July 2014 Archives

Keeping it classy - CNN Anchor Bill Weir

Talk about being an igonrant asshat. From Mediaite:

CNN Anchor Bill Weir to Fox Nation: ‘You Willfully Ignorant F*cksticks’
It’s safe to say CNN anchor Bill Weir is not a fan of climate change deniers.

On Thursday, the Twitter account for Fox Nation, a blog run by Fox News, tweeted a link to a post headlined, “Climate Doesn’t Cooperate With Al Gore’s Group’s Visit to Denver EPA Hearings.”

The story, aggregated from the Washington Times, relates to a Denver visit by former Vice President Al Gore‘s “Climate Reality Project” for EPA hearings on power plant emissions.

The group showed up to hand out ice cream even though it was 58 degrees.

Weir retweeted the link, with his own comment: “Weather is not climate, you willfully ignorant fucksticks.”

We’ve requested comment from CNN.

Nice to see that the Gore Effect was firmly in place - 58 degrees in Colorado in July?

This came in from an email - interesting comparison. Talking about Lance Armstrong and his doping scandal:

The parallels to the AGW movement are quite stunning.

Lance and his enablers promulgated the myth that he was a world beating clean athlete. His enablers included media such as the New York Times, sponsors, politicians.

He had the international governing body (the UCI) in his corner.

There were skeptics who didn’t buy it.

Seeing the parallels yet?

Lance Inc intimidated, threatened anyone who didn’t toe the line.

Other riders who didn’t take part were run out of the sport, marginalised, bullied, even called insane.

Other skeptics had their businesses ruined (see Greg Lemond’s story)

In many cases they were harassed or silenced by lawsuits. The lawsuits went in Lance’s favour. Damaged were awarded, critics were cowed.

He even had the altruism angle covered – the cancer foundation, which is now seen by many to have been something of a criticism forestaller.

“You can’t criticise me, I’m saving the world”.

There was even the dodgy use of statistics. “I’ve been tested 500 times and never failed a test”.

He was using EPO when there was no test for it, and then switched to blood doping when there was no test for that.

So, a near perfect analogy for what’s been going on in the AGW “debate”.

Fortunately, we know how the Lance saga ended. The truth always prevails.

Absolutly - the truth always prevails although it can take many years to triumph.

And the Ebola epidemic keeps spreading

The Centers for Disease Control has a website for the current outbreak:

Outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
The  World Health Organization, in partnership with the Ministries of Health in  Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, announced a cumulative total of 1201 suspect  and confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and 672 deaths, as of July 23,  2014. Of the 1201 clinical cases, 814 cases have been laboratory confirmed for  Ebola virus infection.

They are currently at a level three warning for travel:

Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel

From the same link, we can also see that there is a serious (level two) outbreak of Polio in Equatorial Guinea, Syria, Cameroon, Somalia, Ethiopia and Iraq. I thought we had developed a cure - this is  a singularly nasty disease. It was still a serious threat when I was a child.  I grew up in Pittsburgh and my schoolmates and I were one of Doctor Salk's guinea pigs.

 

Numbers can be pesky when comparing them to the latest spiffy computer models - from the Centers for Disease Control comes this paper (PDF) that shows that there are more fatalities from cold than there are from heat. Global Warming will save lives!

From the abstract:

Deaths Attributed to Heat, Cold, and Other Weather Events in the United States, 2006–2010
Objectives—This report examines heat-related mortality, cold-related mortality, and other weather-related mortality during 2006–2010 among subgroups of U.S. residents.

Methods—Weather-related death rates for demographic and area-based subgroups were computed using death certificate information. Adjusted odds ratios for weather-related deaths among subgroups were estimated using logistic regression.

Results and Conclusions—During 2006–2010, about 2,000 U.S. residents died each year from weather-related causes of death. About 31% of these deaths were attributed to exposure to excessive natural heat, heat stroke, sun stroke, or all; 63% were attributed to exposure to excessive natural cold, hypothermia, or both; and the remaining 6% were attributed to floods, storms, or lightning. Weather-related death rates varied by age, race and ethnicity, sex, and characteristics of decedent’s county of residence (median income, region, and urbanization level). Adjustment for region and urbanization decreased the risk of heat-related mortality among Hispanic persons and increased the risk of cold-related mortality among non-Hispanic black persons, compared with non-Hispanic white persons. Adjustment also increased the risk of heat-related mortality and attenuated the risk of cold-related mortality for counties in the lower three income quartiles.

The differentials in weather-related mortality observed among demographic subgroups during 2006–2010 in the United States were consistent with those observed in previous national studies. This study demonstrated that a better understanding of subpopulations at risk from weather-related mortality can be obtained by considering area-based variables (county median household income, region, and urbanization level) when examining weather-related mortality patterns.

And meanwhile, it is getting cooler and cooler...

Absolutly briliant. Hat tip to Gerard

Here is Evan Sayet's website

From The Washington Post:

Justice Dept., FBI to review use of forensic evidence in thousands of cases
The Justice Department and the FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence, officials said Tuesday.

The undertaking is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available, people familiar with the process said. Such FBI examinations have taken place in federal and local cases across the country, often in violent crimes, such as rape, murder and robbery.

The review comes after The Washington Post reported in April that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases. In addition, prosecutors did not notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.

Some more:

In its April report, The Post identified two District men convicted largely on the testimony of FBI hair analysts who wrongly placed them at crime scenes. Santae A. Tribble, now 51, was convicted of killing a taxi driver in 1978, and Kirk L. Odom, now 49, was convicted of a sexual assault in 1981. Since the Post report, Tribble’s conviction was vacated, and on Tuesday, prosecutors moved to overturn Odom’s conviction and declare him innocent. The Justice Department had not previously reviewed their cases.

Chitre said the new review would include help from the Innocence Project, a New York-based advocacy group for people seeking exoneration through DNA testing. It also would include the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The Peter Principle at work - all government bureaucracies need a good housecleaning. Our government has too many incompetent administrators.

Dropbox - a horror story

I use Dropbox so that clients can send me files. I do not use it for archival storage. Turns out this is a good thing.

From Jan Čurn writing at Petapixel:

A Cautionary Tale: How a Bug in Dropbox Permanently Deleted 8,000 of My Photos
I started using Dropbox back in 2009 and have always loved the service. Over time, I kept moving more and more files to my Dropbox folder and eventually had to upgrade to the Pro plan to keep up with the space requirements. In particular, I moved there all of my photos in order to be able to view/share them online and also to have them backed up.

In April of this year, a hard drive in my laptop was running low on space so I decided to use the Dropbox’s Selective Sync feature to unsync some large directories from the laptop. Because there was never any problem with the service and also because it’s already the year 2014, I thought it might be about time that one can trust a cloud-based storage service and use them as a sole backup of their files. Boy, I was wrong.

And the upshot:

About two months later when I was preparing for a defence of my PhD thesis, I was looking for an old presentation but couldn’t find it. The directory was there but it was empty. I would have never deleted these files, something must have gone wrong.

I contacted Dropbox support, who then broke the news to me: there was a delete event of 8343 files from 2014-04-29 at 14:57:30 GMT (UTC). Looking at the log record from this event, I realized most of the missing files were my photos! All the directories were still in place but many of them were empty, as if Dropbox randomly deleted some files and left some others intact. I was devastated. All those memories and the effort with collecting and organizing the photos… gone.

A bug in Dropbox and even for the Pro subscribers, they only retain data for 30 days. Not a good thing...

I use Acronis and create a local disk image every couple of days. Hard drive failure is not a case of if, it is a matter of when

Funny but actually, an excellent overview of general mathematics. Zogg is a great teacher for an LGG (little green guy).

A letter of thanks

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From The Algemeiner:

A Letter of Thanks From Hamas to the International Media

Dear Members of the Mainstream Media,
You’ve been awesome! Everyone knows that we start unwinnable wars with Israel because the real victory happens when you predictably side with us each time. And you’ve been so supportive of our strategy that we really want to acknowledge your helpfulness. In particular, we thank you for:

Much more at the site - spot on.

Shake 'n Bake

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We have another heat wave - temps in the high 80's.

The grocery store (and beer cave) is nice and cool but my shipping office has a fan and that is it.

No sign of relief for now.

Memo to self - when robbing a bank...

Make sure I can run for more than a couple blocks. From Omaha, NE station WOWT:

Bond Set For Bank Robbery Suspect
Bond was set at 10 percent of $75,000 Wednesday morning for the woman accused of robbing an Omaha bank Monday afternoon.

Police say 23-year-old Shantoria Valentine walked into the Wells Fargo branch at 84th and L and gave a note to the teller claiming she had a bomb.  Valentine fled with $1,200 in cash, but collapsed a few blocks away in front of Ralston Middle School.

Mike Wadleigh noticed a woman hurrying by his apartment near the bank and told WOWT 6 News she’d “shuffle a little bit, run a little bit, walk a little bit, shuffle a little bit.”

Dave Ishii with Ralston Schools said, “I noticed it was a gal.  She came through the gate and kept looking behind her.”  Dave spotted her from his truck.  He had no idea she was a bank robbery suspect, but could tell she was running from something.  “I jumped out of the truck and pointed at the cop, this way.”

Ralston Middle School is three blocks from the bank.  It's all uphill.  “I ran up the steps and by the time I got up there another person had her cornered," said Ishii.  "She was pretty well winded then.  She just laid down and put her hands out.”

The stupidity - it burns!

No wonder her hard drive "crashed"

From the London Daily Mail:

Emails reveal IRS official Lois Lerner called conservatives 'crazies' and 'a**holes' as Eric Holder comes under new pressure to investigate
Former senior IRS official Lois Lerner had deeply held political biases while she was in a position of authority, according to Republican lawmakers who unveiled emails on Wednesday showing her referring to conservatives as 'crazies' and 'a**holes.'

Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder to demand what he called 'a serious investigation' – something he said has been lacking.

Camp wants Holder to appoint an outside special counsel to probe the culture of the IRS and explain why hundreds of conservative groups were subjected to intrusive questioning and years-long delays when they applied for nonprofit tax benefits – steps that were not taken against liberal organizations.

Some excerpts from the email:

The November 9, 2012 email exchange with an unnamed colleague – the person's name was redacted in the copy Camp's staff released publicly – took place while Lerner was in the United Kingdom.

'Overheard some ladies talking about American[s] today,' Lerner wrote. 'According to them we've bankrupted ourselves and a[re] through. We'll never be able to pay off our debt and are going down the tubes.'

Turning sarcastic, Lerner pounced on her British acquaintances.

'They don't seem to see that they can't afford to keep up their welfare state either,' she wrote. 'Strange.'

The conversation turned ugly when Lerner's writing companion let loose first on conservatives.

'Well, you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP,' the person replied. 'The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end.'

'The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.'

'Great,' Lerner wrote back. 'Maybe we are through if there are that many a**holes.'

'And I'm talking about the hosts of the shows,' came the reply. 'The callers are rabid.'

In the final message of the exchange, Lerner wrote that 'we don't need to worry about [illegal] alien terrorists. It's our own crazies that will take us down.'

Lerner's visit to the UK coincided with a management shakeup at the IRS. On the day of the email exchange, then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman left office at the conclusion of his appointed term and deputy commissioner Steven Miller took over.

Our betters at work. The entire administration needs to be tarred, feathered and driven into the river...

Dodd-Frank - secure? Not so much.

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From The Washington Post:

Dodd-Frank’s Achilles’ heel
Four years after Dodd-Frank became law, the question being asked is whether the country is safe from another financial crisis. It’s the wrong question. It presumes that major financial crises are routine events. They’re not. What happened in 2008-2009 was the first in the United States since World War II. This sort of calamity requires much stupidity, incompetence and bad luck. With or without the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, the next one might be many years or decades away. The right question is: When a crisis occurs — as it probably will — does Dodd-Frank better prepare us to handle it?

Unfortunately, no. It may even make us more vulnerable. To see why, you need to understand Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act and its role in the last crisis. It’s the sleeper issue in judging Dodd-Frank.

Much more at the site and some excellent comments.  It's smoke and mirrors all the way down. Our appearance of careful management is merely a careful management of appearances.

Just as a heads up, Robert J. Samuelson has been writing on economic issues since 1977. He is not related to Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Samuelson.

From Truth and Action (video at link):

NY DHS Will Pay You $500 To Rat Out Fellow Citizens Buying Legal Goods
New York’s Division of Homeland Security is posting signs on businesses to encourage people to snitch on fellow citizens who buy such things as MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), ammunition, flash lights, match containers, gas masks and other items deemed to be ‘prepper’ in nature.

In this video a girl working at LZ Army Navy Surplus store in Auburn, NY tell us how a state trooper put up a flier in their window which encourages customers to call the New York State Terrorism Tips Line to report this ‘suspicious activity’ under the as part of the “See Something, Say Something” campaign.

This is obviously nothing more than the beginning of the cultivation of ‘average citizen snitches’ who will rat out on their fellow citizens.

This does not surprise me. Here's the PDF from the Ohio branch:

20140730-dhs.jpg

More here and here.

It would not be politically correct to profile so they spy on all of us. Stupid bureaucrat. No donut.

Color me surprised - not...

From Investor's Business Daily:

Democrats Admit Amnesty Is For Political Purposes
Give us your poor, your tired, your future Democrats waiting to be registered. That's what some in the party are saying as they urge the president to pursue immigration goals even if it hurts in the '14 midterms.

In other words, damn the political torpedoes and full speed ahead in the fundamental demographic and political transformation of America.

"You'll always have members whose political vulnerability they tie entirely to immigration," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. "We didn't make progress when we were in the majority because we were being protective of those (members) on immigration reform. At some point do you worry more about the future or do you continue to put off the inevitable by not taking action?"

For Democrats such as Grijalva and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., amnesty and the political benefits stemming from it are inevitable. They are quite willing to use children to exploit the inherent compassion of the American people if it means ensuring the political future of the Democratic Party through the gratitude of millions of illegal aliens allowed to come here and stay.

Gutierrez recently told a La Raza conference that it was only a "down payment" that President Obama gave the Latino community with his Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) program that halted the deportation of 600,000 of "our people":

"Now it is time for the president in the United States ... (to) free the mom and dads of the DREAMers and to go further — be broad and expansive and generous."

And just how many would he eventually like to sign up? "I think we can get 3 or 4, maybe even 5 million people," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." If you can't persuade voters, you can always import them.

This is so removed from constitutionality as to be ridiculous. Illegal doesn't begin to describe it. Pandering to an uninformed base to win votes and centralize their political power. At least Russia had a revolution - we are lurching toward tyranny by decree.

So true - The Argyle Sweater

From The Argyle Sweater - today's cartoon was spot on:

20140730-tas.gif

The reference? Spy vs Spy

Infrastructure - Los Angeles water mains

Over the last 100 years, we have spent huge amounts of money building out an amazing infrastructure of water, sewage, electrical and transportation conduits throughout the United States. You would think that with all this capital investment, some funds would be set aside for preventative maintenance. These entities will fail.  It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

A big when happened yesterday in Los Angeles - from FOX News:

Broken water main floods UCLA campus, forces rescue of drivers, pedestrians
A 93-year-old water pipe burst under Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon, sending a geyser of water spewing 30 feet in the air and flooding parking structures and buildings on the UCLA campus, including the school's famed basketball arena, Pauley Pavilion. 

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power General Manager Jim McDaniel said that the 30-inch pipe was shut off at approximately 7 p.m. local time Tuesday, three-and-a-half hours after it burst. McDaniel estimated that between eight and ten million gallons of water had been released, adding that the city of Los Angeles uses an estimated 55 million gallons each day. LADWP spokeswoman Michele Vargas had earlier estimated that the pipe carries an estimated 75,000 gallons of water per minute when functioning.

And how many other soft spots are out there waiting to let go. What will happen is a very expensive crash program to retrofit the water main. What should have happened is a cheap annual inspection followed by selective repair of weakening sections. But we can use that money for other stuff...

Cleaning your tools - two paths

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Older ammunition is labeled as "corrosive" meaning that the primers contain Potassium Chlorate which does not play nice with metal (although it is a lot of fun to play with when you heat it up and drop in a Gummi Bear).

Here are two sites for gun cleaning: Corrosive and Other

Just Damn! Bruce Willis - Devil Woman

 

Fun actor - really good musician.

As a sound junkie, I pay a lot of attention to how people use the microphone. Bruce knows how to do it well and about half-way through, his use of both the vocal and harp mic for singing is excellent technique if the FOH mixer is expecting it. A great effect. The mic in question is an Astatic JT30 dispatcher's microphone. It was designed for 1960's taxi cab dispatchers - the frequency response was limited to vocal frequencies (300-3,000Hz) and it was designed to take a lot of abuse (spitting, shouting, being knocked around, beer, tobacco smoke, etc...) which makes it perfect for the blues.

Hey Bruce - if that acting gig doesn't pan out...

From 2013/07/24 - Breitbart :

Top 10 Signs Obama Scandals Aren't 'Phony'
10. Someone pleads the Fifth. Lois Lerner, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during an oversight hearing. She was also suspended (with pay).

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

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

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

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

5. You assert dubious executive privilege to stop investigations. Obama exercised that option to protect Attorney General Eric Holder and the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious from scrutiny.

Five more at the site - I had posted this back on July 25th, 2013 -- good enough that it deserves another outing. As I said in the title block, nothing has changed.

NOAA data security

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Interesting article from SC Magazine:

IG scolds NOAA on security deficiencies, recommends fixes
The security climate is in need of change at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) after a report from the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Commerce found “significant security deficiencies” — amounting to thousands of vulnerabilities — threaten its mission critical systems.

Specifically, the report on the IG's audit of NOAA called out the agency for having its information systems connected to National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) critical satellite ground support system which it says “increases the risk of cyber attacks.”

“The Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites' (POES') and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites' (GOES') mission-critical satellite ground support systems have interconnections with systems where the flow of information is not restricted, which could provide a cyber attacker with access to these critical assets,” said the report, echoing security professionals who have always pegged the transitive trust between the systems that run the business and the infrastructure systems as a point of vulnerability.

After reviewing selected Windows components on four NESDIS systems, the Inspector General concluded that “inconsistent implementation of mobile device protections” boosted the probability of malware infection, primarily because unauthorized devices had been connected to critical systems and because GOES and the Environmental Satellite Processing Center (ESPC) didn't take steps to make sure that the Windows AutoRun feature was consistently disabled. Nearly half, 48 percent, of the ESPC's components — and 36 percent of GOES's — were accessed by unauthorized smart phones and thumb drives.

Ouch! More at the article - these are absolute basic security techniques and for them not to be implemented shows a disconnect. A perfect example of a Cyber Dunning-Kruger effect.

From the link:

Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

    1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
    2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
    3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
    4. do recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

The scientists at NOAA are not stupid people but they are only trained for specific areas of knowledge. Computer Data Security does not fall into those areas but they think that they are smart enough to implement their security measures. Epic Fail!

Graduate-level programs should have two quarters of mandatory networking and security classes.

Obama is heavily in the pocket of the labor unions - they have been using union dues for campaign funding and receive perks in return.

Wonder how he will deal with this - from the Laborer's International Union of North America:

Spotlight on the Keystone XL Pipeline
The TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline is a major pipeline project that will run from Canada to Texas bringing oil to the US. Construction of the pipeline will help reduce our dependence on Mideast oil and create good union construction jobs. LIUNA members and other skilled building trades workers have already been enlisted to complete the project.

However, the project is currently in limbo pending the results of administrative reviews. Pipelines like Keystone have operated successfully for decades and are the safest, most reliable way to transport crude oil. The proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline would be a secure energy lifeline for America.

It will unlock good, family-supporting jobs for America at a time when families are losing their homes and desperately need good jobs.

The reasonable thing is to build the pipeline, create jobs here and reduce our dependence on oil from hostile regimes, instead of caving to fringe extremists and seeing that oil go to China.

Sounds good to me...

This is how we used to make things before we started shipping everything off to China. The downside? No OSHA - I hate to think of the chemicals in the phosphors and love the spot of the guy spraying the lacquer finish on the cabinet without any respirator.

Tip of the hat to Hack A Day for the link.

A list of fifty words

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From Mental Floss:

50 Words That Sound Rude But Actually Aren't
To paraphrase Krusty the Clown, comedy isn’t dirty words—it’s words that sound dirty, like mukluk. He’s right, of course. Some words really do sound like they mean something quite different from their otherwise entirely innocent definition (a mukluk is an Inuit sealskin boot, in case you were wondering), and no matter how clean-minded you might be, it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow or a wry smile whenever someone says something like cockchafer or sexangle. Here are 50 words that might sound rude, but really aren’t. Honest.

Here are five that caught my eye:

CLATTERFART - According to a Tudor dictionary published in 1552, a clatterfart is someone who "wyl disclose anye light secreate"—in other words, it’s a gossip or blabbermouth.

DREAMHOLE - A dreamhole is a small slit or opening made in the wall of a building to let in sunlight or fresh air. It was also once used to refer to holes in watchtowers used by lookouts and guards, or to openings left in the walls of church towers to amplify the sounds of the bells.

FANNY-BLOWER - According to one 19th century glossary of industrial slang, a fanny-blower or fanner was "used in the scissor-grinding industry," and comprised "a wheel with vanes, fixed onto a rotating shaft, enclosed in a case or chamber to create a blast of air." In other words, it’s a fan.

PAKAPOO - Pakapoo is a 19th century Australian word for a lottery or raffle. It apparently derives from a Cantonese phrase, baahk gáap piu, literally meaning "white pigeon ticket"—the Oxford English Dictionary suggests that in the original form of the game, a white dove might have been trained to select the winning ticket from all of the entries.

TIT-TYRANT - The tit-tyrants are a family of eight species of flycatcher native to the Andes Mountains and the westernmost rainforests of South America. One of the species, the ash-breasted tit-tyrant, is one of the world’s most endangered birds with fewer than 1000 individuals left in a handful of remote, high-altitude sites in Peru and Bolivia.

45 more at the site...

This is how you do it - Dr. Michael Darden:

 

Everyone is building nukes except here. Now China has agreed to build nuke plants in Romania and Argentina.

The design? Not the Ka-Boom kind the USA has been locked into - they are using the Canadian CANDU design - a lot better.

From World Nuclear News:

China signs Candu deals with Romania and Argentina
Two Chinese nuclear utilities have signed agreements that would see them cooperate in the construction and financing of new Candu units at Romania's Cernavoda plant and at Argentina's Atucha plant.

China Nuclear Power Engineering Co (CNPEC) has signed a "binding and exclusive" cooperation agreement with Candu Energy Inc for the construction of two more reactors at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant in Romania.

The agreement, signed in Vancouver yesterday, follows a letter of intent signed by CNPEC's parent company China General Nuclear (CGN) and Romanian national nuclear company Nuclearelectrica last November for investment in and development of Cernavoda units 3 and 4.

Cernavoda is home to two operating Candu 6 pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) supplied by Candu Energy's predecessor, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), and built by a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo. Unit 1 started up in 1996, but work was suspended on a further four units in 1991. Unit 2 was subsequently completed and has been in operation since 2007. The two reactors currently generated almost 20% of Romania's electricity.

And Argentina:

The signing of the Romanian agreement comes days after China and Argentina signed a new high-level agreement towards construction of a third PHWR at the Atucha plant in Argentina.

I prefer Thorium reactors but the CANDU is a very close second and in fact, it can run the Thorium cycle with decent efficiency. What makes the CANDU so nice is that it burns the fuel a lot more efficiently than the US designs (90% as opposed to 30%) and it can also burn waste materials from other reactors. It is inherently safe and survive a total loss of power with zero problems. Wikipedia has a page on them: CANDU Reactor. Here is the page from the Canadian Nuclear Association.

Got nothing today

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Long shopping run today.

For the last few days, I have been seeing this country auguring into the ground - hard to understand how we can be governed by such incompetent ideologues. So out of touch.

The immigration amnesty movement is just a replay of the 1980's Mariel Boatlift from Cuba. What was supposed to be an ordered immigration of refugees turned out to be a purge of Cuban prisons and mental hospitals. You can thank President Jimmy Carter for that one. Carter (boatlift, gas lines, malaise, etc.) is now the second worst President of the United States.

Gaza Strip? Why do people fail to remember their history - there are no palestinian people. The "Nation of Palestine" is a fabrication from the 1950's and was bought and paid-for by the Russian KGB. Yasser Arafat was Egyptian and spent nine years at Moscow's Patrice Lumumba University and was bankrolled by the KGB.

Arrrggghh...  That being said, Lulu and I are happy, the garden is doing well, my businesses are doing well.

I still have a couple old manuals and seek out IBM Selectrics whenever I can find good ones at a decent price. From Germany's English Language News source - The Local:

Typewriter manufacturers see boom in sales
German typewriter manufacturers are enjoying a boom in sales following the NSA spying scandal. A German defence manufacturer switched to typewriters last year, while last week a leading politician called for the government to use the old technology.

The head of the parliamentary inquiry into spying by the US National Security Service in Germany made headlines last week when he said his committee was considering using typewriters. But he is not alone.

With a turnover of €5 million, the German typewriter market is growing.

Manufactures Olympia and Bandermann are seeing a revival in what was until recently a dying technology.

"We sell about 10,000 (typewriters) every year," Bandermann manager Rolf Bonnen told The Local. Sales grew around a third last year on 2012.

Some more:

Last year Triumph Adler, which is part of Bandermann, made a YouTube video to promote its product as "Bug proof. NSA proof," after the Russians' interest was first reported by German media.

And an Olympia spokesman told Wirtschaftswoche magazine that the company expects to sell more typewriters this year than at any time in the last 20 years, with sales set to double in 2014.

Even if you are on a totally isolated system, people can still decypher what your system is doing. Tempest has been a mature technology since the mid 1980's.

There is going to be a big market for "secure" systems. Data obfuscation and signal jamming will yield good-enough security. Take a nice $1,200 laptop, move the guts into an $800 titanium chassis, tart it up with $500 worth of bells and whistles and sell it for $7,500 as a Data Secure System. Talk about taking candy from a baby...

Also, A.F.D.B.'s would be a great market to get into as well.

Nukes there, not here

Our Energy Policy is about as moronic and downright damaging as our Foreign Policy. The single most efficient and cost effective source of electrical energy is Nuclear and we are blowing money on energy rat-holes but ignoring Nuclear.

From Next Big Future:

BRICS countries are building about 75% of the worlds new nuclear reactors and are forming a new BRICS energy association
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced plans to establish a BRICS "energy association" that will include a fuel reserve bank and an energy policy institute. BRICS is a grouping of major emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Fifty of the 66 nuclear reactors currently under construction are in BRICS states.

Russia signed a number of nuclear power cooperation agreements that coincided with Putin's visit to South America. On 12 July, Rosatom director general Sergey Kiriyenko and Argentina's minister of planning, investments and services, Julio Vido, signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy. Rosatom plans to participate in the tender in the third quarter for construction of the third unit at the Atucha nuclear power plant.

On 15 July, Rusatom Overseas chief executive Dzhomart Aliyev and Camargo Correa President Dalton Santos Avancini signed a memorandum of understanding with Brazilian Camargo Correa on building an additional spent fuel storage facility and a nuclear power station in Brazil.

The document envisages an expansion of bilateral cooperation in nuclear power, in particular, the construction of engineering and technical facilities at the Brazilian operational Angra nuclear power plant and partnership in the construction of new nuclear power units in Brazil.

On 16 July, Putin held talks with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on broadening their partnership in the energy and defense sectors. Modi has reportedly invited the Russian leader to visit the construction site of Kudankulam 2 during their annual summit in New Delhi, in December. The two countries signed a general framework agreement in April on units 3 and 4.

 What makes this really interesting is that tucked into this agreement is a new bank:

The key development of the BRICS summit was the launch the long-awaited New Development Bank and a Currency Reserve Pool. With combined resources of $200 billion, they are aimed at fostering greater financial and development cooperation among the five emerging markets.

With a stated capital of $100 billion, the bank - widely seen as an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – "will become one of the largest multilateral financial development institutions in the world," Putin said. The group has also launched a Currency Reserve Pool, which Putin said "creates the prerequisites for effectively protecting our countries from financial market crises."

Putin is trying to move the world's reserve currency away from the US Dollar. This would undermine our ability to borrow money and would prompt lender nations to ask for repayment on an accelerated schedule. This would demolish the USA's economic power. We are at war here, we could win this easily (and come out ahead) but now -- Obama is fiddling while the world is burning. Right now, Russia is starved for hard currency. They get their money from oil and gas sales to Europe. If we came to market with the same product only cheaper, we would shut down Russia as well as defund the oil-ticks who are funding terrorism. But noooooo...

 

Waterboard tonight

Spent the afternoon brush-hogging. When I first moved here, I cleared a small trail down to the creek that flows through the valley. In subsequent years, it has returned to nature but I have been restoring it. The confluence of the two creeks is a delightful spot and have been thinking of a small tree-house or even just a platform to hang out. A friend was planning to build a fence and purchased a load of pressure-treated timber and subsequently changed their minds. I bought it from them and this would be a perfect use.

About one third of the way there. There was a spot that was really marshy with tall grass when I cut there two weeks ago - my feet got wet.  Returning to it today, it was nice and dry, even after the rains we had last week.

Did a pot of beef stew this morning so will have that for dinner and lunch this week. Also did some coleslaw - got a nice recipe developed. Lulu worked in the garden and hung out indoors and read - it got pretty hot outside.

Our monthly water board meeting is in about an hour - time to grab a bowl of stew and a beer and then head over there.

Sometimes, locking in a contract is not a good idea - from the Wall Street Journal:

When Staples Offers Items for a Penny, New York Buys Kleenex by the Pound
Staples Inc. made the State of New York quite a promise: Buy your office supplies from us, and we'll sell you a bunch of things for a penny apiece. This unleashed a rush on the retailer as government offices and qualifying organizations across the state gobbled up the one-cent items.

A Brooklyn charity benefiting disabled people ordered 240,000 boxes of facial tissue and 48,000 rolls of paper towels, according to documents obtained in a public-records request. Rome, N.Y., wanted 100,000 CD-Rs. A State Department of Motor Vehicles office ordered 8,000 rolls of packaging tape.

"We ordered things we didn't even need," said Nancy Sitone, manager of office services at United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Suffolk Inc. "I have some products up the yin-yang."

Staples was named New York's official office-supplies vendor in May 2013. Besides state agencies, those able to order under the contract include city halls, schools, police departments and many charities.

To win the three-year contract, Staples agreed to sell 219 popular items at a penny apiece. It hoped to turn a profit from thousands of other items that weren't on sale.

The one-cent bargains ranged from a 12-pack of chalk with a list price of $1.01 to an $1,100 paper shredder, and included products such as a high-capacity computer flash drive and a 72-pack of C batteries.

Enter the law of supply and demand.

Of course, Staples tried damage control - some more:

Two months into the contract, a senior Staples official complained in an email to John Traylor, a state official, about "excessive orders," citing as an example the request for 240,000 boxes of Kleenex, or 5,000 cases at a penny per 48-box case.

"This order alone exceeds the capacity of 10 tractor trailers [and] has a retail value of $399,500," the executive wrote.

Arguing that demand was unreasonably above estimates, Staples never delivered the truckloads of tissues or many other orders, and blocked some items from sale.

The state "is still in active negotiations to resolve this disagreement," a spokeswoman for New York's Office of General Services said. "Staples did not ask for a limitation in ordering quantities," she said, "and OGS would not have accepted such a limitation had it been made."

Staples is "in full compliance" with the contract, a spokeswoman said.

Heh - I wonder what Staples exec will not get their Christmas bonus this year. Bureaucrats behaving badly.

Picnic at Silver Lake park

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Lulu was in town for two days taking care of business there. She showed up today and hauled me off to Silver Lake park for a wonderful picnic.

Pulled pork sandwiches, a good local porter and some seafood bisque. Mmmmm...

The park was pretty crowded but we found a nice patch of grass by the water and spent a delightful couple hours.

Lulu said it was Mahalo ke Akua Kawika day.

Ebola in the news

The current outbreak is getting bigger and bigger. From the UK Independent:

Deadly Ebola virus spreads to Nigeria by plane as Sierra Leone hunts kidnapped patient
The Ebola virus that has already killed 660 people across West Africa has spread to Nigeria after a Liberian man boarded a plane to the country, the most populous in the continent.

He managed to board the flight despite of having a high fever. Once on the plane he vomited, before dying in Nigeria.

Just wonderful - it is airborne so everyone on the plane has been exposed. More:

Nigerian health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said it was the first case of Ebola to be confirmed in Nigeria since the start of the current outbreak in the region. The disease has already hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, infecting 1,093.

In Sierra Leone, officials are hunting the first known resident of the capital Freetown to test positive for the disease after the family of the woman forcibly removed her from a hospital in the city.

Saudatu Koroma, 32, a resident of the densely populated Wellington neighbourhood, had been admitted to an isolation ward while blood samples were analysed, health ministry spokesman Sidi Yahya Tunis. The results came back on Thursday.

“The family of the patient stormed the hospital and forcefully removed her and took her away,” Tunis said. “We are searching for her.”

Fighting one of the world's deadliest diseases is straining the region's weak health systems, while a lack of information and suspicion of medical staff has led many to shun treatment.

According to health ministry data and officials, dozens of people confirmed by laboratory tests to have Ebola are now unaccounted for in Sierra Leone, where the majority of cases have been recorded in the country's east.

No cure or vaccine, the current strain is killing 60% of those infected and it is thriving in urban areas and transportation hubs whereas prior outbreaks had been confined to rural areas.

Having a 200 Amp electrical service brought out to the equipment barn. Currently, it is served by a 40 Amp service and I can run some machinery and weld thin metal but anything more and I pop the breaker. Time to get real...

Also spending this weekend filling up the dumpster. Already it has made a big difference around the farm.

The garden is turning out really nice - got some 'maters ripening and the carrots and chard are delicious. We planted some punkins for fun -- see if the season is long enough for them to fully develop.

Spending tonight working on getting the music room wired up - we are due for nice weather through the weekend so I am planning on moving the rest of the synthesizers from the DaveCave(tm). It was not that long ago that the DaveCave(tm) was my retreat from a bad marriage. Now it is just another building on the farm. Lulu's son lives there when he is visiting and Lulu has been setting up her art projects. Planning to put a Propane heater in before it gets cold again - already have the heater (another auction), just need to build a mounting frame and plumb it in.

Gun control explained

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20140725-Seal.jpg

Hat tip to Robb Allen

No-fly zones for drones

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Nice map showing the publicly published no-fly zones for personal drones. Mostly airports, military and National Parks.

From Mapbox: Don’t fly drones here

Our leaders at work

This is so childish it is disgusting. From the Beeb:

Wikipedia blocks 'disruptive' page edits from US Congress
Wikipedia administrators have imposed a ban on page edits from computers at the US House of Representatives, following "persistent disruptive editing".

The 10-day block comes after anonymous changes were made to entries on politicians and businesses, as well as events like the Kennedy assassination.

The biography of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an "alien lizard".

One staffer said they were being banned for the "actions of two or three".

Edits from computers using the IP address belonging to the House of Representatives have been banned before, following similar acts of vandalism.

The latest block comes after rogue edits were brought to light by a Twitter feed, @congressedits, which posts every change made from the government-owned address.

Aren't these people supposed to be doing their jobs? Our tax dollars at work...

Two computer utilities

Fixing a system for a client and had great sucess with these two utilities.

For hard drive partitions: GParted

For repairing a Win7 installation: Windows 7 Recovery Disk and Repair Disc
Other versions here.

Both are free and excellent.

Activities to our South

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Lots of Military and Guard radio traffic since 6:00PM or so. South of Seattle.

Could be a training exercise but you never know...

Talk about a smooth operator

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I'm pretty good at operating large equipment but this guy is a surgeon. Ramps are for sissies...

Stumbled on this website - very deep and good: Frank's Hospital Workshop

From the About Page:

Preface
The last ten years I have worked as a biomedical technician, consultant and trainer in five diverse developing countries. All these countries were very different, but the problems in the hospital workshops were similar:

    • no spare parts for repairs and maintenance
    • no technical manuals
    • poorly or no trained biomedical technicians
    • no (financial) support by the responsible authorities
    • no technical support from the manufacturers
    • lack of awareness of the advantages of preventive maintenance

Appropriate training for hospital technicians and simple equipment for hospital workshops would improve the situation easily. But unfortunately most countries still have not recognized the importance of the repair and preventive maintenance of hospital equipment.

I hope that this website can be a little support to all biomedical technicians in developing countries.
Here you find:

    • all the documents about biomedical technology I have collected
    • all the user and service manuals I have
    • all training courses that I have developed and have held

Great resource - very applicable to Biology and Chemistry hobbyists

Romney in the 2012 debates - prescient

Obama was completely wrong and Romney was right.

 

The event was attended by Queen Beatrix. The conductor started off by talking about Islam. The Orchestra showed a wonderful spine (and the audience agreed with them).

From Government Executive:

House Republicans Want to Make It Easier to Fire All Senior Executive Service Employees
House Republicans have put forward a new measure to ease the disciplining and firing of senior executives across government, saying the measure will bring increased accountability to agencies’ top career employees.

The Senior Executive Service Accountability Act -- introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and cosponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. -- would bring sweeping changes to SES oversight. Issa’s committee will vote on the legislation Thursday.

The bill would make senior executives eligible for 14-day suspensions without pay, bringing them in line with most non-SES federal employees. Another provision would add a category for cause to fire an SES employee.

Currently, senior executives can be fired for three reasons: misfeasance, or poor performance; malfeasance, or misconduct; and nonfeasance, or the failure to complete assigned duties. The bill would add a fourth, more broad, reason, labeled as “such cause as would promote the efficiency of the service.” Employees receiving a negative personnel action would receive just 15 days’ notice, half of the 30 days they currently receive.

About time - there is a lot of deadwood that needs to be cleaned out. I would go even further and remove union representation for any public employee - each worker needs to be responsible for their own performance.

From the Associated Press:

Social Security spent $300M on 'IT boondoggle'
Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. Nearly $300 million later, the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency.

In 2008, Social Security said the project was about two to three years from completion. Five years later, it was still two to three years from being done, according to the report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm.

Today, with the project still in the testing phase, the agency can't say when it will be completed or how much it will cost.

In the meantime, people filing for disability claims face long delays at nearly every step of the process — delays that were supposed to be reduced by the new processing system.

"The program has invested $288 million over six years, delivered limited functionality, and faced schedule delays as well as increasing stakeholder concerns," the report said.

As a result, agency leaders have decided to "reset" the program in an effort to save it, the report said. As part of that effort, Social Security brought in the outside consultants from McKinsey to figure out what went wrong.

They found a massive technology initiative with no one in charge — no single person responsible for completing the project. They issued their report in June, though it was not publicly released.

Behavior like this in the private sector would result in immediate termination if not serious jail time. The government is staffed with people who are unable to "make it" in the real world. Why do we allow this? Time to institute some standards and culpability.

Great documentary on how the media distorts the truth. Filmed in 2000-2002 and released in 2008 but still very relevant.

As a reminder, there has never been a palestinian nation - these people are Jordanian and were recruited by Yasser Arafat, a KGB operative. Read your history if you don't believe me...

A single chair barber shop inside an eight foot diameter housing. The idea is that you site it at another business and you both benefit from the increased walk-in traffic.

Check out Barber Stop

Working on photo editing and some video

Busy day today - no customers but got a lot of stuff on my plate. Laying out a flier which I will mail out to about 1,200 addresses in the local community. Also editing the eBay photos and a time-lapse video.

I bet the governor of Maryland is wondering what hit him. From Beretta:

Beretta USA Announces Decision to Move Its Entire Maryland Manufacturing Capabilities to Tennessee
Beretta U.S.A. Corp., located in Accokeek, Maryland, announced today that it has decided to move its manufacturing capabilities from its existing location to a new production facility that it is building in Gallatin, Tennessee.  The Gallatin facility is scheduled to be opened in mid-2015.  Beretta U.S.A. had previously planned to use the new Gallatin, Tennessee facility for new machinery and production of new products only.

“During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, the version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the State products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world.  While we were able in the Maryland House of Delegates to reverse some of those obstructive provisions, the possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the State,” stated Jeff Cooper, General Manager for Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

“While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility,” Cooper added. 

Grab my guns? Sorry about those 300 jobs.

Besides, everybody knows that more guns equals less crime.

Dodging the bullet in 2012

From NASA Science News:

Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012
If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news.

Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn't mention it. The "impactor" was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years.

"If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado. 

Baker, along with colleagues from NASA and other universities, published a seminal study of the storm in the December 2013 issue of the journal Space Weather.  Their paper, entitled "A major solar eruptive event in July 2012," describes how a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth orbit on July 23, 2012.  Fortunately Earth wasn't there.  Instead, the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft.

"I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did," says Baker.  "If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire.

These have happened before and hit Earth. They talk about the Carrington Event:

Before July 2012, when researchers talked about extreme solar storms their touchstone was the iconic Carrington Event of Sept. 1859, named after English astronomer Richard Carrington who actually saw the instigating flare with his own eyes.  In the days that followed his observation, a series of powerful CMEs hit Earth head-on with a potency not felt before or since.  Intense geomagnetic storms ignited Northern Lights as far south as Cuba and caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices and thus disabling the 'Victorian Internet."

If this happened today, we would be in for ten years of privation. Camping is fun but having to live without electricity, running water and communication for more than a month or so is something that 95% of the western population is unprepared for. Farmers and rural tribesmen will come out OK but people in urban areas, not so much. The article calculates the odds of this happening as 12% over the next ten years.

Nuclear power - a three-fer

Nuclear Power is advancing, just not here. These are all from the excellent World Nuclear News.

First - from Russia:

Russia targets 2030 for BN-1200
Russia plans to start construction of three BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors before 2030, the director general of Rosenergoatom, Evgeny Romanov, said on 21 July.

Russian nuclear engineering company OKBM Afrikantov is developing a BN-1200 reactor as a next step towards future reactor designs, commonly known as Generation IV.

"We associate fast reactors with our strategic goal of a closed nuclear fuel cycle," Romanov said. The first of these units will be located at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in Zarechny, in the Urals, he said.

This design is a breeder reactor and will have a much better yield from its fuel as well as be able to "burn" the spent waste from traditional uranium reactors. They operate at high temperature but at atmospheric pressure so there can be no loss of cooling. We built these back in the 1950's and almost built a commercial one in the 1970's (thanks Jimmy) but because their fuel does not go Ka-Boom, the development was abandoned.

Second - from Egypt:

Tender for Egyptian plant rescheduled
A tender to construct Egypt's first nuclear power plant will now be launched by the end of 2014. The tender for the El-Dabaa plant was originally scheduled for earlier this year.

Ibrahim El-Osery, the Ministry of Electricity's adviser for nuclear energy, told the Daily News Egypt newspaper that a global tender for the El-Dabaa plant would be launched by the end of 2014.

He was quoted as saying, "One of the tender's conditions is that whoever wins will take the responsibility of financing the project until its implementation." El-Osery said Egypt will pay for the implementation expenses after operations start. He noted, "The costs Egypt saves when using nuclear energy, as opposed to conventional energy, will be used to pay for the project."

Back in 1983 the El-Dabaa site on the Mediterranean coast was selected for a nuclear plant, but this scheme was scrapped after the Chernobyl accident. However, in 2006, the same site was named in plans to build a 1000 MWe reactor for electricity generation and water desalination by 2015, in a $1.5-$2 billion project that would be open to foreign participation.

Early in 2010 the proposal had expanded to four plants by 2025, the first costing about $4 billion and being on line in 2019 or 2020. However, plans were put on hold in 2011 until the political situation stabilised following the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak.

Traditional Ka-Boom design but at least, they are resuming the design and construction process. Emphasis mine - the cost is that much lower when compared to traditional coal or gas plants. Compared to alt-energy? Without government subsidies? Fuggeddaboutit!

Third - from China:

China produces first AP1000 vessel
The manufacture of the reactor pressure vessel in China for Sanmen 2 has been completed - the first AP1000 vessel to be domestically produced.

The completed vessel, manufactured by China First Heavy Industries (CFHI) under the supervision of Westinghouse, successfully passed a pressure test on 8 June.

The vessel is destined for use in the second of two AP1000 under construction at the Sanmen site in Zhejiang province, eastern China. Two further AP1000s are under construction at Haiyang in Shandong province.

The first locally-produced AP1000 steam generator, also destined for Sanmen 2, passed testing on 21 May.

The manufacture of the reactor pressure vessel in China for Sanmen 2 has been completed - the first AP1000 vessel to be domestically produced.

The completed vessel, manufactured by China First Heavy Industries (CFHI) under the supervision of Westinghouse, successfully passed a pressure test on 8 June.

The vessel is destined for use in the second of two AP1000 under construction at the Sanmen site in Zhejiang province, eastern China. Two further AP1000s are under construction at Haiyang in Shandong province.

The first locally-produced AP1000 steam generator, also destined for Sanmen 2, passed testing on 21 May.

This is big news - China is building reactors like there is no tomorrow but they are all licensed from Westinghouse and built by Westinghouse contractors in South Korea. Good for them!

Big front moving through

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Lots of rain and t-storms this morning with more forecast through today and tomorrow. Quite the deluge!

Heading into the store to do the eBay photography and then work.

I went into work early this morning so I could do some eBay photography for my chemistry stuff. Just had time to set up the strobes, camera and notebook and it was time to open up the shop. I'll be heading in early tomorrow to start taking photos.

Been using a really nice piece of software for running my cameras - ControlMyNikon - plug a USB cable into your camera body, fire up the software and you have complete control over focus and exposure. There are also some great scripts for doing HDR, time-lapse, burst, focus stacking. The whole nine yards. Russ recently did a major upgrade to version 5 and the feature set is amazing.  If you shoot Nikon cameras and use a computer, you should check out tethering and especially ControlMyNikon software. He also has a version for Canon cameras as well as an app for shooting videos with a Nikon but have not checked those out.

I have been doing a lot of time-lapse photography and this is what made ControlMyNikon stand out from the other apps out there.

A bonus for the eBay photography - C.M.N. Pro supports barcodes so I can generate a barcode for each item being sold and print it out. I can then scan it before taking the photo and the item number is saved in the picture file's metadata making it very easy to keep the right picture associated with the right item. Very powerful and very cool...

Bring out your dead...

From the UK Guardian:

Chinese city sealed off after bubonic plague death
A Chinese city has been sealed off and 151 people have been placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said.

The 30,000 residents of Yumen, in the north-western province of Gansu, are not being allowed to leave, and police at roadblocks on the perimeter of the city are telling motorists to find alternative routes, China Central Television (CCTV) said.

A 38-year-old man died last Wednesday, the report said, after he had been in contact with a dead marmot, a small furry animal related to the squirrel. No further plague cases have been reported.

CCTV said officials were not allowing anyone to leave. The China Daily newspaper said four quarantine sectors had been set up in the city.

"The city has enough rice, flour and oil to supply all its residents for up to one month," CCTV added. "Local residents and those in quarantine are all in stable condition." No further  cases have been reported.

Strikes me as a bit strange for them to be quarantining the entire city because of one fatality.

Talk about being a braying ninny

Wrong on so many counts - from The Washington Post:

Robert Kennedy Jr.’s belief in autism-vaccine connection, and its political peril
Sen. Barbara Mikulski listened impassively as Robert Kennedy Jr. made his case. He had to talk over the din in the marbled hallway just outside the Senate chambers, where he was huddled with Mikulski, two of her aides and three allies of his who had come to Washington for this April meeting.

Kennedy, a longtime environmental activist and an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, had thought Mikulski would be receptive to an issue that has consumed him for a decade, even as friends and associates have told him repeatedly that it’s a lost cause. But she grew visibly impatient the longer he talked.

A mercury-containing preservative known as thimerosal, once used widely in childhood vaccines, is associated with an array of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, Kennedy told her, summarizing a body of scientific research he and a team of investigators had assembled. Thimerosal, which is an antifungal and antiseptic agent, was taken out of those vaccines in 2001, but it is still used in some flu vaccines. If it was dangerous enough to be removed from pediatric vaccines, Kennedy contended, why was it safe at all? What’s more, he said, the federal government knew of the dangers all along. These were claims he had made in the past, both publicly and in private conversations with other Democrats in Congress, none of whom have taken him seriously.

The Maryland Democrat turned from Kennedy without a word. “I want to hear what you have to say,” Mikulski said, looking up at the lean man standing next to her. Mark Hyman, a physician and best-selling author, is Kennedy’s chief collaborator on a then-unpublished book titled “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak,” which is scheduled to come out next week. The book argues that ethylmercury — a component of thimerosal — is harmful to human health. (Not so in trace amounts, scientific authorities have concluded.)

The only Doctor who published (February 28, 1998) the supposed link between Thimerosol used a sample size of eight children. He is no longer a Doctor because he had is license yanked in May 2010 because of fraud. More here, here and here. Kennedy's staff must have brought this to his attention and for him to keep flogging this very dead horse is unreal.

Great to see him getting the cold shoulder. This is delightful:

Mikulski didn’t react, except to suggest they contact Sen. Bernie Sanders, who “cares about brain health” and oversees a related subcommittee.

As the meeting broke up, Mikulski’s brusque disposition toward Kennedy softened. “We miss your uncle here every day,” she said, referring to Sen. Edward Kennedy, a tenacious public health advocate during his long Senate career. He died of cancer in 2009.

Bernie Sanders is a swivel-headed loon. Birds of a feather... The article is a long one and details Kennedy's slide into A.F.D.B. land.

Patriotism and engineering

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What's not to love:

The flag is 60' by 120' and weighs 350 pounds.

Obamacare on the rails

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Great news - the law overstepped Constitutional bounds and is being killed in the courts. From FOX News:

ObamaCare in death spiral after federal appeals court strikes down some subsidies
Tuesday, a federal appeals court slapped down the Obama administration in a 2-1 ruling that could kill the president’s signature health care law. If upheld by the Supreme Court, the ruling would force Congress back to the drawing boards to design a health law that is actually affordable, rather than bearing the false title “Affordable Care Act.”

The ruling in Halbig v. Burwell bars the federal government from handing out taxpayer-funded subsidies to people who buy ObamaCare plans in nearly two-thirds of the states. Those subsidies took the sting out of being forced to buy pricey ObamaCare plans. If the ruling sticks, buyers in those states will have to pay full price, on average a whopping four times the subsidized price they paid this year.

Quadrupling the price would likely trigger a mass exodus out of the plans,causing what the insurance industry calls a “death spiral.”

The ruling by the influential appeals court for the District of Columbia also chastised the Obama administration for rewriting the law to suit its own ends. 

Halbig is the latest in a series of warnings from federal judges that in America, the rule of law is king, not Mr. Obama.

Excellent comment - the rule of law is king, not Mr. Obama

It is going to take the United States at least fifteen years to undo all of Mr. Obama's machinations.

A curious transaction

From the Los Angeles Times:

Are the Obamas buying a home in Rancho Mirage?
President Obama and his wife, Michelle, could be the owners of a home in Rancho Mirage listed at $4.25 million before the month is out.

The First Family is believed to be in escrow on a contemporary home in a gated community where entertainers Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once maintained estates.

The White House said rumors regarding a home in Rancho Mirage are not true.

But area real estate agents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Obamas are the buyers of the Rancho Mirage home. Listing agents Marc Lange and Carl Blea of HOM Sotheby’s International declined to comment.

More:

Speculation about a potential purchase started when the Obamas spent a long Father’s Day weekend there. President Obama was also in Rancho Mirage mixing business and golf earlier in the year, reported the Desert Sun, playing at Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s private course at the Porcupine Creek estate and at Sunnylands.

The 8,232-square-foot compound in question sits adjacent to a bighorn sheep preserve on a 3.29-acre hilltop with panoramic views.

Curious - wonder what happened to the house that was bought for them in Hawaii?

More here, here, here and here - follow the money...

From the United States Food and Drug Administration:

FDA Consumer Advice on Powdered Pure Caffeine
The FDA is warning about powdered pure caffeine being marketed directly to consumers, and recommends avoiding these products.  In particular, FDA is concerned about powdered pure caffeine sold in bulk bags over the internet.

The FDA is aware of at least one death of a teenager who used these products.

These products are essentially 100 percent caffeine. A single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee.

Pure caffeine is a powerful stimulant and very small amounts may cause accidental overdose. Parents should be aware that these products may be attractive to young people.

Symptoms of caffeine overdose can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death. Vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation are also symptoms of caffeine toxicity. These symptoms are likely to be much more severe than those resulting from drinking too much coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages.

I could not imagine anyone willingly putting this into their bodies. Yes, I drink coffee and love that caffeine buzz (and get headaches when in withdrawal) but to seek out 100% pure is just unreal.

As Paracelsus said: Sola dosis facit venenum

Slept in a bit more than I wanted to so didn't get on the road until 10:30AM. The stores really fill up so it slows down the entire day - I go to about ten different places to shop and pick up standing orders.

Had a couple extra-curricular errands too - the always amazing Hardware Sales for some stuff for the shop and back to the auction site to pick up the last item - didn't have room for it Thursday. Picked up a yard of black velvet for a photo backdrop - I will need to take good photos of the the laboratory glassware that I bought at the university auction. A great photo makes a lot of difference on eBay.

Time to fix dinner and then surf for a bit.  Our hearts and prayers are going out to Israel as they do battle against the dark forces of Islamofascism.

We are just digging out from under the Oso mudslide and now this.

From their webpage at Vimeo:

 

Carlton Pateros Brewster Fire Devastation 2014 from Chelan HD Productions on Vimeo.

If you go to the Vimeo website and look under the video to the right, there is a blue button titled "Tip this video"

100% of your contribution will go to local relief efforts.

How prepared are you? Do you have a weeks worth of food and water on hand? Do you have a plan if you are told to evacuate the area with 30 minutes notice? Do you know what catastrophes your area is prone to?

45 years ago tonight

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I had a summer job with a pipe organ builder in Andover, Massachusetts and my parents were vacationing in Rockport, MA. I remember that it was the weekend (just checked - it was Sunday) and we were sitting around a black and white television in the house they were renting.

Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon. The first person to ever do this and the only footprints up there are American. Back then, we did big stuff.

 

From The American Spectator:

Get Ready for the New England Power Shortage

In 1980, under the first administration of Governor Jerry Brown, California decided it wasn’t going to build any more power plants but would follow Amory Lovins’ “soft path,” opting instead for conservation and renewable energy. By 2000, with the new digital economy sucking up electricity, a drought in the Pacific Northwest cut hydropower output and the state found itself facing the Great California Electrical Shortage.


You know what happened next. For weeks the Golden State struggled to find enough electricity to power its traffic lights. Brownouts and blackouts cascaded across the state while businesses fired up smoke-belching diesel generators to keep the lights on. Governor Gray Davis finally got booted out of office but the state didn’t rescue itself until it threw up 12,000 megawatts of new natural gas plants.

At that point California officials decided that the whole thing had been engineered by Enron and other out-of-state merchant providers and the charges and lawsuits flew. No Democrat ever learned a lesson. The state is now 60 percent dependent on natural gas for its electricity — twice the national average — and its electric bills are almost twice that of surrounding states. Industry is headed for the door.

So how have California’s liberal counterparts on the East Coast managed to avoid the same fate? You’d think a region that could produce Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders plus legions of college students trained to hate fossil fuels would have no trouble pursuing the same green dreams. Well, it’s about to happen. In the next few years New England will be facing a full-scale power shortage.

Last week the governors of the six New England states met in an emergency session at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to discuss what to do about the pending crisis. Significantly, they asked the premiers of five of Canada’s provinces to attend. That makes sense because if the region is going to get electricity from anywhere it is probably going to be from north of the border.

In a hell-bent campaign to rid itself of any form of dirty, messy “non-renewable” energy, New England has been closing down coal and oil plants for the last decade. In 2000, 18 percent of New England’s electricity came from coal and 22 percent from oil. Today it’s 3 percent coal and 1 percent oil. Meanwhile, natural gas — the fuel that everybody loves until you have to drill for it — has risen from 15 percent to a starkly vulnerable 52 percent, just behind California.

There’s only one problem. New England doesn’t have the pipelines to bring in the gas. Nor is anyone going to allowed to build it, either. Connecticut and Massachusetts are only a short distance from eastern Pennsylvania, where fracking for natural gas has leapfrogged the Keystone State into third place for overall energy production. Yet a proposal by Sempra Energy of Houston to expand its existing pipeline from Stony Point, New York, has already met fierce resistance from people who want nothing more to do with fossil fuels and construction is highly unlikely.

Much more at the site New England is in for a world of hurt until they realize that the green movement is detrimental for the planet and for life as we know it.

We need more nukes - preferrably Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors.

Conversion - an ex-leftist speaks

Excellent rant on why the author came to loathe the hypocrisy of the left.

From Danusha V. Goska at American Thinker - I will just post reason #10 - the rest of the post is excellent and worth the time to read:

10) Huffiness.
In the late 1990s I was reading Anatomy of the Spirit, a then recent bestseller by Caroline Myss.

Myss described having lunch with a woman named Mary. A man approached Mary and asked her if she were free to do a favor for him on June 8th. No, Mary replied, I absolutely cannot do anything on June 8th because June 8th is my incest survivors' meeting and we never let each other down! They have suffered so much already! I would never betray incest survivors!

Myss was flabbergasted. Mary could have simply said "Yes" or "No."

Reading this anecdote, I felt that I was confronting the signature essence of my social life among leftists. We rushed to cast everyone in one of three roles: victim, victimizer, or champion of the oppressed. We lived our lives in a constant state of outraged indignation. I did not want to live that way anymore. I wanted to cultivate a disposition of gratitude. I wanted to see others, not as victims or victimizers, but as potential friends, as loved creations of God. I wanted to understand the point of view of people with whom I disagreed without immediately demonizing them as enemy oppressors.

I recently attended a training session for professors on a college campus. The presenter was a new hire in a tenure-track position. He opened his talk by telling us that he had received an invitation to share a festive meal with the president of the university. I found this to be an enviable occurrence and I did not understand why he appeared dramatically aggrieved. The invitation had been addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. X." Professor X was a bachelor. He felt slighted. Perhaps the person who had addressed his envelope had disrespected him because he is a member of a minority group.

Rolling his eyes, Prof. X went on to say that he was wary of accepting a position on this lowly commuter campus, with its working-class student body. The disconnect between leftists' announced value of championing the poor and the leftist practice of expressing snobbery for them stung me. Already vulnerable students would be taught by a professor who regarded association with them as a burden, a failure, and a stigma.

Barack Obama is president. Kim and Kanye and Brad and Angelina are members of multiracial households. One might think that professors finally have cause to teach their students to be proud of America for overcoming racism. Not so fast, Professor X warned.  His talk was on microaggression, defined as slights that prove that America is still racist, sexist, homophobic, and ableist, that is, discriminatory against handicapped people.

Professor X projected a series of photographs onto a large screen. In one, commuters in business suits, carrying briefcases, mounted a flight of stairs. This photo was an act of microaggression. After all, Professor X reminded us, handicapped people can't climb stairs.

I appreciate Professor X's desire to champion the downtrodden, but identifying a photograph of commuters on stairs as an act of microaggression and evidence that America is still an oppressive hegemon struck me as someone going out of his way to live his life in a state of high dudgeon. On the other hand, Prof. X could have chosen to speak of his own working-class students with more respect.

Yes, there is a time and a place when it is absolutely necessary for a person to cultivate awareness of his own pain, or of others' pain. Doctors instruct patients to do this -- "Locate the pain exactly; calculate where the pain falls on a scale of one to ten; assess whether the pain is sharp, dull, fleeting, or constant." But doctors do this for a reason. They want the patient to heal, and to move beyond the pain. In the left, I found a desire to be in pain constantly, so as always to have something to protest, from one's history of incest to the inability of handicapped people to mount flights of stairs.

Excellent analysis - spot on for each of her accusations. The left has no moral high-ground, they are about concentrating power and lording it over those 'less fortunate" than themselves. A toxic blot on civilization.

Four days ago, Kristen Gwynne wrote a poorly researched puff-piece on "The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America" in the Rolling Stone and immediately started getting comments.

The article is now up to 5,974 - here is one from Rob:

Again with attacking guns. Chicago had 500 murders out of 509 in Illinois in 2012. Chicago had some of the most stringent gun laws in America in 2012--some were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. Their stringent gun laws did not help stop gun murders. Lets talk about the most dangerous gangs or the most dangerous mental illnesses. Rolling Stone should do better.

Someone has even done a tee-shirt:

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I do hope that Ms. Gwynne is getting the mocking that she royally deserves...

Break time - dumpster full

Last week, I rented a four yard dumpster to help with cleaning up. I have a large flatbed trailer and bags of debris were piled on that with the intention of driving it into the local transfer station. After two years, this has yet to materialize so the dumpster made its appearance. Spent today piling on bag after bag of stuff.

I love going to auctions but they bundle junk with the good stuff and you have to take it all. Good to get it out of here.

Beans are still a bit tough so will bust out the pressure cooker for tonight's dinner and keep them in the slow cooker overnight for the rest of the batch.

We had our usual Sunday brunch - buckwheat blueberry pancakes and bacon. Put a big pot of chili (beans, cubed tri-tip and tomatoes) in the slow cooker and heading outside to join Lulu in the garden. Have some stuff to do in the shop too.

I'll post more this evening.

Change in the weather - getting cold

Came inside and kicked on the furnace! Might even build a fire later today. We decided to bag the Steampunk festival - too much to do around the farm and it's a crappy day to be out and about.

Thawing out some chicken for dinner tonight and some tri-tip to do Texas chili tomorrow. Yes, I do it with beans - sue me.

The heat wave has broken

We just went through our annual heat wave - temps in the 90°F range for two weeks. Last night? 62°F and rain. This morning? 64°F and delightfully overcast.

Lulu is out working in the garden for a bit. I am finishing breakfast and will unload all the auction goodies from my truck. We are planning to head into Bellingham for the third annual Steampunk festival. Should be fun.

More on the mouse utopia

UPDATE: Posted below

I posted about Dr. Calhoun here: The experiments of Dr. Calhoun - from equilibrium to decline

Here are two links with relevant information.

First: Global IQ: 1950–2050

Second: Dr. Richard Lynn's book Dysgenics

From the About page:

In the mid-19th century, a number of biological and social scientists came to believe that the genetic quality of the populations of the Western nations was deteriorating due to the relaxation of natural selection, the process by which nature eliminates the unfit in each generation by reducing their fertility and by early death. This view, and the idea that steps needed to be taken to correct the situation, came to be widely accepted by the first half of the 20th century. In the second half of the century, however, a reaction against eugenics set in, and from the 1970s onwards eugenics was almost universally dismissed. In this book, Richard Lynn reviews the history of the eugenics movement and seeks to rehabilitate the argument that genetic deterioration is occurring.

Population density - this drop happens exclusively in dense urban environments. Undetectable in rural areas.

UPDATE: DERP! It is not density, it is stress. Density will stress you but there are other mitigating factors.

Just as in the mouse utopia experiment, there is no shortage of food or housing because of government subsidies.
No stress? No way!

Abraham Maslow's 1943 paper comes to mind. A large part of the population now depend on the government to provide the first two basic levels. By accepting these as a "free" hand-out, they are denying themselves the full actualization of the third level which destroys any chance of reaching levels four and five. Of course, the Federal Government is fully complicit in this as it keeps this bloc of voters meek and "on the plantation".

From this little entry at treasury.gov:

374. If I own a Kalashnikov product, is that product blocked by sanctions?  Am I able to resell a Kalashnikov product at a gun show or other secondary market? 
If a U.S. person is in possession of a Kalashnikov Concern product that was bought and fully paid for prior to the date of designation (i.e., no payment remains due to Kalashnikov Concern), then that product is not blocked and OFAC sanctions would not prohibit the U.S. person from keeping or selling the product in the secondary market, so long as Kalashnikov Concern has no interest in the transaction.  New transactions by U.S. persons with Kalashnikov Concern are prohibited, however, and any property in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest is blocked pursuant to OFAC’s designation of Kalashnikov Concern on July 16, 2014.  If a U.S. person has an inventory of Kalashnikov Concern products in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest (for example, the products are not fully paid for or are being sold on consignment), we advise that U.S. person to contact OFAC for further guidance on handling of the inventory. [7-16-2014]

This is from Executive Order 13662 - another one of Barry's Pen and Phone moments. Just when the prices were starting to settle down. My favorite firearm is the Saiga-12 semi-auto shotgun. It is a scaled up version of the AK-47 manufactured by Izhmash - a division of Kalashnikov. A nice satisfying Ka-Boom.

Some great news - from The Hill:

Hunt for oil and gas to begin off East Coast
The Obama administration opened up the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration for the first time in nearly four decades on Friday.

The announcement from Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) allows the use of air guns and sonic sensors to search off of the East Coast.

It is a major step toward allowing future drilling in the Atlantic, which has remained off-limits for over 30 years.

While the decision doesn't guarantee that lease sales for drilling in Atlantic waters will be included in the Interior Department's five-year plan for 2017-2022, it is a step in that direction.

"After thoroughly reviewing the analysis, coordinating with Federal agencies and considering extensive public input, the bureau has identified a path forward that addresses the need to update the nearly four-decade-old data in the region while protecting marine life and cultural sites,” acting BOEM Director Walter D. Cruickshank said.

Geophysical research companies contracted by the oil and gas industry will still need to apply for individual permits before conducting tests and undergo strict environmental reviews.

Still, the decision is a win for industry, which will get a chance to prove the potential in the Atlantic for oil, gas, and renewable energy.

Nice to see that there are at least some clear-thinking people in DC

Debunking the "village" mentality.

Had the chance to tour the new EOC today - they were hosting an open house.  A lot of political types were there - County Executive, Bellingham Mayor, Police Sheriff, Fire Chief. There were probably about 300 people there for the event. Ran into a bunch of people I have emailed but never met face to face. A lot of ham radio people there as communications is crucial to disaster mitigation.

Here are some photos:

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Just an unassuming building in some industrial park somewhere...

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The event was opened by Jack Louws (pronounced loss) - County Executive.

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An interesting side-note. All of the furniture and equipment was donated by BP - they own a large refinery here. The desks, laptops and chairs were last used at their operations center for the Deepwater Horizon well disaster of 2010.

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Cake was served.  Mmmmmmmm. Cake!

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Words to live by! This is displayed at the building's entrance.

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Here is a look inside one of the communications trucks. You need to not only communicate from your position, you need to be able to monitor everyone else.

And lastly:

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Some of the other vehicles.  The white trailer with the City of Bellingham logo on it has food and shelter for 50 people. There were a lot of other pods and buckets for quick deployment to any disaster large or small. The resources we have are really wonderful - the people in the City and County government have been prepping for a long time.

Just found out that Bill Whittle will be at the Mt. Baker theater on August 29th.

Buying a bunch of tickets in 3... 2... 1...

New logo for new business

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A friend of mine is a really good graphic artist and she worked up a logo for the new shipping business:

MBBCLogoFinal.png


Came out perfect - I wanted to de-emphasize the mountain as everyone else uses it prominently in their logo. Focus more on the natural beauty of the place.

Looks good on the website too: Mt. Baker Business Center, Inc. There is still a good bit of tweaking to be done but 'ya gotta start somewhere...

Long day - auction and some shopping

The auction was good - I picked up a couple measuring tools, a master square for calibration of my shop measuring tools, a height gage as well as a free-standing box bottom stapler (kind of like this unit) for the shipping business and two little two-ton presses for blacksmithing. The punch presses were made back in the early 1960's - the manual I have (complete with parts drawings) was dated 1959 and 1960. The company is still very much in business, making the same basic designs and parts and dies are available for my units (mine is the B-2 listed on this page).

Since I didn't finish until around 3PM or so, I ran a few errands, visited a box company north of Bellingham to make contact for the shipping business (I had dealt direct with a manufacturer because my first order was around $800 and I got free shipping. Subsequent orders will be much smaller. Had dinner in town and came home.

An early day tomorrow as well - the Whatcom County Emergency Operations Center is having a public open house tomorrow morning so I will be there. I have been there before and it is a gorgeous facility and there are plans to move the 911 service into the same building so everything will be coordinated. Big thanks to the Phillips Ferndale and BP Cherry Point refineries for donations to get this project off the ground. I am still very active in our local CERT program and we are organizing a team for the East County - get more people on board.  We have a major faultline running through here, an active volcano and quite the history of major landslides and flooding. Be prepared!

Audacity is a free Open Source program for recording and processing audio sounds. Because the source code is readily available, a lot of people have written extensions - utilities to filter the audio, add reverberation, pitch shift, noise removal, etc... The audio quality is very good. More here: Audacity

It seems that some adventurous souls are saving photographic data files in specific formats, tricking Audacity into reading them as an audio file and then post-processing these files and getting some interesting results.

Here is a great jumping-off place: Databending using Audacity Effects

Looks like something fun to try in winter when things get slow and activities move indoors...

Heh - about right

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The primary talking point from our intellectual betters:

20140716-vader.jpg

Hat tip Vanderleun

Check out the United States Vampire Service (USVS)

20140716-usvs_logo_1.gif

From their website:

Who We Are
The United States Vampire Service (USVS) is the pseudonym for a private company that contracts with the federal government to exterminate the undead.  Based in North Carolina, the company is a licensed contractor of the Postal Inspector’s Office, the police arm of the United States Postal Service.

Your safety is our primary concern.  Please take a moment to review our web site, and contact us if we can be of assistance.

Always wondered what the braid of garlic was doing hanging in my carriers vehicle...

Now that is a wrong turn

Wince! From gCaptain:

200-Foot Casino Boat High and Dry After Wrong Turn on Maiden Voyage
U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss notes in a phone call today the 200 foot-long casino boat Escapade ran aground last night off Tybee Island near the port of Savannah, Georgia.

Local media reports indicate the vessel was on its maiden voyage.

Chief Doss notes a maritime safety unit has been dispatched to the scene and there appears to be no risk of pollution or indication of hull structural damage as a result of the grounding, which occurred on a sand bar.

The 27 crew and 96 passengers are still aboard the vessel which due to the extremely shallow waters around it, cannot be offloaded at the moment.  Doss notes the plan is to await high tide at 1pm with hopes she may be able to be pulled free.  There are commercial salvors on scene.

Now that is a story that will be told for a long time...

Great article at Return of Kings:

What Humans Can Learn From The Mice Utopia Experiment
In 1950, an American ethologist named John Calhoun created a series of experiments to test the effects of overpopulation on the behavior of social animals. The animals which Calhoun chose for his experiments where mice (and later on rats). He chose rodents as these reproduce rapidly thus allowing him to observe the development of several generations of mice  in a relatively short space of time.

Calhoun and his researchers found that in a space-limited/resource unlimited environment, the population of mice would explode; peak-out and then collapse to extinction. This test was replicated several times and it was found that these led to the same outcome each time. The reason for this phenomenon was found to derived from social decay which worsened with each generation. The social decay led to unrest in the environment, which in turn led to sub replacement fertility. It was concluded that nature has a limit in which social animals can interact.

John Calhoun’s experiments gained world-wide recognition and his expertise was sought after by government bodies such as NASA. They present a useful yet grim insight into what could be our own future, for no matter how many times Calhoun repeated the experiment, the results led to the same inevitable conclusion: extinction.

Some more:

The third phase was named the ”equilibrium phase”. During this phase, the mice population peaked at 2200 individuals, although there was space for 3000. During the third phase Calhoun observed the collapse of the mice civilization. He noted that the new generations were inhibited since most space was already socially defined.

The mice showed different types of social dysfunctions. Some mice became violent. Males fought each other for acceptance, those that where defeated withdrew. Some males became repeated targets of attacks.

More:

Newer generations born in the now dysfunctional mouse utopia became withdrawn, spending their days grooming obsessively and dedicating their time solely to eating , drinking and sleeping. This generation, for all the emphasis they placed on grooming, would not reproduce. Moreover, these mice were noted to be unintelligent compared to previous generations.

The only limiting factor was space - to rephrase this, population density. We are seeing the same kinds of abnormal behavior in densely populated urban centers.

The author cites a bunch of examples and concludes with these thoughts:

The mice utopia experiment presents us with a stark vision of our present and our future. As time progresses we will see more evidence that we are heading for a decline in population which is largely driven by social decay.

Through history we have developed an anthropocentric world view. This is folly. Humans are animals—highly advanced animals, yet animals nonetheless. Regardless of what we may think of ourselves, or how we may try to dissociate ourselves from the rest of the animal kingdom, the rules of nature that apply to mice often apply to us. Not learning or accepting the results of these experiments can only be detrimental for us as a species.

Social animals appear to be regulated by intrinsic behavioral factors. The question is if there is a nature kill switch for a species that has no predators. Calhoun concluded that the stress from social interaction caused the disturbances in behavior seen in his experiments. If we truly stand apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, we ought to be able to avoid the same pitfalls. What is certain is that unless humans collectively apply some soul-searching, we will fall for the mouse trap.

A nice little dystopian vision to think about and it is happening before our eyes in places like Chicago, N.Y.C., Detroit, Baltimore, etc...

The UK Guardian is definitely a liberal news source and they had this delightful article about changes in the current Conservative government:

David Cameron's reshuffle gets rid of the 'green crap'
First the “badgers moved the goalposts”. Now environment secretary, Owen Paterson, has been shown the red card in a cabinet reshuffle.

The environmental views of Paterson's replacement, Liz Truss, are little known, but the former Shell employee is a free market enthusiast who backed the doomed sell-off of public forests. That suggests someone who – like Paterson – sees environmental protection as so much red tape to cut.

Elsewhere in the reshuffle, the departure of foreign secretary, William Hague, who clearly recognised climate change as the global strategic threat it is, and irrepressible green cheerleader Greg Barker as energy minister, removes two of a rare breed: strong green Tory voices in government.

Only time will reveal Truss's views but the absolute minimum required is that – unlike Paterson – she accepts global warming as a manmade danger. It was fundamentally ridiculous to have a climate change sceptic leading the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and damaging too. Paterson slashed the funding for adapting to climate change by 40%, just as the warnings of rising risks becoming deafening.

More at the site.

They bring up last winter's floods. They do not bring up the reason. The waterways were natural streams and rivers that had been dredged into canals for transportation. Some of these are still maintained but the environmentalists sued and won to halt dredging in other waterways. Natural silting filled them in to the point that they were no longer capable of handling the runoff from the remaining canal system. The flooding was because the enviros prevented people from maintaining an existing system. The responsibility for the flooding lies firmly on their shoulders...

You can almost see the author fidgeting in his seat.

Boeing in the news - a two-fer

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From Popular Mechanics:

Boeing to Build a Super-fast Satellite-Launching Spaceplane
Launching a satellite into space is a very costly venture. But DARPA hopes to dramatically reduce the costs by building a reusable spaceplane, and they’ve enlisted Boeing to help.

The XS-1 program hopes to create a fully reusable unmanned aircraft that would send small satellites into orbit. The spaceplane would be able to fly at hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude before returning to Earth and preparing for the next flight.

Boeing hopes to produce an aircraft that will be able to fly 10 times a day, achieve speeds greater than mach 10, and reduce the cost of space flights from hundreds of millions of dollars per launch to less than $5 million.

Here is the concept video: 

 

That is the future, here is the present - a Boeing 787-9 on a flight rehearsal for the Farnborough Airshow. More here: The New Airplane

Watch this one full-screen - it is gorgeous! 

Forty-five years ago today

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A Saturn V rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center carrying the Apollo 11 spacecraft and Michael CollinsNeil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

Now we have to stick out our thumb and hitch a ride from the Russians. Obama killed our man-to-orbit capabilities. After all, we got to give away more free stuff to the democratic votors.

UPDATE: At end of post

A writer by the name of Kristen Gwynne penned this typical clueless anti-gun article at the Rolling Stone:

The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America
Contrary to what those who defend the right to own high-powered assault rifles believe, not all guns are created equal. Due to a combination of availability, portability and criminal usage the following five types of guns are the country's most dangerous.

Using firearm trace data from the ATF, as well as FBI homicide records, we determined the types of guns most often recovered from crime scenes and/or used in murders.

The article is in slideshow form - seven slides that you have to click though to read (and be presented with seven sets of advertising) but the Deslide utility works great - link: Rolling Stone

Where it gets fun is in the comments - here are a few that caught my eye:

Top 5 biggest environmental hazards
1. Toll booths
2. Hippie stench
3. Hybrid automobile battery production
4. CO2 exhaled by liberals
5. Derringers

and

Top five absolutely clueless about firearms and their operation:
1. Dianne Feinstein
2. Michael Bloomberg
3. Al Franken
4. This cop: www.youtube.com/watch?v=am-Qdx...
5. And based on this article...Kristen Gwynne

and

Here's some research - according to the FBI, in 2012 more people were killed by fists than small caliber semiautomatic black rifles with protruding handgrip and muzzle device. Someone showed me this article for its hilarious comments. I was not disappointed. I haven't picked up a Rolling Stone in 25 years, next time I'll make it 30.

That is true - story here: Breitbart

Don't forget gun magazines, you know the print kind. I could easily knock someone out, then smother them with around 420 gun magazines stacked over their face.

Fun reading for a slow day...

UPDATE: Struck a nerve - from 2,400+ to 3,900+ comments in eight hours. Three new comments every minute.

Quote of the year

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From an email thread regarding current events with this painfully clueless and out of touch administration:

Remember: in theory, theory works!

It is interesting that all the current perps have some tie to Columbia University - been going on for some time too...

Sunday's amazing sunset

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Turns out it was not a localized phenomena - Cliff Mass has a nice writeup:

Was the Best Sunset in Years the Result of Wildfire Smoke?
Sunday's sunset was spectacular--many people feel it was the best in years.    But why?

There has been some  analysis of the sunset in the Seattle Times and elsewhere, but I think they might have missed some of the key details.   Let's go further here.

A nice analysis and yes it was the wildfire smoke but there were several other mitigating factors in play. A wonderful experience!

In the clouds

 

I had posted that last Sunday's weather was spectacular. Here are three photos of the clouds:

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This is a view to the North:

20140712-clouds02.jpg

These are classic Mammatus clouds. They form at the base of some clouds and are generally a harbinger of intense weather - often thunderstorms. As there was a T-storm front moving through, I was looking forward to some bolts. Sadly, some great clouds but no lightning.

My manager lives on the other side of this mountain and she was treated to a nice display - missed it on my side :(

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One last view to the South over our house.

I shoot and render the time-lapse at full resolution of 6,000 by 4,000 so it will take another couple hours to finish the render. I will post a reduced version of that in the next day or so...

UPDATE: Just as a heads up. There is zero post-processing with these images except for resizing to 640px wide in IrfanView. No Photoshop. I did purposefully underexpose a stop to get the colors a bit more saturated but that is all I did.  It really did look like that!

Kevin Lightner - cleaning an ARP Odyssey

Here is a video (no sound) of Kevin cleaning an ARP Odyssey (these were manufactured from 1972 through 1981):

 

 

 Look at the volume of crud coming off the boards. The key is soft fresh water, no soap and forced air drying immediately after. Too many technicians just squirt some "lube" into the connections and that will fix it for a while but the lube only serves to hold more dist and grit and causes failure to happen soon. From Kevin:

This is how we clean most synths during restoration. Unlike many approaches at slider "cleaning", we feel the dirt should actually be removed and not just some solvent sprayed in. Note that this is how WE clean things, but not necessarily a recommendation for everyone. Soft water is used and these parts are blown dry with compressed air immediately afterward. No opportunity is allowed for oxidation. We have cleaned most synths this exact way for over 15 years. Done correctly, it causes no problems.

He will be missed... 

Talk about being an entitled self-important little bitch:

 


You do not need to watch the entire ten minutes, just the first few gives you way too much information. Where are her parents?

If she applied at one of my businesses, she would not make it past the interview. Where does she see herself in five years? Ten? Does she even think about what will happen beyond the immediate?

Talk about being beyond pathetic...

A tip of the hat to Young Conservatives for the link.

RIP - Kevin Lightner

Found out this morning that one of the major gurus of electronic music synthesizers passed away.

His website: Synthfool

The last six years or so, he had been suffering from Foraminal lumbar stenosis - really severe back pain. He is in a much better place now.

The world has lost a great one. The heavenly choir will finally get their instruments in tune...

Refloating the Costa Concordia

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The cruise liner Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized on January 13, 2012, killing 32 people. She was righted by using leverage to rotate her - a technique known as Parbuckling. This was done successfully in September of 2013. There is some nice time-lapse video at The Discovery Channel's Raising the Concordia.

Yesterday marks another milestone as she was refloated off the artificial platform where she had been resting since the parbuckling. gCaptain has a writeup including this video:

 

 

Refloating the Costa Concordia – Day 1 Time-Lapse
On July 14, 2014, the Costa Concordia shipwreck was partially refloated by two meters from the artificial seabed on which it rested and moved approximately 30 meters to the east. Like with the parbuckling, today’s partial refloating happened so slowly that by watching the live streams it was tough to tell if anything was happening at all. Lucky for us though these time-lapses provide some pretty visual evidence that the cruise ship is no longer resting on the shores of Giglio.

With the vessel now floating, over the next few days technicians will secure and maneuver the sponsons into their final positions before the full refloating takes place. The entire refloating phase is expected to last 6 to 7 days. The Costa Concordia is scheduled to be towed to Genoa starting July 21, 2014, where it will be demolished. The tow is expected to take five days. So far, everything is going as planned.

Some amazing engineering going on here.

I am a night-owl. I like waking up around 10:00AM and going to sleep around 2:00AM. Back when I was working for MSFT, I would get up at 5:00AM to beat the rush hour commute and get their before my boss. Didn't like it but I did it.

Woke up today at 6:00 because I had the shopping run to do and I still needed to clear a chunk of the chemistry lab out of the back of my truck. It was nice and cool that early in the morning so I was able to unload about 30 cartons of laboratory glassware and carry them upstairs to the new office/storage space without breaking a sweat. I will be photographing them there and selling them on eBay.

I am renting a dumpster and will be getting up early tomorrow too -- need to clear the trailer off and finish filling the beast. This 90°+F temperature really saps the energy.  We only have one major hot spell per year and it only lasts for a week or two but it royally sucks when it hits - can't do a thing...

Been a big fan of Longmire (tonights was a cliff-hanger) and recently started watching the show Criminal Minds that airs before Walt. Excellent casting and writing - the core crew are an FBI profiling team. Turns out that the show premiered in 2005 and this October will be its tenth season. We have been living under a rock but we have a lot of excellent stuff to catch up on. Have to see if the store carries the series in our video rentals department...

No time lapse tonight - front moving in

Well DANG!

There are some big T-Storms south of here and the top of the front is passing through our bucolic little valley. No moonrise tonight (visible) but some gorgeous clouds. A few mammatus and some colors straight out of Maxfield Parrish.

I'll post the timelapse and some still images on Tuesday - shopping run tomorrow. Also moving some of the chemistry stuff to the new office to sell on eBay - got set up with that and PayPal last week. Both my Mom and Dad were avid collectors and looking to auction off some of their stuff over the next couple months. Cleaning house...

Off to bed - got a lot to do tomorrow while it is still in the cool morning...

From the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

Bill by Jim Sensenbrenner would dissolve federal ATF agency
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be eliminated under a bill in the works from U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

Citing ATF's recent operational failures and its overlap with other federal law enforcement, Sensenbrenner is preparing a bill to dissolve the agency and have existing agencies in the U.S. Justice Department take on its duties.

"By absorbing the ATF into existing law enforcement entities, we can preserve the areas where the ATF adds value for substantially less taxpayer money," Sensenbrenner said. "While searching for its mission, the ATF has been plagued by decades of high-profile blunders....We cannot afford to ignore clear changes that will greatly enhance the government's efficiency."

A new Government Accountability Office report on the ATF released Wednesday found an agency trying to redefine itself while struggling with high personnel turnover and problems tracking its own criminal investigations.

The GAO report is the latest in a series of documents and studies going back more than two decades that are critical of the agency's overlap with other law enforcement. At least two of those reports have called for the ATF to be dissolved and its responsibility folded into other federal agencies. The ATF received $12 billion from Congress between 2003 and 2013.

Makes a lot of sense - a bit on ATF's origins:

The ATF began as a revenue-collecting agency with roots reaching back to the 1880s. It enforced Prohibition-era laws, and with the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act it became a separate agency.

Today, it has a dual role of regulating and collecting taxes on the industry under its umbrella and also acting as a law enforcement agency.

Congress has increasingly limited ATF's ability to regulate the gun dealers, for instance only allowing inspectors to visit dealers once a year and not requiring dealers to take annual inventory. These rules have allowed corrupt dealers to escape accountability.

The ATF has been on the chopping block before. It was considered for elimination during former President Ronald Reagan's term but was saved, in part, because gun rights groups didn't want its duties moving to another agency.

Under the Clinton Administration, a group studying how to cut government waste suggested folding ATF's law enforcement activities into existing Justice Department agencies and putting the agency's regulatory and revenue functions under the Internal Revenue Service. It also suggested folding the Drug Enforcement Administration into the FBI.

The article has a lot more detail.  This makes sense and has been proposed before several times. The FBI actually functions pretty efficiently and it could take over the functions of the BATFE with minimal fuss on either side.

Got the timing right, the lens was aimed perfectly to catch the moonrise.

The only problem was that the temperature dropped so fast, a layer of dew formed on the lens and I have a nice series of a white blob moving majestically across the frame. Not what I had intended.

I'll try again tonight with a fan blowing across the camera...

From an email:

IRS ODDS 
Simple math is a beautiful instructor of the truth!

  • The odds of winning the Florida lottery are 1 in 22,957,480.
  • The odds of winning the Powerball is 1 in 175,223,510.
  • The odds of winning Mega Millions is 1 in 258,890,850.
  • The odds of a computer disc drive failing in any given month are roughly one in 36. The odds of two different drives failing in the same month are roughly one in 36 squared, or 1 in about 1,300. The odds of three drives failing in the same month is 36 cubed or 1 in 46,656.
  • The odds of seven different drives failing in the same month (like what happened at the IRS when they received a letter asking about e-mails targeting conservative and pro-Israeli groups) is 37 to the 7th power = 1 in 78,664,164,096. (that's over 78 Billion). 

In other words, the odds are greater that you will win the Florida Lottery 342 times than having those seven IRS hard drives crashing in the same month. 

So true - the odds are just not there.

Our Panopticon

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The filmmaker Laura Poitras profiles William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans' personal data.

The film references the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which was introduced by Senator Ted (Swimmer) Kennedy and signed into law by Jimmy Carter - bless his little pointy head.

More on this heinous bit of law can be found here, here and here. I can see it being applied to persons of interest within our National borders but applying it to everyone is beyond the scope and needs to stop.

Panopticon? Here -- "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example".

Life in liberal-land

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I am glad that I no longer live on the East Coast. That place is sinking into an economic wasteland. High taxes and no jobs. From the Press of Atlantic City:

Trump Plaza owners confirm plan to close in September
One in four people employed by Atlantic City’s faltering casino industry could lose their jobs by this fall as the owners of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino confirmed Saturday that it could join three other properties in closing if a buyer is not found.

Experts say the impact of losing an estimated 7,800 jobs since the January closing of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel would ripple across the region and hurt the resort’s marketing efforts in an already stagnant economy.

A bit more:

The casino, which opened in 1984 under the tutelage of its namesake, Donald Trump, joins Revel Casino-Hotel and Showboat Casino Hotel in announcing closings at the end of the summer tourist season. The latter two properties employ about 3,100 and 2,100 people, respectively. Atlantic Club’s closing, meanwhile, left about 1,600 without work.

“It’s a disaster,” said state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, who first reported Trump Plaza’s rumored closing Friday. “This is going to impact all sectors of the economy, from big stores to real estate values and on and on.”

Labor officials have called upon state officials to do something to head off the “pending catastrophe” as the workers they represent reeled from the latest blow to their livelihoods.

I can see a couple of reasons for the decline.  New Jersey is a heavy Democrat state (Gov. Christie notwithstanding)  and the involvement of the Labor Unions drives up the cost of employment making it more expensive to do business.

Too many casinos, not enough citizens with loose pocket change.

From the wonderful Psych Central website:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet. While this pattern of behavior may be appropriate for a king in 16th Century England, it is generally considered inappropriate for most ordinary people today.

And some symptoms:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Segue to Obama's speech a few days ago - from CNS News:

‘I,’ ‘Me,’ ‘My’—Obama Uses First Person Singular 199 Times in Speech Vowing Unilateral Action
Not counting instances when he quoted a letter from a citizen or cited dialogue from a movie, President Barack Obama used the first person singular--including the pronouns "I" and "me" and the adjective "my"--199 times in a speech he delivered Thursday vowing to use unilateral executive action to achieve his policy goals that Congress would not enact through the normal, constitutional legislative process.

“It is lonely, me just doing stuff,” Obama said at the speech in Austin, Texas, according to the official transcript and video posted on the White House website.

“I’m just telling the truth now,” Obama told the crowd. “I don't have to run for office again, so I can just let her rip. And I want to assure you, I’m really not that partisan of a guy.”

'Nuff said. And to think that we have two more years of this self-centered idealogue...

That's it for the day - too hot

Lulu and I just broke for lunch and we are calling it quits for outside work for the day. 82°F in the shade. Garden is watered and got a good start on loading the dumpster.

More posting this evening...

Working outside today

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The downside to going to a lot of auctions is that they will bundle a bunch of abject crap with a few treasures into one lot and you are required to remove the entire lot on purchase. I have a large barn but it is getting filled up with things of no value.

I had been doing a dump-run every other month or so but this gets expensive and time consuming. I rented a large dumpster and am in the process of filling it up. Gorgeous day today (if a little hot). Doing a bonfire sometime this weekend as the County is instituting a burn-ban on Tuesday.

Looking forward to taking the time-lapse of moonrise this evening.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

The Slow, Watery Death of Light Beer in America
It’s no secret that big industrial beers like Budweiser are in terminal decline in the U.S. thanks to the growing sophistication of American drinkers. So perhaps it was inevitable that light beers from the same monolithic brewers might suffer the same fate sooner or later. It turns out to be sooner than one might think.

Here’s a statistic that will hearten beer snobs and unnerve high-ranking people at Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. Domestic light beer sales in the U.S. will hit a 10-year low in 2015, according to a report in Shanken News Daily. Light beer sales fell by 3.5 percent, to 98.4 million barrels, in 2013, and the e-mail newsletter projects that sales will decline by an additional 4.9 million barrels by 2015.

The biggest losers in the report are the obvious suspects. AB InBev’s Bud Light, the sector’s dominant force, suffered its fifth straight down year, according to the newsletter, dropping by 3.1 percent, to 37.6 million barrels. Coors Light lost 1.5 percent of its sales, and Miller Lite had an even worse year as sales dwindled by 5.9 percent.

There will always be some market for Miller Light, it is just that the playing field is being leveled and small craft breweries are now able to compete head-to-head with the multinational corporations.

Same thing happened 30 years ago with coffee.

 

Now this will raise some eyebrows

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From FOX News:

ISIS destroys shrines and mosques, may be targeting Mecca
ISIS is leaving a path of destroyed churches, shrines and mosques in its wake as it storms across Syria and Iraq, and has even set its sights on Mecca -- Islam's holiest site.

The nihilistic jihadis, led by self-proclaimed descendant of Prophet Muhammad Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have already bulldozed or blown up some of the most sacred places in Iraq, and seem bent on killing and destroying anyone or anything that does not measure up to their vision of Islam. Experts say the group, which originally stood for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, but now simply calls itself "Islamic State," has appointed itself the leading proponent of the Muslim faith.

“They see themselves as the last defenders of Islamic civilization and want to eradicate anything that they see as the enemy of Islam, and any Muslim they perceive as compromising with the West,” Yvonne Haddad, a professor at Georgetown University who specializes in the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations, told FoxNews.com.

A bit more:

Mostly comprised of Sunnis, ISIS surprised few when it vowed to destroy sites revered by the rival Shia sect. The two main blocs of Islam have been at odds for nearly 1,400 years because of a dispute over who was Prophet Muhammad's successor. The destruction of at least 10 ancient Shia shrines in Iraq has enraged the Shia government in Baghdad, as well as the Iranian regime, also Shia.

But an unverified threat to Mecca itself, the holy city in Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia where Muslims believe they must make one pilgrimage during their lifetimes, was unprecedented. Allegedly tweeted by a member of the extremist group on a since-suspended account, the threat took aim at the most sacred beacon of the Muslim faith.

Mecca, home of Islam's most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram, and its famed Kaaba, a cube-shaped, granite and marble building adorned with Koranic inscriptions and priceless relics like the golden rain spout, a purported footprint of Abraham and the black cornerstone believed to have been placed by Muhammad.

And there is a precedent

“In the early 10th century, the extremist Shia group known as the Qarmatis raided Mecca, burned the Ka'ba, and carried off the famous Black Stone as an idolatrous relic,” Ernst said. “They believed that other Muslims would realize the folly of the pilgrimage. When people kept going to Mecca anyway, the Qarmatis finally parted with the Black Stone for an immense ransom.

“But if ISIS actually tried to destroy the Ka'ba, they would be met with extraordinary opposition,” he said.

extraordinary opposition - quite the understatement. Time to pull all of our people out, beef up our military presense in Israel, cook up a big bowl of popcorn, sit back and watch the show...

Say hello to the Supermoon

From FOX News/Space:

Supermoon will rise in weekend night sky
The largest full moon of 2013, a so-called "supermoon," will light up the night sky this weekend, but there's more to this lunar delight than meets the eye.

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

But Sunday's lunar perigee will be the moon's closest to Earth of 2013. And 32 minutes later, the moon will officially turn full. The close timing of the moon's perigee and its full phase are what will bring about the biggest full moon of the year, a celestial event popularly defined by some as a "supermoon."

The proximity will affect the tides as well:

In addition, the near coincidence of Sunday's full moon with perigee will result in a dramatically large range of high and low ocean tides. The highest tides will not, however, coincide with the perigee moon but will actually lag by up to a couple of days depending on the specific coastal location.

More at the site.  Hoping for clear skies - planning a timelapse of the moonrise.

Good call - CDC closes labs

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From FOX News:

CDC safety lapses shut 2 labs, stop shipments
Citing a recurring problem with safety, U.S. officials have suspended the shipment of potentially dangerous germs from government laboratories in Atlanta to other labs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also shut down two of its laboratories where the recent safety lapses took place.

One of the closed labs was involved an incident last month that could have accidentally exposed workers in three labs to anthrax. No one was reported ill.

In an incident earlier this year, the CDC said another of its labs accidentally contaminated a sample of conventional flu virus with a deadly bird flu germ. That sample was then sent to another government lab.

Very good call - they need to get to the bottom of this. Dealing with specimens like this should require a frequent inventory - at least once a year if not quarterly. Verify presence, quantity, viability and storage conditions.

Two quotes

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20140711-lincoln.jpg

Now this is interesting

From the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy:

Radio-burst discovery deepens astrophysics mystery
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright flashes of radio waves that last only a few thousandths of a second. Scientists using the Parkes Observatory in Australia have recorded such events for the first time, but the lack of any similar findings by other facilities led to speculation that the Australian instrument might have been picking up signals originating from sources on or near Earth. The discovery at Arecibo is the first detection of a fast radio burst using an instrument other than the Parkes radio telescope. The position of the radio burst is in the direction of the constellation Auriga in the Northern sky.

"There are only seven bursts every minute somewhere in the sky on average, so you have to be pretty lucky to have your telescope pointed in the right place at the right time", says Laura Spitler from Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, the lead author of the paper. "The characteristics of the burst seen by the Arecibo telescope, as well as how often we expect to catch one, are consistent with the characteristics of the previously observed bursts from Parkes."

"Our result is important because it eliminates any doubt that these radio bursts are truly of cosmic origin," continues Victoria Kaspi, an astrophysics professor at McGill University in Montreal and Principal Investigator for the pulsar-survey project that detected this fast radio burst. "The radio waves show every sign of having come from far outside our galaxy – a really exciting prospect."

Just when we think we have a handle on the universe, something like this rears its pointy little head.

The Parkes Observatory was featured in the delightful film The Dish - I would recomend it highly if you are into quirky science and humanist movies.

So true - website dynamics

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20140711-website.jpg

From the excellent Loading Artist.

Hell yeah - Sharknado II

I'll be watching - fun stuff!

From Spokane, WA station KXLY:

First man to buy pot in Spokane loses job
He was the first in line and the first to buy recreational marijuana in Spokane, and now Mike Boyer has another possible first in the wake of marijuana legalization: The first to lose his job.

Boyer posted his resume to Craigslist Wednesday afternoon, saying that he had lost his security guard position at Kodiak Security after his high-profile marijuana purchase at Spokane Green Leaf Tuesday afternoon.

Boyer said he had no regrets about being the first to buy recreational marijuana.

“I lost my job due to the news coverage of me being the FIRST PERSON TO BUY MARIJUANA LEGALLY IN SPOKANE! I regret nothing. But now im (sic) jobless and have decided to post my resume here,” he wrote at the top of his resume.

Come on now - working for a security company? A little common sense would have been a good thing.

Not surprised - from CNS News:

40% of Federal Criminal Cases in 2013 Were in Districts on Mexican Border
Whether measured by the number of criminal cases filed by U.S.  attorneys or the number of guilty verdicts they ultimately secured in  cases in U.S. district courts, 40 percent of the federal crimes  documented by the Justice Department in fiscal 2013 took place in the  five U.S. court districts (out of the total of 94 U.S. court districts)  that sit on the U.S.-Mexico border.

These five U.S. court districts contiguous with the Mexican border were also the five where the largest numbers of  individuals were convicted of federal crimes in fiscal 2013.

In the Western Texas district alone--which saw more federal crime  than any other district in the country--more than twice as many federal  criminals were convicted in fiscal 2013 as in all four U.S. court  districts in New York state combined.

The Southern Texas district also saw more than twice as many people convicted of federal crimes in fiscal 2013 as all four districts in New York combined.

Anyone remember the Mariel Boatlift - happened under Jimmy Carter's presidency. From the Wikipedia article:

The Cuban government subsequently announced that anyone who wanted to leave could do so, and an exodus by boat started shortly afterward. The exodus was organized by Cuban-Americans with the agreement of Cuban president Fidel Castro. The exodus started to have negative political implications for U.S. president Jimmy Carter when it was discovered that a number of the exiles had been released from Cuban jails and mental health facilities.

Emphasis mine - this is exactly what we are seeing with the 'refugee' influx today. MS-13 members, Islamists, general scum. Central America is emptying their prisons and we are allowing the prisoners to come and live here and we are giving them free stuff with the understanding that they will vote Democrat at every opportunity.

From the Wall Street Journal:

A Social Network With No Members, but a $6 Billion Valuation
How can a social network that no one has ever heard of suddenly be valued at more than $6 billion?

That’s what is happening with the one-time penny stock, Cynk Technology, which is up more than 100-fold since mid-June, bringing its market capitalization to more than $6 billion on Thursday. Yet the self-proclaimed social network has no revenue, no product, no assets and one employee.

If it’s true that there’s a sucker is born every minute, then many of them trade on the penny-stock market. As The Wall Street Journal wrote this week, the world of penny stocks is “a historical haven for con men and hustlers that the FBI says is “rife with fraud.”

And their only employee - the CEO

Four chief executives since 2008. That’s a lot of chiefs for a company that isn’t up and running yet. The 10-K from May 2013 says John Kueber was the CEO from 2008 through October 2011 and then Kenneth Carter took over. A few months later, in the 10-Q, Marlon Luis Sanchez was listed as the CEO, having started in April 2013.

Who is Sanchez? According to a Cynk proxy filing, he is a partner in Sanchez Medical Services, which provides comprehensive medical services to the Southern California market. He is also the “primary spokesperson” for the Medical Tourism Industry council in Tijuana, Mexico. Not exactly a Mark Zuckerberg type.

Reached by phone Thursday, Sanchez said he left the company several months ago. “I worked my magic for a year, my friend, and now you can see the results,” he said, adding that he couldn’t speak further at this time.

UPDATE: A document from June reveals who replaced Sanchez at CEO: Javier Romero, whose address is listed in Belize City, Belize. The letter — from law offices of  Harold P. Gerwerter, who writes that he signed off on Cynk’s latest disclosures — disclosed that Romero purchased 210 million shares from Sanchez in February. Those shares were worth more than $3.5 billion during trading on Thursday.

In response to an email from The Journal, Gewerter replied, “I no longer represent that company.” He wouldn’t grant an interview. In his June letter, he listed Romero’s address as Suite 400 in a Belize City business center. However, a staff member at the business center said there is no Suite 400.

As for Carter, Cynk said he is CEO of Blaque Technology, a “marketing, promotions, web building/trafficking, and entertainment casting company based in Las Vegas.”

Reached on Wednesday, Carter said he received many calls about the company’s stock climb and was surprised to discover his name is still on company documents. “I thought this was done,” he said. “I resigned.”

And the Pump-and-Dump starts in 3... 2...

Gorgeous work:

Hat tip to gCaptain for the link.

Photographers website is here: Alex Hallajian

The Politics of Energy

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These people are not operating with our interests in mind. Take this comment from Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights:

Here are the specific actions that Senator Reid has taken to hamstring the continued operation and future development of nuclear energy.

He personally intervened and delayed numerous judge confirmations in order to install one of his staff members as a commissioner on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

He then included a demand for promotion of that staff member to the Chairmanship of the NRC as part of the price for his support of Senator Obama’s election to President.

During his 7 years and 2 months on the NRC, Greg Jaczko, the former Reid staff member, led the effort to write a new rule requiring nuclear power plants to be able to withstand direct attack by large aircraft and new interpretations of enforcement for fire protection rules.

He used the events at Fukushima to take total control of the NRC for about half a year and implemented several negative policies unilaterally.

His illegal action – under Senator Reid’s direction – to halt the completion of licensing review for the Yucca Mountain project not only deflected that project from being completed in Nevada, but it called into question a whole series of actions under the category of “waste confidence.”

Eliminating “waste confidence” led to a 2 year moratorium on both new nuclear power plant licenses and extensions of existing licenses. It has also ensured that states whose statutes include a provision prohibiting new nuclear plants until the waste issue is settled at the federal level would continue waiting.

After Jaczko was asked to resign because of the “chilled work environment” that he established as Chairman, Senator Reid once again dictated the selection of the new Chairman, a woman who had no experience in managing any agency or even a work group of more than a few academics.

The serving members of the Commission were passed over as the new member was directly appointed as Chairman.

The new Chairman has led an effort to require most of the existing nuclear plants in the US to conduct expensive and scarce resource consuming evaluations of their seismic design, even though there has never been a nuclear plant whose seismically qualified safety-related structures, systems and components have been damaged by an earthquake – even one that exceeded the plant’s design basis.

Energy politics is financially important. Halting or even delaying nuclear energy projects invariably increases the sales revenues of all other energy sources by restricting the overall supply of energy. In each case, there is usually a specific fuel supplier who benefits more directly to the tune of a million or more dollars in additional revenue for every day that a 1000 MWe nuclear plant does not operate.

Yet another reason why Dingy Harry needs to resign and get out of Washington. He is not acting for us, he is only acting for his own personal gain.

 

Looks like a great film - Blue

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More here: Blue - For Earth. For Humanity. For Freedom

Great stuff - ordered the DVD and looking forward to sharing it.

From The Washington Times:

Power grab: EPA wants to garnish wages of polluters
The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and hitting individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules, including recently slapping a $75,000 fine on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property.

“The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said when he learned of the EPA’s wage garnishment scheme.

A bit more:

The EPA announced the plan last week in a notice in the Federal Register, saying federal law allows it “to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.”

The agency cited authority under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 that centralized federal collection operations under the Treasury Department, which oversees garnishments of wages or tax refund checks.

They knew it wouldn't get through Congress so they slipped it into the Federal Register hoping that nobody would notice. They need to have their budget cut by 80% - they need to focus on actual pollution and not building their power-base.

From the Beeb:

£48k turbine which made just £5 of power a month to be removed
A wind turbine which cost the taxpayer £48,000 and generated an average of just £5 worth of electricity per month is being removed.

It was put up at the Welsh government's Aberystwyth office when it opened in 2009 as part of a range of environmentally-friendly features.

But ministers came under fire last year over its output and will now remove it.

They say the turbine's manufacturer went into liquidation and they were not likely to find someone to maintain it.

Last year, the Welsh government confirmed in a response to a Freedom of Information request that between January 2012 and July 2013 the turbine generated 585 kilowatt hours of energy (kWh) - an average of 33 kWh per month.

Taking 16p as an estimate for the price of electricity per kWh in the consumer market, that worked out at a value of £5.28 per month.

At that rate it would have taken hundreds of years for the turbine to offset its cost.

Without government subsidies, wind is not economically viable. Our tax dollars at work.

Elections have consequences

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Congratulations Bernadette, you voted for Obama. Now sit back and enjoy the consequences of electing a clueless Marxist ideologue.

From Reuters:

Exclusive: Iraq tells U.N. that 'terrorist groups' seized nuclear materials
Insurgents in Iraq have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the country's north, Iraq told the United Nations in a letter appealing for help to "stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad."

Nearly 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium compounds were kept at Mosul University, Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the July 8 letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

"Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state," Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials "can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction."

"These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts," said Alhakim.

It is not bomb-grade but still - dirty weapons are just as bad. What the fu&k is the university doing with 80+ pounds of nuclear materials? A few grams for research? Sure.  Pounds? Not so much...

Happy 158th Birthday Nikola Tesla

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Nikola Tesla was born on this day 158 years ago.

Not familiar with the name? He was an electrical genius who invented Radio, Fluorescent Lights, the system of power generation and distribution that we use today, Radar, X-Rays, Radio Astronomy, the Schumann Resonance. Minor stuff...

The Oatmeal has a nice overview of his life.

More at the Tesla Museum located in one of his original labs.

The Maple Falls Cob Oven

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Here are some photos from last Saturday's class:

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Here is the oven, heated up and a pizza cooking.

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Kurt is talking about the process of firing the oven and cooking in it. It starts off around 800°F and you can cook some pizzas.  As it slowly cools down, you can do loaves of bread, flatbreads and then roasting and slow-cooking.

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It was a good turnout - about twenty people with others wandering in and out throughout the class. Kurt is a great teacher.

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Everyone got to try out the pizzas - good stuff! The gorgeous lady sitting on the right end of the picnic table is Lulu.

As always, excellent stuff...

Computer models for climate research

The 'hockey stick' was based on a computer model which was later shown to be deeply flawed to the point of uselessness. The AGW Cassandras are crying gloom and doom -- all based on flawed models.

Here is a great confession at the Wall Street Journal:

Confessions of a Computer Modeler
The climate debate is heating up again as business leaders, politicians and academics bombard us with the results of computer models that predict costly and dramatic changes in the years ahead. I can offer some insight into the use of computer models for public-policy debates, and a recommendation for the general public.

After earning a master's degree in environmental engineering in 1982, I spent most of the next 10 years building large-scale environmental computer models. My first job was as a consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency. I was hired to build a model to assess the impact of its Construction Grants Program, a nationwide effort in the 1970s and 1980s to upgrade sewer-treatment plants.

The computer model was huge—it analyzed every river, sewer treatment plant and drinking-water intake (the places in rivers where municipalities draw their water) in the country. I'll spare you the details, but the model showed huge gains from the program as water quality improved dramatically. By the late 1980s, however, any gains from upgrading sewer treatments would be offset by the additional pollution load coming from people who moved from on-site septic tanks to public sewers, which dump the waste into rivers. Basically the model said we had hit the point of diminishing returns.

When I presented the results to the EPA official in charge, he said that I should go back and "sharpen my pencil." I did. I reviewed assumptions, tweaked coefficients and recalibrated data. But when I reran everything the numbers didn't change much. At our next meeting he told me to run the numbers again.

After three iterations I finally blurted out, "What number are you looking for?" He didn't miss a beat: He told me that he needed to show $2 billion of benefits to get the program renewed. I finally turned enough knobs to get the answer he wanted, and everyone was happy.

Was the EPA official asking me to lie? I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he believed in the value of continuing the program. (Congress ended the grants in 1990.) He certainly didn't give any indications otherwise. I also assume he understood the inherent inaccuracies of these types of models. There are no exact values for the coefficients in models such as these. There are only ranges of potential values. By moving a bunch of these parameters to one side or the other you can usually get very different results, often (surprise) in line with your initial beliefs.

This does not surprise me one bit. This writeup is polite but I would call this behaviour nothing but pure fraud at its finest.

The key problem with the climate models is that they do not hindcast with any accuracy.  We have over 200 years of decent record -- plug those numbers into the models and the results have zero congruence with today's climate.

Auction photos - Billy McHales

Here are four photos from yesterday's auction:

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22 years is a good run - better to go out on top than have it gradually erode into failure.

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They had quite the scale railroad running through the entire restaurant.

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Kitchen smallwares at the auction. There were very few people actually bidding on kitchen equipment - 99% of the crowd was there for souvenirs.

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The line - I cannot imagine working a rush there with ten-fifteen people all scrambling around. The aisle was about six feet wide - not much room at all...

Nice work if you can get it

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A dollar here and a dollar there - it begins to add up. From FOX News:

'Staggering': Government making $100B in improper payments every year
The U.S. government is making roughly $100 billion in improper payments every year thanks to a combination of fraud, clerical errors and insufficient IRS enforcement, according to testimony at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

“The amounts here are absolutely staggering,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said.

The problem of erroneous payments – largely from Medicare and other health care programs – is not a new one. But Mica said at the hearing of a House oversight subcommittee that federal agencies reported over $100 billion in improper payments during each of the last five years.

Some more:

The money is coming from an array of agencies, and includes tax credits to families that didn't qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary.

In 2013, federal agencies made $97 billion in overpayments, according to agency estimates. Underpayments totaled $9 billion.

Congressional investigators say the figures could be even higher.

Our founders are spinning in their graves - a bloated Federal Government was the specific thing that they were trying to prevent when they wrote our Constitution.

The "chocolate" mayor is going to spend some quality time behind bars. From Fox News:

Ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin gets 10 years for bribery, money laundering
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor -- including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan handed down the sentence Wednesday morning.

Nagin was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business.

The 58-year-old Democrat had defiantly denied any wrongdoing after his 2013 indictment and during his February trial.

Another corrupt Democrat - rules are for the little people, not them... 

From SecurityWeek:

DHS Mistakenly Releases 840-pages of Critical Infrastructure Documents Via Mishandled FOIA Request
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has mistakenly released hundreds of documents, some of which contain sensitive information and potentially vulnerable critical infrastructure points across the United States, in response to a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about a cyber-security attack.

The Operation Aurora attack was publicized in 2010 and impacted Google and a number of other high-profile companies. However, DHS responded to the request by releasing more than 800 pages of documents related to the 'Aurora' experiment conducted several years ago at the Idaho National Laboratory, where researchers demonstrated a way to damage a generator via a cyber-attack.

The documents are posted on MuckRock.com. The information request was made May 17. On July 3, the agency replied with the mistaken documents.

When contacted by SecurityWeek, the DHS declined to comment about the situation.

Of the documents released by the DHS, none were related to the Operation Aurora cyber attack as requested.

If you visit the MuckRock site, there is a lot of repetative data in the first part of the document.  Skip to page 700 where things get really interesting really fast.

More over at Control.

From Live Science:

Earth's Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now
Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm.

The biggest weak spots in the magnetic field — which extends 370,000 miles (600,000 kilometers) above the planet's surface — have sprung up over the Western Hemisphere, while the field has strengthened over areas like the southern Indian Ocean, according to the magnetometers onboard the Swarm satellites — three separate satellites floating in tandem.

The scientists who conducted the study are still unsure why the magnetic field is weakening, but one likely reason is that Earth's magnetic poles are getting ready to flip, said Rune Floberghagen, the ESA's Swarm mission manager. In fact, the data suggest magnetic north is moving toward Siberia.

This will be interesting - more cosmic rays and solar flux means more ionizing particles in the atmosphere leading to more nucleation sites for clouds leading to even cooler temperatures.

That with the sun cooling off will make for some cold weather in the next hundred years or so...

Very cool time-lapse - wood

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Take a photo, plane the surface down one millimeter, take the next photo, repeat.

Delightful results:

 

Now this is downright beyond belief

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I do not have cooroborating evidence but the source is reliable.

From Dennis Michael Lynch:

YES WE CAN!
THE NOTE WAS SENT TO ME FROM ONE OF MY RELIABLE SOURCES at the TEXAS BORDER PATROL.  I’ve received two sets of photos from two contacts at the border.  I cannot validate the authenticity of the pictures.  But I can say the agents who sent these to me is among a handful of agents who have sent me accurate information over the past few months.Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 2.08.35 PM

The note accompanied the photos without laces.

Dennis Michael: These pictures were taken from a friend who works at the processing center in South Texas. These are being worn by an illegal who will soon be released into the general public.  For people who may think this is a fake picture, notice the shoe laces. We make everyone remove their laces. Thanks for the reporting. You’re the only one reporting accurate facts. Keep up the outstanding work.

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Unreal. Our tax dollars at work...

The Department of Homeland Security did bid out for 43,448 Navy Canvas Tennis Slip-On-Shoes but the bid has nothing about graphics.

Spot on!

 

Pink Floyd - a new release

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Scheduled for October - from Rolling Stone:

Pink Floyd To Release First New Album in 20 Years
Pink Floyd is about to return with their first album in 20 years. Polly Samson, the wife of singer-guitarist David Gilmour, surprised fans on Saturday when she casually announced over Twitter that the band has a new record in the works and it's coming out this fall. A representative for Gilmour confirmed the release of the album to Rolling Stone.

"Btw Pink Floyd album out in October is called 'The Endless River,'" Samson wrote. "Based on 1994 sessions is Rick Wright's swansong and very beautiful." (Keyboardist and founding member Wright died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 65.)

The band had just celebrated the 20th anniversary of 1994's The Division Bell with an extravagant reissue of the album on July 1st. The new material appears to be connected to unreleased recordings made during the Division Bell sessions.

Very cool - Division Bell was one of my favorites and to expand on this will be a treat.

From the US Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

CDC Media Statement on Newly Discovered Smallpox Specimens
On July 1, 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) notified the appropriate regulatory agency, the Division of Select Agents and Toxins (DSAT) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that employees discovered vials labeled ”variola,” commonly known as smallpox, in an unused portion of a storage room in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laboratory located on the NIH Bethesda campus.

The laboratory was among those transferred from NIH to FDA in 1972, along with the responsibility for regulating biologic products. The FDA has operated laboratories located on the NIH campus since that time. Scientists discovered the vials while preparing for the laboratory’s move to the FDA’s main campus.  

The vials appear to date from the 1950s. Upon discovery, the vials were immediately secured in a CDC-registered select agent containment laboratory in Bethesda. 

There is no evidence that any of the vials labeled variola has been breached, and onsite biosafety personnel have not identified any infectious exposure risk to lab workers or the public.

Late on July 7, the vials were transported safely and securely with the assistance of federal and local law enforcement agencies to CDC’s high-containment facility in Atlanta. Overnight PCR testing done by CDC in the BSL-4 lab confirmed the presence of variola virus DNA.  Additional testing of the variola samples is under way to determine if the material in the vials is viable (i.e., can grow in tissue culture).  This testing could take up to 2 weeks.  After completion of this testing, the samples will be destroyed.

By international agreement, there are two official World Health Organization (WHO)-designated repositories for smallpox: CDC in Atlanta, Georgia and the State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR) in Novosibirsk, Russia. The WHO oversees the inspection of these smallpox facilities and conducts periodic reviews to certify the repositories for safety and security. 

CDC has notified WHO about the discovery, and WHO has been invited to participate in the investigation. If viable smallpox is present, WHO will be invited to witness the destruction of these smallpox materials, as has been the precedent for other cases where smallpox samples have been found outside of the two official repositories.

 They had a problem with Anthrax a few weeks ago.

Wish I had time for both of us to head down to Vegas Baby!!! The presentations at the 9th International Conference on Climate Change look really good. Over 600 attendees. Video available at the link I posted.

Back from town - success and Meh...

The restaurant auction was as I feared. A bunch of newbies looking for collectibles and souvenirs. There were a lot of tin signs on the walls for decoration but the majority of these were reproductions right down to the manufacturer's mark in a corner. These people had watched too much American Pickers and were bidding in the $500 to $800 range for stuff that had been made in China five years ago.

I did score some 6" deep hotel pans for $5 each - these will be perfect for pickling, anodizing and etching metals for knife blades and other ornamental iron. Retail on these is about $30 each.

The Western Washington Chemistry equipment turned out to be an entire lab! The old professor retired and the new one wanted all new stuff. The back of my pickup truck is full and my 10X6 foot box trailer is loaded up to about 5 feet tall. I bought not just some chemistry equipment, I bought the whole damn lab!

Back to business as usual tomorrow so I will post photos of both events then.

 

Off to town for the day

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Going to the Restaurant auction, doing a dump run (my trailer is stuffed) and then picking up the equipment from the Chemistry auction.

Offline until this evening...

A traveler posted some video they shot at the Frankfurt International Airport recently:

 

 

Explains a lot.

"Leaked footage from some movie" they say. If you really believe that, I have a nice bridge to sell you...

Another auction win!

I did not mention this but there was yet another auction running - this one closed today.

Western Washington University seems to be closing out their Chemistry Department and have been selling off their old labware and equipment.  Managed to score a couple of the lots. Some nice glassware, a couple reaction mantles, ring stands and associated hardware, lots of reagent bottles.

I do home brewing and this will be great for yeast culturing. With the current boom of the Maker Culture, I can eBay off the rest for cheap and cover my costs. Bringing the trailer in tomorrow to pick these up and see what I get at the restaurant auction.

Off to the races

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Shopping run today. Auction tomorrow. This place was a local restaurant fixture for over 20 years and the owners decided to pull the plug gracefully rather than let it slide into oblivion. I am betting that it will be amateur-hour with a lot of customers coming to get a souvineer at any price and being unfamiliar with the auction process. I may not buy anything but it will be fun theater...

There is another auction coming up on the following week on the 17th. This is an inovative manufacturing company that is restructuring. Moving jobs to China. There are a few things I am specifically looking for.  Both of these are being run by the James G. Murphy auction company - I really like the way they do business.  Very clean and professional. No shills.

America the Movie - a great day

Had a great day today - we have fallen into the habit of doing Sunday Brunch. I make buckwheat blueberry pancakes and bacon so we had that and then headed off to town.

Joe's Garden is closed on Sundays so we initialized Plan B - get some coffee. Drove over to Boulevard Park, had coffee and walked around for a bit. Had the fun of watching a coal train pass by - we were about 10 feet from the tracks. Of course, we were covered from head to toe with coal dust and ash. Oh wait. NOT! There are silly people trying to demonize coal by spreading this poppycock and there are even sillier people who believe it.

Picked up some plants at the local food co-op (from Joe's Garden) so we shopped there by proxy. Did a bit of grocery shopping, filled up the truck and then headed over to the theater.

Regardless of what side of the political arena you are sitting on, America the Movie is exceptional. They start off with asking the question, what would the world be like if America had never existed. They then interview some prominent liberals - fake indian Ward Churchill, fake indian Elizabeth Warren, Black activists, Mexican and Hispanic activists and a list of grievances was compiled.

The filmmakers than proceed to demolish each of the talking points - what they claim to be unique to America was worldwide before our founding and is still going on in other nations through to today - slavery, imperialism, the theft of resources and labor. The whole butchers bill.

Very powerful message and, as I said, worth seeing by everyone. It makes you think and gives you a good reminder of what our real history actually was, not the Howard Zinn cartoon version.

The film closes with a look at Saul Alinsky, William Ayers and the current crop of people shaping the minds of our children. This is a toxin at the heart of any society - these people are not advocating for a common good and they are only advocating to increase their political power and control. The cherry on the top is that their economic model failed - there is not a fixed pool of capital and social injustice does not result from its inequitable distribution. Someone making money is not taking it away from someone else. Anyone has the potential to make a fortune if they develop a good work ethic, educate themselves and run with it.

Talk about a dream team

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We would have the Democrats heads exploding for the next 200 years (see below for reference).

I love it!

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Reference to title: This is a paraphrase of Lyndon Baines Johnson when he said that his "Greatest Society would have those ni**ers voting Democrat for the next 200 years".

Slept in late and then went to visit our community's cob oven. We had built this three years ago and the project leader - Kurt Thompsen - had a class and demonstration scheduled for today. About fifteen people showed up and he made three pizzas - everyone had a great time.

Information on Cob Ovens can be found here: How to Build a Simple Wood-Fired Cob Oven

Working in the garden now - running the brush hog to get the weeds down to a manageable level.  This was a long and wet spring so the weed seeds germinated very successfully but it was too cold to set out the veggies. Making up for lost time in the last couple weeks.

Got a pot of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and we will have that and a salad from our garden for dinner.

Heading out to see America and stop at a plant nursery tomorrow.

 

I'll surf after dinner for a bit but nothing this afternoon - got work to do...

Awww - that will buff out just fine

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There was a railroad derailment in Montana and some stuff fell in the river. From Seattle station KING-5:

Boeing fuselages in Montana river after train derails
A train derailed near Superior Thursday, sending Boeing aircraft fuselages into a river.

Nineteen cars on the westbound train derailed. Three of the cars contained aircraft parts and ended up in the Clark Fork River.
 
No one was hurt. The cause is under investigation.
 
KPAX-TV in Missoula reported the train was carrying parts for the 737, 747 and 777 Kansas City to Renton for final assembly. Boeing reportedly has sent experts to the scene to assess the situation.
 
Here is a photo of the 737 fuselages - like salmon returning home to spawn:
 
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Photo by Kyle Massick

UPDATE BELOW:

From the London Daily Mail:

BBC slammed by listeners and criticised by its own compliance unit after Radio 4 Today programme gave 'undue prominence' to climate change sceptic
The BBC's Editorial Compliance unit has blasted its flagship Today programme over its failure to provide balance on a debate on climate change.

The show's editorial team was found to have given minority views and opinions 'equal footing' to those of the scientific consensus.

The programme, broadcast in February during the major flooding crisis featured climate change scientist Sir Brian Hoskins from Imperial College London who was debating the issue with a founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is sceptical as to its impact.

The main complaint for made by former Green Party councillor and low-energy specialist Chit Chong who said the BBC acted irresponsibly in allowing the debate to consider the existence of climate change.

Speaking today Mr Chong said: 'Dismissing climate change today is the same as trying to argue that smoking is not harmful. The science has proved the existence of climate change.

'By broadcasting programmes that question the existence of climate change, the BBC is confusing people, allowing them to deny what is actually happening. It is not responsible journalism.

Looks like someone needs to be sent to the re-education camp. The more data show 17+ years of global cooling, the more neurotic the warmists become.

UPDATE: I had my tongue firmly in cheek when I talked about sending people to the re-education camp.

Just found this at the UK Telegraph:

BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes
BBC journalists are being sent on courses to stop them inviting so many cranks onto programmes to air ‘marginal views’

The BBC Trust on Thursday published a progress report into the corporation’s science coverage which was criticised in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues.

The report found that there was still an ‘over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality’ which sought to give the ‘other side’ of the argument, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed.

Some 200 staff have already attended seminars and workshops and more will be invited on courses in the coming months to stop them giving ‘undue attention to marginal opinion.’

A bit more:

The Trust said that man-made climate change was one area where too much weight had been given to unqualified critics.

Emphasis mine...

Good God! Talk about blatant media bias. 

Ice cream melting

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Gorgeous time-lapse photography. At the end, they reverse the timeline.

Happy Independence Day

Taking the day off from the new business and slept in today.  Lulu is coming out in a few hours (she had a dental check-up in town yesterday) and we are heading out to the even more remote hamlet of Glacier for the fireworks show. Every year, local restaurants and bars have collection jars and the people putting on the show cruise the local Indian reservation fireworks stands and pick up the remaining fireworks for cheap with the funds collected. The show is quite a good one!

Spending the day working in the garden.  Just got a couple yards of topsoil delivered so expanding two of the raised beds and working on some of the landscaping - we are heading into town Sunday to see Dinesh D'Souza's new film America and I will be taking her to Joe's Garden beforehand - she has never been there and it is one of Bellingham's hidden treasures.

 

Gun control - some history

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From hoplophile extraordinaire Oleg Volk:

Moving from gun control to people control.
Post-WW1 Germany had gun control long before Hitler. In large part, it was the reaction to the civil war between Communists and the rest of the populace. One of the first actions of the Nazis after they gained control was the reduction of the number and severity of technical prohibitions on weapons.

Nazis were not anti-gun. They were merely against guns for their political enemies, and for their prey like Gypsies and Jews. A good Nazi could have a pistol or a rifle. By 1938, a Jew couldn’t even own a stick for self-defense. You might recall where that trend led. This kind of thing had also been done in America through Jim Crow laws designed to disarm Negroes.

We are now seeing this trend revived in the US. Democrat Senator Yee is indicted for gun running to gangs. Democrat federal administration runs guns to Mexican drug cartelsNew York Mayors run around with numerous armed bodyguards. “Special” people get special treatment, while the prohibitionists try to disqualify as many Americans as possible with as many excuses as they can dream up. It is, in effect, an effort to revive the feudal Second Estate with an exclusive right to weapons and use of force. They mean to rule and their rules would not be enlightened or selfless.

Oleg moved here from Russia ten years ago - he knows what he is talking about... 

 

You Glorious Sons-a-Bitches

Another offering from Robot Chicken - major drink alert!

Monster crash

Cute and spot on:

 

Arthur from the ISS

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Great photograph of Cat2 Hurricane Arthur from the International Space Station:

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From Gallup:

Americans Losing Confidence in All Branches of U.S. Gov't
Americans' confidence in all three branches of the U.S. government has fallen, reaching record lows for the Supreme Court (30%) and Congress (7%), and a six-year low for the presidency (29%). The presidency had the largest drop of the three branches this year, down seven percentage points from its previous rating of 36%.

Like I said, this is not a surprise.

From Linux Journal:

NSA: Linux Journal is an "extremist forum" and its readers get flagged for extra surveillance
A new story published on the German site Tagesschau and followed up by BoingBoing and DasErste.de has uncovered some shocking details about who the NSA targets for surveillance including visitors to Linux Journal itself.

While it has been revealed before that the NSA captures just about all Internet traffic for a short time, the Tagesschau story provides new details about how the NSA's XKEYSCORE program decides which traffic to keep indefinitely. XKEYSCORE uses specific selectors to flag traffic, and the article reveals that Web searches for Tor and Tails--software I've covered here in Linux Journal that helps to protect a user's anonymity and privacy on the Internet--are among the selectors that will flag you as "extremist" and targeted for further surveillance. If you just consider how many Linux Journal readers have read our Tor and Tails coverage in the magazine, that alone would flag quite a few innocent people as extremist.

While that is troubling in itself, even more troubling to readers on this site is that linuxjournal.com has been flagged as a selector! DasErste.de has published the relevant XKEYSCORE source code, and if you look closely at the rule definitions, you will see linuxjournal.com/content/linux* listed alongside Tails and Tor. According to an article on DasErste.de, the NSA considers Linux Journal an "extremist forum". This means that merely looking for any Linux content on Linux Journal, not just content about anonymizing software or encryption, is considered suspicious and means your Internet traffic may be stored indefinitely.

One of the biggest questions these new revelations raise is why. Up until this point, I would imagine most Linux Journal readers had considered the NSA revelations as troubling but figured the NSA would never be interested in them personally. Now we know that just visiting this site makes you a target. While we may never know for sure what it is about Linux Journal in particular, the Boing Boing article speculates that it might be to separate out people on the Internet who know how to be private from those who don't so it can capture communications from everyone with privacy know-how. If that's true, it seems to go much further to target anyone with Linux know-how.

It's bad news to all of us who use and read about Linux on a daily basis, but fortunately we aren't completely helpless. Earlier in the year I started a series on security, privacy and anonymity in my Hack and / column that included articles on how to use the Tor browser bundle and Tails. With either piece of software in place, you can browse Linux Journal (and the rest of the Internet) in private.

One of the beautiful things about the internet is that it was designed - at the lowest and most basic core level - to route around damage. Whatever the government wants to impose, we can quickly find a way around it. They will never ever win. They may shut it down but they will never win.

From Bloomberg:

Venezuela to Ration Electricity After Colombia Cuts Gas
Venezuela’s government announced the start of electricity rationing in western Zulia state as well as water rationing in Caracas to reduce demand on the power grid, a day after Ford Motor Co. (F) halted production in Latin America’s largest oil exporter.

The second-largest U.S. automaker joins competitor Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and Dutch truck-maker CNH Industrial NV (CNHI) in suspending assembly in the South American country because of the difficulty of obtaining dollars to import parts from the government.

Shortages of everything from water to car parts and flour to pregnancy tests come after three months of protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro that have left at least 41 people dead. The government yesterday said it will start rationing electricity and water as drought drains hydroelectric reservoirs and water tanks.

And it is not as though such shortages have not happened before - from this 2009 article at CNN:

Venezuela rations water in response to drought
November 3, 2009 10:33 a.m. EST
Residents of the Venezuelan capital on Monday began to experience water rationing as part of a government preservation measure during a drought.

New dams and reservoirs? Zero - those cost money and we are using all available funds to buy votes, not build infrastructure.

And it is not just water and electricity - food is being rationed as well - from FOX News:

Food Rationing In Venezuela? Country Rolls Out Grocery ID Cards
Battling food shortages, the government is rolling out a new ID system that is either a grocery loyalty card with extra muscle or the most dramatic step yet toward rationing in Venezuela, depending on who is describing it.

President Nicólas Maduro's administration says the cards to track families' purchases will foil people who stock up on groceries at subsidized prices and then illegally resell them for several times the amount. Critics say it's another sign the oil-rich Venezuelan economy is headed toward Cuba-style dysfunction.

And this wonderful bit of news from the London Daily Mail:

Hugo Chavez's daughters refuse to move out of presidential palace and hold 'deafening' parties as five die in violent protests on the streets of Venezuela
While violence rages on the streets of Venezuela, the children of former president Hugo Chavez have refused to move out of the presidential palace and turned it into a party pad.

Rosa Virginia, 35, and Maria Gabriela Chavez, 33, are reportedly holding raucous nights in the luxurious six-bedroom villa, complete with a swimming pool and private movie theater.

Current president Nicolas Maduro has a constitutional right to live there, but this problem may be low down his list of priorities, as civil unrest engulfs the country killing five people so far.

A bit more:

Fast food restaurants and other companies will apparently no longer deliver to the compound over unpaid bills.

And we are about ten years away from this if the current administration holds on to its power. Socialism has never worked. These are ideas so good they must be mandatory.

Doing an interview with the English. From the UK Guardian (self-loading video):

Hillary Clinton: what question would you ask her? - video
What's the one question we should ask Hillary Clinton? Before an an exclusive video interview with the former US secretary of state, Guardian readers are invited to get involved. The former first lady won't speculate on whether she will run for president in 2016, but perhaps you'd like to ask about her position on Iraq or the US use of drones? Suggest topics in the comments and we will look for common themes. The interview will take place on 4 July and will appear on theguardian.com

Gee - couldn't she could be doing something patriotic or something? All the interview is is just rank publicity - feeding the cult of Hillary.

From Target's website - A Bullseye View:

Target Addresses Firearms in Stores
The leadership team has been weighing a complex issue, and I want to be sure everyone understands our thoughts and ultimate decision.

As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit “open carry” should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.

We’ve listened carefully to the nuances of this debate and respect the protected rights of everyone involved. In return, we are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.

This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.

Ignoring the numbers which show time and time again that more guns equals less crime. Needless to say, the post has gotten over 3,400 comments - a wonderful collection of reason and downright lunacy. It will be interesting to see Target's sales numbers for the next month or two...


Spot on unfortunatly...

Cool new technology for Cataracts

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I had cataract surgery five years ago - a mis-spent youth hiking ice fields and sailing without wearing protective eyeglasses caused the damage.

I now have two lenses made from plastic where my original equipment used to be.  The surgery is quick and painless and I was using the eye the next day (vision was blurry but usable). The downside is that the range of focusing was reduced.  The option was for great distance vision and needing reading glasses or great closeup vision and needing corrective lenses for distance. Considering that I can get a great pair of 2X readers at WalMart for about $10, I chose the first option. Generic distance glasses are not a commercial product.

Ran into this story today at Fox News:

Researchers regrow corneas using adult human stem cells
Boston researchers have successfully regrown human corneal tissue – a feat that could potentially restore vision in the blind.

The achievement also marks one of the first times that scientists have constructed tissue using adult-derived human stem cells.

The article goes into a lot of detail - fascinating reading.

More! Faster!

The ongoing Ebola outbreak

The news keeps getting worse and worse. From Reuters:

Fear and cash shortages hinder fight against Ebola outbreak
West African states lack the resources to battle the world's worst outbreak of Ebola and deep cultural suspicions about the disease remain a big obstacle to halting its spread, ministers said on Wednesday.

The outbreak has killed 467 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since February, making it the largest and deadliest ever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

West African Health ministers meeting in Ghana to draw up a regional response mixed appeals for cash with warnings of the practices that have allowed the disease to spread across borders and into cities.

Abubakarr Fofanah, deputy health minister for Sierra Leone, a country with one of the world's weakest health systems, said cash was needed for drugs, basic protective gear and staff pay.

And the tragic news is that the majority of these resources will be funneled into the hands of the warlords and not to the citizens that need them.

A great find - Bob Dylan early recordings

From RecordMecca:

A Major Discovery  — 149 Unknown Bob Dylan Acetates From His NYC Studio
Treasure hunting.

It’s what I love most about my work as a music historian, collector and dealer. Nothing matches the rush of discovering something previously unknown and historically significant, which adds to the collective understanding of a great musical artist.  And three months ago I made one of the great finds in a lifetime of looking.  149 unknown Bob Dylan acetate records, discs that Dylan himself used during the making of Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning.

It started with a referral from a friend.  For everyone’s privacy, I won’t use names, but  I was put in touch with a gentleman from the Northwest.  His sister had recently died and he was the executor of her estate.  She  owned a building at 124 W.Houston Street in Greenwich Village and while selling off her personal items so the building could be put up for sale, he discovered two boxes labeled “Old Records” in a closet.  The boxes were filled with 10″ and 12″ acetates; he had never seen an acetate before and while he recognized them as some sort of records, he didn’t really know what they were.  Most had labels with Bob Dylan’s name, the address of Columbia Records, and a song title.  He knew Dylan had rented the ground floor of the building in the late 60′s and early 70′s as a studio space, and theorized Dylan had either left them when he’d moved out, or thrown them away and his sister had rescued them from the trash (at the time Dylan rented the space, he lived two blocks away at 94 McDougal St.)  In either case, they had been sitting, boxed up in the closet, for more than forty years.  He took two home with him, and eventually discovered what they were, and we were put in touch.

Acetates?

Acetates are  individually cut on a lathe in real time, in a process that is basically the reverse of playing a record.  A blank aluminum disc coated in lacquer is put on a turntable, and the master tape of a recording is played, the signal of which is sent to a heated needle which cuts a groove into into the revolving disc.  Acetates are made so an artist or producer can listen to a recording that is a work-in-progress; they can be played on a regular turntable, but after 20 or 30 plays the sound quality begins to deteriorate.  But the sound on a carefully preserved acetate can be incredible–it’s a first generation record made in real time directly from the master tape.  And that was the case here.

Of course there will be copyright, legal and royalty issues but I would love to have a couple of CDs of these. Dyllan doodled on some of the jackets so this just adds to the wow factor.

From this Google Cache of his article at the Wall Street Journal:

The Trouble Isn't Liberals. It's Progressives
Social conservatives. Libertarians. Country-club conservatives. Tea party conservatives. Everybody in politics knows that those sets of people who usually vote Republican cannot be arrayed in a continuum from moderately conservative to extremely conservative. They are on different political planes. They usually have just enough in common to vote for the same candidate.

Why then do we still talk about the left in terms of a continuum from moderately liberal to extremely liberal? Divisions have been occurring on the left that mirror the divisions on the right. Different segments of the left are now on different planes.

A few weeks ago, I was thrown into a situation where I shared drinks and dinner with two men who have held high positions in Democratic administrations. Both men are lifelong liberals. There's nothing "moderate" about their liberalism. But as the pleasant evening wore on (we knew that there was no point in trying to change anyone's opinion on anything), I was struck by how little their politics have to do with other elements of the left.

Their liberalism has nothing in common with the political mind-set that wants right-of-center speakers kept off college campuses, rationalizes the forced resignation of a CEO who opposes gay marriage, or thinks George F. Will should be fired for writing a column disagreeable to that mind-set. It has nothing to do with executive orders unilaterally disregarding large chunks of legislation signed into law or with using the IRS as a political weapon. My companions are on a different political plane from those on the left with that outlook—the progressive mind-set.

Some more - the origin of the progressives:

Wait, doesn't "progressive" today reflect the spirit of the Progressive Era a century ago, when the country benefited from the righteous efforts of muckrakers and others who fought big-city political bosses, attacked business monopolies and promoted Good Government?

The era was partly about that. But philosophically, the progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century had roots in German philosophy ( Hegel and Nietzsche were big favorites) and German public administration ( Woodrow Wilson's open reverence for Bismarck was typical among progressives). To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.

That's not a description that Woodrow Wilson or the other leading progressive intellectuals would have argued with. They openly said it themselves.

It is that core philosophy extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today—a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today's America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power. If you want substantiation for what I'm saying, read Jonah Goldberg's 2008 book "Liberal Fascism," an erudite and closely argued exposition of American progressivism and its subsequent effects on liberalism. The title is all too accurate.

Dr. Murray gets it.  If John Fitzgerald Kennedy were running today, I would vote for him in a heartbeat. Both parties have become impotent and corrupt.

Kennedy's Inaugural Address still stands strong:

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning—signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

And he closed with these three paragraphs:

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

Great news from the Los Angeles, CA CBS affiliate:

Murrieta Official Warns Immigration Protests Likely ‘Every Time’ Buses Arrive
A dramatic scene in Murrieta that saw American flag-waving protesters prevent Homeland Security buses carrying undocumented migrant children and families from reaching a suburban processing center is likely to be repeated in the coming days, a city official said Wednesday.

Mayor Pro-Tem Harry Ramos told KNX 1070′s Dick Helton that the standoff Tuesday – which included several protesters holding U.S. flags and signs reading “stop illegal immigration,” and “illegals out!” – may occur every 72 hours as a new busload of immigrants are processed through Border Patrol.

“I believe that there will be protests every time there are buses on track,” he said.

The standoff came after Mayor Alan Long urged residents to complain to elected officials about the plan to transfer the Central American migrants to California to ease overcrowding of facilities along the Texas-Mexico border.

The Federal government is trying to locate these illegals in conservative communities to overwhelm their voting process.  Promised no end of free stuff, the new illegals will tend to vote Democrat, turning these counties Blue.

What we are seeing with ISIS (and why are these acronyms usually letters for words in the English language) is actually a civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites.

The borders of the Mid-East Nations were artificially set initially with the 1915 McMahon–Hussein Correspondence and refined with the 1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement. Israel regained their ancestral lands with the 1917 Balfour Declaration. In 1941, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem met with Adolf Hitler. From the Jewish Virtual Library:

In 1941, he fled to Germany and met with Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and other Nazi leaders. He wanted to persuade them to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.

Needless to say, this has been stewing since Biblical times.

Iraq is being broken up into its various tribal components, it will emerge as no longer a unified Nation but an area with shifting tribal boundaries.

That being said, the Kurds are not engaged in these ongoing hostilities and have been the scape-goat of both Sunni and Shiia (when there is not a convenient Jew to kick around).

From Oil Voice:

Kurdistan: the newest oil producer?
The world might be on the cusp of seeing a new oil producer: Kurdistan.

According to a Bloomberg report, in the last 48 hours Deutsche Bank AG said that Kurdistan oil is “poised to gain acceptance” following the apparently successful sale of an initial cargo of oil for $93M. According to Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz, four tankers in total have loaded cargoes of Kurdish crude in Ceyhan.

An analyst’s report from Deutsche Bank AG said “We expect trading houses to become increasingly comfortable handling Kurdistan Region of Iraq crude and steady-state exports to emerge.”

Very cool - neither the Kurds nor the Turks are sponsors of terrorism and have vibrant culture and a growing economy. They are living in modern times but retain those parts of their culture that they revere. Women have a voice in their culture and religion is a practice of joy and faith, not a strict dogma.

Two utterly non-practical but wonderful large projects.

First - Project Hexapod:

What
Project Hexapod is a team of 19 roboticists, engineers, designers, and fabricators who are building a 4,000 pound, 18 foot diameter rideable 6-legged robot and release the designs to the world.  We don’t just want to build a giant robot, we want to enable others to build giant robots.  This blog is the official source for news on our efforts.

How
It turns out that when you break robots down into component pieces, they’re actually pretty easy to design and make. Each subsystem of a robot (whether we’re talking about the hydraulic, mechanical, electrical, or computational subsystem) has its own design style, fabrication or implementation gotchas, and best practices, but in general there are no particularly hard problems for relatively simple robots like hexapods. The challenge comes when you add up all the simple things and find yourself on top of a mountain of things to keep track of and do. Furthermore, there are some big systems-level decisions you have to make early and correctly, or else you’ll end up going down a path that just won’t pan out.

Our hypothesis here is that giant robots are simple enough, if you divide them up into suitably sized chunks and if you pick functional systems at the outset, to have designers, fabricators, and engineers who don’t come from a robotics background put one together with enough careful instruction and project management. We’re here to prove that there’s a whole new way of taking on giant, collaborative projects, and we’re doing it by building the coolest robot you’ve ever seen. Check out our blog for design and build updates as time goes on!

 More (and lots of photos) at their blog. Go and visit - it is a fun read and they are actually building this thing as well as building many of the tools used to build it.

Second - if Project Hexapod isn't crazy enough, check out the Bug Juggler. From their Project Overview page:

BugJuggler is a 70ft tall robot that uses hydraulic cylinders to hurl cars into the sky and catch them in mid-air. 
BugJuggler will use a diesel engine to generate hydraulic pressure. An operator located in the robot’s head will be able to control its motions using a haptic feedback interface connected to high-speed servo valves. Hydraulic accumulators - essentially storage batteries for hydraulic fluid - will allow for the rapid movement required for the robot to juggle cars or other large, heavy objects. 

 These people are at the 'investors' and 'sponsors' stage. Great vision though. Hard to know what they will do for an encore...

 

 

It requires a stabilizing foundation so forget about it walking onto the stage. Still, got to love their vision and yes, I would pay good money to see it running and a lot more to take it for a test drive for ten minutes...

From True the Vote:

TRUE THE VOTE FILES SUIT AGAINST MISSISSIPPI, STATE  REPUBLICAN PARTY
True the Vote (TTV), the nation's leading voters’ rights and election integrity organization, today filed suit in federal court against the Mississippi Secretary of State and the State Republican Party, asking the Court to immediately order that election records be shared to inspect for illegal votes ahead of certification for the June 24 U.S. Senate Primary Runoff Election (True the Vote, et. al v. State of Mississippi, et. al. (3:14cv144-MPM-SAA).

True the Vote and associated plaintiffs argue that the defendants failed to properly abide by federal election record maintenance and open records provisions codified in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Records made partially available to the plaintiffs indicated “double-voting” from Democratic to Republican primaries -- potentially diluting votes in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

"All we are asking is that the MS State Republican Party follow the law; allow their designated county representatives to inspect the poll books and ballots, give them the review time they are permitted by law, and allow them to uphold their responsibility to MS voters," True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. "True the Vote has been inundated with reports from voters across Mississippi who are outraged to see the integrity of this election being undermined so that politicos can get back to business as usual. Enough is enough.”

“This isn't about personality, party, or politics. Senators come and go,” Engelbrecht continued. “What must withstand the test of time is the integrity of the process by which we elect our representatives and establish our government. No candidate or party should ever be allowed to twist election laws or subvert voters’ rights in the interest of political ambition.”

True the Vote has closely followed developments surrounding the Mississippi Republican Primary Runoff from the beginning. On June 21, TTV released figures demonstrating unusual voter turnout patterns based on historic data. On June 25, the organization formally requested that MS Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef delay certification of the election and share voting records for independent review. Finding no assistance from the state party, TTV and the collected 13 plaintiffs were left no option but to pursue the matter in federal court.

The suit is filed against the Mississippi Secretary of State because that is the State body that oversees elections. No wonder that in 2006, the progressives founded the Secretary of State Project.

From the wonderful Discover the Networks:

SECRETARY OF STATE PROJECT (SOSP)
The Secretary of State Project (SoSP) was established in July 2006 as an independent “527” organization devoted to helping Democrats get elected to the office of secretary-of-state in selected swing, or battleground, states; these were states where the margin of victory in the 2004 presidential election (between George W. Bush and John Kerry) had been 120,000 votes or less.1 One of the principal duties of the secretary of state is to serve as the chief election officer who certifies candidates as well as election results in his or her state.2 The holder of this office, then, can potentially play a key role in determining the winner of a close election.

SoSP's co-founders were Becky Bond (who also had affiliations with the New Organizing Institute and Working Assets); Democracy Alliance member Michael Kieschnick (who also founded Working Assets and serves as a board member of the leftist evangelical group Sojourners); and James Rucker (who co-founded Color of Change and formerly served as director of grassroots mobilization for MoveOn.org Political Action and Moveon.org Civic Action).

The idea for SoSP germinated shortly after the 2004 election,3 when the Project's co-founders blamed then-Ohio secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, for presidential candidate John Kerry’s defeat. To their chagrin, Blackwell had ruled that Ohio (where George W. Bush won by a relatively slim 118,599-vote margin)4 would not count provisional ballots,5 even those submitted by properly registered voters, if they had been submitted at the wrong precincts. Though the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ultimately upheld Blackwell’s decision, SoSP’s founding members nonetheless received Blackwell's ruling with the same bitterness they had felt regarding former Florida (Republican) secretary of state Katherine Harris’s handling of the infamous ballot recount in 2000, when Bush defeated Al Gore in the presidential election. Wrote political analyst Matthew Vadum, SoSP’s leaders and foot soldiers alike “religiously believe that right-leaning secretaries of state helped the GOP steal the presidential elections in Florida in 2000 ... and in Ohio in 2004.”6

Moreover, in 2006 SoSP accused Blackwell and Republicans of conspiring to suppress Democratic voter turnout in Ohio.7 “We were tired of Republican manipulation of elections,” said Michael Kieschnick. “It seemed like lots of decisions were made by people who were pretty clearly political operatives.”8 “Any serious commitment to wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party must include removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count,” added Becky Bond.9  As Matthew Vadum pointed out, Bond's statement was a paraphrase of Joseph Stalin's aphorism: "The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."

To establish “election protection” against similar disappointments in subsequent political races, SoSP in 2006 targeted its funding efforts on the secretary-of-state races in seven swing states: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio.10 As USA Today reported at the time: “The political battle for control of the federal government has opened up a new front: the obscure but vital state offices that determine who votes and how those votes are counted.”11 Democrats emerged victorious in five of those seven elections, all except Colorado and Michigan. Politico.com would later characterize SoSP as “an administrative firewall” designed, “in anticipation of a photo-finish presidential election,” to protect Democrats' “electoral interests in … the most important battleground states.”12

Because few Americans recognize the importance of the secretary of state’s duties, candidates for that office tend to draw fewer (and smaller) donations than do most state-level campaigns. Consequently, even a modest injection of cash from just a handful of generous donors can make an enormous difference in the comparative financial resources of rival campaigns, and thereby tip the scales decidedly in favor of the better-funded candidate. Among the more notable contributors to SoSP were Democracy Alliance members Anne Bartley, Patricia Bauman, Susie Tompkins Buell, Gail Furman, Tim Gill, Nicholas Hanauer, Blair Hull, Megan Hull, John R. Hunting, Michael Kieschnick, Barbara Lee (not the congresswoman), Rob McKay, Sanford Newman, Drummond Pike, William J. Roberts, Paul Rudd, George Soros, Rob Stein, Pat Stryker, and Scott Wallace.13

The footnotes go to corroborating links at the site. Why could they want to spend time and money on this if it was not for voter fraud.

Happy Canada Day!

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From Miss Cellania writing at Mental Floss:

What Exactly Is Canada Day?
Happy Canada Day! On July 1, 1867, the nation was officially born when the Constitution Act joined three provinces into one country: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province, which then split into Ontario and Quebec. However, Canada was not completely independent of England until 1982. The holiday called Dominion Day was officially established in 1879, but it wasn't observed by many Canadians, who considered themselves to be British citizens. Dominion Day started to catch on when the 50th anniversary of the confederation rolled around in 1917. In 1946, a bill was put forth to rename Dominion Day, but arguments in the House of Commons over what to call the holiday stalled the bill.

The 100th anniversary in 1967 saw the growth of the spirit of Canadian patriotism and Dominion Day celebrations really began to take off. Although quite a few Canadians already called the holiday Canada Day (Fête du Canada), the new name wasn't formally adopted until October of 1982.

We have a lot of our neighbors to the North visiting this weekend.  The weather here is nice and there are a couple of vacation properties for camping and resort living nearby. The conurbation from Vancouver, B.C. to Abbotsford has driven up the price of property so a lot of Canadians buy vacation property here -- we are about 15 miles from the border crossing and about 6 miles from the border as the crow flies.

Fun with printers

The postal software I use has a built-in Point of Sale program that integrates nicely with the shipping functions and I have been switching from using Quick Books for everything to using the POS and inputting bulk sales data when I close shop at night.

It has the option to print bar codes.  I recieved a case of bar code labels this morning and have been spending the last couple hours getting it set up. Still have quite a bit more to do...

 

ARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!

 

That felt better.

Say hello to Arthur

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First of the season and it looks like it will hit on the July 4th weekend.

20140701-arthur.jpg

More images here.

More information here and here.

I am very fond of the Liquid Fluoride / Thorium reactor design but there are others of this type that are just as good. There are some significant advantages to these designs but they do not use Uranium and so, they require a different refining process than what we use for fissile bomb-grade uranium products. Thorium does not go Ka-Boom.

There is a lot of development of these reactors, unfortunately, development stopped in the US around the 1960's. China, Russia, India are the primary nations building these wonderful machines.

From Rod Adams at Atomic Insights:

Russia continues sustained fast breeder reactor effort
On June 26, 2014, the 60th anniversary of the start of the 5 MWe Obninsk reactor that was the first reactor in the world to routinely supply electricity to a commercial power grid, Russia started up the latest in a series of sodium-cooled fast reactors, the BN-800.

This new nuclear plant is an evolutionary refinement of the successful BN-600 that has been operating in Russia since 1980 and “is said to have the best operating and production record of all Russia’s nuclear power units.”

Here is a quote from a promotional brochure about the project published in 2011 by Atomenergoproekt, the joint stock company that built the power plant.

BN-800 power unit (under design) for Beloyarskaya NPP accommodates all principal concepts and solutions used in its predecessor BN-600, substantiated by over 20 years of its successful operation at high performance (capacity factor 80% at efficiency 42%).

BN-800 Power Unit is designed primarily for the production of heat and energy. The Power Unit as part of the grid operates with constant rated load (basic mode).

However, BN-800 characteristics and physical features dictate its multi-purpose usage. Viz, the reactor is used for:

    • electric and heat power generation
    • plutonium consumption and, if necessary, production
    • processing of long-lived supertransuranics accumulated in the radwastes of reactor of any type
    • production of isotopes.

No other reactor type combines so wide a range of functions.

Equipment of the reactor and its system involved in the handling of fuel assemblies containing isotopes and supertransuranics is designed to perform the above-mentioned functions.

The system builds off some of the successes of fast reactors designed and operated in Russia and the rest of the world and also incorporates features that avoid some of the characteristics that have led to failures in fast reactor programs. In other words, the BN-800 is the result of learning and the progress that can be made with sustained effort in any challenging, but potentially rewarding field of endeavor.

There are a couple of things to pay attention to:

"processing of long-lived supertransuranics accumulated in the radwastes of reactor of any type" - all of the nuclear waste currently in storage can be processed and used as fuel. Waste that would need to be sequestered for 10,000 years can be burned and the resultant waste only needs to be sequestered for 300 years at most.
"production of isotopes" - this is major for medical needs. Today, most isotopes come from small educational reactors and some Canadian CANDU research reactors run for this purpose.
"efficiency 42%" - the efficiency of a conventional uranium reactor is in the 5% to 7% range. The waste products from operation "poison" the remaining fuel so we can only extract a fraction of the energy available.  With Thorium, this is close to 70%. With the Russian design, it's 42%.

Here is an excellent video, edited to five minutes, outlining the advantages of the Liquid Flouride / Thorium process - pretty compelling stuff...

 

Very cool engine design from Toyota

 

From Road & Track:

No crankshaft, no problem: Toyota's free piston engine is brilliant
Let's get one thing straight: The variable-valve-timing, direct-injection, turbo-wonderful powerplant in your new car is not cutting-edge. Despite the complexity of the modern engine, the fundamentals haven't changed since Grover Cleveland was in office. Pistons turn a crankshaft that eventually spins your car's wheels.

Yawn.

Electrically driven cars are the future. But until we have cheap, 1000-mile batteries, we still need range-extending fossil-fuel engines. Those devices don't need to turn wheels, just generate juice. The simple solution is to strap a generator to a piston engine, as BMW did with the two-cylinder range extender in its i3 EV. But if the engine never turns a wheel, there's no need for it to rotate anything. Why not cut out the middleman and use the piston's reciprocating motion to generate electricity? That obviates camshafts and most other rotating parts, too.

This is one of those ideas that you know, some engineer somewhere woke up at 3:00AM reaching for a pencil and some paper. Much simpler and efficient. This would be great for stand-alone generators too.

Also, do not denigrate the two-stroke cycle. Two-stroke engines are not just for cheap weed-whackers and chain saws. The power to weight ratio is great and many of your larger diesel engines run a two-stroke cycle. More here and here.

An idea whose time has come

And this is just the first of what will be a long line of products - they push?  We push back twice as hard!

From Ars Technica:

Exclusive: A review of the Blackphone, the Android for the paranoid
Based on some recent experience, I'm of the opinion that smartphones are about as private as a gas station bathroom. They're full of leaks, prone to surveillance, and what security they do have comes from using really awkward keys. While there are tools available to help improve the security and privacy of smartphones, they're generally intended for enterprise customers. No one has had a real one-stop solution: a smartphone pre-configured for privacy that anyone can use without being a cypherpunk.

That is, until now. The Blackphone is the first consumer-grade smartphone to be built explicitly for privacy. It pulls together a collection of services and software that are intended to make covering your digital assets simple—or at least more straightforward. The product of SGP Technologies, a joint venture between the cryptographic service Silent Circle and the specialty mobile hardware manufacturer Geeksphone, the Blackphone starts shipping to customers who preordered it sometime this week. It will become available for immediate purchase online shortly afterward.

Dan Goodin and I got an exclusive opportunity to test Blackphone for Ars Technica in advance of its commercial availability. I visited SGP Technologies’ brand new offices in National Harbor, Maryland, to pick up mine from CEO Toby Weir-Jones; Dan got his personally delivered by CTO Jon Callas in San Francisco. We had two goals in our testing. The first was to test just how secure the Blackphone is using the tools I’d put to work recently in exploring mobile device security vulnerabilities. The second was to see if Blackphone, with all its privacy armor, was ready for the masses and capable of holding its own against other consumer handsets.

A nice long detailed review (three pages). The upshot - very secure but as part of this security, the phone is locked down so the casual user cannot install Google apps of their choice.  This is a secure communications device and not an all-purpose entertainment system with telephony capabilities.

20140701-orwell.jpg

Hat tip Gerard

The Thad Cochran victory

There is a lot of evidence of voter fraud in the last U.S. Senate Republican runoff election in Mississippi. More evidence just showed up.

From Jim Hoft writing at Gateway Pundit:

THAD COCHRAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER Busted in Vote Buying Scheme
Democrat Reverend Stevie Fielder says he delivered hundreds or thousands to the polls last week and was told to pay $15 to each voter.

GotNews reported, via Free Republic:

Democrat black reverend, who brought “hundreds” to the polls for promise of payment, exposes alleged massive voter fraud, vote buying operation by Cochran campaign.

A black reverend stiffed by the Cochran campaign has exposed an alleged criminal conspiracy by Cochran staffers to commit massive voter fraud ahead of Tuesday’s controversial U.S. Senate Republican runoff election in Mississippi.

Reverend Stevie Fielder, associate pastor at historic First Union Missionary Baptist Church and former official at Meridian’s redevelopment agency, says he delivered “hundreds or even thousands,” of blacks to the polls after being offered money and being assured by a Cochran campaign operative that Chris McDaniel was a racist. “They [the Cochran campaign] told me to offer blacks fifteen dollars each and to vote for Thad.”

It is illegal under several provisions of Mississippi law and federal law for campaign officials to bribe voters with cash and punishable up to five years in jail. (MS Code 97-13-1; MS Code 97-13-3 (2013) (Federal Code 18 U.S.C. 597, U.S.C. 1973i(c)) Voter fraud schemes are not unusual for Mississippi. In 1999 Mississippi’s attorney general reported massive voter fraud allegations throughout the Magnolia state. In 2011, a Mississippi NAACP leader was sent to prison for voter fraud, according to the Daily Caller.

The pre-election polling showed McDaniel leading by a good 15-20%. This will be interesting to follow.  Cochran has been a Senator since 1978 - it is time for him to gracefully step down and let someone new into the ranks.

And this is an interesting development - from Politico:

Congressional Black Caucus to Thad Cochran: You owe us
Thad Cochran won a primary runoff by turning out the black vote. Now they are asking — what are you going to do for us?

Already the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are talking about what they want Cochran to do. The wish list is filling up with ideas like maintaining funding for food stamps, beefing up programs that help poor blacks in Mississippi and even supporting the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act is the push to eliminate the requirement for photo identification at polling places. You need to show photo ID to buy liquor but not to vote. Wonder why?

April 2017

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