Ken Strickfadden. Ken is the guy who built all the electrical effects for the first Frankenstein movie so this history goes way way back. His Number 13 Magnifier is arguably the largest functioning Tesla Coil in the world. Click through on the link for its incredible story. Here is a double-exposure of it running with someone standing at its base.
TTR_Model13.jpg
He will be missed sorely...

Obama's accelerated global warming

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Our Prez has been recently talking about how global warming is a key issue and how we must stifle regulate our economic growth carbon production or else. A nice distraction from all the problems of Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS and NSA, lil' Trayvon, the jobs numbers, the economy, etc... Lord Christopher Monckton of Brenchley points out some inconvenient truths about Obama's claims. From Watts Up With That:
Ten years of �accelerated global warming�?
During the July 2013 U.S. Senate hearing at which Roger Pielke Jr. and Roy Spencer gave stellar testimony to the visible discomfiture of the climate-extremist witnesses, none of the �Democrat� Senators and none of the people they had chosen to testify before them was at all anxious to defend Mr. Obama�s assertion that over the past decade global warming has been accelerating at an unforeseen rate.

At a fund-raiser for the �Democratic� Congressional Campaign Committee in Chicago May 29, he had said, �We � know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or ten years ago.� He had added, �I don�t have much patience for people who deny climate change.�

Well, I deny that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or ten years ago. But I deny it not because I take an aprioristic position opposite to Mr Obama�s aprioristic position, but because science is done by measurement, not by parroting the Party Line. And the measurements do not support the Party Line.
Monkton delivers quite a detailed and thourough analysis of all of the observed Earth temperatures and all of the predicted climate models. The upshot can be seen in this graph:
monkton_graph.jpg
The lower bound of the orange zone is the IPCC�s low-end projection. Warming should be occurring at a minimum of 1.33 C�/century. The thick bright red line is the IPCC�s mid-range projection: warming should be occurring at 2.33 C�/century.

The real-world trend, represented by the thick bright blue trend line, shows global temperatures declining since January 2005 at a rate equivalent to almost a quarter of a Celsius degree (half a Fahrenheit degree) per century.

You may think that going to the trouble of producing so many graphs is overkill. Yet when I first spoke up at the U.N. climate conference in Doha and pointed out that there had been no global warming for 16 years the delegates were furious. So were the news media. One reason for their unreason: they simply did not know the facts.

One would have thought that among all the hours of hand-wringing on the air and pages of moaning in print about �global warming�, most of the news media would be faithfully reporting the monthly temperature anomalies. But no. The facts do not fit the Party Line, so they are not reported. They are consigned to the Memory Hole.

As for Mr. Obama�s statement about �acceleration�, he was plain wrong. Instead of the warming equivalent to 2.33 C�/century global warming that had been �anticipated�, there has really been no change in global temperature at all over the past five or ten years.

Will somebody tell the �President�?
Sad -- criminal even -- that so much effort, time and expense are going down this rabbit hole for naught. This is a false argument, a non-starter. We should instead be taking measures to deal with the coming cool period. One of the commenters reminded me of this great quote:
Just as compulsory primary education created a market catered for by cheap dailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly tertiary education has created a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.
--Sir Peter Medawar

Bloomberg's nanny state

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Talk about being wrapped up in minutia -- from the New York CBS affiliate:
Bloomberg Strikes Again: NYC Bans Food Donations To The Homeless
Mayor Michael Bloomberg�s food police have struck again!

Outlawed are food donations to homeless shelters because the city can�t assess their salt, fat and fiber content, reports CBS 2�s Marcia Kramer.

Glenn Richter arrived at a West Side synagogue on Monday to collect surplus bagels � fresh nutritious bagels � to donate to the poor. However, under a new edict from Bloomberg�s food police he can no longer donate the food to city homeless shelters.

It�s the �no bagels for you� edict.

�I can�t give you something that�s a supplement to the food you already have? Sorry that�s wrong,� Richter said.

Richter has been collecting food from places like the Ohav Zedek synagogue and bringing it to homeless shelters for more than 20 years, but recently his donation, including a �cholent� or carrot stew, was turned away because the Bloomberg administration wants to monitor the salt, fat and fiber eaten by the homeless.
What a ninny -- there are thousands of issues that need his attention and he spends his time doing crap like this. Nobody can have anything unless it comes from the State. It's like a horde of Daleks crying regulate regulate regulate...

Curious news

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From Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge:
Did A Raging Fire Burn Down JPMorgan's Gold Vault?
Overnight there has been a flood of viral reports that 'there was a fire at JPM's gold vault' based on a self-made video showing a barrage of fire trucks located on Broad Street between Wall Street and Exchange Place, further substantiated additionally by a @FDNY tweet around 6:30 pm on Saturday which indeed confirmed there had been a "commercial fire in a vault."

As a reminder, it was Zero Hedge who broke the news in March about the location of JPM's vault, namely that it can be found 90 feet below street level at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza (located over half a mile away on Liberty and William Streets). Which is relevant, because as the FDNY reports, and as the video clip below vividly confirms (with the Federal Hall National Memorial distinctly visible in the background), the fire response was focused on the area on Broad street between the New York Stock Exchange and what is now the 15 Broad Street block.

So did a sweeping fire "take place" (in broad daylight and in front of video camera armed streetwalkers) providing the fire brigade a pretext to abscond with JPM's gold on orders from above, or merely give JPM an alibi to say it's gold is "gone... all gone" or rather "burned... all burned" (leaving aside the propensity of a fire to propagate in the confined oxygen constraints to be found on top of the Manhattan bedrock and far below street level)? No. For the simple reason that 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza is over two blocks away from where the fire did take place as can be seen on the map below.
It will be curious to check the news stories tomorrow...

Gorgeous day - working outside

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My riding mower stripped some gears so doing some shade-tree mechanical work. See if you can spot which is the old gear:
mower_gear.jpg
70�F -- a really nice day. Just in for a bite of lunch and to put some pork into the oven for pulled pork BBQ sandwiches (Memphis style with homemade cole slaw) for dinner...

Yikes - end of an era

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From the Skagit Valley Herald:
Kesselring loses firearms license
For more than 65 years, Kesselring Gun Shop has sold firearms to the hunters, collectors and protectors among us.

But starting Oct. 1, the family-owned shop will sell firearms no more.

Nobody will say why.

Don Kesselring, reached at his shop by phone Wednesday, said he had made a deal with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Part of the deal means not talking about why his business lost its license.

A spokesman for the ATF also refused to provide details about Kesselring�s license.

Was the license surrendered or revoked? Bill Perkins from the Seattle office of the ATF won�t say. A July 2 post by the shop on its Facebook page said the business is being forced to surrender its license.

Don Kesselring said the business will continue to sell gun parts, clips, magazines and ammunition, while his brother, Keith, will sell firearms out of a pro shop at a shooting range in Burlington once it opens. Kesselring Gun Shop is also prevented from providing gunsmithing services.
The place is a local legend -- the go-to for firearms and gunsmithing. Here is their website and Facebook page. The latest update from Facebook:
Here's an update on what is going on with the shop; we are NOT closing we just will no longer be selling firearms as of October. We will still be selling everything else though such as ammo, reloading supplies, etc. We had originally stated we wouldn't carry ammo either but that decision was recently changed.
This sucks...

Private Enterprise to the Moon

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American feet may walk the lunar soil once again. From Wired magazine:
The Private Plan to Put a Telescope on the Moon
Two private companies are teaming up to attempt the first-ever mission to the moon�s south pole in order to place a telescope atop a lunar mountain.

This plan is being spearheaded by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), a non-profit aiming to build a scientific and commercial base on the moon, with help from the startup Moon Express, which hopes to become a Space Age version of FedEx in the coming decade.

The companies want to put a 2-meter radio antenna along with a smaller optical telescope on a lunar peak, most likely the 5-km-high rim of a crater called Malapert. From this position, both telescopes could view the center of our Milky Way galaxy with unprecedented clarity because they wouldn�t be subjected to our atmosphere�s hazy interference. The moon would also block them from radio and other electromagnetic noise created by modern civilization. Astronomers have long proposed putting similar telescopes on the moon�s far side � which faces permanently away from our planet � because the pictures could exceed anything produced by the best terrestrial or even space-based instruments.
Very cool -- because of the lack of atmosphere and low temperatures, a two-meter telescope would be a major instrument.
Today is the 44th anniversary of our first men on the moon. The only footprints up there are American but now we have to hitch a ride from the Russians. It was 1969 -- I had just graduated from High School. My Mom and Dad were vacationing in Rockport, MA. I was living near Boston and drove up there and watched the landing on TV with them.
From Kris Zane writing at the Western Center for Journalism:
Obama�s Secret $8 Billion Bribe To The Muslim Brotherhood
According to Arabic News Channel TV14 and reported on by Egypt Daily News, Obama�s relationship with recently deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi goes far deeper than mere support as a democratically elected President.

Per TV14, Obama conducted secret negotiations with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood outside of normal diplomatic channels.

According to sources cited by TV14, Obama secretly transferred eight billion dollars to the Muslim Brotherhood -- not the Egyptian government -- as payment to guarantee that a large portion of the Sinai Peninsula be turned over to the terrorist organization Hamas, an avowed enemy of both the United States and Israel.

The secret agreement was signed by deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi and his second in command, Khairat el Shater.

Who on the U.S. side signed the agreement and where Barack Obama got the eight billion dollars is not clear. When Mohammed Morsi was deposed and arrested by the Egyptian military, evidence of the secret agreement was discovered and seized.

Further, per the news segment, which has been uploaded to YouTube and has since gone viral, secret negotiations between Obama and the Egyptian military�specifically Colonel Abdul al-Sisi, head of the Armed Forces�were ongoing to ensure the agreement remained hidden. Per the secret negotiations, in exchange for Obama recognizing the Egyptian military as legitimate, Colonel al-Sisi promised to keep Obama�s illegal agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood secret. However, a source within the Egyptian military leaked Obama�s nefarious activities to TV14 and the world.
Obama is not operating with our interests at heart. To hand this kind of money to a known terrorist organization is unconscionable. This is bordering on treason.

Justice indeed...

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From The Washington Free Beacon:
Iran�s Mullahs Demand Justice for Trayvon
Iran�s foreign ministry on Friday criticized the acquittal of George Zimmerman and chastised the United States for widespread �racial discrimination.�

�The acquittal of the murderer of the teenage African American once again clearly demonstrated the unwritten, but systematic racial discrimination against racial, religious, and ethnic minorities in the US society,� Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by Iran�s state run Fars News Agency.

�The court ruling has also seriously put under question the fairness of the judicial process in the United States,� Fars reported Araqchi as saying.

Iranian officials said that Zimmerman�s trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin should have been conducted in a more �accurate and fair� manner.
Pot meet kettle. We seem to have state run news agencies too. They are called MSNBC, CNN, CBS, etc... For a nation with such a hideous record of human rights violations to stick their noses into this matter is laughable. They are currying favor with the progressives.

The Lynching

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Excellent essay by Bill Whittle:
Bill covers the ingredients for lean issue which was never mentioned in the mainstream media.

Solar bird kills

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Windmills have been known to be fatal to birds. Now we learn that solar arrays are killing them as well. From Burbank, CA public television station KCET:
Great Blue Herons Die at Solar Project
ReWire reported Wednesday that a surprising number of water birds are being found dead and injured at a pair of solar energy facilities in the California desert. Since publishing that story we've learned that the toll is greater than we reported: two great blue herons have been found dead at one of the projects.

According to compliance documents provided to ReWire by the California Energy Commission late Wednesday, the mortalities were discovered on June 28 and July 8 at the 250-megawatt Genesis Solar Energy Project being built by NextEra about 25 miles west of Blythe in Riverside County.

Great blue herons are very large wading birds ranging from three to four and a half feet tall with wingspans in excess of six feet. Frequently seen in wetlands along the Colorado River and the Salton Sea, great blue herons are often spotted at the artificial Lake Tamarisk 25 miles west of the Genesis site, and project biologists have recorded a few sightings of the birds in the air above the site in the last year.
It looks like the birds confused the mirror arrays for open water:
Like great blue herons, both cliff swallows and yellow-headed blackbirds generally just migrate through the desert surrounding the Genesis site. What prompted the four birds to visit the site is unknown, though as we speculated in Wednesday's piece, reflections from the project's mirrors could conceivably have persuaded the birds that water could be found on the site. The project's evaporation ponds are netted to keep birds out. That netting likely provides partial concealment of any water in the ponds to birds passing overhead, but that may have made little difference once the birds landed.

Heh - so true

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obama_city_detroit.jpg
Swiped from Donald Sensing.

The truth about fracking

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From CBS News:
Study finds fracking chemicals didn't pollute water: AP
A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.

After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water, geologist Richard Hammack said.

Although the results are preliminary -- the study is still ongoing -- they are a boost to a natural gas industry that has fought complaints from environmental groups and property owners who call fracking dangerous.
Fracking is a mature technology -- it is not dangerous. Those people who say it is are looking to inhibit energy exploration and mining. They want to stunt our growth instead of accelerate it. Sad because a rising tide lifts all boats -- the economic growth will help the poor just as much as it helps the rich. Poor people these days have cell phones, television sets, refrigerators, automobiles, etc... This was not the case thirty years ago.

Kerry at work

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Excellent editorial by Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary Magazine:
Kerry�s Illusion of Momentum
Lest anyone think Secretary of State John Kerry was working hard to deal with urgent foreign-policy problems today, fear not. Although he was doing nothing to end the standoff with Russia over Edward Snowden, stop Iran�s nuclear program, deal with the chaos in Egypt or the ongoing civil war in Syria that is strengthening Tehran�s hand, he didn�t come away empty-handed from his latest trip to the Middle East to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Nobody other than Kerry seriously believes Kerry�s efforts to re-start the peace process will succeed. Both sides are at pains to try to avoid getting the blame for the inevitable failure. Yet Kerry hasn�t persuaded the Palestinians to negotiate, let alone actually end the conflict with Israel and, indeed, may be making things worse by encouraging them to ask for more preconditions that serve as a pretext for staying away from the talks. But his fool�s errand did get the endorsement of the Arab League today.

The statement from the League won�t alter the division among Palestinians between Hamas and Fatah that makes peace impossible. Nor will it prevent Abbas from raising the ante, as he keeps demanding more concessions from Israel in order to sit with them while having no intention of actually negotiating. But it does give Kerry the illusion of momentum that he needs so desperately in order to justify wasting his time on a dead end that offers no chance of a resolution while urgent situations that require his attention are given short shrift.

Though the New York Times trumpeted the Arab League statement as proof that Kerry�s efforts are being rewarded with success, the real news came out of Ramallah where, as Ynet reported, Abbas was doubling down on his insistence on a laundry list of preconditions before he will consider returning to the negotiations that he has been boycotting since the start of the Obama administration. According to Western sources, Kerry�s latest meeting with Abbas to get him to rejoin the talks didn�t get him to budge but it did yield more demands from the Fatah leader.
Kerry is the personification of the phrase 'all hat, no cattle'. He looks the part but is ineffectual and just not that smart.

The IRS scandal - still going strong

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The IRS scandal surfaced over 60 days ago and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. From Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal:
Noonan: A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal
The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office�that had been established�but to the office of the chief counsel.

That is a bombshell�such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing in which some members seemed to have accidentally woken up in the middle of a committee room, some seemed unaware of the implications of what their investigators had uncovered, one pretended that the investigation should end if IRS workers couldn't say the president had personally called and told them to harass his foes, and one seemed to be holding a filibuster on Pakistan.

Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it. Which is why they are so desperate to make the investigation go away. They know, as Republicans do, that the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency.
Much more at the site including this observation:
Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, finally woke the proceedings up with what he called "the evolution of the defense" since the scandal began. First, Ms. Lerner planted a question at a conference. Then she said the Cincinnati office did it�a narrative that was advanced by the president's spokesman, Jay Carney. Then came the suggestion the IRS was too badly managed to pull off a sophisticated conspiracy. Then the charge that liberal groups were targeted too�"we did it against both ends of the political spectrum." When the inspector general of the IRS said no, it was conservative groups that were targeted, he came under attack. Now the defense is that the White House wasn't involved, so case closed.
Time to let some light into this -- the IRS was being used as a tool to persecute those the Obama administration didn't like. Where did this originate and whose fingerprints do we see.

We need a plan!

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It would help if this plan was grounded in reality. From FOX News:
Billions spent in Obama climate plan may be virtually useless, study suggests
As President Obama last month launched a sweeping new national program to combat "climate change," including tens of billions of dollars in likely new subsidies for solar and wind power and bio-energy, a separate, groundbreaking study by the National Research Council has warned that those kinds of subsidies are virtually useless at quelling greenhouse gases.

The study, which looks at the subsidies and other incentives embedded in U.S. federal tax law after the past several years of climate change initiatives, concludes that they have done little or nothing so far to cut U.S. contributions to global carbon emissions, and are unlikely to do much more before 2035, the project's research horizon.
Some more:
After a survey of expert literature on the tax and subsidy topic, coupled with extensive customized computer modeling work, the study declared that "their combined impact is less than 1 percent of total U.S. emissions" over the next 25 years, and they are a lousy bargain to boot: "Very little if any GHG reductions are achieved at substantial cost with these provisions."

So much so, in fact, that the study concluded "current tax expenditures and subsidies are a poor tool for reducing greenhouse gases and achieving climate-change objectives." They "achieve small reductions in GHG emissions and are costly per unit of emissions reduction."

The full cost was something the study was unable to make entirely clear. It estimated that the federal government had spent some $48 billion in just the past two years on "tax expenditures"-meaning subsidies, credits, and other incentives -- related to the energy sector, and also noted that few were specifically enacted to reduce greenhouse gases.
Amazing how a bureaucracy can be so impotent and their only answer is to grow the bureaucracy even larger.
I love steam power -- it fascinates me. Here is the Phillips Brothers Mill -- in operation since the 1890's.
A great story.
I always wondered why the 30 or so Benghazi embassy staff had not come forward with their side of the story. Now we find out - from The Weekly Standard:
Congressman: Benghazi Survivors Forced to Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements
Congressman Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, said today on the House floor that survivors of the Benghazi terror attack have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements:
On Tuesday I raised the question of why none of the Benghazi survivors, whether State Department, CIA, or private security contract employees have testified publicly before Congress," said Wolf.

According to trusted sources that have contacted my office, many if not all of the survivors of the Benghazi attacks along with others at the Department of Defense, the CIA have been asked or directed to sign additional non-disclosure agreements about their involvement in the Benghazi attacks. Some of these new NDAs, as they call them, I have been told were signed as recently as this summer.
Wolf continued: "It is worth noting that the Marine Corps Times yesterday reported that the Marine colonel whose task force was responsible for special operations in northern and western Africa at the time of the attack is still on active duty despite claims that he retired. And therefore could not be forced to testify before Congress.

If these reports are accurate, this would be a stunning revelation to any member of Congress, any member of Congress that finds this out and also more importantly to the American people. It also raises serious concerns about the priority of the administration's efforts to silence those with knowledge of the Benghazi attack in response.
High-level people in this administration are being shielded and the truth needs to come out. Like I said, a whistleblower would be incredible.

Detroit starts to turn around.

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They filed for bankruptcy. This is a very good thing despite what the progressives might say. From The Detroit News:
Detroit files for bankruptcy
The city of Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history Thursday afternoon, culminating a decades-long slide that transformed the nation�s iconic industrial town into a model of urban decline crippled by population loss, a dwindling tax base and financial problems.

The 16-page petition was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit.

Gov. Rick Snyder�s office was making plans this afternoon to hold a Friday morning news conference at the Maccabees Building, 5057 Woodward in Midtown, according to a source. It�s the same location where the governor declared a financial emergency for Detroit on March 1.

Under state law, Snyder is required to approve a Chapter 9 filing. As of Wednesday, Snyder said he had not received any such request from Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Sources close to the governor said the situation is fluid, adding that Snyder intends to study Orr�s recommendations and related documents �for a couple of days� before making his decision.
It will be very tough for the city's retired people -- pensions are on the table for negotiating. What will be good is that this effectively terminates the union contracts and they can now be re-negotiated or non-union labor can be hired. This is what the end-game of socialism look like -- no more money for the entitlements...
Chicago has the most draconian gun restrictions of any city and it has the highest instance of gun violence and murder. The way to fix this? Ratchet the laws even tighter. From Yahoo/Reuters:
Chicago toughens ban on assault weapons amid violence
The Chicago City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to toughen its existing ban on assault weapons by adding more types of guns to the banned list and imposing stiffer fines for violations of the law.

The nation's third-largest city is facing a wave of gang-related gun violence. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police have struggled to reverse the trend that has persisted even after they put more police on patrol in some neighborhoods.
A bit more:
Chicago's ban applies to a specific list of weapons with certain features. They include: any semiautomatic rifle or handgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine and has at least one military feature; any shotgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine, has at least one military feature, or has a fixed capacity of more than five rounds; and any weapon with a fixed magazine of more than 15 rounds.

Among the features defined as "military" are telescoping stocks, pistol grips, grenade launchers and barrel shrouds, according to the mayor's office.
This does nothing but highlight the cluelessness of the Chicago City Council -- the weapons being used for the murders are cheap handguns, not rifles or shotguns. There would be a lot less violence if the thugs knew that there was a good chance that their target might shoot back...

Our Virtual President

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I have long been a fan of Bill Whittle. His writing and videos are spot on. He has a new project -- The Virtual President Here he is on Entitlements (embedding not allowed)
Developed during WWII, LOng RAnge Navigation has been considered to be 'obsolete'. There have been a few developments (LORAN-C is the latest) but it was shut down on 2010. I subscribe to an email list for precise timekeeping and members noted that supposedly closed stations have recently begun transmitting off and on. And now this -- from Engineering and Technology Magazine:
eLoran stations to be rolled out across UK
A navigation system resilient to GPS jamming will be installed along the south and east coast of the UK, it was announced today.

Following approval by the Department for Transport, seven differential eLoran stations will be installed to provide alternative position, navigation and timing (PNT) information to ensure that ships equipped with eLoran receivers can navigate safely in the event of GPS failure in one of the busiest shipping regions in the world.

The GPS signals most ships rely on are vulnerable to both deliberate and accidental jamming, which is causing increasing concern because of the wide availability of GPS jammers online for as little as �30 that are capable of causing complete outages across all receivers currently on the market.

The rollout, led by the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) of the UK and Ireland, is the first in the world to deploy this technology for shipping companies operating both passenger and cargo services.
The article mentions that they are looking at coverage for all ports worldwide by 2019. There is a lot that can be done by just piloting -- visual navigation. Still, ships trying to enter a large port at night require active navigation like GPS -- if GPS is jammed suddenly, chaos could result. This is a working alternative.
I was in Home Depot getting some stuff to diagnose and fix the well pump and ran into a local friend of mine who is a builder. I told him my wail of toe and he gave me the name of a well guy. Called Tom and he is heading over with his truck to re-do the whole system. Be here in an hour. To make matters more absurd, I tried the sink and the water is running just fine now -- a bit of sediment and some bubbles but that is just a matter of flushing the pipes. Seriously WTF?

Plumbing - day eight

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At Lulu's house heading out soon. Picking up a few things I need as well as a new water pump. Swap out the old one and see if that works. Life seems to run along just fine and then, a whole bunch of roadblocks appear for a few weeks. Odd how crap piles on like that. Spent some time last evening getting rid of a nasty piece of malware that this laptop picked up. More posting later this evening...
Eric Holder will go down in history as one of the worst Attorney's General in the history of the United States. From Jason Howerton writing at The Blaze:
DOJ Sets Up Public Email Address to Take in Tips as It �Aggressively� Pursues Zimmerman Civil Rights Investigation
The U.S Department of Justice is asking civil rights groups and community leaders to �actively refer anyone who [has] any information� that might help bring federal criminal charges against George Zimmerman, who was recently acquitted by a jury in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The DOJ has reportedly set up a public email address to take in tips on its civil rights investigation. The department is hoping to get tips from across the nation as well as locally in Sanford, Fla.

That email address, which is now �in operation,� is Sanford.florida@usdoj.gov.

It is unclear why, if officials saw enough reason to open an investigation in the first place, the DOJ now needs tips to help with its probe into Zimmerman.
If someone had access to a botnet, this would be a wonderful civic duty -- spamming the hell out of that email address. Flood them with pron.

Keep your eye on the ball

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Very clever technology -- image processing recognizes the target and then mirrors deflect to keep target at the center of the video frame.
They are using an optical relay to shift the pupil of the lens so that relatively small moving mirrors can work with wide angle lenses without vignetting. Very clever hack made entirely with C.O.T.S. equipment. C.O.T.S. = Commercial, Off The Shelf -- the best way to do something cheaply

Arrrrrgggghhhhhhh!!!

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Well that was nice while it lasted. Lulu was watering the garden and I was filling the hot water tank. Went to the sink, turned on the water and nothing. Checked out in the pumphouse and everything checks OK - electricity? Check. Pressure Switch? Check. Sound of pump running? BZZT! Nothing. We are heading into the lake house tonight and back out tomorrow to pull the pump. This is getting very very boring. We are having a plumber working at the store tomorrow -- I'll check with them for a bid.

We have water!!!

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Finally got the pump sited and running. Curtis helped me a lot on the project. Running water is very nice. Waiting for the water heater to fill and heat up and then a nice long shower...

Yikes - North Korea

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From our local fishwrap:
Panama finds suspected weapons on N. Korean ship
Panama's president said the country has seized a North Korean-flagged ship carrying what appeared to be ballistic missiles and other arms that had set sail from Cuba on its way to the Pacific.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli told RPC radio on Monday that the ship had been headed for North Korea. There were no immediate details on the quantity of arms aboard.

Martinelli said the undeclared military cargo appeared to include missiles and non-conventional arms and the ship was violating United Nations resolutions against arms trafficking.

Earlier, the president said on his Twitter account that the arms were "hidden in containers underneath the cargo of sugar."
The ship had quite the history:
Hugh Griffiths, an arms trafficking expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said the seized ship is called Chong Chon Gang and has been on the institute's suspect list for some time.

He said the ship had been caught before for trafficking narcotics and small arms ammunition. It was stopped in 2010 in the Ukraine and was attacked by pirates 400 miles off the coast of Somalia in 2009.

Griffiths' institute has also been interested in the ship because of a stop it made in 2009 in Tartus � a Syrian port city hosting a Russian naval base.
And of course, the Captain and crew knew nothing:
Martinelli told RPC the 35 North Koreans on the boat resisted police efforts to take the ship to the Caribbean port of Manzanillo. The crew was later taken into custody.

Martinelli said the captain had a heart attack and also tried to commit suicide during the operation.
And some people want to ease the restrictions against Cuba. I would love to visit there but not until they get a better government. I feel sorry for the citizens -- an island paradise but a third-world government.

Plumbing - day seven

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Today should be the day. Got everything staged and ready. Waiting for Lulu and Curtis. The garden really needs some water...
I remember when commercial computer networking first got started. There were a lot of systems based on various topologies of coaxial cable and then this new critter came into being -- 10BaseT. Ethernet over twisted pair. Able to support 10Mbits/second. Not quite as fast as Ethernet over Coaxial Cable but much easier to configure and you could make your own cables in a few minutes with a crimping tool. The parts were cheap too. It got bumped up to 100BaseT (100Mbits/second) and then Gigabit (or 1000BaseT). They keep coming up with new technologies to drive the existing infrastructure. From BusinessWire:
InfoComm 2013: HDBaseT Alliance Membership Tops 60 as HDBaseT Gains Adoption Worldwide
The HDBaseT Alliance (Booth #2889) at InfoComm 2013 next month will announce it has doubled in size in less than a year to more than 60 member companies. The HDBaseT Alliance InfoComm exhibit will feature dozens of new HDBaseT-enabled components across new categories including new projectors from Hitachi and NEC, displays from Panasonic and AV receivers from Pioneer.

The HDBaseT technology, powered by Valens chipset, enables all-in-one connectivity between HD video sources and remote displays through a single 100m/328ft CAT5e/6 cable, delivering uncompressed high definition 4k video, audio, Internet, control signals and up to 100 watts of power.
Ho Li Crap -- from 10Mbits/second up to full 4K HDTV plus Audio, broadband, and signaling. Talk about a growth of technology...
Not good news actually -- from the London Daily Mail:
The dirty secret of Britain's power madness: Polluting diesel generators built in secret by foreign companies to kick in when there's no wind for turbines - and other insane but true eco-scandals
Thousands of dirty diesel generators are being secretly prepared all over Britain to provide emergency back-up to prevent the National Grid collapsing when wind power fails.

And under the hugely costly scheme, the National Grid is set to pay up to 12 times the normal wholesale market rate for the electricity they generate.

One of the main beneficiaries of the stopgap plan is the Government itself, which stands to make hundreds of millions of pounds by leasing out the capacity of the generators in public-sector property including NHS hospitals, prisons, military bases, police and fire headquarters, schools and council offices.

But the losers will be consumers who can expect yet further hikes in their electricity bills in the name of �combating climate change�.
It is not about climate change -- it is about money. The politicians get contributions from companies who want to bid on these monstrous projects. Give the politician enough money and the next 2,000 page bill will contain a line or two about MegaCorp being the preferred supplier for the Gargantuan park Wind Development and that is how it is done. MegaCorp then sells overpriced crap to the government, gets amazing tax breaks, extends the contract for several years and budget overruns at the cost of a few hundred thousand dollars into the pockets of a few Senators. The only losers are We the People whose tax dollars go to fund unwanted crap like this. A lot more at the site and some fun bits in the 160+ comments...

Our quiet Sun - another report

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I posted yesterday about a new book that posits that the Sun is the main driver for our climate and that we may be headed for an extended period of cooling. Now this -- from Watts Up With That:
Newsbytes: Sun�s Bizarre Activity May Trigger Another Little Ice Age (Or Not)
From the GWPF and Dr. Benny Peiser

�Weakest Solar Cycle In Almost 200 Years�
The sun is acting bizarrely and scientists have no idea why. Solar activity is in gradual decline, a change from the norm which in the past triggered a 300-year-long mini ice age. We are supposed to be at a peak of activity, at solar maximum. The current situation, however, is outside the norm and the number of sunspots seems in steady decline. The sun was undergoing �bizarre behaviour� said Dr Craig DeForest of the society. �It is the smallest solar maximum we have seen in 100 years,� said Dr David Hathaway of Nasa. �Dick Ahlstrom, The Irish Times, 12 July 2013

The fall-off in sunspot activity still has the potential to affect our weather for the worse, Dr Elliott said. �It all points to perhaps another little ice age,� he said. �It seems likely we are going to enter a period of very low solar activity and could mean we are in for very cold winters.� And while the researchers in the US said the data showed a decline in activity, they had no way to predict what that might mean for the future.
More at the site -- could be a bumpy ride out there...

Plumbing - day six

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On Monday, I do the buying run for the store so I was busy all day -- just got home about 45 minutes ago. The pump is still sitting a couple feet above the well water so will start working on it tomorrow -- Lulu and Curtis are coming over tomorrow morning around 11AM so he will be here to help pull the pump, measure the water levels and install the pump and get it running properly. Good to have a couple extra hands. Had to run up to Lynden to get parts for my riding mower. Dinner will be the rest of last night's Costco chicken and some mac salad. Working outside while I still have light -- I picked up a cheap water pump at Harbour Freight to water the garden from the stream. Keep this for a backup.

Now this will be an interesting read

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From Pierre Gosselin writing at Anthony's:
Highly Controversial German Climate Book To Appear Worldwide In English September 1st
Amazon is now showing that Fritz Vahrenholt�s and Sebastian L�ning�s controversial book Die kalte Sonne (The cold sun), released in German last year, is now coming out worldwide in English.

The title of the English version: The Neglected Sun, and the publisher is Stacey International in London.

Their book created quite a stir in Europe, especially in Germany. The warmist establishment pretty much had seizures over it.

Fritz Vahrenholt, chemistry professor, is also the author of the 1986 book �Seveso ist �berall� (Seveso is everywhere), a book on the deadly risks of chemical pollution. That book made him one of the fathers of Germany�s modern environmental movement. Until just a couple of years ago Vahrenholt was a big believer in anthropogenic global warming, and accepted the IPCC gloomy reports as the final word on the subject � until one day he began taking a closer look at the real data. He couldn�t believe some of the shenanigans going on in the science, and so together with geologist Dr. Sebastian L�ning, he co-authored Die kalte Sonne.

Despite a massive orchestrated campaign by environmental activists against Die kalte Sonne, it soared to No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list. That success has obviously served as the springboard to the English edition. Now it�s going to be hitting bookshelves worldwide.

According to Amazon, the book will be available on September 1 and it can already be pre-ordered. Interestingly its release is right before the IPCC�s 5th assessment report. Talk about timing. The Neglected Sun can be pre-ordered at any bookshop.
Got a copy on order. I have always held that our Sun is the key driver in global climate and our Sun is well known as a variable star. Something interesting is that sunspots are an accurate proxy for solar emissions so even though thermometers are still a recent invention (300 years for anything accurate and reproducible), people have been observing sunspots for thousands of years -- there is a major correlation between warming and cooling and sunspot numbers. Our Sun is currently running a lot cooler than what has been recently 'normal' -- there is an indication that we could be headed into another minima. Time to stop flogging the political dogma and get real...

Plumbing - day five

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Day five without water. I was all set to drop the new pump, did so, turned it on and heard a very loud pump whine. It is sitting above the level of water in the well... Rats! When I did the pump a bit over a year ago, I measured the well casing -- dropped a weight down to the bottom and then dropped a weighted float to the top of the water level. About sixty feet of water depth. I sited the pump at thirty feet off the floor of the casing -- the higher you go, the fewer problems with sediment and contaminants. That was the spring water level and this is mid summer. When I had done the old pump, I used a couple feet of black iron pipe at the top and that was showing some crud. I didn't use that this time -- just brass to plastic with stainless fittings. I also had to cut a few feet off the hose to get around where the wiring had failed. The new pump is sitting just above the water level about ten feet higher than where the old pump was. The new pump will be fifteen feet off the floor. I am headed into town tomorrow to do the store buying run and will pick up some more hose -- Lulu and her son are coming out Tuesday and he and I will drop the pump for it's final time. Whenever I work on something, I like to build it out of P. F. Kryptonite so this time, the pump should last for a while. It is a matter of concern that the new pump (about $500) has a one year 'limited' warranty. For $500, they should stand behind it for five or ten years at least. Whatever happened to engineering and craftsmanship...
Angela Corey was appointed special prosecutor to "go after" George Zimmerman. She is either malignant or stupid -- probably a bit of both. From Breitbart:
Zimmerman Prosecutor Angela Corey Fires Whistleblower
Angela Corey, the special prosecutor appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to investigate the death of Trayvon Martin, and who charged George Zimmerman (now acquitted) with second-degree murder, fired a whistleblower Friday who revealed that prosecutors had not turned over exculpatory evidence to the defense, the Florida Times-Union reported.

Ben Kruidbos, the information technology director in Corey's office, had testified in a pre-trial hearing about a report he had created regarding text messages and images retrieved from Martin's cellphone. Defense lawyers never received the report from the prosecution, as is required by law.

A hand-delivered letter informing him of his dismissal indicated that he "can never again be trusted to step foot in this office," and cited a variety of reasons for his firing, unrelated to the trial.

Corey's conduct had been questioned from the start, when she made the dramatic announcement that her office would be charging Zimmerman with murder. The affidavit that she filed with the court had omitted exculpatory evidence of Zimmerman's injuries, prompting Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz to accuse her of a "grave ethical violation," adding that her conduct was "not only immoral, but stupid."

Subsequently, Dershowitz said, Corey had threatened to sue Harvard for Dershowitz's remarks.

Corey was also criticized, particularly as the weakness of the prosecution's became apparent, for seeking a conviction on second-degree murder, rather than a lesser charge such as manslaughter.
I thought that whistleblowers had some measure of protection? Discovery is supposed to be complete and total.
From CNN:
George Zimmerman found not guilty of murder in Trayvon Martin's death
Nearly a year and a half after Trayvon Martin was shot dead in a central Florida neighborhood, a jury found the man who killed him -- George Zimmerman, who argued that he fired in self defense -- not guilty.

The fact that Zimmerman fired the bullet that killed Martin was never in question, but the verdict means the six-person jury had reasonable doubt that the shooting amounted to a criminal act.
And of course, the rent-seeking race warlords are out in force drumming up the animal spirits:
The response from NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous struck a far different tone.

"We are outraged and heartbroken over today's verdict," Jealous said in a statement, vowing to pursue "civil rights charges" in the case. "We stand with Trayvon's family, and we are called to act."
Benjamin is all about promoting his position and nothing else. The NAACP's relevance ended around the 1960's. Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy writ large.
Was looking over the old pump and found why it stopped working. This is the splice where the electrical cable meets the leads coming from the pump body. The pump is designed to be immersed in water so these splices need to be waterproof. I used the specified kit -- there were some crimping fasteners and some heat-shrink tubing. Looks like the heat-shrink tubing only lasted a year and then let water into the connections. The crimping fasteners are nowhere to be found. Must have been quite the arc when it finally let loose...
well_pump_connection.jpg

Plumbing - day four

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Light at the end of the tunnel Should have the pump down the well in a few hours -- breaking for lunch. Next time, I think I will hire this out...

RIP - Dr. Amar Gopal Bose

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I disagree with his approach to audio but the guy was a genius and a really good person. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (he taught there) has a good obituary:
Amar Bose �51, SM �52, ScD �56, Bose Corporation�s founder, has died at 83
Amar Bose �51, SM �52, ScD �56, a former member of the MIT faculty and the founder of Bose Corporation, has died. He was 83.

Dr. Bose received his bachelor�s degree, master�s degree and doctorate from MIT, all in electrical engineering. He was asked to join the faculty in 1956, and he accepted with the intention of teaching for no more than two years. He continued as a member of the MIT faculty until 2001.

During his long tenure at MIT, Dr. Bose made his mark both in research and in teaching. In 1956, he started a research program in physical acoustics and psychoacoustics: This led to his development of many patents in acoustics, electronics, nonlinear systems and communication theory.

Throughout his career, he was cited for excellent teaching. In a 1969 letter to the faculty, then-dean of the School of Engineering R. L. Bisplinghoff wrote, �Dr. Bose is known and respected as one of M.I.T.�s great teachers and for his imaginative and forceful research in the areas of acoustics, loudspeaker design, two-state amplifier-modulators, and nonlinear systems.�
Dr. Bose's speakers were designed around using the cheapest possible drivers (with correspondingly non-linear frequency responses) and then using active equalization to correct for said poor frequency response. The problem with this is that this trades the poor frequency response (now corrected) into a poor phase response which smears the stereo image. His first designs incorporated the idea of "Direct Reflecting" which had speakers pointing every which-way. This so muddled the stereo image that this became a non-issue. His large scale acoustic work was stellar and he developed the first true noise-canceling headphones which were amazing (and carried a $999 price tag back in the 1970's). The stuff that Bose Corporation comes out with these days is overpriced for what it does. More money spent on advertising than on research.

Calling it quits for the day

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Still no water -- should be online tomorrow but I have been at it for about six hours today and am tired. Lulu is hanging out at her house in Bellingham -- coming back to the farm tomorrow. Fix dinner, surf for a bit and an early bedtime.
Mmmmmm no... From CNN:
Losers in the unions vs. Wal-Mart game: D.C.'s poor
Tug on the stem of any anti-corporate protest these days, and you're likely to find the same root -- unions more attuned to their own self-interest than the futures of low-income workers.

Just take a look at what happened to Wal-Mart Stores, which had the audacity to make plans to bring six stores and 1,800 jobs to Washington, D.C. -- catering to parts of the city where unemployment rates are among the highest in the nation. After the city council voted to single out the giant retailer with a requirement to pay workers 50% above minimum wage, Wal-Mart iced at least part--and possibly all--of those plans.
A bit more -- unions at fault:
But the No. 1 company on the Fortune 500 list, no stranger to setting up shop in union-strangleholds, plowed on. Wal-Mart regional general manager Alex Barron noted in the Washington Post this week that store officials engaged "in an open dialogue with residents, stakeholders, critics, and elected officials" and became sufficiently confident of local support that plans were made to increase the investment from four to six stores and 1,200 to 1,800 jobs.

The company's charitable foundation doled out $3.8 million last year to poverty-fighting organizations like D.C. Central Kitchen and Capitol Area Food Bank.

Local officials, including the mayor, quickly recognized the importance not only of jobs, but of providing low-cost groceries, clothes, and other consumer products to residents who must take public transportation for miles to find retail outlets.

Then, at the 11th hour, with two stores slated to open this fall, organized labor struck. The D.C. council took up union-backed legislation, called the Large Retailer Accountability Act, that would force giant box stores -- i.e. Wal-Mart -- to pay workers $12.50 an hour instead of the $8.25 minimum wage. (The measure applies to retailers over 75,000 square feet and with a parent company gross revenues of more than $1 billion. Existing stores are exempt.)
It is never about the poor or unemployed, it is about preserving the organizations and bureaucracies. The article notes that the two Wards where Wal-Mart was planning to build suffer 15% and 23% unemployment.

Just brilliant

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I have been keeping some hummingbird feeders out and the response has been amazing. Bought a 50 pound bag of cane sugar from Costco at the beginning of the season and hit a landmark today. I am making another gallon of nectar and used the last of the 50 pound bag. I don't use sugar for culinary purposes -- prefer brown sugar -- so all of the 50 pounds was for the hummingbirds. Going through about 2/3 gallon per day.

Plumbing - day three

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Working on the well -- getting the new tank roughed in. Not having running water is not a deal-breaker but it sure sucks...

Can't stand the heat?

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Get out of the kitchen. Big Sis bails. From the Wall Street Journal:
Napolitano to Step Down as Homeland Security Chief
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, one of the president's original cabinet appointees, announced her resignation Friday morning, having been nominated to serve as president of the University of California system.
I guess that the Immigration and Amnesty issues are a little too hot for her to handle. I feel sorry for the University -- she was at her level of incompetence (Peter Principle) several careers ago. Not a good governor, bad choice for H.S. I wonder what is about to become public news...

Two amazing firearm builds

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Boris from the People's Republic of Massachusetts has done two wonderful gun builds. The AK-47 was posted in November of 2012. He just posted his Glock build on July 4th of this year. The AK-47 had its receiver made from an old shovel. The Glock is made from sheet metal. Some really amazing work. Check out:
DIY: Shovel AK and

Das Eiserne Glock - The Iron Glock
Fun reading and wonderful low-tech craftsmanship... A big tip 'o the hat to Firehand for the link.

Washington for sale

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From the UK Guardian:
US diplomats cry foul as Obama donors take over top embassy jobs
Barack Obama has rewarded some of his most active campaign donors with plum jobs in foreign embassies, with the average amount raised by recent or imminent appointees soaring to $1.8m per post, according to a Guardian analysis.

The practice is hardly a new feature of US politics, but career diplomats in Washington are increasingly alarmed at how it has grown. One former ambassador described it as the selling of public office.

On Tuesday, Obama's chief money-raiser Matthew Barzun became the latest major donor to be nominated as an ambassador, when the White House put him forward as the next representative to the Court of St James's, a sought-after posting whose plush residence comes with a garden second only in size to that of Buckingham Palace.

As campaign finance chairman, Barzun helped raise $700m to fund President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. More than $2.3m of this was raised personally by Barzun, pictured, according to party records leaked to the New York Times, even though he had only just finished a posting as ambassador to Sweden after contributing to Obama's first campaign.
These are not figurehead posts -- the Ambassadors are supposed to be diplomats and their job is to project US interests in that Country. The post is a responsibility and not a reward.

Security at the Kremlin

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It seems that the Russian government is looking to prevent a Snowden-style leak. From the UK Telegraph:
Kremlin returns to typewriters to avoid computer leaks
A source at Russia's Federal Guard Service (FSO), which is in charge of safeguarding Kremlin communications and protecting President Vladimir Putin, claimed that the return to typewriters has been prompted by the publication of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website, as well as Edward Snowden, the fugitive US intelligence contractor.

The FSO is looking to spend 486,000 roubles � around �10,000 � on a number of electric typewriters, according to the site of state procurement agency, zakupki.gov.ru. The notice included ribbons for German-made Triumph Adlew TWEN 180 typewriters, although it was not clear if the typewriters themselves were this kind.
Typewriters still have their place -- I own a couple, a cheap Brother, two nice IBM Selectrics and a couple of old manual writers. Learned to type on a Selectric and love it.

Microsoft in the news

Not in a good sense -- from the UK Guardian:

Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages
Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.

The documents show that:
  • Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;
  • The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;
  • The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;
  • Microsoft also worked with the FBI's Data Intercept Unit to "understand" potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;
  • In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;
  • Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".

Backpedaling commences in 3... 2... 1...

Since Prism's existence became public, Microsoft and the other companies listed on the NSA documents as providers have denied all knowledge of the program and insisted that the intelligence agencies do not have back doors into their systems.

Microsoft's latest marketing campaign, launched in April, emphasizes its commitment to privacy with the slogan: "Your privacy is our priority."

Similarly, Skype's privacy policy states: "Skype is committed to respecting your privacy and the confidentiality of your personal data, traffic data and communications content."

But internal NSA newsletters, marked top secret, suggest the co-operation between the intelligence community and the companies is deep and ongoing.

This is going to drive a bunch of people towards FOSS.

Anyone want to check out PGP

From Reuters:
Exclusive: Criminal charges against Solyndra founder are unlikely - sources
The founder of bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra will likely avoid criminal charges even if charges are brought against other former executives of the company, according to several people familiar with the investigation.

Christian Gronet founded the company in 2005 and was its chief executive until 2010.

Solyndra filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011 after receiving $528 million in federal loans. Its demise triggered a criminal probe into what Solyndra told federal authorities during the loan application process, along with intense criticism from Republican lawmakers who opposed the Obama Administration's efforts to support the green energy sector.
Sure, the underlings will serve time but the higher-ups, the people who funneled money to Obama's campaign? They walk free. Our nation is really starting to resemble 1950's East Germany...

Plumbing - day two

Still no DiHydrogen Monoxide - tomorrow for sure.

There is a pressure tank that smooths out the water flow and it was starting to rust. Another trip into town and got a nice big new one ready to go in tomorrow.

Using the down-time to fix a couple of faucets that were drippy -- new washers and honing the valve seats.

Plumbing...

I do not like plumbing...

About two hours into pulling the old pump and fixing the water system.

Great image from Bruce Sterling

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dont_spy_on_me.jpg
From his Flickr page
Yikes -- I went one size up (one horsepower instead of 3/4 horsepower) so hopefully it will last a bit longer. I will be following up on the old pump because it simply should not have had that short a life. The original system was installed back in 1993 so we are seeing a marked decrease in lifespan. The pump I bought just over a year ago only cost about $300 and change. Stiff increase in price -- the 3/4 horsepower pumps today cost $100 more -- $400 and change. I rebuilt everything last time around so it should be really straightforward to pop the well casing, use the tractor to haul the pump and splice on the new unit. Had a bite to eat in town and sitting down to surf for a bit -- early morning tomorrow...

Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla

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A personal hero of mine. He would have been 157 years old today.
And there is a documentary coming out about his life that looks really interesting. Fragments from Olympus
From National Review:
Terry McAuliffe and the Rise of the House of Ugland
Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic fundraiser-turned-gubernatorial-candidate, is closely linked to a company headquartered in a Cayman Islands building long derided as a tax shelter by President Barack Obama and other prominent Democrats.

The company, Leaf Clean Energy, trades on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol LEAF and describes itself as �a renewable energy and sustainable technology investment firm.� In its most recent report to investors, the company listed as its official address a post-office box in Ugland House, a Grand Cayman office building that serves as the nominal headquarters for nearly 19,000 companies. Ugland House has attracted considerable criticism as a tax shelter � so much so that its official website is largely devoted to defending the practice of incorporating on its premises. Among its critics is President Obama, who lambasted the building in a May 2009 speech on tax reform:
On the campaign, I used to talk about the outrage of a building in the Cayman Islands that had over 12,000 business � businesses claim this building as their headquarters. And I�ve said before, either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam in the world.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, McAuliffe himself suggested that GOP nominee Mitt Romney�s use of tax shelters created the impression if not the reality of impropriety. In a January 2012 symposium on the presidential race, McAuliffe called on Romney to release his tax returns:
I think there�s something to be said for getting � it�s now part of the narrative, and the biggest problem for Governor Romney is Republican leaders are coming out every day . . . So he�s got to get it so that his own party is now saying there must be a problem. There aren�t � nobody knows anything; people are just speculating. I mean, the guesstimate would be, I mean, you know, he�s been in business, and at the time tax shelters were legal, and maybe there�s some things in there where he didn�t pay taxes. He was legally entitled not to do it, but by not putting it out there, you�re letting everybody�s imagination run wild. His biggest problem are Republican governors now saying, release the documents. I would lance it.
Nobody is doing anything illegal here -- having investments in overseas companies is still perfectly legal but the Democrats are painting it with a tar brush all the while doing the same thing themselves. The article goes on to say how McAuliffe is using this corporation to set up subsidized green energy plants in the US -- our tax dollars are going into his green energy scam. He is getting wealthy off our work.

Happy happy happy

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Woke up this morning, went into the shower and... no water... I had the same problem a little more than a year ago and replaced the pump. I just spent a couple hours replacing everything else (pressure switch, circuit breaker) and it looks like a bad pump again. Going to take a shower at the store and head into town to get another pump. Fortunately, everything else is fine -- I replaced all of the weak spots the last time this happened so it should be an easy haul-out and splice. Lulu and Curtis are heading into town for a few days until I get things fixed. She had been watering the garden this morning and had no problem with the water. Something just went pop! and that was that... God's way of making sure I'm not tooooo happy with the new broadband -- gotta keep things leveled...

Rafael Cruz is on fire

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About the best 11 minutes you can spend watching a video:
Rafael Cruz? He is the Cuban-born father of Senator Ted Cruz. Not a TelePrompTer in sight. He grew up under Castro and the similarities between Castro's rule and Obama's are too close for comfort.

And now it's fifty

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From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Legislature rejects Quinn�s concealed-carry rewrite
Illinois joined 49 other states Tuesday by approving legislation allowing gun owners to carry their weapons in public places, overriding Gov. Pat Quinn and dealing the governor a resounding defeat.

The Senate put the finishing touches on the override push, voting 41-17 to reject a series of changes Quinn had recommended to the concealed-carry legislation that passed in May. The Senate�s action followed a 77-31 vote by the House earlier Tuesday.

�It�s gonna be a big day for the state of Illinois,� said state Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton), the bill�s chief Senate sponsor.

Both the House and Senate roll calls easily exceeded the 71- and 36-vote thresholds needed in each respective chamber to override Quinn on the legislation, which takes effect immediately.
A good move -- Chicago has some of the most draconian gun laws and it has the highest instance of gun violence. From the Christian Science Monitor:
Chicago erupts in gun violence: 74 people shot, 12 killed over July 4 weekend
Chicago reached a tragic milestone this past holiday weekend, surpassing 200 homicides for the year, with 74 people shot between Wednesday afternoon and Sunday night.

Two of the victims were young boys, aged 5 and 7, according to the Chicago Police Department. Chicago Tribune data shows they were among the 12 people killed by gun violence over the four-day period.

From FOX News:

House Republicans push to slash IRS budget by 24 percent, cite abuses and sequestration
House Republicans want the IRS to pay for targeting political groups and are pushing legislation that would cut the tax collecting agency�s budget by $3 billion -- nearly a quarter of what it received last fiscal year.

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to start "marking up" the spending bill Wednesday.

While it's unlikely that such a severe cut will pass both congressional chambers, it does give lawmakers another opportunity to verbally punish the agency for unfairly scrutinizing conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

The bill would place additional restrictions on spending at the IRS and prohibit employees from implementing the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act - commonly referred to as ObamaCare. It also bans conferences, the production of videos and curbs what lawmakers see as a number of abuses at the IRS.

Heh -- make them fight for every penny in allocations. Now if they would only take on the EPA we would be on track for some good change...

From McClatchy News Service:
Linchpin for Obama�s plan to predict future leakers unproven, isn�t likely to work, experts say
In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for �high-risk persons or behaviors� among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.

Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing �indicators of insider threat behavior� are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when �suspicious user behavior� is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to �insider threat personnel.�

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors � like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel � of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do �harm to the United States.� Managers of special insider threat offices will have �regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access� to employees� personnel, payroll, disciplinary and �personal contact� files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.
A lot more at the site -- we are turning into a police state. It's like 1950's East Germany all over again. If all that Obama wanted to do was stop the whistle-blowers, all that he would have to do is stop doing illegal things...

Wooooo Hoooooo!!!

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Blinkey lights -- wonderful wonderful blinkey lights. The telephone tech just left the house and now, after ten years of dial-up, several satellite systems and very marginal 3G service, I am now using a bonded-pair DSL service.
8.6 Mbps download
1.0 Mbps upload
Turns out that I am the first person in our community to get connected -- I heard about the availability of the program and started calling. The squeaky wheel got the grease... UPDATE: Not the first person to get it, the first person that this particular installer wired up.

Word!

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I have a real problem with the entitlement mindset that is metastasizing in our Nation. Niki calls it as she sees it and she knows from experience. From The Liberty Zone:
No, I Have No Sympathy
I�m often accused of being heartless when I read media stories meant to tug at the heartstrings � stories about the nation�s poor, about hungry children, about stinking, miserable poverty that are meant to make me feel better about government spending yet more of my hard-earned tax dollars ostensibly to �help the poor.�

Why?

Because I have no sympathy. None. Sure, there are real stories of hardship out there, but frankly, I�ve been there and done that, so while I can empathize, what I usually see in these stories is parental FAIL, government FAIL and, to an extent, society FAIL. But I don�t see society FAIL in our failure to spend more money to provide more food for the destitute. I see society FAIL in preventing generational dependence on handouts, rather than fostering self-reliance and ingenuity.

When I first came to this country with my parents, we were destitute in a very real sense of the word. We had a couple of suitcases, $300 in cash, and a $3000 debt we owed various organizations that helped us escape the Soviet Union. For the first few months, we lived in a one-bedroom apartment with my aunt and grandfather. My parents and I used the living room for a bedroom for the three of us. My aunt and grandpa slept in the �bedroom.� There was one bathroom for the five of us. I remember being so thrilled that it actually had toilet paper, because back in the USSR we used old newspaper to wipe. Toilet paper was cool!

Those first few weeks, I joined my grandfather on his excursions through Brooklyn, NY. He would walk the streets and look through people�s garbage to see if there was anything he could pick up. You�d be surprised what people threw out! I got toys, some books that helped me learn English and even some clothes!

Yeah� from other people�s trash.
Niki then segues into a story that beggars belief. Read the whole thing and you will see why she has no sympathy and why I agree with her -- entitlement is cheap candy. It makes people feel warm and fuzzy for a little while but it is ultimately toxic to everyone it touches.

CO2 and Ocean Acidification

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Going to require some high-school chemistry but it is an excellent read and completely debunks the Ocean Acidification scam that the global warming people are trying to bring forward now that their precious warming has been dead in the water for the last seventeen years. From Steve Burnett writing at Watts Up With That:
Ocean acidi what?
I have followed Wattsupwiththat for a long time, only posting occasionally if I feel an article or presentation is biased, or if there seems to be some sort of data misrepresentation. I choose to follow watts simply because there is less bias and far more numerical analysis of papers than most other climate news sources. I would certainly consider myself a climate sceptic, but my scepticism is part of everyday analysis for me, I simply don�t believe someone unless they show me the evidence.

It is evidence that is lacking for me on the warmist side of the argument; we simply don�t have a temperature record which is accurate, or long enough to infer some sort of anthropogenic effect. Proxies offer a decent long term view but are poor analogs for climatological variations in the past 200 years or so. Anyone who has worked with computer models should know, they are more likely to display what you want them to display and should always be taken with a grain of salt. Luckily I don�t have to make those arguments; there are plenty of other commentators with better credentials to make those arguments for me. I am but a lowly chemical engineering graduate, who has found neither a job nor academic position in this economy.

Within the past few weeks, a post went up which seemed more interested in ridiculing the author than refuting the claims. I was shocked, and I waited, at first it was a few days, then I let a week pass. All of those people who were more credentialed than I were silent. Certainly there was a comment on Henry�s law but nothing going into the necessary depth for refutation of the claims for doom surrounding ocean acidification. Unfortunately it�s a refutation that we need. Ocean acidification is the carbon controllers pinch hitter, the ace up their sleeve, or other analogous win card.

It�s easy to refute global warming and associated doom based on the contradictory evidence. In the case of ocean acidification its associated doom mechanism is much more difficult. To tackle ocean acidification you need to understand chemistry; pH, alkalinity, buffers, strong vs. weak acids. But you also need to grasp the math; Henry�s law, pH. and equilibrium constants. That�s why most of the time ocean acidification comes up as the last line of defense for carbon controllers, you might not understand it, but neither do they.

Before I begin I would like to acknowledge a couple of points:
Very well presented. Again, some high-school chemistry is needed to follow the formulae but Steve writes well and you can get the gist without having to slog through the math. Basic line -- there is no Ocean Acidification. Never was, never will be. Some problems in fresh water but not with salt.

Some interesting poll numbers

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From Gallup:
TV Is Americans' Main Source of News
Television is the main place Americans say they turn to for news about current events (55%), leading the Internet, at 21%. Nine percent say newspapers or other print publications are their main news source, followed by radio, at 6%..
Interesting that FOX News leads at 8% with CNN at 7% -- there is a good breakdown for demographics and political leanings.

Marketing

Clever idea -- for humans anyway. Goes to show that there is a market for everything. From Variety:
Get Off the Couch! TV Channel for Dogs Coming to DirecTV
Release the hounds: DogTV -- touted as the first TV network aimed at man's best friend -- is a real 24-hour channel that will be unleashed on DirecTV starting Aug. 1.

For the first two weeks of August, DogTV will be available for free to any DirecTV subscriber. Pooch owners who register to subscribe before Aug. 10 will receive 30 days free through mid-September, after which the channel will be $4.99 per month. In addition, those signing up for the early-dog special will receive a PetHub dog ID tag and $10 coupon codes for PetBest.com and Dog Is Good.

According to PTV Media, the company behind DogTV, it spent more than four years developing and testing a 24-hour TV channel aimed at pups of all breeds.
I'll have to keep an eye out for this -- see if our critters notice anything different. Next, they will be wanting their own flat-screen down at their level...

Another interesting number

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From the Washington Examiner:
Recovery woes: America's second-largest employer is a temp agency
Behind Wal-Mart, the second-largest employer in America is Kelly Services, a temporary work provider.

Friday's disappointing jobs report showed that part-time jobs are at an all-time high, with 28 million Americans now working part-time. The report also showed another disturbing fact: There are now a record number of Americans with temporary jobs.

Approximately 2.7 million, in fact. And the trend has been growing.
Chalk this up to Obamacare -- businesses with more than 50 employees will be required to provide care for full-time workers. Shift everyone to 30 hours/week and the problem goes away. Massive savings for the employer...

Now this is a landmark number

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From CNS News:
101M Get Food Aid from Federal Gov�t; Outnumber Full-Time Private Sector Workers
The number of Americans receiving subsidized food assistance from the federal government has risen to 101 million, representing roughly a third of the U.S. population.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a total of 101,000,000 people currently participate in at least one of the 15 food programs offered by the agency, at a cost of $114 billion in fiscal year 2012.

That means the number of Americans receiving food assistance has surpassed the number of full-time private sector workers in the U.S.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 97,180,000 full-time private sector workers in 2012.

The population of the U.S. is 316.2 million people, meaning nearly a third of Americans receive food aid from the government.
If someone is honestly down on their luck and local groups (friends, church groups, local food banks, etc...) aren't taking care of them, then yes, there should be a safety net. That being said, the safety net needs to be temporary -- not something handed out like candy. It should last for six months and be a hassle to re-apply for. All we are doing with the current programs is raising a generation of low-information voters who expect entitlements.
From Science Daily:
Mysterious Monument Found Beneath the Sea of Galilee
The shores of the Sea of Galilee, located in the North of Israel, are home to a number of significant archaeological sites. Now researchers from Tel Aviv University have found an ancient structure deep beneath the waves as well.

Researchers stumbled upon a cone-shaped monument, approximately 230 feet in diameter, 39 feet high, and weighing an estimated 60,000 tons, while conducting a geophysical survey on the southern Sea of Galilee, reports Prof. Shmulik Marco of TAU's Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences. The team also included TAU Profs. Zvi Ben-Avraham and Moshe Reshef, and TAU alumni Dr. Gideon Tibor of the Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute.

Initial findings indicate that the structure was built on dry land approximately 6,000 years ago, and later submerged under the water. Prof. Marco calls it an impressive feat, noting that the stones, which comprise the structure, were probably brought from more than a mile away and arranged according to a specific construction plan.

Dr. Yitzhak Paz of the Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University says that the site, which was recently detailed in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, resembles early burial sites in Europe and was likely built in the early Bronze Age. He believes that there may be a connection to the nearby ancient city of Beit Yerah, the largest and most fortified city in the area.
Just wow -- 60,000 tons of rock is quite the load to haul. Wonder what else is around there -- no mention of water depth.

That is it for the night

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The abysmal thing that I call my internet connection has eaten two posts. Up and down and... Currently running at lower than dial-up performance. Busy day tomorrow so early to bed.

Peak Oil on the skids

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There is a somewhat popular theory first put out by oilman M. King Hubbert in 1956. The Malthusians latched onto it and used it as another club to beat us over the head trying to get us to convert to their dystopian lifestyle. Peak Oil has since been blown out of the water as a fallacy. Three recent events: First -- a major apologist for Peak Oil is shutting down. From The Oil Drum:
An End to Eight Years of The Oil Drum
Dear Readers of The Oil Drum,
A few weeks ago the ISEOF board (The Institute for Energy and Our Future that facilitates The Oil Drum), Euan, Super G, JoulesBurn, and Myself, met to discuss the future of The Oil Drum. A discussion we have had several times in the last year, due to scarcity of new content caused by a dwindling number of contributors. Despite our best efforts to fill this gap we have not been able to significantly improve the flow of high quality articles.

Because of this and the high expense of running the site, the board has unanimously decided that the best course of action is to convert the site to a static archive of previously published material as of 31st July 2013. We will continue to post articles up to this date. Afterwards any articles will be held as a public archive into the foreseeable future, so that others can continue to learn from the breadth and depth of knowledge published by our many authors, over the 8+ history of this remarkable volunteer effort.

We sincerely thank everyone who has been part of the TOD community - authors, staff and especially commenter's and readers - for contributing to the success of the site. It is unusual for a site which is based primarily on volunteer effort to continue this long.
Second -- Australia doesn't need to worry about oil for the near future. From Adelaide Australia's The Advertiser:
$20 trillion shale oil find surrounding Coober Pedy 'can fuel Australia'
South Australia is sitting on oil potentially worth more than $20 trillion, independent reports claim - enough to turn Australia into a self-sufficient fuel producer.

Brisbane company Linc Energy yesterday released two reports, based on drilling and seismic exploration, estimating the amount of oil in the as yet untapped Arckaringa Basin surrounding Coober Pedy ranging from 3.5 billion to 233 billion barrels of oil.

At the higher end, this would be "several times bigger than all of the oil in Australia", Linc managing director Peter Bond said.

This has the potential to turn Australia from an oil importer to an oil exporter.
Wonderful news for our friends to the south. There is a strong body of evidence that oil is being continually manufactured in the Earth's crust. Finally, people in New Zealand are calming down -- from The New Zealand Herald:
$10m freeze on global warming
The Government has proposed cutting $10 million in funding for climate change research in a move described as disheartening for New Zealand's highly capable climate scientists.

Treasury documents showed that Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has recommended scaling back funding for Climate Change Research Grants by $2 million in the next financial year, $3.75 million in 2014/15 and $4.25 million in 2015/16.

This would reduce the pool of funding from nearly $10 million a year to $4.5 million a year by 2016.

The contestable grants were used to finance research by tertiary institutions and government agencies on adapting to climate change, reducing emissions and creating carbon sinks, and tapping into business opportunities which arise from climate change.
I love how the narrative has been switched from global warming to climate change. As if we have any ability to change it...
Counting the days until I get DSL to the house. From Huawei:
Huawei and China Mobile Bring LTE TDD to the Top of Mount Everest
Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, today announced the successful deployment with China Mobile of 4G coverage atop Mount Everest, 5,200 meters above sea level.

At a June 11 ceremony marking the launch of the service, China Mobile demonstrated a series of new 4G technologies to more than 200 guests including live HD video streaming from a Mount Everest base camp to the event venue. Huawei has already delivered 4G solutions to other parts of the region including EPC, integrated equipment rooms, BTS, microwave transmission and 4G devices.
Hat tip to Slashdot for the link. They get the great leap forward and we have to put up with baby steps. Grumble...
Crap -- from FOX News:
At least 1 dead, several reported missing after train carrying crude oil derails in Quebec
A large swath of a town in eastern Quebec was destroyed Saturday after a train carrying crude oil derailed, sparking several explosions forcing the evacuation of up to 1,000 people, killing at least one.

Several people were reported missing and officials reported one death in the town of Lac-Megantic (Lack-MAH-Gan-Tic), about 155 miles east of Montreal.

The explosions ignited a blaze that sent flames shooting into the sky, and billowing smoke could be seen from several miles (kilometers) away hours after the derailment. Some of the train's 73 cars exploded and the fire spread to a number of homes in the town of 6,000 people.
Despite a few incidents with leaking pipelines (one major one in Bellingham), the overall safety record is stellar compared to rail transport. I really find it deplorable that the Keystone XL pipeline has been tabled -- politics trumping economic growth.

Back from town - long day

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Met up with someone (geek stuff), went to a couple of my go-to stores. Yeager's was having a Made In The USA Sale so picked up a couple boxes of Ball Canning jars at 20% off -- their normal price is below Wal-Mart so it was a screamin' deal. Splurged for dinner in town and just getting back home. Farmer's Market tomorrow so surf for a bit and then to bed. Lulu will be coming back out Monday or Tuesday.

Nuclear power in the news - Germany

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When the facts do not support the narrative, change the facts. From Smart Planet:
Scandal: Judges airbrush popular nuclear design out of German green tech competition
When a German clean technology group opened the voting for this year�s annual GreenTec Awards, it probably didn�t expect the public to send a nuclear reactor into the final round. This is Germany after all, the country that has gone ardently anti-nuclear in the wake of Fukushima and that loves its solar and wind energy and other renewables.

Oops.

Organizers tallied the online votes and discovered that a novel liquid reactor called the Dual-Fluid Reactor (DFR) had made it through to compete against two other finalists at a gala ceremony this Aug. 30 in Berlin, blogger Rainer Klute reported.

The good greenies at GreenTec then did the honorable thing. According to the people behind the DFR and to Klute, they airbrushed the reactor out of contention by implementing a de facto rule change. Under the switch, public voting - which in the original set of rules was to have elected one of the three finalists - no longer counted. Instead, only members of the GreenTec jury could choose all nominees.

Klute has started a campaign to reinstate the DFR. He wrote:
�People who had campaigned for the award and for the DFR were heavily shocked. Not only they found the decision as such completely incomprehensible, but also the procedure to make it. Changing rules in the course of the game is something that is usually considered less than fair. Most of us (but obviously not all) learned this early in our childhood. No wonder the award�s makers were criticized violently in blogs and social media, especially on their own Facebook page.�
A lot of the ensuing commentary - including a GreenTec explanation on Facebook - has been in German, which unfortunately I don�t read (although I do understand the new German word shitstorm, which is what surrounds the controversial GreenTec move).

I�ve emailed GreenTec twice this week asking for its side of the story. I have yet to hear back from the group, which counts Germany�s energy minister Peter Altmaier as its patron.
The DFR is another atmospheric self-limiting design similar to the LFTR. Inherently safe and the waste only needs to be sequestered for 40 years. Plus, it can burn spent uranium fuel eliminating the need for long-term storage for that waste. More, Faster, Please!

IKEA in the news

I like their products -- now I really like the company. From the UK Guardian:

Ikea brings flatpack innovation to emergency refugee shelters
Not content with filling our homes with £5 side tables and lining our stomachs with 50p hot dogs, Swedish furniture giant Ikea has been known to diversify - from building a post-Olympic model village in east London, to launching a range of budget hotels. But its most recent venture is the most ambitious yet: the company is attempting to bring its flatpack, no frills efficiency to the problem of refugee housing.

"Our tents have not evolved very much over the years," says Olivier Delarue, from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). "They still rely on canvas, ropes and poles - and they usually only last for around six months due to harsh climate conditions."

Ikea's design, a cross between a giant garden shed and a khaki canvas marquee, is formed from lightweight laminated panels that clip on to a simple frame, providing UV protection and thermal insulation. Like an Ikea product, the polymer panels come packed in a box, along with a bag of pipes, connectors and wires - and no doubt a cartoon construction manual.

"It is designed this way, like an Ikea bookshelf, to be easy to transport and easy to set up in the field," says Johan Karlsson, project manager of Ikea's Refugee Housing Unit. "And the panels can last up to three years."

The kit also incorporates a fabric shading sheet with a metallic layer that reflects the sun during the day and keeps the heat in at night, as well as a solar panel to provide the shelter with power.

More at The IKEA Foundation:

Designing a better home for refugee children
On World Refugee Day, the IKEA Foundation is celebrating its unique partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Refugee Housing Unit - a partnership to design and build a better home for refugee families.

Very cool! Hat tip to Slashdot for the link.

I wonder what is in their river runoff -- from the UK Guardian:
China's largest algal bloom turns the Yellow Sea green
The largest algal bloom ever recorded in China has turned the Yellow Sea green and may be related to pollution from agriculture and industry.

Officials in the city of Qingdao had used bulldozers to remove 7,335 tonnes of the growth from beaches according to the Xinhua news agency.

The phenomenon has become an annual occurrence in the region over the past six summers. This year's incident has swathed 28,900 sq km (11,158 sq miles), twice as much as the previous biggest bloom in 2008.

The algae, called Enteromorpha prolifera, is not toxic to humans or animals.
There is a photo at the site:
china_algae_bloom.jpg
Prolifera indeed! Ho Li Crap -- agricultural use of phosphates?

From Geek:

The Windows 8.1 Search app is going to get plastered with ads
One big change Microsoft trumpeted for Windows 8.1 was a greatly improved Search app that could now pull in Bing results for your queries. What it glossed over was the fact that the new search experience will also be serving up advertisements.

Clues that ads were coming to the desktop in Windows 8.1 were scattered throughout a blog post on the Bing Ads community (apparently that's a thing that exists) site. "Bing Ads will be an integral part of this new Windows 8.1 Smart Search experience," said Microsoft search ad boss David Pann.

Advertisers don't even need to do any extra work. If they're already part of the Yahoo Bing advertising machine, their ads are locked and loaded and can be blasted at a user's desktop at will.

It's easy enough to understand why Microsoft wants to do this. It's all about expanding the reach of its advertising partners and monetizing Bing searches. That said, it's too bad that the Windows 8.1 search app is considered fair game.

Bing sucks so it is not like I am going to be using any time soon. I picked up a bunch of copies of Windows 7 at the MSFT company store and will be hoarding these like I did with my Windows XP disks. An app to counteract this will be written in 3... 2... 1... I wonder what nimrod at Microsoft thought of this idea.

Going to have to get that album

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Great review from Lou Reed at The Talkhouse:
Lou Reed - Kanye West
Kanye West is a child of social networking and hip-hop. And he knows about all kinds of music and popular culture. The guy has a real wide palette to play with. That's all over Yeezus. There are moments of supreme beauty and greatness on this record, and then some of it is the same old shit. But the guy really, really, really is talented. He's really trying to raise the bar. No one's near doing what he's doing, it's not even on the same planet.

People say this album is minimal. And yeah, it's minimal. But the parts are maximal. Take "Blood on the Leaves." There's a lot going on there: horns, piano, bass, drums, electronic effects, all rhythmically matched � towards the end of the track, there's now twice as much sonic material. But Kanye stays unmoved while this mountain of sound grows around him. Such an enormous amount of work went into making this album. Each track is like making a movie.

Actually, the whole album is like a movie, or a novel � each track segues into the next. This is not individual tracks sitting on their own island, all alone.
That's got me intrigued. See if our local library has a copy in yet...

'New' technology for batteries

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Still in its infancy but cool potential -- from the University of Maryland:
A Battery Made of Wood?
A sliver of wood coated with tin could make a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly battery.

But don�t try it at home yet� the components in the battery tested by scientists at the University of Maryland are a thousand times thinner than a piece of paper. Using sodium instead of lithium, as many rechargeable batteries do, makes the battery environmentally benign. Sodium doesn�t store energy as efficiently as lithium, so you won�t see this battery in your cell phone -- instead, its low cost and common materials would make it ideal to store huge amounts of energy at once � such as solar energy at a power plant.

Existing batteries are often created on stiff bases, which are too brittle to withstand the swelling and shrinking that happens as electrons are stored in and used up from the battery. Liangbing Hu, Teng Li and their team found that wood fibers are supple enough to let their sodium-ion battery last more than 400 charging cycles, which puts it among the longest lasting nanobatteries.
Clever choice for substrate -- good thinking!

Our very effective Secretary of State

This guy is on top if it. Wednesday, July 3rd, Egypt had a military coup and President Morsi was deposed. It is the job of our Secretary of State to handle things like this -- to be in constant communication with the Egyptians and to be in Washington to offer advise to our leaders. Obama met with his National Security team but Kerry was not present.
Egypt_coup_nat_sec_team.jpg
Where was Kerry?
Egypt_coup_kerry.jpg
From CBS News:
John Kerry on his boat during Egypt upheaval, State Dept. concedes
As regime change was unfolding in Egypt, Secretary of State John Kerry spent time on his boat Wednesday afternoon in Nantucket Sound, the State Department acknowledged to CBS News on Friday, after repeatedly denying that Kerry was aboard any boat.

"While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day including participating in the President's meeting with his national security council," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, naming a series of Egyptian and international officials Kerry had spoken with on Wednesday.

Psaki's acknowledgment marked a stark reversal from previous denials that Kerry was on any boat whatsoever.

A "CBS This Morning" producer spotted Kerry on his boat Wednesday afternoon on Nantucket, where Kerry has a vacation home. When "CBS This Morning" senior producer Mosheh Oinounou tweeted about the sighting, Psaki issued a denial, calling the tweet "completely inaccurate" and said Kerry has been "working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt."

Also on Wednesday afternoon, the White House released a photo of the president and his national security team meeting in the situation Room. Kerry was not present in the photo, but his office said he did participate in the meeting via a secure phone line.

On Thursday night, CBS News obtained a photo of Kerry on his boat and sent it to the State Department, asking whether they still stand by their denial that Kerry was on a boat.

The response: "Yes."
Pants on fire -- the guy has great hair but he is just not that smart. I am not surprised by anything this administration does...

Busy day today - Bellingham

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Had to run into town today -- stopped off for some pints on my way home. Some posting tonight but not much -- full day tomorrow too...

Could it happen again here?

Last post for this evening -- from Roger L Simon writing at PJ Media:

Is America in a Pre-Revolutionary State this July 4th?
As we approach July 4, 2013, is America in a pre-revolutionary state? Are we headed for a Tahrir Square of our own with the attendant mammoth social turmoil, possibly even violence.

Could it happen here?

We are two-thirds of the way into the most incompetent presidency in our history. People everywhere are fed up. Even many of the so-called liberals who propelled Barack Obama into office have stopped defending him in the face of an unprecedented number of scandals coming at us one after the other like hideous monsters in some non-stop computer game.

And now looming is the monster of monsters, ObamaCare, the healthcare reform almost no one wanted and fewer understood.

It will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service, an organization that has been revealed to be a kind of post-modern American Gestapo, asking not just to examine our accounting books but the books we read. What could be more totalitarian than that?

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal warns the costs of ObamaCare are close to tripling what we were promised, and the number of doctors in our country is rapidly diminishing. No more "My son, the doctor!" It doesn't pay.

And young people most of all will not be able to afford escalating health insurance costs and will end up paying the fine to the IRS, simultaneously bankrupting the health system and enhancing the brutal power of the IRS - all this while unemployment numbers remain near historical highs.

No one knows how many have given up looking for work while crony capitalist friends of the administration enrich themselves on mythological clean-energy projects.

In fact, everywhere we look on this July Fourth sees a great civilization in decline. And much of that decline can be laid at the foot of the incumbent. Especially his own people, African Americans, have suffered. Their unemployment numbers are catastrophic, their real needs ignored while hustlers like Sharpton, Jackson, and, sadly, even the president fan the flames of non-existent racism.

Tahrir Square anyone?

Ironically, if our society enters a revolutionary phase, liberals will find themselves in the role of the Islamists, defending a shopworn and reactionary ideology on religious grounds, because it is only their faith that holds their ideas together at this point.

The facts of the American decline tell us otherwise. We don't need the contempt of Vladimir Putin to remind us how bad things are and that the seeming result of the end of the Cold War is that American presidents are now mocked by the second coming of the KGB (not that it was ever gone).

We all know the famous Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times!

We certainly are, and I am of two minds about it. Like so many Americans, I have lived a comfortable, privileged life, vastly so compared to most of human history.

But I am filled with foreboding about what's to come, indeed about what is already here. When I look at the masses swarming in Tahrir Square, I am at once repelled and attracted, repelled because, to be honest, I find their culture more than a bit crazy, but attracted because I know something is seriously wrong, not just in Egypt but in the USA.

The next five or ten years will be crucial to our Republic. Time to shake off the lethargy and restore what our Founding Fathers put into our trust.

The words of our Constitution have not changed and each of our elected representatives swears an Oath to Uphold and Defend this document. It is time to make them own up to their words.

The Fourth of July

VMan nails it:
1776
Bloody ugly business here today. Torrents of rain, buckets of sorrow. Not a great way to spend the Fourth of July. But I invested in some fine Madeira out of respect for my Founding Fathers, and have the luxury of watching a middle-aged man cook methamphetamine on a pixelated box. So: Progress.

I am forever fascinated by Tom Jefferson and his fellow revolutionaries. They were not Karl Marx, safely ensconced in a library in London, or one of the thousands of social academics safely ensconced in luxurious faculty lounges around the nation. They were men of prosperity and power. They had naught to gain, and everything to lose, by espousing their heretical views.

They could have taken the easy way out. The Stamp Act wasn't exactly busting their balls. And at the end of the day, they would not have lost their sinecure at a cozy liberal arts college. They would have been hanged.

Even little Nathan Hale, 21 years of age, was hanged liked a damned dog for espionage. Those were the stakes. The land and the wealth and the privilege, the obligations to family, were all expendable. Being hanged from a tree or a gibbet does not improve one's social standing in the community. Unlike our tiresome hectoring classes, these men had everything to lose.

This is what I think about when I read the Declaration of Independence. It is not a blog post. It is an act of sedition. An act so rebellious in nature as to have one's neck stretched. Bold men, in bold times. I couldn't carry their saddle. Or their Madeira. Bless Providence that such men existed, so that we might squander their mighty legacy.

Scenes from our Fourth of July

From the Sacramento, CA CBS affiliate:
American Flags Ripped Down Day Before Turlock Fourth Of July Parade
A stunning act of vandalism right before the Fourth of July had Turlock residents and workers scrambling to fix American flags.

It�s almost inconceivable and it is certainly extremely disrespectful.

Vandals damaged about a dozen flags put up in downtown for Turlock�s big parade, jumping to pull the stars and stripes down with their weight, severely bending the poles.

The flags drooped down nearly to the sidewalk. If we�re talking money, it�s about $500 worth of damage. But of course, we�re talking about the flag, so it goes deeper than that.

An after-hours assembly line scrambled to repair the damage done in a building with no air conditioning on a summer day where temperatures were well into the 100s.

Workers were fixing a triumphant display of patriotism that was turned into an ugly display of disrespect.
160+ comments -- this one caught my eye:
Liberals.

Unemployed.... malcontent.....immature.....probably mad about some sort of entitlement they didn't receive, so they have to act out publicly in order that everybody sees their behavior and feel their "pain".

But definitely liberals. A conservative wouldn't do something like this. They just wouldn't.
From NewsBusters:
Oliver Stone Tells European Audience on Fourth of July 'The World is in Danger With Our Tyranny'
Dontcha just love it when pompous Hollywoodans speak ill of America on national holidays while traveling abroad?

Take Oliver Stone for example who on the Fourth of July actually said of the United States at a film festival in the Czech Republic, "The world is in danger with our tyranny."

As The Wrap reported moments ago, Stone also said during a press conference at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, "It's a disgrace that Obama is more concerned with hunting down Snowden than reforming these George Bush-style eavesdropping techniques...To me, Snowden is a hero, because he revealed secrets that we should all know, that the United States has repeatedly violated the Fourth Amendment."
And of course, Stone fails to mentions that the European nations are spying right back on us as well as on their neighbors. Everybody does it -- this is a non-issue, the only issue is releasing the content. The big problem (one that Stone failed to mention) is the domestic spying. Bush instituted this but it was only telephone conversations when one of the parties was overseas and a specific person of interest. Obama has expanded this to everyone inside the United States. Big difference... From The Washington Examiner:
Gallup: Republicans more proud to be American than Democrats
In recognition of Independence Day, Gallup has released a poll on whether American citizens are still proud to be American.

Ninety-three percent of Republicans indicate that they are �extremely/very proud� to be American while only 85 percent of Democrats feel the same way.

Eighty-one percent of political Independents indicate they are �extremely/very proud.�

Likewise, 89 percent of poll respondents who identified themselves as conservative are �extremely/very proud,� to be American compared to 76 percent of liberals.
And finally, from the Pittsburgh, PA CBS affiliate:
Military Fireworks Show Cut, Even Though Local Company Volunteered To Do It For Free
Military veterans are upset after the annual Camp Lejeune fireworks show for military members and their families was cut.

What makes it even worse: A Pittsburgh area company offered to do the show for free, but the government said, thanks, but no thanks.

The military says the show meant for more than 47-thousand Marines and Sailors was cancelled due to federal cutbacks.

�They were very appreciative, they were certainly hoping they could do it. There just aren�t the funds due to sequestration.�

The Zambelli Family has done the fireworks at Camp Lejeune before, and this year, after hearing they were cancelled due to federal money problems, they promised to do them for free.

The military still said no, citing additional costs besides the fireworks.
Lulu, Kaloha and I are spending a quiet day at the farm. Eight miles away, the town of Glacier puts on quite the fireworks display -- there are collection bottles out at local businesses. A lot of fun.
Obama doesn't own up to this but his actions speak much louder than his words in this case. Obama favors the radical Islamists over the Israelis. He does not do this overtly but he promotes those that promote Radical Islam over any other world culture. Case in point -- Egypt. February 2, 2011 - The Washington Post:
Obama presses Mubarak to move 'now'
President Obama, clearly frustrated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's intention to retain his hold on power until elections later this year, said Tuesday evening that he has told Mubarak that a transition to representative government "must begin now."

In brief remarks at the White House, Obama made no mention of Mubarak's announcement that he had decided not to stand for reelection. Instead, Obama said he had told the Egyptian president in a telephone call that this was a "moment of transformation" in Egypt and that "the status quo is not sustainable."

Obama's message appeared carefully calibrated to avoid publicly calling for Mubarak to stand down, while making clear he should stand aside. Administration officials say they are seeking a transitional government, with or without Mubarak as its titular head, formed by representative reform leaders and backed by the Egyptian army that will address legitimate grievances, restore stability and plan for a free election.
Mubarak was 'President' for close to thirty years. A dictator but a benevolent one -- his was a reign of peace and prosperity. There was some student unrest which the Obama administration promised to support. Support was not forthcoming and there were many people murdered. Mohamed Morsi clawed his way to the top of the pile and was appointed 'President' on June 30th, 2012. Not well known was that Morsi was a staunch member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Of this organization, President Jimmy Carter says:
Jimmy Carter: I trust Egypt�s Muslim Brotherhood
In the face of warnings by the Egypt�s Muslim Brotherhood to tear up the Arab nation�s peace treaty with Israel if U.S. aid is cut, former President Jimmy Carter, the chief negotiator of the 1978 deal, says he trusts the Islamists to do the right thing no matter what. The reason: because they told him so.
Carter never heard of Taqiyya or Kitman - imbecile. The credo of the Muslim Brotherhood:
God is our objective, the Koran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle [jihad] is our way, and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.
More from the same site:
MB was established in accordance with al-Banna�s proclamation that Islam should be �given hegemony over all matters of life.� Toward that end, the Brotherhood seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate, or kingdom -- first spanning all of the present-day Muslim world, and eventually the entire globe. The organization further aspires to dismantle all non-Islamic governments wherever they currently exist, and to make Islamic Law (Shari�a) the sole basis of jurisprudence everywhere on earth.
Anyway, Morsi was not well received. Egyptians are a lot more connected to the world than those poor people living in small villages in Iran and Afghanistan so they can see the damage that Islamofascism is doing and they want a representative Democracy. Hence, the many million people protesting over the last couple weeks. But this is not what Barry wanted -- from National Public Radio:
President Obama: U.S. 'Deeply Concerned' Over Morsi's Ouster
Saying that the United States is "deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy (SIC ed.) and suspend the Egyptian constitution," President Obama calls on Egypt's military to preserve the rights and safety of its citizens.
From Infowars:
Egyptian Protesters Blame Obama For Morsi Dictatorship
Images seldom broadcast on mainstream media networks reveal a wave of anti-Obama fervor has gripped Egypt as demonstrators blame the White House for helping to install Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who could be toppled later today.
From Charles Krauthammer at Real Clear Politics:
Krauthammer On Egypt: "A Shocking Position For A President To Take"
Obama is a bystander, again. Here are the Egyptians in the millions out on the street, trying to bring down an Islamist government, increasingly dictatorial, increasingly intolerant, arresting journalists and judges, trying to Islamicize the military and the people are saying no, and what does the president of the United States do? He takes a position of studied neutrality, says he is not supporting either side. And yet, as you point out in the Mubarak revolution, he obviously strongly took the side of the people. He demanded that Mubarak had to go, he was not neutral.

This reminds me of the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009 when the same thing happened. Islamists, dictatorial government, the people out in the street, and they were shouting Obama, Obama, are you with us or against us. And he took a position that was essentially supportive of the regime, and the reason was he wanted to negotiate a nuclear deal which he thought he could do and he didn't want instability.

That was a shameful episode. But there's also idea of national interest. Mubarak was pro-American, he was an ally of ours, he helped us in all kinds of ways. Obama worked against him. Morsi represents a movement which is essentially deeply anti-American, and deeply anti-democratic, yet he is neutral on this. This is a shocking position for a president to take.
And now, Morsi is gone -- from Politico:
Military ousts Morsi in Egypt
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was forced out of office Wednesday by the Egyptian military and opposition leaders, just a couple of hours after the Obama Administration voiced its first public doubts about Morsi's handling of the massive street protests that spread across the country in recent days.
Emphasis mine -- the Obama spin-doctors are at work in the soft machine. I bet that Barry is really really pissed. It would be interesting to see what he does in the next few days if there were not the great chance that it would be something that further hurt our Nation and crippled our Economy. I actually feel a wee bit sorry for Michelle.

Aww Crap - Doug Engelbart

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You may not know his name but you hold the thing he invented in your hand for several minutes every day. For some people, a lot more. From the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) (email address redacted):
From: Christina Engelbart
Date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 6:31 AM
Subject: update on my father

Very sorry to inform my father passed away in his sleep peacefully at home last night. His health had been deteriorating of late, and took turn for worse on the weekend. I will circle back around soon, for now just wanted to give you all advance notice and look forward to discussing your thoughts as I am a bit fuzzy at present.
Doug Engelbart? From the Doug Engelbart Institute:
Father of the Mouse
Doug Engelbart invented the computer mouse in 1963 in his research lab at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International), for which the patent was issued in 1970. Although many impressive innovations for interacting with computers have followed in the last 50 years since its invention, the mouse remains to this day the most efficient hands on pointing device available.
One of "those" inventions -- so little of the history is widely known but its presence is ubiquitous. Rest in Peace good Sir -- you live on in our hearts...

Llamas in the Times

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Nice article at the New York Times:
The Llama Is In
People who keep llamas as pets will readily offer you any number of reasons: llamas are quiet, they�re gentle and affectionate, they don�t take a lot of work to maintain and, for outdoor animals, they don�t smell bad.

But it�s more than that. Look at a llama and it�ll gaze back sympathetically with those huge, beguiling eyes, ears perked up, looking for all the world like it understands you and really cares about your problems.

Most people start with two or three, since llamas are sociable and don�t like to live alone. But as Katrina Capasso, a llama owner in Ballston Spa, N.Y., discovered, �They�re like potato chips.� It�s hard to stop at just a few. Ms. Capasso, 49, received her first llama as a wedding gift from her husband, Gary, in 1990. Now she has 55.
They are really sweet animals and I dearly love my three -- and I might get another two or three if the occasion arises. That being said, all three of mine were rescues from people who got a Llama and were not prepared for the kind of care they need. They are not zero maintenance.

Happy fiftieth birthday - Station WWV

I first heard these broadcasts more than 50 years ago when I was a little kid and my Dad had me tune it in on my shortwave radio (National NC-60). We used to spend every other summer vacation in Colorado and actually visited the transmitting site a year or two later. From Wired:
The Most Important Radio Station You�ve Never Heard of Marks 50 Years on the Air
Every night, while millions of Americans are fast asleep, clocks and wristwatches across the country wake up and lock on to a radio signal beamed from the base of the Rocky Mountains. The signal contains a message that keeps the devices on time, helping to make sure their owners keep to their schedules and aren�t late for work the next day.

The broadcast comes from WWVB, a station run by the National Institute for Standards and Technology. WWVB marks half a century as the nation�s official time broadcaster on July 5. Together with its sister station, WWV, which is about to hit 90 years in service, NIST radio has been an invisible piece of American infrastructure that has advanced industries from entertainment to telecommunications. (WWV�s broadcast includes a wider range of information, including maritime weather warnings and solar storm alerts).

Most people aren�t even aware that these stations exist, but they have a rich and fascinating history. Their future is uncertain, however, as newer technologies threaten to make them obsolete.

NIST is the government agency charged with developing the technology standards that underlie everything from data encryption to cholesterol tests. �We�re in the business of weights and measures,� said John Lowe, who directs NIST�s time services from Boulder, Colorado.

At first glance, it�s unclear why the people who test bulletproof vests and smoke detectors would be in the radio business. But as broadcast technology blossomed through the first half of the 20th century, the government quickly recognized the need to standardize radio. Manufacturers were churning out equipment left and right to deliver information over the air, but no one was ensuring that a particular frequency was the same in Maine as it was in Malibu.

Enter NIST, the folks who determine the length of a second. A radio signal is really defined by time, the number of peaks in a wave that pass by a point every second. The FM band, for instance, occupies the airwaves between 87.7 and 108 megahertz (MHz), or millions of cycles per second. Making sure that the dial on the radio in someone�s home or car matches the broadcast signal demands that stations and receivers all agree on the same standard second.
And these people are the real deal:
Despite these challenges, Congress thinks NIST�s time radio broadcasts are still essential to national infrastructure and recently granted $16 million for signal enhancements (Lowe says they only used $100,000 and were proud to return the rest).
We need more Federal agencies like this. A lot more.
From Breitbart:
FBI Notes: Al-Awlaki Hung with NPR, Hired Prostitutes After 9/11
According to FBI documents released after a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request, terrorist cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was killed in 2011 by a drone strike in Yemen, spent his days immediately after 9/11 patronizing hookers and hanging with NPR.

November 15, 2001 notes state Al-Awlaki went to NPR to appear on �Talk of the Nation: �2PM parked on Mass. Ave�2:08 NPR radio station�2:38 off the air � Islam?� During late 2001 and early 2002, Al-Awlaki also utilized high-end prostitutes, with one prostitute telling the FBI that he resembled Osama Bin Laden. In 1996 and 1997, Al-Awlaki was charged with solicitation.
Title of the post is from one of the comments at the site. This is a culture than needs to be pounded back into the dirt -- so much potential but so much corruption. False prophet and a culture of fear, not love. From Canada's National Post:
Pakistan teen sisters murdered in �honour killing� over video of them dancing in the rain
Two teenage girls have been shot dead in an apparent honour killing in Pakistan after a video was circulated showing them dancing in the rain.

The girls, aged 15 and 16, are seen running around wearing traditional dress, covered in green and purple headscarves, outside their stone bungalow in the town of Chilas, in the far north of the country.

Local media named them as Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, the daughters of a retired police officer. According to Dawn newspaper, five masked men barged into their house and opened fire last Sunday. Their mother was also killed.

The report said police believed that the crime was motivated by a video clip circulated on mobile telephones. The short film, shot six months ago, shows the girls smiling and laughing as they run around their home, breaking into a dance.

An initial investigation, quoted by Dawn, suggested that the girls� stepbrother, named as Khutore, considered the video an �assault on the honour of his family� and carried out the attack. Officers are also examining whether a property dispute or an audio clip � in which the girls are apparently heard talking to an unknown man � might be a motive.
And your question is?

A new bug - worse than Lyme Disease?

From the New York City CBS affiliate:
New Tick-Borne Illness Could Be Worse Than Lyme Disease
A new disease spread by deer ticks has already infected 100,000 New Yorkers since the state first started keeping track.

As CBS 2�s Dr. Max Gomez reported, the new deer tick-borne illness resembles Lyme disease, but is a different malady altogether � and it could be even worse.
Some more:
Fallon, a renowned expert on Lyme disease at the New York Psychiatric Institute, said the importance of the new bacterium � called Borrelia miyamotoi � is that it might explain cases of what looked like chronic Lyme disease, but did not test positive for Lyme.

�The problem is that the diagnosis is going to be missed, because doctors aren�t going to think about Borrelia miyamotoi because they don�t know about it. And number two, if they test for Lyme disease, it will test negative, and the rash won�t be there,� Fallon said. �So they are not going to treat with the antibiotics, so the patient will have an infection staying in their system longer than it should.
The good news is that Borrelia miyamotoi responds well to antibiotics. The bad news is that the tick is about the size of a sesame seed, not something you would notice without a detailed examination...
From The Washington Examiner:
Obama's 2013 Air Force One bill $24 million --- $6.5 million for Africa alone
President Obama, already the most traveled chief executive in the modern era after internationalist former President George H.W. Bush, is expected to run up an Air Force One tab of at least $24 million this year alone, according to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

Already Obama, just back from a trip with his family and a huge entourage of staff to several African nations, has run up a $15.2 million bill just for Air Force One in the first six months of 2013. Security and hotel costs can dwarf the jet's cost. Some estimates of the president's Africa trip alone top $100 million.
All the while some of our Military are not getting hot meals and the Fourth of July fireworks display at US bases have been canceled -- because of Sequester. Another story at The Examiner has this little factoid:
Pew: Obama less 'honest,' more 'incompetent' than Bush
It's word bubble time at Pew Research Center, and that's not really good news for President Obama, especially when compared to the one word Americans used to describe former President George W. Bush as this time.

The word "incompetent" is a popular word for both, though Obama just edged Bush in those references, 27-26.

Another shared word is "honest." Here Bush won with 31 references, Obama just 18.

A letter to the media

Talk about a polite ass-whupin' -- Sundance over at The Last Refuge has been doing an amazing job of following the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin story since day one. Needless to say, the 'media' have contacted him for various sound-bites. He penned this wonderful reply:
An Open Letter To The Media � �Welcome To The Party Pal".....
Dear Mr. XXXXXXXX, prudence and necessarily instilled manners dictate that all correspondence deserves the full weight of polite response.

Allow me to thank you, with the most humble and earnest of appreciation, for all you do on behalf of a simple citizenry of which I am a proud and insignificant member. Indeed if our paths were ever to cross in person, I hold no disposition that you, as a person of consequence, would ever afford these calloused and well worn hands the time of day. I am, like many, comfortably invisible.

That said, and with the utmost respect for your professional endeavors, I hope you will consider this correspondence carefully.

It is not our �goal� to raise funds for George Zimmerman. It is our goal to shine light upon the injustice that George Zimmerman represents.
When you see that justice is measured, not by due process, but by compulsion �- when you see that in order to invoke your sixth amendment right to due process, you need to obtain permission from men who rebuke the constitution -� when you see that justice is determined by those who leverage, not in law, but in politics -� when you see that men get power over individual liberty by graft and by scheme, and your representatives don�t protect you against them, but protect them against you -� when you see corruption holding influence and individual liberty so easily dispatched and nullified -� you may well know that your freedom too is soon to perish.
Powerful words -- much more at the site.
Where the people fear the government you have tyranny.
Where the government fears the people you have liberty.
--John Basil Barnhill, (1914). Indictment of Socialism No. 3 (PDF)
Barry said this in January of 2008:
And it looks like he is getting his wish -- from CNS News:
Electricity Prices Highest on Record for May
The price of electricity in the United States for May was 13.1 cents per kilowatt hour (KWH), which is the highest it has been on record for that month, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which tracks the price going all the way back to 1984.

Thirteen cents per KWH is the highest price for the month of May in 29 years, according to the BLS numbers.

These price data come at a time when President Barack Obama has announced a �new national climate action plan� to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to combat alleged man-made global warming and spend more federal money on �clean energy� projects.

The coal industry, which produces about 45% of the electricity in America is expected to be the hardest hit by the federal regulations, raising its costs and the cost of electricity for consumers. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said that Obama�s plan is �a war on America� because the regulatory burden and costs will severely damage the U.S. coal industry.
And the stupid thing is that this hits the poor and low income people the hardest. They do not have the money to pay for the increase in food costs, the increase in utility costs, the increase in gasoline prices, etc. The middle class tighten their belts and the rich just write it off as cost of doing business. Obama is supposed to be all about the poor people isn't he? All he is doing is trapping them in a web of dependency -- not giving them the tools to lift themselves out of poverty. Give them the free cheese and tell them that it will be taken away if they don't vote Democrat. Up in the Pacific Northwest, with over 50% of our energy coming from hydro, we are paying over 15 cents per kilowatt hour (KWH) as of my last statement. All those new wind turbines cost money (and I am not enrolled in the even more expensive green energy program)...

Our digital overlords - Motorola

Cripes -- from Ben Lincoln writing at Beneath the Waves:
Motorola Is Listening
In June of 2013, I made an interesting discovery about the Android phone (a Motorola Droid X2) which I was using at the time: it was silently sending a considerable amount of sensitive information to Motorola, and to compound the problem, a great deal of it was over an unencrypted HTTP channel.
A lot more at the site complete with screencaps and information on how to see this on your own Motorola phone. This is a huge breach of security. Caveat #1) -- this is not happening* with all Motorola phones but still Caveat #2) -- '*' - that we know of...

Quote of the day - our Government

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From Mostly Cajun:
Folks, we need to stop using the phrase �How stupid can they be?� in respect to government.
It is apparent that they take it as a challenge.
--Mostly Cajun

Two Presidents - compare and contrast

Each President is visiting Africa -- let's take a look: First -- from CNS News:
Obama: 'Planet Will Boil Over' If Young Africans Are Allowed Cars, Air-Conditioning, Big Houses
President Barack Obama said at a town hall event in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday that unless we find new way of producing energy "the planet will boil over" if people in Africa are allowed to attain air conditioning, automobiles and big houses.

�Ultimately, if you think about all the youth that everybody has mentioned here in Africa, if everybody is raising living standards to the point where everybody has got a car and everybody has got air conditioning, and everybody has got a big house, well, the planet will boil over -- unless we find new ways of producing energy.�

The president�s comments, made the day before unveiling his �Power Africa� initiative for a �sustainable� African energy strategy, came while speaking at University of Johannesburg-Soweto.

According to Obama, global warming constitutes �the biggest challenge we have environmentally,� one greater than all other environmental calamities like �dirty water, dirty air.�

However, the President�s statements do not reflect statistics released by the United Nations: Based on a data released in October, 2012, the World Health Organization estimated that �Global warming� is responsible for approximately 140,000 excess deaths each year.

By comparison, as many as three million people died from indoor and outdoor air pollution � in other words, over 20 times the number of alleged victims of global warming, according to the Word Health Organization.

The list of victims of unclean drinking water is even more staggering.

According to UNESCO, unsanitized water causes billions of preventable diseases annually, from diarrhea (4 billion), cholera (120,000), malaria (300-500 million), intestinal parasites (25% of world�s population), typhoid (12 million), trachoma (6 million), and schistosomiesis (200 million). list from highest to least affected

The president gave short shrift to these more traditional health concerns during his visit to the continent. Instead, Obama implied several times that the U.S. would only encourage growth in Africa should it be grounded in �clean energy strategies� and not in �corrupting� energy economies that gave rise to unprecedented levels of health and prosperity among Western nations.
And so, Obama is going to dump $7 Billion of our money into Africa but it has to be spent on alt.energy. The outcome is not uncertain -- a few oligarchs will become even more filthy rich and the poor will not see any difference except for one Potemkin generating facility and a few Potemkin villages. The 300+ comments are worth a read. Next up -- from the Times of Zambia:
Zambia: Bush Extols Zambia
Visiting former US President, George W Bush has praised Zambia for being responsive to matters of cervical cancer.

Mr. Bush said he decided to return to Zambia for the second time within a short period because studies conducted revealed that the Zambian Government has been very responsive to the cervical cancer fight.

He said credit should go to the country's First Lady Christine Kaseba who was knowledgeable on matters of cervical cancer.

He was speaking in Livingstone yesterday when he together with his wife Laura and 20 US volunteers participated in the painting and refurbishing of Mosi-oa-Tunya Clinic which was in a deplorable state.

Mr. Bush is in Zambia to support the Pink Ribbon-Red Ribbon initiative.

In Zambia, Pink Ribbon-Red Ribbon is an innovative partnership between the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), George W Bush Institute and the Zambian Government.

It also involves Susan G Komen for Cure, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), corporate as well as Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) partners.

Cervical and breast cancer are the two leading causes of deaths among women in sub-Sahara and Zambia has the second highest rate of cervical cancer in the world.
Emphasis mine -- he and Laura actually rolled up their sleeves and got to work doing what was needed. Some photos:
2presidents_obama.jpg

2presidents_bush_01.jpg

2presidents_bush_02.jpg

2presidents_bush_03.jpg
One picture is worth 1,000 words -- the Imperial President versus the man of the people. Ruling versus Leadership...

About those 'green' buses

From the New York Post:
MTA hasn't purchased a hybrid bus in three years - and new diesel engines could make a return
The MTA�s electric revolution is grinding to a halt.

The agency hasn�t purchased an electric-diesel hybrid bus in three years, and as many as 389 � 23 percent of all its hybrids � could be retrofitted with new diesel engines soon, MTA officials revealed to The Post.

Union officials warned that the switch will come with a great cost � to the public�s health.

�It�s a slap in the face if they start going back to diesel again,� said a skeptical transit-union source. �It�s not good for people�s lungs.�

But the city may not have a choice, since hybrids haven�t worked very well, an insider says. Maintenance workers �constantly� have to repair hybrid engines.

�The electric-traction motors are burning out,� the source said. �They�re so expensive to replace that it�ll be cheaper to stick a diesel engine in there.�

A July 2012 contract between the MTA and Indiana-based engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. confirms that the MTA is evaluating how to convert hybrid buses to a �diesel-engine-only application.�

The switch comes at a time when both President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg are calling on government to reduce emissions by using cleaner fuel sources and adopting more efficient fuel standards.

But the MTA argued that new diesel engines are actually cleaner than hybrids, which conform to 2004 Environmental Protection Agency emission standards, according to Henry Sullivan, the MTA�s chief maintenance officer for buses. The new diesel engines conform to stricter 2007 standards.

�When we first went with the hybrid in 2004 that was the way to go,� he said. The diesel is �better than the hybrid now.�

The new diesels �approach or exceed the emissions profile of a hybrid electric,� added spokesman Charles Seaton. �In high-speed operation, they work better.�
There has been a huge push to clean up diesel exhaust and the gains have been major in the last ten years. Makes total sense that a diesel from today would be a lot cleaner than one from 2004. The efficiencies of hybrids are ephemeral at best -- you save energy when you are coasting or going downhill but that energy is spent again when accelerating or going uphill. You can pre-charge the batteries (plug-in hybrid) but that just shifts the production from diesel to coal. I would be interested in seeing the wages of a diesel bus driver v/s those of a hybrid driver -- the union is squawking and I bet that this is the underlying reason.
Oh woe, grave tidings in the geek world. TechNet is about to cease subscriptions. From ZDNet:
Microsoft to shut down TechNet subscription service
Good night, TechNet.

The online Technet blogs and customer support forums will live on, but Microsoft announced today in a letter to subscribers that it plans to retire its venerable TechNet subscriptions service. New subscriptions will no longer be available after August 31, 2013, and the subscription service will shut down as current subscribers' contracts end.

Microsoft has offered TechNet subscriptions for most of the modern Windows era, debuting in 1998 as a massive packet of CDs, and evolving into a download option as broadband connections became common.

The services have historically been one of the best deals around for frugal IT professionals and PC enthusiasts. For an annual subscription fee of a few hundred dollars, subscribers get the right to download virtually all of the desktop and server software Microsoft sells, with multiple product keys. The software is licensed for evaluation purposes only, but that restriction is part of the license agreement and not enforced in the software itself.
Yeah, it was wide open and a vehicle for many to commit theft but for the beginning geek, it was the chance to work with and learn advanced technologies. Microsoft's SQL Server retailed for around $3K at its most minimal configuration. Not a problem for an enterprise serving several hundred workstations with this application. Big problem for someone wanting to teach themselves how to manage it. I had a subscription until I moved up here. Still have many of the disks and product codes... Title? Come on -- A New Hope
A perfect example of the progressive mind at work -- out of touch with reality. From Breitbart:
Doris Kearns Goodwin at Gettysburg: A Few Inappropriate Remarks
On Sunday, a stunned audience sat in silence as Doris Kearns Goodwin turned the keynote address at the opening ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg into a political lecture focusing on women's and gay rights.

Missing from much of her keynote: Gettysburg.

Self-centered, insular, and oblivious to the occasion, the historian who was infamously caught plagiarizing merely recycled much of what she has said before about herself in previous speeches. And her rambling, self-promoting, and borderline inappropriate lecture touched upon nearly everything except for the heroic sacrifices made on that battlefield.

In so doing, she desecrated the hallowed land on which she spoke, dishonored Gettysburg's honored dead, and disrespected the nearly 8,000 Americans in attendance who did not come to Gettysburg to hear about her life's story and a progressive history lecture.

Before even referencing President Abraham Lincoln, Kearns Goodwin started her speech by mentioning President Lyndon Johnson. In fact, more of her speech was devoted to Johnson and herself than to Lincoln, Grant, Lee, and Gettysburg. Boasting about all the presidents she has researched, Kearns Goodwin said her only worry was that in her afterlife all of the presidents about whom she has written or plagiarized will confront her to complain and point out inaccuracies in her work.

She said the first person who would confront her in her afterlife would be Lyndon Johnson, who she said would scream at her, "how come that book on the Kennedys is twice as long as the book you wrote about me?"

After briefly--and in an obligatory manner--actually mentioning Gettysburg and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Kearns Goodwin could not stop herself from rehashing her civil rights stories.

Of course, all of the stories centered around her. She talked about how she worked for Lyndon Johnson and met her husband while working for him.
Excuuuuse me. This is the opening ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and she was asked to be the keynote speaker and she rattles on about how she met her husband while working for Lyin' Bastard Johnson? The author of this post - Tony Lee closes with these thoughts:
As an historian chosen for the honor of keynoting the opening ceremonies for the solemn--and special--anniversary of the most important and famous battle fought in the Western Hemisphere, Kearns Goodwin had a duty to take up the task of Oliver Wendell Holmes and "bear the report to those who come after."

Instead, she slapped the faces of those in attendance by mistaking the occasion for an alumni weekend speech or a Georgetown cocktail party. Throughout the Gettysburg festivities, Americans emphasized how important it was to remember the country's honored dead, echoing what President Ronald Reagan said in his Farewell Address when he spoke about the necessity of an "informed patriotism" that could only be learned when one generation teaches the next about America's exceptional past.

But when supposedly esteemed historians like Kearns Goodwin use such a cherished occasion to shoehorn modern--and unrelated--social issues into the Gettysburg narrative, it makes it more difficult for the nation to have an "informed patriotism."

Kearns Goodwin's keynote--for style and substance--can only be given a failing grade. And this time, it was not even for plagiarism.
Exactly -- this was not a cocktail party, this was an incredibly solemn occasion and deserved much better -- some actual historical research and relevancy.
Talk about ethics in reporting. From Breitbart:
CNN Broadcasts Zimmerman Social Security Number
On Monday, CNN showed George Zimmerman�s Social Security number and other personal information live over the air, including address, date of birth, and phone number.

Officer Doris Singleton was testifying when the prosecutors showed a narrative report including Zimmerman�s information.

That immediately launched a round of tweets by Zimmerman haters celebrating knowledge of that information.
Simply disgusting. If it was done out of malice, that would be unconscionable. If it was done out of stupidity, why did this person get to this level (of being able to post this info) at a major news network. No possible explanation either way. The post outlines a few other errors in reporting on this case.
It would be silly if these mokes weren't so stern and finger-wagging about it. From their Mission Statement:
If you�re no longer vegan, you�re going on the list.
The spirits of the billions murdered have risen to deliver: The Vegan Sellout List � an online directory of those who have regressed from moral consistency to moral depravity.

The Vegan Sellout List is our answer to the epidemic of vegan sellouts � those who are aware of the suffering caused by meat, dairy, egg, fur, and leather production, yet choose to look away while the animals suffer.

Selling out veganism is a trend on the upswing, bringing with it swarms of haughty, nose-turning carnists uttering nonsensical buzzwords re: veganism being �privileged�, or �trendy�, critiquing themselves into ethical degeneracy and paleo-terrorism.
This kind of crap only emphasizes just how fragile their thought processes are. I know about 20 vegans in our general community and you can spot them a mile away. Stringy hair, lack of vitality and a greatly simplified thought process. I am friends with one who would come into the bakery (another long story). We always had some vegan and gluten-free options and this person was served a pastry and some tea. A while later, they poked their head into the kitchen and remarked about how well and comfortable they felt and praised us for making vegan food that was so wholesome and nutritious. After they left, my cook, cashier and I looked at each other and we realized that their pastry was not vegan at all and contained an ounce or more of butter. We never told this person... I am an apex predator -- we ate beef stew last night and had a big plate of shrimp tonight. We also eat a lot of grains and produce. We eat healthy. I also am very much of a critter person -- I have raised and murdered many chickens (as well as their unborn children) and their flesh was always celebrated on the dinner plate. I choose to by grass-fed beef and not meat 'finished' at a CAFO. I would never ever harm an animal. If I swat a bug, I make sure it is dead and not just twitching. Veganism is more a political statement than a valid nutritional pathway. Oh yeah -- I was a vegetarian for eight years. Liked it at first but a T-Bone steak got the better of me and I felt so much better after eating animal protein. Night and day. Omnivore ever since...
From FOX News:
Portable shelters couldn't save 19 members of elite hotshots firefighting crew killed in Arizona blaze
With no way out, the 19 elite firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire Sunday night -- 14 of them in their 20s -- unfurled their foil-lined, heat-resistant tarps and rushed to cover themselves.

The tragedy all but wiped out the 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshots, a unit based at Prescott, authorities said Monday as the last of the bodies were retrieved from the mountain in the town of Yarnell. Only one member survived, and that was because he was moving the unit's truck at the time.
A bit more:
Arizona's governor called it "as dark a day as I can remember" and ordered flags flown at half-staff. In a heartbreaking sight, a long line of white vans carried the bodies to Phoenix for autopsies.

"I know that it is unbearable for many of you, but it also is unbearable for me. I know the pain that everyone is trying to overcome and deal with today," said Gov. Jan Brewer, her voice catching several times as she addressed reporters and residents at Prescott High School in the town of 40,000.
Our local fire department has their flag at half mast. Our prayers go out to their families and friends. The went doing something they loved but fire is not a good way to die.
From the London Daily Mail: > Bebo founders buy back worthless social network for $1million after selling it to AOL for $850million just five years ago
The founders of Bebo have bought back the worthless social network for $1 million after selling it to AOL for $850 million just five years ago then watching it die.

Husband-and-wife team Michael and Xochi Birch netted some $600 million from the sale but the business crumbled shortly after the acquisition thanks to AOL's mismanagement and the rise of Facebook.

But the minted British tech wiz tweeted today that he and his equally brainy spouse had snapped up the company they made a killing from for a song - 1/850th of the sale price - and did it all for 'fun.'

> A bit more:
AOL paid the exorbitant sum boasting that the purchase was a 'game-changing' step that would put it 'squarely in a leading position in social media.'
Unfortunately, AOL mismanagement (the CEO got fired over this acquisition) and the rise of Facebook took their toll. All in all, it is kind of amazing that both AOL and BEBO are still around. I wish the Birch's well with their new toy...

May 2016

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Samizdata.net
Sense of Events
Sound Politics
The Strata-Sphere
The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Velociworld
Weasel Zippers
WILLisms.com
Wizbang


Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Allah
BigPictureSmallOffice
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
MegaPundit
Masamune
Neptunus Lex
Other Side of Kim
Publicola
Ramblings' Journal
Sgt. Stryker
shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

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