February 2014 Archives

Nothing tonight

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Working on some stuff -- looking at open source video software. I'll serve up some free ice cream tomorrow...

The summit of the world - two videos

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Ran into this one at Maggie's Farm:
Reminded me of this flight from 2005:
Not as zen but pretty spectacular from an engineering perspective... Klaus is quite the glider pilot and is involved with the Mountain Wave project.

Socialism in operation - New York City

The new mayor is a flaming socialist and his demagoguery is having tangible effects.

Education for one -- from the New York Post:

Bill goes ugly
In cheering the mayor's decision to take away space promised to three charter schools run by Eva Moskowitz - leaving hundreds of children without a school for next year - Bill de Blasio ally Bertha Lewis hailed it as justice: "Eva Moskowitz got away with murder for so long."

Telling words indeed. Because what Eva Moskowitz "got away with" for so long was proving there are public schools in this city where black and Latino children learn and achieve. They are called charters.

You see, Eva's public schools are based on excellence. Take Success Academy Harlem Central, one of the three Moskowitz-run schools targeted by de Blasio.

Ninety-seven percent of its students are children of color. Not only is it Harlem's best middle school, last year its fifth graders ranked tops in the state for math. Here's their reward: 210 students have just found themselves school-less for next year, with the local public alternatives being some of the lowest-performing middle schools in the state.

By targeting the public schools run by Moskowitz, the mayor clearly hopes to split the charter movement. But in so choosing, he revealed his true colors. Because he did not target one of the mediocre charters. Nor did he pretend he was taking away space from Eva's kids because they weren't learning.

To the contrary: De Blasio is taking the space away because these kids are learning. That's a huge embarrassment to a mayor and his union allies who spend their time excusing public school failure rather than redressing it. So he's taking it out on the kids. How nasty is that?

Imagine you are a single mom with a so-so job, an apartment in an iffy area and not much money. But your daughter is at a Harlem Success Academy, and you are happy because she is in a good school where she is learning and on the path to go to high school and college.

Now imagine the mayor has just pulled this rug out from under you, leaving your daughter to choose from schools that are all much worse than what she now has.

Gov. Cuomo, these kids need you.

If the name Bertha Lewis is not familiar with you, it should. She was ACORN's CEO and Chief Organizer.

ACORN became famous when videos of ACORN employees committing massive fraud surfaced in the runup to the 2008 election.

She is still in the news -- from Weasel Zippers:

Former ACORN Chief Bertha Lewis Calls For Amnesty To Weaken The 'White Man'
The worst part about Bertha Lewis' she's now relevant again in NYC Dem politics.

Via Daily Caller:
ACORN's former CEO Bertha Lewis urged Africans-Americans to support increased immigration as a strategy to gain political power.

"We got some Latino cousins, we got some Asian cousins, we got some Native-American cousins, we got all kind of cousins," said Lewis, who spoke Thursday at the annual political conference of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"Cousins need to get together because if we're going to be [part of the non-white] majority, it makes sense for black people in this country to get down with immigration reform," said Lewis, whose ACORN group was formally disbanded in 2010 after a series of scandals. [...]

She is a spiteful racist who only knows hate and division. The idea that DeBlasio listens to her beggars belief. She simply does not realize that if she pisses enough people off, the government subsidies will get voted out. Stupid and bigoted -- a hell of a way to go through life.

Dealing with Climate Change Deniers

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Mmmmmm... Hazelnut

Fukushima Daiichi - a two-fer

Great series on dismantling the Fukushima Daiichi reactor from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (pronounced "Eye-triple-E"):

First - the job:

Dismantling Fukushima: The World's Toughest Demolition Project
A radiation-proof superhero could make sense of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in an afternoon. Our champion would pick through the rubble to reactor 1, slosh through the pooled water inside the building, lift the massive steel dome of the protective containment vessel, and peek into the pressure vessel that holds the nuclear fuel. A dive to the bottom would reveal the debris of the meltdown: a hardened blob of metals with fat strands of radioactive goop dripping through holes in the pressure vessel to the floor of the containment vessel below. Then, with a clear understanding of the situation, the superhero could figure out how to clean up this mess.

Unfortunately, mere mortals can't get anywhere near that pressure vessel, and Japan's top nuclear experts thus have only the vaguest idea of where the melted fuel ended up in reactor 1. The operation floor at the top level of the building is too radioactive for human occupancy: The dose rate is 54 millisieverts per hour in some areas, a year's allowable dose for a cleanup worker. Yet, somehow, workers must take apart not just the radioactive wreck of reactor 1 but also the five other reactors at the ruined plant.

Second - the tools:

Meet the Robots of Fukushima Daiichi
Entering the Danger Zone: In March 2011, a series of meltdowns and explosions turned the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into a radioactive ruin. The damaged reactor buildings are far too radioactive for humans to safely work in, so robots are surveying radiation levels and starting the cleanup. The PackBot, an inspection bot from iRobot of Bedford, Mass., was one of the first bots to arrive at the site.

Slideshow -- unfortunately, this website doesn't play nice with Deslide.

Feeling poorly

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I am trying to sign up with Western Union for my new business and they ran a credit report. It turns out that Experian considers me to be deceased. My Dad and I had the same first and last names but I have a middle name where he did not, different social security numbers, D.O.B., residences, etc... Talk about sloppy recordkeeping -- and these are the people we rely on for credit information?

Jim Henson Creature Shop demo reel

Promotional demo for the Creature Shop:

That has to be a fun place to work...

Hi ho hi ho - it's off to work I go

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Lost power last night -- no word as to what the problem was but it hit all of our little hamlet as well as all the way up to the mountain. I was coming home around 6:15PM and when I got out of the car, the Christmas lights (yeah, we keep them lit all year -- sue me!) blinked twice and went out. Back on around 3AM -- heading off to work.

Now this is good gun control

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From Seattle station KOMO:
11-year-old Central Wash. girl shoots, kills cougar
An 11-year-old girl shot a cougar that was following her 14-year-old brother to their home at Twisp, in north central Washington, the state Fish and Wildlife Department said.

The female cougar killed last week was about 4 years old and weighed about 50 pounds - half of what it should weigh, said Officer Cal Treser.

"This cougar was very, very skinny," he said.

It was the third cougar killed in a week in the area just outside Twisp.

The children's father, Tom White, had chased the cougar away from their calves twice on Feb. 19. The next day his son went out to feed the dogs and was returning to a basement door when he spotted the cougar following him, Treser said.

"His dad was in there and said, 'Close the door!' and there was the cougar, right behind him," Treser said.

His 11-year-old daughter had a tag to hunt cougars and shot the animal, he said.
Danger. Danger neutralized with a rifle. End of problem.

Slow day today

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Got a customer but that is it for the day so far. Went into town this morning to run some errands, back at noon. Had a shipment of some ammo come in -- prices are starting to get real again. Taking a break from installing the replacement power supply in my other computer -- I had swiped the supply to repair my home system so I am returning this unit to service. I have some video editing software installed on it so I use that machine a fair bit what with the time lapse and panorama photography.

The Unmarked, Matte-Gray Crown Vic

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A great essay from Bill Whittle -- the guy is a national treasure:

Very clever idea

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From the MIT Technology Review:
App Listens for Danger When You�re Not Paying Attention
A startup is developing machine-learning technology that mimics the way the ear works, which it believes will make it easier for smartphones and wearable devices to constantly listen for sounds of danger.

One Llama will show some of its capabilities in an app called Audio Aware, which is meant to alert hard-of-hearing smartphone users and �distracted walkers� (an issue previously explored in �Safe Texting While Walking? Soon There May be an App for That�). The app, planned for release in March, will run in the background on an Android smartphone, detecting sounds like screeching tires and wailing sirens and alerting you to them by interrupting the music you�re listening to, for instance. The app will arrive with knowledge of a number of perilous sounds, and users will be able to add their own sounds to the app and share them with other people.

One Llama hopes Audio Aware will pique interest among makers of wearable gadgets, who could bake the technology into smart glasses, smart watches, and fitness trackers. In those devices, Audio Aware could do more than just be alert to dangers: it could monitor health conditions, workouts, or even locations by paying attention to the sounds you make and the noises around you. Bird watchers might want to use it to home in on the differences between, say, a male chipping sparrow and a dark-eyed junco.
Very cool idea!

Meritocracy

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Sounds like a good idea -- those that do well get rewarded for their efforts. Not so much these days -- look at Obama's Peace Prize for six months of doing nothing. Now it's Mia Farrow and Woody Allen's Frank Sinatra's kid -- Ronan Farrow. From National Review:
Farrow, After Three Days on the Air, Receives Cronkite Award
His first television show has only been on the air for three days, but Ronan Farrow is already winning awards for his journalistic work. Reach the World, a global education group, will honor the 26-year-old Farrow with its annual Cronkite Award for Excellence in Exploration and Journalism.
A bit more:
Reporters attending the event have told not to ask Farrow any personal questions, including about controversy surrounding his family. Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, has weighed in on recent media frenzies, suggesting his father could �possibly� be Frank Sinatra and lending support to his sister�s accusations that Allen sexually abused her at a young age.
Those people are so far out of touch with reality. It will be fun to see what happens when their bubble bursts. I have to give the guy credit for this tweet:
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Just wonderful - snow forecast

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From the Bellingham Herald:
Deja vu? Bellingham could get more snow this weekend
Just when you thought Bellingham should be due for a break from snow, it looks like we could get another dusting this weekend.

There's about a 40 percent chance of snowfall in the lowlands - an inch, maybe less - on Saturday morning, March 1, with the chances increasing as the weekend goes on, said Jay Neher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Temperatures should sink to the high 20s each night. So the snow level would be near zero feet, Neher said. Sunday seems like the odds-on favorite day for more snow. A wintry mix of rain and snow is classified as "likely" Monday, too.
Monday is the date that the heat pump gets installed. Just wonderful...
Worked until 3:30PM and then headed into Bellingham to drop some stuff at a lawyers and run a couple other errands. Fixing some dinner and will surf for a bit -- early day tomorrow, morning run into town this time. Also met with the HVAC people -- I had posted about our furnace problems and they did the final walk-through to install a heat pump. Propane costs about $300/month and this will cut it dramatically. Very happy with them -- true professionals and not at all pushy like the first company I was using...

Weather prediction in the USA

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Cliff Mass has an excellent rant on why our weather prediction is so bad:
Where is the National Weather Service's New Supercomputer?
It is nearly a year since the U.S. Congress supplied the money for a new cutting-edge National Weather Service weather supercomputer, using Superstorm Sandy supplemental funds.

The computer promised to greatly improve weather prediction in the U.S. and was cited as a "game changer" by the head of the National Weather Service.

It offered the U.S. a chance to finally catch up with or exceed the state-of-the-art predictions of the European Center, resulting in saved lives, improved warnings, and large economic benefits for the United States.

Now a year later, the computer has not even been ordered, while the the European Center has just secured a brand-new American computer to push the envelope of weather prediction far beyond that practiced in the U.S.
Much more at the site -- a combination of bizarre procurement specifications and Chinese chips.

Don't worry, this is for your own good.

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From Tyler Durdin at Zero Hedge:
Obama Asks Court To Make NSA Database Even Bigger
When a hypertotalitarian banana republic takes another turn for the gigasurreal, even Elon Musk is speechless.

In the most glaring example of how farcical idiocy has become the new normal, we will remind readers (especially those who do not follow us on twitter), of the following blurb from last night:

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Read the whole thing -- it wasn't but a month ago when Obama promised he would do everything in his power to reform the NSA, including the ending of the Section 215 metadata collection.

The most dangerous thing

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Figuring out the rule

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A really good insight into scientific thinking:

Before flatscreens

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Before flatscreens became so common, Cathode Ray Tubes were the go-to device for display, television, computer monitors, radar screens, etc... Here is an excellent site giving both history and reference data. It also covers other electron discharge devices such as X-Ray tubes, Geissler tubes and vidicon camera tubes. Check out The Cathode Ray Tube site

Another Godzilla trailer

Looks really good.

Computer back up again

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My home computer just had a bad power supply. Swapped it out with the unit I had here and it booted up just fine. Only issue is that my nice organized desktop now has all of the icons stacked up along the left half of the screen. Have to re-sort them when I get back home. Oh well -- better than having to reinstall a new hard drive...

Now that is chutzpah

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I have an older police scanner (Uniden BCT15) here at work. A woman called 911 and asked the responding officer to shovel their driveway as they could not get out. The officer told the dispatcher that he informed her that that wasn't going to happen. What planet does that person live on...

Great headline on this weather story

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From Peter Ferrara writing at Forbes:
The Period Of No Global Warming Will Soon Be Longer Than the Period of Actual Global Warming
If you look at the record of global temperature data, you will find that the late 20th Century period of global warming actually lasted about 20 years, from the late 1970s to the late 1990s. Before that, the globe was dominated by about 30 years of global cooling, giving rise in the 1970s to media discussions of the return of the Little Ice Age (circa 1450 to 1850), or worse.

But the record of satellite measurements of global atmospheric temperatures now shows no warming for at least 17 years and 5 months, from September, 1996 to January, 2014, as shown on the accompanying graphic. That is surely 17 years and 6 months now, accounting for February.

When the period of no global warming began, the alarmist global warming establishment responded that even several years of temperature data does not establish a climate trend. That takes much longer. But when the period of no global warming gets longer than the period of actual global warming, what is the climate trend then?
More at the site -- not science, just agenda and politics.

Our military v/s Chuck Hagel

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I heard about this two days ago and am still livid. We are cutting our military down to pre-WWII levels. Killing the A-10 Warthog and keeping the stupid F-35 alive. Here is an homage to Mort Walker from Bob Gorrell:
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About that peer-review

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From Nature:
Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers
The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.

Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labb� of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed by Labb�, say that they are now removing the papers.
Aren't there supposed to be editors that catch crap like this? Talk about damaging the brand -- who would trust something from IEEE or Springer now?

Our active Sun

Quite the flare -- the sunspot numbers are down a lot but there are the occasional spots that are very active. AR1967 has been around the sun three times -- very large and strong.

From SpaceWeather:

X-FLARE!
Returning sunspot AR1967 unleashed a powerful X4.9-class solar flare on Feb. 25th at 00:49 UTC. This is the most intense flare of 2014 so far, and one of the most intense of the current solar cycle.

Although this flare is impressive, its effects are mitigated by the location of the blast site--near the sun's southeastern limb, and not facing Earth. Indeed, a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) which raced away from the sun shortly after the flare appears set to miss our planet:

20140225-flare.gif


Radio emissions from shock waves at the leading edge of the CME suggest an expansion velocity near 2000 km/s or 4.4 million mph. If such a fast-moving cloud did strike Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storms could be severe. However, because its trajectory is so far off the sun-Earth line, the CME will deliver a glancing blow, at best, and probably no blow at all.

The source of the eruption is long-lived sunspot AR1967, now beginning its third trip across the Earthside of the sun. This region was an active producer of flares during its previous transits, and it looks like the third time will be little different. By tradition, sunspots are renumbered each time they return, so AR1967 will soon have a new designation. (Update: The new name of this sunspot is AR1990.)

Snowfall

Woke up today to sun and clear skies.

Here is a photo from the other night when the tree took out the power:

20140225-snow-wires.jpg

The tree swept off all of the utility wires from the pole -- you can see the crossbar at a funny angle. Power was restored around 4:00AM that evening.

A little workplace injury

From the UK Telegraph:

Al-Qaeda's top envoy in Syria is killed by suicide bomb
A senior Al-Qaeda operative and envoy in Syria of its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been killed by a suicide bomber in factional fighting near Aleppo.

Heh -- hope that he is enjoying his 72 white grapes of exceptional purity.

Or, it could be the 72 Virginians...

Good riddance...

A list of six items

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Spot on:
The six contradictions of socialism in the United States of America:
1. America is capitalist and greedy - yet half of the population is subsidized.
2. Half of the population is subsidized - yet they think they are victims.
3. They think they are victims - yet their representatives run the government.
4. Their representatives run the government - yet the poor keep getting poorer.
5. The poor keep getting poorer - yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about - yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

Happy happy joy joy

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No love for the home computer. I had another system in the ham shack and I thought they were identical -- swap the hard drive into the ham machine and get back online. Whoops -- forgot that these were different models of machine so not gonna happen. I do have an identical system at the store so I will bring my home machine into there tomorrow but tonight, it's laptop time. Bummer because I am waiting on some emails so that will have to be dealt with tomorrow instead of today.

Back from the shopping run - blogging from work

Hopefully, getting my home computer up and running will be a simple task.

Bellingham was in the low 30's with lots of snow everywhere -- a housing area called Sudden Valley got slammed. Most of the electrical is out.

And more is forecast to come tonight - snowing lightly as I type.

More later...

Fun times in the country

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Lost power last night -- not just a tree limb, an entire tree fell across the road. The crossbar on the top of the power pole was bent sideways. Power was restored around 4:00AM this morning and although my home computer was on a large UPS, it would not start. Looking at a bad power supply -- have disk images so this is not a show-stopper if it is fried. Heading into town for the buying run -- so far, the snow is up to 14" at the farm with more coming down -- this morning's forecast has much warmer weather tomorrow so the creeks and rivers will be interesting...

Still coming down

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It has lightened up a bit but the snow is still falling softly. Have a 7:00PM water board meeting in town so that should be fun -- got four wheel drive so a piece of cake. Worst-case scenario, I will ride down on Buttercup the tractor. Doing the buying run for the store tomorrow too -- snowfall is expected through late tonight (4:00AM) Got most of the projects done -- kicking back and surfing for a bit. A fire in the fireplace and the house is toasty. Did a big thing of ham and bean soup yesterday with Jalape�o cornbread so that will be dinner for the next couple of days.

A sharp pain in the heart

The New York Times weighs in on climate change deniers and what to do with them.

They had a cartoon depicting Strategies for Dealing With the 2014 Icicle Surplus and the fourth panel was a bit odd -- here is the first and fourth panel:

20140223-nyt01.jpg 20140223-nyt02.jpg

Stabbing someone through the heart just because they are able to see the facts and they do not blindly follow the politically approved "consensus".

Make me want to move to New York City right away.

Baaaaaa baaaaa baaaaa -- go ahead with your lives little sheeple...

Snow in Bellingham too

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Here is the I-5 / Sunset Drive webcam:
20140223-DOTcam.jpg
Sunset Drive is the beginning of the Mt. Baker Highway and leads to our little hamlet (after a glorious 27 mile drive). The Washington State DOT cameras can be found here: Washington State Traveler Information

Snowfall

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Woke up to ten inches of the white stuff with more on the way:
20140223-snow01.jpg
The anemometer for my small weather station
I have not ventured out to the DaveCave(tm) to look at my big one.
20140223-snow02.jpg
A backyard tree.
Looking at a foot of new snow through Monday early morning. Mt Baker is doing great -- full operation with powder coming down. Got a couple electrical, one computer and one plumbing project to keep me occupied today and a water board meeting tonight.

Hacking Adobe LightRoom

I have been into photography for the last 50 years at least. Still have my 40 year old Nikon F2Sb bodies (two of them) with all the accessories and about 15 lenses. I currently shoot a D7100 and use many of the old lenses on a regular basis.

Learning to do time-lapse and Adobe LightRoom is one of the more powerful tools for selectively importing and tweaking images for output to a time-lapse application. Also really nice for general photo cataloging and HDR and Panorama (two other interests with focus stacking starting to gain traction).

At the same time, I have become aware of the LUA scripting language. It is used in two other applications that I use a lot and seems to be a really nice and powerful control language. Then, I find out that a good 40% of LightRoom is built with LUA.

What this all boils down to is that I can pick up a $30 gaming controller and use it to selectively pick and chose images in light-room without having to keep my fingers on the keyboard.

Going one step further, I can spend $300 on some MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controllers and use these to actually adjust the images. The plus is that I already own units similar to these so the expense is non-existent. Video here:

LightRoom was $120 at Amazon, the interface software in the above demo is donation-ware ($20), the game controller = cheap and I already have the MIDI controllers.

This is a fun time to be alive!!!

The beginning of the end - Venezuela

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Venezuela is entering the end-game of socialism. The government has shut down internet access and most of the media. Of course, the attempt by the FCC to prepare for the same thing here is not related... From Slashgear:
Venezuelan government shuts down internet in wake of protests
Don�t expect one whole heck of a lot of tweets coming out of Venezuela in the immediate future as President Nicolas Maduro�s government has shut down the internet and select TV channels. Having shut down Twitter access for the area this past week, Venezuela�s state-run ISP CANTV has been cut in areas such as San Cristobal. This area is a regional capital in the west of the country and CANTV controls the vast majority of internet connectivity in the area.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter�s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin.
Ideas so good they have to be mandatory. Sad. Same thing is happening in the Ukraine where Putin is trying to bring them back into the Soviet fold. And we follow down the same path just about five-ten years behind...

Happy Birthday Don Pardo

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A major voice talent, Pardo was born on this day in 1918 and is 96 years old today. Wikipedia has a nice writeup. We lost Don LaFontaine back in 2008 People like these show up once in 100 years...

Winter Wonderland

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Got about three inches of snow today - starting with a light dusting this morning following with several periods of serious accumulation. Ground temp is right at 32�F with colder air expected from the Fraiser River Valley early tomorrow morning. More expected through Monday morning. Needless to say, traffic up to Mt. Baker is solid and business is up in our little hamlet. Of course, rain is forecast for Wednesday...
Slept in this morning and then went into town to pick up a few things. Running a new business certainly puts a crimp on this but my diesel consumption has gone way down... Fixing some ham and bean soup in the pressure cooker and doing some jalapeno cornbread to go with it. I'll be surfing more later this evening.

Great news from General Electric

Finally bowing to the pressure of economic and scientific reality. From Breitbart:

GE Will No Longer Design Projects to Please Climate Change Advocates
In a watershed moment and a huge victory over environmentalists, General Electric has agreed to stop projects that are designed solely for the purpose of carbon dioxide reductions to please those who lobby for climate change concessions.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank which has been fighting GE for years because of GE�s liberal bias under CEO Jeffrey Immelt, scored a huge victory after receiving the commitment from General Electric.

Late in 2013, the National Center submitted a shareholder proposal as part of GE's 2014 proxy statement and annual meeting materials. The proposal:
...request[ed] that the Board of Directors adopt a policy that General Electric not undertake any energy savings or sustainability project for the sole goal of seeking carbon dioxide emissions reductions due to climate change concerns, except as required by law � given the Company's goal of reducing energy use (carbon dioxide emissions) and its admission that balancing this task with common business metrics is 'difficult at best,' shareholders are concerned that the Company may make some decisions in which the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is a higher priority than maximizing financial returns.
Justin Danhof, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, was delighted, saying:
General Electric's pledge to only pursue environmental projects that meet common business criteria is the culmination of years of efforts and a recognition that sustainability and the free market can work in concert. For years, GE has been the poster boy for crony capitalism and corporate America's green energy cheerleader. Now, GE shareholders have confirmation that the company's strategies will henceforth be led by true market forces and not by blind adherence to global warming zealotry.
Normally huge publicly-held companies exclude shareholder proposals from going public, as they can petition the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to exclude the proposals for technical and substantive violations of federal guidelines. But this time, GE allowed the proposal by the National Center to be publicized. Danhof said:
Rather than contesting the National Center's free market shareholder proposal, GE's management team made the strategic decision to amend its corporate documents to align with the parameters of our proposal. We applaud GE for codifying its dedication to free-market principles and shareholder value. More companies should take cues from GE on this issue.

I might start buying GE products again if they keep this up -- a breath of fresh air...

From Wired:

Brain Scans Show Striking Similarities Between Dogs and Humans
A new brain-imaging study of mankind's best friend has found a striking similarity in how humans and dogs - and perhaps many other mammals - process voice and emotion.

Like humans, dogs appear to possess brain systems that are devoted to making sense of vocal sounds, and are sensitive to their emotional content. These systems have not previously been described in dogs or any non-primate species, and the new findings offer an intriguing neurobiological glimpse into the richness of our particular corner of the animal kingdom.

Some more on the experiment:

To investigate the possibility, Andics and colleagues trained six golden retrievers and five border collies to lie motionless inside a scanner so the researchers could collect fMRI scans of their brains. These scans measure changes in blood flow, which is widely considered an indicator of neural activity.

Inside the scanner, each of the 11 dogs, and a comparison group of 22 men and women, listened to nearly 200 recordings of dog and human sounds: whining and crying, laughing and barking. As expected, human voice-processing areas responded most to human voices. In dogs, corresponding brain regions responded to the sounds of dogs. In both species, the activity in these regions changed in similar ways in response to the emotional tone of a vocalization - whining versus playful barking in dogs, for instance, or crying versus laughing human voices.

To people who know dogs as companions and friends, the results might seem predictable. But seeing it play out in the brain drives the point home.

fMRI stands for functional MRI. This is a neat hack as the blood flow through the brain is directly proportional to brain activity. When more blood starts flowing through a certain section, the observer can see that part is being more active. Our dogs are pretty near psychic especially Grace, my Shiloh Shepherd. My old Brittney Spaniel is blind and sometimes wanders off. I only have to ask Grace to Go find Finnegan and she will go and lead him back to the door. I did not have to train her to do this -- she understands what Lulu and I want.

Someone got their peepee whacked with a big stick. Yesterday, the FCC says that it is going to monitor reporters Today - from the National Review Online:
FCC Throws In the Towel on Explosive Content Study
The Federal Communications Commission has pulled the plug on its plan to conduct an intrusive probe of newsrooms as part of a �Critical Information Needs� survey of local media markets.

However, a revised version of the survey could raise new concerns: that it will trade its now-kiboshed news questions for a demographic survey that might justify new race-based media ownership rulemaking.

�[I]n the course of FCC review and public comment, concerns were raised that some of the questions may not have been appropriate,� the FCC announced in a statement Friday. �Chairman [Tom] Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required. Last week, Chairman Wheeler informed lawmakers that that Commission has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters and would be modifying the draft study. Yesterday, the Chairman directed that those questions be removed entirely.�
Spin little bureaucrat, spin your pathetic little heart out...
From the San Jose, CA NBC affiliate KNTV:
Girl Scout Does Brisk Business Selling Cookies Outside San Francisco Pot Club
What's cooler than a Girl Scout selling cookies?

A business-savvy Girl Scout who sets up shop outside a cannabis clinic to rev up her sales skills.

Thirteen-year-old Girl Scout Danielle Lei did brisk business last Monday selling Dulce de Leches and other flavors outside The Green Cross medical marijuana clinic in San Francisco.

Danielle was able to sell 117 boxes within two hours outside the cannabis clinic -- 37 more than what she sold within the same time frame at a local Safeway the next day.
I wonder if the Girl Scouts are going to make a Doritos cookie...

The new Government Gasoline - E15

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Do not use it:
This is also crucial for small engines: lawn mowers, string trimmers, pressure washers, chain saws, etc... Do not use any Ethanol in these. Once again, there is a wonderful website to help you. Check out Pure Gas From their about page:
About pure-gas.org
pure-gas.org is a site dedicated to one, simple task: to list the gas stations in the U.S. and Canada that serve ethanol-free gasoline.

Why pure gas?
Many cars, motorcycles, boats, aircraft and tools have engines that run worse, or have parts that deteriorate, when run on gasoline that contains ethanol. In addition, ethanol leaves residue on valves and other parts that can hinder performance.

A cheery thought - the Tytler Cycle

This came up in conversation -- there is a good description at Common Sense Government:
The Tytler Cycle
Last year my wife, who home-schools our kids, attended several seminars on home-schooling that were put on by George Wythe College in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Shannon Brooks of the college gave a lecture on politics at the seminar called "The Liber" which my wife bought me on CD. "Liber" by the way means one who is educated for freedom, and comes from the same root as the words "library" and "liberty".

In the lecture, Dr. Brooks described the work of a man named Alexander Tytler, a Scottish historian who lived at the same time as the American Founding Fathers, who described a repeating cycle in history. He had found that societies went through this same cycle again and again, and that the cycle lasted roughly 200 years each time.

Tytler said the cycle starts out with a society in bondage. Then it goes in this sequence:

Bondage
Spiritual Faith
Courage
Liberty
Abundance
Selfishness
Complacency
Apathy
Dependence
Then starting over with Bondage
Tytler organized these items in a circle:
20140221-tytler.jpg
So to give a little more on the sequence above, a society starts out in bondage, meaning no or very limited freedoms. Now faced with a very difficult situation (bondage), they turn to religion and religious faith. Through this they achieve the courage they need to fight for and win their freedom. Next, through the benefits of freedom, they achieve an abundance in material things.

Now we start into the other side of the circle/cycle. We get selfishness and laziness setting in. Then we get apathy and finally dependence. Then we arrive back up at the top with bondage again.

I was intrigued. I looked for information on Tytler on the Internet, could find none, and finally wrote to Dr. Brooks. He told first how to spell Tytler's name, and told me that most of Tytler's work has been completely lost. On further online search I found a number of sites with limited information on Tytler, but little more than what Brooks had said in his lecture.

I found this cycle to be very interesting in relation to where we are in the United States today. Dr. Brooks said he has asked the question of where the U.S. is in this cycle, in every one of these lectures he has given, to over 10,000 people to date. No one so far has said that we are on the right side of the cycle (spiritual faith, courage, liberty, abundance). Everyone has said we are somewhere on the left side of the circle (selfishness, complacency, apathy, dependence).

Let's talk about selfishness for a second. We have a situation in America today where many people are trying to get whatever they can out of the "system," with no concern of how this hurts the overall group of the United States of America.
Just wonderful. The dystopia can be planned for but still... This thesis has been revisited here: The Tytler Cycle Revisited Wikipedia has a basic post on Alexander Fraser Tytler

Obama does something that I agree with!

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It is also raining cats and dogs and fish are swimming in the sky. Hard to believe but this is spot on. From the New York Times:
Obama�s Plan to Meet Dalai Lama Draws Swift Chinese Rebuke
President Obama plans to meet at the White House on Friday with the Dalai Lama, a visit that drew a swift rebuke from the Chinese government, which has tried to diminish the influence of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and his efforts to promote the autonomy of Tibet.

The administration portrayed the visit as part of an effort to promote a �middle way� solution to the fate of Tibet, where China has been trying to tamp down a stubborn movement for greater autonomy that has involved the self-immolation of more than 125 Tibetans, mostly monks and nuns, since 2008.

�The president will meet with the Dalai Lama in his capacity as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader,� said a statement issued late Thursday by Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman.

�The United States supports the Dalai Lama�s �middle way� approach of neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans in China,� Ms. Hayden said. �We will continue to urge the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, as a means to reduce tensions.�
A bit more:
The Dalai Lama was also in Washington for a meeting Thursday with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative organization. In a possible reflection of the political sensitivities of the meeting with Mr. Obama, it will not take place in the Oval Office, but rather in the White House�s map room.
Interesting that he is meeting with AEI -- wonder what is being planned. Also, meeting in the Map room makes it not an official 'State' visit so Barry has plausible denial. Tibet is a sovereign nation -- China needs to get out. There are no real assets in Tibet so China's transgressions are purely political.

Just wow - the Army Museum

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From BuzzFeed:
Inside The Army�s Spectacular, Hidden Treasure Room
Remember that ending scene out of Indiana Jones where the Ark of the Covenant is boxed up and wheeled through an endless government warehouse?

Did you know that that place actually exists?
Go to the site for the pictures and story. They are fundraising for a public museum to display these artifacts but are only 1/3 of the way there. An amazing collection...

Go here and read

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An excellent rant from Neanderpundit. Read the whole thing -- Og nails it.

Now this is wonderful - first amendment

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From the Wall Street Journal:
The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom
News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.

But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about "the process by which stories are selected" and how often stations cover "critical information needs," along with "perceived station bias" and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."

How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of "critical information" such as the "environment" and "economic opportunities," that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their "news philosophy" and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.
And this is not the first time:
This is not the first time the agency has meddled in news coverage. Before Critical Information Needs, there was the FCC's now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, which began in 1949 and required equal time for contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues. Though the Fairness Doctrine ostensibly aimed to increase the diversity of thought on the airwaves, many stations simply chose to ignore controversial topics altogether, rather than air unwanted content that might cause listeners to change the channel.
Numerous lawsuits, the FCC stopped enforcing it in 1987 and redacted it in 2011 But don't worry your simple little heads:
The FCC says the study is merely an objective fact-finding mission.
Yeah, and I have a slightly used bridge to sell you. Looks like the FCC is taking lessons from the EPA. They do useful work administering radio frequencies and uses but they should stay the hell out of politics...

Rules for thee but not for me

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From the New York City CBS affiliate:
CBS 2 Exclusive: De Blasio�s Caravan Caught Speeding, Violating Traffic Laws
Just days after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an aggressive plan to prevent traffic deaths, CBS 2 cameras caught the driver of a car carrying the mayor violating a number of traffic laws.

As CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday, the mayor�s two-car caravan was seen speeding, blowing through stop signs, and violating other traffic laws. Kramer reported that if the driver of the lead car, which carried the mayor in its passenger seat, would have racked up enough points to get his license suspended if he�d been ticketed.
I wonder how long he will remain mayor. One-term wonder?

Very smart idea from Volvo

When you order something online, it gets delivered to you by a carrier such as UPS or FedEX.

These deliveries happen during the daytime when most people are at work.

Volvo is proposing that the delivery trucks have one-time electronic keys to your car trunk so that deliveries can be made to your vehicle while you are at work.

Your will receive a text when your package has been delivered and your car locked again. From The Car Connection:

Volvo's 'Roam Delivery' Service Puts Junk In Your Trunk While You're Not Around

A bit more:

In other words, when you order goods online, you can give the delivery company a one-time-use digital key to your Volvo. The company uses the Volvo On Call app to locate your car, then uses the digital key to open your vehicle and place your delivery inside. (We assume that using the digital key will automatically cause the car to re-lock once the truck is closed, though Volvo hasn't said as much.)

Volvo explains that it created Roam Delivery -- which will debut at this year's Mobile World Congress -- because up to 60 percent of online shoppers have problems receiving the goods they've ordered. Those missed connections add up to 1 billion ($1.37 billion U.S.) in re-delivery expenses. Of those who participated in Roam Delivery's pilot program, 92 percent "found it more convenient to receive deliveries to their car than at home".

The technology behind Roam Delivery isn't that shocking or new -- after all, it's really just a GPS system merged with some OnStar-style lock-popping. No, what's intriguing is the application of that technology.

Very clever. Fuel efficient too as the deliveries could be clustered around corporate parking lots instead of running all over town...

Steampunk train race

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Definitely watch full-screen...

An interesting thought

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From a conversation this morning: A major component of military operations is post-op review. After each engagement, people meet and dissect what happened and find out what went wrong and make changes to their training and tactics so that does not happen again. The State Department has no such review. It has no historical perspective.

Cool technology - Netflix and Amazon Cloud

Bad news - Skynet gains self-awareness on August 29th

Good news - lots more streaming movies From Wired:

Netflix Is Building an Artificial Brain Using Amazon's Cloud
Nothing beats a movie recommendation from a friend who knows your tastes. At least not yet. Netflix wants to change that, aiming to build an online recommendation engine that outperforms even your closest friends.

The online movie and TV outfit once sponsored what it called the Netflix Prize, asking the world's data scientists to build new algorithms that could better predict what movies and shows you want to see. And though this certainly advanced the state of the art, Netflix is now exploring yet another leap forward. In an effort to further hone its recommendation engine, the company is delving into "deep learning," a branch of artificial intelligence that seeks to solve particularly hard problems using computer systems that mimic the structure and behavior of the human brain. The company details these efforts in a recent blog post.

With the project, Netflix is following in the footsteps of web giants like Google and Facebook, who have hired top deep-learning researchers in an effort to improve everything from voice recognition to image tagging. But Netflix is taking a slightly different tack. The company plans to run its deep learning algorithms on Amazon's cloud service, rather than building their own hardware infrastructure a la Google and Facebook. This shows that, thanks to rise of the cloud, smaller web companies can now compete with the big boys - at least in some ways.

I don't see this as being a solution for a neural network program, it is simple pattern matching. Amazon does this already -- the more stuff you look at and buy, the closer they hone their recommendations to you. It is fun to look at a couple of items that are wildly different from your normal scope of interest and see their recommendations totter off the rails for the next couple iterations.

The new CPR - I had trained on this but could not find a link to a good video on the technique - thanks Cliff!
How to save yourself from choking if there is nobody else around:
And, check out Motion Induced Blindness from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Voter fraud in Texas

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Democrats... Why is it always the Democrats that do this crap. From Breitbart:
Exclusive: O�Keefe Busts Illegal Voter Scheme to �Turn Texas Blue�
In an apparent violation of state law, Battleground Texas officials are exploiting legally protected information to turn voters out to the polls as part of the Democratic party's quest to paint the Lone Star State blue, a new undercover video from James O'Keefe reveals.

The footage shows Battleground Texas volunteer Jennifer Longoria saying the group uses the phone numbers from voter registration forms in later efforts to boost turnout on election day.

Texas Election Code prohibits the use of, or even the copying of, phone numbers provided by individuals registering to vote.

�Every time we register somebody to vote, we keep their name, address, phone number,� Longoria said.

The video also shows volunteers calling to boost turnout for Wendy Davis's gubernotorial bid.

The cost of Energy

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Interesting comparison between fossil fuels and renewable:
20140219-energy.jpg
Interesting to see the 'recovery' after the 2008 bubble crash. From Bjorn Lomberg

About that Federal Minimum Wage

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From the Congressional Budget Office:
The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income
Increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family�s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold. But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.
Some numbers:
Once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent, CBO projects (see the table below). As with any such estimates, however, the actual losses could be smaller or larger; in CBO�s assessment, there is about a two-thirds chance that the effect would be in the range between a very slight reduction in employment and a reduction in employment of 1.0 million workers.
This is just a summary -- the full 43 page report is here (PDF) No mention of the effects of the employers passing the additional costs on to the general public as higher prices. That money has to come from somewhere after all... So the worker gets a few bucks more in their paycheck but the price of a gallon of milk has gone from $2.99 to $3.59.

Heh - this Xerox Copier has a new feature

Just in time for April
20140219-xerox-prank.jpg
Talk about a nasty prank for a busy office...

Heh - Friday Night on the USS Enterprise

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20140219-startrek.jpg
Swiped from Borepatch

Restoring old films - Criterion

Interesting article and video from Gizmodo:

How Criterion Collection Brings Movies Back From the Dead
There are few names that represent a commitment to the distribution of classic films like the Criterion Collection. Since the 1980s, they have remastered and released hundreds of movies on Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray. We recently visited the Criterion headquarters in New York to get a first-hand look at the meticulous restoration process that brings cinematic gems back to life.

When we spoke with technical director Lee Kline and the team of editors and re-touchers at Criterion, they were in the process of restoring Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 espionage thriller, Foreign Correspondent. In the video above, Kline talks about how the first step in the process is tracking down the negative, or a print, that is in decent condition. In this case, that meant going to the Library of Congress, which had the original negative of the film. Criterion scanned it at 2K resolution, frame by frame, into digital files.

The digitized reels then make the rounds from department to department. Color is graded; dirt and scratches are retouched; audio is remastered. The team uses a combination of automated software that detects and removes flaws in the image, and manual re-touching of every frame. The entire process can from a few weeks to a few months for a single film, depending on the original condition it was in. Once the fidelity of the final product is assured, Criterion art director Eric Skillman conceptualizes the terrific art that accompanies the disc.

High geekdom -- these people have some nice hardware to play work with. That audio processing software looks very cool.

A little list - only eight items

Do these sound familiar?

There are 8 levels of control that must be obtained before you are able to create a social state. The first is the most important.

1) Healthcare - Control healthcare and you control the people.

2) Poverty - Increase the Poverty level as high as possible, poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.

3) Debt - Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.

4) Gun Control - Remove the ability to defend themselves from the Government. That way you are able to create a police state.

5) Welfare - Take control of every aspect of their lives (Food, Housing, and Income).

6) Education - Take control of what people read and listen to � take control of what children learn in school.

7) Religion - Remove the belief in the God from the Government and schools.

8) Class Warfare - Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to take (Tax) the wealthy with the support of the poor.

Saul Alinsky from Rules for Radicals. These are not the eponymous thirteen rules that most people quote. These eight underlying diktats are buried a little bit deeper. It needs to be noted that B. Obama is a devoted follower of Mr. Alinsky. Alinsky's own son wrote the following in 2008:

Son sees father's handiwork in convention
All the elements were present: the individual stories told by real people of their situations and hardships, the packed-to-the rafters crowd, the crowd's chanting of key phrases and names, the action on the spot of texting and phoning to show instant support and commitment to jump into the political battle, the rallying selections of music, the setting of the agenda by the power people. The Democratic National Convention had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style.

Barack Obama's training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and the method of my late father always works to get the message out and get the supporters on board. When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well.

I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday.
L. DAVID ALINSKY

A big tip of the hat to Sean Linnane writing at Stormbringer.

Business as usual in Washington

Knock me over with a feather - from The Washington Free Beacon:

Revolving Door: LaHood Joins Board of Electric Car Battery Company He Championed as Transportation Secretary
Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined the Board of Directors of Proterra Inc., a battery-electric transit bus manufacturer that LaHood championed as a member of President Barack Obama's cabinet.

Proterra made the announcement on Tuesday, adding that LaHood "can offer insight into so many of the key issues facing our industry."

As transportation secretary, LaHood wrote a post titled "Winning the Future, Proterra Style" on the White House blog about a visit he made to South Carolina to tour Proterra, a company he said could "out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build their competition."

LaHood explained that Proterra was a troubled company before Obama's Department of Transportation came to its support with a grant program.

"In 2009, Proterra did not have the financial resources or customer orders to commercialize its fast charge battery bus and charging station," wrote LaHood. "But with help from Department of Transportation grants to transit agencies across the country, Proterra has been able to make that leap."

So the company had little or no future. They were unable to get funding through the traditional routes (Venture Capital) and they were unable to develop a committed customer base which would have made venture funding a lot easier to obtain. They lobbied to Washington and got a nice slice of pork (our tax dollars pissed away again). Time to pay the piper so LaHood is brought into the Board of Directors - cushy salary no doubt. The name Solyndra comes to mind -- I predict bankruptcy within three years and when asked about the failure, the progressives will complain that there wasn't enough stimulus spending. Rope. Tree. Some assembly required.

Competition in the marketplace

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From TechDirt:
Competitor Takes Over Verizon's West Virginia Landlines; Complaints Drop Nearly 70%
Verizon's service record has been less-than-stellar over the years. The increased scrutiny it faced after it decided it wouldn't restore copper line service to New Yorkers whose connections were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy resulted in it partially walking back that decision. It was also recently ordered to turn over cost data on its copper lines (as compared to the wireless service it was trying to push these customers to switch to) by the New York Public Service Commission. This followed its original response to the FOI request, which was nothing but page after page of retracted data.

It's no secret Verizon would prefer its customers to switch to its wireless Voicelink, which contains profitable data and voice caps. This is something it has in common with other major service providers like AT&T. It sometimes appears Verizon is waging a war of attrition against its customers in hopes of shedding those subscribed to services it no longer wishes to support while pushing others towards more profitable, but inferior, services.

Evidence of this approach recently surfaced in West Virginia, where a competing company had taken over Verizon's former service area. The net result? A nearly 70% drop in complaints.
The new company is Frontier and they did the same exact thing here -- Verizon ran poor quality lines and bad service. We have no cell service where we are -- there used to be Nextel but Verizon bought them out and pfffftttt... I was able to get a marginal 3G signal at the house and limped along on that for a year ($80/month with severe packet loss problems). Frontier moved in a year ago and the improvement in line quality was noticeable -- they actually started doing preventative maintenance on their hardware and lines! Six months ago, they rolled DSL services to our little mountain hamlet and I am now getting bonded-pair service (12mb download and around 1mb upload) for $60/month including one voice line. They are extending their service further down the road. This is how you run a company -- actually listening to your customers and acting on their requests. Do this and your profits will soar...

Snowmageddon in Atlanta

Fake movie trailer -- tag line: You can run but you cannot drive! Hat tip to Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple

Prepping hits the mainstream media

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You know things are getting bad when preppers are taken seriously. From the UK Guardian:
Is it time to join the 'preppers'? How to survive the climate-change apocalypse.
We are getting close to what might be called The Noah Scenario. Last month was the wettest January in Britain since records began in 1767. So far this month has been no different, and the Met Office expects the wind and rain to continue until March. Climate change may be a gradual process, but people who live on the Somerset Levels or the banks of the Thames are getting a very sudden education in the value of arks.

It's unlikely that these floods will be the last such catastrophe, or the worst. Climate scientists expect bigger and more frequent extreme weather events throughout the coming century � not just wind and rain, but droughts as well. Nor is weather the only danger: pandemic flu, nuclear weapons, antibiotic resistance, environmental catastrophe and chronic food shortages could also offer dire threats to civilisation as we know it. You might not want to panic just yet, but you might decide that it is time to join the "preppers" � people who are secretly preparing to abandon modern life when the apocalypse, in whatever form, does arrive.
The article is not that well written, the author's coverage of the topic is a bit sketchy but still, it is interesting that the subject is being taken seriously.

Well Crap - RIP Bob Casale

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From Club Devo:
Bob Casale of Devo. Born: July 14th, 1952 . Deceased: February 17th, 2014
As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning.

He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got.

He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again.

His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.

--Gerald Casale, Devo founder
That was a magical time in music when we had bands like Devo, Talking Heads, Duran Duran, Toto, Depeche Mode, Talk Talk, Dire Straits, New Order, Alan Parsons Project, Rush, Eurythmics, Boston, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Moody Blues, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, Tom Tom Club, Level 42. And that is just off the top of my head... Going to go home after work and play a bunch of MP3s -- digitized my collection a few years ago.

Obama's ranking as President

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From Doug Ross at DirectorBlue:
Study: Obama is 5th best president in U.S. history
A Texas A&M University Study rates Obama as the �5th Best President in our history� From a total of 44 US Presidents: Obama is rated as the 5th best President ever The news release said,"...after only 5 years in office, Americans have rated President Obama the 5th best President ever." The details according to Texas A&M University:
1) Washington, Lincoln and Reagan tied for first,
2) 22 presidents tied for second,
3) 17 other presidents tied for third,
4) Jimmy Carter came in fourth, and
5) Obama came in fifth!
Heh...

The highway to Hazmat Hell

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Russian truck loaded with gas cylinders has a little problem:
Hat tip to Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man

George Washington's Whiskey

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The people at Mt. Vernon have started making rye whiskey using the equipment and recipe of George Washington. A fun look back. One of the narrators -- Steve Bashore -- runs the Mt. Vernon Blacksmith shop. No online sales though - dagnabbit!

Should have done this a long time ago

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Dense urban areas tend more towards progressive liberalism. Don't know which causes what but the effect is plain to see. From the Washington Times:
Secession movement in New York pushes for Big Apple to split from Upstate
When Frank Sinatra sang �New York, New York,� he may have been on to something.

A movement is afoot to split New York into two regions � upstate and downstate � to acknowledge the gaping philosophical differences and improve representation.

�I�ve lived in New York all my life, and upstate and downstate have two different philosophies of life,� said John Bergener, an Albany County resident and organizer of the two New Yorks effort. �And it seems like they�re always in conflict.�

Campaigns for �secession� or a 51st state have been on the rise since the 2012 presidential election � see California, Colorado and Maryland � but the New York movement has a twist.
The unfortunate thing is that the cities will have more people so whatever the voters in the city support will be forced on the other residents of the state, whether it is good for them or not. This is even true on a county level where the 82,000 people of Bellingham and the 15,000 students at Western Washington University have put into place rulings that are detrimental to the rest of Whatcom County.

A severe shortage of

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Clowns? From the New York Daily News:
National clown shortage may be approaching, trade organizations fear
Send in the clowns � please!

As the �Greatest Show on Earth� returns to Brooklyn Thursday, circus folk fear a national clown shortage is on the horizon.

Membership at the country�s largest trade organizations for the jokesters has plunged over the past decade as declining interest, old age and higher standards among employers align against Krusty, Bozo and their crimson-nosed colleagues.

�What�s happening is attrition,� said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the Florida-based organization has plummeted since 2006. �The older clowns are passing away.�
The numbers look pretty grim. One wag commented:
There isn't a shortage, we just keep electing them to public office.....
Sad but true.

Cool news on the electronic music front

From KORG:

KORG announces the development of an all new ARP Odyssey synthesizer
KORG INC. is proud to announce that a faithful recreation of the legendary 1970s analog synthesiser, the ARP Odyssey, is being developed by Korg for release later in 2014.

The ARP Odyssey was released in 1972 by ARP Instruments, Inc. and quickly became famous for its unique rich sound and innovative performance controls. It was a staple for many recording and performing musicians worldwide and was used on countless hit records over many years. The Odyssey was one of the highlights of the ARP company and became a long selling product. With slight updates and improvements it was sold through to 1981.

Korg is also proud to welcome Mr David Friend as our chief advisor on the Odyssey. David Friend established ARP Instruments, Inc. along with Alan Robert Pearlman and is a past president of ARP Instruments, Inc. He was also the lead designer of the original Odyssey in addition to designing or co-designing many other products.

So they are not just cloning it, they have the original designer. Very big.

The Odyssey was the first performance synthesizer at a decent price and quality. The original systems like the Moog needed to have all of the modules patched together with cables before you could use it. This allows for great versatility but makes switching from one song to another a slow task.

The Odyssey was internally patched into a very playable configuration with a couple of routing switches that could set various parameters. Used units sell on eBay for over $2,000 so this will be a wonderful thing for musicians.

It even has its own web page: ARP Odyssey

20140217-odyssey.jpg

Thorium in the news - India and Norway

Thorium Nuclear Reactors are happening everywhere but here - a two-fer: First - from Singularity Hub:

Norway Begins Four Year Test Of Thorium Nuclear Reactor
A Norwegian company is breaking with convention and switching to an alternative energy it hopes will be safer, cleaner and more efficient. But this isn�t about ditching fossil fuels, but rather about making the switch from uranium to thorium. Oslo based Thor Energy is pairing up with the Norwegian government and US-based (but Japanese/Toshiba owned) Westinghouse to begin a four year test that they hope will dispel doubts and make thorium the rule rather than the exception. The thorium will run at a government reactor in Halden.

Thorium was discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius who named it after the Norse god of thunder, Thor. Found in trace amounts in rocks and soil, thorium is actually about three times more abundant than uranium.

The attractiveness of thorium has led others in the past to build their own thorium reactors. A reactor operated in Germany between 1983 and 1989, and three operated in the US between the late sixties and early eighties. These plants were abandoned, some think, because the plutonium produced at uranium reactors was deemed indispensable to many in a Cold War world.

The Thor Energy link is a good one -- lots of information at the site. Second - from India Today:

Design of world's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready
Finally, the wait is over. The design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready.

India Today Online brings you the first look of design and prototype of the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor, also termed as AHWR.

It is the latest Indian design for a next-generation nuclear reactor that will burn thorium as its fuel ore.

The design is being developed at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), in Mumbai, India and aims to meet the objectives of using thorium fuel cycles for commercial power generation.

The AHWR is a vertical pressure tube type reactor cooled by boiling light water under natural circulation. The unique feature of this design is a large tank of water on top of the primary containment of vessel, called the gravity-driven water pool (GDWP). This reservoir is designed to perform several passive safety functions.

Dr R K Sinha, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, in an exclusive interview to India Today Online said, "This reactor could function without an operator for 120 days."

We could be up and running in ten years and say goodbye to 60% of fossil fuel use with zero need for windmills or solar farms. The added plus is that these reactors can burn up our spent uranium fuel. After everything is done, the worst of the waste needs to be sequestered for a few hundred years -- a far cry from the ten thousand years for Uranium.

New York state loses another manufacturer

Build it and they will come -- from Military Times:
Remington Outdoor Company to announce major expansion to Huntsville
Remington Outdoor Co., previously known as the Freedom Group, expects to announce a major expansion to a new facility in Huntsville, Ala., as early as next week. According to two sources with knowledge of the property sale, the deal has been in the works for months and ROC executives plan to sign the papers Monday finalizing the sale of a 500,000-square-foot facility that will add approximately 25 percent more space to Remington�s existing 2.1 million square feet of existing manufacturing real estate.

Sources say the expansion was undertaken to help the company meet unprecedented demand for its products. Space in the facility is not currently earmarked for any one of the company�s 18 individual brands, but to facilitate flexibility and growth of the Remington Outdoor Company.

Before settling on Hunstville, the company was courted by no less than 24 states and various localities hoping to add hundreds of new jobs to their economies. State and local entities in Alabama made economic concessions to attract the company, sources say. The selection of the Huntsville area makes sense, with a skilled and technical workforce already in place. The area is home to the Army�s Redstone Arsenal, which has 35,000 military and civilian employees.

Other major technical employers in the area, such as NASA�s Marshall Space Flight Center, and Toyota, ensure ROC will have a large pool of talent to draw upon for its engineering, technical manufacturing and product development efforts. The fact that Alabama is regarded as a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights also played a role in the selection of the area.
They are still keeping their Ilion, N.Y. facility, it is just that any expansion will now happen out of state in more politically and economically favorable climates.

Our Foreign Policy with Iran

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Now this is going to be wonderful -- from the Washington Examiner:
Iran ships a dry run for later nuclear/EMP attack; humiliate Obama
Iran's surprising decision to move warships off the Atlantic coast poses a potential catastrophic threat to America from a nuclear or electromagnetic pulse attack, according to an expert who foresaw Iran's move.

Peter Pry, an expert on EMP attacks, said the ships are likely a dry run for a future attack, a maneuver meant to lull Washington into complacency while also embarrassing President Obama and his effort to convince Tehran to give up production of a nuclear bomb in return for a lifting of some economic sanctions.

�Yes, patrols by the Iranian Navy off our coasts could pose threat of a surprise EMP attack,� said Pry, who with others such as former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, has convinced several state legislatures to take moves to harden their electric and energy grids from EMP attack because Washington won't.

Pry said the ships are probably conducting a test for a future visit from an Iranian freighter that would launch the attack.
This is nightmare #1 for a lot of people. A missile launched from an offshore platform could get 60 miles up and explode before any of our defenses could react. No structural damage with that blast but the EMP would cripple the East Coast's power grid for months and cause untold damage to the economy. I am very sure that we had some very fancy hardware flying near the ship as it 'visited' our waters, still, there is always the element of surprise. This is a very culturally backward society but they are not stupid. And meanwhile, our Sec. State Kerry continues to pursue a path of appeasement to these tyrants all the while they are laughing behind our backs.
A trenchant observation from Mostly Cajun:
Ticks and Sad Dogs
Growing up in the south, having dogs around was just as much a fact and expectation as the sun rising in the east. and these were country dogs. They lived outdoors. Followed me and brother to the fields and marshes. Followed? Eagerly LED us.

Those fields and marshes were home to ticks. Parasites. A daily meticulous regiment of bathing kept us kids from problems, but the dogs also required regular checking. Ticks are unpleasant. No, make that downright nasty. Parasites. A healthy dog can stand a few. A few more, though, and the dog starts having problems. Too many, and he just goes into a slow shutdown, getting more and more easily tired, enjoying life less and less. His appearance changes, losing that lively, happy bounce. Too many parasites. Shuts down the systems.

Ticks don�t care. all they want is a lifetime of free meals so they can produce more little ticks. ticks are rather short-sighted. they don�t know or care that they�re robbing the host, eventually weakening it and killing it. They just keep eating and producing more little ticks.

As the Scriptures say, �which things are an allegory� (Galatians 4:24)

Society has its own version of ticks. Parasites. It has its own version of the dog. And it has its own version of the owner. And it seems that today, the owners have determined that the ticks are more important than the dog.

The dog�s getting sick.
Reader Mark offers this comment:
How can you possibly be so hateful? Do you not understand that ticks are poor little creatures who are maligned through no fault of their own? Do you actually want them to forsake their culture, the only thing which truly makes them unique? After all, Diversity is our Strength, and these ticks contribute significantly to the diversity of our nation. Furthermore, we have determined that some of these ticks are endangered species, and as such must be protected under our international agreements. Dogs have been privileged for too long. It is time for them to make reparations to the ticks they have ever harmed. And besides, who cares if dogs die in the process? Our security personnel tell me that coyotes are bringing new dogs into the country all the time, and surely the new dogs will be glad to serve the ticks in return for legalization. What a hateful Bible-thumping, gun-hugging, veteran who believes in the Constitution you must be if you oppose equal rights for ticks. May our Mother Gaia soon wipe you from the face of this earth. And if She doesn�t, our security personnel are ready and willing to do so in her honor.

Kwitcher bitchin� and pay up, honky!
All Hail Diversity! If you want more, here is an excellent place to start.

How we work

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Great commercial - awesome house.

Seeing the light - unions in the news

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They did have their place at one time but not any longer. From Associated Press:
UAW drive falls short amid culture clash in Tenn.
The failure of the United Auto Workers to unionize employees at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee underscores a cultural disconnect between a labor-friendly German company and anti-union sentiment in the South.

The multiyear effort to organize Volkswagen's only U.S. plant was defeated on a 712-626 vote Friday night amid heavy campaigning on both sides.

Workers voting against the union said while they remain open to the creation of a German-style "works council" at the plant, they were unwilling to risk the future of the Volkswagen factory that opened to great fanfare on the site of a former Army ammunition plant in 2011.

"Come on, this is Chattanooga, Tennessee," said worker Mike Jarvis, who was among the group in the plant that organized to fight the UAW. "It's the greatest thing that's ever happened to us."

Jarvis, who hangs doors, trunk lids and hoods on cars said workers also were worried about the union's historical impact on Detroit automakers and the many plants that have been closed in the North, he said.

"Look at every company that's went bankrupt or shut down or had an issue," he said. "What is the one common denominator with all those companies? UAW. We don't need it."
And a bit of cultural dissonance here:
Volkswagen wants to create works council at the plant, which represents both blue collar and salaried workers. But to do so under U.S. law requires the establishment of an independent union. Several workers who cast votes against the union said they still support the idea of a works council - they just don't want to have to work through the UAW.

Volkswagen's German management is accustomed to unions and works councils, which have been ingrained in its operations since the end of World War II. And labor interests that make up half of the company's supervisory board have raised concerns that the Chattanooga plant is alone among the automaker's major factories worldwide without formal worker representation.
If Volkswagen wants to establish labor unions in their factories, why did they build their plant in a Right To Work state? They could have gotten factory land for dirt cheap in Detroit. And from this story also at Associated Press:
VW workers at Tennessee plant reject union
Workers at a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee have voted against union representation, a devastating loss that derails the United Auto Workers union's effort to organize Southern factories.

The 712-626 vote released late Friday stunned many labor experts who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory to make sales pitches.

The loss is a major setback for the UAW's effort to make inroads in the growing South, where foreign automakers have 14 assembly plants, eight built in the past decade, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Michigan. "If this was going to work anywhere, this is where it was going to work," she said of Chattanooga.

Organizing a Southern plant is so crucial to the union that UAW President Bob King told workers in a speech that the union has no long-term future without it.
Emphasis mine - BINGO! This was never about helping the worker, it is about preserving the bureaucracy and power of the Union itself. Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law writ large:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Ummmmm - about that little snowball

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From the magazine of Reed College (Portland, Oregon):
Giant snowball batters Reed dorm
A giant runaway snowball crashed into a Reed dorm on Saturday evening, ripping a wall off its studs and narrowly missing a window. No one was injured in the collision.

College officials say the ball was some 40 inches in diameter and weighed from 800 to 900 pounds. �It was a big snowball,� says maintenance manager Steve Yeadon.

The episode started Saturday during a storm that dumped as much as 12 inches of snow on Portland. A couple of students decided to make a large snowball in the quadrangle formed by the Grove dorms, according to an incident report from the Community Safety Office. They rolled it back and forth across the Grove Quad in what must have at first seemed a Sisyphean undertaking. But as time went on, the frozen sphere picked up more and more snow, gained mass, and grew increasingly ponderous. Soon a rumor sprang up that the Doyle Owl was entombed in its icy heart. By 8 p.m., a crowd had gathered in the Quad and was chanting �Roll it! Roll it!�

Two students�both math majors�then rolled the gargantuan blob down the path that leads from the Quad to SE 28th Street. Unfortunately, they miscalculated its trajectory. The snowball picked up momentum, veered off course, and smacked into Unit #7 of the Reed College Apartments.
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That will be an interesting phone call to Mom and Dad...

Off to town

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Had some pipe damage during the last deep freeze -- a freeze-proof hose bib froze and developed a small crack near the valve stem. Picking up a new one today and also doing a dump run at the local transfer station. Going to be doing Hawaiian food for dinner tonight -- Char Siu, noodles and rice with saut�ed bok choy and oyster sauce. Simple and yummy. Lulu and Curtis lived in Hawaii for 30 years.

Minimal posting tonight

A local restaurant is doing a Valentine's Day Supper. Lulu and I are heading there after work. Needless to say, posting will be minimal this evening...
From CNS News:
Constitution Says 'All Men' Are Created Equal? NYT, NBC Got it Wrong, Too
In her ruling yesterday that Virginia�s ban against gay marriage was unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen confused language from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, an error that was quoted in a New York Times story but not corrected by the �newspaper of record," and also was repeated by NBC News and not corrected.

In the first paragraph of her Feb. 13 ruling for the Eastern District of Virginia, Judge Allen wrote, �Our Constitution declares that �all men� are created equal. Surely this means all of us.� (See edva-ssm-opinion.pdf)

However, the Constitution does not say that; in fact, the words �all men� do not appear as a phrase in the Constitution at all.
Who cares about the facts when you get the narrative right. Unreal...

Obamacare in California

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From Breitbart:
Obamacare Recruiting Illegals in California
In 2009, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) apologized profusely to the White House for shouting, "You lie!" as President Barack Obama told Congress that Obamacare would not cover illegal immigrants. Now it would appear that the White House owes Wilson an apology, as Covered California--the flagship of state Obamacare exchanges--is recruiting illegal ("undocumented") immigrants to sign up for the program, regardless of their eligibility.

The Covered California website includes a special page entitled: "No temas si eres indocumentado/a y quieres inscribir a tu familia en un seguro m�dico" ("Fear not if you are undocumented and want to enroll your family in health insurance"). The website goes on to explain that information shared with Obamacare cannot be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It does not explicitly warn that illegal aliens are ineligible.
Just wonderful.
Follow the money - from Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:
�Evil� Koch Brothers Rank #59 in Political Donations Behind 18 Different Unions
Democrats hate the Koch Brothers.

They believe the Koch Brothers are the root of all evil because they donate to Republicans and conservative causes.

This week Senate Democrats once again asked the IRS to crack down on conservative groups including Americans for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

Democrats want to silence the opposition.

So how big of a threat are the Koch Brothers?
Over the past twenty five years, from 1989 to 2014, Koch Industries has donated $18,083,948 in political contributions to Republicans. While that seems like a large sum, it only ranks them as number 59 on the list of top all-time political donors � behind 18 different unions.

Here is the list of unions that top the Koch Brothers in political donations.
Via Open Secrets:
  2.) American Fedn of State, County & Municipal Employees $60,667,379
  4.) National Education Assn $53,594,488
  7.) Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $44,478,789
  8.) United Auto Workers $41,667,858
  9.) Carpenters & Joiners Union $39,260,371
10.) Service Employees International Union $38,395,690
11.) Laborers Union $37,494,010
12.) American Federation of Teachers $36,713,325
13.) Communications Workers of America $36,188,135
14.) Teamsters Union $36,123,209
16.) United Food & Commercial Workers Union $33,756,550
20.) Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union $31,313,097
23.) AFL-CIO $30,938,977
32.) National Assn of Letter Carriers $26,106,359
39.) Plumbers & Pipefitters Union $23,886,248
42.) Operating Engineers Union $23,036,848
43.) International Assn of Fire Fighters $22,963,260
46.) Sheet Metal Workers Union $22,372,978
59.) Koch Industries $18,083,948
The list is interesting -- it will certainly change where I buy stuff based on a few entries...

Squarespace Commercial

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Every internet clich�:
Brilliant -- I want to know the person who came up with this idea...
From Anthony Watts:
Wackadoodle 350.org protesters disappear their KKK moment
Last weekend I pointed out that 350.org leader Bill McKibben had endorsed the antics of some 350.org members in Texas that adopted tactics of the Klu Klux Klan � showing up at somebody�s house with mask covered faces, torches, and a threat:

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It seems the well deserved ridicule of these cowards has had an effect, they have disappeared that photo from their website.

Fortunately, I have a copy of the entire web page before that disappearing act took place.

See the PDF: Tar Sands Blockade � Enbridge

No apology, just down the memory hole. What a bunch of cowardly and pathetic people they are. That goes for Bill McKibben too who thought this was a good enough idea to promote with a tweet rather than condemn it.
Anthony closes with the image of a tweet from Bill McKibben in favor of the demonstration, not opposing it. Where is the love and tolerance?

Yikes - Mt. Kelud erupting

From the Jakarta Globe:

Indonesia Orders 200,000 to Evacuate as Volcano Erupts; 6 Airports Closed, Flights Through Bandung Reduced
Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were ordered to evacuate Friday after a volcano in East Java erupted spectacularly, hurling red hot ash and rocks over a huge distance.

The alert status for Mount Kelud, considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes on densely populated Java, was raised late Thursday just hours before it began erupting.

Airport closures
"Juanda Airport in Surabaya, Adisumarmo Airport in Solo and Adisucipto Airport in Yogyakarta are closed," said National Disaster Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. "Areas to the west of Mount Kelud including Central Java, Yogyakarta, Cilacap, Magelang, Temenggung and Boyolali are still experiencing showers of ash because last night the biggest eruption - threw sand and ash 17 kilometers into the air to the west."

And Kelud is not the only active volcano:

Earlier this month another volcano, Mount Sinabung on western Sumatra island, unleashed an enormous eruption, leaving at least 16 people dead.

Sinabung has been erupting on an almost daily basis since September, coating villages and crops with volcanic ash and forcing tens of thousands out of their homes.

No mention of the vast quantities of CO2 being released or the effect of the high-altitude ash (cooler global temperatures).

Still on guard

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With everyone on the East coast taking snow days, there are some people who still show up for their work:
We shall always remember their ultimate service, even if we do not know their names.

Well Crap - Kesselring is closing

I knew that Kesselring had lost their Federal Firearms license but didn't know that they were closing. From their website:

About Kesselring Gun Shop
Kesselring Gun Shop Inc was started in 1947 by Clarence Kesselring who began as a machinist and self taught gunsmith. Clarence became frustrated in the late 1930's that he could not find a good set of scope mounts. He began manufacturing his own design of scope mounts in the early 1940's until opening Kesselring Gun Shop in 1947. Clarence's son Ron Kesselring, worked alongside his Dad since he was a small boy. Ron began working full time in the business at the age of 18. Ron is world renowned for his vast knowledge of optics and competition shooting, winning the Canadian national Championship in .22 Silhouette two times, and tied for first in the U.S. Nationals once. Ron has also participated in the Washington State .22 Silhouette and .22 Gallery competitions placing as state champ twelve times! Today Ron operates Kesselring Gun Shop (still in it original location) with three of his boys, and 22 other committed employees. Kesselring's always tries to offer you competitive pricing, and fast service. We can usually get our internet orders shipped the same day if the item is in stock. Kesselring Gun Shop primarily sells firearms, ammunition, optics and reloading supplies. We stock more items than listed on this website so please email or call if you do not find what you are looking for.

I was taking a break and checking out my favorite auction website and saw this:

20140213-kesselring.png

I know where I'll be that Thursday.

Corvette sinkhole

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Got some security camera footage:

A very clever idea

From DIY Photography:
CV Dazzle Is A Makeup System That Kills Face Detection
The world we are living in is slowly turning into one huge surveillance camera with Apple, Google, Amazon and the NSA collecting every bit of info they can about our lives.
20140213-cvdazzle.jpg


Aside from the information we are giving away for "free" they can collect info from street cams, ATM cams and any other cam that they can have access to. Of course, a key factor in that footage collection is the possibility to detect and tag faces and match them with other information about a person.

This is where Adam Harvey steps into the scene. As a long time privacy protector (and the new owner of Privacy Gift Shop), Harvey designed a set of makeup patterns designed to kill any face detection thrown at whomever is wearing it. Is it worth the weird looks you'd get on the street? Depends on how much you have to hide.

Basically, face detection algorithms work by trying to pattern-match parts of the face, but "dazzle patterns" inspired by WWII camouflage techniques make the lives of those algorithms extremely hard.
Wiki has more on Dazzle camouflage

alt.energy in California

How could they not see this coming -- from The Wall Street Journal:

The $2.2 Billion Bird-Scorching Solar Project
A giant solar-power project officially opening this week in the California desert is the first of its kind, and may be among the last, in part because of growing evidence that the technology it uses is killing birds.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is scheduled to speak Thursday at an opening ceremony for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station, which received a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee.

The $2.2 billion solar farm, which spans over five square miles of federal land southwest of Las Vegas, includes three towers as tall as 40-story buildings. Nearly 350,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect sunlight onto boilers atop the towers, creating steam that drives power generators.

Geee - $1.6 billion. With 350 million people in the USA and with 50% of these not paying any taxes at all, this ammounts to about $9 of my tax money being spent for this boondoggle. More:

Utility-scale solar plants have come under fire for their costs -- Ivanpah costs about four times as much as a conventional natural gas-fired plant but will produce far less electricity -- and also for the amount of land they require.

Oh Noooeeessssss!!!

BrightSource wants to build a second tower-based solar farm in California's Riverside County, east of Palm Springs. But the state Energy Commission in December proposed that the company instead use more conventional technologies, such as solar panels or mirrored troughs.

One reason: the BrightSource system appears to be scorching birds that fly through the intense heat surrounding the towers, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The company, which is based in Oakland, Calif., reported finding dozens of dead birds at the Ivanpah plant over the past several months, while workers were testing the plant before it started operating in December. Some of the dead birds appeared to have singed or burned feathers, according to federal biologists and documents filed with the state Energy Commission.

And you know that if they are admitting to "dozens", the real number is probably in the hundreds if not thousands. There is no temperature gradient to warn the birds as they fly, it is normal air temp and then blammo. There was already a huge flap about the Ivanpah Desert Tortise and how they had to relocate it. From Bloomberg's Businessweek:

Where Tortoises and Solar Power Don't Mix
For a sense of how complicated it is to combat climate change without collateral damage, consider the $56 million spent so far to rescue and relocate desert tortoises from the upheaval caused by the construction of a Mojave Desert solar plant.

Tone deaf - Amory Lovins

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Talk about clueless -- from the Rocky Mountain Institute:
Let�s Celebrate, Not Lament, Renewables� Disruption of Electric Utilities
Renewables are making headway in Europe and bringing a low-carbon electricity system to the forefront. Renewables were 69 percent of new capacity added in 2012 in Europe and 49 percent in the United States. Not surprisingly, this threatens utilities unwilling to let go of outmoded business models and fossil-fuel generation.
69% in 2012 - sure. On the backs of the EU taxpayer. Of course, Lovins fails to mention that these subsidies are being curtailed and that alt.energy has shown itself to be a failure. In the US, the 49% is inflated -- more like 2% for installed baseline capacity. Of course he is lying -- I would expect nothing else. The rest of the article is seriously tainted -- a profound lack of facts.

Busy day today

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The new business is taking off -- lots of walk-in traffic today. More later.

A little bit of Norovirus with your entr�e

Yikes - from the Bellingham Herald:
Bellingham Applebee's stays closed amid norovirus concern
Applebee's restaurant on East Sunset Drive was still closed Wednesday, Feb. 12, as more stringent measures were put in place to combat a suspected norovirus outbreak.

Norovirus is highly contagious and causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

It's not known when the Whatcom County Health Department will allow the Bellingham restaurant to reopen.

Meanwhile, the health department has received 56 complaints from people who said they were sickened after eating at Applebee's.

"That doesn't mean what they report fits the expected progression of norovirus," said Tom Kunesh, supervisor for the health department's Food and Living Environment Program.

That's because norovirus has an incubation period of 30 to 40 hours, Kunesh said.

A total of 15 Applebee's employees have reported becoming ill - most of them on Thursday, Feb. 6, and Friday, Feb. 7.

The health department first closed the restaurant Friday morning, after inspectors heard about gastrointestinal illness among workers.

County officials allowed the restaurant to reopen around noon Sunday after a 48-hour closure to help stop the spread of the virus. Other measures included extensive cleaning and sterilization of the restaurant, throwing away food, requiring ill workers to stay home for at least 48 hours, and screening employees before they could come back to work.

But they closed it again Tuesday, Feb. 11, when another two employees became ill.
The gift that keeps on giving. You do not die from it, you just wish you did. Highly contagious, long incubation period (all the while you are spreading the disease), long lived on surfaces -- door knobs, counters, dishware, etc. This is not a slam on Applebee's -- their food is OK. Someone came in with the bug and it just spread. I hope that it was an employee and not a customer who would frequent other restaurants in the area. For my grocery store and my new business, I use sanitizing wipes at least once per shift. And, the Whatcom County Health Department is very lucky to have Tom Kunesh. I have worked with him at the store, at the bakery and at various Chamber of Commerce functions. The guy knows his stuff...

A dystopian vision of the future

And it is entirely probable - from Captain Capitalism:

The Parasitic Human Bubble
First there was the dotcom bubble. Companies magically were 400% more valuable because you put a ".com" at the end or an "e-" or "i-" at the beginning of a company's name.

Then there was the housing bubble. Housing always goes up and ignore those liberals jacking up your property taxes making home ownership mathematically and factually a perpetuity liability.

And naturally there's the education bubble. "Major in what you want and the money will follow!" "Any degree is good degree!" "It'll open up doors!" And thus came a wave of puppetry degrees, "Beyonce Studies," and "CIS-Gendered-Hermaphrodite-Peruvian-Lesbian-Poety" majors.

But while all of these bubbles did (and will have) devastating consequences for the economy....

"do you recall...the most devastating bubble of them all?"

We can focus on individual sectors such as technology, real estate and education, but the largest and granddaddiest bubble is about to happen. And it isn't going to hit a "sector" or a specific "industry" but pretty much half our population, and by default consume the remaining half - the parasitic human bubble.

Understand that since the "Great Society" the United States (and most western nations) have been championing the losers of society. Originally it was set out with good intentions. Who doesn't want to help the poor? Who doesn't want to help the disadvantaged? Who doesn't want their fellow man to succeed and thrive? But as we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions and what once may have started out as a charitable endeavor quickly turned into a political tool for the left to bribe blocks, segments, divisions and groups of people into voting for them. And as human nature is prone to do, the beneficiaries of these government programs raced to the bottom. They didn't take the proceeds and use it to improve their lives, but instead used it to loaf around and enjoy leisure. They didn't take the government cheese as a temporary measure to increase their skills to start a new successful career, but as a way to take a permanent vacation. And they didn't view this charity as "other kind and generous people's money," but rather an entitlement they deserved.

A bit more - how it begins:

It could be dramatic where one day the EBT cards won't work, the TANF check bounces, or the WIC office is closed. The parasitic humans will get upset, raid the local grocery store or Wal-Mart before they starve, but this will only exacerbate their problems as on the supply side stores will close and refuse to be re-supplied. Once their pilfered supplies run out, the parasitic humans will be forced to forage for food elsewhere forcing them into areas where people are more heavily armed, overly-taxed, and quite pissed off about being forced to support a parasitic class for decades. Riots and firefights break out and in comes the National Guard. Martial law is established, rationing is enforced, but this only sends us down the spiral further and faster as such restrictions grind the economy to a halt, and society inevitably collapses.

It could be slow and controlled. Politicians, even though incredibly stupid and corrupt, are forced to see the simple mathematical fact they don't have the money to maintain their bribery and are forced to slowly cut the supply of resources to the parasitic classes. The parasitic humans complain and get angry (ever see the teachers union complain about a "cut in the INCREASE" of their budget and scream bloody murder?), but not enough to riot or cause civil disorder. Unfortunately, for the leftist politicians, they are mathematically forced to commit to this new strategy of amortizing down the benefits of the parasitic humans, and over time slowly alienate their voter base. It is possible, over time and over generations, the parasitic humans are forced to learn independence, self-reliance, heck, even "achievement," "entrepreneurship," and "excellence," but regardless of personal economic epiphanies, the parasite human bubble slowly deflates. Of course the economy doesn't "boom" because of the crippling debt load we've taken on paying for bread and circuses and so the United States is relegated to a half-century-long stagnation like Japan or Italy. Malaise sets in and western civilization stops advancing.

Sobering thoughts.

Nails it

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20140212-obamacare.jpg

A cool find in Seattle

From The Seattle Times:

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Photo by Jeff Estep / Transit Plumbing
Tusk, believed to be mammoth's, found in South Lake Union
A tusk paleontologists believe came from an Ice Age mammoth was discovered while workers were digging at a construction site in South Lake Union Tuesday, according to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

The tusk was found on private property, so the landowner will decide what to do with it. A Transit Plumbing employee found the tusk while workers were excavating on a project, according to company President Jeff Estep.

Not unknown in this area:

Mammoth fossils have been found in various areas of the Pacific Northwest. A part of a mammoth tusk was found in eastern Oregon last October. Several teeth and tusks from have been found near Sequim, Clallam County.

That will look great on someone's mantel...

Guns and the State - a two-fer

First - from FOX News:

New Gun Control Push: 'Microstamps' Drive Gun Makers Out of CA
A new law in California is supposed to help police track down violent criminals, but instead it's driving at least two gun makers out of the state entirely.

The state law requires guns sold in California to have "microstamps." The unique marking would, in theory, allow police to trace a bullet back to a specific gun.

Many gun rights supporters believe, however, that this law was actually intended to stop gun manufacturers from operating in the state.

Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger have announced that they will stop selling guns in California, rather than incur the increased costs of "microstamping" their firearms.

"Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms. A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes. The microstamping mandate and the company's unwillingness to adopt this so-called technology will result in a diminishing number of Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols available for purchase by California residents," the company said in a statement.

Typical 'progressive' solution -- they fail to admit that the microstamping can be defeated by an untrained individual with a small file or emory nail board. All of their legislation is aimed at making life hard for law abiding citizens -- it will not touch criminals. Second - from Emily Miller at The Washington Times:

D.C. businessman faces two years in jail for unregistered ammunition, brass casing
Mark Witaschek, a successful financial adviser with no criminal record, is facing two years in prison for possession of unregistered ammunition after D.C. police raided his house looking for guns. Mr. Witaschek has never had a firearm in the city, but he is being prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The trial starts on Nov. 4.

The police banged on the front door of Mr. Witaschek's Georgetown home at 8:20 p.m. on July 7, 2012, to execute a search warrant for "firearms and ammunition - gun cleaning equipment, holsters, bullet holders and ammunition receipts."

More:

After entering the house, the police immediately went upstairs, pointed guns at the heads of Mr. Witaschek and his girlfriend, Bonnie Harris, and demanded they surrender, facedown and be handcuffed.

In recalling what followed, Mr. Witaschek became visibly emotional in describing how the police treated him, Ms. Harris and the four children in the house.

His 16-year-old son was in the shower when the police arrived. "They used a battering ram to bash down the bathroom door and pull him out of the shower, naked," said his father. "The police put all the children together in a room, while we were handcuffed upstairs. I could hear them crying, not knowing what was happening."

More:

Mr. Witaschek is a gun owner and an avid hunter. However, he stores his firearms at the home of his sister, Sylvia Witaschek, in suburban Arlington, Va.

Two weeks after the June raid, D.C. police investigators went to his sister's house - unaccompanied by Virginia police and without a warrant - and asked to 'view' the firearms, according to a police report. She refused. The next day, the D.C. police returned to her house with the Arlington County police and served her with a criminal subpoena.

Talk about overreach.

The author of this last piece, Emily Miller, wrote the book: Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours:

In the wake of tragic shootings in Newtown and Aurora, the anti-gun lobby has launched a campaign of lies, distortion, misrepresentation, and emotional manipulation that is breathtaking in its vitriol and its denial of basic facts. Their goal is to take away our Second Amendment rights and then disarm law-abiding Americans.

Emily Miller tells her personal story of how being a single, female victim of a home invasion drove her to try to obtain a legally registered gun in Washington, D.C. The narrative - sometimes shocking, other times hilarious in its absurdity - gives the reader a real life understanding of how gun-control laws only make it more difficult for honest, law-abiding people to get guns, while violent crime continues to rise.

Using facts and newly uncovered research, Miller exposes the schemes politicians on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and around the country are using to deny people their Second Amendment rights. She exposes the myths that gun grabbers and liberal media use to get new laws passed that infringe on our right to keep and bear arms.

The gun rights debate isn't just about firearms. It's about protecting a fundamental right that is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. It's about politicians who lie, manipulate, and outright break existing laws to get what they want. It's about President Obama wanting a bigger federal government to control you. Not just your guns - you. The fight for gun rights is the fight for freedom. Emily Miller says stand up and fight back now because your Second Amendment will only be the first to go.

An interesting lawsuit

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Now this will be interesting to watch -- from Politico:
Rand Paul files class-action suit vs. NSA
Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday officially filed his class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration over National Security Agency data collection, joining with two prominent tea party leaders to make the announcement.

Paul, a libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican and potential presidential contender, inveighed against NSA surveillance and promised a �historic� lawsuit. He and his allies hope to take the case, which focuses on the NSA�s gathering of telephone metadata, to the Supreme Court.

�There�s a huge and growing swell of protest in this country of people who are outraged that their records are being taken without suspicion, without a judge�s warrant and without individualization,� Paul said at a news conference outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia�s former attorney general and last fall�s unsuccessful GOP nominee for governor, is serving as lead counsel for the case. Paul was also joined by Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of the tea party-tied group FreedomWorks. The men stressed they wanted to make sure the NSA was not going beyond the boundaries of the Constitution.

�I�m not against the NSA, I�m not against spying, I�m not against looking at phone records,� Paul said. �I just want you to go to a judge, have an individual�s name and [get] a warrant. That�s what the Fourth Amendment says.�
Good idea -- the overreach is way to much. Time to re-establish the limits that our Founders created.

Another Democrat bites the dust - Ray Nagin

Nagin (as well as Governor Blanco) is known for his bungling efforts before Hurricane Katrina.

Seems he had his fingers in the pot -- from FOX News:

Ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin found guilty of corruption
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted Wednesday on charges that he accepted bribes, free trips and other gratuities from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work while he was in office, including right after Hurricane Katrina.

More:

The Democrat, who left office in 2010 after eight years, was indicted in January 2013 on charges he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of local businessman Frank Fradella.

He also was charged with accepting thousands of dollars in in payoffs from another businessman, Rodney Williams, for his help in securing city contracts.

Good riddance...

Talk about a nasty surprise -- from the Bowling Green, KY Daily News:
Collapse at National Corvette Museum sends cars into sinkhole
A sinkhole opened today beneath the National Corvette Museum and swallowed eight cars on display.

A structural engineer was at the museum this morning consulting with Bowling Green Fire Department and museum officials.
A bit more:
Jason Polk, a geography and geology assistant professor at Western Kentucky University, viewed the collapse.

Sinkholes such as these aren't uncommon in the area, given the karst landscape, but it is unusual to see something like this affect the Corvette museum, he said.

"The city is well-versed in sinkholes," Polk said.
Here is the website for the National Corvette Museum They posted a few photos -- here are two:
20140212-vette01.jpg

20140212-vette02.jpg
Holy crap! Good that this happened at 5:44AM -- nobody was hurt.

Goodbye to the Jade Rabbit

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From the China News Service:
Loss of lunar rover
China's first lunar rover, Yutu, could not be restored to full function on Monday as expected, and netizens mourned it on Weibo, China's Twitter-like service.

Yutu experienced mechanical problems on Jan 25 and has been unable to function since then.
Sad that it only lived for a month but it was only designed to work for three months. China joined a very elite club by successfully landing Yutu on the moon. Just the beginning...

Nice people - not.

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From the Jerusalem Post:
Aboard Belgian train, Jews asked to get off and shower at Auschwitz
Unidentified passengers aboard a Belgian train used the speaker system to urge Jews to get off at Auschwitz and shower at the concentration camp.

The incident of Jan. 31 prompted the Belgian rail company SNCB to file a complaint with police over incitement to hatred, the RTL broadcaster reported Tuesday.

According to RTL, the suspects gained access to the speaker system during rush hour, at 5 p.m., while traveling from Namur to Brussels. One of the passengers said in French, �Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Auschwitz. All Jews are requested to disembark and take a short shower.�
Looks like the National Socalists are getting uppity again. Time for someone to man up and take out the trash...

Camera, airplane, pig

1:09 of awesomeness - watch to the end:

Digital cameras are scanned instead of having a mechanical shutter opening and closing. This accounts for the odd distortion of the frames.

From the Youtube website:

Camera falls from a sky diving airplane and lands on my property in my pig pen.
I found the camera 8 months later and viewed this video.

Posted eleven hours ago (as of just now) and it has already had 551,230 views and 1,320 comments. That qualifies for Viral in my book...

Obamacare

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The national treasure John Cox:
20140211-obamacare.jpg
Swiped from Mostly Cajun

Heh...

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20140211-dog01.jpg
Nails it!

Two passings

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First: Shirley Temple Second: Leonard Knight From the Los Angeles Times:
Leonard Knight, artist at Salvation Mountain, dies at age 82
Leonard Knight, the lean and sturdy New Englander who spent three decades joyously painting religious messages on a tall mound of adobe he called Salvation Mountain in the Imperial Valley desert, died Monday at age 82.

Knight died at a convalescent hospital in eastern San Diego County where he had been a resident for more than two years. He had suffered the ravages of diabetes, along with other ailments of old age.

His death was announced on his Salvation Mountain Facebook page by his devoted followers who have been attempting to preserve his labor of love east of the Salton Sea near the squatter village called Slab City.

Until his health declined, Knight had lived in the back of his truck, sharing his space with a variety of cats without names, undeterred by the brutal desert heat or howling winds.

"Love Jesus and keep it simple," he once said, explaining his philosophy of life.

The mountain is a sloping, terraced hill about three stories tall and 100 feet long and crowned with a cross. The property is owned by the state, but efforts to oust Knight have long since been abandoned.

Knight's main message on his mountain was simple: "God Is Love."
Here is the website for Salvation Mountain.

Something to consider - a chart

From Mark Hulbert writing at the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch:

Scary 1929 market chart gains traction
There are eerie parallels between the stock market's recent behavior and how it behaved right before the 1929 crash.

That at least is the conclusion reached by a frightening chart that has been making the rounds on Wall Street. The chart superimposes the market�s recent performance on top of a plot of its gyrations in 1928 and 1929.

The picture isn't pretty. And it's not as easy as you might think to wriggle out from underneath the bearish significance of this chart.
20140211-djia.jpg

Glad I don't have any money in the market...

Lightworks

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I am into Photography and recently been working a lot with time lapse. This brought me into the realm of video and have been looking at video editing software. Just ran into Lightworks -- looks good and they have a fully functional free version (720p output only).

A look at Big Government

J. K. Rowling was onto something. From Benjamin H. Barton at the University of Tennessee College of Law:

Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy
Abstract: This Essay examines what the Harry Potter series (and particularly the most recent book, The Half-Blood Prince) tells us about government and bureaucracy. There are two short answers. The first is that Rowling presents a government (The Ministry of Magic) that is 100% bureaucracy. There is no discernable executive or legislative branch, and no elections. There is a modified judicial function, but it appears to be completely dominated by the bureaucracy, and certainly does not serve as an independent check on governmental excess.

Second, government is controlled by and for the benefit of the self-interested bureaucrat. The most cold-blooded public choice theorist could not present a bleaker portrait of a government captured by special interests and motivated solely by a desire to increase bureaucratic power and influence. Consider this partial list of government activities: a) torturing children for lying; b) utilizing a prison designed and staffed specifically to suck all life and hope out of the inmates; c) placing citizens in that prison without a hearing; d) allows the death penalty without a trial; e) allowing the powerful, rich or famous to control policy and practice; f) selective prosecution (the powerful go unpunished and the unpopular face trumped-up charges); g) conducting criminal trials without independent defense counsel; h) using truth serum to force confessions; i) maintaining constant surveillance over all citizens; j) allowing no elections whatsoever and no democratic lawmaking process; k) controlling the press.

This partial list of activities brings home just how bleak Rowling's portrait of government is. The critique is even more devastating because the governmental actors and actions in the book look and feel so authentic and familiar. Cornelius Fudge, the original Minister of Magic, perfectly fits our notion of a bumbling politician just trying to hang onto his job. Delores Umbridge is the classic small-minded bureaucrat who only cares about rules, discipline, and her own power. Rufus Scrimgeour is a George Bush-like war leader, inspiring confidence through his steely resolve. The Ministry itself is made up of various sub-ministries with goofy names (e.g., The Goblin Liaison Office or the Ludicrous Patents Office) enforcing silly sounding regulations (e.g., The Decree for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans or The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery). These descriptions of government jibe with our own sarcastic views of bureaucracy and bureaucrats: bureaucrats tend to be amusing characters that propagate and enforce laws of limited utility with unwieldy names. When you combine the light-hearted satire with the above list of government activities, however, Rowling's critique of government becomes substantially darker and more powerful.

Furthermore, Rowling eliminates many of the progressive defenses of bureaucracy. The most obvious omission is the elimination of the democratic defense. The first line of attack against public choice theory is always that bureaucrats must answer to elected officials, who must in turn answer to the voters. Rowling eliminates this defense by presenting a wholly unelected government.

A second line of defense is the public-minded bureaucrat. Some theorists argue that the public choice critique ignores what government officials are really like. They are not greedy, self-interested budget-maximizers. Instead, they are decent and publicly oriented. Rowling parries this defense by her presentation of successful bureaucrats (who clearly fit the public choice model) and unsuccessful bureaucrats. Harry's best friend's Dad, Arthur Weasley is a well-meaning government employee. He is described as stuck in a dead end job, in the least respected part of the government, in the worst office in the building. In Rowling's world governmental virtue is disrespected and punished.

Lastly, Rowling even eliminates the free press as a check on government power. The wizarding newspaper, The Daily Prophet, is depicted as a puppet to the whims of Ministry of Magic. I end the piece with some speculation about how Rowling came to her bleak vision of government, and the greater societal effects it might have. Speculating about the effects of Rowling's portrait of government is obviously dangerous, but it seems likely that we will see a continuing uptick in distrust of government and libertarianism as the Harry Potter generation reaches adulthood.

Not that far from the current state of affairs...

Praxis - hiding a gun

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Useful information from Claire Wolfe:
Hiding a gun -- The rules of three
My friend Jack pulled the car into a grassy clearing. We donned rubber boots, fetched a metal detector and digging tools from the trunk, and headed off along a game trail. Our mission: To dig up and test fire a pistol Jack had buried years ago.

The trail disappeared into a wetland, which Jack crossed with confidence. The muddy water was only about six inches deep where he walked, but I couldn't see the bottom so I waded gingerly after him. It was at this point I discovered that my borrowed waterproof boots � weren't. I squished along after Jack. By the time I emerged onto dry land, he was standing well ahead of me, next to the stump of an old cedar that had been logged a hundred years ago.

"It's buried right here," Jack told me confidently. "Between this stump and that sapling."
A good read. Claire writes for Backwoods Home Magazine This is my hands-down favorite of all the back-to-the-land magazines. Mother Earth News used to be good but it has slacked off and now just feeds the imaginations of the urban B.T.T.L. wannabes...

An interesting look at Nicotine

From Scientific American:

Will a Nicotine Patch Make You Smarter?
Back home in New Jersey, I read through dozens of human and animal studies published over the past five years showing that nicotine - freed of its noxious host, tobacco, and delivered instead by chewing gum or transdermal patch - may prove to be a weirdly, improbably effective cognitive enhancer and treatment for relieving or preventing a variety of neurological disorders, including Parkinson's, mild cognitive impairment, ADHD, Tourette's, and schizophrenia. Plus it has long been associated with weight loss. With few known safety risks.

Nicotine? Yes, nicotine.

In fact - and this is where the irony gets mad deep - the one purpose for which nicotine patches have proven futile is the very same one for which they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, sold by pharmacies over the counter, bought by consumers, and covered by many state Medicaid programs: quitting smoking. In January 2012, a six-year follow-up study of 787 adults who had recently quit smoking found that those who used nicotine replacement therapy in the form of a patch, gum, inhaler, or nasal spray had the same long-term relapse rate as those who did not use the products. Heavy smokers who tried to quit without the benefit of counseling were actually twice as likely to relapse if they used a nicotine replacement product.

Curious.

Parahawking

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Very cool! Tip of the hat to Maggie's Farm

Nothing tonight

Been a hella busy last couple of days. 40% fun projects, 20% stuff that needed to be dealt with after the last cold snap and 40% getting ready for the next couple of months. Posting should improve a bit tomorrow.

Work related injury

Could not have happened to a nicer guy -- from the New York Times:
Suicide Bomb Instructor Accidentally Kills Iraqi Pupils
A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives, army and police officials said.

The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.

Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara, according to the police and army officials. Stores of other explosive devices and heavy weapons were also kept there, the officials said.

Eight militants were arrested when they tried to escape, the officials said.
Tossing political correctness aside, if they buried these mokes in a common grave filled with pigs blood and offal, the number of incidents like this would drop off the charts for a long long time. We know the psychology of these people but we refuse to use it against them. Stupid.

A shining city on the hill - Alorton, Illinois

East of St. Louis - Alorton, Illinois is an example of the problems with long-term black progressive rule. From Front Page:

The Most Corrupt Village in America
When the police stopped Luvina Mobley Smith, they found a pound of pot in her car and five EBT food stamp cards which drug dealers often take in payment for drugs. It would have been an ordinary enough story except that Smith, despite being a convicted felon, was also the Deputy Clerk of Alorton.

Luvina is the daughter of Callie Mobley, Alorton's former mayor, who had collected double her salary and served time in jail for income tax evasion. Mayor Mobley, who had been the mayor of Alorton for two decades, had been doing the same thing back to her days as liquor commissioner.

And it gets better -- here is just part of the butcher's bill:

Alorton's violent crime rate has been as high as ten times the national average. Its biggest employers are health care, fast food, welfare and education. The unemployment rate for black men is at 31%. Half the people in Alorton live below the poverty line. 70% of poor households consist of single mothers.

The village has the fourth highest poverty rate of any place in Illinois. Its corruption and misery are examples of what happens when the Democratic Party's power goes unchallenged.

Mayor Randy "Rambo' McCallum Sr. came into office telling cops, "I run this mother___" and ordered them to rob competing drug dealers and split the money with him. When drug dealers were busted, the seized drugs and money were brought to his house where he pocketed the money and resold the drugs.

McCallum Sr. stole so much money that there were no bank deposits for a year. When an undercover informant went to his house, he found crack cocaine on the kitchen table being prepped for sale.

Alorton's police chief, Michael Baxton Sr., set up surveillance cameras in the police station that he could monitor from home to alert Mayor McCallum when the seized drugs and money were coming in.

The police chief went down for stealing Xbox video games from the trunk of a stolen car telling another cop, "This ain't (expletive), I'm gonna put you on some real (expletive), teach you how to be real police."

Baxton Sr. had already been decertified for earlier felony convictions for theft and burglary and should not have even been serving as police chief.

His son Michael Baxton Jr. remained on the Alorton police force where he was hit with three Federal lawsuits for physically abusing people. He briefly became the police chief of East St. Louis until two black board members won a lawsuit because after they were harassed for supporting a more qualified white candidate for the job.

You want to know President Lyndon Baines Johnson's legacy? Alorton, Illinois

The breakdown of the Black family, the force-feeding of the culture of dependency and welfare. The crippling of the economy. There seems to be a strong culture of self-loathing that crops up on the left. Their only solution is to throw other-people's-money at it. Never their own -- when was the last time that some Hollywood mogul donated a couple million simoleans to an inner-city black school. (crickets)

I find it hard to believe that the Democrats are pushing for amnesty for the illegal immigrants -- they should know full well that it is people like the citizens of Alorton, Illinois that will be the most hurt. A nation with a staggering unemployment problem and we want to legitimize several tens of millions of new low-level workers?

Mike Rowe for WalMart

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I am looking forward to the American Renaissance. Just need to get some adults in the room in Washington who have the stones to stand aside and let us do our job. We have done this before and we can do it again.

Long meeting tonight

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I am President of our local Water Cooperative and tonight, we had the meeting before our Annual General Meeting which is open to the general public. I knew about it but spaced on it this evening -- had dinner and was settling into my third glass of wine when Lulu reminded me that I had 30 minutes to get ready. Ready for what? Crap. I was there and participated in the meeting but my butt was dragging -- it was a very detailed planning session setting budget and spending levels for FY2014. Fortunately, the rest of the board was up to the task and we got everything hammered out in a little more than one hour. Back home now and getting ready for an early bedtime -- surf for an hour or so and then get ready for a long day tomorrow (store shopping run plus some bank and legal stuff).

Be sure to bring your picture ID

From Breitbart:
Shock: NC 'Moral Marchers' Must Have Photo IDs To Participate In Protest Against Voter ID Laws
Bused-in activists and professional agitators, including the NC NAACP are in Raleigh, North Carolina, today for the so-called "Moral March" - morality being defined as support for progressive causes such as abortion rights, and minimum wage hikes, and opposition to "racist" voter ID requirements.

Problem is, one of the important do's on the list of Do's and Don�ts for Marchers, is for them to bring a �driver�s license, passport or other valid photo id� to the march, and make sure they have their photo ID handy �at all times.�
20140209-picture-id.jpg
The so-called racist voter ID requirements are a call to end ballot-box stuffing and voter fraud. The progressives cannot win on their own merit -- they have to resort to Nixonian "dirty tricks" to win an office. In the 2012 elections, we had precincts with a greater than 100% turnout and also precincts with a 100% vote for Obama. 98% would raise an eyebrow but 100% shouts fraud.

Movers and shakers in Hollywood

From the Los Angeles Times:

Hollywood earthquake is third in 10 days
A shallow magnitude 3.0 earthquake that was centered near Hollywood and shook parts of the Los Angeles basin Saturday morning was the third temblor to hit the area in the last two weeks.

The latest quake occurred at 10:13 a.m. at a depth of 5.0 miles and was felt from the Westside to East L.A., said Anthony Guarino, a seismologist at Caltech.

None of the geologists are raising very much of an alarm but there is this cautionary tale:

The region remains overdue for a massive quake. The southern section of the San Andreas Fault, which starts near the Salton Sea and runs north to Palmdale, has historically caused a large earthquake every 150 years on average. It has not ruptured since 1680.

"There is a very high probability that it will rupture in our lifetime or our children's lifetime," Guarino said.

Guarino is Anthony Guarino, a seismologist at Caltech.

The whole West coast is overdue -- Puget Sound, Mt. Baker. There are even several major faultlines within ten miles of my home.

From Canadian media network CTV:

Vancouver home to Canada's first crackpipe vending machines
Vancouver is the home to Canada's first-ever crackpipe vending machines, which were installed in the city's troubled Downtown Eastside in a bid to curb the spread of disease among drug users.

Portland Hotel Society's Drug Users Resource Centre operates two of the machines. They dispense Pyrex crackpipes for just 25 cents.

"For us, this was about increasing access to safer inhalation supplies in the Downtown Eastside," Kailin See, director of the DURC, told CTV Vancouver.

Hard core drug use is a major problem -- what do you do to stop the cycle? There is already a large progressive market for taking care of these people after they have fallen but the way to prevent them falling -- great job opportunities, a vibrant economy and happy culture are the domain of the fiscal conservatives and small government advocates. No way in hell would the entrenched progressives let that camels nose slip under the hem of their tent. Meanwhile, the progressives spend more and more money with little or no actual results.

Ho Li Crap - big avalanche

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From Tyrol Orf. Google translation: Tyrol News:
Video: Huge Avalanche in the Passeiertal
When an avalanche uncanny forces of nature are free. Residents in the Passeiertal filmed a Nasschneelawine on their destructive path in populated area. Generally comes in South Tyrol currently consists of increased risk of avalanches, rockfalls and debris flows.

On Thursday afternoon, went from an avalanche in moss in Passeiertal. The snow buried partially Oberpamer the yard and damaged him severely. The residents recognized the danger fortunately early enough and were able to bring to safety in time. Three other inns in the immediate neighborhood were evacuated for safety reasons. 15 people have been taken to safety by car or by helicopter.

Thomas Ennemoser, farmers from the affected Orsteil Pill, filmed the massive avalanche at a safe distance on a hill.
Be sure to watch for the three or four people on the upstairs balcony of the third major building from the left. Talk about needing some fresh underwear. A couple photos of the aftermath at the site including this one:
20140208-swiss-avy.jpg
Maybe later tonight -- been busy working on some projects at the farm. Yesterday night was as cold as the big chill a few nights ago but it's warming up so I can stack firewood and take care of some other things.

An alternate universe

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Sometimes, when the phase of the moon is just right and the planets line up just so, the boundaries between this universe and the bizarro-universe become porous:
20140207-bizarrobama.jpg

Another cold night

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Thought that we were done with this for a while but the arctic air has returned with a vengeance. 13.8�F at ground level and 2.5�F in air. This shit's gettin' really old now. Time to sell everything and move to Alaska Panama Hawai'i Naaa -- love it here too much, I'll just toss another couple chunks of wood on the fireplace...

Heh - speaking truth to power

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Great news from the North

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From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:
7 environmental charities face Canada Revenue Agency audits
The Canada Revenue Agency is currently conducting extensive audits on some of Canada's most prominent environmental groups to determine if they comply with guidelines that restrict political advocacy, CBC News has learned.

If the CRA rules that the groups exceeded those limits, their charitable status could be revoked, which would effectively shut them down.
Very good -- if the organization wants to be tax exempt, they need to toe the line and stay out of politics. This is the same for us here in the States. There is a big group in Bellingham that is clearly violating this and I wonder when the boom will be lowered on them. The CBC lists the charities under investigation:
The list of groups CBC has now confirmed are undergoing audits reads like a who�s who in the environmental charity world. They include:
  • The David Suzuki Foundation
  • Tides Canada
  • West Coast Environmental Law
  • The Pembina Foundation
  • Environmental Defence
  • Equiterre
  • Ecology Action Centre
�This is a war against the sector,� says John Bennett, of Sierra Club Canada. His group is not yet being audited, but he said he is prepared.
I am not familiar with most of these groups but the first two are well known to me and thoroughly deserve any censure they receive. Suzuki is a hypocrite and Tides is a branch of their US organization and for all that the progressives fulminate about those horrid Koch Brothers, the Tides Foundation donates 50 times more money to 'green' groups. Anti coal? Tides. Anti Keystone Pipeline? Tides. And the list goes on...

Congratulations Jean-Guy Sauriol

From the Toronto Sun:
Toronto rower completes voyage across Atlantic
Toronto rower Jean-Guy Sauriol couldn�t see his wife and son in the distance as he neared the finish line of his 4,815-km journey, but he could definitely hear them cheering.

The 60-year-old athlete accomplished his goal Thursday, just after 3 p.m., to be the oldest Canadian and third Canuck to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo from the Canary Islands to Barbados in 74 days and three hours.

�They didn�t have any sign or banners, maybe I should give them some grief for that,� Sauriol joked during an interview via Skype.

�It�s been amazing. Amongst the three of us who have rowed, I�m now the fastest. The next guy did it in 76 days, which became my target.�

And what was the first thing he did when he touched the sand in Barbados � he greeted his family and then enjoyed a much-coveted slice of pizza.

�For the longest time, I felt I was almost in a surreal world,� he said. �The last couple of days it became real. The one memory I�m going to have for the rest of my life is that I did it. When I touched land, it was the conclusion of all of this.�
The crossing's website is here: Maple Lys Solo His blog is here.

Putting some limits on the EPA

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A great trend -- more faster. From FOX News:
House GOP bill aims to end �secret science� in EPA rulemaking
Republican lawmakers in the House are pushing legislation that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing new regulations based on science that is not transparent or not reproducible.

The Secret Science Reform Act, introduced Thursday by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., would bar the agency from proposing or finalizing rules without first disclosing all "scientific and technical information" relied on to support its proposed action.

"Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups,� Schweikert said in a statement. �For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions.�
Excellent news -- and this is coming on the heels of this February 4th warning:
A great trend from Oklahoma
From The Hill:
Inhofe warns EPA regulations could cause winter blackouts
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Tuesday that he plans to introduce a bill that would allow states to opt-out of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on power plants.

Inhofe said his Electricity Reliability and Affordability Act would allow states to determine which old power plants should be shutdown rather than the federal government.

In an effort to combat carbon emissions, the administration announced that it would limit how much new coal power plants can emit and slowly close older plants that aren�t efficient. Inhofe said states would have a better idea than the federal government of what consumers want and need.
Gotta love it -- limit the EPA and enforce the Tenth Amendment

Bill Whittle on Education

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Brilliant as always:

Boosting Obamacare

From Bloomberg:

Jails Enroll Inmates in Obamacare to Pass Hospital Costs to U.S.
Being arrested in Chicago for, say, drug possession or assault gets you sent to the Cook County Jail to be fingerprinted, photographed and X-rayed. You'll also get help applying for health insurance.

At least six states and counties from Maryland to Oregon's Multnomah are getting inmates coverage under Obamacare and its expansion of Medicaid, the federal and state health-care program for the poor. The fledgling movement would shift to the federal government some of the more than $6.5 billion in annual state costs for treating prisoners. Proponents say it also will make recidivism rarer, because inmates released with coverage are more likely to get treatment for mental illness, substance abuse and other conditions that can lead them to crime.

"When someone gets discharged from the jail and they don't have insurance and they don't have a plan, we can pretty much set our watch to when we're going see them again," said Ben Breit, a spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff's Office.

The still-small programs could reach a vast population: At the end of 2012, almost 7 million people in the U.S. were on parole, probation, in prison or locked up in jail, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. About 13 million people are booked into county jails each year, according to the Washington-based National Association of Counties.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul -- still comes out of our pocket, just a different form.

Looking at a graph of temperature

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Dissecting a temperature graph issued by the White House:
Busted...

Warm!

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The cold has moderated -- it is a balmy 23.7�F ground temp and 18.5�F air. Still have the water running in the sink but not as much. Last night was brutal -- as I had said, that was the lowest recorded temperature since I have been taking automated readings.

Happy 55th birthday - Integrated Circuit

From Electronic Design News magazine:
Kilby files patent for IC, February 6, 1959
Jack St. Clair Kilby filed his patent application for the integrated circuit on February 6, 1959, less than six months after the idea came to him.

Kilby first demonstrated a multivibrator circuit of discrete silicon elements in late August 1958 to his then new employer Texas Instruments. As a new employee, he was not yet entitled to the mass summer vacation that was customary among TI employees at the time. During this relatively quiet time around TI, Kilby first came up with the idea of the IC.

In September 1958, Kilby demonstrated the first IC to TI management. TI was supportive, but the reaction from potential users, specifically military organizations, was mixed. After much debate, a small group within the Air Force picked up on the IC.

Kilby filed for the patent, describing his new device as �a body of semiconductor material ... wherein all the components of the electronic circuit are completely integrated,� the following February. The basic elements used by Kilby -- bulk resistors, junction capacitors, oxide capacitors, mesa transistors, and inductances -- were described, as were the design parameters for each, in the filing. The patent was granted in June.
That patent got him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000. Jack also invented the Thermal Printer and the first hand-held calculator. It has been a long fun ride and we aren't over yet. The next 100 years will be amazing if we don't blow it politically.

I can't hear you! From the New Bedford, MA South Coast Today:

Our View: There is no debate on climate change
The "debate" over the reality and cause of climate change stopped being scientific long ago. Today, the "debate" is nothing more than a distraction that serves a political purpose for those who would stand to lose the most by policies that would curtail the release of carbon from its restful, stable location below the surface of the earth, in the form of fossil fuels, into our environment.

One hundred percent of the current and former UMass Dartmouth scientists participating in an editorial board meeting at The Standard-Times on Tuesday agree both that climate change is occurring and that human activity - particularly the combustion of fossil fuels - has a significant impact on it.

The point was made in the meeting that it is not typical that scientists would agree so broadly. There's a reason for that: Theories aren't agreed upon in the scientific community, but facts are.

The author drones on for a while and then cites a couple of proofs that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is happening in front of us. Here is the first:

Acidification: Carbon from human activity of burning fossil fuels is being absorbed into and changing the pH of our oceans, thus affecting the growth of corals and the ability of mollusks to make their shells. Scientists are unclear on how ocean creatures will adapt to the rapid changes.

Abject bullshit -- Carbon has zero effect on the ocean's pH. It is Carbon Dioxide that can do this but... ask someone who maintains a salt-water aquarium. I posted on this back in June, 2009:

Environmental bullshit in the media
If the globe is not warming, let's look at other ways to hamstring CO2 production (and thereby capitalism)

If CO2 goes into the atmosphere, it will cause the Oceans to acidify and this will cause the coral reefs to deteriorate.

This pseudo-science piffle can be found at the Australian branch of News.com:
Acid seas 'attacking shellfish, corals'
From correspondents in Bonn, Germany

CLIMATE change is turning the oceans more acid in a trend that could endanger everything from clams to coral and be irreversible for thousands of years.

Seventy academies from around the world urged governments meeting in Bonn for climate talks from June 1-12 to take more account of risks to the oceans in a new UN treaty for fighting global warming due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

The academies said rising amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted mainly by human use of fossil fuels, were being absorbed by the oceans and making it harder for creatures to build protective body parts.

I cited two more examples of the CO2 twaddle and one example of where a reef has been making a spectacular recovery. I then wrote:

Now: CO2

If you show an Aquarist, especially someone who specializes in tropical reef habitat aquariums the above two news stories, they will snort their coffee out through their nose and call you an idiot (or worse).

Check out this section of the Marine and Reef Aquarium Supply  home page:

marine_reef_co2_systems.Png

There is a whole section on hardware for the specific purpose of adding gaseous CO2 to freshwater and saltwater aquaria. The CO2 in freshwater tanks is plant food - if we did not have CO2, we would not have plants. When it comes to Reef tanks, things get interesting.

Here is a quote from the Drs. Foster and Smith site:
Calcium Reactors
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

What They Do� How They Work In nature, seawater bathes coral reefs in many minerals and elements. Of all the minerals and elements present in natural seawater, no mineral is consumed as quickly or in as large of amounts as calcium. Hard corals, which are the building blocks of the coral reef, demand large amounts of calcium to build their skeletons. Providing enough calcium to meet the demands of all the corals, invertebrates, and algae in a closed ecosystem creates a real challenge for the hobbyist.

To help you meet this challenge, consider adding a calcium reactor to your aquarium system. Calcium reactors automate the process of replenishing calcium as well as other minerals and trace elements.

A calcium reactor is essentially a chamber full of aragonite, which is the crushed skeleton of ancient hard corals. Aquarium water is pumped through this chamber along with pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 lowers the pH in the chamber to an acidic level, which dissolves aragonite into the aquarium water. In addition to dissolving the calcium, this process also dissolves nearly all the minerals and trace elements the coral used in order to grow. Therefore, a calcium reactor takes much of the guesswork out of adding trace elements to your reef aquarium, because it replenishes these minerals and elements in the near exact proportions that the corals need to thrive.
Emphasis mine - these 'reactors' are mimicking the chemistry that normally happens on a reef. Again, reefs are not static, they are dynamic, they change. Old reefs die, new reefs are born and the presence of Carbon Dioxide gas in the water is the vital transport mechanism to this ancient cycle.

Sure, you can bubble CO2 through a flask of some seawater until you have a saturated solution and then drop in a chunk of coral, that coral will dissolve. BUT it will have been turned into food for new corals. Your little experiment in the lab may support your pet theory but it in no way represents the dynamics of reef life and what goes on in the real world.

The other concerns that the South Coast Today printed are equally as ludicrous and disproven. Whomever wrote that needs remove their head from the echo chamber, get some education and print a retraction. Otherwise, their credibility is blown to smithereens...

Coldest ever

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Last night was as cold as I have ever recorded at the farm. -9.0�F air temp and 4.1�F ground Supposed to stay cold throughout the weekend with snow moving in.

Cold! - day three

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It is 8:30PM and already air temp is down to 2.5�F and ground temp is at 14.2�F Yesterday, we didn't hit those temps until much later -- it is colder now than it was at 11:17PM yesterday. Looks like this will be the coldest night yet -- got the kitchen faucet gushing. Lulu and Curtis are out for the week. Planning to put Curt to work stacking more firewood -- that will keep him warm. Both of them were living in Hawai'i up until three years ago so this is a bit of a climate shock to their system...

Heh - Prince Charles gets challenged

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Lord Moncton took umbrage at Prince Charles's description of Climate Change skeptics as headless chickens. He issued a challenge in his inimitable style -- from Watts Up With That:
Monckton: Challenge to Prince Charles

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales,
Clarence House, London

Candlemas, 2014

Your Royal Highness� recent remarks describing those who have scientific and economic reason to question the Establishment opinion on climatic apocalypse in uncomplimentary and unroyal terms as �headless chickens� mark the end of our constitutional monarchy and a return to the direct involvement of the Royal Family, in the Person of our future king, no less, in the cut and thrust of partisan politics.

Now that Your Royal Highness has offered Your Person as fair game in the shootout of politics, I am at last free to offer two options. I need no longer hold back, as so many have held back, as Your Royal Highness� interventions in politics have become more frequent and less acceptable in their manner as well as in their matter.

Option 1. Your Royal Highness will renounce the Throne forthwith and for aye. Those remarks were rankly party-political and were calculated to offend those who still believe, as Your Royal Highness plainly does not, that the United Kingdom should be and remain a free country, where any subject of Her Majesty may study science and economics, may draw his conclusions from his research and may publish the results, however uncongenial the results may be.

The line has been crossed. No one who has intervened thus intemperately in politics may legitimately occupy the Throne. Your Royal Highness� arrogant and derogatory dismissiveness towards the near-50 percent of your subjects who no longer follow the New Religion is tantamount to premature abdication. Goodnight, sweet prince. No more �Your Royal Highness.�

Hi, there, Chazza! You are a commoner now, just like most of Her Majesty�s subjects. You will find us a cheerfully undeferential lot. Most of us don�t live in palaces, and none of us goes everywhere with his own personalized set of monogrammed white leather lavatory seat covers.

The United Kingdom Independence Party, which until recently I had the honor to represent in Scotland, considers � on the best scientific and economic evidence � that the profiteers of doom are unjustifiably enriching themselves at our expense.

For instance, even the unspeakable Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has accepted advice from me and my fellow expert reviewers that reliance upon ill-constructed and defective computer models to predict climate was a mistake. Between the pre-final and final drafts of the �Fifth Assessment Report,� published late last year, the Panel ditched the models and substituted its own �expert assessment� that in the next 30 years the rate of warming will be half what the models predict.

In fact, the dithering old fossils in white lab coats with leaky Biros sticking out of the front pocket now think the rate of warming over the next 30 years could be less than in the past 30 years, notwithstanding an undiminished increase in the atmospheric concentration of plant food. Next time you talk to the plants, ask them whether they would like more CO2 in the air they breathe. Their answer will be Yes.

The learned journals of economics are near-unanimous in saying it is 10-100 times costlier to mitigate global warming today than to adapt to its supposedly adverse consequences the day after tomorrow.

Besides, in the realm that might have been yours there has been no change � none at all � in mean surface temperature for 25 full years. So if you are tempted to blame last year�s cold winter (which killed 31,000 before their time) or this year�s floods (partly caused by the Environment Agency�s mad policy of returning dozens of square miles of the Somerset Levels to the sea) on global warming, don�t.

You got your science and economics wrong. And you were rude as well. And you took sides in politics. Constitutionally, that�s a no-no. Thronewise, mate, you�ve blown it.

On the other hand, we Brits are sport-mad. So here is option 2. I am going to give you a sporting second chance, Charlie, baby.

You see, squire, you are no longer above politics. You�ve toppled off your gilded perch and now you�re in it up to your once-regal neck. So, to get you used to the idea of debating on equal terms with your fellow countrymen, I�m going to give you a once-in-a-reign opportunity to win back your Throne in a debate about the climate. The motion: �Global warming is a global crisis.� You say it is. I say it isn�t.

We�ll hold the debate at the Cambridge Union, for Cambridge is your alma mater and mine. You get to pick two supporting speakers and so do I. We can use PowerPoint graphs. The Grand Debate will be televised internationally over two commercial hours. We let the world vote by phone, before and after the debate. If the vote swings your way, you keep your Throne. Otherwise, see you down the pub.

Cheers, mate!
Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Heh -- spot on! I swiped the whole thing as it was impossible to excerpt. The thing about talking to plants is from here, here and here. The heir to the throne is a swivel-headed loon.

Just wonderful - the Obamacare website

The news just keeps getting better and better -- from The Reaganite Republican:

Healthcare.gov Contractor (and Close Russian Ally) Belarus Built Malware RIGHT INTO Obamacare Code
Remember when John McAfee warned us in November that anybody who signed up to the Obamacare site might have their bank account cleaned-out by hackers? The eccentric genius and former fugitive called the government website 'a hacker's wet dream', adding that there were 'NO safeguards' that would stop someone from starting a fake Obamacare website 'for a couple hundred dollars' that could 'empty your bank account' in hours.

McAfee added unambiguously that 'It's going to happen, and it's going to happen soon... nothing in the Obamacare system safeguards against this.' He made the opportunities sound boundless.

And I thought he was just trying to sell us software.

Not only does it turn out the computer security pioneer was right, but the vulnerabilities he found so glaring cannot all be chalked-up to the incompetence of Michelle Obama's college buddy that Barry handed the $678M no-bid contract to.

Rather, subcontractors from a land almost entirely hostile to the interests of the United States were given important work on the healthcare.gov website and other Obamacare records programs- specifically Belarus, a landlocked Soviet time-capsule known as 'Europe's last dictatorship', and who's intelligence organization is still called the KGB.

There, software firms in the country's government-controlled 'High Technology Park' clearly made the most of the opportunity, inserting malicious code into the healthcare.gov site that creates secret 'back doors' that can be utilized for cyber attacks and/or wholesale identity theft (among other tricks)... not to mention access to millions of Americans' bank accounts and highly-personal health information.

Can we trust anything from the Government?

Ouch - IMAX technology stolen

This could be interesting -- from the Ottawa Sun:

IMAX claims ex employee stole its technology, fled to China
IMAX, the Canadian company that created the iconic, big-screen film format, is suing a former employee it claims stole its proprietary technology and fled to China to form his own film company.

IMAX sued Gary Tsui in Ontario, Los Angeles, as well as in Beijing, and despite reports that the two sides are negotiating a settlement, IMAX refused Monday to speak publicly on the case.

IMAX's expansion into the Chinese market has exposed the company to competition that allegedly doesn't play by North American rules. And IMAX's chances of getting retribution against its former employee are not strong, according to two intellectual property experts.

Tsui was a high-level IMAX engineer who worked in the company's Ontario office from 1999 to 2009. Court documents state that several months after Tsui quit, IMAX lost a contract to build a 3D theatre in a museum in Hangzhou, China, to an "unknown" company reportedly run by Tsui.

It will be interesting to see what happens on this. The Chinese now have the hardware but they do not have the software -- the movies themselves. The hardware is the simple part. What makes IMAX great is the way the films are made specifically for the format -- no way that you can steal that. I doubt the theater will be successful with mediocre content; yes, they can take a 'normal' film and just show it on a bigger screen but movies made for IMAX are shot differently -- more attention to the peripheral images.

Spoiled brat - Justin, your 15 is over

From NBC News:

Exclusive Inside Story on Bieber's 'Pot' Plane
Justin Bieber and his father were 'extremely abusive' to a flight attendant as their private jet flew from Canada to New Jersey on Friday, forcing her to take refuge in the cockpit, according to an official report obtained exclusively by NBC News.

According to multiple law enforcement sources, the leased, luxurious Gulfstream IV on which the 19-year-old Canadian pop star, his father and an entourage of 10 friends traveled was so full of marijuana smoke that the pilots were forced to wear oxygen masks.

"The captain of the flight stated that he warned the passengers, including Bieber, on several occasions to stop smoking marijuana," says the official report of the incident. "The captain also stated he needed to request that the passengers stop their harassing behavior toward the flight attendant and after several warnings asked the flight attendant to stay with him near the cockpit to avoid any further abuse."

A bit more:

After Bieber's flight landed Friday, drug-sniffing dogs from Customs and Border Protection and the New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police Department sat down as they walked around the plane, meaning the dogs were alerting handlers to the possible presence of drugs. Authorities then boarded the jet, which multiple sources said reeked of marijuana. However, no unsmoked weed was found during the search.

Hope he saves enough money as he is probably on his way down to obscurity. Justin who?

Quote of the day

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A "Liberal Paradise" would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and where only Law Enforcement has guns. Believe it or not, such a place does indeed exist -- It's called prison.
--Sheriff Joe Arpaio

More pork from our President

From FOX News:

Obama's next executive action: Create 'climate hubs'
The Obama administration's next executive action will seek to aid farmers who claim they are impacted by climate change.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the creation of seven "climate hubs" located across the country at a White House briefing Wednesday afternoon. The initiative is part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, which he first launched last June, and follows a promise he made during his State of the Union address.

"Today, (farmers, ranchers and forest landowners) face a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate, which impacts both our nation's forests and our farmers' bottom lines, Vilsack will say, according to prepared remarks. USDA's climate hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions.

Based at existing Agriculture Department facilities, the hubs will assess local climate risks, such as drought and wildfire, then develop plans for dealing with them, such as improved irrigation techniques. The ultimate goal is to synchronize the federal government's preparation and resources with other entities, including state governments, tribal communities, and other locations.

Just what we need - more bloat. The Pacific Northwest hub will be at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, Oregon. They do decent work but are more oriented to forestry than general agriculture. Here is their Climate Change Resource Center

Very cool advertisement

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Cultural Icons all done in one take

I had written before about attempts to probe our critical infrastructure:

Water - here and here
Rail - here
Air - here
Sea ports - here
Bombmaking - here
Now its our power grid - from the Wall Street Journal:

Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism
The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.

Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.

To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.

Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack at PG&E Corp.'s Metcalf transmission substation. It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country.

The attack was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time.

Those transformers are not an off-the-shelf item -- each one is pretty much built to spec. There may be a couple units in the pipeline to replace a sabotaged unit but not ten or twenty. If there was a coordinated attack, the grid would be down for months.

Local guy does good - Dr. Don Easterbrook

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Dr. Don Easterbrook is a national treasure. He is a Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA. He is outspoken in his views on the climate and, for the last twenty years, he has been spot on with his predictions. From CNS News:
Climate Scientist Who Got It Right Predicts 20 More Years of Global Cooling
Dr. Don Easterbrook � a climate scientist and glacier expert from Washington State who correctly predicted back in 2000 that the Earth was entering a cooling phase � says to expect colder temperatures for at least the next two decades.

Easterbrook�s predictions were �right on the money� seven years before Al Gore and the United Nation�s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for warning that the Earth was facing catastrophic warming caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide, which Gore called a �planetary emergency.�

�When we check their projections against what actually happened in that time interval, they�re not even close. They�re off by a full degree in one decade, which is huge. That�s more than the entire amount of warming we�ve had in the past century. So their models have failed just miserably, nowhere near close. And maybe it�s luck, who knows, but mine have been right on the button,� Easterbrook told CNSNews.com.

�For the next 20 years, I predict global cooling of about 3/10ths of a degree Fahrenheit, as opposed to the one-degree warming predicted by the IPCC,� said Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University and author of 150 scientific journal articles and 10 books, including �Evidence Based Climate Science,� which was published in 2011. (See Easterbrook coming-century-predictions.pdf)

In contrast, Gore and the IPCC�s computer models predicted �a big increase� in global warming by as much as one degree per decade. But the climate models used by the IPCC have proved to be wrong, with many places in Europe and North America now experiencing record-breaking cold.

Easterbrook noted that his 20-year prediction was the �mildest� one of four possible scenarios, all of which involve lower temperatures, and added that only time will tell whether the Earth continues to cool slightly or plunges into another Little Ice Age as it did between 1650 and 1790.

�There�s no way to tell �til you get there,� he told CNSNews.com. But he lamented the fact that governments worldwide have already spent a trillion dollars fighting the wrong threat.
More at the site -- the next ten years will be interesting to follow. Pitiful about all the money spent chasing a chimera and of course, the people responsible will not be called on it.
Very major geekdom -- from DARPA:
DARPA Open Catalog
Welcome to the DARPA Open Catalog, which contains a curated list of DARPA-sponsored software and peer-reviewed publications. DARPA funds fundamental and applied research in a variety of areas including data science, cyber, anomaly detection, etc., which may lead to experimental results and reusable technology designed to benefit multiple government domains.

The DARPA Open Catalog organizes publically releasable material from DARPA programs, beginning with the XDATA program in the Information Innovation Office (I2O). XDATA is developing an open source software library for big data. DARPA has an open source strategy through XDATA and other I2O programs to help increase the impact of government investments.

DARPA is interested in building communities around government-funded software and research. If the R&D community shows sufficient interest, DARPA will continue to make available information generated by DARPA programs, including software, publications, data and experimental results. Future updates are scheduled to include components from other I2O programs such as Broad Operational Language Translation (BOLT) and Visual Media Reasoning (VMR).
Some interesting apps there -- a lot of it is just large-scale data analysis. The Visual Media Reasoning (VMR) they mention looks really fascinating. From the website:
Visual Media Reasoning (VMR)
Adversaries often take photos and videos to claim responsibility for events or to illustrate capabilities. This media is sometimes confiscated by the DoD from a variety of devices, including laptops, cellphone cameras and memory cards. The volume of this visual media is quickly outpacing our ability to review, let alone analyze the contents of every image.

The question asked by warfighters and their analysts is how best can they turn adversary-captured ad hoc photos and videos into true �visual� intelligence. DARPA�s Visual Media Reasoning (VMR) program seeks to do just that by providing a software system that lets users ask queries of photo content, such as �What make and model of vehicle is that?� or �Is this person on our terrorist watch list?� or �Where is this building located?� If successful, VMR technology will serve as a force multiplier by extracting relevant information for human analysts and alerting them to scenes that warrant an analyst�s expert attention. The result of VMR may be an enhanced capability to generate intelligence required for successful counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations.
More faster please...

Cold! - the next morning

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Air temp got down to 3.2�F with ground temp hitting 10.8�F Ran up the electricity bill but kept the water running full so the pipes did not freeze. Not-so-small blessings! Got a warm moist marine front moving in Saturday so there will be snow as it absorbs the cold. Trending to rain Saturday night or Sunday morning. Hope that this is lowland only as we can really use the snowfall at Mt. Baker. A local restaurant is doing a Snow Dance tomorrow night -- the owner is a wonderful part businessman/part pagan soul and a great addition to the community.

Cloudy with a chance of Polygons

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Heh -- I was looking at the National Weather Service page for Seattle and started drilling down to my area to see if they had anything more; found this:
20140204-NWS-polygons.png
Dang! I bet that would hurt. Never been hit by a Polygon before.

Cold! - forecast through Friday

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Forecast is for continued cold through Friday with lowland snowfall on the weekend. Current air temp is 7.2�F and 17.6�F ground. The air is still so wind chill doesn't come into effect -- good. It's cold enough already. Got the faucet running in the sink -- Lulu and Curtis are coming out tomorrow -- it would not be good to have frozen pipes again... This weekend is the Legendary Banked Slalom at Mt. Baker. Looking forward to a fun and busy weekend.
Founder and owner Bob Taylor delivers a wonderful commentary on the global state of Ebony wood and what Taylor Guitars is doing about it.
The State of Ebony - Taylor Guitars

This is how you do environmentalism. Real. Boots on the ground. This is something that Greenpeace or Sierra Club would never ever do.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Lawsuit takes on California teachers' job protections
Local school districts, state legislators and even a California governor have tried to limit teachers' job protections, among the most generous in the country. Efforts have all failed to rid public schools of ineffective teachers by making it easier to fire them and tougher for them to gain tenure and by stripping them of seniority rights.

Now proponents are taking their fight to another venue: the courtroom.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge will hear arguments this week over the constitutionality of laws that govern California's teacher tenure rules, seniority policies and the dismissal process � an overhaul of which could upend controversial job security for instructors.

The lawsuit, filed by the nonprofit, advocacy group Students Matter, contends that these education laws are a violation of the Constitution's equal protection guarantee because they do not ensure that all students have access to an adequate education.
What happens when you let unions dominate the bargaining process. They look out for their own and not the well-being of the students. Of course, their reason for piss poor performance is that they aren't getting enough money to do the job right -- if we just had another raise and better pension plan, things would turn around. And the people who agree to such bullcrap fail to do their homework and don't look at data such as this:
cato_education.jpg
Source CATO Institute First blogged about it October, 2012 We could give all of the union teachers a chauffeured limousine and they would still ask for more (and the kids test scores would still be in the toilet). Who benefits and what is the taxpayer buying with their tax dollars? And oh yeah - LA Times again:
L.A. teachers union calls for 17.6% raise
The union that represents Los Angeles teachers is seeking a 17.6% salary increase, officials announced.

United Teachers Los Angeles also is calling for a restoration of school staffing to levels in place prior to the state�s recent economic recession. In addition, the union wants new rules that will protect the rights and jobs of teachers at persistently low-performing schools.

Boeing goes big for the Seahawks

Boeing took one of their dash-8s (747 cargo configuration) and had a bit of fun with some paint:

20140204-747-8Hawks.jpg

And a tip 'o the hat to Ron at Sound Politics Turns out that the plane spent some time in the air and had an unusual flight plan. From Seattle station KOMO:

Boeing 747 flies Seahawks '12' pattern over Washington
Boeing is flying the Seahawks colors high over Washington.

The company painted a 747 freighter with the team logo and the Number 12 on the tail to salute the fans.

The plane rolled out of a hangar Wednesday at Paine Field in Everett. It flew to Boeing Field in Seattle on Thursday for a brief stop and then took off to fly a 12 pattern over Eastern Washington.

The flight was archived at the wonderful Flight Aware website.

Obamacare in the news

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A look at some numbers from Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge:
Obamacare To Crush Workforce By 2.5 Million Workers In Next Decade, CBO Admits
When the "impartial" Congressional Budget Office first attempted to predict the impact on the US labor force as a result of the administration healthcare ponzi scheme, also known affectionately as Obamacare and less affectionately by other names, it estimated that 800,000 Americans would drop out of the labor force by 2021. Moments ago it just revised that projection, admitting that it was off by the usual 100% or so: the hit to the US labor force due to Obamacare is now estimated to soar to 2.3 million through 2021, and furthermore the CBO just admitted that the enrollment rate will be dramatically below the White House's baseline estimates, with 2 million fewer people signing up this year than previously estimated.

In brief, as the CBO admits (before it is forced to adversely reduce the numbers once more) the law will lead to 2 million fewer workers in 2017, 2.3 million in 2021 and 2.5 million through 2024. This represents a 1.5% to 2.0% reduction in the numbers of hours worked. As the WSJ recalls, CBO last year projected 7 million people would enroll for health insurance through health care exchanges in 2014, but Tuesday it said technical problems that plagued the program's rollout forced it to lower its estimate by 1 million people.

"Those changes primarily reflect the significant technical problems that have been encountered in the initial phases of implementing the [law]," the CBO said. It said it couldn't yet revise estimates for future years. CBO also projected 8 million new people would qualify for Medicaid and other expanded coverage this year, down from a 2013 estimate of 9 million people.
Tyler has a lot more at the site -- pretty grim stuff...

A great trend from Oklahoma

From The Hill:
Inhofe warns EPA regulations could cause winter blackouts
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Tuesday that he plans to introduce a bill that would allow states to opt-out of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on power plants.

Inhofe said his Electricity Reliability and Affordability Act would allow states to determine which old power plants should be shutdown rather than the federal government.

In an effort to combat carbon emissions, the administration announced that it would limit how much new coal power plants can emit and slowly close older plants that aren�t efficient. Inhofe said states would have a better idea than the federal government of what consumers want and need.

Inhofe also pointed out that January has been one of the coldest months on record, disproving claiming that there is global warming and climate change. He warned that if this cold weather persists and some power plants are shutdown, there might not be enough energy to meet demand during winter months.

�If this recent cold weather occurs again while these plants are shutdown there simply won�t be enough electricity to keep people warm,� Inhofe said on the Senate floor. �It could result in massive blackouts. � It will be as if we�re living in the 1600s and everyone will be cold.�
That is fantastic -- falls right under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Reserved to the States -- exactly...

A fun legal loophole - chicken from China

From Modern Farmer:

Processed Chicken From China Slips Past New Country-of-Origin Labels
Raw imported meat or fish now bears a label describing where it was raised, slaughtered and processed. Cooked meat doesn't face the same requirement and as a result, chicken from China could be showing up on shelves and school lunches without the knowledge of consumers.

That left a a bipartisan group of representatives people upset last month. Led by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut, 12 Democrats and two Republicans signed a letter raising concerns over chicken processed in China and imported in the U.S. In particular, the congressmen seek language in the new farm appropriations bill that would keep the chicken out of federal school lunch programs.

"Children are our most vulnerable population with respect to food-borne illnesses and sensitivity to potentially dangerous chemicals," wrote the lawmakers. "Given China's demonstrably poor food safety record, we believe it is unacceptable to take unnecessary risks with the health of American schoolchildren."

China has a long and sordid history of contaminated food. The fact that cooked meats are exempt does not reassure me -- google Gutter Oil if you don't believe me. Or watch this:

Cold!

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The cold weather that was forecast has hit home with a vengeance. High winds this afternoon and then sub-freezing temps with some wind. Air temp is 13.0�F, ground temp is 22.6�F and with the wind at 17 MPH gusting to 23+, wind chill starts at -4�F and gets worse from there. So bad that I am peeing inside in the toilet instead of just letting it hang over the edge of the back porch -- now THAT is cold! And there is still more cold weather to come! Heading into Bellingham tomorrow morning before I open the new business so will be watching for road ice. Fortunately, all of the moisture has frozen out of the atmosphere so the chance for black ice is pretty minimal.
Had the store buying run today and then a 3:00PM meeting with a new vendor. Finally done with that -- heading home to dinner and a quiet evening. Will surf and post later...
As a business owner, I have zero problems with someone trying to promote their business. That being said, they have do this intelligently. If they fail on this simple task, they will look like PWNED ass-hats. There is a method to my madness. On November 05, 2009 I had posted this:
Heh - the invisible hand in the marketplace

Missoula, MT may be a bastion of liberals but the rest of Montana is not.
This has a cause and effect on business decisions � sometimes fun ones.
From New West Politics:
Missoula�s Progressive Talk Radio Hijacked, Again�
Turning the radio dial from NPR news over to AM 930 this morning revealed an unfamiliar voice. Instead to the comical antics of The Stephanie Miller Show, there was a local show, Voices of Montana with Aaron Flint.

Great I thought a local show. But they sure talk about Bush a lot, I pondered. Then I went to the KMPT website to see how the new lineup looked. �A new attitude and a great line-up or some of the best conservative talk!� a tag line read. The best conservative talk!
More at the site including my pr�cis:
There is a reason Air America tanked and it had to file for bankruptcy back in 2006 and has sunk from several hundred stations down to 66. Their audience simply is not that large�
This evening, while Lulu and I were enjoying the game, someone tried to leave this comment to that November, 2009 post:
Morgan Pierce Law Firm of Missoula, MT is a law office practicing in bankruptcy law. We provide our legal services with compassion and dedication, and we will not rest until we achieve the best result possible for your case. Our attorneys, Daniel S. Morgan and Andrew W. Pierce, combined have more than 25 years of experience practicing law, and they will thoroughly explain all of your options for debt relief. There is no fee for an initial telephone consultation.
For shits and grins, I enabled the comment for the time being. If there are any adults at Morgan Pierce, call the people who are doing your internet promotion and fire them now. Fire them -- they are idiots. This is a prima facie example of SPAM and SPAM is reviled throughout the internet. If you ask nicely, I will remove this post and delete your office's comment on my 2009 post. Remember the Streisand Effect. Be adult. Do not SPAM.
From Breitbart:
Donations to Karl Rove's Groups Drop 98% after Targeting Tea Party
After wasting nearly $325 million during the 2012 election cycle with nothing to show for it and then declaring war on the Tea Party, donations to Karl Rove's three Crossroads groups decreased by 98% last year. The groups reportedly raised a paltry $6.1 million combined in 2013.

Rove runs Crossroads GPS, American Crossroads, and the Conservative Victory Project Super PAC, which was formed this year to wage war against conservatives. Rove's two groups raised $325 million in 2012 and about $70 million in 2010. As Politico notes, though, "Rove added a third group to the network in 2013, forming the Conservative Victory Project to counterbalance the influence of Tea Party and conservative grassroots forces in GOP primaries."

Since then, as Breitbart News reported, "Rove�s organization has been so tarnished among the conservative base that candidates fear donors will not contribute to any group associated with him." Aware of this, Rove's Crossroads network has reloaded with groups that share donors but are technically not affiliated on paper with them.
What part of We the People do these useful idiots fail to grasp. They work for us, not the other way around.

Gun control in England

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An article on how well gun control is working in England -- from The Guardian:
Firearms: cheap, easy to get and on a street near you
The gun shown here, a Webley, is up for sale in London for �150, one of hundreds of such weapons that are easily and cheaply available on the streets of the UK's big cities, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

The variety of weapons on offer in Britain is extensive and includes machine guns and shotguns, as well as pistols and converted replicas. A source close to the trade in illegal weapons contacted by the Guardian listed a menu of firearms that are available on the streets of the capital.

"You can get a clean [unused] 9mm automatic for �1,500, a Glock for a couple of grand and you can even make an order for a couple of MAC-10s," he said. "Or you can get a little sawn-off for �150. They're easy enough to get hold of. You'll find one in any poverty area, every estate in London, and it's even easier in Manchester, where there are areas where the police don't go.

"People who use shotguns tend to be lower down the pecking order. There is less use of sawn-off or full length shotguns, and if a criminal wants street cred, he wants a self-loading pistol, a MAC-10 or an Uzi submachine gun."
You need to realize that this was published Friday 29 August 2008. Five+ years and nothing has changed -- when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have them and they are much more widespread than people think. You can build a single-shot 'zip' gun from common plumbing fittings.
It has been a couple months now since the Russian ship, the Academik Shokalskiy, was stranded in ice prompting a Keystone Kops 'rescue' involving two other ships and some helicopters. They were down there on some vague scientific mission to chart the effects of global warming and now, the BBC is their complicit handmaiden for the hype:
Andrew Luck-Baker has spent the last two months with the polar scientists who have been following in the footsteps of the first Australasian Expedition to Antarctica a century ago, lead by Douglas Mawson. On Christmas Day 2013 their ship, the Academik Shokalskiy, became trapped in the ice. Andrew reflects on doing science in the frozen southern continent, the experience of getting stuck for 10 days and the elation of the eventual rescue.

Between 1911 and 1914, Douglas Mawson explored a fiercely harsh part of Antarctica while the more celebrated Scott and Amundsen raced to the South Pole elsewhere on the frozen continent. Mawson's expedition was dedicated to scientific study and discovery in the early Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. That said, Mawson's experiences were fraught with horror and danger. His story includes the most remarkable episode of suffering in the jaws of death in that Heroic Age.

Times have changed and travellers to the Antarctic are well prepared with modern hi-tech clothing and ice breaking ships. But still the 2013 expedition was a victim of the unpredictable conditions in the southern continent.

The 2013 Australasian Antarctic Expedition has repeated many of Mawson's investigations around Commonwealth Bay and Cape Denison in East Antarctica where the original team set up their base. This remote area hasn't been studied systematically for100 years and the expedition has revealed how this part of Antarctica is being altered by climate change.
Just to remember, here is film shot by Mawson's crew as they landed in Commonwealth Bay in 1912. As you can see, the bay was choked with ice:
Global warming indeed...

Superbowl Sunday

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I was never into commercial athletics -- enjoyed playing games of baseball and soccer but televised sports never reached me. Lulu's father coached high-school and college athletics in addition to his 'real job' so Lulu grew up going out to games every Friday night. Looks like we will be watching the Superbowl at our house today. Should be fun -- this is one of the great American pageants and the advertising is always a lot of fun. Besides, after living in Seattle for twenty years, who can't root for the Sonics? Mariners? Sounders? Storm? Thunderbirds? Seahawks!!! Got a couple nice steaks thawing out and will be doing those with baked potatoes and a big salad.

A two-fer of a subject line but just this link to English Russia to see what they are dealing with this winter:

Rostov-on-Don Crazy Blizzard
Rostov on Don (Rostov-na-Donu) is the tenth largest Russian city with a population of more than 1.1 million people. In the last few days people have reported massive snowfalls and blizzards in Rostov. As a result they say "city has gone medieval", with shortages of food, fuel and electricity reported. The locals say cars can't reach Rostov because the highways are closed and covered with snow. Here are some photos from the "sieged" town's daily routines. The shot above demonstrates what an average person can see thru his bottom level window when he wakes up in the morning.

Rostov is about the same latitude as Seattle, WA -- 47.2 v/s 47.6 Three pages of photos. Here are the first two images:

20140201-rostov01.jpg

20140201-rostov02.jpg

#1) - through the living room door onto the back porch

#2) - through the front door.

The roof rack of the guy's car is just visible through the snowfall. Time to start wearing pajamas, drinking hot chocolate and talking about climate change...

It was ten years ago today that a contract was signed to get the tractor I have here. Use her a couple times/week and really happy with her. Blog post is here: Doings up north... Delivered two weeks later. A trusty companion. The vicissitudes of life fall away when riding a tractor. Sator arepo tenet opera rotas...

Poofreading at its finest - the BBC

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An honest mistake but still -- from the London Metro:
BBC caption fail: Welcome to the year of the whores
20140201-bbc-horse.jpg

As millions of people around the world celebrate the Chinese New Year, something appears to have been lost in translation at the BBC.

Instead of welcoming in the year of the horse, a subtitle error saw the BBC usher in the �year of the whores�.

One eagle-eyed viewer took a screen grab of yesterday�s gaffe before it was picked up on social media.

�So it�s Chinese New Year, but the BBC subtitles got a bit confused about the year,� said one.

Another added: �Happy Chinese New Year, according to BBC Subtitles it should be an interesting one!�

The year of the horse is generally considered an auspicious time, and business-savvy residents of Hong Kong are hoping for vigorous growth.
Someone needs to alter their global spell-check file to make people think twice about words like this. The internet never forgets...
Not that many months ago, it was pitch dark at 4:30 -- now it is light enough to work. Cold though and getting colder as the sun sets. Dinner (beef stew leftovers with salad and home-made cornbread (with jalape�o bits)) and then surf for a bit...
We are heading into Bellingham to do some shopping and to get some stuff from my Mom and Dad's condo. Too much stuff needs attention around the house. We will be heading into Bellingham next weekend instead...

Prince Charles - a realty check

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Anthony Watts has this to say:
Chicken al la still not a king
The royal prince in waiting of Britain labels climate skeptics as �headless chickens�.

From The Telegraph:
Prince Charles has criticised climate change deniers, describing them as the �headless chicken brigade� during an awards ceremony recognising a leading young green entrepreneur.

Charles, who has campaigned for years to reduce global warming, also spoke out against �the barrage of sheer intimidation� from powerful anti-climate change groups during the event held at Buckingham Palace last night.
The mark of a true leader is bringing people with diverse views and backgrounds together, clearly with this recent pronouncement, Prince Charles clearly has failed as a leader.

I�ll point out a few things the prince who may be king should know, but doesn�t, or chooses not to.

1. Rational climate skeptics don�t doubt that some portion of the proposed greenhouse effect is real, it�s just that nobody (and that includes many scientists) seems to be able to agree upon how much. The few who actually deny the Greenhouse effect exists, such as the �Slayers� aka �Principia Scientific� only represent the views of a fringe.

2. Item 1 then leads to arguments about climate sensitivity, values are literally �all over the map�:
Anthony then posts a graph showing the estimates from seventeen of the official AGW sources (IPCC, Lindzen, etc...) and follows with a brutal shopping list that dismantles the political hype machine. This one is especially delicious:
5. While rational climate skeptics point out reality based factual inconsistencies with warming projections, the global warming movement has been hijacked by emotional activists, such as Bill McKibben and Al Gore, who use emotional pleas and invective to motivate people. You won�t see them ever show the graphs above because they don�t deal in facts, only emotional appeals.
Show us the facts and then we might start to listen again. Don't try to snow us with emotion. Climate is not emotional. Striving for political gain is.

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