Recently in Geekdom Category

SIGGRAPH 2019

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Special Interest Group - Graphics - the 2019 conference is being held in Los Angeles July 28 to August 1st.
Here is the brag reel:

Lots of new technologies happening. Fun time to be alive.

Q10 text editor

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I always like looking at different text editors. Q10 looks good - very simple. None of the bloat that MS Word has.

I had written about this sale on May 8th and the auction comes to an end today in six hours. So very tempting. She needs about $100K to bring up to decent condition and there is probably some asbestos remediation needed but still, this is a screaming deal.

Ho. Li. Crap - Yamaha CS-80

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The CS-80 is one of the all-time incredible synthesizers out there. It has been used on many film soundtracks (Chariots of Fire, Blade RUnner, etc...). Older design (programming settings is a bitch) but Yamaha just simply got the sound right. Lush and incredible. Very very rare and when they do come up for sale, they are priced at over $10K for a working unit.

From Synthtopia:

Behringer Announces Plan To Clone Yamaha CS-80
Behringer today announced that it’s cloning the Yamaha CS-80.

In a message on Facebook, they announced that they’re moving forward with a design prototype:

Around a month ago we acquired an original and long extinct Yamaha CS80 and ever since we’ve been working on coming up with our own DS80 version.

Please bear in mind that this will be a design study only and we love to get your feedback before we decide how to move forward. We will be sharing our design in the next few days.

Fasten your seatbelts.

Behringer head Uli Behringer last week shared several teaser images of a vintage Yamaha CS-80, without discussing their intentions.

Now the company says that it will, at the very least, be cloning the classic polysynth as a Behringer DS-80 design study.

Very cool!

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Own a piece of history for $15

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Authentic Russian gas mask - for sale on Amazon:

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Got a spare $30K or so?

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Wanna buy a boat? The Clifford A. Barnes is up for auction with 12 days remaining.

65.5' Oceanographic Vessel: Clifford A. Barnes
This vessel is located at the UW Marine Sciences Building dock on our Seattle campus.

The Clifford A. Barnes has been a “local” class oceanographic research vessel built originally as a U.S. Coast Guard ice-breaking harbor tugboat. The vessel was transferred to the National Science Foundation in 1982 before its conversion to marine science research and assignment to the University of Washington. Full ownership for R/V Barnes was transferred to the UW in late 2018.

R/V Clifford A. Barnes was built in 1966 at Western Boat in Tacoma, Washington, as USCGC Bitt WYTL 65613. The Barnes and her sisters were a class of fifteen (15) ice-breaking small harbor tugs designed for Ice Ops, Search/Rescue and Pollution Response. As the BITT, she operated from Puget Sound to Alaska and was decommissioned in 1982 and surplussed to the National Science Foundation.

$30K is a screaming deal - this boat is built like a tank, very heavy and rock solid. Cruises at about eight knots with a range of about 1K miles. Perfect for cruising the inside passage in comfort and style. I have never sailed on her but have toured her a couple times while I was working for the marine engineering company (my last Seattle job). She needs some paint and a good bit of TLC but eminently seaworthy. I could see myself spending many a pleasant afternoon behind this desk:

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Interesting - from Newsweek:

UFOS INVADING MILITARY AIRSPACE MULTIPLE TIMES PER MONTH, BUT PUBLIC WON’T BE TOLD MORE
Since 2014, UFOs have intruded upon military airspace as often as several times per month, a military official told the Washington Post. In a follow-up published by the Post on Monday, the same official said that the U.S. Navy will not share any more information regarding what they call “unexplained aerial phenomena” with the public, despite drafting formal procedures to document UFO sightings on an ongoing basis.

“There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air spaces in recent years,” the Navy said in a statement released to Politico, who first reported on the new approach. “The Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities. A new message to the fleet that will detail the steps for reporting is in drafts.”

Hmmmmm... A bit of history:

As they say - The Truth is Out There...

Well crap - RIP Peter Mayhew

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From Variety:

Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew From ‘Star Wars’ Dies at 74
“Star Wars” actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the original trilogy, died on Tuesday, his family announced on his Twitter. He was 74.

He died at his North Texas home surrounded by his family, read the Twitter statement.

Though he spoke entirely in growls, snarls, and the occasional roar, Chewbacca’s unwavering loyalty to Han Solo made him one of the most beloved characters in the franchise. Much more than just the hairy co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, Chewie’s dependability and trustworthiness helped the iconic Wookiee function as the series’ ultimate “wing man.”

He was discovered by producer Charles H. Schneer while working as a hospital attendant in London, and cast in Ray Harryhausen’s “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.” The next year, he was cast as Chewbacca, the 200-year-old Wookiee.

Truly a class act. He will be missed.

An option for CAD/CAM

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Just ran into FreeCAD. It supports CNC operation and has a G Code post processor.

Autodesk offers a free version of Fusion 360 for small businesses, students and hobbyists but this is just a one year license and it is about $500/year after that. Be giving that a try in a while - maybe next winter.

Happy 30th Birthday - Game Boy

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A cool little platform. I am not a gamer (prefer to create stuff, not live in someone else's reality) but this puppy certainly changed the world - from The Verge:

The Game Boy turns 30
On April 21st, 1989, Nintendo unleashed the Game Boy on the world, forever changing video games. The unassuming gray brick may not have been a technical powerhouse, but it helped take the idea of portable gaming mainstream, paving the way for the world of mobile gaming and hybrid devices like the Switch. Three decades later, The Verge is celebrating with a week full of stories that explore the many ways the Game Boy shaped the games industry and its importance as a cultural object. That includes looking at things like emulation, chiptune music, and the plethora of accessories and imitators the Game Boy inspired. You can keep up with everything right here.

A fun bit of history.

Quitting Facebook

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Planning to do this in the next day or so. Here are two reasons why - clickable headlines:

As for the last article - this needs to be burned away with hellfire. Very bad idea and there are already enough alt.social media sites already out there so that this will do nothing to block terrorist colaboration.

Clever design - spray gun

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Already have three spray guns that I use but this one has a nice design:

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Using a Mason Jar is genius - especially if you do short-run productions and need to reuse the same colors.

7075 is an Aluminum alloy that is very light and very strong but it cannot be welded - the components of the alloy react and cause cracks at the weld zone. Airplanes are made from 7075 - this is why they are still rivited to this day.
From UCLA Samueli School of Engineering:

Nanotechnology enables engineers to weld previously un-weldable aluminum alloy
An aluminum alloy developed in the 1940s has long held promise for use in automobile manufacturing, except for one key obstacle. Although it’s nearly as strong as steel and just one-third the weight, it is almost impossible to weld together using the technique commonly used to assemble body panels or engine parts.

That’s because when the alloy is heated during welding, its molecular structure creates an uneven flow of its constituent elements — aluminum, zinc, magnesium and copper — which results in cracks along the weld.

Now, engineers at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have developed a way to weld the alloy, known as AA 7075. The solution: infusing titanium carbide nanoparticles — particles so small that they’re measured in units equal to one billionth of a meter — into AA 7075 welding wires, which are used as the filler material between the pieces being joined. A paper describing the advance was published in Nature Communications.

I use 6061 which can be welded with a simple TIG torch - it will be fun to add 7075 to the mix. Wonder how much the filler rods will cost? Probably nosebleed territory until the UCLA patent expires.

Volume of raw data - Blu-ray

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I know that a Blu-ray disk holds a lot more data than a standard DVD but still, this is ridiculous. When ripping my DVDs, it has been taking about 30 minutes per disk. With my first Blu-ray disk, it has been processing for 45 minutes and still has over two hours left. It will be interesting to compare file sizes.

I am using the very wonderful and free HandBrake software - here is their website: HandBrake - The open source video transcoder

Talk about feeling old(er) - my first experience with programming was on a System/360 Model 40. Submit a stack of punch cards and come back the next day to see the results.

There is a nice bit of history over at Ken Shirriff's blog:

Iconic consoles of the IBM System/360 mainframes, 55 years old
The IBM System/360 was a groundbreaking family of mainframe computers announced on April 7, 1964. Designing the System/360 was an extremely risky "bet-the-company" project for IBM, costing over $5 billion. Although the project ran into severe problems, especially with the software, it was a huge success, one of the top three business accomplishments of all time. System/360 set the direction of the computer industry for decades and popularized features such as the byte, 32-bit words, microcode, and standardized interfaces. The S/360 architecture was so successful that it is still supported by IBM's latest z/Architecture mainframes, 55 years later.

Prior to the System/360, IBM (like most computer manufacturers) produced multiple computers with entirely incompatible architectures. The System/360, on the other hand, was a complete line of computers sharing a single architecture. The fastest model in the original lineup was 50 times as powerful as the slowest, but they could all run the same software. The general-purpose System/360 handled business and scientific applications and its name symbolized "360 degrees to cover the entire circle of possible uses."

Much more at the site - a lot of wonderful photos. A trip down memory lane.

The General Services Administration has developed a set of web templates, etcetera for unifying web design throughout the various government agencies. Looks very nice and clean.

Check out The United States Web Design System

Same people have also developed Public Sans - repository on GitHub

This looks like fun - Addams Family

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Used to religiously watch the television version - looks like a fun re-boot:

Heh - 50,000+ matches

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Someone had a lot of fun with this project:

Tip of the propeller beanie to Peter Grant at Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

Come on guys - this problem has been known for years and years:

Got an older GPS receiver?

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You may be in for a surprise tomorrow - from Ars Technica:

GPS “rollover” event on April 6 could have some side-effects
On April 6, the Global Positioning System will reach the end of an era—or more correctly, an epoch. That’s when the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) clock used by the satellite navigation system will reach the limit for its 10-bit “week number” (WN) counter and flip back to 0000000000.

GPS time is linked to the official UTC clock time provided by the US Naval Observatory. But the GPS version of the clock tracks the date by counting the number of weeks since the beginning of the current GPS “epoch”—August 21, 1999. So as the clock reaches midnight tonight on the prime meridian, the GPS calendar will suddenly become 20 years out of date.

This is sort of like the Y2K nothingburger from 19 years ago as well as the Unix date bug which will destroy civilization on January 19th, 2038. Older GPS receivers __may__ be affected but newer ones know about this and correct.

Cool news - Israeli technology

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From NBC News:

Israel just became the seventh nation to orbit the moon
After slowly spiraling away from Earth for the past six weeks, an Israeli spacecraft known as Beresheet slipped into orbit around the moon on Thursday.

This was a historic achievement for the little robot, but it paves the way for something truly epic: a lunar touchdown attempt a week from now. If Beresheet succeeds on April 11, it will become the first Israeli craft, and the first privately funded vehicle, ever to land on the surface of the moon.

"The lunar capture is an historic event in and of itself — but it also joins Israel in a seven-nation club that has entered the moon’s orbit," Morris Kahn said in a statement. "A week from today, we'll make more history by landing on the moon, joining three superpowers who have done so. Today I am proud to be an Israeli."

I had written about this spacecraft at its launch on February 25th, 2019. It has an interesting payload as well as planning to attempt a moon landing.

Clever hack - raindeer

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20190404-antlers.jpg

Abrasive cutoff wheels

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Working in metal, I use these a lot for trimming metal. I always use PPE - even just for one cut. Flap disks not so much. Kenny Lane offers this graphic reason why PPE is a very good idea:

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Talking about needing a fresh change of underwear...

Really cute idea

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Bedding from Snurk for Living:

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They have a bunch of others - princesses, fairy, mermaid, unicorn, astronaut, etc... Great idea and implementation.

ThinkGeek did not dissapoint

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Check out this toaster from Banksey - only $1,370,000.00

More here, here, here and here

Happy April Fools day everyone!

Nothing posted yet - Think Geek

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There is a wonderful online store for us geeks called ThinkGeek

Every April First (and that would be tomorrow), their website shows some new products. Looking forward to drooling over some pure unobtanium.

A list of Jeff Dean facts

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Been reading this book: Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World

About 2/3rds of the way through and it is a really fun read and highly recomended to anyone interested in the backside of application development. Clive interviews a bunch of prominent programmers and writes well about what makes them tick and what it is like to write code.

He mentioned one of Google's prodigy programmers - Jeff Dean - and talked about a list of Jeff Dean Facts (much like the Chuck Norris Facts). Here are a couple that caught my eye:

  • Jeff Dean's PIN is the last 4 digits of pi.
  • When Jeff gives a seminar at Stanford, it's so crowded Don Knuth has to sit on the floor. (TRUE)
  • You use 10% of your brain. The other 90% is running one of Jeff's mapreduce jobs.
  • Jeff Dean's resume lists the things he hasn't done; it's shorter that way.
  • When God said: "Let there be light!", Jeff Dean was there to do the code review.
  • When Graham Bell invented the telephone, he saw a missed call from Jeff Dean
  • When Jeff Dean says "Hello World", the world says "Hello Jeff".
  • The speed of light in a vacuum used to be about 35 mph. Then Jeff Dean spent a weekend optimizing physics.

Heh...

This would be a very tempting source of income - from The Register:

Office Depot, OfficeMax, Support.com cough up $35m after charging folks millions in 'fake' malware cleanup fees
Office Depot and Support.com have coughed up $35m after they were accused of lying to people that their PCs were infected with malware in order to charge them cleanup fees.

On Wednesday, the pair of businesses settled a lawsuit brought against them by the US Federal Trade Commission, which alleged staff at the tech duo falsely claimed software nasties were lingering on customers' computers to make a fast buck.

The lawsuit, filed in southern Florida, claimed the two companies, including Office Depot subsidiary OfficeMax, from 2009 until November 2016 misrepresented the state of consumers' computers by using a sales tool designed to convince people to pay for diagnostic and repair services.

There are some really good free-for-personal-use utilities out there. Keeping your PC virus free is just common sense.

From their website: Modern Labor:

We Pay You to Learn to Code
Modern Labor is a revolutionary platform that pays you $2000 per month for 5 months to learn in-demand tech skills and then finds you your new job.

There are coding bootcamps out there but they charge $15K for five months training. Modern Labor pays you $2K/month but they then harvest 15% of their income for the next two years (this is capped at $30K maximum)

Very cool application - Pi Hole

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Just ran into this - Pi Hole. You install it on a Raspberry Pi and set it up as your DHCP server. It monitors traffic and blocks any pushed advertising over your entire network. Looks very cool. Check out Pi Hole

A trip down memory lane

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Some of my music CDs were in plastic tubs in the DaveCave. On my last trip to the farm, I grabbed all of these and brought them down. One of the tubs was from when I ran a multi-line BBS up until 1998. Ran it for ten years and it was a lot of fun. That one tub contained several copies of Windows NT Server as well as Win98 and Win95, a bunch of DOS software utilities for running a BBS and about 40 CDs of various image files and other stuff - MIDI, music stuff, etc...  The image files are from public domain sources like NASA - it will be fun to go through them when I have some time.

Object of Desire

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I want one of these machines:

20190322-machine.gif

Gorgeous CGI - I love the kinematics on that spring in the middle of the linkage. The ever-so-slight camera shake and jerkiness is just icing on a wonderful cake.

Killed by Google

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Google is famous notorious for buying technology, running with it for a little while and then killing it off. Here is a website devoted to this app-icide: Killed by Google

So so true - cables

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Also saw this on Barry's site:

Wood's Law of Cables
Anyone who has spent any time with a large number of cables will have an innate understanding of the concept of entropy. It was while dealing with a pile of tangled up microphone cables that I postulated this law:

The resting state of a cable is tangled.

I challenge anyone to disprove this.

Open Broadcaster Software

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Looks interesting - DaVinci Resolve is proving to be perfect for my needs but it does not do screen capture and it needs specific (standard) files for importing video and audio.

Open Broadcaster Software seems to handle screen capture very well and it has a couple outlier file formats that it can process. Be looking at it when I get down there tonight.

Scientific Glassblowing

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Great article and video about Gayle Price

And from The Wellcome Collection:

The art of scientific glassblowing
Wearing a knee-length white lab coat and wraparound shades, her long hair clipped back, Gayle Price adjusts the amount of gas and oxygen flowing into her burner. It has the look of a blowtorch, but one fixed in place and with six different outlets. The wavering orange flame that’s shooting out of it becomes fierce blue and sharp as a pin, its dull roar now a hiss.

Holding a 1.5-metre-long glass rod in one hand – hollow, with a 7 mm diameter – and a much shorter, thicker solid metal rod in the other, she starts heating the glass in the flame. As it glows and softens, she begins coiling it evenly around the metal. Her movements are quick but rhythmic. She works by eye alone.

Gayle hasn’t always worked with glass for a living, but she now can’t see herself doing anything else. She studied photography at school, then trained as a painter and decorator. After that she worked as a bouncer in Glasgow for a couple of years, but found night shifts increasingly tough.

When I was growing up, my Dad taught at the University of Pittsburgh and I would go in on weekends when he worked. I always loved to see the various labs and glassblowing was something that always fascinated me. Played around with it but nothing like what this woman is doing. Exquisite stuff!

What it says on the box: 3D Printers in Libraries

One in Lynden, one in Seattle and a couple nearby (the penninsula, Tacoma, etc...)

Talk about computational horsepower - from Wired:

Google just smashed the world record for calculating digits of pi
Pi just got bigger. Google’s Compute Engine has calculated the most digits of pi ever, setting a new world record.

Emma Haruka Iwao, who works in high performance computing and programming language communities at Google, used infrastructure powered by Google Cloud to calculate 31.4 trillion digits of pi. The previous world record was set by Peter Trueb in 2016, who calculated the digits of pi to 22.4 trillion digits. This is the first time that a publicly available cloud software has been used for a pi calculation of this magnitude.

And the machine she used?

In September of 2018, Iwao started to consider how the process of calculating even more digits of pi would work technically. Something which came up quickly was the amount of data that would be necessary to carry out the calculations, and store them – 170 terabytes of data, which wouldn’t be easily hosted by a piece of hardware. Rather than building a whole new machine Iwao used Google Cloud.

Iwao used 25 virtual machines to carry out those calculations. “But instead of clicking that virtual machine button 25 times, I automated it,” she explains. “You can do it in a couple of minutes, but if you needed that many computers, it could take days just to get the next ones set up.” Iwao ran y-cruncher on those 25 virtual machines, continuously, for 121 days.

And the benefits of this excercise:

While it may seem like a niche hobby, pi is often used by developers and programmers to test the performance of new hardware. Its uses can even stretch further than just cloud computing, into areas like healthcare. “There are a lot of applications that require a lot of complex computing resources, like weather forecasts, and actually, this proves that the cloud is capable of handling those calculations,” says Iwao.

Very cool!

Up for auction through the U.S. General Services Administration:

2EA SCRAP INTAGLIO PRINTING PRESSES
2EA INTAGLIO PRINTING PRESSES, SCRAP, WEIGHT IS APPROX. 150K LBS. TOTAL, WINNING BIDDER IS REQUIRED TO BE R2 OR E-STEWARD CERTIFIED. THIS IS A LARGE SCRAP SALE AND WILL REQUIRE A MINIMUM OF FIVE LARGE MOVING TRUCKS TO REMOVE.

And the auction location:

Property Location and inquiries/questions regarding property inspection and/or removal:
Department Of The Treasury
Bureau Of Engraving & Printing, Wcf
9000 Blue Mound Road
Fort Worth, TX 76131

Current bid is only $10.

May 2019

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Environment and Climate
AccuWeather
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
Climate Audit
Climate Depot
Green Trust
ICECAP
Jennifer Marohasy
MetaEfficient
Planet Gore
Science and Public Policy Institute
Solar Cycle 24
Space Weather
Space Weather - Canada
the Air Vent
Tom Nelson
Watts Up With That?


Science and Medicine
Derek Lowe
Junk Science
Life in the Fast Lane
Luboš Motl
Medgadget
New Scientist
Next Big Future
PhysOrg.com
Ptak Science Books
Science Blog


Geek Stuff
Ars Technica
Boing Boing
Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
FAIL Blog
Hack a Day
Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
Neatorama
Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF
TYWKIWDBI


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


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


Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
Coyote Blog


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


Blogrolling
A Western Heart
AMCGLTD.COM
American Digest
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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
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Priorities & Frivolities
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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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