April 2018 Archives

The Geek-fu is off the charts here - from The Atlantic:

Artificial Intelligence Is Cracking Open the Vatican's Secret Archives
The Vatican Secret Archives is one of the grandest historical collections in the world. It’s also one of the most useless.

The grandeur is obvious. Located within the Vatican’s walls, next door to the Apostolic Library and just north of the Sistine Chapel, the VSA houses 53 linear miles of shelving dating back more than 12 centuries. It includes gems like the papal bull that excommunicated Martin Luther and the pleas for help that Mary Queen of Scots sent to Pope Sixtus V before her execution. In size and scope, the collection is almost peerless.

That said, the VSA isn’t much use to modern scholars, because it’s so inaccessible. Of those 53 miles, just a few millimeters’ worth of pages have been scanned and made available online. Even fewer pages have been transcribed into computer text and made searchable. If you want to peruse anything else, you have to apply for special access, schlep all the way to Rome, and go through every page by hand.

But a new project could change all that. Known as In Codice Ratio, it uses a combination of artificial intelligence and optical-character-recognition (OCR) software to scour these neglected texts and make their transcripts available for the very first time. If successful, the technology could also open up untold numbers of other documents at historical archives around the world.

Just wow!  There is a big difference between trying to decipher a typeset page and one that was hand written. A fascinating article that goes into some of the difficulties of OCR - specifically the Catch 22 of Sayre's Paradox. A fun read if you are interested in typography - the solution is ingenious!

This will be an amazing resource for scholars and historians. Truly a fun time to be alive!

Bibi's speech

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Quite the disclosure:

Hopefully, heads are going to roll. Barry's legacy is crumbling to dust.

Back at the farm

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Turned out to be quite the busy day for not having anything planned.

The cell service at the new house is very problematic - I get good reception when I am outdoors on the deck but it drops off to nothing when I am inside. Foil vapor barrier in the insulation. I stopped at the cell store yesterday and they had a Wi-Fi mini-cell spot available for free so I got it. Connected it to my router and my broadband service slowed to a crawl and the lights on the Ethernet link were blinking steadily - it was hoovering up all of my bandwidth. Ran some diagnostics and it was the mini-cell unit - nothing else.

I unplugged it for a while to watch some YouTube videos and then plugged it back in and went to bed. Woke up this morning and had the same thing - huge bandwidth use and lousy internet for my other computers (I have a 1GB installation and routinly get 800Mb to 900Mb over a Wi-Fi link and was getting 1 or 2Mb with the mini-cell plugged in). I left it connected overnight in case there was some mamoth software update that was needed - no update should take more than 20 minutes over a Gig Ethernet connection...

Returned it to T-Mobile - I have a cell amplifier but it is for the older bands and will not support the 4G LTE frequencies so forking over $200 to Amazon for a new unit.

Ran a couple other errands and drove up here - dinner in Bellingham. Surf for a bit and then to bed - working tomorrow clearing out my storage locker and moving stuff to the condo.

Speaking truth to power - Israel

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Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at a bombshell a few days ago. Today he delivered. A few headlines:

And here is one with an excerpt - from The Times of Israel:

Secret docs ‘conclusively prove’ Iran sought nuclear weapons
Netanyahu says Iran’s secret nuclear files reveal that Iran’s nuclear program was designed to “test and build nuclear weapons.”

In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu says Israel recently obtained 55,000 documents and 183 CDs of information from Iran’s “nuclear archives.”

“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it says it never had a nuclear weapons program,” he says at a press conference in Tel Aviv. “The files prove that.”

He says the US has vouched for the authenticity of the secret archive obtained by Israel, and that Israel will make the documents available to the UN atomic agency and other countries.

I thought that the Iran deal was one of Obama's crowning achievements. Goes to show what an incompetent ninny he was and that he surrounded himself with other incompetents - John Kerry as Sec. State for crying out loud?

Heading North today

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Working on some stuff at the farm. Also moving the last of the stuff out of a storage locker. Downsizing is fun!

At the island for the night

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Had a nice big bowl of pasta - yes, I know that I am watching my carbohydrate intake but I allow myself to backslide every so often (or at least, that is my rationalization)...

Surf for a bit and then YouTube.

The cruise control for the new Toyota Highlander is quite nice - you can adjust the number of car lengths you want to keep from the car in front of you and it will keep you there through all kinds of traffic. I had a bunch of slow and variable traffic this afternoon and it kept me right there - set the control for 75MPH and I was driving 40-60 and always staying a very safe and constant distance from the car ahead of me.

Quiet day today

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Running a few errands and then heading up to the island for the day. At the farm for the rest of the week.

Explains a lot - alcohol

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From The Hill:

Washington’s heavy-drinking ways in spotlight
President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs withdrew his name from consideration this week after a number of serious allegations were raised about his stewardship as White House physician, including that he drank on the job.

The allegations against Ronny Jackson of excessive drinking shine a light on a problem that, while not unique to Washington, is particularly acute in the nation’s capital.

Washington, D.C., has the highest rates of binge and problem drinking in America.

A bit more:

“There is just a strong push and culture of intoxication in D.C. It’s been like that for a long time,” said Kevin Sabet, who served in the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy in three different administrations. “It’s not a Republican or Democrat issue. It really cuts across all ideologies.”

Impared judgement and potential for blackmail - explains a lot about how efficient our federal government is. More at the site including some historical anecdotes. Interesting that President Trump does not drink or smoke having seen his older brother - Fred - die of alcoholism at age 48.

Beginning of a new era - downsizing

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Sold my truck today. Got a really good deal from a Toyota dealer in Everett through the Costco auto program - they gave me a couple thousand over the Kelly Blue Book price and cut a couple thousand off the price of a new Toyota Highlander with 12 miles on the odometer.

A lot of fun to drive, great visibility and loads of cargo space as the rear seats fold down flat.

The truck was a lot of fun and I have been driving trucks for the last 20 years but it is time to downsize - I am no longer doing the large projects I used to do and do not need the capacity or cost of operation.

Photos in a day or two...

Off for the day

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Heading out to look at cars - I love my truck but no longer need the size. Looking at a replacement this afternoon - see if we can negotiate a deal...

We will be going to the island later this afternoon.

Follow the money - President Trump

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Interesting nugget in the Report on Russian Active Measures (PDF) released this morning (April 27th, 2018) - this is the report on the Trump Dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS and a former staffer for Dem Senator Dianne Feinstein named Daniel Jones. From Cristina Laila writing at Gateway Pundit:

BOMBSHELL: Group of Wealthy Donors Paid $50 Million to Fund Trump-Russia Investigation
A group of about 7-10 wealthy donors from California (Silicon Valley) and New York spent $50 million to fund a Trump-Russia investigation conducted by none other than Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS and a former staffer for Dem Senator Dianne Feinstein named Daniel Jones.

Christopher Steele, a former British spy, was hired by Fusion GPS to conduct ‘oppo research’ on Donald Trump. Steele then compiled a 35-page dossier from a series of memos he penned alleging Trump commissioned help from Russia in order to win the presidential election.

Hillary Clinton’s camp and the DNC also funded the dossier.

The sooner the swamp is drained, the better.

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Mattis on Russian Mercenaries in Syria: I Ordered Their Annihilation
Secretary of Defense James Mattis explained Thursday why he directed a strike that reportedly killed hundreds of Russian mercenaries in Syria back in February.

Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. has a deconfliction line with Russia to ensure that the two countries can communicate in order to avoid direct conflict with one another in Syria. He said that a group of "irregular forces" were in conflict with U.S. forces, and once it was ascertained that those forces were not Russian regulars, Mattis directed a counterattack.

"The Russian high command in Syria assured us it was not their people, and my direction to the chairman was for the force, then, to be annihilated," Mattis said. "And it was."

I wonder who was on the Russian end of the deconfliction line and if they are still at their post (or still breathing).

About that Global Warming - Florida

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From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

Alarming number of manatees are dying in Florida this year
An environmental watchdog group says manatees are dying at an alarming rate this year and cautions 2018 could be one of the deadliest years on record for the sea creatures.

More than 160 manatees have died in the first two months of the year — a morality rate that sets a pace to easily eclipse last year’s total of 538 manatee deaths and could surpass the all-time record of 803 deaths in 2013, national nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) warns.

So far, 166 manatees have died statewide through March 2, according to statistics by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Cold snaps in January accounted for 51 of the statewide deaths from cold-stress, state statistics show.

“Florida’s manatees are one big freeze away from an ecological disaster and need more, not less, protection,” PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said in a statement. “Manatees may join polar bears as one of the first iconic victims of extinction in the wild from climate change.”

Global Warming? Have not seen anything appreciable for the last 20 years so now they are branding it Climate Change. Guess what - the climate has always been changing. It was changing while we were still living in the treetops and it will continue to change long after we are extinct.

The idea that the human race can effect a drastic change in the world's climate is absolute pure hubris.

Something cool from Google

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Ahhh Google - the company that people love to hate (privacy concerns). They came out with an artificial intellegence kit for makers last year. Now they came out with a much improved pair - from Google Developers blog:

AIY Projects: Updated kits for 2018
Last year, AIY Projects launched to give makers the power to build AI into their projects with two do-it-yourself kits. We're seeing continued demand for the kits, especially from the STEM audience where parents and teachers alike have found the products to be great tools for the classroom. The changing nature of work in the future means students may have jobs that haven't yet been imagined, and we know that computer science skills, like analytical thinking and creative problem solving, will be crucial.

We're taking the first of many steps to help educators integrate AIY into STEM lesson plans and help prepare students for the challenges of the future by launching a new version of our AIY kits. The Voice Kit lets you build a voice controlled speaker, while the Vision Kit lets you build a camera that learns to recognize people and objects (check it out here). The new kits make getting started a little easier with clearer instructions, a new app and all the parts in one box.

To make setup easier, both kits have been redesigned to work with the new Raspberry Pi Zero WH, which comes included in the box, along with the USB connector cable and pre-provisioned SD card. Now users no longer need to download the software image and can get running faster. The updated AIY Vision Kit v1.1 also includes the Raspberry Pi Camera v2.

Looks like a fun kit with a lot of possibilities for machine learning. What makes it fun is that these kits are being sold at Target of all places: Google Voice Kit AIY and Google Vision Kit AIY

Fun time to be alive...

Got nothing today

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Worked all day - had dinner on the deck earlier and that was delightful. Picked up some fresh tortillas this afternoon and brought the left-over taco fixings down with me this morning. Brought a shelving unit from home - makes the garage a lot more organized.

Taking care of a couple of business emails. Surfed for a while and nothing of interest happening out there.

Yikes - horrible traffic accident

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I was driving South to the island and saw that the traffic on Interstate 5 was solidly backed up for as far as I could see. The next exit was 218 - six miles North of 212 which was what I wanted. Did the smart thing and ducked off and took Old Route 99 South - was doing 50MPH and looking at the six miles of stationary vehicles on I-5.

None of the usual emergency websites have anything yet - The Seattle Times has a brief précis:

At least two dead in I-5 accident north of Stanwood
At least two are dead and all Interstate 5 northbound lanes north of Stanwood are closed this afternoon after a collision, according to the State Patrol. The accident occurred near exit 215.

The accident, which occurred around 1 p.m., has caused traffic to be diverted off of I-5 at exit 215 and routed north past the accident scene to the I-5 ramp at Starbird Road.

The State Patrol didn’t immediately say how many cars were involved in the collision, if there were other injuries or what might have caused the accident.

Keeping these poor people (and their families) in our prayers.

Heading South for the day

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Down to Camano for the day - working on some stuff there. Having my truck get some routine service in Bellingham next morning and then down to Seattle for a few days. The next couple of months are going to be nuts...

Crooked Hillary

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An interesting bit of information not being covered by the mainstream media - from The Federalist:

Bombshell: FEC Records Indicate Hillary Campaign Illegally Laundered $84 Million
The press continues to feed the dying Russia collusion conspiracy theory, spending Friday’s news cycle regurgitating Democrat talking points from the just-filed Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act lawsuit against the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, and Russia.

Yet the mainstream media took no notice of last week’s federal court filing that exposes an $84 million money-laundering conspiracy the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign executed during the 2016 presidential election in violation of federal campaign-finance law.

That lawsuit, filed last week in a DC district court, summarizes the DNC-Clinton conspiracy and provides detailed evidence from Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings confirming the complaint’s allegations that Democrats undertook an extensive scheme to violate federal campaign limits.

A lot more at the site - this will be an interesting suit to follow. Wonder where Atty. General Sessions is on this...

And that is it for the night

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Back to work and then YouTube - early bedtime.

Well, dinner was a bust

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All set to make some tacos for dinner - got everything ready and opened up the package of tortillas and they were damp and moldy. Sell-by date was 06/12/18 so just a bad batch. Had some burger buns left over from last night so ate them that way but not what I was craving.

Been busy the last couple of days and will be busy for the next couple of months to follow - got a lot on my plate.

Reforming Medicare

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Excellent news - from PBS:

Medicare to require hospitals to post prices online
Medicare will require hospitals to post their standard prices online and make electronic medical records more readily available to patients, officials said Tuesday.

Let the informed customer make their own decisions. A bit more:

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the new requirement for online prices reflects the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to encourage patients to become better-educated decision makers in their own care.

“We are just beginning on price transparency,” said Verma. “We know that hospitals have this information and we’re asking them to post what they have online.”

Good - this will encourage clinics and hospitals to specialize and this will drive costs down. Clinics that specialize offer better service and cheaper prices. Eye Surgery, Hernias, etc...

An interesting shift - Ford

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Curious if true - from Tech Crunch:

Ford to stop selling every car in North America but the Mustang and Focus Active
Ford today announced it will phase out most cars it sells in North America. According to its latest financial release, the auto giant “will transition to two vehicles” — the Mustang and an unannounced vehicle, the Focus Active, being the only traditional cars it sells in the region. Ford sees 90 percent of its North America portfolio in trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. Citing a reduction in consumer demand and product profitability, Ford is in turn not investing in the next generation of sedans. The Taurus is no more.

The press release also talks about a new type of vehicle, though it sounds like a crossover. This so-called white space vehicle will “combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility.”

Currently, Ford sells six sedans and coupes in North America: the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, C-Max, Mustang and Taurus. This lineup hits multiple segments, from the compact Fiesta to the mid-size Focus, C-Max and Fusion to the full-size Taurus. The Mustang stands alone as the lone coupe.

Makes sense in a way - Ford trucks are their top seller. I love mine. I have been looking at downsizing and there is not a Ford passanger vehicle that I find attractive. Leaning more toward a Toyota Highlander or RAV-4 or 4Runner. Go with what you know.

Wish I had some spare change - Moby

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Quite the collection of instuments - from Reverb:

Moby to Sell Synth Collection on Reverb, Donate Proceeds
Known for albums such as Play and 18, Moby has solidified his place within the electronica genre, having amassed a large fan base with his ethereal electronica. Last month, he released a his fifteenth studio album Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt. Today, we here at Reverb are excited to announce the launch of the Official Moby Reverb Shop on Thursday, April 26, which will feature over 100 pieces of his personal recording and touring equipment.

"This is the equipment I've used to make all my records," Moby told us. “I have so much equipment, and almost all of it has profound sentimental value to me, including synthesizers I started using in the ‘80s. But rather than keep it all in storage, I want to sell it for a good cause."

All of Moby's proceeds from the shop will benefit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — an organization dedicated to dramatically changing the way that doctors treat chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.

An amazing collection and the charity looks like they do fine work: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Got nothing

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Nothing catches my eye on the intarwebs. Read the whole thing too!

YouTube for a while and then to bed. Busy day tomorrow.

In food coma

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Dinner was wonderful - the temperature is perfect and the burger came out delicious. The two ears of corn were a little starchy but tasty.

Surf for a bit and then an early bedtime.

First, this great article from Forbes:

If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?
Over the last year, the media have published story after story after story about the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines.

People who read these stories are understandably left with the impression that the more solar and wind energy we produce, the lower electricity prices will become.

And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per watt declined by 75 percent while the price of wind turbines per watt declined by 50 percent.

And yet — during the same period — the price of electricity in places that deployed significant quantities of renewables increased dramatically.

Electricity prices increased by:

What gives? If solar panels and wind turbines became so much cheaper, why did the price of electricity rise instead of decline?

The author puts forward several hypotheses and then says this:

The main reason appears to have been predicted by a young German economist in 2013.

In a paper for Energy Policy, Leon Hirth estimated that the economic value of wind and solar would decline significantly as they become a larger part of electricity supply.

The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.

Solar and wind thus require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

Hirth predicted that the economic value of wind on the European grid would decline 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity while the value of solar would drop by 50 percent when it got to just 15 percent.

The natural gas plants have to be running on hot standby as if they are completely shut down, it takes ten minutes or so for them to start. An interesting read - well worth your time.

Secondly, when the government removes the subsidies (ie: our tax dollars), the economics of alt.energy come crashing back down to reality. From James Delingpole writing at Breitbart:

Germany’s Solar Industry Crashes and Burns
Germany’s solar industry has crashed and burned after the government drastically cut its subsidies.

James quotes from a number of sources showing the spike in cost and has this to say:

Germany’s great transition from fossil fuel power to renewables – its Energiewende – will cost the economy an estimated 520 billion Euros ($635 billion) by 2020. This is roughly equal to 25,000 Euros ($30,500) per family of four.

The collapse of solar industry in Germany puts into perspective EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s recent comments on renewables.

“It’s not the job of this agency, or any job in the federal government, to use regulatory power to favor of one sector of the economy over another. And what you saw with the past administration is just that — an attitude that says fossil fuel … is something that should be diminished in favor of, what, renewables. That doesn’t mean renewables shouldn’t be a part of our electricity-generation mix. It should be. But to use regulatory power to favor renewables at the expense natural gas, oil and coal is just something that’s not within the regulatory powers of this agency. And so we’re fixing that.’

Wise words. The second article is well worth reading too. A harbinger of what we will face if we go overboard with the idea of renewable energy. It is a rat hole. We should be persuing Thorium reactors instead of this.

Gorgeous day today

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Fixing a burger on the grill and eating outside. The first really nice warm day of the season.

Did about two pounds of meat so there are also burgers for my pups. Of course! Two ears of corn too. I love this time of year.

Quote of the day

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Great quote:

Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad
--Henry Kissinger

Minimal posting today

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Out the door to take care of some things - working pretty hard for the next couple of days.

Back at the farm

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Went out for a bite to eat but my favorite local restaurant was closed. Now that Mt. Baker has closed for the ski season, we are entering our slow time until school lets out and the trails open up. Most places are open limited hours. There was another place that is decent and had a basic burger there.

Surf for a bit and to bed. Busy day tomorrow...

Toronto

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Word is coming in about a driver of a van who drove on the sidewalk hitting many and murdering nine poor souls. The driver is in captivity - more as it develops.

At the farm for a day or three

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Back at the farm for a few days - getting ready for an estate sale and auction. Should be fun! I have too much crap that I never use and too many half-done projects that will never be completed. Time to strip down to the essentials and get on with life. Sales will be in a couple months - it will be a lot of fun (as well as profitable!)

Interesting news on the Energy front

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From Environment & Energy News:

DOE could use wartime law to help coal. Here's how it works
Invoking a Korean War-era law to aid struggling coal and nuclear units would represent a dramatic expansion of the Trump administration's campaign to rescue the industry, lobbyists and analysts said yesterday.

The Department of Energy is reportedly weighing use of the Defense Production Act of 1950 to prevent the retirement of ailing coal and nuclear units at the request of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The law gives the president broad powers to require businesses to prioritize contracts for materials deemed vital to national security. Bloomberg first reported on DOE's plan.

A bit more about the law

The Defense Production Act was passed during the Korean War to ensure the U.S. industrial base could meet the needs of the American war effort. It was later used during the California energy crisis, when the government compelled natural gas suppliers to fulfill contracts with the then-ailing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The idea was controversial at the time.

In a 2001 hearing about the law's use during the crisis, then-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm (R) said, "The Defense Production Act is the most powerful and potentially dangerous American law, in my opinion."

The law was amended in 2009 to restrict its use, said Susan Tierney, a former DOE official in the Obama administration. Two provisions require the law to be limited to scenarios where a scarce material is essential to national defense or to instances where national defense requirements cannot be fulfilled without disrupting civilian markets.

All it will take is one major storm during an unseasonably cold winter to collapse the grid.

Clutter

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XKCD nails it - so true:

20180422-clutter.jpg

On the road again

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Heading out in an hour or two - back to the farm for a few days.

Warnings for Romaine Lettuce

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The E. Coli outbreak is getting worse - from Food Safety News:

All get expanded romaine warnings because of Alaska findings
The federal government today expanded its romaine lettuce warning to include all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, AZ, growing region, including whole heads and hearts of romaine in addition to chopped, because of an ongoing E. coli outbreak. No specific brands, growers or processors have been named.

On April 13, the warning against romaine from the Yuma, AZ, only included pre-chopped romaine and salads containing pre-cut romaine. At that time 35 people from 11 states had been confirmed with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the sick people, 22 had required hospitalization.

The CDC’s expanded warning today did not go as far as Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization, did in recent days, urging people to avoid eating any form of romaine lettuce from any region because of the “potentially fatal consequences” until the government declares it “definitely safe.”

The CDC has these recomendations

    • Do not buy or eat romaine lettuce in any form from a grocery store or restaurant unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, AZ, growing region.
    • Unless the source of the lettuce is known, consumers anywhere in the United States who have any store-bought romaine lettuce at home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. Food contaminated with E. coli usually does not look or smell bad.
    • Product labels often do not identify growing regions; so, throw out any romaine lettuce if you’re uncertain about where it was grown. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, pre-packaged salads, and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
    • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce in any form from the Yuma, AZ, growing region.
    • The expanded warning is based on information from the illnesses in Alaska . Ill people in Alaska reported eating lettuce from whole heads of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.

Borg Vs. McEnroe - the movie

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It was a good day for a movie so T and I went to see Borg Vs. McEnroe

Excellent film and a fun job of interspersing older video clips with new footage. Well worth seeing on the big screen.

Decluttering

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T and I are embarking on a campaign to declutter our lives. Some interesting statistics from Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist:

21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own
Most of us know we own too much stuff. We feel the weight and burden of our clutter. We tire of cleaning and managing and organizing. Our toy rooms are messy, our drawers don’t close, and our closets are filled from top to bottom. The evidence of clutter is all around us.

Today, increasing data is being collected about our homes, our shopping habits, and our spending. The research is confirming our observation: we own too much stuff. And it is robbing us of life.

Here are the first five out of Joshua's list of 21 - sobering:

    1. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
    2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
    3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
    4. While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy).
    5. The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. Thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing (SSA).

Much more at the site - we are drowning in clutter.

The product is slick but they lose money with each one sold - they depend on government handouts subsidies to survive. From Soverign Man:

More hilarious facts about Tesla from a hedge fund manager who’s short the stock
A few weeks ago, we shared a note about Tesla from the hedge fund Vilas Capital Management. The firm, which is short the shares, said “Tesla is going to crash in the next 3-6 months.”

I received an update from Vilas this morning explaining why they’re even more bearish on Tesla today. The firm pared its short positions after the recent selloff. And Telsa now comprises about 98% of their short book.

Clearly Vilas thinks Tesla’s reckoning is imminent.

Spiffy product - they definitely catch the eye when you see one but still, our taxpayer dollars at work. Time for the market to level things out a bit.

On the road again

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Heading down to Seattle for a few days. More posting later tonight.

Back to work

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Loading up the truck for another run to the dump - getting to know the staff there...

Great short editorial by Ted Cruz

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I would not mind seeing Mr. Cruz in the white house once President Trump's two terms of office are over. He gets it.
From Time Magazine:

DONALD TRUMP by Ted Cruz
President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature.

The same cultural safe spaces that blinkered coastal elites to candidate Trump’s popularity have rendered them blind to President Trump’s achievements on behalf of ordinary Americans. While pundits obsessed over tweets, he worked with Congress to cut taxes for struggling families. While wealthy celebrities announced that they would flee the country, he fought to bring back jobs and industries to our shores. While talking heads predicted Armageddon, President Trump’s strong stand against North Korea put Kim Jong Un back on his heels.

President Trump is doing what he was elected to do: disrupt the status quo. That scares the heck out of those who have controlled Washington for decades, but for millions of Americans, their confusion is great fun to watch.

Spot on analysis.

Another full day

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Heading out for coffee, post office, dump and then back home to load up for another dump run.

A new way to make graphene

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Graphene is one of the latest hot new materials - it is basically a very thin layer of carbon and can be used for electronics as well as chemical processes (filtering) Used to be expensive to manufacture but no more - from MIT:

A graphene roll-out
MIT engineers have developed a continuous manufacturing process that produces long strips of high-quality graphene.

The team’s results are the first demonstration of an industrial, scalable method for manufacturing high-quality graphene that is tailored for use in membranes that filter a variety of molecules, including salts, larger ions, proteins, or nanoparticles. Such membranes should be useful for desalination, biological separation, and other applications.

“For several years, researchers have thought of graphene as a potential route to ultrathin membranes,” says John Hart, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity at MIT. “We believe this is the first study that has tailored the manufacturing of graphene toward membrane applications, which require the graphene to be seamless, cover the substrate fully, and be of high quality.”

Very cool!

Self-driving cars boats

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Curious development - from Motherboard:

Autonomous Boats Will Be On the Market Sooner Than Self-Driving Cars
When the Costa Concordia hit a rock near Tuscany and dipped into the Mediterranean in 2012, people around the world wondered how the captain of a cruise ship carrying 4,229 people could have made such a simple yet fatal miscalculation. Altogether, 32 passengers died.

“Ships worth hundreds of millions of dollars shouldn’t be able to be manually driven onto the rocks. We have the technology available to control these vessels,” marine engineer Michael Johnson, who worked as vice-president of project management at Crowley Maritime at the time, told me in a phone interview from Boston. His company ultimately won a bid to perform what, at $1.5 billion, became the most expensive commercial salvage of all time.

Had no idea that the volume of shipping was so great:

In the autonomous revolution that is underway, nearly every transportation machine will eventually be self-driving. For cars, it’s likely going to take decades before we see them operating freely, outside of test conditions. Some unmanned watercraft, on the other hand, may be at sea commercially before 2020.

That’s partly because automating all ships could generate a ridiculous amount of revenue. According to the United Nations, 90 percent of the world’s trade is carried by sea and 10.3 billion tons of products were shipped in 2016. According to NOAA’s National Ocean Service, ships transported $1.5 trillion worth of cargo through US ports in 2016. The world’s 325 or so deep-sea shipping companies have a combined revenue of $10 billion.

Makes a lot of sense - eliminating 20-50 jobs per ship quickly adds up. No reason why the Captain can't be sitting in an office somewhere looking at a screen for eight hours (although the mariner in me cringes at the thought).

Yikes - power outage in Puerto Rico

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From the Chicago Tribune:

Excavator blamed for blackout that left 1.4 million without power in Puerto Rico
An island-wide blackout hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday after an excavator accidentally downed a transmission line, officials said, as the U.S. territory struggles to repair an increasingly unstable power grid nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria.

Officials said it could take 24 to 36 hours to fully restore power to more than 1.4 million customers as outrage grew across the island about the state of Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority. It was the second major outage in less than a week, with the previous one affecting some 840,000 customers.

Odd that the grid would be so tender that one incident could take out the entire thing. The last paragraph speaks volumes:

The new blackout occurred as Puerto Rico legislators debate a bill that would privatize the island's power company, which is $14 billion in debt and relies on infrastructure nearly three times older than the industry average.

Hate to think of what combination of corruption and incompetence brought this about. Privatization is the way to go here - establish some standards and stick to them.

Busy day - in the dumps

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Did a dump run this morning after my coffee and now the truck is full again. Dead carpet, floor tiles, cardboard for recycling. Basically gutting the house and starting over again.

Heading out for dinner - surf for a bit when I get home.

An odd dinner

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Drove about 20 miles North to eat at the Hong Kong restaurant in Mt. Vernon. It had gotten good reviews and was awarded the Best of Skagit County for 13 years so I figured it would be decent.

Very strange - started off with a cup of Hot and Sour soup and it was delicious. Nice and pungent and flavorful with lots of bits of stuff in the soup. Really tasty. Next time I catch a cold, I am driving there just to have a big bowl of it.

I then had their Ginger Beef and was a big letdown! The meat was good but it should have been called Onion Beef - loads of white onion in there - semi-raw. The ginger was dried powdered ginger so I would get the occasional flavor but no slices of fresh ginger root that makes the dish what it is.

From The Smithsonian:

First Infant Gorilla Born at the Zoo in Nine Years; Watch a Video of the Birth
As heavy rains engulfed Washington, D.C., last night, the city welcomed an eagerly awaited ape into the world. At 6:25 p.m., Moke—“little one” in Central Africa’s Lingala language—became the first male western lowland gorilla born at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in nine years.

In the minutes after giving birth, 15-year-old Calaya cradled her newborn in her arms. Since confirming the pregnancy last fall, Zoo staff had been hard at work preparing for the important addition to a species whose wild population has decreased by about 60 percent over the past quarter-century, due to disease and poaching. “The birth of this western lowland gorilla is very special and significant, not only to our Zoo family, but also to this critically endangered species as a whole,” said primate curator Meredith Bastian in a report from the Zoo. “The primate team’s goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother. Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya.”

A little over 16,000 of them. Searchable and you can either listen to them online or download individual ones as a WAV file.

Go here: BBC Sound Effects

Some restrictions:

The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license.

President Trump and Korea

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The guy knows how to get things done; how to get people talking together. From CNBC:

North and South Korea reportedly set to announce official end to war
North and South Korea are in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between the two countries, daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed South Korean official.

Ahead of a summit next week between North Korean premier Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, lawmakers from the neighboring states were thought to be negotiating the details of a joint statement that could outline an end to the confrontation.

Kim and Moon could also discuss returning the heavily fortified demilitarized zone separating them to its original state, the newspaper said.

Nothing like some sanctions with teeth, a possible visit of the Rods from God (story, definition) wiping out Nork's nuclear capabilities. Fat-boy Kim is worth billions - he went to school in Switzerland, he could just as well live out his days there.

Great insight into what is happening in the political arena from C Thi Nguyen writing at Aeon:

Escape the echo chamber
Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry. Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention. An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side. An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

Explains a lot and it is fun (as a conservative libertarian) to see the self-induced bubble that the author has placed themselves in - they only cite examples from the far right. Virtue signalling much?

And that is it for the night

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Filing my taxes tonight - spent some time today getting all the papers organized. Also installed some track lighting in the new DaveCave - the existing lighting was one ceiling fixture at the top of the stairs and one naked 100 Watt bulb hanging by some zip cord - not code by any stretch of the imagination. Now I have nice LED lighting - dimmable too although I do not have the dimmer installed yet.

Should only take an hour so I will surf for a bit after that - YouTube too.
See if anything interesting crawls out from under a rock...

Russian meddling

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Now this is interesting - from Newsweek:

PUTIN IS FUNDING GREEN GROUPS TO DISCREDIT NATURAL GAS FRACKING
Forget about allegations of Russian interference in U.S. presidential elections for a moment, or even “collusion” between Russian officials and Trump campaign operatives.

The real action is in the European and U.S. energy markets, according to a letter from two Texas congressmen to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that details what they call “a covert anti-fracking campaign” with “little or no paper trail.”

A bit more:

Smith and Weber quote sources saying the Russian government has been colluding with environmental groups to circulate “disinformation” and “propaganda” aimed at undermining hydraulic fracturing. Commonly called fracking, the process makes it possible to access natural gas deposits.

Russia sells Natural Gas to the rest of their world. This is one of their larger sources of hard currency. They will do anything to prevent anyone else from tapping into this market. They have been selling Natural Gas and Propane to the USA and Canada for a long long time - here is an article from May 15th, 2008:

MTUSA to Subscribe for 100% of Capacity in North American LNG Terminal
Gazprom Marketing & Trading USA, Inc. (GMTUSA) and the Rabaska partners, Gaz Métro (TSX: GZM.UN), Enbridge Inc. (TSX, NYSE: ENB) and Gaz de France (Euronext Paris : GAZ) announced today that they have signed a Letter of Intent outlining the major terms under which GMTUSA will become an equity partner in the proposed Rabaska liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification project and contract for 100 percent of the import terminal’s capacity. The parties expect to execute definitive agreements before the end of this year.

Using the Rabaska terminal, GMTUSA, a wholly owned subsidiary of OAO Gazprom, expects to import Russian LNG supplied from the Shtokman liquefaction project currently under development by OAO Gazprom, which anticipates initial production of LNG from Shtokman in 2014. The Shtokman gas and condensate field, discovered in 1988, is located in the central part of the Barents Sea, approximately 450 kilometers northeast of the city of Murmansk, Russia. The Rabaska terminal is designed to be capable of receiving, storing and re-gasifying imported LNG with a nominal natural gas send-out capacity of 500 million cubic feet per day.

Like I said, their natural gas industry is a major source of revenue for Russia and they will do anything to prevent anyone else from taking their rice bowl away - what's a couple million cash to some environmental groups. That is pocket change when you look at the money at stake.

Starbucks in the news again

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Two days ago, I posted five  reasons why not to patronize Starbucks Coffee. The New York Times published reason number six:

Starbucks Employee Who Called Police on Black Men No Longer Works There, Company Says

... excerpted ...

On Thursday, the two men asked to use the coffee shop’s restroom. An employee refused the request because the men had not bought anything, officials said. They sat down, and they were eventually asked to leave. When they declined, an employee called the police.

Some of what happened next was recorded in a video that has been viewed over 10 million times on Twitter and that was described by Mr. Johnson as “very hard to watch.” Police officers surrounded the men and escorted one of them out of the Starbucks in handcuffs. The other soon followed.

The men, who have not been identified, were arrested on suspicion of trespassing. But Starbucks did not want to press charges and the men were later released, Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. of the Philadelphia Police Department said in a recorded statement on Saturday.

And a bit more:

The episode goes to the heart of how the company has modeled itself, with campaigns that address racial and social issues and promote its image as a community meeting place for customers to linger.

In 2015, the company encouraged its baristas to write the words Race Together on coffee cups as a way of promoting discussion and unity. Many were skeptical of the effort, pointing out that Starbucks’s own leadership was predominantly white.

A perfect textbook case of virtue signalling - Howard &co are saying cool edgy hip stuff to try to engage today's culture but all the while, their board of directors is populated with old white people and there is no apparent training of the staff.

Besides, their coffee is mediocre at best.

From Marijuana Moment:

Trump To Support Major Marijuana Legislation
President Trump is preparing to support far-reaching legislation to reform federal marijuana prohibition so that states can enact their own cannabis laws without interference.

“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said in a statement. “Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

In a briefing with reporters on Friday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the development, calling Gardner’s statement “accurate.”

“We’re always consulting Congress about issues including states’ rights, of which the president is a firm believer,” she said.

Very cool - States' Rights is part of the constitution embodied in the Tenth Amendment:

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

28 words and a very powerful addition to our Constitution. This is where the power of government should rest.

Rain rain go away

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Been raining more than usual for Spring in the Pacific Northwest. This has caught Cliff Mass' eye (here and here). It sounds really nice on the roof but it is taking its toll - Special Weather Statement from the National Weather Service:

...HEAVY RAINFALL OVER THE LAST FEW DAYS HAS LED TO AN INCREASED THREAT OF LANDSLIDES IN WESTERN WASHINGTON...
Rainfall of up to 2 to 5 inches over the lowlands and foothills of western Washington in the past several days has once again increased soil moisture to high levels. Light to moderate showers are expected today that could add up to only a half an inch to an inch in some places. But with these wet soils that could be enough to trigger a landslide or two. This elevated threat will persist through Tuesday, before slowly decreasing over the following few days.

Several landslides have already been reported or suspected in various locations in western Washington in the last day or two, including on the Burke-Gilman trail in King County, and this morning on the railroad tracks just south of Everett.

Just wonderful. A lot of the island shoreline is bluff - hope that everybody stays safe.

Sweet dreams

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Tired and heading over to YouTube for 30 minutes or so.

Working at home all day tomorrow so more posting then.

Long day today

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Witnessed the baptism of one of T's relatives this morning. Really nice ceremony and I liked the music. Turns out the organ was built by one of my favorite builders.

Up on the island for a few days - taxes, bookwork, dump runs and scheduling surveyers and engineers. Now the fun begins!

Actually once - to meet for a Craigslist deal (camera lens) - did not buy anything. One reason why from Instapundit:

Starbucks’ CEO (now executive chairman) Howard Schultz, a self-proclaimed “life-long Democrat,” floated the idea of having his baristas lecture customers on racial tolerance, trashed Trump, openly endorsed Hillary and afterwards, vowed “to hire thousands of refugees after President Donald Trump’s first executive order that temporarily banned travel from seven mostly-Muslim nations.”

The other reason? Their coffee is a really mediocre product. There are wonderful roasters in Bellingham, in Seattle, and on Camano Island who make an excellent product. No need to resort to the lowest common denominator.

Facebook killer? Meet Hello

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An interesting alternative lurcking in the wings - from Bloomberg:

The Man Behind Orkut Says His ‘Hello’ Platform Doesn’t Sell User Data
In 2004, one of the world’s most popular social networks, Orkut, was founded by a former Google employee named Orkut Büyükkökten. Later that year, a Harvard University student named Mark Zuckerberg launched ‘the Facebook’, which over the course of a year became ubiquitous in Ivy League universities and was eventually called Facebook.com.

Orkut was shut down by Google in 2014, but in its heyday, the network had hit 300 million users around the world. Facebook took five years to achieve that feat. At a time when the #DeleteFacebook movement is gaining traction worldwide in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Orkut has made a comeback by launching a new social network in India. Say hello to “Hello”.

“Hello.com is a spiritual successor of Orkut.com,” Büyükkökten told BloombergQuint. “The most important thing about Orkut was communities, because they brought people together around topics and things that interested them and provided a safe place for people to exchange ideas and share genuine passions and feelings. We have built the entire ‘Hello’ experience around communities and passions and see it as Orkut 2.0.”

Sounds good - if they can resist the temptation to commercialize by aggregating user data and selling it, they should do OK. I like the community idea - something a bit more regulated than Reddit. Reddit is a lot of fun but it is a bit Wild West for my tastes.

Pssst - wanna buy a bridge

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Really. Not the whole thing but individual two-ton sections. From Green Bay station WBAY:

2-ton sections of iconic Mackinac Bridge up for sale
A chunk of the Mackinac Bridge can be yours if you can get it home - which is easier said than done.

Sections of the bridge's original steel grating are going on the auction block. Each one is about 5.5 feet (1.6 meters) wide, 38 feet (11.5 meters) long and weighs two tons (1,814 kilograms).

The bridge is nearly 5 miles (8 kilometers) long. It connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas and crosses the waterway that links Lakes Huron and Michigan.

MLive.com reports that seven identical sections of the grating will be sold in an online auction that ends April 19 at 9 a.m. EDT.

That would be fun for a bridge over a stream or pond - a bit of history.

Curious editorial at New York Magazine:

The Internet Apologizes …
Something has gone wrong with the internet. Even Mark Zuckerberg knows it. Testifying before Congress, the Facebook CEO ticked off a list of everything his platform has screwed up, from fake news and foreign meddling in the 2016 election to hate speech and data privacy. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility,” he confessed. Then he added the words that everyone was waiting for: “I’m sorry.”

There have always been outsiders who criticized the tech industry — even if their concerns have been drowned out by the oohs and aahs of consumers, investors, and journalists. But today, the most dire warnings are coming from the heart of Silicon Valley itself. The man who oversaw the creation of the original iPhone believes the device he helped build is too addictive. The inventor of the World Wide Web fears his creation is being “weaponized.” Even Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, has blasted social media as a dangerous form of psychological manipulation. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he lamented recently.

To understand what went wrong — how the Silicon Valley dream of building a networked utopia turned into a globalized strip-mall casino overrun by pop-up ads and cyberbullies and Vladimir Putin — we spoke to more than a dozen architects of our digital present. If the tech industry likes to assume the trappings of a religion, complete with a quasi-messianic story of progress, the Church of Tech is now giving rise to a new sect of apostates, feverishly confessing their own sins. And the internet’s original sin, as these programmers and investors and CEOs make clear, was its business model.

To keep the internet free — while becoming richer, faster, than anyone in history — the technological elite needed something to attract billions of users to the ads they were selling. And that something, it turns out, was outrage. As Jaron Lanier, a pioneer in virtual reality, points out, anger is the emotion most effective at driving “engagement” — which also makes it, in a market for attention, the most profitable one. By creating a self-perpetuating loop of shock and recrimination, social media further polarized what had already seemed, during the Obama years, an impossibly and irredeemably polarized country.

Much more at the site - an interesting read.

They have made their money, they have lobbied for legislation which allows them to maintain their monopoly and now they apologize for the social ills caused by their making their platforms attractive.

Time to cue the Worlds Smallest Violin...

Well crap - RIP Art Bell

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I used to listen to his radio show a number of years ago. Pure conspiracy theory but a lot of fun. From the Las Veas Review-Journal:

Pahrump-based radio host Art Bell dies at 72
Longtime late-night radio host Art Bell died Friday at his Pahrump home. He was 72.

Bell was best known for his unsettling conspiracy theories shared on his paranormal-themed show, “Coast to Coast AM.” He was fascinated with the paranormal and the unexplained, including Bigfoot, UFOs and crop circles.

Coast to Coast was syndicated nationwide on about 500 North American stations in the 1990s before he left the nightly show in 2002. He broadcast the show from Pahrump’s KNYE 95.1 FM, a station he founded. He was his own producer, engineer and host.

He was also a long-time radio amateur - W6OBB now SK

Hat tip to The Silicon Graybeard for the link: The Open Space Agency One of their projects is the Ultrascope - a smallish reflector telescope using an arduino for the controller and a smartphone camera for the imager (no eyepiece). This scope is designed to be remotely operated as a distributed array for people looking for asteroids, meteors, etc...

From the project website:

Project ULTRASCOPE
For the Ultrascope project we asked ourselves if it was possible to develop a kit-set telescope that would reduce the cost of pro-level astronomy by an order of magnitude.

In other words, a robot telescope - or ARO - Automated Robotic Observatory, that would allow amateur astronomers to contribute to citizen science projects for a radically reduced cost. We're still refining the performance of our first EXPLORER SERIES ULTRASCOPE - a 3.5 Inch mirror ARO that is able to conduct celestial photography and photometry.

This dream would have been almost impossible just 24 months ago. The levels of precision required for a maker-made scientific quality scope would have resulted in compounding errors conspiring to make observations frustrating for aspiring citizen scientists. However the emergence of low-cost 3D printers and Laser-cutting, paired with microcontroller platforms such as Arduino and Lumia 1020- with its 41 Megapixel CCD - mean that a project such as this is now eminently possible. 

Very cool and something definitely do-able for anyone with access to a makerspace.

A fun time to be alive. I would be building this project if I didn't live in an area with poor seeing.

On the road again

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Driving down to Seattle for a few days.

YouTube time

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Watching more videos on welding and such.

Driving down to Seattle for a few days tomorrow.

Could not be happening at a better time. Of course, it will be several years before production is ramped up but there is a worldwide need for Rare Earths and China is the only vendor so far. We have huge resources in the USA but the environmentalists will not let us mine them. From Nature:

The tremendous potential of deepsea mud as a source of rare-earth elements
Potential risks of supply shortages for critical metals including rare-earth elements and yttrium (REY) have spurred great interest in commercial mining of deep-sea mineral resources. Deep-sea mud containing over 5,000ppm total REY content was discovered in the western North Pacifc Ocean near Minamitorishima Island, Japan, in 2013. This REY-rich mud has great potential as a rare-earth metal resource because of the enormous amount available and its advantageous mineralogical features. Here, we estimated the resource amount in REY-rich mud with Geographical Information System software and established a mineral processing procedure to greatly enhance its economic value. The resource amount was estimated to be 1.2Mt of rare-earth oxide for the most promising area (105km2×0–10mbsf), which accounts for 62, 47, 32, and 56 years of annual global demand for Y, Eu, Tb, and Dy, respectively. Moreover, using a hydrocyclone separator enabled us to recover selectively biogenic calcium phosphate grains, which have high REY content (up to 22,000ppm) and constitute the coarser domain in the grain-size distribution. The enormous resource amount and the efectiveness of the mineral processing are strong indicators that this new REY resource could be exploited in the near future.

Very cool - 50 years worth of ores. China just lost a major revenue source.

A fun evening

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Just got back from a meeting with these people: Camano Preparedness Group

A fun and well run meeting; they are a 501(c)3 organization so have revenue from grants and donations to buy radio equipment and supplies. These people are ready for the big one.

There was a flap about ten days ago because Sinclair Broadcasting Company (which is a conservative company) wanted its on-air talent to toe the conservative line. They were not - they were doing the usual mainstream-media never-Trump fake news and Sinclair wanted to nudge them back on track. Needless to say, this had the liberals up in arms.

Segue to today - from Reason:

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Want the FCC to Revoke Sinclair's Broadcast Licenses
How stupid is the panic over Sinclair Broadcast Group's hamfisted, "must-run" promotional video decrying "fake news"? This stupid: Yesterday 12 senators, including reported presidential aspirants Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), officially requested that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "investigate Sinclair's news activities to determine if it conforms to the public interest." If such an inquiry were to uncover "distorted news reports," the senators reckoned, that "could disqualify Sinclair from holding its existing licenses" and put the kibosh to its proposed purchase of Tribune Co. television stations.

"Multiple news outlets report that Sinclair has been forcing local news anchors to read Sinclair-mandated scripts warning of the dangers of 'one-sided news stories plaguing our country,' over the protests from local news teams," states the letter, authored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). "As strong defenders of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and freedom of the press, we are alarmed by such practices....Must-run dictates from Sinclair harm the freedom of the press guaranteed in the First Amendment by turning local journalists into mouthpieces for a corporate and political agenda."

FCC chair Ajit Pai this afternoon responded with a curt thanks-but-no-thanks. "In light of my commitment to protecting the First Amendment and freedom of the press, I must respectfully decline," Pai wrote. "I have repeatedly made clear that the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content of a particular newscast. I understand that you disliked or disagreed with the content of particular broadcasts, but I can hardly think of an action more chilling of free speech than the federal government investigating a broadcast station because of disagreement with its news coverage or promotion of that coverage."

Talk about being out of touch and clueless as to the underlying laws of our Nation.

Interesting if true - Syria

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From Heshmat Alavi's twitter account:

Report indicate in the past 48 hours 3 Syrian passenger planes have landed in Tehran's Mehrabad Airport & not returned. There is word that Assad's family & a number of senior regime officials were on board.

Further reports show 22 Syrian Sukhoi warplanes have flown over Iraq & landed in Shahid Vahdat airbase in Dezful, SW #Iran, the M15 airbase in Kermanshah, W Iran, & the Fakuri airbase in Tabriz, NW Iran. IRGC bases are on high alert.

Heshmat is a Human Rights & Political Activist. Writer/Commentator on Iran & the Middle East

A quiet day

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Nothing much happening in my neck of the woods - nothing major in the world. Glad to see Paul Ryan resigning - he has done more harm to conservative principles than most people realize. A weak leader at the time when we need strength and conviction.

Heading out for coffee soon and getting on with the day...

And I got nothin'

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Surfed the web and nothing out there catches my eye. Off to YouTube for a while and then an early bedtime - feeling downright sleepy.

Our quiet sun - some more data

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Looks like we are in for a period of very cool weather - from Anthony Watts:

Solar activity crashes – the Sun looks like a cueball
On Sunday NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, covering sunspot activity for March 2018.

March 2018 was the least active month for sunspots since the middle of 2009, almost nine years ago. In fact, activity in the past few months has been so low it matches the low activity seen in late 2007 and early 2008, ten years ago when the last solar minimum began and indicated by the yellow line that I have added to the graph below. If the solar minimum has actually arrived now, this would make this cycle only ten years long, one of the shortest solar cycles on record. More important, it is a weak cycle. In the past, all short cycles were active cycles. This is the first time we have seen a short and weak cycle since scientists began tracking the solar cycle in the 1700s, following the last grand minimum in the 1600s when there were almost no sunspots.

And the big question:

The big question remains: Are we about to head into a grand minimum, as happened during the Maunder Minimum in the 1600s? During that century there were practically no sunspots. Since it occurred immediately after the invention of the telescope, astronomers had no idea that the lack of sunspots were unusual and did not give it much attention. It wasn’t until the solar cycle resumed in the 1700s that they discovered its existence, and thus realized the extraordinary nature of the century-long minimum that had just ended. Unfortunately, it was over, and the chance to study it was gone.

And will this inactivity have an impact on our climate?

Furthermore, the occurrence of a grand minimum now would help the climate field. We really do not know the full influence of the Sun’s solar cycles on the Earth’s climate. There is ample circumstantial evidence that it has a significant impact, such as the Little Ice Age that occurred during the last grand minimum, as well as the unusually cold climates that also matched past weak cycles, now, and also in the early 19th and 20th centuries. Studying a grand minimum with today’s sophisticated instruments could help measure precisely how much the Sun’s sunspot activity, or lack thereof, changes the climate here on Earth.

Cold weather kills more people than warm weather - time to button up and lay in a couple months of food. Prices are going to get high.

Long day today

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Back from the farm - spent a couple of hours loading up some things I needed - tools, a couple maps, a bit more radio stuff, etc... Did a dump run this morning too - peeling up a bunch of old linoleum floor tile. That stuff is heavy!

Another day in paradise

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Heading North for the afternoon - coffee and post office first though (some things never change)

As things unfold with the Mueller investigation, I am reminded of the old saying - give 'em enough rope. The moke is very dirty. I am looking forward to the bolt of lightning that blasts all of these people into plasma. Mueller? Just not that bright. Here, here, here, here, here

And that is it for the night

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Went out for dinner, surfed a bit and didn't see anything that caught my eye.

Heading over to YouTube land for a while and an early bedtime.

Time for dinner

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Dropping a couple books at the library and then out for a bite to eat somewhere.

More posting this evening.

Abject lunacy at $40,000 per mile

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Only in California. From FOX News:

Los Angeles painting city streets white in bid to combat climate change
California officials are hoping their latest attempt to stem the rising tides of climate change leads to a more socially conscious -- and cooler -- summer.

Officials in Los Angeles have been painting streets white to reduce the effect of urban "heat islands" and combat the effects of climate change.

The LA Street Services began rolling out the project last May, which preliminary testing shows has reduced the temperature of roadways by up to 10 degrees. The project involves applying a light gray coating of the product CoolSeal, made by the company GuardTop.

Just great - it is single-sourced; only available from one company. They have been around since 1983 so their products are probably pretty good but I could see a lot of other places where this money could be spent - like fixing the road surfaces for one. Last time I drove in California was a couple of years ago (blacksmith convention) and they were really bad then. Cannot imagine what they are like now.

On the road again

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Heading out for coffee and post office (recurring theme around here) and then south to Costco and Lowe's.

Painting and building out the space for my amateur radio equipment.

Damnable frogs

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There is a largish wet area across the street from the house and the spring frogs are out in force.

Sounds wonderful now but I am planning to go to bed in an hour or so. Very loud and persistent.

From October 5, 2016:

Most say race relations worsened under Obama, poll finds
A majority of Americans say relations between blacks and whites in the US have worsened under President Barack Obama, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

The survey results come as an increasing number say discrimination against blacks is a very serious problem and concerns about bias in the criminal justice system remain widespread.

Overall, 54% say relations between blacks and whites have gotten worse since Obama became president, including 57% of whites and 40% of blacks. That's up sharply compared with last June, when 43% said things had gotten worse shortly after a racially motivated shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

A constant diet of race baiting and divisiveness will do that to a citizenry. Very glad that we have an adult in the White House. He may be uncouth and a sexist pig but he is an effective leader and is doing what is best for the United States.

I was at the grocery store this morning and this copy of Time Magazine caught my eye in the checkout line. Here is the cover:

20180409-sessions.jpg

Montgomery stole this from the wonderful photographer Arnold Newman who sadly passed away in 2006. He did this 1963 portrait of German industrialist Alfried Krupp in one of his factories:

20180409-krupp.jpg

From Arnold Newman:

"There's only twice I ever tried to deliberately show an individual as bad, and that was Alfried Krupp and Richard Nixon. Actually, I didn't do it on purpose to Nixon -- he did it to himself.

I deliberately put a knife in Krupp's back, visually. He was a friend of Hitler's and Hitler let him use prisoners as slave labor. If the prisoners fell, he just unchained them and they went directly into the crematoriums in Auschwitz.

Krupp's people realized I was Jewish, and they were worried that I might not be kind to him. I was trying to figure a way to show who he really was without being obvious. I lit from both sides and I said, "Would you lean forward." And my hair stood up on end. The light from the sides made him look like the devil. It's an un-retouched photograph. He actually was a handsome man."

Given the right lighting, Jeff Sessions looks like one of the Keebler Elves. Philip Montgomery had an agenda and copied a classic. And that is a big -1 for originality Philip...

From the Associated Press:

Trump furious after FBI seizes documents from his lawyer
Federal agents on Monday raided the office of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, seizing records on topics including a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

A furious Trump, who in the last month has escalated his attacks on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, said from the White House that it was a “disgrace” that the FBI “broke into” his lawyer’s office. He called Mueller’s investigation “an attack on our country,” prompting new speculation that he might seek the removal of the Justice Department’s special counsel.

The raid was done by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan and was based in part on a referral from Mueller, said Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan.

“The decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” Ryan said in a statement. “It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients.”

I am wondering who was fishing for whom? Trump is not stupid and these mokes committed political espionage. The next couple of weeks are going to be interesting to say the least.

Time for a big bowl of popcorn...

Island life

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Nothing much this morning - coffee, post office and then back home to continue tearing up old carpet, ripping out the paneling and general demolition and mayhem. Fun stuff!

More posting when I take a break.

Back up on the island

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Finished off T's book today - the Amazon publishing platform is really quite wonderful. Her book - 7X10 inches with about 70 pages and glossy color cover rang in at a bit more than two bucks each her cost. This is print-on-demand so there are no minimums to purchase. It is also linked to Kindle as well as various Amazon stores in Great Britan, Japan, Germany, etc...

If you are looking to self-publish, you can not go wrong with this platform.

Just arrived on our island getaway for a few days - she is coming up later this week so I have a couple of days to tear walls down and generally make a mess. The outside walls are not insulated (built in the 1940's) so taking care of this as well as upgrading the electrical wiring and plumbing. A very fun project and it feels good to be building a home for me and my sweetie that we will live in for the next stage in our lives.

Out to dinner - posting in a couple of hours...

Just wonderful - the Flu, round two

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From United Press International:

Second wave of flu season hits U.S.
The winter season ended last month but that doesn't mean the danger of getting the flu is over, even though it is springtime.

Rather than getting a strain of Influenza A, you have a greater chance of getting Influenza B. They carry roughly the same level of severity, having a similar cough, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, sore throat, fatigue and low fever.

They quote data from the Centers for Disease Control:

In the latest results, the CDC said the breakdown was 39.6 percent for Influenza A and 60.3 percent for Influenza B. Among 21,823 specimens tested, 15.4 percent were positive.

"The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remains elevated," the CDC said in the report.

A very bad year and it is just getting worse.

A quiet day

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T has written a study guide for her teaching and we are updating it as well as putting it up for sale on Amazon.

Their Kindle Direct Publishing is very awesome and easy to use. Choose the page size, download the appropriate MSWord template and cut and paste. Upload and you get a bunch of options for selling your magnum opus - either buy copies for yourself or sell them through Amazon as either paper books or Kindle files.

The big storm that was forecast is turning out to be a nothingburger here. Some blustery winds earlier this afternoon and some off-and-on rain but not the big storm they were telling us about.

From the Holidays Calandar entry for April 7th:

National Beer Day
National Beer Day is a holiday which is celebrated in the United States on April 7th. This day was established to not only honor the history of beer but also to celebrate the Cullen–Harrison Act – an act which allowed people to buy, sell and drink beer that had 4% alcohol by volume and was signed by FDR in 1933. The day in which it went into effect, over a million and a half barrels of beer were sold. Other countries which celebrate a National Beer Day include Iceland (March 1st) and the United Kingdom (June 15th).

Quite a few holidays out there - check the website for more listings.

Our "trade" war with China

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A good explanation of what is really happening from Gordon Chang writing at The Daily Beast:

Trump’s Right to Say He’s Not Launching a Trade War With China. He’s Doing Something Bigger.
Hours ago, President Trump, acting under the authority of Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, instructed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider the imposition of tariffs on $100 billion of Chinese goods. These tariffs are on top of those Lighthizer proposed Tuesday on $50 billion of China’s products. All these duties are intended to remedy China’s theft of American intellectual property.

“We are not in a trade war with China,” President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

The president is correct. What looks like a trade war is really a struggle for the control of the technologies that will dominate coming decades.

China has been doing two things. First, have been buying American companies and second, any US company who wants to manufacture and sell their products in China has to give the Chinese the technology used in that product. This Intellectual Property drain needs to be stopped.

Yet the current relationship between China and the U.S. needs to be disrupted. Chinese theft of intellectual property is sapping American innovation and therefore America’s economy. The IP Commission, in a 2017 update (PDF) to its landmark 2013 report, estimates the U.S. each year loses somewhere between $225 billion to $600 billion in intellectual property through predatory means. It almost goes without saying that most of that loss is, directly or indirectly, to China.

So true - this is a war for the future, not just a few dollars of trade. President Trump is doing the right thing.

Down in Seattle

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Got back from dinner and heading out again to meet up with an interesting crew of people. They meet downtown every Friday evening - T has been going there for there for a long time. A fun eclectic mix!

Noticed a very distinct warming around Noon - the day started off very chill and then, within the span of about an hour, the air temperature rose by about 15 degrees. These are the outermost tentacles of a very large storm that will be here in about 24 hours. (cue twilight zone theme music)

Errands run - time to fly South

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Out the door up here. Took longer than planned but got a lot done. Bringing my heavy raincoat down with me as we are forecast to get a lot of rainfall.

Moore posting later tonight...

Off for the day

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Heading out for coffee, mail box and dump run. Back home to do some paperwork (bills) and then get a bite to eat. Then it is off to the South today to spend some quality time with my new bride :)

Posted yesterday about my initial experiences with this unit. Still happy but have some reservations now.

First, in air conditioning mode, the fan is variable speed and the unit is very quiet when running at low speed. Perfect for a bedroom. When running in heating mode, the fan is at high speed and there is no way to slow it down. Very loud.

Second, when it is in heating mode, it is taking air from the room, extracting the heat from it and venting the chilled air out through the window vent. It then recirculates that warmth through a second fan system and sends it back into the room. That part works great - it warms up the room very quickly. The problem is that as the air is chilled, moisture condenses out of it and flows into a tank in the unit. The unit is fairly large and heavy and they had (as a part of the design) to restrict the size of that tank. Unfortunately, the tank is so small that it only allows for about two hours of heating before the unit shuts down with an error code saying that the tank needs to be drained. This will not work for unattended operation as I needed to get up and empty the tank every couple of hours.

The upshot? I am keeping this but doing a semi-permanent installation where I run the vent through the house wall to the outside and install a permanent hose for drainage. It is too loud to operate in heating mode while trying to sleep - I will continue to use my little electric space heater for that.

Heh - running on empty

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Empty ideas, empty standards and now empty bank account - from The Daily Caller:

DNC Quietly Adds Another 160K In Debt, Bringing Total Debt To $6.3 Million
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) reported more than $162,000 in additional debt in an amended FEC report filed this week.

The DNC originally reported $6.1 million in debt in its March 2018 FEC report filed on March 20 but amended that report on Monday to include an additional $162,368.64 in debt, bringing the DNC’s total debt to just under $6.3 million.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has zero debt, according to the committee’s most recent FEC filings.

They have nothing to offer anyone - this is why they are failing at fundraising and failing at the ballot box. The only way they can suceed is to cheat.

Good news - Darwin award

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Glad they took themselves out before potentially killing or injuring anyone else - from the Minneapolis, MN Star-Tribune:

Agents find 'explosives laboratory' at Wisconsin apartment
Court records say a state Department of Justice agent found an "explosives laboratory" and white supremacist literature while investigating a fatal explosion at a Wisconsin apartment building.

State investigator Kevin Heimerl says he found 13 jars of the explosive triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, in the Beaver Dam home, along with bomb-making instructions. WKOW-TV reports Heimerl says containers labeled TATP were also found in an apartment garage.

The explosion last month killed 28-year-old Benjamin Morrow, who lived in the apartment.

Yikes - I consider myself to be a competent chemist and have played with various explosives. I would not touch TATP if you paid me. Very nasty stuff. (P.S. - I still have all ten of my fingers).

A bit more:

TATP can explode if subjected to heat, friction, static electricity or shock. Authorities were forced to burn down the apartment building because the chemicals were too volatile to remove.

I rest my case. The muslim bomb builders love this stuff because it is cheap and can be made from common chemicals. They also call it The Mother of Satan with good reason.

Happy camper - DeLonghi EL275

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Saw one of these at Costco the other day and picked it up. What prompted the decision was that instead of just an air conditioner, this unit is a full-on heat pump capable of heating as well as cooling.

Got it set up and running and that puppy can kick out the BTUs seriously. I do not see the particular model number either at the DeLonghi site or at Costco but it was the PAC EL272HGK retailing for $299 - really happy with the purchase so far. We will see how it holds up. I am using it in the new DaveCave which is the loft above the garage. This is the only room in the house that has no air conditioning or heating.

Long day today

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Down on the island for an overnight stay - heading to Seattle to be with my beautiful bride tomorrow.

On the road again

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Heading out for my usual morning coffee, checking in at the post office and the store and then driving down to the island for the day. Seattle on Friday. More posting later this evening.

A two-fer

First, from the National Weather Service:

...WINDY WEATHER POSSIBLE SATURDAY...
Windy conditions are possible Saturday over much of Western Washington. A deep low pressure center is forecast by most weather models to move north off the coast on Saturday. This will bring strong southerly winds to Washington.

High wind is possible in some areas. As always, the exact track and strength of the low will determine where and whether any high wind will occur. The zones most likely to get high wind--sustained wind of 40 mph or gusts to 58 mph--are the coast and northern inland areas. Most other places exposed to southerly wind could have wind in the 20-35 mph range, with gusts to 50 mph.

Second from Seattle's Cliff Mass:

Monster Late-Season Atmospheric River Will Hit the West Coast With Heavy Rain and Strong Winds
An extraordinarily strong atmospheric river will hit the West Coast starting tomorrow in the Pacific Northwest and then moving southward into California on Friday and Saturday.

A monster that will be one the strongest on record, particularly this late in the season. And to add to the fun, an extremely powerful storm will form off our coast, bringing very strong winds over the Oregon coast. Again, very unusual this time of the year.

Time to batten down the hatches and stay inside.

Busy day today

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Got paperwork gathered for taxes, ran a couple of errands, did a lot of email and generally pottered around the house doing simple stuff.

Time to call it quits for the night - had a quick bite to eat out. The place was doing music every Wednesday but not tonight - oh well...

Memo to self - avoid Mexico

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Used to be that the cartels did not bother the resort cities. That seems to have changed. Google translation from the Yucatan Diary:

Cancun with 98 executed
With a new wave of murders and attacks closed March and holy days contributed with at least seven deaths in Cancun and three more in Playa del Carmen.

Thus, the first quarter of the year ended with about 100 murders with violence in the municipality of Benito Juárez.

In addition, an execution attempt was reported in the 251 region of Cancún, on Lankin Avenue, near a shopping plaza. The injured, who received several bullets, was hospitalized.

Cancun is a gorgeous city but no way will I ever visit there again. Not until the Mexican government cracks down on the crime there. It is an interesting thing to note that Mexico has some of the most draconian gun laws in the world and yet their incidence of gun violence is very high.

Enough already - from the Washington Examiner:

Hillary Clinton blames misogyny, FBI, sexism, NRA, Russia for 2016 loss
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday recited a list of several factors that contributed to her 2016 loss against Donald Trump, and said America is in a "really bad spot" with President Trump in the White House.

"[E]very day that goes by there’s more evidence and more proof of Russia and fake news and Cambridge Analytica and misogyny and sexism," she said. "I mean it’s hard, it’s very hard."

She said the "lock her up" chants that Trump led during the election and other protests around her were signs of misogyny.

Unnnh - Hillary? The "lock her up" chants were because you are crooked and corrupt. No misogyny there.

About that YouTube shooter

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Mental illness again - from the London Daily Mail:

Shooter hated YouTube: Iranian animal rights protester, 39, who shot three staff at video giant's HQ before killing herself, had a vendetta against 'dictatorial' site for censoring her videos and not paying her
The woman who opened fire on three people before killing herself at YouTube's California headquarters has been identified as a frequent user of the site who was furious with the company for their 'dictatorial' new policies.

Nasim Aghdam, 39, shot a man and two women with a handgun when she stormed YouTube's headquarters in San Bruno on Tuesday afternoon.

Aghdam was a prolific YouTuber who had ranted online against the company's new policies and accused them of censoring her videos.

From the father:

He had reported her missing from Southern California on Monday morning after she went two days without answering her phone. Ismail said police contacted him at about 2am on Tuesday to say they had found her sleeping in her car roughly 470 miles from her home town.

More at the site - my take-away? Batshit crazy.

Heh - poor widdle snowflakes. From The Seattle Times:

Turmoil inside KOMO News as conservative owner Sinclair mandates talking points
Amid a national outcry over Sinclair Broadcasting and its mandate to insert conservative talking points on local TV news, several journalists at KOMO News — Sinclair’s Seattle-area station — describe a newsroom in turmoil. Some staffers have reached a breaking point and have discussed protesting their corporate bosses, or plan to leave as soon as they can.

Sinclair, the nation’s biggest owner of local TV news stations, has for several years required KOMO and many of its stations across the country to air “must-run” news stories and commentaries produced by Sinclair that tilt heavily to the right on the political spectrum.

But it recently required its local anchors in Seattle and elsewhere to deliver on air a Sinclair-provided script bashing “fake news” and accusing journalists of pushing their political agenda without checking their facts. To many, it looked like talking points from the Trump administration had been directly broadcast into living rooms across the country, filtered through their trusted local anchors.

Fake news is all over the place and major kudos to Sinclair for trying to dispell the fog. maybe it will sink in to people's minds finally. After all, from Don Surber: 77% believe that the media lies

Not surprising but this really needs to be looked at - turn over whatever rocks are necessary. From Lifezette:

The Uranium One Deal Is a Clear and Present Danger to America
Consider this nightmare scenario:

The Russian Uranium One deal is connected to the Clinton Foundation, former President Barack Obama, Russian intelligence, and Russia’s nuclear military industrial complex.

So is the secret “Project Pelican” Gulftainer deal with Florida’s Port Canaveral connected to the Clinton Foundation, former President Barack Obama, Russian intelligence, and Russia’s nuclear military industrial complex.

But this is not a bad dream, it’s reality and it begins where the Uranium One deal and the Port Canaveral Gulftainer deal intersect — at the Iraqi Jafar family.

The Jafars were deeply involved in Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s secret nuclear weapons and uranium enrichment programs. That involvement included decades of contact with Russian intelligence.

The Jafars and their company Gulftainer are quickly closing in on a second U.S. port. Gulftainer and the Jafars are in the final stages of taking over operational control of Delaware’s Port of Wilmington, near Philadelphia. Diamond State Port Corporation will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 6, at Wilmington’s Chase Center on the Riverfront to vote on the deal.

What follows is a scenario of Russian nuclear cruise missiles stashed in standard shipping containers being kept at these ports. Conspiracy theory? Not if it is true - very well researched and the associations between the chief players is well known. The Clintons are very very dirty.

The beginning of the end of a big swindle - from Reuters:

Exclusive: EPA gives giant refiner a 'hardship' waiver from regulation
The Environmental Protection Agency has exempted one of the nation’s largest oil refining companies, Andeavor, from complying with U.S. biofuels regulations - a waiver historically reserved for tiny operations in danger of going belly up, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The exemption, which applies to the three smallest of Andeavor’s ten refineries, marks the first evidence of the EPA freeing a highly profitable multi-billion dollar company from the costly mandates of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard. The law requires refiners to blend biofuels such as ethanol into gasoline or purchase credits from those who do such blending.

The decision, which has not been previously reported, raises the question of whether other big and profitable oil firms with small refineries - such as Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Phillips 66 -  also have or could receive the waivers, which are granted by the EPA in secret.

Good - the inclusion of corn-derived Ethanol in our gasoline is nothing about the environment, it is pure pork to the US corn growers. Modern automobiles have been formulated to tolerate this but small engines - lawnmowers, string trimmer, generators, etc.... - do not and the ethanol greatly reduces engine life. There is simply no need to use this and it benefits a very small but very politcally powerful section of agribusiness. Time to wean them off the government teat.

About that coal problem

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I love coal and it is not a problem although some enviros seem to think it is. Wonder if they have ever held a piece of it. I use it for blacksmithing and usually keep a couple nuggets in my truck to show people. It is not dirty in the least - very clean burning and environmentally friendly if burned correctly. Coal just reached a new level of awesome - from the University of Kentucky:

UK Researchers First to Produce High Grade Rare Earths From Coal
University of Kentucky researchers have produced nearly pure rare earth concentrates from Kentucky coal using an environmentally-conscious and cost-effective process, a groundbreaking accomplishment in the energy industry.

"As far as I know, our team is the first in the world to have provided a 98 percent pure rare earth concentrate from a coal source," said Rick Honaker, professor of mining engineering.

From national defense to health care, rare earth elements or REEs are essential components of technologies like iPhones, computers, missiles and other applications. Interest in REEs is at an all-time high in the U.S. right now, with the Department of Energy investing millions in research. Honaker has received $7 million from the department to produce rare earths from Kentucky coal sources, a feat he has now accomplished, and $1 million for other REE projects.

"The primary objective for our DoE (Department of Energy) project was to produce a concentrate containing a minimum of 2 percent rare earth elements," he said. "We have far exceeded this objective."

The process recovered more than 80 percent of the REEs present in the feed sources. The concentrates were comprised of more than 80 percent total rare earth elements on a dry whole mass basis and more than 98 percent rare earth oxides. More importantly, critical elements such as neodymium and yttrium — used in national defense technologies and the high-tech and renewable energy industries — represented over 45 percent of the total concentrate.

We know of a lot of REE ore deposits in the continental USA but the enviros have been sucessful in blocking any mining efforts which is downright stupid because we turn around and buy them from China who does absolutly zero environmental mitigation. Our mines would be clean but those nutcases will not let us build them. Nice to find an alternate source!

Back from town

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Did a quick run into town this afternoon - had some Mexican food while I was there (did not feel like cooking).

More posting in a few minutes...

One month ago today

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T and I said "I Do!" in front of a bunch of family.

Life is good  :)

I like the new Saudi Crown Prince

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Seems to have his head on his shoulders - from The Atlantic:

Saudi Crown Prince: Iran's Supreme Leader 'Makes Hitler Look Good'
This much, at least, can be said for Mohammed bin Salman, the putatively reformist crown prince of Saudi Arabia: He has made all the right enemies. Among those who would celebrate his end are the leaders of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas, as well as Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and the entire clerical and military leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As a bonus, there are members of his own family, the sprawling, sclerotic, self-dealing House of Saud, who would like to see him gone—or at the very least, warehoused at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, where the 32-year-old prince recently imprisoned many of his enemies and cousins during an anti-corruption sweep of the kingdom.

And a bit more:

Prince Mohammed (who is known widely by his initials, MbS) seemed eager to download his heterodoxical, contentious views on a number of subjects—on women’s rights (he appears doubtful about the laws that force Saudi women to travel with male relatives); on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is, in the prince’s mind, worse than Hitler; and on Israel. He told me he recognizes the right of the Jewish people to have a nation-state of their own next to a Palestinian state; no Arab leader has ever acknowledged such a right.

Much more at the article - a nice interview. Seems to be a good leader with the best of interests for everyone in that area.

From Don Surber (a daily read for me):

Now we're "misfits"
Racist didn't work. Xenophobic didn't work. Misogynist didn't work. Deplorables didn't work. The Marxist name-callers were in a panic.

Mike Allen, founder of such Fake News sites as Politico and Axios, which front Democratic talking points, threw out misfits this weekend.

"As President Trump increasingly tunes out formal advisers, there's a growing list of misfits and hangers-on that he just can’t seem to quit — and whose advice he seems to welcome and even adopt," Allen wrote.

Heh - doesn't fit the narrative so they have to change the narrative. President Trump is living inside their head rent-free 24/7 - I love it!

Bribery then and now

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Then - from the Chicago Tribune:

Clinton pardon of Rich a saga of power, money
President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich is a saga of secrecy, tenacity, sleight of hand and pressure from Rich's ex-wife and one of her friends, who together have steered millions of dollars to Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton's causes and those of fellow Democrats.

Whether it is a story of bribery as well or illegal gifts from abroad is the subject of congressional inquiries and a criminal investigation by the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in New York.

Now - from The Washington Post:

Why Robert Mueller could be considering bribery charges
President Trump’s now-former attorney John Dowd allegedly told lawyers representing Paul J. Manafort and Michael Flynn last year that the president would consider pardoning the two men if they got into legal trouble. (Dowd has denied the reports.) Much of the news coverage has focused on whether offering pardons to induce a witness not to cooperate in the special counsel’s investigation could constitute obstruction of justice. But there is another potential charge that could apply more directly and that prosecutors might have reason to favor: conspiracy to commit bribery.

Federal bribery requires that a public official agree to receive and accept something of value in exchange for being influenced in the performance of an official act. In this scenario, the official act would be granting a pardon. While the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in the case of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell dramatically narrowed the definition of “official act,” there’s no question that a president granting a pardon would be an exercise of government power under the McDonnell v. United States standard.

Anything goes if you belong to the Democratic party. Try to pull the same thing when you are a Republican, it's lights out. Nothing like a nice double-standard to make us smell the corrupt taint of the deep state.

Fun times with a Tesla Coil

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Those crazy Ukrainians :)

Heading north

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Driving up to the farm later today - coffee, post office, dump first.

More posting later tonight...

On the road again

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Party was wonderful - the rain held off until after we left - pouring down now.

Heading up to the island and then the farm. More posting later tonight...

Chinese space station Tiangong-1

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The Chinese space station lost orbital stability and is crashing down to earth soon. Aerospace is tracking its decent.

CHINESE SPACE STATION TIANGONG-1 FALLING FAST
The world is watching as Chinese space station Tiangong-1 hurtles toward Earth and makes a fiery reentry. Chances that space debris will hurt anybody are extremely slim, although when and where the space station’s remains will land is still unknown.

What goes up must come down, which is generally true if the “what” is a space station. However, exactly when and where it will land on Earth is anybody’s guess, especially if the space station is China’s Tiangong-1. Sent into orbit on September 30, 2011, Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace 1,” is China’s first space lab, the prototype for China’s ambitious space program to launch a permanent, 20-ton space station in 2023. Tiangong-1 weighs 8.5 tons, measures 34 feet by 11 feet, and is the approximate size of a school bus.

Tiangong-1’s initial launch was unmanned, but it has a habitable experimental module to house astronauts. Its primary mission was to perform docking and orbital experiments. Over a five-year period, two successful manned missions by taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) took place, which included China’s first female astronauts, Liu Yang and Wang Yaping.

For Tiangong-1’s return to Earth, China’s original plan was to control its descent using thruster burn. However, on March 16, 2016, China reported to the United Nations that Tiangong-1 “ceased functioning” but didn’t state why. There has been considerable speculation as to the cause, but only the Chinese know for certain. Tiangong-1 is now on a decaying orbit as its altitude slowly decreases while its falling speed toward Earth rapidly increases. When it reaches Earth’s upper atmosphere, the space station will make its uncontrolled reentry.

Current forecast is for re-entry at April 2nd, 2018 00:18 UTC ± 2 hours.

Aerospace is a non-profit organization with a fascinating history - a little bit from their About page:

PROVIDING OBJECTIVE SCIENTIFIC EVALUATION AND ANALYSES FOR MORE THAN 55 YEARS
The Aerospace Corporation traces its roots to the beginning of the space age, when landing on the moon was a distant but exciting possibility, and mastery of space was seen as a huge strategic asset in the conflict with the Soviet Union. Space promised adventure and held great potential, but reaching space—in addition to developing and managing the nation’s space and missile activities—presented unique technical challenges to the Air Force and other government agencies involved in the fledgling aerospace industry.

After concerns were raised about the potential for conflicts of interest between contractors and the Air Force, Congress formed the Millikan Committee to study the Air Force’s approach to missile and space systems work. The committee recommended the formation of a noncompetitive organization committed to providing objective, unbiased technical assistance to the Air Force. On June 3, 1960, The Aerospace Corporation was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation under California law.

An interesting website for space geeks...

Have a happy Easter

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Everyone has a Birthday, only one person has been Resurrected.

Heading out to an Easter party with the family and then up to points North.

May 2018

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Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
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Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF
TYWKIWDBI


Comics
Achewood
The Argyle Sweater
Chip Bok
Broadside Cartoons
Day by Day
Dilbert
Medium Large
Michael Ramirez
Prickly City
Tundra
User Friendly
Vexarr
What The Duck
Wondermark
xkcd


NO WAI! WTF?¿?¿
Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
Sober in a Nightclub
You Drive What?


Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
Coyote Blog


Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
DIYPhotography
James Gurney
Joe McNally's Blog
PetaPixel
photo.net
Shorpy
Strobist
The Online Photographer


Blogrolling
A Western Heart
AMCGLTD.COM
American Digest
The AnarchAngel
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Babalu Blog
Belmont Club
Bayou Renaissance Man
Classical Values
Cobb
Cold Fury
David Limbaugh
Defense Technology
Doug Ross @ Journal
Grouchy Old Cripple
Instapundit
iowahawk
Irons in the Fire
James Lileks
Lowering the Bar
Maggie's Farm
Marginal Revolution
Michael J. Totten
Mostly Cajun
Neanderpundit
neo-neocon
Power Line
ProfessorBainbridge.com
Questions and Observations
Rachel Lucas
Roger L. Simon
Samizdata.net
Sense of Events
Sound Politics
The Strata-Sphere
The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Velociworld
Weasel Zippers
WILLisms.com
Wizbang


Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Allah
BigPictureSmallOffice
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
MegaPundit
Masamune
Neptunus Lex
Other Side of Kim
Publicola
Ramblings' Journal
Sgt. Stryker
shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

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