December 2017 Archives

Lazy day

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Nothing planned for today - got some friends coming over later this evening for some music and food and general welcoming in of 2018.

2017 has been an interesting year - some very very good and some very very bad. Let us hope that 2018 is skewed more towards the good side - looking forward to it!

Iran - getting serious

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From Al Arabiya:

Iran cuts off internet access in several cities as mass protests continue
Several reports indicate that telecoms providers in Iran have begun blocking internet access across several cities in the country as mass protests erupted for the third day in a row.

Among the telecoms company was Hamrahe Aval, the primary Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran (MTCI or MCI) as social media continues to play a pivotal role in documenting mass protests and subsequent brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in the country.

The MTCI is considered a firm jointly held by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other firms controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The last paragraph is telling - this means that MTCI's profits go directly into Khamenei's bank account and those of his friends. Scratch a "revolutionary" dictatorship and you will find a few very corrupt and very wealthy people at the top.

Hope for Iran

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The rallies are getting bigger and bigger - from Associated Press:

New economic protests in Tehran challenge Iran’s government
A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran’s weak economy swept into Tehran on Saturday, with college students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the Islamic Republic’s clerical establishment.

The demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since the protests that followed the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Thousands already have taken to the streets of cities across Iran, beginning at first on Thursday in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims.

And you can tell that this is a home-grown protest. Yes, the signs they carry are commercially printed but, they are in their native language and not English. This is a protest from the citizens to the government through the media.

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Compare and contrast to this image from a typical palestinian protest:

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Note the sign in English talking about "justice" - aimed right at the heart of the US Media.

From Government Executive:

IRS Faces a ‘Crushing’ Workload to Implement the GOP’s Massive Tax Cut
The Internal Revenue Service is putting a brave public face on the massive tax cut President Trump signed into law Friday, though stakeholders familiar with past such implementations see a calm before the storm.

Reached on Thursday, the IRS in a statement said the agency had “started initial work on implementing this major tax legislation. We are working to provide more specific information and guidance to taxpayers, businesses and the tax community as quickly as possible in the weeks and months ahead.”

If they were efficiently run, they would not have this problem. This paragraph might explain why the IRS is in such dire straits:

The amount of reprogramming of IRS computers for the new tables “is probably monumental,” said Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union. 

Find inefficiency and you will find a Union. They did very much have their place in history but have failed to adapt to the times. Now, they are counter-productive to the economy and to the workers.

Fortunately, change is in the winds - from Washington Examiner - October 26, 2017:

Trump picks interim IRS chief to replace John Koskinen, long criticized by Republicans
President Trump announced Thursday that Treasury tax official David Kautter would serve as acting IRS commissioner next month as the term of current IRS chief John Koskinen expires.

Kautter, confirmed in August to be assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury, will serve in both positions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

And Kautter's track record:

Mnuchin said. “Assistant Secretary Kautter has had an illustrious 40-year career in tax policy, and I am confident that the IRS and the American people will benefit from his experience and insight.”

Koskinen was neck deep in the IRS scandal regarding the 501(c)3 status of the Tea Party groups.

And it strikes close to home

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The power is out at home - went out this early morning just before midnight. No ETA on restoration. Ahhh - the joys of country living.

A bit of wind

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Glad I am down in Seattle for now - Everson has been hit hard with this windstorm:

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Over 12,000 people without power and it is supposed to be out for the next couple of days.

Interesting times - Iran

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From the Beeb:

Iran cities hit by anti-government protests
Anti-government demonstrations that began in Iran on Thursday have now spread to several major cities.

Large numbers reportedly turned out in Rasht, in the north, and Kermanshah, in the west, with smaller protests in Isfahan, Hamadan and elsewhere.

The protests began against rising prices but have spiralled into a general outcry against clerical rule and government policies.

More faster please... Very good news.

Protein folding

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Nice article on some very interesting work being done with proteins - from the New York Times:

Scientists Are Designing Artisanal Proteins for Your Body
Our bodies make roughly 20,000 different kinds of proteins, from the collagen in our skin to the hemoglobin in our blood. Some take the shape of molecular sheets. Others are sculpted into fibers, boxes, tunnels, even scissors.

A protein’s particular shape enables it to do a particular job, whether ferrying oxygen through the body or helping to digest food.

Scientists have studied proteins for nearly two centuries, and over that time they’ve worked out how cells create them from simple building blocks. They have long dreamed of assembling those elements into new proteins not found in nature.

But they’ve been stumped by one great mystery: how the building blocks in a protein take their final shape. David Baker, 55, the director of the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington, has been investigating that enigma for a quarter-century.

They are using the Rosetta program to help with the research - I have been running it on one of my systems at home since last August. Trish's son is going for his PhD at this lab.

About that global warming

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A two-fer. First - the polar bear population has always been used as an index of ice cover by the warmists. Cute bears stranded on ice floes, etc... except that that photo was pure photoshop. The bear population is doing fine - from Arctic Now:

Greenland raises quota for northwest polar bear hunt
Hunters in northwestern Greenland will be allowed to shoot more polar bears in 2018 after a population estimate published earlier this year found there were more bears than expected living in the waters between Greenland and Baffin Island.

The increase, to 92, or 16 more than this year, is the second since Greenlandic lawmakers enacted a polar bear quota in 2006 amid concern about the effects of declining sea ice. The previous increase came in 2010, when the number for all of Greenland rose to 140, where it has remained since.

Yes, the population is doing just fine - numbers are increasing.

And then we have this to look forward to - from the London Daily Mail:

Plummeting temperatures could send the world into a 'mini ice age' in 2030 and could OVERRIDE global warming, claim mathematicians
In a little over a decade the world could be plunged into a 'mini ice age', scientists have warned.

Temperatures will start dropping in 2021, according to a mathematical model of the Sun's magnetic energy.

This, they say, will lead to a phenomenon known as the 'Maunder minimum' - which has previously been known as a mini ice age when it hit between 1646 and 1715, even causing London's River Thames to freeze over.

Our sun has been very very quiet recently with almost no sunspots. Sunspots are a very good proxy for solar output as they are visible from earth with very simple equipment (pinhole camera) During the previous cold periods, solar observation recorded very low sunspot numbers.

Clueless

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They do not understand how irrelevant they really are - from Reuters News Service:

U.N. council mulls call for U.S. Jerusalem decision to be withdrawn
The United Nations Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would insist any decisions on the status of Jerusalem have no legal effect and must be rescinded after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital.

The one-page Egyptian-drafted text, which was circulated to the 15-member council on Saturday and seen by Reuters, does not specifically mention the United States or Trump. Diplomats say it has broad support but will likely be vetoed by Washington.

The council could vote early next week, diplomats said. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Britain, Russia or China to pass.

And theUSA will be cutting even more funding from the UN in 3... 2... 1...

Interesting look at the New York City subway system from The New York Times:

The Most Expensive Mile of Subway Track on Earth
An accountant discovered the discrepancy while reviewing the budget for new train platforms under Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

The budget showed that 900 workers were being paid to dig caverns for the platforms as part of a 3.5-mile tunnel connecting the historic station to the Long Island Rail Road. But the accountant could only identify about 700 jobs that needed to be done, according to three project supervisors. Officials could not find any reason for the other 200 people to be there.

“Nobody knew what those people were doing, if they were doing anything,” said Michael Horodniceanu, who was then the head of construction at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs transit in New York. The workers were laid off, Mr. Horodniceanu said, but no one figured out how long they had been employed. “All we knew is they were each being paid about $1,000 every day.”

The discovery, which occurred in 2010 and was not disclosed to the public, illustrates one of the main issues that has helped lead to the increasing delays now tormenting millions of subway riders every day: The leaders entrusted to expand New York’s regional transit network have paid the highest construction costs in the world, spending billions of dollars that could have been used to fix existing subway tunnels, tracks, trains and signals.

Pollitical corruption and unions taking advantage of the negotiating process. Some of the workers are making over $100/hour and up to $400/hour if they are wroking weekends. The costs per mile of tunnel are about $3.5 Billion. Comperable projects around the world average around one seventh of this cost.

The joys of country life

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Still no water - outside air temp is 32.5°F but the pipes are still frozen.

Heading in to town for a meeting. Taking a nice long hot shower at the store first...

Photography software

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I use Adobe Lightroom for organizing and "developing" images - it is great but Adobe is moving towards a subscription business model so I am looking at alternatives.

I have been very happy with Affinity Photo for a Photoshop replacement and Affinity Designer is a great alternative to Corel Draw. I do own an earlier version of CD but it has become bloated, slow and very expensive. No desire to upgrade. These are commercial programs but very reasonably priced at $50 each.

Just found out about Darktable - a free Adobe Lightroom alternative. A few items from their Features page:

  • Non-destructive editing throughout the complete workflow, your original images are never modified.
  • Professional color management: darktable is fully color managed, supporting automatic display profile detection on most systems, including built-in ICC profile support for sRGB, Adobe RGB, XYZ and linear RGB color spaces.
  • Cross platform: darktable runs on Linux, Mac OS X / macports, BSD, Windows and Solaris 11 / GNOME.
  • Filtering and sorting: search your image collections by tags, image rating (stars), color labels and many more, use flexible database queries on all metadata of your images.
  • Image formats: darktable can import a variety of standard, raw and high dynamic range image formats (e.g. JPEG, CR2, NEF, HDR, PFM, RAF … ).
  • Zero-latency, zoomable user interface: through multi-level software caches darktable provides a fluid experience.
  • Tethered shooting: support for instrumentation of your camera with live view for some camera brands.
  • Powerful export system supports G+ and Facebook webalbums, flickr upload, disk storage, 1:1 copy, email attachments and can generate a simple html-based web gallery. darktable allows you to export to low dynamic range (JPEG, PNG, TIFF), 16-bit (PPM, TIFF), or linear high dynamic range (PFM, EXR) images.
  • Automate repetitive tasks: Many aspects of darktable can be scripted in Lua.

I love that it uses Lua - nice language for scripting. Python is very overrated.

From United Press International:

Tinted glasses may help device-users get a better night of sleep
For the tech-obsessed who use their smartphones, laptops and tablets right before bedtime, a small new study suggests that inexpensive amber-tinted glasses might guarantee sound slumber.

The glasses block the blue-wavelength light emitted from many hi-tech devices. That light suppresses the brain's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles.

But in the study, researchers found that adults diagnosed with insomnia got about 30 minutes more sleep when wearing wrap-around amber lenses for two hours before bedtime.

"We expect that blue-light exposure before bedtime might contribute to sleep difficulties or exacerbate sleep problems in individuals who already experience difficulties, so we were not surprised there was an improvement in sleep quality," said study author Ari Shechter. He's an assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

They did a double-blind study. Personally, I run f.lux - works great. Free download for Win/iOS/Linux and Android Available here: just get flux

Now this is interesting

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A lot of what President Trump does flies under the media's radar screens. This is perfect - from DEBKA File:

Trump administration to snap ties with Palestinians, no peace plan, no more monetary aid
The White House has decided to quietly withdraw from all its ties with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas.

DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report that the Trump administration has resolved to scrap all ties with the Palestinian leadership in retaliation for its campaign against US President Donald Trump and his Jerusalem policy. Several warnings to Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) of what was in store if he did not desist from castigating the US president fell on deaf ears.

Last week, two Arab crown princes, Saudi Muhammed bin Salman and UAE Sheikh Muhammed bin Zayed, summoned Abbas to their capitals and urged him strongly to back away from his attacks on President Trump. He got the same advice from the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Al Thani, who conferred with Washington on the subject – all to no avail. The Trump administration has therefore set out an eight-point program of sanctions, which is first revealed here:

    • The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan under preparation in Washington will not be submitted to Ramallah – only to Israel and the relevant Arab governments.
    • US-Palestinian interaction is to be suspended – not just at the senior levels but in day-to-day interchanges. The administration has notified Palestinian and other Arab parties to stop addressing queries on political and economic matters to the US consulate in Jerusalem, because they will not receive answers.
    • The status of the PLO office in Washington will be reevaluated with a view to shutting it down.
    • Palestinian officials will no longer be invited to Washington by the US government, including the State Department and Department of Treasury.
    • Above all, they will not be welcome at the White House or the National Security Council where US Middle East policy is designed. Senior US officials congratulated the senior Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat, who also holds the PA’s American portfolio, on his recovery from illness, at the same time warning him that he would no longer be received at the White House.
    • The Trump administration will not make any public announcement of the cutoff of financial aid to the Palestinians. Since the funds are mostly earmarked for specific economic projects, each allocation will simply be held back on the pretext of the need for a “reappraisal.”
    • The US will halt its contributions to the UN Work and Relief Agency (UNWRA), an estimated one billion dollars per annum.
    • The US administration moreover intervened with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar with a request that they freeze or slow their economic aid to the Palestinian Authority.

According DEBKAfile’s sources, Palestinian officials in Ramallah were devastated by news of the sudden cutoff of the main sources of the PA’s revenue. Even the Qatar ruler, whom Abbas visited last week as a last resort to save the PA from economic meltdown, refused to release any more funding.

Good - the palestinians are a construct of the KGB from the mid-1960's. Palestinian "leader" Yasser Arafat spent almost ten years in Russia being indoctrinated.

Harbinger of spring

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It is below freezing, the snow is coming down, the farm's water pipes are frozen solid but spring is coming.

Got my first seed catalog in the mail today!

These people - wonderful stuff: Kitazawa Seed Company  In business since 1917 so they must be doing something right...

Ho ho ho

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From The Bellingham Herald:

Winter storm warning issued – icy conditions possible Thursday
A weather system that meteorologists thought would bring rain to the area has worsened, prompting a winter storm warning for lowland Whatcom County.

Snow, ice and freezing rain are forecast for lowland and coastal areas such as Bellingham, Ferndale, Blaine, Lynden and Point Roberts, according to a National Weather Service statement issued Wednesday morning.

Some 1 to 3 inches of snow is possible Wednesday night and Thursday morning, changing to freezing rain on Thursday morning. The warning is in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday to noon Thursday.

It is snowing now - looks like my pipes will remain frozen for the while...

Well crap - they were warned

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We warned them two weeks ago about a potential terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. Now this - from the London Daily Mirror:

Huge explosion at St Petersburg supermarket leaves Christmas shoppers injured
A huge explosion has rocked a busy supermarket in St Petersburg, leaving at least 10 people injured.

The blast happened in the Perekrestok supermarket in the northeast of the cities, and shoppers fled in panic as emergency crews descended on the scene.

One person is believed to be in a serious condition.

It is thought a device in a storage locker detonated, and authorities are treating the explosion as a deliberate attempt to kill.

It comes days after a foiled terror plot to target the city.

The religion of peace strikes again. Christians used to be just as bad but we went through a reformation in the early 1500's and have come out just fine. Time for the muslims to advance to the 21st century.

Winter wonderland

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Still no water - 28.2°F outside - forecast to get up to 37°F this afternoon so hope is on the horizon...

Surf for a bit while I am having breakfast and then head out to the store for a shower, coffee, post office and back to the store for paperwork. Fun day...

The Amtrack derailment

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Excellent post-mortem at The Seattle Times:

‘Holy cow, so the train is actually on the road?’ The wreck of Amtrak 501
Rudi Wetzel was napping in his seat, his hat pulled over his eyes, when he awoke to what he thought was an explosion.

A retired Los Angeles police officer, the 81-year-old had boarded Amtrak 501 in Seattle earlier that morning. He was on his way back to Centralia after visiting his girlfriend in Kirkland.

Now he felt his body lift from the train seat, and then he was in the air, flying through darkness.

Excellent reading and, it follows frequent commenter Dick Park's most recent post:

It's always interesting to see how long the union can keep the engineer's name quiet.

Not a peep yet...

From South Korean news agency Chosunilbo:

Chinese Ships Spotted Selling Oil to N.Korea
U.S. reconnaissance satellites have spotted Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean vessels on the West Sea around 30 times since October.

According to South Korean government sources, the satellites have pictured large Chinese and North Korean ships illegally trading in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea.

The satellite pictures even show the names of the ships. A government source said, "We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea's imports of refined petroleum products."

And yes, it is illegal:

Ship-to-ship trade with North Korea on the high seas is forbidden in UNSC Resolution 2375 adopted in September, but such violations are nearly impossible to detect unless China aggressively cracks down on smuggling.

Reading the names of the ships? I would love to know the true capacity of these cameras...

Anyway, now the world knows and the pressure against China and North Korea has been ratcheted up a bit more.

Back at the farm for a while

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Was planning to get some Chinese takeout in Bellingham but it felt so good to get out of the truck that I sat down, read a couple chapters of my book and ate there. Rush hour was bad so a break was needed.

Surfing for a bit and then planning a very productive day tomorrow and Thursday.

Water pipes froze solid - not a problem as I have bottled warer in the pantry and can take a shower at the store - still, a surprise as my danger zone is 18°F and it only got down to 21°F - I gues that with no water flowing through the pipes, the cutoff temperature can be a bit higher.

From Engadget:

Amazon and Microsoft employees caught up in sex trafficking sting
The tech industry has a clear history of sexism and misogyny, but a recent Newsweek report highlights another problem. The publication got its hands on a slew of emails sent to brothels and pimps between 2014 and 2016 that document the industry's patronage of brothels and purchasing of services from trafficked sex workers. Among the emails, which were obtained through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor's Office, were 67 sent from Microsoft employee email accounts, 63 from Amazon accounts and dozens more from companies like Boeing, T-Mobile, Oracle and local Seattle tech firms.

And this bit of interesting (but not surprising) news:

Seattle's sex industry has grown right alongside its tech industry and the city's authorities have said that some men spend up to $50,000 per year on sex workers. Brothels are even known to advertise how close they are to tech offices. Alex Trouteaud, director of policy and research at the anti-trafficking organization Demand Abolition, told Newsweek that the tech industry is a "culture that has readily embraced trafficking."

What boggles my mind is that many of these mokes used their personal corporate email accounts - the internet is forever. Especially when it flows through a privately owned server. Even though you have not caught flak for something you sent two years ago does not mean that it is not still there on a backup tape somewhere - cataloged and indexed, waiting for retrieval.

On the road again

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Heading back to the farm for a few days - meetings and paperwork.

Winnowing the wheat from the chaff

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A two-fer. First, even a stopped clock is correct twice each day - one of Obama's policies was a good one and President Trump is taking the bone in his teeth and running with it. From The Washington Post:

Trump puts the world’s worst crooks and killers on notice
After months of conflicting messages, last week the Trump administration took a big step toward drastically expanding punishments for human rights abusers and kleptocrats all over the world. The move also reveals how government professionals and political officials inside the administration are finding ways to work together one year into the Trump presidency.

There was understandable skepticism that the Trump team would enthusiastically enforce the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, signed by President Barack Obama in his final days in office, which authorizes the president to block visas and sanction individuals and entities from any country that abuses human rights or engages in “acts of significant corruption.” But the first-ever list of 51 such targets, announced by the State and Treasury departments on Dec. 21, was a clear sign the Trump administration is supporting the law and implementing it in good faith.

And second - not just talk at the United Nations - from the New York Post:

Nikki Haley negotiates $285M cut in ‘bloated’ UN budget
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced Sunday that the United States negotiated a $285 million cut in the United Nations’ “bloated” budget for next year.

“The inefficiency and overspending of the United Nations are well known,” Haley said in a statement from the US Mission. “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked.”

Haley added that the “historic reduction” in spending is a step in the right direction and that the US would make many other moves toward a more efficient and accountable UN.

Heaven help that these kleptocrats would actually have to work for a living. Anyone remember Kofi Annan and his son Kojo? (here, here and here) How about the Oil for Food program? (here, here, here and here) How about the rampant sex trafficking? (here, here and here) Anyone? Bueller?

News you can use - Santa

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Wonder where he is? NORAD is tracking him tonight.

White Christmas

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Got home from the family party - waiting for a little bit and then heading out to a neighbors.

It is a few days early from the forecast but there is snow on the ground. The roads are slick - we saw one bus spun out and multiple cars by the side of the road. Snow was supposed to start Monday evening.

From Bloomberg:

A Stalled Las Vegas Resort Is Now a Go Thanks to the Tax Overhaul
For New York developer Steven Witkoff, the tax overhaul signed today by President Donald Trump will have an immediate effect: he’s plowing ahead with his plan to develop the stalled Fontainebleau resort in Las Vegas.

“Now, we’re not going to be patient,” Witkoff said in a phone interview. “We’ve basically pressed the ‘go’ button to do everything necessary to finish design on the project and take down a construction loan.”

As soon as it became clear to Witkoff that the bill had a good chance of clearing both houses of Congress, he began seeking financing for as much as 60 percent of the estimated $3 billion in development costs, he said. He plans a resort with 4,000 rooms, a casino and a restaurant on the property, purchased for $600 million in August, more than seven years after billionaire Carl Icahn acquired it out of bankruptcy. The project will create 6,000 hotel jobs and 5,000 construction jobs, Witkoff said.

Emphasis mine - trickle down works. It has before and it will again. The nattering elites just need to get the fsck out of the way as the economy comes roaring back to life...

Christmas around the world - Iraq

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Some wonderful Christmas news from Breitbart:

Iraqis Erect a 30-Foot Christmas Tree in Baghdad to Celebrate the Defeat of ISIS
Residents of Baghdad have erected a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree to celebrate Christmas and to mark the end of the terror army Islamic State (ISIS), beaten back by Iraqi Security Forces.

The giant tree made international news, according to a Fox News tweet which read, “Iraqi Christians have raised a 30-ft.tall Christmas tree in Baghdad to celebrate both the holiday and the expulsion of ISIS extremists by Iraq Security Forces”

Presidential spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders also remarked on the incredible display in a December 24 tweet reading, “Thank God for the President’s leadership in fight to defeat ISIS”

This year’s display mirrors last year’s tree erected by Muslim businessman Yassi Saad who then said he hoped that the display would help bring together Christian and Muslim Iraqis in a new spirit of cooperation as his country continued to heal after being freed from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.

Nice to see the common sense is breaking out all over this world!

And a very Merry Christmas to all

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Running out to do a bit of last-minute Christmas shopping and then off to an intimate party with Trish's immediate family. All 30 of them.

Wishing everyone the best for Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

What to do with the United Nations

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A modest proposal - swiped from Mostly Cajun:

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About that United Nations vote

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An interesting perspective from Eli Lake writing at Bloomberg:

The U.S. Just Had a Very Good Week at the UN
After the UN General Assembly voted this week to condemn U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the conventional wisdom is that the Trump administration has only isolated itself at the United Nations.  

A bit more:

But that headline is hiding the real news. While most of the world was focused on the symbolic gang up at the UN General Assembly, the Trump administration had some quiet diplomatic success.

Let's start with the meaningful 15-0 vote on Friday to impose new sanctions on North Korea. The U.S. persuaded China, North Korea's primary patron, and Russia, another key trading partner to the Hermit Kingdom, to go along with the resolution -- no small feat. The new sanctions cap oil exports to North Korea at current levels and demand countries expel North Korean foreign workers. The sanctions could be tougher, but diplomacy is a give and take.

On Thursday, the same day of the General Assembly vote, the UN Security Council quietly passed resolution 2396, 15-0, urging all member states to better screen for foreign fighters returning from Syria, imposing new checks on fake passports and requiring member states to notify other countries when such fighters are detained or prosecuted.

Finally, Haley won a personal diplomatic victory on Iran. This week German government spokesman Steffen Seibert acknowledged a recent UN report on the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal that compiled evidence of Iranian missile transfers to Houthi rebels in Yemen. "The findings contained in the secretary-general's report reinforce our fears that Iran is violating the restrictions on the transfer of arms and ballistic missiles imposed on it," Seibert said. "The report contains several clear indications that there is Iranian involvement in the firing of missiles on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia on July 22 and November 4, i.e. missiles launched by the Houthis in Yemen."

It was the Houthis that fired the missle into Saudi Arabia that almost hit the Royal Palace. Why did Obama do his deal with Iran? What did they have on him?

The courage of those poor sailors - from Associated Press:

Mystery solved as Australian sub found after 103 years
One of Australia’s oldest naval mysteries has been solved after the discovery of the wreck of the country’s first submarine more than 103 years after its disappearance in World War I.

The AE1 vanished off the New Guinean island of New Britain on September 14, 1914, with 35 crew aboard from Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

It was the first Allied submarine loss of the war and the first wartime loss for the Royal Australian Navy, yet the exact reason for its sinking remains unclear.

No fewer than 12 fruitless hunts for the sub had been carried out over the past several decades, but Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Thursday it was located more than 300 meters (984 feet) below the surface in a search using a Dutch-owned survey vessel that started only last week.

God rest their souls.

Meet The Guardian Project

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Looks interesting - a group of developers who are focused on security and providing apps for the general public.

Check out their website: Guardian Project

Here is one of their projects:

One of their latest projects is Haven - looks really interesting:

Very clever use of existing technologies...

And we have another one

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This time in the City of Brotherly Love - from ABC News:

Pennsylvania man targets police officers in string of shootings; one injured, suspect killed
Federal authorities are investigating after a Pennsylvania man with ties to the Middle East opened fire on police officers in three different locations in the state's capital on Friday afternoon. Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said it remains under investigation whether the shootings were acts of terror.

One officer was injured in the spate of shootings, but her injuries are considered non-life-threatening, police said.

Police identified the alleged shooter as Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty, 51, and Marsico said he recently returned from a trip to the Middle East.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are involved in the investigation.

The current number of muslim terrorist killings for the last thirty days stands at 109 Islamic attacks in 18 countries, in which 1457 people were killed and 732 injured. Religion of Peace - riiight...

Cute commercial for eye drops

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Putting them on notice

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Yesterday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley laid down the law to the U.N. Today, President Trump amplified her statements - from CNS News:

Trump on U.S. Aid Recipients: ‘Let Them Vote Against Us’ at U.N., ‘We’ll Save a Lot’
President Trump had a blunt warning Wednesday for countries that “take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars” in U.S. aid, and then vote against U.S. interests at the United Nations.

“We’re watching those votes,” he said during a cabinet meeting at the White House. “Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Earlier, Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley cautioned U.N. member-states that the U.S. will be “taking names” when the U.N. General Assembly in an “emergency session” Thursday is scheduled to vote on a resolution condemning Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Haley suggested that countries who get significant aid from the U.S. should be especially careful, and Trump expanded on the thinly-veiled threat.

“I like the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations for all of these nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council, or they vote against us potentially at the [General] Assembly,” he said.

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us.  Well, we’re watching those votes.  Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot.  We don’t care.”

Heh - speaking truth to power...

And that is it for the night

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Watching some YouTube videos - at the farm for a while and then Seattle for the holidays.

Baby steps

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Tonight is the shortest day of the year - we had 8:25:26 of daylight. Yesterday we had 8:25:30 and tomorrow we will have 8:25:32

The days will get longer but it will take time for this to be apparent - like I said, baby steps but a wonderful thing to hold in your mind during these dark winter nights. They days are getting longer.

Hit them where it hurts

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Good on Nikki Haley for these words - from Breitbart:

Nikki Haley Threatens to Yank Funding from U.N. over Jerusalem Resolution: ‘This Vote Will Be Remembered’
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tore into the U.N. General Assembly Thursday, threatening to pull U.S. funding from the international body in response to a resolution condemning President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley said in remarks to the assembly in New York.

“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations and we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit,” she warned.

The resolution, which passed 128-9, expressed “deep regret” at the call made by President Trump, and calls on “all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.” It was sponsored by Turkey and Yemen and comes after the U.S. vetoed a similar resolution at the Security Council. The U.S. does not hold veto power at the General Assembly.

129 to 9 is quite the message from this corrupt group. Withholding their money will send an equally strong message. Perfect move!

North Korea - some interesting news

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Is that regime collapsing? This from the London Daily Mail:

North Korean soldier defects to the South by walking across the DMZ and two civilians are found drifting in a fishing boat
A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea early on Thursday, a South Korean defence ministry official said.

The low-ranking North Korean soldier defected across the heavily militarized border between North and South Korea at around 8.04am, the official said.

Yonhap reports the man's intentions are being investigated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

And just a month ago:

These are the latest known defections after a solider was shot crossing the border about five weeks ago.

Another North Korean soldier, Oh Chong Song, 24, suffered critical gunshot wounds during a defection dash on November 13.

Where were the border guards today?

California - no surprises there

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The wildfires have mostly been caused by overhead power-line arcing. Yes, there was one homeless camp whose cooking fire started a wildfire but that was it - one.

Turns out the Governor Moonbeam actually vetoed a bill which would have required the public utilities to relocate power lines underground in high-risk areas. From Larry Hamlin writing at Watts Up With That:

Jerry Brown vetoed enhanced requirements for undergrounding power lines, blames CA wildfires on nebulous “climate change”
In September 2016 California Governor Brown vetoed Senate Bill 1463 which enhanced requirements for the CPUC and state Forestry and Fire Protection to facilitate the undergrounding of power lines in high fire risk areas across the stately by requiring the states involvement with cities and counties facing high fire risks and by requiring the prioritization of high fire risk regions.

The vetoed Bill would have provided enhanced requirements for how the CPUC was to lead this effort by mandating involvement of the states cities and counties along with prioritization of high fire risk regions.

Overhead power lines have been linked to a number of major California wildfires including the 2007 Witch Creek fire in San Diego County which destroyed 1141 homes with 21 deaths and in 2015 are also suspected of being the cause of the Northern Ca. wine country fires as well. Wind damaged overhead power lines are suspected as a potential cause of some of the most recent large and tragic fires in California this year.

Much more at the site including screen-captures and links to other information. The Californian government is so dysfunctional and clueless it hurts. The 5% elite controling the lives of the 95% real people.

From over the transom:

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To every thing there is a season

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UPDATE BELOW

It is interesting spending time in Seattle. I lived here for about 20 years but moved out to my farm 15 years ago. Now, the city has changed so very much and the traffic and congestion reflect this. Property values are way up - really wish I had kept my property in Seattle and gotten a loan for the farm - oh well...

It seems that some cities are shrinking in size - and it is not just the progressive cess-pits like Detroit or Baltimore. From Time Magazine:

These Cities Have Already Reached 'Peak Millennial' as Young People Begin to Leave
Millennials flocked to U.S. cities over the past decade, but in some places, the migration appears to be reversing. After years of growth, the population of millennials in Boston and Los Angeles has fallen since 2015, with more young people leaving the cities than arriving last year, according to the latest Census data. And millennial growth has slowed in large hubs like Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

Dowell Myers, professor of demography at the University of Southern California, first suggested in 2015 that cities would begin to see declines in millennials. With the largest birth group turning 27 this year, Myers says it’s only a matter of time before millennials head to the suburbs for more space.

To see which cities have reached “peak millennial” — a term Myers coined —we analyzed a decade of Census data through 2016. We found that while tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle are still drawing young people, large East Coast cities, like New York and D.C., are fast approaching peak millennial, with plateauing populations of those born between 1980 and 1996. And then there are cities like Boston, which already appear to have reached their peak. Boston lost roughly 7,000 millennials in 2016, after a record high of 259,000 the previous year.

Another interesting metric is the U Haul cost to go from one city to another and back again - often quite different dollar values. I talked about that here back in August of this year.

UPDATE: Just read this story from The Idaho Statesman:

Idaho officially earns the title of nation’s fastest-growing state, Census Bureau says
Idaho’s population increased enough in the past year to earn us the title of nation’s fastest-growing state, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Busy day but home again

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Next couple of days should be a bit easier - trying to coordinate a bunch of things of which I will write about later...

T is picking up a friend of Emma's for another evening of cookie decorating and general silliness. Cooking some pasta with tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, fresh basil, oilive oil and artichoke hearts. Simple but very delicious food - Trish had a crown put on a tooth today so a steak or anything crunchy doesn't really seem like a good idea.

A little less busy today

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Heading out for some last-minute shopping. Maybe some more posting later today.

Life is good!

Two headlines:

Ballistic missile intercepted over Saudi Arabia capital Riyadh just seconds before it slammed into royal palace

Saudi 'intercepts Yemen rebel missile over Riyadh'

I bet some of the Yemeni military are changing their underpants at this moment. Sure, probably a "rebel" attack but the Saudi's have every right to retaliate for this.

The Amtrack crash

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From The Los Angeles Times:

Rail experts ask why new track in Washington state Amtrak crash did not have speed control system
After a speeding Amtrak train derailed during its first trip on a new rail line — on the heels of two deadly passenger rail crashes blamed on high speed since 2015 — safety experts on Tuesday asked why the train did not have the latest automated control system.

The train was traveling 80 mph in a 30-mph zone on a newly opened $181-million segment of track south of Seattle, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Train cars spilled onto busy Interstate 5 and killed three train passengers.

Emphasis mine. Yikes - especially for the first time on new track.

Busy day today

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Just now sitting down to dinner - Emma has a bunch of her friends over downstairs to decorate cookies and Trish and I are winding the day down.

Time to surf and see what the internet fairies drug in...

Yet another bubble - Coffee

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From The Wall Street Journal:

Too Much Caffeine? Coffee Shops Face a Shakeout
America’s coffee market is getting too crowded.

Consumers’ hankering for caffeine and quality coffee has fueled a big build out of cafes in the last five years, especially in dense urban areas such as New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. There are now nearly 33,000 coffee shops in the U.S., including those run by big chains such as Starbucks up 16% from five years ago, according to market research firm Mintel.

The boom in coffee shops is starting to hurt business owners. Consumers are visiting traditional coffee shops less often when there are a plethora of cheaper options. Everyone from McDonald’s Corp. to gas stations is hawking specialty coffee. Even grocery stores are expanding the space devoted to bottled and canned coffee drinks, which Mintel says poses a threat to coffee shops. Traffic growth to large coffee chains such as Starbucks is slowing, while traffic to small coffee chains and independent shops is declining, according to NPD Group Inc.

Not crowded, comoditized. Coffee used to be a specialty item - a luxury - where few people had the taste to discern what they wanted and who was serving it. Now, everything has shifted to some banal middle ground. There are a few old-school places still in existence - here and here - but the majority of places are nothing to write home about.

The United Nations oversteps its bounds

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Seriously - from US News and World Report/Reuters:

U.N. to Vote Monday on Call for U.S. Jerusalem Decision to Be Withdrawn
The United Nations Security Council is due to vote on Monday on a draft resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, diplomats said, a move likely to face a Washington veto.

The one-page Egyptian-drafted text, seen by Reuters, does not specifically mention the United States or Trump. Diplomats say it has broad support among the 15-member council, and while it is unlikely to be adopted, the vote will further isolate Trump on the issue.

And if this passes - what are they going to do? Send us a strongly worded memo?

From Debra Heine writing at PJ Media:

Anarchists Bragged in April about Sabotaging Railroad Tracks to Block Fracking
ISIS shouldn't be the only terrorist group under suspicion for the Amtrak derailment in Washington this morning.

The anarchist group "It's Going Down" last April bragged online about sabotaging railroad tracks in the Pacific Northwest to block fracking equipment from getting to its destination. The group has since deleted the post, possibly in reaction to today's Amtrak disaster.

Of course, the Internet is forever so the article has a screen-shot. It goes on to say:

Anti-fracking activists and anarchists have been blocking rail tracks in Olympia, Washington, for the past month.

On Nov. 30, an anonymous anarchist wrote about rail sabotage on the Puget Sound Anarchist website.

Well, now they have innocent blood on their hands - time for these groups to be thoroughly shut down. Re-education camps would be a lovely idea. Wish they were legal.

UPDATE: Time Magazine has this video:

True Dat

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From a post on the Book of Face:

90% of being married is just shouting "what" from other rooms

So true...

Writing at his blog:

The Darkest Hours
The Tax “Reform” bill working its way painfully out the digestive system of congress like a sigmoid fistula, ought be re-named the US Asset-stripping Assistance Act of 2017, because that’s what is about to splatter the faces of the waiting public, most of whom won’t have a personal lobbyist / tax lawyer by their sides holding a protective tarpulin during the climactic colonic burst of legislation.

Sssshhhh…. The media has not groked this, but the economy is actually collapsing, and the nova-like expansion of the stock markets is exactly the sort of action you might expect in a system getting ready to blow. Meanwhile, the more visible rise of the laughable scam known as crypto-currency, is like the plume of smoke coming out of Vesuvius around 79 AD — an amusing curiosity to the citizens of Pompeii below, going about their normal activities, eating pizza, buying slaves, making love — before hellfire rained down on them.

Whatever the corporate tax rate might be, it won’t be enough to rescue the Ponzi scheme that governing has become, with its implacable costs of empire. So the real aim here is to keep up appearances at all costs just a little while longer while the table scraps of a four-hundred-year-long New World banquet get tossed to the hogs of Wall Street and their accomplices. The catch is that even hogs busy fattening up don’t have a clue about their imminent slaughter.

The centerpiece of the swindle, as usual, is control fraud on the grand scale. Control fraud is the mis-use of authority in applying Three-Card-Monte principles to financial accounting practice, so that a credulous, trustful public will be too bamboozled to see the money drain from their bank accounts and the ground shift under their feet until the moment of freefall. Control fraud is at work in the corporate C-suites, of course, because that is its natural habitat — remember that silver-haired CEO swine from Wells Fargo who got off scot-free with a life-time supply of acorns after scamming his account-holders — but their errand boys and girls in congress have been superbly groomed, pampered, fed, and trained to break trail and cover for them.

Much more at the site - Kunstler is a bit of a muck-raker but his economic chops are first-class. The Bitcoin bubble is just one of many bubbles out there. Time to be very conservative and hold your cards closer vest. Sure, there is money to be made but the gamble is just too great - the markets are too volitile.

Crap - major train derailment

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Just South of Seattle - from Seattle station KING-5:

Multiple fatalities, dozens injured in Amtrak crash near DuPont
An unknown number of people are dead and multiple people are injured after an Amtrak Cascades train derailed and crashed onto southbound Interstate 5 between Tacoma and Olympia.

A bit more:

Amtrak Cascades train 501 was headed southbound when it crashed around 7:45 a.m. It included 12 cars plus two engines. Thirteen of those 14 cars jumped the tracks, according to the Washington State Patrol.

From The New York Post:

Object on tracks may be cause of deadly Amtrak derailment
Monday’s deadly Amtrak train derailment appears to have been caused by an object on the railway, according to a government official briefed on the crash.

A preliminary investigation suggests maintenance problems are unlikely to blame because the incident took place on brand-new tracks, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

If this foreign object was placed willfully, I hope the moke in question spends a long time behind bars.

They should do the same thing for flooding - from the Los Angeles Times:

After California's most destructive fire season, a debate over where to rebuild homes
After a destructive wildfire swept from Calabasas to Malibu in 1993, the head of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy stood on a mountaintop on live TV and made a radical proposal.

He called for a “three-strikes” rule to limit the number of times recovery funds could be spent to help rebuild a home destroyed by wildfire.

Today, Joseph T. Edmiston is still wincing from the blowback. But he hasn’t backed down. Just the opposite.

“I think two strikes is enough and they ought to be bought out,” Edmiston said, after spending three days coordinating the conservancy’s crews on the Skirball, Rye and Creek fires.

He’s not alone. With the frequency and cost of catastrophic wildfires climbing in California, the idea of compensating property owners to not rebuild — or using economic pressure to discourage them from building in the first place — is gaining supporters among those searching for ways to cut wildfire losses.

Makes perfect sense - why should other taxpayers have to foot the bill for stupid house location. I know it looks lovely there amid the trees but that is a huge fire-load and not a safe place to build. Same thing for riverbanks. To keep funding their rebuilding is just to encourage the stupidity. These people do have homeowners insurance but these fires (and floods and earthquakes) fall under the Act of God catagory and are not covered.

Trump colludes with Russia

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You bet - from the UK Telegraph:

Putin thanks Trump for intelligence that prevented St Petersburg terror attack
Russian President Vladimir Putin called US President Donald Trump on Sunday to thank the Central Intelligence Agency for relaying information that lead to the arrest of several individuals since Friday suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in St. Petersburg.

According to the Kremlin, the information shared by the CIA “helped to track, identify and detain a group of terrorists preparing to set off explosions in St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral, as well as in other public areas,” Interfax news agency reported.

Mr Putin asked Mr Trump to relay his thanks to the director of the CIA and the intelligence officers who first received the information.

Two people doing what they do best - leading their respective nations.

They are taking down everyone these days

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Presented without comment:

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Fun with Chrome

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A couple of days ago, my home machine auto-updated to the new version of the Chrome browser. I like it compared to Internet Explorer and use it on all of my devices.

The bookmarks were presented in a new horrible display though - much less efficient. My laptop had not updated so I took a screen cap and let it run overnight to catch the new version - here is a before and after shot:

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The screen-cap software was set to the same size (640x242) for each picture - I did not mess with the scaling.
A lot less displayed on the screen and what is shown there is not displayed in a graceful or scaleable manner. Downright ugly.

Fortunately, the workaround is very simple. Cut and paste this into your Chrome address bar:

chrome://flags/#enable-md-bookmarks

and select Disabled. Relaunch Chrome and things will be back to normal until Google pushes a new update.

From the wonderful muck-rakers at Page Six:

Bizarre film of Omarosa surfaces amid White House exit
As Omarosa Manigault Newman exits her job in the White House, a bizarre video showing her less, er, stateswomanly side has emerged.

A pop-culture polymath sent Page Six a link to “Soul Sistahs,” an ultra-camp, hyper-kitsch, uber-low-budget 10-minute sci-fi short film.

While the plot is virtually incomprehensible, as far as we can tell it focuses on an intergalactic yenta in a housecoat who kidnaps Omarosa in an attempt to steal Donald Trump’s hair as part of a difficult-to-understand get-rich-quick scheme.

The mini-flick was made back in 2006 — two years after Omarosa shot to fame on Trump’s NBC show “The Apprentice.”

She was  the director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison - the New York Times has an article on her rise and fall.

I want to believe

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A quiet day

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Trish, her daughter and I met a friend of hers at a Japanese Restaurant in Chinatown and then headed up the hill to St. James Cathedral for their Advent celebration of Readings and Carols - this link goes to photos of the 2016 celebration. We were joined there by her son and girlfriend. A wonderful service and the music was incredible. I love pipe organs and the Cathedral has five of them! At full volume, the firmament rattles. Wonderful!

Slept in today.

Busy day today

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Out for coffee, in to Bellingham and then down to Seattle with a stop in Mt. Vernon for a meeting.

T and I are meeting a friend for dinner and then a festival of Christmas Carols after.

Live in one of these states and the ex-employees will have their hands out very soon. From The Washington Free Beacon:

Unfunded Liabilities of State Public Pensions Top $6 Trillion in 2017
Unfunded liabilities of state public pension plans now tops $6 trillion, an increase of $433 billion from the previous year, according to a report from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

"Unfunded liabilities of public pension plans continue to loom over state governments nationwide," the report states. "Absent significant reforms, unfunded liabilities of state-administered pension plans will continue to grow and threaten the financial security of state retirees and taxpayers alike."

Taxpayers are impacted by this pension crisis since they are the ones funding the wages of government employees. The report notes, however, that all residents are impacted because the funds that go to pensions take away resources from government services such as public safety, education, and roads.

The report finds that state pension liabilities average about $18,676 for every American in the United States. In some states, the liabilities average is much higher. For example, in Alaska, each resident is responsible for $45,689 in pension liability—the highest cost in the nation.

The report (PDF file) is here: UNACCOUNTABLE AND UNAFFORDABLE

Sobering numbers - this is money that was promised by the Unions but the Unions never negotiated from a position of reality and the administrators accepting these deals realized that they would be long gone when the chickens came home to roost. No accountability from either side and us taxpayers are left holding the bag...

Just wonderful - the road to the ski area

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Got this little bundle of joy in my in-box a few minutes ago - from the WA State Department of Transportation:

Emergency bank stabilization work will reduce SR 542/Mount Baker Highway to a single lane starting Friday, Dec. 15
GLACIER – Fall weather has created instability in a slope along State Route 542/Mount Baker Highway near Glacier. With additional wet weather in the forecast, crews are starting emergency work to repair the area and prevent damage that could cause more costly repairs.

Washington State Department of Transportation contractor crews from Strider Construction will move equipment to the area, milepost 45, east of Glacier on Friday, Dec. 15. Crews will close the eastbound lane and begin daylight work to stabilize the area. Traffic will alternate through the open lane around-the-clock using flaggers or a temporary signal until this work is complete.

This is our second-busiest season of the year and business slows markedly for everyone if there isn't good skiing. Let us hope they can get the road patched up and do a complete job this spring.

Curious - Bitcoin in the news again

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Still an awful bubble but this story caught my eye - from Circa:

A New York woman laundered bitcoin to aide Islamic State
A Long Island, New York woman is accused of laundering bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and wiring the money overseas to help the Islamic State group, according to federal prosecutors.

Zoobia Shahnaz, a 27-year-old Pakistani-born resident of Brentwood, was being held without bail following her arraignment on charges of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, prosecutors said.

The former lab technician worked in Manhattan and had no known criminal history, according to prosecutors who said that beginning in March she fraudulently obtained more than $85,000 through a bank loan and credit cards to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies online.

"She then made several wire transactions to individuals and opaque entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey, which were designed to avoid transaction reporting requirements and conceal the identity, source and destination of the illicitly-obtained monies," court documents said.

"These transactions were motivated to benefit ISIS, which the defendant ultimately sought to join in Syria," the documents said.

I would not touch Bitcoin with a 10 foot pole - no telling when it will crash and leave you with a fraction of your net "investment". If ISIS is using it to smuggle money, it would be good for it to crash deeply now. Cut their funding off...

Quote of the month - Thomas Jefferson

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"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
-Thomas Jefferson

Sigh - Google Chrome

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They did an update and now the bookmarks look all different.

They changed the User Interface and it sucks - takes up a lot more real-estate on the screen - I have folders with lots of links and now I have to scroll to get them all.

Interesting remnant from WW-II

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Fences made from medical stretchers:

And that is it for me for tonight

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Spending one more day at the farm, meeting with some people and then spending a few days in Seattle.

Been getting a lot of diverse and interesting email spam -- all from one range of IP addresses and all banned after the first few attempts. Fscking pathetic.

I not surprised and neither am I surprised that the Swedish are falling for it hook line and sinker - these stories are what they want to hear. A classic case of Confirmation Bias.
From Breitbart:

Migrants Buying Ready-Made Fake ‘Cover Stories’ To Fool Authorities In Approving Asylum Claims
People smugglers and others have been selling asylum seekers “fake stories” in order to better improve their chances of getting a positive asylum claim in Europe.
A new report claims that asylum seekers from Iran have been buying cover stories from at least three separate websites to fool Swedish authorities into thinking they were being politically oppressed by the Iranian regime Sveriges Radio reports.

The Swedish broadcaster spoke to a man who they named Hamid who claimed that the website had sold him a package that included a regime-critical blog that had been up for several years in order to improve his asylum chances.

According to Hamid, the ploy worked as he was granted residency by the Swedish government after presenting them with his “cover story.”

“I was able to buy a regime-critical blog that has been active for several years. I had to take it over and then they helped me to update it as if it had always been mine,” he said.

The cost of a full package backstory costs around £5,350 according to those behind the websites. Reporters from the radio programme Ekot spoke to an individual about buying not only cover stories but visas to Sweden as well.

It is trivial to back-date a blog entry and there are many blogging sites that are free to use - they cover their costs by running advertising. Come here for the free food stamps, subsidised housing, welfare payments. Stay for the jihad.

I had mentioned that a homeless camp cooking fire was responsible for starting the fire that burned the Bel-Air homes - now, the 1%ers are getting worried - from the Los Angeles Times:

Bel-Air wrestles with homeless crisis after encampment fire destroys multimillion-dollar homes
In the tony hillside neighborhoods of Bel-Air and Brentwood, residents say they are aware of the homeless people who live in the shadows of their multimillion-dollar homes.

The affluent area along the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass, home to celebrities, corporate titans and others, has not been immune to the homeless crisis that has spread across Los Angeles. Some residents express sympathy and concern for the homeless, while others are wary and want them out.

But the Skirball fire, which destroyed homes and forced the evacuation of a large chunk of Bel-Air, has put the issue at the forefront of community debate. Officials say the blaze was caused by a cooking fire at a homeless camp along the 405. Investigators say the fire was set accidentally, but they have not been able to find those who occupied the camp.

It's one thing to virtue signal and attend tony fundraisers for dealing with homelessness, it is quite another to have one of them burn our house to the ground. In my post yesterday I outlined briefly how the issue of homelessness started with President John F. Kennedy and his Community Mental Health Act. We need to return to the days of institutionalization. The activists are pushing for the "rights" of the mentally ill but they fail to comprehend that most mentally ill people would much rather be in a safe secure environment than to be living out their lives on the streets.

Interesting news from Alabama

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It ain't over - from The Hill:

Possible recount in Alabama: What happens now?
Alabama Republican Roy Moore is refusing to concede in Tuesday's special Senate election, which has been called for Democrat Doug Jones.

Moore and his campaign are holding out hope as the final ballots are cast in case the margin dips to 0.5 percent or below, triggering an automatic recount.

It's unclear whether that will come to pass, as Jones led Moore by 1.5 points into late Tuesday night. But it's clear that no winner will be certified until at least Christmas.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told reporters during an impromptu Tuesday night press conference in his state capitol office that the state will direct counties to count provisional ballots, absentee ballots and military ballots.

We do live in interesting times. I bet that there are a good number of fraudulent votes to be found - enough to turn the tide?

Another case of Arkancide?

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People who cross Bill and Hillary Clinton tend to wind up dead. Here is a whole website devoted to tracking these cases: Arkancide

Here is one more for the list - from YourNewsWire:

US Surgeon, Who Exposed Clinton Foundation Corruption In Haiti, Found Dead
Dr. Dean Lorich, an orthopedic surgeon who volunteered in Haiti and exposed Clinton Foundation corruption and malpractice on the island, has been found dead in New York. He was 54.

Dr. Lorich was found by his 11-year-old daughter on the bathroom floor of his tony Upper East Side apartment with a knife in his chest at around 1pm on Monday.

The knife missed the surgeon’s heart, leaving him to bleed out and be found by his daughter. Despite the fact police were called to the property regarding an “assault“, they instantly registered the death as “suicide” and closed the case.

One of the United States’ leading surgeons, Dr. Lorich was part of the relief effort sent by the U.S. to assist the relief effort led by the Clinton Foundation in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. However Dr. Lorich was disgusted by the “shameful” Clinton Foundation operation, and voiced his concerns to Hillary Clinton directly.

Unsatisfied with her response, he went public, writing an article published by CNN, accusing the Clinton Foundation of widespread corruption and malpractice in Haiti that cost the lives of thousands of children.

And a bit more - the Clinton Foundation:

According to Dr. Lorich, a paltry 0.6% of donations granted by international donors to the Clinton Foundation with the express purpose of directly assisting Haitians actually ended up helping citizens of Haiti. 9.6% ended up with the Haitian government. The remaining 89.8%  – or $5.4 billion – was funneled to non-Haitian organizations.

Suicide. Sure. The article at CNN is here - a damning read: Doctors: Haiti medical situation shameful

The Wikileaks website has one of Hillary's emails that goes into greater detail: DOCTORS REPORT FROM HAITI

From Rutgers University:

Mass of Warm Rock Rising Beneath New England, Rutgers Study Suggests
Slowly but steadily, an enormous mass of warm rock is rising beneath part of New England, although a major volcanic eruption isn’t likely for millions of years, a Rutgers University-led study suggests. The research is groundbreaking in its scope and challenges textbook concepts of geology.

“The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon, and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England,” said lead author Vadim Levin, a geophysicist and professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “It is not Yellowstone (National Park)-like, but it’s a distant relative in the sense that something relatively small – no more than a couple hundred miles across – is happening.”

The study, which tapped seismic data through the National Science Foundation’s EarthScope program, was published online this week in Geology. Study co-authors include Yiran Li and Peter Skryzalin, who did their research through Rutgers’ Aresty Research Assistant Program, and researchers at Yale University.

“Our study challenges the established notion of how the continents on which we live behave,” Levin said. “It challenges the textbook concepts taught in introductory geology classes.”

Interesting. The Earthscope site is fascinating - lots of maps and data.

Internet woes

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I am at the store and the internet is bad here as well. Life in a small town.

Working on some other stuff so will try later this afternoon...

Internet woes

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My network connection has been up and down four five times this evening.

Time to work on some other stuff...

The California fires

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It will be interesting to see if the State of California will take funds away from social programs nad spend them on repairing their crumbling infrastructure. The winds caused power lines to arc and this is what caused the majority of the fires. Here is one other cause - from the Los Angeles Times:

Fire at a homeless encampment sparked Bel-Air blaze that destroyed homes, officials say
The blaze that swept through the hills of Bel-Air last week, destroying six homes and damaging a dozen others, was sparked by a cooking fire at a homeless encampment in a nearby ravine, Los Angeles officials said Tuesday.

The encampment was nestled in a canyon several hundred feet from Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 Freeway, hidden from passing cars. For several years, it had been home to an unknown number of people, officials said.

Investigators said the fire had not been set deliberately and they have not found any of the people who lived there. The camp — one of scores of makeshift communities that have grown along freeways, rivers and open space across Los Angeles — was largely destroyed in the fire, leaving authorities with little evidence.

And of course, it is not the homeless who are at fault:

News that one of Los Angeles’ most affluent neighborhoods was damaged in a fire sparked by some of the city’s poorest residents added a sober note to the incident, with some officials saying it underscores the need to do more to house the homeless.

The majority of the homeless are mentally ill - they used to be institutionalized and although these institutions were mundane and many times underfunded, at least they were fed and kept clean and given things to do according to their mental abilities. Enter President John F. Kennedy and his Community Mental Health Act - passed in 1963, it caused widespread deinstitutionalization. Every single act by progressives have only exacerbated the homeless problem. We need to return to a program of institutionalization. People will cry that this would violate the "rights" of the mentally ill but the mentally ill - by the very definition - are not capable of acting on their own best interests.

More here: The Sumburgh Head Foghorn

I really love old machinery...

Betting the farm house - Bitcoin

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It's a bubble folks - now this is just plain stupid. From CNBC:

People are taking out mortgages to buy bitcoin, says securities regulator
Bitcoin is in the "mania" phase, with some people even borrowing money to get in on the action, securities regulator Joseph Borg told CNBC on Monday.

"We've seen mortgages being taken out to buy bitcoin. … People do credit cards, equity lines," said Borg, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, a voluntary organization devoted to investor protection. Borg is also director of the Alabama Securities Commission.

And from Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge:

It's Official: Bitcoin Surpasses "Tulip Mania", Is Now The Biggest Bubble In World History
One month ago, a chart from Convoy Investments went viral for showing that among all of the world's most famous asset bubbles, bitcoin was only lagging the infamous 17th century "Tulip Mania."

One month later, the price of bitcoin has exploded even higher, and so it is time to refresh where in the global bubble race bitcoin now stands, and also whether it has finally surpassed "Tulips."

Conveniently, overnight the former Bridgewater analysts Howard Wang and Robert Wu who make up Convoy, released the answer in the form of an updated version of their asset bubble chart. In the new commentary, Wang writes that the Bitcoin prices have again more than doubled since the last update, and "its price has now gone up over 17 times this year, 64 times over the last three years and superseded that of the Dutch Tulip’s climb over the same time frame."

That's right: as of this moment it is official that bitcoin is now the biggest bubble in history, having surpassed the Tulip Mania of 1634-1637.

It will crash - we do not know when but it will crash. T and I have been talking about investments and financial strategy for our future - Bitcoin is nowhere near the picture.

The outrage - worlds smallest violin

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From the New York Post:

Family of Port Authority bombing suspect is ‘outraged’ at investigators’ tactics
The family of the alleged ISIS-inspired Port Authority bomber said they were “heartbroken” by the attack on Monday and blasted law enforcement agencies for what they claimed were heavy-handed tactics by investigators.

Seriously? What did they expect here - the guy came over here because some other relative had already immigrated. He did not bother to assimilate into our culture and he tried to kill himself while murdering and maiming as many people as he could. There was no indication that he was a lone wolf - this could have been part of a plot with other conspiritors.

I am eternally grateful that he was so stupid as to have botched the explosive. He could have seriously hurt people.

Worlds smallest violin? Originally from M.A.S.H.

Cool discovery to our North

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From the Canadian Broadcasting Company:

'This is a major discovery': Explorers find massive ice-age cavern beneath Montreal
Explorers have just discovered a new underground passage, complete with stalactites and a lake, all buried beneath the city of Montreal — and they don't know where it ends yet.

Until a couple of months ago, no one had ever set foot inside.

CBC crews were among the first people who had the chance to explore the cathedral-like chamber, which was formed more than 15,000 years ago during the ice age.

Makes you wonder what else is there. The majority of the mountains around here are limestone - lots of rumors of caves but nothing tangible.

The usual

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Coffee, post office, store...

More later

Some fun music

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Was looking through some YouTube channels and ran into this. T and I just finished watching Game of Thrones - this is cute:

Busy couple of days

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Up North for a few days - meeting with people and taking care of paperwork. Staring at a couple hundred new emails - I subscribe to a couple of fairly high-volume email lists so really need to pare back.

More as I surf...

President Obama invokes Godwin's Law

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Godwin's Law? Here:

Godwin's law (or Godwin's rule of Nazi analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1"

From Chicago's Crain's Business Journal:

Invoking the specter of Nazi Germany, Obama warns against complacency
American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Mixed in with many softer comments, that was the somewhat jaw-dropping bottom line of Barack Obama last night as, in a Q&A session before the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicagoan who used to be president dropped a bit of red meat to a hometown crowd that likely is a lot closer to him than the man whose name never was mentioned: President Donald Trump.

More at the site and no, Obama didn't come right out and say it but the inference is clear.

Light posting next couple of days

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Busy for the next couple of days - herding cats...

Excellent article at American Thinker:

Utah 'Monument' Was a Reward to a Clinton Donor
The shrinking in size of two national monuments in Utah by President Trump through executive order was a long overdue rebuke to federal land grabs that have enabled federal control of vast swaths of American land, particularly in the West. As the New York Times noted in 2016:

The United States government owns 47 percent of all land in the West. In some states, including Oregon, Utah and Nevada, the majority of land is owned by the federal government. Of course, it used to own nearly all of it….

East of the Mississippi… the federal government owns only 4 percent of land.

Part of that discrepancy is due to the vagaries of the Western expansion into the sparely populated frontier. Part of it is due to the desires of environmentalists to turn America into a save-the-earth postcard -- take pictures and don’t touch. President Trump, who has unlocked much of America’s resources that were formerly held hostage by greenies and others, has decided to return to the people of Utah control of and decision-making power over the land of Utah, so you no longer need permission from a Beltway bureaucrat to pick up a rock and move it one foot to the left.

Turns out the area has a rich coal deposit - the coal is low pollutant, low sulfur and very clean burining. Worth quite a lot and can be mined with minimal surface disturbance. President Clinton established the monument  and did a friend a favor:

Bill Clinton's unilateral land grab in Utah declaring 1.7 million acres a national monument and placing off-limits to an energy starved United States up to 62 billion tons of environmentally safe low sulfur coal worth $1.2 trillion that could have been mined with minimal surface impact was in fact a political payoff to the family of James Riady.

James Riady was the son of Lippo Group owner Mochtar Riady. Young James was found guilty of and paid a multi-million dollar fine for funneling more than $1 million in illegal political contributions through Lippo Bank into various American political campaigns, including Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential run. Connect the dots. Riady’s relationship between the Clintons, would be long and corrupt, even extending to donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton took off the world market the largest known deposit of clean-burning coal. Who owned and controlled the second-largest deposit in the world? The Indonesian Lippo Group of James Riady. It is found and strip-mined on the Indonesian island of Kalamantan.

The Utah reserve contains the kind of low-sulfur, low-ash, and therefore low-polluting coal the likes of which can be found in only a couple of places in the world. It burns so cleanly that it meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act without additional technology.

Shades of Hillary's Uranium One deal with Russia. They both need to do some hard time.

Another bureaucracy bits the dust

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Ever hear of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Brainchild of Fauxcahontis Elizabeth Warren who slipped into the Dodd Frank bill before it was passed by Congressional Democrats. Looks like it is being looked at closeley - from The New York Post:

Trump is finally fixing this economy-killing agency
President Trump’s executive orders slashing onerous Obama-era regulations on industry have been credited with kick-starting the sluggish economy and rocket-boosting the stock market. But there’s one mountain of red tape that’s eluded his machete — the Obama-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Until now.

Last week, the White House finally wrested control of the mammoth regulatory agency following the resignation of CFPB Director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee and liberal Democrat who quit his special five-year post early to run for Ohio governor.Trump installed his conservative budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to temporarily take over the powerful agency — which has the authority to determine the “fairness” of virtually every financial transaction in America.

On his first day on the job, Mulvaney instated a 30-day freeze on all new hiring and regulations at the CFPB, triggering a collective sigh of relief from the financial industry.

“It is a completely unaccountable agency, and I think that’s wrong,” Mulvaney explained. “If the law allowed this place not to exist, I’d sit down with the president to try to make the case that other agencies can do this job well if not more effectively.”

Good - there is a lot more at the article - this was a rogue government agency and needs to be gutted.

Boldly going - a new Star Trek movie

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Looks interesting - from Deadline Hollywood:

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Star Trek’ Will Be R-Rated: ‘The Revenant’s Mark L. Smith Frontrunner Scribe
EXCLUSIVE: After Deadline this week revealed that Quentin Tarantino pitched aStar Trek film to JJ Abrams and Paramount, the whole thing is moving at warp speed. Tarantino met for hours in a writers room with Mark L. Smith, Lindsey Beer, and Drew Pearce. They kicked around ideas and one of them will get the job. I’m hearing the frontrunner is Smith, who wrote The Revenant. The film will most certainly go where no Star Trek has gone before: Tarantino has required it to be R rated, and Paramount and Abrams agreed to that condition. Most mega budget tent poles restrict the film to a PG-13 rating in an effort to maximize the audience.

Sounds like quite the combination - Tarantino and Trek. A lot of fans will be up in arms for violating the canon but hell - this should be a really fun ride!

President Trump recognizes Israel

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Wonderful move on his part - from the London Daily Mail:

'Jerusalem IS Israel's capital': I will move our embassy there AND make peace with the Palestinians says Trump as he defies the world's warning he will set the Middle East on fire with dramatic change of policy
President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that America formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital city, changing decades of U.S. policy in a brief afternoon speech and casting the move as a bid to preserve, not derail, aspirations for regional peace.

Appearing in the White House's Diplomatic Reception Room against an elaborate backdrop of Christmas decorations, He also said the United States embassy in Israel would, over time, be moved there from Tel Aviv.

Israel is the only country where the United States has an embassy in a city that the host nation does not consider its capital.

'I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,' Trump said. 'While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today I am delivering.'

Excellent news! Of course, there will be grumbling from the Peanut Gallery but tough. It is time for people to start dealing with facts and not narratives.

An interesting set of fortunes

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People who know me will know that I collect way too much stuff for "future projects". If I see something for sale or at an auction, I will get it with the plans of using it at some later time. That time seldom comes with the result of my now having a barn and several outbuildings filled with "cool shit". My major focus is paring everything down to just the blacksmithing and metal work, music, amateur radio and electronics and photography. Nothing else. No more home brewing, no other crafts, no chemistry or biology projects, etc...

Trish is a wonderful artist - majored in it at the University - but has been involved with raising her two children and teaching for the last 20+ years. It is time for her to get back to her artwork.

Last night, we had Chinese takeout for dinner from our favorite restaurant and our fortunes were spot on.

Hers: Welcome the change coming soon into your life.
Mine: Now is a good time for a new collection or hobby.

Trish just muttered under her breath when I showed her mine. I love that woman!

Not surprising at all

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From D.C. station WTOP:

DC has highest percentage of heavy drinkers
Compared to states, the District ranks No. 2 for the percentage of adults who consume alcohol and No. 1 for the percentage of heavy drinkers, according to Detox.net, an online resource for alcohol abuse treatment programs.

According to the study, 65.9 percent of adults in D.C. have had at least one drink in the past month, second only to Wisconsin’s 67.3 percent. The study was based on data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which collects health-related data from phone interviews.

The study also says 11.1 percent of D.C. adults are what it labels heavy drinkers, consuming more than two drinks daily for men and more than one drink daily for women.

If I had to deal with the people there, I would self-medicate too...

From the Los Angeles Times:

Ventura County wildfire rages over 50,000 acres, destroys more than 150 structures; 27,000 flee
A fast-moving, wind-fueled wildfire swept into the city of Ventura early Tuesday, burning 50,000 acres, destroying homes and forcing more than 27,000 people to evacuate.

About 3,000 homes were evacuated, a firefighter was injured and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Ventura County on Tuesday morning, as some 1,000 personnel continued to battle the Thomas fire.

Gusts up pver 60 MPH

The stars come out at night

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They are shooting The Mountain in our tiny hamlet of Glacier for the next few days. Jeff Goldblum is the star and has been seen all over - very friendly and personable from all accounts. The film is still in development so nothing asvailable online about other stars or plot.

Should have called the experts

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When anyone talks about explosive demolition of a structure, the go-to people are the Loizeaux family at Controlled Demolition, Inc. They are a family-run business operating since their founding in 1947.

Here is what happens when you do not use them - from the Detroit Free Press:

Demolition executive says wiring to blame in failed Pontiac Silverdome implosion
A series of thunderous detonations rocked the Pontiac Silverdome early Sunday morning, sending up clouds of smoke and thrilling a spectator crowd of hundreds out to watch the start of the stadium's demolition.

But as the smoke cleared, a problem became apparent: the Silverdome was intact.

Officials with the demolition contractor, Detroit-based Adamo Group, confirmed that the explosions failed to bring down the steel columns supporting the Silverdome's upper level. The detonations — and anticipated collapse of the upper level — were to be the opening round for a year-long demolition project, which will mostly be done with hydraulic excavators.

Roughly 10% of the explosive charges did not detonate due to a wiring issue, said Rick Cuppetilli, executive vice president with Adamo. These unexploded charges were set up in eight key locations around the Silverdome. The precise cause of the wiring issue remained unclear early Sunday afternoon.

Here is how you do it - CDI's work at Seattle's Kingdome Sport's Arena - Sunday, March 26, 2000

And another one bites the dust

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Liberals' past lives are coming back to haunt them. From The New York Times:

Met Opera Suspends James Levine After New Sexual Abuse Accusations
The Metropolitan Opera suspended James Levine, its revered conductor and former music director, on Sunday after three men came forward with accusations that Mr. Levine sexually abused them decades ago, when the men were teenagers.

Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, announced that the company was suspending its four-decade relationship with Mr. Levine, 74, and canceling his upcoming conducting engagements after learning from The New York Times on Sunday about the accounts of the three men, who described a series of similar sexual encounters beginning in the late 1960s. The Met has also asked an outside law firm to investigate Mr. Levine’s behavior.

“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these news reports the Met has made the decision to act now,” Mr. Gelb said in an interview, adding that the Met’s board supported his actions. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”

And of course, there had been multiple complaints starting in 1987 and continuing forward. Back then, Mr. Levine was the "star" and anything otherwise was hushed up. Now, it is coming home to roost. Good.

Gun control I agree with

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From USA Today:

Exclusive: Feds issue 4,000 orders to seize guns from people who failed background checks
Federal authorities sought to take back guns from thousands of people the background check system should have blocked from buying weapons because they had criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them. 

A USA TODAY review found that the FBI issued more than 4,000 requests last year for agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to retrieve guns from prohibited buyers.

It's the largest number of such retrieval requests in 10 years, according to bureau records – an especially striking statistic after revelations that a breakdown in the background check system allowed a troubled Air Force veteran to buy a rifle later used to kill 26 worshipers at a Texas church last month. 

I fully agree with this. Lie on your 4473 and you should at the least have your gun taken away and at worst, suffer a fine or punishment at a Federal level.

Wonderful news - the travel ban

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Time to stop the radicalized middle-easterners from streaming in to our country without being properly vetted. From Associated Press:

Supreme Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban
The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries.

This is not a final ruling on the travel ban: Challenges to the policy are winding through the federal courts, and the justices themselves ultimately are expected to rule on its legality.

But the action indicates that the high court might eventually approve the latest version of the ban, announced by President Donald Trump in September. Lower courts have continued to find problems with the policy.

Hidden in the text is the fact that it was a 7 to 2 decision.

Just two justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, noted their disagreement...

This is not a ban on all travel, only people from six mostly Muslim countries. This is out of a total of 50 countries with a Muslim majority. A drop in the bucket. Also, do not forget that visa officials can make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Happy 25th birthday

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Yesterday - turns out Trish and Texting share the same birthday. From cNet:

OMG! Texting is 25 years old
Texting turned 25 on Sunday, ICYMI.

The first text message was sent on Dec. 3, 1992, by British engineer Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis, an executive at British telecom Vodafone, who was attending his company's holiday party in Newbury, England.

Typed out on a PC, it was sent to Jarvis's Orbitel 901, a mobile phone that would take up most of your laptop backpack, and read: Merry Christmas. But Jarvis didn't send a reply because there was no way to send a text from a phone in those days.

Although Papworth is credited with sending the first text message, he's not the so-called father of SMS. That honor (or blame) falls on Matti Makkonen, who initially suggested the idea back in 1984 at a telecommunications conference.

But texting didn't take off over night. First it had to be incorporated into the then-budding GSM standard. Makkonen feels the technology actually was launched in 1994 when Nokia unveiled its 2010 mobile phone, the first device that let people easily write messages.

Today, about 97 percent of smartphone owners use text messaging, according to Pew Research, and along the way, a new set of sub-languages based on abbreviations and keyboard-based imagery has evolved. More than 561 billion text messages were sent worldwide in June 2014, about 18.7 billion texts sent every day, according researcher TextRequest.

It is a handy way to keep in touch and also, if TEOTWAWKI ever happens, it is a very robust method of communication. Not fast - messages can take a while to get through the system but... they still get through even when the cellular network is overloaded or down.

Off for coffee and making phone calls

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Trying to line up a couple of people for a project. Kind of like herding cats...

More later.

A wonderful time was had by all

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Great party - hosted by T's sister whose husband was retiring. It was also T's birthday so it was a mix of extended family as well as colleagues of C - about 60 people all told. Complete mix with everyone from grandparents to 4 and 5 year-old kids.

Back home - Trish is driving her son home and we will celebrate with watching another couple of episodes of Game of Thrones and a bottle of our favorite wine.

Just in time for skiing - a drought

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The weather can be perverse at times. From Cliff Mass:

The Upcoming December "Drought" in the Northwest
A stunning transition is going to happen on Sunday.

Precipitation over the Northwest will end.

And we might not see another drop for over a week. Maybe more. An unusual occurrence in December. You will see sun....but as we will note there is a threat: low clouds and fog.

Let's take a look at the forecast upper level (500 hPa) maps this week from the NOAA GFS model...and be prepared to have your jaw drop!

As the podiatrist once said: This is a wail of toe 

Just what we need: gorgeous crisp clear days and no fresh powder for the prime skiing season. At least it should clear up in time for Christmas. That high-pressure ridge will bring some hard cold to the midwest.

First snowfall of the season

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It is snowing now in Glacier - about eight miles up the road from Maple Falls.

Mt Baker has had an incredible deposit of fresh powder - 28" in the last two days.

Two links from Zero Hedge:

First - fake news writ large:

ABC Makes "Epic Mistake", Retracts Bombshell Flynn Story
Having caused chaos in financial markets briefly, set the liberal media on fire with 'I told you so's, and sparked a renewed round of #ImpeachTrump demands, ABC News issued a 'clarification' to their bombshell Flynn report that not only negates the entire story but provides President Trump with another round of ammunition to fire against the 'fake news' media.

Second - no bias here, none at all...

Mueller's Top FBI Agent Probing Clinton Emails, Russian-Collusion "Removed" After Anti-Trump Texts Found
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's top FBI investigator into 'Russian meddling' and Clinton emails has been removed from the probe reportedly due to the discovery of anti-Trump text messages exchanged with a colleague (whom he happened to be having an extra-marital affair with).

I thought this was a big fat nothing-burger back when it first broke and I still think the same. These people are crafting boogeymen out of rumors. I do not know how much this "special investigation" has cost us taxpayers but I wish the Muller was on the hook for the cost if his claims turn out to be false.

These people are the poster children for what is wrong with our current deep state.

Busy day today too

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Trish's birthday is tomorrow - heading out for some last minute shopping plus run the dogs at the off-leash park. They have been cooped up for the last two days and are feeling rather rambunctious. Need to burn off some energy.

Today's auction is turning out to be a bust - they are streaming the bidding online and prices are up in the nosebleed territory. Good for them as they will make a lot of money but the equipment is just not worth what people are paying for it.

More posting later...

Long day

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Staying up so I do not get started on an odd sleep schedule but the hours are really starting to drag. Just turning 7:00PM but it feels like 11:00PM

No auction tomorrow

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The University of Washington is having a surplus equipment auction tomorrow and I spent an hour today looking over the lots being offered for sale.

Some nice lab equipment but I already have what I need. There were some nice machine tools - a CNC Bridgeport milling machine but it was missing major components (some of the drive motors, control panel, etc...)

No, not the one you are thinking of - this one. From Santa Barbara station KEYT-TV:

Second sphinx from 'Ten Commandments' set discovered in Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes
Archaeologists have unearthed a perfectly intact 300-pound plaster Egyptian sphinx at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes -- part of Cecil B. DeMille's 95-year-old movie set.

“The piece is unlike anything found on previous digs,” said Doug Jenzen, Executive Director of the Dunes Center. “The majority of it is preserved by sand with the original paint still intact. This is significant and shows that we’re still learning unexpected facets to film historical movie production such as the fact that objects in black and white films were actually painted extremely intense colors.”

A bit more:

The set in Santa Barbara County would go on to include pharaohs, sphinxes, and colossal temple gates for the beloved biblical epic. In all, 21 sphinxes graced the immense movie set. Only a fraction of the 12-stories-high 800-feet-wide set has been recovered.

Many believe the removal of the set after filming was too expensive and too valuable to leave behind for rival filmmakers to poach, so DeMille had it buried beneath the dunes.

Fortunately, archaeologists say the sand allows for drainage, which helps support the buried structures. Otherwise, Jenzen said, the set pieces would “turn to mush.”

I am surprised tat nobody has gone out there with a ground penetrating radar. The artifacts would be very evident.

A long day today

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Had an 8:00AM meeting with some people about 60 miles away. Spent last night at a nearby motel so I didn't have to drive far this morning. Set a wakeup call for 6:00AM but got called at 5:00AM - the owners had not set the time on their phone system from daylight savings. Was outside in pouring rain for a couple of hours so really tired tonight.

Trish is out at an end-of-year function for her teaching work so it will be an early bedtime for me. In Seattle for a week or so then back to the farm.

Had breakfast and was disappointed - only two customers in the restaurant and the emphasis was on quantity not quality. Stomach is still feeling a bit queasy from the scrambled eggs and bacon - very greasy and salty. I ate what I could, paid and left and promptly drove by The Farmer's Cafe and saw that it was packed. Next time...

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