June 2004 Archives

Let Freedom Reign!

President Bush was meeting with other members of NATO at the time when the leadership of Iraq was handed over to the Iraqi people. There is a great set of photos and a picture of the notice over at Ramblings' Journal Nothing more to say...

Back @farm but heading out tomorrow

We got back this morning from Seattle with a full truck and station wagon load. Heading back tomorrow morning for the last of it (plus to catch Steve Earle in concert and to follow up with a drunken bacchanalia birthday party at a Seattle watering hole). I'll be blogging some later today but normal posting will not resume until Friday. Dave

Light posting for two days

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Jen and I are back to Seattle through Monday to drop off our 11 Year Old Nephew who has been visiting for 10 days and to meet with the painters in preparation to getting our old house on the market. Posting will resume in full Tuesday.

Dalai Lama v/s PETA

Interesting new item about how PETA purposely mis-quoted the Dalai Lama in order to further the cause pf PETA. The Dalai Lama replies (San Mateo County Times) bq. Dalai Lama critical of PETA The office of the Dalai Lama said Friday that an animal rights group misrepresented the nature of a request by the spiritual leader that fast-food chain KFC not open an outlet in his homeland, Tibet. bq. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, released a document Thursday from the Dalai Lama asking that the Louisville, Ky.-based restaurant chain "abandon its plan to open restaurants in Tibet." bq. But the Dalai Lama's heading on the document, "APPEAL," was changed to "Dear Mr. Novak" -- a reference to David Novak, chief executive of KFC's parent company, Yum! Brands Inc. bq. PETA then issued a statement saying the Dalai Lama had "dispatched a letter" to the company. And the reply from the Dalai Lama? bq. "We strongly object to your changing the nature of the appeal without seeking our approval," the Dalai Lama's secretary, Tenzin Geyche Tethong, said in a letter faxed Friday to Ingrid Newkirk of PETA in Norfolk, Va. A Buddhist is "strongly objecting" They must indeed be hacked off at PETA...

Local follies

There is an interesting article on Seattle politics in today's Shark Blog. Deborah Senn is running for the post of WA State Attorney General. One of her previous positions has been the WA State Insurance Commissioner and during this time she proved to be less than adequate at her job -- during her watch the state lost it's national accreditation. Stefan wrote a few days ago: bq. Deborah Senn is the most entertaining of the four candidates. What exactly will she do to lower gas prices? Will there be price controls and rationing? The article doesn't say. Senn's major qualification for the AG job is that she was the state's elected Insurance Commissioner for 8 years. But the article avoids mentioning that her tenure was a disaster, that resulted in: Accreditation by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners was withdrawn in 1999, while Senn held the office, after a NAIC audit found fault with staffing levels, training, exam procedures, timeliness and management oversight, Today, Stefan posts an email from one of his readers: bq. This article is quite accurate as to what happened to Washington State's health care -- it was socialized by Lowery and Senn in the 1990s with the result that individual policies (which cover very little) now cost as much as $600 per month. bq. In addition about 1/3 of the physicians have left the state or retired -- in Seattle Providence Medical Center which was the CHARITY hospital in the area (they NEVER SUED ANYONE FOR ANYTHING) went out of business along with the Sisters of Providence health insurance pool (lost $30 million in six months playing Senn's roulette...) I know because I was a manager at the institution.... bq. The pool of the uninsured in Washington is growing at an alarming rate -- fewer companies can offer health insurance (on top of the state's tax structure) and the types of uninsured are moving up the scale from temporary workers to those with regular jobs -- ONLY GOVERNMENT WORKERS ENJOY NEARLY UNLIMITED ACCESS TO HEALTH INSURANCE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES (OR SAME-SEX LOVERS) --- taxpayers in King County pay up to $900 per month in health benefits for every county worker -- bq. This will not right itself -- ever....the entire health system in the state was brought down and destroyed by Debbie (and Mike) and Hillary -- the doctors have fled, the vast pool of cash accumulated over the decades by insurance companies is gone, and the basic charity care institutions are gone -- they will never return.... bq. DEBBIE SENN IS THE SINGLE MOST DIRECT CAUSE OF THIS CATASTROPHE... Stefan concludes his post with this delicious comment: bq. It's tempting to support Deborah Senn in the Democratic primary, but only because she would be such an easy Democrat for the Republicans to beat. Heh...

Nine stages of Moore awareness

Over at Moore-Watch there is a wonderful email. From the website: bq. A reader named Nancy describes her experience circling around the drain without actually being sucked down into the sewer. She lists the nine stages in her thinking after going to see 9/11. Here is number seven: bq. 7.) The fog of propaganda and brainwashing is beginning to be lifted. I turn to the little group and say �O.k. I want to say just one more thing: If we�re going to talk about Bush being evil, then lets talk about ALL the people who are evil, including those who chop heads off and fly planes into buildings. THEN it is more balanced.� The crowd of three seems to concur. We all walk our separate ways. Great stuff. I plan to see 9/11 sometime but it is not a high priority right now...

Corruption in Axis of Weasels

Hat tip to Instapundit for this: bq. First, it was questions about Kojo Annan and Oil for Food. And now there's this: bq. Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of the late French president, has been arrested as part of an investigation into alleged money-laundering and arms-trafficking in Africa. bq. Mitterrand's behavior has been the subject of rumors among Africa hands for years. I hope that some people are looking into this. The stunning levels of corruption in European (and by extension the United Nations) is staggering and yet, they have the gall (or is it Gaul) to claim "Moral High-Ground" when we act to get rid of a tyrrant... FYI - Kojo Annan is UN Leader Kofi Annan's son who was hired by the Swiss company that was chosen to decide who gets involved in the UN Oil -for-Food program. I blogged about him here

"Self-determination" in Fallujah

Interesting link from Kim DuToit The link is to a story at the Washington Times: bq. 'Taliban' rule imposed on Fallujah bq. Residents of Fallujah say foreign insurgents have banned drinking and music, imposed their own courts to enforce strict Islamic law and killed more than a dozen people suspected of collaborating with U.S. forces. bq. U.S. military officials, who turned the city over to an Iraqi-led "Fallujah Brigade" last month, say they have only anecdotal information about conditions in the city but remain concerned about the influence of fighters loyal to terror chief Abu Musab Zarqawi. Emphasis mine. Kim's comments are very much to the point: bq. Next time someone lets the politicians (in this case, the State Department) stick their stupid noses into a military operation, can I suggest a group ball-kicking party? bq. More to the point, now that it seems that the Islamist assholes have set up a theocratic Muslim "state within a state" in Fallujah, would it be appropriate for the Marines to go back in and finish what they started? bq. There is no point appeasing these Islamist assholes. bq. I thought that lesson became crystal-clear after 9/11. Obviously not. Very (sadly) true...

Spoofing fingerprint scanners

An article in Slashdot points to a Swedish students Master's Thesis. bq. "A Swedish student wrote her Master's thesis about current fingerprint technology. After a thorough literature study some live testing took place. Simple DIY fingerprint copies were used (detailed how-to in the thesis). Have current commercial products improved as much as proponents claim? Well, this qoute from the abstract says it all: 'The experiments focus on making artificial fingerprints in gelatin from a latent fingerprint. Nine different systems were tested at the CeBIT trade fair in Germany and all were deceived. Three other different systems were put up against more extensive tests with three different subjects. All systems were circumvented with all subjects' artificial fingerprints, but with varying results.' You can guess how happy the sales people at CeBIT were - most systems claim to be spoof proof..." Some of the Slashdot readers comments are worth checking out.

OOPS - AOL employee and SPAM

From an article at CNN/Money: bq. AOL worker arrested in spam scheme Jason Smathers is charged with stealing his employer's subscriber list and selling it. bq. A software engineer at America Online was arrested Wednesday and charged with stealing AOL's subscriber list and selling it to someone sending spam e-mail, federal prosecutors in New York said. bq. According to the criminal complaint, Jason Smathers of Harpers Ferry, W. Va., used his inside knowledge of AOL's computer system to steal a list of 92 million AOL customer account "screen names," and then sold them to Sean Dunaway, who is not an AOL employee. bq. Dunaway, of Las Vegas, NV., was accused of using the list to promote his own Internet gambling business and also sold the list to other spammers for $52,000, according to David Kelley, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Youch! 92 Million names. And Sean (Scumbag) Dunaway sold them to other spammers for $52K. Nice guy... And sure, they busted the guy and he is out of circulation but those names will keep circulating forever...

Rant on Islam

There is a heated but excellent rant on Islam over at Velociworld: bq. The Fuze Burns... Just as the navies of olde used the slowmatch to ignite their cannons, my fuze burns. As the man said, Wake Up, People. We are at War. Not with Slobfuckia, or Ignoramia, but with a Civilization. A crude civilization, to be sure, but one with 1,400 years of cunning and guile under their sashes. A civilization that has ridden on the back of Western rationalism and technology, as the flea rides the hound, for centuries. bq. Now these scabs of humanity, these subhuman vipers, have determined we are evil, and must die. bq. Was it our rock and roll? Our half naked women? Our abandonment of humility? Who knows? Who cares? Beethoven drove these animals crazy 200 years ago. The decadence of modern Western Civilization is a straw man, a convenient bogie for these beasts to fling themselves against. No, it's not our Way of Life. It is our very existence. And more: bq. There is your Religion of Peace. Or Submission, if you speak Arabic precisely. I have no respect for a cabal that exhibits the traits of jackals, and hyenas. Actually, I figure the humane thing to do is to put it out of its misery altogether. bq. Unless they want to live in peace. I don't care what you practice, personally. Hell, I was a nichiren shoshu Buddhist in college. Big fucking deal. However, I hear a great fucking echo in the Muslim world, the land of people who act like pigs, and dogs. A great echo of silence about the barbarities committed by their fellow religionists. Shameful. Fucking shameful. bq. I suspect I'm supposed to feel sorry for the women in chadors, and burkhas, who are assumed to be against this jihad shit, who will be beaten if they speak out. Well, Fuck You Gals, too. Quit being slaves. Quit being allowed to make yourselves slaves. bq. I want a Muslim, ANY Muslim, to decry this shit. Not on Fox News, not on CNN. In a Mosque. IN A MOSQUE! DO IT! DO IT! bq. Can't, can you? You'll be vivisectioned, won't you? And that is because the terrorists, the Islamofascists, are actually the purest form of Islam. They are rectifying hundreds of years of accommodation with the West. Remember that: the beheaders are the Purest of all Muslims. And they all want to kill you. bq. I'll be excoriated as a Hatemonger for this screed. I don't care. At least I live in America. This rant would earn me a 10,000 Euro fine in France, because it is considered hate speech, and they are pissing their pantaloons they are so infected with radical Islamists. bq. I'll end this now, but only because I'M finished. And for all you pindicked Arabs: bq. I've got your fatwah right here. I defy anyone to find a fact that is incorrect here. Comments on the "Political Correctness" don't count. Read his comments section too.

Great Rant

Brian Weaver's Grafyte weblog has an excellent rant today. He hand codes his pages so there isn't a permalink but look for the entry for June 22, 2004: bq. Information Design Information needs design, Did it before TV? Vanity Fair? Movies? The great leveling of intellectual facilities in an anti-intellectual America since the mediation of the senses were mandated by law. What possible meaning could it have to say that design must be placed in front of the information that you are sitting on train tracks and there is a train coming? The freeway signs pointing to another direction need to be re-designed by 20 something ravers who have had to much Extacy than is good for their DNA. bq. We need to have a new aesthetics dictated by the needs of fashion designers to sell new clothes every season. We need serious information presentation. Serious is the word we use when we get a diagnosis of cancer from the doctor, not a colorful call for action from a bunch of designers who are between jobs and on unemployment, smoking clove cigars and drinking special lattes made from hand picked coffee beans chosen by itinerant farmers in Columbia paid less per day than the coffee costs to buy in the cafe. Read another fashion magazine. Look at pictures of the latest BMW SUV sucking the gas you need to get to the corner store to buy more soy milk for your special dietary needs. bq. Feel better in a designed information world? Carefully controlled color coordinated access to ideas made from the latest style manuel being sold by vast corporate ecologies built on greed and stupidity run by fawning boot licking toadies bowing and scraping yes yes yes oh yess to the jack boots in front of them that want to be tongue cleaned, but only in an aesthetic manner, nothing crass or unseemly. For information needs to be in a cacoon of design to protect it from the perception that something is seriously wrong and the buzzing you hear isn't really the cognitive dissonance you actually really feel but something else, something else that has nothing to do with you at all. I'd say 'Heh...' if it wasn't so true...

Michael Moore 9/11 Film Review

There is an awesome review of Fahrenheit 9/11 in the current Slate. This has been covered by a number of bloggers including Moorewatch: bq. Unfairenheit 9/11 The lies of Michael Moore. By Christopher Hitchens bq. One of the many problems with the American left, and indeed of the American left, has been its image and self-image as something rather too solemn, mirthless, herbivorous, dull, monochrome, righteous, and boring. How many times, in my old days at The Nation magazine, did I hear wistful and semienvious ruminations? Where was the radical Firing Line show? Who will be our Rush Limbaugh? I used privately to hope that the emphasis, if the comrades ever got around to it, would be on the first of those and not the second. But the meetings themselves were so mind-numbing and lugubrious that I thought the danger of success on either front was infinitely slight. bq. Nonetheless, it seems that an answer to this long-felt need is finally beginning to emerge. I exempt Al Franken�s unintentionally funny Air America network, to which I gave a couple of interviews in its early days. There, one could hear the reassuring noise of collapsing scenery and tripped-over wires and be reminded once again that correct politics and smooth media presentation are not even distant cousins. With Michael Moore�s Fahrenheit 9/11, however, an entirely new note has been struck. Here we glimpse a possible fusion between the turgid routines of MoveOn.org and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl. bq. To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of �dissenting� bravery. Go to Slate and read the whole thing. It is wonderful. You might want to google the author's name, you will find that he is very much on the side of the left.

The next European Commission President

The axis of weasels is at it again... From EUROSOC comes this story: bq. A Modest Proposal Surprise, surprise, Germany has joined France in insisting that the next president of the European Commission must be from a country in the EU's "core area" - ruling out British, Nordic or central European candidates for the job. bq. Of course, this narrows the field to mostly Old European nations, who have been in the EU for decades and have signed up to integrationist policy such as the Single Currency. bq. Like France's president Chirac, Gerhard Schr�der believes that a candidate from the EU's inner core would be more sympathetic to the often paradoxical Franco-German dynamic which demands more integration while breaking EU legislation it disapproves of. bq. The Telegraph reports that installing an Old European president would allow France and Germany to retain control over the pace and direction of EU integration. Emphasis mine -- fucking hypocrites...

Open Source Software in Iraq

There is an interesting article at Slashdot about a bunch of Linux advocates who are working with people in Iraq to get them involved in Open Source Software as an alternative to commercial goods. Lots of links and the readers comments are interesting as well. (Once you filter out the obvious trolls and snarky people who are endemic to /. comments.) Check it out...

Forest ecology

Interesting link from Back40 at CrumbTrail. It is to an article in the journal Science which says: bq. The forests of the world are not the stable and unchanging ecosystems they have been assumed to be. Without the occurrence of wide-spread disturbances in nature, such as forest fires, icing, or volcanic activity, forests will eventually be impoverished, owing to a lack of phosphorous... bq. In all six locations forests grew least well in the oldest soils, because the access to absorbable phosphorous was limited in comparison with access to absorbable nitrogen. When soils age, less phosphorous becomes available to trees, since phosphorous is not biologically replenished in the soil or supplied to the ecosystem in any other way. Nitrogen, on the other hand, is renewable; atmospheric nitrogen is continuously supplied to the soil and is transformed by soil bacteria to forms of nitrogen that the trees can take up. It is not a lack of nitrogen, as has previously been thought, but a lack of phosphorous that lies behind poor growth in forests when they become old. So... Let me get this straight... Preserving the forest as it is, ie: preventing damage, contributes to an overall lack of health. The natural recycling of dead trees back into the environment maintains the vitality of the forest. The Environmental Press is sure to jump on this one. Oh yeah...

SpaceShip One launch successful

Yesterday I wrote about he upcoming launch of SpaceShip One It was a success, reaching an altitude of 100KM (62 miles) which is taken by people to define the boundary of space! Way to go Burt! The website Scaled Composites is getting pretty high traffic right now for some strange reason so it's very s..l..o...w.... to load.

EMT worker and hit-and-run

From the Seattle P-I comes this link: Emergency worker surrenders in accident bq. An emergency medical technician responding to a fatal hit-and-run accident told police at the scene he might have struck the victim the night before. bq. Brian Leddy, a captain with the Eatons Neck volunteer fire department on Long Island, was arrested Friday after both he and officers noticed that debris in the road matched his 2003 Dodge truck, police said. Ouch!

Conservative Ice Cream

Like the quality of Ben and Jerry's but don't like their politics? Here is an alternative: Star Spangled Ice Cream Enjoy such flavors as: * Gun Nut * G.I. Love Vanilla * Choc and Awe * Iraqui Road * smaller GovernMINT According to the website, they are coming to retail stores soon. For now, you can order online and have it shipped to you.

eBay funnies

You are bidding on a slightly used lamborghini iy only has 121 miles garage kept.Had a small brake problem. Auction info here: Lamborghini Wonder if this is the same person with the speedboat a few weeks ago...

Darwin at work - photos included

Also at Dog Snot is this series of three photos illustrating Darwin at work. Duck + Ducklings + Street Grating

Clinton's New Book

Geoffrey at Dog Snot Diaries ran into the NY Times book review of President Bill Clinton's new book: bq. The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull � the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history bq. In many ways, the book is a mirror of Mr. Clinton's presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration. bq. But the very lack of focus and order that mars these pages also prevented him from summoning his energies in a sustained manner to bring his insights about the growing terror threat and an Israeli-Palestinian settlement to fruition. Ouch!

SpaceShip One launch this Monday

From KOMO-TV comes this story: bq. The stuff of pulp science fiction and children's adventure books could become reality this week high over the Mojave Desert, when an innovative rocket plane points its nose toward space. bq. SpaceShipOne will try to climb 62 miles up Monday morning, leaving Earth's atmosphere for a few minutes to become the first privately funded, non-governmental manned spacecraft. bq. The feat would set up SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan as the leader among worldwide contenders for the Ansari X-Prize, which aims to boost space tourism. The prize will award $10 million to the first privately funded, three-seat spaceship to reach 62 miles and repeat the flight within two weeks. And more on the designer: bq. Rutan became a household name in 1986 when his Voyager aircraft made the first nonstop flight around the world without refueling. His projects include the popular homebuilt VariEze light aircraft, new business planes, remotely piloted craft for defense and science, the 1988 America's Cup wing sail, a crew-return vehicle for the international space station and an upcoming jet for another world flight attempt. Burt's website is here: Scaled Composites

Conference on Anti-Semitism -- in Paris

Interesting - there is a world-wide conference on terrorist and anti-Semitic (hate crime) web sites being held in Paris (of all places given their current problems with this). Reuters has the news: U.S-French Gap Narrows Over Fighting Web Hate bq. A transatlantic gap over fighting Internet hate crime is narrowing as the United States and France put aside differences to seek a common strategy against Web Sites spreading racism and anti-Semitism, experts said on Thursday. bq. The two countries, which clashed in recent years over sales of Nazi memorabilia over the U.S.-based Yahoo portal, focused on practical ways to fight Internet hate crime at a two-day Paris conference on the issue, the experts from both states said. bq. The conference was part of a series of meetings run by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to reach a broad agreement by December on common policies among all 55 members in Europe, North America and Central Asia. bq. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Daniel Bryant said the talks had helped other countries understand Washington's strong legal guarantees on free speech, which have frustrated European government and courts trying to shut down U.S.-based hate sites. bq. "Even so, there is a great deal of opportunity to move in common with our OSCE partners," he said after the end of the meeting at which delegates said the U.S. and French sides had taken the lead in seeking common ground. bq. One French delegate said approvingly that Washington and Paris were now holding "a sustained dialogue" on the issues. bq. "They thought countries would come here to criticize U.S. laws," he said on condition of anonymity. "But we're not trying to change the First Amendment. There is no hidden agenda." bq. The Anti-Defamation League, a U.S. Jewish group that actively monitors hate sites on the Web, noted a growing consensus despite the contrasting traditions of U.S. free speech and European intervention against objectionable opinions. Very cool - now if there are some teeth in their decisions, that would be excellent. One good thing is that the United Nations are not involved... For an excellent website that tracks these pustules, check out Internet Haganah ('Haganah' means defense.)

U.N. Oil for Food - more info

Claudia Rosett has another excellent article on the U.N. Oil for Food scandal. (Hat tip to Kim DuToit for the link) bq. Turtle Bay's Latest Coverup The U.N. investigates itself--again. bq. In a stunning development that even the United Nations' fiercest critics will surely hail as a turn for the better, Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced yesterday that he is "entirely disgusted" with the way the U.N. investigates itself. "It's a way of deflecting criticism, not solving problems," said Mr. Annan, adding that "The U.N. Secretariat has become a secret society, swathed in privilege and shielded by immunities. WOW! Plain speaking from the head weaseal - let me check the temperature in Hell... Her next paragraph: bq. Just kidding. This is raw fantasy; Mr. Annan never said any such thing. In the real world, in the best tradition of setting bureaucratic backfires, the U.N. has now labored mightily, in collaboration with Deloitte Consulting LLP, to add one more item to the recent series of U.N. self-investigations--this one an inquiry into the U.N. Secretariat's perception of its own integrity. The resulting public document, which runs to 90 pages but somehow omits what were reportedly some lurid individual responses, was posted recently on Mr. Annan's U.N. web page under the title "United Nations Organizational Integrity Survey 2004." Dang! We can hope can't we. And what _is_ the U.N. doing about the current scandal and the possibility of future problems? bq. But all this is really just prelude to the true import of this U.N. investigation, which lies in Mr. Annan's proposal for the next step. And therein resides the art of the U.N. investigation. bq. Does Mr. Annan recommend throwing open the Secretariat's operations to daylight? No, that belongs to the realms of the fantasy above. bq. Does Mr. Annan propose that as boss of the entire shop, he himself should be held accountable for the failures, mistrust and fear of reprisals? Dream on. bq. Instead, as is customary, Mr. Annan says that most of the problems are now (and forever?) being fixed: "Many of the actions proposed can be linked to actions or processes already under way." He goes on to propose another action or process, this plan being to convene yet another group "to guide the process of follow-up to the survey." This bunch--let's skip the full names of the U.N. agencies and just zip through the acronyms--will include the Deputy Secretary-General and senior U.N. officials from the DPKO, DGACM, DESA, DM, OHRM, UNODC, UNEP and ECLAC, all to be supported by "a consultative group consisting of a wide cross-section of staff at different levels both from New York and from offices away from headquarters." bq. In other words, having gone so far as to discover that Secretariat staff don't trust the top management and are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals, Mr. Annan's response will be to convene a group of top managers and invite staff members to speak out. At some point they'll probably issue another report, and then everyone can do it all again. Disgusting. They need to be moved out of N.Y.C. and over to Belgum. Marginalise them more than they are now. Being in N.Y.C. gives them more credibility than they deserve...

Last blog entry from Seattle

It's official - this will be the last blog entry made from my Seattle house. The computer is being shut off in a few minutes as I pack to move out to our farm. Blogging will resume late tonight. Looking forward to the change!

Meteorite lands in NZ house

Astronomy news from New Zealand - from the New Zealand Herald: bq. Meteorite crashes through roof of Auckland house A black lump that crashed into an Auckland family's living room yesterday was identified as only the ninth meteorite to be found in this country, television's One News reported. bq. The 1.3kg, four billion-year-old rock fell through the roof of the house in the suburb of Ellerslie about 9am. bq. "There was just a huge explosion and we looked around and there was just dust everywhere," householder Brenda Archer told the station. Missed me!!! Nyaa Nyaa... [duckning]

Cloak of invibility

A Japanese scientist -- Susumu Tachi, a professor of computer science and physics at the University of Tokyo is showing his "Cloak of Invisibility" at Nextfest, an exhibition of emerging technologies in San Francisco. According to an article in the New Zealand Mail and Guardian: bq. "It's a kind of augmented reality," he said of his device. In reality, the "optical camouflage" cloak is anything but invisible. It is made up of "retro-reflective material" coated with tiny light-reflective beads that cover its entire length. The cloak is also fitted with cameras that project what is at the back of the wearer on to the front, and vice versa. The effect, as the Japanese team demonstrated last week, is to make the wearer blend with his background. Interesting - could be fun in limited applications. You need to remember though that a system using projectors on 3-D objects will be very senesetive to the viewers vantage point and any appreciable shift will cause fringing and blurring. Still, I look forward to seeing where this leads... Hat tip to AMCGLTD

At the farm fulltime

I had my last day of "real work" and am now on the farm fulltime. We will be spending the next week or so getting our Seattle house ready to put on the market and then we will be up here for the remainder. Been looking forward to this for a long long time!

Minimal posting today

The place where I work is moving four blocks to a new (and much nicer) office today. Plus, this is my last full day of work for these people -- leaving to move up to the farm fulltime. So, needless to say, I'll be otherwise occupied... Blogging will resume sometime this weekend! Dave

The U.N., Voting and Iraq

Interesting story on one of the United Nations contributions to peace in Iraq. Dale Franks at QandO has the story: bq. The Contribution of the UN You know what would be really cool? If, just once, you could invite the UN to help with something without having to worry that they'll screw it all up. Unfortunately, competence, shall we say, is not butter for the UN's bread, if you know what I mean. bq. Here's the problem. Iraq is a country made up of two major ethnic groups, the Kurds and Arabs. The Arabs are additionally divided up into two more major religious groups, the Sunni and Shia. They all dislike each other, intensely. bq. Now, the grand idea that UN elections expert Carina Perelli came up with is proportional representation. So, instead of an electoral system on the American or British model, she's chosen the Italian model. Thus she has bequeathed on the Iraqis a system so stable that it's given Italy 54 different governments since the end of WWII. He goes on a little bit to explain the difference between this and our constituency-based system. bq. The U.S. and Britain have what's known as constituency-based democracy. That is, voters in neighborhoods or districts select a single person to represent them in Congress or Parliament based on whoever wins a plurality of the vote. This system has many virtues, producing stable and effective governments that can be held accountable by voters at the next election. When Prime Minister Tony Blair came to power, for example, the Tory defense and foreign ministers lost not just their cabinet posts but their seats in Parliament--an outcome almost unthinkable under a system of "proportional" representation. bq. Yet the latter is precisely what Ms. Perelli proposed last week for Iraq. In this system, voters choose not among individual candidates but among parties that are awarded a share of legislative seats based on their percentage of the vote. Proponents say the system better allows all significant voices to be heard. But even in the best of cases--Italy over much of the past 50 years--proportional systems tend to produce unstable governments easily paralyzed by the little parties they have to cobble into a majority coalition. Would-be candidates are beholden to party bosses who determine their place on the electoral list and thus their chances of success. The article goes on to describe the U.N.'s reason for this choice but it's a bad decision to implement this and in nations where this has been chosen, it is impossible to revert back to a constituency-based system due to entrenched politians...

A scare at Reagan's farewell...

Reporter Melissa Lynn at Business Week writes about a scare people received during the viewing of Reagan's casket in the Capitol Building today: bq. Ronald Reagan was no ordinary man, and June 9, the day his flag-draped casket was pulled by caisson up Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol where thousands will pay their last respects, was no ordinary day. I had the honor to cover the first state funeral in the Capitol in more than 30 years, an event that overrode the fact that it felt like I was in the middle of a sauna. Security was tight, but welcome to Washington post-September 11. bq. Little did I know how much this day would bring home the new reality all Americans live with. I entered the Capitol and approached the elevator doors when the alarm started ringing, and a voice said, "Evacuate. This is not a test!" Initially, the people around me didn't move. Then Capitol police officers began to scream and herded us out the door. bq. I was no longer thinking of Reagan. I was thinking of 9/11. As soon as I got outside, the police started to guide us. Then some actually started running with us. Women were throwing their shoes in the grass. I took mine off, heard an officer yell at me to keep going, and I felt the first rock dig into my foot. The moment of true terror for me was seeing a police officer turn around and look toward the sky over the Capitol. Then I ran faster than my legs could carry me. She then writes about the cause: bq. The cause of the uproar, as we later learned: an unidentified aircraft had entered Capitol airspace without authorization. It turned out to be the private craft carrying Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher to the ceremony. False alarm.

Brigitte Bardot gets it!!!

Brigitte Bardot seems to be on the ball politically. Enough such that the French courts fined her 5,000 euros for her latest book. From the BBC News: bq. Bardot fined for 'race hate' book French film legend Brigitte Bardot has been fined 5,000 euros (�3,301) for inciting racial hatred in a book. bq. The charges against Bardot, 69, related to her best-seller, A Cry In The Silence, in which she said she "opposed the Islamisation of France". And more: bq. The court said: "Madame Bardot presents Muslims as barbaric and cruel invaders, responsible for terrorist acts and eager to dominate the French to the extent of wanting to exterminate them." She is telling it like it is, show me where her viewpoints are incorrect...

Barbra Streisand Pays Legal Fees

Photographer (and ex-dot.com exec) Ken Adleman has a nifty project: California Coastline. He and his wife (helicopter pilot) fly up the California Coast with a digital camera, laptop and GPS unit and take a continuous series of photos. They have done this several times and by so doing, have built up a nice historical record of erosion and illegal development. One person objected... Barbara Streisand called Ken's photo an invasion of privacy and sued him for $50 million. December of last year, the Judge threw this suit out and ordered Ms. Streisand to pay Ken's legal fees. She finally coughed up the check for $155,567.04 The whole mess is here for all to see She is all about free speech and defending people's rights until it directly affects her and then she hides behind a wall of lawyers... Hypocrite. Hat tip to Richard Bennett at Mossbacks Progress

Ray Charles R.I.P.

Reports are circulating that Ray Charles has passed away. It was reported a few weeks earlier that he was in the final stages of Liver Cancer. He was one of the great ones... UPDATE: Info is now available online. This is from the Detroit Free Press: bq. Ray Charles, master of music who combined blues, gospel, country, dies at 73 Ray Charles, the Grammy-winning crooner who blended gospel and blues in such crowd-pleasers as ``What'd I Say'' and heartfelt ballads like ``Georgia on My Mind,'' died Thursday, a spokesman said. He was 73. bq. Charles died at his Beverly Hills home surrounded by family and friends, said spokesman Jerry Digney. bq. Charles last public appearance was alongside Clint Eastwood on April 30, when the city of Los Angeles designated the singer's studios, built 40 years ago in central Los Angeles, as a historic landmark.

Referrer Logs

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One of the interesting aspects to running a website is examining the logs kept by the web server. One of the data available is what were people searching for when they came here. Here is the list of the top twelve search terms followed by the number of times someone landed here with that search: * heemeyer 304 * marvin 282 * iraqi 170 * women 85 * of 72 * photos 69 * babes 47 * in 46 * prisoner 43 * abuse 40 * largest 39 * photography 38 Interesting -- very interesting. Maybe I should run a contest featuring Photoshopped Iraqi babes in prison garb riding the bulldozer with Marv...
Marvin Heemeyer was the guy who built up his bulldozer with armor and then used it to smash a number of buildings in downtown Granby Colorado. Going through his house, 'authorities' found (as reported by the Rocky Mountain News): bq. Authorities searching the Grand Lake home of Marvin Heemeyer found handwritten lists of people he apparently intended to target Friday in his armor-plated bulldozer attack on Granby. bq. One list named buildings, and he smashed into all but one of them - the Catholic church - Grand County Sheriff Rodney Johnson said Monday. Heemeyer's bulldozer also chewed up buildings that weren't on his list. The same website (different article) also says that there is a little problem with classifying the damage: bq. Insurance forms don't have a box to check for 'bulldozer' Nobody could have predicted that a Granby man would bulldoze 13 structures in the tiny mountain town Friday. bq. And nobody knows exactly how the damage that Marvin Heemeyer caused will be classified by insurance companies. bq. "It could be terrorism, it could be vandalism . . . it would depend on what the wording of the contracts were," said Jerry Peden, vice president at Van Gilder Insurance. Heh... Marvin certainly got himself a place in the history books...

Invisibility technology

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Proof once again that anyone can put up a web page. I present for your edification Alan Yu: bq. I expose invisibility technology because currently invisibility technology is neither used for the interests of national security (investigate spy, and terrorism), nor used for fighting crimes (Part II-A31 ). Instead it is used by involved police, government agents and recruited operatives (non-lethal weapon users) to commit crimes and unlawfully control the lives of all Americans (see Part I-B1). They have committed treason, betrayed American public and the public officials many times to advanced their unlawful interests and power. They would also harm the health of any American who are not associated with them (see the proof on (Part II-E1). Why would authorities deny the invisibility technology existence? Based on March, 6 , 2004 Cable TV's History Channel documentary, Modern Marvels: Stealth Technology, the highest classification in US for black project is called the classification "Do Not Exist." For example, the F117 (Stealth Fighter) was on the classification "Do Not Exist" before it was declassified. Since a technology which is (undetected) invisible to radar and would be on the highest classification "Do Not Exist", the invisibility technology is optically invisible and must be still on the highest classification "Do Not Exist" in US. The invisible personnel include involved police, government agents and recruited civilian operatives. Many facts prove that involved local police/agents already used the invisibility technology on Americans before 1971 (see Part1-A3). Facts prove these inviisble personnel are tiny (Part II-A4 ) Add to this a horrible sense of design (all the text is small, bold and italic making it very hard to read) and you have a source of several hours of entertainment. Tinfoil hat optional...

The bomb in Cologne

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Steven DenBeste at USS Clueless writes about the terrorist bomb in Madrid: bq. There's no reason to believe this was a terrorist attack. A bomb packed with nails went off in Cologne, causing 22 casualties, but it absolutely was not a terrorist attack. bq. Nope. Quite sure of that. There are no terrorists in Germany. It can't happen here. It was just an ordinary nail-bomb. Happens all the time; nothing special about it. It was definitely not a terrorist nail bomb. There is absolutely no indication of a terrorist connection. bq. As if. Steven really points out the difference between England and Old Europe.

Berkeley -- the city of hate

Excellent article by Michael J. Totten at Tech Central Station bq. The Berkeley Intifada? Over the past two and a half years Berkeley, California has added radical Middle Eastern politics to its chic campus culture. The result isn't pretty. A city that prides itself on tolerance and diversity is fast-becoming an epicenter of hate. bq. A recent article called The Berkeley Intifada in the East Bay Express is an eye-opener for those who think Berkeley is still what it was. Violently anti-Semitic vandalism and graffiti is making a comeback. "It's the Jews, stupid," was scratched into a 9/11 memorial. The glass door to Berkeley's Hillel building was shattered by a hurled cinderblock. Just in case the message wasn't clear, someone wrote "FUCK JEWS" on the wall nearby. Swastikas were spray-painted on a campus building accompanied by a bilingual old world eliminationist death warrant: "Die, Juden." And more (this a quote from a Berkeley student): bq. "That's why I came to Berkeley -- because of its strong romantic aura of the Free Speech Movement and Mario Savio. Then I got here and discovered that that light seems to have been extinguished. You have this vitriol. You feel it everywhere. Berkeley is now the epicenter of real hatred." There are a number of other excellent examples. Michael concludes with these three paragraphs: bq. If skinheads or neo-Nazis were behind the spasms of anti-Semitism we all know there would be huge demonstrations and community action to neutralize and expunge it. Whenever the Klan plans rallies anywhere they face enormous counter-protests. But since the new anti-Semitism is imported from another part of the world, too many people feel queasy about taking a stand against immigrants. bq. I understand. I feel awkward myself lecturing immigrants from the third world. But I wouldn't think twice about giving a European skinhead a good shove in the chest. If I moved to another country I would hope to be given a break while I adjusted. No one can instantly adapt to a new culture. If you want to give immigrants a pass on some things, good for you. But if an exchange student from, say, Egypt scrawls "Die, Juden" next to a swastika on a wall, come on, it's time to get over it. bq. Political Correctness is finished. What started out as intolerance of hate has become hatred's enabler. It fails to live up to its own standard and can't possibly become more absurd than it already is. It slid all the way down the slippery slope and annihilated itself. Kinda nails it doesn't he...

The Price of Printer Ink

Found at Metafilter - this link to the U.K. Mirror and this article: bq. Liquid Gold If you won the Lottery you might be tempted to bathe in champagne. If it was a triple rollover, you might fill the tub with printer ink - one of the world's most expensive liquids. bq. The average cost of replacing the tablespoon of ink in a 17ml colour printer cartridge is �29, making it sixteen times more expensive than vintage 1985 Dom Perignon. bq. It also puts Chanel No.5 and even rocket fuel in the shade. Heh...

Bees for Hire

Nice article in the NY Times about migrant Bee Wranglers. Few people stop to think about where their food comes from and the fact that any plant requires pollination to set fruit or seed. From the article: bq. Hives for Hire Stop Only to Pollinate Each spring, the Hackenburgs and a dozen or so other East Coast beekeepers embark on a six-month journey from Florida to Maine. Along the way they stop in orange groves in Florida, apple orchards and squash and pumpkin fields in Pennsylvania, blueberry barrens in Maine, cranberry bogs in Massachusetts, clover fields in upstate New York and other places favored by bees. Farmers pay the beekeepers to place hives in blossoming fruit and vegetable fields. bq. The bees pollinate the plants (greatly improving crop yields), and the beekeepers keep the honey made from the collected nectar. Out West, a similar migration is made by beekeepers who drive through Texas, the Dakotas, California and Oregon. bq. "We live like a bunch of Gypsies," Mr. Hackenburg said as he steered the truck out of the rest area in Brooksville, Fla., and onto Interstate 75. "In the last 25 years, I've only been We are looking at a different species of Bee for our Apple Orchard -- the Mason Bee -- these guys can be overwintered in a refrigerator. No honey harvest from them though...

Autonomous Rock-Climbing Robots

This is spooky looking... Timothy Wolfe Bretl builds robots that are able to climb rock walls. The movie clips are worth checking out... From his website: bq. The goal of this project is to enable a multi-limbed robot to climb vertical rock, using skills and techniques similar to those developed by human climbers. In particular, I want the robot to free-climb (i.e., use only natural features and friction of the terrain for upward progress) rather than aid-climb (i.e., rely on on additional gear for progress).

Canadian Election

Our neighbor to the North is having a general federal election on June 28, and mikpos at Kuro5hin has written a very good analysis of the issues and the Canadian political system. bq. For whatever reason, people generally vote for members of political parties. In this way, the parties, their policies, and their leaders, become very important in Canadian politics. bq. There are four of what I will call "really major" parties, three of these being national parties. These are the Liberal Party, Conservative Party, New Democratic Party, and Bloc Qu�becois. These will be discussed in some length. bq. There is also one "sort of major" party, the Green Party. The Greens have a comprehensive policy, are running a full 308 candidates this time around, but have yet to win a seat in Parliament. Due to a change in campaign reform, which prevents large contributions from individuals and especially from unions and corporations, political parties get funding directly from the government. Each party which receives more than 2% of the vote across the country receives $1.75 in funding per vote per year. The Green Party is expected to receive between 1% and 8% of the popular vote this election, and so the added funding could very well launch it into the "really major" party category for the next election. The Green Party's policy is much like that of any other Green Party across the world, in that it economically it favours income tax reduction (via shifting taxes onto polluters) and debt reduction, wants to create "green-collar" jobs, and is mildly socially progressive. bq. The minor parties where are registered for this election (there are any number of unregistered parties) are: Canadian Action Party (opposes free trade, favours monetary reform), Christian Heritage Party, Communist Party of Canada, Libertarian Party, Marijuana Party (a one-issue party), Marxist-Leninist Party (split off from the Communists in the 1970s over disagreements about the USSR), Progressive Canadian Party (see the section of the Conservative Party as to why this party exists). These parties are considered minor parties because they never get many votes, never get any seats, and never get invited to any debates. Many of these can be considered protest parties, although all of them take their policies quite seriously (yes, even the Marijuana Party). Fascinating reading...

Iraqi Kurds consider autonomy

Interesting news today from CS Monitor: bq. After UN vote, Kurdish leaders threatened to resign from the new government Wednesday.The United Nations Security Council's unanimous endorsement of Iraqi sovereignty this week has been widely hailed as marking the end of the US-led occupation and control. But history may view it as opening an Arab-Kurd ethnic fissure that will ultimately divide the nation of Iraq, say analysts. bq. Wednesday, the tension between Shiites and Kurds over Iraq's temporary constitution flared with Kurdish ministers threatening to walk out of the newly formed Iraqi government. The dispute over the UN resolution presents the week-old government with its first major internal crisis with three weeks to go before it assumes sovereignty. And more: bq. "The Kurdish people suffered during Saddam Hussein's regime. We paid the price and now we want to enjoy democracy," says Osama Hourani, a Kurdish student at Baghdad University. "We all know Kuwait was part of Iraq and they got their independence. We speak a different language and have our own nationality but still we are not allowed this right." bq. Talk of Kurdish independence causes ripples of concern that spread far beyond the confines of Iraq. Turkey, Iran, and Syria all have sizable, and in some cases restive, Kurdish populations. Turkey has made it abundantly clear that it will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan along its southeast border. bq. "The Turks and the Iranians don't want Kurdish federalism and they are against Kurdish rights. They think it's a threat to them," Mr. Othman says. Why not an independent Kurdistan. It would go a long way to promoting peace in the area once the border has been defined to everyone's satisfaction...

Seagate jumps on CF microdrive bandwagon

Seagate is jumping into the Compact Flash Microdrive arena with the announcement of two drives. Digital Photography Review has a photo and a very brief description of the new products: bq. Seagate has announced it is to produce a 5 GB HDD in the CF Type II form factor, although they can't use the name 'Microdrive' that is essentially what this device is. Details at this point are a little thin on the ground, the metal cased device will be available in 2.5 GB and 5 GB capacities, it has a rotational speed of 3600 RPM and features 'RunOn' technology which appears to be a buffering system which avoids data loss if the unit is knocked or vibrated in use. Seagate will also be producing a 'built in' version of the device which is designed to be hardwired into devices such as MP3 players or PDA's. I used a 1GB IBM microdrive for my digital camera until it crashed on me last year. I'm now using a solid-state flash card but these are too expensive to go for anything over 1GB. Interesting technology to watch...

South Africa passports sold to al-Qaeda

Distressing news from South Africa as reported by the SA News24 website: bq. SA passports sold to al-Qaeda Members of al-Qaeda arrested with copies of South African passports must have bought the documents from corrupt home affairs officials, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Tuesday. Last month police commissioner Jackie Selebi said arrests made in South Africa five days before the elections had led to the arrests of al-Qaeda suspects internationally. "In part of this operation, in London, the British police found boxes and boxes of South African passports in the home of one of these people... ," Selebi told parliament's portfolio committee on safety and security last month. It's one thing to be corrupt but didn't these government officials ever think about who they were dealing with? Sheesh!

Global Climate forecasting

Two interesting stories regarding the deepest-ever ice core recently taken in Antarctica. As the ice forms, gas from the atmosphere is trapped as well as plant and animal life so a very decent record of temperature and atmospheric composition can be had. The deeper the core, the longer back you can study. This one is 1.8 miles deep and covers the last 740,000 years... From Reuters: bq. Weather Forecast Warm for the Next 15,000 Years Weather for about the next 15,000 years should be warm and stable -- barring human interference -- according to scientists on Wednesday. bq. They have drilled three km (1.8 miles) into the Antarctic ice to produce the oldest-ever continuous climate record, from an ice core dating back 740,000 years. bq. It shows eight ice ages, or glacials, followed by shorter interglacial periods and changing concentrations of gases and particles in the atmosphere. bq. The period that corresponds most to the present interglacial period, which started 12,000 years ago, was about 400,000 years ago and lasted roughly 28,000 years. bq. "Our data say we won't go into another ice age. We have 15,000 years before that is coming," Dr Eric Wolff, of the British Antarctic Survey, told a news conference. From New Scientist: bq. Record ice core gives fair forecast As long as humans do not mess it up, the Earth's climate is set at fair for the next 15,000 years. That is according to information extracted from the oldest ice core ever drilled. bq. The Antarctic core is the first to reach as far back as a warm period with characteristics similar to our own interglacial. So it should help make more accurate predictions about when to expect the next deep freeze. And more: bq. "All interglacials are slightly different, but we believe Termination V is the most similar to our own," says chief author of the new study, Eric Wolff, at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. It mirrors the pattern of solar warming between seasons and at different latitudes that are caused by fluctuations in the Earth's orbit known as the Milankovitch cycles. bq. It shows that the Termination V interglacial was unusually long, lasting 28,000 years. The current interglacial is now 12,000 years old, and some scientists feared that we might be heading for an ice age soon since at least one post-Termination V interglacial lasted just 10,000 years. bq. But the new findings suggest that even without the human hand in global warming, a new ice age would be unlikely for perhaps another 15,000 years, Wolff says.

Nice picture of Venus Transit

There is a wonderful picture of the Venus Transit at CBC News.

So Help Us God

There has been a bit of a kerfuffle regarding an inscription at the new WWII memorial in Washington. The inscription quotes a speech by President Roosevelt. Here is the story making the rounds: bq. One woman read the words aloud: "With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph." But as she read, she was suddenly angry. bq. "Wait a minute," she said. "They left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt said, 'So help us God.'" bq. "You're probably right," her husband said. "We're not supposed to say things like that now." bq. "I know I'm right," she insisted. "I remember the speech." bq. The two shook their heads sadly and walked away. bq. Listening to their conversation, I thought to myself, "Well, it has been 50 years. She's probably forgotten." bq. But she was right. bq. The people who edited out that part of the speech when they engraved it on the memorial could have fooled me. I was born after the war. But they couldn't fool the people who were there. Roosevelt's words are engraved on their hearts. bq. Send this around to your friends. People need to know before everyone forgets. She was wrong... Here are the closing five paragraphs of Roosevelt's speech: bq. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. bq. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us. bq. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. bq. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God. bq. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire. As you can see there is a so help me God but it comes three paragraphs after the paragraph used in the inscription. This info (and lots more) can be found at this wonderful site: Snopes

Stupid boating tricks...

Scott at AMCGLTD points us to this story: bq. It is a 38 foot Fountain. The owner had it for about a week and has not made the first payment on the 375,000 dollar pricetag. He was going 80 mph made a sharp turn, it threw him and his passenger out of the boat. He did not have his kill switch on, so it steadily accelerated until it hit the bank, went airborne and split on this tree. There are photos of it here: LS2 Forums Gonna take some Bondo there...

Global Warming - the causes

The Michael Medved fan site has an interesting link to one of the key causes of Global Warming. (Hint - it's not anthropogenic CO2) bq. The "Kyoto Accords" canard is often plopped down as key evidence that Pres. Bush has a bad environmental record. Leaving aside the fact that most every senator said they would vote against it if it created restrictions on US industry but none on developing countries, the fact is that human pollution is a minor factor in global climate change. The link points to an article from the USGS, the Hawai'ian Volcano Observatory: bq. Global reach of volcanic gases When we think of the negative impact that volcanoes have on people, the local geographic area of the eruption generally comes to mind. Ash, lava, and mudflows are all destructive and hazardous for people who live close to volcanoes. bq. A less well-known product of eruptions, however, sometimes has a more widespread effect. The gases emitted by volcanoes can, under certain circumstances, affect global climate and even cause mass extinctions of flora and fauna. bq. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is the main gas released by volcanoes that can affect climate in the short term. Chemical reactions that occur when SO2 reaches the atmosphere produce tiny sulfuric acid droplets called �aerosol.� Very energetic eruptions push the aerosol up into the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere from 10 to 50 km altitude (around 32,000 to 164,000 ft), where it inhibits the sun�s energy from reaching and warming the earth�s surface. And some examples of this? Sure: bq. Notable eruptions in recent years appear to have affected climate. One example is the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which injected nearly 20 million tons of SO2 into the stratosphere that became dispersed around the globe in about 3 weeks. The recorded effect was a 0.5 degrees C (0.9 degrees F) drop in temperature for the following two years. bq. Remember, this small-sounding temperature decrease is a global average. Even small temperature changes can affect weather systems. The year after the eruption, the U.S. experienced its third coldest and wettest summer in 77 years, and major flooding of the Mississippi River occurred. These observations are consistent with predictions made by climate modelers of Pinatubo�s effect. And there is more in the article. Good stuff...

The EU's Problem

Dale Franks at QandO makes a very interesting observation riffing on a theme by Mark Steyn: bq. Mark Steyn writes in The Telegraph that the EU has a fundamental problem that Ronald Reagan would have recognized easily. As The Gipper once put it, "We are a nation that has a government - not the other way around." Unfortunately for Europe, what the Eurocrats in Brussels are building is a government looking for a nation that does not yet--and may never--exist. Dale's commentary: bq. You don't have a nation just because you have a lot of people using the same currency, singing the same national anthem, and saluting the same flag. The Yugoslavians had all that for 50 years, and look where that got them. bq. Under the prodding of the steely-eyed State Security thugs' bayonets, the Yugos would belt out Hej, Slovenji! (Hey, Slavs!) as lustily as you please. But, as soon as they got the chance to kill each other in job lots, all of that "Hey, Slavs!" nonsense went by the wayside. As PJ O'Rourke once put it, having a shared national anthem worked about as well as you would expect a national anthem named "Hey, Slavs!" to work. And more: bq. You don't force nationhood on people from the outside. Nationhood is something they discover in themselves and in confederates bound by a common culture, language, history and/or religion. You may be able to force a government on them, as the Soviet Union did, for a couple of generations. But no matter how enthusiastically you make them sing the National Hymn, you can never quite get them to believe it. bq. At the other extreme, look at the Iraqis. The population consists of three different ethnic/religious groups, all of whom exist in mutual despite to one extent or another. And they still want to be part of a single country. They all consider themselves to be Iraqis, God help us. bq. But, somehow, despite plenty of objective evidence to the contrary, the members of the whole Giscard-Prodi-Patten axis think that they can successfully craft a nation out of the hodge-podge of Europe. Evidently, they've learned nothing from the experience of the 1918-1939 period of European history. Or about the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for that matter. bq. They blithely assume that, once the marching orders come down from Brussels, the peasants will willingly fall into line. bq. You've gotta admire their optimism. Heh...

Taliban tried to give up Osama?

Very interesting story at Junkyard Blog B. Preston links to a Reuters article that says: bq. U.S. and Taliban officials met secretly in Frankfurt almost a year before the Sept. 11 attacks to discuss terms for Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden, according to a German television documentary. But no agreement was reached and no further negotiations took place before the suicide hijackings in 2001. bq. ZDF television quoted Kabir Mohabbat, an Afghan-American businessman, as saying he tried to broker a deal between the Americans and the purist Islamic Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, who were sheltering bin Laden and his al Qaeda network. bq. He quoted the Taliban foreign minister, Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil, as saying: "You can have him whenever the Americans are ready. Name us a country and we will extradite him." B. Preston's comment is spot-on: bq. November 2000. Before you lefties get all excited about this, I should point out that in November 2000, your boy Clinton was still President. The nation was embroiled in all that Gore-inspired putsch activity in Florida. And apparently the Clinton administration let Osama get away one more time. Where is "documentary" producer Michael Moore to ask the hard but necessary questions about that, huh? bq. By my count that's at least three times that somebody stepped forward to offer up Osama bin Laden prior to 9-11, and that's three times the Clinton bunch refused to seriously entertain the offer. That's roughly 1,000 dead for each failure. bq. And you people want the White House again? Why, so you can open up the gates at Gitmo and flood the world with terrorists anew? Nothing more needs to be added...


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According to today's Drudge Report, Bill Clinton has his knickers in a twist because he was not invited to speak at the State Funeral service for ex-President Ronald Regan. To quote a source: bq. "President Clinton really held out all hope the funeral would be a nonpartisan event, like Nixon's was," a top Clinton source said on Tuesday morning. "He's angry and disappointed neither he nor President Carter have been asked to speak, as of yet." I can think of no reason for either Clinton or Carter to be there. Talk about diametrically opposed philosophies and practices... The only reason for Clinton to be there is to get Clinton into the spotlight again -- this is not necessary.

Cool housebuilding technology

From New Scientist comes this story: bq. A robot for "printing" houses is to be trialled by the construction industry. It takes instructions directly from an architect's computerized drawings and then squirts successive layers of concrete on top of one other to build up vertical walls and domed roofs. bq. The precision automaton could revolutionize building sites. It can work round the clock, in darkness and without tea breaks. It needs only power and a constant feed of semi-liquid construction material. bq. The key to the technology is a computer-guided nozzle that deposits a line of wet concrete, like toothpaste being squeezed onto a table. Two trowels attached to the nozzle then move to shape the deposit. The robot repeats its journey many times to raise the height and builds hollow walls before returning to fill them. The website for the project is here: Contour Crafting Very cool stuff...

Kofi and the book...

From Instapundit comes this book and this story about Kofi Annan's suppression. The book is Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures : A True Story from Hell on Earth. The three authors met in Cambodia working for the UN and they write about the corruption and mismanagement endemic to that organization. From the Amazon.com readers reviews: bq. Exposes the UN for the decayed and corrupt institution that it is. While its high priests bray at America - its host country and main financial benefactor - its bureaucrats are wandering the world raping, pillaging and on the take from everyone - including, as it turns out, Saddam Hussein. No wonder UN staffers hate this book. And Charles Laurence writes in the Telegraph: bq. UN threatens authors of 'racy' expos� The United Nations has threatened to fire two officials who wrote an expose of sleaze and corruption during its peacekeeping missions of the 1990s. bq. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, is understood to have favoured an attempt to block publication of the memoir, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, a True Story from Hell on Earth, due to be published next month. More and more cracks in the wall - that organization never fulfilled its mission and it needs to be dismantled now...

Following the money

Interesting link at the Friends of Saddam website: New York Times: Lockboxes, Iraqi Loot and a Trail to the Fed bq. When a United States Army sergeant broke through a false wall in a small building in Baghdad on a Friday afternoon a little over a year ago, he discovered more than three dozen sealed boxes containing about $160 million in neatly bundled $100 bills. bq. Later that day, soldiers found more cash in other hideaways near the Tigris River, in an exclusive neighborhood that elite members of Saddam Hussein's government once called home. By the end of the evening, they had amassed 164 metal boxes, all riveted shut, that held about $650 million in shrink-wrapped greenbacks. The cash was so heavy, and so valuable, that the Army needed a C-130 Hercules cargo plane to airlift it to a secure location. bq. Just two days later, on Sunday, April 20, 2003, Thomas C. Baxter, head of the legal unit of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, read a brief news account of the discovery. Most of the money that turned up in Baghdad was new, bore sequential serial numbers and was stored with documents indicating that it had once been held in Iraq's central bank. One fact particularly bothered Mr. Baxter: the money had markings from three Fed banks, including his own in New York. And since they were able to track the serial numbers, what bank was responsible for the cash getting to Saddam: bq. None of the four main banks the Fed scrutinized had sent currency directly to Iraq. But as the inquiry wore on last year, investigators learned that UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, had transferred $4 billion to $5 billion to four other countries that were under sanctions: Libya, Iran, Cuba and the former Yugoslavia. Over an eight-year period, UBS employees had quietly shipped the money to those countries from a vault at the Zurich airport, undetected by Fed auditors who made regular visits to the site. Interesting...

The Transit of Venus

On June 8th, the planet Venus will pass in front of the sun for the first time since 1882. SpaceWeather has a collection of links for live viewing as well as historical info on the observation of the last transit. The Pacific Northwest is in the thin sliver of land where the transit is not visible... Drat!

The Wolves of Yellowstone

Fascinating article on the re-introduction of Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and the effects they have been having on the ecology. Scientific American: Lessons from the Wolf bq. Bringing the top predator back to Yellowstone has triggered a cascade of unanticipated changes in the park's ecosystem bq. Several scrawny cottonwood trees do not usually generate much excitement in the world of ecology. But on a wind-whipped August afternoon in Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley, William J. Ripple, a professor of botany at Oregon State University, stands next to a 12-foot-high cottonwood tree and is quietly ecstatic. "You can see the terminal bud scars," the bespectacled Ripple says, bending the limber tree over to show lines that mark a year's growth of a foot or more on the broom-handle-size trunk. "You can see that elk haven't browsed it this year, didn't browse it last year and, in fact, haven't browsed it since 1998."

Alternative Energy

| 1 Comment
Steven DenBeste wrote a couple of articles on the problems of Energy Generation (here & here) and some of his readers wrote emails asking why this-and-so scheme will not work. He spends the time to dismantle a few of these. Check it out here: No means No bq. So I spend my afternoon responding to letters from people who think they see easy answers after all, despite everything I've written about the problems of energy generation, or who have other kinds of questions about energy. Care to see some of them?

Mike's Electric Stuff

The name says it all - this is the website of an English Tesla and Electronic Arcana collector. Check it out...

Great Photo - and Allah is back again!!!

The person behind the Allahpundit website was on vacation for a few weeks. They are back with a wonderful link to this photo of Gerhard Schroeder hugging Jacques Chirac. You need to see this because I don't want to be the only person with this image sitting in my brainpan... Gerhard does not look happy. Do weasels have foreplay?

Marvin Heemeyer's Strange Ride...

From a local TV website (KOMO-TV) comes this story: bq. GRANBY, COLO. - A muffler shop owner reportedly angry at local government over a zoning dispute tore through town Friday in an armored bulldozer, smashing buildings and firing shots as police tried to stop the slow-motion rampage. bq. Authorities tried blasting their way into the steel-plated cab of the machine with explosives late Friday, but two explosions failed to penetrate the makeshift armor, Grand County Emergency Management Director Jim Holahan said. One explosion could be heard at least a mile away. The ingenuity of people never fails to amaze me. And more: bq. At least 40 sheriff's deputies, State Patrol officers and federal park and forest rangers fired about 200 rounds at the yellow bulldozer as it crept through town, Holahan said. The shots were deflected by heavy metal plates over the cab, hood and radiator, apparently welded on over a period of weeks in the driver's muffler shop. bq. looked like a futuristic tank," said Rod Moore, speaking by phone from his auto garage and towing company. Ned Kelly lives... (so did Mr. Heemeyer)

Internet Access

One of the very few downsides about moving so far into the country is that Internet access is limited to dial-up only. There is no cable, satellite access is almost as expensive as a T1 and we are about a mile too far from our telco CO for DSL. I have been looking at ways to 'leverage' something a bit faster... If the neighbors would be interested in participating, we might go in on a T1. Another option is to find someone closer to town (who would be able to get DSL) and set up some wireless repeaters. I ran into this group: Seattle Wireless Net They are doing some fantastic work with open-source wireless services -- taking off the shelf 802.11 hardware and adding external antennas, writing all sorts of drivers and making the system generally hackable. Cool place!!!

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

Thanks to Project Gutenburg, we have this wonderful lexicon. bq. CHIMPING MERRY. Exhilarated with liquor. Chirping glass, a cheerful glass, that makes the company chirp like birds in spring. bq. PUFF, or PUFFER. One who bids at auctions, not with an intent to buy, but only to raise the price of the lot; for which purpose many are hired by the proprietor of the goods on sale. bq. QUARREL-PICKER. A glazier: from the small squares in casements, called CARREUX, vulgarly quarrels. bq. REGULARS. Share of the booty. The coves cracked the swell's crib, fenced the swag,and each cracksman napped his regular. (some fellows broke open a gentleman's house, and after selling the property which they had stolen, they divided the money between them)

Memo to Osama

Wonderful entry from Wretchard at The Belmont Club bq. Memo to Osama Peace be unto you and Allah willing may we tread on the bones of our enemies in final triumph. You have asked me to examine, in as frank a way as possible, how this final victory is to be achieved. Permit me to retrace the old ground, familiar to you, which contains certain aspects which yet bear on the problem and have never been resolved. bq. Victory for the Jihad in operational terms means engineering the collapse of the infidel West. The alternative strategy, that of overtaking them in temporal power, was attempted in the 1950s and 60s by those among us who became enamored of Marxism. They believed Kruschev when he said, "we will bury you", and like Nasser, imagined that by building a few dams, some factories and dispatching a few dozens to study at Institutes in Moscow, we could surpass them in science, industry and wealth. But we found it was Ronald Reagan and not the Kruschev who did the burying. Still, while the House of Islam could not overbuild the House of the Infidel, if the world of the enemy could be reduced to ashes then it would be brought low; and we, while not growing a single inch in stature, would nevertheless grow high by comparison. Reminds me of another memo -- from Turner: bq. Weren't you at the Coke convention back in nineteen sixty-five You're the misbread, grey executive I've seen heavily advertised You're that great, gray man whose daughter licks policemen's buttons clean You're the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine bq. Come now, gentlemen, your love is all I crave You'll still be in the circus when I'm laughing, laughing in my grave

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