June 2015 Archives

Counting down the seconds

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Leap second tonight.

Also, for your consideration - these two words:

HYPHENATED and
NON-HYPHENATED

Discuss...

Back from town - still hot

Getting the grill ready for some steak. Picked up some frozen crinkle-cut french fries from Costco and have those in the oven roasting.

Next project is getting the ham shack organized - bought a shelving unit and will be reorganizing some others for test equipment and electronics supplies. I have been doing electronics since I was six years old (Dad taught me to solder then) and had all the equipment out in the DaveCave. The radio shack is a small room off the Garage and this will be perfect - it faces where I want to put my antennas and is far enough away from the music room that there should be no interference.

Dinner is almost ready so more posting later tonight.

This day will be one second longer than the day before or the day after.

Today is the 2015 Leap Second Day. From the UK Telegraph:

Clocks to read 11:59:60 tonight as time lords add leap second
Airlines, trading floors and technology companies are braced for chaos today as world timekeepers prepare to add a leap second to global clocks.

Immediately before midnight 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.

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.

In Australia, more than 400 flights were grounded as the Qantas check-in system crashed.

Experts at Britain’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) who will officially add the second to UK time, warned that markets which are already jittery from Greece could suffer transaction delays if their software was not prepared.

“There are consequences of tinkering with time,” said Peter Whibberley, Senior Research Scientist in the Time and Frequency group at NPL, who is known to colleagues as ‘The Time Lord.’

“Because leap seconds are only introduced sporadically it is difficult to implement them in computers and mistakes can cause systems to fail temporarily.

 99.999% of civilization will be unaffected. Cool idea though. The title of this post? The good Doctor of course.

This from an antique radio forum:

Vacuum Tube Dangers
I'm a high school students who was suspended yesterday for bringing a box of vacuum tubes - mostly small triodes - to school. I was told that vacuum tubes are toxic and would explode if they are dropped. I was told that there are strict EPA regulations regarding vacuum tubes. I was also told there was cadmium and other hazardous, toxic, heavy metals present in vacuum tubes, as well as being told that there was a vague poisonous gas present in vacuum tubes, which seems very contradictory, because vacuum tubes are, well, vacuums. I was told that you must be a qualified and licensed technician to handle and replace vacuum tubes. It seems now that the entire school administration and the students fear that I've brought toxic explosives to school, when in reality, I just brought, what to me, were harmless vacuum tubes, mostly small triodes, to show one of my friends. I've repaired phonographs, worked in old televisions, tape recorders, and the like, and have, as a result, collected many old vacuum tubes. I grew familiar and well-acquainted with them, studied them electrically, physically, and historically, and have never learned or been alerted of these hazardous claims. Have I been ignorant by having risked my health and safety by working with vacuum tubes? Have I risked and compromised the health and safety of my school by exposing them to these vacuum tubes and their potentially explosive and toxic qualities? Are vacuum tubes really this dangerous, especially in a high school? Or, has the school administration been ignorant in their knowledge and judgment of vacuum tubes? Am I being wrongly troubled by the school for something harmless and innocent? Please, can somebody explain to me the dangers and safety of vacuum tubes, and clarify the claims above?

Thank you so much.

Good Lord - the stupidity of the school administrators! IT BURNS!!!

Most generic Vacuum tubes have no cadmium, hazardous toxic or otherwise "heavy metals". The shiny part is barium which is pretty benign - it is used as a medical dye for  imaging. They can implode if dropped but the only danger is a small amount of broken glass. The only training or qualifications needed are for those people working on broadcast transmitters where interference with other radio services could be an issue.

There is this graph again:

 

cato_education.jpg

 

I bet that there is a better vacuum in the cranial cavity of the school administrators then was ever in those tubes. Also, the fluorescent tubes buzzing above their heads have much more mercury than any of the so-called dangerous tubes (mercury was used in tubes to convert AC to DC until silicon rectifiers became available.

Back to town today

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Was in town yesterday but still need a few more items plus have some banking to do.

My front-of-house manager's birthday is being celebrated today so stopping in for some B-Day cake. When I was first looking at buying the store in 2007, I asked her and the back-of-house manager if they would stay and work with me. That would have been a show-stopper as they are both wonderful people and amazing people to work with.

Paying some bills and then I am outta here for a few hours.

From the UK Guardian:

Pope Francis recruits Naomi Klein in climate change battle
She is one of the world’s most high-profile social activists and a ferocious critic of 21st-century capitalism. He is one of the pope’s most senior aides and a professor of climate change economics. But this week the secular radical will join forces with the Catholic cardinal in the latest move by Pope Francis to shift the debate on global warming.

Naomi Klein and Cardinal Peter Turkson are to lead a high-level conference on the environment, bringing together churchmen, scientists and activists to debate climate change action. Klein, who campaigns for an overhaul of the global financial system to tackle climate change, told the Observer she was surprised but delighted to receive the invitation from Turkson’s office.

“The fact that they invited me indicates they’re not backing down from the fight. A lot of people have patted the pope on the head, but said he’s wrong on the economics. I think he’s right on the economics,” she said, referring to Pope Francis’s recent publication of an encyclical on the environment.

When Pope Francis was first elected, I thought he was a good man - humble and true to the Holy Spirit. No more. He is as corrupt as the rest of them...

People forget that for all of its faults, it was Capitalism that made the first world nations very rich. We did not take the capital from other nations. Capital is fungible, it can be created. It can be destroyed. Who are we to say that OK - now the rules have changed and none of the third-world nations can become rich.

Who are we to condemn these people, these households, these families and communities to a life of wretched poverty all to bolster some ideological dream, some narrative that has no basis in fact.

I rebuke these weak-minded ideologues. I spit on them. Pope Francis included.

Yes, he is old and yes, he will die sometime but how much needless misery will he cause in the interim because he chose to associate with the glitterati instead of his true flock.

We seem to be edging closer and closer to the brink.

I am not going to excerpt - just go here and read: Is a financial crisis about to erupt worldwide?

Keep a month or two of cash on hand. If you do not have a marketable skill, develop one now. Buy, make or grow trade-goods but make sure that these are usable without electricity or running water. Learn how to operate a radio - something as simple as one of the "family radios" sold at Costco or a Citizens Band rig. An amateur radio license takes about 20 hours of very casual study and the buy-in cost is under $200 for a decent setup. Get to know your neighbors and see if there is a local CERT team or Blockwatch program.

Proponents of this claim that it will make severe weather events stronger and more frequent - witness the claims about Katrina and Sandy where the storms were actually weak and the damage was due to poor preparedness, management and infrastructure.

From the horse's mouth - CNS News:

NOAA Says It’s a Record: No Major Hurricane Has Struck U.S. Mainland in 10 Years
No “major” hurricane--defined as a Category 3 or above--has made landfall on the continental United States since 2005, according to records compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Hurricane Research Division.

That is the longest stretch of time the United States has gone without a Category 3 or above hurricane striking somewhere on the mainland of the country, according to NOAA hurricane records going back to 1851.

“It’s easily the record -- with all the necessary caveats,” the National Hurricane Center’s Eric Blake told CNSNews.com.

Blake, a specialist with the center, is the co-author of The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1851 to 2010.

Blake said that the ability to measure hurricanes is better now than it was in the past.

Prior to the current pause in major hurricanes striking the U.S. mainland, the longest pause had been the eight years between 1860 and 1869—146 years ago. NOAA has published its calculation of the categories of all hurricanes striking the U.S. going back to 1851.

Yeah - stick a fork in it - that scam is done...

Fun with a tape measure

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 And a tip of the hat to the fine people at Neatorama.

Back from town - hot hot hot

Started off nice and cool - was 63°F when I left - dressed in a sweatshirt.

Had to buy a cooler shirt at Costco when I was there at 10:30AM.

Title? From Buster Poindexter (David Johansen from the New York Dolls):

 

Back home and it is 88°F outside - we got a little bit of rain yesterday but less than a 10th inch and not enough to water the garden.

Doing the last of the Feijoada for dinner.

Coming soon to a Walmart near you

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Yeah right. This howler from Stanford University:

Single-catalyst water splitter from Stanford produces clean-burning hydrogen 24/7
Stanford University scientists have invented a low-cost water splitter that uses a single catalyst to produce both hydrogen and oxygen gas 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The device, described in a study published June 23 in Nature Communications, could provide a renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry.

"We have developed a low-voltage, single-catalyst water splitter that continuously generates hydrogen and oxygen for more than 200 hours, an exciting world-record performance," said study co-author Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and of photon science at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Electrolysis is horribly inefficient - you spend much more energy than you can ever receive from the Hydrogen output. Catalysts are great but they only get you so far. It is still a $$$$$$ in and a $ out situation. That this device runs 24/7 has absolutely zero bearing.

I just invented a wonderful new machine! You shovel out your fireplace, put the ashes into the reaction chamber and connect a battery. In a few minutes, chunks of firewood begin to appear. My machine is just as viable as any electrolysis machine - water is an ash. Water is the product of combustion of hydrogen and oxygen. Reconstituting it back to the original elements takes a lot of effort - a lot more than will be produced when the two gasses are burned again.

I would love to be proven wrong but the science doesn't add up...

End times in Greece

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The next few days are where the pedal hits the metal.

From Reuters:

Greece imposes capital controls as crisis deepens
Greece moved to check the growing strains on its crippled financial system on Sunday, closing its banks and imposing capital controls that brought the prospect of being forced out of the euro into plain sight.

After bailout talks between the leftwing government and foreign lenders broke down at the weekend, the European Central Bank froze vital funding support to Greece's banks, leaving Athens with little choice but to shut down the system to keep the banks from collapsing.

Banks are expected to be closed all next week, and there will be a daily 60 euro limit on cash withdrawals from cash machines, which will reopen on Tuesday. Capital controls are likely to last for many months at least.

A bit more:

After months of wrangling, Greece's exasperated European partners have put the blame for the crisis squarely on Tsipras' shoulders. The 40-year-old premier caught them by surprise in the early hours of Saturday by rejecting the demands of lenders and calling a bailout referendum.

The creditors wanted Greece to cut pensions and raise taxes in ways that Tsipras has long argued would deepen one of the worst economic crises of modern times in a country where a quarter of the workforce is already unemployed.

After announcing the referendum, Tsipras asked for an extension of Greece's existing bailout until after the July 5th vote. Euro zone officials refused, and in his televised address Tsipras bemoaned the refusal as an "unprecedented act".

They are both wrong - raising taxes is a 100% guaranteed way to get capital to flee the nation. Lower taxes and make the tax structure fair and simple and your revenues will increase.

As for the pensions - these promises are seriously underfunded.. The Greek Government and Labor Unions have too many people working for them. They cannot afford these people and their jobs need to be cut. Not a popular move but real solutions are never popular at first.

This is not without precedent - Iceland's economy crashed in 2008 (too high national debt, banks playing with stupid investments and too large government - sound familiar?) and they spent several years in a deep recession with inflation rates up to 14%. They tightened the belt, lowered taxes and are now roaring back to life. This can be done folks - it is not rocket science...

Somebody wrote me a letter

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Got my first radiogram this evening. Received a telephone call from an operator in Gig Harbor, WA. They had received a radiogram from another operator in Beavercreek, OR who had sent me best wishes on acquiring my General License. A really nice gesture!

At the Sea-Pac conference, there were about 600 radio operators and only one or two of them were a**holes - met some really nice people. Got buttonholed by one person who wanted to monopolize the conversation and talk at me without listening to what I had to say. I do not like being talked at so I recognized this behavior and gradually incorporated a third party into our one-sided discussion. I cited a pressing matter and left the poor soul. Sometimes I have no mercy...

The other people I have met in this hobby are really nice and the emergency people are delighted to have us helping them.

Dinner was great - did 8oz burgers with some dried onion, garlic, bread crumbs and salt and pepper mixed in the meat. Form the patties and refrigerate them for 4 hours and grill on a hot grill. Rest for six minutes. We were so stuffed that we never got around to the pie...

Our water board meets on the last Sunday of each month - nothing much to report so it was a fast meeting. A bear has been sighted on the road leading to my house. They are putting in a large logging road on the hillside so the bear is probably displaced by the noise of construction.

Having an early bedtime today as I have the shopping run for the store tomorrow and want to get an early start.

Light posting today

Have some houseguests so busy with them working on a few projects.

Dinner? Hamburgers, corn on the cob and a salad followed with Apple Pie and Ice Cream.

From the Beeb:

Hemp fibres 'better than graphene'
The waste fibres from hemp crops can be transformed into high-performance energy storage devices, scientists say.

They "cooked" cannabis bark into carbon nanosheets and built supercapacitors "on a par with or better than graphene" - the industry gold standard.

Electric cars and power tools could harness this hemp technology, the US researchers say.

They presented their work at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco.

"People ask me: why hemp? I say, why not?" said Dr David Mitlin of Clarkson University, New York, who describes his device in the journal ACS Nano.

"We're making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price - and we're doing it with waste.

"The hemp we use is perfectly legal to grow. It has no THC in it at all - so there's no overlap with any recreational activities."

Like I said, this will be very interesting if it pans out. The principles started a company - Alta Supercaps - but have closed it down. Their website states:

As part of the transition to a licensing model rather than in-house manufacturing, we are closing "Altasupercaps". Please contact TEC Edmonton for potential licensing opportunities. Also please contact David Mitlin at dmitlin@clarkson.edu for further technical information.

I wish them the best of luck and look forward to using their products soon - this has the capacity to make drones and electric vehicles practical instead of just expensive toys.

Earlier today, I was writing about the situation in Greece and how we are headed down the same path.

Here are a few observations.

If I earn $1,000, I will save a good chunk but I will also go and spend part of it - mundane items like food and diesel and fun items like radio equipment. The gas station owner takes their part of my diesel purchase and buys something for themselves.

How money gets churned in the economy is called the Velocity of Money. It is at an all-time low. NOTE: M1 is just notes and coins in circulation. If I pay for something with a credit card, that does not enter into the calculation. M2 is notes and coins in circulation as well as bank and savings accounts.

20150627-money01.png

FRED is the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and they have some excellent tools for analyzing the economy of the USA.

Now, we look at New Orders for Consumer Goods. Crashed in 2008 and was recovering steadily until around May of 2014. You can clearly see the effects of the artificial stimulus through around mid-2011 but then the growth settles down to its natural value.

20150627-money02.png

The Baltic Dry Index is an average of shipping costs - when trade slows down, shippers lower their costs - supply and demand.

From The Economist (March 10th, 2015) comes this chart and text:

Why the Baltic Dry Index is at an all-time low
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which measures the rates for chartering the giant ships that transport iron ore, coal and grain, has long attracted the attention of commentators hoping to take the pulse of world trade. The cost of shifting the basic raw materials that are the ingredients of steel, energy and food supposedly provides a leading indicator of the state of the world economy. If so the forecast would suggest that a storm at sea will shortly make landfall. The index, a composite of rates charged on a variety of important trade routes, has hit an all-time low, after sinking by 65% in the past 13 weeks alone. Even in the depths of the financial crisis shipping rates kept their heads further above water (see chart). Why are they so remarkably low now?

20150627-money03.png

A good chunk of this is oversupply of shipping but the worlds economies are slowing down and this contributes to a significant chunk. China's growth has especially slowed down.

Corporations are not making any profits - from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis:

National Income and Product Accounts - Corporate Profits: First Quarter 2015 (Revised Estimate)
Corporate Profits
Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment (IVA) and capital consumption adjustment (CCAdj)) decreased $110.8 billion in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of $30.4 billion in the fourth.

Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $2.1 billion in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of $12.5 billion in the fourth.  Profits of domestic non-financial corporations decreased $79.6 billion, in contrast to an increase of $18.1 billion.  The rest-of-the-world component of profits decreased $29.0 billion, compared with a decrease of $36.1 billion.  This measure is calculated as the difference between receipts from the rest of the world and payments to the rest of the world.  In the first quarter, receipts decreased $40.0 billion, and payments decreased $11.0 billion.

Taxes on corporate income increased $25.3 billion in the first quarter, in contrast to a decrease of $4.8 billion in the fourth.  Profits after tax with IVA and CCAdj decreased $136.1 billion, compared with a decrease of $25.8 billion.  The first-quarter changes in taxes on corporate income mainly reflect the expiration of bonus depreciation provisions. 

Of course taxes are up even though profits are down - big government always gets la mordita. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis is another excellent resource for economic analysis.

There are a lot of websites that are posting doom and gloom stories (here, herehere, here and here) but to get these numbers from the government's own sources is sobering to say the least. We have had a nice ride through our profligate printing of money and the time to pay the piper is approaching fast. It will not be good and it will take a long long time to recover this time.

River flow

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We live in the Nooksack River watershed. With all the dry weather, I thought I'd take a look at the river flow data:

20150627-nooksack.jpg

The deltas are the 48 year statistical average and the blue line is the flow measured every 30 minutes. We are down by more than half the flow. A lot of this is the minimal snowpack.

The Nooksack are a local tribe - their website; explaining the name.

Yikes - the weather forecast

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This little bundle of joy from the National Weather Service:

Critical fire weather conditions expected this afternoon through Sunday evening for the Olympics and north and central Cascades as well as North Cascades National Park fire weather Zone 662 late Sunday afternoon through Monday evening...

The warmest weather of the year so far is expected today. Temperatures begin to moderate on Sunday. Dry fuel conditions have exceeded critical levels from the Cascades to the coast. The heat will help create an unstable air mass above about 2000 feet.

In addition, a threat of dry thunderstorms with potentially abundant lightning will begin this evening and grow into Sunday morning raising the potential of fire starts and rapid fire growth throughout western Washington and east toward Lake Chelan.

It is 89°F outside now - the area is dry as a bone. The forecast areas (Fire Zone map for WA State) for fire are to our South and East but still, the danger is everywhere. County-wide burn ban is in effect and the fire department is very twitchy about personal fireworks for next weekend. The Haines Index for our area is at maximum (a six)

And the other shoe drops - Sir Tim Hunt

Sir Tim Hunt is a world renown scientist - a Nobel Prize winner. He made an off-the-cuff remark at a lecture before 100 people and has been raked over the coals for it. Now the other side gets their 15 minutes of fame and it is not pretty.

From the London Daily Mail:

A very flawed accuser: Investigation into the academic who hounded a Nobel Prize winning scientist out of his job reveals troubling questions about her testimony
On Monday, June 8, a British academic called Connie St Louis uploaded a sensational document to her Twitter feed. Beginning with the question ‘Why are the British so embarrassing abroad?’, it offered an account of bizarre remarks that a Nobel Prize-winning biologist by the name of Sir Tim Hunt had made earlier that day at a conference in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

His audience was comprised of roughly 100 science journalists, most of them female, who were being treated to a free lunch by a local trade body representing Women’s Science & Technology Associations.

According to St Louis, who was in the crowd, their meal was ‘utterly ruined’ by the ‘sexist speaker’. She claimed that Sir Tim, having been asked to deliver a toast, embarked on a surreal rant in which he boasted of being a ‘male chauvinist’.

‘Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,’ it purportedly went. ‘Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.'

But wait - there's more:

Then, early this week, the simmering dispute took a further, seismic twist.

It came courtesy of The Times newspaper, which revealed the contents of a leaked report into Sir Tim’s fall from grace compiled by an EU official who had accompanied him to the Seoul conference.

This individual, who has not been named, sat with him at the lunch and provided a transcript of what Sir Tim ‘really said’.

Crucially, it presented a very different take to the one which had been so energetically circulated by Connie St Louis.

And Ms. St Louis? 

A good place to start is the website of London’s City University, where St Louis has, for more than a decade, been employed to run a postgraduate course in science journalism.

Here, on a page outlining her CV, she is described as follows:

‘Connie St Louis . . . is an award-winning freelance broadcaster, journalist, writer and scientist.

‘She presents and produces a range of programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service . . . She writes for numerous outlets, including The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC On Air magazine and BBC Online.’

All very prestigious. Comforting, no doubt, for potential students considering whether to devote a year of their lives (and money) to completing an MA course under her stewardship. Except, that is for one small detail: almost all of these supposed ‘facts’ appear to be untrue.

For one thing, Connie St Louis does not ‘present and produce’ a range of programmes for Radio 4.

Her most recent work for the station, a documentary about pharmaceuticals called The Magic Bullet, was broadcast in October 2007.

For another, it’s demonstrably false to say she ‘writes’ for The Independent, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

Digital archives for all three newspapers, which stretch back at least 20 years, contain no by-lined articles that she has written for any of these titles, either in their print or online editions. The Mail’s accounts department has no record of ever paying her for a contribution.

Much more at the site - it just keeps getting better and better (and worse for Ms. St Louis). She should have kept her mouth shut.

This is not exactly a case of the Streisand Effect but it is a close cousin.

And they ran out of other people's money

Greece is bankrupt. From Bloomberg:

Greeks Line Up at Banks and Drain ATMs as Tsipras Calls Vote
Greece’s banks may need an injection of fresh emergency funds to operate Monday as people rushed to pull out money after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum that could decide his country’s fate in the euro.

Two senior Greek retail bank executives said as many as 500 of the country’s more than 7,000 ATMs had run out of cash as of Saturday morning, and that some lenders may not be able to open on Monday unless there was an emergency liquidity injection from the Bank of Greece. An official with Greece’s Capital Markets Commission, the markets’ regulator, also warned that the Athens Stock Exchange may be unable to operate on Monday without a cash injection into the banking system. A Greek central bank spokesman said it was making efforts to supply money.

The European Central Bank’s governing council was expected to hold a conference call on Sunday to review the banks’ liquidity condition, said a Greek official, who asked not to be named in line with policy. The Frankfurt-based central bank said in a twitter post that it’s closely monitoring developments and would review the situation “in due course.”

This is the end-game of living beyond your means. The Greeks were more than happy to have massive handouts from their government - even if they knew somehow that they were unsustainable. They thought that there would always be another bailout.

Time to put the hammer down and say no - live within your means.

What is troubling is that we are headed down the same path - there are some worrying financial signs afoot...

From USA Today:

Fourth of July terror warning issued by FBI, Homeland Security
Federal authorities have warned local law enforcement officials across the country about a heightened concern involving possible terror attacks targeting the July 4th holiday, a U.S. law enforcement official said.

While there was no specific or credible threat of attack, the official said the intelligence bulletin prepared by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI alerted local colleagues to the ongoing threats posed by the Islamic State and other homegrown extremists. The official was not authorized to comment publicly.

The bulletins are frequently issued in advance of major U.S. holidays out of an abundance of caution and concern that operatives may exploit the timing to generate greater attention.

The warning comes as federal investigators have worked to disrupt a number of Islamic State-inspired plots, including a planned assault earlier this month on police officers in Boston. In that case, authorities fatally shot Usaamah Rahim as he allegedly planned to attack police with military-style knives.

Yikes - it must be a credible and large threat for them to issue a public warning.

We are at war with radical islam and our President will not even call them by their name.

Yes, we are contributing to overall global warming to a small degree but the idea that we are creating a catastrophic condition is fscking ludicrous. Pure hubris. We occupy such a small portion of this planet and even if we wanted to, we could not destroy it - we do not have that much power.

Great report (PDF) from The Long Now Foundation:

Nature Rebounds
Trends in America may portend a global restoration of nature, a rebound. To understand, let’s go into the woods, not in a far-off kingdom, but only about 45 miles northwest of New York City in New Jersey, where a scary side-effect illustrates the American trend to expand nature. In September 2014 a bear killed Darsh Patel, 22, a senior at Rutgers University majoring in information technology, while hiking with friends. Patel’s death in the Apshawa Preserve was the first fatal bear attack recorded in New Jersey in 150 years. Five friends were hiking when they came across the bear, which they photographed and filmed before running in different directions. After regrouping, they noticed one was missing. State authorities found and euthanized the bear, which had human remains in its stomach and esophagus, and human blood and tissue below its claws.

Five years earlier, the state of New Jersey had restored its bear hunt. In 2010 wildlife ecologists estimated that 3,400 bears were living in New Jersey. After five years of hunting, the experts now estimate the population has fallen to 2,500. During the six-day 2014 season, hunters killed 267 bears. Protesters have picketed and petitioned to stop the annual hunt.

Should the re-wilding of New Jersey shock us? I answer “no,” because about 1970 a great reversal began in America’s use of resources. Contrary to the expectations of many professors and preachers, America began to spare more resources for the rest of nature, first in relative and more recently in absolute amounts. A series of decouplings is occurring, so that our economy no longer advances in tandem with exploitation of land, forests, water, and minerals. American use of almost everything except information seems to be peaking, not because the resources are exhausted, but because consumers changed consumption and producers changed production. Changes in behavior and technology liberate the environment.

The report then looks at some specific areas:

Farms
Consider first land. Agriculture has always been the greatest raper of nature, stripping and simplifying and regimenting it, and reducing acreage left. Then, in America, in about 1940 acreage and yield decoupled. Since about 1940 American farmers have quintupled corn while using the same or even less land.

And:

Forests
Let’s now turn from farms to forests. Foresters refer to a “forest transition” when a nation goes from losing to gaining forested area. France recorded the first forest transition, about 1830. Since that time French forests have doubled while the French population has also doubled. Forest loss decoupled from population.

Measured by growing stock, the USA enjoyed its forest transition around 1950, and measured by area, about 1990. In the USA, the forest transition began around 1900, when states such as Connecticut had almost no forest, and now encompasses dozens of states. The thick green cover of New England, Pennsylvania, and New York today would be unrecognizable to Teddy Roosevelt, who knew them as wheat fields, pastures mown by sheep, and hillsides denuded by logging.

Much more at the site - this is a 16 page report.

The people loudly crying doom and gloom have an agenda that will not stand up to critical observation so they are trying to get the low information voters to buy into their narrative. Ignore them. No, MOCK THEM. Drive them into the river.

The Earth is doing very well.

From NextBigFuture:

Sandia use Z Machine to squeeze Deuterium into Metal
Scientists in the US (Sandia Labs) and Germany (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry) have successfully transformed liquid deuterium into a metal at pressures rivaling those at the center of our own planet. The discovery is another step along the long road to obtaining solid metallic hydrogen, a phase of matter that has eluded scientists for 80 years.

Recent efforts by a team based at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany, using a diamond anvil cell (DAC), where a compound is compressed between two flattened diamond tips, have revealed that it is indeed possible for hydrogen-rich compounds to adopt a metallic character.

But there are limits to what a DAC can achieve according to Marcus Knudson from the Sandia National Laboratories, US, whose team carried out the new research on deuterium. ‘DAC techniques can achieve around 200GPa pressures, but hydrogen at high pressures becomes extremely reactive,’ says Knudson. He explains that this reactivity makes it nearly impossible to conduct experiments under the diamond anvil.

Knudson and his colleagues have adopted a different approach by using shockwaves to compress liquid deuterium at the Sandia Z machine, a power generator capable of producing magnetic fields with a strength of up to 20 mega gauss – six orders of magnitude larger than the Earth’s magnetic field.

The Z Machine is a very large electrical energy storage device and the stored energy can be released in an instant creating large shock waves, powerful X Rays and crushing forces. When it is triggered, some of the electricity escapes as a flashover - these are very pretty and spectacular.

20150626-zmachine.jpg

I love the smell of Ozone in the morning...

Gay Marriage - almost ten years ago

In light of today's Supreme Court ruling, Gerard Vanderleun reprinted this outstanding essay from March 2006:

Gay Marriage: Just Do It! (And Welcome to It) [First Posted:March, 2006]
I'm with Dorothy Sayers on this one:

As I grow older and older
And totter toward the tomb
I find that I care less and less
Who goes to bed with whom

We've got a lot of problems with marriage in this country, but can't we take a step back and draw a deep breath, smell the winds of change and admit that Gay Marriage is a done deal?

It's here. It's queer. So what?

Enough with all the whining and carping and running about with one's hair on fire screaming, "Oh! Gay Marriage. I got the fear!" If a couple of normally insane Americans want to get a bunch of friends or Elvis impersonators together, seek out a whompingly liberal priest, rabbi, minister, or Marryin' Sam to hitch them up... so what?

And he nails is with this:

The Aftermath is when the millions of gay believers who have thrust themselves into the sylvan dream of wedded bliss.... wake up to find out that they are, Aieeeee!, married. And when they do, they will want what nearly every clear sighted heterosexual couple wants out of marriage these days.... a divorce.

And since gays lust after not tolerance but "approval," they are determined to inhabit every burnt-out fantasy of straight life. Hence, it will be a "traditional" divorce. Not a good new-fashioned no-fault divorce, but a brimming-with-blame, spite-spitted Prozac-popping divorce American style. Full of fights, slights, sullen silences, and a craving from the spouse for "my own space."

About half of the gay Americans getting in the long, long lines at divorce court will discover that the "craving from the spouse for 'my own space'" has a very special meaning. It usually means either your space, or a space you will pay for one way or another.

Because make no mistake about it. Whether it is a gay professionals' divorce, or a gay crackers' divorce, somebody's losing a beach house or a double-wide.

Gerard closes with this:

Me? I'm out front on the church lawn. I'm making the popcorn, getting out the lawn chair, and popping a cold one. Y'all come too.

I'm right there with him. Be sure to check out the comments to his post - some good ones there...

Or the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia if you want to be accurate about it.

Our social betters have now declared it to be nekulturny and everyone everywhere is engaged in a collective spasm trying to delete it from our culture.

Major retailers are no longer carrying the Battle Flag.

It is interesting what they are still openly offering for sale - from Amazon:

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From Walmart

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More on this phenomenon from FOX News:

Confederacy purge builds steam, while last century's worst villains spared
All symbols of the Confederacy are rapidly disappearing from stores, websites and the public square in the wake of last week's racially charged shooting in a Charleston, S.C., church, but the purge of some allegedly hateful icons has spared memorabilia linked to some of history's most infamous mass murderers, some critics are charging.

Amazon.com has now banned all Confederate battle flag items from being sold on its site, but the massive e-commerce site continues to allow the sale of dozens of apparel items featuring communist mass murderers such as Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Che Guevara, prompting some to accuse the site and others banning Confederate imagery of hypocrisy.

“If Amazon is removing the Confederate flag from its offerings, the logical and principled decision is to stop selling any promotional material, including T-shirts, of Che Guevara or any mass killer,” said Maria Werlau, executive director of the Free Society Project. “It is very painful particularly to the loved ones of Guevara's victims as well as offensive to the Cuban people who continue to suffer repression and abhorrent human rights' abuses by the system he helped create and direct.”

Much more at the site - people are not thinking this through...

Amazing Grace

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President Obama was in South Carolina delivering a eulogy for the murdered minister. He spoke and then led the congregation in a rendition of Amazing Grace.

Curious in that this hymn was written in 1779 by John Newton - a man who at that time was the Captain and owner of a ship engaged in the slave trade.

Back from town - shopping run

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Taking over the Friday shopping runs for today and next week. Back home and watering the garden - it got up to 88°F this afternoon - supposed to break into the 90's this weekend.

Thinking about taking the new radio rig up to Artist Point and see who I can reach.

Picked up some nice hot dogs - grilling them for dinner.  Lulu didn't make it out today, she is feeling under the weather.

Lurking in our back yard

One of the people we talked with this evening asked about a volcano close to here that had potential for a large eruption. Nobody in our crew knew of such a thing and I Googled it when I got home.

May I present Glacier Peak - from Seattle station KING-5 - May 15, 2015:

The 'hidden' Cascade volcano that poses a threat
Monday marks the 35th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens that killed 57 people.

Mount Rainier is considered the world's most dangerous volcano because of its size and how close it is to the population centers of Tacoma and Seattle. But there's another mountain you've probably never seen that's finally getting attention for the risks it poses to our northern counties.

Glacier Peak lurks within the northern Cascade Mountains. Unlike most of the other Cascade volcanos viewable from I-5 or even Seattle, this is the mountain no one notices. Yet Glacier Peak sits within the borders of Snohomish County and has a record of violent, even extreme eruptions.

"So large, in fact, they've found ash in Irish Peat Bogs," said geologist Jim Vallance.

Vallance was a young field assistant on Mount St. Helens in the wake of the 1980 eruption. He remembers doing field work on St. Helens in 1979, when all was quiet.

"It was quiet, it was quiet. You may remember if you were an old timer in the Northwest, that Spirit Lake was a blue body of water with cabins all around," said Vallance. "That all changed dramatically in 1980."

"As impressive as it was, Mt. St. Helens was actually hundreds of feet shorter than Glacier Peak," Vallance points out. "The summit is right here."

Now his role at the Cascades Volcano Observatory is dedicated to understanding Glacier Peak.

 Here is the Cascades Volcano Observatory entry for Glacier Peak:

Summary
Glacier Peak is the most remote of the five active volcanoes in Washington State, and more than a dozen glaciers descend its flanks, prompting its name. The peak wasn't known by settlers to be a volcano until the 1850's, when Native Americans mentioned to naturalist George Gibbs that "another smaller peak to the north of Mount Rainier once smoked." Glacier Peak is not prominently visible from any major population center, and so its attractions, as well as its hazards, tend to be overlooked. Yet since the end of the most recent ice age, this volcano has produced some of the largest and most explosive eruptions in the conterminous United States. Within this time period, it has erupted multiple times during at least six separate episodes. Glacier Peak and Mount St. Helens are the only volcanoes in Washington State that have generated very large explosive eruptions in the past 15,000 years.

So it is there but pretty dormant - for now...

Riding a horse

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Horseback riding is definitely a two-way street. They are very good at reading the rider and if the rider does not seem experienced, the horse will take the lead - sometimes with "fun" results.

This meme caught my eye:

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From the San Jose Mercury-News:

Patrick Macnee dies; Steed in 1960s TV show 'The Avengers'
Patrick Macnee, the British-born actor best known as dapper secret agent John Steed in the long-running 1960s TV series "The Avengers," has died. He was 93.

Macnee died Thursday of natural causes with his family at his bedside in Rancho Mirage, his son Rupert said in a statement.

The clever spy drama, which began in 1961 in Britain, debuted in the United States in 1966. It ran for eight seasons and continued in syndication for decades afterward.

I watched the Avengers religiously. My ROKU box probably has it online - might be fun to check out a couple of shows.

BBC Documentary - Bat-Crocodile war

Slightly edited:

 

Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.

A nice day in the neighborhood

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Spent five hours this afternoon walking around a neighboring community and handing out free smoke detectors. This was funded by the American Red Cross and we had some of our local fire fighters come along with us. I was there to promote disaster preparedness and to publicize our group: BERT It was a lot of fun riding in the fire truck - kids (and adults) waved at us.

Supposed to have a Northern Lights display tonight - got the cameras out and ready.

Got some leftovers heating up in the microwave for a late dinner.

Storefront is here: The Internet's Original Rebel Store!

We appreciate your support during this terribly sad time while the intolerant, the mean spirited, and the uneducated attack our Proud Southern Heritage with a vengeance.

Sorry - we have sold out . Thank you so much - our faith in the South has been renewed!

If you have already placed an order with us - please be patient and rest assured that we are working as quickly as possible to get your order out to you and we will send an email as soon as we ship with the tracking information.  We have received over 8,000 orders in less than 24 hours, when a good day for us is 20 orders in 24 hours.  We are filling them and shipping in the order in which they were received.

As soon as we are "caught up" with the backlog, we will again have the website back up and running.

Please don't worry that we will ever bow to the historically stupid,  politically correct.

Selling 8,000 Confederate Flags in 20 hours - quite the rush.

It was never about slavery. The South wanted to secede from the Union.

This was before the Industrial Revolution energized the economies of the New England states and before farming took off in the Midwest. The South's agricultural output was funding our Republic and they wanted to opt out. This was a tenth amendment issue.

The US Government's Office of Personnel Management had their computer system systematically penetrated by the Chinese. This is the agency that clears federal government employees before they are hired - this data includes all security clearances.

First - from Government Executive:

Amid Calls for Firing, OPM Director 'More Committed Than Ever'
The embattled director of the Office of Personnel Management on Wednesday took issue with press reports that the controversial data breach affected four times as many employees than previously disclosed, defending her agency’s long-term response to the breach and use of contracts against criticism from lawmakers and her inspector general.

Are you serious? OPM did not discover the breach until a third-party security vendor was demonstrating its software and discovered the breach. Much more at the site.

Second - from FOX News:

White House reportedly hid extent of Office of Personnel Management hack
The Obama administration reportedly concealed the true amount of information compromised by a cyberattack on the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for several days after the initial disclosure of the hack, according to a published report. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the day after the White House admitted that hackers had breached personnel files, OPM publicly denied that the security clearance forms had been compromised despite receiving information to the contrary from the FBI. The administration did not say that security clearance forms had likely been accessed by the intruders until more than a week had passed.

A OPM spokeswoman denied the claims, telling the Journal the agency had been "completely consistent" in its reporting of the data breach.

Of course not - the Obama administration is all about growing a large centralized government. It doesn't like anything that points out the dangers of a large centralized government.

Third - from Hot Air:

Extortion bonanza: OPM hack exposed “intimate details” of cleared personnel
During his long tenure as FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover amassed a huge collection of information on American politicians, government employees, activists, and anyone else he deemed important enough to probe. Hoover wielded those dossiers to prolong his grip on power, impact public policy, and distort American politics for decades. That information remained tightly controlled, used only when Hoover thought it would benefit his agenda. When he died, his longtime personal secretary Helen Gandy destroyed most of those records before anyone else could get their hands on it.

Now imagine what would have happened had Gandy sent the files to China. That’s pretty much the equivalent of the damage done by the OPM hack, as The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris reports today. The hack exposed the “adjudication information” from security clearance investigations — the raw data on embarrassing personal details that goes way beyond the SF-86s already known to have been exposed:

A senior U.S. official has confirmed that foreign hackers compromised the intimate personal details of an untold number of government workers. Likely included in the hackers’ haul: information about workers’ sexual partners, drug and alcohol abuse, debts, gambling compulsions, marital troubles, and any criminal activity.

Those details, which are now presumed to be in the hands of Chinese spies, are found in the so-called “adjudication information” that U.S. investigators compile on government employees and contractors who are applying for security clearances. The exposure suggests that the massive computer breach at the Office of Personnel Management is more significant and potentially damaging to national security than officials have previously said.

Three former U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the adjudication information would effectively provide dossiers on current and former government employees, as well as contractors. It gives foreign intelligence agencies a roadmap for finding people with access to the government’s most highly classified secrets.

Obama administration officials had previously acknowledged the breach of information that applicants voluntarily disclose on a routine questionnaire, called Standard Form 86, but the theft of the more detailed and wide-ranging adjudication information appears to have gone overlooked.

This information didn’t come out initially, which is why it got “overlooked.” The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday afternoon that the lack of transparency on the hack resulted from a deliberate policy of obfuscation. The Obama administration decided to play this as two distinct hacks rather than one overall effort, a strategy that allowed the White House to hide the worst aspects of the stunning defeat.

How many more hacks like this do we have to have before we get some adults in the room. This is absurd. We are being managed by morons.

Cool archeology find to our North

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From the Toronto, Canada The Globe and Mail:

Footprints uncovered off B.C. coast could be oldest in North America
More than 13,000 years ago, two adults and a child walked around a fire pit on Calvert Island, off the coast of British Columbia.

The footprints they left in soft clay near the shore were soon covered with black sand, which hid them until a team of archeologists led by Dr. Daryl Fedje and Dr. Duncan McLaren unearthed them recently, exposing what are believed to be the oldest footprints ever found in North America.

The find adds to a growing body of evidence that the first people didn’t arrive in the Americas via an ice-free corridor east of the Rockies about 12,000 years ago, but rather followed a route down the Pacific Coast much earlier.

“It makes the hair on the back of your head stand up,” Dr. McLaren said of the moment the archeologists from the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria made their discovery.

 A bit more:

The first find was made by Dr. Fedje last year, but it was an obscure, single print and its age wasn’t known. The pit was closed up at the end of the season before radiocarbon dating was done. Over the winter they got the first evidence they were looking at something extremely old.

“It came back at 13,200 years ago,” Dr. McLaren said.

“This year we decided to go back and open up the same area … and that’s where we discovered a [fire] hearth feature and a dozen footprints … I’m certain there’s more there,” he said. “Some are obscure and some are overlapping. But in some cases you could see individual toes and heels.”

This will change a few textbooks...

I was wondering...

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From Andy Borowitz writing at the New Yorker:

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans
Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

Makes a lot of sense...

The most transparent administration

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And I have a nice bridge to sell you. From USA Today:

Obama has issued 19 secret directives
A one-digit correction to President Obama's directive on hostage policy Wednesday had the effect of disclosing the existence of a previously unknown — and still-secret — Obama order on national security.

The hostage policy was originally released Wednesday as a presidential policy directive numbered PPD-29. When the White House corrected that number to PPD-30, it meant Obama had issued a secret directive as PPD-29 sometime in the past 17 months.

Obama signed PPD-28, an order on electronic eavesdropping in the wake of revelations by Edward Snowden, in January 2014.

So what is PPD-29? No one's talking. A spokesman for the National Security Council declined to comment of the existence of classified PPDs Wednesday.

"The only reason we know about it is the sequential numbering of the directives, and realizing they skipped a few," said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks the directives.

Pants on fire...

Well crap - King v. Burwell

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From Associated Press:

Supreme Court upholds nationwide health care law subsidies
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies underpinning President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, rejecting a major challenge to the landmark law in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

The justices said in a 6-3 ruling that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, as opponents contended.

A bit more:

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," Roberts declared in the majority opinion.

Limiting the subsidies only to individuals in states with their own exchanges could well push insurance markets in the other states "into a death spiral," Roberts wrote.

Justice Antonin Scalia, in a dissent he summarized from the bench, strongly disagreed. "We should start calling this law SCOTUScare," he said, using an acronym for the Supreme Court and suggesting his colleagues' ownership by virtue of their twice stepping in to save the law from what he considered worthy challenges.

Meanwhile, I make too much money to qualify for subsidies. I am paying more each month and my deductible just went from $6,000 to $10,000. This law is supposed to save me money?

Open it up to the free market - this will only bring costs down - get the government out of the picture.

From the Sacramento Bee:

California drought brings a golden lining
Until the search for glittering gold renewed his life, long-haul trucker and Gulf War veteran Gary Shaver was overweight and lacking energy. He had survived four heart attacks, with surgeons ultimately implanting a battery-powered defibrillator in his chest to prevent sudden death from cardiac arrest.

Then, three years ago, the Sacramento resident began combing trickling mountain waters of the Sierra Nevada as a prospector. He rediscovered his vitality in the picturesque wilderness and – to his surprise – started finding a lot of gold.

“I liked it from the start,” said Shaver, 50. “I was getting gold the very first day.”

As California’s prolonged drought dries up irrigation supplies for agriculture and forces cutbacks in urban water deliveries, it also creates opportunities for prospectors and miners panning, sluicing, chiseling and diving for gold.

Across the Mother Lode, gold seekers are wading into formerly deep waterways to harvest flecks from the pea gravel and sediment in long inaccessible crevices. Diminishing flows also have been leaving gold residues, like gilded bathtub rings, amid the cobbled banks of many rivers and streams.

In recent years, drought-inspired gold seeking has spiked sales of sluice boxes, gold pans and metal detectors at Gold County mining stores from Columbia in Tuolumne County to Auburn in Placer County. While the drought, now in its fourth year, has rendered many creeks too dry for panning, new adventures are opening elsewhere as receding waters reveal more treasures.

Very cool - there has got to be a lot more gold out there and with the "normal year" streamflow, it has all been concentrated into cracks in the streambed that were inaccessible until now. It will be interesting to see up here with our low snowpack - lots of gold up here in them thar hills.

Michelle Obama's "healthy lunch program" made school lunches unpalatable - this created a new market.

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Kids Create Salt Black Markets in Cafeterias Due to Michelle Obama’s Lunch Rules
Children are creating their own black markets to trade and sell salt due to First Lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch rules.

During a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R., Ind.), a school administrator told Congress of the “unintended consequences” of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

“Perhaps the most colorful example in my district is that students have been caught bringing–and even selling–salt, pepper, and sugar in school to add taste to perceived bland and tasteless cafeteria food,” said John S. Payne, the president of Blackford County School Board of Trustees in Hartford City, Indiana.

What do you think they are going to do? Their lunches are being meddled with by someone who never has to eat them herself - of course this is going to create a new market.

The Obama daughters go to Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. The school used to publish their lunch menus on their website but no longer. I did manage to find some older posts about the food being served - here is one from CNS News:

Obama Girls Enjoy 'Best School Lunch in America;' Public Schoolers Lament 'Let's Move' Meals
With public school students using #ThanksMichelle to tweet photos of their skimpy, stomach-turning school lunches, I decided to look at what Michelle Obama's daughters are served at Sidwell Friends school, and it turns out the girls dine on lunches from menus designed by chefs.

First Lady Michelle Obama's daughters attend Sidwell Friends, and their meals include hot lunches that are prepared every day fresh-from-scratch. The company that caters the food, Meriwether-Godsey, uses chefs to prepare the food on-site - from scratch - with local and organic foods where possible.

Here's a sampling of the school's "soup of the day": Borscht, Tuscan white bean, Italian bean and kale, calico wild rice, Thai chicken coconut soup, local butternut squash soup, chilled cucumber and mint soup, and chilled blueberry soup.

Other delectable lunch items include:

    • Crusted tilapia
    • Herb roasted chicken
    • Strawberries and chevre salad
    • Freshly baked muffins
    • Pesto cream & garden fresh marinara sauce
    • Cheese tortellini
    • All natural house-made chicken fingers
    • Scallion rice
    • Roasted edamame & Shitake mushrooms
    • Jicama mango slaw
    • BBQ sliders
    • Pesto pasta
    • All natural rosemary chicken
    • Fresh herb risotto
    • All natural beef nachos
    • Vegetarian stuffed Portobello mushrooms
    • Baked lemon herb tilapia
    • Arugula, fennel and parmesan salad
    • Baked organic French fries
    • Baked three-cheese lasagna
    • Pepperoni flatbread pizza

If the items listed above look like they could appear on the menu at a wedding or a five-star restaurant, that's because the menus are prepared by people that have studied under Sous Chefs.

Of course - another case of rules for thee but not for me... I will be so frickin' glad when we get some adults in the room over there...

Dropped Lulu off at her house this morning and ran some errands. There was a post in the Bellingham Craigslist for a small Chinese mill that had been converted to CNC - Computer Numeric Control but the project had never been finished and the guy needed to sell what he had done.

Looked at it this evening and was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of work and components. Needless to say, it is sitting in the bed of my truck and I will be moving it to my shop tomorrow.

None of the electrical work has been done which is great as I want to do a solid job with the correct wiring. It is a small mill but will be perfect to 'bootstrap' converting my large mill to CNC - the motor mounts, belt drives, etc... can now be made on the small mill instead of having to fabricate them by hand or manually chew them out on the big mill. CNC allows for work that is 100% reproducible as long as you stay within the operating parameters of the specific machine.

It will also be nice for making knife handles and doing engraving on knife blades.

The authors are research scientists with the UK Meteorological Office.

From Nature Communications:

Regional climate impacts of a possible future grand solar minimum
Abstract
Any reduction in global mean near-surface temperature due to a future decline in solar activity is likely to be a small fraction of projected anthropogenic warming. However, variability in ultraviolet solar irradiance is linked to modulation of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations, suggesting the potential for larger regional surface climate effects.

Of course, like the good little warmers they are, they are not going to let pesky facts obscure their agenda.

The money quote:

The past few decades have been characterized by a period of relatively high solar activity. However, the recent prolonged solar minimum and subsequent weak solar cycle 24 have led to suggestions that the grand solar maximum may be at an end. Using past variations of solar activity measured by cosmogenic isotope abundance changes, analogue forecasts for possible future solar output have been calculated. An 8% chance of a return to Maunder Minimum-like conditions within the next 40 years was estimated in 2010. The decline in solar activity has continued, to the time of writing, and is faster than any other such decline in the 9,300 years covered by the cosmogenic isotope data. If this recent rate of decline is added to the analysis, the 8% probability estimate is now raised to between 15 and 20%.

Bundle up here folks - the last time this happened, the great rivers of Europe froze over. The presence of sunspots is a good proxy for Total Solar Irradiance and there were no sunspots during the Maunder Minimum.

More people die from extreme cold than from extreme heat.

parbunkells and the Streisand Effect

Streisand effect? Here:

Streisand effect
The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.

It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose 2003 attempt to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu, California, inadvertently drew further public attention to it. Similar attempts have been made, for example, in cease-and-desist letters to suppress numbers, files, and websites. Instead of being suppressed, the information receives extensive publicity and media extensions such as videos and spoof songs, often being widely mirrored across the Internet or distributed on file-sharing networks.

parbunkells? Here:

Artist Posts 17th Century Word on Billboard, Asks That Nobody Else Use It
A Brooklyn-based artist posted a rare 17th-century English word on a previously empty billboard in Forest Hills — but she wants to be the only one using it.

Julia Weist said she found the word, which means "coming together through the binding of two ropes," at the Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library in a 1627 publication about vocabulary related to sailors and their trade.

She claims to be the only person to use the word online, posting it on her webpage as part of her project "Reach" — and is asking people to help it stay that way.

Last Friday, the word was also displayed on the billboard, which hovers atop a Tudor-style building at the busy intersection of Queens Boulevard and 71st Avenue, as part of a project that turns the city's vacant ad spaces into public art.

A later instance of the word is in common use - in 2012, the cruise ship Costa Concordia was sailing a little too close to land, struck a rock and rolled over onto its side and partially sunk. It's removal was accomplished by Parbuckling - the use of ropes. Parbunkel is just an earlier version of a word in common use.

If we do, we had better start acting now because the Russians are moving up there big-time.

From International Business Times:

Russian Military To Deploy Bastion Anti-Ship Missile Complexes In Arctic In 2015
In its latest move to enhance the combat readiness of its Northern Fleet, Russia will deploy new Bastion anti-ship missile complexes in the Arctic in 2015, a senior military official announced Monday. The coastal defense missile system is reportedly designed to destroy various enemy ships, including landing squadrons, convoys, carrier strike groups and single vessels.

“There will be a considerable renewing of equipment and armament for the coastal forces and this year Bastion coastal missile defenses will be received from production,” Admiral Vladimir Korolev, commander of the Northern Fleet, told Sputnik News.

Korolev also said that the Northern Fleet’s anti-air defense recently received S-400 missile complexes, while some Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile systems were deployed in other parts of the Arctic. In addition to the Bastion anti-ship missile complexes, Russia’s Northern Fleet is also expected to get new ships equipped for Arctic operations, the Kremlin-owned TASS news agency reported, citing Admiral Viktor Chirkov, commander-in-chief of the Russian navy.

A bit more:

“The Russian military group in the Arctic will be built up on the mainland and on the islands. This buildup is already in progress. By 2018 there will emerge a self-sufficient group incorporating radio reconnaissance companies, the way it was in the past,” a senior member of Russia’s defense ministry had told TASS in April.

And Kerry (how is his leg healing by the way - I heard one rumor that it was an assassination attempt and not a bicycle mishap) and Obama are doing nothing but gut the military all the while Russia and China are jockeying for power around the globe.

Spent most of the day driving Buttercup around spraying weeds. Lots of thistle and nettle along with the burdock so my legs are tingling a bit.

Making a Brazilian dish for dinner - Feijoada. It was originally a cheap dish made from meat scraps to feed the slaves working on the farms (yes - slavery is not a unique USA phenomenon).

It has elevated itself to one of the Brazilian culinary delicacies. Good stuff - using a Costco ham steak and some Hemplers country bacon, black beans, onion and garlic, black pepper and serve over rice with sautéed kale splashed with lemon juice. A pressure cooker cuts the cooking time down to 15 minutes.

Heading into town tomorrow morning to pick up a Craigslist goodie and drop Lulu off for two days.

Bubbles in everything - recycling

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About time someone woke up and smelled the cappuccino. With the sole exception of aluminum, recycling is just a feel-good program. It accomplishes very little and we are most definitely not running out of landfill space. If actually wanted to make this work, we wait 30 years for the organics in the landfill to decay and go back in there and mine everything that is left.

Nice to see some other people become aware of this - from The Washington Post:

American recycling is stalling, and the big blue bin is one reason why
Tucked in the woods 30 miles north of Washington is a plant packed with energy-guzzling machines that can make even an environmentalist’s heart sing — giant conveyor belts, sorters and crushers saving a thousand tons of paper, plastic and other recyclables from reaching landfills each day.

The 24-hour operation is a sign that after three decades of trying, a culture of curbside recycling has become ingrained in cities and counties across the country. Happy Valley, however, it is not.

Once a profitable business for cities and private employers alike, recycling in recent years has become a money-sucking enterprise. The District, Baltimore and many counties in between are contributing millions annually to prop up one of the nation’s busiest facilities here in Elkridge, Md. — but it is still losing money. In fact, almost every facility like it in the country is running in the red. And Waste Management and other recyclers say that more than 2,000 municipalities are paying to dispose of their recyclables instead of the other way around.

In short, the business of American recycling has stalled. And industry leaders warn that the situation is worse than it appears.

Much more at the site - recycling was a bubble that made a few people very rich. Now the market is gone and that bubble is popping.

Penn and Teller's television show Bullshit did an excellent episode on recycling - its origins and our actual landfill capacity. Season II, Episode #5. Youtube has it here but you need to sign in to view it.

The Gas of Life

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Great essay from Dr. Willie Soon:

Gas of Life: Pope Encyclical on Climate Change Ignores Science on Carbon Dioxide
As a scientist, I am not simply disappointed by the issue of encyclical named Laudato Si’ (Praised Be) from the office of the Pope, but I am highly disgusted because of the blatant misuse of science and the scientific method of inquiry as part of the excuse to prevent social injustice and wrong-doing.

Who would be against the protection and enhancement of the poor and underprivileged? Who is indifferent to the suffering of the poor? Who would mask the problems and its symptoms by deliberately ignoring efforts to mitigate its negative or harmful effects?

Even as a believer in God, I find such statements in the encyclical to be troublesome. Finger-pointing is not helpful in this discussion.

The verdict is clear: Any attempt to stop the use of available fossil fuels for life and all human activities will cause far more harm and lead to more deaths than the theological belief in future catastrophic disasters endorsed by the encyclical. Even worse, the church knows that many of the predicted catastrophic disasters from the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide are highly exaggerated if not outright fraudulent. Yet Laudato Si’ gives credence and praise to these predictions by relying on climate models scenarios that have been proven to be false.

A clear lesson should have been learned when UNEP predicted in 2005 that there will be 50 million climate refugees by 2010. When this prediction failed, revisionists – now apparently aided by the power of the Office of the Pope – insisted in 2011 that the same prediction will now come true by 2020. It was repugnant to watch the press event that highlighted Hans Joachim Schellnhuber’s half-truth comment that 50 meters (164 feet) of global sea level rise would occur from the almost impossible melting of both the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets by 2500.

Much more at the site - it's Galileo all over again. You would think - of all institutions - that the Vatican would be sensitive to history.

Hummingbirds

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We were a bit late getting the feeders out this spring so we have not been as mobbed as we were last year - still, we have a lot of regular visitors to the feeders.

Normally, they are very shy - they will leave if I approach to more than a few feet from the feeder.

I was cleaning and refiling the feeders just now and as I was hanging the first one up, a bold little guy came up and proceeded to drink his fill as I was holding the feeder up to it's support. I just stood there motionless while he was drinking.

I love it out here...

July 14, 2015

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I will be glued to a computer that day. New Horizons.

I am now official

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Just received my new license via email. I am now qualified to operate with General Class privilages.

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Also, our state governor has issued a Proclamation that this week (starting June 21st) is Amateur Radio Week.

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From Seattle station KING5:

Divers clean up activist site as Polar Pioneer leaves
In a few minutes Monday morning, several months worth of training culminated in stand-off between 50 kayaks and a massive Arctic drill rig.

"We were just trying to host vigil to this rig," explained Chiara D'Angelo. "We weren't planning on stopping it."

A quote from one of them:

"I've seen first-hand how awful this can be for marine life and communities if an accident happens," said Washington D.C. resident John Hocevar.

Gee - traveled all the way from Washington D.C. to attend the party event protest...

This is not about the environment. This is a cult. A religion. People are fueling their sense of self-entitlement by participating in these edgy protests.

A bit more:

Near the kayak line, divers cleaned up a site damaged by the activists' barge. Used for staging their protests, the barge anchors were originally dropped into a popular dive spot. They dropped 4,000-pound anchors into a habitat known for several different kinds of marine species.

"A lot of people come here to see Giant Pacific Octopus," said Koos Dupreez.

Dupreez works with Global Underwater Explorers. They coordinated the clean-up, asking the activists to cut their lines so as to avoid any further damage. Divers removed huge cement blocks and chords, worried for the safety of people and animals

It cost $10,000 and created some wake among environmental groups.

"Having someone else who is concerned about the environment trash the environment, some people were upset, understandably so," Dupreez said.

What I just said - it is not about the environment, it is about preaching about the environment -  hectoring others about how superior they are and how unaware and uncaring you are. If only you knew what they know, you would be right out there with them. It is a new religion. It is not based on science, it is based on feelings and narrative.
 

Last August, James O'Keefe released a video of him dressed as Osama bin Laden and crossing over the Rio Grande into America. Zero border patrol presence.

Now, it seems the Feds are getting back at him. From The Daily Caller:

Feds Detain At Least One Border Crosser…James O’Keefe!
Conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents Monday while returning through an airport to U.S. soil. Why? Because he once filmed a video in which he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without going through customs. And customs agents told him he will be detained every single time he enters the country from overseas henceforth.

O’Keefe’s August video, published exclusively at the time by The Daily Caller, showed the conservative filmmaker freely crossing back and forth between the United States and Mexico dressed as Osama bin Laden, to make a point about Islamic radicals being able to pour onto domestic U.S. soil.

But that was enough to get him detained at the airport and to have an “X” marked on his passport.

Time to lawyer up.

Crap - RIP James Horner

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Readers will know that I really like thematic or "film music" - Composers like Bear McCreary, Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer, the late Elmer Bernstein, Wendy Carlos, Vangelis, Bernard Herrmann

Right up there in this pantheon is composer James Horner. I heard about the crash and fatality with one of his small aircraft but his death was not confirmed until much later last evening.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

James Horner, Film Composer for 'Titanic' and 'Braveheart,' Dies in Plane Crash
The two-time Oscar winner, 61, worked on three James Cameron films, two 'Star Trek' movies and classics like 'A Beautiful Mind,' 'Field of Dreams' and 'Apollo 13.'

James Horner, the consummate film composer known for his heart-tugging scores for Field of Dreams, Braveheart and Titanic, for which he won two Academy Awards, died Monday in a plane crash near Santa Barbara. He was 61.

His death was confirmed by Sylvia Patrycja, who is identified on Horner's film music page as his assistant.

"We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart and unbelievable talent," Patrycja wrote on Facebook on Monday. "He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road."

The article talks about his work:

For his work on the 1997 best picture winner Titanic, directed by James Cameron, Horner captured the Oscar for original dramatic score, and he nabbed another Academy Award for original song (shared with lyricist Will Jennings) for “My Heart Will Go On,” performed by Celine Dion.

“My job — and it’s something I discuss with Jim all the time — is to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart,” Horner said in a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when someone disappears — at all times I’m keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling. That is my primary role.”

His score for Titanic sold a whopping 27 million copies worldwide.

His fruitful partnership with Cameron also netted him Oscar noms for original score for the blockbusters Aliens (1986) and Avatar (2009). The pair reportedly were also at work on Avatar sequels.

The Los Angeles native earned 10 Oscar noms in all, also being recognized for his work on two other best picture winners: Braveheart (1995) and A Beautiful Mind (2001). He also received noms for An American Tail (1986), Field of Dreams (1989), Apollo 13 (1995) and House of Sand and Fog (2003).

Always busy, Horner has three films coming out soon: Southpaw, the boxing drama that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams and is due in theaters in July; Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Wolf Totem, out in September; and The 33, a drama based on the 2010 mining disaster in Chile that’s set for November.

His lengthy film résumé includes The Lady in Red (1979), Wolfen (1981), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1983), Red Heat (1988), Glory (1989), The Rocketeer (1991), Patriot Games (1992), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993), Jumanji (1995), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Troy (2004) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).

He will be missed.

The $10 bill solution

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There is political pressure to take Alexander Hamilton off the ten dollar bill and replace him with a sufficiently politically correct dead woman.

From Billll's Idle Mind:

$10 Bill
A solution just occurred to me for the problem of picking a sufficiently distinguished dead woman to grace the $10 bill:

Issue an Executive Order declaring that Alexander Hamilton now self-identifies as a woman and leave the bill alone.

Problem solved. You're welcome.

The latest heat wave cold snap

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It is mid-winter in New Zealand but temps are unnaturally cold - from stuff.co.nz:

New Zealand drops to 20C below freezing
It was colder at Lake Pukaki on Tuesday morning than the summit of Mt Everest.

Mountain-forecast.com forecast a minimum summit temperature of -19C overnight Monday on the world's highest peak - not quite as cold as the -20C recorded at Pukaki Airport.

MetService meteorologist Rebekah LaBar said Pukaki, near Mt Cook, recorded the -20C temperature early on Tuesday.

And the record low?

New Zealand€™'s coldest temperature on record was -25.C in Ranfurly, Central Otago, in 1903.

Time to build another coal generator plant. The vegetation will thank us for the additional CO2.

The Weather Channel jumps the shark

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From The Hollywood Reporter:

Weather Channel Taking Active Climate Change Stance
The Weather Channel is looking beyond cold fronts and summer showers with a project featuring the voices of 25 prominent people talking about the need to take action on climate change.

The network says its "The Climate 25" series is about science, not politics. But its message is unmistakable, and is consciously designed to reach people who may be doubters about the causes of global warming.

They have crossed the line between real science and political advocacy. The article mentions Unilever CEO Paul Polman and U.S. Army Gen. Charles Jacoby:

Polman, for example, talks about his company losing business because of hurricanes, and drought in Africa hurting production at its tea plantations. Jacoby discusses military rescue efforts following extreme storms and how climate change could become a national security issue with nations fighting over resources.

Excuse me but we have had a major long lull in large storms in the last ten years. Tropical Storm Sandy was major in its impact of New York City's infrastructure but it was only a CAT1 Hurricane when it made landfall. Hurricane Katrina was only a CAT3 when it made landfall. The forecast for this year is quiet as well (issued in June 2015 - PDF file).

Great headline at Breitbart

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Love it! From Breitbart:

Mankind About to Die, Say People Who are Always Wrong About Everything
The UK Daily Mail’s piece about the supposedly impending extermination of the human race would be great fodder for the old joke about how ideologically-blinkered media would report Armageddon: “World to End Tomorrow; Women, Minorities Hardest Hit.”

It’s also a great demonstration about how easily the press can be jerked around by those who know how to exploit its fetishes for sensationalism and bogus credentials. One of the reasons the global warming scam persists, decades into the absolute failure of its vaunted computer models to accurate predict the climate, is that nobody in the media is interested in running stories about how the world is not ending.

Here we have the alarmists taking it up a notch, and the Daily Mail reporting their prophecies of doom without informing readers of a very salient point right up front: the lead “scientist” is a hysteric who has never been right about anything, after decades of peddling apocalyptic environmental prophecies.

Suffice to say, the lead scientist (and I use that term loosely) is none other than Malthusian Paul Ehrlich who has the delightful track record of being wrong about every prediction he has ever made.

RIP - Don Featherstone

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Don Featherstone? An artist who in 1957, designed the Pink Plastic Flamingo yard ornament.

Passed away today at age 79.

Today's word - BLEVE

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Pronounced like Levee but with a B at the beginning. Stands for Boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion

Long day today

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Slept in a bit later than I wanted to - did the store shopping run and brought a Costco rotisserie chicken home for dinner. Lulu did some oven-roasted Yukon Gold potatoes with sea salt and rosemary.

Surf for a bit and then to bed - working outside tomorrow, planting and the second round of weed spraying.

An interesting story about a bomb

1980 - Lake Tahoe, NV - a casino. From Alan Bellows writing at Damn Interesting:

The Zero-armed Bandit
"I don’t think it belongs here." Such was the assessment of Bob Vinson, the graveyard shift supervisor at Harvey's Wagon Wheel Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The "here" Vinson referred to was a nook just outside the telephone equipment room in the employees-only portion of the second floor of the hotel. The "it" was a curious piece of equipment of unknown origin loitering conspicuously in the cramped side room. It was a metallic gray box about the size of a desk, with a smaller box attached on top near the rear right corner. The front face of the smaller box was an incomprehensible control panel occupied by 28 metal toggle switches in five neat rows, each labeled with a numbered sticker. All of these switches were situated in the down position except for #23, which was toggled up—an oddly ominous asymmetry.

It was approximately 6:30am on Tuesday, 26 August 1980, and although Bob Vinson had been on shift all night long, he hadn't heard any large equipment delivery commotion from his nearby office, and he was sure this thing hadn't been there an hour earlier. Whoever had left the machine had taken the time to place each corner on blocks of wood, and these blocks pressed deep dimples into the red-orange carpet, suggesting that the equipment had significant mass. In spite of its resemblance to some kind of manufactured electromechanical office machine, it had no power cord, and no obvious power switch, just the 28 enigmatic toggles. To add alarm to intrigue, Vinson had found that some of the keyholes for the doors leading into the area had been hastily jammed using what appeared to be toothpicks and glue.

An envelope with "Harvey's Management" typewritten on one side lay on the carpet alongside the object. Vinson was reasonably suspicious that the envelope did not contain anything as harmless as an invoice. "Stay here," Vinson instructed the custodian who had been examining the mystery object with him. "Don’t touch it. Don’t let anyone fool with it. I’ll be right back."

Vinson soon returned with companions, having summoned members of Harvey's Wagon Wheel Casino security, who had subsequently summoned sheriff 's deputies and the fire department. After prodding the envelope with a broomstick to ensure it wasn't booby-trapped, those to whom it was concerned gingerly extracted three pages of typed text from the envelope. The letter claimed that this device was a bomb.

STERN WARNING TO THE MANAGEMENT AND BOMB SQUAD:

Do not move or tilt this bomb, because the mechanism controlling the detonators in it will set it off at a movement of less than .01 of the open end Ricter [sic] scale. Don't try to flood or gas the bomb. There is a float switch and an atmospheric pressure switch set at 26.00-33.00. Both are attached to detonators. Do not try to take it apart. The flathead screws are also attached to triggers and as much as 1/4 to 3/4 of a turn will cause an explosion. In other words this bomb is so sensitive that the slightest movement either inside or outside will cause it to explode.

Great story and well written. The ringleader was known to the Casino and had huge gambling debts. He was caught through a couple of stupid acts on his part. Died in prison.

I am a big believer in herbalism and plant-based medicines but Homeopathy never registered with me as being a viable alternative. It was developed by one person and some of his ideas were ludicrous.

Every year in April, there is a Homeopathy Awareness Week and I find it shameful that these people will hold out the hope of a cure to people when they themselves know that this is not so. If the practitioners sincerely believe their practice, they are delusional and should not be practicing any kind of health care that involved another person or creature.

It seems that Homeopathy is finally getting the treatment it deserves - a trifecta:

First - from England's House of Commons - Science and Technology Committee - Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy  Note - the NHS is England's National Health Service

Conclusions
The Government’s position on homeopathy is confused. On the one hand, it accepts that homeopathy is a placebo treatment. This is an evidence-based view. On the other hand, it funds homeopathy on the NHS without taking a view on the ethics of providing placebo treatments. We argue that this undermines the relationship between NHS doctors and their patients, reduces real patient choice and puts patients’ health at risk. The Government should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS.

We conclude that placebos should not be routinely prescribed on the NHS. The funding of homeopathic hospitals—hospitals that specialize in the administration of placebos—should not continue, and NHS doctors should not refer patients to homeopaths.

Second - from this March 2015 report from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council:

Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.

Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.

The National Health and Medical Research Council expects that the Australian public will be offered treatments and therapies based on the best available evidence.

The third and final post comes from Dr. Steven Novella writing at The NeuroLogicaBlog:

Are We Seeing the End of Homeopathy?
Several years ago, during a lecture on Science-Based Medicine, I noted that if there were one medical pseudoscience that was vulnerable to extinction it was homeopathy. Homeopathy is perhaps the most obviously absurd medical pseudoscience. It is also widely studied, and has been clearly shown to not work. Further, there is a huge gap in the public understanding of what homeopathy is; it therefore seems plausible that the popularity of homeopathy can take a huge hit just by telling the public what it actually is.

Further, homeopathy is in a precarious regulatory position. Homeopathic products are presented and regulated as drugs, but clearly they are not, and they are also not supplements, herbal drugs, nutrition-based, or natural products. They are simply fraudulent drugs riding a wave of ignorance.

In the last few years homeopathy has had a rough time. While the industry is still growing, there are signs of clear trouble on the horizon. Let’s review:

Dr. Novella proceeds to give a little bit of detail on Homeopathy's beginnings and then rips it a new one for the obvious inconsistencies when subjected to simple blind testing. He then offers this beacon of hope:

The FDA and the FTC in the United States are now both receiving testimony, questioning their current regulation of homeopathy. Currently the FDA essentially doesn’t regulate homeopathy, even though the law tasks them to do so. They let the homeopathic industry regulate itself, but they are questioning this in light of the exploding OTC homeopathic product industry. This is a good thing. Any change is likely to be an improvement. Likewise, the FTC is accepting comments on how it can better regulate the advertising of homeopathic products.

There is even a possibility that the FDA will decide to do their actual job – require testing of homeopathic products to demonstrate efficacy before allowing them on the market. If they do this simple and obvious thing, the homeopathic industry in the US will vanish over night, because there is no evidence to support any homeopathic product for any indication. They will have to endure the outrage of quacks, charlatans, and the deluded, but hey, that’s their job. Suck it up.

The sooner this practice drops off people's horizons, the better. It is a scam and by deluding people, it is doing substantial harm to the most vulnerable in our population.

Jurassic World

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A lot of fun - well worth seeing on the big screen. Some nice inside homages to the original movie and the CGI has gotten pretty nice. When the animals walk, you can see the separate muscle-groups in motion.

I want one of those gyrocars and a velociraptor or two - they are cute.

It was also fun to see Chris Pratt in a dramatic role. Lulu and I are finishing up a Parks and Recreation binge and the character Chris plays there is a big doof.

Had a light dinner at Luna's Bistro - really good food and nice service and ambiance. A little bit pricey but not egregious.

Happy Solstice day

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Longest day of the year.

We are heading into town to see the new Jurassic Park and get a bite to eat.

A plague on both your houses

The phrase: Republican strategist Karl Rove makes my blood boil. The guy personifies all that is wrong with the Republican party today.

A perfect example from The Daily Caller:

Karl Rove: Only Way To Stop The Violence Is To Repeal Second Amendment
Republican strategist Karl Rove said on “Fox News Sunday” the only way to stop gun-related violence, like the Wednesday massacre at Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston S.C., was to repeal American citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

When Chris Wallace asked Rove how we can, “stop the violence,” the long-time gun-rights advocate stated that we have made great strides as a nation in empathizing with the victims of these types of shootings, but the only way to guarantee they will stop is to “remove guns from society.”

Rove needs to remove himself from politics. He and his ilk are doing immeasurable damage to America. He is just in it for the power and the money and is probably figuring that when all of his birds come home to roost, he will be long retired from politics and none of the fallout will touch him.

From The Sacramento Bee:

Burbank High School teacher’s Shakespeare aversion draws national attention
Most high school English teachers adore William Shakespeare’s works. Dana Dusbiber does not.

In an essay published this month on a Washington Post education blog, the Luther Burbank High School teacher explained she does not want to teach Shakespeare’s works despite his esteemed place in American education because his perspective does not speak well to her ethnically diverse students.

You are not supposed to let the ethnically diverse students play in their own sandboxes. Your job as their teacher is to introduce them to the English language and English and American culture. Bu exposing them to Shakespeare, you are giving them a fantastic insight into how English language has evolved into its present form. Besides that, the guy could tell amazing stories.

A bit more:

“High school teachers are supposed to love Shakespeare, and I don’t, so I said I didn’t,” Dusbiber said. “I think the reliance on Shakespeare is something I find odd.”

After 25 years teaching in Sacramento, including the last 13 at Luther Burbank High School, she said she has replaced the Bard’s plays in her classroom with works by nonwhite authors. Dusbiber, who is white, said many of her students come from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds than her own.

This is not about you - this is about your obligation to your students to give them the tools they need to make their lives better. I don't care which authors you prefer over W.S. - again, this is not about you.

Now here is how you do it:

A few miles away at Sacramento New Technology High School, Christine Baker, who teaches 11th- and 12th-grade English, modernizes his works and creates interactive lessons for her students. Four out of five students at the south Sacramento campus are nonwhites.

Baker admitted the old style of writing can be tedious when read as a book instead of a play. But she doesn’t believe it should be removed from the high school curriculum.

“I think that’s completely preposterous,” Baker said of Dusbiber’s view.

Baker studied ways to modernize Shakespeare at the UC Davis Mondavi Center’s Globe Education Academy in 2013, and she asked her students to act out the prologue to “Romeo and Juliet” before digging into the text on their own.

“They get the feeling of fighting families, of young love,” she said. “They might make fun of it at first, but then I’ll remind them that they’re doing the same things in the hallways and they’re like, ‘Oh yeah.’”

Once the kids are able to see that there is a great story there, they will become interested and will start reading it on their own. They will learn the language, they will learn the story and they will absorb the culture. This process is called Education - something that seems to have escaped Ms. Dusbiber's attention.

I am reminded again of this graph:

cato_education.jpg

From here

From Mr. Shakespeare himself: A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool

Big scandal over poor treatment a year ago and nothing has happened.

From The New York Times:

Wait Lists Grow as Many More Veterans Seek Care and Funding Falls Far Short
One year after outrage about long waiting lists for health care shook the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency is facing a new crisis: The number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is now 50 percent higher than it was during the height of last year’s problems, department officials say. The department is also facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall, which could affect care for many veterans.

The agency is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other significant moves to reduce the gap. A proposal to address a shortage of funds for one drug — a new, more effective but more costly hepatitis C treatment — by possibly rationing new treatments among veterans and excluding certain patients who have advanced terminal diseases or suffer from a “persistent vegetative state or advanced dementia” is stirring bitter debate inside the department.

Rope. Tree. Some assembly required.

And people keep voting for bigger government - this is a perfect example of what big government does best.

And of course, this was published yesterday - Saturday - so it does not register with the mainstream media. Another scandal buried in the noise of the weekend

Awwwww - cute!

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Swiped from Bayou Renaissance Man; hat tip to The Lonely Libertarian.

England is about five to ten years ahead of us in socialized benefits and the horrible repercussions of same.

I am not going to excerpt - just go and read this post at the London Daily Mail and see what lies in store for us if we do not get our house in order.

A feral population good for nothing except filling out forms and accepting government money.

We are becoming a nation of Eloi.

Checking the phone

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Sure looks like it - from Gail Worley:

Marble Statue with Smart Phone
You can be sure that we all did a double-take when we passed this statue at The Met this past weekend, because, seriously, doesn’t it look like she’s checking her Instagram feed or catching up on Tweets? That’s what we thought as well, but if you are standing nearby and look really closely, you can see she has a small Crucifix nestled in her palm, which makes much more sense considering the name of this piece is Indian Girl, or The Dawn of Christianity, rather than something like Girl, Distracted by iPhone, Forgets to Put on a Top.

Created by Erastus Dow Palmer in 1856, this sculpture marked the artist’s first attempt to model a full-length, female figure. He did a pretty great job, don’t you think?

Palmer worked in the academic classicism style - I like his stuff. More on Palmer here.

James Gurney has done about 300 posts on the Academic Painters - no search engine on his site but Google's site: option picked up a few mentions of his son Walter Launt Palmer (James doesn't deal much with sculpture).

The Lucky Iron Fish

Lulu has been having some fatigue problems and went to her Doctor. Turns out she has iron-deficiency anemia.

She doesn't like the Ferrous Sulfate pills very much - upsets her stomach. You want to take them with some Vitamin C to aid absorption so I dissolved them in a mason jar of orange juice and she takes a sip every hour or so. Problem solved.

Turns out that Cambodians have an endemic iron deficiency in their population - 60% of pregnant women and 40% of the general population. In 2008, some Canadian health-workers developed a small cast-iron fish (Cambodian symbol of good luck) to be placed in the cooking pot with a bit of lemon juice. The average villager using one of these is able to obtain about 75% of the daily recommended dietary iron.

Project website is here: Lucky Iron Fish

Very clever idea - they went through a bunch of shapes and the villagers would not use them - a disk, a lotus blossom, etc... Finally, a Cambodian mentioned that the fish was a lucky symbol and now over 95% of the households use theirs on a regular basis.

Now this will be fun - Saudi Arabia

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From Reuters:

WikiLeaks publishes more than 60,000 leaked diplomatic cables from Saudi Arabia
WikiLeaks published on Friday more than 60,000 diplomatic cables from Saudi Arabia and said on its website it would release half a million more in the coming weeks.

The organization, which began releasing U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010, said it had obtained email communications between Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry and other countries as well as confidential reports from other Saudi ministries.

Wonder what is lurking in this snake-farm. The Saudi's are bankrolling the majority (70%) of the mosque building in the United States and their sect of Wahhabism is singularly nasty. On the surface, they are our cordial friends and business partners but in the shadows, they are trying to take us down.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick...

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We may be headed for some interesting times - a two-fer

First - from the UK Telegraph:

'It's time to hold physical cash,' says one of Britain's most senior fund managers
The manager of one of Britain’s biggest bond funds has urged investors to keep cash under the mattress.

Ian Spreadbury, who invests more than £4bn of investors’ money across a handful of bond funds for Fidelity, including the flagship Moneybuilder Income fund, is concerned that a “systemic event” could rock markets, possibly similar in magnitude to the financial crisis of 2008, which began in Britain with a run on Northern Rock.

“Systemic risk is in the system and as an investor you have to be aware of that,” he told Telegraph Money.

The best strategy to deal with this, he said, was for investors to spread their money widely into different assets, including gold and silver, as well as cash in savings accounts. But he went further, suggesting it was wise to hold some “physical cash”, an unusual suggestion from a mainstream fund manager.

His concern is that global debt – particularly mortgage debt – has been pumped up to record levels, made possible by exceptionally low interest rates that could soon end, and he is unsure how well banks could cope with the shocks that may await.

He pointed out that a saver was covered only up to £85,000 per bank under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme – which is effectively unfunded – and that the Government has said it will not rescue banks in future, hence his suggestion that some money should be held in physical cash.

He declined to predict the exact trigger but said it was more likely to happen in the next five years rather than 10. The current woes of Greece, which may crash out of the euro, already has many market watchers concerned.

Second, this little collection of comfort and joy from Tyler Durden writing at Zero Hedge:

7 Key Events That Are Going To Happen By The End Of September
Is something really big about to happen?  For months, people have been pointing to the second half of this year for various reasons.  For some, the major concern is Jade Helm and the unprecedented movement of military vehicles and equipment that we have been witnessing all over the nation.  For others, the upcoming fourth blood moon and the end of the Shemitah cycle are extremely significant events.  Yet others are most concerned about political developments in Washington D.C. and at the United Nations. 

To me, it does seem rather remarkable that we are seeing such a confluence of economic, political and spiritual events coming together during the second half of 2015.  So is all of this leading up to something?  Is our world about to change in a fundamental way?  Only time will tell.  The following are 7 key events that are going to happen by the end of September…

Late June/Early July – It is expected that this is when the U.S. Supreme Court will reveal their gay marriage decision.  Most believe that the court will rule that gay marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states.  There are some that believe that this will be a major turning point for our nation.

July 15th to September 15th – A “realistic military training exercise” known as “Jade Helm” will be conducted by the U.S. Army.  More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military will take part in this exercise.  The list of states slated to be involved in these drills includes Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Mississippi and Florida.

July 28th – On May 28th, Reuters reported that countries in the European Union were being given a two month deadline to enact “bail-in” legislation.  Any nation that does not have “bail-in” legislation in place by that time will face legal action from the European Commission.  So why is the European Union in such a rush to get this done?  Are the top dogs in the EU anticipating that another great financial crisis is about to erupt?

Much more at the site - some interesting thoughts and it does not hurt you if you do prepare for these events and you will be a lot better off if they transpire and you are prepared...

From the Sacramento, CA CBS affiliate:

California Pool Construction In Drought Could Hit Highest Level Since 2007
More pools are being built in California now than have been in years despite the drought, and the industry is fighting to change the perception that pools are water wasters.

The grass has been ripped up and the digging has begun at Chad and Kristin Larsen’s yard. They’re getting a pool.

“Something we’ve wanted to do for a while,” Chad said. “We have children and they enjoy it.”

The industry took a huge hit during the recession, but business is back. Industry tracking firm Construction Monitor says there were 11,000 pools installed in California last year, the highest since 2007. The state is on track for 13,000 this year in a drought.

Poor contractor Keith Harbeck represents the California Pool and Spa Association. The group is working with water districts and cities that have banned filling and refilling pools, saying that in reality, pools save water.

Emphasis mine - in reality, pigs fly and the heavens rain down fish every evening.

Yeah, the pool replaces part of a lawn with an area that doesn't need to be watered but, in time of drought, you are not supposed to be watering anyway. Then, there is the evaporation that needs to be made up. You should not have an empty pool as if it rains, groundwater can push it up and cause significant damage.

I guess that visiting a public pool (or a neighbors) would be too much for these little snowflakes.

The Charleston murderer

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Just another sociopath who should have been caught before the tragedy happened.

From the London Daily Mail:

Revealed: 'Manifesto' where killer unveils Charleston as target of church massacre, calls black people 'stupid and violent' and complains there's 'no real KKK' to help him
Charleston killer Dylann Roof apparently left a ranting, racist manifesto on the internet calling for a new civil war in America before staging his massacre in a church.

A website seemingly written by Roof not long before the killings at the Emanuel AME Church in the South Carolina city emerged Saturday, in which he pinpoints Charleston as his target because of its high proportion of blacks and bemoans that there is 'no real KKK' to help him.

The site was also stuffed full of images of Roof burning the America flag, spitting on it, posing next to Confederate landmarks and posing menacingly with a gun pointed at the camera.

More at the site - makes me sick to read it. The scribblings of a pathetic twisted mind.

Then, there is this excerpt from this article at Associated Press: Man accused of church killings spoke of attacking college

Last week, while they were drinking in the back of Scriven's house, Roof blurted out his plan about carrying out a mass shooting at the College of Charleston.

"I don't think the church was his primary target because he told us he was going for the school," Scriven said Friday. "But I think he couldn't get into the school because of the security ... so I think he just settled for the church."

Scriven said he told Meek about what Roof had said, and the two of them decided to take Roof's gun. They hid the gun in Meek's trailer. But Meek's girlfriend later told them they needed to get the gun out of the house because he was on probation. So they gave it back to Roof.

When Scriven saw this week that Roof was arrested, he said it hit him "that he actually did all the stuff he said he was going to do, like he actually killed these people."

Though none of them took the statements seriously, Scriven said he and Roof's other friends are now struggling with the knowledge that they might have been able to prevent the killings.

"I think everyone feels guilt," Scriven said. "There are a lot of things that happen in life that we just don't understand and we'll never understand. And this situation is something that you're not going to find the answers to from ordinary people. ... The only person that can tell you is Dylann."

I hope he gets the death penalty - one less turd in the bowl...

I have a piece of land that I am not using and it has been a community garden for the last five years.

Our annual meeting is today at 11:00AM - gotta get some coffee first...

From The Bellingham Herald:

Nooksack tribal chairman tells members its Deming casino could close
This week, Nooksack Indian Tribal Chairman Bob Kelly called the first public meeting in roughly three years to inform members of the possible closing of the Nooksack River Casino.

The casino was renovated using about $15 million in loans that the Nooksack Business Corporation, an entity owned by the tribe, made payments on for only a year before going into default.

The legal process between banks and the tribal entity has gone on since early 2011, partly due to questions of whether local courts had jurisdiction over the case.

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett ruled on May 7 that Outsource Services Management, a loan servicing company, could collect nearly $20.1 million on the loan and fees, to increase by more than $3,500 in unpaid interest per day.

During a community meeting Tuesday night, June 16, Kelly told tribal members that the casino could close depending on which assets the court ruled Outsource could collect on, said Michelle Roberts, a Nooksack tribal member and one of roughly 300 people potentially facing disenrollment from the tribe.

I know nothing about what is going on in the tribe or the people involved but, this place always seemed to be managed poorly.

They spent a lot of money on remodels that never really did anything. The did a major overhaul on their market centre, restaurant and bar but the quality of food did not keep pace (stopped eating there years ago - used to be good). They did a big promotion featuring Robbie Knievel. They built (and expanded) a brand new casino in an out-of-the-way location close to the Canadian border. There are a lot of Canadians that come to gamble but the casino is far from any border crossing. 

It would be really stupid to close the casino as this is a major source of employment for the area and the creditors would be much better served arranging a payment plan than killing the golden goose and never seeing their money. This also sends a message to anyone thinking of 'investing' in a tribal casino - the market is saturated and overdue for a shakeout. They can survive but they need to get a great leadership team in their immediately and get things turned around.

Starfish - even more freaky

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Starfish are a very primitive animal - been around unchanged for a long long time and very adaptable to a wide range of ecological niches. Basically - in one word - bulletproof.

I remember in Boston hearing stories of the lobster fishermen finding starfish in their pots, hacking them into pieces and throwing them overboard not realizing that they had just created two or more new starfish as they can regenerate their limbs and central cores.

Now this - from Discover Magazine:

Starfish Ruin an Experiment and Reveal a Superpower
Scientists already knew starfish have superpowers. They can regenerate entire lost limbs or organs; some can even regrow a whole body from one arm. And these animals have just revealed another bizarre ability. To two Danish students, it first appeared as the power to really wreck an experiment.

At the University of Southern Denmark, students Frederik Ekholm Gaardsted Christensen and Trine Bottos Olsen were asked to tag some starfish. The task was simple: inject the Asterias rubens with microchips, the same kind that veterinarians implant in pet dogs. This would let researchers easily identify individual starfish later on. The technique had already been used successfully in sea urchins.

Starfish came to the university from local fishers who had caught them by accident. The students injected the tags into the animals as directed. But within days, those same tags showed up at the bottom of the tank. Somehow, the starfish were expelling the foreign objects from their bodies.

When the students witnessed the act, it was a little like a magic trick—one moment a magician’s hand is empty, and the next she’s holding a bird. The starfish pushed the tags out the ends of their arms, straight through the skin.

To find out more, the students and professor Daniel Levitis set up some experiments. First they injected tags into 53 starfish and scanned them each day to see how many of the tags were still there.  In less than 3 weeks, all the tags were gone.

To exit out the ends of their arms is downright bizarre. Like I said, ancient and freaky. Paging Mr. Cthulhu, Mr. Cthulhu to the white courtesy phone please... 

From Live Science:

Did Ebola Strike Ancient Athens?
Could the first recorded Ebola outbreak have occurred not in Africa less than 40 years ago, but rather, more than 2,400 years ago, in ancient Greece? That's what one professor of infectious diseases and history now suggests.

Most researchers say that the first outbreak of Ebola happened in 1976, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire). In the current outbreak of the virus in West Africa  — which began in early 2014 in West Africa, and is the largest outbreak of Ebola  to date — more than 27,000 people have been infected and nearly 11,200 people have died, according to the World Health Organization.

However, the Ebola virus is apparently quite old; previous research discovered remnants of identical Ebola DNA in several different species of rodents, including the mouse and the Norway rat. This led scientists to speculate that Ebola infected the ancestors of these species at least 20 million years ago.

The Plague of Athens:

In the new paper, Kazanjian suggests that an Ebola virus may have been the culprit in the infamous Plague of Athens, a five-year epidemic that began in 430 B.C., whose cause has long been a matter of conjecture among physicians and historians. The famed historian Thucydides, who chronicled the Peloponnesian War between the rival city-states of Athens and Sparta, was not only an eyewitness to the Athenian disease, but also contracted it himself and survived.

And:

The Athenian illness, also called Thucydides syndrome, began with an abrupt onset of fever, headache, fatigue, and pain in the stomach and extremities, accompanied by furious vomiting. Those who survived after seven days of illness also experienced severe diarrhea. Additional symptoms included reddened eyes, hiccups and bleeding from the mouth. Stricken individuals also sometimes experienced cough, seizures, confusion, rashes, pustules, ulcers, and even loss of fingers and toes, possibly due to gangrene.

As the disease progressed in those afflicted, Thucydides noted that people became so dehydrated that some plunged themselves into wells in futile attempts to quench their unceasing thirst. The disease often ended in death, typically by day seven to nine of the illness. Medical treatment was useless against the disease's severity and bleak outcome.

Sounds like a classic hemorrhagic fever if not Ebola specifically. No knowledge of sanitation so it would be transmitted a lot more freely through casual content. The R-naught would have been through the roof where Ebola today is around 1.5 to 2.5 overall.

Tip of the hat to Irons in the Fire for the link.

I want this software now!

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Very cool from Google Research:

Inceptionism: Going Deeper into Neural Networks
Artificial Neural Networks have spurred remarkable recent progress in image classification and speech recognition. But even though these are very useful tools based on well-known mathematical methods, we actually understand surprisingly little of why certain models work and others don’t. So let’s take a look at some simple techniques for peeking inside these networks.

We train an artificial neural network by showing it millions of training examples and gradually adjusting the network parameters until it gives the classifications we want. The network typically consists of 10-30 stacked layers of artificial neurons. Each image is fed into the input layer, which then talks to the next layer, until eventually the “output” layer is reached. The network’s “answer” comes from this final output layer.

And:

So here’s one surprise: neural networks that were trained to discriminate between different kinds of images have quite a bit of the information needed to generate images too.

Read the rest of the article - this is going to be a lot of fun to play with. Here is a nine-second video.

Here are two of the images:

20150619-google01.jpg

20150619-google02.jpg

There is a good writeup at the UK Guardian

Raining death from above

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Bought a 15 gallon plastic tank and used parts I had on hand to build a 12 Volt pumped sprayer that fits into the front bucket of Buttercup the tractor. Backpack sprayers are great but at five gallons, you run out too soon and the sprayer is not really ergonomic - I feel it in my bones when I have done a few tanks. With this unit, I just drive Buttercup to the weeds and go to town.

The existing spray wand had a short hose - I checked and it was the standard 3/8" I.D. that air hoses use - I recently switched over from rubber woven air hoses to the new plastic ones (much lighter and don't tangle as much) - now I have a 25 foot radius of operations. Schweeet!

I had not been as proactive as needed last year with the thistles and burdock and we now have a bumper crop scattered all over creation. Got most of them (45 gallons of spray) and will get the rest tomorrow.

A plague of roundabouts

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Roundabouts or traffic circles have become the next big thing in our county over the last five years. They are expensive and slow down the traffic where a simple light would do a much better job.

From our state's Department of Transportation:

Preparations for SR 542 Anderson Creek project near Bellingham begin June 25
It will take a closure of Everson-Goshen Road near East Smith Road to get ready for a much bigger closure on State Route 542 (Mount Baker Highway) east of Bellingham that will begin a few weeks later.

During a 21-hour closure, starting Thursday evening, June 25, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will build a compact roundabout that will serve as part of a detour during the SR 542 construction.

Crews will close SR 542 starting Monday, July 13, to build a new bridge over Anderson Creek that will replace two old culverts. The culverts are a maintenance issue and a barrier to fish passage. That work requires a 75-day closure of a section of the highway near the creek, located about four miles east of Bellingham. Traffic will detour onto Everson-Goshen Road and East Smith Road while the highway is closed.

Repairing the culvert is a needed task - a lot of debris accumulates there and Anderson Creek has enough flow to sustain a viable fish population.

To install a 'compact roundabout' where one is not needed is just plain excessive. The DOT has portable traffic light systems on trailers that they could set up for the duration.

As an anecdote, I lived in Boston 40 years ago and roundabouts were a big thing at that time. They were springing up everywhere. Back in 2008, Jen, me and my Dad went back to Boston for a friend's memorial service. I rented a car and drove around my old neighborhoods. With two exceptions, every single roundabout had been taken out with most of them being replaced by a traffic light.

I am in love with a plant

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Coming back from the Sea-Pac radio convention, I passed through Port Townsend and there, saw an amazing plant - huge leaves and a gorgeous complex blossom. It was growing quite happily in a galvanized metal stock tank.

None of the staff knew what it was so yesterday, I found the place's website and emailed. Got a nice reply and what I was looking at was a Gunnera tinctoria.

Now to track down a source - I have a perfect spot near the house for it. Only wish is that Horse and Mule do not find it tasty...

Light posting tonight

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Getting to be a recurrent theme these days. With the current generation of ham radios, control by computer is feasible (all their internal operations are run by a computer so adding an interface is a simple task).

There are a lot of competing programs out there - starting to sift through them and see which one is the best fit for my newbie radio brain. Log4OM (station log for, and 'OM' is ham slang for Old Man) looks decent - trying out a couple others too.

First salad from the garden

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Fixing dinner and made a big salad from the first lettuce from our garden. Lots more growing - this is from the first batch we planted. Carrots on the way. Kale and chard nearing first harvest with a lot more growing.

I love this time of year.

Expecting some scattered rain tonight and tomorrow with sunny weather for a few days.

Maybe time to buy a drone after all

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I want to get a drone but I feel that there are a few advances in technology around the bend (battery life, photography quality and accident avoidence) so I am watching and waiting.

Might be time to bite the bullet and get one now before our government takes it all away - from the office of Dianne Feinstein:

Feinstein Introduces Bill to Improve Safety of Consumer Drones
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Consumer Drone Safety Act, which would protect the public and U.S. airspace by requiring safety features for consumer drones and strengthening the federal laws that govern their operation. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) cosponsored the bill.

Under current law, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not have the authority to require manufacturers of consumer drones to include technological safeguards. There are also no clear federal rules on when, where and under what conditions recreational users can operate drones.

Figured that Chuck the Schmuck would be in on this too - an odious little man who never did anything real in his life - law school and then straight into politics.

More:

Directs the FAA to require safety features for newly manufactured consumer drones, such as geo-fencing to govern the altitude and location of flights, collision-avoidance software, precautions for the loss of a communications link, a method for pilots and air traffic control to detect and identify the drone, anti-tampering safeguards, and educational materials to be provided to the consumer.

Requires manufacturers to update existing consumer drones to meet these requirements where feasible, such as through an automatic software update.

So the bill is instructing manufacturers to put back-doors into their operating software that enable limits to be programmed in via automatic software update.

There are a few idiots out there that are spoiling it for everyone. First they blocked the sale of high-power lasers (but I got one before the block) and now they are hamstringing the drones.

Great idea from Rand Paul

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I disagree with some of what he stands for but this is downright wonderful.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Blow Up the Tax Code and Start Over
Some of my fellow Republican candidates for the presidency have proposed plans to fix the tax system. These proposals are a step in the right direction, but the tax code has grown so corrupt, complicated, intrusive and antigrowth that I’ve concluded the system isn’t fixable.

So on Thursday I am announcing an over $2 trillion tax cut that would repeal the entire IRS tax code—more than 70,000 pages—and replace it with a low, broad-based tax of 14.5% on individuals and businesses. I would eliminate nearly every special-interest loophole. The plan also eliminates the payroll tax on workers and several federal taxes outright, including gift and estate taxes, telephone taxes, and all duties and tariffs. I call this “The Fair and Flat Tax.”

President Obama talks about “middle-class economics,” but his redistribution policies have led to rising income inequality and negative income gains for families. Here’s what I propose for the middle class: The Fair and Flat Tax eliminates payroll taxes, which are seized by the IRS from a worker’s paychecks before a family ever sees the money. This will boost the incentive for employers to hire more workers, and raise after-tax income by at least 15% over 10 years.

Much more at the site - some excellent and economically sound ideas.

Canadian rap

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Nails it...

Mad Max - out of gas

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If society has crumbled, why are they using such gas guzzlers?

The folks at The Warp Zone put this together:

The irony...

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I am getting into ham radio - enjoying the learning and looking forward to being on the air. I was a late night FM DJ when I lived in Boston for two college stations and had a blast doing it.

I am also very much into meteorology and am very much an Anthropogenic Global Warming skeptic - the computer models that the warmists are using are just plain bad science - something cobbled together to support a political agenda (as well as tap some of that sweet sweet Federal grant money - our tax dollars at work). Yes, we had been leaving a cold period for the last 300 years - but there has been currently an 18+ year hiatus on warming.

One aspect of ham radio is working long distances with very low power - this is a direct function of our Sun and its activity. High solar activity energizes the various layers of our ionosphere (D, E, F1 and F2) and these layers will reflect a radio signal and bounce it hundreds to thousands of miles along the surface of our planet. Makes for some interesting contacts!

Our Sun also is the prime contributer of our warmth - something many of the climate models fail to incorporate. The irony is that from every indication, we are entering a solar lull. Last time this happened, we had the Maunder Minimum. The great rivers of Europe froze over in winter.

Long distance ham radio operation will suck for a hundred years or so if this is what is actually happening...

That new trade bill seems to be really bad for us - no wonder they are keeping it under wraps.

From Breitbart:

Jeff Sessions on Obamatrade’s ‘New Pacific Union’ Like the EU: Something America Has ‘Never Seen’ Before
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has issued yet another clarion call to House Republicans urging them to abandon GOP leadership’s desperate ploys to bring Obamatrade back to life and instead vote against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and stop President Obama from getting even more power in his final years in office.

“The House is preparing to vote again tomorrow on providing fast-track executive authority to the President. If adopted, it will be sent immediately to the Senate for final consideration,” Sessions said, before correcting misconceptions peddled far and wide by House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

“It is essential that there be no misunderstanding: fast-track preapproves the formation of not only the unprecedentedly large Trans-Pacific Partnership, but an unlimited number of such agreements over the next six years,” Sessions said. “Those pacts include three of the most ambitious ever contemplated. After TPP comes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union, followed by the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), seeking as one its goals labor mobility among more than 50 nations. Together, these three international compacts encompass three-fourths of the world’s GDP. Including the nations whose membership is being courted for after enactment, the countries involved would encompass nearly 90 percent of global GDP. Yet, through fast-track, Congress will have authorized the President to ink these deals before a page of them has been made public. Then, the Executive sends Congress ‘implementing’ legislation to change U.S. law—legislation which cannot be amended, cannot be filibustered, and will not be subjected to the Constitutional requirement for a two-thirds treaty vote.”

Sessions then laid out how several members of Congress didn’t even know about what they were voting on when leadership forced them to vote—and how it’s not too late for Republicans to see the light and oppose the creation of a new global governance.

This thing is so bad on so many levels - it removes our sovereignty and will make even more money for the banksters. This is Obama's payback for all his contributions and his final blow to weaken America.

On the road - trips to town

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Spent the day looking at options for a permanent antenna - thinking of two Windoms (more here and here), these are relatively efficient and cover a very wide range of frequencies. I am not able to use any of the really directional antennae as I am on a valley bottom between two mountains and the valley runs due North/South - need to bounce of the Ionosphere to get anything out. I can hit Canada really well but I want to be able to work everything.

Checking out telephone poles for masts - I could put up three of them and have a Windom pointing East/West and one North/South. Still in the beginning planning stages...

Had a bite to eat in town and back home for the night. Heading in tomorrow to pick up Lulu and get Thunderbunny's oil changed.

With the nice weather, we will be doing bruschetta (my version) for dinner tomorrow. The weather was so nice today that I sat outside at the restaurant - Grace lay under my table and I fed her the occasional morsel of chicken.

It is like exchanging US Dollar bills for Mexican Pesos at parity - this time, from Watchdog:

Chinese-owned NH solar project costs ratepayers $1.22M
New Hampshire utility ratepayers will pay a Taiwanese company $1.22 million to build the state’s largest solar installation so that a small town can save about $500,000 in power costs over the life of the project.

Taiwan’s Walsin Lihwa, parent company of Borrego Solar, will use Chinese-made solar panels in the 3.5-acre project, which is supposed to be finished in July. It will supply power to several municipal buildings in the area but only some of the time: the town of Peterborough (population: 6,284) gets only 197 sunny days per year.

“What a great project,” deadpanned David Kreutzer, a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation. “A $1.2 million grant allows Peterborough to save $500,000! And that doesn’t include the cross-subsidies of net metering.” Net metering requires all other ratepayers to cover the fixed costs of electricity distribution so that solar users have a safety net when the sun doesn’t shine.

In an unusual feature of the deal, Borrego Solar will retain ownership of the system. That allows the company to claim a 30 percent federal tax credit — along with $55,000 in yearly renewable energy credits paid for by local ratepayers.

Geeezzzzz - if Borrego was going to offer me a deal like this, I would at least expect a ring and a date first.

Again, this is not about saving the planet. This is not about developing cheap alternative energy sources.

This is about large corporations spinning off small feisty little puppet companies who will come in and DO SOMETHING but this activity will be subsidized by our tax dollars and there is little or nothing that we, as citizens, can do about it. Meanwhile, the parent company makes a lot of money. Our money.

We are not being represented by our elected officials. The politicians in Washington are in the pay of the lobbyists. They are the 1% - both parties.

Hat tip to Don Surber for the link. His series on Exceptional Americans is a great read - some amazing people you never heard of...

A bit of lackluster performance

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Another problem with Green Energy - from National Review:

Cloudy days for solar thermal
This past weekend’s Wall Street Journal has some unsurprising news about solar-thermal technology. Excerpts to follow, but, in short: It’s very expensive to build, it doesn’t deliver nearly the amount of projected power, and it kills birds:

The $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar power project in California’s Mojave Desert is supposed to be generating more than a million megawatt-hours of electricity each year. But 15 months after starting up, the plant is producing just 40% of that, according to data from the U.S. Energy Department.

A bit more:

One big miscalculation was that the power plant requires far more steam to run smoothly and efficiently than originally thought, according to a document filed with the California Energy Commission. Instead of ramping up the plant each day before sunrise by burning one hour’s worth of natural gas to generate steam, Ivanpah needs more than four times that much help from fossil fuels to get the plant humming every morning. Another unexpected problem: not enough sun. Weather predictions for the area underestimated the amount of cloud cover that has blanketed Ivanpah since it went into service in 2013. 

And this:

Electricity prices from new solar farms average around 5 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to GTM Research, which tracks renewable energy markets. That compares with between 12 and 25 cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity generated by the Ivanpah power plant, state and federal data show. 

Solar farms are arrays of photovoltaic cells not thermal conversion plants like Ivanpah. The article is being a bit disingenuous in its reporting - these costs are after a hefty subsidy from the Federal Government (read: us taxpayers)

I wonder if it would be cheaper just to burn dollar bills - we seem to be pumping a lot of money into energy ratholes... 

We just need fifty years

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We have now had over 18 years with no global warming - surface temperature has stayed the same or decreased.

Now this - from Eric Worrall:

Royal Society: It will take another 50 years without warming, before we admit we were wrong
The new British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd’s plan to win over prominent climate skeptics like Lord Lawson, by setting up a meeting between skeptics and the Royal Society, has dramatically backfired, after the Royal Society admitted that the pause would have to continue for another 50 years, before they admit they are wrong.

According to Breitbart;

“We pinned them down on this hiatus… they were arguing that yes, there might have been a hiatus, but warming might be going into the ocean, or it could be due to volcanic activity. So we asked at what point would you begin to accept there had been no warming. If there is no warming for five years, or ten years?

“Finally they conceded they would wait fifty years.

“We asked would that be fifty years from now, or fifty years from 1997, when the hiatus started? They said they wouldn’t change their mind for fifty years from now.

Read more: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/06/16/exclusive-well-all-be-dead-before-climate-change-orgs-admit-theyre-wrong-says-mp/

London could be under a mile-thick sheet of ice and these hacks would say that this is what their models predicted and that the tipping point was near and we had to do something NOW!!! 

Just back from Anacortes

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Nailed the exam - arrived an hour early. The test was given in the local fire station so I verified the location and asked the firemen on duty if there was a good Chinese place around. They directed me to the Happy Wok in a strip mall and the food was excellent. Mongolian chicken - nice and spicy.

Grace and I were eating in the truck (she likes fried rice) when I saw a couple vehicles with antennae on the roof pull up and park. We finished dinner, moved to that parking lot (I was across the street - didn't know if that particular lot was OK to use) and went upstairs.

There were a few people waiting for testing so they started early. I was the first person done and only missed two questions.

Stopped in at the store on the way home and my new antenna system had been delivered by UPS. It is now legal for me to use it.

I can operate now adding a /AG to my call sign and will fire up the rig tomorrow or Thursday. Already planning to go portable and take it up to Artist Point some weekend day.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Now, time to get the critters fed and change into something warmer - wore a Nikola Tesla tee-shirt for good luck today.

More posting later...

Points South

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Been getting consistently passing results with the online practice examinations so feeling good about tonight's test.

Heading into Bellingham to run some errands and then down to Anacortes to grab a light dinner and take the exam.

Posting will be nonexistent until late tonight.

Hamming it up

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Spent the afternoon and evening watering the garden and surfing.

Back to the ham radio quizzes - give the mind a break for a while to let it sink in and then do an intensive couple hours tomorrow before driving down to Anacortes for the test.

Finally got to use a joke

Stopped into a grocery store after the shopping run to pick up a few things that my own store doesn't carry. The first of the good corn was in and if you had a loyalty card, it was 50¢/ear. If not, it was $1.00.

I mentioned to my cashier that this was Pirate Corn. Her response: WTF?

My reply was that if I didn't have my card, it would be a buck-an-ear...

Don't know if it was a genuine smile or just a grimace (rictus?)

 

And yes, it was delicious - the first good corn of the season with a couple more months to come. California for now with Eastern WA in late July and the Western WA crop on target for knee-high by 4th of July with harvest in September/October.

I have been amazed at some people's fetish for trashy crap - accoutrement with huge logos and rhinestone encrusted initials. I have known some very well-off people at Microsoft, through some of my travels and just life in general. They are just people like us only with a lot more money. I have visited Mexico City, Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, Boston, NYC, Shanghai, Deming, etc... and it is always fun to window shop the ritzier neighborhoods.

This is a nice development - from The Washington Post:

Why Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada are in trouble
On a sunny May morning in New York’s upscale Fifth Avenue retail corridor, Carron Ryan stopped to admire a diamond-encrusted Van Cleef & Arpels necklace in the window of the Bergdorf Goodman department store. Louis Vuitton’s sprawling flagship store was right across the street, but she turned her nose up at its lineup of logo-stamped satchels and tote bags.

“It looks a little trashy,” Ryan said. “It’s better to be subtle.”

Ryan’s fondness for low-key, logo-free pieces is shared by a growing number of wealthy shoppers, experts say, who prefer to shell out for unique, hard-to-find pieces instead of highly recognizable handbags from big-name brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada.

The shift is largely about adapting to a moment in high-end fashion when personal taste and individuality — not conformity — are the ultimate badges of cool.

The article then goes on:

But experts say the penchant for more discreet luxury goods is also partly being fueled by the simmering political debate about income inequality, which is leaving some big spenders worried that it is tacky to carry a purse that practically announces its four-figure price tag.

These experts are wrong - these people are in a bubble. They know nothing of the simmering political debate about income inequality. Do not try to inject a narrative - you are supposed to be a journalist after all - author Sarah Halzack I am looking right at you...

It is all about practical goods and not being gauche. This is one reason why the maker crafts are doing so well - people want a nice piece of blacksmithing or pottery in their house, not a big-name unintelligible showpiece. People are starting to care for quality. A bunch of people have always cared about quality.

Having so many knock-offs of Vuitton and Gucci probably did not hurt - a brand becomes less valuable when it is profoundly diluted. I also love seeing the hyper-masculine rappers sporting the Dolce and Gabbana gear. Two flaming fagots (how they self-identify - do your own research) making bling for women and all of a sudden, they are popular with rappers.

I heard that Orlando, FL resident Sonya Baumstein had to bail on her attempt to be the first American to row solo across the Pacific Ocean. The Orlando station Bay News 9 had this to say:

Bad weather ends Orlando woman's attempt to row across Pacific
One week after setting off to become the first woman and the first American to solo row across the Pacific Ocean, expected bad weather has forced Sonya Baumstein to end her attempt at history.

The Orlando native was rescued Saturday off the coast of Japan after sending out a distress signal.

Baumstein, 30, launched her 6,000-mile journey last Sunday morning from Japan, heading for San Francisco. But the weather turned rough, forcing her to send out the distress signal around 2 p.m. Saturday. She was rescued around three hours later.

I love extreme adventuring and wish Sonya complete success on all of her future endeavors.

What stuck in my craw was this line:

The trip was also scientific in nature; partnered with NASA, Baumstein was also measuring water samples to study climate change.

Christ on a corn dog - doesn't anyone at NASA know about the Argo program?

What is Argo?
Argo is a global array of more than 3,000 free-drifting profiling floats that measures the temperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean.  This allows, for the first time, continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean, with all data being relayed and made publicly available within hours after collection.

20150615-argo.jpg

The map shows the 3,886 buoys that have uploaded their data within the last 30 days. The buoys profile a 2,000 Meter (that would be 1.24 miles) column of water recording temperature, salinity, velocity and direction through its ascent.

The idea that NASA has to piggyback on a venture like Ms. Baumstein's smacks of publicity rather than science. This is what the whole climate change story has been from the beginning. Yes, we are coming out of a cold period but we may well be entering a new one as our Sun is unusually quiet (and not as hot).

More on Argo here: How Argo floats work.

Happy 800th Birthday - Magna Carta

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One of the most important documents in human history. It set the first rights of people to be free.

Two lines:

No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

And:

To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice.

From The National Archives:

Magna Carta and Its American Legacy
Before penning the Declaration of Independence--the first of the American Charters of Freedom--in 1776, the Founding Fathers searched for a historical precedent for asserting their rightful liberties from King George III and the English Parliament. They found it in a gathering that took place 561 years earlier on the plains of Runnymede, not far from where Windsor Castle stands today. There, on June 15, 1215, an assembly of barons confronted a despotic and cash-strapped King John and demanded that traditional rights be recognized, written down, confirmed with the royal seal, and sent to each of the counties to be read to all freemen. The result was Magna Carta--a momentous achievement for the English barons and, nearly six centuries later, an inspiration for angry American colonists.

Magna Carta was the result of the Angevin king's disastrous foreign policy and overzealous financial administration. John had suffered a staggering blow the previous year, having lost an important battle to King Philip II at Bouvines and with it all hope of regaining the French lands he had inherited. When the defeated John returned from the Continent, he attempted to rebuild his coffers by demanding scutage (a fee paid in lieu of military service) from the barons who had not joined his war with Philip. The barons in question, predominantly lords of northern estates, protested, condemning John's policies and insisting on a reconfirmation of Henry I's Coronation Oath (1100), which would, in theory, limit the king's ability to obtain funds. (As even Henry ignored the provisions of this charter, however, a reconfirmation would not necessarily guarantee fewer taxes.) But John refused to withdraw his demands, and by spring most baronial families began to take sides. The rebelling barons soon faltered before John's superior resources, but with the unexpected capture of London, they earned a substantial bargaining chip. John agreed to grant a charter.

Much more at the site.

King John sounds a lot like the ruling elite we suffer under in Washington. Time for the State governors to bring a Charter to Washington.

We do have this power in Article V of the United States Constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Time to rise up...

Rachel Dolezal in the news

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Rachel is a white woman who applies spray-on tan and perms her hair and lives her life as a black woman. She was the head of the NAACP in Spokane, WA until her pigmentation problem became public.

Here is an after and before photo:

20150615-rd01.jpg

It seems that people have been digging into her past.

From The Smoking Gun:

NAACP Impostor Sued School Over Race Claims
The NAACP official who today resigned in the face of evidence that she masqueraded as black once sued Howard University for denying her teaching posts and a scholarship because she was a white woman, The Smoking Gun has learned.

Rachel Dolezal, 37, who headed the NAACP’s Spokane, Washington chapter, sued Howard for discrimination in 2002, the year she graduated from the historically black college with a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Dolezal, then known as Rachel Moore, named the university and Professor Alfred Smith as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C.’s Superior Court. During the pendency of the civil case, Smith was chairman of Howard’s Department of Art.

According to a Court of Appeals opinion, Dolezal's lawsuit “claimed discrimination based on race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender.” She alleged that Smith and other school officials improperly blocked her appointment to a teaching assistant post, rejected her application for a post-graduate instructorship, and denied her scholarship aid while she was a student.

The court opinion also noted that Dolezal claimed that the university’s decision to remove some of her artworks from a February 2001 student exhibition was “motivated by a discriminatory purpose to favor African-American students over” her.

As detailed in the court opinion, Dolezal’s lawsuit contended that Howard was “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult.”

Time to make a big bowl of popcorn and watch the show. Another Social Justice Warrior bites the dust - stupid is as stupid does... These people are so divorced from reality that their behaviour borders on something you might find in DSM-IV-TR (4th. ed.) Wonder if she has cats.

From Canada's National Post:

‘Peacekeeper babies’ an unintended consequence of sending in the United Nations
The U.N. peacekeepers arrive; months later, some leave infants behind. Now the United Nations has quietly started to offer DNA testing to help prove paternity claims and ensure support for the so-called “peacekeeper babies.”

It’s a delicate step, as countries that contribute U.N. troops might not welcome a practice that could prove not only fatherhood but wrongdoing. Of the dozen paternity claims received last year, four were associated with alleged sexual abuse of a minor.

The new effort comes a decade after a groundbreaking report on sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers suggested that the U.N. secretary-general be authorized to “require DNA and other tests to establish paternity” so peacekeepers would be pressured to support the children they “father and abandon.”

There are a few small tasks that the United Nations is good at and these should be kept running. The rest of it is corrupt and a perfect example of why "big government" never, ever works.

Such wonderful people:

Almost half of the paternity claims reported since January 2010 were made by minors who said they’ had been sexually abused. The U.N., nervous about angering member states amid a persistent need for peacekeepers, does not even list the countries whose troops are accused. Officials say that could change as soon as next year.

Disgusting...

There was nobody out and about - looked like the zombie apocalypse had happened. I got through the store shopping run as well as a bunch of personal errands) in four hours instead of the usual five+.

Heading out to water the garden - the cherry trees were looking a bit thirsty so picked up a soaker hose.

More ham radio test practice and the last of the beef stew for dinner. Test is tomorrow evening...

That's it for the night

Been working on the ham radio practice tests. Got an early day tomorrow so turning in now.

Full day tomorrow and exam on Tuesday so blogging will be light for a while...

Ham Radio - what it can do

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There is some fascinating technology being developed when you combine computers and ham radio sets. The radio waves become just another way to transfer data and if when the big one happens, radio may be the only available form of communication for several months.

Here is a great 25 minute documentary on the Kuwait war of 1990 and one person who contributed a lot - they reference a technology called Aplink - it has been developed further and is now named Winlink.

 

It is about time - NIST-F2

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Great article for Time Nuts at Slate:

Just a Second
The leap second may be a ticking time bomb.
The most accurate tool on the planet for plotting the tick-tock of life goes by the humdrum name of NIST-F2. It is a cesium fountain atomic clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado. In the same way that a single cylinder of a platinum-iridium alloy entombed at the NIST campus near Washington, D.C. is the kilogram, the pulses delivered by this clock make it not merely a timepiece but the timepiece; all others are calibrated against it.*

For decades, the world’s primary timescale, Universal Coordinated Time, has been hitched to the numbers put forth by a network of atomic clocks scattered around the globe, including NIST-F2. Because NIST-F2 is more precise than other atomic clocks, it’s reasonable to say that it is the most accurate clock humanity has ever built. It also happens to be more accurate at keeping time than Mother Nature, a statement that is both true and controversial, for reasons we will get to in a carefully clocked minute.

NIST-F2 works by fiddling with the spin of electrons within cesium atoms. The 12-foot-tall machine uses lasers to corral about 100 million cesium atoms into a tight configuration that slows their motion and cools them to nearly absolute zero. More lasers nudge the cluster up through a microwave chamber, and then gravity brings it back down again. The carefully tuned microwave radiation changes the state of the cesium atoms. In the 1950s, scientists calculated the number of cycles of this radiation that occur during the most precise astronomical definition of a second. That number is 9,192,631,770, which looks like digit soup to most of us, but time nerds know it instantly. A second, at least in the standards sense of it, is not one-sixtieth of a minute or even one of 86,400 parts of a day.  It is “the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.” 

The Leapsecond:

At issue is the blending of two timescales. Time tracked by atomic clocks is diverging from time as determined by that most basic of timepieces: the rotating Earth. Whereas the best atomic clocks today have an error rate that translates into roughly one misshapen second every 100 million years, Earth, by comparison, is unreliable. That’s because the planet’s rotation is irregular and gradually slowing down. (It may feel like life passes by in a blink, but days are actually getting longer, albeit slowly.) This gradual deceleration, mixed with shorter-term changes to Earth’s rotational velocity, make the heavens a less than trusty timekeeper.

A nice long (three pages) article talking about accurate timekeeping and how crucial it is to our modern society.

I maintain a few clocks here that are very accurate - these were developed by the cellular telephone companies to be able to triangulate the location of 911 calls so the timing is accurate down to a couple hundred nanoseconds. As newer clocks come out, the old ones are sold on the surplus market for pennies on the dollar but they are still perfectly functional as equipment built for any telephone service is built like a tank and essentially bulletproof.

A run for her money

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A bit of a human interest story from fifteen miles away - from Seattle station KOMO:

Trooper on 6 mph escort to woman on scooter: 'Just trying to get her home'
Another encounter between law enforcement and the public is drawing all sorts of attention.

Drivers and residents along State Route 546, near the U.S. - Canadian border, saw what appeared to be a slow-speed pursuit Tuesday and started posting to social media.

Video showed what looked like a trooper trying to pull over a woman on the highway.

The woman, in her 80s, was on a motorized scooter. Maximum speed: 6 miles an hour.

"What it looked like at the time was this older lady on a Rascal cruising down the road. The cop car with the lights flashing going behind her is what caught my attention," said Andrea Ruth, whose office faces the highway, where the speed limit is 45 miles an hour. "You can't make that stuff up."

And the backstory

"I wasn't trying to stop her. I wasn't trying to detain her. I was just trying to get her back to her home," said Trooper Dave Hintz with the Washington State Patrol. "I just treated her the way I would've wanted somebody to treat my mom."

The woman had gone out for coffee in Lynden Tuesday afternoon, but got lost while trying to get home, troopers said. When Hintz caught up with her, she was nearly four miles from her house and continuing to head in the wrong direction.

Really glad this turned out well - SR-546 is a very busy highway.

This from the excellent British IT site - The Register:

US mega-hack: White House orders govt IT to do what it should have done in the first place
No, you're not reading The Onion
In response to this week's data breach at the US Office of Personnel Management, the White House has ordered federal agencies to immediately deploy state-of-the-art anti-hacker defenses – things like installing security patches, and not giving everyone the admin password.

This groundbreaking cyber-edict comes after dossiers packed with highly sensitive personal information on American intelligence and military staffers were reportedly stolen from a government database.

In a statement today, officials at the White House's Office of Management and Budget said federal agency sysadmins have been told to take steps including:

    1. Install software patches for critical vulnerabilities "without delay."
    2. Use antivirus and check log files for "indicators" of malware infection or intrusion.
    3. Start using two-factor authentication.
    4. Slash the number of people with administrator-level access and limit what they can do and for how long per-login-session, and "ensure that privileged user activities are logged and that such logs are reviewed regularly."

"Recent events underscore the need to accelerate the administration’s cyber strategy and confront aggressive, persistent malicious actors that continue to target our nation’s cyber infrastructure," the White House officials added.

Sadly, there is more at the site. Want to see how the Federal Information Technology infrastructure is being run? Here is a great analogue from the very early 1900's - the Keystone Cops:

Getting solid 80% - 90% scores on the online ham tests. Much better than what I need to pass so feeling optimistic. Glad I decided to bag today and make the drive down on Tuesday.

Besides, the log show was a lot of fun.

Surf's up!

Just back from the logging show

A lot of fun - Lulu's nephew Jimmy was with us and he enjoyed himself a lot.

I took some photos and will post them in a bit. Studying hard for the test - getting good grades on the practice exams but no telling what questions I'll get on the "real test" so need to spend some time with this...

Heating up some leftover beast stew for dinner and have cold watermelon for an accompaniment.

Amateur Radio study

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Studying for a Ham License can be just a matter of rote memorization. I am taking this a step further as I actually want to know what I am doing but still, there are two resources for people wanting to get their license.

This is made easy as the FCC uses a pool of 300 questions and the test is 35 of them in multiple choice format. The FCC publishes the questions and answers (one right and three wrong) so there are some great study websites out there.

You should note that the order of the answers is completely random so if you hit a question where you remembered that the answer was (A), the correct answer may well be (C) on the actual exam.

Check out QRZ Hamtest (the parent site is awesome!) as well as HamStudy - great set of flashcards that work you through the entire 300 and there are explanations and links to further study.

You do need to register for each site but i have not had any problem with excessive SPAM and registering allows them to keep track of your scores so you can see what areas you need to work on.

Boeing's New 787 Dreamliner

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She is a beauty - quite the takeoff:

Shows what a well engineered design is capable of - from the Grand Rapids, Michigan station WOOD:

1980s computer controls GRPS heat and AC
A 30-year-old computer that has run day and night for decades is what controls the heat and air conditioning at 19 Grand Rapids Public Schools.

The Commodore Amiga was new to GRPS in the early 1980s and it has been working tirelessly ever since. GRPS Maintenance Supervisor Tim Hopkins said that the computer was purchased with money from an energy bond in the 1980s. It replaced a computer that was “about the size of a refrigerator.”

The computer is responsible for turning the heat and the air conditioners on and off for 19 school buildings.

“The system controls the start/stop of boilers, the start/stop of fans, pumps, [it] monitors space temperatures, and so on,” Hopkins explained.

A Kentwood High School student programmed it when it was installed in the 1980s. Whenever the district has a problem with it, they go back to the original programmer who still lives in the area.

Talk about reliable - they will get around to replacing it but it still works so the urgency is not there.

A change in plans

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Not taking the amateur radio exam tomorrow - there is a test in Anacortes (an hour drive) next Tuesday so I will take that one.

Still missing on a couple of areas and need to get them nailed before taking the test.

There is a logging show tomorrow and Sunday - will be spending the time there instead.

Office of Personnel Management? Our Federal Government and this is a biggie.

From The Washington Post:

Chinese hack compromised security-clearance database
The Chinese breach of the Office of Personnel Management network was wider than first acknowledged and officials said Friday that a database holding sensitive security clearance information on millions of federal employees and contractors also was compromised.

More:

The announcement of the hack of the security clearance database comes a week after OPM disclosed that another personnel system had been compromised. The discovery of the first led investigators to find the second--all part of one campaign by the Chinese, evidently to obtain information valuable to counterespionage.

And the money quote:

The separate background check database contains sensitive information — called SF-86 data — that includes applicants’ financial histories and investment records, children’s and relatives’ names, foreign trips taken and contacts with foreign nationals, past residences and names of neighbors and close friends.

The SF86 can be found here: Form SF86 - Questionnaire for National Security Positions

It is a 127 page document reaching into every aspect of the applicant's life

What makes this so egregious is that the hack was not found by Federal IT people, from Ars Technica:

Report: Hack of government employee records discovered by product demo
As officials of the Obama administration announced that millions of sensitive records associated with current and past federal employees and contractors had been exposed by a long-running infiltration of the networks and systems of the Office of Personnel Management on June 4, they claimed the breach had been found during a government effort to correct problems with OPM's security. An OPM statement on the attack said that the agency discovered the breach as it had "undertaken an aggressive effort to update its cybersecurity posture." And a DHS spokesperson told Ars that "interagency partners" were helping the OPM improve its network monitoring "through which OPM detected new malicious activity affecting its information technology systems and data in April 2015."

Those statements may not be entirely accurate. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the breach was indeed discovered in April. But according to sources who spoke to the WSJ's Damian Paletta and Siobhan Hughes, it was in fact discovered during a sales demonstration of a network forensics software package called CyFIR by its developer, CyTech Services. "CyTech, trying to show OPM how its cybersecurity product worked, ran a diagnostics study on OPM’s network and discovered malware was embedded on the network," Paletta and Hughes reported.

The Wall Street Journal article is behind a stupid paywall but the Ars Technica story covers the salient details.

And, according to federal investigators, that malware may have been in place for over a year. US intelligence agencies have joined the investigation into the breach. But it's still not even clear what data was accessed by the attackers.

Our nation is in the best of hands - we spent over $2 Billion dollars on the Obamacare website and now, this - a hack in place for over a year and only detected by a third-party vendor brining a tool in for demonstration.

From NPR:

After Spending Millions On Communications, Homeland Security Fails Radio Test
One of the difficulties that first responders during the Sept. 11 attacks faced was problematic communication, including radios that didn't allow different agencies to speak with one another.

It would seem like a simple problem to solve, and in the years since, the Department of Homeland Security has spent heavily, equipping agencies with new radios and special reserved frequencies for them to operate on.

But a government watchdog report out Monday concludes that almost 15 years and some $430 million later, the problems persist.

Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General first visited the issue in November 2012, finding that "less than one-fourth of 1 percent of DHS radio users tested could access and use the specified common channel to communicate."

Emphasis mine - Good Lord! Everyone is trying to carve out their own little fiefdom and screw the rest of you. Using the 'free government money' to build flashy new radio rooms but spending zero time on agency interoperability.

One 'advantage' of living in such a disaster-prone area such as Whatcom County is that our communications groups train regularly and we are constantly self-analyzing and improving. I am a newcomer to these organizations but the level of training is very good.

A bit more:

The inspector general's office cited recent tests it conducted, with disappointing results:

"To determine whether radio interoperability had improved since our November 2012 report, we tested 17 radio users from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to see if they could access and use the DHS common channel to communicate. Test results demonstrated little improvement.
Although seven radio users from ICE and USCG were able to successfully communicate using the specified common channel, eight users from CBP were still not aware that a DHS common channel existed. Additionally, a radio user from ICE and another from CBP knew about the common channel, but could not access it."

The Office of the Inspector General also tried to test radio interoperability at the Transportation Security Administration, but the location it visited didn't have the common channel programmed on any of its radios. Asked how the TSA communicated with Customs and Border Protection at the site (presumably an international airport), the manager interviewed said transportation security officers didn't need to communicate with other Homeland Security components by radio, and used phones or visited in person.

Much more at the site - if we get hit; and we will, our security people will not be able to find their asses with both hands. Of course, as with any entrenched bureaucracy, nobody will be fired for this. At worst, they will be promoted to a new position in some other branch office.

We seriously need some adults in the room...

Coffee and ham

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Been studying for the General exam - getting a pretty reliable passing score on the tests.

Heading out for some coffee and to check the mail. Will come home and fix the brush cutter and then, back to the online training...

I am looking to upgrade my Technician license to General and have been studying online. My weak spot is antenna theory.

Fortunately, there were some good classes at the Sea-Pac conference. I went to my local Emergency Communications Group meeting and tonight's show and tell was antennas. Starting to get a good grasp of the theory.

At the meeting, I asked if there were any license tests being given in the area - there is one scheduled for this Saturday. Looks like I will be spending tonight and tomorrow with my face buried in the computer.

So true - photography

Ten gallons later

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Just ran ten gallons of Glyphosate around the farm - got the majority of the burdock and the weeds around all the buildings and the garden fence-line (redoing that fence this summer). I like burdock and the root is very tasty but it is everywhere and invasive as hell. It spreads by hitching a ride on critters and we have enough of these that this is a concern.

I will do some more in a few days - see what spots I missed...

Heating up some spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight - have a Emergency Communications Group meeting at 7:00PM and the facility is about an hour away. The lettuce has grown enough that it is almost ready for harvesting - fresh salads in a week!

Green energy - yeah riggghhhht...

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From the London Daily Mail:

The UK's £1billion carbon-belcher raping US forests...that YOU pay for: How world's biggest green power plant is actually INCREASING greenhouse gas emissions and Britain's energy bill
It is touted as the flagship of Britain’s energy future: the world’s biggest green power plant burning wood pellets to generate renewable biomass electricity that will safeguard the planet for our children.

But today The Mail on Sunday can expose the hypocrisy that underpins the Drax power station in North Yorkshire – which far from curbing greenhouse emissions, is actually increasing them, while adding huge sums to the nation’s power bills.

Drax was once Britain’s biggest coal-fired power station. It now burns millions of tons of wood pellets each year, and is reputed to be the UK’s biggest single contributor towards meeting stringent EU green energy targets.

But astonishingly, a new study shows that the switch by Drax from coal to wood is actually increasing carbon emissions. It says they are four times as high as the maximum level the Government sets for plants that use biomass – which is defined as fuel made from plant material that will grow back again, therefore re-absorbing the CO2 emitted when it is burnt.

At £80 per MW/hr, Drax’s biomass energy is two-and-a-half times more expensive than coal – a cost passed on to customers. Last year Drax soaked up £340 million in ‘green’ subsidies that were added to British consumers’ power bills – a sum set to rocket still further. Without these subsidies, its biomass operation would collapse.

Perhaps most damningly of all, its hunger for wood fuel is devastating hardwood forests in America, to the fury of US environmentalists, who say that far from saving the planet, companies like Drax are destroying it. Drax denies this, saying it only uses dust and residues from sawmills, as well as wood left over when others log trees for purposes such as construction. Inquiries by The Mail on Sunday investigation suggests this claim is highly questionable.

Just wonderful and the cost is being carried by the British Taxpayer.

Of course, it is not about being green, it is about making money - the Daily Mail has this side-bar article:

The disgraced former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was a key political architect of Britain’s drive for biomass – and is now the European chief of a US pellet company which is seeking UK markets.

Lib Dem Huhne – who was jailed in 2012 for persuading his ex-wife to take his speeding points – is a director of Zilkha Biomass, which is currently completing a huge ‘black wood pellet’ plant in Selma, Alabama.

Zilkha already has a contract to supply a power station near Paris, and a spokesman said it was ‘absolutely interested’ in doing business in the UK. The firm’s website boasts of Huhne’s former Cabinet role, saying he was responsible for ‘setting up a new energy-saving framework’ as well as ‘market reform to spur low carbon investment’.

Huhne declined to disclose his salary, saying: ‘Biomass is one of the cheapest ways of generating low-carbon electricity ... all I am doing is working in a business that I have followed and been interested in for years.’

Liberal Democrat of course - love the line about "declined to disclose his salary" all the while his money is coming from taxpayers everywhere as these projects need large subsidies to be at all feasible.

It's the Gang Green at work.

Another gorgeous day in paradise

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Lulu is out watering the garden. I am heading out for coffee and to do some printing for a friend - they are making a pamphlet and I have a folding machine and saddle stapler.

Come back home and will be committing a naked act of aggression against some burdock that is in the wrong place - some other weeds are going to leave today feeling a bit poorly. Glyphosate is a wonderful thing to have. It is just soap but made with Phosphorous, not Sodium. Has the curious property of inhibiting the synthesis of tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine in the plants causing them to starve to death. Harmless to mammals and insects. There is a body of claim citing cancers but when the actual numbers are looked at, the sample size is too small for any conclusive data (fudging the p-value).

I had posted this image earlier today - taken at Port Townsend's Fort Warden park with a freighter passing in back of the lighthouse.

20150608-fort.jpg

Just for fun, I went back to the original camera file and cropped a section out to see:

20150608-fort-mag.jpg

Handheld, braced well against a fence post. Shutter was 250 and ISO 160. Native camera JPG file - have not looked at the RAW data as yet but expecting less of a staircase effect on the straight lines. This is a noticeable glitch with JPG files.

Bob Moog (rhymes with Vogue - Dutch ancestry) developed the first practical electronic music synthesizer. There were others that came before but Moog had the idea to make every parameter controlled by a voltage input as opposed to turning a knob.

This meant that you could use the output of one module to modify the operating parameters of another. Moog also specified that the voltage was one volt per octave of range. Some of the earlier manufacturers did one volt per cycle but since we perceive music by octaves instead of cycles per second, these machines were awkward to use.

Bob was also very particular about the quality of his design - my first exposure to electronic music synthesizers was back in 1971 with a Buchla system in a hot room. Whenever the air conditioning came on, you had to stop and retune. Moog did not have this problem. (1V/Hz is electronically a lot simpler circuit to design than 1V/Octave)

I have owned a couple MiniMoog machines over the years and am a current and happy owner of a Moog Voyager. I also recently bought a system from Rodger at synthesizers.com - he has taken the basic Moog designs and brought them into the 21st century.

What prompted this post is this news item from the New York Times:

Moog Music Gives Employees More Control
At the Moog synthesizer factory in Asheville, N.C., on Tuesday, Michael Adams, the company’s owner and chief executive, wanted to share some life-changing news with the entire staff.

“I’ve sold half the company,” he told them.

Anxious silence descended among the tight-knit group, many of whom feel a familial loyalty to the business, which has been likened to Willy Wonka’s factory for electronic musicians.

Then Mr. Adams revealed the buyer.

“I sold it to you,” he said, to a relieved wave of whoops, applause and happy tears, according to employees present.

This is how you run a business - Capitalism at its finest!

More photos from the trip

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Here are some more photos from last weeks trip:

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From the lodge at Lake Crescent - not a bad place to spend a few hours curled up with a good book. No time for that this trip but it is one of my favorite places on the Peninsula.

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Under the bridge at Deception Pass

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View from the bridge - Mt. Baker off to the left and two tugboats maneuvering a raft of logs.

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Fort Warden, Port Townsend - this was a major fort for defending the coast of Washington - gateway to the Puget Sound. You can just make out the superstructure of a freighter coming in behind the lighthouse.

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Leaving Port Townsend on the ferry - Mt. Baker is peeking out.

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Saw this guy in Oak Harbor. The scene is from the 1954 Walt Disney adaptation of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. This movie stands up very well and is perfectly watchable today. Great effects with zero computers around...

Cool tool for bird identification

From Cornell University's excellent Ornithology Department comes Merlin Photo ID (beta)

Upload a photo of a bird and it tries to identify it.

The Martian

Looks like a good summer blockbuster - the IMDB page

The original novel and quite the publishing history - some editors need to get a better handle on the general public's tastes:

Andy Weir, the son of a particle physicist, has a background in computer science. He began writing the book in 2009, researching the book to be as realistic as possible based on existing technology. Weir studied orbital mechanics, astronomy, and the history of manned spaceflight. He has stated that he knows the exact date of each day in the book.

Having been rebuffed by literary agents when trying to get prior books published, Weir decided to put the book online in serial format one chapter at a time for free at his website. At the request of fans he made an Amazon Kindle version available through Amazon.com at 99 cents (the minimum he could set the price). The Kindle edition rose to the top of Amazon's list of best-selling science-fiction titles, where it sold 35,000 copies in three months, more than had been previously downloaded free. This garnered the attention of publishers: Podium Publishing, an audiobook publisher, signed for the audiobook rights in January 2013. Weir sold the print rights to Crown in March 2013 for over a hundred thousand dollars.

The book debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list on March 2, 2014 in the hardcover fiction category at twelfth position.

Andy's website with Chapter One for free. There is a nice trailer at IMDB but they do not allow embedding. Follow the above link to watch it.

Nothing much today

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Quick run into town for some things and the store. Unpacked the truck and gave Lulu a show-and-tell of my new treasures.

Gorgeous day today so working on stuff outside. BERT meeting tonight so getting some stuff ready for that (got Shanghaied into running the communication committee)

More later - doing grilled TriTip for dinner with a pot of rice served with BokChoy sautéed with oyster sauce and toasted sesame oil.

RIP - Hermann Zapf

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From Quartz:

Hermann Zapf, the font designer behind Palatino and Zapf Dingbats, has died at 96
Hermann Zapf, the designer of fonts such as Palatino, Optima, Zapfino, Melior, Aldus, and the bizarre but much beloved Zapf Dingbats, has died at age 96.

The revered German typographer and calligrapher passed away on June 4. In his long and prolific career, Zapf worked on many fonts, but his personal favorite was the humanist sans serif typeface Optima, the lettering chosen for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, DC.

Zapf was among the pioneers of computerized typography, experimenting with computer-aided typesetting from the 1960s. He led a seminal design program at the Rochester Institute of Technology where collaborated with computer scientists and became acquainted with IBM and Xerox. Zapf invented a typesetting program called Hz-program, which later informed the design of the desktop publishing software Adobe InDesign.

Been a print and typesetting junky for as long as I can remember - had my own print shop (two offset presses) for five years after it was no longer profitible to build computers to order.

Zapf was one of the great ones...

Back home again

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Got a bite to eat in town and sitting in front of my desktop computer which has an excellent keyboard and zero glitches.

Got 500 emails to go through - at least 240 of them are spam.

Spent today in Port Townsend, Discovery Pass and Oak Harbor - I'll post some photos tomorrow.

Great to be home - spend tomorrow playing with my new toys!

Off to Port Townsend and home

Heading to Port Townsend today and then probably home this evening. Ferry to Whidbey Island, Deception Pass and then north.

@#$% keyboard still messing up...

Aaaaaaaa - screw it!

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Keyboard is impossible to deal with.

I will probably be home tomorrow and will post then. WiFi sucks too - slower than snot. Eight keyboard errors for this short post.

Fun times - keyboard issues

Just wonderful - the laptop has keyboard problems. Random actions are happening when I type - same thing when typing in Word or Notepad - jumps, random bits of text are highlighted so as I continue to type, the highlighted text is deleted. It was a minor issue but is now very difficult to deal with.

Arrrgh... I googled "Toshiba Satellite Keyboard Errors" and got 1,080,000 hits. The unit is only a few months old - the wireless networking died on my old HP so I now use it for a MIDI processing box - the Toshiba I got because it was one of the last Win7 laptops @Costco

I will try to post some photos - see if that works.

Gone to ground - Port Angeles

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This is the city where we rescued Grace, my Shiloh Shepherd.

Starving so heading out for dinner - more later...

On the road again...

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Heading off for coffee and points North and East today - taking the coast road to the Hoh, Lake Crescent, Hurricane Ridge, Port Townsend and then home.

Speaking truth to power:

A day in Astoria

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The oldest American settlement west of the Rockies, dating from the fur trading post set up by John Jacob Astor’s men in 1811. City website.

Took a bunch of photos:

20150607-astoria01.jpgHarpoon gun - one company did some whaling killing a dozen whales for mink food.

20150607-astoria02.jpgExhibit at the Maritime Museum - this was the actual boat used by the Coast Guard for assist and rescue. The scenario is not unrealistic. The Columbia Bar can be brutal - even when I was living in Boston, it was legendary.

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Visited the Lightship - very stout and safe vessel but the museum said that it bobbed like a cork rather than roll or pitch. From a seasickness standpoint, this is the worst possible motion and in the winter storm season, the sailors were miserable.

20150607-astoria04.jpgCoast Guard ship at the pier with another one steaming out to sea.

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Supposed to be the Astoria Column here but it is being restored and is currently covered with a condom for protection.

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Some lupines blooming at Fort Stevens State Park - this was a military base from the Civil War through WW-II defending the shipping down the Columbia River.

Congratulations to American Pharoah

Won the triple crown today - from NBC Sports:

American Pharoah becomes first Triple Crown winner since '78
American Pharoah became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown when he won the 147th Belmont Stakes on Saturday. 

Jockey Victor Espinoza pushed Pharoah to the front soon after the race started, and Pharoah outclassed the field, pulling away down the stretch to make history. Frosted finished second, and Keen Ice rounded out the top three.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion, American Pharoah began Saturday as a 3-to-5 favorite in the morning betting line, and those were the odds when the race began. He started from the fifth position in a field of eight.

American Pharoah becomes the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, beginning with Sir Barton in 1919 and most recently Affirmed in 1978. After Affirmed's Triple Crown win, 12 horses won the first two legs of the Triple, only to lose the bid at the Belmont, either because of an upset or because they did not start or complete the race.

He is gorgeous - I do prefer mules and not that much into racing but today's run was outstanding. Video at the above link.

Long night - banquet and speeches

Just got back from the banquet - food was really tasty and service was prompt and professional (unusual for 600 people).

The keynote speaker was Ben Moses - he got his start with ham radio at the age of 10, got jobs in radio and television stations, was working in the US side of a Cuban spy ring when in the military and was then shipped over to Vietnam where he met Adrian Cronauer who was the character in the movie Good Morning Vietnam. Ben wrote the story.

Funny speaker - lots of great anecdotes both ham and non-ham related.

Got two more items to pick up tomorrow - a nicely designed portable case for my radios and an analysis tool for my new radio set. Met lots of great people, one guy (W3FF) was operating from a recumbent tricycle and getting solid contacts from New York state, Delaware, Japan and Hawaii - a photo of his rig:

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His dad was a ham operator, he is one and his son is in business manufacturing the Buddistick - this is the portable antenna I purchased earlier today. It comes in a bag and can be set up in 15 minutes. Great for emergency operations.

Fun stuff - a nice mix of old and new technology. Mostly older people (80%) but enough fresh faces to keep the flame alive. It was disturbing to see how many people were downright obese - sitting in a chair can do that to you...

Spent the day in meetings - a lot of new information to assimilate.

The flea market was a lot of fun - picked up a nice transceiver. I am getting a General license in two months followed by an Extra so need a unit that can operate on the new bands available to me.

Lost out on a GPS antenna - I thought the asking price was too high but, an hour later, I walked past the table and it was gone. I am using a GPS receiver for accurate time and frequency measurement.

The banquet starts in an hour so back at the hotel looking at my new acquisitions - got a couple of fun tee shirts as well as a portable antenna.

The workers paradise of Baltimore

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Seems that they are getting frisky and targeting drugstores. From USA Today:

More drug agents dispatched to Baltimore to assist with RX thefts
Additional federal agents are being dispatched to Baltimore to assist in the investigation of mass prescription drug thefts from 27 pharmacies and clinics during rioting following the April 19 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

An estimated 175,000 doses of narcotics have been reported missing; authorities have expressed concern that the wash of drugs may be a trigger for the recent spike in violence.

Last month was one of the most violent periods in the city in nearly four decades, with 43 murders reported.

Say hello to Progressive Liberal-run America.

Will the dealers have any sense of responsibility when some specific drug is sold to someone and when they do not get 'high' they take more until it kills them?

Thought not...

And some people think that these are the people - the 'elite' - who should be in charge of us all. To guide and correct us when we stray from the path.

A couple photos from today

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Today wasn't much - the exhibitors were still setting up.

There were two seminars, one on antennas and one on emcom - Emergency Communications. Unfortunately, they were both booked solid months ago with people waiting and no chance of auditing. I am on my own pathway to Emergency Communications but I really need to learn antennas as I am moving from Technician class (with prepackaged systems and limited operating frequencies) to General and Extra (where you need to be able to do a significant amount of design - not just order boxes from Amazon).

Since there wasn't much to do today, I drove down to Cape Meares. Here are three photos:

20150605-ore-coast01.jpg20150605-ore-coast02.jpgIt was completely socked in but gorgeous. The fog bank was very localized though:

20150605-ore-coast03.jpgA  fun day - Cannon Beach seems to be not quite as tacky as Seaside but the places there were a lot more upscale and $$$. Seaside is more my style and the place I mentioned that roasted their own coffee did an amazing job - I will be there every morning.

Spent the evening at a fund-raising (three local ham radio clubs) spaghetti feed and then went to a local tavern for a couple of local brews - both were delightful!

Off to the conference

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Walking around yesterday, I saw a place that advertised that they roasted their own coffee beans. Heading out now to check them out and then off to the conference.

Weather is really nice - a high overcast and cool temps - more posting in a couple of hours...

I love his work - turns out he is on tour but only european dates as yet.

He had this to say about contemporary film composers in the UK Guardian:

Ennio Morricone: good film scores have been replaced by the bad and the ugly
Too many films are blighted by lacklustre music, with directors failing to grasp the potential of a great score to enhance the viewing experience, one of cinema’s most revered composers has said.

Ennio Morricone, 88, criticised the use of “amateur” composers or synthesised sounds, rather than real instruments, in what he called a misguided attempt to cut costs.

While acknowledging the many directors who understood the emotional power of music – with Hans Zimmer (Gladiator) and John Williams (Schindler’s List) among the industry’s most brilliant composers – he said: “The standard of composition for film has deteriorated. I have suffered a lot in watching many films because of that.

“There are some directors who actually fear the possible success of music,” he added. “They fear that the audience or the critics will think the film has worked because there was a very good music score.”

It is just sooo tempting to spend the $5K for a comprehensive orchestral sample library and not hire live musicians. There is a noticeable difference though.

Another of my favorite contemporary composers - Bear McCreary - always records with a live orchestra and his work sounds amazing. Love his stuff - he grew up in Bellingham.

Gone to ground in Seaside Oregon

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The hotel is nice but there is one about a block away that is half the cost. Next trip.

Great location, a five minute walk to the beach and the center of town. Seaside was, from its inception, a tourist trap but they do it well. A lot of cheap crap for sale but some nice stuff too.

When driving through Astoria, I saw a lot of references to the Steven Spielberg film - The Goonies. I knew that it had been filmed in Astoria but it turns out that this weekend is the 30th anniversary of its screen release and the whole town is filled with Goonie-wannabes. Planning to go Saturday night to see what is up.

There is a very detailed fan website.

More on this weekend here: The Goondocks

Lots of vehicles with funny antennas and call signs so I think I have found my tribe. (One of them anyway).

Heading South

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Heading out for coffee, a quick check-in at the store and then points South

Three hundred miles to Seaside Oregon - four days there for the convention, one day in Astoria, another day somewhere in WA State and then back home on Wednesday.

Bringing the laptop so will be posting but nothing until much later tonight.

Be careful with that selfie stick

Talk about an absolute moron - from Defense Tech:

US Air Force Targets and Destroys ISIS HQ Building Using Social Media
Much has been made about the ability of ISIS to master social media to recruit and broadcast their victories. But the U.S. Air Force is turning the militant group’s eagerness to share on social media into that intelligence that produces targets.

Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, described Monday how airmen at Hurlburt Field, Florida, with the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, recognized a comment on social media and turned that into an airstrike that resulted in three Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) missiles destroying am Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) headquarters building.

“It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” Carlisle said. “Incredible work when you think about.”

DOH! Another terrorist meets their 72 white grapes of exceptional purity.

Every year the Bellingham Highland Games happens and it is always a lot of fun. I will be missing it this year. Oh well...

Getting my inner geek on instead of my inner Celt.

On the road again

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Heading out tomorrow morning to Seaside Oregon for the SEA-PAC convention.

I have been to a couple of swap meets and conventions at a local club but nothing of this size and scope.

Packing and cleaning out the truck. Lulu is headed into town tomorrow as her niece is visiting for a few days - Mo is fun and I am sorry to miss her this time around.

Back sometime Wednesday or so - spending some time in Astoria on the way back. Got to check out the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

From this poll by CNN/ORC (PDF file) - G. W. Bush polls more favorably than B. H. Obama - 52% to 49%

Some legacy - a Republican House and Senate and big steaming pile of bad policy. The whole survey is an interesting read.

R2-D2 has issues

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Really cute LEGO animation:

From the Minneapolis, MN Star-Tribune/Associated Press:

AP Exclusive: FBI behind mysterious fleet of aircraft conducting surveillance over US cities
Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies, The Associated Press has learned.

The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas. At least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, were mentioned in a federal budget document from 2009.

A bit more:

The FBI says the planes are not equipped or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance. The surveillance equipment is used for ongoing investigations, the FBI says, generally without a judge's approval.

Yeah - riiiight...

During the past few weeks, the AP tracked planes from the FBI's fleet on more than 100 flights over at least 11 states plus the District of Columbia, most with Cessna 182T Skylane aircraft. These included parts of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Seattle and Southern California.

Some flights orbited large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection. Those included above Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

 Our tax dollars at work. Maybe it IS time to start building some AFDBs after all...

Now this will change a lot of textbooks

The abstract of a paper in Nature:

Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels
One of the characteristics of the central nervous system is the lack of a classical lymphatic drainage system. Although it is now accepted that the central nervous system undergoes constant immune surveillance that takes place within the meningeal compartment, the mechanisms governing the entrance and exit of immune cells from the central nervous system remain poorly understood. In searching for T-cell gateways into and out of the meninges, we discovered functional lymphatic vessels lining the dural sinuses. These structures express all of the molecular hallmarks of lymphatic endothelial cells, are able to carry both fluid and immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid, and are connected to the deep cervical lymph nodes. The unique location of these vessels may have impeded their discovery to date, thereby contributing to the long-held concept of the absence of lymphatic vasculature in the central nervous system. The discovery of the central nervous system lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and sheds new light on the aetiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.

The full paper is paywalled.

Finding a structure in the brain that nobody has noticed before? This is major...

Two great quotes from Vince Vaughn

From an interview in the British edition of Gentleman's Quarterly:

On the American right to own a gun:
"I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don't have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It's not about duck hunting; it's about the ability of the individual. It's the same reason we have freedom of speech. It's well known that the greatest defence against an intruder is the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back. All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds."

On whether guns should be allowed in schools:
"Of course. You think the politicians that run my country and your country don't have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do. And we should be allowed the same rights. Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat. Taking away guns, taking away drugs, the booze, it won't rid the world of criminality."

Going to have to start seeing his movies on the big screen. I like the way he thinks...

We need to remember that the sociopath who shot up the Denver, CO movie theater went to that one specifically because it had a 'no guns' sign on the door. He avoided several other theaters that were closer to where he lived.

Yesterday's New York Times ran an article on how Iran - even though the negotiations - is grabbing as much nuclear materials and parts and machinery as they can:

Iran’s Nuclear Stockpile Grows, Complicating Negotiations
With only one month left before a deadline to complete a nuclear deal with Iran, international inspectors have reported that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations, partially undercutting the Obama administration’s contention that the Iranian program had been “frozen” during that period.

More:

The overall increase in Iran’s stockpile poses a major diplomatic and political challenge for President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who flew back to the United States from Geneva on Monday for treatment of a broken leg he suffered in a bicycling accident, as they enter a 30-day push to try to complete an agreement by the end of June. In essence, the administration will have to convince Congress and America’s allies that Iran will shrink its stockpile by 96 percent in a matter of months after a deal is signed, even while it continues to produce new material and has demonstrated little success in reducing its current stockpile.

Iran - under the current agreement - is allowed 300 kilos of refined fuel. They have shown the inspectors that they have a bit more than 9,000 kilos. Wonder how much more has been locked into a janitorial closet somewhere... These are not people we can trust.

The joke in all of this is the response from our State Department - from The Washington Free Beacon:

Harf: We’re All ‘Totally Perplexed’ by NYT Story on Iran’s Increased Nuclear Stockpile
State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said she was “perplexed” by a New York Times story Tuesday on Iran’s 20 percent increase in nuclear fuel over the past 18 months.

The United States has been in negotiations with Iran for a final deal about their nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report on Friday that documented an increase of Iran’s nuclear fuel stockpile.

A reporter asked Harf if Iran’s increased stockpiles has complicated the current negotiations.

“Not at all. Our team read that story this morning and was quite frankly perplexed because the main contentions of it are totally inaccurate,” Harf said.

We are truly in the best of hands...

The New York Times is running a great series on the Malthusians who 30-45 years ago were claiming that we were reaching a great "tipping point" and if we did not actively work to cut our population growth, we would be in serious trouble.

Needless to say, the population continued to grow and we are doing much better than ever.

From the New York Times:

The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion
The second half of the 1960s was a boom time for nightmarish visions of what lay ahead for humankind. In 1966, for example, a writer named Harry Harrison came out with a science fiction novel titled “Make Room! Make Room!” Sketching a dystopian world in which too many people scrambled for too few resources, the book became the basis for a 1973 film about a hellish future, “Soylent Green.” In 1969, the pop duo Zager and Evans reached the top of the charts with a number called “In the Year 2525,” which postulated that humans were on a clear path to doom.

No one was more influential — or more terrifying, some would say — than Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist. His 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” sold in the millions with a jeremiad that humankind stood on the brink of apocalypse because there were simply too many of us. Dr. Ehrlich’s opening statement was the verbal equivalent of a punch to the gut: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.” He later went on to forecast that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, that 65 million of them would be Americans, that crowded India was essentially doomed, that odds were fair “England will not exist in the year 2000.” Dr. Ehrlich was so sure of himself that he warned in 1970 that “sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come.” By “the end,” he meant “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”

As you may have noticed, England is still with us. So is India. Hundreds of millions did not die of starvation in the ’70s. Humanity has managed to hang on, even though the planet’s population now exceeds seven billion, double what it was when “The Population Bomb” became a best-seller and its author a frequent guest of Johnny Carson’s on “The Tonight Show.” How the apocalyptic predictions fell as flat as ancient theories about the shape of the Earth is the focus of this installment of Retro Report, a series of video documentaries examining significant news stories of the past and their aftermath.

And of course, once a flaming attention whore, always a flaming attention whore:

But Dr. Ehrlich, now 83, is not retreating from his bleak prophesies. He would not echo everything that he once wrote, he says. But his intention back then was to raise awareness of a menacing situation, he says, and he accomplished that. He remains convinced that doom lurks around the corner, not some distant prospect for the year 2525 and beyond. What he wrote in the 1960s was comparatively mild, he suggested, telling Retro Report: “My language would be even more apocalyptic today.”

What gets me is that this rhetoric is exactly the same as is being used today by the Anthropogenic Global Warming crowd, they just changed the talking points. Everything else is the same, there is a tipping point, we have to do something now to prevent future disaster, this has to be a global coordinated effort (centralized government) and we need to have our daily livelihood controlled by our betters if we are to survive.

That kind of thought was wrong then and it is wrong now. We are doing just fine.

From a population standpoint, we could take eight billion people and put them into Texas and if they were evenly distributed, each person would be about 200 feet from each other person. The Island of Manhattan is three times denser than this.

From an environmental standpoint, an increase in CO2 will boost crop production and more people die from cold weather than from warm.

The Times has more here and The Weekly Standard has a nice writeup here - it's about the benjamins...

Drove about 40 miles South to Sedro Woolley for a Craigslist ad that was horribly over-represented. They were asking a lot for it too - some pro audio equipment.

I almost asked the guy for $20 to cover my time and diesel as he did admit that he used a different photo in the advertisement and the actual unit was beat to shit.

Had dinner on the road, unload the truck and surf for a bit.

Early day tomorrow with some people coming out to run Ethernet cable for the store's new Point of Sale system - I am just enough blue-green colorblind that making cables has always been an exercise in frustration. I don't bother anymore - much simpler to pay someone to come out those times when a custom run is needed...

Minimal posting this morning

Heading out for coffee, take care of some bills and then south to Sedro Woolley to pick up some stuff.

More later today...

Here is a new one for 'ya:

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There have been clips of Hitler going ballistic over various memes (here is an aggregation site). The clip is taken from Bruno Ganz' excellent portrayal of Hitler in the movie Downfall. The German language is left but humorous subtitles are added.

Time for Hitler to move over - from MEMRI-TV:

Pure gold - Poe's Law writ large...

From here: james kibbie - bach organ works

Recorded on some gorgeous baroque organs in Germany.

Released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

A big tip of the hat to the excellent Open Culture

And here is a visual treat from a different source - CGI neon lamps and BWV 846 from The Well Tempered Clavier

 

More here: Sinfini Music

Very clever idea - agriculture

From Cliff Mass:

Reversing William Shatner's Idea: Moving California Agriculture to the Northwest
A few weeks ago, William Shatner (a.k.a., Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame) offered a solution to California's drought: move water from the water-rich Pacific Northwest down to California.

He even began a kickstarter campaign to raise the 30 billion dollars necessary to build the pipeline.

Shatner is not the first to suggest that California might raid Pacific Northwest water supplies to help irrigate the Central Valley of California or supply the huge population centers of southern CA. Such plans were never feasible: the projects would be too expensive and the water far more costly than other approaches (like desalination). 24th century thinking in the 21st century, perhaps.

But maybe Shatner was on to something, but simply got the idea reversed.

Why move Northwest water to California when you could move California agriculture to the Northwest?

Romulan insanity? A Borg deception? A ridiculous offer to Shatner's Priceline?

As Mr. Spock would say, it is highly logical.

California is an arid region with a large population and an immense agriculture. Too many people and too much agriculture for even the current climate. And it will get only worse as global warming increases temperature (more evaporation), reduces snowpack over the mountains, and lessens precipitation over the southern portion of the state (or so our climate models tell us). Summer temperatures will increase so much that some areas may become too warm for their current crops.

California needs to DECREASE its water-intensive agriculture, including a switch to less water-hungry crops. Less almonds, for example.

In contrast, the situation if very different in the Pacific Northwest. Global warming will reduce our snowpack but will modestly INCREASE our total precipitation. You read that correctly. We will have the same or MORE water. Our growing season will lengthen as temperatures warm, allowing increased agricultural productivity. We also have lots of land in eastern Washington that is fertile, but unirrigated.

What does this situation imply for the Pacific Northwest? Agricultural OPPORTUNITY.

I do disagree with Cliff on Global Warming - I think we are up for a period of cooling with a solar minimum - but he makes a lot of sense.

The San Joaquin valley is California's primary agriculture region. It is about 1,400 square miles in size. The Central Valley is 22,5000 square miles but not all of it is suitable to agriculture.

Washington State lists a bit over 3,500 square miles as being prime agricultural land with 23,000 sq. mi. total in agriculture. We could absorb much of California's crops without too much difficulty.

 An interesting thought and we are more likely to build water storage dams and reservoirs than the enviros to our south.

Rumblings off the coast

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Had an earthquake in an area that is overdue for a really big one.

That fault has generated magnitude 8 and 9 earthquakes every 200 to 500 years and the last one was 300 years ago.

We are prepearing for this with a Cascadia Rising excercise in June of 2016 - four days of 24/7 hell.

Pure genius - The Grand Overlook Hotel

From Steve Ramsden who said: "I noticed how Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick frame their shots in a similar way - this was the result: The Grand Overlook Hotel"

 

June 2016

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Environment and Climate
AccuWeather
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
Climate Audit
Climate Depot
Green Trust
ICECAP
Jennifer Marohasy
MetaEfficient
Planet Gore
Science and Public Policy Institute
Solar Cycle 24
Space Weather
Space Weather - Canada
the Air Vent
Tom Nelson
Watts Up With That?


Science and Medicine
Derek Lowe
Junk Science
Life in the Fast Lane
Luboš Motl
Medgadget
New Scientist
Next Big Future
PhysOrg.com
Ptak Science Books
Science Blog


Geek Stuff
Ars Technica
Boing Boing
Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
FAIL Blog
Hack a Day
Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
Neatorama
Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF
TYWKIWDBI


Comics
Achewood
The Argyle Sweater
Chip Bok
Broadside Cartoons
Day by Day
Dilbert
Medium Large
Michael Ramirez
Prickly City
Tundra
User Friendly
Vexarr
What The Duck
Wondermark
xkcd


NO WAI! WTF?¿?¿
Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
Sober in a Nightclub
You Drive What?


Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
Coyote Blog


Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
DIYPhotography
James Gurney
Joe McNally's Blog
PetaPixel
photo.net
Shorpy
Strobist
The Online Photographer


Blogrolling
A Western Heart
AMCGLTD.COM
American Digest
The AnarchAngel
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Babalu Blog
Belmont Club
Bayou Renaissance Man
Classical Values
Cobb
Cold Fury
David Limbaugh
Defense Technology
Doug Ross @ Journal
Grouchy Old Cripple
Instapundit
iowahawk
Irons in the Fire
James Lileks
Lowering the Bar
Maggie's Farm
Marginal Revolution
Michael J. Totten
Mostly Cajun
Neanderpundit
neo-neocon
Power Line
ProfessorBainbridge.com
Questions and Observations
Rachel Lucas
Roger L. Simon
Samizdata.net
Sense of Events
Sound Politics
The Strata-Sphere
The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Velociworld
Weasel Zippers
WILLisms.com
Wizbang


Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Allah
BigPictureSmallOffice
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
MegaPundit
Masamune
Neptunus Lex
Other Side of Kim
Publicola
Ramblings' Journal
Sgt. Stryker
shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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July 2015 is the next archive.

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