January 2015 Archives

Say hello to this week's Blizzard of the Century© - from AccuWeather:

Pre-Groundhog Day Snowstorm to Sweep From Chicago and Detroit to NYC, Boston
A snowstorm will sweep from the Midwest to the Northeast spanning this weekend into Groundhog Day and will cause major travel delays and disruptions to daily activities.

Close to 100 million people live within the swath forecast to be hit with accumulating snow or enough wintry mix to make for slippery roads from Saturday evening into Monday.

From 6-12 inches of snow is forecast to fall along a 1,200-mile west to east swath from Iowa to Massachusetts. Within this swath, some areas can receive close to a foot and a half of snow.

And meanwhile, we are staring this lil' puppy right in the face - from Cliff Mass:

Supersize Superbowl Storm and the Most Amazing Fog Picture I Have Ever Seen
You want to see a HUGE storm that covers much of the North Pacific?  Here is an infrared satellite picture at 10 AM PST today.   The center of the low center is in the middle of swirling clouds south of the Aleutians, with the associated front extending to the Pacific Northwest.

Here is the 6-h WRF forecast verifying the same time (solid lines are isobars, lines of constant pressure, shading is temperature).  Wow..that is a BIG storm and a very deep one, with the central pressure of 956 HPa. 


The forecast wind gusts at 7 AM this morning are scary, exceeding 70 knots (81 mph). 

Who ordered this???

This action is at sea and not on land - still, big waves making landfall and if the winds move to our part of the Northwest, expect downed power lines and generally stormy weather. I'll have to get the generator warmed up tomorrow - if we lose power during the Seahawks game and if all I have to do is flip a switch... Nuff said :)

Michael Ramirez has this handy White House Terrorist Identification Chart:



American Sniper

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Chris Muir at Day by Day nails it:



A good definition of Taqiyya and Kitman can be found at The Religion of Peace.

Eight Questions - to Sec. State Kerry

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I had posted two days ago about how a group funded by our State Department was working in Israel trying to undermine the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Senator Ted Cruz is asking eight questions - from the American Thinker:

Sen. Cruz fires off letter to SecState Kerry demanding info on political campaign against Netanyahu by administration-funded organizations
The intervention in Israel’s forthcoming election by groups that have received funding from the U.S. government, and which are staffed by veterans of the Obama campaign, certainly sounds like intervention on the internal politics of another nation – a big no-no on the world stage.  It demands investigation, and unsurprisingly, Senator Ted Cruz, joined by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), is at the forefront.  He has sent off a letter to Secretary of State Kerry asking specific questions – questions that can be repeated at Senate oversight hearings.

More at the site - the questions?

    1. How much funding has the U.S. Government provided to OneVoice, PeaceWorks Network Foundation, and any connected initiatives, projects or subsidiaries?
    2. Who approved providing such funds?
    3. What is the oversight and accounting process for how these funds are being spent?
    4. How often and on what dates has such funding been provided?
    5. What were the specific reasons and terms for providing funds, and how are these funds specifically being spent?
    6. Can the Department of State guarantee that none of these funds have been or will be used in the endeavor detailed above, namely the partnership with V15, or any similar effort to exert undue influence over the Israeli political process?
    7. Was there any knowledge from the State Department or other U.S. government officials of the partnership with V15 prior to providing funds to OneVoice?
    8. Does OneVoice’s work with V15 violate its 501(c)(3) status (or the status of the PeaceWorks Network Foundation) as a tax-exempt organization and should such status be revoked?

I would like to know these answers - Kerry is in over his head and meddling in areas where he should not.

Cute technology - Sleepwalkers

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Installed at Urban Putt - San Francisco's only indoor miniture golf course.

From artist Dan Rosenfeld:

Sleepwalkers is an interactive installation about beings that live inside the walls of a historic building. It was commissioned by Urban Putt, an indoor miniature golf course built by artists and designers in San Francisco.

Sleepwalkers combines a host of techniques to make it seem that a three inch tall luminous being is interacting with the physical world — including the hands of participants — while illuminating its environment.

Here's the video:

Sleepwalkers from Dan Rosenfeld on Vimeo.

The whole place looks like a lot of fun!

Light rail has to be one of the worst forms of public transportation. Demographics change over time but rail tracks can not. Light rail systems are so expensive that you could have taken the same money and bought a Prius for every regular rider. The maintenance and upkeep amount to about $10,000 per regular rider - that would buy a lot of gas for said Priuses (Prii?).

From New Jersey Online:

No money for transportation without new gas tax, N.J. lawmaker tells rail coalition
It would take 30 years of dedicating all the money in New Jersey's dwindling Transportation Trust Fund to debt service to pay it all off, unless a new revenue source is found, state Assemblyman John Wisniewski told members of a rail advocacy group Monday.

"There is no money, anywhere, in state government to fund transportation," Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) said.

Wisniewski, chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said during the monthly meeting of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition that he believes a gas-tax increase would be a sustainable way to make sure the state can finance its necessary transportation work.

"Without finding new money for the Transportation Trust Fund, if we just rely on what we have now, it essentially means doing nothing until almost the year 2050," Wisniewski said. "I don't think any of us, who want to see more robust rail service, or more bus service, or better roads and bridges, will just accept the notion that we sit back and do nothing for more than a generation."

They are proposing a 25¢/gallon tax hike. Talk about incentivizing people to move out of state... Be sure to read the 310+ comments - a lot of people are very hacked at the spending levels.

Interesting in that the responsibility for the overspending falls directly in Gov. Christie's lap. Do as I say, not as I do...

From Yahoo News:

Texas lawmaker under fire for Facebook post on Muslim Capitol Day
A newly elected Texas state lawmaker is under fire for a divisive Facebook post asking Muslim visitors attending an event at the state capitol in Austin to pledge allegiance to the United States.

The event, Texas Muslim Capitol Day, was organized by the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"Today is Texas Muslim Capital [sic] Day in Austin," Molly White, a House Republican, wrote on her Facebook page Thursday. "The House is in recess until Monday. Most Members including myself are back in District. I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office."

Heh - I like the cut of her jib.

No reason for the mooselimes to get bent out of shape - lying to an infidel if it promotes the cause of Islam is at the core of their religion - it is called Taqiyya - click on the link for a very detailed (including links to the Koran). Putting the Israeli flag on her desk was pure genius.

Want to live in the United States? Pledge Allegiance, renounce terrorism and assimilate. Can not be more simple.

Nothing much to report

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Lulu started to come down with the crud today - we are taking it easy. Her nephew Jimmy is cleaning the carpets and I am doing the last bits of painting and staining for the synthesizer cabinets. Heading into the shop to do some paperwork in a couple hours.

All in all, a fun day... (not)

Now this is Global Warming!

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Nice ad-lib by the weather reporter:


A bundle of joy from The Washington Free Beacon:

State Department-Funded Group Bankrolling Anti-Bibi Campaign
A U.S. State Department-funded group is financing an Israeli campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has hired former Obama aides to help with its grassroots organizing efforts.

U.S.-based activist group OneVoice International has partnered with V15, an “independent grassroots movement” in Israel that is actively opposing Netanyahu’s party in the upcoming elections, Ha’aretz reported on Monday. Former national field director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign Jeremy Bird is also reportedly involved in the effort.

There is absolutely no such thing as an independent grassroots movement anymore. It is AstroTurf all the way down...

The only question is whose money is behind this meddling? Soros?

A gorgeous day - an outing

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Today was forecast to be amazing so yesterday, we made plans to have breakfast and head up to the Ski Area.

The place we wanted to go for breakfast was closed (it is Thursday after all) so we had some breakfast burritos at our coffee place and proceeded to head up Mt Baker.

The lower ski area was closed but the upper one had a few hardy souls and we walked around for an hour or so. Headed down the hill stopping at Nooksack Falls and then a brief detour to Silver Lake Park.

Lulu's nephew is very new to the Pacific Northwest so he is enjoying being a tourist and it is a lot of fun showing him around.

Happy 100th Birthday - US Coast Guard

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Lulu served and was one of the first few women who did. From the Coast Guard Compass:

Celebrating Coast Guard history: 100th anniversary of the “Act to create the U.S. Coast Guard”
One hundred years ago today, from his office in the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., Captain-Commandant Ellsworth P. Bertholf, head of the now-former U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, or USRCS, ordered his Chief Clerk to send telegrams or radio messages to all offices, stations and cutters around the country announcing the official news of the creation of the U.S. Coast Guard. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Bertholf and his counterpart at the U.S. Life-Saving Service, Sumner Kimball, and with the support of leadership at the Treasury Department and friends in Congress, from all sides of the political spectrum, newspaper editors, and elsewhere, Bertholf had just managed to fend off efforts to abolish both services or dismember each and parcel out their duties to other agencies by proposing the novel idea of combining both into one agency, thereby gaining efficiencies sought by the Executive Branch, members of Congress, and the public.

Portrait of Captain-Commandant Ellsworth Betholf. U.S. Coast Guard image.

Portrait of Captain-Commandant Ellsworth Betholf. U.S. Coast Guard image.

As previously noted, the change was announced through General Order No. 1.

The personnel of the USRCS, though, viewed this merger as little more than a change in the name of the service. Bertholf wrote:

“Coast Guard is the logical name for the old Revenue Cutter Service as well as the new combination, and it is a logical and direct successor of the old ‘revenue cutter service;’ so that we may fairly claim not to have lost our history even if the particular name which we temporarily bore has been changed. The vessels will always be known as cutters and the name ‘cutter’ still remains to indicate the floating activities of the Coast Guard and since it is simply a continuation of the old service in that respect, we may still fairly claim to have been born in 1790.”

Happy Birthday and many many more - a very good service and one that does the United States proud! 

Large-scale blacksmithing in Russia

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Large steam hammer - they are cutting some steel rod to length - railroad wheels? The whole crew looks like they have been working together for a long time - no communication needed:


Outstanding in our fields

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We spent the day tearing down the old fence around the apple orchard. The 180+ trees were never planted correctly so we are planning to re-do it this spring but smaller in scale. The goats had busted through the wires of the electric fence so it was just a matter of finding the remaining wire remnants and pulling up the 40 fence posts (one every 20 feet). There is quite the wild berry incursion along the property line and near the orchard fence - I'll spend some quality time with the walk-behind brush cutter and get those knocked out this spring. Nip them in the bud...

The field looks a lot better. We are expecting decent weather tomorrow as well.  Lulu's nephew came out to the farm today to help and the three of us are heading out for breakfast tomorrow and up to the mountain to look around.

Hamburgers for dinner tonight - baked beans Potato Salad - Lulu's doing her recipe (really good!) and all the fixings.

Still feel a cold coming on but it isn't debilitating, just annoying.

Seriously - this is insane. From The Washington Free Beacon:

Muslim Brotherhood-Aligned Leaders Hosted at State Department
The State Department hosted a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood-aligned leaders this week for a meeting about their ongoing efforts to oppose the current government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, who rose to power following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, an ally of the Brotherhood, in 2013.

One member of the delegation, a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture while at Foggy Bottom in which he held up the Islamic group’s notorious four-finger Rabia symbol, according to his Facebook page.

That delegation member, Waleed Sharaby, is a secretary-general of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council and a spokesman for Judges for Egypt, a group reported to have close ties to the Brotherhood.

The delegation also includes Gamal Heshmat, a leading member of the Brotherhood, and Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, a Brotherhood member who served as a parliamentarian from Luxor.

A little history lesson - from Discover the Networks:

Founded in 1928 by the Egyptian schoolteacher/activist Hasan al-Banna (a devout admirer of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis), the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) -- a Sunni entity -- is one of the oldest, largest and most influential Islamist organizations in the world. While Egypt historically has been the center of the Brotherhood’s operations, the group today is active in more than 70 countries (some estimates range as high as 100+). Islam expert Robert Spencer has called MB "the parent organization of Hamas and al Qaeda." In 2003, Richard Clarke – the chief counterterrorism advisor on the U.S. National Security Council during both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations – told a Senate committee that Hamas, al Qaeda, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were all "descendants of the membership and ideology of the Muslim Brothers."

It's motto is:

Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope

Talk about a nice bunch of people...

An interesting number - Apps and Movies

From Horace Dediu:

Bigger than Hollywood
Apple paid $10 billion to developers in calendar 2014. Additional statistics for the App store are:

    • $500 million spent on iOS apps in first week of January 2015
    • Billings for apps increased 50% in 2014
    • Cumulative developer revenues were $25 billion (making 2014 revenues 40% of all app sales since store opened in 2008)
    • 627,000 jobs created in the US
    • 1.4 million iOS apps catalog is sold in 155 countries

Putting these data points together with others from previous releases results in a fairly clear picture of the iTunes/Software/Services


Put another way, in 2014 iOS app developers earned more than Hollywood did from box office in the US.

Although the totals for Domestic (US) Box Office are not the complete Hollywood revenues picture, Apple’s App Store billings is not the complete App revenue picture either. The Apps economy includes Android and ads and service businesses and custom development.  Including all revenues, apps are still likely to be bigger than Hollywood.

But there’s more to the story. It’s also likely that the App industry is healthier. On an individual level, some App developers earn more than Hollywood stars and I would guess that the median income of app developers is higher than the median income of actors. The app economy sustains more jobs (627,000 iOS jobs in the US vs. 374,000 in Hollywood) and is easier to enter and has wider reach. As the graph below shows It’s also growing far more rapidly.

Hollywood tends to operate in its own little bubble - they are taken completely by surprise when films like American Sniper become so popular. They need to wake up and figure out who their audience is.

Also, iOS is not the dominant platform - Google Android enjoys a 78% share globally and a 61.9% US share.

RIP - Charles Hard Townes

Townes? He invented the Fricking Laser

From UC Berkeley:

Nobel laureate and laser inventor Charles Townes dies at 99
Charles Hard Townes, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser and subsequently pioneered the use of lasers in astronomy, died early Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Oakland. He was 99 and in failing health, and died on his way to the hospital.

“Charles Townes embodies the best of Berkeley; he’s a great teacher, great researcher and great public servant,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks on the occasion of a campuswide celebration of Townes’ 99th birthday last July 28. “As we celebrate this 99-year milestone and a career spanning nearly 80 years, we can only be impressed by the range of his intellectual curiosity, his persistence and his pioneering spirit.”

Until last year, Townes visited the campus daily, working either in his office in the physics department or at the Space Sciences Laboratory.

“Charlie was a cornerstone of the Space Sciences Laboratory for almost 50 years,” said Stuart Bale, director of the lab and a UC Berkeley professor of physics. “He trained a great number of excellent students in experimental astrophysics and pioneered a program to develop interferometry at short wavelengths. He was a truly inspiring man and a nice guy. We’ll miss him.”

The laser?

Townes was 35 in the spring of 1951 when, seated on a park bench among blooming azaleas in Washington, D.C., he was struck by the solution to a longstanding problem, how to create a pure beam of short-wavelength, high-frequency light.

That revelation – not much different from a religious revelation, Townes believed – eventually led to the first laser, a now ubiquitous device common in medicine, telecommunication, entertainment and science.

Fricking Lasers? From here:


Very cool project - SeeStar

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From MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) comes this elegant hack of a GoPro camera.
Traditional underwater camera systems start at $10K and get into nosebleed prices very quickly. MBARI's SeeStar costs around $3K to build. This is an open source project and plans and source are available online.



The project website is here: SeeStar

New SeeStar camera system allows researchers to monitor the depths without sinking the budget
To build equipment that can operate reliably in the deep sea, MBARI engineers must often use expensive, high-tech materials and complex electronic-control systems. This makes it difficult for researchers at other institutions to build similar equipment, and thus for MBARI to fulfill its goal of sharing its technology with researchers around the world. However, MBARI engineers recently designed a new underwater camera and lighting system which they hope will be simple and inexpensive enough so that almost any researcher could build one.

The SeeStar project, as it is called, began as the brainchild of marine biologist Steve Haddock and Electrical Engineer Chad Kecy. Haddock, an expert on jellies, wanted a cheap and easily deployable camera that researchers around the world could use to document jellyfish blooms. He also wanted a system that was versatile enough to be attached to a pier, mounted on a tripod on the seafloor, or carried by a robotic submarine.

In designing SeeStar, Kecy worked closely with Mechanical Engineer François Cazenave and Software Engineer Mike Risi. They ended up with a system that costs just under $3,000 in parts, but can operate as deep as 300 meters (almost 1,000 feet) for months at a time.

Much more at the site. Preliminary documentation can be found here: seestar / Operations Manual

I read about the drone crash on the White House lawn a few days ago but didn't post as I figured there would be more details in the near future.

Boy Howdy!

Talk about a career-limiting move. From the New York Times:

White House Drone Crash Described as a U.S. Worker’s Drunken Lark
It was 42 degrees and raining lightly around 3 a.m. on Monday when an inebriated off-duty employee for a government intelligence agency decided it was a good time to fly his friend’s drone, a 2-foot-by-2-foot “quadcopter” that sells for hundreds of dollars and is popular among hobbyists.

But officials say the plan was foiled, perhaps by wind or a tree, when the employee — who has not been named by the Secret Service or charged with a crime — lost control of the drone as he operated it from an apartment just blocks from the White House.

He texted his friends, worried that the drone had gone down on the White House grounds, and then went to sleep. It was not until the next morning, when he woke and learned from friends that a drone had been found at the White House, that he contacted his employer, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He then called the Secret Service and immediately began cooperating with an investigation into the incident.

Oopsie - there is the long-standing internet maxim that you must not post when drunk. I guess the same goes for flying a drone. The unit in question has a payload of about three pounds with a 20 minute flight time. That could make a pretty big bang . The radio link is only good for a couple hundred yards but you can pre-program them to fly a specific course. They have on-board GPS and computer so they can arrive at a location within a couple feet.

The technology is evolving so quickly that I am holding off for a few years to get one. Get some decent communication range and flight longevity.

Great news from Washington State - a three-fer

All from the Bellingham Herald.

First - Washington Democrats oppose national education standards

Leaders of the state Democratic Party have passed a resolution condemning the national education standards known as the Common Core, nearly five years after the state adopted the new learning goals.

At a party meeting in Olympia on Saturday, the Democrats approved a resolution saying the state was unfairly pressured into adopting the new standards.

They are asking the Legislature and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn to back away from the Common Core and return to a similar list of education goals created in Washington state.

Good - common core is an ill-thought plan and the Federal Government has absolutely zero authority to inject itself into the public education arena.  The Constitution makes no reference to education and the Tenth Amendment reinforces the rights of the individual State to regulate it. To whit:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Second - Washington agriculture yields $10 billion behind record values for milk, other products

Washington agriculture brought in a record $10.2 billion in 2013, thanks to record-high crop values for milk, potatoes, cattle, grapes and pears, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It was the third consecutive year crop values yielded a record haul.

The value of the milk produced by the state’s dairy cows went up by 12 percent to $1.3 billion, causing milk to outperform wheat and become the state’s second-most valuable agricultural product in 2013. Apples kept their position as Washington’s top crop. Wheat dropped by 13 percent to $1 billion.

Good news - Seattle may sway the political landscape - liberals always seem to flock to large cities - but the rest of WA State rises in the morning and goes to work. 

Finally - Ericksen co-sponsoring Senate bill to end Seattle tunnel project

Two state senators say it’s time to scrap the stalled Seattle tunnel project and bury Bertha, the broken-down $80 million state-of-the-art drilling machine, so the transportation department can find alternatives to fix or replace the viaduct that carries traffic along the city’s waterfront.

Republican Sens. Doug Ericksen and Michael Baumgartner introduced a bill Tuesday that says the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project has failed “and the project as it is currently designed cannot be justified financially.” The state needs to “stop throwing money at a hole in the ground,” said Baumgartner, R-Spokane, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5646.

“I have no confidence that the Department of Transportation can bring this project in on time and under budget," Baumgartner said. "Bertha was sold on a faulty promise of controlled cost and engineering predictability. The project has neither. It’s time to shut it down and move to other alternatives.”

Last week a review board decided the state should pay its contractors for tackling severe groundwater flows at the rescue pit – an expense that could reach $20 million. More and more, the Seattle tunnel project is sounding like the infamous Boston ‘Big Dig’ that was budgeted at $2.8 billion and wound up costing taxpayers $14.6 billion – $22 billion with interest, said Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

Time to stick a fork in that project - it is over and done with. Seattle has had an infatuation with off-the-wall transportation projects for a long long time. The Monorail project only cost Seattle taxpayers $124.7 Million Dollars without an inch of track being laid. In 2007, the King County voters rejected the Surface-Tunnel hybrid (what is being constructed now) 69.65% to 30.35%.

I had written about this January 6th of this year and quoted from this article at the Herald:

Lawmakers anticipated this scenario in 2009 when they specified $2.8 billion as the hard cap on the state’s share of the tunnel. They drew the line there because Seattle’s political leaders had rejected a rebuild of the viaduct, the least expensive option, and pushed for the more expensive tunnel.

Seattle leaders have never liked that provision, and they’re liking it less and less as the project’s troubles multiply. State officials who need the city’s votes, including Gov. Jay Inslee, have said the requirement is unenforceable.

 A few corporations, property owners and consulting companies are getting very rich - crony capitalism at its finest. Have they no shame - doing this to the obvious detriment of the WA State taxpayer and the citizens of Seattle.

Thank God for the Elderberry plant

As I said earlier, I drove down to Burlington to pick up some stuff from a vendor. Coming back, I noticed a bit of a body ache and a pressure in my sinuses. Crap! We were exposed to a lot of people on last week's trip to Canada.

I have a fresh batch of Elderberry tincture that has been sitting in the garage for the last four months - Everclear (90% ABV) and dried organic Elderberries. A shot of that with dinner and I should be feeling a lot better...

Old wives tale? Read here and here

From the first link (PDF):

Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections 

And the money quote:

Sixty patients (aged 18 – 54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999 – 2000 in Norway. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.

The second link is just the paper's abstract:

Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.
A ionization technique in mass spectrometry called Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART TOF-MS) coupled with a Direct Binding Assay was used to identify and characterize anti-viral components of an elderberry fruit (Sambucus nigra L.) extract without either derivatization or separation by standard chromatographic techniques. The elderberry extract inhibited Human Influenza A (H1N1) infection in vitro with an IC(50) value of 252+/-34 microg/mL. The Direct Binding Assay established that flavonoids from the elderberry extract bind to H1N1 virions and, when bound, block the ability of the viruses to infect host cells. Two compounds were identified, 5,7,3',4'-tetra-O-methylquercetin (1) and 5,7-dihydroxy-4-oxo-2-(3,4,5-trihydroxyphenyl)chroman-3-yl-3,4,5-trihydroxycyclohexanecarboxylate (2), as H1N1-bound chemical species. Compound 1 and dihydromyricetin (3), the corresponding 3-hydroxyflavonone of 2, were synthesized and shown to inhibit H1N1 infection in vitro by binding to H1N1 virions, blocking host cell entry and/or recognition. Compound 1 gave an IC(50) of 0.13 microg/mL (0.36 microM) for H1N1 infection inhibition, while dihydromyricetin (3) achieved an IC(50) of 2.8 microg/mL (8.7 microM). The H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu; 0.32 microM) and Amantadine (27 microM).

So Elderberry is just as good as our best pharmaceutical anti-viral medications...

British music stomp-box manufacturer Effectrode makes gorgeous products for the performing musician. Stomp-boxes but designed using vacuum tubes and engineered for audiophile qualities.

From their about page:

About Effectrode Pedals
From the 1950′s up until the present day the world’s finest tube studio compressors, tube microphone preamps, tube tape delays and plate reverbs have stood the test of time to become highly desirable and sought after by musicians, sound engineers and enthusiasts of classic gear. Effectrodeis fueled by a sense of nostalgia and fascination with the warm, musical tone, clean lines and simplicity of such vintage vacuum tube equipment. I wanted to recreate this wonderful tone and classic styling in a stompbox format and began pursuing an alternative path to design effects pedals – pedals that might have been built if the transistor hadn’t been invented and tube technology had continued being refined and developed towards perfection.

My aim is that Effectrode pedals must push the limits and take guitar tone to the farthest possible point so that artists are inspired by them. All my effects pedals are unique, original and meticulously designed from the ground up, taking several years of research & development before they reach maturity. I utilise only the finest audiophile grade polyester capacitors, instrumentation grade resistors, NOS (new old stock) and modern triode tubes operating at proper amp plate voltages (300Volts!) with D.C. powered heaters. The signal path is all-tube, class-A circuitry – some designs are very linear and transparent whereas others are gorgeously non-linear and rich in harmonic overtones! These are effects pedals built from the “Right Stuff!”.

The result of all this meticulous attention to detail are beautiful pedals having more in common with high-end vintage studio equipment than the transistorised stompboxes normally found on the pedalboards of guitar players. For example, the Tube-Vibe is a rebuild of the classic Uni-Vibe effect made famous by Jimi Hendrix except it’s constructed with tubes instead of transistors. And the PC-2A compressor is built on an all-tube signal path and photo-optical gain attentuator just like the legendary LA-2A studio compressor. I will often work with professional musicians and guitar technicians during the design of a pedal and can even further fine-tune the circuitry to sculpt the sound for them.

One thing that they have done is maintain a small library of classic articles and reprints. We recently saw Forbidden Planet on tv and I was telling Lulu about Louis and Bebe Barron who did the soundtrack. Googled them and found several articles on the Barron's as well as other early electronic music composers on their site.

Check out Effectrode Articles - some fun reading.

More crony capitalism at work. From Ars Technica:

Comcast ghostwrote pro-merger letters that politicians sent to FCC
Comcast has been supported by many politicians in its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, but the testimonials from elected officials aren't quite as organic as the cable company would have you believe.

A report today by The Verge, based on documents obtained through public records requests, shows that in August three politicians sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission that were ghostwritten by Comcast. We reported several months ago that letters from politicians closely mimicked Comcast talking points and re-used Comcast's own statements without attribution, and the documents revealed today show just how Comcast was able to get politicians on board.

"For instance, a letter sent to the FCC by a town councilman from the small community of Jupiter, Florida was in fact largely orchestrated by some of the biggest players in corporate telecom," The Verge wrote. "Not only do records show that a Comcast official sent the councilman the exact wording of the letter he would submit to the FCC, but also that finishing touches were put on the letter by a former FCC official named Rosemary Harold, who is now a partner at one of the nation’s foremost telecom law firms in Washington, DC. Comcast has enlisted Harold to help persuade her former agency to approve the proposed merger."

It is crap like this that gives honest capitalists a bad name. John Cole sums it up perfectly:



Great news - Bowe Bergdahl

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From Breitbart:

Report: Bergdahl to Be Charged with Desertion
On Monday’s broadcast of “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel, retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer of the London Center for Policy Research revealed to host Bill O’Reilly that sources tell him U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face charges for desertion.

Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan from June 2009 until his release in May 2014, which was part of a prisoner exchange for five Taliban members who were being held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

“Bill, the Army has come to its conclusion and Bowe Bergdahl,” Shaffer said, “Sgt. Bergdahl will be charged with desertion. I have been told and confirmed by two other sources that his attorney was given what we call a charge sheet. A charge sheet is results of the investigation listing out the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that have been violated. The key violation is desertion. And this is has been done. The decision has been made. Let me be very clear. As a corporate entity, the Army has decided that they want to pursue Bergdahl for this violation.”

Sgt. Bergdahal voluntarily walked away from his post at night. For a few weeks earlier, he had been observed asking Afghani people about how to find the Taliban.

Well that was a big bust - snowmageddon

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The big East-coast blizzard turned out to be quite the dud. It went to the North - parts of coastal Massachusetts were hit pretty hard but New York only got a foot or less snow.

Heading South to Burlington to pick up some stuff from a vendor and then back home to work on a couple of projects.

What a relief - news from the year 2000

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From Charles Onians, writing in the UK Independent on Monday 20 March 2000:

Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.

The first two months of 2000 were virtually free of significant snowfall in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only moderate snowfall in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 15 years: in the south of England, for instance, from 1970 to 1995 snow and sleet fell for an average of 3.7 days, while from 1988 to 1995 the average was 0.7 days. London's last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.

Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

Care to publish a retraction Charles?

As the BBC sinks into obscurity

If I were running the place, Mr. Kafala would have been out of a job so fast he would have suffered whiplash. From the UK Independent:

Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
The Islamists who committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris should be not be described as “terrorists” by the BBC, a senior executive at the corporation has said.

Tarik Kafala, the head of BBC Arabic, the largest of the BBC’s non-English language news services, said the term “terrorist” was too “loaded” to describe the actions of the men who killed 12 people in the attack on the French satirical magazine.

Mr Kafala, whose BBC Arabic television, radio and online news services reach a weekly audience of 36 million people, told The Independent: “We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist. What we try to do is to say that ‘two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine’. That’s enough, we know what that means and what it is.”

Mr Kafala said: “Terrorism is such a loaded word. The UN has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can’t. It is very difficult to. We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them. That’s much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden.”

Sorry to upset your widdle apple-cart but you, Mr. Kafala, are either practicing Taqiyya or you are clueless. You have spent too much time in the echo-chamber of your peers and have lost your touch. The world out there is a lot different from what you imagine it to be and to call yourself a journalist is the utmost of hubris. Your nuanced and measured reportage is lipstick on a pig. When all is said and done, it is still a pig.

Not a great idea to mix the two:



Now this will be interesting - Cuba

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From FOX News:

Cuba's $6B debt to Americans for seized properties hangs over US talks
A $6 billion sticking point could create headaches for the U.S.-Cuba talks. 

Though concerns over human rights, press freedoms and U.S. fugitives living free on the island have dominated debate over the Obama administration's negotiations on restoring diplomatic ties, the Castro regime also still owes Americans that eye-popping sum. 

The $6 billion figure represents the value of all the assets seized from thousands of U.S. citizens and businesses after the Cuban revolution in 1959. With the United States pressing forward on normalizing relations with the communist country, some say the talks must resolve these claims. 

These claims are quite legitimate - a bit more: 

Over nearly 6,000 claims by American citizens and corporations have been certified by the U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, totaling $1.9 billion. 

Today, with interest and in today's dollars, that amount is close to $6 billion. 

U.S. sugar, mineral, telephone and electric company losses were heavy. Oil refineries were taken from energy giants like Texaco and Exxon. Coca-Cola was forced to leave bottling plants behind. Goodyear and Firestone lost tire factories, and major chains like Hilton handed over once-profitable real estate for nothing in return. 

Cuba has no money - it only survived because Russia didn't want it to fail. Russia wanted to export Communism into South America and it set up Cuba as a Potemkin State to demonstrate how wonderful the workers paradise was. Now that the Russian experiment has failed, Cuba no longer has a sugar-daddy. The Castro brothers are the usual third-world kleptocrats, not revolutionary idealists. Ideas so great they have to be mandetory...


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Two-bit hustler - his fifteen minutes of fame should have been over years ago.

Love this visual:


Hat tip to Grouchy Old Cripple for the link.

Politics as it is done in New York

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Nice to see - from Michael Walsh writing at the PJ Tatler:

Is the Noose Closing Around Andrew Cuomo?
You have to like the cut of this guy Preet Bharara’s jib. The Indian-born U.S. attorney has just taken down the stupefyingly corrupt speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, and now may have an even bigger target in his sights: Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself. Albany insider Fred Dicker has the scoop at the New York Post:

Gov . Cuomo is “freaked-out and furious” over the bombshell criminal charges dropped on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last week — and “obsessed with fear’’ because of the ongoing federal corruption probe.

One source described Cuomo as “doubly enraged’’ by hard-driving Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s decision to bring the five criminal corruption charges against Silver just hours after the governor delivered his State of the State address — and then, less than 24 hours after that, to indict Albany’s “three men in a room’’ culture in which Cuomo is the lead player. “Cuomo feels Preet just walked all over him,’’ said the source.

Knowledgeable insiders, including law-enforcement experts, said it wasn’t accidental that Bharara brought the charges against Silver just hours after Cuomo’s State of the State. “Prosecutors have a lot of discretion, and when they time a high-profile arrest in a way that steps all over Cuomo’s speech, that’s the use of discretion for a purpose,’’ a former federal prosecutor told The Post.

Well, that certainly was a warning shot across the bow of a guy who’s no stranger to power politics. and around whom the stink of corruption is so redolent that even the Democrat operatives at the New York Times couldn’t endorse him for re-election last year. What got everybody who’s not on the take’s attention was Cuomo’s abrupt shutdown of the Moreland Commission, which had been impaneled to root out corruption in state government. When the commission started sniffing a little too close to the Cuomo throne, Mario’s boy pulled the plug on it.

Much more at the site - could not happen to a nicer group of people. Tammany Hall all over again.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
--George Santayana

Fun times in New York - weather

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The snow is falling and the blizzard is on its way.

It will be interesting to see the reporting on this event - if they consider this to be an artifact of global warming.

If they do, how will they reconcile the other great blizzards - specifically the Great Blizzard of 1888:

The Great Blizzard of 1888 or Great Blizzard of '88 (March 11 – March 14, 1888) was one of the most severe recorded blizzards in the history of the United States of America. Snowfalls of 20–60 inches (51–152 cm) fell in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) produced snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet (15 m). Railroads were shut down and people were confined to their houses for up to a week.

Mental Floss has a nice collection of photos from that storm - here is one of them:



When going to school  in Boston, I lived through the Blizzard of 1978. Nobody moved for a week.

Readers will know that I do not like the idea of present-day labor unions. They did have their day and they were instrumental in getting decent working conditions and pay for factory workers. There was a time when people would grow up and get work in the town where they were born. The idea of moving to another town or city was alien to the majority of the population. Factory owners knew this and knew that they had a captive market of employees. For every worker who quit, there were a hundred others wanting his job. In a small town, there were only one or two employers so they took full advantage of this.

In this case, unions were lifesavers. Today, not so much - the workplace has evolved, people think nothing of moving to another city for a better job and the unions have not kept up with the times.

There was an interesting article in todays Washington Examiner:

States with fewer union members are growing faster
The fastest growing states in the U.S. also tend to be ones with lower-than-average rates of union membership, according to an analysis of data released on Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of the states (including the District of Columbia) with the top 10 fastest-growing populations, nine have union membership rates in the single digits. Nevada is the only state to be top 10 in population growth from July 2013 to July 2014 with a unionization rate above the nationwide rate of 11.1 percent.

Nine of the eleven least unionized states had Republican governors in 2014.

Nevada's stats are because of the casinos. The numbers make perfect sense - people see the unions for what they are - politically active dues grubbing leviathans who are no longer working for the worker but for the interests of their own bureaucracy.

Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy writ large:

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":

 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

'Nuff said...

Passing very very close to Earth tonight - here's how to see it if you have a telescope larger than 4" diameter:


Markets for everything - Kalashnikov USA

In 2014, President Stompy Feet used his pen and his phone to ban the import of some Russian-made goods to the USA because of Russia's incursion into the Ukraine. This Executive Order cast a very broad net and one of the fish were Kalashnikov firearms.

I own two of them and love them - an Izhmash Saiga semi-auto 12-guage and an AK-47 - both are absolutely reliable (the Saiga needed some initial gas-system work) and fun to shoot.

It seems that the primary importer of Kalashnikov firearms is planning to manufacture them in the United States - from Outdoor Hub:

BREAKING: Kalashnikov USA to Open American Factory in 2015
Kalashnikov enthusiasts, rejoice. The official importer of Russian-made AKs, RWC Group, announced at SHOT Show today that they would be opening an AK factory in the United States later this year.

The new US manufacturer is called Kalashnikov USA. Jim Kelly, production manager with Kalashnikov USA, said that at least three states are currently in the running for hosting the company’s production facilities.

Kelly said that after choosing a host state they hope to have production lines up and running shortly, and ideally the first Kalashnikov USA guns will be available in the second quarter of 2015.

Heh - what our 'betters' in Washington fail to realize is that the open market is like a giant game of whack-a-mole - try to shut down something that is desired and its replacement will pop up sooner than you can react. Control does not work and the best thing you can do for this economy is stand back and let it work. Do not hinder people with excessive taxes or bad management.

Global Warming in the Great Lakes

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It isn't the water levels that are rising - it is the ice.

From the Appleton, WI Post Crescent:

Second icebreaker sought for Great Lakes shipping
A brutal winter that slowed the start of the 2014 shipping season on the Great Lakes has one organization asking Congress for another heavy icebreaker.

The Lake Carriers’ Association said it would like to see a second vessel built to keep shipping lanes open on the lakes during harsh winter conditions. The group is requesting another ship similar to the Marinette Marine Corp.-built U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw.

“I want to stress that Lake Carriers’ Association and our members’ customers deeply appreciate the efforts of the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards this past ice season,” James H.I. Weakley, president of the association, said in a news release. “It is clear that the ice conditions that prevailed last winter call for a reassessment of both nations’ icebreaking fleets.”

A bit about the economic impact from the Maritime Reporter:

Great Lakes Freeze Cost Economy $705m, 3,800 Jobs
The seemingly glacial ice that brought shipping on the Great Lakes to a virtual standstill last winter cost the economy more than $700 million and nearly 4,000 jobs, the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) reported, promting the group to to call for construction of a second heavy icebreaker to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard’s MACKINAW to keep the shipping lanes open in the harshest of conditions.

According to LCA, the winter of 2013/2014 was so brutal that U.S.-flag cargo movement between December 1, 2013 and May 30, 2014, plummeted nearly 7 million tons compared the same period in 2012/2013. At least two steelmakers had to curtail production and some powerplants were extremely low on coal. The limestone trade did not resume in earnest until well into April, and U.S.-flag lakers suffered nearly $6 million in damage trying to resupply customers. Eventually three vessels that had not been scheduled to operate last year were fit out to help overcome the shortfall in deliveries during the ice season, but the industry played catch-up the rest of the year. 

More people die from excessive cold than from excessive heat - we need to be seriously thinking about what might happen if we enter another Maunder Minimum. The possibility is there and the temperatures have been cooling for the last eighteen years. (More herehere, and here)

Lulu and I are here laughing our asses off - it would not be so funny if it was not so true:


The beginning of the end for Greece

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Looks like Greece's socialist dreams are about take flight again - they spent the last four years under conservative governance and just elected a bunch of liberals.

From the Associated Press:

Greek radical left wins election, threatening market turmoil
A triumphant Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that his radical left Syriza party's win in Sunday's early general election meant an end to austerity and humiliation and that the country's regular and often fraught debt inspections were a thing of the past.

"Today the Greek people have made history. Hope has made history," Tsipras said in his victory speech at a conference hall in central Athens.

A bit more:

The 40-year-old Tsipras campaigned on promises of renegotiating the terms for Greece's 240 billion-euro ($270 billion) bailout, which has kept the debt-ridden country afloat since mid-2010.

To qualify for the cash, Greece has had to impose deep and bitterly-resented public spending, salary and pension cuts and repeated tax hikes. Its progress in reforms is reviewed by debt inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank, collectively known as the "troika," before each installment of bailout funds can be disbursed.

"The verdict of the Greek people ends, beyond any doubt, the vicious circle of austerity in our country," Tsipras said. "The verdict of the Greek people, your verdict, annuls today in an indisputable fashion the bailout agreements of austerity and disaster. The verdict of the Greek people renders the troika a thing of the past for our common European framework."

So they were bankrupt. They had no money. They secured a $270B loan from various agencies in Europe. The money came with requirements for monitoring, budget cuts and a return to fiscal sensibility.

The free-spending Greeks did not like this and now they are going to bite the hand that fed them - that has kept their lights on and their government running. Who in their right mind will loan them any more money?

Global Warming? From the National Weather Service:

Blizzard Warning
339 PM EST SUN JAN 25 2015


Some more:






They are looking at Monday midnight through Tuesday afternoon - any travel is strongly discouraged and they are expecting power outages.

We are forming a preparedness group out here - what would happen if this was where you live? Do you have ten days of food and the ability to cook? Water? Medications?

100 years ago - last Friday

Just ran into this anniversary - the first trans-continental telephone call was placed 100 years ago on Friday 23rd, 1915.

From Computerworld:

This 1915 conference call made history
These days, making a call across the U.S. is so easy that people often don't even know they're talking coast to coast. But 100 years ago Sunday, it took a hackathon, a new technology and an international exposition to make it happen.

The first commercial transcontinental phone line opened on Jan. 25, 1915, with a call from New York to the site of San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Alexander Graham Bell made the call to his assistant, Thomas Watson. Just 39 years earlier, Bell had talked to Watson on the first ever phone call, in Boston, just after Bell had patented the telephone.

A bit more:

By June 1914, the more than 730,000 pounds (331,000 kilograms) of copper had been strung out across the network and engineers started making test calls. But commercial service didn't begin until after the Jan. 25, 1915, ceremonial call. When it did, a three-minute call cost $20.70, the equivalent of nearly $485 today.

If they'd been paying, the participants on that first call would have racked up quite a bill. After Bell and Watson talked, a string of dignitaries including the mayors of San Francisco and New York went on the line. Vail called in from his summer home in Jekyll Island, Georgia, where a special private line had been set up because an injured leg prevented him from going to headquarters in New York. Then U.S. President Woodrow Wilson came on the line from the White House.

It took about 10 minutes just to connect a transcontinental call, because the connection had to be set up step by step with a switchboard operator in each city along the way. The ceremonial call on Jan. 25 took three and a half hours, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. New York time. Then Boston joined in for more conversations -- even one in Cantonese, between the founder of a Chinese telephone exchange in San Francisco and a Southern Pacific Railroad official in Boston.

Later that evening, the line was opened to paying customers. The first call was made by Fred Thompson, at the Stewart Hotel in San Francisco, to his mother, Margaret Thompson, at the Bensonhurst Hotel in Brooklyn. They reported that it sounded just like a local call.

But the transcontinental phone line remained a spectacle throughout the exposition, which ran from Feb. 20 to Sept. 4, 1915. AT&T opened a pavilion where visitors could pick up a phone and hear sounds from across the continent, including musical performances and the Atlantic Ocean.

Quite the event - here is a nice website celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition including the phone call.

MSFT to buy Revolution Analytics

The R Programming Language is an open source language tailored to statistics and processing large quantities of data. A company - Revolution Analytics - does commercial development of programming tools.

Last Friday, Microsoft announced that they were purchasing the company - from their blog:

Microsoft to acquire Revolution Analytics to help customers find big data value with advanced statistical analysis
I’m very pleased to announce that Microsoft has reached an agreement to acquire Revolution Analytics. Revolution Analytics is the leading commercial provider of software and services for R, the world’s most widely used programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. We are making this acquisition to help more companies use the power of R and data science to unlock big data insights with advanced analytics.

As their volumes of data continually grow, organizations of all kinds around the world – financial, manufacturing, health care, retail, research – need powerful analytical models to make data-driven decisions. This requires high performance computation that is “close” to the data, and scales with the business’ needs over time. At the same time, companies need to reduce the data science and analytics skills gap inside their organizations, so more employees can use and benefit from R. This acquisition is part of our effort to address these customer needs.

This will be interesting to follow - we think of Microsoft as a Windows and Office company but they are much much more...

Another visit from the empty chair

Obama failed to send anyone of consequence to Paris for the Charlie Hebdo rally.

Now he is doing the same for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

From the New York Times:

For Auschwitz Museum, a Time of Great Change
For what is likely to be the last time, a large number of the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz will gather next week under an expansive tent, surrounded by royalty and heads of state, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of those held there at the end of World War II.

“This will be the last decade anniversary with a very visible presence of survivors,” said Andrzej Kacorzyk, deputy director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which encompasses the sites of the original concentration camp, near the center of Oswiecim, and the larger Auschwitz II-Birkenau on the city’s outskirts.

And who will be attending:

A preliminary list of those attending includes President François Hollande of France, President Joachim Gauck of Germany and President Heinz Fischer of Austria, as well as King Philippe of Belgium, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. The United States delegation will be led by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

Treasury Secretary? Not the President or Vice President. Not even Kerry?
Christ - Send Hillery - at this point, what difference does it make.

This is pathetic - from The Daily Caller:

Feds Enlist Disney To Make A ‘Frozen’ Film About The Melting Arctic
The Obama administration is looking to Disney to push its global warming agenda on America’s children. A top State Department official revealed he is in talks with the entertainment conglomerate to use characters from the movie “Frozen” to teach kids about global warming.

“I said, you’ve taught an entire generation about the Arctic,” Adm. Robert Papp, the U.S. special envoy for the Arctic, told an audience at a Norwegian conference about his talk with a Disney executive. “Unfortunately, the Arctic that you’ve taught them about is a fantasy kingdom in Norway where everything is nice.”

“What we really need to do is educate the American youth about the plight of the polar bear, about the thawing tundra, about Alaskan villages that run the risk of falling into the sea because of the lack of sea ice protecting their shores,” Papp said.

Plight of the Polar Bear whose numbers have dramatically increased in the last fifteen years, thawing tundra - if you would be so kind as to point out where (that would be a NO), villages falling into the sea - they always do this. The Alaskan coast is in a constant state of flux. The year after the great Alaskan Earthquake, my family and our minister visited the town of Shageluk, Alaska. It was sited on a tributary of the Yukon River and because of the quake, the tributary was shifting its banks and the town had to move. We presented them with a sawmill and movie projector. This was in 1964 and these things have been happening before and are continuing to happen.

To use an iconic children's cartoon character to spread this propaganda and false information is unconscionable. Admiral Papp has had a distinguished career and has done well but it is time for him to retire.

This is just plain crazy - Al Gore...

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...and ex-Mexican President  Felipe Calderon wants to spend $90,000,000,000,000 of our tax dollars.

From FOX News:

Al Gore: Spend $90 Trillion To Ban Cars From Every Major City In The World
Former Vice President Al Gore and former Mexican President Felipe Calderon are pushing for $90 trillion in spending to ban cars from every major city in the world and make them more dense.

Gore and Calderon presented a report from the Global Commission on the Economy & Climate (GCEC) and argued that fighting global warming will require making cities more compact and wholly reliant on public transit. This is the only way to make sure urban areas don’t contribute to global warming, the two politicians argued.

Calderon and Gore argued that $90 trillion is going to be spent anyways in the coming decades upgrading cities around the world. They argue that it should be spent on making cities more climate friendly.

The money is going to be spent anyway so let's hijack it from needed items like repairing the infrastructure and utilities and instead, convert the cities into dystopian ghettos where no one will want to live. These people are so far out of touch that it is unreal.

Talk about going off the deep end...

I could see this guy as President - he has done amazing work as Governor of Wisconsin.

From The Hill:

Walker shows fire in Iowa
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) delivered a fiery speech in Iowa on Saturday, wowing the conservative crowd with a passionate argument for small government and his own lengthy resume.

The Wisconsin governor, in rolled-up shirtsleeves, paced the stage as he blasted big government and touted a long list of conservative reforms he's pushed through in blue Wisconsin.

The governor also showed a rhetorical flourish that's largely been absent from his previous campaigns, drawing the crowd to its feet multiple times.

"There's a reason we take a day off to celebrate the 4th of July and not the 15th of April," he said, almost yelling as his voice grew hoarse. "Because in America we value our independence from the government, not our dependence on it."

Walker's speech had something for every element of the activist crowd. The governor touted his three victories over Democrats and recall win as well as his state-level education reforms. Each new policy he helped pass drew cheers: Voter ID laws, education reforms, tax cuts and defunding Planned Parenthood.

The biggest question for Walker as he ramps up for a race is whether he has the fire in the belly and political skills to stand onstage against the other candidates. And in his first major Iowa address, he may have done a lot to dispel notions that he lacks charisma.

When he said he won reelection as Milwaukee County Executive in an area where President Obama won by a two-to-one margin, some in the audience gasped.

"If you get the job done the voters will actually stand up with you," he said before contrasting his record with Washington's deadlock.

 Walker actually gets stuff done - a lot of the people lining up have no real track record in this department.

Got out of Vancouver just in time

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Yesterday in Vancouver was overcast with some sprinkles in the morning. It dried off at the same time we went to the bird watching beach and stayed dry through the rest of the day.

What a difference 24 hours makes - from The Vancouver Sun:

Pineapple Express hits North Shore mountains, Metro Vancouver with heavy rain
Skiers and snowboarders hoping to hit the North Shore slopes this weekend may be disappointed, as a Pineapple Express is expected to wallop the region with up to 100 millimetres of rain, saturating the snowpack and forcing resorts to close runs.

The warmer weather and heavy downpour doesn't bode well for the North Shore's three major ski resorts, as Environment Canada predicts the freezing level could climb as high as 3,400 metres by Saturday. Cypress and Seymour mountains are about 1,400 metres in height, while Grouse Mountain is just over 1,200 metres. Whistler's highest lift accessed elevation is 2,284 metres.

It's 41°F and raining at Baker as well but at least we have some decent base.

Things are getting interesting - Netanyahu

House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress on March 3rd without consulting the Obama administration.

From The Times of Israel:

Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials said to say
The White House’s outrage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March — a move he failed to coordinate with the administration — began to seep through the diplomatic cracks on Friday, with officials telling Haaretz the Israeli leader had “spat” in President Barack Obama’s face.

We thought we’ve seen everything,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying. “But Bibi managed to surprise even us.

“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” he said.

Officials in Washington said that the “chickenshit” epithet — with which an anonymous administration official branded Netanyahu several months ago — was mild compared to the language used in the White House when news of Netanyahu’s planned speech came in.

In his address the Israeli leader is expected to speak about stalled US-led nuclear negotiations with Iran, and to urge lawmakers to slap Tehran with a new round of tougher sanctions in order to force it to comply with international demands. The Mossad intelligence service on Thursday went to the rare length of issuing a press statement to deny claims, cited by Kerry, that its chief Tamir Pardo had told visiting US politicians that he opposed further sanctions.

So typical of the rampant narcissism in the White House. We know the best way to do things and if you go against us,  there will be a price. This is not leadership in any sense of the word. Obama and company are in over their heads and impotent.

These are serious issues that are being dealt with - a nuclear Iran will be an incredible instability for the entire world. The Obama administration are like schoolyard bullies.

Because of price fixing, Venezuelan stores are frequently out of basic items and when there is stock coming in, people have to wait in lines. Rather than wait themselves, some Venezuelans are paying people to hold their place in line.

From Yahoo/Reuters:

In shortages-hit Venezuela, lining up becomes a profession
There's a booming new profession in Venezuela: standing in line.

The job usually involves starting before dawn, enduring long hours under the Caribbean sun, dodging or bribing police, and then selling a coveted spot at the front of huge shopping lines.

As Venezuela's ailing economy spawns unprecedented shortages of basic goods, panic-buying and a rush to snap up subsidized food, demand is high and the pay is reasonable.

"It's boring but not a bad way to make a living," said a 23-year-old man, who only gave his first name Luis, as he held a spot near the front of a line of hundreds outside a state supermarket just after sunrise in Caracas.

More at the article including the wonderful fact that President Maduro's party has a 22% approval rating and there are elections coming up later this year.

Guns and Murder in the United States

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Bill Whittle uncovers an inconvenient truth:


RIP - Edgar Froese

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Founder of Tangerine Dream - from the website:


Dear Friends,

This is a message to you we are deeply sorry for…
On January 20th, Tuesday afternoon, Edgar Froese suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from the effects of a pulmonary embolism in Vienna.
The sadness in our hearts is immensely.

Edgar once said: “There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address."

Edgar, this is a little comfort to us.


One of the great ones.

Ho Li Crap - archery

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Verily! The mind; it doth boggle...

I had written just this last Monday on how Moog Music was re-releasing their three iconic synthesizer systems - the System 15, System 35 and System 55.

Today, just five days later, someone wrote this on an electronic music email list:

My Moog dealer has told me that all the system 55,35 and system 15's modulars were pre sold before NAMM 
Moog will make another batch of system 15's $2500 deposit required

NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants and their annual show (running now) is where manufacturers go to demonstrate new instruments. There is no word on how many units Moog actually manufactured but for them to sell out so quickly indicates a high demand, even at boutique pricing.

We need a vacation from our vacation

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Taking it easy this morning - still need to unpack the truck but I'll get around to it in an hour or two.

It was a wonderful trip but glad to be back home again...

Big uptick in spam, both Blog comment spam and email - number of attempts?

Blog - 21, email - 348

Number of successful posts?

Blog - ZERO, email - ZERO (all were caught and routed to the spam folder, number of false triggers (valid email flagged as SPAM? ZERO))

You keep knocking but you can't come in - go back to your mommies basement...

Back home again

It was a wonderful time but very glad to be back home again.

Driving in Vancouver was interesting to say the least. I have a large truck - a Ford F-350 with the long bed and king cab - the largest of each option. Driving downtown was interesting with my mirrors clearing other vehicles with inches to spare. I did not feel it then, but my muscles are stiff as though I worked out.

I revisited Chinatown - my last time there was about fifteen years ago. We were both stoked about eating lunch there but it was out of the zombie apocalypse - the place has really gone downhill and there are junkies walking around everywhere. Don't know if the City of Vancouver is trying to "manage" their junkie problem by concentrating them into one locale but it sure has turned Chinatown and Gastown into a smoking crater. Sad as I remember a lot of good restaurants there and today, we were both concerned about the security of my truck being parked on the street with my camera gear.

Stevestown was a lot of fun - the cannery museum was really well done and we had an amazing dinner at the Blue Canoe. Literally, the best halibut I have ever eaten. The first bite was eye-opening. Simple - let the product speak for itself. Lulu had some mussels and they were just as amazing. I had brought my laptop but the internal WiFi adapter failed to work - do some diagnostics in a few days. It still works great for tethered camera shooting but no internet connectivity :(

I got lost trying to find the first birding place but went to my alternate location out near the Vancouver airport and we saw a lot of eagles, an owl, four or five red-tailed hawks, a lot of sand pipers. Took lots of photos and will post in a day or two.

Finished with a trip to IKEA - bought some stuff for home, for the synthesizer cabinet (some LED strip lighting) and for some rental units (dishware).

Sleep in tomorrow and back to the usual grind...

Off to Canada today

Heading out the door in an hour - Lulu's showing her nephew how to feed the critters and I'm getting extra hay out to the feeders.

Should be fun!

This image sums it up:



Off to Canada tomorrow

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Lulu's son and her nephew are out here for a couple of days to take care of the critters. Heading out early tomorrow morning - back Thursday.

Been doing some research on the Vancouver Chinatown and apparently, it is getting less and less Chinese - the people immigrating to Canada these days are moving into an area that is a couple miles from our hotel so we will check out both areas.

Surf for a while and then to bed...

YES! - finally

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It has been well documented that low doses of radiation are not harmful and may actually be beneficial. The "official" word is that any dose of radiation is harmful.

Finally, this is changing - from World Nuclear News:

US House passes low-dose radiation bill
The US Department of Energy (DOE) and National Academy of Sciences have been directed to work together to assess the current status of US and international research on low-dose radiation and to formulate a long-term research agenda under a bill approved by the US House of Representatives.

The Low Dose Radiation Research Act of 2015 (HR 35) directs the two organisations to carry out a research program "to enhance the scientific understanding of and reduce uncertainties associated with the effects of exposure to low dose radiation in order to inform improved risk management methods." The study is to be completed within 18 months.

Get to the truth and stop depending on conjecture...

Synthesis - Suzanne Ciani

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Moog is inviting some well-known synthesizer artists to show off their 'new' modulars.

Suzanne Ciani has always been a favorite of mine - excellent musician and composer - here she is on a System 55:


Canada does not stand behind Israel – it stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel

I really wish that Obama had the stones...

Full story at Arutz Sheva/Israel National News:

Canada 'Stands Shoulder to Shoulder with Israel'
John Baird, Canada's foreign minister, who is considered a staunch ally of Israel, met early Monday afternoon with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu welcomed Baird and lauded him as “a great fighter for peace and security, and a great warrior for truth.”

"You have always showed a willingness to fight for what is right, and oppose what is wrong,” Netanyahu lauded his guest. "We are all waging a difficult struggle against the terrorists of radical Islam,” he added. “Israel has been under continuous attack by this evil, and so has Canada, lately. In fact, large parts of the world are suffering from this violent onslaught.”

The Canadians, said Netanyahu, “know who the aggressor is and who is defending himself. You know that Israel is defending itself in a legitimate way against the war crimes of Hamas and other terror organizations.”

The article closes with this:

"Well, our generation's great struggle is against terror, and too often, the state of Israel and the Jews worldwide stand at the front lines of this struggle. As I have said in the past – Canada does not stand behind Israel – it stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel.” 

This is what a clear vision and a strong moral backbone looks like. Not the mealy-mouthed pablum emanating from DC these days. As I have said before, we need some adults in the room - our senior statesmen are infantile. Impotent in the purest definition of the word...

The true poverty numbers

Obama's State of the Union speech will cover his plan of taxing the rich and redistributing the funds through Federal programs to the Middle Class. This is classic Marxism - there is a fixed pool of capital and the inequities of the world stem from an unequal distribution. Marx seriously screwed up on that - Capital is fungible. It can be created and it can be destroyed.

What brings me to my rant - there is no poverty in the USA. The number of truly poor people is at an absolute minimum. Most "poor" people get subsidized housing. They have a cell phone and a television. Their kitchen has a stove and a refrigerator. They most likely have a car.

To put things into perspective - a family of four people with a gross take-home pay of $36,000/year are members of the 1% when you take into account the rest of the world's population. Want to solve something? Solve that!

Brings this list to mind:

1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet almost half of the population is subsidized.
2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.
3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.
4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.
5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet politicians (mostly progressive socialists) claim they want America to become more like those other countries.

Back to the future - synthesizers

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I am still getting to know my new synthesizer - this will keep me busy for the next 30 years.

Now Moog is re-issuing their three flagship systems - from Moog Music:

The Return Of The Moog Modular
50 years ago the Moog modular synthesizer represented as radical a transition as Kandinski’s abstracts or Kodak’s cameras – offering both a break from yesterday and a startling glimpse of tomorrow. And, as with all cultural explosions, the impact of Dr. Moog’s invention was impossible to evaluate from the epicenter. It’s only now, 50 years down the line, that we can get some measure of the importance and sheer untapped potential of the Moog Modular Synthesizer.

Today, it is with great excitement that we announce our plans to recommence a limited run, manufacturing of three of our most sought after 5U, large format, modular synthesizers: The System 55, the System 35 and the Model 15. These three modular synthesizer systems were originally created and manufactured by Moog in 1973.

A bit more:

The foundation for this announcement was laid last year at Moogfest 2014, when we released the Emerson Moog Modular System – a faithful recreation of Keith Emerson’s legendary modular instrument, which was the culmination of three years' worth of research and engineering. Now we will use the techniques learned recreating the EMMS manufacturing process to once again build these modular systems. Crucially, in deference to the unique character and appeal of the original instruments, these systems will be made entirely to their original product specifications and manufacturing techniques and processes.

Working from the 1970s schematics, each instrument will be meticulously handcrafted, as a true recreation of the original. The modules are built from the original circuit board films - just as they were in 1973- by hand-stuffing and hand-soldering components to circuit boards, and using traditional wiring methods. The front panels are photo-etched aluminum, a classic process rarely used in today’s synthesizer manufacturing, to maintain the classic and durable look of vintage Moog modules.

The largest of these systems - the System 55 - is listing for $35,000 without any of the options (keyboard, etc...) The target audience is going to be museums and deep-pocket collectors. I am sad that they did not update the designs as the original Moogs were notoriously noisy and temperature sensitive. Someone opens the studio door, the room temp drops five degrees and you have to re-tune everything.

The system I bought a few months ago was lower in price, about three times larger, and is made with modern design techniques and components. You get the same sound but much nicer handling.

A today two-fer

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Not only did the Seahawks win, there is a program that we like to watch Sundays called The Librarians. Tonight was the season finale with two hour-long episodes. The first one involved the work of Nikola Tesla who is one of my major idols. As soon as I saw the name Wardenclyffe, I knew we were in for a fun ride...

No shopping run tomorrow as it is a Federal Holiday - shopping Tuesday and moved the Canadian trip to Wednesday and Thursday.

Today's game

Sports writer Barry Wilner has a nice description of today's game at Associated Press:

Seahawks rally stuns Packers 28-22 in OT for NFC title
Never doubt the resilience of the Seattle Seahawks.

Plagued by turnovers and outplayed much of Sunday by Green Bay, the Seahawks staged an improbable comeback and beat the Packers 28-22 in overtime. Russell Wilson, who struggled until the final minutes, hit Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown 3:19 into the extra period on the only possession.

The Seahawks became the first defending champion to make the Super Bowl in 10 years, and will play the winner of the AFC title game between Indianapolis and New England. How they got there was stunning.

Seattle (14-4) trailed 19-7 with about four minutes remaining and had been ineffective on offense all game. Wilson finally put a drive together with passes to Doug Baldwin and Marshawn Lynch - initially ruled a touchdown but called back because he stepped out. Wilson finished with a 1-yard scoring run to cut the lead to 19-14 with 2:09 left.

Quite the nail-biter - well played Seattle!

Quite the game - Superbowl bound

The Packers were up by 12 points up to the last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter. Seattle scored fifteen points inside of 45 seconds to score a three point lead. The Packers scored another three to tie in the last minute. The game went into overtime and Seattle scored another touchdown to win.

Check out the seismic record on the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network Twitter account:



I feel sorry for the poor fools who left early thinking the game was lost.  Hey honey, if we leave now, we can beat the traffic...

A Seahawk Sunday

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We are both dressed in blue - Lulu has the pre-game on. Her Dad used to coach football so she got into the game at an early age. She is now infecting me.

Also, after discovering Lulu Island in Canada, we are heading up there Tuesday evening - got someone to take care of the critters here so we will drive up Tuesday morning, spend some time exploring Steveston and doing some birdwatching and then explore Vancouver (lunch in Chinatown?) and hit IKEA on our way home.

It will be a nice mini-vacation...

During the Fukushima quake and tsunami, we were constantly reassured that although there was a radiation leak from the reactor, the actual level of radiation was minimal and there was no cause for concern. Being exposed was equivalent to taking a long aircraft flight.

We just had dinner with a young man - a friend of Lulu's niece - who was serving on the USS Essex and now has about seven years of life left.

A few months after the incident, other newer stories vied for our collective attention and the concerns of Fukushima fell by the wayside. Looking back at the reporting, we find that the radiation stories are now starting  to come out and there is, in fact, a class-action lawsuit against TEPCO for misinforming the US Navy and other first responders.

From 2011 - a week after the quake - from CNN:

Navy says radiation releases pose challenging environment
The ongoing radioactivity releases from damaged nuclear reactors in Japan after last week's historic earthquake are creating "one of the most challenging humanitarian operations ever conducted," according to Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet in Japan.

Davis said Tuesday that for the second time, U.S. helicopter crews have been exposed to elevated, albeit low, levels of radiation during flights near Japan's nuclear reactors. In addition, the Navy is moving three incoming ships to a new location because of "radiological and navigation hazards" at their intended destination on the eastern coast of Honshu, according to Davis.

Just as in an incident on Sunday, the crew members were stripped of contaminated clothing, scrubbed down with soap and water and tested. In all cases, they no longer tested positive for radiation exposure.

Nothing to worry about - move along folks...

From the December 2013 London Daily Mail:

51 U.S. sailors now claim they were poisoned by nuclear meltdown at Fukushima
The number of U.S. sailors who claim to have been poisoned by radiation while serving during the 2011 tsunami in Japan - resulting in cases of leukemia, thyroid and testicular cancers, chronic bronchitis and brain tumors - has jumped to 51, as the group continue to fight the company they say didn't report the contamination when it happened.

The U.S. Navy members who were allegedly infected - who served aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and its sister ship the USS Essex - started to develop strange symptoms and sicknesses in the months following their mission near the Fukushima nuclear power plant, such as lumps, night sweats and dramatic weight-loss.

Now the majority of the group who worked in the rescue effort have been diagnosed with an assortment of diseases, after their ships' desalination systems pulled in contaminated seawater that was used for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Their drinking water was radioactive - desalination will get rid of salts but only so much.

From  the January 2014 Stars and Stripes:

Congress wants answers on health impacts of Japan disaster relief
Congress has instructed the Defense Department to launch an inquiry into potential health impacts on Navy first-responders from Japan’s March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

The request, made in the explanatory statement from the House that accompanied the fiscal 2014 budget bill that passed Congress this month, comes as a growing number of sailors and Marines have joined a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co.

While the instruction is not law, Defense Department officials said that they were taking the request seriously.

And finally:

About 50 sick sailors and Marines have accused TEPCO of lying about the risk of exposure, luring American forces closer to the affected areas and lulling others at bases across Japan into disregarding safety measures. These individuals claim to be suffering from exposure-related ailments such as unexplained cancers, excessive bleeding, thyroid issues and ailments including loss of muscle power, migraines and vision problems.

The suit was filed in federal court in San Diego in December 2012 seeking damages and funds to cover medical expenses. The original eight complainants were on the USS Ronald Reagan, but the suit has since expanded to include those who served aboard the USS Essex and USS Germantown as well as attached Marines.

TEPCO needs to be held to the fire and they need to pay for what they did. This will not save the life of the man I had dinner with tonight but it will serve to remind others of their responsibilities. I am reminded of that line in Candide (Battle of Minorca):

Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.
In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others. 

Call me old school but someone needs to hang for this...

Ebola in the news

The Ebola outbreak is still going strong with over 8,000 deaths.

A sober look at what is needed from Laura H. Kahn writing at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

What Africa really needs to fight Ebola and other emerging diseases: anti-corruption efforts
As Ebola’s death toll surpasses 8,000 people, well-intentioned individuals have been suggesting different strategies to contain the crisis. Many of these recommendations have included the use of modern technologies like cell phones, coupled with innovations such as a global rapid response team. But more than anything, what Africa really needs is simply more investment in its people and its basic health care infrastructure, along with reduced corruption—making sure that the money sent to lay the foundations of public health actually goes where it is supposed to.

A bit more:

A case in point is Liberia, which has received billions of dollars in international aid for over a decade, with little to show for it. The country ranks near the bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index and near the bottom of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer. And while international aid groups and non-governmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Medical Corps provide important humanitarian assistance and medical care, they also inadvertently absolve African political leaders from developing medical and public health infrastructures. In fact, one could argue that such organizations perpetuate dependence, by never forcing African leaders to invest in their people, thus helping corruption continue. 

Dr. Kahn mentions the United Nations but they are just as corrupt if not more.

This looks like a lot of fun!

Combine skiing, zip lining, and bungee jumping:


From here: Bun J Ride

Well... There goes the neighborhood

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From Space.com:

Mysterious Planet X May Really Lurk Undiscovered in Our Solar System
"Planet X" might actually exist — and so might "Planet Y."

At least two planets larger than Earth likely lurk in the dark depths of space far beyond Pluto, just waiting to be discovered, a new analysis of the orbits of "extreme trans-Neptunian objects" (ETNOs) suggests.

Researchers studied 13 ETNOs — frigid bodies such as the dwarf planet Sedna that cruise around the sun at great distances in elliptical paths.

The distances are huge - from our Earth tot he Sun is considered to be one astronomical unit (1AU). These would be at 200 AU or further.

A fun coincidence for Lulu

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We are planning a trip to Canada soon (time for an IKEA run) and were looking at options for exploration. Now is a good time for birdwatching and one of the better spots is none other than Lulu Island.

The name?

Lulu Island was named in 1862 by Richard Moody, after Lulu Sweet, a popular showgirl, possibly of Kanaka (Hawaiian) origin, when the island was named (she had bought property there).

Considering that Lulu graduated from the University of Hawaii and lived on Kauai for the last thirty years makes this a must-see destination. Steveston looks like a fun place to spend an afternoon.

"Interesting people" in the news again

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I had written about this family three times before: here, here and here.

They are in the news again - from our Bellingham Herald:

Couple charged with growing 1,000-plus unlicensed marijuana plants at Birch Bay home
A Whatcom County couple has been charged with running an unlicensed marijuana farm, then replenishing their crop less than three months after sheriff’s deputies seized $1.2 million in cannabis plants and processed pot from their home near Birch Bay.

A sheriff’s deputy, Ryan Rathbun, caught wind of the farm on Oct. 25, when he stopped at a neighboring home while on patrol, according to charging papers filed this week.

A car with two men and a woman inside rolled into the same driveway he’d parked in. The people in the car — all of whom had felony records such as burglary, trafficking in stolen property and vehicular assault — told Rathbun that they worked for Steven Harlin Hovander, 64, and Starlare Hovander, 62, clipping marijuana buds at 3591 Birch Bay-Lynden Road, according to the charges.

So Rathbun and a second deputy drove down the road to the Hovanders’ farm, where there’s a large, green farmers market out front. They smelled “the strong and obvious odor of fresh growing/processed marijuana,” the deputy prosecutor, Dona Bracke, wrote in the charges. In the parking lot the deputies talked to two men who said they lived and worked on the property, clipping buds and working security.

According to the charges, employees at the farm said they worked a Monday-to-Friday schedule, clipping cannabis buds in a back room and helping to process it into a finished product.

One of the deputies spoke with Starlare Hovander over the phone. She insisted she had a valid license to grow marijuana, but when the deputy asked her to come and show it to him, her “cell phone cut out and shut off,” according to the charges. She did not pick up when the deputy tried to call back.

There’s a pending application for Serene Greens, a would-be business at the Hovander address, but no one on Birch Bay-Lynden Drive has been granted a license to grow, process or sell marijuana, according to state Liquor Control Board records.

Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig signed a warrant to search for illegally grown marijuana on the property. A regional drug task force recovered 395 plants (weighing 184.8 pounds), another 154 pounds of processed marijuana and a few expired medical marijuana licenses for Steve Hovander.

Around New Year’s Eve, deputies noted a strong marijuana smell coming from the property, and two employees confirmed they were still working for the Hovanders. The county sheriff’s office got another search warrant on Jan. 7. They seized 639 plants and a few pounds of “usable marijuana,” according to charging papers. They also noted what appeared to be a hash oil lab in one building. Forty-five plants were left behind, because along with the marijuana, they found three legitimate prescriptions. Under state law, medical cannabis patients can own up to 15 growing plants.

One of the posts I had made about them earlier was how they went from Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves in Three Generations - their ancestors built this farm and later deeded it to Whatcom County for a Park.

I love to work metal - blacksmithing and want to set up a small foundry - so I scan the news for anything metal related.

Saw this item in the Chehalis, WA Chronicle:

Bradken Foundry in Chehalis Will Close; 91 Employees Affected
Bradken, a company that specializes in steel castings and similar products, announced Wednesday it plans to shut down its operations in Chehalis.

According to a news release from the company, Bradken notified employees at the foundry on Sears Road of its impending closure. Ninety-one employees will be impacted, although the release doesn’t necessarily say they will be laid off; a great deal of the work will shift northward.

“The closure will be staggered in departments to service the needs of customers as we work to complete orders at that facility as well as distribute ongoing customer orders to other facilities with much of the work transferred to Bradken’s Tacoma foundry,” the release stated.

The company is global and based in Australia:

Buried in the story is this little item:

Locally, workers at the Chehalis foundry moved to unionize in 2012 in what local labor leaders called the largest labor unionization in Lewis County in three decades. The workers joined the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, and in 2013 filed a complaint against Bradken with the National Labor Relations Board for regressive and surface bargaining — essentially a charge that the company was stalling wage negotiations.

The union stated in a September 2013 Chronicle article that Chehalis employees had been earning at least $4 per hour less than what people doing the same jobs at Tacoma’s foundry were making. In June 2014, the union and Bradken reached a tentative agreement.

Yup. They got more money from the company and the company closed down the plant. Chehalis is a rural community and the cost of living is a lot cheaper than in Tacoma. (Chehalis - Tacoma) I would bet that the $4/hour reflects this difference.

Smart move and great long-range planning...

Quite the find - Mastodon bones

From Kalamazoo, MI station WWMT:

Mastodon bones discovered in local family’s backyard
Imagine digging in your yard and finding a prehistoric beast!  

That's what happened to a West Michigan family.

Newschannel 3 was out in Eaton County Tuesday to see what they dug up.

Back in November, Eric Witzke was having a pond dug in his backyard in Bellevue Township.

It was a simple project that soon opened up a prehistoric portal.   

"It was amazing to see these bones and see the size of these bones coming up out of the ground," Witzke said.

Contractor and neighbor Daniel LaPoint, Jr. was doing the digging.

"It was just something different. I automatically assumed dinosaur. That's what popped into my head," LaPoint said.  

LaPoint and Witzke dug up a total of 42 bones.

Putting the bones together painted a clear picture of the huge creature.

It was a mastodon.

The bones were donated to a nearby museum. Very cool!

A political life - Senator Feinstein

Making money the old fashioned way - corruption and graft. From the New York Post:

Senator’s husband stands to profit big from government deal
Ever wonder how lowly paid lawmakers leave office filthy rich?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is showing how it’s done.

The US Postal Service plans to sell 56 buildings — so it can lease space more expensively — and the real estate company of the California senator’s husband, Richard Blum, is set to pocket about $1 billion in commissions.

Blum’s company, CBRE, was selected in March 2011 as the sole real estate agent on sales expected to fetch $19 billion. Most voters didn’t notice that Blum is a member of CBRE’s board and served as chairman from 2001 to 2014.

This feat of federal spousal support was ignored by the media after Feinstein’s office said the senator, whose wealth is pegged at $70 million, had nothing to do with the USPS decisions.

When the national debt is $18 trillion, a billion seems like small change.

These are the people that are supposed to be representing us. When was the last time they did their job?

Markets for everything - American Sniper

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The liberals like to think that they are the majority but when a solid conservative product comes out, it sells.

From Deadline Hollywood:

‘American Sniper’ Makes Eastwood’s Friday With $30.5M, Can It Hit $80M By Monday? – Saturday Update
Warner Bros. is reporting Friday at $30.5M for American Sniper - not only a January opening day record, but more than any Clint Eastwood film has ever made in a weekend.

If you build it, they will come...

Things just got real interesting real fast. From Blomberg:

Russia to Shift Ukraine Gas Transit to Turkey as EU Cries Foul
Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey, a surprise move that the European Union’s energy chief said would hurt its reputation as a supplier.

The decision makes no economic sense, Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president for energy union, told reporters today after talks with Russian government officials and the head of gas exporter, OAO Gazprom, in Moscow.

Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas supplier, plans to send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey, fully replacing shipments via Ukraine, Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said during the discussions. About 40 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe and Turkey travel through Ukraine’s Soviet-era network.

Russia, which supplies about 30 percent of Europe’s gas, dropped a planned link through Bulgaria bypassing Ukraine amid EU opposition last year. Russia’s relations with the EU have reached a post-Cold War low over President Vladimir Putin’s support for separatists in Ukraine.

Great opportunity for us if we had some way to get our own natural gas out to our ports - a pipeline? It would also be nice if our own Federal Government would let us drill on Federal lands and off-shore.

And Maros - it makes a lot of economic sense if you get your head out of the progressive fogbank and deal with the realpolitik of the situation. Pooty-poot needs hard money and jacking your energy costs will get it for him. I don't know the age of the current pipeline but I am betting that it is over twenty years old. Time for a new one and time to bring some new allies into the camp. Turkey is moderate Islam - by making them dependent on the pipeline revenues and cheap Russian gas, this will make the Islamofascists less likely to attack Russia again.

Oh Joy - an islamofascist two-fer

Their philosophies may be rooted in the ninth century but they do know their computers.

First - from Yahoo/Associated Press:

France sees 19,000 cyberattacks since terror rampage
Hackers have targeted about 19,000 French websites since a rampage by Islamic extremists left 20 dead last week, a top French cyberdefense official said Thursday as the president tried to calm the nation's inflamed religious tensions.

France is on edge since last week's attacks, which began Jan. 7 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The paper, repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, buried several of its slain staff members Thursday even as it reprinted another weekly issue with Muhammad on its cover.

Calling it an unprecedented surge, Adm. Arnaud Coustilliere, head of cyberdefense for the French military, said about 19,000 French websites had faced cyberattacks in recent days, some carried out by well-known Islamic hacker groups.

Second from Quartz:

To avoid detection, terrorists purposely sent emails with spammy subject lines
By now, it’s common knowledge the National Security Agency collects plenty of data on suspected terrorists as well as ordinary citizens. But the agency also has algorithms in place to filter out information that doesn’t need to be collected or stored for further analysis, such as spam emails—a fact terrorists used to their advantage.

Much of the debate around the NSA’s overreach has focused on selectors, the terms it uses to describe its requests for information collected. According to a transparency report it published last summer, the agency was approved to use 423 selectors in 2013 under its telephone metadata program. However, filters, which specify data the agency does not want, also play an important role in reducing noise.

In a paper published by the American Mathematical Society, the agency’s former research director, Michael Wertheimer, recalled an instance when the US seized laptops left by Taliban members soon after the 9/11 attacks. The only email written in English found on the computers contained a purposely spammy subject line: “CONSOLIDATE YOUR DEBT.” According to Wertheimer, the email was sent to and from nondescript addresses that were later confirmed to belong to combatants.

“It is surely the case that the sender and receiver attempted to avoid allied collection of this operational message by triggering presumed ‘spam’ filters,” he said, noting the agency is constantly refining its algorithms to discover new threats.

The Wertheimer paper is a good and short (three page PDF) read - very clever idea to mask messages. I doubt that the various three-letter-agencies have the manpower to sift through all captured emails. By making it look like spam, there is a good chance that the operator will skip over it... 

Busy day today

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The person who normally does our Friday shopping run for the store is laid up with a bad back so I got to do it. Grabbed a bite to eat after. Lulu is heading out tomorrow so that will be great.

So true - our pResident and Islam

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Obama simply can not call it for what it is - Michael Ramirez gets it perfectly:


Just got turned onto this chap - very much a kindred spirit. Here is a one minute introduction:


Youtube channel here: Aussie50

Testing to destruction is an old and established engineering tradition - glad to see someone from the antipodes carrying on so well...

Aussie50 linked to PhotonicInduction

Building the Tesla Model S

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This is how you do it - they are right when they say that this is the future of manufacturing. The Labor Unions failed to adapt the new technologies and priced their labor out of the marketplace. Now, they represent less than 8% of the total workforce (including public sector unions - teachers, cops, government workers).

Cool technology from Google Translate

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Google Translate now works with your phone or tablet's camera:


From their blog:

Hallo, hola, olá to the new, more powerful Google Translate app
Often the hardest part of traveling is navigating the local language. If you've ever asked for "pain" in Paris and gotten funny looks, confused "embarazada" with "embarrassed" in Mexico, or stumbled over pronunciation pretty much anywhere, you know the feeling. Now Google Translate can be your guide in new ways. We’ve updated the Translate app on Android and iOS to transform your mobile device into an even more powerful translation tool.

Instant translation with Word Lens
The Translate app already lets you use camera mode to snap a photo of text and get a translation for it in 36 languages. Now, we’re taking it to the next level and letting you instantly translate text using your camera—so it’s way easier to navigate street signs in the Italian countryside or decide what to order off a Barcelona menu. While using the Translate app, just point your camera at a sign or text and you’ll see the translated text overlaid on your screen—even if you don't have an Internet or data connection.

This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and we’re working to expand to more languages.

From FOX News:

More counterterrorism raids reportedly underway in Belgium after police thwart 'Belgian Charlie Hebdo' attack
More counterterrorism operations were reportedly underway in Belgium late Thursday, hours after police killed at least two in raids aimed at jihadists returning from Syria who were planning to launch a "Belgian Charlie Hebdo" attack, authorities said.

Belgian news site L'Avenir, as well as Le Soir and France24, reported that the government prosecutor's office said a dozen operations have been launched against suspects across Belgium, in Verviers, Brussels and Hal-Vilvoorde. Some of those targeted in the raids are known to have returned recently from Syria.

The Belgian news site reported that, based on phone intercepts in the homes and cars of the three individuals involved in a shootout in Verviers, authorities believed the three were in the process of carrying out imminent attacks inside Belgium. A shootout between the three and police has left two of the suspected terrorists dead and another wounded.

We know who most of these people are, time to roll them up and send them back to where they came from. Start patrolling the no-go zones in Paris.

A cool find - Rifle

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From Winchester Repeating Arms:

132 Year-old Model 1873 found against a tree at Great Basin National Park
Many of us harbor pipe dreams of running across an original Winchester Model 1873 rifle in the rafters of a dusty attic or tucked in the dark corner of old barn.

Recently employees of the National Park Service found an original Winchester Model 1873 rifle leaning against a gnarled juniper tree in a remote part of the sprawling Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

According to Nichole Andler, Chief of Interpretation at Great Basin National Park, “The rifle, exposed for all those years to sun, wind, snow and rain, was found leaning against a tree in the park. The cracked wood stock, weathered to grey, and the brown rusted barrel blended into the colors of the old juniper tree in a remote rocky outcrop, keeping the rifle hidden for many years.”

“Engraved on the rifle is “Model 1873,” identifying it distinctly as a Winchester Model 1873 repeating rifle,” continued Andler. “The serial number on the lower tang corresponds in Winchester records held at the Center for the West at the Cody Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming, with a manufacture and shipping date of 1882. But the detailed history of this rifle is as yet unknown.”

While the specific history of the aged Winchester rifle is as yet unknown, the opportunities for speculation are rich. Perhaps it belonged to a lone cowboy riding the high range. Perhaps it was set aside by a sourdough prospector in his search for a vein of rich ore. Whatever the actual story, it has the makings of a great campfire tale.

The Great Basin National Park's Facebook page has some photos. I would have loved to see the rangers face when they realized what they were first looking at...

Ran into another piece - not about him but about a group he created - #BlackLivesMatter

From the Boston, MA NBC affiliate WHDH:

Protesters shut down Rt. 93 in Milton, Medford
Protesters severely delayed traffic on Interstate 93 northbound in Milton and southbound in Medford during Thursday's morning commute.

According to a press release sent out by the protesters, their intention was to, "'disrupt business as usual'" to protest police and state violence against black people."

According to the Mass. State Police, the protesters attached themselves to 1200-pound barrels. Col. Tim Alben said six individuals were tied inside the barrels and had to be cut out of the barrels.

State Police arrested 11 people in Milton after protesters chained to concrete barrels shut down traffic on I-93 Thursday morning.

Police said a U-Haul truck pulled over at about 7:30 a.m. and six protesters with the barrels lined up on the highway.

"It looked like cement blocks of some type they were in, and that'll be part of the investigation as to how they got down there and how they were dropped off," said Milton Police Chief Richard Wells. "The tape tells the story - this obviously put a little bit of planning into what they did here this morning.

Protesters had put their arms through tubes in the center of the barrels. Others held up a sign saying "end white supremacy" as troopers and Boston firefighters used saws to cut through the concrete barrels.

The protest was intended "to confront white complacency in the systemic oppression of black people in Boston" the Boston contingent of Black Lives Matter said in a statement.

Don't these ninnies realize that they are the pawns of an old rich white man - a card-carrying member of the 1%.

Soros is controlling what they think, what they say, how they act and each and every one of those precious widdle snowflakes thinks that their own thoughts are original.

You could not ask for a more perfect example of brainwashing...


Now that is a camera

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From the Stanford National Accelerator Laboratory:

World’s Most Powerful Camera Receives Funding Approval
Plans for the construction of the world’s largest digital camera at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have reached a major milestone. The 3,200-megapixel centerpiece of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will provide unprecedented details of the universe and help address some of its biggest mysteries, has received key “Critical Decision 2” approval from the DOE.


Science operations are scheduled to begin in 2022 with LSST taking digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from atop a mountain called Cerro Pachón in Chile. It will produce the widest, deepest and fastest views of the night sky ever observed. Over a 10-year time frame, the observatory will detect tens of billions of objects—the first time a telescope will catalog more objects in the universe than there are people on Earth—and will create movies of the sky with details that have never been seen before.

LSST will generate a vast public archive of data—approximately 6 million gigabytes per year—that will help researchers study the formation of galaxies, track potentially hazardous asteroids, observe exploding stars and better understand dark matter and dark energy, which make up 95 percent of the universe but whose nature remains unknown.

The website for the project is here: Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

This is what leadership looks like:


Wish we had someone like him in our administration...

George Soros - behind the scenes again

I really loathe that man - he is a sociopath. As a 14 year old Jewish child in Hungary, he helped the Nazi's during WWII - posing as a Christian.

From The Washington Times:

George Soros funds Ferguson protests, hopes to spur civil action
There’s a solitary man at the financial center of the Ferguson protest movement. No, it’s not victim Michael Brown or Officer Darren Wilson. It’s not even the Rev. Al Sharpton, despite his ubiquitous campaign on TV and the streets.

Rather, it’s liberal billionaire George Soros, who has built a business empire that dominates across the ocean in Europe while forging a political machine powered by nonprofit foundations that impacts American politics and policy, not unlike what he did with MoveOn.org.


In all, Mr. Soros gave at least $33 million in one year to support already-established groups that emboldened the grass-roots, on-the-ground activists in Ferguson, according to the most recent tax filings of his nonprofit Open Society Foundations.

The financial tether from Mr. Soros to the activist groups gave rise to a combustible protest movement that transformed a one-day criminal event in Missouri into a 24-hour-a-day national cause celebre.

This old white guy is the money behind #BlackLivesMatter. Grass-roots organization? No, astroturfing by a sociopath who makes his money by crashing financial institutions and picking over the remains. And the poor schlubs who are on the streets protesting have no clue that they are just pawns - being used by rich whitey to further rich whitey's political aims.

Heh - liberals at work

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There is no place in the United States that is more infested with Liberals than Hollywood.

Funny then that this should happen - from The Hollywood Reporter:

Oscars: Acting Nominees All White
For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses.

Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma.

In 2011, the 20 nominees also were entirely white. Before that, one has to go back to 1998 for an all-white acting group.

The all-white nominees list comes at time when Hollywood is fielding criticism for not doing enough to promote diversity in filmmaking. And just last month, Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin were apologizing for leaked emails that appeared to be racially insensitive. Rudin was nominated this morning for producing best picture nominee The Grand Budapest Hotel.

I would say something but that would be RACISSS!!!

Daniel Hannan for President

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Love this guy!


And yeah, he's a Brit but it is not like we have not elected another president of questionable birthright to office...

Very cool - the Jamstik

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Might have to get one of these if the price comes down a bit:


Jamstik - Guitar for iOS from Jamstik on Vimeo.

Right now, they are around $300 and require a proprietary battery pack.
I would like to see it at $150 and use a couple AA's

Zombies (fast) and Parkour

Fun trailer for a video game:


We saw this with the government shutdown in October 2013 - the various branches of government reacted by shutting down very public services and areas instead of cutting down on the bureaucracy where it was really needed.

Here, here and here for starters.

Now that the IRS has had its budget trimmed, they are cutting needed public services instead of eliminating waste and overhead.

From Yahoo/Associated Press:

Need help filing out your tax return? Don't call the IRS
Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Barack Obama's health law. But they shouldn't expect much help from the Internal Revenue Service.

Got a question for the IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person.

Callers who do get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to someone who will answer only the simplest questions.

"Taxpayers who need help are not getting it, and tax compliance is likely to suffer over the longer term if these problems are not quickly and decisively addressed," said a report Wednesday by agency watchdog Nina E. Olson.

Five bucks says Nina is getting audited this year. A bit more:

Congress cut the IRS by $346 million for the budget year that ends Sept. 30. Koskinen says the agency's $10.9 billion budget is its lowest since 2008. When adjusted for inflation, the budget hasn't been this low since 1998, he said.

That is a whopping 4% cut. We are talking pocket change. If Koskinen is unable to tighten the IRS' belt to compensate for such a pinprick, he does not deserve to be Commissioner. We need to cut their budget by 60% and flatten the entire tax system. Get rid of special interests, crony capitalists and lobbyists.

From the New York Times:

El Capitan’s Dawn Wall: Coverage of the Ascent at Yosemite
Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson have completed “the hardest completed rock climb in the world”:

The Latest
On the 19th day, Caldwell and Jorgeson reached the summit of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall, completing a quest that included years of planning and that many considered the most challenging rock climb in the world.

Dozens of family members and friends greeted the climbers when they reached the top at 3:25 p.m. on a cloudless day.

They are the first to free climb every inch of the 3,000-foot Dawn Wall in a single expedition, long considered impossible, using only their hands and feet to pull themselves up. Ropes were merely safety devices to break the occasional fall. By virtue of its scale and difficulty, the climb was considered by some to be the most difficult ever accomplished.

 A major accomplishment - that record is going to stand for a long long time...

Solar energy - tax scam

Great article at Investors Business Journal:

Solar Subsidies Scam Taxpayers And Homeowners
Solar panels are being installed on the roofs of homes and businesses all across America at a record pace. The fad is the latest way for families to "go green" — the energy equivalent of blue recycling bins.

The Solar Energy Industries Association likes to tout the industry's "amazing success" — but it's holding a "Shout Out For Solar" social media event Friday as it sees an "uncertain future."

That's because its continued success depends on a cascade of government subsidies, including a 30% federal investment credit that expires at the end of 2016.

Guess what? Taxpayers are paying for it — and through the metaphorical roof.

A bit more:

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, plus 11 House colleagues fired off a letter last month to the Federal Trade Commission asking if the booming solar leasing market — a "new industry with a limited track record and little regulatory oversight — poses a "considerable risk" to homeowners.

Some leasing companies "sold large numbers of subprime mortgages to unsuspecting homeowners in the runup to the subprime mortgage crisis," the investigators have found.

California and Louisiana homeowners have filed class-action lawsuits vs. solar leasing companies alleging fraudulent marketing campaigns that don't warn customers of true costs and risks.

Meanwhile, utilities such as Edison International (NYSE:EIX) complain that regulators require them to buy solar power at inflated, money-losing rates. Ultimately they must pass the costs on to other ratepayers.

A few companies are getting very rich and the rest of us are getting hosed. The systems are sold with long-term loans - the systems have a fixed life of 30 years and the batteries need replacement every five or ten (about 20% of the total system cost).

alt.energy is a scam folks. Thorium reactors are the way to go...

Al Gore - prophet of doom

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It's the melting ice caps 'ya know... From Rolf E. Westgard writing at Watts Up With That:

Al Gore, wrong again – Polar ice continues to thrive
In his 2007 Noble Prize acceptance speech, former Vice President  Al Gore warned that the “Arctic ice could be gone in as little as seven years.” Last week, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution reported:

“The North and South Poles are not melting.” In that report, oceanographer Ted Maksym noted that polar ice “is much more stable than climate scientists once predicted and could even be much thicker than previously thought.”

That Woods Hole study was confirmed by today’s NOAA  Arctic radar map which shows the Arctic Ice Cap at more than 4,000,000 square miles, larger than on any December 28 in the past five years. Reaching the North Pole requires either a dog sled or a nuclear sub; Al Gore’s cruise ship will stay in the tropics. At the South Pole,  Antarctic ice coverage is at the highest extent since radar measurement began 35 years ago.

NOAA’s Arctic Report Card; Update for 2014 provides similar data for the Earth’s other big ice sheet, Greenland. Data from the GRACE satellite and other sources has shown an annual average Greenland ice loss of more than 300 billion tons until 2013.  That loss has now dropped sharply by 98% to 6 billion annual tons since mid 2013. A loss of 300 billion tons adds about one millimeter to sea level rise.

All this frigid data parallels the 17 year pause in global land and sea surface temperatures as reported by NASA, NOAA, the UK Climate Research Unit, and the University of Alabama Huntsville Remote Sensing Systems program. That pause is occurring despite our annual release of more than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide(CO2) from burning fossil fuels, especially coal. Half of that CO2 release stays in the atmosphere. But CO2 remains a trace gas, as the atmosphere weighs several quadrillion tons, and a quadrillion is a million times a billion.

The Greenland Ice Sheet melt numbers are especially interesting as they quote the big scary number (300 billion tons (not sure if English or S.I. measurement)) but nobody talks about how much ice is left after the melting.


UPDATE: It is past my bedtime but I am about halfway through looking at the numbers and it looks like the "scary ice melt" is less than 0.001 of the total Greenland Ice Mass.

A lot of data saved to a file and I will be working on this over the weekend (tomorrow and Thursday are busy).

Like this is going to turn out well

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From National Journal:

Obama Backs Government-Run Internet
President Obama will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Wednesday to tout the ability of local governments to provide high-speed Internet to their residents.

And he will urge the Federal Communications Commission to strike down state laws around the country that restrict the ability of cities to build their own broadband networks. The move is likely to draw fire from Republicans, who argue that states should be free to set their own policies—including restrictions on local governments.

"Laws in 19 states—some specifically written by special interests trying to stifle new competitors—have held back broadband access and, with it, economic opportunity," the White House wrote in a fact sheet. "Today, President Obama is announcing a new effort to support local choice in broadband, formally opposing measures that limit the range of options available to communities to spur expanded local broadband infrastructure, including ownership of networks."

Emphasis mine - that is so unconstitutional that the very idea makes my head spin. Please, repeat after me:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

If they were going to so savage the tenth, why not strike down state's Tort Laws - this would make medical insurance a lot cheaper by cutting back on frivolous malpractice suits and the corresponding insurance that physicians have to buy.

What is so wrong with the free market that this administration has to stamp it out every chance they get. If they would only cut taxes and stand out of the way, we could have a vibrant economy again.

In this morning's case it was Point Of Sale and boy-howdy, it was a great demonstration. I had been looking at POS for the grocery store and there are a lot of applications out there but most of them are P.O.S.'s (the other definition).

Was looking at NCR and about to go ahead when I found Toshiba's system. Toshiba does the hardware and LOC (a spin-off) does the software. Excellent stuff. A little bit more expensive but the overall time savings is well worth it.

It is funny that there are so many vendors making tablet and iPhone based systems for retail. These would be fine for a farmers market or a small food truck but no way are they set up to handle a full production environment. I want touch screen for the point-n-click stuff but also dedicated keys for the data entry.

Ran into town after the demo to pick up some window blinds for the new music room as well as get some plywood cut for the acoustic baffles to cut the 'brightness'. I was planning to attend the Mt. Baker Amateur Radio Club meeting tonight but punked out - feeling a bit tired and wanted to head home. The meeting is just starting at 7:00PM and I am two hours away from bed-time.

Speaking truth to power - Venezuela

An excellent development - Maduro will not dare to censor the Church.

From Investors Business Daily:

Venezuela's Bishops Have A Message For Pope Francis on Communism
In a refreshingly powerful and direct statement, Venezuela's bishops Monday blamed "Marxist socialism" and "communism" by name for the horrors and chaos gripping their country, according to a story in El Universal.

The bishops said the long lines of people trying to buy food and other basic necessities and the constant rise in prices are the result of the government's decision to "impose a political-economic system of socialist, Marxist or communist," which is "totalitarian and centralist" and "undermines the freedom and rights of individuals and associations."

The Venezuelan bishops specifically stated that the private sector was critical for the well being of the country. The document, read by Monsignor Diego Padron in Spanish, said the country needs "a new entrepreneurial spirit with audacity and creativity."

So not only did these bishops diagnose the cause of the misery correctly; they also warned that communism harms the poor most of all.

It will be interesting to see Francis' reply as he has his own views of the free market - read this article at the Vatican Insider. It seems pretty obvious that he has never run a business, cut a paycheck or administered a large organization. Let us hope that he listens to the people of Venezuela.

I felt a great disturbance in the Force...

...as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

It is happening today - January 13th, 2015. From PC World:

Windows 7 exits mainstream support: What you need to know
Yet another end is nigh for Windows 7. After months of buildup—Microsoft killed standalone software sales of the operating system in October 2013, and Windows 7 consumer PCs stopped being manufactured in October 2014—the venerable OS is finally exiting “mainstream support” on January 13, 2015. And for months now, the Web has been flooded with a wave of confused or downright fearmongering headlines and articles implying that Windows 7 is following Windows XP into the graveyard.

It's not.

The confusion here stems from Microsoft's maddeningly obtuse naming conventions. Leaving mainstream support only means that Windows 7 won't be receiving any new features or product tweaks, such as the impressing-sounding DirectX 12 gaming technology slated to launch with Windows 10. You won't be able to call Microsoft for free help if you run into an issue with Windows 7 either. 

The critical patches will continue for some time

You'll still receive those oh-so-critical security patches during extended support, meaning that while Windows 7 won't be in active development beyond next January, it won't be tossed to the wolves of the Web, either. Hotfixes will still be provided, too, assuming they're security related. (Business can sign up for an extended hotfix support plan if your company wants hotfix support for non-security issues.) And those security updates will be coming for a long time, too: Extended support for Windows 7 lasts until January 14, 2020.

Five years for MSFT to come to their senses and ditch the colorful clown suit of the Win 8 interface. I use too much software that will only run on Windows so a full switch to Linux is not an option at this point.

Another video from the farm - in the wood shop

I was working in the wood shop and Lulu snuck in with a camera and set it to music:

More farm videos here, here, and here

Hat tip Gerard.

Obama was in Paris after all - picture proof

Photographic evidence that Obama did in fact attend the Paris Solidarity Rally:


A list of people who did attend:

  • Albania — Prime Minister Edi Rama
  • Algeria — Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra
  • Austria — Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz
  • Belgium — Prime Minister Charles Michel
  • Benin — President Thomas Boni Yayi
  • Britain — Prime Minister David Cameron
  • Bulgaria — Prime Minister Boyko Borisov
  • Canada — Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney
  • Croatia — Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic
  • Czech — Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka
  • Denmark — Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
  • Gabon — President Ali Bongo Ondimba
  • Georgia — Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili
  • Germany — Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Greece — Prime Minister Antonis Samaras
  • Hungary — Prime Minister Viktor Orban
  • Israel — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
  • Italy — Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
  • Jordan — King Abdullah II and Queen Rania
  • Latvia — Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma
  • Mali — President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
  • Niger — President Mahamadou Issoufou
  • Palestine — President Mahmud Abbas
  • Portugal — Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho
  • Romania — President Klaus Iohannis
  • Russia — Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
  • Spain — Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
  • Switzerland — President Simonetta Sommaruga
  • The Netherlands — Prime Minister Mark Rutte
  • Tunisia — Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa
  • Turkey — Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
  • United Arab Emirates — Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan
  • Ukraine — President Petro Poroshenko
  • European Commission — President Jean-Claude Juncker
  • European Parliament — President Martin Schulz
  • European Union — President Donald Tusk
  • NATO — Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Empty chair? This:

Hat tip to Denny for the list and image

The CENCOM hack

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Inside job - no proof yet but that is my bet.

About the hack.

To the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars - from RUTHFULLY YOURS:

The original article is at the Wall Street Journal but is locked behind a stupid paywall.

Hillary’s Half-Baked Haiti Project: Mary A. O’Grady
On the fifth anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti remains a poster child for waste, fraud and corruption in the handling of aid. Nowhere is the bureaucratic ineptitude and greed harder to accept than at the 607-acre Caracol Industrial Park, a project launched by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with U.S. taxpayer money, under the supervision of her husband Bill and his Clinton Foundation.

Between the State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which hands out grants to very poor countries thanks to U.S. generosity, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on this park in an attempt to attract apparel manufacturers. But the park is falling far short of the promises made to provide investors with necessary infrastructure. If things continue this way, frustrated investors will look for greener pastures.

Successful industrial parks are built by people who know the business and who demand accountability. This park was put in the hands of State, the IDB and Bill Clinton. The results have been predictable.

I had been warned about Caracol going to the dogs by sources on the ground in Haiti. So last month I traveled east by truck from Cap Haitien, across the poor rural north of the country to see if the alarm was justified. I found a project in trouble. It can be saved, but only if it is handed over to professionals with skin in the game.

On paper Caracol makes sense. Thanks to special trade legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in Dec. 2006, Haitian-sewn apparel enters the U.S. duty free and the manufacturers can use fabric purchased from anywhere in the world. This gives Haiti a big advantage over apparel exporters to the U.S. who have to source the fabric in the U.S. even if they sew overseas. With lower wages than in many Asian markets and proximity to North America, Haitian-based producers have comparative advantages that might offset the country’s low productivity.

The State Department initially promised that the park would be able to support 65,000 direct jobs by 2020. The Clinton Foundation has made similar statements. That means constructing 40 10,000 square-meter buildings for garment assembly. It won’t happen at the current pace.

Another perfect example of big government getting in the way of progress. The Haitians want the work, the Korean company has the jobs, they just need the buildings. The government is piddling the development money away and not building.

Another day in paradise...

Downright spooky - Pulsar J1906

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From Popular Science:

A Star Just Got Swallowed By A Warp In Space-Time
A star has slipped out of view thanks to the space-time warp it creates as it orbits.

The disappearing star is part of a binary star system called J1906. It's a pulsar, which means it's a rotating neutron star, the result of a massive star collapsing in on itself. Researchers have been studying the young pulsar for five years to determine what kind of companion star was orbiting around it. That is, until recently, when the pulsar vanished.

As a pulsar rotates, it emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation, sort of like light coming from a lighthouse. Scientists use radio telescopes that pick up on the pulses coming from the star. But as scientists watched J1906, the pulsar began to slip off the radar. It seems that as the pulsar spins around its companion star, the mass of the companion star makes it sink into a dip in space-time, so that its radio waves can no longer reach Earth. The concept is called geodetic precession, which, according to NASA, uses Einstein’s theory of relativity to understand how massive objects like the Earth curve the space around them, influencing the local space-time fabric.

They have an animation of the precession here:

Precession is what makes a gyroscope wobble around when it is spinning.

YES! There is a Santa Claus - Ted Cruise

From the UK Guardian:

Republican senator Ted Cruz to oversee Nasa in Congress
Senator Ted Cruz will chair the committee that oversees science and Nasa in the new Republican-controlled Congress, raising fears that the conservative Texan will cut funding to the space agency and science programs.

Cruz’s appointment to the space, science and competitiveness subcommittee comes amid a broad shift of power in the Senate, where the GOP won a majority in the 2014 midterm elections. Cruz was the top Republican on the subcommittee before the elections.

He has publicly stated support for Nasa but has also attempted at least once to cut the agency’s funding, arguing that larger government cuts necessitated changes to the space program’s budget. In 2013, Cruz both tried to reduce Nasa’s budget and said: “It’s critical that the United States ensure its continued leadership in space.”

Cruz has constituents invested in the space agency’s future – for instance, Nasa employees and contractors at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Cruz has also spoken out against decades of science that indicate climate change, telling CNN last year that in “the last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming” to support “a so-called scientific theory”. His vociferous opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his support of extreme budget cuts could spell trouble for Nasa’s less prominent programs, such as its own climate research and sophisticated supercomputers.

Cruises' interest in budget cutting is the top-down bloated bureaucracy of NASA and not the science being done. I love that he is a realist when it comes to global warming (of which we have seen non for the last eighteen years). NASA needs to allow more private competition and access to facilities. The idea that Obama killed the shuttle and we have to bum rides to space from the Russians is unthinkable.

And, we seem to have a trifecta of sorts - the article also mentions this:

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, was named chair to the subcommittee on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries and coast guard, which oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the protection of oceans and marine life in US jurisdiction. Rubio has said he does not “believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate”, which is a more lenient position than the new chair of the environment committee, Jim Inhofe, who denies climate science outright.

I love it!

Global Warming? Not so much.

It's more about the government benjamins and keeping them flowing. From National Review Online:

Retired climate professor admits global warming will not destroy Earth
A retired professor and glacier expert has publicly declared global warming a good thing. He also refuses to go along with many of his scientific peers who he says have urged him to be in lockstep with former Vice President Al Gore – “the drum major in the parade denouncing global warming as an unmitigated disaster.”

Apparently when science professors retire, they finally get to say what’s really on their mind.

“You will never read or hear any of this from the scientific and political establishments,” Dr. Terry Hughes, professor emeritus of earth sciences and climate change at the University of Maine, told The College Fix. “I’m now retired, so I have no scientific career to protect by spreading lies.”

He said he thinks dire global warming predictions are really all about lassoing federal research funding and votes. 

“Too many (the majority) of climate research scientists are quite willing to prostitute their science by giving these politicians what they want,” the glaciologist added.

His reasons for why global warming is a good thing, Hughes told the Capital Journal, is that “atmospheric CO2 would greatly increase agricultural production,” “thawing permafrost would increase by one-seventh Earth’s landmass open to extensive human habitation,” and “if the sea level did rise, there would be a global economic boom,” among other arguments.

Makes perfect sense to me...

A day of sloth rest

Lulu's nephew is still tired from his trip here - he was living in Guam and it was a 21 hour flight from Guam to Hawaii and then to Bellingham.

The barn has been fine for the last couple of years - it can wait another week...

Breakfast was good - starting to finish off the trim pieces.

Long day today

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Lulu, her nephew Jim and I will be mucking out the critter barn this afternoon. Heading out for breakfast in the town of Glacier first - gotta get some ballast first when shoveling several hundred pounds of llama poop. I should make a sign labeling it as the Augean Stables,

I'll be working on the cabinet finishing the trim pieces - almost ready for final assembly!

Organizing the garage is next - stuff has piled up there a bit too much...

Nikon history

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I have been shooting Nikon cameras for the last forty-five years - flirted with a Leica for a while but didn't like the design. Still have my two old Nikon F2sb's with motor drives - ran a lot of Kodachrome 25 through them!

Ran into this website earlier tonight - Nikon Recollections—Long-selling products, historical products and technologies

Fascinating look at some of Nikon's early products. Well worth reading for those into photography or science. They made a lot of non-camera stuff too.

Cool technology - Disney's Beach Bot

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This is cute!

Socialism just keeps getting better and better - ideas so good they have to be mandatory.

From Bloomberg:

Venezuelans Throng Grocery Stores Under Military Protection
Shoppers thronged grocery stores across Caracas today as deepening shortages led the government to put Venezuela’s food distribution under military protection.

Long lines, some stretching for blocks, formed outside grocery stores in the South American country’s capital as residents search for scarce basic items such as detergent and chicken.

“I’ve visited six stores already today looking for detergent -- I can’t find it anywhere,” said Lisbeth Elsa, a 27-year-old janitor, waiting in line outside a supermarket in eastern Caracas. “We’re wearing our dirty clothes again because we can’t find it. At this point I’ll buy whatever I can find.”

Central planning, no free market and putting lots of people on the dole - recipe for disaster and it only hurts the citizens, the politicians are exempt from their own decisions.

From the National Review Online:

‘I AM NOT CHARLIE’: Leaked Newsroom Emails Reveal Al Jazeera Fury over Global Support for Charlie Hebdo
As journalists worldwide reacted with universal revulsion at the massacre of some of their own by Islamic jihadists in Paris, Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide email.

“Please accept this note in the spirit it is intended — to make our coverage the best it can be,” the London-based Khadr wrote Thursday, in the first of a series of internal emails leaked to National Review Online. “We are Al Jazeera!”

Below was a list of “suggestions” for how anchors and correspondents at the Qatar-based news outlet should cover Wednesday’s slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office (the full emails can be found below).

Somebody got their knickers in a bunch... Good!

Lazy day today

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Lulu is coming out in an hour or so - her nephew is in town visiting so it will be fun to meet him.

Putting another coat of poly on the trim molding and some more paint on the synth cabinet - looking at final assembly in a few days.

Grab a sammich for a late lunch and back to work...

Je ne suis pas Charlie - an update

Everyone has been plastering this (I am Charlie) on their websites:


War on Guns has rephrased this - a much better sentiment when dealing with those scum:


I am not Charlie
I am armed

There were Police at the Charlie Hebdo office but they were not armed. This would have made a huge difference.


Website here: Paul Stankard

Video produced by the Museum of Glass

The Belgian branch of Anonymous released this video yesterday:

Google translate from this news article:

On Twitter, the hacker group issued a "message to the enemies of freedom of expression": "Expect a massive frontal response from us." On the site Pastebin (click here), Anonymous, initially, present their condolences to "the families of the victims of this cowardly and despicable act."

Then, the group warns.. "Anonymous will never leave this right violated by obscurantism and mysticism We will fight always and everywhere the enemies of freedom of expression (...) Freedom of expression and opinion is a non-negotiable thing to tackle it is to attack democracy. Expect a massive frontal reaction from us because the struggle for the defense of those freedoms is the foundation of our movement."

We still do not know the exact content of these reprisals, however, it can be assumed that Anonymous will attack sites or fundamentalist terrorist organizations and their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The islamists are avid users of social media but they do not have the basic skills to harden their websites.

Anonymous will damage their reputation where it hurts - in the public eye. I can think of any number of images to use to replace the home pages...

Union end-game for workers

Here is what a strong labor union can do - from India's IBN Live:

Government fires employee who skipped work for 24 years
AK Verma, an executive engineer at the Central Public Works Department, was fired after last appearing for work in December 1990.

"He went on seeking extension of leave, which was not sanctioned, and defied directions to report to work," the government said in a statement on Thursday.

Even after an inquiry found him guilty of "willful absence from duty" in 1992, it took another 22 years and the intervention of a cabinet minister to remove him, the government said.

India's labor laws, which the World Bank says are the most restrictive anywhere, make it hard to sack staff for any reason other than criminal misconduct.

States, led by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, have recently changed the law to make it easier to hire and fire staff, in a move welcomed by industry leaders but opposed by labor unions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cracked down on rampant absenteeism by making New Delhi bureaucrats sign in at work using a fingerprint scanner. The results are publicly available online - at www.attendance.gov.in - in real time.

I have heard anecdotally that the railroad system is particularly corrupt. Fitting then that the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (and budding pornographer) - Rajendra K. Pachauri got his start with the Indian Railroad system.

She sees this evil for what it is - an excellent essay:

Cut the Crap: The problem is islam, and it has to be exterminated. Period.
So, a little review for those of you who may be new.

1.  Islam is a political system, NOT a religion, and unless and until humanity wakes the hell up and STOPS referring to it as a religion, there is no hope.  Islam is a hyper-aggressive, militaristic, expansionist, totalitarian political system designed to create a super-rich micro-oligarchical ruling class with a massive, destitute, genetically handicapped underclass below.  The paper-thin faux-religious facade was a conscious, specific con from the very beginning – much like Mormonism and Scientology – a pure racket using borrowed and piggy-backed religious motifs to lend credibility to a massive, loosely-knit network of crime syndicate cells.

Here is a quote from Osama bin Laden that sums it all up:

“Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue; one that demands our total support, with power and determination, with one voice, and it is: Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam: [1] either willing submission [conversion]; or [2] payment of the jizya, through physical, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam; or [3] the sword, for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die.”
–Osama Bin Laden
(The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 42)

Definition of suzerainty: a situation in which a region or people is a compulsory tributary to a more powerful entity, which controls its foreign affairs while allowing the tributary vassal state internal autonomy.

Please note that the quote above makes perfectly clear that islam DOES NOT CARE IF YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVE ANY OF THEIR FAUX-RELIGIOUS BULLSHIT OR NOT – BECAUSE THAT’S NOT THE POINT.  All that matters is EARTHLY submission and control of landmass.  All of that five-times-per-day sticking one’s butt in the air while some bisexual shrieks about a non-existent pagan moon deity over a loudspeaker is not “prayer”.  It is an outward sign of submission to the musloid political system.  NOTHING more.  It’s a gang signal.  It’s a salute.

Islam isn’t about “allah” or “paradise” or “prayer” or “spirituality” or how human beings should relate to one another or how human beings should relate to a “god” or the eternal fate of the human soul. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT ANY OF THAT. Islam is about acquiring physical, earthly territory and installing a totalitarian government over the earth that provides a cadre of “elites” masquerading as some sort of “clergy” with massive decadent wealth and as much twisted perverted sex as they want, including homosexual and heterosexual pedohilia, ephebophilia, concubinage, incest, bestiality and necrophilia. There is nothing new under the sun. They want power, they want money and they want sex. The “religious” aspects are a stone-cold con, which Bin Laden himself declared in no uncertain terms.

 Four more points at the site - spot on.

Here, Ann reads some passages she bookmarked in her Koran:


RIP - Bill Boeing Jr.

Son of Boeing founder William Boeing Senior. From The Everett Herald:

William Boeing Jr., son of company's founder, dies at 92
William E. Boeing Jr., a son of aerospace pioneer William Boeing Sr. who championed and remained fascinated by flight throughout his life, has died at age 92.

He died Wednesday night at his home in Seattle, said Mike Bush, a spokesman for The Museum of Flight, which Boeing Jr. helped create. The cause was not immediately known.

Boeing Jr. did not work at his father's company; he pursued a career in commercial real estate. But he nevertheless witnessed how the airplane maker helped transform Seattle from a backwater frontier town to an aerospace hub in the early part of the 20th century, and he became a champion of the industry and aerospace education.

The Museum of Flight is downright amazing - I visited every couple of months as they were building it.

92 is a good run these days - Bill was a class act.

OMFG - Object of Desire

If I had more money than brains, I would be heading to Florida in two weeks for this auction:

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 F-Code Sedan
The Only 4-Door F-Code Known to Exist


 This unassuming 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 may look mundane, but its story begins with the cross-breeding that occurred between NASCAR and the illicit liquor trade – bootlegging, that is; moonshine.

The horsepower races of the mid-'50s saw NASCAR homologate multiple carburetion, fuel injection and supercharging, all of which moonshiners immediately adopted in the quest to stay out of revenuers’ clutches. One such character, who shall remain anonymous, bought and paid cash for this 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 but was hauled off to jail before he could take delivery. It languished on the dealer’s lot for a year before it found another buyer who, shocked by the car’s terrible gas mileage, had the dealer remove the supercharger.

As luck would have it, when veteran NASCAR team manager and Penske Racing South co-founder Don Miller first examined the car near Wilkesboro, North Carolina, he also found the discarded blower and all its related pieces – even the original drive belts – in a barrel inside a barn on the seller’s property. That was in 1999; in the following years Miller was able to track the car’s story through contacts inside Ford, who were able to give him the startling news that this unobtrusive sedan with the two-tone Grey paint was in reality the only four-door F-code Fairlane 500 known to exist, and that it had been purchased new for the specific mission of shipping “white lightning” to the original buyer’s clients.

“That was fully the intention, to be used for moonshining,” Miller recently told Hemmings Muscle Machines, “It was the car with the most horsepower, and at the same time, the car you’d least likely to identify as a tanker.”

The Ford’s four-door configuration was perfect for quickly loading and unloading the intended illicit cargo, and its two-tone Gunmetal and Woodsmoke Gray paint and brocaded interior would have virtually guaranteed stealthy runs, but it was the F-code engine that made it so unique. It took Miller 10 years to complete the car’s restoration, and the results are impressive.

The F-code Thunderbird's Paxton-McCullough supercharger is back pumping compressed air into the single Holley four-barrel atop the rebuilt 312 CI V-8 that was bored .030 over and now displaces 317 CI. The heavy-duty 3-speed transmission with overdrive and 3.70:1 9-inch rear end are also on duty. Finding all the rare exterior trim pieces and the correct brocade material for the interior were just two of the many important pieces of the puzzle, but Don Miller’s patience and persistence paid off in a marvelous restoration Miller was determined to properly execute once he knew this F-code's incredible story. That determination shows in every detail of this one-of-a-kind Ford known as the “Likker Tanker.”

This is a gorgeous vehicle with an amazing history. Planning on opening a distillery in the next five years - I could see this as the marketing 'vehicle' as it were...

Sadly, no. It sure would be a fun drive back...

Reminds me of the renascence of wooden boat building in the Seattle area during prohibition. Booze was legal in Canada and the bootleggers ran their product in by boat. The revenuers commissioned a faster boat. Next year, the bootleggers commissioned an even faster one and the race was on. A local Radio and Television powerhouse (KING-5) got their start by broadcasting certain tunes at certain times to tell the boats which harbor to use - where the pickup truck was.

Gorgeous day today

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Got up to 43.3°F this afternoon - got some hay out to the critters.

Did a quick run into town - in town tomorrow possibly to pick up a special order of acoustic tile (see if they are in yet).

Gorgeous sunset tonight - I will have to look tomorrow and go out and take some photos. Nice long Golden Hour on the mountains.

The days are starting to get longer as well - usable light well after 5:00PM

Sir SPAM-a-lot

I had commented mid-December 2014 about an uptick in email spam. It then got quiet for two weeks around Christmas and has now taken off again.

Just for the hell of it, I decided to keep track today and within about 24 hours, I received 109 legitimate emails and 115 SPAM.

I can see some clueless ninny getting sold the idea of Internet Marketing but who would ever purchase a product that was advertised using SPAM. I mean think about it for a few seconds - seeing an announcement for some winery coming in uninvited really makes me want to try their product. NOT!!!

Number 779 is officially on the map

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This sounded like a fun project so I signed up to be a monitoring station. Check out FNET - from their About page:

About FNET
Operated by the Power Information Technology Laboratory at the University of Tennessee, FNET is a low-cost, quickly deployable GPS-synchronized wide-area frequency measurement network. High dynamic accuracy Frequency Disturbance Recorders (FDRs) are used to measure the frequency, phase angle, and voltage of the power system at ordinary 120 V outlets. The measurement data are continuously transmitted via the Internet to the FNET servers hosted at the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech. The Power IT Lab has developed several applications which use the FNET data to study the power system, including:

  • Event detection and location
  • Oscillation detection
  • Animations of frequency and angle perturbations
  • Integration of renewables into the power grid
  • Detection of system breakup or islanding
  • Prediction of grid instability and reduction of blackouts
  • Providing grid control input signals 

The online display can be found here: U.S. Frequency Gradient Map I am the little dot due East of Bellingham close to the Canadian border.


A pane in the Glass

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Have two windows with substantial cracks in them. The glass people are out today replacing them - it will be nice to not have to worry about one of the dogs hitting them and breaking them further.

Got preliminary reports of a 4.8 quake near Tofino, Vancouver Island. The quake was only 24km deep so it will be felt on the surface.

This does not seem to be related to the Cascadia subduction zone which has been very quiet recently and is overdue for a major quake.

From The Vancouver Sun:

Earthquake strikes off west coast of Vancouver Island
The federal agency that monitors earthquakes in Canada says a 4.6 magnitude quake has hit off Vancouver Island's west coast.

Earthquakes Canada says the quake hit just after 6 p.m. local time about 13 kilometers east of Tofino.

The agency says no tsunami is expected and there are no reports of damage.

The United States Geological Survey says the quake's depth was 24 kilometers.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne says the quake was the strongest she has felt since she has lived in the community and it lasted about one or two seconds.

Earthquakes are common off the B.C. coast, where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate meets the Pacific tectonic plate, but few are large enough to be felt by people.

Not IF but WHEN.

Faster please - Thorium in the news

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From Forbes:

Nuclear Power Turns To Salt
Today, the United States Department of Energy announced that its Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee is partnering with Canadian nuclear company Terrestrial Energy Inc. (TEI) to assist with TEI’s new Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). The engineering blueprint stage for this GenIV reactor should be reached in two years. The reactor should come online in less than ten.

Think of it: a nuclear reactor that

    • is cheaper than coal
    • creates much less waste and few long-lived radioactive elements
    • uses almost all of the fuel which lasts 7 years between replacement, and can be recycled easily
    • is modular, from 80 MWt to 600 MWt, able to be combined and adapted to individual needs for both on and off-grid heat and power
    • is small enough to allow fast and easy construction, and trucking to the site
    • operates at normal pressures, removing those safety issues, and at higher temperatures making it more energetically efficient
    • has the type of passive safety systems that make it walk-away safe
    • does not need external water for cooling
    • can load-follow rapidly to buffer the intermittency of renewables
    • cannot be repurposed for military use and has strong proliferation resistance
    • can last for many decades
    • uses a liquid fuel

Now that is different!

Nuclear power has been biding its time, waiting for the new round of reactors to bring the industry into the 21st Century so we can address our numerous environmental and energy challenges. This announcement is a good step in that direction.

Thorium does not go Ka-Boom so nuclear companies that were also invested in selling nuclear bomb parts (General Electric and Raytheon) had zero interest in developing a second processing chain.

Line item #3: uses almost all of the fuel is often overlooked. Uranium reactors poison the fuel after about 30% of it has been consumed. It is those isotopes that require the 10,000+ year sequestration. What is really neat is that the Thorium reactors can process this waste and burn up the worlds existing waste stores and use them as additional fuel.

It is almost like this was put out here for us to discover... More faster please!

Someone tried to comment on this post from 2005 where I had a horrible experience with a U-Haul rental trailer. My closing line was:

I have rented trailers from that U-Haul several times before for moving milk tanks and other equipment. I will not be renting from them ever again...

Well, it is a few months away from being nine years and I have not rented anything from U-Haul since then. I broke down and bought two trailers and also discovered the wonderful Fountain Rentals in Bellingham - in business since 1947. Family owned and run.

Treat customers well and they will remain loyal. Lie to them and they will drop you like a hot stone.

From The Washington Free Beacon:

State Dept. Can’t Explain Why Cuba Isn’t Fulfilling Promises Made in Obama Deal
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki repeatedly refused to answer questions this afternoon about the 53 political detainees Cuba promised to release as part of a deal with President Obama to normalize relations with the United States.

When asked about a lack of transparency in the prisoner exchange process, Psaki said, “Well, we know who’s on there. And the Cuban government knows who’s on there.”

The Cuban government hasn’t exactly been a model for transparency the last half century. Included in his deal with Cuba, Obama announced two weeks ago that the U.S. government had released three Cuban spies. The lack of progress in freeing the Cuban political prisoners increases the scrutiny on that White House decision.

After Psaki stated that she had no updates to provide, a befuddled Matt Lee asked, “Hold on — hold on a second. Can we — I mean, is it — what’s happening? Are they out? Are they not out? … Where are they?”

Psaki responded, “I don’t have any more updates to provide for you, Matt.”

So we gave them all that they asked for and they are giving us nothing. They see us as a bunch of clueless pussies and they are absolutely correct.

Assholes stormed a publishers office and murdered 12 people. The reason? These people published a comedy magazine that poked fun at Mohamed (as well as everyone else).

From the BBC:

Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12
Gunmen have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.

Four of the magazine's well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers.

A major police operation is under way to find three gunmen who fled by car.

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack "of exceptional barbarity".

A bit more:

Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" in Arabic ("Allahu Akbar").

I think that the backlash to this will be a force of nature - from the London Daily Mail:

Standing together in defiance, thousands gather across France to show support for 12 people slaughtered by 'Al Qaeda' gunmen in attack on Paris magazine as manhunt for terrorists continues
Thousands of people gathered across Europe tonight to show their support to an anti-Islamist newspaper, after its offices in Paris were targeted today by suspected Al Qaeda militants who massacred 12 people.

Among those slaughtered was a police officer as he begged for mercy.

Masked attackers brandishing Kalashnikovs burst into the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, opening fire on staff after seeking out journalists by name in France's deadliest post-war terrorist attack.

Clad all in black with hoods and speaking flawless French, the militants forced one of the cartoonists - who was at the office with her young daughter - to open the door.

Witnesses said the gunmen were heard shouting 'we are from the Al Qaeda in Yemen', 'the Prophet has been avenged' and 'Allahu akbar!' – Arabic for 'God is great' – as they stalked the building.

They headed straight for the paper's editor and cartoonist, Stephane Charbonnier, killing him and his police bodyguard, who had been recruited to protect him after extremists firebombed the offices in 2011 over a satirical cartoon about the Prophet Mohamed.

A year later, Mr Charbonnier famously dismissed threats against his life, declaring: 'I would rather die standing than live kneeling.'

The militants also killed three other renowned cartoonists – men who had regularly satirised Islam – and the newspaper's deputy chief editor.

The citizens of France (and everywhere) are getting tired of hosting these people who will not assimilate into French culture but demand that France bends to their will.

One of the comments tot his article was really good:

Take a good look at this America (not the citizens, I mean those in power) and see what you have created from setting up Al Qaeda to manipulate the national affairs of other countries. Now EVERYONE else is paying the price for that - your citizens, our citizens, France and Australia. And how much are your war corporations and banks making out of it? Been doing very well from war haven't they? Well done for putting money over OUR lives.

Barry? Your response?

From CNS News:

Record CO2 Coincides With Record-Breaking Crop Yields, 'Greening of Globe'
Eight years after the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of mass starvation from global warming caused by high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), emissions of the greenhouse gas are at record levels. But so is worldwide crop production.

Some numbers:

The monthly CO2 average in November 2014 was 397.13 parts per million as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which maintains “the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The level of atmospheric CO2 was 315.97 ppm in 1959, when it was first measured, and is now about 40 percent higher than it was during the pre-industrial era.

Some more numbers:

However, according to a report also released in November by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, “world cereal production in 2014 is forecast at a new record of 2,532 million tonnes… 7 million tonnes (0.3 percent) above last year’s peak.”  That includes a record level of wheat production worldwide, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Atmospheric CO2 increased 14 percent between 1982 and 2010, coinciding with a “5 to 10 percent increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments,” according to a June 2013 study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Geophysical Research Letters. The study stated that the CO2 “fertilization effect is now a significant land surface process” and has created “a greening of the globe over recent decades.”

That greening effect includes a growth spurt among redwoods and giant sequoias in California.

“Since the 1970s we’ve seen an increase in wood production and that’s making these trees get even bigger than they were growing earlier in the 20th century,” said Emily Burns, director of science at Save the Redwoods League, who added that the accelerated growth winds up naturally sequestering the additional carbon.

Much more at the site.

People need to remember that Carbon Dioxide is a critical component to photosynthesis and without it, there would be no plant life on this Earth. Carbon is our friend and anyone who says different is either willfully stupid or has a different agenda.

From Slate:

Against Hoppy Beer
As a beer writer, I often find myself preaching the word about craft beer to people who don’t want to hear it. There are a lot of Bud Light fans and people who’d rather sip a zinfandel, even in the craft beer capital of the world, Portland, Ore., where I live. So when a homebrewer friend recently decided to visit my husband and me from Tennessee, I was excited to spend time with a kindred spirit, someone with whom I could share my favorite brews without having to make a hard sell. The first brewery I took him to was Hopworks Urban Brewery, where I ordered us a pitcher of the Velvet English session beer.

After a few sips, I noticed that he had pushed away his glass. “I’m sorry, guys,” he said when he noticed our puzzled expressions. “This is just way too hoppy for me.”

I was floored. Session beer is light and drinkable—it’s called session beer because you’re supposed to be able to drink several over the course of a drinking session without ruining your palate. If one of my favorite session beers was too hoppy and bitter for an avid beer drinker—for a homebrewer who is currently brewing beer to serve at his own wedding—what would he think of the famed Pacific Northwest IPAs? Do friends let friends drink only pilsners?

That’s when I realized that I had a problem. In fact, everyone I know in the craft beer industry has a problem: We’re so addicted to hops that we don’t even notice them anymore.

Finally! I used to drink a reasonably hoppy beer - Arrogant Bastard from Stone Brewing Company - but beers these days have been hopped beyond all good taste. The brewers and customers are one-upping each other and people are blindly going along with this. My favorite beer for the last ten years? Shiner Bock

A new music video with Lulu and Me

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Third in a series of videos about life on the farm, here is a little music video that Lulu and I whipped up a few days ago:



Other two here and here.

Cabinet photos

Should have this wrapped up by this weekend and have the synthesizer set up.

Here are a few photos:


These are the dozen casters I installed instead of using some polyethylene cutting board for a skid material. Much better and they were only $6 each at Grizzly tools. The new flooring looks gorgeous. This makes the room very 'live' acoustically but I have some sound-absorbing board on order at Lowe's (Owens-Corning type 703).



Here is an overall view of the cabinet. Again, the two synthesizer cabinets total a bit over eight feet in width so I could not use standard plywood for the cabinet. Was able to order some four by ten foot sheets from a local vendor. This gave me space for five racks to mount my other music stuff. The racks are an international standard and were originally developed for telephone equipment.



Here is a detail showing a couple of pieces mounted in the rack bays. I still need to line everything up, screw it together and give another couple coats of paint. The plywood edges look really raw but I have some nice oak molding drying in the garage - stained it dark maple and finished it with polyurethane varnish. The oval light spots at the bottom are holes for KREG fasteners - absolutely bullet-proof system for building cabinets. Given the dimensions of the room, this cabinet cannot be moved out - it will have to be dismantled in place so glue and biscuits are not an option...

Not so spontaneous - carefully planned by marxists and ideologues. From Weasel Zippers whose website has recovered from a ddos attack:

EXCLUSIVE: Read The ‘For Blacks Only’ Handbook Used By #BlackBrunch Activists
On Saturday and Sunday morning in California and New York, activists from the Black Lives Matter group invaded numerous eateries shouting, harassing customers and screaming anti-police rhetoric. Their stated goal was to impress upon people of all races the struggles of what it’s like to be black in America. Unfortunately for them, their cause was mostly ignored and in many cases mocked by patrons and social media.

In a document obtained by me, activists outline their plans for disrupting businesses, assigning members of their group to stall and talk with store owners and management.  They assign various persons the tasks of taking photos, shooting video, interacting with police and ensuring the safety of illegal and disruptive demonstrations.

Furthermore, the document goes on to outline the exact nature of the struggle that the# BlackLivesMatter group feels it is involved in presently, including among other things, how this document is not to be shared via social media and should only be read by those who are of African-American descent.

The full document can be found here (PDF).

UPDATE: From Weasel Zippers:

Today #BlackLivesMatter Imploded
Bumping our #BlackLivesMatter’s posts from the past day, as apparently they angered someone enough to commit a crime against us. So here, a big finger in your eyes to the attackers, “information is free”. When you are so desperate that you commit federal offenses, then yes, you prove our point about “imploding”…

In the beginning of Occupy, there were some normal, non-radical folk that came out to the protests. People were upset about bailouts and thought that this was what the protest was about. But there was a point at about two months in, where the normal people figured out what Occupy was all about, and the normal people left. What was left was the organizing radicals who were not there because of bailouts but were there for revolution, for anti-U.S., anti-capitalism.

We’re at that point today with #BlackLives Matter. It has never been about #BlackLivesMatter, anymore than Occupy was about bailouts. It is about the same thing Occupy was about – revolution and anarcho-communism. Small wonder, as the same people are behind it.

Same silly morons, different code words. I wonder if DSM-VI will have entries for cultural marxism and anarcho-communism.

Specialized stuff but fascinating reading. From Jack Ganssle:

Hardware and Firmware Issues in Using Ultra-Low Power MCUs
Today many of us are building ultra-low power embedded systems that must run for years off a battery. The idea is that these systems are nearly always in a deep sleep mode, waking from time to time to do something before going back to sleep. Many vendors of microcontrollers (MCUs) claim their products can run like this for decades from a coin cell.

These claims are mostly bogus.

This report describes the hardware and firmware issues one must consider when designing very low-power coin-cell products. There are a lot of nuances; even decoupling capacitor selection can hugely influence battery life. The report also gives data from which one can predict what sort of battery lifetimes are achievable.

An analysis of an area of electronic design that is not covered in textbooks. Much more at his website.

A bit of fun in Seattle - Bertha

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From the Bellingham Herald:

Law is clear: Bertha overruns are not state burden
The attempt to run a highway underneath downtown Seattle has become such a fiasco that it may come to rival Boston’s Big Dig in notoriety.

Part of the fiasco is the effort to wriggle out of the Legislature’s 2009 decision to cap the state’s risk at $2.8 billion. In plain English, lawmakers specified that further overruns would be borne by those who stood to profit handsomely from the project, which is to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct that carries state Route 99 through Seattle.

That overrun protection is becoming increasingly important as Bertha — the massive drill boring the tunnel — remains stuck 60 feet underground with the meter running. A year ago December, Bertha ground to a halt a ninth of the way into its 1.7-mile journey. The $80 million machine now needs an expensive overhaul, and the most optimistic estimate for the project’s completion has slipped from November 2016 to August 2017.

It’s hard at this point to figure out who’s to blame. We want to believe it’s the Japanese manufacturer or the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, as opposed to the state Department of Transportation. STP appears to have ignored a clearly marked steel pipe on the route, which Bertha hit.

If the blunder belongs to the partnership, it will own the overruns. But people who build tunnels tend to be pretty good at shifting unexpected bills to their government employers.

In the meantime, the tunnel project keeps making headlines in a bad way — cracking walls and a street in Pioneer Square, for example. The delays heighten the risk that the viaduct itself may have to close before the alternative is open, pushing commuters into city streets and Interstate 5 lanes, paralyzing the urban heart of Western Washington.

Fortunately, the State Legislature took some precautions:

Lawmakers anticipated this scenario in 2009 when they specified $2.8 billion as the hard cap on the state’s share of the tunnel. They drew the line there because Seattle’s political leaders had rejected a rebuild of the viaduct, the least expensive option, and pushed for the more expensive tunnel.

But of course, that never stopped a progressive politician fishing for votes:

Seattle leaders have never liked that provision, and they’re liking it less and less as the project’s troubles multiply. State officials who need the city’s votes, including Gov. Jay Inslee, have said the requirement is unenforceable.

And the rest of us in WA State get stuck making a couple corporations and property owners very very rich.

Here we go again - Leap Second

Clocks on June 30th of this year will do an unusual thing - they will count 23:59:58, 23:59:59, 23:59:60 and then 00:00:01

Last time we added a Leap Second was back in 2012 - I had posted here, here and here.

More here - from the UK Telegraph:

Leap second: French time lords add one second to 2015
The year 2015 will be slightly longer after the Paris Observatory announced it was adding a leap second to clocks this summer.

On June 30, dials will read 11:59:60 as clocks hold their breath for a second to allow the Earth’s rotation to catch up with atomic time.

Atomic time is constant, but the Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down by around two thousandths of a second per day.

It is the task of scientists and officials at the International Earth Rotation Service based in France to monitor the planet's rotation and tweak time where necessary. Some years the Earth runs bang on time and no adjustment is needed.

Software companies are already bracing themselves for problems. When the last leap second was added in 2012 Mozilla, Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon all reported crashes and there were problems with the Linux operating system and programmes written in Java.

It will be interesting to see what applications get tripped up this time around... First one was in 1972 and this is the 2015 event is the 26th Leap Second.

From the New York Times:

Harvard Ideas on Health Care Hit Home, Hard
For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.

Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.

The faculty vote came too late to stop the cost increases from taking effect this month, and the anger on campus remains focused on questions that are agitating many workplaces: How should the burden of health costs be shared by employers and employees? If employees have to bear more of the cost, will they skimp on medically necessary care, curtail the use of less valuable services, or both?

Much more at the site. Looks like our cultural elites are finally getting it hard, with no flowers, lube or dinner.

I do not think that these people are qualified to manage my life. The only person qualified to do this is me with some measure of input from Lulu and a close group of friends. These people live in isolation - they have never run a payroll, have never owned a small business, have never had to deal with the consequences of their grand ideas.

From The Oregonian:

Why 'climate change' will not be on our 2015 editorial agenda: Editorial
We asked readers last month to help us choose the six or seven topics that will constitute our 2015 editorial agenda. Readers responded with scores of online comments and dozens of emails and letters to the editor, many of which urged us to focus on climate change, either as a stand-alone agenda item or a core component of an item focusing on environmental issues. These readers will be disappointed when our agenda appears next month.

This omission probably won't surprise many people, as we rarely write about climate change. Still, those who took the trouble to respond to our request for suggestions are owed an explanation. So here goes.

It is well worth remembering that the percentage of the US Population concerned enough about Global Warming to list it as one of their top 20 issues is less than two percent. Climate Change is an agenda-driven ideology and not a scientific fact. Kudos to The Orgonian to recognize this and to agree not to fan the flames.

From The Seattle Times:

Federally funded car charging stations little used
Nissan Leaf owner Will Price of Eugene doesn't need the network of government-provided electric vehicle charging stations that were installed for motorists like him.

Price drives 14 miles to and from work, which is easily within his electric car's 70-mile range, so he ignores the publicly accessible fast-charging units scattered around Eugene-Springfield.

"I never use them," Price said of the public chargers. "They are of no consequence to me."

Most electric vehicle owners have developed the same at-home charging habit, leaving the expensive, taxpayer-funded EV Project network of fast-charging units in Eugene-Springfield unused much of the time.

In the city of Eugene's public parking garages, for example, each public charging unit is used an average of once every two weeks. Springfield officials want seven public charging units removed from downtown because some are little used and others are broken.

Emphasis mine - another perfect example of big government trying to out-guess the competitive market and failing. Light rail? Streetcars? All epic fails.

I would love to have an electric vehicle but Bellingham is too far outside of my range.  Still looking for something to convert for local use (coffee or breakfast in Glacier) but not holding my breath.

Playing Whack-A-Mole in Mexico

From FOX News:

New cartel emerges in Mexico as government dismantles larger drug gangs
A new cartel has emerged in the southern part of the state of Mexico – home to the country’s capital – and has caused worry among federal officials already dealing with widespread violence and corruption stemming from drug traffickers.

Calling itself La Empresa (or the Company, in English), this new cartel is entering a region of the country that is currently seeing the reemergence of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana cartel, Damian Canales Mena, Mexico state’s public safety secretary, said in a press conference, according to El Universal.

As proof that La Empresa is spreading in the Mexican state, Canales Mena pointed to the recent violent death of Bulmaro "El Negro" Blas Salazar, a known drug trafficker, and a sign found from the group stating they won’t tolerate kidnappings or thefts.

Mexico can act 'tough' and disband the cartels but everyone knows that the kingpins are never touched, the money stays in cartel hands and they re-emerge in a few months under a different name. A lot like what we have here with ACORN and A.N.S.W.E.R.

Mexico can get rid of these cartels but it will require cleaning up the government and the military top to bottom and this is something that they do not yet seem to want to address. The corruption is rampant. Until then, they are just doing a P.R. campaign. A careful management of appearances as opposed to an appearance of careful management.

From FOX News:

Sharyl Attkisson sues administration over computer hacking
Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has sued the Justice Department over the hacking of her computers, officially accusing the Obama administration of illegal surveillance while she was reporting on administration scandals. 

In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013. 

"I just think it's important to send a message that people shouldn't be victimized and throw up their hands and think there's nothing they can do and they're powerless," Attkisson said in an interview. 

The department has steadfastly denied any involvement in the hacking, saying in a 2013 statement: "To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never compromised Ms. Attkisson's computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use." 

In the lawsuit and related claims against the Postal Service, filed in Washington, Attkisson says the intruders installed and periodically refreshed software to steal data and obtain passwords on her home and work computers. She also charges that the hackers monitored her audio using a Skype account. 

She is a good and seasoned reporter - I seriously doubt she would even contemplate an action like this if she did not already have the evidence. The discovery process will be a fun trainwreck to watch...

Bill Clinton in the news

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From the London Daily Mail - they seem to cover more of our politics than our Mainstream Media does:

Bill Clinton identified in lawsuit against his former friend and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein who had 'regular' orgies at his Caribbean compound that the former president visited multiple times
A new lawsuit has revealed the extent of former President Clinton's friendship with a fundraiser who was later jailed for having sex with an underage prostitute.

Bill Clinton's relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who served time in 2008 for his illegal sexual partners, included up multiple trips to the onetime billionaire's private island in the Caribbean where underage girls were allegedly kept as sex slaves.

The National Enquirer has released new details about the two men's friendship, which seems to have ended abruptly around the time of Epstein's arrest.

Say what you will about the Enquirer, they have broken a number of key stories in the last twenty years. 

A bit more:

Flight logs pinpoint Clinton's trips on Epstein's jet between the years 2002 and 2005, while he was working on his philanthropic post-presidential career and while his wife Hillary was a Senator for their adopted state of New York.

'I remember asking Jeffrey what's Bill Clinton doing here kind fo thing, and he laughed it off and said well he owes me a favor,' one unidentified woman said in the lawsuit, which was filed in Palm Beach Circuit Court.

The woman went on to say how orgies were a regular occurrence and she recalled two young girls from New York who were always seen around the five-house compound but their personal backstories were never revealed.

Busted... The Enquirer article can be found here: Bill Clinton Underage Sex Lawsuit Shocker!

I really like Representative Gohmert - been following him for the last couple of years. He has the Right Stuff.


Now this could be the start of something big. From Roger L. Simon at PJ Media:

Egypt’s al-Sisi Makes Extraordinary Speech on Islam
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made an extraordinary speech on New Year’s Day to Cairo’s Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry calling for a long overdue virtual ecclesiastical revolution in Islam.  This is something no Western leader has the had the courage to do, certainly not Barack Obama, despite his Muslim education.

Accusing the umma (world Islamic population) of encouraging the hostility of the entire world, al-Sisi’s speech is so dramatic and essentially revolutionary it brings to mind Khrushchev’s famous speech exposing Stalin. Many have called for a reformation of Islam, but for the leader of the largest Arab nation to do so has world-changing implications.

Here are the key parts as translated on Raymond Ibrahim’s blog:

I am referring here to the religious clerics.   We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before.  It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.  It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands. [bolds mine]

Al-Sisi is certainly correct.  The whole world has been waiting for a long time for the next move of these imams or for somebody, anybody that will modernize Islam as other religions have done..  Whether that will happen, of course, is another question, but what al-Sisi is saying here is in many ways more revolutionary than the “Arab Spring.”  People ask, where are the “moderate Muslims”?  Well, one of them may be the president of Egypt. The boys from Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, etc., etc., are probably not too happy about what al-Sisi said.  Let’s hope he doesn’t suffer the fate of Anwar Sadat for his courage.

Like Roger said, the boys from Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, etc., etc., are probably not too happy about what al-Sisi said. They are enjoying their power grab and domination and will not want to give it up.

If al-Sisi survives the next couple of months, it will be a miracle.

That being said, it is about time. We Christians were quite the unruly bunch a thousand years ago. And then, we had something called the Reformation. One can look at the timeline of the Reformation starting around the 1300's through Martin Luther in 1648 - a long and brutal time in our history. The net result of the Reformation was to clear the decks of Church Dogma and to open up Western civilization to the Scientific Method and discovery. It is absolutely zero question that this brought about the Industrial Revolution one hundred years later in the mid-1700's.

Time for our Muslim brethren to get on the bandwagon and host a Reformation of their own. To see a perfect example of what this could do - compare this List of Muslim Nobel Prize laureates with this List of Jewish Nobel Prize laureates. Considering that Muslims represent about 23% of the worlds population and Jews about 0.2% the discrepancy is pretty stark. And then there is this: List of Christian Nobel laureates.

Waking up to snow

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A light dusting of snow on the ground with more gently coming down.

Supposed to warm up later today and turn into heavy rain with 1-2" expected. Needless to say, there are the usual flood/landslide/avy warnings being posted.

The warning has this little cheery bit of information:


Emphasis mine. Well crap - there goes our snow base at Baker...

Heading out for coffee, come back home, top off the bird feeders and continue working on the synth cabinet. Lulu is due back out here sometime today.

An Earth Shattering KaBoom!

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From these people: Silver Creek Materials:



I love watching detcord going off... That and the nice rumble from an ANFO explosion.

Post title? Marvin of course.

Water use in the mid-West - Ethanol

Ethanol is a perfect example of crony capitalism at work. It has raised the price of Corn 400% in the last ten years and is screwing over the environment. Oh yes, it is making a few companies very very rich.

From the Des-Moines, Iowa Des-Moines Register:

State asked to hammer out aquifer protection details
Recommendations designed to better protect the Jordan aquifer will go to the state natural resources agency to spell out the plan's details, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission decided Wednesday.

The commission heard 33 recommendations that a seven-member stakeholder group says would better protect the Jordan aquifer, the source of water to about a half million Iowans and industries that range from data centers to food processing and ethanol production.

The aquifer covers most of Iowa and lies about 2,500 feet below ground in southwestern Iowa and near the surface in northeastern Iowa. The state is considered water-rich, in part because of the aquifer, but officials are concerned about rising demand.

Last year, Iowa cities, companies and other users pulled nearly 26 billion gallons of water from the aquifer, a 72 percent increase from the 1970s, state data show.

"The consumption of water from the Jordan aquifer is a trend that's not sustainable for future generations of users," said Todd Steigerwaldt, manager of the Marion Water Department and leader of the task force appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad.

"We need to monitor use of the Jordan aquifer more closely," he said.

Ethanol accounts for 15% of total useage. Ethanol is a joke - it costs more energy to produce a gallon of it than that gallon will yield in combustion. Looking right at you Archer Daniels Midland...

From Cliff Mass:

Heavy Rain in Our Mountains: The Revenge of Lono
During the past months, warm rain has often buffeted our mountains.  The Cascade snowpack on January 1 is about 50% of normal and skiers are unhappy, with a number of local ski areas still  closed (such as Alpental and Snoqualmie East).   National Weather Service flood advisories have become a way of life.

Most of the warm rain events are associated with what meteorologists call, atmospheric rivers, plumes of warm, moist air moving northward out of the tropics and subtropics.   Ours generally come from around Hawaii, thus their usual name, the Pineapple Express.

But WHY is this happening?   And I mean why, not how.   The answer is clear.   The Northwest has angered Lono.  And things won't get better until we satisfy him.

Who is Lono, you might ask?
Lono is the Hawaiian god of storms, clouds, and rain.  Hawaiians describe him as the "akua po'o huna i ke ao lewa" or the the god whose head is hidden in the clouds. As you can see from this picture, Lono has not been happy lately.   And he is angry at us.

As a scientist, I had to convince myself that Lono is behind our problems.   First, there is the obvious fact that our warmth and rain have been coming directly from his realm, something evident in the satellite and moisture images I have shown on this blog.

 A lot more at the site - Cliff outlines some of the reasons why Lomo might be angry at us and then, Cliff took one for the team and flew to Big Island and:

I went straight from the Kona Airport to an ancient heiau.  I will not describe my supplications to Lono, but they were extensive and heartfelt.

We will see what happens - be sure to keep Cliff in your prayers for what he is having to endure - spending time on Big Island at this time of year when in the Northwest, he could be merrily shivering and dodging raindrops with the rest of us. Now that is SCIENCE dammit!

Went out for coffee this morning and then headed into town to run a few errands.

Having someone trim a tree near my store - came back from town to see that they did excellent work. Very happy.

Unloading the truck and working on the cabinet - Costco is now carrying this Gamma2 Vittles Vault which is a food-grade hermetic storage container that can hold up to 16 gallons by volume. We go through enough rice and grains that these will be nice to have - keep the pantry clean and a bit more organized. I already use their lids on 5Gal buckets (on sale at WinCo) for oat and bean storage. Good stuff!

More posting later tonight - Lulu's friends are spending another night in town so she is staying back to be with them.

Wind power problems in the news

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Wind turbines consume a lot of power - sometimes, it is a lot more than they generate. Case in point from Breitbart:

As Britain Freezes, Wind Farms Take Power From Grid to Prevent Icing
As Britain shivers under a blanket of snow and ice, it has emerged that offshore windfarms have been idling to prevent icing up – and drawing electricity off the national grid to do so. Critics have pointed out the “folly” of having windfarms idle in a cold snap, but industry experts insist that all forms of power generation involve some electrical input.

The issue has been raised by Brian Christley, a resident of Abergele, Wales, who wrote to the Daily Telegraph to say: “Over the weekend just gone, the coldest of the year so far, all 100-plus off-shore wind turbines along the North Wales coast were idling very slowly, all using grid power for de-icing and to power their hydraulic systems that keep the blades facing in the same direction.

“Thanks to Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, we will be subsidising these follies for the next 30 years. And then, if we continue to vote for technically naive green politicians, for further periods after that.”

I had written about energy consumption by wind turbines before here: Windpower's dirty little secret - an excerpt:

Among the wind turbine functions that use electricity are the following:

    • yaw mechanism (to keep the blade assembly perpendicular to the wind; also to untwist the electrical cables in the tower when necessary) -- the nacelle (turbine housing) and blades together weigh 92 tons on a GE 1.5-MW turbine
    • blade-pitch control (to keep the rotors spinning at a regular rate)
    • lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, etc.
    • heating the blades -- this may require 10%-20% of the turbine's nominal (rated) power
    • heating and dehumidifying the nacelle -- according to Danish manufacturer Vestas, "power consumption for heating and dehumidification of the nacelle must be expected during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds"
    • oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in gearbox
    • hydraulic brake (to lock the blades in very high wind)
    • thyristors (to graduate the connection and disconnection between generator and grid) -- 1%-2% of the energy passing through is lost
    • magnetizing the stator -- the induction generators used in most large grid-connected turbines require a "large" amount of continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous "cage rotor" that encloses the generator shaft; at the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item); in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine's rated capacity, in slower winds possibly much more
    • using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing electricity when it is not, particularly during important site tours) -- it seems possible that the grid-magnetized stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade rpm some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when there is no wind

Could it be that at times each turbine consumes more than 50% of its rated capacity in its own operation?! If so, the plant as a whole -- which may produce only 25% of its rated capacity annually -- would be using (for free!) twice as much electricity as it produces and sells. An unlikely situation perhaps, but the industry doesn't publicize any data that proves otherwise; incoming power is apparently not normally recorded.

More at the excellent AWEO.ORG website - lots of links to data there.

Something the wind people also fail to mention is that for every megawatt of wind capacity, there is also a gas turbine of the same capacity running on hot standby for when the wind fails. Wind power is not baseload capacity.

This cannot be real...

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...but if it is, it explains a lot:



Swiped from Denny.

A bit long (58 minutes) but a fascinating interview from four of the key people behind E-MU Synthesizers:


They started out building in competition with Moog but spearheaded the development of custom ICs for musical applications and developed the first digital samplers.

From Gallup:

Cluster of Concerns Vie for Top U.S. Problem in 2014
In 2014, four issues generated enough public concern over enough months for at least 10% of Americans, on average, to identify each of them as the nation's most important problem. Complaints about government leadership -- including President Barack Obama, the Republicans in Congress and general political conflict -- led the list, at 18%. This was closely followed by mentions of the economy in general (17%), unemployment or jobs (15%) and healthcare (10%).

Here is the list - note that they are tracking items of concern to greater than 2% of the total US population:


See Climate Change anywhere on this list? How about the Environment? Stick a fork in it folks - it is done.

Conversely, why is it that less than 2% of our population is able to hog the limelight so much? Dirty Coal (no such thing these days), Renewable Energy (epic fail there!), Anthropogenic Global Warming (when it has been cooling for the last 18 years).

Snow on the ground

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Just a light dusting but it was there. Got down to 26.4°F last night so warming up - got some moisture moving in.

Heading off to town in a short while - Lulu left this morning to meet up with her friend and we will be having lunch at an old Bellingham standard.

Get feed out to the critters, head out for coffee and then into town for the day.

More posting this evening...

That is it for the night

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Got the casters on the synth cabinet and they rock - I can stand on it and Lulu can push me around with her fingertip. Having that many (twelve) ensures a very smooth and fluid movement. The synth weighs about 400 pounds and there are another 300 pounds of other equipment destined to go in the lower racks so fluid movement is crucial. Glad I went with Plan B instead of the cutting board material - that would have been a continual frustration.

A long-time friend of Lulu's is in the neighborhood tomorrow so we will be in town for lunch.

Planning a trip to the Canadian branch of Ikea in the next couple days to start getting the rental units up to snuff as well as reorganizing the pantry here.

I may want to consider re-opening the  Business Center  just to escape the Honey-Do lists that have been building in my absense... NOT!

A little geek humor for the New Year

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We made it!

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Slept in and woke up refreshed on January 1st, 2015.

Heading out for a coffee, checking in at the other store and then working on my synth cabinet.

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