April 2016 Archives

When it rains, it pours

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Just got a call from the widow. The father of the deceased just went into the hospital this evening. She asked if I could videotape the memorial.

Batteries are now charging. Media checked. Will be ready tomorrow morning.

Crap.

That is it for the night

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We had hamburgers for dinner tonight - the weather has been wonderful and it seemed to be a good call - delicious. There were a couple ounces of meat left over from the package so Dog Burgers were served to an appreciative audience.

Long day tomorrow with the memorial service - got the tech all together. It will be a 20 minute pack tomorrow morning and then go to help set up. Death has visited our community a bit too much in the last couple of years, from old age, disease, accidents and otherwise. Time for it to take an overdue holiday...

Surf for a little bit more and then upstairs.

The Leap Second

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Readers will know that I am into precise timekeeping. Yes, I am a time nut.

We have recently had a few leap seconds (here, here, here, here and here) - Ars Technica has a nice write-up on them and why.

The leap second: Because our clocks are more accurate than the Earth
We've recently been treated to that extra day in February that reminds us that 2016 is a leap year. Introduced by Julius Caesar, the leap day is necessary because the orbital year is not exactly equal to the 365 days of our calendar year. Without the adjustment, this year’s spring-like Christmas would eventually become routine even without climate change. After a few more generations, the snows of July would give way again to sweltering afternoons. Given enough time, the seasons would march across the calendar.

Some more - introducing the Leap Second:

For centuries, we expended ingenuity on creating timekeeping machines that, with ever increasing accuracy, allowed us to track the march of the heavens. Today, our clocks are so precise that it's the Earth that fails to stay in synchrony with them. We need an additional adjustment now and then: the leap second.

This adjustment, obviously, is not made to the planet, but to the human system of time that we have constructed to be our Earthly clock. Called the Coordinated Universal Time and known as UTC, it's equal to the Greenwich Mean Time and serves as the basis for all the world's time zones. UTC is an atomic-precision time but, rather than tick away for eternity without meddling, it's adjusted to reflect the rotational position of the Earth.

Let's say that, in your local time zone, noon marks the Sun’s zenith. With UTC, noon will still mark the Sun's zenith for your descendants. And, to make sure that happens, we need to sporadically insert leap seconds into our years.

A lot more information at the article - our Earth's rotation is not uniform so we have to wait for it to slow down enough to warrant a new Leap Second - they cannot be predicted.

Well crap - LinuxFest Northwest

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I was thinking that it was coming up soon.

Happened last weekend - dammit!

The Bellingham Welding Rodeo is May 13th and 14th.

The Camano Island Electronic Flea Market and Hamfest is May 14th.

Ski to Sea is May 29th (I help by running a ham radio station)

Bellingham Highland Games is June 3-5 but so is SeaPac and I am planning to go down there.

Cascadia Rising is June 7th through 10th - more radio.

Ragnar Relay is July 15th and 16th - radio again.

So much to do...

Wise words from Dennis Prager

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From this editorial in Investor's Business Daily:

I am referring to the left, not to liberals. The latter generally venerates Western civilization. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for example, frequently spoke of defending “Christian civilization.” Today, the left would likely revile any Westerner who used such language as xenophobic, racist and fascist.

The left similarly describes any suggestion that anything Western is superior to anything non-Western. Likewise, it dismisses virtually all Western achievements, but regards criticism of anything non-Western as racist, chauvinistic, imperialist, colonialist, xenophobic, etc.

That is why the left is so protective of Islam. America’s left-wing president, Barack Obama, will not use, and does not seem to allow the government to use, the words “Islamic terrorism.” And, criticism of Islam is labeled “Islamophobic,” thereby morally equating any such criticism with racism. It is not that the left is sympathetic to Islam, for it has contempt for all religions. It is that many Muslims loathe the West, and the enemies of my enemy (the West) must be protected.

That is why the left loathes Israel. If the left actually cared about human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, or freedom of speech, religion and press, it would be wildly pro-Israel. But Israel, in the left’s view, is white, European and colonialist, or in other words, Western. And the Palestinians are non-Western.

I like his distinction between the left and liberals. If John F. Kennedy was running in 2016, he would have my vote in a heartbeat. The closing remark of his 1961 inaugural address still raises goosebumps.

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

Much more at the site - Dennis is one of our better thinkers. He also runs Prager University - an excellent online teaching site.

Our planet is enjoying a significant greening and the cause is 70% the increase in Carbon Dioxide.

From Nature:

Greening of the Earth and its drivers
Global environmental change is rapidly altering the dynamics of terrestrial vegetation, with consequences for the functioning of the Earth system and provision of ecosystem services. Yet how global vegetation is responding to the changing environment is not well established. Here we use three long-term satellite leaf area index (LAI) records and ten global ecosystem models to investigate four key drivers of LAI trends during 1982–2009. We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning). Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models suggest that CO2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend, followed by nitrogen deposition (9%), climate change (8%) and land cover change (LCC) (4%). CO2 fertilization effects explain most of the greening trends in the tropics, whereas climate change resulted in greening of the high latitudes and the Tibetan Plateau.

Emphasis mine - plant food, not poison.

The ridiculous thing is that Methane and Water Vapor are much worse greenhouse gasses. Why aren't we going after them? Because throttling CO2 also throttles our industry and productivity - something the watermelon environmentalists want very much to see. They are green on the outside but a deep Marxist red on the inside.

They are still pissed that the Soviet Union and China failed so spectacularly and they are trying anything to advance their stupid agenda.

A different use of a resource

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There is a website called GitHub which has become the defacto repository for programmers and their code - this used to be SourceForge but that exploded in scandal about a year ago.

Well... It seems that GitHub is also a repository for various progressive applications - these two sites in particular: Social Impact and drewrwilson/toolsforactivism

In DW's case, there is nothing that demonstrates your love for America like displaying a hammer and the soviet star on your website. Still, these are useful organizing tools for libertarians and conservatives too so I am downloading as fast as my little fingers can type - thanks!

Now this will be fun - Panama Papers #2

The gift that keeps on giving - from Breitbart:

Second Panama Papers Data Dump to Be Released in Searchable Database
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is reportedly planning a second release of Panama Papers, data about some of the world’s wealthiest people.

The group already caused worldwide controversy by releasing information about how a range of business leaders, politicians, and celebrities avoided taxes by storing money in overseas tax havens.

On Wednesday the ICIJ confirmed that it would release another tranche of data on May 9th which “will likely be the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them.” Moreover, the second release of information will be in a searchable database.

“The searchable database will include information about more than 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations, and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the United States,” the group stated.

Nothing wrong with having an off-shore bank account but still, what are these entities trying to hide...

About that fracking - not so much

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Supporting the narrative - fracking is bad. Hey - wait a moment... From Thomas Lifson at American Thinker:

Public university admits to burying study finding no damage to water quality from fracking because funders ‘disappointed’
A three-year study undertaken by the state-funded University of Cincinnati will not be released to the public, because it found no damage at all. This direct contradiction of the goals of many environmentalist groups had to be suppressed. As the lead researcher said:

I am really sad to say this, but some of our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping this data could to a reason to ban it[.]

This is a scandal that goes to the heart of the relationship between science and public policy and the reliability of global warming doomsayers. The scandal was broken in a small town newspaper, the Free Press-Standard of Carroll County, Ohio and only gradually made its way to the national media via Jeff Stier of the National Center for Public Policy Research, Newsweek, and Jazz Shaw of Hot Air.

As Stier wrote at Newsweek:
Geologists at the University of Cincinnati just wrapped up a three-year investigation of hydraulic fracturing and its impact on local water supplies.

The result? There’s no evidence—zero, zilch, nada—that fracking contaminates drinking water. Researchers hoped to keep these findings secret.

Just looking at the levels they are operating on should make this obvious. Most potable water is found in the first 200 feet - the well at the farm and also the wells that provide Maple Falls with its exceptional water are around 190 feet into the Sumas Aquifer. Most oil reserves are found about a mile down - sometimes more. There are more than 5,000 feet of solid bedrock seperating the two layers.

From Decanter:

Burgundy hit by ‘worst frost since 1981’
A severe frost swept across Burgundy vineyards on the night of 26 April, causing a ‘great deal of stress’ for winemakers, according to the Burgundy wine bureau (BIVB).

A spring freeze affected much of Europe this week, with April snow briefly seen in Champagne. There are concerns in several wine regions about potential damage to first buds, and early reports suggest the Loire was also hit badly.

In Burgundy, producers were still assessing the damage and more detailed reports should emerge in the next week.

‘Such a frost is unseen since 1981 and it could have consequences not only on the yields of the Burgundy 2016 harvest but also on the yields of 2017,’ Caroline Parent-Gros, of Domaine AF Gros in Pommard, told Decanter.com.

Not to forget that the winter of 1981-82 was also an exceptionally cold one in both the USA and Europe. These weather patterns come in cycles and are not 'unique' in the slightest. More here, here, here, and here. I was living in Boston at the time and the city was shut down for days at a time. This was the same kind of weather pattern that we are seeing today (and last winter too) on the East cost.

Target

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Literally - stupid social justice warriors doing what they do best - shriek and point and screw up other people's lives because DIVERSITY! ALL HAIL DIVERSITY!

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Tip of the hat to Springer's Blog

Another Gun Control story

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Talladega, Florida this time:

Local boy does good

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The Beech family has a multi-generational legacy in Maple Falls. They used to own the other grocery store in town and a lot of people would go there to shop just because it was owned by the Beeches. Son Andy has taken a different path - he is a luthier and built 31 of Prince's guitars:

Andy's company can be found here: D'Haitre' Guitars
(family ancestors were French Canadian and d'haitre is the French name for a beech tree)

Nothing much tonight

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Working in the radio room and gathering stuff for Sunday's memorial service - the venue has a video projector but bringing mine just in case. Got the requested music torrented and checked out.

Dinner was salad and some left-over beef stew - still a couple servings remaining. Yum! It came out really good. Normally, I use the Costco cut-up stew meat but I have to trim it a lot. This time I used a whole tri-tip and it came out a lot better - more flavorful and a lot less waste so about the same $$$ overall. Seared it in the broiler to boost the flavor (gotta love that Maillard Reaction) and then slow cooked it, throwing the carrots and spuds in for the last 30 minutes.

Back to work!

The new bathroom laws

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Target has publically announced that they support people using what ever bathroom they feel like.

What they are not saying is that they have had a rash of assaults - here is a list of twenty of them from Breitbart:

Top Twenty Sexual Crimes Committed at Target Stores
The Target department store chain has made itself infamous for announcing that it will allow transgender people to choose whatever bathroom they want to use at any given time, even though the chain already has many problems with sexual assaults in its stores.

Here are the top twenty sex crime reports from Target’s stores across the nation.

Man Accused of Exposing Himself to 9-Year-Old in Target
04/2016 – Police have arrested a man accused of exposing himself to a 9-year-old boy in the bathroom of a Target store in Cedar Park in February. Roel Anthony Vasquez, 27, was charged March 24 with indecency with a child by exposure. No one at the store could identify who he was when the incident occurred, so police asked for help from the public by releasing pictures of the suspect from store surveillance video in March.

Nineteen more all with links to corroborating news stories. There are some sick people out there and Target and the Social Justice Warrior morons are not doing anything to help.

Just for a quick metric on this - the 2010 US Census puts the number of gay people (all varieties) at under 4% although thanks to their constant flogging of the media, most people in the USA think the number is much higher.

Crap - pathogens in the news

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From Nature:

Devastating wheat fungus appears in Asia for first time
Fields are ablaze in Bangladesh, as farmers struggle to contain Asia’s first outbreak of a fungal disease that periodically devastates crops in South America. Plant pathologists warn that wheat blast could spread to other parts of south and southeast Asia, and are hurrying to trace its origins.

“It’s important to know what the strain is,” says Sophien Kamoun, a biologist at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK, who has created a website, Open Wheat Blast (go.nature.com/bkczwf), to encourage researchers to share data.

Efforts are also under way to find wheat genes that confer resistance to the disease.

There is an update:

On 26 April, a team led by microbial population geneticist Daniel Croll, who is at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, reported on github.com that the Bangladeshi wheat-blast strain is closely related to those collected in Brazilian wheat fields and on nearby weeds. His team’s analysis, which uses the data on the website Open Wheat Blast, reveals that the sample is not closely related to known rice-blast-causing strains of M. oryzae. Croll’s team concludes that wheat blast was probably introduced to Bangladesh from Brazil, and warns that other Asian countries that import Brazilian wheat, including Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, should be on the lookout for the disease.

Emphasis mine. Just what we need - another pandemic.

A nice article on earthquakes

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Written by John Vidale, a professor at the University of Washington, directs the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and is the Washington state seismologist.

From The Washington Post:

Five myths about the Pacific Rim
A tragic month along the tectonic subduction zones that surround the Pacific Rim has also been a spellbinding one for seismologists. A magnitude 6.2 quake on April 14 was followed a day later by a magnitude 7.0, together killing at least 49 in the Kyushu region of Japan. Less than 24 hours later, a magnitude 7.8 in Ecuador killed at least 650. Major deep earthquakes in Burma and Afghanistan in April were also deadly, and a series of quakes this month struck Vanuatu, too. So many earthquakes of at least magnitude 6.5 in a week is quite uncommon, even in the volatile tectonic zone known as the Ring of Fire, which encircles the Pacific Ocean. But the dangers of this region remain widely misunderstood, and myths — the notion that animals can predict earthquakes, for instance, or that the government knows they’re coming but hides the information — stubbornly persist.

1. Giant faults such as the San Andreas dominate the danger.
World-destroying films such as “San Andreas” and “Earthquake” feature magnitude 8s and 9s. NBC even produced a miniseries called “10.5: Apocalypse,” about a quake that splits North America into two islands. “The Really Big One,” the New Yorker story for which Kathryn Schulz won a Pulitzer Prize this year, explained the potential dangers of living near the large Cascadia fault in the Pacific Northwest. And the plate collision zones under South America and Alaska’s Aleutian Islands are famous for the monster quakes they spawned in the 1960s: magnitude 9.5 in Chile and magnitude 9.2 in Alaska.

But the bigger threats come from smaller quakes. Some are along the major faults, but even more are from the small faults right underfoot. Only one earthquake larger than magnitude 8.0 is on the list of the 16 deadliest earthquakes; about one-third had magnitudes of less than 7.5. Each year, on average, there are one or two quakes bigger than magnitude 8; 15 bigger than 7; about 150 bigger than 6; and so on.

Christchurch, New Zealand, had to be essentially rebuilt after a direct hit from a mere 6.3 in 2011. Japan was shocked when a magnitude 6.9 decimated Kobe in 1995. And the costliest U.S. earthquake was the magnitude 6.7 Northridge quake that shook Southern California in 1994.

Four more items at the page - excellent clearly-written article.

Gun control in the news - a two-fer

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First - justified use of a gun - one less goblin roaming the streets. From the Skagit Breaking News:

Man Shot and Killed by 80 Year Old Woman During Burglary
According to a press release from Shari Ireton, the director of communications for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, a 25 year old man has been shot and killed by an 80 year old woman after breaking into her home and stabbing her 75 year old husband.

Around 8:30 p.m., an 80 year old female resident of a home in the 13700 block of Woods Lake Road in Sultan, called 9-1-1 to report that she had shot an intruder after he broke into her home and stabbed her 75 year-old husband.

According to the press release, the woman’s 75 year-old husband was airlifted to Harborview Regional Medical Center with multiple life threatening, abdominal stab wounds.

The suspect, a 25 year-old Gold Bar man, died at the scene. The woman, did not sustain any injuries nor did the couple’s 45 year-old son, who was also in the home at the time of the incident.

Excellent shooting - hope the husband recovers from his wounds.
Second - downright stupid - Skagit Breaking again:

Concrete Man Dies While Taking Selfies With Gun
The Skagit County Sheriff’s Office and medics from Aero-Skagit Ambulance Service Responded to reports of a gunshot victim in the 46400 block of Baker Loop Road on Sunday, February 28th, 2016 just after 8:15 am.

According to the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office a 43 year old Concrete man and his girlfriend had been taking photos, commonly known as “selfies” with the gun throughout the morning. The man had loaded and unloaded the gun several times during the photo process. The man accidentally shot himself in the face after not removing all the bullets from the gun during the last photos.

The man died from his injuries. The Skagit County Sheriff’s Office says the shooting is being investigated as an accident.

Looks like he failed to remember Rule #1

Jeff Coopers Four Rules of Gun Safety:

  1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

Off for coffee

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Working at home today - the memorial service is Sunday, not Monday as I had thought. Doing the PA system and video so gathering the equipment.

Picking up the pastries for the store and checking the mail.

These people are supposed to be the incorruptible gatekeepers of the raw data but they are 'adjusting' it to fit their narrative.

From James Delingpole writing at Breitbart:

Icegate: Now NSIDC Caught Tampering With Climate Records
You’ve read about the climate fraud committed ‘on an unbelievable scale’ by the shysters at NASA.

You’ve read about how NOAA overestimated US warming by 50 percent.

Now it’s NSIDC’s turn to be caught red-handed fiddling the data and cooking the books.

NSIDC – National Snow and Ice Data Center – is the US government agency which provides the official statistics on such matters as sea ice coverage in the Arctic.

Naturally its research is of paramount importance to the climate alarmists’ narrative that man-made global warming is causing the polar ice caps to melt. At least it was until those ice caps refused to play ball…

Where the alarmists have for years been doomily predicting ice free summers in the Arctic – according to Al Gore in 2007, 2008 and 2009 it would be gone by 2013 – the truth is that multi-year ice has been staging a recovery since 2009.

All of the above links go to corroborating data - these are facts folks, not a narrative. Much more at the site. It gets interesting:

Far worse, though, they’ve gone and deleted all the old style maps from their archive.

At least they thought they had.

But a sharp eyed reader of Goddard’s managed to find one old style map that NSIDC had forgotten to delete. This enabled Goddard to compare the new style map with an old style map for the same week. What he discovered is that NSIDC has been making some dramatic and unexplained adjustments to the record: about half the 5+ year sea ice which should be there, for example, has been mysteriously erased.

Here is a chart Goddard has composed showing the differences.

The two charts are pretty damning - the 'adjusted' numbers have zero bearing on actual ice extent. Do not forget that we have excellent records from polar explorers of ice-free winters in arctic areas. It is more a condition of ocean currents and winds than overall temperature.

Remember the 2013 Russian exploration ship that got stuck in the ice at Commonwealth Bay? They were following in the footsteps of the Douglas Mawson expedition of 100 years prior. Here is film shot by Mawson's crew as they landed in Commonwealth Bay in 1912. As you can see, the bay was choked with ice:

Things are going to get interesting if the climate follows the current predictions - a 30-50 year cooling period as the Sun passes through a low-energy cycle.

This is just a classical Hegelian dialectic - a political tool, not science.

Oh the humanity!

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Great comeuppance - from the Beeb:

Manure sprayed at Emma Thompson at anti-fracking demo
Double-Oscar winning actor Emma Thompson has had manure sprayed at her while taking part in an anti-fracking demonstration.

She had been taking part in a Bake-Off style spoof highlighting fracking with fellow campaigners just metres from a proposed fracking site.

However, the group did not have permission to be there and the farmer who leases the land, at Preston New Road near Blackpool, drove a muck spreader past the makeshift studio - hitting many of the crew with liquid manure.

I am sorry but she is an actress and an entertainer - not a geologist. Fracking has been demonized by the gang-green but there is minimal indication that it causes any pollution of the water table. The distances are simply too great - several thousand feet separate the two areas, sometimes more than a mile.

So true

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English madman Colin Furze presents his hoverbike:

Looks like way too much fun. Some kind of stability control would be handy - plus, a little more thrust.

I do not like his airblade hand dryers but this is for a reason unrelated to their design. Most people are too sloppy about washing their hands and only wet them a little bit allowing the airblade to blow the bacteria off their hands and disperse them into a large invisible cloud in the bathroom. I have two of his vacuums and am very impressed.

His latest product is a re-engineering of the hair dryer. Looks good - too pricey for home use but perfect for a salon:

I recently got one of his high-end floor vacuums for the house as our downstairs vac broke beyond repair. They usually last two-three years so I figured I would try a Dyson and see how long it lasted. What surprised me was just how much crud it was able to get up out of an otherwise clean-looking rug. A difference of night and day.

I also have a little hand-held unit - a replacement for my fourth or fifth DustBuster that broke. It too works really well and runs rings around what the DustBuster used to do.

Dyson products may be a bit expensive but they perform very well and are very robustly constructed.

Glyphosate in the news

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Feelings run strong out here when it comes to gardening. I am a big fan of Phosphorus Soap (ie: glyphosate or Roundup) for weed control. Other people think that it oozes from Satan's pustules.

Matt Ridley has a great post on the subject - he owns and manages a large estate in England and knows what he is talking about:

GLYPHOSATE, THE MMR VACCINE AND PSEUDOSCIENCE
Uncovering the subversion of scientific methods in pursuit of politics
Science, humanity’s greatest intellectual achievement, has always been vulnerable to infection by pseudoscience, which pretends to use the methods of science, but actually subverts them in pursuit of an obsession. Instead of evidence-based policymaking, pseudoscience specialises in policy-based evidence making. Today, this infection is spreading.

Two egregious examples show just how easy it is to subvert the scientific process. The campaign by Andrew Wakefield against the MMR vaccine, recently boosted by Robert De Niro’s support, is pseudoscience.

So is the campaign against glyphosate (“Roundup”) weedkiller, which has now resulted in the European parliament recommending a ban on its use by gardeners.

A large dossier claiming to find evidence that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic” was published last year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation. What could be more scientifically respectable?

Yet the document depends heavily on the work of an activist employed by a pressure group called the Environmental Defense Fund: Christopher Portier, whose conflict of interest the IARC twice omitted to disclose. Portier chaired the committee that proposed a study on glyphosate and then served as technical adviser to the IARC’s glyphosate report team, even though he is not a toxicologist. He has since been campaigning against glyphosate.

The IARC study is surely pseudoscience. It relies on a tiny number of cherry-picked studies, and even these don’t support its conclusion. The evidence that it causes cancer in humans is especially tenuous, based on three epidemiological studies with confounding factors and small sample sizes “linking” it to Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The study ignored the US Agricultural Health Study, which has been tracking some 89,000 farmers and their spouses for 23 years.

The study found “no association between glyphosate exposure and all cancer incidence or most of the specific cancer subtypes we evaluated, including NHL . . .”

A bit more about glyphosate and its actual toxicity:

Dose for dose, glyphosate is half as toxic as vinegar, and one tenth as carcinogenic as caffeine. Not that coffee’s dangerous — but the chemicals in it, like those in virtually any vegetable, are dangerous in lab tests at absurdly high concentrations. So is dihydrogen monoxide, for that matter, if you inhale it, drink it to excess or let its gaseous form burn your skin (that’s H2O, by the way).

Besides, risk is hazard plus exposure, a point ignored by the IARC. If you routinely put coffee down your throat, you are exposing yourself to the infinitesimal hazard caffeine represents. If you spray a little Roundup on your garden path, you are not even exposing yourself to the more infinitesimal hazard of glyphosate.

Roundup is probably the safest herbicide ever, with no persistence in the environment. But the Green Blob hates it for three reasons. It’s off-patent and therefore cheap. It was invented by Monsanto, a company that had the temerity to make a contribution to reducing famine and lowering food prices through innovation in agriculture. And some genetically modified crops have been made resistant to it, so that they can be weeded after planting by spraying, rather than tilling the ground: this no-till farming is demonstrably better for the environment, by the way.

Tempest in a teapot - I use the stuff for prepping the garden beds on spring - wait for a couple of nice days and go through with a power sprayer. Knocks the beds down so I don't have to dig as much and I use mulch through the growing season for crop health and weed supression. The combination works great.

It is a pity that some people are so suceptible to a narrative without doing even the most minor fact checking.

Back from town

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Had some nice Chinese food for dinner - paid some bills and did some banking. Stocked up at Costco.

Economic growth in the USA

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It sucks. From Gateway Pundit:

SIMPLY THE WORST=> Obama is First President Ever to Not See Single Year of 3% GDP Growth
Obama’s just like Reagan… Except when he isn’t.

The rate of real economic growth is the single greatest determinate of both America’s strength as a nation and the well-being of the American people.

On Thursday the Commerce Department announced that the US economy expanded at the slowest pace in two years. GDP growth rose at an anemic 0.5% rate after a paltry 1.4% fourth quarter advance.

Ronald Reagan brought forth an annual real GDP growth of 3.5%.
Barack Obama will be lucky to average a 1.55% GDP growth rate.

This ranks Obama as the fourth worst presidency on record.

Barack Obama will be the only U.S. president in history who did not deliver a single year of 3.0%+ economic growth.

It is not rocket science. Cut taxes (See Laffer Curve) and stand back. Stimulus plans simply do not work and are an excellent opportunity for graft and corruption.

In Barry's mind...

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Makes perfect sense to him:

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A new Kickstarter project - Moog

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Readers will know that I am a big electronic music junkie and have a large analog synthesizer at home. Analog music synthesizers were pioneered by Bob Moog who developed the idea of voltage control and engineered the first practical circuits.

From Kickstarter:

ELECTRONIC VOYAGER: Retracing BOB MOOG's Sonic Journey
From Robert Fantinatto and Jason Amm, the Director/Producer team behind the acclaimed modular synthesizer documentary, "I Dream Of Wires," comes a new documentary feature, "Electronic Voyager." In association with The Bob Moog Foundation (moogfoundation.org), we aim to create a definitive and personal documentary about the life of iconic synthesizer pioneer, Bob Moog (1934 - 2005). Through the eyes of Moog's own daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa - also a dedicated Moog archivist and historian - we want to give viewers an insight into the man behind the iconic Moog brand.

I Dream Of Wires is an awesome film - highly recomended to anyone into electronic music. Looking forward to this project!

The usual morning routine...

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Heading out for coffee - got the critters taken care of. Loaning someone a stapler for a project of theirs. Also, coordinating the audio-visual stuff for a memorial service this Monday Sunday (thank all of those who corrected me!).

Back home to work on some stuff...

Well dagnabit!

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Was happily surfing along and the internet went out.

Just came back but it is really late so not surfing too much.

The privations of country living...

Great ten minute TEDx talk by Sharyl Attkisson:

Back home again

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Got stuff taken care of and home for a few days now.

Time to have a glass of wine and surf for a bit...

Off for coffee and in to town

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Nothing much today - slept in (delicious) and heading out for coffee and in to town to run a few errands and work at the condo.

Happy 60th birthday

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The shipping container. Lots of links at MetaFilter: More history on the box that changed the world on its 60th birthday

A fun day at the office

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But... We need to do SOMETHING!

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Part of learning emergency communications is learning how to deal with disasters and what is actually needed. An excellent article on what is not needed from CBS News:

When disaster relief brings anything but relief
When Nature grows savage and angry, Americans get generous and kind. That's admirable. It might also be a problem.

"Generally after a disaster, people with loving intentions donate things that cannot be used in a disaster response, and in fact may actually be harmful," said Juanita Rilling, director of the Center for International Disaster Information in Washington, D.C. "And they have no idea that they're doing it."

Rilling has spent more than a decade trying to tell well-meaning people to think before they give.

In 1998 Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras. More than 11,000 people died. More than a million and a half were left homeless.

And Rilling got a wake-up call: "Got a call from one of our logistics experts who said that a plane full of supplies could not land, because there was clothing on the runway. It's in boxes and bales. It takes up yards of space. It can't be moved.' 'Whose clothing is it?' He said, 'Well, I don't know whose it is, but there's a high-heeled shoe, just one, and a bale of winter coats.' And I thought, winter coats? It's summer in Honduras."

Humanitarian workers call the crush of useless, often incomprehensible contributions "the second disaster."

In 2004, following the Indian Ocean tsunami, a beach in Indonesia was piled with used clothing.

There was no time for disaster workers to sort and clean old clothes. So the contributions just sat and rotted.

"This very quickly went toxic and had to be destroyed," said Rilling. "And local officials poured gasoline on it and set it on fire. And then it was out to sea."

People's hearts are in the right place but they simply do not know what is needed and how their efforts could be better spent. A perfect example:

You may not think that sending bottles of water to devastated people seems crazy. But Rilling points out, "This water, it's about 100,000 liters, will provide drinking water for 40,000 people for one day. This amount of water to send from the United States, say, to West Africa -- and people did this -- costs about $300,000. But relief organizations with portable water purification units can produce the same amount, a 100,000 liters of water, for about $300."

Exactly. That $300,000 could provide so much more relief than just a day's worth of water for a bunch of people.

I was thinking about this earlier today - I was in Bellingham and there are a lot of people panhandling on street corners. I could give one of them $5 and it would provide a balanced 2,000 calorie meal for that one person. The same money given to a shelter or food bank would provide a similar balanced meal for three or four people. Sometimes people act with their feelings and not with the reality of the situation.

Not evil, just terribly wasteful and not thought through.

I really like these people - Team Rubicon

Jumping ship

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Seems that the Klu Klux Klan is still alive and well - they endorsed Donald Trump but now... From U.S. News and World Report:

Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon Will Quigg Endorses Hillary Clinton for President
Hillary Clinton can add a new name to her list of endorsements – a prominent Ku Klux Klan member who says he likes her because of her "hidden agenda."
Will Quigg, a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan's California chapter, told the Telegraph Monday that he would be switching his support from Donald Trump to Clinton.
Quigg had endorsed Trump on Twitter in September.

Now, though, he says he's changing his tune.

"We want Hillary Clinton to win," he said. "She is telling everybody one thing, but she has a hidden agenda. She’s telling everybody what they want to hear so she can get elected, because she’s Bill Clinton’s wife, she’s close to the Bushes. Once she’s in the presidency, she’s going to come out and her true colors are going to show. Border policies are going to be put in place. Our second amendment rights that she’s saying she’s against now, she’s not against. She’s just our choice for the presidency."

Heh - with friends like these....

Back from town

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Unloaded the truck - heading out for a quick bite and two pints of cider and then home for the evening.

More spew later...

Off to town - coffee first

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Heading into town today for a few things.

Coffee first. A man has his priorities...

Steven Crowder for President

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This is so brilliant on so many levels - remember: Punch back twice as hard!

Big tip of the hat to Vanderleun for the link.

A modest proposal

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From The Daily Caller:

EXCLUSIVE: Kerry, Heinz Family Have Millions Invested In Offshore Tax Havens
Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz have invested millions of U.S. dollars through family trusts in at least 11 offshore tax havens, according to an analysis by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The revelation comes on the heels of the release of the Panama Papers, a treasure trove of 11.5 million legal and financial records documenting how some of the world’s richest and most powerful people have used offshore bank accounts to conceal their wealth and avoid taxes.

A lot more details at the site. There is nothing wrong with having money offshore. What is wrong is to use this for tax avoidance and fraud. My suspicions is that this is exactly what Kerry/Heinz are doing. Rot at the top.

The science is settled

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Fraud is rampant in Science - all science. From William A. Wilson writing at First Things:

Scientific Regress
The problem with ­science is that so much of it simply isn’t. Last summer, the Open Science Collaboration announced that it had tried to replicate one hundred published psychology experiments sampled from three of the most prestigious journals in the field. Scientific claims rest on the idea that experiments repeated under nearly identical conditions ought to yield approximately the same results, but until very recently, very few had bothered to check in a systematic way whether this was actually the case. The OSC was the biggest attempt yet to check a field’s results, and the most shocking. In many cases, they had used original experimental materials, and sometimes even performed the experiments under the guidance of the original researchers. Of the studies that had originally reported positive results, an astonishing 65 percent failed to show statistical significance on replication, and many of the remainder showed greatly reduced effect sizes.

Their findings made the news, and quickly became a club with which to bash the social sciences. But the problem isn’t just with psychology. There’s an ­unspoken rule in the pharmaceutical industry that half of all academic biomedical research will ultimately prove false, and in 2011 a group of researchers at Bayer decided to test it. Looking at sixty-seven recent drug discovery projects based on preclinical cancer biology research, they found that in more than 75 percent of cases the published data did not match up with their in-house attempts to replicate. These were not studies published in fly-by-night oncology journals, but blockbuster research featured in Science, Nature, Cell, and the like. The Bayer researchers were drowning in bad studies, and it was to this, in part, that they attributed the mysteriously declining yields of drug pipelines. Perhaps so many of these new drugs fail to have an effect because the basic research on which their development was based isn’t valid.

A long well-written screed - this is so true. Theories are being accepted and promoted if they follow the current narrative, not if they meet scientific rigor.

It is the new Lysenkoism.

Got nothing...

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Nothing of interest on the internet tonight.

Busy day - worked on a couple of projects and then had dinner and watched a couple of episodes of Death in Paradise - wonderful murder mysteries. From the Beeb.

Heading into town tomorrow.

A project of the American Prairie Reserve - from their Mission and Values page:

MISSION
Our mission is to create the largest nature reserve in the continental United States, a refuge for people and wildlife preserved forever as part of America’s heritage.

VALUES
As a Board and staff, we run our business each and every day following the principles outlined in our six values. In our interactions with one another and with those outside our organization, including our donors, our partners and the community around the Reserve, we do our best to act in accordance with these values. We share them with you here because we believe they are a window into our organization and our culture.

Much more at the site - this is American Entrepreneurship at work.

The website for the beef is here Wild Sky Beef

Professionally courtesy

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So true:

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Wrong way to go - they should keep the standard lights and let people wake up. Stupidity should be painful.

From The Washington Post:

This city embedded traffic lights in the sidewalks so that smartphone users don’t have to look up
Few nations in the world take red traffic lights more seriously than Germany.

Foreign visitors frequently wonder why crowds of Germans wait for traffic lights to turn green when there are no cars in sight.

That is why officials in the city of Augsburg became concerned when they noticed a new phenomenon: Pedestrians were so busy looking at their smartphones that they were ignoring traffic lights.

The city has attempted to solve that problem by installing new traffic lights embedded in the pavement — so that pedestrians constantly looking down at their phones won't miss them.

"It creates a whole new level of attention," city spokeswoman Stephanie Lermen was quoted as saying. Lermen thinks the money is wisely spent: A recent survey conducted in several European cities, including Berlin, found that almost 20 percent of pedestrians were distracted by their smartphones. Younger people are most likely to risk their safety for a quick look at their Facebook profiles or WhatsApp messages, the survey found.

That problem may be even more widespread in the United States: A survey by the University of Washington found that 1 in 3 Americans is busy texting or working on a smartphone at dangerous road crossings. The Department of Transportation has established a clear connection between such habits and an increase in pedestrian deaths.

This is a long thin wedge being driven into highway design. What's next - barriers that come down and block traffic when a cell signal is detected? These snowflakes need to learn that poor attention can be fatal. Like I said, stupidity should be painful.

Priorities anyone?

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Our government is seriously unbalanced - from the Washington Examiner:

Report: Children of refugees get more federal benefits than poor U.S. kids
America loves kids, but Uncle Sam has a favorite: children of refugees.

Among recipients of food stamps, welfare cash and Social Security payments, refugee children receive more in taxpayer-funded aid than children of citizens, according to a new report on federal spending from the pro-immigration Migration Policy Institute.

For example, 30 percent of refugee children live in households that received food stamps from 2009-13. Among American children, the number was 27 percent, said the report titled, "Young Children of Refugees in the United States: Integration Successes and Challenges."

Full report here: Young Children of Refugees in the United States: Integration Successes and Challenges

I am all for giving a helping hand but we need to take care of our own first.

Quick run into town tomorrow or Wednesday

Working here at the farm today - deferred the trip into town for a day or two.

alt.energy in the news - wind turbines

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An economical source of 'free' energy? Not so much. From Illinois' Edgar County Watchdogs:

Costly Broken Wind Turbines Give College Whopping Negative 99.14% Return On Investment
Lake Land College recently announced plans to tear down broken wind turbines on campus, after the school got $987,697.20 in taxpayer support for wind power.

The turbines were funded by a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, but the turbines lasted for less than four years and were incredibly costly to maintain.

“Since the installation in 2012, the college has spent $240,000 in parts and labor to maintain the turbines,” Kelly Allee, Director of Public Relations at Lake Land College, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The college estimates it would take another $100,000 in repairs to make the turbines function again after one of them was struck by lightning and likely suffered electrical damage last summer. School officials’ original estimates found the turbine would save it $44,000 in electricity annually, far more than the $8,500 they actually generated. Under the original optimistic scenario, the turbines would have to last for 22.5 years just to recoup the costs, not accounting for inflation. If viewed as an investment, the turbines had a return of negative 99.14 percent.

That $2.5 million came right out of your and my wallet as Federal taxes.

Back in 1966, Robert Anson Heinlein coined the acronym: TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - this is something that people today seem to have forgotten.

The article closes with this wonderful reminder:

Globally, less than 30 percent of total power wind capacity is actually utilized as the intermittent and irregular nature of wind power makes it hard to use.Power demand is relatively predictable, but the output of a wind turbine is quite variable over time and generally doesn’t coincide with the times when power is most needed. Thus, wind power systems require conventional backups to provide power during outages. Since the output of wind turbines cannot be predicted with high accuracy by forecasts, grid operators need to keep excess conventional power systems running.

Wind power accounted for only 4.4 percent of electricity generated in America in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration.

In the first paragraph above, the comment: "need to keep excess conventional power systems running" - what this means is that for every MegaWatt of installed wind generation, there is also a MegaWatt of gas turbine running on hot standby. The turbine is not running at full capacity generating electricity but it is running at idle speed - still consuming fuel. It would take too long to do a cold start when the wind fails so they have to keep them running 24/7.

Got a couple things to do at the store and then heading into town for a couple errands.

The biggie for today is the drawing for the annual ski pass give-away for the next 2016-2017 season. Anyone who spends more than $25 in the store during the ski season gets an entry and we draw the winner after Mt. Baker closes for the year. Always a lot of fun.

From Fred Reed - need I say more...

Capitalism and the Minimum Wage: “I Got Mine, Screw You.”
To understand the arguments of capitalists against the minimum wage, follow the money. In all the thickets of pious reasoning about the merits of capitalism and the market, and of freedom of contract, and of allowing this marvelous mechanism to work its magic, and of what Adam Smith said, the key is the dollar. The rest is fraud. Carefully ignored is the question that will be crucial in coming decades: What to do about an ever-increasing number of people for whom there is no work.

There is of course much hypocrisy in the theoretical edifice. For example, businessmen argue that the minimum wage constitutes intolerable interference by the government in the conduct of business—meanwhile sending armies of lobbyists to Washington to make the government interfere in the conduct of business. In fact capitalists have no objection to federal meddling. They just want it to be such meddling as puts more money in their pockets. Nothing more. Ever.

In like fashion they say that they want to protect the worker’s freedom—yes, his freedom, such is the capitalist’s benevolence, the worker’s freedom–to sell his labor at a mutually agreed price. Curiously, in practice this means the employer’s freedom to push wages as close to starvation as he can get away with. This miraculous congruence of high principle with low profit is among the wonders of the universe.

A capitalist will similarly object to zoning on grounds of protecting property rights–it’s his land, and he can do with it as he likes—but if you buy the lot next to his house and build a hog-rendering plant, he will shriek for…zoning.

In every case, without exception, his high principles will lead to more in his pocket. He will be against a minimum wage because, he says, it prevents young blacks from entering the job market and learning its ways. You can just tell he is deeply concerned about young blacks. He probably wakes up in the middle of the night, worrying about them. He doesn’t, however, hire any. Purely incidentally, not having a minimum wage saves him…money. And if he were truly concerned about young blacks, might he not express this concern by—paying them a living wage?

Nah.

Fred nails it - go and read the rest. He is one of the better writers out there.

Tip of the hat to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

Propagation was lousy for some strange reason tonight. Nobody could hear anything but because we are used to the routine, we know about how long it takes to work through the names on the list and we could hear some people so we managed to relay our messages through an ad-hoc chain to net control.

It works even when it doesn't work that well. Always training, always learning.

One of the members was able to pass me their telephone call and after the net, we had a 20 minute conversation about the upcoming Field Day event. I am in charge of food.

Talk about being an asshat. From the Dallas Morning News:

No soup for you: Arlington lawyer says he’ll sue Mansfield diner for failed Saturday lunch special
“No soup for you” might be a familiar catch phrase, but in Mansfield, it seems, it’s also an invitation for a lawsuit.

Arlington attorney Dwain Downing says he is suing Our Place in Mansfield after the down-home diner ran out of soup during last week’s $7.95 Saturday lunch special, maintaining that owner Benji Arslanovski refused to discount the price or offer a substitute side.

Some people might confront an owner directly after such an ordeal, or simply never return. Some might post a negative review online. Why threaten suit?

“I’m a lawyer,” Downing said Friday by phone. “And lawyers write letters.”

In his letter to owner “Benji Arslanskobi,” Downing demands $2.25 – the cost of an additional side at Our Place – plus $250 in legal fees.

The article goes on to say that Downing came in at 2:00PM and the restaurant closed for the day at 3:00PM - perfectly reasonable for them to run out and it is not like this was the only option on the menu. The Breakfast and Lunch menus look really good with a lot of options. The history of the place is amazing. The owner, Benji, is actually the grandson of the founder Otto who escaped the communists in Yugoslavia and emigrated to the United States. Great story.

Let us hope that the Streisand Effect shines brightly on Mr. Downing.

Earth movement in the news

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With the rain comes earth movement - this time under the pavement of Interstate 5 northbound near Marysville. From Seattle station KIRO-7:

Large pothole blocked multiple lanes on NB I-5
A large pothole had multiple lanes blocked Sunday morning along northbound I-5.

Traffic was diverted near SR 529 in Marysville.

By 10:39 a.m., traffic was backed up by four miles.

Use of alternate routes was advised.

Lanes had reopened, after the pothole was filled, by 1 p.m.

Big difference between being filled and being repaired. Do you have three weeks of food, water, medicine and stuff to keep you occupied (books, games, etc...)?

Just seared a couple pounds of tri-tip for the stew and letting it rest before cutting - this is going to be dinner and leftovers for us for a few days as well as dinner for the neighbors.

Peeling some garlic and chopping miripoix - getting ready to build the base for the stew.

The climate of our planet is variable. It has been much warmer and much colder than it is now and there is precious little that we can do to stop it. The only thing a Carbon Tax will do is make some people even more rich.

Case in point from Live Science:

50-Million-Year-Old Redwood Chunk Found in Diamond Mine
A search for diamonds in Canada's far north turned up a rare fossil — a chunk of a redwood sealed in volcanic rock more than 50 million years ago.

A study of the well-preserved specimen, which also contains a sliver of amber, shows that the now-icy region where it was found had a swampier past.

The wood was found a few years ago in a kimberlite pipe, named the Panda pipe, over 1,000 feet (315 meters) below Earth's surface at the Ekati diamond mine, just south of the Arctic Circle in Canada's Northwest Territories, the researchers say. A kimberlite pipe, a type of volcanic pipe, forms when kimberlite magma pushes through deep fractures in the Earth's crust to create a vertical tubelike structure that's wider at the top like a carrot. Kimberlites have the deepest origins of all magmas on Earth and when they cool, they leave behind rocks dense in crystals, sometimes holding diamonds.

The researchers, who report their findings in a Sept. 19 paper in the journal PLoS ONE, say the site of the Panda pipe was covered with a forest of Metasequoia, similar to today's dawn redwoods, during the early Eocene. The kimberlite eruption that occurred there about 53.3 million years ago opened a hole in the Earth's surface, sucking in some of those redwoods. Lead author of the study Alex Wolfe of the University of Alberta explained that open space along the side of this hole allowed the trees to tumble far inside. "Then it cooled, and the wood was locked in the volcanic rock," Wolfe told LiveScience in an email.

So basically, at one point, there were Sequoia Trees growing up in the Canadian Arctic. And the leading Climate Scientists are bloviating about a 0.2°C increase over the next 80 years and how this will destroy all life on Earth?

Not legal at all - from Whatcom County's Liberty Road:

Whatcom County Blows the Whistle on the EPA’s Illegal Funding for Lobbyist’s Lies
A few weeks ago, local radio host Dillon Honcoop, assisted in posing the question, Why does our local Whatcom Transit Authority (WTA) have billboard advertising on them that falsely accuses farmers and farming, for polluting the land? By exposing the actions of the WTA, local people and a local farming organization, Save Family Farming, dug deeper into the issue and discovered that our tax dollars were being granted to an organization named What’s Upstream.

The actions of the EPA, the lies spread by the non-profit organizations who comprise What’s Upstream, who falsely claim that farmers and farming have not been regulated enough and are currently polluting our waters, has caught the attention of numerous federal congressional representatives. The Federal Government frowns upon any agency, like the EPA, to grant tax payer dollars that will then be used for political lobbying purposes. The What’s Upstream propaganda not only lied about farmers and farmers, but asked people to pressure their federal congress people to support farm killing legislation. The EPA has publicly announced that they should not have granted funds for this purpose..

The Environmental Protection Agency today reversed course and said EPA funds should not have been used to finance What’s Upstream, a media campaign to arouse public support in Washington state for stricter regulations on agriculture.

The campaign, a collaboration between a tribe and environmental groups, raised the ire of farm groups and drew a rebuke Monday from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

A day after Roberts criticized EPA’s involvement, the agency, which had not previously commented on the campaign’s substance, condemned the use of federal funds.

“The tone and content of this outside campaign does not represent the views of the EPA,” an agency spokesman said in a written statement.

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Fortunately, there has been some pushback from Congress - from the Capital Press:

145 House members sign letter criticizing EPA over What’s Upstream
One-third of the U.S. House on Wednesday accused the Environmental Protection Agency of breaking federal prohibitions against political advocacy by funding What’s Upstream.

Three Democrats and 142 Republicans signed a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, stating that EPA’s support for the campaign maligns farmers, violates limits on the agency’s spending authority and exhibits a pattern of misconduct.

Crap like this needs to be slapped down fast and hard so people will be hesitant to try it again in the future. The EPA did good work when it was initially created but it is now just another large federal bureaucracy. It needs to have 80% of its funding cut so it can get back to just its core task.

Costco does chicken in a serious way

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Among all of their other things, Costco does amazing rotisserie chickens. They guarantee them to be three pounds or more but they usually average another pound more - done perfectly for just under five bucks. Most grocery stores charge six or seven for a much smaller bird. One Costco Roti chicken can feed us plus make a gallon of soup.

Looks like they are expanding their operation - from the Puget Sound Business Journal (Costco is based in this area):

Costco selects Nebraska as site for a new chicken processing plant
Costco Wholesale plans to build a poultry-processing plant in Nebraska in an effort to keep its long-term supply chain sustainable.
Jeff Lyons, senior vice president of fresh foods for the Issaquah-based retail giant, said the plant will break ground in August with a 2018 opening if the Fremont, Nebraska, city council gives the approval at a meeting in two weeks.

"Just domestically, we produce 60 million rotisserie chickens, which is just one element," Lyons said. "The meat department also sells chicken."

By building a plant in Nebraska and working directly with local farmers to provide locally-raised chickens in an area where corn and soybean feed is so prevalent, Costco (Nasdaq: COST) can be more efficient and cut costs, Lyons said.

Kudos for a well run company.

Rain rain go away

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It is pouring down buckets today. We had a little taste of summer and then, it was taken away from us.

Yes, the garden can use it - very much. But...

Heading out for coffee in a few minutes - busy day today with cooking dinner for a neighbor as well as emergency radio network.

Today is also the last day for operations at Mt. Baker - entering our slow season and also a bit sad as the people who migrate to our area to work at the mountain will be leaving us. These are people that we only see for five months/year but are some very good friends and we welcome their return next November.

A scene of domestic bliss

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Lulu came down to the second sub-basement of the radio room tonight and found me and a couple friends tinkering around with the generators that power Maple Falls. Being able to generate our own electricity is wonderful.

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Photo and back-story from the ever excellent Shorpy

World Pinhole Camera Day

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Last Sunday of April - this year, tomorrow the 24th.

Played around a lot with pinhole photography in my yoot - had a lot of fun. It has a very unique look.

Basic intro: About Pinhole,
Shooting Pinhole: How To: Take Pinhole Photographs,
Build Pinhole: 35mm Altoids Mint Tin Pinhole Camera,
Today: World Pinhole day 2016 — April 24, 2016

Julia Child quoatations

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Lulu and I were having a glass of wine in the kitchen and talking about Julia Child - especially her quote: 

"I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food..."

A bit of Googling later and here are four more from a list of 20 Julia Child quotes - from Matchbook Magazine:

"People who love to eat are always the best people."
"There are only four great arts: music, painting, sculpture, and ornamental pastry."
"A party without cake is really just a meeting."
"Everything in moderation…including moderation."

Fifteen more at the site - she was a national treasure. Paul had quite the interesting life too.

A pause in the spew

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Working on some stuff at the farm - more posting this evening.

From his campaign website:

Andrew D. Basiago: One Man in the Name of Truth
Andrew D. Basiago is a prominent figure in the Truth Movement.

For more than 10 years, he has shared with the American people the true facts of our great nation’s accomplishments in time travel and Mars visitation.

He has done so as one who served bravely in the two secret U.S. defense projects in which time travel on Earth and voyages to Mars were first undertaken.

As a result of his courageous advocacy as a crusading lawyer, Andy is credited with ending the time travel and Mars cover-ups by the US government on behalf of the American people.

And two entries from his proposals page:

DISCLOSING SECRET ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES
For 70 years, the US government has been concealing advanced technologies because they might e socially economically, or technically disruptive in nature. These technologies include the teleportation technology developed by DARPA`s Project Pegasus. They may also include cancer cures. The government should begin a program to declassify and deploy this knowledge. The standard of technical disclosure should be what provides the people the "best available technology." This will enable the United States to reclaim its mantle as the world's catalyst of applied science

I especially like this next proposal - there are two major North American Megapod populations - one in the Eastern USA about 100 miles in from the coastline stretching from Canada through the Adirondack Mountains. The other is settled in Central Oregon and Washington state - we have at least three or four families of them here in our area. (More here and here)

PROTECTING THE SASQUATCH SPECIES
Sasquatch exist. I know. I am the fint US presidential candidate since Theodore Roosevelt to declare publicly that I have encountered Sasquatch. TR's encounter occurred when a Sasquatch was scared into his campsite one night when he was on his Great North American Ape Expedition. I encountered an adult male Sasquatch and his young son when I was camping at Lake Sacandaga in the Adirondacks in 1966. The Sasquatch have matrilineal DNA that is human and patrilineal DNA from an unknown primate. The President should protect the Sasquatch by putting them on the endangered species list.

He's got my vote in 2016

(And I really wish this was not a satire...)

Off for coffee and working at the farm today

Heading out for coffee - we both slept in today.

Working on some stuff at the farm. I am making some beef stew for dinner tomorrow night and doing an extra portion as I am also cooking for a neighbor. This person is elderly and recovering from pneumonia - currently uses oxygen. Her husband is old-school and never learned to cook so the community is cooking dinner for them for the next week or so.

Tonight's dinner is Hawaiian chicken (shoyu ginger marinade) with rice and bok choy stir-fried with oyster sauce and sesame oil.

Had our first observed humming birds at the feeder - two juvenile Anna's so boiling up a gallon of nectar. Last year we went through about thirty pounds of sugar.

This is the last weekend for skiing at Mt. Baker so we are heading into our sloooow season for business - things will be basically dead until school lets out for summer. Before Baker opens in fall, we get the traffic from people who move here to work at Baker plus the last of the summer hikers so things are not so bad. After this weekend will be our worst time of the year.

Reading between the lines

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About that wonderful Iran nuclear deal - from Frank Munger writing at Atomic City Underground:

ORNL benefits from Iran deal; heavy water will enhance operations at Spallation Neutron Source
Oak Ridge National Laboratory last year provided scientific and technical expertise to the team that negotiated the Iranian nuclear agreement in Vienna, and the lab is now reaping benefits from that historic accord.

The Obama administration, according to multiple news reports, is buying 32 tons of heavy water from Iran. Heavy water is a key component in development of nuclear weapons and can be used in certain types of nuclear reactors that produce plutonium, and the deal — estimated at $8.6 million — will reportedly help Iran meet commitments for reducing its stockpile of weapons-making material.

The United States does not currently have a source for producing heavy water, and the deal with Iran will help meet a number of needs.

Emphasis mine - excuse me but heavy water is not that difficult to make - just requires a lot of electrical energy. Check out this video from Cody's Lab to see how you can make it for yourself (part one of five):

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5

First of all, we are spending money to buy this product from Iran. Why is Iran making it? Because they are selling it to other nations who want to develop their own nuclear weapons (hello North Korea and Saudi Arabia). They are manufacturing it - this is not some stockpile that we are drawing down, this is a source of revenue for the Iranian government and they are taking everyone's money.

Second, why are we not making our own? We have areas with lots of energy - our own Pacific Northwest has enough to provide cheap power for an aluminium refinery. How about all of those solar arrays that have no usable output during night but generate surplus energy during the daytime - divert that energy to Deuterium production.

One small reactor would generate enough power to satisfy the needs of the USA, Canada and most research facilities throughout the world. Why do we need to fund terrorism and buy from our enemies?

The power of moving water is greater than most people realize - remember, it is 700 times more dense than air. This moke in Texas thought his truck could drive through a flooded area with zero problem.

Try explaining that to your insurance company especially after they get the reports from all those wonderful folks in the vehicles with the blinkey-lights who tried telling him not to go.

He's going to remember that for a long long time - lucky to be alive.

Speaking truth to power

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Literally - economic development in the third world is dependent on cheap plentiful electricity. From Dawn:

Poor nations light their way without Kyoto caps
ZANDSPRUIT (South Africa): Stanley Diphofa is happy to be hooked up to South Africa’s power grid. And he’s not worried by the fact that the massive coal-fired stations which power it emit large quantities of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.

“If you have no electricity, you have no business,” he said outside his modest computer service centre — housed in a corrugated iron shed — on the edge of a crowded squatter camp just north of Johannesburg.

One section of the camp has been hooked up to electricity; the other half desperately wants to be plugged in.

“Electricity makes a huge difference. You can cook, iron, study at night,” said Bongani Dyala, a high school student who lives in a shack in the part of the camp with no power.

The government is keen to roll out more power services to millions of poor black South Africans and it does not want to commit itself to greenhouse gas emission cuts under the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The environmentalists are ruining it for everyone else trying to get ahead in their lives. CO2 is not a bad gas - it is essential for photosynthesis and we are seeing an increase in yield per acre in farmland production directly from the increase.

Socialism at the end stages

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I like to look at Venezuela because it is a very rich nation that has squandered its reserves by giving away free shit instead of building up the infrastructure and economy.

The first generates immediate popularity for the ruling class - as long as the money holds out. The second generates a very strong and independent nation - it takes a lot longer but is more durable and self-sustaining and can keep the nation prosperous during times of less money.

This just in from the Beeb:

Venezuela cuts power for four hours a day to save energy
Venezuela is introducing power cuts of four hours a day from next week to deal with a worsening energy crisis.

The cuts will last for 40 days as the country struggles under a severe drought limiting hydroelectric output.

It is the latest setback to Venezuela's economy which has been hit by a sharp fall in the price of its main export, oil.

The country's main brewer, Polar, also says it will stop production because it has no dollars to buy grain abroad.

The company, which produces 80% of the country's beer, says 10,000 workers will be affected by the stoppage.

No beer? Shit just got real.

Shot:

President Nicolas Maduro has accused the country's business elite of colluding with the US to wreck the economy.

Chaser:

Many businessmen and opposition politicians blame the energy crisis and shortages of basic goods on government economic mismanagement.

Something to keep in mind is that Venezuela has the world's largest proven petroleum reserves of any country. If they needed hard cash, they could dump their oil on the market and be done with it.

John Coleman on the climate debate

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Dr. Coleman has spent the last 60 years as a professional meteorologist and is the founder of The Weather Channel.

From USA Today:

Get politics out of climate debate: Opposing view
On this Earth Day 2016, there is a great deal of frenzy about how our Earth is going to become uninhabitable, as the civilized activities of man allegedly trigger unstoppable global warming and climate change.

With the Obama administration set to commit the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement by signing our nation onto the document Friday, it is obvious that science has taken a back seat at the United Nations.

The environmentalists, bureaucrats and politicians who make up the U.N.’s climate panel recruit scientists to research the climate issue. And they place only those who will produce the desired results. Money, politics and ideology have replaced science.

U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres has called for a “centralized transformation” that is “going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different” to combat the alleged global warming threat. How many Americans are looking forward to the U.N. transforming their lives?

Another U.N. official has admitted that the U.N. seeks to “redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.” The former head of the U.N. climate panel also recently declared that global warming “is my religion.”

Much more at the site - there is no reason that politics needs to be involved in scientific research. Every indication is that we are headed towards a 30-50 year cooling cycle - when will the politicians realize this and deal with it.

Two more harbingers of spring

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Our local berry stand is showing signs of life.

Also, they just opened State Route 20 over the North Cascades

Spring is in the air!

A bit more on Earth Day

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Earth Day has been celebrated for 46 years - started in 1970. A number of predictions were made and Andrew Follett at The Daily Caller looks at seven of them:

7 Enviro Predictions From Earth Day 1970 That Were Just Dead Wrong
Environmentalists truly believed and predicted during the first Earth Day in 1970 that the planet was doomed unless drastic actions were taken.

Humanity never quite got around to that drastic action, but environmentalists still recall the first Earth Day fondly and hold many of the predictions in high regard.

So this Earth Day, The Daily Caller News Foundation takes a look at predictions made by environmentalists around the original Earth Day in 1970 to see how they’ve held up.

Have any of these dire predictions come true? No, but that hasn’t stopped environmentalists from worrying.

From predicting the end of civilization to classic worries about peak oil, here are seven environmentalist predictions that were just flat out wrong.

1: “Civilization Will End Within 15 Or 30 Years”
Harvard biologist Dr. George Wald warned shortly before the first Earth Day in 1970 that civilization would soon end “unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” Three years before his projection, Wald was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Wald was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and the nuclear arms race. He even flew to Moscow at one point to advise the leader of the Soviet Union on environmental policy.

Despite his assistance to a communist government, civilization still exists. The percentage of Americans who are concerned about environmental threats has fallen as civilization failed to end by environmental catastrophe.

Six more howlers at the site. The Earth is doing just fine.

The latest Cruz ad

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Spot on!

Earth Day

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Time to crank up the thermostat, fire up my big diesel truck and drive 16 miles for coffee and to pick up the pastries.

The idea of Earth Day is a nice one but the implementation is all for the feelings and nothing practical for the environment. Virtue signalling on a global scale.

Earthquakes - a bit of history

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As you can tell from my last post, I am a bit concerned about the recent seismic activity in Ecuador, Japan and Yellowstone.

Here is a little bit of history: We all know about the San Francisco quake of April 18, 1906 (the links go to the respective Wikipedia articles)

What is not as well known is the January 31st, 1906 quake in Ecuador and Colombia

and the March 17, 1906 quake in what is now Taiwan.

These were all major quakes - Magnitude 7 and greater

In Mexico City's back yard. Note: this is timelapse photography - you are looking at several hours of activity.

Other events are happening in Yellowstone National Park - hydrothermal vents opening up in the Shoshone River and some curious videos of a lot of activity around Old Faithful.

Here is one video from last Sunday with the following text:

PLEASE READ ALL OF THIS! Watch this in full screen...This is the first time I have ever seen this (in 3 years). All geysers at once until it joined together like a wall of steam across the whole place. Also, at 3:03 you will see a bright flash in the geyser on the far left...but MOST of all, at 3:05 you will see at flash come out of Old Faithful, and something bright splash out onto the ground from the opening of the geyser I can't tell if this is light or a substance....what do you think it is? When you get to 3:00, click the little gear at the bottom of the video and click the "speed " setting. when it pops up click 2.5 at the top of the list to watch in slow motion to see this well. Or just use your mouse and click frame by frame.

More videos can be found here: 04/14/2016 and 04/16/2016 - something is moving under the surface...

Big difference between hippies and conservatives. From Breitbart:

San Francisco: Pot Event Attendees Leave Behind 15,000 Pounds of Trash
Attendees of the annual 4/20 pot celebration left behind almost 15,000 pounds of trash at the Golden Gate Park.

The cleanup crew began work at 6 a.m. and did not leave until 10 p.m.

“Not exactly a leave no trace moment out there,” commented Phil Ginsburg, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department manager.

The crews picked up “countless bottles of Shasta soda, beer cans, Fruit Loops boxes and butts.” Last year, the workers picked up more than 17,000 pounds of trash.

Hey, they are getting better - last year it was 17,000 pounds of trash, this year it was only 15,000 pounds.

For further facts about my hippies and conservatives comment, visit these links - it happens all the time: here, here, here, here, here and here.

Intel layoffs - the back story

On April 19th, Intel announced that they were going to lay off 12,000 workers. I had this to say:

And all the new hires will be immigrants with H1 visas - the people being fired are probably over 40 years old - trying to get a job at that age is next to impossible despite the fact that these are the best trained people in the business.

Today from Breitbart:

Intel Lays Off 12,000 After Seeking Visas to Import 14,523 Foreign Professionals Since 2010
Technology giant Intel announced April 19 it will fire 12,000 skilled U.S.-based professionals — after already swelling its workforce with 14,523 requests in Washington D.C. since 2010 for visas to import foreign professionals through the controversial H-1B and Green Card programs.

The company said the layoffs were part of a restructuring plan to help shift its focus from desktop PCs to mobile devices. But the company is very profitable, and first-quarter 2016 profits were 14 percent above predictions.

Amid the layoffs, Intel is one of the nation’s largest users of the H-1B outsourcing program which allows companies such as Disney and Abbot Laboratories to replace white-collar American professionals with cheaper professionals from India, China, and other countries.

And of course:

Intel’s press aides declined to respond to calls and emails from Breitbart.

Sounds like Lenny would be a fun person to have a beer with:

SunEdison files for Chapter 11

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All signs were pointing to bankruptcy (April 17 and March 25) - they filed for Chapter 11 today. From the Wall Street Journal:

SunEdison Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection
Solar-power company SunEdison Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday, pledging to curb a debt-fueled global expansion that pushed the company’s stock to great heights before fueling its rapid collapse.

The filing caps a dramatic decline for a company that was worth nearly $10 billion last summer, when it nurtured plans to become a global clean-energy giant. SunEdison used a combination of financial engineering and cheap debt to buy up renewable-power projects around the world before the market turned sour last summer and investors soured on its business model.

A bit more:

The company's shares have lost 99% of their value in the past 12 months.

Holy crap - that is a loss. Nice to see that such a large chunk of our tax dollars were so well spent by the Federal Government. This is what happens when you try to do alt.energy as a baseload power source - it is simply not economically viable without large government subsidies (ie: our tax dollars).

Dumb-ass in Sumas

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Some idiot tried to bring a toy grenade through the Canadian border crossing - shut everything down for a couple of hours. From Vancouver's CTV News:

Inert grenade forces brief closure of Sumas border crossing
Authorities were forced to shut down the Sumas border crossing Thursday after agents discovered a grenade in a vehicle that was headed into Canada.

The grenade was eventually determined to be inert, but not before causing an unnecessary kerfuffle that lasted several hours and required the efforts of an Explosives Disposal Team.

The Canadian Border Services Agency said agents found the dangerous-looking item in a vehicle that approached the Abbotsford, B.C. crossing at around 2:45 p.m.

A bit more:

Agents spent hours searching a U-Haul and another vehicle, pulling out several items you would expect to see from people moving homes, including a bike and a cat tree.

There were also a number of military-style bags labelled “zombies.”

Christ on a corn-dog - if I was planning to cross the border, I would put all of those items in a separate suitcase and bring them to the attention of the customs officer.

What a maroon!

Prince playing with a couple other guys

Hang out until his amazing solo about half-way through - more musicianship in his left pinky than the rest of them combined.

He will be missed.

Back home again

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Just got back from town - had some dinner there, a huge burrito and a beer.

The dishwasher worked wonderfully - I purposefully tried a couple pieces that had dried-on food and they came out slick as a whistle with no prior pre-rinsing or soaking.

The forecast has been for rain and it finally hit - hail the size of peppercorns and a nice heavy soaking - we can use it, everything is very dry now.

Surf for a bit...

Change in plans

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Lulu and her cousins are not coming out today - they wanted to get on the road back home so Lulu is coming out tomorrow.

Heading into town for a couple hours to get some things for the radio room and work on the condo a bit.

More posting this evening.

And the new dishwasher is really nice - very quiet and lots of options for sanitation and deep cleaning. Also nice is a third shallow rack for cutlery - eliminates having your spoons and forks nestle against each other preventing the contact area from getting cleaned. Another wonderful but dead-simple idea - there is an LED mounted on the bottom of the door that projects a bright red dot on the kitchen floor when the machine is running. Perfect indicator - with the old dishwasher, you had to squat down and look for three small lights on the door.

Epic Music

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A website that delivers what it says: Epic Music streaming 24/7

Also, links on the page to Jazz and rain, Relaxing Music, and Christmas Music

Figuring out the impossible

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People are starting to figure out how the EM drive might work.

It was declared to be an impossibility - a reactionless drive. Then someone had the brilliant idea to build one and test it. It worked.

Now peole are scrambling to find out how it works - the folks at MIT have an idea:

The Curious Link Between the Fly-By Anomaly and the “Impossible” EmDrive Thruster
About 10 years ago, a little-known aerospace engineer called Roger Shawyer made an extraordinary claim. Take a truncated cone, he said, bounce microwaves back and forth inside it and the result will be a thrust toward the narrow end of the cone. Voila … a revolutionary thruster capable of sending spacecraft to the planets and beyond. Shawyer called it the EmDrive.

Shawyer’s announcement was hugely controversial. The system converts one type of energy into kinetic energy, and there are plenty of other systems that do something similar. In that respect it is unremarkable.

The conceptual problems arise with momentum. The system’s total momentum increases as it begins to move. But where does this momentum come from? Shawyer had no convincing explanation, and critics said this was an obvious violation of the law of conservation of momentum.

Shawyer countered with experimental results showing the device worked as he claimed. But his critics were unimpressed. The EmDrive, they said, was equivalent to generating a thrust by standing inside a box and pushing on the sides. In other words, it was snake oil.

Since then, something interesting has happened. Various teams around the world have begun to build their own versions of the EmDrive and put them through their paces. And to everyone’s surprise, they’ve begun to reproduce Shawyer’s results. The EmDrive, it seems, really does produce thrust.

More at the site - there should be a Nobel Prize in there somewhere. This is fundamental Physics being done.

A wonderful meltdown in the offing

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It will be fun to see when Harriet Tubman is gracing the new $20 bill and the progressives realize that: 
#1) she carried a gun and was proficient in its use and
#2) she was a staunch Republican (the Democratic party supported slavery and opposed any Civil Rights legislation)

Waiting for the installer

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My old dishwasher had been slowly fading away - making strange noises and leaving more and more crud on the 'clean' dishes.

First-world problem, yes I know but I have its replacement coming sometime this morning. Yay!

Was out for an early coffee - back home in the radio room and waiting for the installer.

If it ain't broke...

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Our military is taking some wonderful older technology and bringing it into tomorrow. I personally love the A-10 Warthog - it is perfect for what it does. If people were charged to design it today, the result would be basically the same airplane. Same thing for the SR-71 Blackbird.

Seems that the B-52 is getting some loving these days as well. From Agence France Presse:

Pentagon sends legendary B-52 bomber into action against IS group
The US Air Force has started using its hulking B-52 bombers against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

And some more:

Colonel Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based spokesman, said a B-52 was sent Monday to destroy an IS weapons storage facility in the Iraqi town of Qayyarah, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) south of Mosul.

He said use of B-52s would not lead to a greater risk of civilian casualties because the aircraft are only being armed with guided bombs.

"There are memories in the collective unconscious of B-52s, decades ago, doing ... arguably indiscriminate bombing," Warren said.

"Those days are long gone. The B-52 is a precision strike weapons platform and it will conduct the same type of precision strikes that we have seen for the last 20 months."

The B-52s are replacing B-1 bombers that had been operating in the region for the past year.

What's not to love - cheaper to operate, proven technologies and it can loiter at 50,000 feet - well beyond the range of surface to air missles.

More here: B-52 Stratofortress 

Ho Li Crap - the Telefontornet

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I was working in the radio room and had the set on and mentioned that I was making cables. Someone sugested that I Google "Telefontornet"

Back in the late 1800's, Stockholm, Sweden had one of the highest numbers of telephones per-capita and the Swedish telephone service needed to find a way to bring service to 5,000 telephones into a central switchboard facility. Here is one photo to whet your whistle and then a bunch of links:

20160420-phone.jpg

Each set of wires goes to someone's telephone in their business or house. The tower is a lattice structure holding the insulators and providing a way for the individual wires to get into the exchange switchboards below.

More photos here: This Is Colossal

The Swedish Museum of Technology has a couple of Flickr feeds:

Inside the facility (some serious gear pron) HERE
Views of the actual tower HERE
Disasters - ice, fallen lines, etc. HERE

A bit of surfing before bedtime

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Did the work I was looking to do - moving the electronics bench from the DaveCave(tm) into the radio room so getting the space ready. Also, made some decent crimped connectors so learning how to use the new tools.

Back when I was working with coax cable a lot (1980's), it was pocket knives and soldering irons. The new technology is a lot better and the electrical results are flawless. Too many times, the heat from a soldering iron would melt the inner insulator and there would be a discontinuity which would cause a reflection. Not a dead short, just more noise into an already noisy system.

We really live in wonderful times (for the most part).

That's it for the night

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Spending an hour or two in the radio room working on a couple things - learning to use my new crimp tool for coaxial cable as well as reorganizing some of the equipment.

Lulu's cousins are visiting and they are coming over tomorrow for dinner.

Amateur Radio - a two-fer

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Two good articles about Amateur Radio in emergencies - remember, not if... When...

First - from The Atlantic:

The Amateur Radio Operators Preparing for the Worst
There’s a sense of urgency in the air at a Virginia nuclear power plant. Everything within at least a five-mile radius is at immediate risk due to a critical meltdown. One of the emergency responders opens the envelope she’s holding, scans its contents, and announces the bad news: “We just lost 911 and the cell towers are overloaded.”

There are some groans, but the team of amateur radio operators knew this was a possibility, and they’re prepared. They have their radios at the ready to coordinate evacuations, making sure that no shelters are overwhelmed and that evacuees arrive at the right locations. Two detach themselves from the rest and make their way over to the lead coordinator. They’re acting as the points of contact for all emergency services, which means they’re responsible for relaying information about everything from fires to urgent medical care to illegal activities.

It’s no small task, especially when there’s a nuclear meltdown in the background, but this isn’t the first time these radio operators have tackled a problem of this scale: Similar disasters happen every two years, after all. This time, it’s an earthquake that caused a cooling tower to fail. Sometimes it’s a terrorist attack, or perhaps a hurricane. Fortunately, none of these are real disasters: They’re Simulated Emergency Tests (SET), mock disasters that radio-operator groups use to show the typical emergency players—police, the Red Cross, FEMA—that when the worst happens, these hobbyists can be an essential part of the response.

Our group does a SET every few months - great training.

Second from the East Oregonian:

Hams and the Big One
Don Drayton keyed the mic Tuesday morning in the radio room at the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office in Pendleton.

“W7OEM, W7OEM, this is KC7RWC,” he said, trying to contact the Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s amateur radio unit — W7OEM — and signaling he was broadcasting from the Amateur Radio Emergency Service unit, or ARES (pronounce it like Aries, the Zodiac sign).

No response.

He tried again, and again nothing. Drayton is the Morrow County ARES emergency coordinator. Alan Polan is his Umatilla County counterpart. He used a radio to send an email over the Internet and air waves to others in the area participating in the latest Cascadia Rising radio drill.

More than an hour later, a faint, mechanical voice from the state’s emergency management office squeaked from the transceiver radio. The drill was indeed in full swing throughout Oregon.

Amateur radio operators — or hams — will have a serious role to fill when the big Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake hits. The quake will topple power poles and phone lines, knock around cellphone and Internet towers. Even in Eastern Oregon, hundreds of miles away from the quake’s center, aftershocks will disrupt daily life. Move a microwave tower a few degrees, and that cellphone call goes nowhere fast. When those typical modes of communications fail, you are not calling anyone for days, maybe weeks.

If you are interested in getting involved, this website offers free training for the Technician exam. You can buy the equipment for under $40 - Baofeng Black UV-5R V2+ Plus - although you should spend an extra $40 and get an additional battery pack, the programming cable, and a better antenna. You do not need to learn Morse Code and the exam is just multiple-choice questions. The FCC gives you the questions and the correct answers so it is simply a matter of rote memorization.

The website I linked to above has all of the questions and answers and you can knock off two or three exams in an hour. Keep doing this and when you start getting steady scores of 85%, you are ready to take the exam.

That time of year again

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Forest fire season - a couple up North. From the British Columbia Wildfire Service:

Wildfire season starts fast and early in northeast B.C.
The BC Wildfire Service has responded to 45 new wildfires in the Prince George Fire Centre since the morning of April 18, 2016. Many of these fires are burning in the Peace region where 14 fires are currently estimated to be over 100 hectares in size.

Currently there are six fires of note in the Prince George Fire Centre. Four evacuation alerts or evacuation orders have been put in place by the Peace River Regional District and the District of Hudson's Hope. Further information can be found at: www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca

A bit more about road closures and campfires:

Many local roads and highways have been affected by these fires and associated smoke. For up-to-date information on current road closures, visit: www.drivebc.ca

Due to the unseasonably warm and dry conditions and the current level of fire activity, the Prince George Fire Centre will prohibit all open fires larger than a campfire (a half-metre wide by a half-metre high, or smaller) at noon on April 20, 2016. Further information about these upcoming prohibitions can be found HERE

Stay safe and keep your fires small and under control. We have some rain forecast for the next few days but once the fire is established, this doesn't do anything appreciable.

The Science is Settled

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Great action by the Australian attorney general - from the UK Guardian:
(CSIRO is the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - sort of like our National Science Foundation)

George Brandis says climate science not settled, but CSIRO should act as if it is
The attorney general, George Brandis, has mounted a bizarre defence of the Turnbull government’s funding cuts to the CSIRO, saying there is no need to keep funding climate science if the science of climate change is settled.

A bit more:

“If the science is settled, why do we need research scientists to continue inquiring into the settled science?” Brandis said on Tuesday.

“Wouldn’t it be a much more useful allocation of taxpayers’ money and research capacity within CSIRO to allocate its resources to an area where the science isn’t settled?”

Hoist by one's own petard - I will have to remember that next time I am having a discussion with a Global Cooling Denier.

Heh - Milk and Cookies

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20160420-willie.jpg

A fact to keep in mind - guns

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20160420-guns.jpg

Memo to self - when in New York City

Don't eat at Guy Fieri's restaurant - from RADAR:

Flies, Roaches & Hair Everywhere! Guy Fieri’s Restaurant Slammed By Health Inspectors
Guy Fieri‘s fans should perhaps think twice before riding the bus to Flavortown.

The Food Network chef’s New York restaurant, Guy’s American Bar & Grill, has been slammed by the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, RadarOnline.com can exclusively report.

According to a January 2016 restaurant inspection, officials discovered nasty vermin in the Times Square greasy spoon.

“Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas,” the most recent report reads. “Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.”

The eatery was also reprimanded for employees failing to use “proper utensils” to “eliminate bare hand contact with food.”

Ouch - you would think that with all the publicity, they could afford to hire someone with a bit more pride in their work. According to the article, this is not the first time they have been cited.

Barry visits Saudi Arabia

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And gets the cold shoulder upon arrival - from CNN:

Saudis snub Obama on Riyadh arrival amid growing tensions
President Barack Obama received a chilly reception from Saudi Arabia's leaders as he landed in Riyadh Wednesday, a clear sign of the cooling relations between once-close allies amid regional upheaval and dropping oil prices.

When Obama touched down in Riyadh shortly after 1 p.m. local time, there were no kisses with the kingdom's ruler as President George W. Bush once exchanged. The Saudi government dispatched the governor of Riyadh rather than a senior-level royal to shake Obama's hand, a departure from the scene at the airport earlier in the day when King Salman was shown on state television greeting the leaders of other Gulf nations on the tarmac.

Heh - can't get no respect. Maybe we will get a real leader one of these days.

Happy 4/20 day

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Our local pot shop is having quite the sale today - may wander by there later.

WWIII - Saudi Arabia

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Looks like the 40-year joyride is over - a two-fer.

First - from CNBC:

Saudi Arabia takes out $10bn in bank loans
Saudi Arabia is raising $10bn from a consortium of global banks as the kingdom embarks on its first international debt issuance in 25 years to counter dwindling oil revenues and reserves.

More:

The oil-rich kingdom, which last weekend blocked a potential deal among oil producers to freeze output and bolster prices, has burnt through $150bn in financial reserves since late 2014 as its fiscal deficit is set to widen to 19 per cent of gross domestic product this year.

Strong interest in the loan, especially from Asian banks, came despite rating agency downgrades on Saudi creditworthiness since the oil price collapsed. The government raised the amount it wanted to borrow from $6bn-$8bn to $10bn after the deal was oversubscribed.

Heh - hope you enjoyed the ride. The debt from 25 years ago was to capitalize the oil infrastructure after they realized just how much they had and bet their nation on it. That got paid off in two shakes of a lamb's tail but this debt is going to be a lot more persistant and nagging. Welcome to the rest of the world...

Second - from the London Daily Mail:

Fresh evidence links Saudi government to 9/11: Flight certificate of would-be bomber found in embassy envelope buried underground
Fresh information allegedly connecting the government of Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 terror attacks has been released.

Officials have revealed that the flight certificate of Al-Qaeda bomb maker Ghassan Al-Sharbi was discovered hidden in an envelope from the Saudi embassy in Washington when they arrested him in 2002.

Al-Sharbi is believed to have learned how to fly with the hijackers but did not take part in the attacks. Shortly before his arrest, he buried a bundle of documents, which is believed to have included the certificate.

The cache was discovered by US authorities and details, written in a memo known as Document 17 in 2003, were released without fanfare by investigators last year. They were only brought to the public's attention when an activist discovered them and wrote about them on his website earlier this week.

The release has fuelled concerns the Saudi government may have been linked to the coordinated attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Heh again - the little fiction about how Saudi Arabia has no terrorist blood on its hands is about to become very well known to be false. Scum sucking sons of pigs and monkeys - could not happen to a nicer bunch of people. Not like they are doing themselves any favors anyway...

Well crap - RIP Bob Straka

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Two days ago, a friend of mine had a diabetic attack. Turns out that it was actually a heart attack and his kidneys had failed as well. He passed away last night - age 52 - way too young.

Death has been a too-frequent visitor in this small town in the last few years - time to put up a roadblock or something.

Sleight of hand - Patrick Un

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Just wow:

Patrick's YouTube channel is here: Unseen Magic Series

Tupac Shakur on the Trump

Great video from 1992 - 24 years ago. From MTV:

From the first part of the video:

If you want to be successful, if you want to be like Trump. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Push, push, push, push. Step, step, step. Crush, crush, crush. That’s how it all is, it’s like nobody ever stops.

Back home again

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Ran into a couple people I knew so spent some time chatting.

Off for a couple pints of cider

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Had some left-over stir-fried Bok Choy with Oyster sauce and a salad. Had a big sandwich for lunch so enough for me for today.

Gorgeous evening so heading out to Crave'n for a couple pints of cider. Back in an hour or so...

Amateur Radio in service

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Just got an update from the Amateur Radio Relay League (which celebrated its 100th birthday last year) - there are several ham stations in Equador that are coordinating search and rescue efforts.

All telephone - landline and cell service - is down so ham radio is the only reliable long-distance form of communication available for anyone down there.

2016 election cycle - the video

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Swiped from Adaptive Curmudgeon

From the New York Times:

Intel to Cut 12,000 Jobs as PC Demand Slumps
Intel, reeling from a collapse in demand for personal computers, said on Tuesday that it would cut 12,000 jobs, about 11 percent of its work force.

The company, the world’s largest maker of semiconductors, announced the move along with its first-quarter earnings, which were slightly below analysts’ expectations.

Brian Krzanich, Intel’s chief executive, said the job cuts were part of an overall strategy to move Intel from a company that depends on revenue primarily from PC chips to one that supplies semiconductors for smartphones, sensors, cloud computing and other devices.

And all the new hires will be immigrants with H1 visas - the people being fired are probably over 40 years old - trying to get a job at that age is next to impossible despite the fact that these are the best trained people in the business.

America is going down the tubes fast if we do not stop the crony capitalism and get back to the free market.

Also - 1,000 people being let go: Twin Rivers informs employees of closing

And this - another $15 minimum wage victory - UC Berkeley Forced to Cut 500 Jobs After $15 Minimum Wage Hike

Chalk up another lie from this administration. From the Washington Examiner:

America's biggest health insurer UnitedHealth bails on Obamacare, citing big losses
UnitedHealth, the largest health insurer in the United States, is planning a widespread exit of the Obamacare market due to mounting losses from participating in the program.

UnitedHealth's CEO said in an investor call Tuesday morning that the Obamacare market has continued to show high risk.

"Next year we will only remain in a handful of states," CEO Stephen Hemsley said. UnitedHealth lost $425 million last year due to Obamacare.

The 'non-partisan' Congressional Budget Office siad that Obamacare was unsustainable - more here and here.

Time to admit that it does not work, repeal it and start back with an open market for insurance. Simplify the profession and costs will come down. We already have TriCare for our soldiers ($565.20/year for an entire family) - open it up to the general public.

Obamacare was designed by a committee that tried to keep everybody happy. At 65 years old, I do not need birth control or mamograms so I should not be paying for them with my tax dollars. I do not think that Lulu appreciates paying for her prostate gland checkups either.

Off to town

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Got a couple things I didn't get to yesterday so heading in for a few hours until it gets hot again.

Already up to 71.2°F this morning. Put a bunch of water in the two stock tanks for the critters.

Out for coffee...

Just beautiful

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Ma'agalim - Jane Bordeaux from Uri Lotan on Vimeo.

No clue as to the lyrics of the song but a wonderful animation.

Our feckless leader is asking for help - from ABC News:

Obama Asks Putin to Help Halt Assad Offensive in Syria
President Barack Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin tonight to urge him to use Russia’s influence to halt escalating fighting in both Syria and Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.

Obama started it by not acting during the March 2011 demonstrations against the Assad regime. We gave arms to the "rebels" but these were the people who morphed into ISIS - wrong rebels.

This graphic sums it up perfectly.

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Kind of takes the fun out of getting a good shot but still - in a hurried situation, this would be a Godsend.

Pricing is not unreasonable - from $10K for the entry unit up to $16K for the top of the line.

For radio geeks this is big

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It is basically impossible to transmit and recieve at the same time. This is why in some modes, you have to go jabber jabber jabber OVER and then the other party starts talking.

Sending the output from the transmitter into the input of the reciever would destroy it. There is a device called a 'circulator' that allows this though - very expensive and limited to the higher frequencies. The circulator forces the radio waves to move in one direction only so the transmitted waves will move only from the output to the antenna and the recieved waves will move only from the antenna to the reciever.

Some people just built one on a chip. From the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency:

Novel miniaturized circulator opens way to doubling wireless capacity
Since the advent of the integrated circuit in 1958, the same year the Advanced Research Projects Agency was established, engineers have been jamming ever more microelectronic integration into ever less chip real estate. Now it has become routine to pack billions of transistors onto chips the size of fingernails.

DARPA (the D for Defense was first added in 1972) has played key roles in this ongoing miracle of miniaturization, giving rise to new and sometimes revolutionary military and civilian capabilities in domains as diverse as communication, intelligence gathering, and optical information processing. ‎Now a DARPA-funded team has drastically miniaturized highly specialized electronic components called circulators and for the first time integrated them into standard silicon-based circuitry. The feat could lead to a doubling of radiofrequency (RF) capacity for wireless communications—meaning even faster web-searching and downloads, for example—as well as the development of smaller, less expensive and more readily upgraded antenna arrays for radar, signals intelligence, and other applications.

The work, funded under DARPA’s Arrays at Commercial Timescales (ACT) program, was led by Columbia University electrical engineers Harish Krishnaswamy and Negar Reiskarimian and described in the April 15, 2016 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

Going to stop excerpting here - there is a lot more at the link for those interested. This is very cool! Normally circulators used magnetic ferrite materials, large magnets and resonant cavities (tuned chambers - think about blowing across the top of a coke bottle). Doing this in solid state brings things into the next generation.

The Japanese Earthquakes

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The two quakes from this weekend caused much more than just building damage. Here are four photographs:

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That highway is going to be blocked for at least a week if not more. How are the people going to get fresh food?

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Same story - they are working on it now but how many other towns are still cut off.

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Here, the slide is under the roadbed - even more tricky to repair. They are going to have to totally rebuild that section of road - it is not a mater of just scraping some rocks off the surface.

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Not impacting a road but what if this river feeds some town's water supply? What contingency plans do they have in place to provide potable water for the next month or two?

It is not a matter of if - it is a matter of when.

Tip of the hat to the American Geophysical Union - landslide blog

Ho Li Crap

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Drones are getting near where I want - this is groundbreaking:

Cost is not out of line - $4,500 for the drone and another $1,599 for the advanced gimbal/stabilization system. When this gets to under $2K I am phoning them with my credit card.

Slimy with an oddly metalic aftertaste. Looks like I will be making my own for the event.

From the London Daily Mail:

Chelsea Clinton buys new $10.5 million apartment across the street from her husband's $4 million 'starter pad' bought just before they married
Most young couples could only dream of buying a luxury four-bedroom apartment in the centre of Manhattan.

But Chelsea Clinton, 33, and husband Marc Mezvinsky, 35, are about to swap their $4 million pad for a huge new $10.5 million one nearby.

The former first daughter and Mr Mezvinksy - who married in 2010 - are believed to have spotted the 5,000 sq ft property while out walking in the area.

A bit more about Mr. Mezvinsky 

Marc Mezvinsky worked for Goldman Sachs for 8 yrs before starting his own hedge fund company..his father was found guilty for 39 counts of bank fraud in 2001 (which happened during Bill Clinton's pres.). he embezzled more than 10 million and still owes 9.4 million to his victims..and Hillary is going to go after big banks and hedge fund companies? And yeah, he does off-shore corporations too.

Back from town early

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I had Grace with me and it was just getting too hot - 86°F outside air temp and although I was running the air conditioner and parking in whatever shade I could find, the car was still getting too hot for comfort. Dogs bodies normally run around 101-102.5°F so she would feel less discomfort from the heat than me but not willing to push it. Also, I am not wearing a fur coat. The forecast is still showing precipitation coming in Wednesday but I don't see it here - maybe a drop or two.

Came home and stopped at the store - my hairdresser was available for a cut so we started on that and an ambulance sped down the road towards her house. Her phone rang and her husband had a diabetic event - he is very brittle. Another aid car from our local Fire Department (very lucky to be living out there - excellent crew!) and then two Medic One cars from the County. Bob's heart had stopped but they were able to revive him and he is at the hospital ER now. Our prayers heading out to them. Wonderful people.

At home now unpacking the truck - will have leftover bean and ham soup and a salad. I am doing the food service for a ham radio event at the end of June and seeing if a commercial brand of Mac Salad is good enough to serve or if I need to get access to a commercial kitchen (there is one available) and make my own.

Spending tonight getting some printers configured in the radio room - I have three of them and was swapping cables around to use them. Got a couple extra cables and a hub from Amazon so everything will be plug-and-play. Label printer, B&W laser and Color ink-jet.

Time for dinner...

Off to town - big day

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Running a bunch of errands today. Had someone calling from "Microsoft Windows Tech Support" about a problem with my computer so I had the great joy of venting my spleen at them. Nothing makes a good start to the day like the chance to seriously curse out an idiot.

Heading out for coffee and pastries and then Bellingham for the day. Weather looks gorgeous through tomorrow with chances of rain moving in Wednesday.

Back to the radio room for an 8:00PM network, work on some stuff for another hour or two and then an early bedtime.

Busy day tomorrow in town - oil change, condo and picking up my PA system from the meeting.

About that online contest

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You know, the one to name the new British research vessel? From the UK Telegraph:

Boaty McBoatface 'unlikely' to be name of  Britain’s new polar research vessel despite runaway win of public vote
Britain’s new £200 million polar research vessel is unlikely to be christened RRS Boaty McBoatface, despite the name being voted the runaway winner in a public poll.

In a bid to publicise the creation of Britain’s largest and most advanced research ship, the Natural Environment Research Council asked the public to vote on a name for the state-of-the-art vessel, challenging people to come up with an “inspirational” title.

But when the internet poll closed yesterday, Boaty McBoatface was streets ahead, with 124,000 votes, more than four times that of its nearest rival, Poppy-Mai.

Jo Johnson, the science minister, signalled that ministers were unlikely to endorse the result. He told the Daily Telegraph: “You won't be surprised to know that we want something that fits the mission and captures the spirit of scientific endeavour. I am grateful to everyone who has participated in the competition."

A bit more:

Boaty McBoatface was put forward by James Hand, a former BBC presenter, who "apologised profusely" after the name stormed to the top of the public vote.

It was not the only humorous name to feature in the most popular choices. It’s Bloody Cold Here came fourth, with 10,679 votes, Usain Boat came sixth, with 8,710 votes, while others to feature in the top twenty included I Like Big Boats and I Cannot Lie, What Iceberg? and Boaty McBoatface the Return.

Heh...

And another one bites the dust

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Just goes to show that without large government subsidies (ie: your and my money collected as taxes) alt.energy is always a failing proposition for baseline generation.

From Yahoo/Finance:

SunEdison to file for bankruptcy as early as Sunday night -source
Solar energy company SunEdison Inc is preparing to file for bankruptcy as early as the evening of April 17, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, nine months after its market value had reached $10 billion.

A SunEdison spokesman declined to comment.

Such a move would represent a fall from grace for the former darling of Wall Street and the renewable energy sector, whose rapid, debt-fueled expansion with solar and wind energy plants around the world proved unsustainable. The company's market value as of Friday was $117 million.

The sooner we stop trying to promote solar and wind, the sooner we can get cheap electricity again. alt.energy is a financial rat-hole - money spent on it is money wasted.

Crap - RIP Dr. Bill Gray

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Steven Goddard has an obituary:

A Very Sad Day For Science
Dr. Bill Gray has passed away. He was my hero, and an inspiration.

Besides being a top tropical meteorologist and hurricane forecaster, Bill was a man of the highest integrity and character. Bill had his funding cut off by Al Gore in 1993 for refusing to go along with Gore’s global warming politics. Unlike so many others, Bill chose scientific integrity over politics and money, and fought against climate fraud to his last breath.

I spoke with Bill on Sunday by phone, and his last words to me were “I hear the beer is colder on the other side. We will have to have our next one there.” He kept his great sense of humor right up to the end.

I look forward to our next pint, but for now I am heartbroken. Bill passed away on a snowy day in Colorado. His late wife Nancy was Mayor of Fort Collins during the 1980’s, and was responsible for the great system of bike trails there.

Rest in Peace Bill. I will miss you terribly. Bill asked me to carry the climate torch forward for him the next few decades, and I promised him I would.

He will be missed - his annual hurricane forecasts were always spot on.

The free market - automobiles

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Works in Germany - from Road and Track:

Why European Carmakers Should Take the Mustang's Huge Popularity in Germany Seriously
Achtung, baby! There's a new sporting-coupe king in Germany, and it's named after the mighty P-51 fighter that cleared the skies over Bavaria some 73 years ago. In March, the Ford Mustang outsold the Porsche 911, the Porsche Cayman, the Porsche Boxster, and the Audi TT. It's not a matter of Germans having a nose for a bargain, either; a plain-Jane five-liter GT costs about 50 grand overseas compared to the $32,395 base price in the States. It appears that Mustang ownership justifies premium pricing in the land of the Nurburging and the autobahn. What's going on?

Offer what people want and it will sell. Simple as that.

Not a direct link but links nonetheless - from McClatchy News:

Inside Panama Papers: Multiple Clinton connections
Hillary Clinton recently blasted the hidden financial dealings exposed in the Panama Papers, but she and her husband have multiple connections with people who have used the besieged law firm Mossack Fonseca to establish offshore entities.

Among them are Gabrielle Fialkoff, finance director for Hillary Clinton’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate; Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate who has traveled the globe with Bill Clinton; the Chagoury family, which pledged $1 billion in projects to the Clinton Global Initiative; and Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who was at the center of a Democratic fund-raising scandal when Bill Clinton was president. Also using the Panamanian law firm was the company founded by the late billionaire investor Marc Rich, an international fugitive when Bill Clinton pardoned him in the final hours of his presidency.

Much more at the site - the people at McClatchy are doing an excellent job of going through the papers and naming names and following the money - lots of links to corroborating data.

A big surprise - NOT!

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From Associated Press:

Poll: Getting facts right key to Americans' trust in media
Trust in the news media is being eroded by perceptions of inaccuracy and bias, fueled in part by Americans' skepticism about what they read on social media.

Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public's view of other institutions. In this presidential campaign year, Democrats were more likely to trust the news media than Republicans or independents.

Emphasis mine - I knew it was bad but this is beyond belief. And what is the media doing to correct this deficiency?

. . . crickets . . .

Teslaphoresis

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Nails it

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20160417-election.jpg

Heading out for coffee and got a couple projects at the farm.

Delivering the PA system to our local resource center - was notified it was needed just yesterday. This for a meeting planned well in advance. Grrrr...

Emergency radio network tonight at 7:00PM

Hypocrisy writ large - Cirque du Soleil

From Jerome Hudson writing at Breitbart:

Cirque du Solei Cancels North Carolina Shows Over Public Facilities Act — Plans Shows In Dubai, Where Gays Are Put to Death
Canada-based circus and theater entertainment company Cirque du Soleil has canceled its upcoming shows in Greensboro, Charlotte, and Raleigh in North Carolina to protest the state’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.

“Cirque du Soleil strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form,” the group announced Friday in a press release. “The new HB2 legislation passed in North Carolina is an important regression to ensuring human rights for all.”

And, wait for it...

Indeed, Cirque du Solei has a planned production, Varekai, scheduled to run from September 16 to 24 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The United Arab Emirates of Dubai has outlawed same-sex marriage, sex or gender reassignment surgery, adoption by same-sex couples, openly gay and lesbian military service, with the aforementioned being punishable by death, fines, or imprisonment.

In fact, Cirque du Solei has performed for years in the anti-LBGT United Arab Emirates, including Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour in 2014, Dralion in 2013, Alegria in 2009, and Quidam in 2006.

“Over the past years, Cirque du Soleil has had shows in various countries such as United Arab Emirates,” the Cirque du Solei website proudly states.

Just another crop of virtue signaling morons. So transparent and stupid.

Earthquakes in Ecuador

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First some major quakes in Japan the other day, now a couple in Ecuador - 7.8Mag

Fairly shallow too - under 20kM depth so there will be a lot of surface motion.

Well crap - RIP Sir David MacKay

From the UK Telegraph:

Professor Sir David MacKay, physicist – obituary
Professor Sir David MacKay, who has died aged 48, was a Cambridge University physicist who set out to cut “UK emissions of twaddle” by applying the laws of physics and mathematics to the debate on sustainable energy.

His book, Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air (2009), provided a user-friendly guide to how much energy we consume in our daily lives, the lifestyle changes that would substantially reduce that total, and which kinds of technology would make a difference. Amusingly written, it was acclaimed as a breath of fresh air in the often self-righteous and highly charged atmosphere surrounding the debate about climate change, and led to his appointment in 2009 for a five-year term as chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

In an interview with Leo Hickman in The Guardian, MacKay explained that he had decided to write the book because he was tired of the “greenwash” surrounding the energy and climate change issue: “I was tired of the debate – the extremism, the nimbyism, the hairshirt. We need a constructive conversation about energy, not a Punch and Judy show... I wanted to write a book about our energy options in a neutral, human-accessible form.”

The book can be downloaded here: Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air.

Dr. MacKay's website is here: Everything is Connected

Ahead of the curve

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From Non Sequitur:

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WWIII - Saudi Arabia

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Now this wiill be interesting to see - will Congress cave to the Saudis - from the New York Times:

Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill
Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

Several outside economists are skeptical that the Saudis will follow through, saying that such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the kingdom’s economy. But the threat is another sign of the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

A bit more:

The administration, which argues that the legislation would put Americans at legal risk overseas, has been lobbying so intently against the bill that some lawmakers and families of Sept. 11 victims are infuriated. In their view, the Obama administration has consistently sided with the kingdom and has thwarted their efforts to learn what they believe to be the truth about the role some Saudi officials played in the terrorist plot.

“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens,” said Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and who is part of a group of victims’ family members pushing for the legislation.

Time to send a letter to my congresscritters promoting the bill - the truth needs to be brought to light. The Wahhabist sect in Saudi Arabia is funding the building of mosques in the USA - mosques that are promoting terrorism. This is a known fact and is constantly being ignored in the media.

Now this looks like fun

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Wish it was closer and a different date - would love to attend.

From Harvard University:

The Science of Time
The uses of time in astronomy - from pointing telescopes, coordinating and processing observations, predicting ephemerides, determining Earth orientation, analyzing time-series data and in many other ways - represent a broad sample of how time is used throughout human society and in space. Time and its reciprocal, frequency, is the most accurately measurable quantity and often an important path to the frontiers of science. But the future of timekeeping is changing with the development of optical frequency standards and the resulting challenges of distributing time at ever higher precision, with the possibility of timescales based on pulsars, and with the inclusion of higher-order relativistic effects. The definition of the second will likely be changed before the end of this decade, and its realization will increase in accuracy; the definition of the day is no longer obvious. The variability of the Earth's rotation presents challenges of understanding and prediction. It is time to take a closer look at time in astronomy and other sciences as a defining element of modern civilization.

The symposium aims to set the stage for future timekeeping standards, infrastructure, and engineering best practices for astronomers and the broader society. At the same time the program will be cognizant of the rich history from Harrison's chronometer to today's atomic clocks and pulsar observations. The theoreticians and engineers of time will be brought together with the educators and historians of science, enriching the understanding of time among both experts and the public.

Quite the list of speakers too - hope that they video the presentations.

Profile of a leader - Vladimir Putin

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Putin is a thug but he is an excellent leader. I wish we had someone like him in office - the USA would be a lot better off. I am not alone in thinking this.

From The Federalist:

Why Vladimir Putin’s People Love Him
By certain traditional measures, Russian President Vladimir Putin is the pre-eminent statesman of his time. When he took power in the winter of 1999–2000, his defenseless and bankrupt country was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals. Much as Kemal Atatürk had done in Turkey seven decades earlier, Putin rescued a nation-state from the ruins of an empire and gave it coherence and purpose.

He disciplined his country’s unaccountable plutocrats, restored its military strength, and refused, with ever-blunter rhetoric, the subservient role in an American-run world system that foreign politicians and business leaders had drawn up for Russia. His voters credit him with having “saved his country.” So do many of his Russian detractors, although they worry he has stayed in power too long.

He is among the more popular democratically elected leaders in the civilized world and, incidentally, a hero to certain right-wing rebels against the international order, particularly in Europe. This is awkward for him and for them, since, unlike Atatürk, Putin has no programmatic ideology.

A lot more at the site - well worth the ten minutes to read if only to see what a real leader is like. Barry?

Bill Nye in perspective

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Bill Nye the Science Guy - met him once, he was an asshole in real life.

Daniel Greenfield has an excellent article at Front Page:

CAN THE MEDIA PLEASE STOP QUOTING BILL NYE AS A SCIENCE EXPERT
Calling yourself the "Science Guy" does not mean that you are an expert on anything. It means you're the host of a kids show.

Instead Bill Nye is being interviewed as if he were an expert on every possible topic from footballs to evolution. He's out there blaming the blizzard on Global Warming; a subject that, like most other things, he knows nothing about.

Bill Nye was an aspiring comedian who wasn't funny and so began doing edutainment for kids instead. He has no PhD. He has a BS in mechanical engineering.

Daniel offers some more and closes with this:

So now we have Bill Nye being quoted on life after death, football pressure and evolution. Not because he's an expert, but because he's a celebrity. And unlike Tyson, he's not even a celebrity scientist.

Just a celebrity. And a fifth rate one at that.

Bill Nye is a comedian who wanted to change the world by becoming an astronaut but wouldn't take the time to get a PhD. Now he got his wish because media standards have fallen so far into the toilet that it will quote anyone who agrees with them and whose material might go viral.

The problem is that those people in Nye's camp will disregard anything that reveals the shallowness of Nye's knowledge. He is telling them the narrative that they want to hear and he tells it striped of any actual data that would confuse them.

Quite the display of technology:

Tip of the hat to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

Happy Citizen Science Day

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Long day (864 hours!) from today through May 21st.

Website: Citizen Science Day

Promotional video:

Very light in actual content - more a feel-good excercise but maybe they will grow into their hype next year. Great idea but we need more numbers and less feelings.

Critters fed - off for coffee

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Spending the next couple of days working at home.

More later...

Code 8

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Nice teaser for a movie in production - love the premise:

The high-level electric is sooooo me.
They raised enough money to blow past their goal - $200K wanted, $781K raised in 25 days.

From Gizmodo:

Facebook Employees Asked Mark Zuckerberg If They Should Try to Stop a Donald Trump Presidency

From Breitbart:

EXCLUSIVE: Colorado Volunteers: Ballot Errors Hurt Trump Delegate Candidates, Could Have Violated State Rules

From US News and World Report:

Sarah Palin Says Voters Should Decide GOP Nominee
Voters will "rise up" in opposition if Republican power brokers try to take the presidential nomination away from Donald Trump or Ted Cruz at the GOP convention this summer, Sarah Palin said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview.

The 2008 vice presidential nominee told The Associated Press that GOP voters have the right to decide the party's nominee and will rebel if House Speaker Paul Ryan or some other "white knight" is chosen at a contested convention.

From Breitbart:

Trump Supporters Protest at the Colorado State Capitol: ‘Misprinted Ballots, Lost Paperwork’

They are not even trying to hide the corruption and vote rigging. The next couple of years will be interesting to say the least.

Heading out for some dinner

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Graham's does a decent hamburger - heading out there for dinner and a couple pints of cider.

More in a couple of hours...

A song for tax season

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Pokey LaFarge - Good Lord Giveth, Uncle Sam Taketh Away

Bernie Sanders - millionaire

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Yes really - owns two houses and a condo. From Time/Money:

Bernie Sanders Is a De Facto Millionaire
Democratic presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders rails against the “billionaire class,” has called income inequality “the greatest moral issue of our time,” and has made a big point of contrasting his earnings against his peers in this election.

While the senator is indeed far less wealthy than many of his Senate colleagues — as well as his fellow presidential contenders — he is not exactly a man of modest means.

Newsbusters has a bit more:

Billionaire-Bashing Bernie Sanders Is a Millionaire With Three Homes
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders rails against the “billionaire class” and has called income inequality “the greatest moral issue of our time,” but the senator from Vermont is “not exactly a man of modest means,” according to an article written by Kerri Anne Renzulli for the TIME magazine website.

However, “nothing about Bernie’s net worth devalues his progressive beliefs,” stated Peter Daou, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton who responded on the Blue Nation Review website to reports that Sanders and his wife, Jane, could retire with an “effective retirement nest egg” valued at “nearly $2 million.”

Daou began his article by stating:

If voters had a dime for every time Bernie Sanders railed against millionaires and billionaires, they’d be millionaires.

OK, that’s an exaggeration, but there’s no denying that Bernie has portrayed millionaires as one of society’s greatest ills.

“It is highly unlikely there’s anything newsworthy or untoward in Bernie’s unreleased tax returns -- which is what makes his evasiveness baffling,” the head of True Blue Media noted.

“Perhaps it’s something much simpler: Bernie and Jane Sanders are millionaires,” he continued. “So what happens to Bernie’s campaign if he is a millionaire?”

It's hypocracy all the way down.

Those earthquakes in Japan

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Might be linked to volcanic activity - a cautionary note from Eric Worrall at Anthony's:

6.4 Japan Earthquake / Tambora Scale VEI-7 Volcano Alert
Japan has heightened monitoring on the Island of Kyushu, in the wake of a 6.4 Earthquake. Kyushu is a highly volcanic region which includes a the Aira Caldera and Mount Aso, VEI-7 volcanoes. The last major VEI-7 eruption, the eruption of Mount Tambora, is associated with the year without a Summer, a period of widespread famine and crop failure which occurred in 1816.

Eric then quotes this article at the UK Guardian:

There are also concerns about volcanic activity in the wake of the quake. The island of Kyushu, where the earthquake happened, is a highly volcanic area. A level 2 warning – meaning people should not approach a volcano’s crater – has been in place for Asosan in Kumamoto prefecture on the island since November 2015.

Eric closes with this:

If, and this is a big if, this situation develops into a Tambora scale explosive eruption, the results could be devastating, both for Japan, and potentially for the entire Northern Hemisphere. Modern transportation may mitigate some of the effects, by allowing food from the Southern Hemisphere to be supplied to regions experiencing crop failures. But the resulting spike in food prices would be likely to cause severe hardship for the world’s poor.

Meanwhile our politicians pointlessly fritter away their time and our money, conducting climate witch hunts, and plotting to bankrupt affordable energy suppliers.

Words of wisdom. Our Earth is huge - the idea that us humans can cause a catastrophic change in the weather patterns is pure fscking hubris on our part. The Earth has been warmer, it has been colder. It will always continue to do so.

Never liked them - the Mayo Clinic came out against them in 2012:

The Hygienic Efficacy of Different Hand-Drying Methods: A Review of the Evidence
The transmission of bacteria is more likely to occur from wet skin than from dry skin; therefore, the proper drying of hands after washing should be an integral part of the hand hygiene process in health care. This article systematically reviews the research on the hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods.

And the conclusion:

From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers. Paper towels should be recommended in locations where hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics.

And now this - from the UK Telegraph:

Dyson Airblades 'spread germs 1,300 times more than paper towels'
Dyson Airblade hand-driers spread 60 times more germs than standard air dryers, and 1,300 times more than standard paper towels, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

University of Westminster researchers carrying out the research dipped their hands into water containing a harmless virus. They then dried their hands with either a Dyson Airblade, a standard hot-air dryer, or a paper towel.

According to their findings, the Dyson drier's 430mph blasts of air are capable of spreading viruses up to 3 meters across a bathroom. The standard drier spread viruses 75cm, and the hand towels 25cm.

This is exacerbated by people not bothering to do a real handwashing. Great way to get a cold or flu.

Our nation is in the best of hands

Computer Security - from Reuters:

U.S. government worse than all major industries on cyber security: report
U.S. federal, state and local government agencies rank in last place in cyber security when compared against 17 major private industries, including transportation, retail and healthcare, according to a new report released Thursday.

The analysis, from venture-backed security risk benchmarking startup SecurityScorecard, measured the relative security health of government and industries across 10 categories, including vulnerability to malware infections, exposure rates of passwords and susceptibility to social engineering, such as an employee using corporate account information on a public social network.

Educations, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries also ranked low, the report found. Information services, construction, food and technology were among the top performers.

This does not surprise me in the least - remember that big breach at the US Government's Office of Personnel Management? More here, here and here. The director voluntarily stepped down and was placed with a different agency. There is no accountability. There is no real punishment if someone screws up.

We are watching the end-game of socialism - all of the other people's money has been spent, the rich have been eaten and now what?

From Yahoo News/Reuters:

Venezuela to ration malls, change clocks, to save power
President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday punitive electricity rationing would be imposed on 15 shopping malls and drought-hit Venezuela's time zone would also be modified to save power.

Many of the South American OPEC nation's 29 million people are suffering daily, unscheduled water and electricity cuts as levels recede at the Guri dam complex providing nearly two-thirds of power needs.

Thank God there seems to be a strong opposition:

The power problems have added to suffering from economic contraction, the world's highest inflation, shortages of basic goods, and lengthy lines at shops around the nation.

The opposition coalition is trying to oust Maduro via street protests or a referendum to end his six-year term.

One opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said the president was giving holidays not because of the power situation but to delay the formal steps needed to trigger a referendum.

"He will end in the rubbish-bin of political history," Capriles scoffed on Twitter. "As he has never liked working, he wants the whole country to be like that."

This is what we would look like ten years after a Bernie or a Hillary presidency. The low-information voter looks at "the rich" and sees an unlimited pool of money which needs to be redistributed so they can have their free stuff. They fail to realize that the pool is - in fact - finite and will run out sooner rather than later.

I have embedded this video before so will just link to it now - remember, this was recorded in 2011 and government spending has gotten much worse: Eat the Rich

That is it for the night

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Heading upstairs. Working at home tomorrow so more spew then.

The stupid is strong in this one

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Talk about no security whatsoever - from techdirt:

Brussels Terrorist Laptop Included Details Of Planned Attack In Unencrypted Folder Titled 'Target'
As the push to backdoor or ban encryption heats up, kneejerk politicians have rushed to embrace each and every recent attack and to immediately point fingers at encryption. Right after the Paris attacks, politicians started blaming encryption, even though evidence suggested they communicated by unencrypted SMS. Even months later, the press was ridiculously using the total lack of evidence of any encryption... as evidence of encryption. Then with the Brussels attacks from a few weeks ago politicians like Rep. Adam Schiff immediately tried to blame encryption insisting that "we can be sure that terrorists will continue to use what they perceive to be the most secure means to plot their attacks."

Of course, now it's being reported that a laptop seized from one of the suicide bombers in Brussels shows little attempt to actually hide plans of attacks. In fact, it showed that attack plans were kept in an unencrypted folder titled "Target." And the only attempt to "hide" it was that the computer had been thrown in the trash.

The bomber referred to striking Britain, the La Defense business district in Paris, and the ultra-conservative Catholic organisation, Civitas, in a folder titled “Target,” written in English, according to the source.

The laptop was found in the trash by police in Brussels shortly after the suicide bombings on March 22 that killed 32 people at the city’s airport and on a Metro train.

I'm wondering if Rep. Adam Schiff will now talk about the need to ban "folders" in operating systems?

Too many braying ninnys spouting off about which they know nothing.

They beclown themselves...

Back home again - long day

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Did what I wanted to in town, had an early dinner because I was feeling tired. At 6:30PM, I was about halfway home when I realized that I had a radio meeting at 7:00PM.

It was a lot of fun - we are ramping up to the Cascadia Rising drill in June so making sure that we are up to the challenge. This will be a very good demonstration of our County's ability to deal with an emergency situation and I am very happy to play a small role in it.

Chug down a glass of wine or two, surf for a little bit and then to bed.

Heading out for coffee and in to town

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Back later - probably have some dinner in town.

Ted Cruz's tax plan

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Really wonderful - looks like someone has studied their economics:

Molten Salt reactors

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A great documentary on the history of liquid salt reactors (45 minutes).

These are absolutely my favorite design and the one that we need to build - intrinsically safe and the waste materials only need to be sequestered for a couple hundred years.

The problem is all bureaucratic infighting and not science. Not invented in my congressional district so it is not worthy...

Teaching math - a history

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Sad but true:

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Our local preparedness group had a great meeting but when it came down to my radio demonstration, there was nobody on the other end of the repeater. I got the repeater's own station ID loud and clear and I have reached it before but tonight? NADA...

Back and DOH!

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eFiled the taxes - owe a small amount so paid up.

Re-read the MBARC website and remembered that the meetings are on Tuesday - not Friday. Dang - this was one I wanted to see as they were talking about this puppy: HamShield

Cleaning out the pantry as we have had a colony of mice invade without my knowledge - trapping a couple per day but need to clean up their nesting areas - a problem with deep shelving is that they can do this without it being evident. Early dinner and off to the BERT meeting.

Out for coffee and then taxes

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Heading out for coffee in a few minutes and then spending an hour or two at the store office finishing my taxes - got everything gathered and imported QuickBooks into TurboTax so just a matter of playing around - solving for the smallest bite.

This is the second week of the month so it's meetings all the way through - BERT tonight and then WECG and MBARC

More posting in a couple hours...

RTI Photography

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Very cool technique for macro photography - really brings out the details:

RTI stands for Reflectance Transformation Imaging and is the result of taking multiple photographs of the same thing but with a single point light source coming from different angles. This can pick up surface detail.

The RTI project is spearheaded by Cultural Heritage Imaging who offers the software as a free download (but a $50 donation is requested)

Thanks Barry - from the Bellingham Herald:

Coal slump sends mining giant Peabody Energy into bankruptcy
U.S. coal giant Peabody Energy Corp. filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, the most powerful convulsion yet in an industry that's enduring the worst slump in decades.

The company voluntarily filed petitions under Chapter 11 for the majority of its U.S. entities in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, according to a statement dated April 13. All of Peabody's mines and offices are continuing to operate in the ordinary course of business and are expected to continue doing so for the duration of the process, it said.

Founded in 1883 by 24-year-old Francis S. Peabody with $100, a wagon and two mules, the miner is now the largest private-sector coal company in the world, with customers in 25 countries and about 8,000 employees, according to its website. It joins at least four other coal companies that have sought bankruptcy as the industry endures its worst downturn in decades – a result of tougher environmental policies, a flood of cheap natural gas and a global glut of metallurgical coal that's dragged prices for steelmaking component to the lowest in more than 10 years.

Coql used to be dirty but recent requirements for handeling have made it a very clean fuel. It is very energy dense which makes it a perfect choice for power generation. The idea that CO2 is causing any major changes in our climate is laughable. The "tipping point" theory was debunked over 20 years ago and yet, it still lives on in the halls of power as a way to get even richer. Anthropogenic Climate Change is just a tool of the 1% to take even more money. Read your science and follow the money.

Cultural appropriation

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A great one from Bill Whittle:

Reminds me of this post from July of last year: Politically incorrect

Victor Davis Hanson on Donald Trump

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Hanson is one of my very favorite writers and he brings his intellectual firepower to the table with this analysis of Donald Trump's appeal to the common man.

From National Review:

White versus White America
Why do the angry white poor and working class support the unlikely populist Donald Trump — a spoiled bully who made and lost fortunes in part by gaming the system, who seems to take gratuitous rudeness and cruelty as a birthright, whose lifestyle is symptomatic of American excess, and who for the last half-century has embraced no ideology other than Trump, Inc.?

Perhaps it’s because Trump is a phantasm. He is not a flesh-and-blood candidate judged as crude or acceptable on the basis of the usual criteria. His attraction rests on about 100 sound bites over the last year that shattered taboos and attacked elite sacred cows, in a manner that no candidate has done in the past — or is likely to do in the future. Trumpism is nihilism. A reckless Trump had no political career or social capital to lose, unless one thinks that The Apprentice discriminates against the outrageous and crass, or that the New York real-estate industry blackballs prevaricators.

His supporters would prefer to lose with Trump than win with a sober and judicious politician such as Jeb Bush or Paul Ryan. If Trump or Hillary is elected as a result of white-middle-class furor or abdication, the Republican establishment pays either way. Trump’s constituents see him as their first and last chance at getting back at their enemies and, more importantly, the enablers of their enemies. Trump is a gladiator, and his supporters are shrieking, thumbs-down spectators. Sheathing his blood-stained blade would empty the stadium and put him back on The Apprentice. Does a Kim Kardashian suddenly stop flashing her boobs on YouTube in worry over what others might think?

A bit more:

What is the perceived white elite? Perhaps a Hillary Clinton raking in $300,000 per half hour at UCLA or shaking down Wall Street for $600,000, even as she pontificates on privilege and the dangers of racism (obviously embraced, in her view, by whites other than those of her class). Or a Chelsea Clinton deprecating the attraction of riches, as her Wall Street internships and marriage perpetuate the Clinton model of pay-for-play enrichment — all to be camouflaged by professions of progressive empathy. Or an elite media that snores when an ex-president of the United States jumps on the private plane of convicted child-assaulter Jeffrey Epstein for a trip to his fantasy island. Or a former anti-government “conservative” congressman who hangs around Washington and mysteriously becomes a multimillionaire leveraging his past government service. Our popular culture is one of Pajama Boy, Mattress Girl, and the whiny, nasal-toned young metrosexual with high-water pants above his ankles and horn-rimmed glasses who “analyzes” on cable news. Is it any wonder that millions sympathized with the heroism of Benghazi’s middle-class defenders rather than with the contortions of the far better-educated, smoother, more sensitive, and wealthier Rhodes scholar Susan Rice, novelist Ben Rhodes, or former First Lady Hillary Clinton?

Hanson is 100% spot on - a lot more at the site. As I said, one of my favorite writers.

Those crazy crazy eyes

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She is nuts - there is no other explanation

A bit too stealthy - the USS Zumwalt

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From military.com:

How Stealthy Is Navy's New Destroyer? It Needs Reflectors
The future USS Zumwalt is so stealthy that it'll go to sea with reflective material that can be hoisted to make it more visible to other ships.

The Navy destroyer is designed to look like a much smaller vessel on radar, and it lived up to its billing during recent builder trials.

Lawrence Pye, a lobsterman, told The Associated Press that on his radar screen the 610-foot ship looked like a 40- to 50-foot fishing boat. He watched as the behemoth came within a half-mile while returning to shipbuilder Bath Iron Works.

"It's pretty mammoth when it's that close to you," Pye said.

Despite its size, the warship is 50 times harder to detect than current destroyers thanks to its angular shape and other design features, and its stealth could improve even more once testing equipment is removed, said Capt. James Downey, program manager.

Not a really big issue as the Zumwalt can see any approaching ships long before they can see her. Fun technology!

There are a large number (over 50) of encryption "ransomware" viruses out there - these will infect your computer, encrypt your data files and then you will be given a ransom note. If you pay so much money (usually around $100), they will give you the process to decrypt your computers files.

Fortunatly, there are some resources - the first place to check is this one: ID Ransomware - it will try to identify your ransomeware and point you to decryption resources.

Good people, good stuff...

Spot on comment:

Nothing much this morning

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Heading out for coffee and into town for a few hours.

Nothing much happening on the internet - starting to get desensitized from the election process. Yes, both parties are corrupt as hell and yes, nobody is listening to We The People any more. Screw it - time to clean house (and senate) and start over.

The Obamaphone comes home to roost

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Seems like some of the carriers were less than honest - quelle surprise! From Ars Technica:

FCC: Carrier pocketed $10M in bogus cell phone subsidies
The Federal Communications Commission is planning to collect a $51.1 million fine from a phone company accused of using “widespread enrollment fraud” to collect improper payments from a program designed to help poor people.

Since 2014, Total Call Mobile (TCM) has requested and received $9.7 million in payments by signing up tens of thousands of duplicate or ineligible consumers “despite repeated and explicit warnings from its own employees, in some cases compliance specialists, that company sales agents were engaged in widespread enrollment fraud,” the FCC said in an announcement yesterday (PDF file).

Some of the FCC people have the right idea:

FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Ajit Pai argued that the FCC should have proposed a larger fine. “Given the egregious nature of the alleged conduct, I believe a more significant forfeiture would have been appropriate,” Clyburn wrote in a statement. Clyburn approved the FCC's decision in part and concurred in part.

Exactly right - punch back twice as hard. No more Nudge Nudge Wink Wink and a slap on the wrist. Make it hurt and make it hurt hard. The more times this is done, the fewer crimes like this will happen.

This will be interesting to follow

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From Ars Technica:

TV maker Panasonic says it has developed the world’s best weather model
For a long time, weather forecasting was largely the domain of governments, with the National Weather Service leading the way in the United States. During the last two decades, however, the private weather forecasting industry—which includes well-known companies such as AccuWeather and many hundreds of smaller businesses—has grown up and is now estimated to be worth as much as $6 billion.

Even so, these companies largely just repackage model forecasts and incorporate data from government weather agencies. The heavy lifting, in the form of sophisticated computer models and the processing power to run them, is still done by the large ECMWF center in Europe, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction in the United States, and similar forecasting services in Canada, Japan, and elsewhere.

All of these government agencies, with staff generally in the hundreds of scientists, forecasters, and coders, collect weather data from a variety of sources, including shared satellite data along with in-situ observations from aircraft, balloon soundings, surface observations, and other sources. Then, using their own software, they "assimilate" these observations into physics-based forecast models that simulate weather conditions around the globe at various levels of the atmosphere over a 10- to 16-day period. The results from these global models are then used to predict things like the high temperature on Wednesday and whether it is likely to rain on Saturday afternoon for little Joey's birthday party.

For much of the 21st century, to the chagrin of US scientists and forecasters, the American GFS model—Global Forecasting System—has lagged behind the European ECMWF output, especially in things like five- and seven-day forecasts and tropical cyclone track forecasting. This is largely due to the fact that the ECMWF has typically had more dedicated supercomputers to run their forecast models and a much more sophisticated system to get more—and more timely—data into its forecast model as initial conditions.

And the numbers:

Large, multinational electronics company Panasonic now wants to crash the party. In an exclusive interview with Ars, Neil Jacobs, the chief scientist for Panasonic Weather Solutions, said the company has been running its own global model for several years on an 11,000-core supercomputer. And that PWS model, he said, has not only been outperforming the GFS model but has become competitive with the gold-standard ECMWF model. "We started the global model development in 2008 and finally got to the point where we were outperforming ECMWF by late last year," Jacobs said.

There are various ways to measure model accuracy, but one of the most widely recognized is "anomaly correlation" at the 500mb, or mid-level of the atmosphere, over a 30-day average. Higher scores are better. Recently, Jacobs said, the PWS model has scored a .926, compared to a .923 for the ECMWF and .908 for the GFS. Essentially, then, a team of five weather modelers and five software engineers, as well as about 20 meteorologists and computer modeling experts at universities under contract, claims to have beaten the best government weather forecasting centers in the world.

A lot of very clever thinking and one spectacular purchase - they have insturmentation on commercial airplanes that gives real-time data (3,500 readings per day over the world) for their model.

Local weather guy Cliff Mass talks about the ECMWF in several posts - our failure basically comes down to poor computers available for forecasters. Because the European model runs on much larger computers, they are able to incorporate a lot more data. Note that the Panasonic system uses 11,000 cores. In one of Cliff's articles from 2012, he said at that time that our National Weather Service was using two IBM supercomputers with 4,992 cores each - a far cry from 11,000. Doubling the horizontal resolution requires eight times more computing power.

We have a long way to come but it is very cool that independent corporations are seeing the market share and responding well.

A slap on the wrist - Goldman Sachs

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From The United States Department of Justice:

Goldman Sachs Agrees to Pay More than $5 Billion in Connection with Its Sale of Residential Mortgage Backed Securities
The Justice Department, along with federal and state partners, announced today a $5.06 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs related to Goldman’s conduct in the packaging, securitization, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) between 2005 and 2007. The resolution announced today requires Goldman to pay $2.385 billion in a civil penalty under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) and also requires the bank to provide $1.8 billion in other relief, including relief to underwater homeowners, distressed borrowers and affected communities, in the form of loan forgiveness and financing for affordable housing. Goldman will also pay $875 million to resolve claims by other federal entities and state claims. Investors, including federally-insured financial institutions, suffered billions of dollars in losses from investing in RMBS issued and underwritten by Goldman between 2005 and 2007.

“This resolution holds Goldman Sachs accountable for its serious misconduct in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages, when it knew that they were full of mortgages that were likely to fail,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery. “This $5 billion settlement includes a $1.8 billion commitment to help repair the damage to homeowners and communities that Goldman acknowledges resulted from its conduct, and it makes clear that no institution may inflict this type of harm on investors and the American public without serious consequences.”

With their resources, $5 Billion is pocket change - they could probably get that by checking the sofas in their lunchrooms. Of course, no one goes to jail over this - considering the ties between the Clintons, Obama and Goldman Sachs, this is no surprise. Here is one more little bit:

“Goldman took $10 billion in TARP bailout funds knowing that it had fraudulently misrepresented to investors the quality of residential mortgages bundled into mortgage backed securities,” said Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero for TARP.

So their penalty is only half of the bail-out funds (our Federal tax dollars) they took. They should have been allowed to fail - pour encourager les autres...

Now that is a kinfe

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Bigger is not always better but in this case, I will make an exception - this is an amazing piece of craft. From the Fort Worth, TX Star-Telegram:

Giant Bowie knife will stand in Texas town with the same name
In a town named after Jim Bowie, could there be a more appropriate landmark?

A giant Bowie knife will be unveiled Thursday in Bowie, a town of about 5,000 residents 70 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

City officials say the knife is the largest in existence and hope to have it certified by the Guinness Book of World Records in time for the city’s annual Jim Bowie Days festival in June.

The knife is impressive in size:

20 feet long, including a handle fashioned from a nearby bois d’arc tree.

14-foot-5-inch blade (hollowed out stainless steel).

3,000 pounds.

The knife, which stands at an angle on a 3-foot high base, is designed to withstand winds up to 90 mph and an inch of ice, both of which are fairly common in North Texas. It will be located in Pelham Park, just north of U.S. 81.

20160411-knife.jpg

Hoping that someone will post a video of its making - that would be a fun project to do.

Great trailer - coming in November:

A good question

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The last days of winter

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The Mt. Baker ski area only has six more days of scheduled operation - this coming weekend and next. From the website:

We will be CLOSED Monday through THURSDAY and will REOPEN for Normal Midweek Operation out of the White Salmon Lodge on FRIDAY from 9am to 4pm.

Looking ahead, forecasts are calling for some fresh snow to accumulate through the week followed by another ridge of high pressure building for Saturday for more fabulous weekend weather.

Don't forget there are only 6 more days left in this great 2015-2016 season!

As local businesses count the days until the slowest time of the year - between April 25th and June 15th. When the ski area closes and Public Schools let out for the Summer. After June 15th, we will start to get families coming up here for vacation and this will build up to the strongest time of the year for business.

Some people think that with all the ski traffic that Winter would be the strongest but no. We see a nice increase but this is from all the people who flock to the area for the temporary jobs at the ski area itself. Skiers will be traveling from Bellingham or points farther and are loath to stop on the way up because they want their cut of the fresh powder. Around 3:00PM, they are cold, wet, tired and have rubber-legs and just want to get home and take a long hot shower. The idea of stopping for something on the way is not prominent in their cortical activity at that time. During summer, you have groups of people up here to hike and camp and the pace is more leisurely - they can stop at a fun little country store and browse for an hour.

Connecticut has the right idea

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From Don Surber:

How grownups deal with a tax revenue decline
The first Republican Legislature in 82 years in West Virginia must deal with a large hole in the budget. The collapse of the coal, oil and natural gas markets have collapsed the tax revenues that rely on them, as well as the decline in the casino industry. Other states also have these problems thanks to Obamanomics.

In fact, Connecticut is about to do something never tried in West Virginia.

Connecticut is laying off state employees.

Big government is not the answer - the bloat and duplicated programs are legendary. Entrenched bureaucracies will never resolve themselves - an outside force is needed to keep them in check.

Kudos to Governor Malloy for realizing this and acting proactively.

Off for pastries and shower

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Working at home today and finishing off my taxes.

A little list

Many of the people who are ruining this nation are doing so through a program of weaponized 'political correctness' - they want to make everyone a victim so they can promote the idea of 'social justice'. Very clever as nobody wants to be put in the position where they say that XYZZY does not deserve justice.

The antidote is - as the late Andrew Breitbart once said - is to punch back twice as hard.

Here is a continuously updated list of these so-called Social Justice Warriers:

This site is a complete catalog of Social Justice Warriors. The purpose of the catalog is to help SJW-converged organizations locate and identify Social Justice Warriors they wish to hire or otherwise support.

See Vox Day's post for more information.

Are SJWs trying to ruin your life right now? Check out our collection of resources for victims of SJW mob attacks.

There is also a list of SJW-converged organizations and a list of SJW events. Can't find someone? Check the aliases page for SJWs that use pseudonyms in place of their actual, legal names in an attempt to obfuscate their identities.

A great resource - cross check these names against something you read in print or online and you get an immediate check on their biases and transparency.

So true - we have lost our path

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Saw on the Book of Face:

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Earth movement in China

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Caught on dashcam - glad they didn't try to pick their way through the rocks on the highway:

From the YouTube entry:

Published on Apr 5, 2016
Torrential rain over the Qingming Festival three-day weekend has triggered landslides in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Footage shot by a car’s dashcam shows the moment a landslide took place on an expressway in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County on Monday. Realizing the danger of the situation ahead, the car driver and a passing van stopped just in time and hurriedly reversed their vehicles. There were no casualties or damage to any vehicles, thanks to the prompt reactions of the drivers.

Talk about pucker factor - I bet half of the car's upholstery is missing... Tip of the hat to the American Geophysical Union's The Landslide Blog

Someone to watch

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Gives me hope that there are people like this out there - from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15
Ahaan Rungta and his family moved from Calcutta, India, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2001, the same year MIT announced OpenCourseWare (OCW), a bold plan to publish all of MIT’s course materials online and to share them with the world for free. Little did his parents realize at the time that their two-year-old son — already an avid reader — would eventually acquire his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, and would be admitted to the MIT class of 2019 at the age of 15.


“When I was five years old my mom told me ‘there’s this thing called OCW,’” says Rungta, who was homeschooled. “I just couldn’t believe how much material was available. From that moment on I spent the next few years taking OCW courses.”

When most kids are entering kindergarten, Rungta was studying physics and chemistry through OpenCourseWare. For Rungta’s mother, the biggest challenge to homeschooling her son was staying ahead of him, finding courses and materials to feed his insatiable mind.

And it's a family affair:

Later that day, Rungta saw an Indian restaurant in the Student Center that had been closed down. He suggested to his dad — a chef who owned a restaurant in Lowell — that he look into reopening the café. His father soon became the manager of Café Spice, and the family moved from Lowell to Cambridge. Rungta studied in the Student Center every day while his father ran the café.

Very cool!

Sad but true

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20160410-so-true.jpg

Whatever happened to We The People

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The entrenched rot is deep in both parties and they are running scared. From CNN:

In Indiana, McConnell allies plot to stop another Cruz
Rep. Marlin Stutzman is a member of the anti-leadership House Freedom Caucus, a conservative in the mold of Ted Cruz and a three-term Indiana congressman who voted against John Boehner as speaker.

Now, he wants a promotion to the Senate -- and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies want to stop that.

Privately, McConnell has made clear to his confidantes that he wants to bolster the candidacy of Stutzman's chief GOP rival, Rep. Todd Young, and push him over-the-top in the May 3 primary, according to sources familiar with the conversations.

I hope that Mr. Stutzman becomes Senator Stutzman as soon as possible. Time to clean House (and Senate)

I want one - VoloCopter

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From their website:

World premier: Volocopter is flying manned!
 - A step forward in urban mobility
Karlsruhe, Germany in April 2016. The premiere of manned flights with the world’s first certified Multicopter, e-volo’s Volocopter VC200, marks a step forward in urban mobility. The Volocopter is a personal aerial vehicle designed to be so easy and safe to fly that anyone can command it. Due to its electric propulsion, it has no tailpipe emissions and is impressively quiet. For the first time humans’ dream of personal flight as a daily routine becomes attainable. As such it not only offers more widespread use in conventional aircraft domains, but brings us another step closer to air taxi services and entire transportation systems in the third dimension.

The Volocopter VC200 received the ‚permit-to-fly‘ as an ultralight aircraft from German aviation authorities in February 2016. In the context of the commenced test program, e-volo has started to conduct manned flights. The historic world premiere of a flight with a certified multicopter was made by e-volo managing director Alexander Zosel on March 30th, 2016 on an airfield in Southern Germany.

The fly-by-wire technology:

Technology assistance was provided by German drone manufacturer „Ascending Technologies“, which has recently been acquired by US chip maker Intel Corporation. “Intel congratulates e-volo on this accomplishment,” said Josh Walden senior vice president and general manager of the New Technology Group at Intel. “Technology developed by Ascending Technologies enabled the flight controls, motor electronics and key elements that extend multi-rotor UAV technology to this new type of aircraft. We look forward to aiding the development of more manned and unmanned vehicles in the future.” 

And Intel will be around for a while - here is the video:

And a tip of the hat to Next Big Future for the link.

A bit of an internet mapping problem

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A very curious story about a family whose property is in the geographic center of the United States. From Fusion:

How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell
An hour’s drive from Wichita, Kansas, in a little town called Potwin, there is a 360-acre piece of land with a very big problem.

The plot has been owned by the Vogelman family for more than a hundred years, though the current owner, Joyce Taylor née Vogelman, 82, now rents it out. The acreage is quiet and remote: a farm, a pasture, an old orchard, two barns, some hog shacks and a two-story house. It’s the kind of place you move to if you want to get away from it all. The nearest neighbor is a mile away, and the closest big town has just 13,000 people. It is real, rural America; in fact, it’s a two-hour drive from the exact geographical center of the United States.

But instead of being a place of respite, the people who live on Joyce Taylor’s land find themselves in a technological horror story.

Go and read the whole story - an amazing set of consequences resulting from one glitch in mapmaking.

A rigged election

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I wonder how much these people were promised - amazing how little money it takes to buy a vote.

From the New York Post:

Rigged race means Hillary takes more delegates in Bernie’s Wyoming win
Bernie Sanders won again Saturday — and still lost.

The Vermont senator took ­Wyoming by an impressive 12 percentage-point margin in statewide caucuses, beating Clinton 56-44 percent.

But under the Democratic party’s oddball delegate system, Sanders’ winning streak — he has won seven out of the past eight contests — counts for little.

In fact, despite his win, he splits the Wyoming’s 14 pledged delegates 7 to 7 under the caucus calculus.

Clinton, meanwhile, also gets the state’s four superdelegates — who already pledged their allegiance to her in January. So despite “losing,” she triumphs 11-7 in the delegate tally.

Of the 500 superdelegates who have announced whom they’re supporting, 469 say they’re for Clinton.

That makes Sanders’ win in the Cowboy State and in caucuses and primaries across the country little more than a morale boost — and maybe a cruel joke to his ­ardent young supporters.

Time to clean everyone out and start over from scratch. Back to basics.

Saddening article from the Los Angeles Times:

North Korean ships with corpses on board have been washing ashore in Japan
Shizuo Kakutani sees no great mystery in the things that wash ashore in Monzen, his quiet fishing village on the Sea of Japan — the fishing boats ravaged by fierce winter storms, the Chinese garbage carried to land by the strong winds, the occasional body that drifts in from Yaseno, the nearby cliffs notorious for suicides.

The ghost ships, however, are harder to explain.

On an early morning in November, the 71-year-old retired fisherman received a call from his colleagues at the town's civilian coast guard. A black mass bobbling in the water — most likely a boat — had been spotted hooked to a distant buoy.

"When I saw the boat, I immediately knew that it was from North Korea," Kakutani said. He had seen similar vessels before — no more than 30 feet long, made of wood, its flat-bottomed hull covered in black tar.

"Then, as we were pulling the boat to this port, we noticed a pair of legs sticking out from underneath, bobbing up and down with the waves," Kakutani said. Later that day, they discovered two more boats and a grisly cargo of 10 bodies, all badly decomposed.

The sooner that Kim is deposed and the sooner that democracy returns to that nation the better. I feel sorry for the poor people starving. There have been fourteen of these boats in the last year.

Quiet day at the farm

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Lulu is out for a few days - we are working on some projects.

More posting later

Maybe I should get some bubble detectors and set up an array - see if I can pick up their neutron radiation.
From their website: Northwest Nuclear Consortium

Home
​​Welcome to the home of the Northwest Nuclear Consortium. We are an Extreme Science Club in Federal Way, Washington, offering a DOE curriculum on a research grade ion collider (Nuclear Fusion Reactor), to high school students interested in exploring careers in STEM related fields of study, including nuclear engineering, biochemistry, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science.

We won the Gold (1st Place) at WSU Imagine Tomorrow in 2012. We also won the Gold (1st place) at the Washington State Science Fair, and the Silver (2nd place) world wide at ISEF in 2013. In 2014 we won 2 silver (2nd place) at the Central Sound Regional Science Fair at Bellevue College and the Gold (1st place) twice in catagory at the Washington State Science & Engineering Fair at Bremerton. In 2015, we won 14 - 1st place trophies at the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair, over $250,000 in scholarships at two different colleges and 3 of the 5 available trips to ISEF, where we won 4th place in the world against 72 countries. Watch our video to taste the experience.

We are currently researching elastic collisions in single stream plasma physics and boron/flux calculations in nuclear bio-chemistry.

Very cool website and these kids are doing some Damned Great Science including a Farnsworth Fusion Reactor - here is the video:

More at the Federal Way Mirror:

Man’s thermonuclear fusion reactor draws crowds to Federal Way | What Would it Take?
Last month, I walked into a modest home in a Federal Way neighborhood next to Decatur High School and was amazed by what was happening inside.

At a neighborhood meeting, I had heard that there was a thermonuclear fusion reactor in Federal Way. So, I did an Internet search and found the Northwest Nuclear Consortium website (http://lobby.nwnc.us.com/) . I promptly contacted the organizer Carl Greninger for a tour. He gave me his home address and asked me to come at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday.

When my son and I showed up at his house, he invited us into his garage. With modest theatrics, he pulled open his bookshelf to reveal a secret lab behind it. The first room contained the nuclear reactor.

Shades of Preston Q. Boomer (and here)

Now this looks interesting

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Maybe, just maybe, Disney will not screw up this beloved series. Coming in December:

Back from town

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I did a quick run into town this afternoon after doing a bunch of work at the farm - out for coffee, stopped in at the store, back home and did laundry, checked email, moved some stuff with Buttercup, got the sprayer ready to do Roundup tomorrow, got one hummingbird feeder filled and hung, spent some quality time with the llamas and Rocky the horse. In town it was getting some ethanol-free gasoline (the ethanol is really bad on small gasoline engines), working at the condo a bit, shopping for food for the next week, getting a couple of plants (lettuces and other edibles).

Had some Chinese dinner in town and my usual two pints on the way home. Long day

Surf for a bit and off to bed.

Don't believe what you see

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It must be real - it was on the television! That ain't necessarily so any more:

From Matthias Nießner at Stanford University:

Face2Face: Real-time Face Capture and Reenactment of RGB Videos
We present a novel approach for real-time facial reenactment of a monocular target video sequence (e.g., Youtube video). The source sequence is also a monocular video stream, captured live with a commodity webcam. Our goal is to animate the facial expressions of the target video by a source actor and re-render the manipulated output video in a photo-realistic fashion. To this end, we first address the under-constrained problem of facial identity recovery from monocular video by non-rigid model-based bundling. At run time, we track facial expressions of both source and target video using a dense photometric consistency measure. Reenactment is then achieved by fast and efficient deformation transfer between source and target. The mouth interior that best matches the re-targeted expression is retrieved from the target sequence and warped to produce an accurate fit. Finally, we convincingly re-render the synthesized target face on top of the corresponding video stream such that it seamlessly blends with the real-world illumination. We demonstrate our method in a live setup, where Youtube videos are reenacted in real time.

Fun at our local airport

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And the dufus of the day award goes to the gentleman who packed this in their luggage:

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From Seattle station KIRO comes the report:

Bellingham Airport passenger says grenade-like device in luggage used for pot
Whatcom County Sheriff officials say a bomb squad is investigating a suspicious device found in a passenger’s suitcase at Bellingham International Airport.

The passenger says the device is a "grenade-like" marijuana grinder.

A perimeter has been set up around the airport and the FBI has been notified.

Port of Bellingham officials say the checkpoint was cleared around 10:30 Saturday morning, after the "grenade look-alike" marijuana grinder was determined to be inert.

What kind of special snowflake would not realize that when passing through an airport, everything you bring with you will be looked at and if they see anything suspicious, they will assume the worst.

And, if you want one of your own, here is the link to Amazon (only $4.59): Manual Magnetic 3 Stages Spice Herb Pocket Grinder Pollen Screen Camo Hand Grenade with Pin Handle

Great A-10 Warthog story

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Readers will know that I am a big fan of the A-10 Warthog airplane - here is a video that helps to explain why:

From this article at Business Insider:

Watch one of the baddest A-10 pilots ever land after being hit by a missile
US Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul T. “PJ” Johnson is right up there with the best pilots to have ever flown the A-10.

While serving as a captain during Operation Desert Storm, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross for leading the rescue mission of a downed Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot deep behind enemy lines.

And the story:

A few days later, Johnson’s skills were on full display when he was hit by an enemy missile while trying to take out a radar site.

The explosion left a gaping hole on his right wing, which disabled one of the hydraulic systems. Still, he managed to fly back to safety.

This video shows how Johnson pulled through his “high pucker factor” experience, which he credits to a “wing and a prayer.”

The A-10 is one brilliantly designed airplane - everything just works.

And not a good milestone - from The Washington Free Beacon:

Auditor: Government Will Owe More Money Than Entire Economy Produces
An auditor for the Government Accountability Office told lawmakers Wednesday that in the next few years the federal government will owe more than our entire economy produces.

Gene Dodaro, the comptroller general for the Government Accountability Office, testified at the Senate Budget Committee to provide the results of its audit on the government’s financial books.

“We’re very heavily leveraged in debt,” Dodaro said. “The historical average post-World War II of how much debt we held as a percent of gross domestic product was 43 percent on average; right now we’re at 74 percent.”

And the chickens will be coming home to roost for our children and their children. We are spending like a drunken sailor and there is no backup plan. The whole Potomac basin needs to be cleaned out and we need to start over again. Back to square one.

Taxed Enough Already?

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Governments seem to think that taxes are an endless revenue stream. People do not and people can vote with their feet.

Case in point from Bloomberg:

Tepper's Move May Affect New Jersey Budget, Forecaster Warns
The decision by billionaire hedge-fund manager David Tepper to quit New Jersey for tax-friendly Florida could complicate estimates of how much tax money the struggling state will collect, the head of the Legislature’s nonpartisan research branch warned lawmakers.

Tepper, 58, registered to vote in Florida in October, listing a Miami Beach condominium as his permanent address, and in December filed a court document declaring that he is now a resident of the state. On Jan. 1, he relocated his Appaloosa Management from New Jersey to Florida, which is free of personal-income and estate taxes.

His move has state revenue officials on alert.

Good - let them cut the budget and shrink the size of their bureaucracies. Pournelle's Iron Law is a given and bureaucracies must always be fought and not allowed to entrench themselves.

One of the guys - Dr. Alan Heeger - won the 2000 Nobel Prize for the work building up to this so I am not taking this with the usual grain of salt.

From the BioSolar website:

A Breakthrough Super Battery Technology
The Problem
Why can't we use our iPhones for several days without charging, or drive our electric vehicles from Los Angeles to San Francisco without being stranded along the way due to a low battery? The answer comes down to storage capacity and cost.

A battery contains two major parts, a cathode and an anode, that function together as the positive and negative sides. Today's state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery is limited by the storage capacity of its cathode, while the anode can store much more. Additionally, the materials used in batteries are still quite expensive.

The Solution - A Low Cost Super Cathode
Based on our patent-pending supercapacitor technology that uses a novel conductive polymer material, we are developing a high capacity Super Cathode for use by battery manufacturers to create the ultimate high capacity, low cost lithium-ion battery.

Our novel high capacity cathode is engineered from a polymer, similar to that of low-cost plastics used in the household. Through a smart chemical design, we are able to make the polymer hold an enormous amount of electrons. Instead of conventional cathodes that use lithium-ion intercalation chemistry, which is inherently slow, we exploit the fast redox-reaction properties of our polymer to enable rapid charge and discharge.

Most lithium-ion batteries cannot retain more than 80% of its storage capacity after 1,000 charge-discharge cycles. The stable redox chemistry of our cathode material can enable much longer life. Our laboratory experiments have shown that our cathode can easily cycle over 50,000 times without degradation in supercapacitors, and we believe that it can be very effective in batteries as well.

Sounds like they are close to production - something interesting to watch. All of our tech suffers from poor battery performance.

And I would expect nothing less

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When you are not paying full price for some tech toy, you are the product, not the toy. Windows 10 is a perfect example of this.

A new tech toy - Virtual Reality helmet Oculus Rift is another perfect example - from the UK Independent:

Oculus Rift terms and conditions allow Facebook to monitor users’ movements and use it for advertising
Oculus Rift appears to collect information on the people wearing it and send all of that back to other companies, according to its terms and conditions.

Oculus, the virtual reality firm which was bought out by Facebook in 2014, is sending the first versions of its consumer headset out to users. But some are already pointing out terrifying parts of the terms of service that people sign up to use it.

When the headset’s software is installed on a computer, it adds a process that allows the PC to watch what the headset is doing and send that back to Oculus. That allows the headset to know when it is being used and turn itself on — but it also allows the company to collect information on people’s head movements and activity and send it back to advertisers.

The terms and conditions include a line saying that the headset will collect “Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset”, along with a range of more usual information like data about users’ computers and location.

Get the hell out of my private space - this selling of user information presents a huge security risk as the new apps are rushed to market and hackers try to break them. I would love to own an Occulus Rift headset but it will be on my own terms on a computer disconnected from the internet. Here is the Terms and Conditions for the device.

It was an E-2 Hawkeye

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Twin engine with a smaller version of the AWACS radome on the top of the fuselage. More info here: E-2C Hawkeye

They are a Navy plane so probably Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island. A very cool airplane. I was living in Seattle while the original AWACS were being built and would see them parked by the runway at the Boeing factory - advancing technology makes everything smaller, better, and more geektastic.

The whole four yards

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Truck finally came and he gave me an extra bucket load of topsoil as apology for being over an hour late. Good people!

Heading down to the store and then off to town to get some herbicide (roundup clone), some keys made, do some more sorting at the condo and get a bite to eat. Prepping the garden for planting this weekend - supposed to have rain moving in Monday so it will be good timing.

Been hearing a hummingbird every so often so got a half-gallon of nectar cooling on the stove - set out some feeders when I come back. Also setting out some flytraps as they are out in force now.

Who created ISIS

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Russian President Vladimir Putin had these words to say back in 2014 and they are spot on correct:

Waiting on topsoil

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Delivery truck is 30 minutes late. We run on country time here - puttering around the garage and cleaning out the truck while waiting. Lord knows there is enough to do here.

Gorgeous weather - already at 72.1°F

Another day at the farm

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Off for coffee and picking up the pastries - headed back to the farm to await delivery of some topsoil for the house beds (landscaping and some herbs)

Weather looks gorgeous - some rain moving in Monday but a nice clear and sunny weekend - Mt. Baker has lost about 20" of their snowpack so it is definitely segueing into Summer.

More later today although I might run into town this afternoon and work at the condo.

Fun with ooblek

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ooblek is the formal name for the mixture of corn starch and water - a non-Newtonian fluid, dirt cheap to make, and a lot of fun to play with - here is a video complete with SloMo goodness:

The camera was rented from Aimed-Research. The name for ooblek comes from Dr. Seuss.

Nothing much more this evening

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Going to check out a few more sites but not planning to read the entire internet like I usually do.

Tired and stiff from climbing the ladder and wrestling with cables and antenna parts. Can't sleep in tomorrow as I have to do the pastry delivery and then have a couple yards of topsoil being delivered at Noon.

The election season is devolving into pure political machinations and dumbfuckery. Our Republic is now just a hollowed out charade and nobody is willing to step up to the plate and denounce the players.

It was my luck of the draw to have been born on this part of the Tytler Cycle but, that being said, the technology we have today is pretty cool. Having the wheels come off the Global Warming bus is also a wonderful demonstration of the power of actual data over computer models and narrative.

Back home again - long but fun day

Took some photos of today's work party:

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Assembling antenna number one. Just about ready to go onto the mast.

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Here is antenna #1 up in the air - we are using the county communications van to test. RACES/ARES stands for Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, ARES for Amateur Radio Emergency Service. These are both community service emergency communications services provided by volunteers to the County, State and Federal governments in the event of an emergency. In our area it is not if, it is when. We are seriously overdue. Our group - Whatcom Emergency Communications Group is a subset of the Whatcom County ARES services.

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Here is Don (W7AIN) talking to someone in Colorado using the new antenna. Jim (AE7UQ) is listening along.

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Here is the second of the three antennas we tested today. We are in the process of tuning it for the frequencies we will be using. For different spots on the band, we need to have different lengths on all of the rods. A fraction of an inch makes a big difference so careful measurement is needed. It certainly paid off as we were able to immediately get a very solid contact with someone in Connecticut.

Temps at the farm hit 74.5°F today - it was nice at our headquarters North of Bellingham. Colorado and Connecticut were both under several feet of snow.

Lots of learning, fun and a great day to be playing outside.

Gathering tools for work party

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Heading out for coffee and then into town for lunch and a radio work party - should be hot today - in the 80's - so dressing accordingly with the first Hawaiian shirt of the season.

Long day in town so no posting until later this evening.

That is it for the night

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Nothing of note happening in the real world. A string of busy days with more to come but it is all fun stuff.

Leave you with this bit of Willie and Merle - It's all going to pot

Heat wave

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Scheduled to be up to 80°F tomorrow - looking forward to it!

Traditional heat sources for blacksmithing are coal, charcoal and propane gas. You can heat the steel electrically but equipment to do this is expensive. A small induction heater starts at around $3K and goes up in cost rapidly as the size increases.

Meet ReactorForge:

More at GitHub:

Project Description
The ReactorForge project is an open source hardware platform for high power induction heating, designed for heavy use and reliable performance in real world applications.

Using fewer discreet components than most commercial induction heaters, the ReactorForge has less failure points and is easy to assemble. It is an open source project with all plans, schematics and code available under the creative commons BY-SA 4.0 license. This not only benefits the maker community and improves future designs but also makes self repair a possibility for those who have purchased kits, rather than relying on expensive factory repairs to proprietary commercial units.

The ReactorForge will be made available in a raw kit form and an ARU (Almost Ready to Use) kit that can be assembled in just a couple hours. Learn about high power electronics while building an awesome machine. The same systems in an induction heater also drive many of todays modern advances such as electric vehicles, renewable energy power inverters, cutting edge research equipment, and much more. Whether your goals are academic or you want to start using an induction heater today the ReactorForge project brings that within reach.

The ReactorForge costs thousands less than equivalent commercial models with features that are not available anywhere else. It has an easy one button/pedal interface for those that want simple to use set and forget type operation. But for those that want full control there are powerful features that let you monitor and regulate operation based on virtually any parameter. And since the entire platform is open source you have a head start to hacking the core (main control board).

Very cool - definitely added to my project list.

Fun and games at the farm

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Just what I need - another @#$% project. Since the upstairs shower is out of commission due to a stuck temperature valve (it runs full-bore hot all the time), I thought I would fix the valve in the downstairs shower. It is very hard to shut off completely and dribbles hot water. Pulled the valve stem his morning after my shower and drove into town to try to find a couple new ones.

No luck - they were made by Crane and here is what one website has to say:

The Crane Plumbing Company was famous for it’s high-end faucets and fixtures. Crane used dozens of stylish and innovative designs, most utilizing non-standard features.  Crane was bought out in the 1970’s, and the new owner discontinued all parts.  Finding parts for some of these fixtures can be a challenge.

Grrrr... I can find lots of reproduction parts to rebuild the really old stuff from the 1910's through the 1950's but nothing from when my house was built in the early 1970's - I will take care of the temperature valve upstairs first but sometime this summer, I will have to re-do the plumbing for the downstairs shower and install a new faucet.

Well crap - RIP Merle Haggard

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Came home to find this - from the Beeb:

Merle Haggard, an American country music legend, dead at 79
American country music legend Merle Haggard has died of pneumonia on his 79th birthday, his manager confirmed.

He is credited with helping to define the "Bakersfield sound", country music with a distinctive twang and lack of sophisticated production.

Haggard wrote songs, sang and played fiddle and guitar, usually singing about American pride and outlaws.

He was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame with dozens of albums and top hits.

The singer, who battled lung cancer in 2008, had recently cancelled April tour dates due to illness and said he hoped to be back on the road in May.

Rolling Stone magazine has described him as "the backbone of one of the greatest repertoires an all of American music, plain-spoken songs populated by the kinds of working people Haggard grew up with: farmers, hobos, convicts, widows, musicians and drunks".

A true American classic - he will be missed.

Back from town

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and my two pints of cider - ran into a couple people I knew and talked for a bit.

Big work party tomorrow from 1:00PM to whenever - the WECG just got a donation of the Mount Baker Amateur Radio Club's field day equipment - generator, some antennas, towers, and rotaters so we are spending the day cleaning everything up and testing it as we are having a field day of our own at the end of June.

June is going to be a radio-active month with the Sea-Pac conference in Oregon, the Cascadia Rising drill and then Field Day 2016

Another day in paradise

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Showered, critters fed and heading out for coffee.

'Nuff said...

The Next Rembrandt

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Very cool use of technology:

More at The Next Rembrandt and yes, the computer generated painting looks really good.

Iran's Nuclear Agreement

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Obama and Kerry sooo very carefully negotiated a nuclear treaty with Iran - this will be their shining legacy. Unfortunately for those two buffoons, Iran is going its own way.

From  John Hinderaker writing at Powerline:

IRAN SAYS: SPIRIT? WHAT SPIRIT? WE’RE PREPARING FOR WAR!
As Scott noted this morning, President Obama complains that Iran has violated the “spirit” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by launching ballistic missiles and calling for the destruction of Israel. Earlier today, Iran responded to Obama’s rather pathetic lament:

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi blasted US President Barack Obama for his remarks against Tehran’s implementation of the nuclear deal, and said he is raising excessive demands.

“We studied the details of the nuclear agreement and didn’t see anything but its text and don’t have any information about its spirit,” Firouzabadi said, addressing the Chief of Staff’s commanders and officials in Tehran on Tuesday, following the US president’s call on Tehran to work on the spirit of the July nuclear deal.

Is it possible that Obama fails to understand the utter contempt in which he is held by Iran’s leaders?

And then, there is this little gem from Israel National News:

Top Iranian general: Iran preparing for all-out war with the US
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari has said Iran is preparing for all-out war with the US and its allies, and has vowed Iran will continue advancing and testing its ballistic missile program.

Speaking at a gathering of senior IRGC commanders in Tehran Tuesday, Jafari declared that the US "would not be able to do a damned thing" in the face of Iranian advances, according to official Tasnim news agency.

Kerry is so removed from reality it beggars the imagination. He is just not that bright.

The Derp is strong in that one

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There are some cool photography apps for my Samsung tablet and mine is getting a bit beaten up so I wanted to get a case for it. Got an Otterbox from Amazon and it arrived only for me to find out that I had a Galaxy Tab A and the Otterbox was for a Galaxy Tab 4.

Channeling my inner H. Simpson - DOH!

The gift that keeps on giving

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I wonder where Al Gore is these days... From Weather Underground:

Record Cold Temperatures Sweep Into Northeast; Another Arctic Blast on the Way 
Record cold temperatures for early April have swept into some Northeast and Great Lakes cities to begin this week. Subzero readings were even observed near the Canadian border in northern Michigan, northern New York and northern Maine Tuesday morning.

More record cold is possible on Wednesday morning in the Northeast. Then the cold will become more expansive late this week due to yet another southward dip in the jet stream which will allow more arctic air to push south from Canada.

We could use a bit of that global warming now... Weather is fine out here though - warming up nicely...

Good news from Wisconsin

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From NBC News:

RECAP: Sanders and Cruz in Wisconsin
Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Bernie Sanders won Tuesday's primaries in Wisconsin, dealing setbacks to frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and giving both winning candidates a burst of momentum as more delegate-rich contests loom in a matter of weeks.

Cruz and Sanders had each led in public opinion polls leading up to Election Day. Cruz has the opportunity to take all of the state's 42 delegates. However the Democratic race awards delegates proportionally, and Sanders is likely to earn just a handful more then Clinton.

If the next president has to be a Democrat, I would much rather it be Sanders than Hildebeast. Leaning towards Ted Cruz and may seriously vote for Sanders if Trump gets the nomination.

Went into town after all

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Had to pay some bills and do some banking so ran in around 3:00PM and had dinner in town.

Got the critters taken care of, had a shower and hanging out at home today.

Heading up to Glacier for coffee first - a man has his priorities.

Just WOW!

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Loretta and Willie:

For Sam Mule...

From the London Daily Mail:

Former NHS director dies after operation is cancelled four times at her own hospital
A former NHS director died after waiting for nine months for an operation - at her own hospital.

Margaret Hutchon, a former mayor, had been waiting since last June for a follow-up stomach operation at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.

But her appointments to go under the knife were cancelled four times and she barely regained consciousness after finally having surgery.

Her devastated husband, Jim, is now demanding answers from Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust - the organisation where his wife had served as a non-executive member of the board of directors.

He said: 'I don't really know why she died. I did not get a reason from the hospital. We all want to know for closure. She got weaker and weaker as she waited and operations were put off.'

Mr Hutchon, of Great Baddow, Essex, said his wife, 72, had initially undergone major stomach surgery last June but the follow up procedures were repeatedly abandoned.

I do not mean to sound heartless but the quote: "I don't really know why she died" should be obvious - she was 72 years old and beyond her span as being a "useful member of society". You heard about Death Panels - here they are in action.

I am very concerned about this myself as my Dad died at 94 and I am in better health than he ever was. What if I live to 105 and need another hip transplant? Will I be forced to give up my breakdancing career?

Seriously, Obamacare is the British National Health Service on steroids - it needs to be repealed and let the marketplace deal with keeping insurance prices low.

Interesting developments in Canada

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Two - from nextBIG Future:

Canadian Government tops up funding for General Fusion and Terrestrial Energy
The Canadian government in March, 2016 announced $206 million in support of clean technology initiatives, including a $18.5 million in grants for next-generation nuclear power companies Terrestrial Energy and General Fusion.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) provided a $12.75 million package for General Fusion and $5.7 million for molten salt nuclear fission company Terrestrial Energy.

General Fusion I am ambivalent about - commercial fusion has been 'just around the corner' for the last 50 years. Lots of ideas have come and gone.

Now Terrestrial Energy sounds really great. They are developing a molten salt reactor but - the purpose is to generate steam for oil-sands extraction. Currently they burn part of their product to generate the steam so it canabalizes their output. By using the reactor to generate steam, this would increase the output by 6.4 million barrels per day - enough to pay for the entire reactor in about two years.

Here is a great five minute video on my favorite - the Liquid FlourideThorium Reactor - from Kirk Sorensen:

Three bumper stickers

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Can't decide

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And one for Hillary:

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From Billlls Idle Mind

Happy Square Root Day

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Today is 4/4/16 - more here: International Square Root Day

Geek Humor

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This joke from an email:

I gave away all of my dead batteries... free of charge!

Keyboard Magazine just reprinted this article from 1980 - wonderful trip back in history:

Apocalypse Now: The Synthesizer Soundtrack
The scenario sounds as if it were lifted from The Andromeda Strain:

Several Specialists are contacted by the Mission Director. Each is asked to leave home and report to Headquarters as soon as possible, to bring all of his electronic instruments, and to plan to remain with the Mission indefinitely. Once at Headquarters, the Specialists demonstrate their skills to the Mission Director, who selects a team of four of them to remain with the Mission. A thorough briefing follows. The team learns that the Mission is part of a Campaign of unusual importance and complexity. The Commander has been leading the Campaign for four years. He has given the Mission top priority in order to meet the schedule for the Campaign's completion. A similar Mission, manned by a different team of Specialists, did not meet the Commander's requirements and has been terminated. The briefing ends with the Mission Director explaining the Commander's overall strategy and stressing the need for teamwork. He discusses the duties of the team members without mentioning the grave dangers that lie before them....

The campaign, mission, and team of experts are all real. It actually happened. But despite the sci-fi overtones, there is no connection with visitors from outer space or high-level espionage. In fact, the commander was Francis Ford Coppola and the campaign was his epic film Apocalypse Now. The team of specialists were synthesists Patrick Gleeson, Bernie Krause, Don Preston, and Nyle Steiner; their mission director was producer David Rubinson. The mission was the realization of the film's synthesizer score, a unique multistage effort that tied up three of San Francisco's 24-track studios for seven months. The dangers that the synthesists braved were all psychological — many tempers were maimed and egos battered. But the mission was a success, the commander concluded the campaign, and the story of the Apocalypse Now synthesizer score can finally be told.

Scroll all the way down for some great photos - things have gotten so easy these days. The same advances that brought us today's computers compared to the boxes from 1980 also have brought us relatively inexpensive synthesizers that actually stay in tune and can interface with a computer for recording, arrangement and playback.

Full soundtrack here:

Gorgeous stuff.

Back home again

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Got a bunch of stuff done at the condo - two more bags of trash to toss Good meeting for Emergency Communications.

Had dinner in town but did not stop for two pints of cider at my local - feeling tired and stomach is a bit off. Grace has been off her feed too - wonder if it is the same thing.

Read part of the internet tonight and then off to bed.

Nothing catches my eye on the internet this morning - extreme political silliness, more murder and mayhem.

It rained last night - the garden is happy.

Heading out for coffee and then to town to work at the condo and a meeting later this afternoon.

Rocky has been hanging out more with the Llama herd. Waylon is the alpha but has not challenged him as far as I know. I really miss Sam - a really good mule.

Politically correct Star Wars

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I love the little scene at the very end:

The Panama Papers

Financial and political reporters are tearing through these like a demented terrier after a juicy rat.

Tyler Durden has a bunch of posts at Zero Hedge - just go to the main page, you will see four if not more. This is the biggest leak of this kind too - over 2.6 TB of data. More than WikiLeaks, more than Snowden.

And it is not the first time this law firm has caught the media's attention - from Vice (December 3rd, 2014):

The Law Firm That Works with Oligarchs, Money Launderers, and Dictators
One purpose of a so-called shell company is that the money put in it can't be traced to its owner. Say, for example, you're a dictator who wants to finance terrorism, take a bribe, or pilfer your nation's treasury. A shell company is a bogus entity that allows you to hold and move cash under a corporate name without international law enforcement or tax authorities knowing it's yours. Once the money is disguised as the assets of this enterprise—which would typically be set up by a trusted lawyer or crony in an offshore secrecy haven to further obscure ownership—you can spend it or use it for new nefarious purposes. This is the very definition of money laundering—taking dirty money and making it clean—and shell companies make it possible. They're "getaway vehicles," says former US Customs investigator Keith Prager, "for bank robbers."

Living in interesting times indeed...

Tonight's radio net

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Fun tonight as I participated from the firehall with our new radio setup.

Great reception on most of the repeaters so we will be a useful adjunct to the fire department when the big one happens.

On the net, we had our usual crew of 40 people from the Bellingham area and Vancouver but we also had people checking in from Anacortes and Olympia! Olympia is about 150 miles due South of Bellingham.

Every year around this time - now until June or so - we usually get one or two people who could best be described as a bit crispy around the edges.

These are people who drift into town with no marketable skill and no money thinking that they can survive on people's good will for the summer. They feel that they have stumbled upon the bestest place in the whole world and they just want to share it with you.

There are minimal support services out here. There is a food bank and some mental health providers but, these services are overwhelmed by the people who live out here, have put down roots here and have been here for three and four generations.

Our little hamlet used to be a city of 9,000 people - all timber industry and ancillary businesses. There was a railroad that went through town. There were sawmills and a blacksmith shop. All that gone and we are down to about 200 households. We have people whose grandparents logged and they are still living on the family homestead but barely hanging on. These are the people we support and give charity to. These are our friends and neighbors.

What has me so riled is that xxxxx was here last summer and despite all the talking to from people, he insisted on staying out here until it started snowing. The snow has melted and he is back. Nobody has ever returned for a second year. He is (my guess) bipolar and will yell at people and talk to himself a lot but when anyone suggests that he move to Bellingham, he says how this is the only place he likes.

He had to come from somewhere - we just need to find out where and see if there is a back-story we can use to get him to a place where he can get the help he needs.

He was trespassed from my store last year and asked me tonight if he could come back in. I witnessed some of his outbursts and I will not let my employees be subjected to that kind of behavior, let alone my customers.

No time to even begin to start to read it but this looks big - really really big.

Check out the Panama Papers

Finishing the install of the ham radio tonight - plan on being on the air for the 7:00PM radio net.

Fun stuff and a lot of interest with the firefighters - may get some new hams out of this...

About that global warming cooling

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From Dominica News Online:

Snow falls in Guadeloupe in extraordinary weather phenomenon
No, it is not an April Fools Day joke, snowflakes actually fell in the neighbouring French island of Guadeloupe.

The event, which was described as ‘exceptional’ by a French meteorologist took place on Thursday, March 31 in the municipality of St. Claude.

Reports from French media indicate that a very fine snowfall blanketed the hills above the town.

French meteorologist, Alain Museleque, explained the extraordinary phenomenon on Guadeloupe Premiere TV.

“We had a mass of clouds that arrived over St. Claude,” he said in French and translated by McCathy Marie. “Accompanying this mass of clouds was some very cold air. In this very cold air, in the mass of clouds, we had the creation of some snowflakes which fell to the ground. This has never before been seen in Guadeloupe. This is an exceptional event that we will never forget.”

Sorry folks - everything points to yet another cooling trend. The Maunder Minimum - started 370 years ago and lasted for about 70 years. And then, there was the Dalton Minimum - started 220 years ago and lasted for 40 years. We can even go back to the Spörer Minimum - started 550 years ago and lasted for 90 years. These are just the biggies.

We also have warming trends in climate history including this one we are in which started back in the 1950's - considering that these perturbations last 40 to 90 years duration, the 47 year duration of the current warming trend is about right for it to be calling quits.

Don't forget that more people die from cold than from heat. I am ordering three times more firewood this summer for next winter.

Coffee time!

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Out for coffee and back home to gather the stuff I need for this afternoon. 

Great article at the London Daily Mail:

£120 code cracker that can unlock an iPhone in six hours: So hands up, FBI, why did it take you FOUR MONTHS to access jihadi's phone?
Tens of millions of bestselling smartphones can easily be hacked by criminals using a £120 device that cracks their four-digit passcode.

An investigation by The Mail on Sunday found the gadget, sold openly on the internet, could be used to gain access to private and confidential details stored on Apple iPhones, including photographs, emails, contact details and call histories.

Using the device – called an IP Box – this newspaper was able to break the passcode of an Apple iPhone 5C, the model that America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation had been fighting to access in order to gain information about a terrorist massacre.

Christ on a corndog - all you needed was to try 0000, 0001, 0002 &c. Repeat until you are in. The technicians at the FBI may have not known about this particular device but they should have searched for it - Google is your friend.

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From Red Panels - the Red Pill in Webcomic Form.
They also make the following comment:

On that note, isn't it curious that you never happen to hear a feminist address the work place inequality of men's 20 times higher work death rate?

Got up, went downstairs to take a nice hot shower. Delicious feeling. Only problem is that the downstairs faucets take brute force to shut off - something very wrong with the valve stem so I will take the house back to a waterless state on Monday and get the parts to fix both showers when I am in town.

Working at the firehall this afternoon getting the ham radio install buttoned down - some hardware on the antenna mount, tidying the wires inside (I needed a plastic grommet to go through the countertop) and setting up another power source.

I had been using a deep-cycle 12 battery with a good charger (BatteryTender - great unit - much cheaper through Costco) - the charger is not enough to run on a transmit cycle but since you are only transmitting for short times, the battery is perfect - this way, you have a couple of days backup power with zero switch-over time. Problem is that they didn't want a battery running on active charge (and giving off Hydrogen gas) inside their firehall. Firemen are funny like that...

I have a backup 12 supply that I will install. Again, all this is a loan for when BERT get's its own 501(c)3 and we can then apply for a grant. The Emergency Communications group that I am involved with just got a grant from a local utility for over $5K for new equipment.

Heading out to take care of the critters minus one. I really miss that mule.

Well that was nothing

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K-Index is back down to three. What a wimp! I will keep tracking it tomorrow as the flow is supposed to last for another 20-30 hours.

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It's not like I want another Carrington or anything - I just want to see some Aurora Borealis from my back porch.

What time is it?

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An oldie but a goodie:

Jargon - a look at old jargon

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Some of the new jargon is grating to our ears but many of the words we use everyday were once hated new jargon - a fun 3:30 exploration:

I asked God to give Sam pastures of sweet grasses, clear mountain streams and fun adventures around every corner.

I got Sam from two local people who did a lot of back-country riding and Sam was getting too old for that kind of lifestyle. I emailed them of his passing and they emailed Sam's first owner who had this to say:

Thanks for letting me know xxxxxxxxx. I spent a solid fifteen years on top of him and he never let me down. Sometimes it was so dark I couldn't see him, it didn't matter, he would stay on the trail.  Even forty mile a day rides didn't slow him down. Later I had to give him up for the kids to ride. He was that good. I always had to ride the greener ones. Sam was 31 this month. He leaves a big hole in my heart. I'm glad he was able to finish off his years having good care.

Met up with them at the local coffeehouse this morning and we spent some time telling Sam and Rocky stories. Debating whether to get one of the BLM Wild Mustangs or another riding mule - I am leaning towards another riding mule as I like their personality much more than horses. There is a big difference.

And we are back in the running

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Latest K-Index is six - the threshold for aurora activity this far South. The skies are clearing up too - going to get one of my cameras ready for some long exposure shooting (much easier to do this when I have daylight).

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King County (South of here - home to the People's Socialist Republic of Seattle) just replaced the old bridge across Lake Washington. The new span is the worlds longest floating bridge.

From the WA Department of Transportation:

Public celebrates grand opening of new floating bridge
The world’s newest and longest floating bridge opened its arms to the public Saturday morning, April 2, as Gov. Jay Inslee cut an orange ribbon to commemorate the completion of the new State Route 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington.

The official ribbon-cutting at the bridge’s midspan was just one of many Grand Opening activities during a daylong celebration expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors onto the 1.5-mile-long structure.

A bit more:

During this morning’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Michael Empric, a representative of Guinness World Records, presented Millar with a certificate designating the new floating bridge – at 7,708.494 feet, end to end – as the world’s longest. The ceremony opened with a tribal blessing of the bridge by Muckleshoot Tribe member Warren KingGeorge, and closed with a tribal song by the Muckleshoot Language Group.

Earlier in the day, more than 12,000 people participated in a 10K run/walk from Husky Stadium, across the bridge, and back to the stadium. On Sunday, April 3, 7,000 bicyclists will close the celebration with a 20-mile “Emerald City Bike Ride” across the bridge and through car-free downtown Seattle streets. More than 50 corporations and organizations, including Delta Air Lines and Microsoft, helped sponsor the weekend celebration.

From his first day in office, Inslee worked to secure full funding for the SR 520 corridor, and last July he signed into law the project’s final installment of $1.6 billion, which will complete the highway’s Seattle improvements from Lake Washington to I-5. This funding was part of a balanced and multimodal transportation investment package that fixes hundreds of bridges, funds thousands of miles of roadway, and authorizes Sound Transit to expand light rail north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to Redmond, and within Seattle between Ballard and West Seattle.

The “Connecting Washington” package will increase safety, create 200,000 jobs and provide traffic relief. All told, it is the largest and greenest transportation investment in state history.

When I worked at MSFT for five years, I drove across the old bridge every day - always a nice part of the day as I would get up early before the traffic got bad. Made a point to get in right at the time my boss did - or a little before.

Happy to see the highway infrastructure getting repaired but sad to see so much light rail going in - Seattle is not big enough to support a full rail system. I can see between SeaTac airport and Downtown, that makes sense for business travelers but the rest of it? Buses work much better and when the demographics of an area change, it is easy to change the bus routes - not so much with light rail. Plus, the costs are so great that it would be cheaper to buy every regular rider a Prius and the operations and maintenance costs are so high that each Prius owner could get $10,000 cash each year to pay for gas.

Was hoping that the K-Index would go up but it didn't - flash in the pan.

20160402-k-index-b.gif

Look up tonight - chance of aurora

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I posted yesterday about a geomagnetic storm alert for today. Here is the Planetary K-Index from two hours ago - they update every three hours. Above a 6 and we have a chance of seeing aurora borealis. Keeping fingers crossed as it is getting cloudy out there...

20160402-k-index.gif

The 2016 election is rigged

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Just as 2008 and 2012 were. And it is not just us - from Bloomberg:

How to Hack an Election
Andrés Sepúlveda rigged elections throughout Latin America for almost a decade. He tells his story for the first time.

It was just before midnight when Enrique Peña Nieto declared victory as the newly elected president of Mexico. Peña Nieto was a lawyer and a millionaire, from a family of mayors and governors. His wife was a telenovela star. He beamed as he was showered with red, green, and white confetti at the Mexico City headquarters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which had ruled for more than 70 years before being forced out in 2000. Returning the party to power on that night in July 2012, Peña Nieto vowed to tame drug violence, fight corruption, and open a more transparent era in Mexican politics.

Two thousand miles away, in an apartment in Bogotá’s upscale Chicó Navarra neighborhood, Andrés Sepúlveda sat before six computer screens. Sepúlveda is Colombian, bricklike, with a shaved head, goatee, and a tattoo of a QR code containing an encryption key on the back of his head. On his nape are the words “</head>” and “<body>” stacked atop each other, dark riffs on coding. He was watching a live feed of Peña Nieto’s victory party, waiting for an official declaration of the results.

When Peña Nieto won, Sepúlveda began destroying evidence. He drilled holes in flash drives, hard drives, and cell phones, fried their circuits in a microwave, then broke them to shards with a hammer. He shredded documents and flushed them down the toilet and erased servers in Russia and Ukraine rented anonymously with Bitcoins. He was dismantling what he says was a secret history of one of the dirtiest Latin American campaigns in recent memory.

A long read but a fascinating one - he had this to say about the USA:

On the question of whether the U.S. presidential campaign is being tampered with, he is unequivocal. “I’m 100 percent sure it is,” he says.

We saw this with Obama's two elections - districts voting 100% for him (a statistical impossibility) and many districts with more ballots than people. Time to clean house and start over.

Back from coffee - Donald Trump

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Excellent post from Don Surber this morning:

They do not want to Make America Great Again
Donald Trump: "Make America Great Again."

The reaction in Washington is eye-opening.

"Look, this is a campaign that’s run on know-nothing xenophobia. It will damage the party." -- Charles Krauthammer.

"He’s appealing entirely to white people. He’d need 70 percent of the white vote. It would destroy the Republican party by making it the party of white people." -- George Will.

"He’s effectively vowing to be an American Mussolini, concentrating power in the Trump White House and governing by fiat. It’s a vision to make the last 16 years of executive abuse of power seem modest." -- David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute.

"A diet, caffeine-free Marxist (really, the only thing wrong with being a Marxist is being a Marxist); a driven, leftist crook; and an explosive, know-nothing demagogue — all are competing to see who can be even more like Mussolini than is Obama. But in the caudillo department, surpassing even our own Evita, the Donald wins." -- novelist Mark Helperin.

Don cites some other examples and concludes with this:

I used to think they dislike him because he threatens their livelihoods, because many of them and their friends are human leeches. But when I hear or read slams about the "lowest common denominator" and appealing to the uneducated, I realize the hate for Trump is more than a fear of losing their job; they live in Washington and loathe the rest of us.

“Well, Doctor, what have we got — a Republic or a Monarchy?”

Benjamin Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

We have not kept it. 'Tis time to restore our Republic, and Make America Great Again.

Emphasis mine. A Trump Presidency would be an interesting eight years. Make a bowl of popcorn and watch liberal heads explode.

Fun with water

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Got the well pump installed yesterday and was looking forward to taking a nice hot shower in my own bathroom instead of having to go to one of my apartments and use that one.

Turned the water on this morning, waited a few seconds for it to get hot and stepped in. And stepped out in less than a second.

My shower has a single knob for adjusting temperature and for some reason, regardless of the setting of the knob, the water comes out full-on hot - way to hot to stand.

Sponged off, shampooed my hair in the bathroom sink and will use the downstairs shower tomorrow until I can repair the temperature selector.

Off for coffee and to bury Sam.

20160401-hillary.jpg

Swiped from Grouchy Old Cripple

From Popular Mechanics:

101 Gadgets That Changed The World
The alarm clock. The personal computer. The smartphone. The radio. You know the greatest gadgets of all time (and youve probably owned most of them), but which has changed the world more than any other?

They present the list as individual 'slides' - fortunately, Deslider is able to give you a single page with the images and text - click this link instead of the one to the parent article. They are trying to build page-clicks to make things more difficult for us but for them to get higher advertising revenue - look at all of our page-clicks!!!!!!!!!

Deslider home page is here - does not work on all slide pages but awesome when it does.

I have owned every one of these except for #93, #86, #80, #64, #52, #48, #36, #28, #27 and #19

China steps up to the plate

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North Korea has been a little bit too vocal these last few weeks - maybe their Glorious Leader is eating a few too many magic mushrooms.

China is taking notice - from the excellent StrategyPage:

Korea: Big Brother Gets Very Angry
North Korea is now facing an unexpected financial crises as China not only enforces the new sanctions but also the older ones it ignored and adds some new sanctions. Thus North Korea was shocked when on March 1 st Chinese border guards refused to let shipments of coal or ores enter. These mineral exports are a major source of foreign currency and were not covered by sanctions. China is believed to be making a point; that it is fed up with North Korea ignoring demands to halt its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and turn its attention to the internal economic crises. So far North Korean leaders are ignoring this additional sanction and telling subordinates that it is only temporary. But the rumors in China are that the blocking of mineral exports will last for a long time, perhaps indefinitely until the North Korean leaderships shows more respect towards China and heeds the advice from its “big brother.”

One option North Korea has is to increase illegal drug production. The government has long produced opium, heroin and methamphetamine (“meth”) for export to obtain foreign currency. This, like the counterfeiting of American $100 bills, cannot be used too much without offending the countries this stuff shows up in. The drugs can be exported via China as long as none of them show up in China. This is especially true with meth, which is becoming a growing problem in China because of illegal manufacturing in northern Burma and smugglers taking it across the border to China. North Korea can fall back on its busy fleet of cargo ships and transport aircraft but these are under increasing surveillance by foreign intelligence agencies and if the Chinese join in this informal “North Korea Watch” coalition North Korean smuggling efforts will be seriously hurt. There is still Russia, but the Russians demand big bribes and it takes longer to get drugs to global markets via Russia. Plus, if North Korean drugs start showing up a lot in Russia, that smuggling route will be shut down or severely restricted.

The $100's are notorious - our Feds call them super-notes - the quality of printing is that good. This is why, when I want to get a bit of cash, I always get $50's or lower. Much safer.

There is a bit of good news:

To make matters even worse for North Korean leaders the secret police are reporting that public opinion (which is monitored even though it is generally ignored) is blaming the government, not China or the UN for the increased sanctions. This gets worse because the government is starting a new internal propaganda campaign to blame the rest of the world for the sanctions. These major propaganda efforts are widely unpopular inside North Korea because they involve forcing most of the population to attend hours of lectures on the subject by local officials. Attendance is mandatory and that is regularly checked and verified by the secret police.

A lot more at the site - things are grim over there. The good news is that the people are waking up - bit by bit, news about life in the rest of the world is filtering into their nation. I wish the best for their citizens - may they live to enjoy the fruits of free-market capitalism and democracy.

Cool new technology from Google

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They had been working on self-driving cars and some of their engineers in the Netherlands decided to take things a step further:

The cost of solar power

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alt.energy still has a long way to go - excellent article comparing a new solar power plant v/s a conventional natural gas turbine plant.

From Philip Dowd writing at Anthony's:

A Solar Power Plant vs. A Natural Gas Power Plant: Capital Cost – Apples to Apples
Here is a simple example that illustrates why current solar technology will be hard-pressed to replace existing carbon-fired power plants.

Let’s suppose that a power company is planning to scrap a coal-fired power plant and wants to replace it with a new plant. Furthermore, let’s assume that the old plant to be scrapped is in Arizona. The options for the new plant are natural gas and solar. The company wants a simple, ball-park analysis of the front-end cost to build each of these options.

The requirements:

1. Electricity demand on this facility is 4,800 MWh/day, about the demand for a community of 160,000 average households[i]

2. The “up time” of both plants must be equal. That is, both must be equally reliable and produce the demand for the same fraction of time over the course of one year.

Assumptions:

1. The solar plant will consist of a Photovoltaic (PV) panel and a battery. The PV panel will generate enough electricity during the day to produce the necessary output and charge the battery. The battery will generate the necessary output at night.

2. Night time demand equals day time demand.

3. The new plant will be built in Arizona, a good spot for a solar plant

Philip does a thorough analysis and the upshot is that the gas plant will cost $200 Million to build and the solar plant will cost $2,740 Million to build. And people wonder why only a small percentage of our electrical generation is from alt.energy - less than 2% in the USA despite the billions of our tax dollars spent on subsidies. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are the way to go - conventional nukes are based on designs and technologies that are 60+ years old. There have been some wonderful innovations - we need to start using them for our baseline generating capacity and stop playing around with stupid crap like solar and wind.

Sam still above ground

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I will be using some web slings to move him on to the plywood sheet. I have a bunch of these but they are high-end rated Class 3 and cost about $40 each. Since there is a good chance that these will end up in the grave with him, I ran into town and got some cheap nylon slings from Harbor Freight. Burial will be tomorrow morning after coffee. Then to the firehall to finish the installation of the ham radio set.

I plan to participate in Sunday's net from the firehall - good way to let people know that it is on the air. Lots of interest - probably get a bunch of new ham licenses.

Surf for a bit and then off to bed - the Dihydrogen Monoxide spill was cleaned up (I had left a faucet open) and I am looking forward to taking a nice long hot shower tomorrow morning - in my own bathroom.

Heh - so true

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From George Takei:

Ah, 1st April: the one day of the year that people critically evaluate things they find on the Internet before accepting them as true

Chemical spill at the farm

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Crap just keeps happening out here.

Heard a noise in the kitchen and walked in to see a huge spill of Dihydrogen Monoxide taking place. Sigh. Time to break out the hazmat suit and clean this up.

From Bloomberg:

Holes in the Sun Are Threatening to Throw Birds, GPS Off Course
Birds flying north for the spring and humans relying on global positioning satellites to navigate could get a little lost this weekend.

Three coronal holes spread across the sun are pointing at the Earth. As a result, a minor geomagnetic storm alert has been issued for Saturday by the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, and the Space Weather Operations Centre of the U.K. Met Office in Exeter.

“Early on Day 3 (2nd April), a high-speed stream from coronal hole 67 is expected to reach Earth,” said the Met Office.

The Planetary K index is a good reference for solar activity and it is down to zero. If it gets to a six or above, we stand a chance to see Aurora Borealis.

Waiting for the well guy

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Shower? Check!
Pastry delivery to the store? Check!
Coffee? Check!

Back home and waiting for the well guy. I will bury Sam after he starts working. More posting later this afternoon.

20160401-sam.jpg

Outstanding in his field...

Quote of the month

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Just the one line in passing but it's a good one:

Sometimes I think Joe Biden is the brains of the outfit.
--Don Surber

November 2017

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