September 2013 Archives

Electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket

The title? Spoken by our fearless leader in 2009:
At the end of this year, the other shoe will drop and what was a stiff increase in prices will become even stiffer. From Bloomberg:
Credits to Spur Renewable Energy Sources Seen Set to End: Taxes
Tax credits for the production of wind power and other renewable energy sources face expiration at year�s end amid few signs Congress will decide to continue them, tax lobbyists and other analysts say.

Failure to extend the 16 tax credits could stymie the development of wind power and the other renewables by undercutting incentives to invest in them, Bloomberg BNA reported.
Some specifics:
In addition to the 2.3 cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for wind, geothermal and closed-loop biomass, other expiring energy incentives include a $1 per-gallon credit for biodiesel producers, a $1.01 per gallon credit for cellulosic ethanol and multiple credits for energy-efficient homes and appliances.
This is going to hit people at the gas pump, their electric bill, the cost of appliances, etc... And of course, one of the affected industries had this to say:
The wind industry, he said, says of the credit, ��If we just had two more years or three more years, we�ll be fine, we�re almost there,�� Lankford said. �What is a reasonable time for it to continue.�
Yeah, really... Wind power is one of the stupidest ideas ever. It is not baseload and you have to have backup generators to cover when the wind stops blowing. Because it takes up to 30 minutes to bring a generator of that size online, the generators have to be running on hot standby -- they are not feeding the grid but they are still running and consuming some fuel. But there is hope -- from Environment & Energy Publishing:
Justices to consider review of EPA greenhouse gas rules
In what could become a marquee environmental case of the Supreme Court's next term, the justices on Monday are expected to consider reviewing a lower court ruling that upheld U.S. EPA's regulations to reduce heat-trapping gases.

Nine petitions are asking the court to reverse aspects of an appellate court's June 2012 ruling that backed EPA's first rules following the Supreme Court's landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision, which instructed the agency to regulate greenhouse gases as harmful pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Some prominent environmental lawyers believe the court will grant certiorari to -- or agree to review -- some part of the petitions. The decision could come as early as Tuesday, less than two weeks after the Obama administration proposed regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions at new power plants.
Keeping fingers crossed...

And we are closed

Just announced -- the Federal Government is shut down. Good call -- this is not anything new, 17 times before. If you were planning to visit a National Park, you will find your plans changed. There are a lot of wonderful State Parks out there. The bad news is that parts of Obamacare are funded starting tomorrow. Not all of it but the stake did not pierce the heart...

A little bit of the good Doctor

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So why do we let them meddle in ours -- from Fortune magazine:
The DNC is nearly broke
There's another budget crisis in Washington, and it's unfolding inside the Democratic party. The Democratic National Committee remains so deeply in the hole from spending in the last election that it is struggling to pay its own vendors.

It is a highly unusual state of affairs for a national party -- especially one that can deploy the President as its fundraiser-in-chief -- and it speaks to the quiet but serious organizational problems the party has yet to address since the last election, obscured in part by the much messier spectacle of GOP infighting.

The Democrats' numbers speak for themselves: Through August, 10 months after helping President Obama secure a second term, the DNC owed its various creditors a total of $18.1 million, compared to the $12.5 million cash cushion the Republican National Committee is holding.

Several executives at firms that contract to provide services to the party -- speaking anonymously to avoid antagonizing what remains an important if troubled client -- describe an organization playing for time as they raise alarms about past-due bills falling further behind. And senior strategists close to the DNC say they worry the organization appears to have no road map back to solvency. "They really thought they could get this money raised by the summer," one said, "but the fact is, from talking to people over there, they have no real plan for how to solve this."
I wish they would just quietly implode. The schadenfreude would be sweet. Must cost a lot to re-animate the Dead Be sure to check out some of the 700+ comments...
From the New York Post:
Obesity up 25 percent in NYC
Reduce the obesity rate in New York City? Fat chance!

More New Yorkers than ever are living large, despite Nanny Bloomberg�s war on sugary drinks and fast foods, statistics obtained by The Post reveal.

The city�s obesity rate among adults has skyrocketed 25 percent since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, city Health Department figures show.

That year, nearly one in five New Yorkers was considered obese. Now almost one in four is.
Because, you know that top-down micro-management always works...

Heh - Hillary in the news

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From The Hollywood Reporter:
NBC Scraps Hillary Clinton Miniseries
NBC has scrapped its controversial Hillary Clinton miniseries project.

"After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/miniseries development, we've decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton miniseries," the network said in a statement Monday.

The news comes hours after CNN Films opted to cancel its planned documentary on the former secretary of state and first lady after pressure from both Democrats and Republicans.
Did she just jump the shark? That would be delightful...

Obamacare at the threshold

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Listening to the radio -- the funding vote is coming down to the wire (about an hour and 40 minutes) and the Democrats are stonewalling. I would not mind of the government shut down for a few weeks -- some inconveniences but nothing earth shattering. How are businesses dealing with the new law? Here is one example. From the UK Guardian:
US employers slashing worker hours to avoid Obamacare insurance mandate
Avita Samuels has worked at the Mall of America in Minneapolis for the last four years, juggling a sales job with her studies in political science and law at the University of Minnesota. The 24-year-old has been the top sales associate for the last three years and works between 29 and 35 hours a week. But over the past few months, she said, she has watched as friends working in stores around her have their hours and benefits slashed � and she's worried that she will be next.

Forever 21, the clothing store, told staff last month in a memo leaked to the press that it planned to cut hours and reclassify some full-time workers as part- time. The move, which the company denied had anything to do with President Barack Obama's health reforms, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will nevertheless help it avoid a mandate under the legislation requiring companies with 50 or more employees to offer those working 30 hours a week or more health insurance. Earlier this month, Seaworld, which operates 11 entertainment parks across the US, capped hours for part time workers at 28, down from 32, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Other retailers, such as Trader Joe's and Home Depot have said they will no longer provide medical coverage for part-time employees, and will shift them instead to the public healthcare exchanges which open Tuesday, 1 October. Some employers have said their health costs will rise as a result of various provisions of the ACA, which takes full effect in 2015, when larger companies have to provide health benefits to full time workers or pay a $2,000 per-person fine.
And you have to love how they are changing things around -- from The Weekly Standard:
Obamacare Website Quietly Deletes Reference to 'Free Health Care'
Even as President Obama and his administration are making a last minute push to encourage enrollment in Obamacare, a quiet change was made on the Healthcare.gov website regarding those who will still not be able to afford coverage after the program kicks in. From at least June 26, 2013 to as recently as September 15, under the topic, "Where can I get free or low-cost care in my community?" the following statement appeared: "If you can't afford any health plan, you can get free or low-cost health and dental care at a nearby community health center." Here is how the page in question appeared:

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However, sometime between September 16 and September 23, the reference to "free" care was dropped. The title of the topic was changed as well, and now reads: "Where can I get low-cost care in my community?" Here is how the page currently appears:

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The page in question is not a new one, as the webpage's Internet address remains the same, still containing the word "free": www.healthcare.gov/where-can-i-get-free-or-low-cost-care/. However, there is no notation anywhere on the page that it was revised; the change just appeared unannounced.

Other changes include dropping references to "dental" care and the availability of "prescription drugs," as well as exchanging the phrase "specialized care for more serious conditions" for the milder "referrals to specialized care."
We truly stand at the threshold -- this needs to be shot down in flames.

Quite the wind storm last night and we are not out of the woods yet. From Cliff Mass this morning:

Brief Post Mortem
There were branches and even some trees down on the Burke Gilman bike trail this morning...so I knew something had happened. Here is a summary of the strongest winds over the past 24 hr. Big winds (70-90 mph) at some exposed mountain locations (they call it Hurricane Ridge for a reason!). Lots of 30-45 mph gusts in the lowlands and 50-70 mph along the coast.

The 48-h total precipitation ending 11:48 PM last night from Seattle Rainwatch shows the big differences over the lowlands (this is not valid over the mountains or south of Olympia). Some locations got to 5 inches or more. And there was a well-defined rainshadow NE of the Olympics.

And a picture is worth 1,000 words:

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And we are not over yet...

Welcome to Night Vale

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Just got turned onto this twice-monthly show (30+ already out there) and am entranced. From their website:
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

Turn on your radio and hide.
Available through a lot of sources: iTunes, YouTube

Minimum Wage - not what you think

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A two-fer. First - Milton Friedman:
Second - John Stossel:
Swiped from Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man

A new Snowden release - black budgets

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Time to sit down with a big bowl of popcorn. From Pentagon Post:
Snowden Leaks Unprecedented US �black budget�
Leaker Edward Snowden has disclosed a breakdown of United States intelligence�s multi-billion dollar �black budget.� The leaked files reveal budget for the CIA is most expensive among the 16 intelligence agencies. Out of $52.6bn the budget for CIA alone is $14.7bn.

A report published by The Washington Post says two of those agencies hack into the foreign computer networks. The newspaper detailed the budget, but omitting several documents which are having sensitive details and US officials had expressed concerns.

The 178-page budget summary reveals the National Security Agency (NSA) requested for $10.8bn budget this year, becoming second after the CIA.

Since 2004 the budget for CIA has grown by more than 50 percent, reports Washington Post.
Fun times ahead -- not a peep out of the mainstream media on this story. Wonder why?

Object of desire - laser rifle

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From Gizmodo

Censorship at the Universities

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An interesting story about Economist Ronald Coase who passed away earlier this month. From Reason:
Economist Ronald Coase Was Chased Out of UVA in 1964 for Supporting Market Solutions.
The Twitter feed of academic Siva Vaidhyanathan points to this story about how recently deceased economist Ronald Coase was chased out of the University of Virginia in the early 1960s.

The heinous crime of Coase, who would go on to win the 1991 Nobel Prize in economics? He stood against the rising tide of belief in an economy managed by experts and regulators.
"He introduced this whole notion," says [UVA law prof George] Cohen, "that people through private negotiation can reach an efficient solution."

What Coase and his colleagues were challenging, Cohen says, was the widespread belief that the only way to protect scarce resources� such as air, water, or habitat� was via taxation. Unfortunately, as Coase and Center co-founder James M. Buchanan would learn, using markets to achieve efficient and beneficent goals would run afoul of the university administration intent on a more "modern" outlook.
He challenged the 'progressive' idea of big central planning. How un-Marxist of him... Much more here and here.

Slow day today too

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Playing with fire. Unloaded the truck in preparation for tomorrows store shopping run. A local cabinet maker gave me a big load of black walnut scraps which I will be using for knife handles. Local tree and some nice figure in the grain. Not suitable for cabinet making -- the 'wild' grain would cause warping in a long board. For something as small as a handle, it will be perfect. Got quite the storm heading our way -- should hit sometime late afternoon. Snow and Flood warnings. Cliff Mass has the story: September Storm: Nowcast Sunday 10AM
Great canonical list of applications to enhance your online security. Check out Prism-Break:
Opt out of global data surveillance programs like PRISM, XKeyscore and Tempora. Stop governments from spying on you by encrypting your communications and ending your reliance on proprietary services.
Good collection.

Slow day today

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Busy last couple of days so taking it easy -- working in the forge. Rain is coming down, chilly - nice day to be playing with fire...

Cool technology - Rice University

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From Rice University:
Rice students� robot arm a Dee-light for teen
It was a big day for Dee Faught when a team of Rice University students gave him a helping hand. In fact, they gave him a whole arm.

The bioengineering students won Rice�s George R. Brown School of Engineering Design Showcase and Competition last April for their R-ARM, a robotic device for Faught that fits his motorized chair. A video game controller allows Faught to manipulate the robotic arm. The students had the eager teen try a nearly finished version of the device Sept. 20 at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston.

Faught, 17, lives with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic condition that makes his bones especially brittle. The device will enable him to perform tasks most people take for granted.

�It will help him reach into the cabinets and get a cup or something he can�t get to from his chair by himself,� said his mom, Stacy Faught. �One of the things I�m excited about is that he�ll be able to pick up his laundry off the floor.�

�We�ve seen a lot of people tell him he�s not going to be able to do certain things,� said his dad, Keith. �Dee�s not one to say, �I can�t do it.� He�ll figure out a way.�.
The video:
Dang, there is a lot of dust in the air -- got something in my eye...

Looks like a fun event - Zombie Photo Shoot 2013

From their website:

Zombie Photo Shoot 2013
This is our 4th year for the Zombie Photo shoot and it is looking like this year will be the best ever! The Date for this year is Oct 5th and will be held at the George Town Steam Plant!

We will have some of the best zombie make-up artists in the area, top notch photographers, tons of zombies and a location that cant be beat! Don�t miss out on this epic adventure and get your tickets today! Tickets can be purchased from Brown paper Tickets!

The Steam Plant is a wonderful steam-punk place. Built in the early 1900's, it is still owned by Seattle City Light and is a National Historic Landmark. Open for tours and a fun museum. The Seattle City Light website and here. The Wikipedia page: Georgetown Steam Plant

Our transparent and honest administration

From the UK Guardian -- a great interview of Seymour Hersh:

Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media
Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism - close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn't take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist".

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don't even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends "so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would" - or the death of Osama bin Laden. "Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true," he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an "independent" Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. "The Pakistanis put out a report, don't get me going on it. Let's put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It's a bullshit report," he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

"It's pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]," he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

A lot more at the site -- Hersh is the real deal. He was the person who broke the Vietnam My Lai massacre story. Looking forward to the book - nothing yet on Amazon.

Rain rain go away

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Was planning to move some equipment today -- had rented a flat bed with a tailgate lift. Last couple of days were gorgeous -- cool and clear weather. Woke up this morning to a downpour with 4 to 6 inches more precipitation expected through the weekend. Driving into town to return the flatbed and wait for some nicer weather. Grumble...

Holy crap - lightsabers

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From geek.com:
New form of photon-based matter is essentially a lightsaber
Modern physics has taught us quite a lot about light and how it behaves, but some of what we thought we knew might not be entirely accurate. A team of scientists from MIT and Harvard have been herding photons through a cloud of super-cold atoms in an attempt to get them to do something that was once considered impossible � bind together. According to a new paper, they may have succeeded in creating a new form of matter entirely from photons, which is basically a lightsaber.

Conventional wisdom holds that photons are massless particles that don�t interact with each other, so how can they form molecules? The key was to create a special medium in which photons can interact strongly enough that they attract one another as if they have mass. This so-called �photonic matter� has been theorized for some time in scientific circles, but only in the abstract.

The team used a vacuum chamber filled with rubidium atoms to facilitate the formation of photonic matter. The cloud of gas was cooled to within a few degrees of absolute zero using (fittingly) lasers. Short laser pulses were then used to send individual photons into the cloud where the chilled gas sapped energy away from them, causing the photons to slow down considerably by the time they exited the cloud. If more than one photon was sent in at the same time, the researchers found the particles would lose so much energy that they emerged together as a single molecule.
Still a loooong way from the Star Wars sidearm but very very cool! Remember what lasers were like fifty years ago? Laboratory curiosities -- now look at them.

Wonder if she will comply - Nancy Pelosi

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From The Washington Times:
No communion for Nancy Pelosi: Vatican court head
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has no Catholic right to be granted Communion, said the leading cardinal of the highest court at the Vatican.

Mrs. Pelosi should be denied Communion until she changes her advocacy views on abortion, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke said, in an interview with The Wanderer reported by the Western Center for Journalism.

That�s canon law, not opinion, he said. Canon 915 states that Catholics who are stubbornly contrary �in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.�

And Cardinal Burke said Mrs. Pelosi fits the definition.
Good on Cardinal Burke to show some moral backbone and call it like he sees it.

A rally in Washington, D.C.

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From Stop Watching Us
About the rally
Right now the NSA is spying on everyone's personal communications, and they�re operating without any meaningful oversight. Since the Snowden leaks started, more than 569,000 people from all walks of life have signed the StopWatching.us petition telling the U.S. Congress that we want them to rein in the NSA.

On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the US Patriot Act, we're taking the next step and holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We�ll be handing the half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us -- and we won�t tolerate mass surveillance any longer.
More from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Time to Speak Up Against the NSA�s Mass Spying
This summer, some of our worst fears and suspicions about the NSA have been confirmed. We now have evidence that the NSA is actively undermining the basic security of the Internet. It is collecting millions and millions of phone records of individuals not suspected of any crime. It is surveilling journalists.

The NSA�s overreaching surveillance is creating a climate of fear and chilling free speech. Its addiction to secrecy makes real accountability impossible.

But there�s a movement forming to change all of this. And we're about to take the next step.
Good -- let's hope that hundreds of thousands of geeks show up. Send a strong message that this violation of our 4th Amendment rights is not tolerated.
University of Washington Meteorologist is going to visit Bellingham and speak here on October 15th (a Tuesday). More info at the Community Boating Center

Twitter Alerts

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Very cool idea - from Twitter:
Twitter Alerts: Critical information when you need it most
Today, we�re launching Twitter Alerts, a new feature that brings us one step closer to helping users get important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren�t accessible.
Here is the list of participating agencies.

Not how its done

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From FOX News:
Kerry to sign UN arms treaty, despite senators' opposition
Secretary of State John Kerry plans to sign a controversial U.N. treaty on arms regulation on Wednesday, a senior State Department official told Fox News -- despite warnings from lawmakers that the Senate will not ratify the agreement.

A State official said the treaty would "reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world's worst crimes," while protecting gun rights.
SecState has no authority to sign a treaty of any kind. That is the President's job. The Senate must vote to ratify with a 2/3rds majority. Is Kerry just clueless or is he doing this willfully. I say both.

So true

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Swiped from here.

The new iPhone - a review

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From here: MadOgre
From the Latin American Herald Tribune:
Moody�s Changes Costa Rica�s Outlook to Negative
Moody�s Investors Service has changed the outlook on Costa Rica�s Baa3 bond rating to negative from stable. The outlook change reflects:
1.A continued increase in the main debt metrics since 2009;
2.The country�s difficulty in passing legislation to reduce high fiscal deficits and limit the increase in the debt burden.
And of course, they are going to keep raising taxes instead of slashing them. Paging Arthur Laffer -- Dr. Laffer to the white courtesy phone please...

A wonderful evening

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The party was a lot of fun -- it is so nice to socialize with people outside of the work environment. A couple of photos:
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The Paella was awesome!

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Lulu and Tina

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Friends

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Late night jam session
I am so blessed to have these people as friends.

Samuel L. Jackson on President Obama

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Great interview at Playboy Magazine. This caught my eye:
PLAYBOY: Or a society that views graduating from college or grad school as elitist, or one in which President Obama or other highly educated Americans consciously drop gs off the ends of words to sound like Joe Average?
JACKSON: First of all, we know it ain�t because of his blackness, so I say stop trying to �relate.� Be a leader. Be fucking presidential. Look, I grew up in a society where I could say �It ain�t� or �What it be� to my friends. But when I�m out presenting myself to the world as me, who graduated from college, who had family who cared about me, who has a well-read background, I fucking conjugate.
So true.

Ted Cruise - live video

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Cruise is speaking on defunding Obamacare. Live feed from C-SPAN I have it running while finishing the cooking for tonight's party. The guy is articulate -- much better than Obama. National Journal is summarizing the speech.

Great news from Russia

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From ABC News:
Russia to File Piracy Charges Against Greenpeace
Russia's top investigative agency said Tuesday it will prosecute Greenpeace activists on piracy charges for trying to climb onto an Arctic offshore drilling platform owned by the state-controlled gas company Gazprom.

The 30 activists from 18 countries were on a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, which was seized last week by the Russian Coast Guard. The ship was towed Tuesday into a small bay near Russia's Arctic port of Murmansk and the activists were later bused to the local headquarters of Russia's Investigative Committee for questioning.

The Investigative Committee, Russia's main federal investigative agency, said its agents will question all those who took part in the protest and detain the "most active" of them on piracy charges. Piracy carries a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of 500,000 rubles (about $15,500).
A bit more:
"When a foreign vessel full of electronic technical equipment of unknown purpose and a group of people calling themselves members of an environmental rights organization try nothing less than to take a drilling platform by storm, logical doubts arise about their intentions," Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement.
Good for them -- this kind of 'environmental' stupidity should be punished. Make it expensive and make it hurt and these people will crawl back under their rocks. If there was a real scientific basis for their actions, that would be something completely different -- these are just lost children mindlessly following some idiot leader.

From the Brisbane Courier Mail:

Suzuki revealed as complete know-nothing by very first question on Q&A
Oh. My. God.

David Suzuki on the very first question is revealed as a complete know-nothing. His questioner tells him that the main climate data sets show no real warming for some 15 years.

Suzuki asks for the references, which he should have known if he knew anything of the science.

His questioner then lists them: UAH, RSS, HadCrut and GISS - four of the most basic measurement systems of global temperature.

Suzuki asks what they are.

Anyone interested in global warming should know right there that Suzuki has absolutely no understanding of what he is talking about.

In my opinion he is a phony.

Much more at the site. If Suzuki is a climate change guru, I feel sorry for his acolytes. The guy should stick to his fruit flys...

Calm before the storm

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Got about 30 people coming here for the store staff party around 6PM Putting finishing touches on the house. Pulled pork is in the oven. Making coleslaw in a few minutes. Should be a lot of fun! The equipment move got postponed to Thursday and Friday. Meeting some people in town Thursday afternoon and taking the truck in to have the brakes done. Busy week!

Off to town - a busy couple of days

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Shopping run for the store today and store staff party tomorrow. We will be closing the store at 6PM tomorrow and people will come over here. A local guy is doing Paella, I will be doing salad and some pulled pork sliders. Should be a lot of fun. Moving some equipment on Wednesday. Like I said, a busy couple of days...

Hazel McCallion / Mississauga, Ontario

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This is how you do it - four years ago, I posted this about the mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, Hazel McCallion. From my post:
We need more politicians like this - Mayor Hazel McCallion
Meet Hazel McCallion - the Mayor of Mississauga, Ontario for 31 years.

Mississauga is the sixth largest city in Canada.

It has zero debt and $700 Million cash reserves.

How did she do it? Low taxes and attracting businesses to her city.
Chance brought me to that post today and I looked her up. She is still mayor, being elected to her 12th consecutive term in office with 76% of the votes. The website for the Office of the Mayor Her entry on Wikipedia Here is the Wikipedia entry for Mississauga -- sounds like a really nice city. Very diverse and prosperous.

From the Chaos Computer Club:

Chaos Computer Club breaks Apple TouchID
The biometrics hacking team of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has successfully bypassed the biometric security of Apple's TouchID using easy everyday means. A fingerprint of the phone user, photographed from a glass surface, was enough to create a fake finger that could unlock an iPhone 5s secured with TouchID. This demonstrates � again � that fingerprint biometrics is unsuitable as access control method and should be avoided.

Apple had released the new iPhone with a fingerprint sensor that was supposedly much more secure than previous fingerprint technology. A lot of bogus speculation about the marvels of the new technology and how hard to defeat it supposedly is had dominated the international technology press for days.

"In reality, Apple's sensor has just a higher resolution compared to the sensors so far. So we only needed to ramp up the resolution of our fake", said the hacker with the nickname Starbug, who performed the critical experiments that led to the successful circumvention of the fingerprint locking. "As we have said now for more than years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything. You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints."

The new iPhone went on sale Sept 20th, the above post was from Sept 21st. Here is the how-to: How to fake fingerprints

A sweet graphics hack

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From Fabien Sanglard's Website:
Decyphering the Business Card Raytracer
I recently came across Paul Heckbert's business card raytracer. For those that have never heard of it: It is a very famous challenge in the Computer Graphics field that started on May 4th, 1984 via a post on comp.graphics by Paul Heckbert ( More about this in his article "A Minimal Ray Tracer" from the book Graphics Gems IV).

The goal was to produce the source code for a raytracer...that would fit on the back of a business card.

Andrew Kensler's version is mesmerizing and one of the greatest hack that I have seen. Since I am curious, I decided to deconstruct it: Here is what I understood.

Edit : Andrew Kensler himself commented on Hacker News and adressed/elaborated on my observations: Thanks you so much Andrew :) !
This is about 1.3 K of tight C++ code and when compiled and run, produces this image:
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What is amazing are the spheres, the graduated sky and the depth of field fuzzing on the floor.

Celebrating Hobbit Day

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From Days of the Year:
Hobbit Day
September 22nd is the Birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, two characters from J.R.R. Tolkien�s popular Middle Earth Cycle books (The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings respectively) in which Hobbits, typically between two and four feet tall and nothing like your usual �hero�, accomplish great feats and amazing acts of courage. It is in honour of these creatures and those acts that the day is celebrated with events not unlike the birthday party described in the beginning of �The Fellowship of the Ring�.

In the United States Hobbit Day has gained some measure of legal dignity due to the elected officials who support the day and the goals of the American Tolkien Society. The Day has also attracted Bipartisan Support from places as the U.S. County Courthouse, to the White House, to the U.S. Capitol.

History
A separate event to Tolkien Week (although the Week will always fall over Hobbit Day, running Sunday to Saturday), Hobbit Day is perhaps the oldest running day celebrated by fans. There is some debate on the date that Hobbit Day should be celebrated on, due to the differences in the Gregorian and Shire calendars. Tolkien once said that the Shire calendar is ahead by about ten days depending on the month. A suggested alternative date by hardcore fans is September 14th. Although the day was not officially designated until 1978 and has had many names and designations, it has been celebrated since 1973, shortly after J.R.R. Tolkien died on September 2nd of that year.

Observances
Fans celebrate by anything from going barefoot all day and having seven meals, to Literary discussions and readings, Lord Of The Rings Movie Marathons, and throwing parties in honour of the �Long Awaited Party� at the start of the Fellowship Of The Ring with events such as feasts, games, costumes and fireworks.
Days of the Year is a fun resource and worth checking out: Home Page

Super powers - defying gravity

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Fun idea -- build a small room that can pivot, fix the camera to the room and it looks like something very strange is going on with gravity:
Hat tip to DIY Photography

Which way the wind blows

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From the South China Morning Post:
Taiwan develops �smart� munitions against China
Taiwan�s air force will be armed with �smart� munitions before the year�s end that could be used against any Chinese invasion by striking airfields and harbours on the mainland, media reported Saturday.

The new weaponry, developed under a project codenamed �Wan Chien� (Ten Thousands Swords), is scheduled to be carried by dozens of Taiwan�s fighter jets.

The island nation began developing its own smart weapons after the United States - Taiwan�s main arms supplier - refused to sell them guided bombs.
A bit more:
Ties between Taiwan and its giant neighbour have improved significantly since the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang government took power in Taipei in 2008. Ma was re-elected in January last year.

But China still considers the island part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, prompting Taipei to seek more advanced defence weaponry mainly from the United States.

Taiwanese experts estimate the People�s Liberation Army currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.
And this is how we treat our allies? Is our financial debt to China so great that we will stand aside when they invade? Oh certainly, a strongly worded memo or two but nothing more.
From Yahoo/Reuters:
Venezuela orders temporary takeover of toilet paper factory
A Venezuelan state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro say the nagging shortages of products ranging from bathroom tissue to milk are a sign his socialist government's rigid price and currency controls are failing. They have also used the situation to poke fun at his administration on social media networks.

A national agency called Sundecop, which enforces price controls, said in a statement it would occupy one of the factories belonging to paper producer Manpa for 15 days, adding that National Guard troops would "safeguard" the facility.

"The action in the producer of toilet paper, sanitary napkins and disposable diapers responds to the state's obligation to ensure a steady supply of basic goods for the people," Sundecop said, adding it had observed "the violation of the right" to access such products.

Calls to the Manpa factory went unanswered.
Once you institute price and currency fixing, any effort to run a reasonable supply chain will fail. Always. Nationalizing a producer will only hurt production because a large government cannot run anything more efficiently than a small organization. They announced that they will be there for 15 days -- watch this extend indefinitely and for toilet paper to become even more scarce and expensive.

Great news from Hong Kong

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From Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground:
Typhoon Usagi made landfall near Shanwei, China, about 90 miles east-northeast of Hong Kong, near 6 pm local time (6 am EDT) on Sunday. At landfall, Usagi--the Japanese word for rabbit--was a powerful Category 2 typhoon with top sustained winds of 110 mph. Shanwei recorded a sea level pressure of about 941 mb at landfall. As of noon EDT, the top winds recorded at the Hong Hong Airport were sustained at 40 mph, with gusts to 53 mph. Hong Kong's Cheung Chau Island recorded sustained winds of 54 mph, gusting to 76 mph. Since the typhoon made landfall well to the east of the city, Hong Kong was on the weaker (left) side of the storm, and missed Usagi's strongest winds and most significant storm surge. Hong Kong had a 0.7 meter (2.3') storm surge at the Kwai Chung measurement site. Shantou, located on the strong (right) side of the storm, experienced sustained winds of 49 mph, gusting to 67 mph. Two people were killed by a falling tree in China near Usagi's landfall location, and the typhoon is also being blamed for two deaths in the Philippines and nine injuries in Taiwan. Satellite images show that Usagi is weakening quickly as it moves inland, and the storm should dissipate over China by Tuesday morning.
So glad that they missed the brunt of the storm. The names used for Typhoons are based on where the storm first formed -- Wikipedia has the canonical list: Lists of tropical cyclone names

Talk about target-rich environment

We could solve a lot of the world's problems if we just keep the 'guests' at this event for a decade or three. From the New York Post's Page Six feature:

Political bigs expected at George Soros wedding
Billionaire investor George Soros, 83, will marry 42-year-old Tamiko Bolton today, followed by a huge party at his Caramoor Estate in Bedford, with 500 guests.

We're told the couple will say their vows in front of a select group of friends and family before they celebrate with hundreds from 4:30 p.m. onward.

Those expected include World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and Toomas Hendrik Ilves, president of Estonia; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia; and Edi Rama, prime minister of Albania.

Also there will be Paul Tudor Jones II and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Festivities started Friday night with a dinner at Le Bernardin, followed by cocktails with a few hundred guests at MoMA.

These people are the core of what is tearing America apart. I do not begrudge Soros his new toy -- I hope they are happy. They just need to stay where they are and not meddle in the affairs of the other 99%. We need Leaders, not petty masterminds and yes, there is a huge difference. Jon Corzine did it the right way. He ripped off about $1.6 Billion in the MF Global scandal and he is living a nice quiet life somewhere:

Jon on the beach
“I simply do not know where the money is…
I do not know which accounts are unreconciled
or whether the unreconciled accounts were,
or were not, subject to the segregation rules.”
— Jon Corzine
From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Gunman's employer sought Navy consulting work
A little more than 24 hours after an IT contractor shot dozen workers at the Washington Navy Yard, the company's CEO told the Navy secretary he had the experience to help improve military security.

The email from The Experts chief Thomas Hoshko, which included descriptions of his background and expertise, stunned some Navy leaders in the wake of the shootings Monday that left 13 people dead, including the gunman, former Navy reservist Aaron Xxxxxx.

The correspondence also fueled concern about what defense officials believe may have been failures by the company to alert the military about Xxxxxx' apparent mental health problems.
On the 17th, this organization issued a press release (PDF) with this excerpt:
At this time, we can confirm that the suspect had been employed by The Experts for approximately six months over the last year, during which time we enlisted a service to perform two background checks and we confirmed twice through the Department of Defense his Secret government clearance. The latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late June of 2013 and revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation.
The guy had been arrested twice (both cases involving gunfire), had been being treated by the VA for mental issues and had a penchant for hard video games. This is either a stunningly bad choice of a "service" or a weapons-grade pants-on-fire ass-covering. Either way, should we continue to use these people in areas of high-security? I didn't think so either...

A fun evening - Bandura concert

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There is a large Ukrainian community nearby and our local library puts on events from time to time. Tonight was two Bandura players from Seattle who gave a wonderful three-hour show. The Ukrainians are great bakers and during the intermission, some of the locals prepared a wonderful banquet of pastries both sweet and savory. I was asked to provide my PA System for the event. The event was well attended:
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Here is a close-up:
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Here is a sample of Bandura music:
And information can be found at Wikipedia: Bandura Sorry for the sickly cast to the photos -- the concert was in an Elementary school gymnasium and the fluorescent lighting had a strong cast to it. It is late and I didn't feel like spending 20 minutes in Photoshop...

Usagi update

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I had posted yesterday about Typhoon Usagi. USA Today has an update:
Powerful typhoon hits Taiwan, Philippines
The most powerful typhoon of the year swept through the Luzon Strait separating the Philippines and Taiwan on Saturday, battering island communities and dumping rain as it eyes landfall in Hong Kong.

Super Typhoon Usagi had maximum sustained winds of 139 mph and gusts exceeding 163 mph Saturday morning, and was 550 kilometers south of Taipei, Taiwan's capital, according to the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center. A storm achieves super typhoon status when winds reach 150 mph.
A bit more:
The U.S. Navy's warning center predicted that Usagi will approach Hong Kong with weaker but dangerous sustained winds of 110 mph early Monday morning, while the Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the No. 1 Standby Signal and warned the storm poses a "severe threat" to the city.
I hate to think of the damage to the boats -- Hong Kong has a lot of islands and is dependent on its fleet of small boats for commerce. Here she is as observed by the Japanese MTSAT-2 satellite:
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Object of desire

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Me waaanttsess this:
Found here: imao

Going out with a bang

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The end of summer is fast approaching and it looks like it will go out with a bang. From Cliff Mass:
First Day of Fall, First Big Storm
Fall officially begins at 1:44 PM PDT on Sunday, September 22, 2013

Our first major storm of the fall will hit almost exactly at the same time.

After a weak front went through tonight (Friday), we will have a break (but with some showers and clouds) on Saturday. But Sunday will truly feel like fall as a strong front, with lots of rain and some wind, moves through the region. According to the UW WRF model, a strong front will be right off the coast at 11 AM (18 UTC) Sunday morning, with strong southerlies along the coast and a BIG wind shift to westerlies behind it (see map). A fairly strong low pressure center is moving into the Gulf of Alaska with this front, producing a decent pressure gradient along the coast and in the Strait of Georgia.
Much more at the site -- forecasting up to 2.5" for our area. Lulu is out in the garden gathering the last of the tomatoes -- planning to can a nice big batch of green tomato salsa tomorrow.

Climate cycles

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Gee -- it used to really warm and then it got cold and now it's getting warm again. From Juneau Empire:
Ancient trees emerge from frozen forest 'tomb'
The Mendenhall Glacier�s recession is unveiling the remains of ancient forests that have remained frozen beneath the ice for up to 2,350 years.

UAS Professor of Geology and Environmental Science Program Coordinator Cathy Connor said she and others have been tracking the emergence of the forests� remains. Some stumps and logs can be found in the moraines around the west side of the glacier. Some remain vertical, frozen to the ground in ice caves. Some are scoured smooth; some still have their bark. All are packed with silt in the outer layers.
A bit more:
The most recent stumps she�s dated emerging from the Mendenhall are between 1,400 and 1,200 years old. The oldest she�s tested are around 2,350 years old. She�s also dated some at around 1,870 to 2,000 years old.

�We�re seeing the Mendenhall wax and wane through time a little bit,� Connor said.
So the glacier waxes and wanes through time but this most current waning is a direct result of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Yeah. Really.

Norway comes to grip with reality

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From the Beeb:
Norway abandons Mongstad carbon capture plans
The outgoing government in Norway has buried much-vaunted plans to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground amid mounting costs and delays.

The oil and energy ministry said the development of full-scale carbon dioxide capture at Mongstad oil refinery had been discontinued.

It said it remained committed to research into carbon capture.

When the Labour Party presented the plan in 2007, it was hailed as Norway's equivalent of a "Moon landing".

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his allies lost a general election to conservatives and centrists this month, and are due to step down shortly.
Kind of hard to sustain this sort of 'feel good' project when the cost is a tangible burden to all citizens. Even more so when CO2 is the "Gas of Life" and essential for plant growth.

NASA's Deep Space Comet Hunter update

Just ran into this post from NASA:

Deep Impact Mission Status Report
Ground controllers have been unable to communicate with NASA's long-lived Deep Impact spacecraft. Last communication with the spacecraft was on Aug. 8, 2013. Deep Impact mission controllers will continue to uplink commands in an attempt to reestablish communications with the spacecraft.

Mission controllers postulate that there was an anomaly generated by the spacecraft's software which left the vehicle's computers in a condition where they are continuously rebooting themselves. If this is the case, the computers would not continue to command the vehicle's thrusters to fire and hold attitude. Lack of attitude hold makes attempts to reestablish communications more difficult because the orientation of the spacecraft's antennas is unknown. It also brings into question the vehicle's electrical power status, as the spacecraft derives its power from a solar array that is fixed, with its cells pointing in one direction.

The mission lasted for a lot longer than intended and the software is 100% custom and hand-crafted. Maybe an overflow. Sad to hear about though...

Raising the Concordia

Just got done watching an excellent show on Discovery Channel.

Here is the website for Raising the Concordia

The photographers had amazing access to the event.

This is drop-dead bodacious engineering -- there is still another six months of work before she is towed to salvage (they also need to sit out winter weather).

gCaptain has some good hi-rez photos.

Timelapse -- nineteen hours into one minute here:

Winding down for the season

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Had a great garden this year but things are winding down. Here are some of the last tomatoes (mostly cherry, a couple romas:
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Here are some salad greens for tonight's dinner -- the baby beets are tasty, couple of heirloom carrots:
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Got some fall stuff in the ground -- greens, more carrots, some late beans, chard and spuds. Garlic goes in in about a month...

Idiot of the day

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How not to find a gas leak:
Now the gloves come off -- from CNS News:
EPA Head: �Climate Change...Is One of Most Significant Public Health Threats'
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Friday discussed the agency�s 493-page proposed regulation that would, for the first time, restrict carbon emissions from new power plants, including coal plants.

�Climate change � caused by carbon pollution � is one of the most significant public health threats of our time,� McCarthy said at the National Press Club. �That�s why EPA has been called to action.�

McCarthy cited power plants as the nation's worst polluters.

�Power plants are the single largest sources of carbon pollution,� McCarthy said. �New power plants can minimize their carbon emissions by taking advantage of modern technologies.�
Modern technologies which will triple the cost of generated electricity. If they were serious about it, they would go for Thorium reactors -- cheap, safe and the waste only needs to be sequestered for a couple hundred years.

Fun times in Hong Kong

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Say hello to Super Typhoon Usagi -- from NASA:
Usagi (Northwestern Pacific Ocean)
The most powerful typhoon of 2013 was passing between northern Philippines and southern Taiwan on Sept. 19. When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Usagi, infrared data showed a large area of powerful thunderstorms and heavy rain surrounding the center while NASA's TRMM satellite measured that heavy rainfall from space.

Super-Typhoon Usagi is a monster storm that according the Joint Typhoon Warning Center is headed for a landfall near Hong Kong on Sept. 22 around 1200 UTC/8 a.m. EDT/8 p.m. local time Hong Kong.

Usagi formed in the open waters of the Philippine Sea about 1,000 km/~620 miles east of the Philippines on September 16, 2013. Usagi rapidly intensified and became a typhoon on Sept. 18 and a Super Typhoon on Sept. 19 when it had estimated maximum winds of close to 140 knots/~161 mph.
Visited Hong Kong several times in the past and loved it -- a fun city if one likes cities. Much of it is well above sea level so should be OK -- my concerns would be the older buildings -- temples, residences, etc... Keeping an eye on this as it develops. And yes, Usagi means bunny in Japanese.
From NASA:
NASA's Deep Space Comet Hunter Mission Comes to an End
After almost 9 years in space that included an unprecedented July 4th impact and subsequent flyby of a comet, an additional comet flyby, and the return of approximately 500,000 images of celestial objects, NASA's Deep Impact mission has ended.

The project team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., has reluctantly pronounced the mission at an end after being unable to communicate with the spacecraft for over a month. The last communication with the probe was Aug. 8. Deep Impact was history's most traveled comet research mission, going about 4.7 billion miles (7.58 billion kilometers).

"Deep Impact has been a fantastic, long-lasting spacecraft that has produced far more data than we had planned," said Mike A'Hearn, the Deep Impact principal investigator at the University of Maryland in College Park. "It has revolutionized our understanding of comets and their activity."

Deep Impact successfully completed its original bold mission of six months in 2005 to investigate both the surface and interior composition of a comet, and a subsequent extended mission of another comet flyby and observations of planets around other stars that lasted from July 2007 to December 2010. Since then, the spacecraft has been continually used as a space-borne planetary observatory to capture images and other scientific data on several targets of opportunity with its telescopes and instrumentation.
Eight years is a good run but sad to see it end just because of a glitch. Here is the Deep Impact website Here is a summary of its history.
From The Washington Times:
House Republicans pass test vote to defund Obamacare; shutdown edges closer
House Republicans survived a key test vote Thursday on their plan to keep the government running while trying to halt the health care law, defying a veto threat from President Obama and inching closer to a shutdown showdown with Senate Democrats.

Top Republicans say their party�s strategy is unlikely to succeed and not worth shutting down the government, but some rank-and-file lawmakers said they have to draw a line now and use the leverage of the spending bill to end the president�s signature achievement.

Democrats were just as adamant. The White House issued a statement vowing a veto, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said the bill to defund the health care act has no chance.
This needs to be done before the end of this month -- before the next Fiscal Year kicks in. After that, it will be a lot harder to kill this beast.

Our quiet sun

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I had mentioned before that indications point to our sun entering a quiet time -- potentially something like another Maunder Minimum. Considering that our sun is the key driver for our climate, this could be serious. Here is some more -- from The Times of India:
Solar activity drops to 100-year low, puzzling scientists
Predictions that 2013 would see an upsurge in solar activity and geomagnetic storms disrupting power grids and communications systems have proved to be a false alarm. Instead, the current peak in the solar cycle is the weakest for a century.

Subdued solar activity has prompted controversial comparisons with the Maunder Minimum, which occurred between 1645 and 1715, when a prolonged absence of sunspots and other indicators of solar activity coincided with the coldest period in the last millennium.

The comparisons have sparked a furious exchange of views between observers who believe the planet could be on the brink of another period of cooling, and scientists who insist there is no evidence that temperatures are about to fall.

New Scientist magazine blasted those who predicted a mini ice age, opening a recent article on the surprising lack of sunspots this year with the bold declaration: "Those hoping that the sun could save us from climate change look set for disappointment".
I stopped reading New Scientist over ten years ago -- they and Scientific American used to be great publications but they have become bully-pulpits for many political scams. They would not recognize real science if it landed in their Erlenmeyer flask...

Truth then (2009), truth now

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Video was made in 2008, I found it and posted it in 2009. It is still very relevant:
More here:

Projectile vomiting

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Driving back home I saw a car with a small bumper sticker. I edged closer and read it:
ready-for-hildebeast.jpg
So wrong on so many levels. She let Benghazi happen on her watch -- what will she do if she gets elected. Older woman with a high-end BMW convertible -- she is immune from the effects of Obama and personalizes the self-centered, low-information-voter...

Costa Concordia is upright and floating

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Some great photos from Business Insider -- here is one:
c-concordia.jpg
Amazing feat of engineering.

Back home again

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Long long day but a successful one and back home again. Regular spew will resume tomorrow...

Oh yeah - the murdering asshole from D.C.

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Was a big-time liberal and Obama supporter. Coming to your media outlet in 10... 9... 8... 7...

Heading south

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Driving down to Seattle to pick up a piece of equipment. Minimal posting until much later today...

How to empty a swimming pool

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Minimal posting today and tomorrow

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Working on some stuff today and heading down to Seattle tomorrow.

The reality of today:

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Fact not narrative...

Art Bell on the air

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The first show has been a lot of fun. Art's first guest was theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku. A fun ramble through current Physics and Art is just starting to take calls. Looking forward to more episodes!

More. Faster. Please!

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What makes this really interesting is that the equipment is very similar to the ones being built by a group in New Mexico called EMC2 Fusion. I went to link to their site only to find that the site was gone. Completely. I know that they had been operating under a small NAVY grant. Fortunately, the Internet Wayback Machine has a copy from two years ago. Very curious. I wonder if it is any coincidence that Art Bell is returning to the airwaves tonight...
Horrible news from Washington D.C. this morning -- heard about it as I was driving in for my shopping run. Still no word as to motive but the perp had some other incidences of violence in his life.
Alexis 1A.jpg
Burn in Hell motherfucker -- I will not mention his name as it should be forgotten by the world as soon as possible. What gets me is that the gun grabbers are already ramping up the hype machine. The asshole was a known criminal and this morning, he had bad intent. There is no law in our nation that would have prevented him from getting a gun if he was serious about acquiring one.

Today's word: Parbuckling

A variety of marine salvage. Righting a sunken vessel by using leverage to rotate it. The sunken cruise ship -- the MS Costa Concordia -- is being parbuckled today. Wikipedia has the definition: Parbuckle salvage Reuters has the story:
Engineers start Costa Concordia salvage off Italian island
Engineering teams on the Italian island of Giglio began lifting the wrecked Costa Concordia liner upright on Monday in one of the most complex and costly maritime salvage operations ever attempted.

The vast hulk of the 114,500-tonne cruise liner has lain on its side for more than 20 months, dominating the tiny port in the Tuscan holiday island where it ran aground and capsized on January 13, 2012, killing 32 people.

After a three-hour delay caused by an overnight storm which interrupted final preparations, salvage crews started the so-called "parbuckling" operation at around 9.00 a.m. (0300 ET).
The first signs the wreck was shifting were registered at around midday as underwater cameras recorded water swirling in the area where the metal was resting on the sea bed.

"It's all quite within projections, both in terms of measurements and the way the wreck's behaving," Sergio Girotto, project manager for contractors Micoperi, told reporters.
A bit more:
At a cost estimated so far at more than 600 million euros ($795 million), it is expected to be the most expensive maritime wreck recovery ever, accounting for more than half of an overall insurance loss of more than $1.1 billion.
Yikes -- the whole ship only cost $570 million USD when she was handed over in 2006. Memo to self -- do not stray from the route, even if people are waving from shore.

A shockingly good time

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The grand opening was a lot of fun and the person has a lot of stuff that will be good for the farm. Prices are competitive with the nearest other feed store -- a thirty mile round trip. Barb is less than two miles away. Zero brainer and I hope the same for a lot of other residents. The Spark Museum was waay too much fun -- I had been there a couple years ago and they have grown a lot. Their exhibit space is a lot better organized and they now have original pieces on loan from the Smithsonian. World class. And of course, Lulu and I had to take a ride on the MegaZapper. First is with both of us in the cage, second Lulu is shooting me. That is about 400,000+ volts and some serious amperage.
Inside the Faraday Cage it is totally safe but a spectacular experience.
Heading out to a neighbors house where she is having her grand opening. Say hello to Maple Falls Feed & More Needless to say, the website is just a stub and will be fleshed out in the next couple of weeks... Next, heading into Bellingham for this event: Tesla lecture and book signing The museum is a lot of fun and I had read Dr. Carlson's book a month ago so it is still very fresh in my mind. Probably grab a bite in town.

I wish...

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Quote of the day - C.S. Lewis

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Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron�s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
-�C.S. Lewis, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment

Security in New York City

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The E-ZPass is an RFID device you can subscribe to and use to pay the tolls for using the bridges and tunnels in New York City. Turns out, it is not just being used for that -- from Forbes Magazine:
E-ZPasses Get Read All Over New York (Not Just At Toll Booths)
After spotting a police car with two huge boxes on its trunk � that turned out to be license-plate-reading cameras � a man in New Jersey became obsessed with the loss of privacy for vehicles on American roads. (He�s not the only one.) The man, who goes by the Internet handle �Puking Monkey,� did an analysis of the many ways his car could be tracked and stumbled upon something rather interesting: his E-ZPass, which he obtained for the purpose of paying tolls, was being used to track his car in unexpected places, far away from any toll booths.

Puking Monkey is an electronics tinkerer, so he hacked his RFID-enabled E-ZPass to set off a light and a �moo cow� every time it was being read. Then he drove around New York. His tag got milked multiple times on the short drive from Times Square to Madison Square Garden in mid-town Manhattan�

At Defcon, where he presented his findings, Puking Monkey said he found the reading of the E-ZPass outside of where he thought it would be read when he put it in his car �intrusive and unsettling,� quoting from Sen. Chuck Schumer�s remarks about retailers tracking people who come into their stores using their cell phones.
You can get containers that will block the RF from your unit -- just take it out when you are in line for the toll booth. Why do they need all of this information?

Further FBI overreach

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From Wired:
FBI Admits It Controlled Tor Servers Behind Mass Malware Attack
It wasn�t ever seriously in doubt, but the FBI yesterday acknowledged that it secretly took control of Freedom Hosting last July, days before the servers of the largest provider of ultra-anonymous hosting were found to be serving custom malware designed to identify visitors.

Freedom Hosting�s operator, Eric Eoin Marques, had rented the servers from an unnamed commercial hosting provider in France, and paid for them from a bank account in Las Vegas. It�s not clear how the FBI took over the servers in late July, but the bureau was temporarily thwarted when Marques somehow regained access and changed the passwords, briefly locking out the FBI until it gained back control.
A bit more -- smoking gun:
The heart of the malicious Javascript was a tiny Windows executable hidden in a variable named �Magneto.� A traditional virus would use that executable to download and install a full-featured backdoor, so the hacker could come in later and steal passwords, enlist the computer in a DDoS botnet, and generally do all the other nasty things that happen to a hacked Windows box.

But the Magneto code didn�t download anything. It looked up the victim�s MAC address � a unique hardware identifier for the computer�s network or Wi-Fi card � and the victim�s Windows hostname. Then it sent it to a server in Northern Virginia server, bypassing Tor, to expose the user�s real IP address, coding the transmission as a standard HTTP web request.

�The attackers spent a reasonable amount of time writing a reliable exploit, and a fairly customized payload, and it doesn�t allow them to download a backdoor or conduct any secondary activity,� said Vlad Tsyrklevich, who reverse-engineered the Magneto code, at the time.

The malware also sent a serial number that likely ties the target to his or her visit to the hacked Freedom Hosting-hosted website.

The official IP allocation records maintained by the American Registry for Internet Numbers show the two Magneto-related IP addresses were part of a ghost block of eight addresses that have no organization listed. Those addresses trace no further than the Verizon Business data center in Ashburn, Virginia, 20 miles northwest of the Capital Beltway.
Our government is seriously overstepping its bounds...

The White House - bugged!

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From the National Journal:
Bugged: Obama's Roach Problem
It was just a cockroach, one of millions around the world. But this one had a White House address, making it pretty special. Well, special at least to the reporters with workspace in the often-troubled basement of the press offices. Already this year, they have been treated to flooding, soaked carpet, mousetraps and the wondrous odors of mold.

"It was the size of a small drone," said Martha Joynt Kumar, professor of political science at Towson University, who led the effort Wednesday to capture the bug. Kumar, who has worked out of the press offices studying the president-press relationship for almost four decades, wanted to turn it into the General Services Administration, the agency responsible for the building. "I wanted to bag it so that the GSA would know what kind of issue we had," she said. "I chased it. But it got away behind some wiring."

It is, of course, not the first time bugs or vermin have done battle with the humans who work in the 213-year-old building. Humans have not always prevailed easily � much to the deep frustration sometimes of the president of the United States. None was more frustrated than Jimmy Carter, who battled mice from the start of his administration. To his dismay, he found the bureaucracy unresponsive. GSA, responsible for inside the White House, insisted it had eliminated all "inside" mice and contended any new mice must have come from the outside, meaning, the New York Times reported at the time, they were "the responsibility of the Interior Department." But Interior, wrote the Times, "demurred" because the mice were now inside the White House.
Heh -- the two worst presidents and the two times of serious infestation. Coincidence?

A cool bit of Mechanical Physics

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The metronomes are resting on a platform that is suspended and can sway back and forth. This delivers enough of a nudge to cause all 32 metronomes to synchronize within a few minutes. Gotta love that little straggler -- the second one in on the far right column. Finally gets schooled at 2:40.

Peace in our time

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One of Bill's best.

Our masterminds at work - John Kerry

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From the Washington Examiner:
John Kerry's Russian counterpart mocks him for talking too much
Secretary of State John Kerry's negotiations with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov got off to a rocky start Thursday, with the Russian mocking Kerry right at the outset.

"They got off to a really bad start yesterday -- partly because of the Putin op-ed and partly because Kerry in the opening remarks spoke at length -- and I mean at length -- compared to the unprepared few welcoming comments from the Russian counterpart," NBC News foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell said on Morning Joe.

"And then the Russian minister said at the end, very tartly, 'sometimes diplomacy demands silence.'"
Tone deaf idiot -- it's amazing that he made a serious run for president...

No comment

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Approaching Newfoundland - redux

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Well dang! No word from his website but his position tracker has been stuck on the coastline of Newfoundland for more than 12 hours and the UK Telegraph is reporting that he is calling it quits. From The Telegraph:
Balloonist�s attempt to cross Atlantic ends after only 12 hours
Mr Trappe was forced to make an early landing in Newfoundland, Canada, due to a technical issue.

Mr Trappe, 39, an IT consultant from Raleigh, North Carolina, took off on Thursday morning at 6.30am EDT, but only 12 hours later, Kevin Knapp, speaking from the command centre overseeing the flight, was he was forced to abandon the flight.

�Thankfully he is safe and well and currently making preparations to get home,� Mr Knapp said. �While disappointing that he had to cut his quest across the Atlantic short, I know Jonathan thanks everyone for their support and encouragement.�

Despite fears Atlantic weather systems would be the greatest obstacle to achieving his dream crossing, the landing was blamed on a technical problem relating to the balloons.
BALLOON-MAN.jpg
It is good that he plaid safe rather than taking a chance but still, this was a project he had planned for a long long time...
Windmills are not called Eagle Cuisinarts for no reason. Now it seems that the numbers are a lot higher than previously released. From FOX News:
�Alarming� number of eagles killed by wind farms, new study finds
Wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new scientific study by government biologists.

The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation's growing wind energy industry, which has been a pillar of President Obama's plans to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Wind power releases no air pollution.

But at a minimum, the scientists wrote, wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths -- 79 -- were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. One of the eagles counted in the study was electrocuted by a power line.
And it just keeps getting better:
Still, the scientists said their figure is likely to be "substantially" underestimated, since companies report eagle deaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The study also excluded the deadliest place in the country for eagles, a cluster of wind farms in a northern California area known as Altamont Pass. Wind farms built there decades ago kill more than 60 per year.
Emphasis mine -- again, the reporting is voluntary so the reported number is a lot smaller than the real number. Each eagle death is a felony charge if one of us were to do it. The report was published by the Journal of Raptor Research and is unfortunately locked behind the paywall at BioOne. Wind power is a highly flawed source of energy. Conventional generators need to be kept running on hot-standby to take up the slack when the wind dies. Wind is not a baseline energy source. Plus, there is the excellent question of whether wind turbines are actually a net contributor as they have major energy needs for their operation. Thorium reactors now please!

Message in a bottle

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From Toronto, Canada's Global News:
Century-old message in a bottle found in Tofino
A Courtenay man made the discovery of a lifetime when he came across a bottle containing a message dating all the way back to 1906.

Steve Thurber says he was walking along Schooner�s Cove in Tofino on Monday when he found the old bottle lying in the sand. It was in an area recently excavated as part of a Parks Canada invasive species restoration project.

The bottle was sealed and had a note inside.

Thurber did not want to open or break the bottle for fear of damaging the letter inside, but he was able to make out through the glass that the note was dated September 29, 1906 and was signed by Earl Willard, who was sailing from San Francisco to Bellingham aboard the Steamer Rainier when he threw the bottle into the ocean, 76 hours into the voyage.

It even lists Willard�s address in Bellingham, which is now the Railway museum.

�Maybe there was only one [bottle] that the guy sent out and I found it. It is like one in a billion chances,� says Thurber.

After researching online records, Thurber says his message in a bottle may be the oldest in the world � with the next oldest dating back to 1914.

�I guess it is a chance thing that you find something that somebody sent out into the water. I mean, even if it was a year later or ten years later, but a hundred years later is just unreal,� says Thurber.
Very cool! Talk about a time capsule -- it would be interesting to see if any of Willard's decedents are still in the area.

More on the IRS scandal - emails released

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Lois Lerner is soooo busted. From Rachel Pulaski writing at Gateway Pundit:
Busted! Lois Lerner Emails Just Released: Tea Party is �Very Dangerous�, GOP Congressman Calls for �Criminal Penalties�
Shady former IRS official Lois Lerner has been the prime operative of one of the biggest IRS scandals in history. Lerner purposely targeted Tea Parties across the country as well as other conservative groups.

The IRS Scandal involves:
  • At least 292 conservative groups targeted
  • At least 5 pro-Israel groups targeted
  • Constitutional groups targeted
  • Groups that criticized Obama administration were targeted
  • At least two pro-life groups targeted
  • A Texas voting-rights group was targeted
  • Conservative activists and businesses were targeted
  • At least 88 IRS agents were involved in the targeting scandal
  • At least one conservative Hispanic group was targeted
  • IRS continued to target groups even after the scandal was exposed
Now, newly released emails between Lois Lerner and her colleagues reveal she was targeting Tea Party groups and referred to them as �very dangerous�. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is calling for criminal penalties against Lois Lerner for lying to congress.
Lots more at the site including links to corroborating data on each of the above bulleted items. It would be interesting if she decided to come clean and publicly throw Obama and Holder under the bus...

Approaching Newfoundland

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Quite the journey -- Jonathan Trappe lifted off early this morning from northern Maine. He is approaching Newfoundland on his journey across the Atlantic Ocean. His vehicle? A large cluster of party balloons. Website: Cluster Balloon.com Map showing position from his transponders From his website (no ability to link):
The Atlantic Ocean. The Big Blue Deep.
I have been looking at an epic challenge-- one that honestly may prove to be beyond me. I have been looking at it for years, and I've changed my entire life to make it happen. As I write these words, I am in the State of Maine, the jumping-off point for our trans-Atlantic expedition. I left my longtime home, came across country, and worked with my company so I can be here and prepare to fly. Why so much?

Because it will be a flight like no other.

It has been a generation since anyone has crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the United States using only helium. In fact, the last person to do it was the great balloonist Colonel Joe Kittinger, in 1984. Decades have passed, and no one has made the crossing from the USA using only helium since.

Nobody has ever made a flight like this, using only small helium balloons - in manned flight - across the ocean.

This is very serious; it is the great Atlantic Ocean. Five people have lost their lives attempting to cross these waters in a balloon, and two non-pilots were lost into the oceans flying cluster balloons. I know this, and I work to methodically reduce the risk, so we can have a successful flight for a new generation. I spent months searching for the ideal gondola that I could fly over that tremendous body of water. I needed something that would preserve human life at sea, should I need to ditch into the ocean. After months of searching, I found a perfect, sturdy, rigid, double-hulled proactive lifeboat. This is a serious piece of emergency gear that mariners rely upon to save their lives if their mother ship goes down.

We built a flight harness for this boat, built a load ring -- an epiphany in stainless steel coming from Augsburg Germany. We have completed the test flight of our system: the shakeout flight launched in Leon, Mexico on November 16, 2012. This video shows the first flight and splashdown landing.

Now, in the summer of 2013, I have come to Caribou, Maine. This community has a great tradition of manned trans-continental balloon flight. The last straight-gas flight-- Colonel Kittinger's 1984 flight-- launched from this community.

I hope to have the opportunity to float in the footsteps of the great pilots that have gone before.

While we complete final preparations on-site, we wait for the weather system that will allow us to enter manned flight and embark on an expedition unlike anything that has gone before. I am here, in Maine, with the balloon system-- waiting for the weather to come that will allow me to cross the big blue deep.
Wow! Here is the video of the test flight and splashdown:
Hat tip to Dinotopia artist James Gurney

Syria timeline - the Red Line

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Disgusting but a much needed distraction from the Benghazi scandal, the IRS Scandal, the Fast and Furious scandal, the...

A fun local event - Tesla

A Bellingham museum is sponsoring a lecture and book signing. From Spark Museum:

Spark Museum to host noted Tesla scholar Bernard Carlson
There are many rumors and myths surrounding Nikola Tesla, and biographer Bernard Carlson will separate fact from fiction on Sunday, September 15 at 4 p.m. at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention. The event is free with Museum admission.

Surrounded by a variety of jaw-dropping devices, including the MegaZapper, one of the largest Tesla coils in the country, W. Bernard Carlson discusses his new bookTesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age.

He places the legendary inventor within the cultural and technological context of his time and focuses on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through myth making and illusion. This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs. Book signing follows.

I read Dr. Carlson's book a couple months ago -- the level of research is delightful and Dr. Carlson doesn't fall for the hype that surrounds Tesla's work. The museum is a lot of fun too -- it started as two collections of antique radio sets and has grown to represent electricity from the 1600's on to present.

Still busy

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Spent the last couple days working up a website and some printed materials for a local business. Today, I go to a local restaurant and weld up a couple of barbecues (this is the place that Curtis plays at every Thursday evening). Tomorrow, I am in town for a physical therapy appointment. The fun never stops...

A rememberance of today

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From Col. Allen West writing at PJ Media:
Col. Allen West: Remembering 9/11
Today we remember the 12th anniversary of the horrific attacks of 9/11. We also remember the four Americans who were murdered in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.

In 2001, I was a major serving at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on an exchange assignment to the U.S. Marine Corps. On that fateful morning, I had just completed morning PT and hygiene, and was in my office preparing to suck down some chow. I then received a call from a fellow operations staffer at the Marine Forces Atlantic (MARFORLANT) headquarters in Virginia. I was admonished to get to a television set.

I rushed down to our current operations area just in time to see the second plane hit.

I knew on that day we would be called upon by our country to avenge this attack � the Pearl Harbor of our time.

That night, when I finally got back to my quarters, I gazed into the heavens. For the first time ever � I heard nothing. I saw no airplane lights. It was an eerie feeling.

Last year, we all watched in horror during the assault on our American consulate in Benghazi. Still more terrifying was the fact that we abandoned Americans who were under attack.

Even today, a year later, some ask regarding the incident: �What difference does it make?� Even today, some say that Benghazi is a �phony scandal.�

Those who say and believe this are just as much of a threat to the safety and security of our constitutional republic as are the attackers. In their shameful attempts to deceive, they are evenly complicit in the loss of American lives.

On this day, we should not pause to consider multiculturalism and negating offense to others. On this day, we should not entertain insidious conspiracy theories. Instead, remember the enemy who attacked us � and who will continue to attack us � just because we are a nation and a people who believe in individual liberty.

Remember those who lost their lives.

And lastly, remember those who abandoned Americans a year ago and � to this day � seek to deceive the American people.

God bless the greatest nation the world has ever known, these United States of America.
What the Colonel said...

Heh - Pooty-poot schools Obama and Kerry

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From the New York Times of all places:
A Plea for Caution From Russia
Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization � the United Nations � was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations� founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America�s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria�s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.
A lot more at the site. I would love to sit down and have a couple beers with Putin. In this relatively short editorial, he has cut the legs out from underneath Obama and Kerry and is schooling them on some of the history of that area -- a subject they are sorely lacking on. Vladimir closes with this far-seeing paragraph:
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States� policy is �what makes America different. It�s what makes us exceptional.� It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord�s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Our current administration is extremely dangerous indeed. We are speaking loudly and carrying a very small stick. Obama is not building, he is tearing down and using the rubble to fill the bellies of the institutionalized poor, not realizing that he is making us eat our own seed corn. We are spending more and more on panem et circenses and failing to build our economy.

Motor city - without motors

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60 years of Democrat and Union rule and they cannot keep the lights on. From The Detroit News:
Areas of Detroit may remain without power until noon Thursday
Several of the city�s major institutions remain without power Wednesday evening after an outage caused the closure of several city buildings in downtown and Midtown, including City Hall, the People Mover and parts of Wayne State University.

City spokesman Bob Warfield said at about 5 p.m. crews were continuing to work on the problems. Chief Operating Officer Gary Brown said it could be around noon Thursday before power is fully restored.

Wednesday�s outage around 1 p.m., caused by an overloading of the city�s power grid, forced hundreds of city workers and students to leave early, stranded some on the People Mover and in elevators in buildings and delayed major court cases.
And not a new thing either:
There have been five major power outages in Detroit related to Detroit Public Lighting Department problems since 2000, including one in June 2000, considered the largest such outage in the city's history.
Out here, we can expect to lose power at least once/year if not more. This is something we expect and we are prepared with generators for light and internet and we can shelter in place with stored food and propane for heating and cooking for 30 days. This is part and parcel of living in a very rural community. An urban environment is a lot more fragile and tender -- what we here deal with on a day-to-day basis could start a major cascade into chaos in an unprepared city. There is a significant price for having such a high population density. True, there are some wonderful benefits too -- I do not regret my time spent in Boston or Seattle but up here, I am two hours away from Seattle so driving down for a show is not unthinkable -- but -- Seattle is also two hours from me! A nice buffer with a lot of other cities in between...

The Washington D.C. rallys

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Looks like the muzzies were skeered of the big bad Harleys. From The Washington Times:
�2 Million Bikers� roar into D.C. to honor 9/11, protest Muslim rally
Thousands of bikers from around the country roared into the D.C. area on Wednesday in a show of support for Sept. 11 victims and in solidarity against a controversial Muslim rally on the Mall.

The 2 Million Bikers to DC ride might have fallen short of 2 million strong, but the numbers were impressive. A line of shining chrome and steel bikes stretched about a third of a mile from the starting point at the Harley Davidson of Washington store just outside the District in Prince George�s County.

The bikers began departing from the store at about 10:30 in staggered groups of 50, stopped for traffic lights and taking an hour or so to get on the road.

The ride was complicated by the fact that federal and local authorities denied a permit that would have offered the riders a police escort through traffic � a sore spot with organizers who thought the denial was for political purposes.

�We�re here for 9-11,� said national ride coordinator Belinda Bee. �We are going to have a peaceful ride. � But there are people who are sick and tired of their rights and liberties being taken away.�
From The Washington Times again:
Muslim rally vastly outnumbered by bikers, counterprotesters
A few dozen demonstrators attending a rally on the Mall once billed as the Million Muslim March were vastly outnumbered Wednesday by a Christian group objecting to their event and a counterprotest consisting of motorcycle riders honoring Sept. 11 victims.
This great photo of the Million Muslim March was posted at The Blaze:
9-11-DC-muslim.jpg
The Blaze is also doing live reporting and videos of the Two Million Bikers to D.C. rally A much more substantial turnout -- I hope our representatives wake up to the whole "We the People" thing. I wish I could be there. On a final note, on this first anniversary of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Hillary was not well received. From The Washington Times:
Hillary Clinton heckled on Benghazi during award ceremony
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fielded hecklers who hounded her on Benghazi at the tail end of an award acceptance speech she delivered at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday evening.
The sooner these people are removed from leadership, the sooner our United States will begin to recover from its 100-year sleep and become the shining beacon again.

Heh - John Forbes Kerry

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A two-fer regarding pResident Obama's speech tonight, from Hugh Hewitt's twitter site: First -- from Hugh -- Caller just now: "The president's problem tonight is he had to give a speech with John Kerry's foot in his mouth" Second -- a commenter -- "And Putin's foot up his a$$" Did not watch Obama's Great Speech(tm) tonight -- had other, more important stuff to do. Fixed diner and watched a couple episodes of Storage Wars.

Now this is interesting - AFL-CIO

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From The Hill:
Labor, with union membership declining, will woo non-workers
The AFL-CIO on Monday opened the door to becoming a group that is more representative of the left than of its members.

Facing what AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka called a �crisis� of membership, officials took the dramatic step at their annual convention of adopting a resolution that invites anyone in the country to join, regardless of union affiliation.

The move faced stiff resistance from union officials who fear the AFL-CIO�s primary mission of representing workers will be left behind if the federation becomes a mouthpiece for liberal and progressive groups.

Despite the resistance, the resolution was adopted without a single �nay� vote being heard in the convention hall.

Supporters of the move to a broader membership standard said the AFL-CIO can no longer define itself by the narrow collective bargaining laws that are being challenged across the country.

�This resolution issues an invitation to every worker in the United States to join the movement for social justice,� said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). �The freedom to choose to be part of this movement must be a freedom available to every worker.�
"social justice" -- the progressive's code word for Marxism. Unions were formed to address some very specific labor issues in early America. Those issues have evolved and the original charter is no longer needed. Have the unions evolved? No. Hence their branching out trying to maintain a power base.

Was in town today - Syria

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Listening to the news on Syria and was reminded of Jon Lovitz's character -- the pathological liar, Tommy Flanagan:
Obama and Kerry both of them -- they got completely pwned by Vladimir Putin and the mullahs of Iran. Pathetic.

The world has lost an Uber-Geek

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From the New York Times:
Manson Whitlock, Typewriter Repairman, Dies at 96
For eight decades, Manson Whitlock kept the 20th century�s ambient music going: the ffft of the roller, the ding of the bell, the decisive zhoop ... bang of the carriage return, the companionable clack of the keys.

From the early 1930s until shortly before his death last month at 96, Mr. Whitlock, at his shop in New Haven, cared for the instruments, acoustic and electric, on which that music was played.

Mr. Whitlock was often described as America�s oldest typewriter repairman. He was inarguably one of the country�s longest-serving.

Over time he fixed more than 300,000 machines, tending manuals lovingly, electrics grudgingly and computers never.

�I don�t even know what a computer is,� Mr. Whitlock told The Yale Daily News, the student paper, in 2010. �I�ve heard about them a lot, but I don�t own one, and I don�t want one to own me.�
A bit more:
In recent years, however, until he closed the shop in June, Mr. Whitlock was its entire staff, working with only a bust of Mark Twain for company. He reported each day in a suit and tie, as he had from the beginning. On Sundays he sometimes cheated and dispensed with the tie.

Mr. Whitlock was older than most of his charges, though by no means all of them. (Among the shop�s resident machines was a 1910 Oliver, with its type bars arrayed vertically, like harp strings.) He owed his longevity, he told The New Haven Register last year, to �cheap Scotch and strong tobacco.�
I have two IBM Selectrics that I just adore and I use them regularly. A lot of business requires filling in forms and multiple 'carbon' copies. Try doing those on your @#$% ink-jet. Both machines were picked up at auction for under $20 -- people do not realize their worth. The link in the first paragraph goes to a YouTube video of Jerry Lewis mugging along to composer Leroy Anderson's The Typewriter. I really like this version of the piece -- watch the soloist's body language -- he is having a lot of fun!
Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.
From this September 30th, 2009 Reuters news post:
Olympics-2016 Games could be the last, says Tokyo governor
Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara warned on Wednesday the 2016 Olympics could be the last Games, with global warming an immediate threat to mankind.

Tokyo is bidding to host the 2016 summer Olympics with Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid also in the running. The International Olympic Committee will elect the winning candidate during its session on Oct. 2 in the Danish capital.

"It could be that the 2016 Games are the last Olympics in the history of mankind," Ishihara told reporters at a Tokyo 2016 press event ahead of the vote.

"Global warming is getting worse. We have to come up with measures without which Olympic Games could not last long.

"Scientists have said we have passed the point of no return," said Ishihara.
So in four years, we go from "passed the point of no return" to the no perceptible warming in 17 years and potential of a solar minimum. Mr. Ishihara must have a really bad case of whiplash. He lost the 2012 election -- the current governor is Naoki Inose

Well crap - not unexpected though

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From The Washington Times:
Bikers denied no-stop permit for 9/11 rally through D.C. but will ride anyway
The nation�s capital has denied a �no stop� permit for the �2 Million Bikers to DC� rally on Wednesday, meant to �remember those who were killed on 9/11 and honor our armed forces.�

The group said in a statement Sunday that D.C. officials denied their request for a special nonstop ride through town with a waiver for red lights, stop signs and other traffic signals.

�What could have been a one or two hour ride through will now likely be an all day event,� the group said.

Denial of the permit sparked outrage on the biker group�s website because the District of Columbia reportedly has granted the American Muslim Political Action Committee a permit for the Million Americans Against Fear rally, formerly known as the Million Muslim March, for Wednesday on the National Mall, the PAC announced Saturday.
So unexpected -- you would think that someone somewhere would manifest a backbone...

Cause and effect in Europe

Took them long enough to see the causation. From the UK Telegraph:

Brussels fears European 'industrial massacre' sparked by energy costs
"We face a systemic industrial massacre," said Antonio Tajani, the European industry commissioner.

Mr Tajani warned that Europe's quixotic dash for renewables was pushing electricity costs to untenable levels, leaving Europe struggling to compete as America's shale revolution cuts US natural gas prices by 80pc.

"I am in favour of a green agenda, but we can't be religious about this. We need a new energy policy. We have to stop pretending, because we can't sacrifice Europe's industry for climate goals that are not realistic, and are not being enforced worldwide," he told The Daily Telegraph during the Ambrosetti forum of global policy-makers at Lake Como.

"The loss of competitiveness is frightening," said Paulo Savona, head of Italy's Fondo Interbancario. "When people choose whether to invest in Europe or the US, what they think about most is the cost of energy."

Good to see them coming around. It's not just industrial energy costs -- there are millions of elderly living on a small retirement incomes debating turning on the heat in the dead of winter. More people die from cold than from heat.

Lightning strikes

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Two websites that map lightning strikes. First - Vaisala - Lightning Explorer Vaisala manufacturers sensors for building automation and weather detecting including lightning strikes. They maintain the National Lightning Detection Network Second - StrikeStar U.S. From their About page:
What is StrikeStar?
StrikeStar is client/server system, exclusively designed for the NexStorm software and Boltek hardware. StrikeStar allows multiple, standalone lightning detectors to form a real-time lightning locator network with much better positional accuracy.

StrikeStarUS is a public, large scale and community based lightning detection network that we have made available as a unique added-value program for users of our NexStorm software.
Only three sensors in WA State so coverage is not optimal.

Submitted for your approval

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Heh -- things come, things go. Life remains the same.
Janet Napolitano is a politically connected moron ideologue (but I repeat myself) who could not find her own ass if it was handed to her. She was incompetent as Governor of Arizona, incompetent as Director of Homeland Security and now she is shuffling off to head the University of California system. Not. So. Fast. From The Washington Times:
Berkeley student government considers �no confidence� vote on Janet Napolitano
The student government of the University of California at Berkeley is kicking off the academic year by considering a �no confidence� vote for Janet Napolitano as the incoming president of the UC system.

The ASUC Senate will debate SB 2, titled Bill in Support of Undocumented Students and Immigrant Communities, on Monday, The Daily Californian reported.

�The �no confidence� comes from a lot of history � [Ms. Napolitano] has deported over 2 million undocumented immigrants,� said ASUC Sen. Sean Tan, who authored the bill, the report said.

�There�s a lot of fear in terms of what is her main priority as UC president, because she comes from a background of surveillance and apprehension and security,� he added.

The UAW Local 2865, a UC student workers union, has called for a retraction of Ms. Napolitano�s appointment.

�We call for a president devoted to rebuilding our capacity for teaching, research, and learning � not a specialist in cyber surveillance, law enforcement, and border security,� the union�s press release states.
Only from Bezerkeley -- talk about being hoist with one's petard. Napolitano is so far to the progressive statist left that she makes these students look downright Bush-ian. Napolitano dragged her feet on illegal immigrants, on law enforcement and don't get me started on her supposed enforcement of border security. For the student body to rise up and complain about her record makes me wonder what is in the water system of that campus. Napolitano is their ally, their ace in the hole. Who are they holding out for? Some incarnation of Mao or Pol Pot?
I dropped out of college when I was offered a fun job in Marine Biology (my major). Then (1975) personal computers came out and there was no turning back. I am a big fan of trade schools -- our local Bellingham Technical College has a world renowned welding program. The majority of their graduates are gainfully employed within a few months of graduating. I took a couple quarters of their welding and their precision machining programs to heighten my skills and to check for bad habits (I'd had no formal welding instruction before then). From Matt Walsh:
Kids, go to college or you�ll die alone in misery
Every time I write or speak about college, I tend to upset many parents and other decent, educated people. They are righteously offended at the mere suggestion that college isn�t necessarily the only way to go. Angry mothers email to tell me that my �anti-college� message is polluting the minds of their children. They don�t want their kids to skip college and become hobos and drug addicts. This is understandable. I should know � I�m one of those malcontents who decided not to get a four year degree. And what a tragedy my life has been ever since I made that fateful decision.
A bit more:
My experience, on the other hand, wasn�t nearly as fulfilling or eclectic. Like the unambitious sloth that I am, I got into my car at the age of 20 and drove 150 miles to a place I�d never been, in a state I�d never visited. I rented an apartment with my own money and got a job at a radio station and a second job as an assistant manager at a pizza joint. I met and learned how to work with people from all different age groups and backgrounds. I set out specific goals for myself and worked to achieve them.

Needless to say, without college, it was all in vain. Seven years later and now look at me. It�s the classic tale of failure and despair: Married, two kids, a career, a long term plan for the future, no debt, and I�ve never been unemployed. Please, avert your gaze. I am so ashamed.
Much more at the site. A big tip of the hat to Firehand for the link. As he says:
If you know someone planning on college, this
should be required reading. As in 'chain their ass in a chair and don't let them up till they've read every word.'
Damn straight Skippy!

Minimal posting today and tomorrow

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Been working on a few projects here today and heading into town tomorrow to do the store buying run. I'll be up for another two-three hours and will link if I find anything of interest. Memo to self -- never ever get a boutonniere injury. I did about 40 days ago and it still hurts like hell. Doing physical therapy and have an orthotic for it but it constantly aches and when I catch it on something, there is a bolt of flame that shoots through my hand...

Classic

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Puts the entire Syria problem into perspective:
obummer-syria.jpg

Quote of the day - Abraham Maslow

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Maslow is best known for Maslow's hierarchy of needs but he wandered over a very wide field indeed. When trying to analyze the actions of our masterminds in Washington, this quote comes to mind:
The study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy. The study of self-actualizing people must be the basis for a more universal science of psychology.
--Motivation and Personality (1954), p. 234
Lots more at the WikiQuote site. A nice biography at his Wikipedia site.

Busy day today - Beef Pot Pies

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These came up in conversation a few days ago and spending today making a dozen or more. They freeze really well so baking a mess of them. Using standard pie crust for the base and puff pastry for the crust so they should be fun to eat. The beef is a round roast from our half-cow -- this critter did not die in vain! Kitchen is a complete mess with flour and scraps everywhere but it smells really good and our collective mouths are watering at the scent. Lulu and Curtis head into town Sunday (tomorrow) for a few days so she can get some regular maintenance done to her car. More posting after dinner!
From the New York Post:
Booker made $689K from ex-law firm while mayor
Cory Booker pocketed $689,500 in payouts from his former law firm while he served as Newark�s mayor and the firm pulled down millions in government contracts, he revealed Friday.

Booker, the front-runner in the race for New Jersey�s US Senate seat, received the payments in annual allotments from 2007 to 2011. At the same time, the Trenk DiPasquale law firm held lucrative contracts with several local government agencies over which the mayor had influence � raking in more than $2 million in fees, records show.

When questioned last month by The Post, Booker refused to say how much money he received from the West Orange, NJ. firm, saying only it was a buyout of his equity in the firm, and that he had signed a �confidential settlement agreement.�

After weeks of pressing, Booker�s staff on Friday finally showed his tax returns from 1998 to 2012. Reporters were allowed to view them from 12 pm to 3 pm., but could not get copies.
A little conflict of interest here maybe???

A great Chicago website

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Speaking truth to power -- Hey Jackass
Final August Totals
Shot & Killed: 41
Shot & Wounded: 224
Total Homicides*: 53
and 2013 to date:
Year to Date Totals
Shot & Killed: 259
Shot & Wounded: 1338
Total Homicides*: 310
How's that gun control working out for you? 83.4% of the fatalities were from gunshot. Oh yeah -- 1051 cases of assault with handgun and 2,574 cases of robbery using handgun.

Very cool news for our antipodal friends

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Australia held elections and swept out the liberal/green bloc. The new Prime Minister is Tony Abbott and he has promised to restore political stability, cut taxes and crack down on asylum seekers arriving by boat. From Yahoo/Reuters:
Conservative leader Abbott sweeps into power in Australian elections
Australia's conservative leader Tony Abbott swept into office in national elections on Saturday as voters punished the outgoing Labor government for six years of turbulent rule and for failing to maximize the benefits of a now fading mining boom.

Abbott, a former boxer, Rhodes scholar and trainee priest, promised to restore political stability, cut taxes and crack down on asylum seekers arriving by boat.

"From today I declare that Australia is under new management and Australia is once more open for business," Abbott told jubilant supporters in Sydney.

It was frustration with Labor's leadership turmoil that cost the government dearly at the polls.

Labor dumped Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2010, for Australia's first female prime minister Julia Gillard, only to reinstate Rudd as leader in June 2013 in a desperate bid to stay in power.

"It is the people of Australia to determine the government and the prime minister of this country and you will punish anyone who takes you for granted," said Abbott.
And when we see Australia's economy rebounding, we will know that this works and needs to be implemented here. It has been shown that FDR's policies actually delayed the end of the 1930's 'great depression'. We are in the grips of our 2013 equivalent and Obama keeps using the same failed Keynesian and big-government policies.

Obama's history

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From Ann Barnhardt -- an excerpt:
Obama is the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is al Qaeda. The Muslim Brotherhood is run out of Saudi Arabia. Obama was Khalid al Mansour�s boy and Mansour got Obama into Harvard Law and the Saudi �royal� family paid his way per Percy Sutton.

The Saudis and the Russians almost certainly have the goods on Obama�s identity. Obama is their boy, hence the bowing and scraping to both the Saudi �king� and to Putin. The Obama regime almost certainly supplied the Muslim Brotherhood, which is al Qaeda remember, with chem weapons which they then used to mass-murder civilians in order to create optics that would justify U.S. action �against Assad�. Hmmm. I�m getting the weirdest deja vu here. Oh, yeah! Remember when the Obama regime supplied arms to the Mexican drug cartels which were then used to mass-murder civilians in order to create optics that would justify suspending the Second Amendment? OH MY GOSH, Y�ALL. It�s almost like it�s the same strategy, or something. Eyeroll. Would you people wake the heck up already?

The Saudis have wanted Assad deposed forever. Obama, acting as their proxy, is creating the optics to put the U.S. military (such as it is) to work for the Muslim Brotherhood/Saudis. Cui bono? The Saudis and the Russians, Obama�s two likely funders and backers (in his youth) and blackmailers (today), are the two biggest nation-state beneficiaries in all of this. And of course the banksters who can always use war to consolidate power and confiscate more wealth.

Assad was ahead and had traction in his civil war. Why in the world would he bait the U.S. when things were going his way? It makes zero sense. By the way, Assad is evil, too. There are NO �good guys� in any of this, including the former United States. It�s all bad guys all around. What a satanic clusterbungle.
Percy Sutton has the story:
Nice to know the back-story and it explains a lot of Obama's ideology and actions. The video is from August 2008. Sutton was 88 at the time and died the next year.

Education these days

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Keeping them fat, stupid and docile. From Katie Terhune writing at the Idaho Statesman:
Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in Boise, laments 'alarming degree of public ignorance'
Two-thirds of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice, former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told the crowd that packed into a Boise State ballroom to hear her Thursday.

About one-third can name the three branches of government. Fewer than one-fifth of high school seniors can explain how citizen participation benefits democracy.

"Less than one-third of eighth-graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and it's right there in the name," she said.

O'Connor touted civics education during her keynote address at the "Transforming America: Women and Leadership in the 21st Century" conference, put on by the Andrus Center for Public Policy. She also described being a female lawyer in the 1950s, and challenged her listeners to help the next generation of leaders reach their goals.
So true.

Holy crap -- a big volcano

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Say hello to the Tamu Massif - from Watts Up With That:
Scientists confirm existence of largest single volcano on Earth � Massive underwater volcano rivals biggest in solar system
From the National Science Foundation newsroom:

September 6, 2013
The summer blockbuster movie Pacific Rim told a fanciful tale of giant monsters rising from the deep in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Now, scientists have confirmed that the northwest Pacific is home to a real-life giant of a different type: the largest single volcano yet documented on Earth.

Covering an area roughly equivalent to the British Isles or the State of New Mexico, Tamu Massif is nearly as big as the giant volcanoes of Mars, placing it among the largest in the solar system.

�This is an amazing discovery, and overturns previous conclusions that Earth cannot support the development of such giant volcanoes because it lacks a thick and rigid planetary lithosphere,� says Jamie Allan, program director in the National Science Foundation�s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research.

�Much remains to be discovered about our planet,� says Allan, �with scientific drilling offering a means of observation and discovery into otherwise inaccessible parts of the Earth.�

Located about 1,000 miles east of Japan, Tamu Massif is the largest feature of Shatsky Rise, an underwater mountain range formed 145-130 million years ago by the eruption of several underwater volcanoes.
A bit more -- the Tamu Massif is not that high but it is very broad:
By comparison, Hawaii's Mauna Loa--the largest active volcano on Earth--is a mere 2,000 square miles, or less than 2 percent the size of Tamu Massif.
Big!

The storm

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Things have quieted down substantially here. Had close to two inches of rain last night and over three for the last five days. No damage here but a different story to the south. From The Bellingham Herald:
Mudslides close Highway 20 through mountain passes
Mud and rock slides have closed a section of the North Cascades Highway through the mountain passes, with no reopening date yet announced.

Heavy rain Thursday night, Sept. 5, into Friday triggered several slides, closing a 24-mile stretch of Highway 20 between milepost 147 (10 miles west of Rainy Pass) and milepost 171 (9 miles east of Washington Pass).

Washington State Department of Transportation crews are waiting until the rain subsides to begin cleanup efforts, because more slides are possible.
wadot_mudslide.jpg
That would be a closed road -- fortunately the forecast is for warmer and sunny weather...

New technology - soup from your Keurig

Got a Keurig coffee machine about a year ago and love it. I like a cup or two in the morning and do not like having to fuss with it. Had an espresso machine a number of years ago and it just sat on the counter. The Keurig is great -- I tell it when to turn on and the coffee is really good (Kirkland dark roast). Now this -- from the Los Angeles Times:

Campbell soup pods coming soon to a Keurig coffee brewer near you
Talk about corporate synergy: Campbell Soup Co. announced Wednesday it will start selling soup pods beginning next year that can be heated on Keurig brand coffee brewers.

The K-cups, as the pods are known, will have a broth inside that can be brewed over a packet of dry pasta and a "vegetable blend garnish," the company said in a joint statement with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., the parent company of Keurig.

"This innovative partnership is a win for consumers and for both companies, and represents another important step as Campbell expands into higher-growth spaces," said Denise Morrison, Campbell's chief executive.

Very clever -- same temperature and fluid volume. Get a nice hot cup of soup with the push of a button.

So wrong on so many levels

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From CNN:
Biden wants Napolitano on Supreme Court
Vice President Joe Biden made it clear Friday how he feels about departing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"I think Janet Napolitano should be on the Supreme Court of the United States," he said Friday morning at her going away ceremony.

His statement was met with raucous applause by those attending, including current and former cabinet secretaries, law enforcement officials, and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Napolitano announced in June she would leave her current position this month. She's now preparing to start her next gig as president of the University of California system.
She was incompetent as Governor of Arizona, she was incompetent as Director of Homeland Security, she will be incompetent as President of the University of California system. She is a party loyalist and just not that smart...

Zombie votors

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From The Blaze:
This County Had 124% More Registered Voters Than Eligible Voters � Counting Dead People and Felons
In the midst of a national debate over voter integrity, a federal court decree is ordering a Mississippi county to purge its voter rolls of dead people, ineligible felons and people who have moved out of a voting area.

In April, the American Civil Rights Union, a conservative legal group, sued Walthall County, Miss., for having 124 percent more registered voters than voting-age-eligible residents, based on U.S. Census data. The lawsuit was filed under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, better known as the Motor Voter law, and is the first privately-brought suit to succeed, according to the ACRU.
And you wonder why the liberals so strongly oppose any Voter ID laws. They couldn't get their people elected any other way.

Getting a grip

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Funny -- the 'gangsta' grip is about the worst you can use. Like they say, gun control is all about using both hands. A big tip of the hat to Argghhh!!! for the link.

Heh - a license to kill

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From Network World:
Drone hunters lining up and paying out in Colorado
What might have started out a whimsical protest against government surveillance tactics has morphed into a little more than that as a small town in Colorado has found itself overwhelmed with requests and cash for a unmanned aircraft hunting license that doesn't exist - yet.

In June a resident of Deer Trail, Colorado proposed a town wide ordinance that would offer $25 licenses to hunt and shoot down government drones if they flew within 1,000 feet above private property -- with a $100 bounty if one actually got shot down.

The Denver Post this week reported the town's clerk Kim Oldfield stopped counting the flood of requests for the licenses two weeks ago when the tally of personal checks made out to the town hit 983 [Deer Trails' own population is about 560] and $19,006. The checks came from all over the U.S. Oldfield said.
Living so close to the Canadian border, I am waiting for one of these to fly overhead. Nothing yet but I'm not sitting outside looking up all the time.

A handy list - List of live CDs

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Looking to make a kiosk for an application and I wanted it to be bomb-proof. Some operating systems have the ability to run from a CD-ROM, not just install but actually boot and run the operating system and applications. This functionality is known as 'live' and Wikipedia has a nice list of Live CD-ROMs complete with links to the actual distributions. This will allow the user to have full control over the kiosk and when they are done, if anything is fouled up, I just hit the reset and reload the OS. Want to save something? Use a thumb drive. Ahhhh - decisions decisions. I am looking at either Puppy Linux or Kubuntu.

Stormy weather

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Got some heavy weather headed our way -- from the The Bellingham Herald
Rains blanket Washington, flood watches issued
Heavy rains are blanketing and lightning is striking Washington on Thursday, prompting flood watches throughout the region after a dry summer.

In Western Washington, the National Weather Service is expecting one to two inches of rain as a storm makes landfall. By Thursday morning, half an inch had fallen from individual bands ahead of the storm.

The rain is forecast to intensify Thursday night.
had quite the thunderstorm last night and there are occasional rumbles as I type. Cliff Mass is live-blogging from Seattle:
4 PM NOWCAST for the Heavy Precipitation Event
As predicted earlier today, this afternoon has been generally dry over most of the state.

Also, as per the HRRR and UW WRF modeling systems, heavy precipitation has exploded in northern Oregon this afternoon and is moving towards Washington.
Curtis is having his weekly music gig at a local restaurant so we will be out in the thick of it...

Art Bell back on the air

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Very cool news -- from Sirius Satellite Radio:
Legendary Radio Personality Art Bell to Launch Exclusively on SiriusXM
Sirius XM Radio announced today it will be the exclusive home to legendary radio personality Art Bell, marking the return of the trailblazing late night host to radio with a new, expanded live, nightly call-in show on which he will explore the paranormal, unexplained and more with expert guests and listeners nationwide.

Art Bell's Dark Matter will debut in fall 2013 on Indie, SiriusXM channel 104, airing nightly from 10:00 pm � 1:00 am ET (7:00 � 10:00 pm PT). Bell will host the show from his home studio in Pahrump, Nevada�near the storied Area 51�opening the phones lines and inviting listeners and expert guests to join his uncensored, unscripted nightly conversation about a wide variety of topics including: the paranormal, near-death experiences, quantum physics, extraterrestrial life and the unusual.

A 2008 inductee to the National Radio Hall of Fame, Bell was one of the top five most listened-to talk hosts in America when he was syndicated weeknights from 1993-2003, sharing the top rankings with Howard Stern, Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh, with as many as fifteen million listeners on 500 radio stations. Howard Stern and Dr. Laura are also exclusively heard on SiriusXM.

"SiriusXM is the perfect fit for me and my new show Art Bell's Dark Matter," said Art Bell. "Though invisible, dark matter accounts for gravitational forces observed in the universe�expect these forces to be at work in the uncensored, unrestricted creative arena of satellite radio, a medium with truly extraterrestrial reach."
Only problem is that I also like to listen to David Webb's show from 6:00PM to 9:00PM and Art's show will intersect this.
Security wonk Bruce Schneier wrote two articles for the UK Guardian and are well worth reading. First: How to remain secure against NSA surveillance Five great suggestions -- a good read Second: The US government has betrayed the internet. We need to take it back Both of these are must-reads if you work on the internet. Good stuff!

Yikes - Our Federal Family

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This is not a good trend -- from CNS News:
Sebelius Describes Federal Government As 'Our Federal Family'
September is National Preparedness Month, and in a news release urging everyone to be mindful of potential terror attacks, natural disasters, and pandemics, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the federal government is ready to help:

"While our federal family is becoming better prepared to support the nation, we know that being truly resilient requires the whole community coming together," she said.
Our Federal Family??? The Federal Government needs to get the hell out of our lives. It was never intended to be a nanny or parent.

SCIENCE!

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Having way too much fun with liquid Nitrogen Very cool YouTube channel: Veritasium

Vladimir Putin for President - of the USA

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Seriously -- the guy is not afraid to speak his mind. We could use more of that in Washington. From Breitbart:
Global Leadership Reset: On Eve of G20, Putin Calls Kerry a Liar on Syria
Just before Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, he blasted the Obama administration on Wednesday for what he termed its propaganda on military action against Syria. �We talk with these people,� he said about Secretary of State John Kerry, the administration�s chief political spokesperson making the case for war. �We assume that they are decent. But he lies. And he knows that he lies. That�s pathetic.�
And a bit more:
Obama has been left to complain. �Do I hold out hope that Mr. Putin may change his position on some of these issues?� Obama asked in Sweden on Wednesday. �I�m always hopeful, and I will continue to engage him.� Just a few weeks ago, Obama mocked Putin�s posture during their meetings, likening it to a �bored kid in the back of the classroom.�
Time to get some adults in the room. Obama is just not that smart and he has surrounded himself with idiot "yes men".

I love it!

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The EPA at work

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From Alaska Dispatch:
Gold miners near Chicken cry foul over 'heavy-handed' EPA raids
When agents with the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force surged out of the wilderness around the remote community of Chicken wearing body armor and jackets emblazoned with POLICE in big, bold letters, local placer miners didn�t quite know what to think.

Did it really take eight armed men and a squad-size display of paramilitary force to check for dirty water? Some of the miners, who run small businesses, say they felt intimidated.

Others wonder if the actions of the agents put everyone at risk. When your family business involves collecting gold far from nowhere, unusual behavior can be taken as a sign someone might be trying to stage a robbery. How is a remote placer miner to know the people in the jackets saying POLICE really are police?

Miners suggest it might have been better all around if officials had just shown up at the door -- as they used to do -- and said they wanted to check the water.
I love that little bit at the end: -- as they used to do --. This is another example of the ongoing militarization of our police forces and this needs to be reigned in. Of course, the EPA had nothing to say:
The EPA has refused to publicly explain why it used armed officers as part of what it called a �multi-jurisdictional� investigation of possible Clean Water Act violations in the area.

A conference call was held last week to address the investigation. On the line were members of the Alaska Congressional delegation, their staff, state officers, and the EPA. According to one Senate staffer, the federal agency said it decided to send in the task force armed and wearing body armor because of information it received from the Alaska State Troopers about �rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area.�
The town has 17 year-round residents and is 140 miles away from any other sizable town or city. A wretched hive of scum and villainy...

Money and the State of California

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Big government is so efficient isn't it... From the Bellingham Herald:
Despite $1.2 billion, no new jails completed in California
Recognizing that California counties were fast running out of space to lock up offenders, state lawmakers authorized $1.2 billion for jail construction in 2007.

Since then, demand for county jail space has spiked due to a 2011 California law that redirected lower-level offenders to counties rather than state prisons.

But six years after the state approved $1.2 billion for jails, not a single county has finished construction - and only five have started building new cells.
Gotta fund those pensions and I need a new car and a raise.

Seen on the web

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obama_war_hypocracy.jpg
Kind of nails the hypocrisy doesn't it... Some fun comments on Twitchy

Back from town

Had a very productive day in town but it is great to be back home. Noticing that the days are getting shorter -- dark at 8:30

Picked up 25 pounds of baby cukes for pickling, getting a similar box of green beans on Saturday. Planning to do some serious canning this this coming week -- produce from the garden and the cukes and beans.

Starting up a new business -- one of the office spaces in my building just opened up so moving a bunch of copy machines and computers in there and applying for some UPS, FedEx and Stamps.com accounts. I will offer copies and printing (farm out the printing) as well as shipping and receiving. Moving my main media computer down there too so people can come in and do desktop publishing, video editing, large format printing, DVD burning, etc... It sits idle most of the time here.

Had a very similar business like this in Seattle and it was successful for six years until I sold out and went to work for Microsoft.

Still have a lot of the cutting and binding equipment and two medium-size copiers (auctions) so ready to roll with minimal startup costs. The two biggest ones will be a copy of QuickBooks and all of the business licensing.

Something to do in my copious spare time...

Off to town for a few things

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Lulu is coming back to the farm tomorrow. Heading into town to run a few errands so posting will be non-existent until this evening.

Unintended consequences - solar panels

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They are a risk to firefighters -- from Delanco, New Jersey's The Star-Ledger:
Dietz & Watson warehouse blaze: solar panels hampered firefighting, officials say
More than 7,000 solar panels on the roof of a burning warehouse in Burlington County proved too much of a hazard for firefighters, local officials said today.

"We may very well not be able to save buildings that have alternative energy," William Kramer, New Jersey�s acting fire marshall, said after Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt refused to send his firefighters onto the roof of the 300,000-square foot Dietz & Watson facility, ablaze since Sunday afternoon.

Solar panels are particularly hazardous to firefighters for a number of reasons, according to Ken Willette, a division manager with the National Fire Protection Association.

"There is a possibility of electric shock because the electricity to the panels can�t be shut off," he said, "and not having a clear path on the roof to cut a ventilation hole is another challenge."

Essentially, solar panels, comprised of photoelectric cells, generate electricity from solar radiation, and any kind of light at all, said Willette, will activate the panels, including "streetlights, floodlights, even firefighters� flashlights. Those panels are extremely efficient."
The voltages are not high enough to be a casual electrocution hazard but they are high enough - and with enough amps behind them - to be a major arc and welding issue (about 40 volts DC with 60-120 amps). Starting new fires, damaging firefighting equipment, causing major burns. And then, you have the storage batteries -- hydrogen gas (Hindenburg anyone?) as well as corrosive sulphuric acid. The first rule of any rescue group is to keep yourself safe. All else is secondary.

Interesting plastic development

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From Extreme Tech:
New plastic becomes stronger when stressed, drop-proof smartphones incoming
Plastics are amazingly versatile materials, and their usage in all manner of objects is only increasing. Virtually everything you own is at least partially composed of plastic, and that�s usually a very good thing. Plastic is light, inexpensive, and can be molded in any shape. However, it�s not always the strongest material. Many smartphone owners know the sorrow of dropping a phone and finding the fall cracked or chipped the casing. A new type of plastic developed at Duke University could change all that. This material actually gets stronger when it is stressed.
More at the site -- this could be a really big development opening up to many new plastics. Shock absorbers, ballistic armor, hinges, camera parts, the mind boggles...

Laughing at us

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From The Daily Caller:
Assad: �Obama is weak�
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad slammed President Obama and again denied his government�s role in a chemical attack against civilians in an interview Monday with the French newspaper Le Figaro.

�For us, a strong man prevents rather than starts a war�Obama is weak because he is facing pressure from within the United States,� al-Assad said.
A bit more:
In the interview, al-Assad challenged Obama and French president Francois Hollande to present evidence that the Syrian government, which is engaged in a civil war against various rebel groups, used chemical weapons against civilians in a Damascus suburb August 21, killing 1,426 people, including children.

The White House claims that al-Assad�s military was responsible for the attack, which violated the Obama administration�s �red line� and an international norm barring the use of chemical weapons. Hollande pledged to support a U.S. intervention.

�Those who make accusations must show evidence. We have challenged the United States and France to come up with a single piece of proof. Obama and Hollande have been incapable of doing so,� al-Assad said.
Word coming out indicates that it was the islamofascists that did the Sarin Gas attack rather than Assad. I tend to believe these sources as the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists were closely aligned to Saddam Hussein and when the coalition was set to invade, there was a large convoy from Iraq into Syria. I can see the rationale -- confuse the USA (altogether too easy) and make them attack Assad. This destabilizes the Syrian government and allows the Muslim Brotherhood to take power. Obama and Kerry need to see that their culture of appeasement has failed spectacularly and unless they change course, the middle east will become even more of a tinderbox than it is now.

Our masterminds in Washington

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From The Washington Post:
McCain playing poker on his iPhone
As the hearing continues, our ace photographer Melina Mara reports she spotted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) �passing the time by playing poker on his iPhone during the hearing.�
McCain later admitted that he was playing and said that the real problem was that he lost the game. I honor his service -- he was an American Hero but he is not now. He needs to get the hell out of public life and spend some more time with his grandkids...

Happy Holidays

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From Mental Floss:
15 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate in September
September brings back-to-school season and summer�s end, but there are plenty of unusual things to celebrate this month.

1. September 3rd: National Skyscraper Day
After Labor Day, you can honor the construction workers and engineers who built the world�s modern architectural wonders. One European real estate data company defines a skyscraper as at least 330 feet, while in the United States a building starts to qualify around 500 feet. But, really, any building that towers above its skyline can count if you�re looking to do some gazing in your hometown.

2. September 4th: Eat an Extra Dessert Day
You may have observed this holiday a little early on Labor Day, but go ahead and indulge those residual gluttonous impulses because this holiday gives you the green light. That leftover pie isn�t going to eat itself, so really, it�s the least you can do.

3. September 6th: National Fight Procrastination Day

One of these years we're going to get around to celebrating.
12 more at the site. My favorite happens on September 19th:
9. September 19th: Talk Like a Pirate Day
The establishment of International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th was based on someone�s ex-wife�s birthday. While the date selection might have been arbitrary, the possibilities of TLAPD are endless. If you want to expand your pirate repertoirrrrrr, the official website provides lingo in English, German, Dutch, and even a little Mandarin to provide a truly international annoyance to coworkers and family members.
Time to pop open a P.B.Rrrrrrrrrrr
Very high geekdom. From The Register:
Happy 50th birthday, Compact Cassette: How it struck a chord for millions
On 30 August, 1963, a new bit of sound recording tech that was to change the lifestyle of millions was revealed at the Berlin Radio Show.

The adoption of the standard that followed led to a huge swath of related technological applications that had not been envisaged by its maker; for Philips, the unveiling of its new Compact Cassette tape and accompanying recorder was about enticing people to buy a fuss-free portable recording system.

Sonically, the Compact Cassette recorder was no hi-fi and, from the start, was never meant to be. Instead, the company had succeeded in putting together a format for recording, storing and playing back audio that immediately made sense - and delivered so many convenient improvements over existing systems that its success was assured.

Although the Compact Cassette tape (now just known as the cassette tape) was a new design for handling tape media, what Philips had produced was an innovative approach to existing technologies rather than an out-and-out invention. Having decided on the format specifications of tape width, track width and tape speed, the firm's engineers went about designing the circuitry and physical mechanisms that would deliver acceptable results for dictation, among other tasks, and eventually music playback akin to a decent portable radio.

Indeed, the emphasis was very much on portability, and Philips had no intention of trying to match the fidelity of reel-to-reel recorders that had marker-pen-thick track widths and fast tape speeds. If you needed superlative sound quality, then those tape machines were there and would continue to be for many decades more in pro audio circles.
It was a really fun ride -- the format was originally designed for voice recording and for office dictation; a replacement for the Dictaphone Dictabelt Dictation Machine. (more on Dictabelt technology here and here). The first recorder I ever purchased was made by Advent Corporation (their 201 (pdf)) which used a Wollensak transport mechanism and added their own electronics for wonderful fidelity. This was when I was in college in Boston -- 1973 or so. Still have it. I also owned a pair of Large Advent speakers -- no longer have these. Now, for me, everything comes out of the mixer into a Firewire port and into my 8-year old computer running an older version of Sonar. Happy as a clam and the computer is still running just fine -- stripped down Windows XP and zero connection to the Internet. Regardless of the operating system, if you just get rid of the extemporaneous crap and distractions, you will find that it just works...

Just brilliant - Miley Cyrus' performance

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Hat tip to The Other McCain

Awww Crap - RIP Frederik Pohl

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From his Granddaughter's twitter:
Rest in peace to my beloved grandfather Frederik Pohl, who showed me by example how to be an author. 1919-2013.
Passed away at age 93. His last Blog post was at 9:00AM this morning and he was at the Worldcon Science Fiction convention. His home page and the Wikipedia entry give some measure of what a titan he was. The world has lost a major voice...

Help wanted - the CIA

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Curious -- from The Washington Times:
CIA finds 1 in 5 flagged job applicants come from Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda
An estimated one-fifth of a subset of all applicants for Central Intelligence Agency positions had significant ties to the terror groups Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda, a newly released document from NSA leaker Edward Snowden�s collection revealed Monday.

The document � released by Mr. Snowden as part of his National Security Agency intelligence dump � said the terrorist groups worked hard to infiltrate America�s top security agencies. CIA officials uncovered thousands of applicants, roughly one in five of a subset, with �significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections,� the document states, as Ynet News reported.
The editor needed to do some work here, it is not 20% of all applicants, it is 20% of those flagged for one reason or another. Still, these are people with known links to terrorist organizations. This shows me that the CIA (and the rest of the government) are failing to understand what kind of asymmetrical war we are fighting.

The NSA - thirty years ago

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Security guru Bruce Schneier points to an article in the New York Times from 1983 regarding overreach of the National Security Agency:
1983 Article on the NSA
The moral is that NSA surveillance overreach has been going on for a long, long time.
We do need surveillance. Our immigration policy is so lax that we now have foreign terrorist sleeper cells in the US. That being said, the blanket capture of all communications, even just metadata, is unconscionable and in direct violation of our rights as granted in the Constitution. If they want the data, they need to profile and get a warrant first.

Our betters in the State Department

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From Yahoo/AFP:
Climate science alarming, irrefutable: Kerry
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the evidence for climate change was beyond dispute but it was not too late for international action to prevent its worst impacts.

"The science is clear. It is irrefutable and it is alarming," Kerry told a climate conference in Majuro in the Marshall Islands in a video address from Washington.

"If we continue down our current path, the impacts of climate change will only get worse."

Kerry said without strong, immediate action, the world would experience threats to critical infrastructure, regional stability, public health, economic vitality, and the long-term viability of some states.
You mean like this? From FOX News:
Week of severe Andean snowstorms kills at least 6 humans, 30,000 animals in Peru and Bolivia
Officials say freezing temperatures and snow in the high plains of Peru and Bolivia have claimed at least six human lives in the past week and killed more than 30,000 domestic animals including sheep, llamas and alpacas.

Peru declared a state of emergency through Sept. 20 for its southern mountains, where most of the animal deaths occurred.

The cold snap has affected about 80,000 mostly poor highlanders who depend completely on their livestock and crops, which also have been damaged.
More at the site including this stunner:
Meteorologist Nelson Quispe said Sunday that the abnormal weather included the first snowfall in Chile's Atacama desert in 30 years.
The Atacama desert is one of the driest places on the planet. It is also home (because of the dryness) to several observatories including the Paranal:
paranal08.jpg
Someone in Kerry's staff needs to see the 50 to 1 movie and educate Lurch on the realities...

An Obama two-fer

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Two images today:
obama_iceberg.jpg
From here
obama_stupidity.jpg
From here -- there is also a great top-ten list at the site.
From Of Arms & the Law:
The mentality we have to deal with
For some time, Pierce College (a Los Angeles community college) had offered firearm safety courses. Now, the trustees of the college have have ended the course by banning all guns, including unloaded ones, from all campuses. The explanations given:
""The one thing we wanted to prevent was Pierce College being the Wild Wild West,� said Scott Svonkin, a trustee with the Los Angeles Community College District, author of the anti-gun resolution passed this month.

�By preventing guns on campus, I wanted to prevent people who took the class from shooting a horse or cow on campus.�
And....
"Proponents of the ban emphasized they weren�t against guns or gun ownership. They said it was simply unsafe to have guns in the presence of thousands of students on college campuses, adding that even an unloaded weapon seen from outside a classroom could spark panic, a 911 call or a police SWAT response."
But ....
"The district�s new policy permits only fake weapons used during a theatrical performance or real cops with guns."
The stupidity. It burns. Hat tip to Wirecutter for the link.

Now this is a maker! Meet Claude Paillard

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I ran into this video a couple years ago and just found it again on YouTube. Embedding is disabled by request so here is the link to Claude Paillard. Beautiful stuff -- not only does he make and use his own vacuum tubes, it looks like he made the majority of the equipment used to make them. This is where it all began and Claude is a master.

Global Warming - 50:1

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Common sense. More at 50 to 1.

Some photos from the last two days

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Here are some photos from the last two days. First up -- yesterday's Car Show:
2013_mf_carshow_01.jpg

2013_mf_carshow_02.jpg
I love this Chevy truck!

2013_mf_carshow_03.jpg
This Graham actually served as the model for the first Batmobile.
Detective Comics #48 in 1941, drawn by Bob Kane.
It has an air suspension and is currently lowered,
it raises about four inches for actual driving.

2013_mf_carshow_06.jpg

2013_mf_carshow_07.jpg
There were cars stuffed in all of the side streets -- a huge turnout!

2013_mf_carshow_17.jpg
Even had a movie star show up...
And then from our outing today up to Artist Point:
2013_artistpoint_04.jpg
Lulu and me in front of a bit of snowmelt.
Mt. Shucksan in the background.

2013_artistpoint_06.jpg
Lenticular clouds dissipating.

2013_artistpoint_09.jpg
Nooksack Falls

2013_artistpoint_10.jpg
Lulu at the falls.
A great two days but we are a bit tired.

End of the road - Artist Point

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Today is a quiet day with nothing planned. It is so gorgeous and the clouds are moving back in so Lulu and I are driving up to Artist Point for a few hours tramping around. She has never been there and today looks to be a perfect day for a visit. State road 542 ends at Artist Point. Every so often we will hear about a large truck trying to turn around up there after thinking that it crossed over a mountain pass and continued into Eastern Washington. That was considered at one time but deemed too expensive and we have much better passes with SR-2, SR-20 and I-90. It truly is the end of the road... Photos (and photos of yesterday's car show) later today.

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