August 2017 Archives

Larceny in their hearts

An interesting idea for software - from the United States Department of Justice:

Everett Software Salesman Sentenced to Prison for Selling ‘Tax Zapper’ Software to Enable Cheating on State and Federal Taxes
Promoted and Sold Software to Restaurants Resulting in More Than $3.4 Million Tax Loss
An Everett, Washington man who worked for a Canadian company that sells point of sale computer software, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in a scheme to sell ‘Tax Zapper’ software, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. JOHN YIN, 66, pleaded guilty in December 2016, to wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the government admitting that he promoted and sold a revenue suppression software that allowed restaurants to underreport their sales and illegally lower their tax bills. The software – sometimes called a “Zapper” program - resulted in a loss amount of more than $3.4 million. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said YIN served as a facilitator for illegal operations. “This was illegal, this was criminal and you had to know you have to pay taxes… but you continued – motivated by greed.”

And they caught one of his customers - from The Seattle Times:

Bellevue restaurant owner pleads guilty to tax theft using software that hid cash
The owner of a Bellevue restaurant pleaded guilty Wednesday to using software that deleted transactions and allowed her to steal an estimated $395,000 in sales taxes.

Yu-Ling Wong, the owner of Taiwanese restaurant Facing East, has agreed to pay $300,000 in restitution to the Department of Revenue. The Everett man who sold Wong the software pleaded guilty in December. and was sentenced to 18 months in prison in April.

This was the first prosecution in the United States for the use of sales suppression software, according to a news release from the office of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, which prosecuted the case.

What tipped them off?

Facing East’s missing taxes were brought to light when auditors looking over the restaurant’s 2010 to 2013 tax returns found that only 7 percent of the restaurant’s sales were in cash — far below normal — that cash tips on some days exceeded the restaurant’s total cash sales, and that bills seemed to be paid minutes after orders were put in the system.

Statistical and probability analysis will point out all sorts of things about a businesses operation that some people would rather leave undiscovered.

Follow the money - SPLC

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The folks at The Washington Free Beacon are taking a look at Moris Dee's little playtoy - from the Beacon:

Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a liberal, Alabama-based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization that has gained prominence on the left for its "hate group" designations, pushes millions of dollars to offshore entities as part of its business dealings, records show.

Additionally, the nonprofit pays lucrative six-figure salaries to its top directors and key employees while spending little on legal services despite its stated intent of "fighting hate and bigotry" using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy.

And the money:

The SPLC has turned into a fundraising powerhouse, recording more than $50 million in contributions and $328 million in net assets on its 2015 Form 990, the most recently available tax form from the nonprofit. SPLC's Form 990-T, its business income tax return, from the same year shows that they have "financial interests" in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda. No information is available beyond the acknowledgment of the interests at the bottom of the form.

However, the Washington Free Beacon discovered forms from 2014 that shed light on some of the Southern Poverty Law Center's transfers to foreign entities.

The SPLC's Form 8865, a Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships, from 2014 shows that the nonprofit transferred hundreds of thousands to an account located in the Cayman Islands.

The Beacon checked in with an independent adviser:

"I've never known a US-based nonprofit dealing in human rights or social services to have any foreign bank accounts," said Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of Pacific Human Capital, a California-based nonprofit consulting firm. "My impression based on prior interactions is that they have a small, modestly paid staff, and were regarded by most in the industry as frugal and reliable. I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts. It is a huge red flag and would have been completely unacceptable to any wealthy, responsible, experienced board member who was committed to a charitable mission who I ever worked with."

"It is unethical for any US-based charity to invest large sums of money overseas," said Casil. "I know of no legitimate reason for any US-based nonprofit to put money in overseas, unregulated bank accounts."

Ethics does not seem to be the SPLC's strong suit.

Fun times at the FBI

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It seems that James Comey's administration was filled with choirboys. NOT! From Circa News:

A former FBI agent battling Deputy Director McCabe said there is a 'cancer' inside the FBI
When the FBI launched an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one of the bureau’s top former counterterrorism agents believed that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe would have to recuse himself from the investigation.

Former Supervisory Special Agent Robyn Gritz was one of the bureau’s top intelligence analysts and terrorism experts but resigned from the bureau five years ago after she said she was harassed and her career was blocked by top FBI management. She filed a formal sexual discrimination complaint against the bureau in 2013 and it was Flynn, among many others, who publicly came to her aide.

And a bit more:

She told Circa, current senior level management, including McCabe, created a “cancer like” bureaucracy striking fear into FBI agents and causing others to resign. She eventually resigned herself, but her case is still pending.

“They’ve poisoned the 7th floor,” said Gritz, referring to the actual floor where management is housed in the FBI’s Hoover Building. “There’s a cancer there of a group of people. You’ve seen it with some of the recent reports of leaks, conflicts of interest, you see it in my case. The level of integrity is lacking. I have never seen or heard of the amount of conflicts of interest, or leading by fear.”

And then, there is this from Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley:

Transcripts: Comey Drafted Conclusion in Clinton Probe Prior to Interviewing Key Witnesses
Transcripts reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee reveal that former FBI Director James Comey began drafting an exoneration statement in the Clinton email investigation before the FBI had interviewed key witnesses.  Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, requested all records relating to the drafting of the statement as the committee continues to review the circumstances surrounding Comey’s removal from the Bureau.

Much more at the site - this will rip the lid off if the Senators are able to get traction in their investigation. I find it funny how the Democrats were crying for Comey to be fired but they protested when President Trump actually fired him.

Breaking for dinner

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Simple dinner tonight - some pieces of rotisserie chicken over a salad. More stuff to do tonight.

Taking a quick break

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Sitting down to surf and enjoy a soda - it is not that hot outside but I have been working a bit so want to cool off and hydrate.

Back to work!

Finally - unemployment benefits

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I remember that when applying for food stamps and other assistance, recipients had to submit proof that they applied for work. Obama removed this requirement in July of 2012.

Sounds like President Trump is restoring some sanity - from The Daily Caller:

HHS Restores Work Requirement For Welfare Financial Assistance
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the restoration of work participation requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The requirements were done away with in 2012 by the Obama administration. HHS now urges states to submit an application for exemptions from the established work participation criteria for welfare financial aid.

“Reemphasizing the work requirements in the welfare program means once again promoting gainful employment and economic independence as goals for every family,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Steven Wagner in a statement. “The waiver option offered by the Obama administration is being replaced today by an expectation that work should always be encouraged as a condition for receiving welfare.”

Makes a lot of sense. I am not saying that there should not be a safety net for people - there should. It should not be a free ride though - there should be expectations when this safety net is used. Peolpe need to show personal responsibility for their actions.

Back home again

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Absolutely horrible morning :) Did the paperwork and also had an impromptu meeting with a couple of people.

Working at home today - more later...

Quiet morning

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Got everybody here happy - water out to the critters and food to the dogs. Heading out for coffee, a visit to the post office and the store and then a grueling hour or so of paperwork and bill paying.

Working at home for the rest of the day - getting stuff ready for the car show this Saturday, a music room project and cleaning out the garage.

And that is it for the night

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Time to switch to YouTube.

Working at home tomorrow: music room, garage and getting some stuff ready for this Saturday's car show. It is expected to be very hot that day so bringing a cooler with some water and soft drinks as well as my lunch. Also bringing a pop-up tent for shade. Better to have clear and hot than overcast and raining though - much better!

All hail King Google

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It has started acting like an all-powerful monarch - from The Washington Post:

Google is coming after critics in academia and journalism. It’s time to stop them.
About 10 years ago, Tim Wu, the Columbia Law professor who coined the term network neutrality, made this prescient comment: “To love Google, you have to be a little bit of a monarchist, you have to have faith in the way people traditionally felt about the king.”

Wu was right. And now, Google has established a pattern of lobbying and threatening to acquire power. It has reached a dangerous point common to many monarchs: The moment where it no longer wants to allow dissent.

This summer, a small team of well-respected researchers and journalists, the Open Markets team at the New America think tank (where I have been a fellow since 2014), dared to speak up about Google, in the mildest way. When the European Union fined Google for preferring its own subsidiary companies to its rival companies in search results, it was natural that Open Markets, a group dedicated to studying and exposing distortions in markets, including monopoly power, would comment. The researchers put out a 150-word statement praising the E.U.’s actions. They wrote, “By requiring that Google give equal treatment to rival services instead of privileging its own, [the E.U.] is protecting the free flow of information and commerce upon which all democracies depend.” They called upon the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice and state attorneys general to apply the traditional American monopoly law, which would require separate ownership of products and services and the networks that sell products and services.

Google has been funding New America for years at high levels. Within 24 hours of the statement going live, Google representatives called New America’s leadership expressing their displeasure. Two planned hires for the Open Markets team suddenly were canceled. Three days later, the head of the Open Markets team, the accomplished journalist Barry C. Lynn, received a letter from the head of the think tank, demanding that the entire team leave New America. The reason? The statement praising the E.U.’s decision against Google was, according to New America President Anne-Marie Slaughter, “imperiling the institution.” (As of this writing, Slaughter has denounced the story as false, claiming that Lynn was dismissed for failures of “openness” and “collegiality.”)

Google has come a long way from its 1998 motto of "Don’t be evil." I know that Google has a lot more revenue streams than just searching for pron but still, Duck Duck Go is a nice alternative for Google's search engine and it can run as a plug-in on Chrome - best of both worlds.

Be ready for higher gasoline prices

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From USA Today:

The nation's largest oil refinery shuts down as Hurricane Harvey floods Texas
Flood waters closed oil refineries Wednesday along the Texas Gulf Coast, including the nation's largest, as Hurricane Harvey showed its power to ravage the energy infrastructure and drive up gasoline prices.

Some 15 refineries were going off line from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Port Arthur, Texas, the Energy Department reported. The list included the largest refinery in the U.S., the Saudi-owned Motiva plant in Port Arthur, which began what it called "a controlled shutdown."

Taken together, the closures represent about 25% of U.S. refining capacity, GasBuddy.com petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said.

"It's a chilling effect on the refining industry, which is in a dire state right now," DeHaan said.

Just ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend, one of the top travel weekends of the year, DeHaan estimated Wednesday that gas prices would increase 15 cents to 25 cents per gallon nationwide as a result of Harvey. Earlier, he had predicted a boost of 5 to 15 cents.

We have two refineries up here so it will be interesting to see what happens to the local prices. They will probably jack them because they can.

Great news from the Houston, Texas ABC affiliate:

Houston police catch 14 armed robbers and looters amid flood emergency
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said he is not going to tolerate criminals taking advantage of people in the community during such a devastating time.

He said his officers arrested 14 alleged looters since Sunday.

Those arrested will face stiffer punishments under a Texas law providing heftier penalties during a crisis, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

"People displaced or harmed in this storm are not going to be easy prey," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said.

Burglarizing a home would normally bring a penalty of two to 20 years in prison, but now brings five years to life. "This is the state of Texas. We are a welcoming city, but we are not going to tolerate people victimizing others," Acevedo said.

Emphasis mine - good! Crime is stupid and it should hurt. How much is that television really worth to you?

Lynn Yaeger is a "fashion editor" at Vogue magazine and is enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame for this article:

Melania Trump’s Hurricane Stilettos, and the White House’s Continual Failure to Understand Optics
Oh, Melania.

In the words of the late, great Lou Reed, you “couldn’t hit it sideways.”

First the now–First Lady (perhaps unwittingly) plagiarizes Michelle Obama in her convention speech, then she takes as her platform a crusade against bullying—when she is married to unquestionably the greatest cyber bully in political history—and now this!

This morning, Mrs. Trump boarded Air Force One wearing a pair of towering pointy-toed snakeskin heels better suited to a shopping afternoon on Madison Avenue or a girls’ luncheon at La Grenouille.

While the nation is riveted by images of thousands of Texans wading with their possessions, their pets, their kids, in chest-high water, desperately seeking refuge; while a government official recommend that those who insist on sheltering in place write their names and social security numbers on their arms, Melania Trump is heading to visit them in footwear that is a challenge to walk in on dry land.

What Ms. Yaeger failed to mention is that FLOTUS changed on Air Force One and deplaned wearing tennis shoes:

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Picture from The Daily Caller

What makes this even more interesting is to take a look at Ms. Yeager herself - Blazing Cat Fur posted this tweet that is worth sharing:

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If this is what passes for fashion in New York City, I sure am glad that I live in redneck country. Talk about needing some eye bleach - I cannot unsee this harridan.

Unreal - those Pakistani IT guys

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I wrote about them earlier here. Today, we get this from The Daily Signal:

Wasserman Schultz IT Staffer Banned From House Network Months Ago Still Has Active Account
A former IT aide suspected of stealing equipment and data from Congress still has an active, secret email account on the House computer system, even though he has been banned from the congressional network because of a criminal investigation into the alleged cybersecurity violations, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

Imran Awan’s still-active email address is linked to the name of a House staffer who specializes in intelligence and homeland security matters for Rep. André Carson, D-Ind. Court documents and emails show Awan used the address 123@mail.house.gov in addition to his standard imran.awan@mail.house.gov account.

He and two of his Pakistani-born brothers, as well as his wife, are at the center of an FBI investigation over their IT work with dozens of Democratic congressional offices. Authorities shut down Awan’s standard email account Feb. 2, and he was arrested by the FBI at Dulles International Airport trying to board a flight to his native Pakistan on July 25.

Authorities apparently did not realize Awan has a second account that is not linked to his identity. While his main email address began rejecting mail after it was shut down, the 123 address was still accepting mail Tuesday.

What kind of clowns do we have running things in the other Washington? This is childishly stupid - whomever is running their email server should be very ashamed of themselves. Makes me wonder just how many other 'ghost' accounts are out there and who has access to which servers.

Back home again - a productive day

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Went into Bellingham for the day getting some things for a project and doing some grocery shopping. Having a Costco chicken for dinner with some sauteed veggies.

Heading out to unpack the truck and put another coat of paint on the unistrut rails.

Off to town for the day

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Coffee, post office and store first - more posting around 5:00Pm or so...

From Venkatesh Rao writing at Ribbon Farm:

The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial
A few months ago, while dining at Veggie Grill (one of the new breed of Chipotle-class fast-casual restaurants), a phrase popped unbidden into my head: premium mediocre. The food, I opined to my wife, was premium mediocre. She instantly got what I meant, though she didn’t quite agree that Veggie Grill qualified. In the weeks that followed, premium mediocre turned into a term of art for us, and we gleefully went around labeling various things with the term, sometimes disagreeing, but mostly agreeing. And it wasn’t just us. When I tried the term on my Facebook wall, and on Twitter, again everybody instantly got the idea, and into the spirit of the labeling game.

Some definitions:

Premium mediocre is the finest bottle of wine at Olive Garden. Premium mediocre is cupcakes and froyo. Premium mediocre is “truffle” oil on anything (no actual truffles are harmed in the making of “truffle” oil), and extra-leg-room seats in Economy. Premium mediocre is cruise ships, artisan pizza, Game of Thrones, and The Bellagio.

Premium mediocre is food that Instagrams better than it tastes.

Premium mediocre is Starbucks’ Italian names for drink sizes, and its original pumpkin spice lattes featuring a staggering absence of pumpkin in the preparation. Actually all the coffee at Starbucks is premium mediocre. I like it anyway.

Adding this to my everyday vocabulary. I love it!

Now this will be interesting

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From Business Wire:

Alexa Meet Cortana, Cortana Meet Alexa
Amazon and Microsoft announced today that Alexa will be able to talk to Cortana, and Cortana will be able to talk to Alexa. You will be able to turn to your Echo device and say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” or turn to your Windows 10 device and say, “Cortana, open Alexa.”

Alexa customers will be able to access Cortana’s unique features like booking a meeting or accessing work calendars, reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home, or reading your work email – all using just your voice. Similarly, Cortana customers can ask Alexa to control their smart home devices, shop on Amazon.com, interact with many of the more than 20,000 skills built by third-party developers, and much more.

“Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”

“The world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon. “It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”

Alexa and Cortana will begin talking to each other later this year.

As Skynet comes online in 3... 2... 1...

Time for the Tube of You

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Nothing much on the internet - time to watch some videos before heading off to sleep.

No plans for tomorrow - I may head in to town to do some shopping. Definitely working on a couple of projects at home as well as prepping for two projects at the store - our new coffee station and some changes to the lighting.

Run screaming. From The Toronto Sun:

Thanks for nothing: Provincial cash for social housing must go to green energy projects
This is a case where you want to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth.

Ontario Housing Minister Peter Milczyn has just announced plans to make “major investments in social housing repairs and retrofits” across the province.

“Helping Ontario’s most vulnerable find stable housing is critically important to our goal of ensuring everyone in the province has a safe place to call home,” Milczyn said in announcing a five-year cash commitment of $657 million.

Except:

On the surface, the announcement is good news for residents in Toronto’s dilapidated social housing homes and apartments, and for the City of Toronto, which has a $2.6-billion social housing repair backlog and unsolvable social housing crisis.

Toronto will get about half the funds Milczyn announced, but here’s the rub

All the money, the minister’s office confirmed, is earmarked for green energy renovations, not what’s actually needed — cash to fix units and buildings so run down from neglect and abuse that they are uninhabitable.

To be specific:

So instead of cash for worn out kitchen cabinets, broken toilets and new floors, the city will get money for building insulation, maybe some rooftop solar panels and new energy efficient windows — “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money on electricity costs,” the province said in a release.

Unreal - I bet $10 that the good Mr. Milczyn was not elected to his position and that he was either hired by another non-elected bureaucrat or was appointed by someone who owed him a favor. After all, nepotism is OK as long as you keep it in the family.

From Amazon:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

If the authors name sounds familiar, Andy's first novel was The Martian - a delightful read and excellent movie adaptation. I'll have to request it from my local library.

Had to notarize a document for a friend and then went out for dinner at a nearby restaurant.

T emailed me this cartoon tonight - I love it:

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(sorry for the poor image quality - this is the only copy I have been able to find on the net)

Record rainfall and the infrastructure is not handling it well - two from Reuters:

First - Houston says bridges, roads starting to fail under stress of flooding

Second - Harvey brings death, destruction to Houston as flood waters rise

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Obama Admin Hid Intel on Iranian Militants in Syria to Push Nuclear Deal
The Obama administration likely hid information about Iran illicitly ferrying militants into Syria on commercial aircraft in order to promote the landmark nuclear deal and foster multi-billion dollar business deals with Tehran's state-controlled airline sector, according to lawmakers and other sources familiar with the matter.

The Washington Free Beacon first disclosed last week that congressional leaders are calling for an investigation into Iran for using its state-controlled air carrier, Iran Air, to ferry militant fighters into Syria, where they are taking up arms in defense of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

Photographs provided to Congress show Iran using Iran Air to ferry these soldiers between 2016 and 2017, in part when the Obama administration removed sanctions on Iran Air and promoted multi-billion dollars sales between the carrier and aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which is seeking to provide Iran Air with a fleet of new planes that many suspect will be used to carry terrorist fighters and weapons into regional hotspots.

This behavior violates international laws governing the nuclear deal and has now led lawmakers and others to accuse the Obama administration of downplaying Iran's illicit activity in order to promote the nuclear deal and ensure Tehran receives a new commercial fleet.

I wonder what else will be coming out in the future - Obama may not be an outright Muslim but he certainly has their interests at heart more than the interests of this Nation. Surprised that he has not been brought to trial for treason.

Talk about punching back twice as hard - from Media-ite:

University Professor Fired for Suggesting Hurricane Destruction is ‘Instant Karma’ for Trump Winning Texas
A now-fired professor from the University of Tampa indicated that the death, damage, and destruction wreaked upon Texans due to Hurricane Harvey is “instant karma” for President Donald Trump winning the state in the 2016 presidential election.

“I don’t believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them,” tweeted Ken Storey, the former college professor whose comments have garnered national media attention — including at least three segments on Fox News and Fox Business Network today alone.

Storey went on to apologize for his insensitive remarks and deleted the controversial tweet. However, his apology-tweet was not taken well, as it has over 2000 replies and less than 100 likes — reaching “The Ratio” level of poor Twitter form.

Go ahead and virtue signal - just understand that your actions have consequences. From The University of Tampa website:

On Sunday, Aug. 27, visiting assistant professor of sociology Kenneth Storey made comments on a private Twitter account that do not reflect UT's community views or values. We condemn the comments and the sentiment behind them, and understand the pain this irresponsible act has caused.

Storey has been relieved of his duties at UT, and his classes will be covered by other sociology faculty.

As Floridians, we are well aware of the destruction and suffering associated with tropical weather. Our thoughts and prayers are with all impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Well spoken.

Back from town

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Had to run in for a few errands and a stop at the bank. Back home now waiting for the farrier to show up.

More in a bit - working outside spray painting some unistrut rails - I am re-working my music room and mounting the keyboards to the wall instead of using a floor mounted A-Frame stand. Takes up a lot less room and no trip hazard.

Time for YouTube

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Catching up on a couple of YouTube channels and that will be it for the evening.

Heading in to town to do a bank deposit and get some stuff for a project at home. Got the farrier coming out tomorrow afternoon to give Rocky his mani-pedi. It has been so dry that his hooves have been splitting a little bit. Got some treatment from his previous owners and will get him fixed up tomorrow.

From Reuters:

Harvey brings death, destruction to Houston as flood waters rise
Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey, which has already killed at least seven people in Texas and was expected to drive tens of thousands from their homes, are likely to rise, officials warned on Monday, as heavy rain continued to pound the U.S. Gulf Coast.

National Guard troops, police officers, rescue workers and civilians raced in helicopters, boats and special high-water trucks to rescue the hundreds still stranded in and around Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city.

The storm was the most powerful hurricane to strike Texas in more than 50 years when it hit land on Friday near Corpus Christi, 220 miles (354 km) south of Houston, and the worst is far from over, as the National Weather Service issued numerous regional flood warnings.

They had a weeks warning so the loss of life was minimal. Still the damage will be huge. Why do people build in vulnerable locations? If I were looking at living on the coastline, I would avoid potential flood or landslide zones. Not if, when. If they rebuild in the same location, they should be denied any future flood insurance - want cheap government subsidized flood insurance? Be ready to rebuild in another area safe from future floods when your original building is washed away.

Looking to donate to the relief effort? Team Rubicon does excellent work.

Seriously, someone needs to sit Whoa Fat down and educate him in the realities of the world otherwise he will get his own state to play with - PLASMA! From ABC:

North Korean missile flies over Japan, Pentagon says
North Korea has fired a missile that flew over Japan, the Pentagon confirmed.

"We assess North Korea conducted a missile launch within the last 90 minutes," Col. Rob Manning, the director of press operations at the Department of Defense, said Monday evening in a statement. "We can confirm that the missile launch by North Korea flew over Japan. We are in the process of assessing this launch.

"North American Aerospsace Defense Command, or NORAD, determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America. We are working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD, and we'll provide an update as soon as possible," he added.

It landed in the ocean with nothing from the missile hitting Japan. Talk about playing brinkmanship.

Back home again - a wonderful weekend

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Had a great time in Seattle

Drove back to the farm today and arrived at the store about 15 minutes before 6:00PM. I had missed last evening's water board meeting and while I was at the store, the Water Board secretary came over and let me know that nobody else had shown up for the meeting yesterday so it had been rescheduled to tonight at 6:00PM. The state requires that we hold monthly open public meetings. Had the usual short meeting and am now unpacking the truck and seeing what leftovers are sitting in the fridge (and what condition they are - I may just make a sandwich or have a can of soup).

Critters are all well - more posting later. I will be here through this week as there is the 8th Annual car show next weekend on September 2nd.

Time to sit down and sift through a couple hundred emails - prepare some dinner first...

An interesting development - Palau

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From Channel News Asia:

US military to install radar in Pacific's Palau
The United States has announced plans to install radar systems in Palau, a move that will increase its monitoring ability in the western Pacific region recently rocked by threats from North Korea.

In a joint statement, the US Defense Department and the Palau government said they were working to finalise the location of radar towers on the archipelago nation of 22,000 people.

"The radar systems will provide Palau enhanced maritime law enforcement capability... while also providing the US with greater air domain awareness for aviation safety and security," they said in the statement dated Aug 21.

No mention of what the system is or its range and resolution but it will be a good thing for everyone to have. The article mentions that it will also be used by Palau to look for illegal fishing - a big problem for fragile reef ecosystems.

From the National Hurricane Center:

Tropical Storm Harvey Forecast Discussion
Data from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that Harvey is quickly strengthening, and the cyclone's structure has improved markedly with the plane reporting a closed 15-20 n mi wide eye. The flight-level and SFMR winds support an intensity of 55 kt, but one of the more notable measurements is the central pressure, which has fallen to 982 mb. With a pressure this low, it is likely that the winds will respond and increase further, and Harvey probably isn't too far from becoming a hurricane.

With Harvey now strengthening at a faster rate than indicated in previous advisories, the intensity forecast has become quite concerning. Water vapor images indicate that the cyclone's outflow is expanding--indicative of low shear--and Harvey will be moving over a warm eddy of high oceanic heat content in the western Gulf of Mexico in about 24 hours. As a result of these conditions, several intensity models, including the ICON intensity consensus, are now explicit showing Harvey reaching major hurricane intensity. What's more astounding is that some of the SHIPS Rapid Intensification indices are incredibly high. As an example, the guidance is indicating a 70 percent chance of Harvey's winds increasing by 45 kt over the next 36 hours. Based on this guidance, the NHC official intensity forecast now calls for Harvey to reach major hurricane strength by 36 hours, before it reaches the middle Texas coast.

First landfall in Texas since 2008. Despite what the global warming theorists have to say, we have actually seen a decline in hurricanes both in number and strength. Still, they do happen.

Delusional - Nancy Pelosi

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I almost feel sorry for her - almost... From The Washington Free Beacon:

Pelosi: Democrats Have ‘Won Every Fight’ Against Republicans
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Wednesday that Democrats have "won every fight" against Republicans, leaving out that Democrats have lost every special election to Republicans this year.

"The Republican Party is in such disarray right now, crisis after crisis; nonetheless the Democratic Party does not not seem to have been able to capitalize on the problems facing your other party," KRON reporter Pam Moore said during the exclusive interview.

I wonder what passes for thought in her brain. Clearly out of touch with reality and yet she keeps getting reelected. Classic case for term limits.

Coffee, post office and store

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Heading down to Seattle today for a few days. Working on some projects first though.

Today's history lesson

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Events in the 1930's and events today have an eerie similarity - take this comparison for example:

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Someone gets it right

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Looks like the editor of The Wall Street Journal has seen the light regarding what the paying and reading public want. From The New York Times:

Wall Street Journal Editor Admonishes Reporters Over Trump Coverage
Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, has faced unease and frustration in his newsroom over his stewardship of the newspaper’s coverage of President Trump, which some journalists there say has lacked toughness and verve.

Some staff members expressed similar concerns on Wednesday after Mr. Baker, in a series of blunt late-night emails, criticized his staff over their coverage of Mr. Trump’s Tuesday rally in Phoenix, describing their reporting as overly opinionated.

“Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting,” Mr. Baker wrote at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning to a group of Journal reporters and editors, in response to a draft of the rally article that was intended for the newspaper’s final edition.

He added in a follow-up, “Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?”

Mic drop.

Tip of the hat to Deplorable Don Surber for the link.

Time for YouTube

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Watch a bit of video and then to bed.

Got a couple things to take care of here tomorrow and then heading down to Seattle for another visit. I will not be bringing a laptop so posting will be nonexistent for a few days.

An interesting decision in Texas

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From The New York Times:

Federal Judge Rejects a Revised Voter ID Law in Texas
A federal judge blocked Texas from enforcing its revamped voter identification law on Wednesday, ruling that the State Legislature’s attempt to loosen the law did not go far enough and perpetuated discrimination against black and Hispanic voters.

And the Judges complaint?

The judge — Nelva Gonzales Ramos, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas — had previously found that the original law, one of the most restrictive in the nation, was passed in 2011 with the intent to discriminate against blacks and Hispanics. It required voters to show one of seven forms of government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, before casting a ballot.

You need these to get on an airplane, to buy a bottle of beer or a pack of cigarettes, open a bank account, buy a car... I could go on but you get my drift.

And of course, the Judge was an Obama appointee - figures.

Political correctness gone amok - ESPN

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This just beggars the imagination - from The Washington Times:

ESPN blasted for political correctness after pulling announcer Robert Lee from UVa football game
Apparently, even being Asian doesn’t mean people won’t take you for being a white nationalist.

ESPN confirmed Tuesday night that it had decided to pull an announcer from calling a University of Virginia football game because his name is Robert Lee. This Robert Lee is Asian.

“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties,” reads the ESPN statement posted at the popular Fox Sports college-football blog Outkick the Coverage.

And of course, no heads will roll for this - just another day in the world of diversity - Hail Diversity!

A good look at President Trump

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From Investor's Business Daily:

Donald Trump: The 'Fascist' Who Cuts Taxes And Deregulates
Everybody knows by now that President Trump is a fascist. He's a Nazi just like the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. We know this because the mainstream media, a host of dimwit celebrities, various Democratic politicians and the highly reputable antifa tell us he is.

What we really know, though, is these groups don't know anything except how to shriek louder and longer than everyone else. A few also well know how to break other people's property and set things that don't belong to them on fire. But they don't know their history, and therefore don't know what they're talking about.

But we're here to help them out, so let's make some comparisons.

First, take a look at taxes. Trump wants to cut them. But the Nazis were no tax-cutters.

The author closes with this wonderful observation:

The self-proclaimed anti-Fascists and Nazi-punchers, as well as their media apologists and political abettors, are also more closely aligned with historical Nazis and Fascists than Trump and his supporters through their devotion to mob violence, identity politics, forced conformity and efforts to silence critics.

What we're seeing, then, is a widespread case of psychological projection. We hope that most of the country recognizes this.

Indeed...

Sounds like my kind of party - not!

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From our neighbors to the North - CBC News:

Bride, groom arrested after brawl breaks out at downtown Edmonton bar
The bride and groom started married life in handcuffs.

The couple — she in a gown, he in a tuxedo — were arrested Saturday night after a post-wedding brawl broke out at Denizen Hall in downtown Edmonton.

Matt Machado watched it all go down at the bar near Rogers Place. It started, he said, when about nine members of a wedding party walked in at around 10 p.m.

He said it was like a scene from the Wild Wild West.

"They're getting drinks. They're just really, really super banged up," he said.

"And then all of a sudden we see the smoke pit doors just, like, blow open. Like, you know, in the old Western movies, when a big fight happens and the doors just explode open and everybody piles out? Then security's got this one guy in a headlock and they tumble down the stairs.

"The bride is just like following behind, just swinging."

And that will be quite the story to tell the grandkids.

Off for the day

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Spending today in town running some errands. Coffee and store first.

And that is it for the evening

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An hour with YouTube and then to bed.

Heading into town tomorrow for a couple of items and then working at home for the next couple of days.

In case you missed it - the Eclipse

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From eatliver.com:

20170822-eclipse.jpg

Totally unreal - from Law Enforcement Officer Weekly:

White people, here are 10 requests from a Black Lives Matter leader
BY CHANELLE HELM
Some things I’m thinking about that should change (in that Southern, black grandmama voice):

1. White people, if you don’t have any descendants, will your property to a black or brown family. Preferably one that lives in generational poverty.

2. White people, if you’re inheriting property you intend to sell upon acceptance, give it to a black or brown family. You’re bound to make that money in some other white privileged way.

3. If you are a developer or realty owner of multi-family housing, build a sustainable complex in a black or brown blighted neighborhood and let black and brown people live in it for free.

4. White people, if you can afford to downsize, give up the home you own to a black or brown family. Preferably a family from generational poverty.

Six more at the site - Chanelle is a leader of Black Lives Matter. I personally believe in All Lives Matter and that the way to fulfillment in life is to get a job you enjoy.

Brings to mind Fred Reed's wonderful rant - Are White Men Gods? (II): Getting the Facts Straight Go and read it - I'll wait.

Pot meet Kettle

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With all of the leaks coming out of Washington these days, this is almost something I would expect from The Onion instead of the mainstream media. From McClatchy:

Democrats warn Bannon against publishing classified information
Democrats have a warning for Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon: Don’t use your position at Breitbart to share classified and sensitive information you collected while at the White House.

"Steve Bannon has an ongoing obligation to safeguard our nation’s secrets, and he does not gain some kind of extra Constitutional protection just because he is now returning to a position in the media,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

Pot meet Kettle? From Daily Headlines (October 2016):

[WikiLeaks] Elijah Cummings Leaked Information To Hillary’s Lawyers
Elijah Cummings and the democrats on the Special Committee on Benghazi kept Clinton’s lawyers informed on what republicans had planned in regards to Hillary.

The article has the WikiLeaks email reprinted. This is my surprised face...

Sweet deal - Craigslist

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With all the problems I have been having with Craigslist ads, this one makes me feel enthusiastic again.

The seller is an art teacher at a local school and was getting into making electronic music but got too busy with other things. I picked up three boxes full of all sorts of electronic components, guitar pickups, amplifiers, CDs of interesting music, power supplies, books, etc... Well worth what I paid for it and this will be perfect for interfacing with the Raspberry Pi computers I have been playing with. Ham radio is a lot of fun but these boards can do a lot more than just that.

Very happy camper! Sitting down to dinner in a bit and will be picking through to see what sorts of treasures I got.

Off for coffee and town

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Meeting up with someone for a Craigslist deal - heading out for coffee and checking in at the store first.

Back home later today and working at home this afternoon.

And that is it for the night

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Switching to YouTube to catch up on a couple day's worth of video.

Heading in to town tomorrow for a Craigslist deal at Noon - the ad looks good but I will need to see if they bodged the parts or something. Their asking is well below list price if they did not.

Did a big hike yesterday with some friends so a bit stiff and sore - looks like an early bedtime tonight.

From George Orwell's 1984 - in reference to the recent tearing down of monuments and revision of historical truth:

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day be day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except the endless present in which the party is always right.

At Jay Leno's Garage:

Skip to 11:40 for the startup and run.

Heh - how is that open border policy working for you? From Reuters:

Canada's Trudeau warns against entering country 'irregularly'
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who once took to Twitter to welcome Syrian refugees into the country, said on Sunday that there would be "no advantage" to entering "irregularly."

"Canada is an opening and welcoming society," he told reporters in Montreal following talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. "But let me be clear. We are also a country of laws. Entering Canada irregularly is not an advantage. There are rigorous immigration and customs rules that will be followed. Make no mistake."

No government makes money. Every dollar that they spend in handouts and subsidies comes from the taxpayer's wallet. When enough people say enough, the whole system collapses. You do not want the system to collapse so a prudent dialing back of bread and circuses is very much called for - look at Venezuela for today's example.

Good riddance to scum - from ABC News:

Chicago activist loses US citizenship, will be deported
An activist known for helping Arab women in the Chicago area lost her U.S. citizenship Thursday and will be deported for failing to disclose convictions for bombings in Jerusalem decades ago.

Rasmea Odeh was interrupted three times by a judge as she used her court appearance in Detroit to criticize Israel and the United States and deny that she's a terrorist.

"This is not a political forum for you to fan the flames of Israeli-Palestinian disputes. ... It's about the application you filled out," said U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain, who threatened to find her in contempt and send her to jail.

Good - these people have nothing but hate in their hearts. Her bombings in Jerusalem murdered two people. The "palestinians" are a construct of the KGB back when Russia did not have any known oil reserves and they wanted to destabilize Israel. She is being deported to Jordan which is the true native land for the so-called palestinians.

Guess which one is which - climate scientists always lie. The actual numbers do not back up their computer models so they have to continually cry doom and gloom otherwise their funding dries up.

First - some real numbers from The Times of India:

Govt revises foodgrain output to record 275.68 million tonnes
India's foodgrain production for the 2016-17 crop year is estimated at record 275.68 million tonnes. The government on Wednesday revised its previous figures upward by 2.3 million tonnes and came at the new figure which is over 4 per cent higher than the previous record production achieved in the country during 2013-14.

A lot of factors contributed to this record but an increase in available plant food did not hurt (that plant food being CO2)

Second - some fake numbers from Phys.Org:

Climate change will cut crop yields: study
Climate change will have a negative effect on key crops such as wheat, rice, and maize, according to a major scientific report out Tuesday that reviewed 70 prior studies on global warming and agriculture.

Experts analyzed previous research that used a variety of methods, from simulating how crops will react to temperature changes at the global and local scale, to statistical models based on historical weather and yield data, to artificial field warming experiments.

All these methods "suggest that increasing temperatures are likely to have a negative effect on the global yields of wheat, rice and maize," said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

In other words, they scanned the available literature and were able to find 70 papers that agreed with their preconceived notions. They then cherry-picked this data and regurgitated it in their own paper which sustains the narrative. This is not science, it is a couple of six year olds playing in a sandbox.

Your dystopian thought for the morning from Borepatch:

Using The Big Eraser
A cynical guy would think that the recent events in Charlottesville were orchestrated, with law enforcement standing aside, counter-protesters attacking protesters to provoke a response, and the inevitable outcome of lit matches and gasoline playing out.

But no matter, the Confederate memorials are coming down. A couple of years ago it was the battle flag, now it's time for the next step. All across the country, big diesel powered erasers are going to remove history.

It won't stop there, of course.

The book burning is coming.

Orwell's 1984 was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual.

From the Los Angeles Times:

UC Berkeley chancellor unveils 'Free Speech Year' as right-wing speakers plan campus events
Carol T. Christ, UC Berkeley’s 11th chancellor and the first woman to lead the nation’s top public research university, unveiled plans Tuesday for a “Free Speech Year” as right-wing speakers prepare to come to campus.

Christ said the campus would hold “point-counterpoint” panels to demonstrate how to exchange opposing views in a respectful manner. Other events will explore constitutional questions, the history of Berkeley’s free speech movement and how that movement inspired acclaimed chef Alice Waters to create her Chez Panisse restaurant.

“Now what public speech is about is shouting, screaming your point of view in a public space rather than really thoughtfully engaging someone with a different point of view,” Christ said in an interview. “We have to build a deeper and richer shared public understanding.”

One student's reaction:

Christ’s focus on free speech heartened Alex Nguyen, a sophomore studying molecular cellular biology. She said she took the issue especially to heart because her parents were born in Vietnam, where criticizing the government could lead to imprisonment.

“I want her to really protect free speech because there’s really high political tensions here,” Nguyen said of the chancellor. “We’re at the university to learn new things and disprove our ideas.”

Very good news indeed - if the little snowflakes try to act out, they will show themselves to be the intolerant little bigots that they deny being.

A moving experience - Boise, Idaho

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A sweet town - been through there a couple of times and like it. It seems they needed to move a tree - from Scientific American:

How Do You Move a Giant Sequoia?
Inhabitants of Boise, Idaho, watched with trepidation earlier this year as its oldest, tallest resident moved two blocks. The 105-year-old sequoia tree serves as a local landmark, not only for its longevity but also because renowned naturalist and Sierra Club co-founder John Muir provided the original seedling. So, when Saint Luke’s Health System found that the 10-story-tall conifer stood in the way of its planned hospital expansion, officials called tree-moving firm Environmental Design.

The Texas-based company has developed and patented scooping and lifting technology to move massive trees. Weighing in at more than 800,000 pounds, the Boise sequoia is its largest undertaking yet. “I [had] lost enough sleep over this,” says David Cox, the company’s Western region vice president—and that was before the hospital mentioned the tree’s distinguished origin. Before the heavy lifting began, the team assessed the root system and dug a five-foot-deep cylinder, measuring 40 feet in diameter, around the trunk to protect all essential roots. After encapsulating the root ball in wire mesh, the movers allowed the tree to rest and acclimate to its new situation for seven months before relocating it. The illustration details what followed.

Very clever technique - using airbags for rigging. Patent No. US 8,844,449 of course!

Interesting developments - batteries

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Interesting news from Australia - from Gizmodo:

Australian Scientists Just Worked Out How Zinc-Air Batteries Can Replace Lithium-Ion Batteries
Researchers at the University of Sydney just worked out how to solve one of the biggest problems standing in the way for zinc-air batteries to replace lithium-ion batteries as our go-to for modern electronics.

Zinc-air batteries are batteries powered by zinc metal and oxygen from the air. Becasue of how much zinc metal we have around the world (it's a lot), these batteries are much cheaper to produce than lithium-ion batteries, and they can also store more energy (theoretically five times more than that of lithium-ion batteries), are much safer and are more environmentally friendly.

Total win-win.

Now, while zinc-air batteries are currently used as an energy source in hearing aids and some film cameras and railway signal devices, their widespread use has been hindered by the fact that, up until now, recharging them has proved difficult. This is because of the lack of electrocatalysts to reduce and generate oxygen during the discharging and charging of a battery.

The researchers developed a new three-stage method to overcome this problem.

According to lead researcher Professor Yuan Chen from the University of Sydneys Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, the new method can be used to create bifunctional oxygen electrocatalysts for building rechargeable zinc-air batteries - from scratch.

Very cool news - commercial production in five years? Looking forward to it.

This advertisement was posted in the Charlotte Craigslist about a week before the riot:

20170816-charlotte.jpg

More at Zero Hedge:

Why Was This 'Crowd Hire' Company Recruiting $25 An Hour 'Political Activists' In Charlotte Last Week?
Trump ignited a political firestorm yesterday during an impromptu press conference in which he said there was "blame on both sides" for the tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend.   

Now, the discovery of a craigslist ad posted last Monday, almost a full week before the Charlottesville protests, is raising new questions over whether paid protesters were sourced by a Los Angeles based "public relations firm specializing in innovative events" to serve as agitators in counterprotests.

The ad was posted by a company called "Crowds on Demand" and offered $25 per hour to "actors and photographers" to participate in events in the "Charlotte, NC area."  While the ad didn't explicitly define a role to be filled by its crowd of "actors and photographers" it did ask applicants to comment on whether they were "ok with participating in peaceful protests."

Curious... Whose money paid for this?

An interesting paper from OMICS International:

New Insights on the Physical Nature of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect Deduced from an Empirical Planetary Temperature Model
A recent study has revealed that the Earth’s natural atmospheric greenhouse effect is around 90 K or about 2.7 times stronger than assumed for the past 40 years. A thermal enhancement of such a magnitude cannot be explained with the observed amount of outgoing infrared long-wave radiation absorbed by the atmosphere (i.e. ≈ 158 W m-2), thus requiring a re-examination of the underlying Greenhouse theory. We present here a new investigation into the physical nature of the atmospheric thermal effect using a novel empirical approach toward predicting the Global Mean Annual near-surface equilibrium Temperature (GMAT) of rocky planets with diverse atmospheres. Our method utilizes Dimensional Analysis (DA) applied to a vetted set of observed data from six celestial bodies representing a broad range of physical environments in our Solar System, i.e. Venus, Earth, the Moon, Mars, Titan (a moon of Saturn), and Triton (a moon of Neptune). Twelve relationships (models) suggested by DA are explored via non-linear regression analyses that involve dimensionless products comprised of solar irradiance, greenhouse-gas partial pressure/density and total atmospheric pressure/density as forcing variables, and two temperature ratios as dependent variables. One non-linear regression model is found to statistically outperform the rest by a wide margin. Our analysis revealed that GMATs of rocky planets with tangible atmospheres and a negligible geothermal surface heating can accurately be predicted over a broad range of conditions using only two forcing variables: top-of-the-atmosphere solar irradiance and total surface atmospheric pressure. The hereto discovered interplanetary pressure-temperature relationship is shown to be statistically robust while describing a smooth physical continuum without climatic tipping points. This continuum fully explains the recently discovered 90 K thermal effect of Earth’s atmosphere. The new model displays characteristics of an emergent macro-level thermodynamic relationship heretofore unbeknown to science that has important theoretical implications. A key entailment from the model is that the atmospheric ‘greenhouse effect’ currently viewed as a radiative phenomenon is in fact an adiabatic (pressure-induced) thermal enhancement analogous to compression heating and independent of atmospheric composition. Consequently, the global down-welling long-wave flux presently assumed to drive Earth’s surface warming appears to be a product of the air temperature set by solar heating and atmospheric pressure. In other words, the so-called ‘greenhouse back radiation’ is globally a result of the atmospheric thermal effect rather than a cause for it. Our empirical model has also fundamental implications for the role of oceans, water vapour, and planetary albedo in global climate. Since produced by a rigorous attempt to describe planetary temperatures in the context of a cosmic continuum using an objective analysis of vetted observations from across the Solar System, these findings call for a paradigm shift in our understanding of the atmospheric ‘greenhouse effect’ as a fundamental property of climate.

Emphasis mine - in other words, the so-called Greenhouse effect with CO2 is actually a natural phenomon and has zero bearing on any climate change.

What a wonderful idea - sue for fraud

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From The Washington Times:

Making the case for political fraud
If a political candidate asks you for a donation with a promise that he or she will do some specific act if elected and then fails to do so, should you be able to sue for fraud?

If a contractor offers to build a new deck on your home within a specific time period and then fails to do, so you can sue for nonperformance. Excuses that his competitors were not co-operating, or that all of his workers did not show up, or he wanted to take a vacation, would probably not persuade the judge.

It is well understood that many salespeople and political candidates engage in puffery about what their product does or what they are going to do. But when does puffery go so far as to become fraud?

The first President Bush famously made the statement: “Read my lips, no new taxes,” which he repeated many times. Polls showed that many people voted for him based on his no-new-taxes pledge, and that his defeat for re-election was largely a result of his reneging on that important pledge. President Obama assured the American people many times that his Obamacare legislation would allow you to “keep your own doctor” and reduce insurance premiums. These and his other falsehoods cost his party dearly in the subsequent elections. Both President Bush and President Obama could have kept their word or not made the promises if they had so chosen.

Makes perfect sense to me. Lie to us? We will make it hurt.

I was at Costco yesterday and they had Halloween stuff for sale - costumes, candy and an animated skeleton display.

Spring was such a hard and long season this year - I want a couple more months of Summer dammit!

Just a few highlights of this Executive Order from The White House:

Fact Sheet: President Donald J. Trump Works to Rebuild America's Infrastructure

MODERNIZING AN OUTDATED SYSTEM: The old system for completing environmental reviews was fragmented, inefficient, and unpredictable to the American people.

REMOVING ROADBLOCKS TO IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE: Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order Establishing Discipline and Accountability In the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects.

BUILDING ON PAST SUCCESS: President Trump has made infrastructure a priority and has taken action to rebuild America.

A few bullet points from the order:

    • According to a 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, it takes 7 years on average for a complex highway project to go through the entire environmental review process.
    • Rather than allow for a patchwork of agency reviews, this Order implements a One Federal Decision policy under which the lead Federal agency will work with other relevant Federal agencies to complete the environmental reviews and permitting decisions needed for major infrastructure projects.
    • Each agency will sign a joint Record of Decision and all required Federal permits will be issued 90 days later.
    • The order establishes a two-year goal to process environmental documents for major infrastructure projects.
    • Government will get out of the way to allow State and local governments to succeed at meeting their unique challenges.

Finally, some real shovel-ready projects unlike the $787 Billion squandered by our past leader - here, here and here. This is what leadership looks like.

Back home again

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Went out for coffee and spent an hour or two at the store doing some paperwork and checking on a few things.

Working at home today - I was planning to spray some burdock weeds but it is a bit too windy for that. There is no shortage of projects for me to work on though. Pick something.

Lunch first...

Quote of the month

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Black people who were never slaves are fighting white people who were never Nazis over a confederate statue erected by Democrats because Democrats can’t stand their own history anymore.. yet somehow it’s Trump’s fault.
— Jeff Laffite Jones

Turns out the classical economists (Austrian School) were right all along - raising the minimum wage kills jobs. From Axios:

Study: Higher minimum wages bring automation and job losses
As of the start of the year, 19 U.S. states had raised minimum wages, dramatizing a long simmering debate: Do minimum wages kill jobs, and make the working class worse off in the end? Or do they simply make them a little richer, with little or no loss to overall employment?

In a new paper, economists Grace Lordan of the London School of Economics and David Neumark of UC Irvine parse 35 years of census data and come down on the worse-off side: For lower-skill jobs like bookkeepers and assembly-line workers, they say, higher minimum wages encourage employers to automate — according to their calculations, a $1 increase can cost tens of thousands of jobs nationally.

Minimum wage was never intended to be a sustainable income. It is the responsibility of the worker to improve themselves and make themselves more valuable to their employer. Then, the employer will be justified in paying them more money. It is as simple as that.

Off for the day

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Slept in a bit too much this morning but hey...

Heading out for coffee and then running some errands.

An excellent rant - Silicon Valley

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From Kurt Schlichter writing at Town Hall:

Conservatives Must Regulate Google And All of Silicon Valley Into Submission
Google's fascist witch-burning of an honest engineer for refusing to bow down at the altar of politically correct lies was the final straw, an unequivocal warning to conservatives that there's a new set of rules, and that we need to play by them. First they came for the tech geeks; we’re next. That means Republicans at both the federal and the state level need to rein in the skinny-jeaned fascist social justice warriors who control Silicon Valley – and, to a growing extent, our society – through the kind of crushing regulation of these private business that we conservatives used to oppose.

And this idea is just wonderful:

So what are we talking about? Well, size matters, and Silicon Valley’s giants are just too darn big. Time to chop them up like old Ma Bell. Let's apply the antitrust laws that were made for taming just these types of octopod monopolies. For example, Google and Facebook’s tentacles have slithered into every corner of the web and strangled the competition. There was a word for that back in the day – what was it? Oh, yeah. “Monopoly.” The left used to like breaking up monopolies until its leftist allies starting controlling them. But the leftists don't control the executive branch. Since Attorney General Sessions isn't busy investigating the Democrats, maybe he can get his army of lawyers busy breaking up these enormous, bloated, anti-competitive conglomerates.

Read the whole thing - Kurt is on fire.

Nothing tonight

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The internet fairies are not being very productive so heading off to YouTube for a while.

Posting will resume tomorrow. Heading up to Canada Thursday evening but I will bring my laptop this time.

The last time that New Orleans had a Republican mayor was in 1872 with Benjamin Flanders. It shows. From the UK Guardian:

New Orleans under water: 12 years after Katrina, officials can't get it right
It is true: New Orleans lives and dies by its water. We eat from the Gulf, lake and wetlands and we breathe deeply of a sweltering, airborne humidity. We get our drinking water from the muddy Mississippi river, which carries the effluvia of half the country. Thousands upon thousands of rainy years have amplified the continuing decay in wetlands surrounding the city, creating vast pockets of valuable petroleum and natural gas which generate a major portion of our economy. The same rainfall and river provide continual growth in one of the lushest plant environments in America.

But we occasionally have our homes ruined, and we occasionally drown, in water.

In the last big lesson, involving the loss of 134,000 homes and 1,500 lives in New Orleans, a hurricane overwhelmed the manmade walls meant to keep the water at bay. Since then, hundreds of miles of new and reinforced levees have been built, over the last dozen years, to make sure that a ruinous intrusion does not happen again. The army corps of engineers built three huge new multimillion-dollar pumps on the Lakefront, so that when the engineers close the floodgates to keep the lake waters out, the pumps can be activated to keep excessive water from overwhelming the system.

Now all the city needs to do is be able to remove water that falls from the sky throughout every single year. And in 2017, that rain has fallen almost every day since 1 April.

So what do they do with all this shiny new infrastructure?

The meteorological bottom line is that even if the entire pumping system had been operating at maximum capacity, as Grant and the S&WB general superintendent, Joseph Becker, had earlier claimed, the rain would still have overwhelmed the system.

However, when pressed by an angry public and a media swarm that sensed something amiss, Becker first admitted eight of the city’s pumps had been out of service before a drop of rain fell on Saturday.

Subsequent investigation found that of 67 pumps on the East Bank of the city, just 58 were “functional in some form”. But the board’s dedicated power system also failed, so that only 38 pumps could be used at one time. Half capacity. And according to the board’s own logs, one crucial pumping station, No 12 on the Lakefront, had not even been manned until four hours after the 3.30pm storm, and not actually turned on until 8.49pm. Which is exactly when residents say they first saw waters starting to recede.

Business as usual. Unelected bureaucrats with no accountability. If someone screws up enough to warrant an investigation, they will be quietly shifted to some other office - often with a raise in pay "for their troubles".

Calling a spade a spade

President Trump is not bowing to the demands of the Social Justice Warriors and is, in fact, calling them out on their role in Charlottesville - from Yahoo / Agence France Presse:

Trump defiant on Charlottesville unrest: 'Blame on both sides'
US President Donald Trump sparked a political firestorm Tuesday when he doubled down on his initial response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that ended in bloodshed, saying there was "blame on both sides."

The Republican president -- who one day ago solemnly denounced racism and singled out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis as "criminals and thugs" -- also hit out at the "alt-left" over the weekend melee.

Simple really - SJW's can't handle the truth when it does not fit their narrative. The narrative is what defines them.

Back home from town

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Hit the ground running this morning - slept in a bit longer than I wanted to and had to meet with someone in the morning. They were looking to get rid of two old propane tanks - they were too old to be refilled again. These are perfect for an upcoming project - I want to get into metal casting, specifically aluminum. These tanks are about half-again taller than the normal BBQ tanks so will be perfect as the shell for my furnace.

Fixing dinner and will surf more this evening.

That is it for the evening

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Heading over to YouTube for a while and then to bed.

Dinner

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Marinated a couple of chicken breasts in some rice vinegar, soy sauce, and some minced ginger and garlic. Grilled with some sliced veggies - onions, a yellow bell pepper and some zucchini drizzled with olive oil. Did a salad and it was yummy. Cooked three breasts so there are leftovers for the next day or two.

Working on some stuff at home for now - heading in to town tomorrow to do some banking for the store and some errands.

Memo to self - avoid the shrimp

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Abbotsford is a large Canadian city to my northwest - about 15 miles. From the Vancouver Inquirer:

Tainted Buffet At Abbotsford Strip Club Blamed After Severe Diarrhea Incident On Stage
A popular strip club in Abbotsford, BC has been closed until further notice after several dancers contracted diarrhea last Friday night. The cause of the incident, which remains under investigation, has been initially linked to a contaminated buffet at the venue. While the investigation continues, the venue has not been named.

A bit more:

Patrons at the venue who were sitting near the stage were the most directly affected by the incident, which occurred close to 11pm. According to a witness at the venue, three dancers were performing on separate poles when the first sign of trouble emerged.

The article's author was having some fun writing - when the first sign of trouble emerged...

North Korea's missles

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Damnable if true - from the International Institute for Strategic Studies:

The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success
North Korea’s missile programme has made astounding strides over the past two years. An arsenal that had been based on short- and medium-range missiles along with an intermediate-range Musudan that repeatedly failed flight tests, has suddenly been supplemented by two new missiles: the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14. No other country has transitioned from a medium-range capability to an ICBM in such a short time. What explains this rapid progression? The answer is simple. North Korea has acquired a high-performance liquid-propellant engine (LPE) from a foreign source.

Available evidence clearly indicates that the LPE is based on the Soviet RD-250 family of engines, and has been modified to operate as the boosting force for the Hwasong-12 and -14. An unknown number of these engines were probably acquired though illicit channels operating in Russia and/or Ukraine. North Korea’s need for an alternative to the failing Musudan and the recent appearance of the RD-250 engine along with other evidence, suggests the transfers occurred within the past two years.

And the possible source? Agents from an ally of ours - the Ukraine

The maiden appearance of the modified RD-250 in September 2016 roughly coincides with North Korea’s decision to halt Musudan testing. It is reasonable to speculate that Kim’s engineers knew the Musudan presented grim or insurmountable technical challenges, which prompted a search for an alternative. If North Korea began its quest to identify and procure a new LPE in 2016, the start of the search would have occurred in the same year Yuzhnoye was experiencing the full impact of its financial shortfalls. This is not to suggest that the Ukrainian government was involved, and not necessarily Yuzhnoye executives. Workers at Yuzhnoye facilities in Dnipropetrovsk and Pavlograd were likely the first ones to suffer the consequences of the economic misfortunes, leaving them susceptible to exploitation by unscrupulous traders, arms dealers and transnational criminals operating in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere.

A long and interesting read - the authors really did their homework with identifying the engine make and model.

Shred Armstrong

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Take a Stretch Armstrong toy and an industrial shredder. Add a couple liters of liquid nitrogen (-321°F):

Be sure to check out the video at the industrial shredder link - cute!

Flashback to the 2011 "Occupy Wall Street" protests. And, let us ask ourselves exactly what these protest accomplished besides a lot of overtime for the sanitation crews. From ABC News, November 3, 2011:

Sexual Assaults Reported in 'Occupy' Camps
Alleged sexual assaults at Occupy Wall Street camps have raised concerns about security in a handful of cities, including reports of rape and groping in tents at New York's Zuccotti Park and a sex offender in Dallas having sex with an underage runaway.

I find it very ironic that the Anti Fascist movement (Antifa) is operating straight out of the Fascist playbook. Here is just one excerpt from THE DOCTRINE OF FASCISM by BENITO MUSSOLINI (1932)

FASCIST STATE AS A SPIRITUAL FORCE
The Fascist State, as a higher and more powerful expression of personality, is a force, but a spiritual one. It sums up all the manifestations of the moral and intellectual life of man. Its functions cannot therefore be limited to those of enforcing order and keeping the peace, as the liberal doctrine had it. It is no mere mechanical device for defining the sphere within which the individual may duly exercise his supposed rights. The Fascist State is an inwardly accepted standard and rule of conduct, a discipline of the whole person; it permeates the will no less than the intellect. It stands for a principle which becomes the central motive of man as a member of civilized society, sinking deep down into his personality; it dwells in the heart of the man of action and of the thinker, of the artist and of the man of science: soul of the soul.

Fascism, in short, is not only a law-giver and a founder of institutions, but an educator and a promoter of spiritual life. It aims at refashioning not only the forms of life but their content - man, his character, and his faith. To achieve this propose it enforces discipline and uses authority, entering into the soul and ruling with undisputed sway. Therefore it has chosen as its emblem the Lictor’s rods, the symbol of unity, strength, and justice.

Funny that the widdle snowflakes at Antifa want to smash the state but they are so dependent on food stamps and welfare to survive all the while using their $500 iPhones and $800 laptops and wearing their $300 Patagonia parkas. They are just sucking up at the big government teat all the while acting out their puerile fantasies. Talk about a fertile breeding ground for cognitive dissonance.

If you want to dig deeper into this cess-pit, Wilhelm Reich has an excellent book in public domain. Reich went a bit overboard with his "orgone" work but at heart, he had an excellent understanding of the human condition. Check out this breif excerpt from The Mass Psychology Of Fascism

In the ethical and social ideals of liberalism we recognize the representation of the superficial layer of the character, of self-control and tolerance. The ethics of this liberalism serve to keep down "the beast" in man, the second layer, our "secondary impulses," the Freudian "unconscious." The natural sociality of the deepest, nuclear layer is alien to the liberal. He deplores the perversion of human character and fights it with ethical norms, but the social catastrophes of this century show the inadequacy of this approach.

All that which is genuinely revolutionary, all genuine art and science stems from the natural biological nucleus. Neither the genuine revolutionary nor the artist or scientist has been able thus far to win over and lead masses or, if so, to keep them in the realm of the life interests.

In contradistinction to liberalism, which represents the superficial character layer, and to genuine revolution, which represents the deepest layer, fascism represents essentially the second character layer, that of the secondary impulses.

A bit wordy but this is how Germans write. Despite the verbosity, Reich nails it. Much more at the site. Antifa is Fascism writ large.

But of course

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From Science Direct:

Creativity on tap? Effects of alcohol intoxication on creative cognition
Anecdotal reports link alcohol intoxication to creativity, while cognitive research highlights the crucial role of cognitive control for creative thought. This study examined the effects of mild alcohol intoxication on creative cognition in a placebo-controlled design. Participants completed executive and creative cognition tasks before and after consuming either alcoholic beer (BAC of 0.03) or non-alcoholic beer (placebo). Alcohol impaired executive control, but improved performance in the Remote Associates Test, and did not affect divergent thinking ability. The findings indicate that certain aspects of creative cognition benefit from mild attenuations of cognitive control, and contribute to the growing evidence that higher cognitive control is not always associated with better cognitive performance.

At a loss for words

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Tip of the hat to Grouchy Old Cripple:

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China is getting its knickers in a twist - from China Daily:

Trump asking too much from Beijing on peninsula issue
US President Donald Trump will reportedly sign an executive memorandum on Monday authorizing the US trade representative to determine whether to investigate the allegedly "unfair" Chinese trade practices, which could pave the way for punitive tariffs on Chinese exports.

But it is of critical strategic significance that his administration demonstrates reason and avoids making a rash decision it will soon regret.

Given Trump's transactional approach to foreign affairs, it is impossible to look at the matter without taking into account his increasing disappointment at what he deems as China's failure to bring into line the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. His idea of exploiting trade as a bargaining chip in dealings with China dates back to the campaign trail.

But instead of advancing the United States' interests, politicizing trade will only acerbate the country's economic woes, and poison the overall China-US relationship.

Without China's support, North Korea would fold in a heartbeat (China trade accounts for 90% of the NK GDP). Now that President Trump is applying pressure to China, President Xi is crying foul and saying that it will "poison the overall China-US relationship".

A strong North Korea is a serious detriment to world peace and China could reign it in with a few strokes of a pen - why not do this? Why do they protest so much?

This is what leadership looks like.

Our Korean strategy

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Sounds perfect - from A. F. Branco:

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Quote of the day month

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Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.
--Robert A. Heinlein

Nothing much to report today

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Heading out for coffee and then to the store. Dinner with Lulu tonight. Lulu cancelled.

The police actions in the Charlottesville, Va riot and death seem to be of interest - some things are coming out. More later.

North Korea - 1994

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And of course they abided by the treaty and allowed the International Inspectors in to view their nuclear facilities:

Thanks a lot President Clinton you impotent fool. And people still wonder why most of us do not trust either Bill or Hillary. Remember Hans Blix?

Charlottesville, Va. and Seattle, WA.

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Because I have been away from the news, I am waiting for 48 hours before I make any comments.

Just a wonderful payback but I feel sorry for the poor donkey who will be put down. From Morocco World News:

15 Teenagers Treated for Rabies After Engaging in Bestiality with Donkey
Fifteen minors who sexually assaulted a donkey in the small rural town of Sidi Kamel in the communal providence of Sidi Kacem have been treated for rabies infections received from the animal.

The sexually frustrated children and teenagers stayed at the Mechraa Belksiri Hospital for one week to receive rabies vaccinations after the animal transmitted the disease to them, explained Moroccan daily Al Akhbar in its August 10 edition.

The incident has put the families of these fifteen young people into distress and horror, reports the daily.

Local authorities have been alerted and search for find anyone else who has “approached” and “admired” the animal closely, in order to limit the risk of rabies spreading among the inhabitants of the region.

The occurrence became the subject of mockery and ridicule among the population of the small town.

I just love that line: "admired the animal closely" - again, it is sad that the donkey will be put down - I love mules and donkeys over horses but still, talk about payback. Rabies is not a disease to be taken lightly - by the time the symptoms manifest, you stand a good chance of being a goner.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

With 8 threatening volcanoes, USGS says California deserves close monitoring
With the world's top volcanologists heading to Portland, Ore., on Aug. 14 for the first international volcanology assembly held in the U.S. since 1989, the many famous, prominent and dangerous volcanoes of the West Coast will be the subject of field trips and much discussion.

Throughout the Cascade Range to southern California, the West Coast is home to most of the country's highest-threat volcanoes, as ranked by the United State Geological Survey. And California has its share.

While Mount Shasta unsurprisingly tops USGS's list of very-high threat volcanoes in California, there are seven other volcanic areas in the state that are also young, nervy, jacked up on magma and "likely to erupt."

Scientists know from geophysical and geochemical research that these volcanoes have molten rock, magma, "in their roots," said Margaret Mangan, Scientist-in-Charge at the California Volcano Observatory. "I call them the watch-list volcanoes."

Not only do we live in interesting times, we live in an interesting location. I wll be looking for YouTubes of some of the presentations - this would be a fascinating conference to attend.

Looks like I could have made some big bucks by stockpiling prepper goods and selling them in Detroit. From the Detroit, Michigan CBS affiliate WWJ:

Products Flying Off Shelves At Army Supply Store As Shoppers Prep For ‘World War III’
As the rhetoric ramps up over North Korea and nuclear weapons, the cash registers have been ringing at a local Army Supply store, where some are apparently prepping for a third World War.

Ben Orr, the manager of Joe’s Army Navy in Royal Oak, says he’s been selling a lot of “prepper items” over the past week or so.

“We’ve been very busy. Unusually busy, I’d say,” Orr told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “It’s definitely an increase, just in selling all the normal prepper stuff, end of the world stuff. A lot of water prep stuff, food, MREs — the military meals.”

And there’s been a substantial increase in the sale of a particular item they don’t sell much of — a so-called radiation antidote called potassium iodide.

“It actually stops your thyroid from absorbing any radiation. So, it fills your thyroid with iodine, which it normally does anyways,” said Orr. “Your body can’t tell the difference between bad, radioactive iodine and acceptable iodine, so it actually will stop you from getting thyroid cancer.”

This is the same mind-set that led up to a lot of people buying generators and food in the run-up to the Y2K nothing-burger. There were a lot of nice lightly used generators for sale for cheap in the year or two after the "event". It will be interesting to see what is available a few years from now. The key to prepping is slow and steady - you do not have to run out and get everything at once, a couple extra cans of tuna fish or beans when shopping is fine - buy some extra batteries. Have a small radio. Prescriptions, pet food, a book or two and maybe a deck of cards. That sort of stuff...

Back home again

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Spent an extra day in town.

A wonderful trip - reconnecting with some friends from thirty years ago. Just got back - did not take that many photos so nothing really to post. I will write more in the next day or two - time to surf the web and process the 500 or so emails that came in while I was away (on a couple of high-volume email lists for some interests).

Seattle is a lot more crowded - the south end of Lake Union is essentially impenetrable with all the traffic and poor traffic light timing - lucky to get two cars through an intersection per cycle. The University District is stop and go traffic. It was fun to see that some of the businesses I remembered from 15-30 years ago were still there. A lot of new business too - the venerable Rainbow Tavern was gone. Robert Cray used to be the house band there for a long time in the 1980's - it got to the point where I would be looking at going out, check the calendar and: "Robert Cray again?" Now, I regret not seeing more of his shows - an incredible performer and great voice. Also a big fan of Kidd Afrika.

A few days offline

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Heading off to visit with some friends in Seattle and will not be talkng my laptop. Blogging will resume on Saturday.

Got a friend checking the house and the critters so they will be fine.

Global Warming

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Presented with apologies to Leonard Cohen:

From Minnesotans For Global Warming - YouTube Channel - hat tip Gerard

A great idea from Rand Paul

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Some of his ideas are a bit off into fruit-loop territory but when it comes to basic government operation, he is spot-on. From PJ Media:

Paul Urges 'One of the Easiest, Most Common-Sense Steps' to Rein in Government Waste
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is once again pushing legislation aimed at reducing fiscal waste by requiring Congress to regularly review and consider consolidating or eliminating duplicative programs.

The Legislative Performance Review Act would place a four-year expiration date on all new budget authority included in appropriations acts, while requiring regular reviews for continued budget authority for existing programs. If the program’s authorization expires, the legislation would allow for an “orderly,” two-year wind-down.

“As our national debt rapidly closes in on $20 trillion, we should, at the very least, acknowledge that government should not automatically fund programs without regard for performance or continued need,” Paul said in a statement last week. “Passing this bill is one of the easiest, most common-sense steps we can take to make Congress a better steward of the American people’s money.”

The Kentucky lawmaker pointed out how in 2016 the Congressional Budget Office revealed that in the previous decade, on average, “about one-fourth of total discretionary appropriations were provided for programs and activities whose explicit authorizations of appropriations had expired.” The CBO concluded that “$310 billion – about one-quarter of discretionary appropriations in 2016 – was provided for programs and activities whose explicit authorization of appropriations had expired and whose appropriations could be identified.”

Very simple and would go a long way to starving the beast. When did the leader of a bureaucracy ever say: "Our work here is done - let's have a big party and close up shop!"

Just talking about grandchildren and golf - yeah and I have a bridge to sell you (no really)... From Hot Air:

The Real Story Of That Lynch-Clinton Tarmac Meeting Gets Even Stranger
When we last checked in on newly released information regarding that infamous tarmac meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton, we learned that the media wasn’t terribly interested in discussing the matter any more than absolutely necessary. But as reporters continue to dig through the trove of Justice Department emails obtained by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, we find out that there were some people who were very interested in talking. The people in question would be Lynch’s staff and they were having a flurry of discussions with none other than the folks at James Comey’s office.

You’ll recall that all of this was taking place only days before Comey would hold his bizarre press conference where essentially cleared Hillary Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing in the private email server scandal. (Only to famously reopen the investigation later.) So if it was really just a casual, chance meeting to discuss grandchildren and golf, why would the Attorney General’s office be sending out a flurry of messages to the FBI Director’s office? It turns out that one of Lynch’s own attorneys was editing talking points for the White House in terms of how to address questions from the press and another of her people was sending talking points to the FBI. The Washington Free Beacon once again has the details

Even if it was just a chat about grandchildren and golf, the optics are really strange and why all of the emails. More at the site and the comments make for an interesting read.

An interesting drill - Black Sky

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Hat tip to reader Deb - from Peak Oil:

“Black Sky Event”: Feds Preparing For Widespread Power Outages Across U.S.
An exercise sponsored by FEMA and the U.S. Department of Energy set to take place on August 23 called EarthEX2017 will wargame responses to catastrophes such as mega earthquakes, cyber terrorism or high altitude electromagnetic pulse attacks.

The exercise will simulate a “subcontinent-scale, long duration power outage, with cascading failures of all other infrastructures,” according to the official Earth Ex website.

“Black sky events” are defined as, “Catastrophic occurrences caused by man or nature that bring society to its knees.”

“Cars would have no fuel. Restaurants and grocery stores would be bare. Electricity could be out for months in such an event,” writes Mike Vasilinda.

Given the soaring tensions between the United States and North Korea, which has threatened to attack the U.S. territory of Guam, the timing of the EarthEX2017 exercise couldn’t be more appropriate.

Sobering possibility - North Korea has two satellites in polar orbits. I doubt they have nukes on board (their devices are still too heavy to lift) but if they did, they could take out much of the North American power grid with one detonation. Polar orbits are also termed "Ball of String" orbits as they do not go over the same piece of land every time - they precess and given time, can cover every part of this planet. Want to shut someone down, just wait a few days until you are directly overhead and then give the signal.

An interesting world that we live in but glad the emergency services people are drilling for such an event.

The internet is forever - Mexico

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A photo, especially if posted by someone famous, will circulate around the internet forever. Delete it from your site? Never fear, screen-caps and web archives will preserve it forever. From Breitbart:

Mexican President Deletes Instagram Pic with Alleged Cartel Frontman
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and his staff appear to be trying to erase all traces of connections with a famous musician recently accused of being a drug cartel frontman.

This week, Peña Nieto visited the Mexican state of Chiapas and posted on Instagram with singer Julion Alvarez, where the men are seen on a boat. The photograph was deleted soon after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Treasury Department announced that Alvarez and Mexican soccer star Rafael Marquez were singled out as alleged cartel frontmen.

Julio Cesar Alvarez Montelongo, better known as “Julion Alvarez”, and soccer star Rafael “Rafa” Marquez are among 22 Mexican nationals and 43 business entities whose assets in the U.S are now frozen by the Treasury Department, Breitbart Texas reported. Julion Alvarez is considered one of Mexico’s most famous singers in the banda music genre and is known for praising the drug trafficking lifestyle in his music. Despite the type of music that Alvarez performs, in 2015 Peña Nieto called him “a great example for Mexico’s youth”, Mexico’s Proceso reported.

The connection to Alvarez is the latest scandal to plague Peña Nieto at a time when his popularity continues to plummet after his failure in being able to reign in Mexico’s raging cartel violence. Peña Nieto has also been accused of having Mexican cartel operators funnel illicit funds into his 2012 presidential election campaign in a scandal that became known as Monexgate, Breitbart Texas reported.

Welcome to Mexico - we think we have it bad here with the deep state. In Mexico, the rot goes all the way to the top. Nothing happens without mordita.

Heading down to Seattle tomorrow

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Driving down for a few days - there are a couple things I need to get - some cement for the forge that costs about $47 for a 50 pound bag but costs another $58 to ship up here.

Plus, visiting with the two dear friends who came up for a visit ten day ago - it has been wonderful reconnnecting.

Last of the tacos for dinner tonight

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Trying to figure out what to watch while having dinner - saw the last episode of Agents of SHIELD yesterday. Decisions decisions...

More posting in a bit...

Here is a transcript of General Matis' statement today from American Military News:

The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] poses a threat to global security and stability. The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.

Can not get any clearer than that - Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man has a lot more to say on the subject:

Is war with North Korea inevitable?
Like many of my readers, I've been following developments in North Korea with great interest and growing concern. I think Kim Jong-Un is not so much deranged, as living in an alternate reality. He's surrounded by a party political apparatus that, through a bizarre cult of personality, seeks to semi-deify him in the eyes of the North Korean people, just as it did his father and grandfather. That means the only feedback he receives on a regular basis is fawning approval and approbation. He hears few, if any, voices that dare to "speak truth to power" - and those few that have tried, have died. He has little or no idea of US determination to prevent him putting his outrageous nuclear threats into action.

Perhaps the best summation of the current situation is provided by Larry Lambert.

The fat little dictator, Kim Jong Un, playing his 'mouse that roared' scenario is over-playing his hand, but there's nobody close to him who can explain it in a way that he will understand.

. . .

North Korean leaders have prepared for only one kind of warfare and have no experience fighting it. There is a grave danger that North Korea will misperceive or misinterpret US and Allied intentions.

. . .

Chinese leaders have fundamental differences with the US about the nature of the crisis, who must take the lead in a confrontation with North Korea and about the aims of sanctions. In short, the Chinese leaders do not trust the US leaders to behave in a way consistent with Chinese best interests.

The Trump Administration is not the Obama Administration and SECDEF Mattis is not some jumped-up political appointee. I still anticipate a kinetic war that will likely go nuclear on the Korean Peninsula within the next 5-6 months. The Norks are increasing hysterical and emotional and as stated above, their naive world view would likely cause them to react to something that is not intended as 'preemptive action'. When missiles are flying back and forth, China, on the border with North Korea has far more to lose than they do by sanctioning North Korea and starving them into backing down -- but they're still very slow to do that.

My own personal judgment is that the Norks themselves are past the point of no-return.

A good analysis - more at the site. Peter is ex-military and has a good sense of situational awareness.

Pot use - something to watch out for

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No corroboration but it should be easy enough to duplicate - from Reuters:

Marijuana use holds three-fold blood pressure death risk: study
People who smoke marijuana have a three times greater risk of dying from hypertension, or high blood pressure, than those who have never used the drug, scientists said on Wednesday.

The risk grows with every year of use, they said.

The findings, from a study of some 1,200 people, could have implications in the United States among other countries. Several states have legalized marijuana and others are moving toward it. It is decriminalized in a number of other countries.

"Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health," said Barbara Yankey, who co-led the research at the school of public health at Georgia State University in the United States.

I have not had time to read the whole thing but it is here: Effect of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality: A study using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey linked mortality file

No word if this is out of the Reefer Madness playbook or will show up at Retraction Watch in a week or so.

Yikes - earthquake in China

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Details are still trickling in - from the American Geophysical Union's Landslide Blog:

Jiuzhaigou County: a shallow magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Sichuan Province on 8th August 2017
At 13:49 UT  (21:49 local time) on 8th August 2017 an earthquake struck Jiuzhaigou County in Sichuan Province in China. At the time of writing the magnitude of this event is unclear – the Chinese media are reporting M=7.0, whilst the USGS currently has M=6.5 – but either way this is a significant event.  In both cases the depth is considered to be very shallow – c. 10-20 km – which means that there is a high potential for landslides. Currently, the level of loss is not clear, and is unlikely to be so until the sun comes up in a few hours, but estimates range from 40 to 190 fatalities, with a median  value of 102, according to James Daniell of EDIM – CAT news.

Of course this area is no stranger to significant earthquakes. The earthquake in Jiuzhaigou County has occurred to the west of the ruptures that generated the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.  It is a characteristic of earthquakes in this area that they generate large numbers of landslides.  The landscape in this region of China is steep and high, and the slopes have been preconditioned for failure by frequent earthquakes and intense rainfall events. Early indications are that this was predominantly a strike-slip earthquake – experience suggests that these events tend to generate intense landsliding close to he fault rupture, with rapid attenuation of landslide density away from the fault. It will be interesting to see if this event matches this pattern.

Strike-slip is what we have to look forward to with the Cascadian Subduction Zone - nasty stuff.

I like this guy - he gets things done. From the London Daily Mail:

Philippines' Duterte announces 'dead or alive' bounties
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday announced "dead-or-alive" bounties worth $40,000 each for policemen he accused of helping an accused narco-politician, and said he prefered they be killed.

The call for police officers to kill their colleagues is the latest inflammatory comment by Duterte in his controversial drug war, which has claimed thousands of lives, and comes shortly after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Duterte made the offer during a speech at national police headquarters, offering two million pesos ($40,000) for an unspecified number of officers who allegedly helped a mayor killed in an anti-drug operation on July 30.

"Each of those policemen carry on their heads now, I am announcing, two million per head and you are free to go on leave (to pursue them)," Duterte told the officers in the audience.

President Duterte was swept into office on just this campaign promise - that he would root out the corruption and drug trade in the Philippines and he is doing just what he promised. Good and good riddance to the drug dealers.

Illegal immigrants - those in jail

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An interesting number - from the Washington Examiner:

DHS: 23% of all federal prisoners are illegals, just 7 of 42,034 saved from deportation
Nearly one-quarter of all federal inmates are illegal immigrants and virtually all are in deportation proceedings or already face removal orders, according to a new Homeland Security report.

The Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons, fulfilling a presidential executive order requiring transparency on prisoner immigration status, said that it houses 187,855 inmates of which 42,034 are foreign born.

The DHS report said that only seven of those 42,034 have been granted deportation "relief." 

I figured it was a big number - did not realize just how big it was.

Fake News - The New York Times

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ShotThe New York Times:

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report
The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.

And:

The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report, and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it.

Chaser: The Daily Caller

NYT’s ‘Leaked’ Bombshell Climate Report Was Actually Public For Months
A draft government climate assessment The New York Times “obtained” and claims is not yet public has actually been available online since January, according to scientists who worked on the report.

The whole thing can be read here: U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report (CSSR)

And they wonder why we do not trust the media...

Just wow - Agents of SHIELD

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Just watched the last episode of Season 4 - there is a Season 5 but it has not started airing yet. Great show - the first couple of episodes are not much to write home about but then the writing kicks into overdrive and it keeps getting better and better (as well as a lot of fun as they make lots of pop-culture references in and outside of the Marvel universe).

Looking forward to Season 5 this fall...

Fun with modular synthesizers

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I have a modular synthesizer that I purchased a few years ago. The original Moog patents have expired so the circut designs are in the public domain. The same march of technology that has given us modern electronics has also affected things down to the individual component level so although my "new" Moog has the same rich tone and flexibility as the original synthesizer, there is no noise, the thing stays in tune when the temperature changes and the reliability is light-years beyond what the original units used to have.

Here is a video from 1978 with Heinz Funk demonstrating a Moog Modular IIIc and a Sennheiser Vocoder VSM 201:

Tip of the hat to Mono Thyratron who did the subtitles.

Heh - talk about clueless

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Mitch McConnell is well past his sell-by date. From ABC News:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vents about Trump's 'excessive expectations' regarding legislation
Speaking at a Rotary Club gathering in Kentucky on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vented about how President Donald Trump's lack of political experience has led to him setting “excessive expectations” for legislative priorities.

McConnell, R-Ky., told the group in Florence that he found it “extremely irritating” that Congress has earned the reputation of not accomplishing anything.

“Part of the reason I think that the storyline is that we haven’t done much is because, in part, the president and others have set these early timelines about things need to be done by a certain point,” said McConnell, a Republican and the state’s senior senator.

He sounds just like a little kid who has been called out for not doing his homework. Hey Mitch - you were elected by the people of Kentucky to represent them and to work for them. If you cannot handle the work load, I am sure they will elect someone who can. Your choice...

Stolen Valor - Richard Blumenthal

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From the Infogalactic post for Military imposter:

A military imposter is a person who makes false claims about his or her military service in civilian life. This includes claims by people that have never been in the military as well as lies or embellishments by genuine veterans. Some individuals who do this also wear privately obtained uniforms or medals which were never officially issued to them.

In British military slang, such imposters are called "Walts", based on James Thurber's fictional character, Walter Mitty, who daydreamed of being a war hero. In the United States since the early 2000s, the term "stolen valor" has become popular slang for this kind of behavior, so named for the 1998 book of that name.

From The New York Times:

Colleague Says Blumenthal Claims Grew in Time
Former Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut found it puzzling: over time, his friend Attorney General Richard Blumenthal kept revising how he talked about his military service during the Vietnam War. At first, in the 1980s, he was humble. He played it down, Mr. Shays recalled, characterizing it as humdrum desk work.

Over the last few years, however, more sweeping claims crept into Mr. Blumenthal’s descriptions, he said: that Mr. Blumenthal had served in Vietnam and had felt the sting of an ungrateful nation as he returned.

“He just kept adding to the story, the more he told it,” Mr. Shays said.

Mr. Shays said he became alarmed enough by the discrepancies that he at times considered mentioning the issue to Mr. Blumenthal, who on Tuesday said he took “full responsibility” for the occasions when he “misspoke” about his military history.

There is actually a law against this kind of lying - it was passed in 2005 and then amended in 2013 after a Supreme Court case. 

Great news - Fat-boy Kim

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From FOX News:

Haley: North Korea needs to brace for combined pressure from US and the world
Less than a day after North Korea threatened that the United States would pay dearly “thousands of times” for pushing new sanctions to cripple the rogue nation's economy, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told Fox News that America has the iron-clad upper hand.

“It was a gut-punch to North Korea, to let them know the international community is tired of it and we’re going to start fighting back,” Haley told Dana Perino Monday on “The Story," in reference to the sweeping U.N. sanctions. “Every dollar of revenue that the North Korean government gets, they’re not feeding their people with it. They’re using it toward a nuclear weapons system. Going after these sanctions is going after their ability to build these missiles.”

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday voted unanimously to introduce a set of punishing sanctions that could cost the communist dictatorship some $1 billion off its $3 billion annual export revenue. The resolution, deemed the harshest since its first nuclear experiment in 2006, was payback for Pyongyang’s testing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month, which for the first time showed a capacity to hit the U.S. mainland.

Unanimous is good - the Security Council includes China which is the buyer for about 90% of Nork's output. There is a big difference between what China says and what China actually does but still, this is an excellent start.

Back home again - a good day

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Took care of a bunch of stuff in Bellingham - back home and unpacking the truck.

Electronic Navigation - a two-fer

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As times get interesting:

It's the fat boy among others - from The Beeb:

North Korea 'jamming GPS signals' near South border
North Korea is using radio waves to jam GPS navigation systems near the border regions, South Korean officials said.

The broadcasts have reportedly affected 110 planes and ships, and can cause mobile phones to malfunction.

RIP - Haruo Nakajima

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Haruo Nakajima? From the London Daily Mail:

Original Godzilla actor Haruo Nakajima, who played the movie monster, dies from pneumonia aged 88
Haruo Nakajima, the actor who played movie monster Godzilla over two decades of Japanese cinema, died at 88.

The Yamagata, Japan native first wore the famed bodysuit of the movie monster in the 1954 film Godzilla, which was released stateside as Godzilla, King of the Monsters.

Nakajima was featured in movies such as Eagle of the Pacific and Seven Samurai prior to landing the career-defining part, for which he had to don a 100-plus pound suit that was made of concrete.

Here is a nice interview from Great Big Story:

From USA Today:

Trump White House weighs unprecedented plan to privatize much of the war in Afghanistan
The White House is actively considering a bold plan to turn over a big chunk of the U.S. war in Afghanistan to private contractors in an effort to turn the tide in a stalemated war, according to the former head of a security firm pushing the project.

Under the proposal, 5,500 private contractors, primarily former Special Operations troops, would advise Afghan combat forces. The plan also includes a 90-plane private air force that would provide air support in the nearly 16-year-old war against Taliban insurgents, Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm, told USA TODAY.

The unprecedented proposal comes as the U.S.-backed Afghan military faces a stalemate in the war and growing frustration by President Trump about the lack of progress in the war.

Makes a lot of sense - they don't win? They don't get paid. Finish the thing once and for all. The Afghani people have got to be sick of being a political pawn for the last 40 years.

J.S. Bach

From the kickstarter page:

Libre Art of the Fugue
The team of Kimiko Ishizaka, with help from the OpenScore project, the Teldex Studio, Sound engineer Anne-Marie Sylvestre, and a beautiful Bösendorfer grand piano, have previously brought you The Open Goldberg Variations and The Open Well-Tempered Clavier projects.

Kimiko Ishizaka is a German pianist, composer, and weightlifter who is on a mission to bring the music of J.S. Bach to the widest audience possible. Her breathtaking interpretations have been praised by classical music's top critics, and her previous Bach recordings have been streamed and downloaded millions of times.

Anne-Marie Sylvestre has recorded, edited, and mastered hundreds of classical recordings. Her keen understanding of Bach's music, and the excellent rapport she has with Kimiko makes her the perfect collaborator for this project.

The OpenScore project, a new initiative by the MuseScore team, extends a years-long collaboration with Kimiko Ishizaka to produce top quality digital scores of Bach's works. 

The Teldex Studio is one of the world's top recording locations. By continuing the tradition of recording at Teldex, on luxurious Bösendorfer grand pianos, Kimiko Ishizaka is steadily building the best Bach Box Set ever created, where the consistency of recording quality, sound, and piano tone will surpass any other collection ever made.

This is very cool - love Bach's music and his keyboard works are incredible.

The forecast has been pushed back to Thursday for any relief from the smoke. Fortunately, the thunderstorms have been dropped from the forecast - showers have been pushed back to Saturday.

Heading out for coffee, the store and then a quick run in to town for some parts for the music room - back around 3:00PM or so. 

Been working on a few projects at home - started to do the soundproofing and the new keyboard racks in the music room but got sidetracked into cleaning out some stuff in the garage. Took the last of the Costco roti chicken and had tacos for dinner. Agents of SHIELD is rolling down to its final episodes - just two more to go. There is a 2017 season but it is not out yet.

Surf for a bit and then to bed - working at home tomorrow too.

Voter fraud - Massachusetts

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From the United States Attorney’s Office - District of Massachusetts:

Six Arrested in Registry of Motor Vehicles Identity Theft Scheme
Six individuals, including four RMV clerks, were arrested today in connection with a scheme to produce false identification documents through the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. Some of the false identities and addresses were used to fraudulently register to vote in the City of Boston.

And I would be greatly surprised if those illegals did not vote Democrat. Keep the free government shit flowing. But it is not free. Not at all.

I would guess that this was some kind of hoax if not for the fact that there is fundraising going on - talk about a useless piece of tech. From The Verge:

This smart salt shaker has voice controls but can’t grind salt
You can now pay money to buy a smart salt shaker that you can control with your smartphone or an Amazon Echo. That’s probably because we’re going to turn everything we can get our hands on into a smart device, even if it seems super gratuitous.

Called the Smalt, the smart salt shaker can also play music through a bluetooth speaker, offers multi-colored mood lighting, and lastly, but perhaps most importantly, can dispense salt in any amount you choose via a connected app. It’s currently raising funds on Indiegogo, and so far 51 brave souls have backed it. The Smalt usually costs $199, but is currently available for an early-bird price of $99.

I wonder if there are any hackable components inside as these are going to be hitting the remainder shelves for $10 each in about six months after release. The campaign is currntly at $8,764 with a goal of $25,000 - 24 days left. Rotsa ruck!

Back home from the dairy run

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About 40 miles round trip to the Edaleen Dairy outlet in Sumas. The name comes from the two founders - Ed and Aileen Bransma who started it in 1975 - great products. They do the full service with making Ice Cream and the Sumas outlet has a nice deli. Our dairy case was picked over by locusts this weekend and we were out of a lot of items - the shopping list added up to almost $150 at wholesale prices.

Working at home for the rest of the day.

Some fun in San Francisco

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Someone just got a bunch of elite panties in a twist - from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street
Thanks to a little-noticed auction sale, a South Bay couple are the proud owners of one of the most exclusive streets in San Francisco — and they’re looking for ways to make their purchase pay.

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng snatched up Presidio Terrace — the block-long, private oval street lined by 35 megamillion-dollar mansions — for $90,000 and change in a city-run auction stemming from an unpaid tax bill. They outlasted several other bidders.

Now they’re looking to cash in — maybe by charging the residents of those mansions to park on their own private street.

Those residents value their privacy — and their exclusivity. Past homeowners have included Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her financier husband, Richard Blum; House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi; and the late Mayor Joseph Alioto. A guard is stationed round the clock at the stone-gate entrance to the street to keep the curious away.

A bit more about how this happened:

The couple’s purchase appears to be the culmination of a comedy of errors involving a $14-a-year property tax bill that the homeowners association failed to pay for three decades. It’s something that the owners of all 181 private streets in San Francisco are obliged to do.

In a letter to the city last month, Scott Emblidge, the attorney for the Presidio Homeowners Association, said the group had failed to pay up because its tax bill was being mailed to the Kearny Street address used by an accountant who hadn’t worked for the homeowners since the 1980s.

Two years ago, the city’s tax office put the property up for sale in an online auction, seeking to recover $994 in unpaid back taxes, penalties and interest. Cheng and Lam, trawling for real estate opportunities in the city, pounced on the offer — snatching up the parcel with a $90,100 bid, sight unseen.

Since the purchase in April 2015, the couple have been quietly sitting on the property, talking to a number of land-use attorneys to explore their options.

“We were looking to get title insurance so it could be marketable,” Cheng said.

He and his wife see plenty of financial opportunity — especially from the 120 parking spaces on the street that they now control.

Kudos to them - the HOA should have had their ducks in a row on this and they failed spectacularly.

The smoke was supposed to be dissipating today but woke up to it being just as strong as it has ever been. The top of Black Mountain is totally obscured and the ridgelines going up to it are ghosts in the haze - just the silhouettes of the trees.

Weather forecast puts it as being smokey through tomorrow (Tuesday) and then the whole high-pressure ridge, thermal inversion and smoke collapses with attendant thunderstorms. There is very little moisture in the air but even still, they are predicting a 20% chance of precip Tuesday night and all day Wednesday. This will not abate the pervading dryness but it will be a start.

Woke up a couple hours ago - getting ready to head out for coffee and the store. We sold out of milk over the weekend so driving about 20 miles to one of our dairy vendors to stock up - tide us through until the Wednesday delivery. One of the metrics I like to use at the store to get a quick impression of our sales is the tack of totes in the back room. These are the totes used by our wholesaler when they deliver our products as well as our dairy totes. For dairy, we have almost three stacks running up from floor to ceiling and we still ran out. Each tote represents about four gallons of milk. We are selling a lot of dairy.

Say hello to my little friend...

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From The Drive:

This Mysterious Military Spy Plane Has Been Flying Circles Over Seattle For Days
A very unique USAF surveillance aircraft has been flying highly defined circles over Seattle and its various suburbs for nine days now. Nobody at the DoD seems to know who the aircraft belongs to or what exactly it is doing flying so many missions over the Seattle area. But based on its visibly exotic configuration, and information collected by open source flight tracking websites, we can get a good idea of its capabilities and guess as to what it’s up to.

The aircraft, which goes by the callsign “SPUD21” and wears a nondescript flat gray paint job with the only visible markings being a USAF serial on its tail, is a CASA CN-235-300 transport aircraft that has been extensively modified for the surveillance mission.

It is covered in a dizzying array of blisters, protrusions, humps and bumps. These include missile approach warning detectors and large fairings on its empennage for buckets of forward-firing decoy flares, as well as both microwave — the dome antenna behind the wing and flat antenna modification in front of the wing — and ultra high-frequency satellite communications — the platter-like antenna behind the dome antenna. A communications intelligence suite also appears to be installed on the aircraft, with the antenna farm on the bottom of its fuselage being a clear indication of such a capability.

Just a test run but for what?

Infrastructure - our power grid

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Worrysome article by Glenn Harlan Reynolds (of Instapundit fame) at Popular Mechanics:

U.S. Woefully Unprepared for a Blackout Like India's: Analysis
Last week, India suffered two huge blackouts. Tuesday's cut power to 370 million people; another one on Wednesday blacked out 670 million people, making it the worst blackout in the history of humanity.

Talking about this with a colleague, I said, "Don't worry. That can't happen here." "Why not?" she asked. "Because we don't have 670 million people," I replied.

This wasn't the comfort she was looking for.

The specific causes of India's blackouts aren't likely to be a problem in the United States. India's electrical grid was brought down in part by state governments drawing more power from the grid than they were supposed to; American power grids are better managed. And while India's grid has been strained by rapid economic growth, America currently faces no such problem.

But don't get too comfortable. America's grid has its own problems, and not enough is being done to address them. And, ironically, because American electric supplies have generally been pretty reliable, we're in some ways worse-equipped to handle a major power outage than India is. That's also something we should probably be doing something about, both at the national level and as individuals.

A complex issue - Glenn outlines the concerns very well. We have a fairly robust infrastructure but there are some major weak points: substation transformers, backup electrical power, water and sewer (both rely on electrical pumps to function) communications, etc... Well worth a read and be sure to stock up on three weeks of emergency food and water plus flashlights, a radio and a couple books or a deck of cards. Prescription medicines and pet food too.

A productive day - yard work

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I was not on top of the burdock weed last year so have a bumper crop this year - especially with the long wet spring. I like to wait until they bloom to give the bees and the hummingbirds some of the nectar and pollen but they are starting to set their seeds (those prickly burrs that get on everything and really do a number on the horse and llama hair) so it is time to nuke them from low-earth orbit.

I used Crossbow which is a very safe chemical to use around critters and people. It shuts down the plants metabolism without being a broad-spectrum toxin. It affects broad-leaf plants a lot more than grasses which is great as the critters have too much pasture area available to them so they only nibble the choicest of the green grasses and leave the nasty weeds alone. This causes more and more weeds to grow with each successive season. Time to bring this to a halt with some judicious treatment.

I will go around tomorrow with a hand sprayer and spot the garden and flower beds. Time for a shower and some clean clothes.

From Associated Press:

WELCOME BOOST FROM CHINA TO GLOBAL PRESSURE ON NORTH KOREA
A global pressure campaign on North Korea propelled by sharp new U.N. sanctions received a welcome boost Sunday from China, the North's economic lifeline, as Beijing called on its neighbor to halt its missile and nuclear tests.

The Trump administration cautiously embraced China's apparent newfound cooperation, while putting it on notice that the U.S. would be watching closely to ensure it didn't ease up on North Korea if and when the world's attention is diverted elsewhere. But there were no signs the U.S. would acquiesce to China's call for a quick return to negotiations.

The diplomatic wrangling sought to build on the sweeping new North Korea sanctions passed by the U.N. Security Council a day earlier - the strongest in a generation, the U.S. said. As diplomats gathered in the Philippines for an annual regional meeting, President Donald Trump was cheering the move. He cited the "very big financial impact" of the sanctions and noted optimistically that both China and Russia had joined in the unanimous vote.

Good - without Chinese support, North Korea would fade away. Time for them to put away their nukes and start feeding their people.  The leadership is delusional. But then, there is this story from CNBC:

North Korea's 'No. 2' official strengthens ties with Iran as UN hits Pyongyang with new sanctions
Amid new international sanctions, North Korea's "No. 2" official embarked on a 10-day visit to Iran, a move that could result in the two sides expanding their ties.

Iran's official IRNA news agency reported Kim Yong Nam, chairman of the Supreme Assembly of North Korea, arrived Thursday for the weekend inauguration ceremony for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

But given the head of North Korea's parliament is expected to stay for 10 days in Iran, the trip is being seen as a front for other purposes, including expanding military cooperation. At the same time, Pyongyang is looking for ways to counter sanctions and to boost the hard currency for the dynastic regime led by Kim Jong Un.

Crap - just what we need. The two most evil nations in the world these days are colluding. The only good thing is that neither of them are that strong and their leadership is not wise or prudent. Both nations sponsor terrorist groups so this is not good.

Another alt.energy story - batteries

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When people talk about electric vehicles, they gloss over the fact that these require a lot of batteries and that standard lead-acid cells simply do not have the energy density needed. High tech batteries use rare earth elements and we are buying these from 3rd world nations because the environmentalists will not allow us to mine our own resources. The upshot is that these mines are environmental disaster areas with horrible labor conditions. For an example, this article from the London Daily Mail:

Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car: Awful human cost in squalid Congo cobalt mine that Michael Gove didn’t consider in his ‘clean’ energy crusade
Picking through a mountain of huge rocks with his tiny bare hands, the exhausted little boy makes a pitiful sight.

His name is Dorsen and he is one of an army of children, some just four years old, working in the vast polluted mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where toxic red dust burns their eyes, and they run the risk of skin disease and a deadly lung condition. Here, for a wage of just 8p a day, the children are made to check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate-brown streaks of cobalt – the prized ingredient essential for the batteries that power electric cars.

And it’s feared that thousands more children could be about to be dragged into this hellish daily existence – after the historic pledge made by Britain to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 and switch to electric vehicles.

Much more at the site - the word you are looking for to describe the environmentalists is Hypocrisy - from the link:

Hypocrisy is the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, esp. with respect to religious and moral beliefs; hence in general sense, dissimulation, pretense, sham. It is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another.

The greens own this word. No denying it.

Turns out, Germany's CO2 emissions are rising - from The American Interest:

The Kaiser Has No Clothes
After President Donald Trump announced his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord on June 1st, the media turned its proverbial head to another head of state for an instant reaction: Angela Merkel. The German chancellor is the de facto leader of the global green caucus, as she is an outspoken proponent of the international approach to combatting climate change, and her country is the undisputed leader in rolling out renewable energy. Merkel was predictably displeased by Trump’s renunciation of the Paris deal, saying that the decision was “extremely regrettable” while reaffirming her commitment to the UN-organized effort to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. To the casual observer, Merkel and Germany are now playing the virtuous hero in this climate change story, a foil to the new Trump administration. But there’s a problem with that surface level reading of events: Merkel’s Germany isn’t the green champion so many environmentalists seem to believe it to be. Let’s take a look.

And some numbers:

On some fronts, Berlin has been extremely successful in this endeavor: for the past two years, it has sourced 29 percent of its power from renewables. Of course, in order to kickstart its clean energy industries, Germany was forced to subsidize the production of wind and solar power by offering producers long-term above-market rates for their supplies. Those feed-in tariffs, as they’re called, have produced some of the highest power bills in Europe.

Shades of Barry's electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket - and this is double-dipping. The initial subsidies come from the taxpayer's wallets and then, the utilities turn around and charge higher rates for the energy costing them that much more money. How about Nuclear?

Germany’s decision to nix nuclear was motivated partly by security concerns (not exactly a rational fear, considering nuclear’s safety and the relative lack of natural disaster threats that German reactors face), and partly by the long-held revulsion the environmental movement has held for the energy source. How ironic, then, that a phase-out so foundational to a green energy transition would end up increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Shame they are not building LFTR reactors - abundant fuel, incredibly efficient and walk-away safe. So what is replacing the reactors as baseload?

Sure enough, German emissions crept up 0.7 percent last year. Some analysts are pinning that increase on the growing German economy, but the country’s biggest brown problem is its reliance on coal. Coal is just about the dirtiest fossil fuel around, but it’s been in increased demand in Germany following all these nuclear shutdowns. Germany imports hard coal to supply 17 percent of its power, and sources another 23 percent of its electricity from domestically produced lignite, an especially dirty variety of coal. All of that adds up to a lot of emissions.

And the USA?

But however hard she tries to position herself as the virtuous green, the fact remains that German emissions rose last year, while America’s fell three percent (thanks to cheap, abundant shale gas displacing coal). Words matter, but so do numbers, and the data tells us that lately—whatever Trump is trumpeting—the United States is doing more to combat climate change than Germany.

Heh - nothing like a little bit of schadenfreude on a nice Sunday morning...

There is the possibility of some light rain showers around Monday or Tuesday - this will be a relief for everyone!

This has been a long and hard slog - I know a bunch of older people up here who are on suplemental oxygen and they are not doing that well.

Here is the PM2.5 (particulates of 2.5 microns in diameter) monitor in Bellingham - you can see the sudden jump between August 01 and August 02.:

20170806-25-monitor.jpg

Cliff Mass does his usual wonderful analysis: Improved Air Quality at Low Levels over Western Washington as Smoke Pours in Overhead: It Won't Last Long

Check out a couple of new videos and then head upstairs to bed.

Get the rest of the burdock sprayed tomorrow and start on the music room project.

California - voter fraud

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An interesting report from Judicial Watch - from Zero Hedge:

California Has 11 Counties With More Registered Voters Than Voting-Age Citizens
The Election Integrity Project California provides a list of 11 California counties that have more registered voters than voting-age citizens.

In addition, Los Angeles County officials informed the project that “the number of registered voters now stands at a number that is a whopping 144% of the total number of resident citizens of voting age.”

The Election Integrity Project California, Inc. has joined Judicial Watch, Inc., a non-partisan organization in Washington, D.C., in sending a National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”) Section 8 notice of violation letter to California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla.

The liberals have nothing to run on so they have to rig the elections. Ideas so good they have to be mandatory.

Something curious just crawled out - from Zero Hedge:

Loretta Lynch Communicated With DOJ Officials Using Grandmother's Name As Alias
Loretta Lynch has been busted using an alias to communicate with DOJ officials, per a tweet by Kim Dotcom last night. The revelation comes after internet sleuths sifted through a new release of emails obtained via FOIA request by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) last week (link here to PDF) and found an email from “Elizabeth Carlisle” to colleagues, thanking “to all who worked on this.”

Much more at the site. We have them - we just need the resolve to prosecute and sentence them. Get a couple of key players in jail for ten years and the rest of the "deep state" will fall in line.

The Chicago mayor is suing President Trump's administration - from Chicago powerhouse WLS-AM:

Emanuel to sue Feds over new Sanctuary City Rules
Mayor Emanuel says he’s going to sue the Trump Justice Dept on Monday, over its new Sanctuary City rules.

New rules just out, prevent Sanctuary Cities like Chicago to get certain law enforcement grants. The mayor says Chicago will file suit to kill the rules and get the millions in question.

Riiiiight - I'm going to hold my breath until I turn blue. I want my money - give me my money. Emanuel is throwing a tantrum because he actually has to show leadership if he wants to get his cushy government grant. What a putz.

WLS-AM is one of the original AM clear channel radio stations broadcasting with a power of 50,000 Watts. I grew up listening to it in Pittsburgh, PA Been on the air for 90 years. History here: WLS History Originally started as an advertising outreach from Sears and Roebuck - WLS? World's Largest Store.

Those Pakistani IT guys

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Billl was thinking about the fate of the Pakistani brother who was arrested trying to leave the USA with $300,000 in cash. Quoted in full as it is impossible to excerpt:

Near-Clinton Experiences
Unlike near death experiences, the near-Clinton ones are usually fatal with causes ranging from accidental to suicide-by-5-rounds-in-the-back.

In this case its Imran Awan, one of 3 Paki brothers who worked as IT managers for the DNC until they were implicated in a bank fraud caper and multiple government computers were found in Imran's apartment with smashed hard drives. The FBI has taken an interest in this and it seems that DWS was paying Imran $1270K/yr all the way up to his arrest as he was attempting to leave the country. As a side note, no one whose computer was associated with the Awan brothers wants to talk to the press amid speculation that classified data was transferred to a server in Pakistan and personal information on the congressional persons computer was being used to blackmail them. Imran was initially denied bail as he was considered a flight risk (ya think?), but this was waived provided he wears an ankle bracelet.

So the poll of the week is this:
What will happen to Imran in the next month or so?

1. He stays in town like a good boy until he's called to appear in court.

2. His bracelet is found in his apartment and his Tweets seem to originate in Pakistan.

3. His bracelet is found on his ankle when his body is found, a suicide from multiple gunshot wounds.

4. As above, but a victim of a botched robbery.

5. His bracelet ceases transmitting and neither he nor it are ever heard from again.

UPDATE: Option 6 may well be that Imran disappears and reappears in Pakistan. Seems the US attorney heading up the investigation into the affair is Steve Wasserman, Debbie's brother.

For more on Near-Clinton Experiences (especially line items 3 and 4) see this website: Arkancide

A fun party

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A local friend is moving away to Florida so some neighbors hosted a going-away party. They did a bunch of pulled pork, I brought some BBQ sauces and coleslaw.

I knew that Barb had lived in Florida previously but I did not know the entire story. Barb lost her husband in a motorcycle accident four years ago and she has been really depressed. Frank was a close friend and an awesome man. It turns out that Barb recently connected with a guy (Bob) on Facebook - someone she used to live with 30 years ago. Bob came out for a visit, Barb visited him in Florida and now, he is coming back out and they are going to drive back to Florida and live together. I have not seen Barb this happy in the last couple of years.

About 30 neighbors came to wish her well.

And now I have a friend in Florida with a four bedroom house on the Gulf Coast!

Cool technology

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From these folks: Handjet as well as this website: INK-JET EBS-260 HANDJET

No sign anywhere of a list price which is never a good sign. Looks like a great tool for the right application - I could have used this at Microsoft for labeling computer boxes (IP Address, 'puter name, etc...)

Hey - you started it...

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Schadenfreude - from Politico:

Democrats fear Russia probe blowback
Democrats are increasingly conflicted about how forcefully to press the issue of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Fearful of alienating voters who appear more concerned about the economy and health care, Democrats campaigning in districts across the country are de-emphasizing Russia in their rhetoric — and some are warning that a persistent focus on the Russia investigation could backfire.

When your own operatives are calling this a nothing-burger it is time to drop it and invent some new outrage, some new narrative.

All over but the shouting

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Michael Ramirez on Obamacare's implosion

20170805-obamacare.jpg

Your happy moment for the day

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Playing for Change goes around the world recording musicians playing a song - here is their latest:

My big gripe about Anthropogenic Global Warming is that all of the presented information is derived from computer models. What temperature data is presented is often cherry-picked or it has been "adjusted". This is a common practice and is deceitful. Here is a perfect example - from The Daily Caller:

REPORT: $127 Million Climate Supercomputer No Better Than ‘Using A Piece Of Paper’
A new study using an expensive climate supercomputer to predict the risk of record-breaking rainfall in southeast England is no better than “using a piece of paper,” according to critics.

“The Met Offices’s model-based rainfall forecasts have not stood up to empirical tests and do not seem to give better advice than observational records,” Dr. David Whitehouse argued in a video put together by the Global Warming Policy Forum.

Whitehouse, a former BBC science editor, criticized a July 2017 Met Office study that claimed a one-in-three of parts of England and Wales see record rainfall each winter, largely due to man-made climate change.

Using its $127 million supercomputer, the Met Office found in “south east England there is a 7 percent chance of exceeding the current rainfall record in at least one month in any given winter” and “a 34 percent chance of breaking a regional record somewhere each winter” when other parts of Britain were considered.

“We have used the new Met Office supercomputer to run many simulations of the climate, using a global climate model,” Met Office scientist Vikki Thompson said of the study.

The Met Office commissioned the study in response to a series of devastating floods that ravaged Britain during the 2013-2014 winter. Heavy winter rains caused $1.3 billion in damage in the Thames River Valley.

Scientists said supercomputer modeling could have predicted the flooding. Thompson said the supercomputer “simulations provided one hundred times more data than is available from observed records.”

Models simply do not work for climate - our planet is too dynamic and complex. The devastating floods were caused by two factors. The first was more rain than usual. The second was the fact that England is riddled with a very old system of canals that were used for heavy transportation during the 1800's and early 1900's until rail became widespread. These canals irrevocably altered the drainage of the watersheds but as long as the canals were dredged on a regular basis, everything was just fine. Unfortunately, regular dredging was not continued, these canals silted up and lost their ability to carry the water.

Fortunately, in 2012, England's Canal & River Trust (CRT) said that it will increase spending on dredging over the next ten years.

A fun experiment - hydrogen

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A very cool experiment from Swansea University in south-west Wales, UK:

First observation of the hyperfine splitting in Antihydrogen
Swansea University scientists working at CERN have again made a landmark finding, taking them one step closer to answering the question of why matter exists and illuminating the mysteries of the Big Bang and the birth of the Universe.

In their paper published in Nature the physicists from the University’s College of Science, working with an international collaborative team at CERN, describe the first observation of spectral line shapes in antihydrogen, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen.

Professor Mike Charlton said: “The existence of antimatter is well established in physics, and it is buried deep in the heart of some of the most successful theories ever developed. But we have yet to answer a central question of why didn’t matter and antimatter, which it is believed were created in equal amounts when the Big Bang started the Universe, mutually self-annihilate?

“We also have yet to address why there is any matter left in the Universe at all. This conundrum is one of the central open questions in fundamental science, and one way to search for the answer is to bring the power of precision atomic physics to bear upon antimatter.”

Very clever idea - we know the properties of hydrogen very well - the hyperfine splitting has been determined to within one part in ten trillion and this transition is at the core of our most precise clocks - the Hydrogen Masers. To measure the same transition in anti-Hydrogen will open a door on its physical properties. It should be identical but who knows...

From The Sacramento Bee:

Who’s really lying on climate change? Hint: Their first names are Jerry and Arnold
Arnold Schwarzenegger really should be careful about calling people liars. Especially when he’s trying to pass off faith as scientific fact.

Maybe you saw the former governor and erstwhile action star berating conservatives the other day for refusing to accept his view that the answer to climate change is the heavy hand of government.

“Don’t those conservative Republicans get the message?” he asked. “And can’t they just think about it for a second and say, ‘Maybe we should stop lying to the people.’ Stop lying to the people. Stop it.”

The two of them were celebrating the signing of a bill that would extend cap-and-trade to 2030. California already has the highest gasoline taxes, high energy prices, a crumbling infrastructure. Of course this is pure "do as I say not as I do" as the big businesses (and Democratic contributors) are exempted from this:

California’s cap-and-trade program is full of carve-outs for industry. That’s the only way it can work without manufacturers abandoning the state wholesale and electricity and fuel prices climbing even higher than they are already.

And they’re quite high. California’s gasoline and electricity prices are the highest in the western United States. We had the highest gasoline taxes at around 54 cents a gallon, and they’re about to go up again in November between 12 cents and 19 cents per gallon, depending on the type of fuel. Cap-and-trade mandates will likely add another 63 cents a gallon by 2021, according to Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor. Low-income Californians will be hardest hit. The state’s answer seems to be, “Let them eat solar.”

One of my favorite metrics is the U-Haul measurement - here are two quotes from just a few minutes ago. First is for a 10' box truck from San Francisco to Dallas, Texas. The second is from Dallas to San Francisco - notice any difference?

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What you are seeing is the volume of people leaving from San Francisco and moving to Dallas, Texas. UHaul has to incentivize the Dallas to SF trip otherwise they would have to pay their own staff to move the trucks back to SF. The $731 is probably just the cost of operation for the vehicle - depreciation, wear and tear and insurance. This is a 277.8% difference between the two.

Air quality

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Just wonderful - the sunlight has been alternating between dirty gray and livid salmon yellow. Back to the salmon yellow for now - the Washington State Department of Ecology has this to say:

Smoke chokes Washington - air quality worst in the nation
Air monitors around Washington state are lighting up the maps like a Christmas tree - and red lights aren't good.

Almost every community in the state has been hit hard by smoke blowing in from British Columbia wildfires. You can see it, you can almost reach out and touch it, and many of us are feeling it.

If you look at air quality across the U.S., Washington has had the worst readings since the wildfire smoke hit the state earlier this week.

Here is a link to an interactive fire and smoke map (open the pull-out menu with the little blue plus sign at the top right of the map). and here is a screen-cap from a few moments ago - red and yellow dots indicate unsafe conditions for vulnerable people:

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Memos to self - #1) and #2)

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#1) - when messing around in the engine compartment of your tractor (Buttercup), check for any wasps nests

#2) - if you happen to reincarnate as a wasp, sting someone and see them return with a metal can, fly away. Fly as fast as your little wings can carry you. It burns!

Leveraging their debt

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Typical socialist economics - spend, spend, spend - oops - out of money! Borrow, borrow, borrow. From Illinois Policy:

CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO PAY $850 MILLION IN INTEREST ON $500 MILLION LOAN
In July, Chicago Public Schools borrowed $500 million in long-term, high-interest loans. These loans, taken out at interest rates between 7.25-7.65 percent, will cost the district more than $850 million in interest costs alone for a total cost of $1.35 billion, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis.

CPS will pay off the loans over 25 years, paying roughly $35 million a year in interest. Adjusted for inflation, the total value of the interest on the loan is roughly $405 million.

As the Tribune notes, by the time the loan is paid off, CPS students entering kindergarten this fall will be in their mid-30s.

The district plans to use $229 million from the $500 million loan to recoup losses on bonds from previous years. The district will also reimburse itself $31 million in capital expenses from past years, the Tribune explains. This tactic of using new loans to pay off old debts is known as “scoop and toss,” a method of covering deficits used by various city bodies.

No one person is accountable - the blame can be shifted to some unelected committee whose members rotate in and out of office so nobody is in the cross-hairs. This graph from the CATO Institute is worth reposting - and yes, it is adjusted for inflation:

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It comes from page two of this PDF report: State Education Trends - Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years

The European Economy in Three Minutes

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A great presentation on just how screwed the EU is at this time:

Less smoke in the air

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The skies are now a dirty gray color instead of the salmon yellow they were this morning. BC Fire website posted the following infogram:

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That is a lot of area - 500,000 Hectares is about 1930 sq. miles or a single square of land 44 miles long on each side.

Fixing lunch and working outside today - the burdock is ready to spray. I like to let it come to blossom first as the bees and hummingbirds love the pollen and nectar.

Good news - leakers

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From The Hill:

DOJ warns the media could be targeted in crackdown on leaks
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday announced a government-wide crackdown on leakers, which will include a review of the Justice Department’s policies on subpoenas for media outlets that publish sensitive information.



At a press conference with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Sessions announced that the Justice Department, FBI and government intelligence agencies will direct more resources into the investigations of government leaks and would prioritize prosecuting those that pass sensitive information along to the press or foreign officials.



Good - this activity is damaging our standing in the world. Time to get tough. Subpoenaing the media is an excellent idea - force them to reveal their sources and the leaks will dry up. This is classified material after all.

Red Yellow skies in morning

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Woke up to yellow skies - strong odor of smoke and the mountains on either side of my valley are totally obscured. This is thicker than I have ever seen it in my 15 years up here.

There is a website for tracking this - check out Washington Smoke Information

Heading out for coffee in a few.

Good news - the Pakistani IT guys

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From The Washington Free Beacon:

Congressional Investigation Into Wasserman Schultz IT Scandal Moves Forward
Congress is advancing an investigation into a growing scandal surrounding IT staffers working for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), who are accused of stealing sensitive computer equipment from House lawmakers' offices, according to senior congressional sources who told the Washington Free Beacon the Democratic leader's refusal to answer questions could "merit resignation."

Congressional leaders have now requested a formal briefing by Capitol Police into its investigation of several Pakistani House IT staffers who are accused of stealing sensitive computer equipment and of illegally penetrating congressional networks.

If half of what is being reported is true, these guys were sending classified Congressional emails and documents to our enemies. We have one of them (we allowed the others to leave the country) so we need to throw the book at them.

Far from the wailing and gnashing of teeth that our media seem to specialize in. From ReCode:

The White House asked Apple, Google and other tech giants to help upgrade the federal government
The White House has asked the likes of Apple, Amazon, Oracle and Qualcomm to lend some of their digital expertise to Washington, D.C. in the coming months to help the Trump administration rethink the way that federal agencies use technology.

On a private call with those and other major tech companies Thursday, top advisers to the president, including Jared Kushner, announced the White House would be forming small “centers of excellence,” teams focused on reducing regulation while trying to get federal agencies to embrace cloud computing and make more of their data available for private-sector use, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter.

As part of those centers, Kushner and his aides with the Office of American Innovation asked the tech industry for its help — potentially through a system where leading tech engineers can do brief “tours of duty” advising the U.S. government on some of its digital challenges.

For now, the effort is still early, but the huddle marks the next step for Kushner’s effort to modernize government after Trump convened the chief executives of Apple, Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley staples at the White House in June — part of the administration’s push that month with “tech week.”

Very cool - I remember when the Y2K scare was happening - would these legacy systems handle the calendar date rolling over from 1999 to 2000. Some of those systems are still in use today - it would be an incredible efficiency boost to just scrap the legacy systems one by one and gradually roll out new systems based on modern hardware - something that can be reliably upgraded. They are talking to the right people too - Oracle for databases, Google for large data servers and storage, Amazon for high-performance web servers, Qualcomm for networking.

They just unveiled their newest robot - Eagle Prime:

More on their website including info on the upcoming duel between Eagle Prime and KURATAS created by a group in Japan known as Suidobashi Heavy Industries

The company you keep - Detroit

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An interesting bit of news from The Detroit News:

Half of Detroit’s 8 mayoral candidates are felons
Half of the eight mayoral hopefuls on Detroit’s primary ballot next week have been convicted of felony crimes involving drugs, assault or weapons, a Detroit News analysis shows.

Three were charged with gun crimes and two for assault with intent to commit murder. Some of the offenses date back decades, the earliest to 1977. The most recent was in 2008.

Political consultant Greg Bowens said there are candidates with past hardships in every election cycle. It’s not something unique to Detroit or the political arena in general, he said.

Yeah Greg - try and spin that piece of inconvenient news.

Let me introduce you to Louis C. Miriani - from Infogalactic:

Louis C. Miriani (January 1, 1897 – October 18, 1987) was an American politician who served as mayor of Detroit, Michigan (1957–62). He was the last Republican mayor of Detroit.

So Detroit has been governed by Democrats for the last 55 years and people wonder why it is the stinking wasteland that it is? This was once Motor City.

If you can't beat them - politics

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Join them - from FOX News:

West Virginia's Democratic governor to announce party change at Trump rally
West Virginia Democratic Gov. Jim Justice plans to announce at a rally Thursday evening with President Trump that he is changing parties, three Republican sources confirmed to Fox News.

West Virginia is coal country and Trump is bringing back the energy economy - including coal. We are now exporting significant quantities of coal to Europe - in spite of their rhetoric.

Al Gore in the news

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And not in a good sense - from The Hollywood Reporter:

Al Gore's Electric Bills Get Criticism Ahead of 'An Inconvenient Sequel'
Al Gore's environmental documentary An Inconvenient Sequel opens Friday, so a conservative think tank figured it was the perfect time to accuse the former vp of hypocrisy, using Gore's electric bills from his Nashville home to claim he uses at least 21 times more energy than the average American.

The group says "at least" 21 times because they only looked at the energy consumption at Gore's Nashville home, not his other two houses. In one peak month, September last year, Gore's power consumption at the Nashville home reached 34 times that of a typical American home, according to the group, the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Al is just a common variety hypocrite - a crazed poodle in fact - do as I say and not as I do. He is worth $200 million - not too shabby on a Senator's salary - here is the house in question:

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Thanks Deb for bringing this to my attention!

Well that did not last long

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Was all ready to put in a couple of hours at home but needed to go to town for something first. Just got back and will at least put in a half-day here.

Fixing some pot roast for dinner - Costco sells pre-cooked roast chuck with gravy. I put it into my dutch oven with some beef stock and carrots, potatoes, celery, onion and garlic and put it over low heat for 45 minutes or so - yummy and enough for a couple of days.

Really hot here - temp got to 96.4°F this afternoon - it has cooled down to a balmy 89.1° - the smoke has lightened a bit but I can really smell it now.

A quiet day at home

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Heading out for coffee, check in at the store and meet with someone to hash out some details of an event in October.

Spending the rest of today working on some projects at home. More later...

Here are ten photos from today's show:

They feature a different manufacturer each year - this year was John Deere

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The clubhouse for the Tractor Association is a replica of an old John Deere dealership complete with many of the old tools

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A meadow full of Allis Chalmers and Massey Ferguson tractors

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Not only were tractors used for work in the field, they were also sources of power for other machinery - here is one driving a sawmill.

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There were also a lot of antique engines running on gasoline, diesel, kerosine, propane - if it burns, you can build an engine to run on it.

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Here is a very big steam tractor - rated at 35 horsepower in the true sense of the word. It would equal 30-35 horses in tandem harness. I was writing yesterday about how the torque is in the boiler - here is a perfect example. You have a tiny engine running a huge machine - the total volume of the cylinder (red cylinder to the left with a white crank-rod at an angle) is about that of a large watermelon yet it can provide the same pulling power as 35 horses.

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Only three blacksmiths there today - usually a lot more and I usually know a few of them. Introduced myself and we talked for a while.

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Here is a washing machine designed to be driven by a small motor - you would have a little motor (two horsepower or so) that could run a lot of different things at the farm. A generator for evening reading or listening to the radio, a pump for irrigation or potable water, a washing machine. High tech living in those days.

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And last but not least - here is the precursor to to today's chainsaw. This replaced the two-man "misery whip" or bucking saw.

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All in all, a fun day (except for Thunderbunny's air conditioner failing). Working at home tomorrow and Friday. Pot-luck for a friend who is moving away on Saturday.

Very cool project - Rosetta@home

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Back when I worked for Microsoft, I managed some of their test labs. My last lab had over 1,100 small computers and we would run software on these that each simulated hundreds of users logging in to a web site and trying to access data / purchase an item / play a game. Manufacturers would bring in their large servers to test them against large client loads. I got to play with some amazing machines - the latest top-of-the-line chips from Intel, boxes with 32 and 64 processors in them, machines costing in the millions.

In between testing sessions, the lab owner had zero problem with me installing SETI@home and doing our bit in the search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (S.E.T.I.) - imagine the kudos if our lab actually found something out there.

I just got turned on to something a lot more practical and useful - Rosetta@home. You install it on your computer and in between your using it, it uses your CPU and GPU to calculate protein folding. From their About page:

Rosetta@home needs your help to determine the 3-dimensional shapes of proteins in research that may ultimately lead to finding cures for some major human diseases. By running the Rosetta program on your computer while you don't need it you will help us speed up and extend our research in ways we couldn't possibly attempt without your help. You will also be helping our efforts at designing new proteins to fight diseases such as HIV, Malaria, Cancer, and Alzheimer's. Please join us in our efforts! Rosetta@home is not for profit.

We believe that we are getting closer to accurately predicting and designing protein structures and protein complexes, one of the holy grails of computational biology. But in order to prove this, we require an enormous amount of computing resources, an amount greater than the world's largest super computers. This is only achievable through a collective effort from volunteers like you.

I recently put together a large system for working on photographs and video - Rosetta@home is running on it now.

Some people - and their dogs

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    1. Different breeds of dogs have different appearences.
    2. Different breeds of dogs have different personality traits.

Everybody knows #1, it seems that few people are aware of #2. They think that a dog is just a blank slate that they can train to their desired behaviour. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

'Game Of Thrones' Leads To Spate Of Abandoned Huskies With Funny Names
Siberian huskies, the strong, wolf-like dogs originally bred for sled-pulling in the Arctic, have along with some of other wolf-esque breeds like the Alaskan malamute been gaining huge popularity in the US and the UK the last several years, due in large part to the influence of Game of Thrones — and before that, the Twilight movie franchise. The Daily Mail reported on the problem of large numbers of abandoned huskies showing up in British shelters three years ago, and here in the Bay Area, the phenomenon continues — and as the Chronicle reports, the dogs often show up in shelters with weird GOT-inspired names like Ghost, Nymeria, and Grey Wind.

The dogs are likened to the Stark clan's direwolves, and it seems that far too many people are buying or adopting huskies hoping to add some Stark-like swagger to their homes, only to find out these dogs are a heavy-shedding handful.

Angelique Miller, president of Northern California Sled Dog Rescue, tells the Chronicle that her numbers of monthly intakes of abandoned dogs has more than doubled, and she's seeing about 45 new dogs per month. "These people, they watch these shows and think how cool these dogs are. People can't even tell the difference between a husky and a wolf because they're always asking us at adoption fairs if these dogs are wolves — and it's clearly a husky. They're just following the trend of what they think is cute."

When I was still living in Seattle, I took in a Siberian Husky that a friend had gotten - gorgeous dog but not an animal for someone who lived in an apartment and was away for ten hours every day. Sascha trashed my friends apartment in short order. I had zero problem with her but that was because I ran her silly every single day (three to six miles / day) and I worked for a company where it was zero problem to visit her in my truck a couple times/day - that was all she needed.

I finally had to rehome her as when I moved to the farm, she developed a fondness for fresh chicken. Incredibly smart dog - she knew when anyone was looking and she would be on her best behavior. She would wait until no one was looking and then, we would find a pouf of feathers in the yard and we lost another chicken. Tried all sorts of training up to and including electric collars. That behavior is inherent to the breed and it is impossible to train away.

A two-fer - first from this September 15, 2015 post at Reason:

Why Boston's Sports Fans Rejected the Olympics Boondoggle—and L.A. Said Bring It On
As the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) submits the city of Los Angeles as the country’s official nominee to host the 2024 Summer Games, sports fans in Boston are whooping it up like they did after the Red Sox finally won another World Series.

And with good reason. Earlier this year, the USOC had picked Boston to represent America in the Olympics-host sweepstakes. Then the sports-mad fans of the Red Sox, the Bruins, the Celtics, and the Patriots told city fathers—especially Mayor Martin J. Walsh—to pound sand when it came to hosting the Olympic Games with tax dollars.

How Boston’s rabid sports fans rejected the Olympics—and how chumps in Los Angeles enthusiastically stepped up to potential bankruptcy—is a tale worth understanding, especially the next time your city or state tries selling voters on a new stadium or venue for billionaire sports team owners.

And the decision is final - from yesterday's post written by Nick Gillespie - again, at Reason:

Los Angeles Just 'Won' the 2028 Summer Olympics. That Is SUCH Bad News
So Los Angeles will be hosting the Summer Olympics for a third time, in 2028 (the city previously hosted Olympics in 1932 and 1984). The city had originally tried to win hosting rights for the 2024 Games, which went to Paris instead. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has had trouble finding cities willing and able to host its quadrennial summer boondoggles, went ahead and gave LA the nod 11 years from now.

My advice for residents in the city I once called home and where Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website, is to start packing your bags.

Really, just GTFO. 2028 may seem like a long time away, but it will sneak up on you and the last place anyone wants to be is in a city that has pledged billions—over $5 billion, in LA's case—to stage a boondoggle that will almost certainly suck all sorts of tax dollars and private resources out of the real economy and flush them down a unisex toilet in the basement of the Edifice Complex.

As Garrett Quinn explained for Reason in 2015, it's virtually impossible for a city to break even when hosting a Summer Games. The expected revenue is around $6 billion and the gate is split between the host city and the IOC (which takes a whopping 70 percent of the TV revenues alone!).

So before the first athlete gets bounced for failing a drug test, LA is already $2 billion in the red, assuming the bidders' cost estimate is correct, which it almost certainly isn't. The Beijing Games cost $40 billion and the London version cost $20 billion. Russia ponied up $50 billion for the poorly provisioned Sochi Games and Brazil has consistently lied about how much its Rio Games cost (officials say $13 billion while outside analysts put it closer to $20 billion). Montreal hosted the Games back in 1976, arguably at the peak of Cold War interest in the Olympics, and spent 30 years paying off its debt. But at least Bruce Jenner defeated communism (in the figure of Nikolai Avilov) in the decathlon back then. Americans will doubtless be more interested in the Games when they are held in LA than they are elsewhere, but history is rapidly leaving the Olympics behind for all sorts of reasons, including all the awful mascots.

Come on Nick - why don't you tell us what you really feel. A great rant. If they wanted to really symbolize the Olympic spirit, they should build a permanent stadium in Greece and use that for every event. No opportunity for bribery or kickbacks though...

Back home with a detour

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Was planning to be home much earlier but the fan motor on my truck failed. It was still under warranty so all it cost me was 90 minutes of my time hanging out at the dealership but still...

Took lots of photos today and will post after I get dinner.

Tractor show

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This time for reals. Took care of some things around the farm and heading out now - back in a couple hours.

Sky is completely opaque from the wildfires in British Columbia - can smell the wood smoke.

84°F already!

The original Turbo Encabulator

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I had seen this video before and tried to find it again, only to find a bunch of similar knock-offs. Got it along with the story:

From the link at the top:

Published on Apr 9, 2010
This is the first time Turbo Encabulator was recorded with picture. I shot this in the late 70's at Regan Studios in Detroit on 16mm film. The narrator and writer is Bud Haggert. He was the top voice-over talent on technical films. He wrote the script because he rarely understood the technical copy he was asked to read and felt he shouldn't be alone. We had just finished a production for GMC Trucks and Bud asked since this was the perfect setting could we film his Turbo Encabulator script. He was using an audio prompter referred to as "the ear". He was actually the pioneer of the ear. He was to deliver a live speech without a prompter. After struggling in his hotel room trying to commit to memory he went to plan B. He recorded it to a large Wollensak reel to reel recorder and placed it in the bottom of the podium. With a wired earplug he used it for the speech and the "ear" was invented. Today every on-camera spokesperson uses a variation of Bud's innovation. Dave Rondot (me) was the director and John Choate was the DP on this production. The first laugh at the end is mine. My hat's off to Bud a true talent.

This original is much better than the later imitations. They try to hard.

And it is off to YouTube for a bit

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Got the hoses running on the plants for another while - today was very overcast with smoke from the British Columbia wildfires so it was not as hot as predicted but tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer. Get the root systems nice and wet so they can weather through the day. No sense trying to water during the day - you lose 90% of your water through evaporation.

Planning to head in to the Vintage Tractor show tomorrow - for reals this time... Looking for a couple of things for my shop as well as just to see the steam engines. Despite being perfected in the 1700's and 1800's, steam technology is a remarkably efficient means for converting thermal energy to mechanical energy. Sure, there have been many tweaks along the way but the basic engineering and mathematical understanding of steam engines has remained unchanged for 250 years.

One thing I like about them is that unlike internal combustion engines, your torque is in the boiler. With IC engines, the torque is delivered intermittently and needs to be stored in a flywheel if you want continuous drive (for a vehicle or running a machine). With a steam engine with more than one piston, the torque is a function of boiler pressure - want more torque? Turn up the heat in the boiler.

When you go downtown to the courthouse to register and license your new boat and you see this sign posted on every teller window:

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Click to embiggen

Turn right around, head back to your vehicle and:

  1. pump another hours worth of time into your parking meter and
  2. grab a book or magazine.

You will need it. I did not and although I did not get a parking ticket, it took almost 90 minutes to register one boat and one trailer.

The problem was that they had last been registered in 2001 - 16 years ago - and that data had not been entered into the new system. The clerk was saying that they could call the State Capital to get the data and have it faxed. They also said that they could treat it as a hybrid new boat/old boat and issue a new Hull Identification Number and a new License Number. Needless to say, we went with that.

On top of everything, the poor clerk's computer system was slow as molasses and she could not get the credit card reader to work for about 15 minutes - had to unplug it from the network, power-cycle the reader itself and reconnect it.

Gave me the warm and fuzzies knowing that this was the "new" computer system at work - our tax dollars being spent wisely and with accountability.

From FOX News:

Lock up the leakers? Sessions to unveil crackdown, as Kelly gets White House staff in line
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to announce a major crackdown on leakers this week, in the latest sign the administration is pushing to run a tighter ship as John Kelly seizes the reins as White House chief of staff.

One of the first tasks facing the retired general and former Homeland Security boss will be plugging the leaks at the White House that his predecessor struggled to stanch.

"If Reince [Priebus] couldn't control those leaks ... then he was the one who was ultimately responsible, and General Kelly was brought in to make sure those leaks do not continue," former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday.

So what is the problem with a leak now and then? From this July 6th, 2017 FOX News report:

Senate report: 'Avalanche' of media leaks hurting national security
The Trump administration is facing an "alarming" and "unprecedented" cascade of media leaks that pose a potential danger to national security, according to a Senate report released Thursday.

The Republican-authored report, which estimated the administration has dealt with roughly one leak per day, was sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The authors urged law enforcement officials to step up their investigation of leaks exposing potentially sensitive information.

The July 6th, 2017 report can be found here (PDF file): State Secrets: How an Avalanche of Media Leaks is Harming National Security

A sobering read with lots of links to corroborating data - these people need to be stopped. Have a couple of very public examples.

From White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

Boy do I feel dumb!

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Today is August 1st. For the last two days I had it in my head that Tuesday was August 2nd - the opening day of the Antique Tractor show. Got an early start and drove out there. Lots of nice tractors parked out in the field but not too many people. I figured that it might actually start later in the day - 3:00PM or something. Drove around to the visitor parking lot and I was the only vehicle there.

Heading back out there tomorrow morning for the real event.

Back home, checking email, unpack the truck and fix dinner

Stage 2 burn ban for Whatcom County

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Our County Fire Marshal’s Office has declared a Stage 2 burn ban effective tomorrow morning - link to PDF document:

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Click to embiggen

Emergency Management in the news

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Great article in Newsweek about how Emergency Management people are treating the upcoming eclipse:

AUTHORITIES ARE TREATING AUGUST'S SOLAR ECLIPSE, THE FIRST IN 99 YEARS, LIKE IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD
Port-a-potty shortages. Cellular blackout zones. Ambulances stuck in gridlock. These are the conditions emergency managers across the nation are expecting the week of August 21.

No, a major hurricane isn’t forecast. This isn’t preparation for a cyberattack after someone tipped the FBI. Beyoncé isn’t doing a national tour—but the cause is a star of another kind.

The upcoming solar eclipse—the first in 99 years to sweep across the continental United States—has so many fans that disaster-level preparations are being put in place because of the large number of travelers predicted to jockey for prime viewing spots.

A minor nit - this is not being treated like it's the end of the world. The eclipse is being treated as a fantastic opportunity for unique training - regular training uses simulated emergencies - this is a real perturbation of reality. A bit more:

Here’s why many folks are planning for a disaster: Oregon has a population of 4 million people, and the eclipse is expected to draw 1 million visitors to the state for a few days. In Missouri, preparations resemble that for a blizzard or “everything from St. Patrick’s Day parade to a World Series celebration,” says Chris Hernandez, city spokesman for Kansas City, Missouri, one of the larger metro areas in the path of the eclipse.

All of those visitors are expected to clog interstates, along with state and local roads, for days before and after the eclipse, much like the rush during emergency evacuations, says Brad Kieserman, vice president of disaster operations and logistics for the American Red Cross. “Some of these places are never going to see traffic like this,” he says. In some areas, “the population will be double or triple.”

Once visitors arrive, they’ll need bottles of water, lodging and restrooms. And, of course, solar glasses.

And of course:

Kieserman says the Red Cross will use ham radio to communicate when cellphone networks inevitably go down, but its staff and volunteers working on emergency response will have some access to top-priority emergency cell channels.

Should be fun - looking forward to reading the after-event reports.

Getting some water in the garden first while it is still cool outside. Heat wave moving in so need to stay on top of this. Refilling the stock tanks - critters need their water too...

Making a sandwich to take to the event.

Police corruption in Chicago

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Curious story from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Cicero cop shooting tied to gun Chicago P.D. should have destroyed
Thirteen years ago, William Stewart Boyd, a Cook County judge, drove to a South Side church to turn in a handgun his late father had owned.

The Chicago Police Department was accepting guns as part of a buyback program meant to take weapons off the streets and help make the city safer.

Boyd, who hears domestic relations cases, brought them his father’s .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, serial number J515268. He remembers handing it to plainclothes officers who wore their badges and service weapons on their belts. Under the buyback program, they, in turn, gave him a prepaid Visa card. It was for less than $100.

The police recover thousands of guns every year, many of them through buyback programs like this, as well as by confiscating weapons seized during arrests — more than 5,000 guns so far this year alone.

The guns are supposed to be destroyed. But the gun Judge Boyd took in somehow wasn’t. Instead, it turned up eight years later next to the body of a young man who was shot to death by a Cicero police officer.

And it gets much worse:

Whatever happened to keep the gun from being destroyed, Munive’s family members believe they know how it ended up next to his body. It was planted there by Cicero police to cover up an unjustified shooting by a cop of an unarmed man, according to a civil rights lawsuit the family filed in federal court.

Now, after five years of litigation, Cicero officials are poised to pay the family $3.5 million to settle their case. The Cicero Town Council agreed earlier this month to approve the settlement and is expected to take a final vote soon.

More at the site - this is what happens when you have a corrupt government and no accountability. The last time Chicago had a Republican mayor was William Hale Thompson who left office in 1931. Maybe it is time for a change?

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