October 2013 Archives

That's it for a while

Fixing dinner and there is a party at a local restaurant after that.

For Halloween

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From Hope 'n Change Harry Reid doesn't look that different...

Dianne Feinstein on the First Amendment

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From Youtube What part of:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
does she fail to grasp... How she continues to get re-elected is beyond me...

Finally, some adults in the room

Finally, the administration are getting some real technologists working on the Obamacare website. From Bloomberg:

Google, Oracle Workers Enlisted for Obamacare 'Tech Surge'
Google Inc., Red Hat Inc., Oracle Corp. and other technology companies are contributing dozens of computer engineers and programmers to help the Obama administration fix the U.S. health-insurance exchange website.

The help is arriving as the government's main site for medical coverage remains plagued by repeated outages a month after its Oct. 1 debut. Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Google, and Greg Gershman, innovation director for smartphone application maker Mobomo, are among those helping, the Obama administration said today.

Good to see some real IT people checking in...

The Healthcare Mash

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From Reason. Oooo spooky!

Not a surprise

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With his incompetence and ineffectual leadership, it is no wonder that Obama slips a notch or two. From Breitbart:
Putin Topples Obama in Forbes Power Ranking
Having outfoxed him on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has pipped Barack Obama to the title of the world's most powerful leader as ranked by Forbes on Wednesday.

It was the first time in three years that the US president has dropped to second place on the magazine's list and came as US-Russia relations slid to a new low.

Putin, who has enjoyed 13 years of dominant rule over Russia, was again elected president in March 2012.

Obama, on the other hand, has just emerged scathed from an embarrassing 16-day US government shutdown caused by a budget and debt crisis in Washington.

"Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama's lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president -- latest example: the government shutdown mess," wrote Forbes.
It took about ten years for Jimmy Carter to be fully realized as the bumbling fool he was. It will be interesting to see what the popular media will say about Barry ten years after the end of his pResidency...
The lies just keep coming...
75 years ago this evening, The Mercury Theatre On The Air broadcast H.G. Wells' novella War of the Worlds. 60 minutes of bone-chilling audio:
Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.

The Obamacare website has been fixed

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Here is a screencap of the home page:
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Swiped from Donald Sensing's Sense of Events.
Not a surprise. Shows the efficiency of big centralized government. From Law Professor Paul L. Caron writing at the TaxProf Blog:
TIGTA: IRS Cannot Account for 23% of its IT Assets
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Weaknesses in Asset Management Controls Leave Information Technology Assets Vulnerable to Loss (2013-20-089):
The IRS Information Technology organization controls more than 306,000 information technology assets worth almost $720 million using the Knowledge, Incident/Problem, Service Asset Management (KISAM) system. Our review determined that weaknesses in controls over asset management create an environment in which information technology assets are vulnerable to loss. The risk of loss, theft, or the inadvertent release of sensitive information can decrease the public�s confidence in the IRS�s ability to monitor and use its resources effectively.

TIGTA found that information technology asset data successfully migrated from the legacy inventory system to the KISAM�Asset Manager. However, the audit log used to capture events was not being reviewed to ensure that only appropriate accesses were made. In addition, information technology asset data within the KISAM�Asset Manager are inaccurate and incomplete because the IRS is not following its procedures to ensure that all assets are accurately recorded and timely updated in the KISAM�Asset Manager.

TIGTA also found that ineffective inventory controls created an environment where information technology assets are vulnerable to loss. TIGTA selected 146 information technology assets to physically verify and could not locate and verify or find proper supporting documentation for 34 information technology assets worth more than $948,000. In addition, IRS offices improperly completed the annual inventory reconciliation process.
Sheesh -- any large public enterprise or corporation, if you were more than $1K off, you would get a raised eyebrow from the accounting department. More than 10% off would get you terminated. For there to be 23% unaccounted for is just crazy. Of course, they are 23% over their inventory of record. Oh wait, they are coming up $948,000 SHORT!

Our 'culture' has some benefits

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From John Farrier writing at Neatorama:
Mariners Drive off Somali Pirates by Playing Britney Spears Music
Sure, you can shoot and kill the pirates. But why let them off that easily? Blast them with Britney! That�s what British merchant mariners are doing as they go around the Horn of Africa�a region plagued by Somali pirates. The Mirror reports:
Rachel Owens, 34, a merchant navy officer on huge super tankers off the east coast of Africa says the music is a really effective way of deterring the pirates and their high-speed skiffs.

Second Officer Rachel from Aberfoyle in Scotland said: �Her songs have been chosen by the security team accompanying our tankers because they thought the pirates would hate them most.

�These guys can�t stand Western culture or music, making Britney�s hits perfect.�
Don�t worry about crew safety. Ms. Owens says that she can direct the speakers out to sea at the pirates so that the ship�s crew doesn�t come up the direct impact of Britney Spears�s music.

Heh -- love it! Use their culture against them. Show them how ridiculous it is. The joy is that this works both ways...

Major blog-roll update

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It has been a couple years since I weeded through the blogroll (the list of links to the right of the screen. Planning to do some pruning, additions and changes over the next week or so. If there are links that you like to visit, bookmark them in your own browser ([CTRL]+D in Internet Explorer) as there is no guarantee what will be left -- planning a major housecleaning...

Yahoo - progress today

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Lulu's knee is looking a lot better -- swelling is going down. She can load-bear for a bit but I am keeping her off her feet so to let it heal fully. She is very active so sitting in the recliner watching TV and reading is slow torture for her but she understands the need to do this for a few more days. Just got confirmation emails from both the state Department of Licensing and the IRS that my new business venture is legit. Heading into town tomorrow to open the bank account and order telephone service. Also, won a small WA State surplus auction that will prove beneficial. The round trip to Olympia will cost more in diesel than what I paid but good stuff was purchased. Cooked up some left-over pot-roast into a beef noodle soup for dinner -- time to do some surfing!

Four swivel-headed loons

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From the San Jose, CA Mercury News:
Climate change pact signed by California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia
Saying that the West Coast must lead the way in battling climate change, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington, along with a representative of the premier of British Columbia, signed an agreement Monday committing the Canadian province and the three states to coordinate global-warming policies.

Each state and the Canadian province promised to take roughly a dozen actions, including streamlining permits for solar and wind projects, better integrating the electric power grid, supporting more research on ocean acidification and expanding government purchases of electric vehicles.

"You are witnessing a historic small-but-powerful first step," California Gov. Jerry Brown said during the event, held at Cisco's San Francisco campus.

"It's only the beginning. You just watch," Brown said. "Next year and the year after and the year after that, this will spread until finally we get a real handle and grasp on what is the world's greatest existential challenge -- the stability of our climate, on which we all depend."
I am all for upgrading the power grid -- what we have now is a hair-breadth away from collapse. But really -- electric (ie: coal burning) cars? Solar? Wind? How about more pipelines and natural gas turbine generating plants. How about cutting taxes and letting the economy recover. How about ending the climate change silliness -- Earth's climate has always been changing and yes, we are having some influence on it but that influence is less than one percent of the overall observed effect. Downright stupid -- way too much action in the wrong places. If we take care of the economy, the environment will take care of itself. A wealthy economy can do more for clean air and water than a poor one.

Fun times in New York City

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They are decreasing the food stamp allocation by $36/month.
More from Salon:
�Riots always begin typically the same way�: Food stamp shutdown looms Friday
Food stamp recipients face a massive benefit cut set to kick in when stimulus funds expire Friday. The nationwide cut �is equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three,� according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis using the USDA�s �Thrifty Food Plan.� CBPP called the roughly $5 billion annual cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program �unprecedented� in �depth and breadth.�

�If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food,� Margarette Purvis, the president and CEO of the Food Bank for New York City, told Salon Monday. Purvis said that the looming cut would mean about 76 million meals �that will no longer be on the plates of the poorest families� in NYC alone � a figure that outstrips the total number of meals distributed each year by the Food Bank for New York City, the largest food bank in the country. �There will be an immediate impact,� she said.
Glad I do not live in a big city. If we had let the economy flourish, instead of trying to micromanage it, a lot fewer people would need handouts. Cut taxes, cut business regulations and stand back...
You would think in the twenty-five years, people would learn and change their behavior. From the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT):
Fuel loads � not climate change � are making Australia�s bushfires more severe
CFACT Context: The global news agency AFP reported on October 24 that �(e)nvironmental activist Al Gore has likened Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott�s insistence that wildfires are not linked to climate change to the tobacco industry claiming smoking does not cause lung cancer. The former U.S. vice president and Nobel laureate was commenting after Abbott this week dismissed UN climate chief Christiana Figueres� assertion that there was �absolutely� a connection between wildfires and rising temperatures. In the ensuing article, CFACT Advisor Dr. David Evans explains that the primary reason that fires are burning hotter and longer is the failure to clear brush from the forests � leaving a massive fuel load to fan the flames.
The bibles of mainstream climate change are the Assessment Reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) every six years or so. The latest was issued recently, in September 2013. Significantly, it backs away from the link between climate change and specific extreme weather events.

The IPCC says that connections of warming to extreme weather have not been found. �There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses [that is, adjusted for exposure and wealth of the increasing populations] have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change.� The IPCC claim only to have �low confidence� in their ability to project �changes in frequency and duration of megadroughts.�

The official report does say that �drought, coupled with extreme heat and low humidity, can increase the risk of wildfire,� but there is no drought in southeast Australia at the moment.

They also say �there is evidence that future climate change could lead to increases in the occurrence of wildfires because of changes in fuel availability, readiness of the fuel to burn and ignition sources.� Carbon dioxide is a potent plant fertilizer. According to NASA satellites there is more living plant matter today, with a 6% increase in the twenty years to 2000. So there is more to burn.

Some academic papers conclude that climate change might be a contributing factor (Cai, Nicholls); others say it is not (Crompton, Pielke).

If there was any specific evidence that linked climate change to bushfires or extreme weather events, we know they would be trumpeting it loudly. That they don�t speaks volumes.
Much more at the site -- the upshot is that the Australians have been practicing the same kind of forest management that we were doing in Yellowstone thirty years ago. FIRE=BAD and must be stopped. Undergrowth=GOOD and provides animal habitat. The problem is that the undergrowth is bone dry and highly flammable. In nature, it burns every few years leaving the healthy trees standing and yields wood ash and char to fertilize new growth. When it is allowed to accumulate, conditions shift to produce firestorms that burn healthy vegetation along with the undergrowth. This kind of catastrophic damage takes fifty years to begin to recover and seriously damages the ecosystem -- all because we meddled in something we did not understand. It is not "climate change", it is piss-poor forest management to blame. A number:
Current fuel loads are now typically 30 tonnes per hectare in the forests of southeast Australia, compared to maybe 8 tonnes per hectare in the recent and ancient pasts. So fires burn hotter and longer.
An excellent writeup on what led up to the Yellowstone disaster can be found at this paper from the National Park Service -- Chapter Seven (PDF):
Yellowstone and the Politics of Disaster
During the decade following the large, high-intensity Yellowstone fires of 1988, the National Park Service had to reinvent its approaches to fire and fire management. From the authorization of NPS-18 in the late 1970s, the NPS had faced fire as an operational assignment. Its responses reflected a powerful sense that the NPS could deploy resources in such a way as to make fire conform to management objectives. Professional fire planners and managers believed that by adhering to scientific principles derived from research, they could create a system that controlled fire and even turned it to the Service�s advantage. The belief was reasonable, but it failed to take into account the unusual instance � the once-in-a-generation event that could not be planned for. The Yellowstone fires were that event: a giant fire in a place so important to Americans that it shattered the fire management program as it had been conceived, illustrating not only the boundaries inherent in the implementation of policy, but the fundamental impossibility that existing strategies could meet the challenge presented by large-scale, out-of-control fires.

In essence, major fires such as the ones that occurred at Yellowstone in 1988 transformed fire policy from a science-based response to a political issue. As long as fire remained a threat but did not present an immediate and insurmountable danger, scientists and park managers controlled the terms of debate. They could frame the underlying science in practical and abstract forms to buttress their arguments for policy implementation. Against such a carefully reasoned, science-based strategy, those who opposed NPS fire policy sounded shrill, unreasonable and self-interested. Under such circumstances, professionals had the upper hand, supported by the growing body of research that seemed to illustrate the value of fire management.

But the convergence of events in 1988 challenged the entire fire management model of the National Park Service as well as its administration of the parks themselves. In the summer of 1988, 1,427,902 acres in the Greater Yellowstone area burned during almost four months of fire. That total included 793,880 acres in Yellowstone itself, almost one-third of the park. When a November snowfall finally put an end to the blazes, the nation�s first park, symbol for many of the country�s relationship to nature and its wisdom in preserving even a small part of it, had burned uncontrollably. In that fire, the National Park Service found its image singed, its mantel as the most beloved federal agency seriously tarnished by the public�s sense of betrayal over a circumstance beyond the Service�s control. The mission of the National Park Service was to protect nature; the �devastation� that the public saw on television seemed to belie their trust.
Thirty-three more pages but to the Park Service's credit, they did a volte-face and rewrote their firefighting policies. To bad that other Nations did not follow suit especially since the evidence was irrefutable.

Quiet for a few days

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Did the shopping run, brought home a Costco roti-chicken for dinner. The next couple of days will be easy ones -- I am bidding on an auction and may have to drive South of Tacoma if I win and then, there is Samhain this Thursday/Friday. Costume party in our little hamlet -- going as a welder. I have the full leathers and picked up a couple boxes of sparklers at a Lummi fireworks store today (they are open year-round -- I love their priorities!) Doing some final paperwork for the new venture and will be having a soft opening around the middle of November.
Started this blog ten years ago today. We are now up to 16,636 posts (including this one) and 1,630 comments (not counting deleted spam). Chronicled world events, my marriage to Jen, my divorce from Jen, meeting Lulu and the passing of both parents and some of my critters around the farm. It has been a full ten years and I am looking forward to at least another twenty. Turning 63 in a week -- both my Mom and Dad lived long lives so planning to be around until at least 95. See what the next couple decades will bring -- it truly is a fun time to be alive (present administration excepted).

Back home again

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Taking Lulu into the Emergency Room was a six-hour process. I knew it would be long and we both brought books to read. Emergency Rooms work in a principle of Triage - from the Wikipedia entry:
Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients' treatments based on the severity of their condition. This rations patient treatment efficiently when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately. The term comes from the French verb trier, meaning to separate, sift or select. Triage may result in determining the order and priority of emergency treatment, the order and priority of emergency transport, or the transport destination for the patient.
Lulu's injury was sufficient to warrant a trip to the E.R. -- we did the right stuff when it happened -- ice and wrapping, but it was significantly worse this morning (24 hours later). At the ER, had we presented with a numbness in a limb or chest pain or hacking cough, we would have been in to see the Doctor in a flash. Lulu's injury was serious but not life-threatening so we were at the bottom rung of treatment. Quality of care was awesome, it was just very very s....l.....o......w....... We got home about two hours ago, heated up some leftover chili and cornbread. Got her bundled in bed upstairs and I am surfing a bit before an early bed myself. Store shopping run tomorrow so busy day then. Also, the windstorm hit and power was lost -- Curtis elected to stay home and he, a child of the internet, was forced to endure two hours without his gaming console or broadband. I shudder to think of what he must have been going through. :-) Do him some good although he will not see that...

Well crap - Lulu hurt

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Yesterday morning, Lulu was letting the dogs back in the house and they were roughhousing in the living room. They slammed into her left knee, knocking her down. This is a knee that has already seen major surgery for tendon repair about twenty years ago. We tried wrapping it and keeping the joint iced but she cannot put her weight on it now so we are heading into the Emergency Room to have it looked at... Needless to say, posting will be light.

A nasty precident

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From the New York Times:
Federal Prosecutors, in a Policy Shift, Cite Warrantless Wiretaps as Evidence
The Justice Department for the first time has notified a criminal defendant that evidence being used against him came from a warrantless wiretap, a move that is expected to set up a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping is constitutional.

Prosecutors filed such a notice late Friday in the case of Jamshid Muhtorov, who was charged in Colorado in January 2012 with providing material support to the Islamic Jihad Union, a designated terrorist organization based in Uzbekistan.

Mr. Muhtorov is accused of planning to travel abroad to join the militants and has pleaded not guilty. A criminal complaint against him showed that much of the government�s case was based on e-mails and phone calls intercepted under a 2008 surveillance law.

The government�s notice allows Mr. Muhtorov�s lawyer to ask a court to suppress the evidence by arguing that it derived from unconstitutional surveillance, setting in motion judicial review of the eavesdropping.

The New York Times reported on Oct. 17 that the decision by prosecutors to notify a defendant about the wiretapping followed a legal policy debate inside the Justice Department.
This sucks -- the Justice Department could have withheld that information and prosecuted Mr. Muhtorov to the fullest extent of the law. The moke was a known terrorist operating on our soil and should be prosecuted in a military court. Instead, we Mirandize these a@@holes and give them a court trial as though they were US Citizens and this was just a case of domestic violence. The Islamofascists are waging Asymmetric warfare against the West and we are so blind that we do not see this.

And so Winter arrives

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From the National Weather Service:
Hikers and Travelers Should Expect a Rapid Change in the Weather In The Olympics and West Slopes of the Cascades on Sunday. a Strong Upper Level Trough will Quickly Pass Through Washington Bringing an End to the Sunny and Warm Conditions in the Mountains. The Snow Levels will Drop to around 5000 Feet As this System Crosses The area Sunday Afternoon with Scattered Rain and Snow Showers Expected. Exposed Peaks will Also See Windy Conditions Along With Easterly Gap winds in the Cascade Valleys of 15 to 30 MPH With Gusts to 40 MPH.
We have had a delightful Indian Summer but it is time for Winter to lay her mantle across the land.

Obama's Czars

An interesting look at the last five years of Obama's Czars -- the Technology Czar specifically.

From Michelle Malkin writing at Human Events:

What happened to all of Obama's technology czars?
Why does the White House need a private-sector "tech surge" to repair its wretched Obamacare website failures? Weren't all of the president's myriad IT czars and their underlings supposed to ensure that taxpayers got the most effective, innovative, cutting-edge and secure technology for their money?

Now is the perfect time for an update on Obama's top government titans of information technology. As usual, "screw up, move up" is standard bureaucratic operating procedure.

Let's start with the "federal chief information officer." In 2009, Obama named then 34-year-old "whiz kid" Vivek Kundra to the post overseeing $80 billion in government IT spending. At 21, Kundra was convicted of misdemeanor theft. He stole a handful of men's shirts from a J.C. Penney's department store and ran from police in a failed attempt to evade arrest. Whitewashing the petty thief's crimes, Obama instead effused about his technology czar�s "depth of experience in the technology arena."

Just as he was preparing to take the federal job, an FBI search warrant was issued at Kundra's workplace. He was serving as the chief technology officer of the District of Columbia. Two of Kundra's underlings, Yusuf Acar and Sushil Bansal, were charged in an alleged scheme of bribery, kickbacks, ghost employees and forged timesheets. Kundra went on leave for five days and was then reinstated after the feds informed him that he was neither a subject nor a target of the investigation.

As I noted in my 2009 book, "Culture of Corruption," city and federal watchdogs had identified a systemic lack of controls in Kundra's office. Veteran D.C. newspaper columnist Jonetta Rose Barras reported that Acar "was consistently promoted by his boss, Vivek Kundra, receiving with each move increasing authority over sensitive information and operating with little supervision." Yet, Team Obama emphasized that Kundra had no idea what was going on in his workplace, which employed about 300 workers.

A mere 29 months after taking the White House job, Kundra left for a cushy fellowship at Harvard University. In January 2012, he snagged an executive position at Salesforce.com, which touted his "demonstrated track record of driving innovation."

In 2011, Obama appointed former Microsoft executive and FCC managing director Steven VanRoekel to succeed Kundra. At the time, he promised "to make sure that the pace of innovation in the private sector can be applied to the model that is government." Mission not accomplished.

Next up: Obama's "U.S. chief technology officer." In May 2009, the president appointed Aneesh Chopra "to promote technological innovation to help the country meet its goals such as job creation, reducing health care costs and protecting the homeland. Together with Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, their jobs are to make the government more effective, efficient and transparent."

Chopra's biggest accomplishment? A humiliating cameo in December 2009 on "The Daily Show" with liberal comedian Jon Stewart, who mocked the administration's pie-in-the-sky Open Government Initiative. Chopra resigned three years later, ran unsuccessfully for Virginia lieutenant governor and now works as a "senior fellow" at the far-left Center for American Progress, which is run by former Clinton administration hit man turned Obama helpmate John Podesta.

Much more at the site -- this administration is more a matter of who you know rather than what skills and work ethics you can bring to the job. This is becoming more and more clear to the general public who may not understand what goes in to making an enterprise-level website but they know that healthcare.gov is busted while amazon.com is not.

alt.energy - a two-fer

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First: Ellensburg is a delightful small college town in Central Washington. It seems that they are seeing the light when it comes to alt-energy. From the Ellensburg Daily Record:
City of Ellensburg removing wind turbines
Ellensburg will pull the plug on parts of the Community Renewable Park, ending a smart-grid demonstration project and tearing down the park�s experimental wind turbines.

Energy Services Director Larry Dunbar told the Ellensburg City Council Monday completing the project could add $500,000 to $800,000 to a project that has cost about $1.5 million. About $800,000 of the total came from grants, with the rest from the city.

The Council unanimously approved the city Energy Services Department�s plan to end work and remove parts of the renewable park, specifically those built through the smart-grid demonstration project, which includes the turbines.

The solar panels from previous projects at the park will remain, and more may be added, but all eight remaining turbines and some other equipment will be removed.

�We think that the completion costs outweigh the benefits of completing the project. We don�t really know what the ongoing operation and maintenance costs are going to be, but we think it�s going to be significant to keep these machines alive,� Dunbar said. �We�ve learned a lot at this point, and we think now is the time to focus on what works best, in the future.�
Very wise -- it was a fun experiment when they were spending OPM (Other People's Money) but now that the cost of upkeep and operation has to come from the city's tax base, no... Second: From the Denver, CO Business Journal:
BLM holds solar auction for Colorado public lands � and no one shows
The nation�s first federally run auction for a chance to develop solar power projects on public lands was a bust.

No bidders showed up for the auction by the federal Bureau of Land Management, which was held Thursday in Lakewood.

�We did not have any bidders come to the sale and we did not receive any sealed bids on the sale,� BLM spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo said.
Stick a fork in it -- now that the government subsidies are slowing down, solar and wind is simply not profitable. There is a whole back infrastructure that needs to be installed that the general public is not made aware of. The actual cost of solar and wind is very very high and neither of these represent a baseload source.

Jay Leno on Obamacare

Video posted on Breitbart

I love it -- use the NSA -- they already have all of our information.

I did not embed the video because it auto-starts and then plays other videos. Poorly mannered...

More on the healthcare.gov website builder CGI

Turns out that they are also in charge of Hurricane Sandy money. From The Daily Caller:
Company behind Obamacare website in charge of nearly $2 billion in Sandy relief
CGI Federal Inc., the mastermind behind healthcare.gov, is assisting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the distribution of $1.7 billion in relief for Hurricane Sandy.

In a memo obtained by FreedomWorks titled, �Minutes of the 295th meeting of the members of the Housing Trust Fund Corporation held on May 9, 2013, at 8:30 a.m.,� CGI Federal is tasked with implementing the Disaster Housing Assistance Program. Additionally, they are asked to aid in the implementation of the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program, an assistance program that had recently obtained $1.7 billion.

Item five of the meeting agenda reads:
Mr. Nelson presented that the State received a $1.7 billion allocation in CDBG Disaster Recovery aid from HUD to aid impacted businesses and residences. He stated that the State�s Action Plan was approved on April 26, 2013 and HTFC is currently in a phase of implementing the program. He stated that in this phase, the corporation needs to stand-up its recovery programs as soon as possible to deliver critical resources, and in order to do so, the corporation requires immediate access to consultant services to assist in policy and procedure development, training, surge capacity, and call center assistance, and stated that CGI Federal Inc. could provide such services.
The resolution was passed and scheduled to �take effect immediately.�

The Associated Press revealed Tuesday that a mere $700 million of the $60 billion federal aid package � 1.2 percent of the total funds � has been given to victims of super storm Sandy.

Nearly a year after the devastating storm, a majority of the 24,000 families that have requested monetary assistance have yet to receive a penny from the federal aid package.
Emphasis mine -- we have a word for these people: Republicans As for CGI -- they will probably claim (and get away with) large administrative costs in implementing the distribution. Such a complex task after all. (cough)(bullshit)(cough)

And the connections become clear

From The Daily Caller:
Michelle Obama�s Princeton classmate is executive at company that built Obamacare website
First Lady Michelle Obama�s Princeton classmate is a top executive at the company that earned the contract to build the failed Obamacare website.

Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of �85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamacare enrollment website at Healthcare.gov. CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of a Canadian company.

Townes-Whitley and her Princeton classmate Michelle Obama are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.

Toni Townes �85 is a onetime policy analyst with the General Accounting Office and previously served in the Peace Corps in Gabon, West Africa. Her decision to return to work, as an African-American woman, after six years of raising kids was applauded by a Princeton alumni publication in 1998.

George Schindler, the president for U.S. and Canada of the Canadian-based CGI Group, CGI Federal�s parent company, became an Obama 2012 campaign donor after his company gained the Obamacare website contract.
What I find astonishing is not that these people are bought; it is how cheaply these people are bought. A 500 Million dollar contract just because of a college chum?

Obamacare - some numbers

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From The Daily Caller -- it's official:
Health insurance cancellation notices soar above Obamacare enrollment rates
Hundreds of thousands of Americans who purchase their own health insurance have received cancellation notices since August because the plans do not meet Obamacare�s requirements.

The number of cancellation notices greatly exceed the number of Obamacare enrollees.

Insurance carrier Florida Blue sent out 300,000 cancellation notices, or 80 percent of the entire state�s individual coverage policies, Kaiser Health News reports. California�s Kaiser Permanente canceled 160,000 plans � half of its insurance plans in the state � while Blue Shield of California sent 119,000 notices in mid-September alone.

Two major insurance carriers in Pennsylvania, Insurance Highmark in Pittsburgh and Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia plan to cancel 20 percent and 45 percent of their total plans, respectively.

Nearly 800,000 New Jersey residents� health-care plans will not longer exist in 2014, forcing insurers to create new ones for individuals and small business owners that hew to the Obamacare�s new regulations, The New Jersey Star Ledger found in early October.
And the Obamacare numbers?
More Americans have lost their individual health coverage in Florida and California than have gotten past the login screen on HealthCare.gov, according to The Washington Post, which reports that 476,000 applications have �been started,� but not completed. HealthCare.gov�s dysfunctional website has helped enrollment grind to almost a complete halt.

But it�s difficult to determine exactly how lopsided the rates of cancellations versus the rates of enrollment are � the Obama administration jealously guards the official enrollment numbers, refusing to release them to even the law�s loyal Democratic supporters.

�It�s screwed up,� New York Rep. Charlie Rangel said of the White House�s secretive maneuvers.

Several states have released Obamacare enrollment data, however, revealing extremely low rates. South Dakota reported that only 23 people enrolled in the exchanges, a mere 0.0000276 percent of that state�s population. North Dakota enrolled only 20 residents.

Alaska, meanwhile, comes in at seven total enrollees, or 0.000957 percent of Alaskans.

Sources inside the Department of Health and Human Services told The Daily Mail that only 6,200 Americans signed up for coverage the day HealthCare.gov launched, while only 51,000 applied in the first week.
About what I would expect from the masterminds of this administration.

The Obamacare website

It is fun to listen to all the discussions about it -- shows how utterly clueless most of the talking heads are about the basics of web design. Here is the latest one from The Hill:
CMS: 3.5 years not enough time to make HealthCare.gov work
Federal health officials said Thursday that three-and-a-half years was not enough time to assemble and fully test ObamaCare's online enrollment portal.

On a call with reporters, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) spokeswoman Julie Bataille said that a "compressed timeframe" precluded sufficient end-to-end testing of the sign-up system.
Emphasis mine. A government ninny would find 3+ years to be too short a time but a professional web development company could have the entire site banged out in eighteen months after delivery of specifications and it would be working perfectly. It also would have cost us the taxpayers less than five million dollars and not the 500 million that we paid for this crap. I also love how people are saying that the existing website can be repaired. More like re-written. Everything I have seen of the code reeks pure incompetence.

Winding down to a dull roar

Had to do another run into town (different lawyer, different case -- one very good to me). Curtis as a bit under the weather so Lulu stayed in Bellingham for another day. They are on their way here and should be here in 20 minutes or so. Working on the new business venture - almost done with the incorporation process and State paperwork.

Heh - Obamacare

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A eulogy for Climate Change

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Craig Lindberg delivers a wonderful eulogy to Anthropogenic Climate Change:
Friday Funny � A Tribute to the Life of Climate Change
Perhaps Dana Nuccitelli and others can�t come to terms with the death of the AGW hypothesis because Climate Change hasn�t been properly eulogized. Maya Angelou once wrote; �I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else. I find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that country of no return. Disbelief becomes my close companion, and anger often follows in its wake.�

I fear Dana likewise is likewise suffering from the denial and anger that follows the loss of a loved one. To that end, I offer these words to try to bring some comfort and closure to him and his friends who are tormented by the loss of their dear friend and long-time companion.
I never had the opportunity to meet Climate Change personally;

however he had many friends, and they spoke of him frequently � so frequently that at times, I thought they wanted me to know him better than I know my own family. And while I never came to know and appreciate Climate Change the way they did, he did bring me many laughs over the years.

Climate change had a difficult childhood. His father was a relentlessly self-promoting civil servant from Iowa and his mother was an elderly French prostitute named Lia. She was not the perfect mother; she would drink. She would make outrageous claims like she invented the internet. Sometimes, she would accuse bushes of being corrupt. The sort of general mendacity that only the self-proclaimed genius possess and the skeptical lament. She spent all her time in pursuit of riches; never did she lift a finger to help Climate Change. His friends did their best to help him deal with the pain of his youth; so dedicated was one man, that he even tried to convince the world that Lia never even existed.

As a boy, Climate Change kept mostly to himself and was not the larger-than-life figure we have come to know in recent years. Certainly no one would have guessed that he would go on to found one of the largest religions of our time. You might say his childhood was typical: summers in Rangoon , luge lessons. In the spring, he made meat helmets, pretty standard, really.

He first gained notoriety when thrust unwillingly into the spotlight by those who would later become friends of his mother. They wanted everyone to believe that it was he who was cold and heartless; though now these proselytes deny any part in it. I can still remember seeing him as a young man on the cover of Time magazine; the �Big Freeze� they called him. A chilling life was not his destiny however, and soon his future was as bright as an active sun � so bright that even the Hollywood A-list would seek out his warmth. In time, he came to be known as Global Warming.
Read the whole thing -- spot on funny!

Our Sun is becoming active

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Our Sun has been very very quiet the last couple of years. What should have been a solar maximum has been a solar pffffttt. Until a week ago.
Keep an eye out for aurora...

Telling time in Italy

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First there were the 300,000 policies in Florida and the 160,000 people in California. Here we go again - from the Washington Examiner:
CareFirst says 76,000 customers will lose current coverage due to Obamacare
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is being forced to cancel plans that currently cover 76,000 individuals in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., due to changes made by President Obama's health care law, the company told the Washington Examiner today.

That represents more than 40 percent of the 177,000 individuals covered by CareFirst in those states.

Though Obama famously promised that those who liked their health care coverage could keep it under his program, in reality, the health care law imposes a raft of new regulations on insurance policies starting Jan. 1 that are forcing insurers across the country to terminate existing plans.

In theory, rules were supposed to allow pre-existing plans to be "grandfathered in," but they were written so narrowly that they leave out many plans.
And this is just starting...
From Rolling Stone:
Metallica to Play Antarctica
Metallica are heading south for the winter. "After 30 years as a band, we have been unbelievably fortunate to visit just about every corner of the earth. . . except for one," the band said today on their website. "That is all about to change as we are set to travel to Antarctica, the only continent that Metallica has never played on until now."

The metal group announced that on December 8th, they will play near the heliport of the continent's Carlini Argentine Base. The audience will consist of fans from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico who enter a contest through Coca-Cola Zero. Winners will receive a round-trip ticket on an Antarctic cruise that will leave from Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America, on December 3rd.
Very cool! Would not mind going on that trip.

Just no - Meltdown, the game

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From Electronic Component News comes this little bit of dystopian news:
Board game indoctrinates kids on global warming
Gotta start �em young.

I�m torn here. As a child�s toy, MELTDOWN � the �first board game that melts� � is extremely clever. I probably would�ve loved playing with the cute little polar bears and fake ice floes. But I can�t ignore the transparent attempt to indoctrinate children on the theory � yes, the theory � of global warming.

GEOlino, a German science magazine for children, designed MELTDOWN to enable its young readers to �experience the effects of global warming � in a completely child-oriented way.� The goal is to take a polar bear family from the melting �ice floes� (courtesy of your freezer) to the mainland. The aim is to brainwash children � about a highly contentious political theory with geopolitical ramifications and trillions of dollars at stake � while they play with ice cubes and sponges.
Not a shred of science, just hype. Since they aren't converting the adults any more, they have shifted their target to kids.

Time for Everyone

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Great conference in Santa Barbara in three weeks. Check out Time for Everyone From their website:
Time has become so omnipresent that most people are completely unaware of how much we depend on it. Its measurement not only defines every interaction in our society, but also controls our entire communication system. Once there were problems finding time. Now, none of us can find enough of it.

�Time for Everyone� is a unique opportunity to learn about the origins, evolution, and future of public time from some of the foremost authorities in many branches of time measurement. From its natural cycles in astronomy, to its biological evolution, to how the brain processes it differently at various stages of life and under different circumstances, to how we find it, how we measure it, and how we keep it, this symposium will explore many facets of this fascinating subject of unfathomable depth. The program has been designed for a diverse audience and the speakers carefully chosen not only for their knowledge, but also for their ability to bring their subjects to life.

Enjoy your visit to this website. In addition to reviewing details of the program and the speakers, we encourage you to watch the videos of some ingenious mechanisms designed to answer one simple question as precisely as possible:
What time is it?
Great list of speakers and the exhibits sound wonderful -- wish I had the time and money to attend...

Live near the coast?

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Here is a website for you: Live Ships Map Live tracking of ship movements updated every 100 seconds.

Cool concert this coming Sunday

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From the Bellingham Herald:
Cellist will bring electric sounds to Mount Baker Theatre
Electric cellist, vocalist and composer Jami Sieber employs looping devices and electronics to create innovative sounds at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
Her website: Jami Sieber Some of her music:

Another busy day

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Was working at the new venture this morning. Back for lunch and starting a pot roast for tonight -- Lulu and Curtis are coming out this afternoon.

Word

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New York City Subways and Hurricane Sandy

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Great long article on what N.Y.C. Subways did to mitigate the effects of Hurricane Sandy. From the New York Times:
Could New York City Subways Survive Another Hurricane?
A good place to see how and why the Metropolitan Transportation Authority just barely survived Sandy last fall is the entrance to a tunnel at 148th Street and Lenox Avenue, in East Harlem, where, just before the storm hit, a crew of carpenters built a plywood dam 8� feet tall by about 55 feet wide. That ad hoc, low-tech, last-minute construction held the New York Harbor at bay and not only saved the city hundreds of millions of dollars, but also made it possible for the subway to come back to life as quickly as it did.

The first work on the dam began a week before Sandy arrived, when building materials were taken to the site. As weather forecasters were hemming and hawing about European versus American climate models and Mayor Bloomberg was debating whether to evacuate flood areas, New York City Transit was working on its own hurricane plans. �You scramble your jets right away � you can�t wait,� says Thomas F. Prendergast, president of New York City Transit at the time and now the authority�s chairman and chief executive. The reports on the dam that he was getting at the Rail Control Center in Midtown showed the level getting higher and higher. �The water was lapping at the top,� he says.

Not long after Sandy was categorized a tropical depression off the coast of Venezuela on Friday, Oct. 19, the M.T.A. had begun gathering cots and bedding, food and water, for track workers and hydraulics teams and even the train crews that would shut the system down and start it back up. Carpenters and bus drivers alike would be staying at depots and temporary shelters, because there would be no way for them to go home and then return to work while the subways and regional trains like Metro-North Railroad and New Jersey Transit were out. By Wednesday, when Sandy crossed the island of Jamaica as a Category 1 hurricane, carpenters were covering sidewalk subway grates with plastic sheeting and plywood and building barriers at the entrances of low-lying subway stations, mostly in Lower Manhattan.
Sounds like the Transit Authority is really well managed -- got to be a meritocracy instead of a bureaucracy. You actually have to be able to do the work in order to get promoted. Do not listen to the chattering political class in times like this; they have no idea as to what is actually happening, they surround themselves with yes-men.

Keeping things secure for us average Joes

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Saw this one coming from a mile away - from the Washington Examiner:
Obamacare launch spawns 700+ cyber-squatters capitalizing on Healthcare.gov, state exchanges
More than 700 websites have been created with names playing off of Obamacare or Healthcare.gov, making it likely that some Americans will mistakenly hand over private information to unknown third-parties.

For instance, there is a website � www.obama-care.us � that brands itself as part of the "Obamacare enrollment team," directs people to an "Obamacare enrollment form" and asks users for their name, address, Social Security number and other contact information. According to a counter at the bottom of the page, more than 3,000 people have visited obama-care.us.

This website does not actually enable people to enroll in Obamacare. It was registered with GoDaddy.com on Sept. 2 � less than a month before the official launch of the health care exchange websites � according to who.is, a website that provides information on internet domains and their owners.

The practice of setting up websites with names that are similar to high-profile pages is known as cyber-squatting.

It can be used by private businesses looking to siphon traffic away from their competitors, by marketers selling ads to private companies � by visiting a website, you're revealing your interest in a given product � or by identity thieves.

"[Obama-care.us] is so well deceptively designed that I had to research the owner to verify that it wasn't a government site," said a retired cybersecurity industry expert.
John McAfee had this to say a week ago:
Time to make a big bowl of popcorn and watch Obamacare come crashing to Earth. Could not ask for a better tool to recruit new Conservatives -- what Big Government does writ large...

This is hilarious! From the Australian site Music Feeds (EDM is Electronic Dance Music):

Engineer Turns Hardcore Band Into EDM Nightmare After They Fail To Pay
You wouldn't ever consider not paying your phone bill or doctor, so why would you run the risk of not paying your sound engineer? One hardcore band from the US, Altitudes, have learned that soundies are simply unfuckwithable after having their tune turned into dance song, becoming the laughing stock of the Internet and two music genres in the process.

It's unclear where the money went, though everyone over the age of 13 smokes weed these days so that's a possibility, and by the look of these musicians they've just managed to squeezed into that age bracket. We can be sure where their money didn't go - into funding the mixing and production of their track and subsequent music video.

As a result the engineer, known only as Dan, funnelled the "best 30 mins I've ever spent" into reworking the material and uploading the final product. What was surely meant to be a hard-hitting, passionate composition of brutal metalcore integrity is now a cringeworthy dance track.

The tackiest of beats and lazy FM synth lines are now paired with just about every shot of the constipated-looking vocalist and his braces that the engineer could find, and a skateboarding bassist getting legit crazy aerials while holding his bitchin' $120 bass guitar, all while a raw vocal wails pathetically over the top.

Dance beat aside, the track was absolute rubbish anyway though, thanks to Good Guy Engineer, at least now it's worth listening to. Commenting via his YouTube channel Dan said:
"I recorded all the audio, filmed them at my studio, and then I decided to write a dance tune to the same tempo they recorded at. I merely took his vocals and slapped it on the dance track, then replaced the new audio to the video I had already edited. Best 30 mins I've ever spent."

Final product is here:

The YouTube channel also has 50 seconds of the straight video -- quite the difference...

Back home - long day #2

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Drove down to a supplier about 50 miles south of here and had dinner on the road (Outback Steakhouse). Next couple of days are going to be crazy too. Blog a bit and then early (for me) to bed.

Happy Mole-morial Day

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YESTERDAY WAS CAPS-LOCK DAy. Today (10/23) is Mole-morial Day.

Forced perspective

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A fun kind of optical illusion made famous by the Ames Room Honda has made a wonderful advertisement using forced perspective:
Title is from Obama's speech in August 2009. Pants on Fire. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (a progressive-biased newspaper):
'If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan'
PolitiFact gave that infamous claim by President Obama a "Half True" rating all the way back in August 2009. Looks like it's officially time for a change to "Pants on Fire," or maybe even a retroactive award for the fact checkers' "Lie of the Year." From NBC News:
"Health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies.

"The main reason insurers offer is that the policies fall short of what the Affordable Care Act requires starting Jan. 1. Most are ending policies sold after the law passed in March 2010. At least a few are canceling plans sold to people with pre-existing medical conditions."
Want more? Here is the website for Kaiser Health News:
Thousands Of Consumers Get Insurance Cancellation Notices Due To Health Law Changes
Health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies.

The main reason insurers offer is that the policies fall short of what the Affordable Care Act requires starting Jan. 1. Most are ending policies sold after the law passed in March 2010. At least a few are cancelling plans sold to people with pre-existing medical conditions.

By all accounts, the new policies will offer consumers better coverage, in some cases, for comparable cost -- especially after the inclusion of federal subsidies for those who qualify. The law requires policies sold in the individual market to cover 10 �essential� benefits, such as prescription drugs, mental health treatment and maternity care. In addition, insurers cannot reject people with medical problems or charge them higher prices. The policies must also cap consumers� annual expenses at levels lower than many plans sold before the new rules.

But the cancellation notices, which began arriving in August, have shocked many consumers in light of President Barack Obama�s promise that people could keep their plans if they liked them.

�I don�t feel like I need to change, but I have to,� said Jeff Learned, a television editor in Los Angeles, who must find a new plan for his teenage daughter, who has a health condition that has required multiple surgeries.

An estimated 14 million people purchase their own coverage because they don�t get it through their jobs. Calls to insurers in several states showed that many have sent notices.

Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people � about half of its individual business in the state. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.
Emphasis mine in the last paragraph. Kaiser Health News bills itself as an independent news organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. I bet they get their news from the horses mouth as it were. Close to the source. This is turning out to be worse than anyone could imagine. I looked at my options and I would go from a $1K deductible to a $5K deductible and would have to pay about $200 more per month for Lulu and me than the policy I have in place now. My co-pays are $40 which is hurting a bit with the weekly physical therapy visits but it beats the alternative...
Lulu and Curtis are in Bellingham for two days to take care of some stuff there. Curtis helped me move some equipment today for a new business venture. Rented a truck with a lift-gate and got to work. Had dinner in town after returning the truck and just got home a few minutes ago -- fed the critters and sat down to the 'puter. Photos and more details in a future post. Waiting for the alcohol/aspirin to kick in and then an early bedtime. Surf for a bit and will post what I find but not planning to read the entire internet tonight...

TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL CAPS-LOCK DAY!!!

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CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE HERE: INTERNATIONAL CAPS-LOCK DAY

Chickens coming home to roost

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Talk about not knowing your history. From FOX News:
ABSOLUTELY REPREHENSIBLE: Dem Alan Grayson Uses Burning Cross to Slander Tea Party, Fundraise
Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., an outspoken liberal, is taking heat from Republicans for raising money off an email that associates the tea party with the Ku Klux Klan.

On Monday, a Grayson fundraising email sent to supporters features an image of two KKK members in full regalia looking at a flaming cross, which is used as the �T� in tea party. �Now You Know What the �T� Stands For,� reads a title under the image.

Grayson goes on to write that, �At this point, the tea party is no more popular than the Klan.�
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Mr. Grayson should be well aware of the fact that it was the Democratic Party that was behind the racism and segregation. The KKK was a wing of the Democratic Party. Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X -- they were both Republicans.

Where was their oversight and why the hell is a company like Experian selling personal data to whomever ponies up the thirty pieces of silver.

From Krebs on Security:

Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service
An identity theft service that sold Social Security and drivers license numbers - as well as bank account and credit card data on millions of Americans - purchased much of its data from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, according to a lengthy investigation by KrebsOnSecurity.

In November 2011, this publication ran a story about an underground service called Superget.info, a fraudster-friendly site that marketed the ability to look up full Social Security numbers, birthdays, drivers license records and financial information on millions of Americans. Registration was free, and accounts were funded via WebMoney and other virtual currencies that are popular in the cybercriminal underground.

Each SSN search on Superget.info returned consumer records that were marked with a set of varying and mysterious two- and three-letter sourceid: identifiers, including TH, MV, and NCO, among others. I asked readers who may have a clue about the meaning or source of those abbreviations to contact me. In the weeks following that post, I heard from many readers who had guesses and ideas, but none who seemed to have conclusive information.

That changed in the past week. An individual who read a story about the operators of a similar ID theft service online having broken into the networks of LexisNexis and other major data brokers wrote to say that he'd gone back and reviewed my previous stories on this topic, and that he'd identified the source of the data being resold by Superget.info. The reader said the abbreviations matched data sets produced by Columbus, Ohio-based USInfoSearch.com.

Again, much more at the site with links to corroborating sources. Brian Krebs knows his stuff and is respected in the white-hat community (hackers for good, not crooks).

Was listening to his Rose Garden speech today and he had this to say about the website. From Business Insider:
OBAMA PROMISES: 'The Website's Gonna Get Fixed � And The Law Works'
Flanked by people who he said have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act so far, President Barack Obama acknowledged on Monday the problems and glitches that have plagued the law's rollout.

"There's no sugar-coating it," Obama said at an event in the Rose Garden of the White House, referring to the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov, the federal website where consumers have had anything but a smooth time signing up for health insurance.

"No one is more frustrated than I am."

While acknowledging the problems with the website, Obama hailed the parts of the law that have already helped the 13 people that joined him onstage in the Rose Garden. At times he defiantly said that the website is "gonna get fixed." He didn't provide many specifics on that point, other than noting that people will be working overtime to fix it and that the White House will bring in outside experts � a "tech surge," as he said.
He has obviously never heard of Fred Brooks or Brooks's law:
Brooks's law is a principle in software development which says that "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later". It was coined by Fred Brooks in his 1975 book The Mythical Man-Month. The corollary of Brooks's Law is that there is an incremental person who, when added to a project, makes it take more, not less time. Brooks adds that "Nine women can't make a baby in one month".
So true and shown time after time after time on projects big and small. Healthcare.gov started with a crappy foundation and adding manpower to it will only gild the pig, it will not make it better. His seminal work can be found at Archive.org: The Mythical Man Month and is a great read for any person involved in management, project planning, programming or working with others. I cannot overstate this. Final observation, the website is said (from Slate) to have 500 million lines of code of which five million need to be rewritten. There is a standard metric in programing where you talk about one thousand lines of code or one K lines of code or one KLOC (pronounced Kay-Lock). This puts the website at 500,000 KLOCs with 50,000 KLOCs needing to be rewritten. I used to work at Microsoft when Windows XP and Windows 2K were shipped. Windows XP -- the entire distribution with utilities and even gorilla.bas -- everything -- was about 450,000 KLOCs. One government website has almost the same number of lines of code as a very mature and robust operating system from Microsoft. healthcare.gov will go down in history as the example everyone turns to when citing examples of code bloat and code written by a committee. As an example, a website for a large bank or an ecommerce site has about 100 times fewer lines of code. That code is written by a tightly managed group of people who know what the F@#$ they are doing and talk to their cow-orkers every day. A company like SAP or Amazon or Google could have banged this out in 18 months for under five million dollars and it would have worked out of the box. Instead, we have spent three+ years and $634 Million of our taxpayer dollars and gotten this...

Running a large restaurant

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I love to cook and have managed and worked in kitchens of several restaurants -- everything from dishwasher to lead chef and general manager. Here is a wonderful write-up of one day at Balthazar in New York City. That day, they served 1,247 people (a slow day). From the New York Times:
22 Hours in Balthazar
It�s 5 a.m. on a Friday morning, and I�m looking at the �vault.� It�s not actually a vault, but it used to be, back when this was a bank. Now it�s used to store wine, glassware and plates for Balthazar. Erin Wendt, the restaurant�s general manager, took me here, rounding off a tour of its underground hinterland, a warren of storage rooms that have been colonized, piece by subterranean piece, since the 180-seat brasserie opened in 1997. Beneath the dining room on Spring and Crosby Streets, and moving west, there is a cavernous prep kitchen, the chef�s office, six walk-in fridges and one walk-in freezer, a bakery prep station and delivery room, a laundry area, a rather bleak staff break room, kegs and soda lines, managers� offices, a room seemingly dedicated to storing menus and menu sleeves and, finally, beneath Broadway, a half-block away from the dining room, the vault. You can hear the N, Q and R trains trundling by with remarkable clarity.

For now, everything is quiet at Balthazar. The last guests from the night before left just a few hours ago, and the nighttime porters are still finishing their thorough scrub of the restaurant. But the delivery trucks are starting to arrive all over again, idling on Crosby. Men in lifting belts wheel hand trucks stacked high with food from across the globe: 80 pounds of ground beef, 700 pounds of top butt, 175 shoulder tenders, 1 case of New York strips, all from the Midwest; 5 pounds of chicken livers, 6 cases of chicken bones, 120 chicken breast cutlets; 30 pounds of bacon; 300 littleneck clams, 110 pounds of mussels from Prince Edward Island, another 20 pounds from New Zealand, 50 trout, 25 pounds of U10 shrimp (fewer than 10 pieces per pound), 55 whole dorade, 3 cases of escargot, 360 Little Skookum oysters from Washington State, 3 whole tunas, 45 skates, 18 black sea bass, 2 bags of 100 to 120 whelks, 45 lobster culls. That�s just the fish and meat order.

Produce comes in, too � 50-pound cases of russets from Idaho stacked head high and six deep; spinach, asparagus, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes � as do dry goods, dairy and some 500 pounds of insanely expensive peanut oil for the French fries. The restaurant employs six stewards to deal with deliveries and storage alone; they weigh goods and check them against invoices, putting everything in its proper place, keeping the Health Department happy. At a typical restaurant, as much as one-third of the overhead goes to food costs, and so efficiency is an imperative. �Monday, you�ll see,� Kelvin Arias, the head steward, tells me, �all the walk-ins will be empty.�
A long and wonderful meditation on food, business and management. Much more at the site.

Today's moment of joy

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Hat tip to Neatorama

A long week ahead

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Store buying run today but much much more. Renting a truck with a lift gate tomorrow to move some equipment and meeting with a lawyer and my physical therapist later this week. Also doing some remodeling of two of my rental units plus a bunch more stuff. It will be a long but productive week. Need more coffee!

Heh - those stick figures on back windshields

20131020-Bumper-Sticker-Charlottesville-VA-stick-figure-family.jpg

We have these all over cars around here - popular meme.

I keep thinking about getting one of these:

20131020-Everyone-Has-a-Family-Meet-Mine.jpg

From here. Hat tip to Maggie's for the first image.

Spamalot

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Been a bit of an uptick in spam attempts with over 20 today. Attempts - 20+ Successes - 0 Failures - ALL OF THEM! Heh...

Discrimination

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The bookend to this post from yesterday. Hat tip Vanderleun
Not really. From the New York Post:
Even Oprah isn�t on board with ObamaCare
As the White House was gearing up to sell ObamaCare to the American people last summer, Valerie Jarrett, the president�s pointwoman on a host of issues, phoned Oprah Winfrey.

She invited the Queen of All Media to join celebrities, including Amy Poehler, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys, to meet with President Obama and discuss how they could generate publicity for his health-care law.

Oprah refused.

�All of Oprah�s top people thought she would go, because when the president invites you to the White House, most people automatically say yes,� said one of Oprah�s closest advisers. �But Oprah said she didn�t have the time or inclination to go. It wasn�t like she had to think it over. It was an immediate, flat-out, unequivocal no.�
Oprah didn't get to where she is by being stupid...

Put me in charge

Great rant - written Nov. 18, 2010 but I just ran across it here and wanted to share:

Waco Tribune-Herald, Nov. 18, 2010
Put me in charge
Put me in charge of food stamps. I'd get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho's, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercings, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your "home" will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a "government" job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the "common good."

Before you write that I've violated someone's rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules.. Before you say that this would be "demeaning" and ruin their "self esteem," consider that it wasn't that long ago that taking someone else's money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people's mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

AND while you are on Gov't subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov't welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

Alfred W. Evans
Gatesville, TX

Sure, this is 110% contrary to the Utopian state that the progressives want to install and it will cause a lot of people to have to seriously shift their priorities but I think that these are basic solid ideas. Shrink the federal government and get people back on their feet again. We used to be an incredible nation and we can rebuild ourselves if we start now.

From the UK Telegraph:
Wind farm being torn down for scrap
The four wind turbines, measuring 45 metres high, were put up in the 1990s but haven�t worked for years.

Campaigners said the turbines �turned the area into an industrial graveyard� as they celebrated news of the removal of the rusty machines, which will be used as scrap metal.

Locals said they had blighted the landscape and hadn�t worked for three quarters of the time they had been at the site in the Yorkshire Dales.

Peter Rigby, who helped set up the Parishoners Against the Chelker Turbines, said: "It's been a hell of a fight but we have proved it is possible to stop wind farms.

�In recent years the turbines have hardly ever worked - they have turned the area into an industrial graveyard and look like rotting tooth stumps.�
Good news -- there was a nice condition in the contract:
Ian Swain, development control officer at Craven District Council, said one of the conditions of the turbines being granted planning permission in the 1990s was that they would be removed if they stopped working.

He said: �The council was looking to enforce that requirement of the conditions because the turbines had been unused for a period of time. We understand that the level of maintenance required had become so great that they had become unviable.�
Wish this was enforced in the USA -- there are lots of dead windmills around here. Windmills only work when the wind is blowing at a very specific range of speeds. They are programmed to shut down if the wind is too slow or too fast. The utility needs a source of backup power that can respond to these changes when they happen and the only kind of generator that can respond that quickly is a gas turbine running on hot standby -- it is actually running even when the wind turbine is contributing power, only not as fast and it is not consuming as much fuel. The turbines themselves require a large amount of electricity even when they are not being run -- windpower's dirty little secret...

Now that's racist!

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Insurance - Medical versus Automotive

Brings to mind Inigo Montoya's line from The Princess Bride:

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Swiped in full from Maggie's Farm:

The "Change"
The change in medical care. I refuse to term it "health care," since health needs no care other than one's own reasonably-sensible and attentive but not health-obsessed life, combined with the main factor - luck. From a commenter at Allahpundit:
Perhaps the concept of "insurance" isn't the right one for health care?

I always liked the comparison that was trying to be made with car insurance

Yet for there to be an equivalent your car insurance would have to cover:
- maintenance tune-ups, including oil and filter changes
- the cost of repairs for any reason
- a price break per gallon of gas
- an annual detailing
- the cost of tires
- a new muffler annually
- and never, ever raising the cost of your insurance no matter how many accidents you were in, how many tickets you got - anything

Imagine what car insurance would be like if we modeled that on health insurance coverage and you get an idea why health insurance coverage is so high. And why get fuel efficient vehicles if you are getting the gas subsidized? Or bother with the maintenance if you'll get a brand new engine if you forgot about it? And the cost of such insurance would be lower than what you have now?

The number of shades of maroon that went into trying to make this entire "insurance" concept work for one's health is plain nuts. It isn't "insurance" if you are going to use it constantly -  you want something else.

Perhaps a clue.

Health insurance used to be an executive "perk" because it was TOO EXPENSIVE to provide for everyone in the workforce. Businesses got a price break for it to entice people who would not normally come to work to do so during WWII. The war ended. The subsidy via the tax code did not. Strangely enough before this misbegotten idea got infested into the tax code and people�s minds, individuals did not drop over dead in the street and did work out payment schedules WITH hospitals and physicians. Amazingly that worked and there was a strong system of charitable hospitals and care givers to pick up the slack. Then government got involved and screwed it up.
Government is all about money. Government's expertise is perverse incentives. The Obama-thing, like the previous Hillary-thing, is not technically insurance. It's just pre-paid medical costs, spread across populations and subsidized, or not, by income and with bureaucrats deciding what you can get paid on it.

That's not an entirely insane idea, except that whenever government gets involved with things outside their Constitutional mandate, things turn out wrong and over-controlling by the standards of a free country. Always.

I do not believe that most Americans want every detail of their lives politicized. I think they want to be left alone, but maybe I am old-fashioned.

The whole thing is being mis-framed by the progressives in order to sell it to the rest of us. They want it to collapse (which it is doing nicely) and they will then try to transform it into a single-payer model. The practice of Medicine will take a 70% reduction in quality and availability if that happens. Speaking of Obamacare collapsing, I love these two numbers: From the Australian Broadcasting Company - Tue 10 Sep 2013:

Offer of one-way trip to live on Mars has volunteers lining up
More than 200,000 people from 140 countries have applied to go to Mars and never return, the group behind an ambitious venture to colonise the inhospitable red planet says.

More:

One in four of the 202,586 applicants for the one-way trip are Americans, says Mars One, a non-profit group which initiated the hunt for "would-be Mars settlers" in April.

And this one from Forbes:

How Many People Have Enrolled In Obamacare? An Early Look

This excerpt

As a result, the number of enrollees through the 36 federal exchanges is likely very low. Industry analyst Bob Laszewski surveyed health plans last week and reported back with pessimistic news: "Not more than about 5,000 individuals and families signed up for health insurance" through healthcare.gov as of last Monday, he concluded.

"In the federal exchanges, the big market share guys were only getting about 20 [contracts] a day on October 7," Laszewski told me, although he noted that each contract could potentially cover several lives. "They are telling me the rate is holding at about that level as recently as [Friday]," he added.

It's tough to argue with Laszewski's estimate; federal officials have refused to release healthcare.gov enrollment data until mid-November.

Taking a one-way trip to Mars with an unknown space expedition is significantly more popular than enrolling in a medical program run by the masterminds in Washington, D.C.

Heh - Chevron bites back

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Large corporations like Chevron are frequent targets of activist groups who sue for large sums of money with the intent that Chevron will cough up a couple million bucks and settle out of court. A group of environmental activists are finding out the hard way that Chevron doesn't always play by their rulebook. From Jazz Shaw writing at Hot Air:
Chevron takes shakedown lawyers to court in RICO trial
We�ve spent plenty of time and column space here over the last couple years keeping you up to date on the attempts of various corrupt Ecuador agencies and their Eco-warrior counterparts in the United States to sue Chevron over claimed damages in Ecuador�s oil fields. While such tactics have traditionally been successful against big corporations with deep pockets, choosing to simply pay off the pests rather than spending the time and money to fight them, not so with Chevron. The plaintiffs, led in large part by Manhattan lawyer Steven Donziger, tried to dig too deep, racking up a $19B judgment in an Ecuador court based on what turned out to be a staggering series of apparently fraudulent ploys. Chevron fought back and refused to cough up a dime.

And now, in what may prove to be a lesson in not waking a sleeping giant and making him too angry, Chevron has turned the tables and taken Donziger and company to court in NY claiming they engaged in racketeering.
Chevron alleges in the non-jury trial before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan that a Manhattan lawyer, Steven Donziger, and others involved in the pollution case engaged in a �racketeering enterprise� and won the 2011 verdict through coercion, manufactured evidence and bribery of the Ecuadorean judge who wrote it. The company is seeking a ruling preventing the plaintiffs from trying to enforce the verdict in courts around the world. Burford reached an agreement with Chevron to provide testimony after being described in the lawsuit as a party involved in the scheme, Bogart said yesterday.

Donziger contends he did nothing unlawful in Ecuador and that Chevron engaged in similar tactics. Kaplan said in a ruling last week there�s �considerable evidence� the pollution case was �tainted by fraud.�

In a portion of testimony filed with the judge, Bogart said �we simply do not countenance in any way the kind of behavior this court has already found has occurred� and �we never would have invested� in the case if they were aware of the allegedly fraudulent activities.
This should be interesting to watch and we�ll definitely keep an eye on it. I don�t recall another case of this size where the person trying to pick the big company�s pockets wound up in front of a judge being brought to task for their actions. Donziger�s defense thus far seems to be, �Hey, everybody does it.� I�m not sure how well that�s going to wash here.
Discovery will be a bitch as usual. If large corporations did this more often, we wouldn't have such virulent activists.

Come and take it

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There is a shift in Texas politics -- progressives are targeting the state and trying to install progressive democrats into State politics. There has been a cry from them for more gun control despite all data showing that more guns = less crime. There was a pushback at The Alamo this morning and the San Antonio Express-News was there:
Armed protest at Alamo ends quietly
Gun enthusiasts gathered at the Alamo Saturday to rally for the right to openly carry firearms, without state and local restrictions that are now in place.

Demonstrators, many carrying rifles, shotguns or 19th-century pistols, cheered speakers who urged them to hold tight to their firearms, as their protected Constitutional right.

Featured speaker Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a candidate for lieutenant governor whose General Land Office oversees the Alamo, approved the use of the Alamo grounds for the event. Until 2011 the Alamo was overseen by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, which limited demonstrations at one of the state's most recognized landmarks.

Police Chief William McManus said this week that police would oversee the protest, which he expected to be peaceful.
Hard to say from the vantage point of the photographer but it looks like there were a couple thousand people there:
20131019-alamo02.jpg

20131019-alamo01.jpg
The newspaper also has updates of events through the day.

Our view of government

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Considering that the Pew Institute has a pronounced liberal bias, these numbers are interesting. From the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press:
Trust in Government Nears Record Low, But Most Federal Agencies Are Viewed Favorably
Public trust in the government, already quite low, has edged even lower in a survey conducted just before the Oct. 16 agreement to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

Just 19% say that they trust the government in Washington to do what is right just about always or most of the time, down seven points since January. The current measure matches the level reached in August 2011, following the last battle over the debt ceiling.
Some individual branches of fed.gov fare a lot better -- this chart shows the data:
20131019-pew-poll.png
Too bad they didn't ask about President stompy-feet -- would love to see those numbers...

Never liked clowns myself - from Mexico

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From the Canadian branch of Yahoo/Reuters:
Gunman in clown suit kills senior Mexican drug cartel member
A gunman in a clown costume shot and killed the oldest brother of one of Mexico's most notorious drug trafficking families in the resort of Los Cabos, authorities said on Saturday.

Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, 63, a former leader of the Tijuana Cartel, was shot in the head late on Friday at a family gathering in the southern tip of the state of Baja California Sur, a spokesman for state prosecutors said.
From the department of the obvious:
The possibility that his killer had ties to organized crime was being investigated, the official said.
And the rest of the immediate family?
Arellano Felix's younger brothers, Francisco Javier, Benjamin and Eduardo are serving prison sentences in the United States. Another of his brothers, Ramon, was killed in a shootout with police in 2002.
And another narco-terrorist assumes room temperature.

Sweden sees the light on weight loss

Want to lose weight? Cut out the carbs. Plain simple but ignored by our nutritional experts in the Government. From Health Impact News:

Sweden Becomes First Western Nation to Reject Low-fat Diet Dogma in Favor of Low-carb High-fat Nutrition
Sweden has become the first Western nation to develop national dietary guidelines that reject the popular low-fat diet dogma in favor of low-carb high-fat nutrition advice.

The switch in dietary advice followed the publication of a two-year study by the independent Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment. The committee reviewed 16,000 studies published through May 31, 2013.

Swedish doctor, Andreas Eenfeldt, who runs the most popular health blog in Scandinavia (DietDoctor.com) published some of the highlights of this study in English:
Health markers will improve on a low-carbohydrate diet:
"a greater increase in HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) without having any adverse affects on LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). This applies to both the moderate low-carbohydrate intake of less than 40 percent of the total energy intake, as well as to the stricter low-carbohydrate diet, where carbohydrate intake is less than 20 percent of the total energy intake. In addition, the stricter low-carbohydrate diet will lead to improved glucose levels for individuals with obesity and diabetes, and to marginally decreased levels of triglycerides." (Source.)

A lot more at the source linked above. You can also Google Paleo diet and read some amazing testimonials. The majority of these people are not trying to sell you anything, they are trying to spread their good results with a counter-intuitive diet change.

From gCaptain:
Fire Consumes Brazilian Sugar Mega-Terminal, 180,000 Tons Destroyed
A fire ravaged Copersucar�s sugar terminal in Brazil on Friday, paralyzing operations of the world�s biggest sugar trader and putting 10 million tonnes of export capacity offline for six months or more.

The fire hit all of Copersucar�s warehouses at the Santos port, igniting 180,000 tonnes of sugar � roughly 10 percent of Brazil�s monthly sugar exports � and driving prices of the sweetener to a one-year high on global markets.

The loss of nearly all of its port capacity will send Copersucar scrambling to lease or rent terminal space to cover its obligations to global buyers and exchanges in the coming months. Copersucar says nearly a fifth of the world�s sugar exports flows through its trading desks.

�A conservative estimate would be six months to get this in operational form (again),� said a U.S. trader. �The jewel in their crown has been effectively destroyed.�
This will hit everyone. Sugar is a basic commodity used in most of what we eat.
From Breitbart:
US quietly releasing $1.6B in Pakistan assistance
The U.S. has quietly decided to release more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan that was suspended when relations between the two countries disintegrated over the covert raid that killed Osama bin Laden and deadly U.S. airstrikes against Pakistani soldiers.

Officials and congressional aides said ties have improved enough to allow the money to flow again.

American and NATO supply routes to Afghanistan are open. Controversial U.S. drone strikes are down. The U.S. and Pakistan recently announced the restart of their "strategic dialogue" after a long pause. Pakistan's new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is traveling to Washington for talks this coming week with President Barack Obama.
I can see sending food and medical supplies, sending teams of engineers to dig water wells for villages, that kind of thing. Sending cash and guns will not improve the lives of the Pakistani people. The guns and cash will just be appropriated by those in power and the poor will not see a dime. We have enough problems at home to be blowing this kind of money abroad. India is a lot closer to us as a nation.
From FOX News:
LA Times bans letters from climate skeptics
The Los Angeles Times is giving the cold shoulder to global warming skeptics.

Paul Thornton, editor of the paper�s letters section, recently wrote a letter of his own, stating flatly that he won't publish some letters from those skeptical of man�s role in our planet�s warming climate. In Thornton�s eyes, those people are often wrong -- and he doesn�t print obviously wrong statements.

�Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published,� Thornton wrote. �Saying �there�s no sign humans have caused climate change� is not stating an opinion, it�s asserting a factual inaccuracy.�

What amounts to a ban on discourse about climate change stirred outrage among scientists who have written exactly that sort of letter.

"In a word, the LA Times should be ashamed of itself," William Happer, a physics professor at Princeton, told FoxNews.com.
In other words, they are finally admitting what they have been doing for the last ten years or so -- now that the wheels are coming off the CAGW buss and that the much vaunted models are proving to be horribly inaccurate when compared to actual measurement. Stick a fork in it -- it is done. (The LA Times and catastrophic anthropogenic global warming)

The religion of peace - Syria

I really wonder why the rest of the world has not isolated these people and put a pay telephone with a couple quarters in a town square somewhere -- the last surviving rational person can make the call and we will let them back into civilization. From the London Daily Mail:

Is this the most sickening image of the war in Syria so far? Snipers 'target unborn children in chilling competition to win cigarettes'
The unborn children of Syrian women are the targets of a sickening war game where a shooter who murders a foetus in its mother's womb is awarded with cigarettes, a British surgeon has revealed.

Dr David Nott witnessed evidence of fighters using civilians as target practice and on several occasions shooting pregnant women in the stomach, killing their unborn babies.

There is a lot more at the site including an X-Ray image that has my eyes tearing up. This culture is disgusting. They worship a false prophet and breed fear and shame instead of love and education. That our president would bow down before these putative leaders is sickening...

Al Gore v/s reality

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Bloviating dumbass -- a two-fer. First - from Climate Depot:
New Study: �2013 ranks as one of the least extreme U.S. weather years ever�� Many bad weather events at �historically low levels�
There have been many forecasts in the news in recent years predicting more and more extreme weather-related events in the US, but for 2013 that prediction has been way off the mark. Whether you�re talking about tornadoes, wildfires, extreme heat or hurricanes, the good news is that weather-related disasters in the US are all way down this year compared to recent years and, in some cases, down to historically low levels.

To begin with, the number of tornadoes in the US this year is on pace to be the lowest total since 2000 and it may turn out to be the lowest total in several decades. The table below lists the number of tornadoes in the US for this year (through 10/17) and also for each year going back to 2000.
(Source: NOAA, http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/online/monthly/newm.html)
The post then looks at Wildfires (number and involved acreage), extreme heat, Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), Hurricanes -- all very low numbers and all with links to source materials. Second -- from Bloomberg:
Gore Says U.S. Likely to Beat �Inadequate� Carbon Target
The U.S. will probably beat its own target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions as the costs of wind and solar power fall and coal becomes inviable, former Vice President Al Gore said.
Al Gore lives on a different planet -- coal is the best and cheapest energy source we have and we have a lot of it just waiting to be mined. Clean energy, jobs and plant food -- what's not to love! A bit more:
Gore said the fingerprints of man-made climate change are now increasingly visible in extreme weather events, fueled by a warmer atmosphere that retains more moisture. He pointed to Hurricane Sandy, which caused insured losses of about $25 billion when it hit the U.S. East Coast last year, as well as drought that cut U.S. crop yields.

�The most powerful voice is that of Mother Nature, the increasing storms, floods, droughts and other extreme events,� Gore said. �We�re paying the cost of carbon every day and we should put a price on carbon in markets and put a price on denial in the political system.�
Out of touch as always -- he tries to scare us into these carbon trading scams all the while he stands to make a lot of money from them. Hmmmm, the hypocrisy is strong with that one...

King Barry the First on blogging

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Quite the speech yesterday. Jim Treacher has an analysis at The Daily Caller:
Do not read this post, by order of King Barry the First
This morning, His Majesty magnanimously took some time out of his busy day to perform his most important task as King of America: Condemning the common rabble who resist his will.

I�ll skip past the first few minutes of his lies, blamethrowing, and other nonsense. Here�s where he goes after me and mine:
�And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio, and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do.�
And that�s to destroy America.

He should�ve been more specific. He�s just fine with the lobbyists, bloggers, talking heads, and professional activists on his side. Hell, he�s a community organizer by �trade.� No, it�s only the ones who disagree with him who need to shut up.

The only guy angrier than a leftist who just lost is a leftist who just won. It�s not enough that he got what he wanted. He�s seething that anybody has the gall to oppose his decrees.
Gee -- I never set out to be a political threat when I started this ten years ago. Why am I being called one now?

Our Federal Government at work

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Nice new law coming into power -- from the Huff Post:
HR 347 'Trespass Bill' Criminalizes Protest
As I write this op-ed, I primp for the mirror -- looking for the most flattering pose -- for my mug shot. Now, don't get the wrong impression; I haven't been arrested and charged with a federal felony -- yet. Nor is the preparation done in anticipation of a guest stint on "America's Next Top Model" -- but as a common sense reaction to Obama's predictable signing of the latest assault on the Bill of Rights -- namely -- H.R. 347 (and it's companion senate bill S. 1794); aka the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011." Sounding more like an appropriations bill authorizing monies for federal grounds landscaping -- this bill, better known to those in the DC beltway as the 'Trespass Bill' -- potentially makes peaceable protest anywhere in the U.S. a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The legislators responsible for bringing this legislative excrement to life are Representative Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) in the House of Representatives and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT.) leading the Senate version.

H. R. 347 makes protest of any type potentially a federal offense with anywhere from a year to 10 years in federal prison, providing it occurs in the presence of elites brandishing Secret Service protection, or during an officially defined 'National Special Security Event' (NSSE). NSSEs , ( an invention of Bill Clinton) are events which have been deemed worthy of Secret Service protection, which previously received no such treatment. Justified through part of 'Presidential Decision Directive 62 in 1998; Bill Clinton created an additional class of special events explicitly under the authority of the U.S. Secret Service.
Excuuuuse me?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Mitch McConnell's 30 pieces of silver

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That bastard sold us out -- from Louisville, KY station WFPL:
McConnell-Reid Deal Includes $3 Billion Earmark for Kentucky Project
A proposal to end the government shutdown and avoid default orchestrated by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Harry Reid includes a nearly $3 billion earmark for a Kentucky project.

Language in a draft of the McConnell-Reid deal (see page 13, section 123) provided to WFPL News shows a provision that increases funding for the massive Olmsted Dam Lock in Paducah, Ky., from $775 million to nearly $2.9 billion.
To be bought off so cheaply. To sacrifice the gains -- to blow them off only for a few pieces of silver. McConnell is a perfect example of why the Republican Party needs to clean house and get its collective shit together. They had the high ground and have lost it. Time to man up again. Over 3,000 comments at the site and you can guess what the general tone is...

David Suzuki - the secret side of him

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Great article at the Toronto Sun:
The two Suzukis: There�s Saint Suzuki, the one you see on CBC, and Secret Suzuki, the capitalist millionaire
There are two David Suzukis.

Most of us know one of the Suzukis. Let�s call him Saint Suzuki. That�s the Suzuki whose TV show on the CBC constantly lectures us about our lifestyle. He says we need to consume less, buy less and use less fossil fuels.

But then there�s another Suzuki. Let�s call him Secret Suzuki, because he�s far less well-known.

Secret Suzuki is the one who lives on Vancouver�s elite Point Grey Road, on a double lot, overlooking English Bay, right above the exclusive Kitsilano Yacht Club. The City of Vancouver assesses the land value alone at over $8 million. And that�s just one of Secret Suzuki�s properties.

He has another million-dollar home in Vancouver. And then there�s another home on Quadra Island. That�s three homes right there, if you count the double lot on Point Grey Road as just one property.

But then there�s his large property holdings on Nelson Island. What�s so fascinating about that one is that he co-owns the property with an oil company, Kootenay Oil Distributors Ltd. They don�t plan to drill for oil together. It�s a beautiful tourist spot � maybe perfect for a nice big condo development.

Of course, there�s nothing wrong with co-owning any property along with an oil company. But isn�t Saint Suzuki against fossil fuel companies � especially oil companies?

Saint Suzuki tells us that the world is desperately overcrowded, that we�re overpopulated, and that we�re going to run out of things.

But in his own life, Secret Suzuki has five children.

There�s nothing wrong with having five children. It�s a blessing. But then why does he think other people should have fewer kids?

Saint Suzuki rails against corporations and profits. He even gave a well-received anti-capitalist speech at the Occupy Vancouver protest.

But Secret Suzuki himself has several corporations. One of them, the David Suzuki Foundation, took in a whopping $9 million last year and has $12 million in assets. More than 10 million of that is invested in stocks and bonds.

Saint Suzuki despises lobbyists, and says they have a disproportionate control of political power in Ottawa. But Secret Suzuki himself has nine paid lobbyists registered in Ottawa�s lobbyist registry. Not one. Nine.
Much more at the site -- well researched and it really shows the hypocrisy of the man. He should go back to his fruit flys...
From The Weekly Standard:
Obamacare Website Violates Licensing Agreement for Copyrighted Software
Healthcare.gov, the federal government's Obamacare website, has been under heavy criticism from friend and foe alike during its first two weeks of open enrollment. Repeated errors and delays have prevented many users from even establishing an account, and outside web designers have roundly panned the structure and coding of the site as amateurish and sloppy. The latest indication of the haphazard way in which Healthcare.gov was developed is the uncredited use of a copyrighted web script for a data function used by the site, a violation of the licensing agreement for the software.

The script in question is called DataTables, a very long and complex piece of website software used for formatting and presenting data. DataTables was developed by a British company called SpryMedia which licenses the open-source software freely to anyone who complies with the licensing agreement. A note at the bottom of the DataTables.net website says: "DataTables designed and created by SpryMedia � 2008-2013." The company explains the license for using the software on that website [emphasis added]:
DataTables is free, open source software that you can download and use for whatever purpose you wish, on any and as many sites you want. It is free for you to use! DataTables is available under two licenses: GPL v2 license or a BSD (3-point) license, with which you must comply (to do this, basically keep the copyright notices in the software).
The article has screen-caps of the offending code compared to the source code from the DataTables website. These developers are soooo busted. The software may be free but it is a piece of copyrighted work and the rules of the copyright need to be followed.

Life in the country

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Was woken up at 6:30 by the sound of several UPSs beeping. Power was out. Someone driving into work hit a patch of glare ice, spun out and took down an electric pole. Power was just restored eleven hours later. I have a generator but didn't feel like dragging it from the barn -- would have if it was getting any later but it's a nice warm bright day so spending a few hours with no distractions was a nice thing to do. Paid bills and caught up on some reading.
From CNS News - a milestone of sorts:
150 Straight Days: Treasury Says Debt Stood Still at $16,699,396,000,000
Every business day since May 17, the U.S. Treasury has published a daily statement claiming that the federal debt subject to the limit set by Congress closed the day at $16,699,396,000,000�about $25 million below the legal limit.

Monday, the Columbus Day holiday, according to the Daily Treasury Statement released today, marked the 150th straight day that the Treasury has said the debt subject to limit was stuck at $16,699,396,000,000.

On May 17, the first day the debt closed the day at $16,699,396,000,000, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner stating that since the Treasury was about to hit the debt limit he would begin to use �extraordinary measures� to prevent it from doing so. These included, among other things, suspending investment of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund in U.S. Treasury securities, and redeeming securities already held by this fund.

�In total, the extraordinary measures currently available free up approximately $260 billion in headroom under the limit,� Lew wrote then.

But in that letter, Lew described the unpredictability of the Treasury�s flow of funds to explain why he could not predict exactly when the extraordinary measures would be exhausted.
Well that's one way to halt the increase of debt. Not a sane way but...
Great essay by Stanley Kurtz at National Review:
The Wannabe Oppressed
What do America�s college students want? They want to be oppressed. More precisely, a surprising number of students at America�s finest colleges and universities wish to appear as victims � to themselves, as well as to others � without the discomfort of actually experiencing victimization. Here is where global warming comes in. The secret appeal of campus climate activism lies in its ability to turn otherwise happy, healthy, and prosperous young people into an oppressed class, at least in their own imaginings. Climate activists say to the world, �I�ll save you.� Yet deep down they�re thinking, �Oppress me.�

In his important new book, The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings, French intellectual gadfly Pascal Bruckner does the most thorough job yet of explaining the climate movement as a secular religion, an odd combination of deformed Christianity and reconstructed Marxism. (You can find Bruckner�s excellent article based on the book here.) Bruckner describes a historical process wherein �the long list of emblematic victims � Jews, blacks, slaves, proletarians, colonized peoples � was replaced, little by little, with the Planet.� The planet, says Bruckner, �has become the new proletariat that must be saved from exploitation.�
Excellent stuff -- ordering the book from Amazon. Nice dig at Weepy Bill McKibben (who shops for groceries and uses the store's plastic bags). Id�e fixe? From Wikipedia:
An id�e fixe is a preoccupation of mind held so firmly as to resist any attempt to modify it, a fixation. The name originates from the French [French : id�e, idea + fixe, fixed]. Although not used technically to denote a particular disorder in psychology, id�e fixe is used often in the description of disorders, and is employed widely in literature and everyday English.
Defines it pretty well...
This came in over the transom:
20131016-snap.jpg
More at FOX News
Slept a solid 14 hours last night. Feeling a lot better but still recovering. Heading in to get the mail and check on some stuff and then working at home for the rest of the day. Setting up the PA system for a local event tonight.

Follow your passion - not so much

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Great business essay by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. Wall Street Journal:
Scott Adams' Secret of Success: Failure
If you're already as successful as you want to be, both personally and professionally, congratulations! Here's the not-so-good news: All you are likely to get from this article is a semientertaining tale about a guy who failed his way to success. But you might also notice some familiar patterns in my story that will give you confirmation (or confirmation bias) that your own success wasn't entirely luck.

If you're just starting your journey toward success�however you define it�or you're wondering what you've been doing wrong until now, you might find some novel ideas here. Maybe the combination of what you know plus what I think I know will be enough to keep you out of the wood chipper.

Let me start with some tips on what not to do. Beware of advice about successful people and their methods. For starters, no two situations are alike. Your dreams of creating a dry-cleaning empire won't be helped by knowing that Thomas Edison liked to take naps. Secondly, biographers never have access to the internal thoughts of successful people. If a biographer says Henry Ford invented the assembly line to impress women, that's probably a guess.

But the most dangerous case of all is when successful people directly give advice. For example, you often hear them say that you should "follow your passion." That sounds perfectly reasonable the first time you hear it. Passion will presumably give you high energy, high resistance to rejection and high determination. Passionate people are more persuasive, too. Those are all good things, right?

Here's the counterargument: When I was a commercial loan officer for a large bank, my boss taught us that you should never make a loan to someone who is following his passion. For example, you don't want to give money to a sports enthusiast who is starting a sports store to pursue his passion for all things sporty. That guy is a bad bet, passion and all. He's in business for the wrong reason.

My boss, who had been a commercial lender for over 30 years, said that the best loan customer is someone who has no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good on a spreadsheet. Maybe the loan customer wants to start a dry-cleaning store or invest in a fast-food franchise�boring stuff. That's the person you bet on. You want the grinder, not the guy who loves his job.
More at the site -- good stuff!

Felix's wild ride

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From the website:
Red Bull Stratos FULL POV - Multi-Angle + Mission Data
See through the eyes of Felix Baumgartner as he completes his world record breaking jump from the stratosphere!

Practice what you preach - 2006 to now

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Swiped from Maggie's Farm

Color me surprised - Obamacare website

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From the Washington Examiner:
Feds reviewed only one bid for Obamacare website design
Federal officials considered only one firm to design the Obamacare health insurance exchange website that has performed abysmally since its Oct. 1 debut.

Rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance.
And this little gem:
In awarding the Healthcare.gov contract, CMS relied on a little-known federal contracting system called ID/IQ, which is government jargon for �Indefinite Delivery and Indefinite Quantity.�
Why would something like this ever be allowed. Do it right and do it on time or don't bother at all. Much more at the site. The Obamacare bid was for $93 Million. A company like SAP or Amazon or Google could have brought it in for well under that, it would not have taken three years and it would have worked out of the box on the first day. What is ironic is that the parent Canadian arm of this company failed miserably when developing Ontario's online medical registry for diabetes patients and treatment providers - that was bid at $46 Million and Ontario is refusing to pay after 14 months of delay.
Not so fast there... From Ars Technica:
Gov�t moves to keep NSA surveillance lawsuit away from Supreme Court
Not long after widespread NSA phone surveillance was revealed by a series of leaks this summer, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy-oriented nonprofit, tried a bold and novel legal tactic: it appealed straight to the Supreme Court, asking for an immediate shutdown of the program.

The high court was the only place to turn, wrote EPIC, because it can't go to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which actually authorized the orders. EPIC's argument was straightforward: the FISC could only authorize NSA spying on foreigners, not Americans.

Now Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who represents the Obama Administration at the Supreme Court, has advised the justices not to take the case. It's not a surprising move. Just the publicity of a Supreme Court debate over NSA spying would be a giant headache for the administration; not to mention, the government obviously doesn't want the program shut down.
I say, drag it out into the clean light of day and let We the People sort it out. These are our public servants and if they are expanding the scope of their work, we need to know about it. Yes, there are things that need to be kept private but this wholesale gathering of personal data is unnecessary and illegal.

Gravity

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Always been a fan of Michael Ramirez - he hit it out of the park today:
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His work is at Investors Business Daily. Great editorial page!

The Religion of Peace

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From the Associated Press:
Boy testifies against Saudi in Vegas rape case
A 14-year-old California boy testified Monday that he was "freaked out" when a Saudi Arabian air force sergeant made sexual advances toward him in a Las Vegas casino on New Year's Eve, but he couldn't figure out how to get away before the man sexually assaulted and raped him on a hotel bathroom floor.

The account came Monday, as Mazen Alotaibi (MAH'-zen ah-loh-TAH'-bee), 24, stands trial in Clark County district court on nine counts, including kidnapping, sexual assault and lewdness with a child. He's being held on more than $1.7 million bail and could face life in prison if convicted.

"It felt like I was trapped in a corner," the boy said about the encounter at Circus Circus, his voice getting so quiet as he recounted details of the incident that attorneys repeatedly told him to speak up. "I was freaked out and I wanted to leave, but I didn't know what to do."
And of course, large sums of money will change hands and this will all blow away.

Yeah - really. Nobel Peace Prize

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The Nobel Peace Prize is an international joke. It is the only prize awarded by Norway (as opposed to the real prizes awarded by Sweden). It seems that someone was vying for the Peace Prize -- from the UK Telegraph:
Bashar al-Assad: The Nobel Peace Prize should have been mine
From the article:
The remark, which the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar quoted, was made "jokingly" during a recent meeting with visitors at the presidential palace, the newspaper said.

However, it might be viewed as inappropriate when uttered by a president whose civil war has already cost more than 115,000 lives. A chemical weapons attack in Damascus in August, widely blamed on the Syrian government, reportedly killed more than 1,200 people.
They may not be the same tribe as you but those 115,000+ people were your citizens and had every right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness... Oh, wait... Scum sucking a**hole... Peace prize indeed.

Off to town today

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Was planning to sleep in today as it is a holiday but got a call from the store asking when I would be in. Oh well -- no rest for the wicked... Cold is a lot better.

Not the only game in town

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The Barrycade veterans protest was not the only event in Washington D.C. this weekend. Turns out there was a Truckers Ride For The Constitution (link goes to their Facebook page) Doug Ross has some photos (Part 1, Part 2). Here are four of them:
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Coming to your mainstream media in 3... 2... 1...

Quite the party

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From the Bellingham Herald:
Hundreds riot on Indian Street in Bellingham
Police used pepper spray to disperse hundreds of drunk, bottle-throwing college students who rioted late Saturday, Oct. 12, north of Western Washington University.

Bellingham Police broke up a block party at an apartment complex near Jersey Street around 9:30 p.m., said Bellingham Police Lt. Mike Johnston. People leaving the party threw beer bottles and cans at officers, he said. Police called for backup.

A �parade of people� made its way to the intersection, drawing out college students from other parties in the area, said Sam Kaplan, a Western Washington University sophomore who lives near the scene of the riot.

Glass bottles, dishes and cans were thrown at officers, police cruisers, and other rioters, Johnston said.

Officers in riot gear used pepper balls, smoke and flash-bangs to disperse the crowd of 300 to 400 that refused to leave the intersection, Johnston said.
The 150+ comments are a fun collection of trenchant commentary and out and out trolls.

Turning point of this cold

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I was sitting here realizing that I was more uncomfortable with the symptoms of the cold medicine than I was with the symptoms of the cold itself. I will be taking the Alka Seltzer Night-time to guarantee a decent sleep tonight but I think that I am over the hump... Yayyyy!!!

Bringing Obamacare home

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Home to Washington State that is -- from FOX News:
ObamaCare mandate could lead Washington grocery workers to picket line
Some 30,000 grocery store workers in the state of Washington could be walking picket lines as soon as next week, in what some say is a direct result of ObamaCare.

Big supermarket chains including Safeway, QFC, Albertsons and Fred Meyer are represented by Allied Employers in contract negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers and Teamsters. One of the employers' new proposals is to provide healthcare only to employees who work 30 or more hours per week, a minimum requirement under ObamaCare.
Now this will be interesting. Government shutdown, large grocery store closures. Bellingham is a very liberal community -- it will be interesting to see what the outcome is when it hits people in their shopping carts...

The protest in Washington today

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The Million Vet March happened today. Not a million by any means but a good solid crowd. There is a nice collection of video and images at The Blaze. The video is a bit chilling as it shows close-ups of the police with tape over their name badges.
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The dragon was sleeping but now it is waking up. More faster please! Washington, D.C. radio station WTOP had this to report:
Crowd storms World War II Memorial
Thousands of people converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday morning and tore down the barricades blocking it off, protesting the closure of the memorial during the federal government shutdown.

Beginning at about 9:30 a.m., Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were among the luminaries in a crowd that chanted "Tear down these walls!" and sang "God Bless America" as well as other patriotic songs as they entered the memorial, which has been closed since the government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

Tractor-trailers headed down 17th Street toward the Mall, blaring their horns. The Metropolitan Police Department blocked off the street, prompting the crowd to head up the street, shouting at the police to move their vehicles.

Palin said that closing the memorials was disgraceful, and that President Obama "could be here today, saying 'Yes, we can tear down these barricades."

Cruz said that President Obama was using veterans as political pawns in the shutdown. Lee shouted, "The sons and daughters of the United States of America are meant to live in liberty."

By 11 a.m., the group had headed back to the memorial, and dozens congregated around World War II veterans, shaking their hands and thanking them for their service.

Later in the morning, veteran Mike Lauriente was accepting handshakes from demonstrators. He served in Sicily and French Morocco, and declared the memorial, which he was seeing for the first time, beautiful. "The spirit that I see here is overwhelming."
Mr. Mike Lauriente is the guy in the last photo above. He is more of a man than 90% of the quislings in the Senate and our President.

Captain Phillips - a different story

From the New York Post:
Crew members: �Captain Phillips� is one big lie
It�s made for Hollywood: the story of an average American family man, captain of a cargo ship in dangerous waters, his vessel overtaken by armed Somali pirates demanding ransom, saving his crew by allowing himself to be removed from the boat and taken hostage.

All of this is the basis for �Captain Phillips,� starring Tom Hanks as the titular, real-life hero. The only problem, say some members of the real Capt. Phillips� crew, is none of it is true.

Capt. Richard Phillips, they say, is no hero, and the film is one big lie.

�Phillips wasn�t the big leader like he is in the movie,� says one crew member, who, for legal reasons, spoke with The Post anonymously. He worked very closely with Phillips on the Maersk Alabama and was alarmed by his behavior from the beginning. Phillips, he says, had a bad reputation for at least 12 years prior, known as a sullen and self-righteous captain.

�No one wants to sail with him,� he says.

After the hijacking, 11 crew members have sued Maersk Line and the Waterman Steamship Corp. for almost $50 million, alleging �willful, wanton and conscious disregard for their safety.� Phillips is a witness for the defense.

�The crew had begged Captain Phillips not to go so close to the Somali coast,� said Deborah Waters, the attorney who brought the claim. �He told them he wouldn�t let pirates scare him or force him to sail away from the coast.�
There is a lot more at the site including this little tid-bit:
Not all of the crew cooperated with the movie, and those who did were paid as little as $5,000 for their life rights by Sony and made to sign nondisclosure agreements � meaning they can never speak publicly about what really happened on that ship.
I am sure that additional books are being written and the outcome of the trial will shed a lot of light on these allegations. Brings to mind the old saying that our appearance of careful management is just a careful management of appearances...

Reforming our educational system

A great proposal from Robert Weissberg at Minding the Campus:
A Sure-Fire Cure for Anti-Americanism
Is it possible to stop the relentless promoting of anti-Americanism on campus? Let's forget about donating millions for a patriotic "American Studies" program. Recall the Bass family's sad experience at Yale--the $20 million donation for this purpose was eventually returned. Similarly forget about a governor (e.g., Mitch Daniels) or trustees trying to meddle in classroom instruction. "Academic freedom" will end that. The obdurate reality is that today's faculty and their mendacious leftish pontifications are beyond reach. Better to target students and bypass the faculty.

Begin with a familiar reality--few appreciate the U.S. until traveling overseas, especially if returning from a squalid Third World country. Better yet, ask Russian or Cuban escapees about what it means to be an American.

Now here's my plan. The Koch brothers will secretly underwrite a version of the traditional "Junior Year Abroad" with a strong Peace Corp component. Have students live among the locals, on small stipends, eat their food and so on. University credit will be given and everything will be totally free, including transportation. Meanwhile, there will generous "supervision" fees (i.e., bribes) to the university and professors. For a start, send out perhaps a hundred students from each of the top 25 universities.

The program will target smart, idealistic youngsters convinced that capitalism is evil, corporations are raping Mother Earth, America is hopelessly racist, primitive people are in intimate contact with nature, the police are brutal oppressors and all the other evils condemned by today's trendy professor.

We'll use a seductive name --"Promoting Economic Justice, One Village at a Time" or "Peace Through Understanding." What could be more multicultural? Put campuses in rural Somalia, Bolivia, Uzbekistan, Namibia and Cambodia, to mention just a few possibilities. Locals, including the wise village elders will teach the courses with lots of hands-on experience working in the fields harvesting crops, clearing brush and similar Peace Corps-like activities (recall the early 1960s glory years of helping in the Cuban sugar cane harvest was the ultimate liberal status symbol). For pedagogical purposes, illnesses will be exclusively treated with traditional, natural remedies (no Big Pharma pills, no greedy doctors!) while all disputes will likewise be settled in accord with indigenous customs. Critically, students will be told that they are there to learn, not proselytize Western values, and so if men beat their wives, don't criticize; try to understand. The model is participant-observer anthropology, not the Western missionary.

Academic credit will be based on summarizing these experiences and contrasting them to what now occurs in the U.S. This formula is standard for off-campus internships. For example, a professor might ask students to compare access to village health care in Angola where everybody is treated equally to American cities where the poor must wait hours in chaotic public hospital emergency rooms. Required essays will surely touch on economic policy, for example, how local self-sufficiency outshines elaborate carbon-heavy transportations networks.
And the result:
Many students would return home not only with a much needed dose of reality, but conceivably with malaria, leishmaniasis, schistoosomiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, Chegas disease and dengue (among many others) all acquired thanks to filthy water, horrific sanitary practices and all else that makes millions of Third Worlders risk their lives fleeing to Europe or the U.S. No doubt, upon clearing customs, the stampede would be to the airport McDonalds for calorie-rich Big Macs and salty super-sized fries. Sadly, however, this would quickly bring a race to the bathroom followed by a steady diet of bananas, yogurt and antibiotics but the Big Mac and fries would be cherished, never again to be condemned.

Back in school they would regale still na�ve classmates with horror stories of corrupt police, rampant petty thievery, daily bribery, garbage everywhere and a world where few things actually work and kleptocratic governance gives " economic inequality" a whole new meaning-- a nearly starving people while top leaders toured in chauffeured Mercedes. Similar tales would be told of inept foreign aid and officials made fat by selling off oil drilling rights without any regard for environmental protection. Then add lurid tales of violent ethnic rivalries. And on and on.

All and all, not only would these returning students be more appreciative of the good old USA, but they would surely make their new-found views known in class. Picture their reaction to a professor raving and ranting about capitalist medical care ("profits not people"). A graduate of the Promoting Justice program would quickly respond with--just try buying aspirin in Namibia let alone prescription medicine!! Others might add, "If you think water pollution under capitalism is bad, just visit the community well in rural Cambodia. Dead cats!" And so on and so on.
Sounds like a wonderful program. Political theory is just that -- something idealized and never found in real life.

An ode to Portland, Oregon

A wonderful rant from The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog:

There Must Be Something In The Water
I'm traveling in the Pacific Northwest. Pray for me!

The "weird Portland effect" isn't news. I've been here before. I spent several years getting rained on amid the socialists and tall trees. I did my time. I paid my debt to society. I have since escaped to flyover country. My homestead's location is my version of heaven and their version of hell; I'm happy I left, presumably they're happy I'm gone.

A bit more and then this wonderful social observation:

After leaving I gradually realized that all that rain really had hammered my attitude. The sun came out and my spirits soared. My boots finally dried out and stopped smelling like mold. I could ride a bicycle without a raincoat. I could drive a truck without feeling like it was fueled with the bones of baby seals. I could put a bicycle in the back of the truck and drive it around while listening to heavy metal instead of lute and eating beef jerky instead of slimy yogurt. I could wear Carhartts non-ironically. I could walk past a smoker without feeling social pressure to be a dick to them. God bless America I was free again! Dinner became about food instead of a hand wringing exploration of GMOs and localvores. Have you noticed that they're all skinny? I'd be skinny too if I lived in a world without bacon and joy.

A dismal gray depression had flowed over me so stealthily that I'd hardly noticed it's arrival. A few months after fleeing the constant rain and Marxism it had fully lifted off my shoulders and was gone. Who knows how long or how deeply the rain had seeped into my bones? All I knew is that I felt as light as a feather. I knew it was gone when I stopped wondering why everyone thought tofu was food. Perhaps it takes a lot of rain to make tofu appear to taste good and bacon to taste like murder?

I visit from time to time. I prepare like it's a visit to Warsaw in 1950. I pack plenty of rain gear, never stay longer than necessary, and make damn sure I've got my escape route clearly in mind. I say "hi" to the tall Douglas-fir (I do miss them) and check to see that the Pacific is properly situated where I left it. I love watching the waves. They're entrancing. You've got to keep an eye out though. Sometimes a rogue wave will rise up and suck an inattentive fool into the undertow. You can be drunk while on the beach but never turn your back on the Pacific. Then, after a few beers and some salmon, I get the hell outta' Dodge.

More at the site -- wonderful stuff!

A taste of the future

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Sorry for all the dystopian posts today -- side effect of the cold medicine (Alka-Seltzer Plus). From Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge:
Foodstamp Nation In Turmoil: EBT System Goes Dark, "Glitch" Blamed
In the past five years it has become apparent that America can survive a near-fatal financial system collapse, an economy teetering on the edge and kept ticking only thanks to the Fed's now perpetual QE, a collapsing standard of living for everyone but the wealthiest 0.1%, declining wages, zero interest rates, surging food, energy, rent, tuition and welfare costs, and pretty much everything else, as long as the welfare state keeps humming along. Any be welfare state we mostly mean providing the daily bread to the nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty and surviving only thanks to the only thing to have exploded to epic record highs under Obama (in addition to the Fed's balance sheet of course): foodstamp usage. However, the true stability of the US may be tested very soon following reports that due to a "possible computer glitch" the Electronic Benefits Transfer System, aka EBT, ala Foodstamps, is offline. Cue mass panic among the best-weaponized population in the world. Naturally, this latest fiasco involving a country that has grown accustomed to sucking on the government's teat was immediately blamed on a "glitch" - just like everything else that is slowly but surely breaking in the New Normal.

CBS reports:
Reports from around the country began pouring in around 9 a.m. on Saturday that customers� EBT cards were not working in stores. The glitch, however, did not appear to be part of the government shutdown. At 2 p.m., an EBT customer service representative told CBS Boston that the system was currently down for a computer system upgrade.

The representative said the glitch is affecting people nationwide. She could not say when officials expected the system to be restored.

People calling the customer service line were being told to call back later.

State officials said they were preparing a statement to further explain the issue.

The federal EBT website was unavailable due to the government shutdown.
AP adds:
People in Ohio, Michigan and several other states found themselves unable to use their food stamp debit cards on Saturday, after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. Shoppers from Maine to Oklahoma had to abandon baskets of groceries because they couldn't access their benefits.

Ohio's cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohio's cash system has been fixed, however its electronic benefits transfer card system is still down. All states that use Xerox systems are affected by the outage.

Xerox spokeswoman Karen Arena confirmed via email Saturday afternoon that some EBT systems are experiencing temporary connectivity issues. She said technical staff is addressing the issue and expects the system to be restored soon.
Back in August, Tyler wrote about how many people are on Food Stamps in the US (hint: a lot and it is growing very rapidly).
From Agriculture Proud:
South Dakota Blizzard leaves devastation for ranchers
There hasn�t been much national media coverage of it, most likely due to coverage of the government shutdown, but Winter Storm Atlas took a huge toll on folks in Western South Dakota earlier this month. With reports of up to 58″ of snow and almost hurricane-force winds, South Dakotans were struck hard with an early season blizzard of historic proportions.

Amid all of the difficulties this much snow brings, shutting down I-90 and paralyzing towns, many ranchers took a direct blow from the storm. Estimates are that upwards of 70,000 cattle, horses, and livestock perished in the storm. That means many ranchers lost all of this year�s calf crop and a good majority of their cow herds. Many livestock were out on Summer and Fall ranges, sometimes miles from winter pastures where shelter is better suited for winter storms. Even horses and livestock in pens closer to the house perished in the feet of snow, strong winds, and cold that came this early in the season. Many cattle trailed with the wind and when they found shelter, many were buried when snow drifted and covered them. In most cases, there wasn�t much that could be done.

Now ranchers face the difficult task of documenting their losses and cleaning up the carcasses. The images, video, and stories coming out of the region are graphic. I�ve encountered many losses in ranching, having several cattle at once struck dead by lightning, but I cannot imagine what it must be like to see dead cattle and horses strung out for more than 100 miles. Devastating.

There has been a Ranchers Relief Fund established by the South Dakota Stockgrowers, South Dakota Cattlemens, and South Dakota Sheep Growers Associations to aid the folks impacted by this storm. Federal aid, if any at all, will likely be delayed due to the squabbles occurring in Washington D.C. Please consider helping in any way you can. Even if that means offering up a few words of encouragement and support to these ranchers through social media.
Yes, the planet is cooling.

Lines are being drawn in Greece

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Greece tried socialism for forty years and we are seeing the end-stages of it as the government collapses and factions jockey for power. From the Financial Times:
Greek police �infiltrated� by Golden Dawn
Greece�s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has penetrated the country�s police force, set up caches of heavy weapons in remote locations and trained its recruits to carry out brutal attacks against immigrants and political opponents, according to the country�s top security official.

Nikos Dendias, minister of public order and civil protection, said in an interview with the Financial Times that Golden Dawn�s cult of extreme violence was �unique� among European far-right groups.
Using the term Neo-Nazi is disingenuous because the German Nazi parties full name was National Socialist German Workers' Party or Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. The left-wing government in power is seeking to shift blame and the Golden Dawn wants to rebuild Greece into a new socialist Workers Paradise and we all know how well that will go... A bit more:
Analysts say Golden Dawn�s voter base is mainly among people hit hard by the country�s economic crisis, both young Greeks trying to join the labour market and the over-40s, who feel angry and frustrated at losing their jobs.
And that would be the majority of the politically active population -- those who see their futures being stripped to pay for the pensions of the 'entitled classes' who came before them. These people have no cushy pensions waiting for them when they retire -- if they can find a job initially. Kind of what we are doing with Obamacare -- signing up all the young people so their contributions pays for health care for us geezers... More:
The crackdown has sharply curtailed the party�s activities both in Athens and more than 50 regional offices that provide handouts of food and also organise regular activities including military-style training for would-be members and torchlit neo-Nazi events, according to Antonis Ellinas, a political-science professor at Cyprus University.

�The number of party events has dropped sharply all over Greece since the stabbing but the opinion polls show that core support for Golden Dawn has not been affected,� Mr Ellinas said.� This might imply an entrenched acceptance of the use of violence in Greek political culture.�
No shit Sherlock. They could have put in limits twenty years ago that would have nipped this in the bud but no; that is other people's money and we can just keep spending it, there will always be more. We need to take serious note as where Greece is today, will be us in about ten to twenty years if we do not wise up to the consequences of both parties actions.
From the Weather Underground:
Category 4 Cyclone Phailin Hits India; 13 Dead in Philippines From Typhoon Nari
Very dangerous Tropical Cyclone Phailin has made landfall on the northeast coast of India near the town of Gopalpur (population 7,000) at 16 UTC (noon EDT) Saturday, October 12, 2013. Phailin was weakening substantially at landfall, due to interaction with land, and was rated a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), four hours before landfall. The pressure bottomed out at 938 mb in Gopalpur as the eye passed over, and the city reported sustained winds of 56 mph, gusting to 85 mph, in the eyewall. A 938 mb pressure is what one expects to find in a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds, using the "Dvorak technique" of satellite wind and pressure estimation. Satellite images show that Phailin's intense thunderstorms have warmed and shrunk in areal coverage, and radar out of Visakhapanam, India also shows a weakening of the storm's echoes as it pushes inland. Phailin is bringing torrential rains of over an inch per hour, as estimated by microwave satellite instruments.

Phailin is the strongest tropical cyclone to affect India in fourteen years, since the great 1999 Odisha Cyclone. That storm hit with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, and brought a storm surge of 5.9 meters (19 feet) to the coast. Phailin should be able to drive a similar-sized storm surge to the coast, since it is larger in areal extent than the 1999 cyclone (although somewhat weaker, with winds perhaps 20 - 30 mph lower.) Phailin's storm surge and Category 3 to 4 winds will cause near-catastrophic damage to a 50-mile wide swath of the coast where the eyewall comes ashore, and to the right. Hurricane Katrina was weaker at landfall than Phailin, but Katrina had hurricane-force winds that covered a much larger area, making Katrina's storm surge much more devastating than Phailin's will be. I think the main danger from Phailin will be from its winds. I am particularly concerned about Phailin's wind damage potential in the city of Brahmapur (population 350,000), the 58th largest city in India. Brahmapur lies about ten miles inland, and will likely experience sustained hurricane-force winds for several hours. Phailin's flooding potential is another huge concern, as rainfall amounts of 6 - 12 inches will fall along a swath over 100 miles inland, triggering life-threatening flash flooding.
We have been seeing a lot of these kinds of storms in the last couple years. Not overly strong, just huge. Usagi, Sandy, even Katrina. And two more in this post:
Typhoon Nari hits the Philippines
Thirteen people were killed and 2.1 million people lost power on the main Philippine island of Luzon after Typhoon Nari hit on Friday night near midnight local time. Nari was a Category 3 typhoon with 115 mph winds a few hours before landfall. The core of the storm passed about 80 miles north of the capital of Manila, sparing the capital major flooding, but the storm dumped torrential rains in excess of ten inches to the northeast of Manilla. Passage over Luzon weakened Nari to a Category 1 storm, but it is already beginning to re-organize over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam. Nari is under moderate wind shear of 15 - 20 knots, which should keep intensification relatively slow, and increasing interaction with land will act to slow intensification on Sunday and Monday. Nari could be near Category 3 strength with 115 mph winds by Monday, and landfall in Vietnam is expected around 21 UTC on Monday.

Typhoon Wipha a threat to Japan
Category 1 Typhoon Wipha is intensifying as it heads northwest towards Japan, and the storm is expected to reach major Category 3 strength by Monday. By Tuesday, Wipha will recurve to the northeast and begin weakening, passing very close to Tokyo, Japan, sometime between 00 - 12 UTC on Wednesday. High winds and heavy rains from Wipha may be a concern for the Fukushima nuclear site, where workers continue to struggle with high radiation levels in the wake of the 2011 tsunami that damaged the reactors.

Cold blogging - day four

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Moved into my chest. No longer the sore throat, more of a deep cough. Fun fun fun...

Word.

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Photos are a bit rough, came over the transom about an hour ago. So true...

An idea whose time has come

Check out Drunk Dial Congress:

Mad at Congress over the shutdown? Have a drink and tell them.

Talking Points

If you can yell at a Park Ranger after forcing the Government to shut down then I get to yell at you:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/03/228771578/sharp-words-over-shutdown-when-lawmaker-visits-wwii-memorial

You guys think you are the same as the heroes of 9/11? Get a fucking grip
http://wonkette.com/530516/salon-explores-the-mind-of-congressman-john-lets-roll-culberson-finds-rust-and-spiders

You jerks are costing the country $12 million bucks per hour!
http://www.nbcnews.com/business/money-nothing-government-shutdown-costs-12-5-million-hour-8C11308802

My grandma can't get her cancer treatment
http://www.healio.com/hematology-oncology/practice-management/news/online/%7B137dc175-e6d5-4d9f-bb5c-4a39a8ad4dbc%7D/medical-community-speaks-out-on-effects-of-government-shutdown

My kids won't stop yelling at me about camping
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/americas-scenic-treasures-national-parks-closed-for-viewing-during-shutdown/2013/10/01/ef150594-2ac5-11e3-8ade-a1f23cda135e_story.html

I can't watch the panda
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57605460-1/national-zoos-panda-cam-falls-victim-to-government-shutdown/

You had one job to do & you failed!
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304373104579107051184641222.html

How dare you not fund Veterans
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/326691-time-for-congress-to-put-veterans-funding-first

You guys aren't funding the police that are protecting you???
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/capitol-police-congress-pay_n_4040719.html

Why don't you make yourself useful and at least mow the lawn?
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/south-carolina-man-mow-lawn-lincoln-memorial-article-1.1480998

Makes sense -- it will still get the same reaction from Congress (nada) but it will be a lot more fun...

Fun times in the White House - IRS

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From The Daily Caller:
IRS, White House officials that shared confidential taxpayer info had 155 White House meetings
Embattled IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram made 155 visits to the White House to meet with a top Obama White House official with whom she exchanged confidential taxpayer information over email.

Of Ingram�s 165 White House meetings with White House staff, a staggering 155 of them were hosted by deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew, according to a June Watchdog.Org analysis of White House visitor records.

Ingram exchanged confidential taxpayer information with Lambrew and White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (RELATED: White House, IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer info)

The White House recently took down visitor logs recording details of these meetings, citing the government shutdown.
"White House recently took down visitor logs recording details of these meetings, citing the government shutdown" -- Yeah... Right... It's called damage control. The most corrupt administration and they are trying to cover it up as it unravels. Each transfer of data is a felony and is punishable by several years in a Federal jail. These people will just get layed off for a few months and then given another position in a different agency.

Finger doing much better

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I suffered a boutonniere injury two months ago and the finger is healing nicely. Just got back from the Physical Therapist, was assigned two new exercises. That and catching a bad cold and I feel just wonderful...
From the Canada Free Press:
It�s Official: Obama Voter Fraud Reason for �Reelection�/growing Totalitarian Government
The truth about the Obama syndicate�s �victory� in November due to the most massive voter fraud in American history has become increasingly dire and overwhelming. It is also merely the latest treasonous act perpetrated upon We-the-People by our slave masters.

And�with the exception of the still-sycophantic Obama-media who enthusiastically embrace totalitarianism�said �win� by Obama shows how quickly he and the Marxist Democrat Party (with the help of willing RINO Senators and incorrectly named �representatives� of the people) affected the complete overthrow of the United States government�and We-the-People. If you are uncomfortable with these truths and believe that the telling of them constitutes defeatism, I suggest you stop reading now. My message will not get any rosier.

For those of you still reading, let�s jump in without further ado�or adieu as it were�shall we?

Facts already in Place-
  • First and foremost, Obama lost in each and every US State where voter ID laws were in place (Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee)
  • Massive Obama voter fraud occurred in multiple States�especially the �swing states�
  • In 59 Philadelphia precincts, Mitt Romney received no votes and Obama received 100% of the votes. This fact, alone, should have raised red flags and set off all manner of bells, whistles and sirens. But, the Republican Establishment (aka Marxist-lite) has remained silent
  • In Florida, St. Lucie County and other counties experienced unprecedented voter fraud, with St. Lucie reporting in at a 141% turnout � which is impossible
  • In Ohio, Obama �won� a county by 108% of registered voters�another impossibility, of course, except with well-planned and implemented election fraud
  • The military vote was almost totally suppressed in the November elections
  • People were openly reported to have voted twice � or more
  • Republican poll watchers in multiple states were either turned away and not allowed to enter the precincts or thrown out once they had done so
  • Voters in multiple voting booths across the country reported their votes for Romney were automatically changed to Obama (video below)
  • Votes for Romney/Ryan were either changed to Obama./Biden by poll workers or thrown out entirely
  • Democrats bussed non-US citizen voters, many of whom could not speak English, from state to state to vote for Obama
  • The RNLA reported �election fraud occurred in Flushing [NY] when a Korean-American translator helping voters at PS 20 was caught directing them to vote for Democratic candidates. A volunteer poll watcher confirmed the incident� and in North Carolina
Much more at the site -- all of these bullet points were widely reported but failed to gain traction in the mainstream media. The 2012 election was rigged and sloppily done.
Back on the 10/07 I posted this:
Now this could be interesting - fusion power
And I closed with this disclaimer:
Unfortunately, there is no mention of this at the National Ignition Facility's news releases. They have had some major advancements but the power out is still several orders of magnitude smaller than the power in.
Turns out my suspicions were confirmed. From the AAAS Science Magazine:
Fusion "Breakthrough" at NIF? Uh, Not Really �
One unintended effect of the U.S. federal shutdown is that helpful press officers at government labs are not available to provide a reality check to some of the wilder stories that can catch fire on the Internet. They would have come in handy this week, when a number of outlets jumped on a report on the BBC News website. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, it reported, had passed a "nuclear fusion milestone." NIF uses the world's highest energy laser system to crush tiny pellets containing a form of hydrogen fuel to enormous temperature and pressure. The aim is to get the hydrogen nuclei to fuse together into helium atoms, releasing energy.

The BBC story reported that during one experiment last month, "the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel - the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world." This prompted a rush of even more effusive headlines proclaiming the "fusion breakthrough." As no doubt NIF's press officers would have told reporters, the experiment in question certainly shows important progress, but it is not the breakthrough everyone is hoping for.
A bit more -- with the numbers:
One requirement for ignition is that energy output should exceed the energy input from the laser, i.e., that gain (output divided by input) should be greater than 1. NIF's laser input of 1.8 MJ is roughly the same as the kinetic energy of a 2-tonne truck traveling at 160 km/h (100 miles/h). The output of the reaction�14 kJ�is equivalent to the kinetic energy of a baseball traveling at half that speed. Numerically speaking, the gain is 0.0077. The experiment �is a good and necessary step, but there is a long way to go before you have energy for mankind,� Campbell says.
Great way to visualize the numbers.

Aww crap - RIP Scott Carpenter

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UPDATE BELOW From collectSpace:
Scott Carpenter, astronaut-aquanaut, dies, was second American in orbit
October 10, 2013 � Godspeed, Scott Carpenter.

The United States' fourth astronaut to fly in space and the second to orbit the Earth, Carpenter, 88, died on Thursday (Oct. 10) after suffering a recent stroke.

The original Mercury 7 astronaut was being cared for at a hospice center in Denver when he passed. Carpenter was initially expected to make a full recovery from the stroke, but his condition worsened this week, sources close to his family shared.

Carpenter passed at 5:30 a.m. MDT (7:30 a.m. EDT; 1130 GMT) with his wife Patty at his side, his family confirmed to collectSPACE.

"Today, the world mourns the passing of Scott Carpenter," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "As one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was in the first vanguard of our space program � the pioneers who set the tone for our nation's pioneering efforts beyond Earth."
A bit more:
Carpenter never flew in space again, the result of an injury to his left arm sustained in a motorcycle accident in 1964. He did however, become an aquanaut, spending a record 30 days on the ocean floor aboard the Navy's SEALAB II, an experimental habitat located off the coast of California.

Besides his own space and sea adventures, Carpenter is popularly remembered for his radio call "Godspeed, John Glenn," which heralded his fellow Mercury astronaut's lift off to become the first American in orbit on Feb. 20, 1962. With Carpenter's passing, Glenn is the last of the Mercury 7 astronauts alive today.
I had the pleasure of meeting Scott in the mid 60's, a few years after his flight. Got his autograph which I had pinned above my bed through high-school. His becoming an aquanaut made him that much more of a role model to me as I wanted to study Marine Biology and Physical Oceanography and did in fact go to Boston University for those subjects. We are losing a generation of heroes -- who replaces them? We no longer do great things. UPDATE: Just checked and he does have a personal website at ScottCarpenter It has a lot of background detail on his work with SeaLab as well as a lot of personal and biographical information. Worth a visit -- we do not make them like that anymore.

Busy day in town

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Met up with three people that want to place a food truck on some property I own. Looks like a win/win -- their business plan was well thought out. Two of the three are well-known on the mountain (snowboarding) and they have a good-looking menu. I saw that our local Chamber of Commerce was open so I walked them over and introduced them to the staff. Always nice to have more food options for the tourons our beloved visitors.

Danny Trejo - Machete Kills

His new film opens tomorrow -- looks like a lot of fun:
Grantland has a nice biography:
Nothing Can Kill Danny Trejo
Danny Trejo has been stabbed, shot, maimed, crushed, hung, choked, decapitated, and blown to bits. He's had hypodermic needles jabbed into his neck. He's had a power drill run through his brain. He's had an immolating crucifix speared into his vampire heart. Charles Bronson and Robert De Niro have killed him. Stone Cold Steve Austin and 50 Cent have killed him. Mickey Rourke has killed him twice.

In 2010, after nearly three decades of bit parts as brutal, doomed toughs, Trejo finally starred in a movie, as the title character in Machete, a mythical, mass-murdering executor of justice. In a couple of days, the gonzo sequel Machete Kills will hit theaters, cementing Trejo as just about the least likely Hollywood franchise star you can imagine.

Not that that'll change anything. He's 69 years old, the deep grooves and puffy lids of his cracked, cragged face a document of a life lived hard. And he's still on hand to die for you.
A long and well written biography -- Danny has led an "interesting" life to say the least...

Yup - it's a cold for sure

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Haven't been this down for a few years. Got a big pot of chicken soup in the slow cooker -- laying low for a few days.
How fast it can devolve. From the UK Telegraph:
The Lebanese Rocket Society
A few years before they became the first Arabs to send a rocket into space, the members of the Haigazian College science club, in Beirut, encountered a problem. They had the materials to build a craft � some of which they�d bought with their own pocket money � but they still hadn�t produced a propellant.

The first suggestion had been gunpowder but experiments on a couple of 12in-long cardboard rockets had resulted in explosions rather than the perfect chemical reaction required to send a vessel several miles into the sky. Then, after more lab work and guidance from their teacher, a brilliant young maths and physics lecturer called Manoug Manougian, they�d decided the solution was a mixture of zinc and sulphur. But they�d still not worked out the correct proportions.

The chemicals would burn, but they needed to find a combination that would give the rocket enough thrust. Manougian was also aware they couldn�t possibly test it in their physics lab. They�d require space; somewhere away from people. The family of one of the students owned a farm in the mountains, and over the course of several weekends, Manougian and his team went up there to experiment. Finally, they came up with something that would generate enough energy to make their 2ft-tall rocket move. That first craft, called HCRS (for Haigazian College Rocket Society) and launched from the back of a rod stuck in the ground, climbed to 1,200 metres.

�We have something,� Manougian thought.

It was 1961 and the Soviet Union and the United States were four years into a dramatic space race which had begun with the former�s launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957. But while millions of words have been written about the two superpowers� attempts to gain supremacy of the solar system, precious little has been said about a third, highly unlikely, competitor. Between 1961 and 1966, Manougian and his group of seven undergraduates ended up building 12 solid-fuel rockets � one of them so powerful it reached the thermosphere, now home to the International Space Station, and became national heroes in Lebanon.
Here is the trailer for the film:
These folks were doing excellent solid science. What are the students in Lebanon doing today? Amazing that a culture can regress by ten thousand years in the space of forty years. What the Lebanese citizens have today is not spiritual purity, it is religious tyranny and despotism.
Famous gun grabber, Senator Dianne Feinstein recently displayed a bunch of so-called assault weapons at a January 24 Capitol Hill press conference. This was in no way legal. From The Washington Times:
MILLER: Smoking gun exposed- D.C. police chief covers up giving Feinstein illegal �assault weapons�
Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier seems to think that gun-control laws don�t apply to the liberal elite. The police chief helped Sen. Dianne Feinstein acquire �assault weapons,� which are illegal to possess in the District, for a news conference early this year to promote a ban on these firearms, then tried to cover up the police involvement.

Now, a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveals Chief Lanier�s shocking willingness to bend the rules for partisan and ideological purposes.
A lot more at the site -- this is big. Cover-up and corrupt. Laws for thee but not for me...

Fun times ahead

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Lulu has just gotten over a bad cold and this morning, I awoke with her initial symptoms. Kiss the next ten days goodbye...

An interesting metric

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From The Washington Post:
The conservative shift in public opinion has happened in all 50 states
Recently on this blog, Larry Bartels drew attention to an astonishing fact: the public is as conservative as it has been in 50 years. To highlight this point, Professor Bartels presented the public�s policy mood � James Stimson�s measure of public support for government programs�from 1950 to 2012. In a recent article, Julianna Koch and I generated measures of policy mood for each state from the 1950s to 2010 (our measures our here). What we found is that the conservative opinion shift Professor Bartels highlighted repeats itself in every state.

The figure below presents one illustration of this pattern. Here we compare the policy mood in each state in the early 1960s (hollow dots) and in the early 2000s (solid dots). Higher values indicate a more conservative policy mood. In each instance, the solid dot is to the right of the hollow dot, suggesting that the public�s policy mood has moved in a conservative direction in every state. Furthermore, most of these increases are statistically significant.
20131009-enns1.jpg
More faster please...

Designspark

Looks interesting.

It is tied directly to the parts catalog of Allied Electronics and RS Electronics but I do not see why you are locked into using those particular vendors.

This is a suite of CAD programs for electronic circuit board design as well as 3D mechanical design including STL file output for 3D printing.

Price? Free.

Check out Designspark

The Greenpeace ship

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Remember those poor fools from Greenpeace that stormed the Russian oil platform? They were arrested and charged with piracy and are presently in a Russian jail. Some interesting news about their ship -- from BBC:
'Hard drugs found' on Greenpeace ship seized by Russia
Russian investigators say they have found what appear to be hard drugs on board the Greenpeace ship seized during a protest in the Arctic last month.

"During a search of the ship, drugs (apparently poppy straw and morphine) were confiscated," Russia's Investigative Committee said.

Poppy straw, or raw opium, can be used to produce morphine or heroin.

Greenpeace said in a statement that any suggestion of illegal drugs being found was a "smear".
This does not surprise me one bit. I was involved with Greenpeace back in my youth (I was stupid back then) and pot use was rampant. I stopped working with them because the science they used was horrible. All emotion and zero fact.

Someone call the Waaaaambulance

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Barry and Michelle's 21st anniversary is ruined RUINED! From Breitbart:
Shutdown Ruins Obamas' 21st Anniversary
According to the Associated Press, the government shutdown is responsible not merely for shuttering the White House switchboard, but for ruining President Obama�s and First Lady Michelle Obama�s 21st wedding anniversary: �And there was no fancy night at a restaurant for the president and Mrs. Obama, who marked their 21st wedding anniversary Thursday.� That�s a far cry from 2009, when President Obama took Michelle on an infamous �date night� to New York City that cost taxpayers some $74,000, including three private jets, two helicopter rides, and security.

The shutting down of the National Mall

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Because of the Government Shutdown, the National Mall is closed. Visitors to the WWII memorial found this out. Visitors to the Vietnam Memorial found this out. Visitors to the Lincoln Memorial found this out. Nothing but Barrycades. Well, what about yesterdays amnesty rally for illegal immigrants? Wide open! From Breitbart:
ABC, NBC, CBS Nightly Newscasts Ignore Amnesty Rally
On Tuesday, not one word about the immigration rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was mentioned on the nightly newscasts for NBC, CBS, or ABC. Americans watching the nightly newscasts would not have known that such a rally ever happened during the government shutdown.

As Breitbart News reported, lawmakers in Congress were arrested at the event in acts of civil disobedience, a story line that often makes the mainstream media salivate. The media also often likes to use immigration stories to try to falsely make Republicans seem uncaring and prejudiced.

But coverage of the event, which had been planned for months and is in support of an immigration agenda the mainstream media is sympathetic to, could have made it difficult for the mainstream media to continue to play up the government shutdown. Additionally, Americans may have wondered why the Obama administration allowed illegal immigrants to demonstrate for amnesty on a National Mall that is supposed to be closed because of the shutdown after the White House barred veterans from visiting the World War II memorial.
20131009-immigration_rally.jpg
Yeah -- the National Mall is closed down...
Great collection of photos at Twitchy People are taking matters into their own hands -- here is one:
20131008-barrycade.jpg

About that new shiny datacenter

NSA's new datacenter is having some glitches. From Business Insider:

The NSA's Huge New Data Center Keeps Having Meltdowns And No One Knows Why
The National Security Agency's new $2 billion Utah data center keeps suffering from costly meltdowns and government officials are not sure of the cause, Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal reports.

Since August 2012, there have been 10 electrical surges that have prevented the NSA from using computers. One official described them as "a flash of lightning inside a 2-foot box."

Each meltdown caused as much as $100,000 in damage. The center requires about 65 megawatts of electricity to run, at a cost of more than $1 million a month, and the surges are probably connected to the electrical system's inability to simultaneously run computers and keep them cool.

Ouch -- cooling is a Very Big Deal. When I was working for Microsoft, the last lab I managed had over 1,200 computers. It was used for dynamic load testing of large server systems. We could simulate tens of thousands of simultaneous people trying to place orders at Barnes and Noble for example. A lot of fun! The room had a custom dedicated cooling system and it failed on a regular basis. Once it failed, the temperature of the room would rise to over 90°F inside of ten minutes. Machines started to die soon after.

Carrie - a remake

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They are remaking the classic movie Carrie - Steven King's first published novel. Cute way to promote the movie:
This film only works because the movement of the camera is also controlled by a robot and it maintains the forced perspective. Outside of that? Just WOW!
The forced perspective is the same as is used in 3D chalk street art like these. The illusion drops away once your eyes leave the "sweet spot". The performance above will not ever be done live. Still, this was wonderful.

Great idea

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With all the government is doing -- spending large amounts of money closing public memorials, there will be push-back. Here is one example: Million Vet March on the Memorials
Get ready to join a million vets in Washington DC and online! The Administration has closed down war memorials that are normally open 24/7 and that do not have any staff to guard them under normal circumstances.
Here is the memorial for Washington State -- Korean War Project These politicians need to be pushed back. The people who voted to defund Obamacare need our support. Here is a list of things shut down by the Office of Management and Budget -- a direct Obama report. Over 3,390 comments.
From the UK The Independent:
Get your fiscal house in order: China warns US as superpower expresses concern for $1.3tn of investments
China, the biggest foreign creditor of the United States, has waded into the American budget crisis, warning Congress that it must resolve the political impasse over the debt ceiling without further delay.

The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Zhu Guangyao, told America�s deadlocked politicians on Monday that �the clock is ticking� and called on them to approve an extension of the national borrowing limit before the federal government is projected to run out of cash on 17 October.

�We ask that the United States earnestly takes steps to resolve in a timely way the political issues around the debt ceiling and prevent a US debt default to ensure the safety of Chinese investments in the United States,� Mr Zhu told reporters in Beijing. �This is the United States� responsibility,� he added.
And of course, there is this wonderful bit of bias:
The American government entered its seventh day of shutdown on Monday, following the failure of Congress to approve the national budget a week ago. And there was little sign of progress on the still more crucial issue of the fast-approaching �debt ceiling� deadline. Yet rather than indicating a willingness to negotiate, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, stated on Sunday that it was �time for us to stand and fight� over the budget. He added that a default was �the path we�re on�. American stock markets opened down in response to the belligerent comments yesterday, with the S&P 500 Index of leading shares shedding 0.5 per cent.
My two emphases: One half of Congress - the House of Representatives have passed several bills to fund the government. Harry Reid in the Senate has prevented these bills from coming up for a vote in the Senate. Also, this is not a budget, this is a continuing resolution. There is a big difference -- the Senate has not filed a budget in several years. The budget that Obama submitted in his first year was voted down unanimously -- not one vote to approve. Damn straight it is time to stand strong -- the Republicans are trying to defund Obamacare. Obamacare is a train-wreck waiting to happen. If Obamacare was so great, why did all of the Unions and all the government employees wrangle to get exempted from it. The article provoked over 1,370 comments -- worth skimming some of them. They are all pretty much on the same page.
From the Beeb:
Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab
Researchers at a US lab have passed a crucial milestone on the way to their ultimate goal of achieving self-sustaining nuclear fusion.

Harnessing fusion - the process that powers the Sun - could provide an unlimited and cheap source of energy.

But to be viable, fusion power plants would have to produce more energy than they consume, which has proven elusive.

Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion.

NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world's most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place.

The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel - the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.

This is a step short of the lab's stated goal of "ignition", where nuclear fusion generates as much energy as the lasers supply. This is because known "inefficiencies" in different parts of the system mean not all the energy supplied through the laser is delivered to the fuel.
Unfortunately, there is no mention of this at the National Ignition Facility's news releases. They have had some major advancements but the power out is still several orders of magnitude smaller than the power in. I wonder what these folks are doing these days. More here, here and here.

Light posting today

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Got back from the store shopping run and got some stuff to do at home. Posting will be thin on the ground today and possibly tomorrow.

Safety Last

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Classic Harold Lloyd film -- you might know the scene of him hanging off the hands of a large clock -- a small part of this film. The guy was a comic genius and an amazing athlete - no stunt doubles here... Great theater organ music too! I am a very big fan of The Mighty Wurlitzer and glad that we have an excellent example here in Bellingham. Finally, did you notice that Harold was missing a finger and a thumb. I will leave it up to you to tell me which ones..

Cool news from Iceland

From The American Interest:
Iceland On Cusp of Oil Boom?
Iceland is sitting pretty for what will likely be the world�s next oil boom. The USGS estimates that the Arctic circle holds roughly 13 percent of the world�s undiscovered oil, and as the world warms, that ice is melting, uncovering billions of barrels of black gold. Countries are licking their lips at the possibility of tapping these reserves, and tiny Iceland is well-positioned to take advantage. The North Atlantic Current keeps the country�s harbors ice-free, making it an ideal jumping-off point for countries like China who are eager to invest in new oil plays. And, as the New York Times reports, Iceland is working towards developing some of this Arctic oil for itself:
It issued two licenses for oil exploration in January and is finalizing a third, hoping to pave the way for rigs to drill beneath its seas for the first time. Still, any drilling is probably years off, and will happen only if fresh studies confirm the signs that significant amounts of oil may be present under the sea floor. [...]

�There�s definitely something interesting there,� [Andy Brogan, oil and gas transactions leader at Ernst & Young] said. If the undersea rocks prove to be as rich in oil as those in Norway, �then there could be some quite big prospects there.�

�It�s one of those high risk, high return options,� he added.
Admittedly we�re still too early on in the process to know how this will pan out. Analysts predict that Iceland is still three years away from drilling the exploratory wells that will make or break these projects, and at least a decade away from commercial production. But for a country still clawing its way out of the 2008 financial crisis, there�s real reason to be optimistic about the future.
Very cool -- I spent two months there in 1974 and loved it and loved the people. Backpacked into some amazing places and helped dig out the town of Heimaey after the Eldfell volcano buried the town the previous year. The tephra was like peppercorns and learned to drive a Cat D6. Camped out on the site of the �ingvellir Good that they have some solid resources after the failure of their bankster gamble.
Great news -- from the UK Mirror:
Over 100 long-lost Doctor Who episodes found by dedicated fans - in Ethiopia
A group of dedicated Doctor Who fans tracked down at least 100 long-lost episodes of the show gathering dust more than 3,000 miles away in Ethiopia.

It was feared the BBC �programmes from the 1960s � featuring the first two doctors William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton � had vanished for all time after the Beeb flogged off a load of old footage.

But after months of �detective work the tapes have been unearthed at the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency.

A television insider said: �It is a triumph and fans �everywhere will be thrilled.
It will be great to see these shows again.

Panic in the streets

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Was surfing along last evening when the internet stopped. Ruh Ro! Called in, was not the first person to let them know. Actually had to read a book for an hour or two before going to bed. Works this afternoon through...

Self-parody

This is so far over the top it has become self-parody. A screen-capture from WhiteHouse.Gov:
20131005-White_House_site_Shutdown.jpg
Somebody needs to call the Whaaaambulance. President Stompy Feet is not having a good day.
No shit! From the Miami Herald:
Shutdown Day 3: Food distributor stalled, charter boat captains docked
Harriette Wilson-Greene stood on the ramp of an enormous warehouse filled with food Thursday, overseeing Rafik Tillman as he tossed box after heavy box filled with turkey, chicken and ham into the back of an overloaded Chevy Tahoe.

The food, as it has been for the past five years, was headed to the Omega Power and Place Ministry in Liberty City, where 160 needy families each week depend on it.

Wilson-Greene, Omega�s pastor, hopes � even prays � that Thursday�s haul won�t be the last for a while.

The food supplied to her from Feeding South Florida in Pembroke Pines was the last shipment to the non-profit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture until the partial federal government shutdown ends.
These low-income people probably voted en-mass for Obama so this should be a good wake-up call. Next up:
Charter guides received a message from the National Park Service this week informing them that they are not permitted to take clients fishing in Florida Bay until the feds get back to work. That means that more than 1,100 square miles of prime fishing is off limits between the southern tip of the mainland to the Keys until further notice.

The closing affects not only fishing guides, but anyone with a license to conduct business in the park, including tour operators and paddling guides � anyone with a Commercial Use Authorization permit, said Dan Kimball, superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas national parks.

Biscayne National Park is also off limits. Enforcement rangers will be on duty, Kimball said.

Capt. Mike Makowski, owner of Blackfoot Charters in Key Largo, estimates this eliminates 60 percent to 70 percent of his hunting grounds.
Want to bet that there are more government employees on patrol than there ever were during "normal" operation.

National Chess Week

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Yesterday, I posted about an item I heard on the radio where the Senate was in session and they passed a bill designating a National Chess Week. I couldn't check the Congressional Record for that day but here it is in all it's glory:
20131005-chess-week.jpg
Source document is here: Congressional Record - Senate(PDF)

Government shutdown - impact on Science

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The Government Shutdown is costing more than it is saving for some facilities. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory has been shut down interrupting several long-period surveys. You cannot simply start back up again, these surveys must be started again from scratch. From Science Magazine (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science - AAAS):
Astronomer: Shutdown Could Waste a Year�s Worth of Work
More than a year�s worth of expensive data used to trace the shape of the Milky Way galaxy could become worthless as a result of today�s closure of U.S.-based radio telescopes because of the government shutdown.

�Holy cow, this is really bad,� radio astronomer Mark Reid said when informed by Science Insider that the telescopes were going offline. �If they don�t operate the telescopes, it could mean a year�s worth of data becomes useless.� And it would be a costly loss, he adds, estimating that the data cost $500,000 to collect.

Reid is a U.S. government employee who works for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, part of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like hundreds of thousands of other federal workers, he�s been at home since the shutdown began on Tuesday. Meanwhile, he�s been trying to use some of his time off productively, thinking about his collaborative work with an international team on measuring and mapping the great spiral arms of the Milky Way.
A bit more:
Reid says he�s stunned by the development. �I thought NRAO was safe� because it was not a government agency, he says. �I never even thought about this, but there�s nothing I can do about it either.�
Emily Lakdawalla writing at The Planetary Society has a lot more as does this compilation at Science Magazine. It's all about political power and causing pain for We the People.

Do as I say not as I do - Bill McKibben

Great post from Watts Up With That:

Bill McKibben's excellent eco-hypocrisy
I've sometimes thought Bill McKibben was little more than a 'do as I say not as I do' type fraud, especially since he flies so much. #greensgobyair . Seems I was right. Via Twitchy:
Environmentalist Bill McKibben is the head of the anti-carbon group 350.org as well as a "notable member" of the "Plastic Pollution Coalition," which seeks to make all cities "plastic free."
McKibben has also said this:
"Some fights, like global warming, are necessarily hard. And some fights are no-brainers: let's stop using plastic stuff we don't need."
Unless there's no other way to get your groceries home from the store, apparently.
20131005-mckibben_plastic.jpg

Not the clearest photo but it sure looks like Weepy Bill with a shopping cart loaded with plastic bags. Fraud indeed...

20131004-fries.jpg
Spot on:

Our Senate convened today

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And they just passed a bill naming this week as National Chess Week. I cannot see the Congressional Record until tomorrow so I cannot verify this but I will check back tomorrow.

Woolly bears

We get a lot of woolly bears (also known as woolly bugs) every fall.

Lulu captured two of them in a glass jar with some leaves to see if they would spin a cocoon.

I looked up their lifecycle and it's pretty amazing plus, there is a major local tie-in. From the Wikipedia entry for Pyrrharctia isabella:

The Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) can be found in many cold regions, including the Arctic. The banded Woolly Bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws out and emerges to pupate. Once it emerges from its pupa as a moth it has only days to find a mate.

In most temperate climates, caterpillars become moths within months of hatching, but in the Arctic the summer period for vegetative growth - and hence feeding - is so short that the Woolly Bear must feed for several summers, freezing again each winter before finally pupating. Some are known to live through as many as 14 winters.

Some more:

Appearance
The larva is black at both ends, with or without a band of coppery red in the middle. The adult moth is dull yellow to orange with a robust, furry thorax and small head. Its wings have sparse black spotting and the proximal segments on its first pair of legs are bright reddish-orange.

The setae of the Woolly Bear caterpillar do not inject venom and are not urticant - they do not typically cause irritation, injury, inflammation, or swelling. Handling them is discouraged, however, as the bristles may cause dermatitis in people with sensitive skin. Their main defense mechanism is playing dead if picked up or disturbed.

Diet
This species is a generalist feeder - it feeds on many different species of plants, especially herbs and forbs.

Self-medication
Recent research has shown that the larvae of a related moth Grammia incorrupta (whose larvae are also called woollybears) consume alkaloid-laden leaves that help fight off internal parasitic fly larvae. This phenomenon is said to be "the first clear demonstration of self-medication among insects".

And the local connection:

The name of the town of Sedro-Woolley, Washington State, is believed to derive from the Woolly Bear. The town is the result of the union of Sedro and Woolley Bug, and that Woolley Bug referred to a plethora of P. isabella larvae when the town was first built.

Sedro-Woolley is about 35 miles due South of here on the banks of the Skagit River. Here are the critters in question:

20131004-Pyrrharctia_isabella_caterpillar.JPG

20131004-Pyrrharctia_isabella_moth.JPG

Life in California

From Yahoo/Reuters:
Illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses under new California law
Illegal immigrants living in California will be eligible to apply for driver's licenses under a law signed on Thursday by Governor Jerry Brown, in the latest action to expand privileges for such immigrants in the state.

The legislation is a major victory for Latino and immigration rights activists, who have fought for decades for such a law, and it is expected to spur 1.4 million people to apply for licenses over three years.
It's not about driving, it's about future voter registration and getting 1.4 million new people on the dole and voting Democrat.

Rising in defiance

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From The Washington Times:
Blue Ridge hotel defies Park Service shutdown
The Pisgah Inn, a private hotel that holds a concession on the Blue Ridge Parkway, has become a national sensation as it defies �intimidation� and a National Park Service order to close its doors.

After a tumultuous few days, inn owner Bruce O�Connell told The Washington Times on Friday morning that he had just reopened his doors for customers, despite the park service telling him he had to shut down. He says he�s essentially private property, on a road that�s still open, and uses no government personnel, so he sees no reason to quit operating.

�I�m questioning their authority to shut me,� Mr. O�Connell said.

The National Park Service is involved in several high-profile battles during the shutdown, including having barricaded open-air monuments and memorials in Washington. Veterans busted through barricades at the National World War II Memorial earlier this week, gaining national attention.

But the Park Service closures extend throughout the country, shuttering parks � and many of the private businesses that run concessions in them, such as City Tavern in Philadelphia, and Nauset Knoll Motor Lodge on Cape Cod.

Pisgah Inn, which Mr. O�Connell described as one of the last mom-and-pop places along the Blue Ridge, is just southwest of Asheville, N.C. And while most national parks are closed, the Park Service has deemed the Blue Ridge Parkway a thoroughfare and has left it open.

Mr. O�Connell said since the road is open, and he uses no federal personnel � even his fire and police services would come from town � he isn�t drawing on federal resources and sees no reason he should have to shut down.
Good on him. I hope that the government stays shut for a few weeks. Draw the line in the sand -- show the progressives for what they are...
From the Washington Examiner:
Military keeps Camp David open, cuts NFL, baseball coverage to troops overseas
President Obama has visited the Navy-run presidential retreat Camp David in central Maryland only 32 times, but it is being kept open during the government shutdown for his entertainment and security at the same time the Pentagon is cutting sports coverage to hundreds of thousands of troops around the world.

A phone call to the retreat found it open, confirming a TMZ report.

Camp David is one of the most highly secure areas in the nation and provides the president with a safe haven. The president has been known to shoot skeet at Camp David, which he most recently used for his 52nd birthday, according to CBS White House Correspondent Mark Knoller.

Obama has spent just 78 days at the retreat, choosing instead to spend his weekends in Washington and hitting military golf courses, which are also being kept open during the government shutdown.

In the meantime, overseas troops who typically look forward to watching NFL games and the baseball playoffs provided by the American Forces Network, will get little if any service due to the shutdown. A notice on the AFN page reads:
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. Due to the government shutdown, the Defense Department can only provide limited overseas television, radio, print and web services.
Golf courses open, entertainment for the troops shut. Got it.
From Bruce Bartlett at The New York Times:
Happy Centennial, Federal Income Tax
Thursday, Oct. 3, is the 100th anniversary of the federal income tax. That is the day that President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation into law in 1913, concluding a process begun four years earlier by President William Howard Taft.
It started out as the camels nose under the tent.
From the UK Telegraph:
'We�re facing a mass extinction event,' claims Bob Geldof
�The world can decide in a fit of madness to kill itself,� announced Bob Geldof at the launch of the One Young World summit in Johannesburg. �Sometimes progress may not be possible.

�We're in a very fraught time,� he added. �There will be a mass extinction event. That could happen on your watch.

�The signs are that it will happen and soon.�

Sir Bob, wearing his trademark sunglasses, addressed 8,000 One Young World delegates from 190 nations across the world in Soccer City, Johannesburg last night. He is a counsellor for the organisation, which hopes to inspire and create the next generation of global leaders.
He needs to be removed from this post immediately. He is filling the kids heads with bad data. Talk about being a swivel-headed loon...

Winter is approaching

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Got down below freezing last night -- woke up to frost on the ground. Temp at the ground hit 31.8�F
On October 1st, after all non-essential services were shut down, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting received $455 million dollars from our government. Lower right, first page, this document (PDF) from the Treasury:
20131003-CFPB.jpg
They already sell advertising -- I remember the furor when they first started selling it. A tip of the hat to CNS news who also did some follow-up:
After Shutdown: Administration Gives $445,000,000 to Corporation for Public Broadcasting
On the first day of the �shutdown� of the federal government, when members of the U.S. Senate were going to the well of their house to point out that the shutdown would prevent the National Institutes of Health from starting clinical trials for cancer patients and others facing possibly terminal illnesses, the administration was giving $445,000,000 to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, according to the Daily Treasury Statement.

That means PBS NewsHour, National Public Radio and Sesame Street got a taxpayer subsidy during the shutdown, but not would-be cancer patients at the NIH.
A bit more:
CNSNews.com contacted a spokesman for CPB to ask for an explanation of why CPB got $445 million in taxpayer money on the first day of the federal government �shutdown. The spokesman suggested that CNSNews.com call the Office of Management and Budget--which is part of the White House--and responded by emailing to CNSNews.com two statements on CPB�s website.
The Office of Management and Budget is the same agency that is shutting down the privately operated parks and they are a direct report to Obama. These directives are coming from our President.

Optics

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Obama is pissed that he isn't getting his widdle way with Obamacare and he is using the government shutdown to punish We the People. Case in point -- there are a lot of parks that sit in Federal land but are privately owned, pay rent to fed.gov but receive no money, no tax credits, no subsidies from them. Warren Meyer writes at Coyote Blog and also runs a company that manages a number of these parks. He is getting shafted. Here is his story:
Its Official: US Forest Service Closing over 1000 Privately-Funded Parks
The US Forest Service, under pressure apparently from the White House, has reversed both its historical precedent as well as its position yesterday and will close over 1000 public parks and campgrounds that are operated by private companies without using one dime of public money. Why does the fact that our landlord the US Forest Service is going on an unpaid vacation mean that tenants of theirs have to close up shop too? We have no idea.

This is how I explained it in my letter to my senators:
My company, based in North Phoenix, operates over 100 US Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas under concession contract. Yesterday, as in all past government shutdowns, the Department of Agriculture and US Forest Service confirmed we would stay open during the government shutdown. This makes total sense, since our operations are self-sufficient (we are fully funded by user fees at the gate), we get no federal funds, we employ no government workers on these sites, and we actually pay rent into the Treasury.

However, today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people �above the department�, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.

The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the US Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation.
This is a large misstep for the progressives. They are looking to punish the middle-class while the ruling-class will not be affected and the recipient-class would not be visiting these parks anyway. They remind me of the quote attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto:
I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
There are a lot of people out here in flyover country and we are getting pissed...

An odd coincidence

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The phone number for the Obamacare national hotline is 1-800-318-2596 From The Daily Caller:
Need health care coverage? Just dial 1-800-F**KYO to reach Obamacare�s national hotline
Need health insurance? The Obama administration has you covered. Simply dial 1-800-FUCKYO to reach the next available health-care provider.

Far from being a mistype, that�s the official number that Health and Human Services wants Americans to dial when seeking health care. Obamacare�s national call center really did list its number as 1-800-318-2596, helpfully spelling out President Barack Obama�s tendency to blatantly flip the bird in plain view.

After allowing for the lack of letters attached to 1 on a traditional American telephone keypad, the number spells out a clear message. For every duped voter, every young invincible weighing the cost of a penalty versus a newly tripled yearly deductible, every ailing old granny in a wheelchair (whom, remember, Paul Ryan wants to push off a cliff) who needs adequate and affordable health care, Obama�s message is:
1-800-3(F) 8(U) 2(C) 5(K) 9(Y) 6(O)
That�s 1-800-FUCKYO. Sadly, the Obama administration failed to swap the useless 1 for a more functional 8 to complete the heartfelt message, perhaps in consolation to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel�s tragically shortened middle finger.
A coincidence to be sure but it sure fits people's feelings...

Yikes - security breach at Adobe

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From Adobe -- Posted by Brad Arkin, Chief Security Officer on October 3, 2013:
Important Customer Security Announcement
Cyber attacks are one of the unfortunate realities of doing business today. Given the profile and widespread use of many of our products, Adobe has attracted increasing attention from cyber attackers. Very recently, Adobe�s security team discovered sophisticated attacks on our network, involving the illegal access of customer information as well as source code for numerous Adobe products. We believe these attacks may be related.

Our investigation currently indicates that the attackers accessed Adobe customer IDs and encrypted passwords on our systems. We also believe the attackers removed from our systems certain information relating to 2.9 million Adobe customers, including customer names, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and other information relating to customer orders. At this time, we do not believe the attackers removed decrypted credit or debit card numbers from our systems. We deeply regret that this incident occurred. We�re working diligently internally, as well as with external partners and law enforcement, to address the incident. We�re taking the following steps:
More at the site. Ouch!

Our declining culture - Air Force

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From FOX News:
80 Christian Airmen say they've been subjected to threats, punishment
Evangelical Christian airmen at Lackland Air Force Base are facing severe threats and retribution for their religious beliefs and some personnel have been ordered to publicly express their position on gay marriage.

�There is an atmosphere of intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base,� said Steve Branson, the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio. �Gay commanders and officers are pushing their agenda on the airmen. There is a culture of fear in the military and it�s gone to a new level with the issue of homosexuality.�

Branson tells me at least 80 airmen attended a private meeting at the church where he heard them voice their concerns about religious hostilities at the Air Force base. It was a standing-room only crowd.

�The religious persecution is happening,� the pastor said. �It�s getting bigger every day. Gay and lesbian airmen can talk about their lifestyle, but the rest have to stay completely quiet about what they believe.�
I really wonder why Gay people are getting so much press these days. They only comprise about 3.5% of the entire US population. Very much the minority. I do not begrudge them equal rights under the law but why do they insist on so much publicity. Go about your lives like all the rest of us.

Africa

The crew of the OSV (Offshore Support Vessel) Bourbon Peridot was stationed off the coast of Equatorial Guinea in West Africa. They had some time to kill. This is the result:

From gCaptain:

WATCH: OSV Crew in Africa Performs Toto's Africa in Viral Video
You know what they say - When in Africa, create a mimed rendition music video of the 1983 smash hit 'Africa' by Toto and post it on Youtube?

I actually don't know anyone who says that, but that's just what the crew of a Subsea 7 contracted OSV did and their video is making the rounds this week on the internets.

The video was shot by the crew of the Bourbon Peridot while off Equatorial Guinea in West Africa. Why? Because why not?

"I did the first couple of scenes with Subsea 7 guys, and then a couple of other guys on the boat thought it was good so they also wanted in," Darren Flynn, the ship's 33yo ROV pilot supervisor who came up with the idea, told the Energy Voice.

"As the thing progressed more and more people wanted in, from the captain to the company representative."

35,000 views and counting. Where will it be at tomorrow?

Wonderfully done -- love the out-takes at the end.

Happenings at the US Capital

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Had to go into town for a meeting and was listening to the news about the Capitol being locked down. Nothing clear yet so not going to comment further. The Washington Post has what is known so far.

About those Tesla Motors fires

Tesla Motor's said that they don't have any problems with fires. Tell that to this poor driver:

Meet Vespa mandarinia

From CNN:
Killer hornets sting at least 19 people to death in China, nearly 600 stung
At least 19 people have been stung to death by hornets -- which may include the world's largest hornet species Vespa mandarinia -- in China's central Shaanxi province in the last three months, according to the city government of Ankang, the apparent epicenter of a recent spate of fatalities and injuries.

A total of 583 people in the area have been stung by hornets since July 1, say city officials. Seventy victims are still recovering in hospitals.

Chen Changlin was hospitalized after being attacked by hornets, while harvesting rice last week.

"I ran and shouted for help, but the hornets chased me about 200 meters, and stung me for more than 3 minutes," he recounted to the state-run China Youth Daily.

Chen said hornets had first swarmed a woman and child working nearby, who then ran towards him. Both later died from the hornets' toxins.

"The more you run, the more they want to chase you," said another victim, whose kidneys were ravaged by the venom. When he was admitted to the hospital, his urine was the color of soy sauce, according to local reports.
Good thing it can't happen here - Oh. Wait. From the Arlington Heights, IL Arlington Cardinal:
Deadly Asian Giant Hornet Spotted in Arlington Heights, Illinois: Not Cicada Killer Wasp
Wasps, hornets and bees are in the news this summer. Last week bees swarmed Des Plaines Fire Department firefighter/paramedics as they rescued a man with an ankle injury about 5:54 p.m. on July 25, 2012. The firefighter/paramedics and their patient were stung by the bees as the victim was rescued up an embankment near Golf Road and River Road.
Some more:
Sunday, an Asian Giant Hornet or Japanese Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) was spotted at a residence west of St. Viator High School. The insect was at least two inches long and as thick as a human thumb. It had a wide orange-yellow head with large eyes, and distinct yellow-orange and brownish-black bands on its body � like a bee. The Asian Giant Hornet patrolled around a house in the front yard � occasionally hovering and landing on shrubbery. The Asian Giant Hornet studied a yellow-jacket nest that was recently destroyed with Raid wasp spray on the property. Yes, the giant hornets attack Yellow Jacket nests.
And one more:
A forum on DSLReports.com Need to kill Asian Hornets and comments on a BadSpiderBites.com Giant Hornet article includes reports of Asian Giant Hornets in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. One of the pictures from a contributor from Tennessee shows a European Hornet. Last Fall posters reported aggressive infestations in recent years. In Georgia a poster reports he doesn�t go a day without seeing one of the giant hornets. One poster reports the insects flying into lights at night, and an infestation in a chimney with about 200 hornets getting inside the house. Many posters scoff at the comments that the insects aren�t aggressive. Some posters report that the large hornets are not affected by wasp/hornet spray.
Yikes!

Obamacare - the websites

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Yesterday, I posted about how the Obamacare websites were not working very well. Here is a potential reason -- from Judicial Watch:
Obama Pals Crafted Disastrous Fed Health Exchange Website
The heavily touted online federal healthcare exchange (Healthcare.gov) that got off to a disastrous start today was designed by a team made up entirely of Obama minions, including the design manager for the president�s 2008 campaign and the White House Deputy Director of New Media.

The expert team of Obama pals has been designing the bilingual website for months and it�s supposed to be the centerpiece of the new healthcare law, serving as an essential tool that will guide millions of Americans through the rigorous process of choosing insurance. Its appearance and modern technology are not commonly seen in most federal government websites, so it definitely sticks out though it�s not even working properly. In fact the Spanish page isn�t functioning at all, delivering a message that says �lo sentimos, no podemos encontrar la p�gina (Sorry, we can�t find the page).�

The English page isn�t all that efficient either, according to numerous news reports on this the first day of Obamacare. One mainstream newspaper says that the online insurance marketplaces created by President Obama�s healthcare law got off to a bumpy start as some consumers were kicked off web portals and several states reported glitches that slowed enrollment on the first day Americans were supposed to be able to sign up for coverage. In other instances the website simply froze when consumers tried to create accounts.
A bit more:
What the media isn�t mentioning is that the now infamous health exchange website was exclusively designed by contractors with deep ties to the president. For instance Jessica Teal, founder of Teal Studios, was previously the Design Manager for the Obama 2008 campaign, according to records discovered in the course of a Judicial Watch probe. Teal�s other clients include Planned Parenthood, the AFL-CIO, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Emily�s List and other lefty outfits.

Another contractor that worked on the Obamacare website is a firm called Development Seed, a Washington D.C.-based �creative data visualization and mapping team.� Development Seed�s General Manager, Dave Cole, was previously the Deputy Director of New Media in the Obama White House. He was also the data lead for the Obama campaign in Iowa in 2008.

The last contractor, Ed Mullen, of Ed Mullen Studio, doesn�t have a record of working on Obama�s political campaign but he wrote this on his website in 2011: �The practice of empathy seems to have been a central force in Barack Obama�s life for a very long time. It was certainly front and center from the moment he stepped onto the stage of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His capacity for empathy allowed him to connect with a broad range of people. His recognition of an empathy deficit, and the public�s unquenched desire for a more empathetic world, gave momentum to the movement that led to his Presidency.�
This is so typical -- the contracts were given out based on political connection and not on merit. These mokes had over three years to do it right and they failed spectacularly. Like I said yesterday:
There are companies out there that do enterprise software like this. Three and a half years ago, they could have approached Google, Amazon or SAP and they would have had a working system in place in under two years.

But if we centralize everything, we will operate a lot more efficiently! (cough)BULLSHIT!(cough)
And do not forget that this is the website that will be holding all of your personal data...

Now this makes sense

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From Reuters:
EPA to be hit hard in shutdown, could delay renewable fuel standard
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will take one of the biggest hits of any federal agency if the government shuts down this week, operating with under 7 percent of its employees, according to guidance issued by the agency.

Among those furloughed would be most workers at the Office of Air and Radiation, which is in charge of writing and implementing most of the EPA's major air pollution rules. The clock would also stop, for now, on the EPA's eagerly-awaited proposal on renewable fuel volume standards for 2014.

The EPA said its plan for dealing with a shutdown would classify 1,069 employees, out of 16,205, as essential. These employees would continue to work if Congress fails to secure a budget deal by midnight Monday to avoid disruption to federal funding.
Heh -- 6.596% of EPA employees are essential. Let's defund the rest. The EPA did have a place when they were formed but they did their job and are now no longer needed. Let's defund them and move on.

Now this is just disgusting

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From Patrick Poole writing at PJ Media:
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: McDonald�s Employee Admits Being Paid $15 to Protest WW2 Veterans
Yesterday I reported from the National World War Two Memorial on several members of Congress crashing the barricades set up by the National Park Service that were keeping out several hundred Honor Flight veterans � many of whom were WW2 veterans � from visiting their own memorial. The Park Service claimed that the memorial and the entire National Mall area had to be closed because of the government shutdown.

The same scene was reenacted again today as two Honor Flights from Missouri and Chicago arrived in prearranged visits. These Honor Flights were met by hundreds of ordinary citizens and about a dozen members of Congress, who once again crashed the barricades to let the veterans into the WW2 Memorial.

After about an hour, about 20 protesters arrived on the scene chanting �Boehner, get us back to work� and claiming they were federal employees furloughed because of the shutdown.

In the video below these protesters were marching towards the press gaggle and I was asking them to show their federal IDs to prove they were in fact federal workers. No one wore their federal ID and none would provide it to prove their claim.

Then, remarkably, a guy carrying a sign passed by wearing a McDonald�s employee shirt, which I noted. I then began asking them how much they had been paid to protest, at which point the guy wearing the McDonald�s shirt came back and admitted he had been paid $15.
If these really were Federal employees, this would be a direct violation of the Hatch Act.

Liberals hunkering down

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From The Daily Caller:
Liberal media huddles to re-hype global warming
The liberal media is scrambling to figure out if they are under-reporting the seriousness of global warming.

Journalists from left-leaning news sites are meeting in Chattanooga, Tenn., to discuss whether or not they have �blown it� when it comes to global warming coverage and how they can better portray the seriousness of the issue.

The Society of Environmental Journalists will be hosting a meeting on Friday that will discuss the media coverage surrounding global warming, which will include a panel of journalists from left-leaning news sites.

The panel will include: Daniel Grossman, contributing editor, National Geographic News Watch; Katherine Bagley with InsideClimate News; Peter Dykstra with Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate; Joseph Romm with ClimateProgress.org and the chief science editor of the Showtime TV series, �Years of Living Dangerously.�
Here is the website for The Society of Environmental Journalists This is a good reference for everything wrong about the so-called climate change. A bunch of self-centered little morons all gazing into their navels.

More than half-way there

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From this Saturday 21 February 2004 "news" item in the UK Guardian:
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
OK then... We are more than half-way from 2004 to 2020. When is this catastrophe going to start? . . . . . crickets . .

From our Postal Service

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From The People's Cube:
2013 Obamacare Commemorative Stamp Collector Set
Comrades,
It is our pleasure to announce that the four-postage-stamp 2013 Obamacare Collector Set is now available to the masses.

You will appreciate the intricate detail and marvel at the complexity of the design. Each stamp just beckons the owner to slap a cancellation mark all over them as soon as possible, to give them that authentic used stamp feel.

A fine addition to any collection, these stamps will also make great gifts. As we all know, Red October is just around the corner!
20131002-Obamacare_Stamps.jpg

The missing hurricanes

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Everyone was predicting an active hurricane season this year -- where are they? From The Washington Post:
What happened to hurricane season? And why we should keep forecasting it�
As we wrap up September, there have been just two short-lived Category 1 hurricanes in the Atlantic. Yet seasonal forecasts predicted an extremely active season. What�s going on?

Before diving into the seasonal forecasts, let�s take inventory on where the season stands.

In an average season, 8 tropical storms, 4 hurricanes, and 1 major (category 3 or higher) hurricane form by this date. This year, we�ve experienced 10 tropical storms, 2 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes.

Though we�ve had close to the average number of total storms, most have been short-lived and/or weak. If you went out for a cup of coffee at any time this hurricane season, you would�ve missed many of them.
I am sure they will try to pin this on anthropogenic global warming somehow... Excellent article -- a lot more at the site. The author, Dr. Brian McNoldy, is a Senior Research Associate at University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He blogs here and here.
From The Hill:
Disgraced EPA official pleads the Fifth in House investigation
A former federal official, who has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $900,000 by impersonating a CIA officer, refused to testify before a House committee Tuesday.

John Beale, who admitted last week to stealing salary, bonuses and other payments from the Environmental Protection Agency for more than a decade while he pretended to work for the CIA, sought protections under the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

�Mr. Beale�s betrayal of the public trust for his own personal enrichment is truly shocking in the scope, duration and sheer audacity,� Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the panel said. �It is amazing.�
A bit more:
While at the EPA, Beale claimed that he was secretly working for the CIA on the side, allowing him to miss days from work, take extravagant trips and stay in posh hotels across the world.

However, his supposedly secret life was relatively well known at the agency.

�His undercover, super-secret status was known by a great deal of people,� committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said. �It was an open secret that he was super clandestine secret.�
Another example of the caliber of people we employ. Our masterminds at work. It is amazing that nobody called him on this scam -- his cow-orkers are just as complicit as he is...

A sucker born every minute

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From FOX News:
Britain charges 6 people over multimillion dollar pollution credit fraud
British prosecutors say six men have been charged over a massive pollution credit fraud scheme that cost the British government many millions of pounds.

The Crown Prosecution Service says that four of the men created a string of dummy companies that traded in carbon credits, typically certificates which give polluters the right to emit a set amount of carbon dioxide in return for money paid to companies that fight climate change by taking steps such as planting trees or switching to renewable energy sources.

Prosecutors said Tuesday the four men improperly claimed refunds for taxes never paid on the credits, racking up 11 million pounds (nearly $18 million) during a seven-month period in 2009. The other two men are charged with money laundering.
They just got caught. Institutions like Al Gore's Chicago Climate Exchange do the same thing but because they are government sanctioned, they can operate without fear of reprisal.

A curious problem with solar panels

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Firefighters do not like them. From FOX News:
Firefighters alarmed by latest rescue risk: solar panels
Firefighters across the nation are alarmed at the prospect of battling blazes in buildings topped with solar panels, which can create new risks of roofs collapsing, an inability to gain footing and even potential electric shock.

Two recent fires involving structures decked with solar panels have triggered complaints from fire chiefs and calls for new codes and regulations that reflect the dangers posed by the clean-energy devices. A two-alarm fire last week at a home in Piedmont, Calif., prompted Piedmont Fire Chief Warren McLaren to say the technology �absolutely� made it harder on firefighters. Weeks earlier, in Delanco, N.J., more than 7,000 solar panels on the roof of a massive 300,000-square foot warehouse factored into Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt�s refusal to send his firefighters onto the roof of a Dietz & Watson facility.

�We may very well not be able to save buildings that have alternative energy,� New Jersey�s Acting Fire Marshall William Kramer told The Star-Ledger.

Experts told FoxNews.com that the biggest danger posed by the panels is that they continue to send voltage down from the roof throughout the building even after power is shut down. In a conventional building, firefighters typically cut off the electricity leading into the house before entering.

�First of all, solar panels are designed to generate electricity any time there�s light received by the panels, and that happens in low-light settings as well,� said Ken Willette, a spokesman for the National Fire Protection Association. �So inherently, those are charged electrical appliances � there�s a shock hazard.�
I know I keep saying it but Thorium reactors are the way to go -- each year that we do not start an aggressive program to develop them is another year wasted on frivolous spending.

Holy crap - RIP Tom Clancy

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From the New York Times:
Tom Clancy, Best-Selling Novelist of Military Thrillers, Dies at 66
Tom Clancy, whose complex, adrenaline-fueled military novels spawned a new genre of thrillers and made him one of the world�s best-selling and best-known authors, died on Tuesday in a hospital in Baltimore. He was 66.
66 is way too young.

Meet Lizzie the Chicken

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Lizzie looks to be a Buff Orpington -- I love the breed. Hat tip to DIY Photography for the link. More at the site.

Centralized efficiency

Looking forward to the next four installments -- the first one is a doozy!

From the Washington Examiner:

Bureaucrats at tiny federal agency FMCS buy legions of luxuries with purchase cards
One federal employee leased a $53,000 take-home car with taxpayer money in apparent defiance of federal regulations and regularly billed the government for service at shops such as BMW of Fairfax.

Others charged the government monthly for family members' cell phones and high-end TV packages and Internet at home -- and even at second homes.

Managers freely made out checks to employees without requiring documentation of how it would be spent, giving $1,316 directly to one who said she was reimbursing herself for furniture she bought for a "home office" and using convenience checks to give workers bonuses.

Government employees used federal purchase cards to order items such as a $560 Bose stereo and $1,490 for two high-definition televisions that could not be located.

All of these examples happened at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an obscure runaway government agency where the median annual salary is $120,000.

A lot more at the site -- take this and multiply it by tens of thousands and you will start to understand the work we have ahead of us. This pool needs a lot of Clorox...

Obamacare - a trifecta

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Obamacare is partially funded and it officially started today. Each state has a website where citizens can sign up. Only problem? Website doesn't work. First - from The Hill:
Officials tight-lipped about problems with enrollment at ObamaCare opening
The Obama administration offered few details Tuesday about the technical problems that locked consumers out of new health insurance marketplaces.

Officials from the Health and Human Services Department would not say how many people enrolled in coverage through healthcare.gov, the website for federally run insurance exchanges in 36 states.

The website was unavailable for most of the day, and technical issues also forced some state-based exchanges offline shortly after they launched Tuesday morning.
The President signed the Obamacare bill on March 23, 2010 -- it is 3.5 years old. They have not gotten their most basic shit together in 1,277 days. Imagine how long it's going to take to implement the finer details. Some major media fails - Second from National Review:
Oops: MSNBC Anchor Can�t Access Obamacare Exchange
MSNBC�s Mara Schiavocampo ran into difficulties as she tried to sign up for the newly launched health-care exchanges on Tuesday. After getting an error message on the website, she called the help line twice, but wasn�t able to reach a navigator on the other end. Instead, she was put on hold for 35 minutes.

�If I were signing up for myself, this is where my patience would be exhausted,� Schiavocampo said before she gave up.
And Third - from The Weekly Standard:
Glitch Prevents CNN from Signing Up for Obamacare
A CNN reporter tried to sign up for Obamacare, but wasn't able to because of a glitch:
(transcript of video on site)
BROOKE BALDWIN: So you guys hit a wall. we�re here in Georgia. What about other states? Similar issues?
ELIZABETH COHEN: The CNN medical team branched out. We tried in about 20 different state states. In 12 of them we hit glitches. Sometimes it made it impossible to sign up. There were error messages or that little annoying kind of twirly thing.
BALDWIN: I hate the twirly thing.
COHEN: Hate it, hate it, right? In many cases, you just couldn�t sign up.
BALDWIN: President Obama, he addressed this, speaking at the White House earlier, sort of likening it to glitches with Apple. This was the president:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Like every new law, every new product rollout, there are going to be some glitches in the signup process along the way that we will fix. I�ve been saying this from the start. For example, we found out that there have been times this morning where the site�s been running more slowly than it normally will. The reason is because more than 1 million people visited healthcare.gov before 7:00 in the morning.
BALDWIN: He had said, you know, issues with iPhone when it first rolled out, you know, but this isn�t necessarily like the iPhone, right?
COHEN: Right. My iOS 7 works. I just sent someone an email, it works. This I couldn�t even sign up. In some states we tried, we couldn�t get to the signup point. In many cases, we hit a wall. They say they�re trying to speed it up.
There are companies out there that do enterprise software like this. Three and a half years ago, they could have approached Google, Amazon or SAP and they would have had a working system in place in under two years. But if we centralize everything, we will operate a lot more efficiently! (cough)BULLSHIT!(cough)

Light posting tonight

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Lulu is very much under the weather and I had to run into town today (lawyer meeting -- long story). Just getting to the internet -- I generally read it all the way through every day. Probably only get part of the way tonight.

September 2016

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