December 2014 Archives

Last year was a bit rough

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Looking forward to an easier one in 2015. It is 2015 somewhere in the mid-USA so I am calling this good and closing up shop until the next year... TOMORROW!!!

Life is good.

Great little short movie

Back home for the night

Last day at work and we felt like going out to celebrate.

Went to this steakhouse and had their usual excellent meal. Got there around 5:00PM which was perfect - if we had arrived at 5:30PM, we would have had to wait for 20 minutes - instead we were seated immediatly.

Lulu is watching the Walking Dead marathon on the tube and I am online surfing a bit. The music on the show sounded really nice - Googled it and it was done by Bear McCreary who used to live in Bellingham. I am a big fan of film music in general so really like his work.

Sleep in tomorrow and then a lazy 10:00AM coffee in Glacier followed by a day of working on the synthesizer cabinet.

A good question - nuclear power

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From Rod Adams at Atomic Insights:

Should groups that celebrate loss of 600 MWe of reliable, ultra-low emission nuclear be called “environmental?”
Greenpeace USA published a blog post on December 22, a week before the scheduled shutdown of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station titled ONE LESS FUKUSHIMA-TYPE NUCLEAR REACTOR THREATENING THE U.S. that celebrates the fact that New England is losing another reliable, natural gas-free, CO2-free, electricity production facility.

The blog’s author, Jim Riccio, is proud of having worked for more than two decades as an antinuclear activist. His Greenpeace blog post describes the focused effort that was required to bring about the decisions to close the plant and relates it to similar efforts to shut down several other nuclear plants in New England.

John F. Kennedy once said the “Victory has a thousand fathers ….” This one had a mother and a lot of aunts and uncles too.  I cannot mention Vermont Yankee or Yankee Rowe for that matter without lauding my friend and colleague Deb Katz and the Citizen’s Awareness Network. (CAN) Deb and CAN understood that the restructuring of the electricity market offered Vermonters  an opportunity to have a say in the fate of Vermont Yankee. They got Vermont the vote that precipitated this shutdown.  By the time the Vermont Senate voted on Vermont Yankee the decision to shut it down was almost unanimous. The Senate vote was 26 to 4. … Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the efforts of Governor Peter Shumlin (D) and his administration. Their tenacity and willingness to fight for the people of Vermont in court and in the public arena helped ensure the shutdown vote stuck.

I’ve engaged with Riccio on more than one occasion. He is a stubborn man with little or no understanding of the way that his actions affect people and the environment. He has no technical training; his arguments often sound like they are coming from a list of general talking points designed to confuse and appeal to emotions rather than reason. Though emotional arguments can be alluring, they can often be evaluated to be harmful over the course of time as long as someone remembers and assigns accountability for the resulting decisions.

Rod closes with this observation:

In my opinion, groups that celebrate the loss of facilities like Vermont Yankee after working hard to ensure their untimely demise should never be referred to as “environmental.” They have proven by actions that they care little about the effects their actions have on the cleanliness and sustainability of the environment that supports their fellow human beings.

Sounds good to me. Groups like Greenpeace started out as scientists but the marxist ideologues infiltrated and corrupted the organization.

Leaving China - steel mills

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That is one way to deal with the pollution - ship it somewhere else. From Bloomberg:

Say Goodbye to 'Made in China'
These are not the best of times to be one of China's massive, state-owned steel mills. The domestic economy is slowing, competition is increasing, and there's widespread disgust and impatience with the smog pouring out of their stacks. In short, their lucrative business model for the past three decades is slowly dying. So what’s a manager of a Chinese steel mill to do?

One surprisingly popular option is to bid China goodbye. In November, Hebei Iron & Steel Co Ltd, a provincial-owned company and China’s largest steelmaker by production, announced that it was moving 5 million tons of its annual production -- roughly 11 percent of the 45 million tons of steel it makes every year -- to South Africa. According to press reports, it won’t be going abroad alone. By 2023, Hebei Province -- China’s most polluted province -- plans to export 20 million tons of steel, 30 million tons of cement and 10 million weight boxes of glass capacity (a weight box equals roughly 50 kilograms) to points still not named.

Why?

The officials in Hebei Province who oversee the company may have felt they had no choice. First, they undoubtedly faced political pressure to reduce their environmental impact in China: reducing production of steel, cement and glass -- all highly polluting industries, especially in developing countries -- will have a direct impact on Xi Jinping’s pollution goals. (Starting in Hebei will have the added benefit of cleaning up polluted, neighboring Beijing.)

Second, Hebei may simply be at a loss as to how to scale back businesses that they recognize have become massively bloated. Officials in China’s construction-related industries clearly have too much capacity and too little demand. Back in September, I attended a speech in Beijing where a Vice-President of the China Iron & Steel Association announced that Chinese steel production capacity had grown by 200 million tons since the end of 2012, to reach 1.1 billion tons total. Much of that capacity isn’t used -- China is projected to manufacture around 750 million tons of steel this year.

The effect on domestic Chinese steel prices has been devastating. Consider the price in Shanghai for steel reinforcing bar (rebar), a key component to building everything from subways to residential high-rises: it's fallen twenty-nine percent this year. That drop was largely precipitated by China’s economic slowdown (and the slowest growth rate since 1990).

Ahhhh - the joys of central planning instead of market forces. The idiots overbuilt instead of building to support the market. Capitalism is the only business model that works (and I do not mean Crony Capitalism which is an entirely different beast).

Closing up shop

Spending this morning closing out my PayPal, eBay, UPS, FedEX, Western Union and auction accounts. Unsubscribing from a lot of email lists too.

Looking forward to spending more time at home.

There is the old saying about the two best days of boat ownership - the day you buy and the day you sell...

Warren Wilhelm Jr  Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm Bill de Blasio's Dad was a real piece of work. From Gotnews:

BREAKING: DeBlasio’s Father Backed Appeasing Hitler in 1938 #NYPD
Bill DeBlasio’s father, Warren Wilhelm, supported the appeasement of Adolph Hitler in an October 26, 1938 debate, Gotnews.com has learned.

DeBlasio’s father, then a Labor member of the Yale Political Union, gave a stirring speech in favor of appeasing Hitler.

Appeasing Hitler was the “least terrible” of five alternatives, Wilhelm concluded as reported in an article in The Yale Daily News.

The New York Times didn’t reveal DeBlasio’s father’s appeasement views ahead of the 2013 mayoral election.

Like father, like son.

A second person of interest - SONY

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Nothing for publication yet but someone who used to be in the payroll department is also under suspicion.

Looks like it was not a hack in the true sense of the word - more like walking out the door with a thumbdrive.

Nothing says network security like a compartmentalized network and VPNs for need-to-know.

Last day tomorrow

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Closing down my store tomorrow - looking forward to this. I think it was a great idea and everyone I talked with said that they would give me business but... I wound up losing several thousand bucks over the year.

My intent was to build it up to the point where I could hire a couple of people to run it and let it go off on its own - never ever got close to that stage.

Meanwhile, the list of unfinished projects at the farm continues to build - wiring the shop, building the cabinet for the new synthesizer, setting up a dedicated area to work on my photography, setting up the glass fusing studio in the garage, spending more time on the air with Ham Radio, hanging out with Lulu. Especially hanging out with Lulu.

Sleep in Thursday morning. Lulu has an old friend coming into the area to visit this weekend so that will be a lot of fun.

4'33" as processed through autotune

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Big fan of Cage's 4'33" - it really opens the mind to new music and a better perception of our immediate environment - the small noises that we normally filter out.

Here is a performance that has been processed through autotune:

 

The random glitches that show up from the autotune algorithm trying to process ambient room noise are delightful. Something to explore further...

A person of interest - SONY

Shahana Manjra - Systems Administrator / Sr. Analyst at Sony Pictures Entertainment

The LinkedIn page

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As they say - developing...

Jeremiah Wright? Obama's minister in Chicago for twenty years. Currently under the bus for his inflammatory anti-American sermons.

From NBC News:

Daughter of Jeremiah Wright Convicted in Fraud Scheme
The daughter of President Barack Obama's former pastor was convicted on Friday of laundering thousands of dollars from a state grant for a Chicago-area job-training program, federal prosecutors said.

A federal jury took less than two hours to find Jeri Wright, 48, the daughter of Jeremiah Wright, guilty on all counts for her part in a fraud scheme led by a former suburban police chief and the chief's husband, according to the U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District of Illinois in Springfield.

The $1.25 million state grant was for a not-for-profit work and education program called We Are Our Brother's Keeper, owned by Regina Evans, former police chief of Country Club Hills, and her husband, Ronald Evans Jr.

Wright, a close friend of the couple, took as much as $11,000 from checks worth more than $30,000 that were supposed to be for work related to the grant, prosecutors said. About $20,000 was deposited back into accounts controlled by Regina and Ronald Evans.

 A bit more:

The grant agreement was supposed to provide bricklaying and electrical pre-apprenticeship training and GED preparation at the Regal Theater, another entity owned by the couple. Little, if any, of the training provided in the grant agreement was ever completed, according to prosecutors.

 Bet she doesn't spend any time behind bars.

Life in the workers paradise of New York City

From the New York Post:

Arrests plummet 66% with NYPD in virtual work stoppage
It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual work stoppage.

NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops — as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety, The Post has learned.

The dramatic drop comes as Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio plan to hold an emergency summit on Tuesday with the heads of the five police unions to try to close the widening rift between cops and the administration.

The unprecedented meeting is being held at the new Police Academy in Queens at 2 p.m., sources said.

Angry union leaders have ordered drastic measures for their members since the Dec. 20 assassination of two NYPD cops in a patrol car, including that two units respond to every call.

Warren Wilhelm Jr  Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm Bill de Blasio needs to remove himself from office - his policies have made a toxic work environment for the police.

Happiness and Joy - hacking the hospitals

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The next target - from MIT Technology Review:

2015 Could Be the Year of the Hospital Hack
Along with vast troves of credit card information and celebrity snapshots, hackers stole a record number of medical records from U.S. health-care facilities this year. In 2015, attacks targeting health data will become even more common, according to security researchers.

Carl Leonard, principal security analyst for Websense, says hackers are breaking into the computer networks of health-care facilities with increasing frequency and taking valuable personal information that is often secured improperly. In August, Websense researchers reported that over the previous 10 months they had observed a 600 percent increase in attacks on hospitals (See “Hackers Are Homing In on Hospitals”). Leonard’s group now predicts that in 2015 the health-care industry will see a “substantial increase” in thefts of data.

The cause of the uptick isn’t hard to diagnose. Medical organizations across the world are switching to electronic medical records, and computer security is not always a high enough priority during the process, says Leonard. Besides that, he says, easy and fast access to medical information often trumps security.

Why? 

Credit card information is less valuable on the black market than it was several years ago, says Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at the security firm PhishLabs. That market is flooded, and credit card information is becoming less useful without supporting identification information, he says.

Medical records, however, often contain both identification information, such as Social Security numbers, and financial information. This can be enough to build a near-complete picture of an individual. And such information can command hundreds of dollars from black-market customers wanting to impersonate someone for the purpose of accessing bank accounts or drug prescriptions.

The article also mentions the growing use of tablets and smartphones and the security risks with them. Interesting times...

A political three-fer

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From Woodsterman:

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The SONY hack - a more rational cause

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An inside job - from FOX News:

Doubts on N. Korea claim? FBI briefed on theory Sony hack was inside job
A security firm has brought new evidence to the FBI that it claims points to a laid-off employee and others as the hackers behind the massive cyber-breach at Sony, even as the bureau publicly stands by its explanation that North Korea executed the attack. 

Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president for market development at cyber intelligence firm Norse, told FoxNews.com that his company was turning over "raw data" to the FBI on Tuesday. He said the company also briefed the FBI for "two or three hours" on Monday during a meeting in St. Louis. 

"They were very open" to the new information, Stammberger said. 

Among other details, he said Norse has data about the malware samples that point to "super, super detailed insider information" that only a Sony insider would have. 

The briefing by Norse is the latest example of the doubts being raised by private cybersecurity analysts about the FBI's claim that Kim Jong-un's regime was behind the attack. Skeptics for days have described the evidence cited by the FBI as inconclusive and circumstantial. And they've questioned whether Pyongyang had the motive, or the ability, to scramble Sony's systems. 

The most popular alternative theory, it seems, is that the hack was carried out by disgruntled former Sony employees. 

Makes sense to me.

The cold is back

Got down to 11.7°F last night and forecast for colder tonight. Skies weren't clear enough for photography - there is a gorgeous but faint comet that I want to try to get a shot of.

Got the truck warming up for the long commute (less than two miles) into town. Last two days of work! Wooo Hooooo!!!

An RCOB moment with the Episcopal Church

Readers will know that I was brought up in a muscular church - a church that had a spiritual and moral backbone. Today's emasculated Episcopal church is a pale shadow of what it used to be. If a parishioner wants an easy-peasy go along to get along church-light, there are plenty of options for them (UCC to the white courtesy phone please).

This really pisses me off - from Yahoo/Associated Press:

Maryland diocese: bishop at wheel in fatal hit-and-run
An Episcopal bishop who was the driver in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist in Baltimore was charged four years ago with drunken driving and marijuana possession, court documents show.

Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, who is the No. 2 leader for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, was driving a car that hit Tom Palermo, 41, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, diocese spokeswoman Sharon Tillman said.

Palermo died from head injuries, said Bruce Goldfarb, spokesman for the Maryland medical examiner's office.

Court records show that a sheriff's deputy stopped Cook on Sept. 10, 2010, in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore. The officer wrote in a report that Cook was driving on the shoulder at 29 mph in a 50 mph-zone with a shredded front tire. The deputy noted that a strong alcohol odor emanated from the vehicle and that Cook had vomit down the front of her shirt.

The officer wrote that Cook was so intoxicated that she couldn't finish a field sobriety test because she might fall and hurt herself.

According to the report, Cook registered .27 percent blood alcohol content. The legal limit in Maryland is .08 percent.

The officer found two small bags of marijuana in the vehicle, along with paraphernalia, and a bottle of wine and a bottle of liquor.

Oh Yeah - nothing says: "Eligible for leadership" like having vomit down your shirt and blowing a 0.27 BAC.

Please. People wrestle with personal daemons all the time - I have zero problems with that BUT... If you are in the throws of this, have the fscking grace to recuse yourself from any position of spiritual or moral leadership.

A bit more:

Cook pleaded guilty to drunken driving, and the prosecution of marijuana possession charges was dropped. A judge sentenced her to a fine and probation before judgment on the DUI charge, meaning her record could be cleared if she stayed out of trouble.

Tillman said Cook disclosed the earlier charges when she was vetted and ultimately elected as the diocese's first female bishop.

Yeah - they needed to counteract the number of real Episcopalians leaving the church (all about the benjamin$) and figured that a female Bishop was the ticket. Was this their best choice? What are the seminaries producing these days? Yes, we are all fallen and forgiven before the face of the Lord but show some fscking standards...

The RCOB? This:

In an email Sunday, Bishop Eugene Sutton told priests in the diocese that Cook left the scene of Saturday's accident, but returned about 20 minutes later "to take responsibility for her actions."

And this:

As other passers-by called 911, Lyon said he went looking for the car based on other witness descriptions. He found it about 100 yards away at a stop light, he said.

"The windshield was completely smashed in, with a hole on the passenger side, and from the damage of the car, there was no doubt in my mind that was the car," he said. "I asked the lady who was driving, 'Are you all right?' Then the light turned green, she said 'Yes,' and she left."

So this Bishop caused an accident, someone died, the Bishop fled the scene and returned 20 minutes later. Sounds like she wanted to get rid of some evidence.

RCOB - from the wonderful Kim DuToit: Red Curtain of Blood. ie: what passes in front of your vision when you read crap like this. I do wish he would start blogging again.

Everybody gets sump'n

Could it be - Saturday Night Live is funny again? This was great. Tip 'o the hat to Stormbringer.

Gotta get in that round of Golf

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Always classy - from the New York Daily News:

Obama’s golf game boots bride, groom from Hawaii wedding
For birdie or for worse.

President Obama’s golf game Sunday forced U.S. Army captains Natalie Heimel and Edward Mallue Jr. to relocate their wedding ceremony.

The lovebirds were set to wed Sunday at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, located on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, until they learned Obama had his eye on the same course and they would need to find a new spot for their nuptials.

Obama at least had the grace to give them a personal phone call. Still...

What caused the Mayan collapse

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Interesting idea from Discovery:

Belize's 'Blue Hole' Reveals Clues to Maya's Demise
The ancient Mayan civilization collapsed due to a century-long drought, new research suggests.

Minerals taken from Belize's famous underwater cave, known as the Blue Hole, as well as lagoons nearby, show that an extreme drought occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900, right when the Mayan civilization disintegrated. After the rains returned, the Mayans moved north — but they disappeared again a few centuries later, and that disappearance occurred at the same time as another dry spell, the sediments reveal.

Although the findings aren't the first to tie a drought to the Mayan culture's demise, the new results strengthen the case that dry periods were indeed the culprit. That's because the data come from several spots in a region central to the Mayan heartland, said study co-author André Droxler, an Earth scientist at Rice University.

Must have been the CO2 emissions from all their factories...

Fighting un-encrypted WiFi networks

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Cute project:

 

 

From Spark.io:

WarSting: A Wi-Fi scanning sword for Hobbits
Today, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies hits the theaters. Bilbo, our favorite hairy-footed protagonist, will face formidable foes armed with his mythical sword, Sting.

Sting's particular magic is that it glows blue whenever orcs or goblins are nearby. This is useful for hobbits, but in today's day and age, a real Sting would be unfortunately boring.

But what if Sting could detect unsecured Wi-Fi networks?

 Much more at the site - really cute project.

Tart

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While I was in town, I picked up a couple pieces of turkey and some smashed taters and gravy for dinner.

Thawed out some cranberries and made some sauce to go with it - didn't use enough sugar. Those berries were tart! Going to re-cook them and add another shovelful of dextrose.

A zombie flamethrower

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Made from household items - looks like fun!

 

I can see a re-engineered version of this coming to the farm this summer...
(looks like a lot of room for optimizing the combustion parameters)

Well matched - Maker v/s Marker

Sadly, so true

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From The People's Cube:

Cuba-US normalization: US tourists flock to see Cuba before it gets 'Americanized' and Cubans flock to see the US before it looks like Cuba

A pause in the weather

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It rained a lot over the weekend - almost two inches in three days. The rain has let up now and just got some much needed feed and treats out to the critters.

Lulu is heading into town - she has a tooth that is giving her problems. Scheduled to be fixed on the 8th but trying to see if she can get in earlier.

Waterboard meeting tonight.

Looks like nice weather for tomorrow's buying run but some high winds are forecast for tonight.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in 2014

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Sad but true:

 

Ho Li Crap - Bioluminescence

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Filmed live with plants and a projector - no post production:

Projections in the Forest from 3hund on Vimeo.

 

The project website here: Bioluminescent Forest

A behind the scenes video can be found here: Behind the scenes - (Projections in the Forest)

Gorgeous work - play this one full-screen!

Dave Barry's Year in Review

Always great - from the Miami Herald:

Dave Barry's Year in Review 2014
JANUARY

…when the nation is invaded by the Polar Vortex, which blasts in from Canada, bringing with it heavy snows, record low temperatures and Justin Bieber, who penetrates as far south as Miami before being arrested for racing a Lamborghini. Weather is also the big story in drought-stricken California, where the state legislature passes a tough new water-conservation law requiring all noncelebrity residents to go to the bathroom in Oregon.

In Colorado, the new year begins on a “high” note as the sale of recreational marijuana becomes legal. Despite dire predictions from critics that this will lead to increases in crime and addiction, state law-enforcement officials report that if you stare for a while at the flashing lights on top of their cars, you can see some amazing colors.

The U.S. Senate confirms Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve after she assures senators that she will let them know if anybody ever figures out what the Federal Reserve actually does.

In a major speech, President Barack Obama, responding to allegations that the National Security Agency has been electronically snooping on foreign leaders, announces that all federal agencies will henceforth follow strict new guidelines on the sale and distribution of photos of Angela Merkel naked.

In other foreign affairs, French President François Hollande is embroiled in a sex scandal involving his attractive girlfriend and an attractive actress despite the fact that he looks remarkably like George Costanza.

Elsewhere abroad, NBA legend and idiot Dennis Rodman makes a fourth visit to North Korea to hang out with his misunderstood pal Kim Jong-Un, who defeats Rodman 168-0 in a friendly one-on-one game refereed by the North Korean army, then celebrates by firing a missile at Japan.

Much more at the site - Dave Berry is a national treasure.

Happy 40th Birthday - the Laffer Curve

From Economist Steven Moore writing at The Washington Post:

The Laffer Curve turns 40: the legacy of a controversial idea

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It was 40 years ago this month that two of President Gerald Ford’s top White House advisers gathered for a steak dinner at the Two Continents restaurant in Washington with Wall Street Journal editorial writer Jude Wanniski and Arthur Laffer, former chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget. The United States was in the grip of a gut-wrenching recession, and Laffer lectured to his dinner companions that the federal government’s 70 percent marginal tax rates were an economic toll booth slowing growth to a crawl.

To punctuate his point, he grabbed a pen and a cloth cocktail napkin and drew a chart showing that when tax rates get too high, they penalize work and investment and can actually lead to revenue losses for the government. Four years later, that napkin became immortalized as “the Laffer Curve” in an article Wanniski wrote for the Public Interest magazine. (Wanniski would later grouse only half-jokingly that he should have called it the Wanniski Curve.)

This was the first real post-World War II intellectual challenge to the reigning orthodoxy of Keynesian economics, which preached that when the economy is growing too slowly, the government should stimulate demand for products with surges in spending. The Laffer model countered that the primary problem is rarely demand — after all, poor nations have plenty of demand — but rather the impediments, in the form of heavy taxes and regulatory burdens, to producing goods and services. 

The problem for the Keynsians is that the Laffer model worked and worked very well - a bit more: 

When Reagan left the White House in 1989, the highest tax rate had been slashed from 70 percent in 1981 to 28 percent. (Even liberal senators such as Ted Kennedy and Howard Metzenbaum voted for those low rates.) And contrary to the claims of voodoo, the government’s budget numbers show that tax receipts expanded from $517 billion in 1980 to $909 billion in 1988 — close to a 75 percent change (25 percent after inflation). Economist Larry Lindsey has documented from IRS data that tax collections from the rich surged much faster than that.

Reagan’s tax policy, and the slaying of double-digit inflation rates, helped launch one of the longest and strongest periods of prosperity in American history. Between 1982 and 2000, the Dow Jones industrial average would surge to 11,000 from less than 800; the nation’s net worth would quadruple, to $44 trillion from $11 trillion; and the United States would produce nearly 40 million new jobs.

We could use some of that voodoo now - Obama's economic advisers have plunged us into a recession that will take years to recover if action is not taken now. Instead, they are trotting out Jeb Bush. 

Not just here - weather in Europe

Back on December 23rd, I posted Not just here - weather in Asia about the unseasonably cold weather in Japan, China and India.

Now this from the UK Telegraph:

Chaos in the Alps as massive snowfall traps 15,000 cars
Skiers trying to make their way to and from French Alps resorts were plunged into chaos on Saturday night as 15,000 cars were trapped on the roads and emergency overnight centres were set up to shelter trapped tourists.

Some more:

Emergency shelters were set up in 12 locations across the Savoie region – among them Albertville, Bourg Saint-Maurice, Moûtiers, and Chambéry.

"Some people will be able to make a U-turn, but others, who are only a few kilometres from the resorts, will be accommodated in the emergency shelters," said a spokesman for the Savoie prefecture.

At 7pm on Saturday night Le Dauphine Libere, the local newspaper, reported that 500 people were trapped at the station in Aime, with the local mayors speaking to a coach firm to work out how to transport the holidaymakers. All hoteliers were being asked to accommodate stranded tourists.

And the thing is - the Swiss are used to severe weather. Skiing is a major tourist industry for them and they have been doing this for a long long time. For a storm of such intensity to catch them off-guard points to some severe weather.

From The Washington Times:

Federal regulators say “Bah, Humbug!” to Christmas lights
Christmas lights have become so affordable that even the humblest of homes often are lit like the Star of Bethlehem. Federal bureaucrats are working to end this. They claim it will make us safer, but the facts don’t back them up.

It’s not uncommon to find strings of mini-lights priced at $1 for a hundred lights, sometimes even less. To cure this excessive affordability, the feds are rushing to save Americans from mass holiday displays. They seem to believe we all are like Clark Griswold, the bumbling father figure in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” (played by Chevy Chase), who nearly electrocutes himself, starts fires, falls off the roof and short-circuits power in his whole neighborhood as he tries to create a home display that would outdo Rockefeller Center.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has created an example of regulate first and explain why later. In October they proposed new regulations to outlaw strings of bulbs, lighted lawn figures and similar items that would be declared as hazardous. The red tape deals with certifying wire sizes, fuses, and tensile strength of all “seasonal decorative lighting products.”

This includes Christmas tree lights, lighted wreaths, menorahs, outdoor strands, lawn figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, or Santa or Rudolph or Frosty the Snowman. Yes, Kwanzaa, too. CPSC is an equal opportunity Scrooge. The agency estimates that their proposed regulations will impact 100 million items per year with a market value of $500 million.

Of course, those items already are covered by safety regulations and also by industry standards and oversight. CPSC admits that 3.6-million unsafe lights were recalled under existing safeguards in place since 1974.

So what is CPSC’s justification for adding red tape to the red, green, blue, yellow, white and other colored displays? They report 250 deaths from fires or electrocutions by Christmas lights. That’s not 250 deaths per year; it’s 250 deaths since 1980. They had to add together 33 years of statistics to misportray danger.

Talk about government overreach - 250 / 33 = 7.575 deaths per year from Christmas Lights. In 2014 so far, 26 people have died from lightning strikes. A 343% increase. We need to ban lightning!

From ZDNet:

Bad, bad Internet news: Internet Systems Consortium site hacked
Remember how just last week I told all you dedicated system and network administrators that you weren't going to be starting your holiday weekend early because of a serious NTP security hole? Well, turn your car around and head back to the server room. The Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) has taken the site down for maintenance because they "believe we may be infected with malware."

Oh boy.

OK, so those of you are battle-hardened network and sysadmins already know why this is bad news and you're already logging in via ssh to your Domain Name System (DNS) servers. For the rest of you, here is why this could be really, really bad news.

ISC is the group behind the open-source Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) program. BIND is arguably the most popular DNS software on the planet. It is certainly the most used DNS program on the Unix and Linux systems that make up most of the Internet's fundamental infrastructure.

DNS is the master address list of the Internet. It's what translates every human-readable Internet address in the world, say http://www.google.com, into its IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. These numeric addresses are then used by routers and switches to move data from your computer, smartphone, tablet, whatever, to your Web sites, your e-mail server, and back again.

In other words, it's really important. Without DNS, there is no functional Internet.

If the BIND code itself has been corrupted, and you've updated your DNS BIND server with the code, you could be in for a world of hurt. Your site might now have a security hole on it. It's also all too possible that it could be used for a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

Adding insult to injury, ISC runs the F DNS root server. This is one of the 13 root servers that the Internet relies upon for global DNS services.

Nothing that us mere mortals can do about it but if the internet should start behaving curiously in the next day or two, this is the probablP(*yo7ItIutfvi(YO*&Ti86tgb&^&^%ERFi67t(*YHP(8P(8yhO(YGHO*&TGo87thO*&HO87ho*&TU^%Ey64edYRGO(*YP8u
NO CARRIER

And so it goes - another airplane

From CNN:

AirAsia plane loses contact with traffic control in Indonesia
The search is on for AirAsia Flight 8501, which lost contact with air traffic control in Indonesia, the airline said Sunday.

Flight QZ 8501 from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. Sunday (7:24 p.m. Saturday ET), AirAsia said

"At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available," AirAsia said in a statement.

This is just the preliminary information but there is the potential for a Flight 370 all over again.

Great news from Mt. Baker

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Excerpted from today's 3PM report:

We now have the deepest snowbase in Washington with all 8 lifts, both base areas and all three lodges open. Over 95% of our main runs are open with very good coverage – these are the conditions we have been waiting for.

Took a while to manifest but nice to have it here finally.

From the Vancouver Sun:

‘Catastrophic’ earthquake and tsunami brewing off B.C. coast
The pressure has been building for more than 300 years.

A giant slab of rock sliding in from the Pacific is exerting so much pressure on the west coast of North America it is warping Vancouver Island, tilting it higher and squeezing it a few centimetres eastward every year.

One day, the strain will be released in an instant and a catastrophic earthquake will rip down the west coast from British Columbia to northern California. Geologists can’t predict when the mega-thrust quake will hit, but they say it is inevitable.

Parts of the coast will suddenly sink more than a metre and jump 10 to 15 metres to the west when the tectonic plates on the 1,130-kilometre Cascadia subduction zone slide past each other.

The ground shaking will be so intense older bridges and unreinforced buildings will crack and many are expected to collapse. Landslides will cut off roads, railways and millions of people could be left —  for days, and in some areas, possibly weeks — without phone, cable, power and water. The coast will be hammered as a tsunami sends a wall of water racing ashore, that could wash away resorts, campgrounds, rearrange shipping channels, and sever major undersea cables.

Note - this is not IF this is WHEN - could you survive ten days without access to food or water? There is a great short video at the site but they made it impossible to display it here.

Shifting to plan "B"

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The base of the cabinet for the synthesizer is recessed - called a toe-kick in cabinetmaking for some strange reason. Since this will be resting on bamboo flooring and no configurations are ever cast in stone, I would want to be able to move it without trashing out the flooring.

My initial thought was to cut strips of cutting board material and screw those to the bottom of the kick. This proved to be very unwieldy and I do not think this is something that would hold up over time.

Time for Plan "B" - what I should have done first - casters. I am in town Monday anyway so will pick up 16 of these (this puppy is heavy!) at Grizzly Tools.

Working on some other features of the cabinet for now. Coming along nicely!

A nice quiet day at home - Lulu is watching a couple of chick-flicks on the tube, got a fire burning in the fireplace, the critters are hanging out in their shelter/barn. Rain is coming down off and on - a bit over an inch over the last 24 hours.

An interesting point from John Merline writing at Investors Business Daily:

Scrooge Was A Liberal, Studies Show
Just about every year at this time, "A Christmas Carol' shows up somewhere on TV, as do headlines about how one Republican or another is the modern equivalent of the tale's greedy miser, Ebenezer Scrooge.

"The GOP's sad Scrooge agenda." "GOP Protecting Ebenezer Scrooge." "Maher Likens Republicans to Ebenezer Scrooge." "Republicans play the role of the stingy Scrooge."

You have to wonder if these folks have actually read "A Christmas Carol" or spent any time pondering what Scrooge actually says and does. Because if you do, you come to realize that Scrooge more closely resembles a modern liberal than a conservative.

A major clue comes early in the story, when two men collecting for charity arrive at Scrooge's office. After asking Scrooge for a donation to help the poor and needy, Scrooge responds: "Are there no prisons? And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation? The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor?"

He goes on to say, "I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."

Modern translation: I pay taxes to support the welfare state, why should I give money to you?

Turns out, that's a decidedly liberal viewpoint.

Much more at the site - very hard to refute these observations...

From the London Daily Mail:

Hackers release cache of 13,000 passwords and credit cards of PlayStation, Xbox and Amazon users
A gang of internet hackers claiming an affiliation with shadowy anarchist group Anonymous is claiming it has leaked the details of more than 13,000 users of Playstation, Xbox and online stores including Amazon.

The hackers posted a document online containing username and password combinations. They also added credit card numbers as well as expiry dates.

The group told their followers that they hacked the account details 'for the Lulz'.

Passwords are like toothbrushes. You should always change them every couple of months regardless of whether they need it or not. Never share them.

That is it for the night

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And a couple of busy days ahead. Light posting until next week.

Heading south to the auction preview

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Back in a couple hours.

 

UPDATE: It was as I thought - a total bust. There were two anvils that I was looking at but they both had serious cracks and the faces were dented beyond all use. If you are trying to form a piece of flat stock, all the dents on the anvil face will be impressed onto the the surface of your workpiece. Not good...

The tools were - in machine-shop vernacular - beat to shit. I did visit the Mt. Vernon Costco (each Costco has a slightly different inventory) as well as a major feed store - picked up some grain for Rocky and Sam.

Spending tomorrow working on the cabinet.

 

No zombies around here (anymore)

A wonderful day

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Hope that everyone else's day was filled with wonder and joy.

Brionne's parents turned out to be delightful people and we all had a great time.

The roast beast turned out amazing. The usual recipes called for a sear at 500°F and then cooking at 350 until doneness.

I tried cooking at 200°F until rare (about four hours), let the roast rest for 30 minutes while the oven ramps up and then 10 minutes at 500°F for the final crust. Worked great and we didn't get the extended gray zone of overcooked meat - it was perfectly rare all the way thorough and since it had already rested from the actual cooking, there was no reason to rest after the final char. Pop the Yorkshire Puddings into the oven for ten minutes and dinner was ready.

Lulu is already upstairs and I feel a serious food coma coming on - light surfing for today and then spending tomorrow down at the auction preview. It will be interesting to see what things go for - there is one interesting anvil which retails new for $1,800. I am betting that it will sell for over $2K but we will see - I will definitely get it if it sells for under $800 - it would be a nice upgrade.

Here's how you do it - JetBlue Airline

From the New York City CNN affiliate PIX11:

JetBlue offering free flights to cops to attend slain NYPD officer’s funerals
JetBlue is offering to fly two police officers from each department on its route around the country to New York for the funerals of two NYPD officers killed last weekend.

The New York-based airline is also working with its partners to have family members of one of the slain officers, Wenjian Liu, flown in from overseas.

Liu and a second NYPD officer, Rafael Ramos, were sitting in their patrol car when they were shot and killed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a Georgia man with a long criminal record.

Ramos’s funeral is being held on Dec. 27, whereas Liu’s funeral hasn’t been scheduled, pending the arrival of relatives from China.

JetBlue said in a statement that its flights are available “to law enforcement agencies across our route network who wish to send representatives to New York to support their brethren … We are accepting up to two officers from each department (space permitting).”

Sounds like a great company.

Christmas morning at the White House

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Finegan update

For the next couple of weeks, Finegan will be sleeping in the mud room (heated) which connects to the garage which connects (pet flap doors) to a 20X20 fenced pen outside.

He groused about his new status for almost an hour but this will be his new reality for the next couple of months as we monitor his health.

From the socialist propaganda machine workers trusted news source Yahoo News:

'Selma' irks top Lyndon B. Johnson historian, who says film unfairly vilifies president
The widely acclaimed movie "Selma" about the 1965 Civil Rights movement has disappointed at least one moviegoer: a leading historian of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The director of the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, which hosted a major civil rights summit this year that was headlined by four U.S. presidents, said the film that opens in theatres Thursday incorrectly portrays Johnson as an obstructionist to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

They are trying to re-write Ole Lyin' Bastards history - whitewashing it if you will. Do not forget that it was L.B.J. who said the following:

"I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years"

Johnson goes down as one of the worst presidents in history.

Christmas Eve at the farm

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Lulu's son and his girlfriend just pulled up a few minutes ago. He and I are going to put up the tree in a few minutes and then grilled chicken with rice and stir-fried boc choy with oyster sauce. That and a salad are dinner.

Got a 10+ pound ribeye roast brining for tomorrow's afternoon dinner - Brionne's family is coming out so we will have a house full of people.

Just got back from a last-minute run to town - a few last errands to run. Friday, there is a preview for a large auction about 30 miles south of here. Lots of blacksmithing tools and raw materials.

It is such a relief to be closing the Business Center - my thought was that I would make enough to be able to hire someone full-time and not be involved with it as much as I was. Time to let it go.

Tidings of very great joy

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It was a rough night thinking that the worst had befell Finegan.

We were sleeping in and heard a very familiar bark at the door.

The little booger walked in as though nothing had happened. I do not know where he was hiding - we both looked all over the farm.

Right now our feelings are divided between hating him for what he put us through last night and joy at a Christmas Miracle.

Tidings of not so great joy

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My very old and very beloved Brittany Spaniel Finegan wandered off this morning when I left.

He was not to be seen when I came home a little after three. Spent an hour walking around the farm looking for him in every one of his haunts but could not find him.

I have the house lit up - he has cataracts but can see changes in illumination. Praying.

Sometimes an animal will go away when they sense their end is coming. I pray this is not the case with Finegan, he has too many more evenings of curling up on his bed by the fireplace for that.

Quote of the year

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The thing about smart people is that they seem like crazy people to dumb people.
-- various attributions

Now this is curious

From ScienceNordic:

Historic discovery: huge electric field occurs spontaneously in laughing gas
Danish scientists thought they had made a mistake when they discovered a huge electric field in a thin layer of solid nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas.

As it transpires, however, they had discovered a new and astounding electrical phenomenon.

It was one of those ordinary days in the lab in the basement beneath Aarhus University. Two young physicists were examining how electrons pass through nitrous oxide.

They had frozen the gas to minus 233 °C making the molecules of the gas settle as an extremely thin film above a metal surface.

There wasn't supposed to be anything special about the ice-cold laughing gas, but the young researchers' measurements indicated something else - something completely different.

"They came upstairs and knocked on my door, saying ‘David, there's something not right’. At first we thought the experiment had gone wrong, because it wasn't supposed to be possible for a current to pass through the film and be detected. No external voltage was applied," remembers David Field, Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Aarhus University.

During the next few days, however, the scientists continued to see huge electric fields across the thin film of laughing gas, and it soon became clear that they had discovered an entirely new electrical phenomenon.

The findings have recently been published in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

No word as to the capacity or if the reaction is rechargable but this could be a big breakthrough in battery and/or generating technology.

ScienceNordic is a great read.

DOW over 18K? Growth over 5%?

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The one cause is the lower gasoline prices - lower expenses mean more spending.

If Obama had cut government growth and personal taxes by the same amount, we could have had that growth six years ago.

Not just here - weather in Asia

It is cold all over - a two-fer.

First - from the UK Independent:

Waterfall freezes over on the Yellow River
Tourists have been flocking to a section of China's Yellow River in far greater numbers recently as part of the Hukou Waterfall has frozen over in the incredibly cold weather.

With temperatures dropping to as low as -12° Celsius, part of China's second-largest waterfall has become a wall of ice, making it seem like someone has emptied the contents of a fire extinguisher over the entire scene.

Second - from the Daily Caller:

Japan, India Hit By Snowfall Crisis During ‘Hottest Year On Record’
Climate scientists are saying 2014 is on track to be the hottest year on record. But tell that to people living in Japan and India who are suffering through heavy snowfall now hammering communities.

India’s famed tourist destination Kullu-Manali has seen heavy snowfall that has disrupted the area’s electricity, telecommunications lines and transportation. According to the Indian Express, Kullu-Manali has seen “roads blocked by snow and fallen trees/electricity poles and hoteliers facing huge cancellations ahead of the Christmas and New Year eve rush.”

All this from the area’s first snowfall of the year. But for six days the tourist towns had no power supply and thousands of visitors were forced to cancel their stay this holiday season. Some 6,000 tourists were stuck in Manali last weekend, suffering through two feet of snow and subzero temperatures on Sunday night.

And

But that’s a small price to pay compared to some Japanese towns that got around six feet of snow last week, according to news reports. As of Friday, 11 people had died in traffic accidents or weather-related deaths during the record snowfall, according to Arirang News.

“Japan’s weather agency had advised residents against venturing outdoors as the snowstorm shuttered schools and public transportation and grounded hundreds of flights,” Arirang News reported.

In the Niigata Prefecture, the town of Tsunan saw about six feet, eight inches of snow. The town of Nagano Nozawaonsen got about six feet of snow and Gunma Minakami got about five feet, seven inches of snow last week.

But GLOBAL WARMING!!!

Yeah - riiiight...

Nothing much this morning

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Updating the website for the business. I am closing it at the end of December and selling off the equipment through January.

It was a fun run but at the expense of all of my other interests - have not fired the forge up in over four months.

There is a saying about the two best days of boat ownership - same thing goes for small businesses. First day and last day...

From the Beeb:

Singer Joe Cocker dies aged 70 after cancer battle
The Sheffield-born singer had a career lasting more than 40 years, with hits including You Are So Beautiful and Up Where We Belong.

His agent Barrie Marshall said Cocker, who died after battling lung cancer, was "simply unique".

Sir Paul McCartney said he was a lovely guy who "brought so much to the world".

Cocker's friend Rick Wakeman, keyboard player for the rock band Yes, called his rendition of With a Little Help From My Friends "sensational" and said: "He had a voice that was just unique."

Wakeman told BBC Radio 2: "The great thing is with someone like Joe is what they leave behind, and that will be with us for years and years."

Amazing performer and really nice guy.

Fun with Dominoes

 

Physics is Phun!

Long long day today

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The usual shopping run got concatenated with two meetings and picking up something off Craigslist (some glass fusing molds) as well as a run out to an occasional vendor ten miles out of town.

Add the usual holiday craziness, I am just now sitting down to a pre-dinner glass of wine and a minimal web surf - it's only two hours later than normal...

I finished the music room floor yesterday and it looks fantastic. I ran a little bit short of flooring - just need a strip about 2" wide by 12 feet long to complete one edge. I visited my go-to flooring people and they only sell by the case so screw it, I am going to find a nice piece of hemlock and stain it to look like the bamboo finish. It's on an edge that will have equipment so not like people are going to be able to take a close look.

I am going to finish fixing dinner (left-over spaghetti and a salad - Lulu is in town tonight with a meeting tomorrow) and start shifting some equipment around.

More later...

First Beretta, now Holland and Holland

We saw the outright craftsmanship at Beretta with this video.

Now, Holland and Holland take it to a new level - this is gorgeous work regardless of your opinions on firearms.

 

These puppies can start at around $20K for a pre-owned shotgun and the prices rise through $120K to the dreaded POA - Price on Application. They want to make sure you are sitting down in a comfy chair first.

Our Ski Season

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This has been a horrible year for snow what with multiple Pineapple Expresses melting whatever base accumulated. Mt. Baker is open but nobody else is.

Cliff Mass has this to say:

Desperate Ski Resorts Taking Matters into Their Own Hands
I never thought it would come to this...but it has...PINEAPPLECIDE.

Northwest ski resorts are desperate to deal with their nemesis:  the Pineapple Express.

You know what I am talking about...the current of warm, moist air that brings warm temperatures and heavy rain to the West Coast.   The generic name for such features is atmospheric river, but in our region we call it a pineapple express since our atmospheric rivers generally have their roots near Hawaii (see graphic).

20141221-pineap.jpeg

But during the last week, faced with potential closure over the profitable Christmas break, some Northwest ski operators have turned to severe and unprecedented measures to deal with the threat. Hearkening back to approaches more appropriate to shamans or voodoo witch-doctors, crazed representatives of various Northwest skiing organizations are shooting, decapitating, and sacrificing pineapples in a display of desperation rarely seen in our region.

Below is  a video of the carnage, one not appropriate for the squeamish or those under 18 years old.

Pineapple Shakedown 2014 from Crystal Mountain Resort on Vimeo.

Meteorologists generally oppose such interventions regarding unwanted meteorological phenomena, but with recent attempts idealized in popular movies (e.g., Sharknado I and II), one can hardly fault the Northwest ski industry for taking matters into their own hands.   I will be the last person to criticize them if they succeed in bring back bountiful snow to our mountains.

The Ski industry is our second biggest tourist draw throughout the year (hiking and camping is the biggest). For it to be so delayed is really cutting into our business...

A fun bit of serendipity - Arvid's Woods

In putting in the new flooring, I had to remove the old molding. I can re-use a lot of it but some sections are really beat up - deep dents and scratches as though some furniture was pushed up against it repeatedly.

I want to replace this but I cannot find anything that matches at any of the home builder places in town. Lots of people are willing to make it custom for me but it would come at a custom price. Not willing to spend that much for a simple piece of molding.

There was a maker's mark on the back of the molding: Arvid's Historic Woods and for the hell of it, I googled the name and they are still in business - now named D & D Millwork. From their about page:

About D & D Millwork
For more than 25 years D & D Millwork, formerly operating as Arvid's Historic Woods, has been the number one choice of contractors and homeowners when it comes to custom millwork materials. D & D Millwork carries a wide variety of hardwood and softwood lumber, moldings, and plywood materials.  Additionally, we supply our customers with options on standard and custom doors, stair systems, columns, mantles, moldings and millwork.  Our 9,000 square foot on-site shop located in Lynnwood, WA provides the space needed for any size job, large or small.

20141221-arvid.jpg

 

Very cool - our house was built about 40 years ago - it will be fun to see if they still stock the same molding. Mailing off a sample to them for a quote on Tuesday.

Shortest day of the year

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Today, the days start getting longer - winter is still here for a while but it is giving way to the rebirth of Spring.

We went out for coffee and got our tree from Red Mountain Tree Farm (been buying from them for the last ten years or so).

Finishing off the flooring today - the synthesizer cabinet has already been pre-cut and painted so assembling it should not be too long of a project.

The truth about compact fluorescent lights

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They reference a Mythbusters episode - that is here:

Much more here: CFL Fluorescent Light Bulbs: More Hype Than Value

A mediation on shipping pallets

A wonderful history of the shipping pallet from Cabinet Magazine:

Whitewood under Siege
There are approximately two billion wooden shipping pallets in the United States. They are in the holds of tractor-trailers, transporting Honey Nut Cheerios and oysters and penicillin and just about any other product you can think of: sweaters, copper wire, lab mice, and so on. They are piled up behind supermarkets, out back, near the loading dock. They are at construction sites, on sidewalks, in the trash, in your neighbor’s basement. They are stacked in warehouses and coursing their way through the bowels of factories.

The magic of these pallets is the magic of abstraction. Take any object you like, pile it onto a pallet, and it becomes, simply, a “unit load”—standardized, cubical, and ideally suited to being scooped up by the tines of a forklift. This allows your Cheerios and your oysters to be whisked through the supply chain with great efficiency; the gains are so impressive, in fact, that many experts consider the pallet to be the most important materials-handling innovation of the twentieth century. Studies have estimated that pallets consume 12 to 15 percent of all lumber produced in the US, more than any other industry except home construction.

Some pallets also carry an aesthetic charge. It’s mostly about geometry: parallel lines and negative space, slats and air. There is also the appeal of the raw, unpainted wood, the cheapest stuff you can buy from a lumber mill—“bark and better,” it’s called. These facts have not escaped the notice of artists, architects, designers, or DIY enthusiasts. In 2003, the conceptual artist Stuart Keeler presented stacks of pallets in a gallery show, calling them “the elegant serving-platters of industry”; more recently, Thomas Hirschhorn featured a giant pallet construction as part of his Gramsci Monument. Etsy currently features dozens of items made from pallets, from window planters and chaise lounges to more idiosyncratic artifacts, such as a decorative teal crucifix mounted on a pallet. If shipping containers had their cultural moment a decade ago, pallets are having theirs now.

A long and fascinating article.

Birdbrains - warblers and tornadoes

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From BBC:

Birds 'heard tornadoes coming' and fled one day ahead
US scientists say tracking data shows that five golden-winged warblers "evacuated" their nesting site one day before the April 2014 tornado outbreak.

Geolocators showed the birds left the Appalachians and flew 700km (400 miles) south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The next day, devastating storms swept across the south and central US.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, ecologists suggest these birds - and others - may sense such extreme events with their keen low-frequency hearing.

Remarkably, the warblers had completed their seasonal migration just days earlier, settling down to nest after a 5,000km (3,100 mile) journey from Colombia.

A bit more:

After disappearing to Colombia for the winter, 10 of the tagged warblers returned in April 2014. The team was in the field observing them when they received advance warning of the tornadoes.

"We evacuated ourselves to the waffle house in Caryville, Tennessee, for the one day that the storm was really bad," Dr Streby said.

Elsewhere in the US the storm had more drastic consequences. At least 84 tornadoes caused 35 fatalities and more than $1bn (£0.6bn) in property damage.

After the storm had blown over, the team recaptured five of the warblers and removed the geolocators.

These are tiny devices weighing about half a gram, which measure light levels. Based on the timing and length of the days they record, these gadgets allow scientists to calculate and track the approximate location of migratory birds.

In this case, all five indicated that the birds had taken unprecedented evasive action, beginning one to two days ahead of the storm's arrival.

"The warblers in our study flew at least 1,500km (932 miles) in total," Dr Streby said.

They escaped just south of the tornadoes' path - and then went straight home again. By 2 May, all five were back in their nesting area.

Amazing behaviour - to sense an impending storm and to fly over 900 miles to avoid it.

Data breaches in the news - now Staples

Target, Home Depot, KMart and now Staples. From Fortune:

The office-supply retailer gave new details about a breach at more than 100 of its stores
Staples said Friday afternoon that nearly 1.16 million customer payment cards may have been affected in a data breach under investigation since October.

The office-supply retailer said two months ago that it was working with law enforcement officials to look into a possible hacking of its customers’ credit card data. Staples said in October that it had learned of a potential data theft at several of its U.S. stores after multiple banks noticed a pattern of payment card fraud suggesting the company computer systems had been breached.

Check your receipts and your credit card statements every month - this crap is going to get worse before it gets better. We are going to need a new system for point of sale and that is going to take time to roll out.

Our magnetic field

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Say goodbye to magnetic compasses for a while. From the University of California at Berkeley:

Earth’s magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime
Imagine the world waking up one morning to discover that all compasses pointed south instead of north.

It’s not as bizarre as it sounds. Earth’s magnetic field has flipped – though not overnight – many times throughout the planet’s history. Its dipole magnetic field, like that of a bar magnet, remains about the same intensity for thousands to millions of years, but for incompletely known reasons it occasionally weakens and, presumably over a few thousand years, reverses direction.

Now, a new study by a team of scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrates that the last magnetic reversal 786,000 years ago actually happened very quickly, in less than 100 years – roughly a human lifetime.

“It’s amazing how rapidly we see that reversal,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Courtney Sprain. “The paleomagnetic data are very well done. This is one of the best records we have so far of what happens during a reversal and how quickly these reversals can happen.”

Sprain and Paul Renne, director of the Berkeley Geochronology Center and a UC Berkeley professor-in- residence of earth and planetary science, are coauthors of the study, which will be published in the November issue of Geophysical Journal International and is now available online.

The discovery comes as new evidence indicates that the intensity of Earth’s magnetic field is decreasing 10 times faster than normal, leading some geophysicists to predict a reversal within a few thousand years.

This will be interesting - it is the Earth's magnetic field that shields us from a lot of the ionizing radiation in space.

From the Bellingham Herald:

Bellingham’s Haggen to acquire 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores
Haggen is about to become a much bigger player in the grocery industry.

The company announced on Friday, Dec. 19 that it is acquiring 146 stores as a part of the divestment process brought about by the Federal Trade Commission’s review of the Albertsons-Safeway merger. With the acquisition, subject to FTC approval, Haggen will expand from 18 stores and 16 pharmacies to 164 stores and 106 pharmacies across Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

This is great news for a really fine company. Their prices are a little bit higher but the quality is a lot better.

Quite the local business too - from their Wikipedia article:

Haggen Food & Pharmacy is the largest independent grocery retailer in the Pacific Northwest. Haggen operates twenty stores under the Haggen and Top Food & Drug name primarily on the I-5 corridor between the Canadian border and the Portland, Oregon metro area. Haggen is currently headquartered in Bellingham, Washington and got its start there in 1933 when Ben Haggen, Dorothy Haggen, and Doug Clark opened the first store on Bay Street in Bellingham.

Haggen, Inc. began in 1933 in the midst of the great depression by Benett and Dorothy Haggen, along with Dorothy's brother, Doug Clark in downtown Bellingham, Washington. The Store was first called the Economy Food Store. Business did well enough that they moved to a larger location downtown at the corner of Railroad and Magnolia Streets and renamed it The White House Grocery. An in-store bakery was opened in 1941 and proved to be very popular. By 1947, the store was ready to expand again. The Haggens closed the White House and built the Town and Country Shopping center on Meridian Street between West Illinois and Maryland streets with Haggen's Thriftway, the store's third name, as the anchor tenant. This store still operates today.

Several years later, they would change the company's name to Haggen Inc. The store continued to prosper and by the 1960s, Haggen was ready to expand beyond Bellingham. A store was opened in Everett, Washington in 1962 and a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) store in Lynnwood, Washington in 1968. Two more stores were opened in Lynnwood in 1971 from the acquired Grocery Boy chain. Expansion for the company would be slow because, unlike other grocery stores who expanded through acquisition, Haggen mostly built stores from the ground up. In 1979, the flagship store in Bellingham was expanded to over 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2), creating the chain's first superstore format with full-service departments which it still uses today.

In 1982, the TOP Foods division was created by converting existing stores in Snohomish, Washington and Wenatchee to the superstore format. This proved to be a huge success and the Top Brand was expanded greatly throughout the Puget Sound Region but avoiding Seattle because QFC, upscale Larry's Markets, Albertsons, and Safeway saturated the metropolitan area. Haggen became the first grocery store in US with an in-store Starbucks coffee store in 1989. In 1995, they expanded to Portland, Oregon opening stores under the Haggen moniker.

Growing from 18 stores to 164 is quite the expansion. They have an excellent management team so this should be a piece of cake.

Our Small Business Administration at work

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Billions in Taxpayer Funded Loans Going to Companies that Serve the Rich
The Small Business Administration exists to help Americans “start, build, and grow” businesses, but an analysis of more than $67 billion worth of SBA loans finds that much of the taxpayer funds went to “wealthy lifestyle” businesses such as members-only country clubs and luxury auto dealers.

Open the Books, a project of non-profit group American Transparency, found that more than 35,000 loans and loan guarantees ranging from $1 to $5 million have been granted by the SBA since 2007, and that the recipients are not your average “small businesses.”

One major beneficiary of the SBA has been exclusive clubs across the country, ranging from private golf clubs to yacht clubs. $160.867 million in loans have been granted to private clubs since 2007, including $2 million to the Pequonnock Yacht Club in Connecticut, $5 million to the Horseshoe Bend Country Club in Georgia, and $3.282 million on the Frisco Gun Club in Texas.

Open the Books writes that “these country clubs built new golf courses, pools, clubhouses, banquet facilities, outdoor waterfalls, and bridges” with the loans, and that the taxpayers were the “backstop” for the risk.

The SBA also supplied $760 million in loans to companies that provide “luxury indulgences,” such as $3.497 million to Lamborghini dealerships and $3.296 million to BMW Motorcycle dealerships.

$18.890 million was also granted to helicopter tour companies, such as Maverick Helicopters in Nevada, which offers VIP trips straight to the Las Vegas strip on the “newest and most advanced fleet in the world.”

Amongst the most “posh” recipients identified by the study were “extreme luxury resorts for pets.”

“$75.946 million of SBA loans flowed into 49 high-end, luxury pet resorts across America,” writes the report. One $2.14 million loan went to the Forest Shadows Pet Resort, which notes on its website that it offers “extras such as anal gland expression.”

The Open the Books report was made possible by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, a bill cosponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) and then-Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.).

Wasn't this supposed to be the most transparent administration ever?

Hidden treasures

Remember that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Ark of the Covenant is being stored in a huge warehouse?

A place like that exists - Buzz Feed has quite the amazing story.

Impossible to excerpt - just go and read.

The best of MSNBC in 2014

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Heh...

From reNews, the “electronic newspaper” and real time news website tracking the renewable energy market.

Vattenfall to scrap Yttre Stengrund
Vattenfall has abandoned plans to repower its 10MW Yttre Stengrund offshore wind farm in the Kalmar Sound, Sweden.

The company announced this week it is planning to decommission the project, which was brought online in 2001 and features NEG Micon 2MW turbines.

Vattenfall said it would not be "worthwhile" to replace the machines, which would also require a new export cable to be installed.

“Vattenfall invests in wind power wherever it is profitable. We have chosen to decommission this wind farm prematurely and restore the sea bed and ground installations in an ecologically correct way,” said head of Nordic operations Torbjörn Wahlborg.

A bit more:

Most of the wind turbines, foundations and cables will then be sold or recycled as scrap.

Permission was granted in 2009 ago to repower the wind farm but as of last year the company was describing the erection of updated turbines as only one of "several solutions".

Only one of the five turbines is currently in operation. Difficulty finding spare parts was a long-running problem at the wind farm.

Without government subsidies, all these projects would just dry up and blow away.

alt.energy is not profitable. Nuclear is.

Sony is caving to a bunch of hackers who threatened violence. From FOX News:

Sony’s surrender will strengthen hackers, experts say
Sony’s shock decision to scrap the Dec. 25 release of its controversial movie “The Interview” will strengthen hackers, experts warn, fueling debilitating cyberattacks on other high-profile firms.

Still reeling from a crippling Nov. 24 hack, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced Wednesday that it had canceled “The Interview’s” Christmas Day release after a number of movie chains said that they would not show the film. “The Interview,” which pokes fun at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is believed to have prompted last month’s devastating attack on the studio and subsequent threats to movie theaters.

A bit more:

“Capitulation to cyber extortion will incentivize other actors to achieve political gains via cyber intrusions and threats,” Sean Doherty, president of security firm TSC Advantage, told FoxNews.com, in an email. “This situation is not dissimilar to what we’ve seen with kidnapping situations, where paying ransoms to terrorists and criminal actors has increased the threat to potential victims.”

Nir Polak, CEO of big data security company Exabeam, agrees. “Sony's capitulation to these government-sponsored attackers means, in this case, they've allowed another government to censor freedom of expression,” he explained, in an email to FoxNews.com. “This sets a bad precedent.”

“It looks like the North Koreans have been able to intimidate [Sony] into buckling under, and that’s a big thing,” added Roger Kay, president of research firm Endpoint Technologies. “It’s a big loss of face for Sony, quite frankly.”

Another perfect example of how critical decisions made at the top of a corporate food-chain are almost always wrong. If I were head of Sony, I would do this:

Sony makes it's money by taking a percentage of the ticket sales. Sony and its distributors take about 70% of the gate (this is why popcorn is so expensive). I would take the usual 70% but rebate $700 per screen in cash to the theater owners for them to hire three armed guards for each screening. I would make it the theater owners' (not corporate) decision whether or not to screen the film.

Problem solved...

Bill Clinton doing what Bill does best

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From several sources:

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Media outrage in 3... 2... 1...

Good news from Mt. Baker

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We may finally be getting enough snow to open. It has been a dismal year for everyone in the Northwest.

From the Mt. Baker Ski Snow Report for Noon today (7" of new snow in the last 24 hours)

Come on Santa, keep working your magic! We've gotten a nice hit of snow since yesterday and we should get another nice dump tonight with freezing levels expected to remain around 3-4000 feet.

And so far it looks like we could luck out this weekend. Forecasts are looking fairly dismal down south but remain pretty darned good for Mt. Baker.

We're expecting a very strong jet stream pointed right at us Saturday and Sunday with snow levels rising a bit but staying in the snow range for mid-mountain. So we could get a lot of heavy base-building snow at the mid and upper mountain. There's supposed to be a short spike in the temperatures Saturday night, but it's not supposed to go too high and should lower back below Heather Meadows by Sunday morning. The mid and upper elevations of the ski area could see two or more feet of snow and that would allow us to open!

So we are looking at a possible Sunday or Monday opening at this point, but of course that's dependent on how things shake out this weekend.

The extended forecast for Christmas week is looking good, with cooler temperatures and precipitation expected. Stay tuned!

All we want for Christmas is a good cold jet stream!

The businesses in our area (including mine) live or die by recreation and when the county's primary winter recreation area is closed, nobody is happy.

email spam

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Been seeing a very large uptick in email spam over the last couple of months.

I am on a few high-traffic email lists so 100+ emails/day is not uncommon.

What is uncommon is the 40+ spam emails/day that accompany the legitimate packets.

Three months ago, I would get maybe ten. Now it is a lot more.

Must have pissed someone off :-P

Got a nice little PERL filter for this blog but looking for something to plug in for Outlook 2003.

Words fail - the picture on the wall

American hostage Alan Gross returned home from five years of imprisonment in Cuba.

He is sitting on the right with his lawyer, Scott Gilbert and spokeswoman Jill Zuckman and what the fsck is that picture doing on the wall?

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From The Washington Post:

Alan Gross returns to the United States, is greeted by an image of Che Guevara
Alan Gross, the U.S. contractor released Wednesday after five years of captivity in Cuba, was greeted with a, well, surprising art choice while preparing to make a statement on U.S. soil this afternoon.

Visible in the background of a widely circulated photograph of Gross, his lawyer Scott Gilbert and spokesperson Jill Zuckman: An image of Che Guevara, the divisive revolutionary figure.

“Why is there a Che Guevara pic in background?” National Review Online’s Andrew Johnson tweeted.

Others responded with sympathy: “Poor guy gets to his lawyer’s office and has to look at yet another Che glamour shot,” Andrew Grossman tweeted.

Zuckman told The Post via e-mail that the photograph was taken at the Gilbert LLP law firm.

Got to say though, the blaster on the desk is a nice touch...

That's it until much later

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Busy working on some other stuff and then off to town at 3:00PM

I'll be surfing later and will post then.

A bit of wisdom in Vermont

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The numbers simply do not pencil out - from Vermont Public Radio:

Shulman: It's 'Not The Right Time' For Single Payer
Gov. Peter Shulman has abandoned his plan to institute a single-payer health system in Vermont.

The shocking policy reversal comes just six weeks after an election in which Shulman had vowed, in unequivocal terms, to make Vermont the first state in the country with a publicly financed health care system.

But he said he learned late last week how much and what kinds of taxes would be required to pay for it. Faced with that information, Shulman said Thursday, he opted to drop what has long been the central plank of his political platform.

 Good news. Now if we can just convince those dunderheads in Washington.

That's it for the night - flooring

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Pulled up the remaining carpet yesterday and finishing off the underlayment tonight. I'll be ready to lay the last of the new flooring tomorrow evening.

The previous owner of the house is the guy who had it built and he had some excellent contractors working for him (with the exception of electrical - I am told it was a friend). The guy that did the carpet overdid himself when it came to installing the underlayment. There are little fscking staples everywhere. That underlayment was not going to move if there was an atom bomb dropped on it.

Needless to say, I am spending about 20% of my time for this project on my hands and knees prying up hundreds of staples. We are looking at doing the rest of the house in hardwood flooring. Lulu's son will not be a happy camper when we get to that part... (insert evil grin here)

The Sony Hack

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Over the last week, I was thinking that the Sony hack might actually be a fake-out by Sony to garner more publicity and buzz for their upcoming movie. The stuff that was actually released to the public is pretty benign.

Now it seems that Sony is pulling the Christmas Day theatrical release so things look serious. From Variety:

Sony Cancels Theatrical Release for ‘The Interview’ on Christmas
With theater chains defecting en masse, Sony Pictures Entertainment has pulled the planned Christmas Day release of “The Interview.”

In announcing the decision to cancel the holiday debut, Sony hit back at the hackers who threatened movie theaters and moviegoers and who have terrorized the studio and its employees for weeks.

“Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like,” the statement reads.

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” it continues. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

Oh Noes - not another strongly-worded memo. Kapitan, the shields cannae hold out for much longer.

North Korea is a workers paradise on Earth. I look forward to the day when their citizens can be free.

Obama's new policy towards Cuba

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First of all, this was announced to draw attention from Grubergate and the Cromnibus.

Second, from CNS News:

Rubio: Obama's New Cuba Policy 'Puts a Price on Every American Abroad'
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says he's glad that American "hostage" Alan Gross has been released from a Cuban prison after five years, but he opposes the process by which his release was secured -- "because it puts a price on every American abroad."

"Governments now know that if they can take an American hostage, they can get very significant concessions from the United States."

As part of the deal to free Gross, the United States will release three Cuban spies: "They're not just benign Cuban spies," Rubio -- the son of Cuban exiles -- told Fox News on Wednesday. "These Cuban spies were involved in providing information to the Cuban government that led to the murder of U.S. citizens in the infamous shootdown of the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft back in 1996.

"These were airplanes that used to patrol the Straits of Cuba to find people on rafts and save their lives. The Cuban government shot them down over international waters and they did so largely based on information that at least one of these spies provided them. These spies will now get a hero's welcome in Cuba."

More at the site including this little gem:

"And it's ironic, that a week after we imposed sanctions on human rights violators in Venezuela, we are lifting sanctions on the government that has taught the Venezuelans how to commit these human rights violations. It's absurd. And it's part of the long record of coddling dictators and tyrants that this administration has established."

Almost makes me think of Hanlon's razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

But not quite - it is ideology and Dunning-Kreuger

A note from Santa

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Another day at the terrorists guild

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Caution - drink alert:

Hat tip Denny

Interesting development up North

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From Canada.com:

'One of those moments that we live for in science': UBC researchers may have stumbled upon the secret to youthful skin
Scientists at the University of B.C. searching for ways to slow the deterioration of blood vessels may have stumbled on to the key to youthful skin.

While exploring the effects of the protein-degrading enzyme Granzyme B on blood vessels during heart attacks, professor David Granville couldn’t help noticing that mice engineered to lack the enzyme had beautiful skin at the end of the experiment, while normal mice showed signs of age.

“This is one of those moments that we live for in science,” said Granville, a researcher for Providence Health Care.

“We were interested in the effects of aging on blood vessels; we had no idea (the absence of this enzyme) would have any effect on their skin.”

The discovery pushed Granville’s research in an unexpected new direction.

The researchers built a mechanized rodent tanning salon and exposed mice engineered to lack the enzyme and normal mice to UV light three times a week for 20 weeks, enough to cause redness, but not to burn.

At the end of the experiment, the engineered mice still had smooth, unblemished skin, while the normal mice were deeply wrinkled.

“About 80 to 90 per cent of visible skin aging is caused by sunlight,” said Granville. “We found that by knocking out this gene we could markedly protect against the loss of collagen and it prevented wrinkling in these mice.”

More faster please!

And waking up to hear about the brutal slaughter of 132 children by the Taliban in Pakistan.

For all the darkness and crude evil in this world, there is also transcendent light:

 

Missed it by one day

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40 years ago yesterday (December 15th), Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein opened in theaters.

Mental Floss has fifteen fun facts about this classic movie.

And here we go - Avian Flu

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I had posted about an Avian Flu outbreak to our North last December 11th.

It has crossed over our border - from the Whatcom County Unified Emergency Management website:

USDA Confirms H5 Avian Influenza in Washington State Wild Birds
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of
highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5 avian influenza in wild birds in Whatcom County,
Washington. Two separate virus strains were identified: HPAI H5N2 in northern pintail
ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds.
Neither virus has been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the United States.
There is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian influenza viruses.
Both H5N2 and H5N8 viruses have been found in other parts of the world and have not
caused any human infection to date.

More information can be found at the USDA Website.

Making a Beretta Shotgun

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Gorgeous five minute film from Ancarani Studios:

From FOX News:

Study: Your all-electric car may not be so green
People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming.

Ethanol isn't so green, either.

"It's kind of hard to beat gasoline" for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. "A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean ... are not better than gasoline."

The key is where the source of the electricity all-electric cars. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They also are significantly worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming, it found.

The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire life cycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.

"Unfortunately, when a wire is connected to an electric vehicle at one end and a coal-fired power plant at the other end, the environmental consequences are worse than driving a normal gasoline-powered car," said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who wasn't part of the study but praised it.

The original paper is at PNAS: Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and alternative light-duty transportation in the United States

Merry Christmas - Comet Lovejoy

A portent in the heavens? From Sky and Telescope:

Binocular Comet Lovejoy Heading Our Way
A new Comet Lovejoy, designated C/2014 Q2, is heading our way out of deep space and out of the deep southern sky. It may brighten to 5th magnitude from late December through much of January as it climbs into excellent viewing position for the Northern Hemisphere, high in the dark winter night.

This is Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy's fifth comet discovery. He turned it up at 15th magnitude in Puppis last August, in search images that he took with a wide-field 8-inch scope. It hasn't moved very much since then — it's still in Puppis as of December 11th — but it's hundreds of times brighter now at visual magnitude 6.8, reports David Seargent in Australia. On December 9th "I saw it easily using a pair of 6x35 binoculars," Seargent writes. Using a 4-inch binocular telescope at 25×, he says it was a good 8 arcminutes wide with a strong central condensation and no visible tail.

Much more at the site including spotting charts and the best times to view. It should be visible to the naked eye and really spectacular with a modest set of binoculars.

Always have a plan

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Submitted for your approval:

 

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Good riddance - Islamist terrorist shot dead

I hope someone had the presence of mind to stuff a ham sammich into his mouth as he lay bleeding out.

Some consequences are coming - people have had enough. First, from the London Daily Mail:

Faces of the victims: Heroic Sydney cafe manager, 34, shot dead as he grabbed terrorist's gun to protect hostages - and the brilliant young barrister and mother of three, 38, who died in hospital after the siege
The two hostages who died during the bloody climax of a sixteen-hour siege at a Sydney cafe were today named as manager Tori Johnson and mother-of-three Katrina Dawson.

Mr Johnson, 34, was shot dead after he tried to wrestle the gun from Islamic extremist Man Haron Monis inside the Lindt cafe in Martin Place just after 2am on Tuesday morning.

Ms Dawson, a 38-year-old whose children are all under 10, died in hospital. She was a barrister at Eight Selborne Chambers in Sydney's Phillip Street, opposite the site of the siege.

As Australia mourned the dead, thousands of people gathered at Martin Place to lay flowers, some in floods of tears. Among those paying tribute were NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, Premier Mike Baird and the Governor General Peter Cosgrove. Tony Abbott is expected to attend this afternoon.

Some more - the perp was a real pillar of the community: 

He first came to the attention of authorities when he started sending hate mail to the families of Australian dead soldiers between 2007 and 2009, according to The Daily Telegraph.

And

The hostage-taker was charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife - who was allegedly stabbed and set on fire on a flight of stairs in her western Sydney apartment block in November 2013. The man's current partner was charged with murder but they both received bail as the case was deemed too weak.

He was arrested in April this year for the sexual assault of a 27-year-old woman in 2002 after luring her to his clinic following claims he was as an expert in astrology, meditation and black magic, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Monis was slapped with an additional 40 charges in October after more victims came forward alleging incidents took place in his spiritual healing clinic in Station Street in Wentworthville, western Sydney.

Like I said, a really nice guy.

Backlash in 3... 2... 1... from the UK Guardian:

Estimated 15,000 people join ‘pinstriped Nazis’ on march in Dresden
Its members have been dubbed the “pinstriped Nazis” and they refer to their demonstrations as “evening strolls” through German cities. But on Monday night, an estimated 15,000 people joined Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West, in a march through Dresden carrying banners bearing slogans such as “Zero tolerance towards criminal asylum seekers”, “Protect our homeland” and “Stop the Islamisation”.

Next couple of years are going to be really interesting what with Obama stirring up the race pot and the islamists being the clueless 9th century thugs they are. Keep your powder dry...

Vertical Video Syndrome - just say no

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A great PSA about a growing problem:

 

Done for the day - UPDATE

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The corned beef smells amazing - it is resting in a sauce pan sitting on top of a pot with the vegetables boiling gently. Instead of tossing everything into a pot and boiling it for a couple hours, I sous vide'd the brisket and then used the juices that came off to cook the veges. Concentrate the flavor. I did have to add a bit of vegetable stock but not much. We will know in 20 minutes or so...

Floor is now 2/3 done - Lulu's son Curtis will help me move the mixing desk over to the hard floor section tomorrow and I will do the last of the floor. Looking really good! After that, I finish the construction of the cabinets for the new synthesizer.

More posting after dinner...

UPDATE - it was awesome. Best ever that either of us can remember and I cook a lot of corned beef.

And that is it - I will be moving some stuff in the music room in preparation for tomorrow. Early morning tomorrow - store shopping run.

Early in 2017

From an email:

One sunny day in January, 2017, an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Obama." The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Obama is no longer President and no longer resides here." The old man said, "Okay," and walked away.

The following day the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Obama." The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Obama is no longer President and no longer resides here." The man thanked him and again just walked away.

The third day the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U.S. Marine, saying, "I would like to go in and meet with President Obama."

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Obama. I've told you already that Mr. Obama is no longer the President and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it."

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow, Sir."

Got nothin' this morning

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Stiff from doing the floor. Back at it in a few minutes - it sure is looking good though.

More this afternoon. Doing corned beef sous vide for dinner tonight.

Happy 10:11PM on 12/13/14

That's it for the evening

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I'll be moving some stuff around in the music room and then off to an early bedtime.

Feeling stiff and tired. Got about half the floor done and will be moving all the equipment over so I can do the other half tomorrow. Looking good! I will have to do some sound treatments because this will make the room really 'bright' but I was planning to put up some panels anyway.

Planing to close the Mt. Baker Business Center after the new year - it was (I thought) a great idea but nobody utilized it enough for me to make a profit and it is taking time away from all my stuff at home (and Lulu). I gave it a full year.

Busy day today

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Lulu and her son fed the horses and llamas and then proceeded to stack a big pile of firewood. Next they moved some furniture in the living room making room for the tree - we will get that next weekend.

I ran out to get a dozen bales of hay, bucked that and then started on the floor in the music room. I had pulled up half of the carpet - spent today laying down some bamboo flooring that I had from another project.  Looks gorgeous - do the other half tomorrow.

Having left-over beef stew for dinner.

New hard drive from Seagate - 8TB for $260

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Ho. Li. Crap!  Eight Terabytes - from Hot Hardware:

Seagate Bulks Up With $260 8TB 'Archive' HDD
Have huge storage needs and don't mind making some sacrifices to score suitable drives at a great price? If so, you'll want to turn your attention to Seagate's just-announced 'Archive HDD' series, one that offers densities of 5TB, 6TB, and 8TB. That's right - 8TB. And a $260 8TB at that.

Back in 2007, Seagate was one of the first to release a hard drive based on perpendicular magnetic recording, a technology that was required to help us break past the roadblock of achieving more than 250GB per platter. Since then, PMR has evolved to allow the release of drives as large as 8TB, but to go beyond that, something new was needed. That "something new" is shingled magnetic

As its name suggests, SMR aligns drive tracks in a singled pattern, much like shingles on a roof. With this design, Seagate is able to cram much more storage into the same physical area. It should be noted that Seagate isn't the first out the door with an 8TB model, however, as HGST released one earlier this year. In lieu of a design like SMR, HGST decided to go the helium route, allowing it to pack more platters into a drive.

Very cool - storage space is getting to be a concern now that digital photographs are getting so large. The file sizes from my camera are in the 30MB range - adds up in a hurry especially when doing time-lapse and shooting several hundred exposures.

Don't see it on Amazon yet but I'll check in a month or two...

Happy 12/13/14 day

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That will not happen again for a while...

From our local community comes this advertisement:

20141212-zinsco.jpg

 

For those that are not familiar with the brand, Zinsco is abject crap.

The company is a joke among electricians and anyone getting into a house with a Zinsco panel needs to have it replaced immediately with something better - Square-D is good and not that much more expensive.

Sony is getting reamed from stem to stern

Looks like Sony's managers need to get a hit with the cluebat on how to allow access to the internet and basic computer security.

The penetration seems to be ongoing and deep. From the UK Telegraph:

Sony suspends film shoots after hackers hit payments
The Hollywood studio that made the James Bond and Spider-Man films has abandoned film shoots after hackers paralyzed its computer network, and leaked four films and thousands of documents.

Agencies filming for Sony Pictures have canceled shoots because the problems have left it unable to process payments, according to The Times.

The attack by Guardians of Peace, a hacking collective suspected of having links with North Korea, has taken most of Sony Pictures’ computers offline. North Korea has been linked to the hack because Sony’s forthcoming film The Interview involves a CIA plot to kill Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader.

Joseph Demarest, the assistant director of the FBI’s cyber-division, told a US Senate hearing that methods used by the hackers would have breached the defenses of nine out of ten companies.

Security researchers said that the attack would cost Sony Pictures £64 million to put right.

The Times article referenced is behind a stupid paywall so I am using the Telegraph reporting. Breaching the defenses of nine out of ten companies? Give me a fscking break - Sony's management overruled Sony's IT department and left an open hole a mile wide. £64 million is a joke. Sony Management fscked up and some R.E.M.F. needs to fall on their sword.

Most companies have excellent security. I linked to this Robert X. Cringley post yesterday - he outlined what probably happened and a very simple setup to completely eliminate this hole.

Halfway tempted to go see The Interview just to jab a thumb in the eye of North Korea. Picked up the new 'Tom Clancy' book at Costco and that story is set up there.

After the storm

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It has been 24 hours since Puget Sound Electric had over 90,000 customers without power (big wind storm last night).

Checking their website, they still have 19,331 customers in the dark. They are doing an amazing job getting the power restored to this many people in such crappy weather conditions.

Fortunately, the next week or so is just rain - no high winds in the forecast...

Lulu's son is out for a few days this weekend. Tomorrow, we stack firewood and do some shooting. A fun day for all.

Our restless Sun

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When, not if. From the Washington Free Beacon:

DHS: 100 Million Americans Could Lose Power in Major Sun Storm
Millions of Americans face catastrophic loss of electrical power during a future magnetic space storm that will disrupt the electric grid and cause cascading infrastructure failures, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document.

DHS’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated in an internal 2012 fact sheet outlining its response plan for severe “space weather” that the actual impact and damage from a future solar storm is not known.

“An analysis of the space weather impacts indicates that the greatest challenge will be to provide life-saving and life-sustaining resources for large numbers of people that experience long-term power outage from damage to the U.S. electrical grid,” the FEMA document, dated March 1, 2012, states.

The FEMA fact sheet noted the findings of a 2010 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency that monitors sun storms, warning that an extreme solar storm could leave “130 million people without power for years,” and destroy or damage more than 300 hard-to-replace electrical grid transformers.

Major solar storms are rare. Two major solar disruption events took place in 1859 and 1921, times when electricity was less prevalent than today.

The study said a future solar storm like the great magnetic storm of May 1921 would black out most states east of the Mississippi River along with most states in the Pacific Northwest.

The transformers are the problem - each one is unique. There are no standardised substations and no spares.

Weather in the news - a bit too much

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An interesting observation - from FOX News:

Weather porn? Network newscasts spending more time on dramatic weather
The correspondent most frequently seen on either ABC, CBS or NBC's evening newscasts this year doesn't work out of the White House or some overseas trouble zone. It's Ginger Zee, ABC's meteorologist.

Weather is a big element of local news, but a story about the elements once had to be extraordinary to warrant time on a national newscast. Now it's routine, and not everyone considers that a change for the better.

Over the past five years, the newscasts have essentially doubled the amount of time spent on weather and natural disaster stories. The time has more than quadrupled since the early 1990s, said news consultant Andrew Tyndall, who monitors the content of the broadcasts.

It sells advertising I guess... 

Whatever happened to journalistic standards? Reporting the facts and not the narrative.

I wish...

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From an email

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This just in:

I love Christmas lights! They remind me of the people who voted for Obama.
They all hang together, half of them don't work, and the ones that do, aren't all that bright.

So true...

Busy morning

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Nothing to post - working on a couple of projects and printing out some handbooks for the community emergency teams.

A vow of silence

You have entered monastic orders and taken a vow of silence before our Lord. How do you celebrate Christmas? These high-school students offer a sugestion:

 

 

From Gerard of course...

That howling noise outside

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The wind is picking up and the lights just flickered twice. Don't know if we will lose power tonight but the front moving in is a strong one.

The good news is that the leaves are all off the trees (less wind loading) and the weak branches have mostly already fallen (keeping fingers crossed).

Cliff Mass has this from an hour ago:

Storm Nowcast
8:30 PM  I don't know how long I will have connectivity:  my power is flickering, strong gusts are periodically buffeting the house, and I can hear large branches snapping close by.   Some flashes are visible on the horizon:  a sure sign of blowing transformer fuses.

The gusts are amazing....you can hear them several seconds before they hit-- a roaring sound that grows closer and then arrives with my house groaning and the swish of air passing buildings and trees.   Gusts are associated with the turbulent mixing of strong winds aloft down to the surface.

The latest Seattle City Light Windwatch wind map shows plenty of winds between 30 and 45 mph, and stronger winds have hit Sea-Tac, Olympia, and other locations.

 Cliff posted a screen-cap of the Puget Sound Energy outage map from 8:30PM and it showed 11,491 people without power.

Looking at it now shows 67,171 with most around Olympia and North to Everett. 86 out in Deming - 12 miles due West of here. Like staring down the barrel of a gun...

Data Breaches in the news

Robert X. Cringley has written an excellent analysis of the recent Sony data breach and the reason for it is the same as what caused the Home Depot, JP Morgan, and Target breaches.

Executive ego and the Sony Pictures network hack
Readers have been asking me to write about the recent network hack at Sony Pictures Entertainment. If you run a company like Sony Pictures it has to be tough to see your company secrets stolen all at once — salaries, scripts, and Social Security numbers all revealed along with a pre-release HD copy of Annie, not to mention an entire database of unhappy Sony employees who want to work anywhere Adam Sandler doesn’t. But frankly my dear I don’t give a damn about any of that so let’s cut to the heart of this problem which really comes down to executive privilege. Sony was hacked because some president or vice-president or division head or maybe an honest-to-God movie star didn’t want something stupid like network security to interfere with their Facebook/YouTube/porn/whatever workplace obsession. Security at Sony Pictures wasn’t breached, it was abandoned, and this recent hack is the perfectly logical result.

“I used to run IT for Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment,” confirmed a guy named Lionel Felix in a recent blog comment, “and (I) know that there were a number of simple vectors for this kind of attack there. They ran IT there like a big small office with lots of very high-maintenance execs who refused to follow any security protocols. I’m surprised it took this long for this to happen.”

High-maintenance execs are everywhere these days. At the same time average workers regularly go for years without a raise, we seem to live in the Age of High Maintenance Execs.

I wrote a column not long ago advising that entire corporate networks should be disconnected from the Internet for security reasons. If you want to post on Facebook or e-mail your mother, do it on your smart phone using cellular, not corporate, data minutes. Yet somehow on network after network, these simple measures aren’t taken.

Let me get excruciatingly specific: in the case of nearly all the recent high profile corporate data breaches in the USA, the primary ISP involved was AT&T. This is not an indictment of AT&T at all, just the opposite. As far as I can tell AT&T did nothing wrong. But in every case I’ve looked at, AT&T customers effectively sabotaged their own security.

AT&T is the only ISP I know of that segregates its Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) private networks from Internet access.  The client has to very specifically bridge the two to get to the Internet and they do it all the time. For AT&T this is an immutable law — no private MPLS service has connectivity to the Internet.  If you want Internet you order a second pipe. Yet Home Depot, JP Morgan, and Target all use the AT&T MPLS service so they specifically allowed their private networks to be bridged to the public network.

The bad guys were kept out until that happened.

More at the site - excellent analysis and I cannot believe that the IT department would allow this to happen. The pointy-haired bosses are the ones who need to change their behavior, not the IT people...

A bit of an outbreak to our North - Avian Flu

From the Vancouver Sun:

Outbreak spreads: Avian flu detected at two more farms in Fraser Valley
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says avian flu has been detected on two more farms in southwestern B.C., as well as at a new barn on a previously infected site.

That brings the total number of farms infected with avian flu in B.C.'s Fraser Valley to seven, though officials are considering the added barn an eighth site.

Officials had previously confirmed poultry on five farms in B.C.'s Fraser Valley had been infected with a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu.

They do not identify the particular strain. Most are not a danger to humans but some can cross over and need to be watched. Preliminary report at the World Animal Health Information Database here.

The IRS in the news

Took eighteen months but things are finally coming to lilght - from FORBES:

Obama Justice Department Was Involved In IRS Targeting, Lerner Emails Reveal

Sadly, the 18 month investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups isn’t over, and it may be worse than anyone thought. A federal judge has broken loose more emails that the DOJ had surely hoped would never surface. The picture it reveals isn’t pretty. The documents prove that Lois Lerner met with DOJ’s Election Crimes Division a month before the 2010 elections.

It has to be embarrassing to the DOJ, which may not be the most impartial one to be investigating the IRS. In fact, the DOJ withheld over 800 pages of Lerner documents citing “taxpayer privacy” and “deliberative privilege.” Yet these internal DOJ documents show Ms. Lerner was talking to DOJ officials about prosecuting tax-exempt entities (yes, criminally!) two years before the IRS conceded there was inappropriate targeting.

Ms. Lerner met with top officials from the DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch in October of 2010. Although Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the DOJ (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice, No. 14-cv-01239), the DOJ coughed up dirt only on court order. Even then, the DOJ handed over only two pages of heavily redacted emails.

Much more at the site. Transparent and open? Tell me another one...

Hippies behaving badly - Greenpeace

Clueless. From the UK Telegraph:

Peru to press charges over Greenpeace Nazca lines stunt
Peru has vowed to prosecute Greenpeace activists after they allegedly damaged   the world-famous Nazca lines during an environmental publicity stunt. 

Activists from the group unfurled cloth letters spelling out a green energy   slogan at the millennia-old site on Monday, adjacent to where the figure of   a hummingbird is etched into the ground. 

Peru has said the activists damaged the ground by leaving footprints, which could last for thousands of years. 

“It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred,” Luis Jaime Castillo, the deputy culture minister, said.

How fragile?

Visitors to the Unesco World Heritage Site in southern Peru are normally banned from entering the area where the activists staged their stunt. 

Even ministers and presidents have to seek special permission and wear special footwear to access the grounds. 

Mr Castillo said: “[The lines] are absolutely fragile. They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years. And the line that they have destroyed is the   most visible and most recognized of all.”

Mr Castillo said the Peruvian government was seeking to prevent those responsible from leaving the country and was asking prosecutors to file charges of attacking archaeological monuments, a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.

 What carbon footprint?

It said that Kumi Naidoo, the International Executive Director of Greenpeace, would fly to Lima to personally apologize for the offence caused.

Stupid self-centered children. They used to do good work and once were science based. Now it's just cultural marxism and political agenda.

Yum - Submarine Sandwich

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From stop-motion artist PES:

Really clever stuff.

Good meeting tonight

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Last month, we had 27 people showing up. We expected less people tonight but were pleasantly surprised when 15 people showed up.

We had committee reports, elected an overall leader and leader's minion and plotted a future course. Looking good for this group - there is a really good skill-set in this community!

Next meeting is January 14th. Looking forward to it.

The wind has picked up - the next front is moving through. We will probably lose power sometime tonight.

This is a small part of the large front that is moving into North California. I am no longer married to Jen but I really loved her family members and am praying for them to get through this with as little damage as possible. They live in the Central Valley and are not equipped for high winds or heavy rainfall after such a prolonged drought. Fortunately, most of the bad weather will be to their North.

That's it for a couple hours

Got another Emergency Preparedness meeting tonight so running home and grabbing a quick dinner.

Lulu headed back to her house this afternoon - she was not feeling well this morning and called later to report a fever of over 100°. Yikes!

She started with the same stomach bug that I have been dealing with for the last week so I am chowing down on Vitamin C and disinfecting everything I touch.

The forum I am building is coming along slowly but looking good.  I had set it up as a Chatroom for the county about five years ago but the software was not secure enough and spammers took hold. I nuked it from high orbit but still kept the domain name.  The new software is a lot better. Check out Whatcom Chat - still quite a bit more to do but I think it is a good beginning. Feedback has been good.

The shot heard 'round the world

The first successful Cyberwar attack - from Bloomberg:

Mysterious ’08 Turkey Pipeline Blast Opened New Cyberwar Era
The pipeline was outfitted with sensors and cameras to monitor every step of its 1,099 miles from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The blast that blew it out of commission didn’t trigger a single distress signal.

That was bewildering, as was the cameras’ failure to capture the combustion in eastern Turkey. But investigators shared their findings within a tight circle. The Turkish government publicly blamed a malfunction, Kurdish separatists claimed credit and BP Plc (BP/) had the line running again in three weeks. The explosion that lit up the night sky over Refahiye, a town known for its honey farms, seemed to be forgotten.

It wasn’t. For western intelligence agencies, the blowout was a watershed event. Hackers had shut down alarms, cut off communications and super-pressurized the crude oil in the line, according to four people familiar with the incident who asked not to be identified because details of the investigation are confidential. The main weapon at valve station 30 on Aug. 5, 2008, was a keyboard.

Much more at the article. The terrorists were able to erase most of their tracks - this greatly hampered the investigation and it is only now that the details are being released.

Heh - a YouTube mashup

Audio - a Nature documentary on self-aware chimpanzees
Video - a woman taking a selfie by a swimming pool

And it just keeps coming - weather

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Another bout of high winds and heavy rains. Two watches and a Statement and our chance for a Shallow Landslide Hazard is pegged at Moderate.

We have another Emergency Preparedness meeting tonight - it will be interesting to see how many people show up...

Got nothing tonight

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The fools at big.gov are still being frustratingly stoopid. Nothing new on the internet that catches my eye.  Working on a phpBB forum for the community emergency response website and this is coming along well.

Had a bit of a startle this morning - we lost power around 8:30AM until around 10:00AM - I rolled into work around 10:30AM and proceeded to check email (alright - surf). The wind was blowing and there were two very loud thumps - someone dropping a cement block from ten feet onto the roof loud. The tree in the back of my building shed two large branches and they hit right above my head.No need for coffee that morning!

More wind forecast for tomorrow and lots and lots of rain. Got two National Weather Services Watches and one Statement for today. Welcome to winter...

Do as I say, not as I do

Things are typical at the Lima, Peru UN Conference on Climate Change. From Yahoo/Associated Press:

Lima climate talks set for record carbon footprint
The current U.N. climate talks will be the first to neutralize all the greenhouse gas pollution they generate, offset by host country Peru's protection of forest at three different reserves, organizers say.

Now the bad news: The Lima conference is expected to have the biggest carbon footprint of any U.N. climate meeting measured to date.

At more than 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the negotiations' burden on global warming will be about 1 1/2 times the norm, said Jorge Alvarez, project coordinator for the U.N. Development Program.

The venue is one big reason. It had to be built.

Eleven football fields of temporary structures arose for the 13-day negotiations from what three months ago was an empty field behind Peru's army's headquarters. Concrete was laid, plumbing installed, components flown in from as far as France and Brazil.

Standing in the midday sun here can get downright uncomfortable, but the Lima sun is not reliable. That's one reason solar panels were not used.

For electricity, the talks are relying exclusively on diesel generators.

52% of  their electricity is from hydropower but their grid was not robust enough to feed the conference. A couple more excerpts:

Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal asked for a bicycle parking lot. He got it, but only about 40 people use it daily. Most delegates spend about an hour in traffic traveling less than 6 miles (10 kilometers) from their hotels.

And

No hybrids or electric vehicles have been seen at the event. Japan donated 121 electric and hybrid vehicles, chiefly for dignitaries. "Unfortunately, most didn't arrive," said Alvarez, blaming shipping bureaucracy.

Ideas so great they have to be mandatory. Typical.

Markets for everything - Coca Cola

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From the UK Independent:

Coke milk? Coca-Cola to launch premium milk brand called Fairlife
When Coke tried to muscle in on the mineral water market, it was hounded out for selling bottled tap water.

Now the company has got its commercial eyes on milk. But rather than just repackaging another part of our everyday diet, the firm boasts its drink will come souped up in a high-protein, high-calcium, low-sugar form – and sold at twice the price of a normal pint.

Fairlife will go on sale in the US next month and according to Coca-Cola, a major investor in the product, it will be more “nutritious” with 50 per cent more natural protein and calcium and less sugar than ordinary milk.

Heralded by breathless promotional materials that claim the new drink will take “milk where it’s never been before”, the drink is seen as the “premiumisation of milk” by the company.

Speaking at Morgan Stanley’s Global Consumer Conference last week, Coca-Cola’s North American chief, Sandy Douglas, said: “It’s basically the premiumisation of milk… We’ll charge twice as much for it as the milk we’re used to buying in a jug.”

Mr Douglas claimed that the milk “tastes better” than regular milk and is made on sustainable dairy farms with “high-care processes” and a “proprietary milk-filtering process”.

And there will be fools who will buy it.

Lightroom and Paddy

I have been using Adobe Lightroom to process my photos for the last year or so.  Love it!

Taking a look at Paddy. I had heard about it as a key-mapper - allowing you to speed things up with keyboard macros. Little did I know that it is much more powerful.

Add a Behringer BCF2000 and you have control over all the sliders. Considering that I already own one of these for my music stuff, this is a no-brainer. Here is a video outlining its use:

 

High Speed Photography taken to the next level

From CNET:

World's fastest 2D camera can capture 100 billion frames per second
A new camera developed by researchers at Washington University in St Louis may be just the thing to enable new discoveries about light. They're claiming it's the world's fastest 2D receive-only camera, able to capture images at a rate of up to 100 billion frames per second using a technique its creators call Compressed Ultrafast Photography.

Current receive-only cameras image at a speed of around 10 million frames per second, limited by on-chip storage and electronic readout speed.

"For the first time, humans can see light pulses on the fly," said study leader Lihong Wang, PhD, Gene K. Beare Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering.

"Because this technique advances the imaging frame rate by orders of magnitude, we now enter a new regime to open up new visions. Each new technique, especially one of a quantum leap forward, is always followed a number of new discoveries. It's our hope that CUP will enable new discoveries in science -- ones that we can't even anticipate yet."

I love the quote: "For the first time, humans can see light pulses on the fly"

The original paper is at Nature: Single-shot compressed ultrafast photography at one hundred billion frames per second

DERP - memo to self...

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We are setting up an Emergency Preparedness group in our part of the county. We are risk-prone - landslides, volcanic activity, earthquakes, forest fires, etc... and are at the long end of a thin supply chain. Having a measure of preparedness will go a long way when disaster strikes.

All of my work is on the computer and we lost power this morning - if I had needed to initiate our phone tree or contact any of our committee members, all of that data was inaccessible to me.

Dave's new mantra - make hardcopy even if it is just a rough draft.

The Rifle of my Dreams

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O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I found it!!1!1111eleventy!!!

My perfect Rifle:

20141208-rooney-gun.jpg

Otherwise known as a Rooney Gun - as part of a discussion over at Peter's

Subject to the usual: Friends don't let friends... advisory

Rule number five - ridicule

The Rolling Stone magazine has been caught with a little issue of accuracy in reporting a rape. The same writer had a similar issue a few years ago so it boggles the mind that R.S. would not double-check anything she submitted to them again.

And then, there is Ms. Dunham's memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, which talks about her 'rape' by a 19-year-old student who was known as a “poor loser” at poker with a flamboyant mustache who worked at the campus library and hosted a radio talk show. She also stated that Barry was the “campus’s resident conservative.” Barry has been identified and is now thinking about suing.

Ms. Dunham's memoir also talks about her sexual explorations with her much younger sister.

Rule number five?

“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Street Artist Sabo Blasts Lena Dunham, Bill Clinton in Fake Rolling Stone Covers
Los Angeles' most controversial street artist, Sabo, has struck again — this time papering the Westside early Monday with posters depicting a fake Rolling Stone cover featuring a Leah Dunham photo and the headline "Rape Fantasies and Why We Perpetuate Them."

The poster also includes headlines that dig at Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby and Rolling Stone magazine, which recently retracted a gang-rape account at a University of Virginia fraternity house.

In an email, Sabo told The Hollywood Reporter: "Remember (Dunham) accused a Republican of raping her in college, and that story is falling apart. Then you have the politics of Hollywood with her, Cosby, the Rolling Stone article that is being detracted. Last but not least, our beloved Bubba Clinton's blast from the past and the double standard of why Rolling Stone didn't run with his rape allegations but they ran with the UVA false story."

20141208-rollingstone.jpg

 

Heh... From the same article:

A former U.S. Marine, Sabo has recently been scrutinized by the Secret Service for a series of tweets that appeared to threaten President Barack Obama. (His video of his encounter with two Secret Service agents at his apartment has received more than 200,000 views on YouTube.)

Hat tip to Gerard for the initial pointer.

The Librarians

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A new TV series - just caught the first two episodes tonight. A lot of fun!

Will be bookmarking for next Sunday. The show is a spinoff from a couple earlier movies so will have to see if these are available.

So much for a lazy day

It was clear weather today and we have a large volume of rain moving in so Lulu and I cleared out one of our stalls and stacked firewood. Lulu's son was planning to do this but he came down with the crud that has been going around and stayed home this week.

Got about a half-cord stacked with another half to go. This stall is attached to the equipment barn and had originally held animals. I had been using it for storage and as a general dumping ground - now that we have the dumpster, these areas are getting emptied out. The space will be perfect for storing the tractor and farm equipment. The other two stall areas are used for firewood storage and a home-brewing space.

The ski area will not be happy with this rain forecast - from the National Weather Service Hydrologic Outlook:

HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
359 AM PST SUN DEC 7 2014
...RIVER FLOODING POSSIBLE THIS WEEK...
WEATHER MODELS HAVE CONSISTENTLY SHOWN HEAVY RAIN AT TIMES OVER THE OLYMPICS AND NORTH CASCADES MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY NEXT WEEK.

More:

5-8 INCHES WILL FALL OVER THE NORTH CASCADES WITH AMOUNTS TAPERING IN THE CASCADES FARTHER SOUTH. THESE ARE IMPRESSIVE RAINFALL TOTALS AND IF CORRECT WILL CAUSE RIVER FLOODING.

And:

THE SNOW LEVEL WILL BE QUITE HIGH FOR MOST OF THIS EVENT...ABOVE 7000 FEET. THIS MEANS NEARLY ALL THE MOUNTAINS WILL BE GETTING RAIN RATHER THAN SNOW.

Well crap! Here is what we are looking at:

20141207-rain.jpg

The only really good news is that this front will move down through California bringing some much needed rain to the farmers there.

 Fixing a big pot of ham and bean soup for dinner tonight (and lunch at the shop for a few days).

'Katrina' Mary Landrieu was voted out of ofice by a landslide. From FOX News:

Cassidy says Senate victory is 'exclamation mark' on Americans' dissatisfaction with Obama
Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who defeated three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Louisiana Senate runoff race this weekend, said Sunday that his victory was an “exclamation mark” on the November elections in which voters rejected President Obama’s policies.

“It was an exclamation mark on a message the American people sent Nov. 4,” Cassidy told “Fox News Sunday.” They “don’t like the effects President Obama’s polices are having on America.”

Cassidy on Saturday defeated Landrieu, a Democrat, with a campaign that focused in large part of Landrieu's voting in favor of the president’s agenda 97 percent of the time.

The congressman said that upon taking office in January, when Republicans also take control of the Senate, that he will continue his push to develop the state’s natural energy supply.

“We are a working-family region,” Cassidy said. “The Republican Party is the party of the working people.”

He also said changes need to be made to ObamaCare, but suggested he will wait until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the health care law’s insurance subsidies.

“I’m a doctor,” he told Fox News. “And clearly ObamaCare is pounding the American people.”

 Senator Cassidy sounds like an excellent man for the job. I wish him well.

Lazy morning today

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Slept in - Lulu got some grain out to the critters and I am fixing some bacon and blueberry pancakes for breakfast. We will be working outside for a while today so need a little extra ballast...

Fun times in Seattle - Big Bertha

Seattle's viaduct is built on landfill and is not in the best of conditions. Instead of expanding I-5 or building a surface artery, the Seattle planners decided to dig underneath the waterfront.

Things are not going as planned - from Sound Politics:

"Happy Bertha-day"
The Seattle tunneling machine has been stuck for one year, and now the date for its return to service has been postponed, again.

At the one-year anniversary of the stalling of tunnel boring under Seattle, new problems have emerged in the form of about 1.2 inches of ground subsidence at the site.

Over the weekend, state transportation crews will be inspecting and ground and several spans of the Alaska Way Viaduct to determine the cause and extent of the sinking.  It was detected after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Postponed by just one month, from March to April, a slip that will not reassure those familiar with large projects.  (In such projects, a small slip is often a harbinger of more small slips, and perhaps a large slip, yet to come.)

Some will find this postponement ironic, since the tunnel is intended to replace the Viaduct, because the Viaduct might collapse during an earthquake.  Now, the tunneling may be endangering the Viaduct.

This series of failures, if not exactly predictable, should not surprise anyone, for two reasons: First, as the largest tunneling machine ever built, Bertha is a prototype, and prototypes often require re-design, or at least some minor fixes.  Second, the Washington State Department of Transportation, which is supervising the project, has been in charge of a whole series of disasters, enough to make almost anyone conclude that either the department is exceptionally unlucky, or it is not as competent as it ought to be.

It won't happen, but, as I have said before, we really ought to rename the machine after the person responsible for this disaster, former governor Christine Gregoire.

And they leave it up to the rest of us in WA State to fund this boondoggle through our tax dollars. Big transportation projects never work out as planned and the politicians who start them are usually out of office by the time they fail. No incentive to keep the projects on time or budget.

A traitor caught

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Good work by the FBI - from Hampton Roads, Virginia station WTKR:

Civilian Navy engineer charged for attempting to steal, pass schematics of USS Gerald R. Ford to Egypt
A 35-year-old Navy engineer from Yorktown was arrested Friday on charges of attempting to steal schematics of the Navy’s newest nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, and pass the schematics to whom he believed was an Egyptian government official, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mostafa Ahmed Awwad is charged with two counts of attempted exportation of defense articles and technical data, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count if convicted.

According to an FBI affidavit submitted to the court in support of search warrants, Awwad began working for the Department of Navy in February 2014 as a civilian general engineer in the Nuclear Engineering and Planning Department at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Based on joint investigation, an FBI undercover agent posing as an Egyptian intelligence officer speaking in Arabic was able to contact Awwad and arrange for a variety of classified Navy information to be stolen over the course of several months.

More at the site - I hope the bastard rots in jail for a long long time.

The downside of organic growing practices

I have some complaints about organic growing practices. A long time ago, when my ex and I were looking at growing apples for cider, we seriously looked into organic certification and decided that this was a major fuster-cluck and we wanted nothing to do with it.

The invasive inspections, onerous quantities of record keeping were - to say - off-putting. The allowed practices were really bad. We could use Rotenone for an insecticide because it was derived from a plant. Rotenone is a witches brew and kills all insects, birds, fish, etc... There is a chemical insecticide that is non-toxic to mammals, it is a hormone that interrupts the reproductive cycle of the Apple Maggot but it is forbidden to use as it is manufactured, not derived.

Here is a short film showing the bad side to organic farming:

 

Nothing tonight

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Had some stuff on my plate so working on that. Flooring in the music room plus some other stuff...

Voter fraud in the open

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From Moonbattery:

This years Flu season

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Bad news from the New York Times:

Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible, C.D.C. Says
This year’s flu season may be deadlier than usual, and this year’s flu vaccine is a relatively poor match to a new virus that is now circulating, federal health officials warned on Thursday.

“Flu is unpredictable, but what we’ve seen thus far is concerning,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The C.D.C. has alerted doctors to the problem and has urged them to prescribe antiviral drugs like Tamiflu to vulnerable patients with flu symptoms without waiting for a positive flu test.

The season has only just begun, but 91 percent of the approximately 1,200 samples tested thus far are of the H3N2 subtype of influenza A, Dr. Frieden said. Almost all the rest were influenza B. There were almost no samples of the H1 subtype, a descendant of the 2009 swine flu strain.

Years in which H3 subtypes are more common than H1 subtypes tend to lead to more hospitalizations and deaths, he added.

Moreover, about half of those H3 subtypes — or about 45 percent of all the samples tested so far — are of a new H3 subtype that this season’s flu vaccine does not protect well against.

Here is the link to the report at the C.D.C. website: CDC Health Advisory Regarding the Potential for Circulation of Drifted Influenza A (H3N2) Viruses

We are climbing out of the gravity well again - kudos to the designers, builders and the launch team:

 

The idea that we ever had to bum a ride to space from the Russians still sticks in my craw...

A treasure trove - The Einstein Papers

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Over 5,000 documents from Albert Einstein in a searchable website. The announcement from Inside Higher Ed:

Einstein for Everyone
The Einstein Papers Project, the decades-long effort to compile and preserve the scientist’s professional work and personal writings, is today opening to the public as a free searchable database containing thousands of documents.

The launch of the Digital Einstein Papers includes more than 5,000 documents that span the first 44 years of Albert Einstein’s life. As the organizations collaborating on the project -- the California Institute of Technology (the project’s home), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (which houses the Albert Einstein Archives) and Princeton University Press -- work to sort through tens of thousands of articles and letters, the website will grow to one day feature what the publisher said may be the first free digital collection of a prominent scientist’s complete works.

“The best Einstein source is now available to everyone, everywhere through the web,” said John D. Norton, a University of Pittsburgh professor of history and philosophy of science who wrote his dissertation on the history of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. “This is a great moment for Einstein scholarship.”

The collection goes beyond Einstein’s scholarly work. Seminal works such as “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” are obviously included, but so are letters to family members, friends and contemporaries such as Niels Bohr, as well as academic recommendations, grant applications and nominations for prizes.

Here is the link to the actual website at Princeton University: The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein

½(d+2h+w)²=2(w+h)²

Off to another meeting

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Just what I needed - something added to my schedule. There is a board meeting tonight for the County Resource Center and Bill and I will be doing a brief presentation on what the communications group is planning.

Going to try to get space and funding for a permanent ham radio station.

As I have said before, we are at the end of a very long supply chain and if there is an interruption (mudslide / power outage / fire / earthquake / volcanic eruption / etc...) we are going to be one of the last places to get a response from the "official" first responders. The list of hazards I quoted are very real for this area. Mt. Baker is an active volcano, there is a seismic fault about 10 miles away from my house and there was a major forest fire in 2009.

Getting people to be aware of this and to stock enough food and water for all family members for a week or two is crucial to the overall health of the community.

Seriously WTF?

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Words fail...

Spooky action at a distance - Quasars

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The hair on my arms is rising as I read this - from the European Southern Observatory:

Spooky Alignment of Quasars Across Billions of Light-years
New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.

Quasars are galaxies with very active supermassive black holes at their centres. These black holes are surrounded by spinning discs of extremely hot material that is often spewed out in long jets along their axes of rotation. Quasars can shine more brightly than all the stars in the rest of their host galaxies put together.

A team led by Damien Hutsemékers from the University of Liège in Belgium used the FORS instrument on the VLT to study 93 quasars that were known to form huge groupings spread over billions of light-years, seen at a time when the Universe was about one third of its current age.

The first odd thing we noticed was that some of the quasars’ rotation axes were aligned with each other — despite the fact that these quasars are separated by billions of light-years,” said Hutsemékers.

The team then went further and looked to see if the rotation axes were linked, not just to each other, but also to the structure of the Universe on large scales at that time.

When astronomers look at the distribution of galaxies on scales of billions of light-years they find that they are not evenly distributed. They form a cosmic web of filaments and clumps around huge voids where galaxies are scarce. This intriguing and beautiful arrangement of material is known as large-scale structure.

The new VLT results indicate that the rotation axes of the quasars tend to be parallel to the large-scale structures in which they find themselves. So, if the quasars are in a long filament then the spins of the central black holes will point along the filament. The researchers estimate that the probability that these alignments are simply the result of chance is less than 1%.

A correlation between the orientation of quasars and the structure they belong to is an important prediction of numerical models of evolution of our Universe. Our data provide the first observational confirmation of this effect, on scales much larger that what had been observed to date for normal galaxies,” adds Dominique Sluse of the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn, Germany and University of Liège.

I love the "less than 1%" number. Great quote from Dr. Robert Griffiths, winner of the Heinemann Prize in mathematical physics:

If we need an atheist for a debate, we go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn't much use...

A tip 'o the hat to Donald Sensing for the original link.

A Physician. Great TED talk on the subject:

From The Washington Times:

Obama’s feds hid key data to get Calif. lead ammo ban passed in backdoor gun control move
A pro-hunting group is up in arms after obtaining emails that it says indicate that a federal official withheld critical data on lead blood levels in the California condor until after gun control advocates in the California state legislature used the iconic bird’s plight to help push through a law last year to ban lead ammunition.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation obtained the emails as part of a Freedom of Information Act request showing that John McCamman, California condor recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service, did not make the report public until the bill was on its way to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown. Mr. Brown signed the measure in October 2013.

The annual update, which had been previously issued in June, found little change in the condor’s blood lead levels despite a 2007 ban on lead ammunition in the “condor zone,” a lengthy swath of habitat along the coast from Ventura County to Santa Clara County. The California state legislature acted at the urging of wildlife and animal rights advocates, led by the Humane Society, which argued that the California condor and other species were being poisoned by ingesting lead shot, fragments or contaminated prey.

Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel, accused the Fish and Wildlife Service of deliberately sitting on the report in order to bolster the chances of passage of Assembly Bill 711, which ushered in the nation’s first statewide lead ammunition ban.

Much more at the site - this legislation was dirty from day one.

From Breitbart comes this story of lunacy in Brussels:

Cross-Channel Ferry Ticket Up £50 Thanks to EU Climate Rules
Draconian rules from Brussels aimed at meeting emissions targets will push up the cost of ferry tickets by forcing shipping firms to buy expensive low-emission fuel in a move which the industry says could cost 2,000 jobs.

The Daily Mail reports that one ferry company has admitted that ticket prices could rise by as much as 30 per cent, making a family ferry ticket from England to France £50 more expensive.

And despite the changes being due to "green" regulations, analysts have said they will increase traffic on the roads and push up the prices at forecourts.

A European Committee said the fuel switch could lead to engine breakdowns and fires, meaning boats could be left stranded at sea, at risk of causing accidents and loss of life - as well as an increased risk of real environmental disasters if fuel leaks into the water.

The rules affect ships in the English Channel - the world's busiest shipping lane - as well as the North Sea and Baltic sea. They will all be forced to use low sulphur fuel from January 1st or install filtering equipment which will costs the companies an estimated £300million.

Most operators are expected to switch from heavy fuel to lighter marine gas-oil – which is 60 per cent more expensive. And of course the costs to the industry will be passed onto the consumers through higher ticket prices.

Industry consultants Amec say there is a risk to certain routes because of the increase in costs and if demand falls following ticket price rises they would be slashed, resulting in the loss of jobs for the employees of those companies and businesses which rely on the through-trade, especially in the port towns.

And motorists will once again be hit as demand for the fuel outstrips supply and pushes up the price with an estimated 3p per litre being added to the price of diesel.

The extra costs for fuel will also hit haulage companies who will then need to raise their prices for their clients, including supermarkets and high street stores, meaning higher prices for their customers.

Most ridiculously, the increase in the cost of a ferry ticket could force hauliers onto the roads and the channel tunnel, which won’t be hit with these new regulations. The consequence of this is more, not less, traffic on the roads and more, not less, fuel being consumed.

And none of the out-of-touch morons consider the consequences of their actions. Trickle-down indeed...

Bill Whittle on our Electrical Grid

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This was just released. Considering that there is a preparedness group forming in this area, it borders on being prescient.

 

 We are seriously overdue for something like another Carrington. The Sun has had flares just as strong, they were just not pointed in our direction (1989 and 2001 and as recent as this year).

Well... It was nice while it lasted

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From Marketwatch:

It’s official: America is now No. 2
Hang on to your hats, America.

And throw away that big, fat styrofoam finger while you’re about it.

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.

It just happened — and almost nobody noticed.

The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in “real” terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.

As recently as 2000, we produced nearly three times as much as the Chinese.

To put the numbers slightly differently, China now accounts for 16.5% of the global economy when measured in real purchasing-power terms, compared with 16.3% for the U.S.

Somewhere, on some golf course, Barry is smiling - he hates America and all that it stands for.

What's a little communism in the classroom - from U.S. News & World Report - a screencap as they will probably scrub the page:

20141204-che.jpg

Since when do we hang up portraits of known communist sociopaths. Che was not that bright. He was a useful tool for the Castro brothers. He liked to murder people but he was a total blubbering coward at his own execution for his murders. For his image to be hanging in a classroom is a travesty.

I am reminded of the great quote from Glenn Seaborg

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.
--Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983

That was 1983 - things have gotten worse - much much worse.

Email spam - significant uptick

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Anyone else noticing a significant uptick in email spam? I am now getting 50-60 each day from about 10.

It's nice to be popular...

Milky Way photography - arrrggghhhhhhh

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Tonight was an excellent candidate - got a laminar flow of air so the seeing is great. The skyglow from Abbotsford is minimal. Conditions for a Milky Way photo sound optimal. Right?

The moon is overhead and is three days from being full.

Our media at work - a global problem

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'Nuff said:

20141203-truth.jpg

Swiped from Small Dead Animals.

VetiGel - quite the breakthrough

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From Bloomberg:

 

More. Faster. Hat tip to Peter for the link.

When this becomes available to Veterinarians, I'll buy some "for the farm animals" just to have in case.

The joys of country living - water

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I was at the Communications group's first meeting for our area and somehow managed to get myself elected group leader. I agreed to do it for one year. There are two other hams in the group and everyone had some great ideas for when TEOTWAWKI happens. Looking to get money for some equipment for the local resource center and set up an operators position there to coordinate with Fire and other Emergency Services.

Was driving home about 40 minutes ago and while pulling in, thought I saw a lot of water in the driveway. There was! A water pipe leading to a freeze-proof hose bib had frozen in our cold weather and now that it is a balmy 23.0°F outside, the ice had melted and a half-inch copper line was spewing water into the garage and then into the driveway.

Fortunately, I was able to find a single half-inch pipe cap so got it buttoned up and the garage is draining nicely. Next time in town, I am buying a dozen in each size!

Sleepless in Seattle

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From KIRO radio personality Dori Monson:

Dori Monson: I'm finished with downtown Seattle
My heart is a little heavy because the city that I love, the city in which I grew up, the city where I've chosen to raise a family and make my livelihood, it's just done. I'm finished with Seattle. 

Two weeks ago, we were talking to Seattle police about the area around Westlake Center. It's an area that has gotten completely out of control. There is rampant open weed smoking everywhere you look between Westlake and Pike Place.  There's open drug dealing going on down there. There is all kinds of crime. 

Considering recent events, I told Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcom, "My wife and daughters and I, every single year, used to ride the carousel at Westlake and go see the Teddy Bear Suite at the Four Seasons. It was just part of our Christmas season every single year.

"We go to the one at Bellevue Square now because we will not go into downtown Seattle around Westlake. I don't think we're enforcing the laws against the criminals who are doing drugs and the like."

Whitcomb told me they were deploying more resources to the area to keep things under control during the busy holiday season and challenged me to give downtown Seattle another try. 

"I want to challenge you to go downtown, give it a try at Westlake," Whitcomb said. 

That was two weeks ago and then this weekend's big holiday shopping and tree lighting events were disrupted by protesters. Westlake Center had to shut down early on Black Friday. Five people were arrested. Seattle police couldn't handle it.

There is no way I would bring a family into downtown Seattle right now. The criminals have won. The gangs have won. The protesters are out of control. 

Seattle police, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Kshama Sawant, they've all lost. But they refuse to do anything about it because it's the rabble-rousers that comprise their base. They don't dare stand up to the criminals and protesters who have taken over downtown Seattle because that is the element that got our politicians elected. 

I'm reluctant to even call the people downtown protesters. They aren't protesters. These are losers. They don't have a core of fundamental beliefs in their lives. They just saw this as a way to vent their anger at the world, an anger inspired by the fact that they're losers to begin with.

Sad but true - Seattle was a wonderful town even ten years ago. The neighborhoods are still vibrant but there is rampant gentrification so the areas that were so much fun are now overpriced and all the interesting little stores have been priced out of business.

The 430+ comments echo his sentiments (with a few obligatory trolls)

Temperature in Michigan

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Environmental and landscape photographer Tom Gill captures the natural and man made wonders of the southeastern portion of Lake Michigan, particularly lighthouses, the National Lakeshore, barns, and small town nostalgia.

His blog is here and recently, he has been photographing the Lake Lighthouses with all the early ice - some gorgeous work - here is one:

20141203-lighthouse.jpg

Operation Cleaver

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Iran's hackers are getting pretty sophisticated. 86 page report (PDF) here: Operation Cleaver

With the usual circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back - it's Iran

This has just got to stop - from National Review:

Sessions: House GOP Is On the Verge Of Breaking 2014 Campaign Promises
Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) suggested that House Republicans are on the verge of breaking their campaign promise to fight President Obama’s administrative amnesty, judging by the legislative text currently being circulated.

Sessions said that the proposed language “fails to meet [the] test” established by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who promised earlier this year that the GOP would do everything possible to thwart Obama’s executive orders.

“The executive amnesty language is substantially weaker than the language the House adopted this summer, and does not reject the central tenets of the President’s plan: work permits, Social Security and Medicare to 5 million illegal immigrants — reducing wages, jobs and benefits for Americans,” Sessions said in the statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the results of a House Republican conference meeting today.

Excuuuuuuuse me - you were elected to represent us. Do your job.

Sir Charles in the news

From FOX News:

Charles Barkley says Ferguson grand jury got it right; looters 'scumbags'
Sir Charles has opinions, and he isn’t afraid to voice them.

NBA great Charles Barkley undoubtedly lost some fans and gained some more recently, when he said the grand jury got it right in declining to indict Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown and labeled looters “scumbags."

Some more:

"I can’t believe anything I hear on television anymore,” the former Philadelphia 76er said. “And that’s why I don’t like talking about race issues with the media anymore, because [the media] love this stuff, and lead people to jump to conclusions. The media shouldn’t do that. They never do that when black people kill each other. "

Speaking truth to power.

The end is near

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Looks like the end of the cold snap. Got a warm front moving in tomorrow with 30% chance of rain.

The critters have been hanging out in the barn. Get fresh hay and water out to them twice/day.

Rocky and Sam are settling into their new digs just fine.

That's it for the night

Lulu is at her house for two days and I am working on finishing off the cabinets for the new synthesizer. Part-way into the project, I realized that this would be the best time to put in the new flooring into the music room so tearing up carpeting and installing bamboo laminate.

Having a lot of fun doing it!

Got a neighborhood prepper meeting tomorrow evening.

From FOX News:

St. Louis’ Bosnian community sees hammer murder as hate crime
Insistence by St. Louis officials that the beating death of a Bosnian man was not a hate crime is being met with skepticism and anger, according to leaders of the city's 70,000-strong Bosnian community, and the victim's brother is calling on authorities to "investigate every possible motive."

Zemir Begic, a 32-year-old man who emigrated from war-torn Bosnia almost two decades ago in search of a better life, was bludgeoned to death Sunday, allegedly by a group of hammer-wielding teenagers, one of whom has been charged as an adult. Begic was driving with his fiancee, Arijana Mujkanovic, and a male passenger at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday in St. Louis when five teenagers began pounding his vehicle with a hammer, according to police. When Begic confronted them, he was struck in the mouth, face, head and body with hammers and died at a nearby hospital. 

More:

The murder early Sunday of Begic has sparked protests, some consciously patterned after those taking place just 20 miles away in Ferguson, where the police shooting of a black man and a subsequent grand jury decision not to indict a police officer prompted racial anger and a federal civil rights probe. But the St. Louis Police Department and Mayor Francis Slay are insisting Begic’s death, allegedly at the hands of black and Latino teenagers, was not based on racial or ethnic hate.

Can't call a spade a spade because, 'ya know, that would be RACISSSS!!!

Our Nation is in the best of hands. Racial animus was a really rare thing until this president started stirring things up. Denny links to some real data on St. Louis and matters of race:

86.7% of those arrested for aggravated assault in St. Louis in 2011 were black.
90.3% of those arrested for robbery in St. Louis in 2011 were black.
92% of those arrested for murder in St. Louis in 2011 were black.
86.2% of those arrested for forcible rape in St. Louis in 2011 were black.
84.7% of those arrested for aggravated assault in St. Louis in 2012 were black.
91.8% of those arrested for robbery in St. Louis in 2012 were black.
97.6% of those arrested for murder in St. Louis in 2012 were black.
78.6% of those arrested for forcible rape in St. Louis in 2012 were black.

The data does not lie.

If I were King? Repeal Lyin' Bastard Johnson's "Great Society". Cut corporate taxes, especially for small businesses. Cut personal tax rates. In lockstep with these two cuts, kill all tax loopholes. Get rid of the lobbyists. Detroit could become an economic powerhouse again. The market is there - get rid of crony capitalism and it will come roaring back.

HEBOCON: The Robot Contest for Dummies

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Only in Japan - this is great!

The camel's nose under the tent

Say goodbye to your local police departments - if Obama gets his way. From The Hill:

President Obama takes on policing in aftermath of Ferguson
President Obama on Monday kept the national debate firmly on Ferguson, Mo., as he took a series of steps that he said would rebuild trust between police officers and minority communities.

The president dedicated his entire public schedule to Ferguson, meeting with civil rights leaders, Cabinet officials and law enforcement officers after a long holiday weekend when the shooting had begun to slip from the headlines. 

“This is a problem that is national,” Obama said. “It is a solvable problem, but it is one that unfortunately spikes but fades into background. What we need is a sustained conversation ... to move forward in a constructive fashion.”

Some more:

For starters, Obama requested federal funding that could purchase 50,000 body-worn cameras for police officers, something the family of slain 18-year-old Brown has lobbied for. 

The White House also moved to reform the way local police can get heavy-military-style weapons and equipment, implementing new policies and training requirements from law enforcement that acquires supplies from the Pentagon.

Great - nationalize the police force - like this has ever worked out well for We the People.

Fortune favors the prepared mind

And you thought that the Ferguson riots were a statistical blip on the horizon. Not so says this dystopian post at the American Thinker:

Leftist organizers are using Ferguson to rehearse the Big Ugly
Multiple far-left groups are using Ferguson as a pretext to rehearse widespread civil disobedience when the Welfare State taps the brakes.

The scaling down of the Welfare State in America is not a question of “if,” but “when.” The status quo is unsustainable.

“Unsustainable” is one of those Washington D.C. words with a history of meaning little -- like Foggy Bottom’s use of “unacceptable.”  But unlike unacceptable, unsustainable, when applied to the Welfare State, is a derivative of mathematics -- a major determinant of the wealth of nations.

The American Welfare State is unsustainable -- destined for significant downsizing by cold, impassionate, apolitical Arithmetic.

All except the most hardcore leftist pols inside the Beltway know this to be true, but it remains mostly unspoken.

A bit more:

In the meantime, leftist, community organizing groups -- meaning those that openly define their guiding ideology with socialist/communist language (quoting Marx & Lenin, while avoiding any mention of Stalin) -- have been using Ferguson to stretch their muscles, largely unused after the 2008 election of an ally in the White House. For them, the Ferguson protests have little to do with Michael Brown’s death, and more to do with anti-capitalist rants, punctuated by chants against police brutality against young, innocent, black men.

Their stage setting is Brown’s death -- the play is about anti-capitalism.

And a bit more:

Scan the signage in the photos taken at Ferguson street protests across the nation and note that a handful of groups’ names reoccur.  Among them are REVCOM.US (Revolutionary Community Party USA , A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (founded by the pro-Leninist Becker brothers and aligned with the Party for Socialism and Liberation), Peoples Power Assemblies, Socialist Worker.org, and the International Action Center (founded by Jimmy Carter’s former Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, in 1992). There are more.

Standing behind the signs are well-funded 501(c)(3) groups that receive millions of dollars every year through donations and foundation grants, and then allocate monies to promote social change.

It’s a one-two-three punch involving community organizers, supported by moneyed enablers, who marshal protesters to the street carrying signs with organizational ties most know nothing about.

 Read the whole thing and start prepping. The title of the post is from Louis Pasteur - he had a lot to say, very articulate man. You know him as the developer of Pasteurization.

Clear heads in Ireland

From the Beeb:

County Down offshore wind farm plans scrapped
An energy consortium has scrapped plans for Northern Ireland's first major offshore wind farm.

The £1bn project would have seen up to 100 turbines placed by First Flight Wind off the south-east coast of County Down.

Wind simply does not work as a baseload generator. Coal and Nuke are the realities no matter how much some people want to wish them away.

Ho Li Crap - The Beast of Turin

From Jalopnik:

Watch A 28.5L Fiat Start For The First Time In A Century And Be Afraid
When most people — especially in the US — think of Fiat, they picture small cars. Little tiny baubles with watch-like engines. That, of course, isn't remotely close to the truth. There was a time when Fiat built giants, like the Beast of Turin — a 28.5L racer designed to break a speed record. And it's just been fired up for the first time since 1911.

There were just two Fiat S76 record-breakers built in 1910 and 1911, and this one that has just been rebuilt and restored, appears to be a mix of those two cars. The record the car was designed to break was the land speed record then held by Blitzen-Benz. Fiat attacked that record with not just the sheer, insane scale of that 28.5L engine, but also with some genuinely advanced tech — four valves per cylinder, multi-spark, overhead cam, and all this added up to somewhere near 300 HP — that's astounding for 1910.

 


To put things into scale, 28.5 liters displacement is 1739.18 cubic inches or a smidge above one cubic foot. This is a monster. I love the way the entire body of the car shudders when it initially fires.

As Detroit circles the drain

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You can ignore the infrastructure for only so long. From The Detroit News:

Detroit working to restore power after system failure
Power is slowly being restored Tuesday afternoon after a widespread outage caused evacuations of buildings throughout the downtown, including Joe Louis Arena, Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, the Detroit Institute of Arts and some buildings at Wayne State University.

According to Detroit Press Office shortly before noon: "The city's public lighting grid suffered a major cable failure that has caused the entire grid to lose power at approximately 10:30 this morning. The outage is affecting all customers on the PLD grid. We have isolated the issue and are working to restore power as soon as possible."

A bit more:

The outage comes at a time when the city works to transition to providing electricity to  customers. As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, negotiations had the city exiting the power business in the next five to seven years by migrating customers to DTE. The DTE system will be expanded in the upcoming years to cover the extra load and the lighting department will decommission its equipment.

How's that progressive government working out for you? I remember when Detroit was an economic powerhouse.

Tired from the shopping run.

Nothing major happening on the intarwebs so calling it a night and heading off to bed. More posting tomorrow...

Wrapped around their hooves

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The two new critters (Sam and Rocky) are fitting in to this menagerie very very well. Grace has taken to jumping into their paddock and rolling in their poo. Nice move... Still, for a shepherd, this is a perfect move - disguise your own scent with the scent of the critters you are protecting.

Got water and hay out to them yesterday and today - plus treats. Lots and lots of treats. I was in town today for the store shopping run and picked up a 20 pound bag of carrots.

More photos in a day or two - I rode horses a lot as a kid and a lot of the old memories are flooding back.

The weather is letting up a bit - it's 25.7°F outside where it was in the teens for the last two days. Rain is forecast for Thursday.

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