December 2004 Archives

Still in California

We are here for another couple of days -- Jen's Granparents are celebrating their 60th Wedding Aniversary tomorrow so we are setting up for the party. (Only close family members -- about 50 people) We will be back on the Farm sometime around the 4th of January.

Our History

Hat tip to Dean Esmay for this link to a very important book: Here's a picture of the cover - it's a thumbnail, click on the image for a bigger version:
Cueing up the Twilight Zone theme song...

More MSM Bush Bashing

David Limbaugh reports on yet another example of Bush Bashing in the Main Stream Media. bq. Old Media Quick to Paint Bush Insensitive Predictably, the Washington Post has decreed that President Bush is insensitive to the human tragedy in South Asia because he didn't emerge quickly enough from his Crawford ranch to express his sympathies to the victims. According to the Post:
The Bush administration more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions. ... Although U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland yesterday withdrew his earlier comment, domestic criticism of Bush continued to rise. Skeptics said the initial aid sums -- as well as Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work facing such nations as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
Sheesh -- President Bush takes a day or two to make sure that the relief will go to the right places and that we have a better assesment of what is needed and he gets pilloried by the Press for being 'Insensitive'.

A view from Sri Lanka

Arther C. Clarke lives in Sri Lanka and offeres a brief message on his website: bq. From Sir Arthur regarding the recent tsunamis in South and Southeast Asia: Thank you for your concern about my safety in the wake of Sunday�s devastating tidal wave. bq. I am enormously relieved that my family and household have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction. bq. But many others were not so fortunate. For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow. For more on the terrible Earthquake and Tsunami, check out The Belmont Club and Instapundit -- both of these are linked on my Blogroll to the right.

Back at a computer again...

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Jennifer and I had a wonderful Christmas at her parent's new cottage on the coast. We are back at their farmhouse in California's Central Valley and will be here through January 2nd -- Driving back to Bellingham and our Farm at that time (16 hours -- next time we are flying and renting a car...) The best of Holiday Wishes to everyone! Blogging will resume sometime around the fourth although the passes are getting hammered with snow right now.

State of Fear

Two days on the road and we arrived in Central California. Jen's family is here so we will have a small Christmas get-together (about 30 people). I finished reading the new book from Michael Crichton -- State of Fear -- a few minutes ago. It is a work of fiction but set in present times and deals with the current 'crisis' regarding the Environment. It is wonderful to see a book that has footnotes on most pages, several Appendices and about 23 pages of bibliographic References at the back. Dr. Crichton spent three years researching this and has come to some very interesting conclusions, ones that I agree with entirely. Basically, the Earth left what is called the Little Ice Age in the late 1800's and we are now entering a warming period. The Little Ice Age lasted about 400 years. Previous to that was a warming period which allowed for the archeological findings of wine grapes growing in Greenland. Here is one quote from the book -- the character was brought in to introduce a new idea. We have been warned against the growth of the Industrial-Millitary Complex. Here is a new one - the PLM - the Political-Legal-Media complex. Here's the quote:
"Fifty years ago, if you wanted to lead what was then called 'the life of the mind,' meaning to be an intellectual, to live by your wits, you had to work in a university. The society at large had no place for you. A few newspaper reporters, a few magazine journalists could be considered as living by their wits, but that was about it. Universities attracted those who willingly gave up worldly goods to live in a cloistered intellectual life, teaching timeless values to the younger generation. Intellectual work was the exclusive province of the university." "But today, whole sectors of society live the life of the mind. Our entire economy is based on intellectual work now. Thirty-six percent of workers are knowledge workers. That's more than are employed in manufacturing. And when professors decided they would no longer teach young people, but leave that task to their graduate students who knew much less than they did and spoke English poorly -- when that happened, the universities were thrown into crisis. What good were they anymore? They had lost their exclusive hold on the life of the mind. They no longer tought the young. Only so many theoretical texts on the semiotics of Foucault could be published in any single year. What was to become of our universities? What relevance did they have in the modern era?" He stood up, as if energised by this question. The abruptly he sat down again. "What happened," he continued, "is that the universities transofrmed themselves in the 1980s. Formerly bastions of intellectual freedom in a world of Babbittry, formerly the locus of sexual freedom and experimentation, they became the most restrictive environments in modern society. Because they had a new role to play. They became the creators of new fears for the PLM. Universities today are factories of fear. They invent all the new terrors and all the new social anxieties. All the new restrictive codes. Words you can't say. Thoughts you can't think. They produce a steady stream of new anxieties, dangers and social terrors to be used by politicians, lawyers and reporters. Foods that are bad for you. Behaviours that are unacceptable. Can't smoke, can't sweat, can't screw, can't think. These institutions have stood on their heads in a generation. It is really quite extraordinary." "The modern State of Fear could never exist without universities feeding it. There is a particular neo-Stalinist mode of thought that is required to support all this , and it can thrive only in a restrictive setting, behind closed doors, without due process. In our societies, only universities have created that -- so far. The notion that these institutions are liberal is a cruel joke. They are fascist to the core."
This particular character is prone to ranting but I cannot think of anything wrong with the preceeding quote... A bit over the top in its presentation but that is the character, not the thought. Check it out -- it's bound to annoy people but that alone makes it worth reading.

A Cowardly attack in Mosul

Glen at Intapundit found out about it and links to a Chaplain's account: A brief excerpt of a long long day: bq. I walked in and found him lying on the bed with a tube in his throat, and no signs of consciousness. There were two nurses tending to him in his final moments. One had a clipboard so I assumed she'd have the information I wanted. I turned to her and asked if she knew his name. Without hesitation the other nurse, with no papers, blurted out his first, middle, and last name. She had obviously taken this one personally. I'll call him "Wayne". I placed my hand on his head and lightly stroked his dark hair. Immediately my mind went to my Grandpa's funeral when I touched his soft grey hair for the last time. And for the second time in as many hours I prayed wondering if it would do any good, but knowing that God is faithful and can do more than I even imagine. When I finished I looked up at the nurse who had known his name. She looked composed but struggling to stay so. I asked, "Are you OK?" and she broke down. I put my arm around her to comfort and encourage her. She said, "I was fine until you asked!" Then she explained that this was the third patient to die on her that day. Wretchard at The Belmont Club: bq. Of the first three factors, the advantage of choosing the weakest point of attack has been a combatant's right from time immemorial. That is a purely military condition. But the enemy ability to exploit the limits of American response and attack medical personnel with public relations impunity are examples of military advantages that arise from political restraints. To the extent the blogosphere can dispel the propaganda cover willingly provided by the Left, people on the home front can help the soldiers in the field. It is necessary to link the war criminal behavior of the enemy with the studied blindness of 'sophisticates' towards their most heinous crimes. They are twinned; with the former made possible by the latter. The Daily Telegraph describes how some European agencies actually refuse to look at mass grave sites to avoid being party to the punishment of war criminals.
Lack of European experts has held up the excavation of mass graves in Iraq, according to an American human rights lawyer working on the investigation. Greg Kehoe said the experts were not joining in because evidence might be used to sentence Saddam Hussein to death. ...
And finally Kim DuToit: bq. I apologize for posting this without too much information at hand. bq. Fox News has just reported a rocket attack on a U.S. Army base in Mosul, and 19 U.S. soldiers have been killed. bq. The base in question is the 1/25 Inf Bn, out of Fort Lewis, WA. bq. That's Walter and Adam's unit. bq. As soon as I know more, I'll post it. Walter and Adam are two friends of Kim's readers. They are sharpshooters in the Army and there was recently a wonderful (and sucessful) fundraising drive to get each the best long-range target scope available (actually three - one spare). Let us pra for Walter and Adam's sucess...

WA State Governors Race - interesting anomalies

Stefan Sharkansky writing over at Sound Politics has taken a close look at those recently discovered ballots in King County, crunched a few statistical numbers and finds that they do not seem to add up. Here's a simple chart (his website has the full-sized version of this):
Guess where the "suspicious ballots" live on this chart? BINGO! Here's the poop: bq. The 573 Magical Mystery Ballots, Redux Yesterday I obtained a copy of the latest King County voter registration file (updated Nov. 1) so I could learn more about the 573 allegedly disenfranchised magical mystery voters. Here are just the first things I've discovered. bq. There is a suspicious pattern regarding the dates when these alleged voters allegedly registered to vote. Another gem: bq. The next oldest voters are recorded as having registered in 1920. Alvin J. Huber of Shoreline, still flagged as an "Active" voter, last voted in the election of September 1995. According to the Social Security database, he voted with his feet in 1998 and moved to a county where there are no elections. But if Mr. Huber is still eligible to vote in King County, I have to wonder who else is eligible to vote here, and whose relatives are taking advantage of that fact? Dead Man Voting? I thought that was Richard Dailey and Chicago, not ineffectual intellectual Seattle...

RoboDump 1.0

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From an email: bq. The Debut of RoboDump 1.0 RoboDump is a robot. Sort of. And it poops. Sort of. Forever. A horrible, never-ending bowel movement complete with straining grunts, horrific gas, splashes, and pee sounds. bq. The left channel speaker points up into the room (for the voice effects) and the right channel speaker points down into the toilet (for the business-end effects). bq. I snuck RoboDump into the men's room at the office. Unfortunately, today turned out to be the day of a board meeting. Whoops! It still went over well; the office was abuzz all morning with gossip about the guy in the bathroom. Several people theorized it was the CFO. The janitor commented to someone in the hallway that he wanted to clean the restroom but "this guy's been in there all morning." bq. I also decided to dress it in businessware to make coworkers less likely to try to talk to it... if it looks like a customer or visiting bigwig, they'll be less likely to offer help or ask for a courtesy flush. This is so very very sick in a funny way... He has pictures to prove it. These are thumbnails so clock on the image to see RoboDump 1.0 in its full glory:
There is an MP3 file to download as well...

Sporadic Posting until January 4th

Jen and I will be heading to her family (Central California) for Christmas and New Years. We will be returning around January 4th depending on pass conditions. I will have access to a computer down there but will not be posting as much. Have a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for the New Year! Dave

I told you so...

N.Z. Bear at The Truth Laid Bear had a wonderful moment a few days ago: bq. Not that I'd say I told you so, but... By special request of TTLB's "house liberal" commenter, my old friend Lisa... bq. NZB, August 8: I'm going to go on record and predict that the Swift Boat Veterans kerfuffle won't just be a major negative for Kerry: it will be a campaign-killer... bq. Unless Kerry's campaign manages to completely discredit the Swifties --- which seems increasingly unlikely --- the campaign is over; Kerry is done. And after Election Day has passed, I expect that anyone looking backwards will wonder why in the world the Democrats ever thought making Kerry's Vietnam service a centerpiece was a good idea in the first place. And... bq. Mary Beth Cahill, December 15: The campaign manager for Sen. John Kerry's failed presidential bid said Wednesday she regrets underestimating the impact of an attack advertisement that questioned Kerry's Vietnam War record. bq. Mary Beth Cahill, who spoke at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government with Ken Mehlman, President Bush (news - web sites)'s campaign manager, said the Massachusetts senator's campaign initially thought there would be "no reach" to the ad from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth... bq. "In hindsight, maybe we should have put Senator Kerry out earlier, perhaps we could have cut it off earlier." bq. Mehlman said that it was natural that the ad had the reach and impact it did, because Kerry decided to make his Vietnam record a central part of his campaign. bq. "Because Senator Kerry was so focused on that part of his biography, it came out as an issue," he said. Hat tip to Instapundit.

Cute Web Page

If you are into Apple Computers, check out this link to the Apple Store of the Future Here's a thumbnail of the page, click on the image to see full-size:

WA State Governors Election

The close election for Governor is getting a very wide circle of interest. Professor Stephen Bainbridge (a corporate law professor at UCLA), has some observations and links to an interesting article by John Fund at the Wall Street Opinion Journal Prof. Bainbridge:
I've gotten a couple of emails from Washington state residents, who think my assumption of partisan shenanigans is misplaced. They argue it is a combination of a really close election and election law problems. Maybe so, but I spent a lot of years in Illinois, where both parties had an amazing ability to "find" votes as needed.
So I'm predisposed to agree with John Fund's take on things:
Amid all the wrangling over this election, almost all semblance of a fair system has been lost. It now looks like Washington's election will be decided by lawyers and a court, rather than by the voters. The result probably hinges on whether 723 King County absentee ballots that were rejected during the first two vote counts will be counted after all. A local judge has ruled that it is too late to inject the 723 ballots into the recount and that if they were valid votes they should have been counted in the first or second recounts. Democrats respond that the fault lies with King County clerks, who failed to take extra steps to verify the ballots, and not with the voters.
The state Supreme Court will in all likelihood settle the argument and thus determine who the winner is this coming week. Regardless of the outcome, there's now a growing number of people who believe the counting process in King County has been compromised.
Go read the whole thing. Fund details a slew of problems with the vote in Democrat controlled King County. All of which somehow managed to favor the Democratic candidate. Hmm...
So true -this is a close one and the only county that seems to be doing the dirty (or incompetent) politics seems to be largely Democratic King County. If the Dems get in office, will there be a sweeping reform? Not bloody likely.

Great Story

30 year old woman, high-school dropout living in Rural Oregon teaches herself how to design computer chips and builds a device which sells 70,000 units in The NY Times has the story: bq. A Toy With a Story There is a story behind every electronic gadget sold on the QVC shopping channel. This one leads to a ramshackle farmhouse in rural Oregon, which is the home and circuit design lab of Jeri Ellsworth, a 30-year-old high school dropout and self-taught computer chip designer. bq. Ms. Ellsworth has squeezed the entire circuitry of a two-decade-old Commodore 64 home computer onto a single chip, which she has tucked neatly into a joystick that connects by a cable to a TV set. Called the Commodore 64 - the same as the computer system - her device can run 30 video games, mostly sports, racing and puzzles games from the early 1980's, all without the hassle of changing game cartridges. bq. She has also included five hidden games and other features - not found on the original Commodore computer - that only a fellow hobbyist would be likely to appreciate. For instance, someone who wanted to turn the device into an improved version of the original machine could modify it to add a keyboard, monitor and disk drive. bq. Sold by Mammoth Toys, based in New York, for $30, the Commodore 64 joystick has been a hot item on QVC this Christmas season, selling 70,000 units in one day when it was introduced on the shopping channel last month; since then it has been sold through QVC's Web site. Frank Landi, president of Mammoth, said he expected the joystick would be distributed next year by bigger toy and electronics retailers like Radio Shack, Best Buy, Sears and Toys "R" Us. "To me, any toy that sells 70,000 in a day on QVC is a good indication of the kind of reception we can expect," he said. And a bit more: bq. More significant, perhaps, is that in an era of immensely complicated computer systems, huge factories and design teams that stretch across continents, Ms. Ellsworth is demonstrating that the spirit that once led from Silicon Valley garages to companies like Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computer can still thrive. bq. "She's a pure example of following your interests and someone who won't accept that you can't do it," said Lee Felsenstein, the designer of the first portable PC and an original member of the Homebrew Computer Club. "She is someone who can do it and do it brilliantly." bq. Ms. Ellsworth said that chip design was an opportunity to search for elegance in simplicity. She takes her greatest pleasure in examining a complex computer circuit and reducing it in cost and size by cleverly reusing basic electronic building blocks. bq. It is a skill that is as much art as science, but one that Ms. Ellsworth has perfected, painstakingly refining her talent by plunging deeply into the minutiae of computer circuit design. A very cool story - check it out yourself. The inventing spirit is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest.

Commentary on the United Nations

The Puppy Blender links to an excellent article at Tech Central Station: bq. The UN: The World's Greatest Trade Association United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is under siege for allowing Saddam Hussein's government to actively manipulate the UN's oil-for-food bureaucracy and steal billions of dollars. There have been calls for Annan's resignation which Annan, quite naturally, has dismissed. Annan's intransigence is a classic PR strategy -- limit damage by convincing opponents to focus their energies on a single individual. If they fail to force a resignation, they are demoralized, and go away. If they succeed, especially after a struggle, they feel a sense of accomplishment, and go away. bq. Despite the focus on Annan, most people realize that problems with the UN run deeper than any single individual. The UN is plagued by both systemic corruption and a fundamental structural flaw; it makes no distinctions between governments which represent their people and governments which use the instruments of state power to repress and exploit their people. But the real problem with the UN is even deeper. The real problem is that democratic governments have joined non-democratic governments in a forum whose primary goal is the expansion of government authority. bq. The United Nations is the pre-eminent trade association for people involved in the business of government power. Actually, it is more focused than that. The United Nations is the trade association for the world's executive branches -- the place where executive branches come together to promote their individual interests to one another, and to promote the expansion of executive authority in general. This point is often missed by UN critics who dismiss the organization as nothing more than the world's greatest debating society. These critics confuse being voluntary with being powerless. Organizations like The American Bar Association, the American Medical Association, the International Tobacco Growers' Association are all voluntary -- but certainly not powerless. bq. Once it is understood that the United Nations is a trade association for the promotion of executive authority, its behavior becomes almost rational. The trade association extends professional courtesy to its members -- its cardinal rule is not to step on the toes of another executive. Saddam Hussein violated this rule by invading Kuwait and displacing another executive. Hussein paid for this mistake; the UN stepped in to enforce discipline amongst its members. bq. But looking to the UN to protect individuals who are not government executives from abuses of government power makes as much sense as looking to the International Tobacco Growers' Association to protect individuals from the dangers of smoking. In a place like Zimbabwe, lives are threatened, but executive authority is not. Executive Robert Mugabe is very strong, so the UN takes no interest in human rights violations there. Action to protect Venezuela's democracy might limit the reach of executive Hugo Chavez's power, so the UN stays away. In the Ukraine, the UN recently announced it was pleased there will be a re-vote in the country's contested Presidential election. In other words, it does not matter to the UN who takes control, so long as there is no prolonged vacuum of executive power. Haiti is a frequent site of UN intervention because vacuums of executive power occasionally arise there. The UN is always willing to intervene to help bring strong executive authority to a place where it is lacking. Very good analysis. The author is Carroll Andrew Morse. She has a number of other articles at Tech Central Station. Good stuff!

Ten worst tech devices of 2004

Hat tip to Slashdot for this link to PC Magazine: bq. Ten to Avoid�The Worst Products of the Year Every gift guide is the same. Each focuses on the great products you can buy to make Mom, Dad, Sis, or the boss happy. But when you get to the store, they always seem to be out of the best stuff. So you're forced to make compromises and do the best you can out of the dreck that's left. Here are two handfuls of devices to avoid at any cost this holiday season, culled from the worst-scoring products we tested this year. They break it out into one product for each of the major category - Digital Cameras, PDA, Phone, Desktop PC, etc... Worth reading if you are shopping. They also link to their review page for each of the categories so you can get a handle on what works.

New Blog on roll / interesting post

The blog is Conservator and covers "Thoughts on libraries and freedom" The post that caught my eye is this one:
THE MISSION PAGE FOR THE "LIBRARIANS AGAINST BUSH" seeks to ground the group's opposition to "legislation such as the USA PATRIOT Act" in a quote from one of America's Founding Fathers:
For, as Benjamin Franklin said, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
The only problem with this is that it looks as though Benjamin Franklin never actually wrote the latter phrase.
A phrase that Franklin demonstrably did write is:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Conservator has notified the "Librarians Against Bush" of this apparent error on their mission page, and herewith begins a Librarians Against Bush Correction Watch (day 0).
As with the several apocryphal Ashcroft insults, of course, the reader is encouraged to provide a full citation for the former quote, which will be promptly posted in this space, together with a retraction and an apology.
Facts? We don't need no steenkin' facts...

Power Line -- Blog of the Year

While we are quoting from Power Line let us not forget that they have been chosen by Time Magazine as the 2004 Blog of the Year. Here is their announcement: Blog of the Year bq. As noted below, Time Magazine has named us "Blog of the Year" in the issue which hits the newsstands tomorrow. (The Man of the Year, of course, is President Bush.) The article about us, by Lev Grossman, is very good. The photo that accompanies it, I'm not so sure about:
Congratulations to three very tall dogs!

Two letters

Excellent and thoughtful post at PowerLine today regarding a letter from the Congregation of the Touro Synagogue to President George Washington and his letter of reply: bq. Teaching the free man American Jews are celebrating their three-hundred and fiftieth anniversary here. The first Jewish community in North America was established in New Amsterdam (New York) in 1654. In 1658 fifteen Jewish families arrived in Newport, Rhode Island. By 1759 their numbers and resources had increased sufficiently that they undertook the construction of what has become America's oldest synagogue, the Touro Synagogue of Newport. A bit more -- Washington's visit was in 1790 -- I am not quoting the entire post, just cherry-picking paragraphs to flesh out the story. bq. In anticipation of Washington's visit to Newport, the congregation prepared a letter welcoming Washington for presentation to him at a public event on the morning of August 18. The letter was authorized by the congregation's board and signed by its president, Moses Seixas. It is Washington's magnificent letter responding to Seixas's that is known as a testament to religious freedom and that has become famous as one of the classic statements of religious toleration in America. And in conclusion, The Big Trunk has the following thoughts to offer: bq. The letter remains a timely reminder of the rarity of religious freedom and equal rights, of the gratitude their protection should occasion, and of the measures necessary to safeguard them from the contemporary adherents of "the Babylonish empire." The congregation's beautiful letter is called to mind by Dennis Prager's Los Angeles Times column noting his celebration of Hanukkah at a White House party attended by President and Mrs. Bush this past week: "Born-again president, White House Hanukkah." Like a true descendant of Seixas, Prager invokes twin patriarchs in his column -- Abraham and George Washington. bq. In his "Elegy in Memory of W.B. Yeats," Auden concludes: "In the prison of his days/Teach the free man how to praise." In this column Dennis Prager not only teaches the free man how to praise, he also renews the vows that bind us to our beloved country. Something to meditate on during the coming Christmas season...

A barking moonbat speaks

PLEASE NOTE: Elements of this text have been redacted because it turns out that it was not Dr. Sachs who posted the original comment. I received a very nice email from an associate of Dr. Sachs assuring me that it was not him who posted. He was justifiably concerned that someone from Columbia would be posting using his name so I gave him the log information showing the IP Address of the poster and some other specific info. This is still a barking moonbat that needs a sound Fisking but it is an anonymous barking moonbat who hides behind the name of a respected educator. Even more egregious -- and somehow so very very typical. A few days ago, I posted this: Global Warming = Human Rights Violation. The post links to David Limbaugh's website and an article from CNS News with this headline and first paragraph: bq. Global Warming Is A Human Rights Violation, Activists Say Environmental activists say greenhouse gas emissions are destroying the Inuit way of life and therefore must be considered a human rights violation. (If you visit the CNS website, please note that it is filed under the heading of Culture and not Science.) Anyway, this morning a comment was added to this entry, the text of which is quoted verbatim:
You don't know anything about global warming. You can drop whatever isolated fact to make your point but you are not an environmental scientist. Your world view comes filtered. You've chosen your position on global warming only AFTER choosing your political position. Why don't you grow up and realize that they way we deal with global warming can't be determined by money-driven political ideologues? This is a scientific debate which assholes like Limbaugh should not be a part of.
The comment was signed "jeff sachs" and no return email was given but as administrator of this website, I can see the IP Address the comment originated from. Taking a look at (Arin is the American Registry for Internet Numbers) I find that this IP Address belongs to the blocks owned by these people:
OrgName:    Columbia University 
OrgID:      COLUMB
Address:    612 W 115TH ST
City:       NEW YORK
StateProv:  NY
PostalCode: 10025
Country:    US
OK -- so our moonbat is from Columbia University. [text redacted - see top of post for reason] Anyway, to Fisk his comment:
You don't know anything about global warming.
I have a strong science background (more on that later) and have read a lot on the subject. I take the large long view and see what the historical record has to say as well as the current scientific thought.
You can drop whatever isolated fact to make your point but you are not an environmental scientist.
And you are? [text redacted - see top of post for reason] Not only do you not bother to quote your areas of expertise, you hide behind someone elses name. For me -- I dropped out of college in the 70's when these "computer" things became popular. I wanted to make money. Still, I am no stranger to the academic world. For the three years I was in college, my majors were Marine Biology and Physical Oceanography (yes, dual majors as an undergrad). I also took courses and was active in the astronomy department. (Boston University). I come from an academic background as well -- my Father, before he retired, was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. You might also know him as the co-author of the best-selling Physics Textbook (Halliday and Resnick). My Mother, before she retired, was a nuclear chemist and worked on methods for separating Uranium during WW2. I am no stranger to scientific thought or discourse.
Your world view comes filtered.
And yours does not? You have embedded yourself into the world of Academia. This is a comfortable niche but it is a hermetic one and very isolated from the "real world." Your livelihood depends on keeping up this sham and you do not tolerate any outside views as witnessed by your use of ad-hominem in your comments regarding my expertise. You say I know nothing but you fail to provide any facts to back up your statement -- in fact, you lied to me about your identity...
You've chosen your position on global warming only AFTER choosing your political position.
Again, you know nothing about me. As a result of my being brought up in an academic environment, I was a very strong liberal until 9/11. After the 9/11 attack happened, I started asking questions and did not like the answers that I was getting from the left. Although I did vote for President Bush, I am not happy with a number of his policies and decisions. My vote was not for Bush, it was a vote against John Kerry whom I felt was totally unqualified for the office of President. Had the Democratic Party offered a better choice (Joe Lieberman, Zell Miller, even Joe Biden), I would have been voting Democratic. I used to work with Greenpeace and was involved with a number of the activities of the Seattle office but became very disenchanted with them when they started marginalizing themselves and moving from scientifically and historically provable issues and more into the realm of hot-button talking points and poorly thought out platforms.
Why don't you grow up and realize that they way we deal with global warming can't be determined by money-driven political ideologues?
Snort... [text redacted - see top of post for reason]
This is a scientific debate which assholes like Limbaugh should not be a part of.
Which asshole - the Radio entertainer Rush or the Lawyer David. They may be brothers and both conservatives but if you take any time to explore my blog you will see that I only link to one of them. PLEASE NOTE: Of course, I have no way of telling if this comment actually was posted by Dr. Sachs and if it was not, I apologize for any slurs on my part. I can prove that it came from a computer somewhere at Columbia -- that is not at issue...

Wonderful letter to the editor

Our local newspaper - The Bellingham Herald published a wonderfully succinct letter from a reader in today's edition:
Socialism already has killed about 100 million people A recent letter writer declares himself a socialist and mischaracterizes capitalism. Allow me to provide an alternate view. Socialism is based on coercion, force and violence. National socialism (fascism) and communistic socialism have already killed about 100 million people. Under socialism, people enjoy no rights. Any individual, or minority, may be sacrificed to the "greater good" as determined by the majority or whoever holds power. The form of "cooperation" socialism depends on is involuntary. True capitalism is based on liberty, reason, free exchange, voluntary cooperation, individual property rights and the rule of law. It helps to create the closest thing to a meritocracy yet discovered by rewarding creativity and productivity. It makes the poor better off. Capitalistic countries have better records of preserving the environment than more socialistic ones. Compare the natural environment in the United States, Switzerland and Japan to the environmental devastation in China, Russia and Brazil. I am a member of the Libertarian Party. I joined because I am a socially tolerant advocate of free markets. I believe that you should be able to choose how you live your peaceful life, not some utopian socialist bureaucrat from the left or the right. Socialism requires violence. Liberty yields justice. Bruce Guthrie Bellingham
Could not have said it better myself...
Oops -- did anyone foresee this happening? From Slashdot: bq. Diebold to Pay $2.6M Due to Insecure Voting Machines "In a short period, Diebold has been at the center of several problems. Now it seeks to settle the lawsuit filed against it by the State of California by paying $2.6 million. Settlement comes because of flaws in the Diebold systems that could compromise election results." One of the comments was priceless (at least less than $2.6M) bq. Alright, I usually frown upon cracking, but someone needs to exploit these machines, and elect Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Seriously. No one in the media will give a care about computer security until something happens. If a group of counties in California go 99 percent for a pair of cartoons, I promise you that heads will roll at Diebold. And if the media doesn't pick up the story, no one will do anything about it. So, geeks of the world, go out to your polling places, and crack for democracy! bq. The real fun begins when Disney sues to have some of it's people put in place as president instead of mickey mouse, who was unavailable at the time. Heh... UPDATE: Another great comment: bq. I'm unclear. Who get's the 2.6 million? The government they just chose?

Wikipedia spawns Wikinews

Very cool -- an open source news reporting system... Yes, I know about Indymedia but they have some very shady funding -- this seems at the outset to be better and their parent is an awesome resource. Original: Wikipedia New: Wikinews (beta) This will be interesting to follow -- I like Wikipedia. Here is the FAQ

The Daemon Haunted World

Wretchard hits it out of the park today -- usually he is very good, today, he outdoes himself: bq. A Haunting We Will Go Ron Bailey continues to report from United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Buenos Aires. He summarizes the presentation of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development which argues that steep reductions in carbon emissions are impossible. The presentation, delivered by David Hone from Shell and Mark Akhurst from British Petroleum, is essentially directed at the time frame during which a reduction in carbon emissions can be effected. Their basic methodology consisted of quantifying all the sources of carbon emissions and replacing them with nonemitters at rapid -- sometimes inconceivably rapid -- rates. In each case Hone and Ackhurst showed that the dropoff in carbon emissions would still take quite a long time.
Currently, humanity is fueled by 1000 1 gigawatt coal-fired power plants, 400 1 gigawatt oil-fired plants, 250 gas-fired plants, 350 nuclear power stations, 500 gigawatts of hydropower, 750 million fossil fueled vehicles, 130 exajoules for heating and cooling, 50 exajoules from the burning of traditional biomass.
Doing the math, in order to double the world's energy supplies over the next 50 years, the world will need to build, among other things, the equivalent of 2750 new 1 gigawatt natural gas-fired power stations, 1000 new coal-fired 1 gigawatt power plants with carbon capture, 1.5 million windmills deployed over a bit less than 300,000 square miles, 2150 new nuclear plants, 1500 new 1 gigawatt hydropower stations, not to mention new solar and biofuel technologies.
Recall that (Tony) Blair and others are calling for emission reductions of 60% by 2050. That would mean that instead of emitting 7 gigatons of carbon in 2050 under the WBCSD scenario, the world would emit only 2.8 gigatons of carbon annually. As the old saying goes, it may be that "you can't get there from here."
bq. While the World Business Council's arithmetic may be impeccable, it is entirely beside the point. So what if a reduction in emissions by the means prescribed is impossible by 2050? Politicians don't want to hear it. And since politics very often consists of promising the impossible to the ignorant, the scientific bankruptcy of currently proposed Green initiatives is entirely irrelevant. Kyoto, like Peacekeeping is always good, though no one can say why. The climate change initiatives will continue to be put forward; they are an end in themselves. The more honest Greens might well concede the truth of the indictment yet argue that since one has to begin somewhere even a shambolic initiative is worthwhile. bq. In a lecture to Caltech students in 2003, Michael Crichton made two points which ironically skewer both the Greens and the counter-arguments of the World Business Council. Crichton began by pointing out that contemporary scientific policy is increasingly devoid of science.
But I did not expect science merely to extend lifespan, feed the hungry, cure disease, and shrink the world with jets and cell phones. I also expected science to banish the evils of human thought---prejudice and superstition, irrational beliefs and false fears. I expected science to be, in Carl Sagan's memorable phrase, "a candle in a demon haunted world." And here, I am not so pleased with the impact of science. Rather than serving as a cleansing force, science has in some instances been seduced by the more ancient lures of politics and publicity. ...
Emphasis mine in that last paragraph - back to Wretchard: bq. Crichton went on the examine the gigantic ruins of junk science policy like SETI and Nuclear Winter, occasionally stooping to hold up some minor artifact like puerperal fever, pellagra for inspection, like some archaeologist casting his eye over the folly of the past, every bit as laughable as the spine pads without once no European would venture into the tropical sun. He warned that we detach policy from science at our peril.
As the twentieth century drew to a close, the connection between hard scientific fact and public policy became increasingly elastic. In part this was possible because of the complacency of the scientific profession; in part because of the lack of good science education among the public; in part, because of the rise of specialized advocacy groups which have been enormously effective in getting publicity and shaping policy; and in great part because of the decline of the media as an independent assessor of fact. The deterioration of the American media is dire loss for our country. When distinguished institutions like the New York Times can no longer differentiate between factual content and editorial opinion, but rather mix both freely on their front page, then who will hold anyone to a higher standard?
And so, in this elastic anything-goes world where science-or non-science-is the hand maiden of questionable public policy, we arrive at last at global warming. It is not my purpose here to rehash the details of this most magnificent of the demons haunting the world. I would just remind you of the now-familiar pattern by which these things are established. Evidentiary uncertainties are glossed over in the unseemly rush for an overarching policy, and for grants to support the policy by delivering findings that are desired by the patron. Next, the isolation of those scientists who won't get with the program, and the characterization of those scientists as outsiders and "skeptics" in quotation marks-suspect individuals with suspect motives, industry flunkies, reactionaries, or simply anti-environmental nutcases. In short order, debate ends, even though prominent scientists are uncomfortable about how things are being done.
Wretchard again and then Michael: bq. Yet he is not entirely kind to the sort of analysis which Hone and Ackhurst brought to the table. Crichton argues that though we can do no other, the simple extrapolation of the present into the future rarely holds. The unforeseen will interpose.
Let's think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horseshit? Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?
But of course, within a few years, nobody rode horses except for sport. And in 2000, France was getting 80% its power from an energy source that was unknown in 1900. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan were getting more than 30% from this source, unknown in 1900. Remember, people in 1900 didn't know what an atom was. They didn't know its structure. They also didn't know what a radio was, or an airport, or a movie, or a television, or a computer, or a cell phone, or a jet, an antibiotic, a rocket, a satellite, an MRI, ICU, IUD, IBM, IRA, ERA, EEG, EPA, IRS, DOD, PCP, HTML, internet. interferon, instant replay, remote sensing, remote control, speed dialing, gene therapy, gene splicing, genes, spot welding, heat-seeking, bipolar, prozac, leotards, lap dancing, email, tape recorder, CDs, airbags, plastic explosive, plastic, robots, cars, liposuction, transduction, superconduction, dish antennas, step aerobics, smoothies, twelve-step, ultrasound, nylon, rayon, teflon, fiber optics, carpal tunnel, laser surgery, laparoscopy, corneal transplant, kidney transplant, AIDS� None of this would have meant anything to a person in the year 1900. They wouldn't know what you are talking about.
Wretchard concludes: bq. The two warnings, first against junk science and the second against the arbitrary prolongation of trends, if taken together must lead us to the conclusion that environmental policy should be a heuristic. It must be fundamentally grounded in science yet not so sure of itself as to establish tentative conclusions as dogma. This argues for a more flexible policy regime than those which set arbitrary targets, for finding a way of setting the orientation of the vector without specifying its length. Unfortunately that is not the way politics does business. A 'spectre is haunting Europe' -- and the world one might add -- the demon of pseudo-science against which rigorous argument has no effect. Until then, we must resort to Bell, Book and Blogger which alone can defeat it. Who said the Age of Magic was dead? Sorry for quoting the entire post but it's not that long and the only thing to cherry-pick was it in its entirety...

Sprint does a good thing

Hat tip to Glen at Instapundit for this story: bq. THREE CHEERS FOR SPRINT, which has donated 2500 prepaid phone cards to wounded troops at Walter Reed. When I lived in Seattle, they were my provider for phone service -- very happy with them. Only reason I went to Nextel was because Nextel had the coverage where we now live and Sprint dropped off the map about 20 miles from our house.
Brian Micklethwait has a fine rant (with pictures) up on Samizdata: bq. You get used to your favourite sort of coffee, and I have now become completely used to my favourite brand: Nescaf� Gold Blend. Nescaf� is, so they claim, the biggest selling instant coffee in the world. bq. Originally I started buying Nescaf� Gold Blend because I had been told by my television that it would cause a very attractive young actress called Fiona Fullerton to become friendly with me, but now I buy it because I like it. bq. However, I have a serious complaint to make about the size of Nescaf� jars. There is a lot of talk out there in Internetland and Blogland about how market researchers are trawling the blogs to find out, on behalf of the business enterprises who hire them, what the masses think of the latest products of these business enterprises. Well, let the Nescaf� market researchers trawl this. bq. I have no problem with the coffee itself. It is the jars that concern me. He goes on to describe his issues and has photos to explain why. Read on. Heh...

The Top Ten Unfounded Health Scares of 2004

AOL Freebie

This is classic... Jay Tee at Wisbang! got one of those AOL Free Disks in the mail and noticed the "free time" they were offering. He noticed the termination date of this offer, did some quick math and came up with this story: bq. This is your brain. This is your brain on AOL. Any questions? The other day I received yet another AOL disk in the mail. They're now up to offering "1099 FREE HOURS!" in big print. As usual, I tossed the disk and kept the case for my own use. But for once I read the terms spelled out on the back. bq. The 1099 free hours must be used within 50 days. bq. Now, let's do some math: bq. 50 days X 24 hours each = 1200 hours. 1099 hours / 50 days = 22 hours/day. 1099 hours total / 24 hours in a day = 45.8 days. bq. That's right. The only possible way you can use all your "free" hours is if you a) spend all but 2 hours a day online, or b) spend over 6.5 weeks doing nothing but using AOL. bq. A few years ago I heard lotteries as "taxes on people who can't do math." Now it appears they have their own online service, too. bq. J. Heh... I know some people who seem to spend that much time online but I'm not telling. Why do you think Bloggers got the reputation for posting in their pajamas?

Bee Spill

From CNN/News:
bq. Spilled bees on highway a honey of a mess A truck carrying 12 million honeybees hit a wall on a highway ramp, dumping its load across the pavement shortly before the evening rush hour. bq. The truck was carrying 480 bee colonies, each with 25,000 insects, to California to pollinate the state's almond crop when it struck the wall Wednesday afternoon. Most people don't know that if it wasn't for bees, we would have very little to eat. The majority of our crops depend on bees for pollination and no pollination -- no seeds for the next crop.

Recognize these?

These are naturally occurring (on Earth) and are of biological origin:
Hat tip to David Pescovitz at BoingBoing for this link to the new Simulacra Photo Gallery at the Fortean Times. Oh yes, these are seed capsules of Snapdragons, both Antirhinum majus (Sawyers Old-Fashioned Mixed) and our native snapdragon, Antirhinum orontium.

Pollution of a different kind

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From Slashdot comes this story at BBC News bq. Forecasters face losing key tools Meteorologists fear they are losing one of their essential forecasting tools - microwave frequencies uniquely able to "see" through clouds from satellites. bq. They say commercial applications, for example mobile phones and collision avoidance systems, are ruining them. And more -- this from Dr Stephen English, manager of the satellite radiance assimilation group at the UK Met Office.: bq. He told the BBC: "Microwave observations are vital because they see through cloud - this is not possible in any other frequency band. bq. "We only need a few narrow-frequency bands for Earth remote-sensing, but most of these are unique, so there is no alternative. bq. "These bands are primarily used for temperature, water vapour, sea ice, clouds (ice and liquid), and rainfall and snowfall estimation. bq. "We use them as well for monitoring surface snowpack, soil moisture and sea surface temperature." bq. A meteorologists' working group on frequency management says protecting key regions of the microwave spectrum for passive remote-sensing is "a dramatic challenge", because of "the huge pressure of the commercial and military telecoms". bq. Two important bands (6.8 GHz and 10.7 GHz) have been lost already for use over land, but in the next few years the threat is likely to spread to other bands. bq. There is particular concern about protecting the 23.6-24 GHz band, which has the unique property of being sensitive to water vapour but not to liquid water. bq. Dr English said: "There is no other frequency where this occurs. But car 'radars' will now be allowed to broadcast in this frequency band." Astronomers have the same sort of problems with unshielded street lights and those @#$% mercury "security lights" that people put on their homes...

James Brown...

...recently underwent surgery for Prostate Cancer. Hindrocket at The PowerLine has his and his Doctor's words when he was released from the hospital:
Singer James Brown, upon being discharged from the hospital following prostate cancer surgery: "I feel good."
UPDATE: Reader Jonathan McMurry reports:
After James Brown said, "I feel good," his doctors responded with "we knew that he would."

R.I.P. Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin was a Canadian artist who lived in the American Southwest. Her style is minimal (not minimalist) and drop dead gorgeous. Here is one and it's really hard to get the full imact of her work from a small web image:
A good obituary is here: Famed abstract painter Agnes Martin dies at age 92. The only book of her work in print these days is this one: Agnes Martin: The Nineties and Beyond by Ned Rifkin and Edward Hirsch. I would imagine that your local librariy would be able to get it.

Christmas Shopping Ideas

For those of you trying to find the perfect Christmas Gift, check out these ideas: A new Welding Helmet from Hoodlum Welding:
For those on the Police Force there is always Donut Cologne: bq. MMMM Donuts!!! That's what the ladies say when they smell Bob's new DONUT COLOGNE. All the ladies just want to eat Bob up when he is wearing his DONUT COLOGNE. For the bachelor on your list - a Popup Hotdog Cooker. But for the piece de resistance, may I present this item: The Turd Twister featuring these Patented Design Features:

The Most Hated Advertising Techniques

Jakob Nielsen is very much a person to listen to when it comes to website usability and interface design. He is very opinionated and outspoken but the funny thing is that he is right most of the time... He publishes an excellent website UseIt and every few weeks comes out with an Alert Box - the one for December 6th deals with web-based advertising and what people hate: bq. The Most Hated Advertising Techniques Advertising is an integral part of the Web user experience: people repeatedly encounter ads as they surf the Web, whether they're visiting the biggest portals, established newspapers, or tiny personal sites. Most online advertising studies have focused on how successful ads are at driving traffic to the advertiser, using simple metrics such as clickthrough rates. bq. Unfortunately, most studies sorely neglect the user experience of online ads. As a result, sites that accept ads know little about how the ads affect their users and the degree to which problematic advertising tricks can undermine a site's credibility. Likewise, advertisers don't know if their reputations are degraded among the vast majority of users who don't click their ads, but might well be annoyed by them. bq. Now, however, we have data to start addressing these questions. At my recent User Experience 2004 conference, John Boyd from Yahoo! and Christian Rohrer from eBay presented a large body of research on how users perceive online advertising. Here, I offer a few highlights from their presentation (my comments on their findings are solely my responsibility). Here is the list of what people hate:
Design Element Users Answering
"Very Negatively"
or "Negatively"
Pops-up in front of your window 95%
Loads slowly 94%
Tries to trick you into clicking on it 94%
Does not have a "Close" button 93%
Covers what you are trying to see 93%
Doesn't say what it is for 92%
Moves content around 92%
Occupies most of the page 90%
Blinks on and off 87%
Floats across the screen 79%
Automatically plays sound 79%
There's a lot more food for thought on the website. Check it out and follow the links to other articles if you are involved in website design.

Global Warming = Human Rights Violation

They are coming out of the woodwork... From David Limbaugh's website comes this story: bq. Wackos Say Global Warming Is A Human Rights Violation CNSNews reports:
Environmental activists say greenhouse gas emissions are destroying the Inuit way of life and therefore must be considered a human rights violation.
bq. You know, I think these activists are the kind of people John Kerry wanted George Bush to talk into participating with us in the War on Iraq. Exactly... The "Global Test" sort of thing... Funny how parts of the Arctic above the North American continent are warming up but Greenland and Iceland have had two years of marked cooling.

Our work in Iraq

Charles at Little Green Footballs has a fantastic quote from a Marine Gunnery Sergeant in Iraq. From Charles:
Go read this post at BlackFive from a Marine Gunnery Sergeant in Iraq, and know that we have friends: The Heart of America.
As you know, I asked for toys for the Iraqi children over here and several people (Americans that support us) sent them over by the box. On each patrol we take through the city, we take as many toys as will fit in our pockets and hand them out as we can. The kids take the toys and run to show them off as if they were worth a million bucks. We are as friendly as we can be to everyone we see, but especially so with the kids. Most of them don�t have any idea what is going on and are completely innocent in all of this. On one such patrol, our lead security vehicle stopped in the middle of the street. This is not normal and is very unsafe, so the following vehicles began to inquire over the radio. The lead vehicle reported a little girl sitting in the road and said she just would not budge. The command vehicle told the lead to simply go around her and to be kind as they did. The street was wide enough to allow this maneuver and so they waved to her as they drove around. As the vehicles went around her, I soon saw her sitting there and in her arms she was clutching a little bear that we had handed her a few patrols back. Feeling an immediate connection to the girl, I radioed that we were going to stop. The rest of the convoy paused and I got out the make sure she was OK. The little girl looked scared and concerned, but there was a warmth in her eyes toward me. As I knelt down to talk to her, she moved over and pointed to a mine in the road. Immediately a cordon was set as the Marine convoy assumed a defensive posture around the site. The mine was destroyed in place. It was the heart of an American that sent that toy. It was the heart of an American that gave that toy to that little girl. It was the heart of an American that protected that convoy from that mine. Sure, she was a little Iraqi girl and she had no knowledge of purple mountain�s majesty or fruited plains. It was a heart of acceptance, of tolerance, of peace and grace, even through the inconveniences of conflict that saved that convoy from hitting that mine. Those attributes are what keep Americans hearts beating. She may have no affiliation at all with the United States, but she knows what it is to be brave and if we can continue to support her and her new government, she will know what it is to be free. Isn�t that what Americans are, the free and the brave? If you sent over a toy or a Marine (US Service member) you took part in this. You are a reason that Iraq has to believe in a better future.
Damn... Tears in my eyes.

Wierd word website

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Jen and I are both fond of the strange byways that the English Language has taken and like to explore some of the lesser tributaries. Here is a wonderful site to do just that: WEIRD WORDS SECTION INDEX bq. The word weird in this section is interpreted broadly to mean words that refer to obscure or outlandish subjects, are in themselves rare, or which look odd. bq. A to F Absquatulate Acronychal Acrophony Adipocere Albertopolis Alegar and beeregar Alexipharmic Analemmatic Anamorphosis Anfractuosity Ansible Antimacassar Apocope Arenaceous Astrobleme Ataraxy Atrabilious Austringer Autohagiography Balderdash Bankrupt Bant Barmecide Bathykolpian Bezoar Blackguard Blackmail Blatherskite Bloviate Blurb Bodacious Bodger Bonzer Boondoggle Borborygmus Boscage Boustrophedonic Brimborion Brobdingnagian Bromopnea Brummagem Bruxer Cachinnatory Cacography Cadastral Caitiff Callipygian Callithumpian Caltrop Cancrine Carphology Cataglottism Cataract Catoptromancy Cheat-bread Chiliastic Chrestomathy Clerihew Clinquant Cockamamie Codswallop Cohobation Collyrium Colophonian Contumely Copacetic Costard Costus Coulrophobia Cribellate Cruciverbalist Cyborg Cymbocephalic Dactylonomy Daft-days Deasil Deipnosophist Destrier Didgeridoo Discombobulate Donnybrook Dracontology Droogish Dumbledore Dwile flonking Edacious Eleemosynary Ell Emmet and grockle Empasm Engastrimyth Ergophobia Estovers Etaoin shrdlu Eyot Fantods Farb Fimbriated Financephalograph Flabbergasted Flibbertigibbet Floccinaucinihilipilification Florilegium Fogou Folderol Foudroyant Frigorific Funambulist Furbelow And yes, there is more! A bit of history -- when Jen and I were first running into each other (weeks before our first date) she used the word Penultimate correctly. I have been head over heels ever since... (grin)

Dear Santa...

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This is great. Michael King at Ramblings' Journal links to this picture with this text: bq. Wanna watch people freak out on the freeway? Step one: Tie these balloons to the back of your car. bq. Step two: Step on it (of course while having a frantic look on your face)! bq. Step three: Try not to lose control while lauging... And the baloons in question:

The Safest Vehicle on Earth

This good looking vehicle was unveiled in 1990 and I am just getting around to bloggging about it. My bad...
Here's the story from This Link: bq. �Safest Vehicle on Earth� The �safest vehicle on earth� was unveiled... (more detail in a little bit) Another taste: bq. The car has special front and rear-end designs that help to reduce fatalities during collisions through the creation of a "crumble zone;" anti-roll devices; a "smart" collapsible bumper and tires that resist blowouts. Also, the car uses Xenon technology, which reduces headlight glare to oncoming traffic. And some more (some words redacted): bq. ...spent so many hours of his valuable time thinking of an effective solution. It is the safest car produced anywhere," XXXXXXXX said. "The invention of the safest car in the world is proof that XXX XXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX is built on the happiness of man." Curious? OK: bq. The �safest vehicle on earth� was unveiled during the celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of the Great Al-Fateh Revolution in September, 1990. Called the Saroukh al-Jamahiriya (Jamahiriya rocket) the five-passenger saloon has been described by motoring experts as �stylish and a �sleek James Bond-style car�. bq. The vehicle�s inventor: the Libyan leader Brother Muammar Al Qadhafi. And more: bq. The Libyan Rocket was introduced by LADICO, a private Libyan company that employs over 1,000 people in its Automobile Division. Mr. Megharieff said Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi "spent weeks and days shaping and reshaping his ideas" for the car on the drawing board before LADICO scientists took the concepts and shaped them into reality. And one more: bq. Mr Al-Megharieff told a news conference at the rocket-car launch that Brother Qadhafi had spent his time during the sanctions "thinking of ways to preserve human life all over the world". The provocative name of the car was meant to highlight that while others made rockets to kill, Libya designed them for humane and peaceful purposes. bq. He added that "the drive behind producing such an unprecedented high-safety car was mainly due to the great human and material losses suffered by Libyan families during an unjust, oppressive regime of sanctions in the past years." Click on the link at the top for the article in its full patriotic glory...

Light blogging today

Jen and I will be spending the Christmas Season with her family down in CA this year so we did the Christmas thing with my family a bit early. Today. I am stuffed with some good turkey, couple of deserts and have lots of new bling to drool over. Other administrivia -- I am working on revamping the Blogroll links -- this is the list of sites to the right of your screen that points to other sites I find interesting. I've removed some of them but they will reappear in the next day or so under new section headings. Stay tuned...

Happenings in North Korea

The World Tribune is reporting: bq. Top general's son defected to U.S. base in Japan, then disappeared The only son of one of North Korea's top generals has defected with his family and is in the hands of U.S. intelligence officials, according to secret reports from the Japan Defense Agency. bq. U.S. officials in Seoul are denying any knowledge of the defection. bq. A Japan Defense Agency operative in the North Korean industrial port of Chongjin reportedly saw Oh Se-Uk, who holds the rank of brigadier general, board a speedboat with a group of Koreans of Japanese ancestry who had earned the trust of North Korean authorities. bq. According to the report from the Japan Defense Agency, Oh, his wife and other family members were transferred in international waters to another boat that took them to the huge U.S. Navy base at Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, the center of U.S. naval activity in Asia. Starting to crumble. We already heard about the pictures of K.J. Il being taken down from public display. Wonder what is happening over there...

Audio editing tools

Hat tip to the people at createdigitalmusic for the pointer to this nifty device. Frontier Tranzport From Peter Kirn at createdigitalmusic: bq. Pro audio has been slow to go wireless, which is why the Tranzport, the first-ever wireless remote for DAWs, is very good news. The device from Frontier Electronics is due early in 2005 and will work out-of-the-box with your DAW software of choice, including SONAR, DP, Cubase, Logic, and Pro Tools. (I'm holding out for Ableton Live -- stay tuned.) The 1-lb. device covers all the basic recording features you'll need: there are transport controls, a big shuttle jog wheel, track arming and punch-in features, and even looping settings. Live LCD feedback from your DAW shows you the status of the active track. With a range over 30 ft., that means you can record wherever you like and run the DAW remotely. (You could even have an unmanned control room!) bq. Now the good news: the device runs on 4 AAA batteries and will list for just US$249. Plug the included USB tranceiver into your host computer and you're done. Frontier designed the Tascam control surfaces, so quality should be good; stay tuned here for the latest. Runs with both Windows and MAC applications including my fave - Sonar

Cool airplane technology

Hat tip to we-make-money-not-art who posts this link to the Fanwing: bq. Patrick Peebles has created the FanWing, the wingless aircraft. He replaced the wings with a tube filled with blades that rotate like a harvester or like a water wheel on a Mississippi riverboat. This year, Peebles was flying a prototype with a 10-foot span, which he introduced to the public at the Farnborough International Air Show in Britain. bq. Compared with a traditional airplane, the FanWing can fly at much lower speeds but with greater stability and it is safer. It can take off from a relatively small runway and cruise at the pace of a car. It is also more fuel-efficient than a helicopter. bq. The only real danger is if the fan blades jam and cease spinning, then, it "drops like a rock."
The website has some detailed explanation of how it works as well as videos of different models in flight. Cool stuff!


Stolen from Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple

Rachel is back!!!

Rachel Lucas has been too long absent from the weblog scene and her presence has been missed. She was one of the first 30-40 or so weblogs I stumbled into when first finding out about these and she was a daily read when I had the time. She stopped posting a couple months ago and announced today her new blog: Blue-Eyed Infidel and she came out of the box with an Earth-Shattering Kaboom: bq. Most Important News Of All Time I finally stopped being a lazy ass and got this show on the road. Drinks for everyone. bq. Hereafter, this will be my blog, and it is not titled Rachel Lucas or any such nonsense involving my name; it is Blue-Eyed Infidel. Link to me if you wish, blogroll me if you dare, but consider yourselves forewarned that I have a lot to bitch about, as it has been building up for some months now, and this blog is not going to be as nice as Piquant Rants. Yeah that's right I said not as nice. bq. Curse words will be used. Insults tossed forth carelessly. That sort of thing. My former blog got to be markedly unpleasant for me the minute I started worrying what elderly relatives or future in-laws or my more conservative section of readers would think if I said I hope Barbra Streisand suffers from chronic yeast infections. bq. So screw all that. No more touchy-worry-cringey manners. You no likey, you go now! bq. And I swear to God if I get ONE F__CKING COMPLAINT about the language or coarseness or insult-driven commentary that I will shortly begin posting here, I will Kick. Someone's. Ass. Maybe my dog Sunny's, I don't even know. Welcome back Rachel -- you have been sorely missed!


Talk about a close call for a Darwin Award -- from Yahoo/AP News: bq. Taxi Driver Shoots Man in Bin Laden Mask Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) take note: You wouldn't be safe in Costa Rica. A startled taxi driver shot and wounded a jokester wearing a plastic mask of the al-Qaida leader, police said Tuesday. bq. Leonel Arias, 47, told police he was playing a practical joke by donning the Bin Laden mask, toting his pellet rifle and jumping out to scare drivers on a narrow street in his hometown, Carrizal de Alajuela, about 20 miles north of San Jose. bq. Arias had startled several drivers that way on Monday afternoon. But when he jumped out in front of taxi driver Juan Pablo Sandoval, the motorist reached for a gun and shot him twice in the stomach. He was hospitalized in stable condition. bq. "For me and I think for anybody else at a time like that one thinks the worst and so I fired my gun," Sandoval told Channel 7 television. bq. Police declined to detain Sandoval, saying he had believed he was acting in self-defense. DOH!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Very cool news. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2005 inductees today and it included U2 and the Pretenders but it also included soul greats Percy Sledge and blues-man Buddy Guy. Awesome choices on all counts. This article goes into some more detail: Hall inducts BR's Percy Sledge, Buddy Guy

WA State Governors Race Update

UPDATE: KOMO-TV has the story - it seems that this ruling addresses about 3,000 ballots that were "wrongly rejected" and it does not affect the 561 ballots in King County Sigh... **************************************** Some good news in the hand recount. The WA State Supreme Court unanimously tossed out a request from the Democrats to submit an additional 561 ballots that they 'found' in King County. More from Sound Politics, The Seattle Times and the Court Ruling. From the Seattle Times article by David Postman: bq. The state Supreme Court this morning unanimously rejected the Democratic Party's recount lawsuit and will not order election officials to reconsider thousands of previously rejected ballots. bq. The court, echoing the position of Secretary of State Sam Reed and Republican lawyers, said Washington state law makes clear that a recount should "retabulate" votes already counted and that county canvassing boards cannot be ordered to look again at ballots thrown out during the first two tallies. bq. The eight of nine justices who attended yesterday's emergency session to hear oral arguments on the case also said there was no call for the court to mandate a statewide standard for signature checking of absentee and provisional ballots.

Google gets even more cool!

From the NY Times: bq. Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search service, plans to announce an agreement today with some of the nation's leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web. bq. Although Google executives declined to comment on its technology or the cost of the undertaking, others involved estimate the figure at $10 for each of the more than 15 million books and other documents covered in the agreements. Librarians involved predict the project could take at least a decade. bq. Because the Google agreements are not exclusive, the pacts are almost certain to touch off a race with other major Internet search providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo. Like Google, they might seek the right to offer online access to library materials in return for selling advertising, while libraries would receive corporate help in digitizing their collections for their own institutional uses. bq. "Within two decades, most of the world's knowledge will be digitized and available, one hopes for free reading on the Internet, just as there is free reading in libraries today," said Michael A. Keller, Stanford University's head librarian. bq. The Google effort and others like it that are already under way, including projects by the Library of Congress to put selections of its best holdings online, are part of a trend to potentially democratize access to information that has long been available to only small, select groups of students and scholars. bq. Last night the Library of Congress and a group of international libraries from the United States, Canada, Egypt, China and the Netherlands announced a plan to create a publicly available digital archive of one million books on the Internet. The group said it planned to have 70,000 volumes online by next April. And the nuts and bolts of this? bq. The agreements to be announced today will allow Google to publish the full text of only those library books old enough to no longer be under copyright. For copyrighted works, Google would scan in the entire text, but make only short excerpts available online. bq. Each agreement with a library is slightly different. Google plans to digitize nearly all the eight million books in Stanford's collection and the seven million at Michigan. The Harvard project will initially be limited to only about 40,000 volumes. The scanning at Bodleian Library at Oxford will be limited to an unspecified number of books published before 1900, while the New York Public Library project will involve fragile material not under copyright that library officials said would be of interest primarily to scholars. And a bit more: bq. Google's founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have long vowed to make all of the world's information accessible to anyone with a Web browser. The agreements to be announced today will put them a few steps closer to that goal - at least in terms of the English-language portion of the world's information. Mr. Page said yesterday that the project traced to the roots of Google, which he and Mr. Brin founded in 1998 after taking a leave from a graduate computer science program at Stanford where they worked on a "digital libraries" project. "What we first discussed at Stanford is now becoming practical," Mr. Page said. bq. At Stanford, Google hopes to be able to scan 50,000 pages a day within the month, eventually doubling that rate, according to a person involved in the project. And more: bq. Each library, meanwhile, will receive its own copy of the digital database created from that institution's holdings, which the library can make available through its own Web site if it chooses. I'm smiling -- looking forward to some long hours browsing through the fields of thought...

Big Christmas Ornament

From the Sacramento Bee comes this story of a very large lawn ornament: bq. Light infantryman Lodi family honors troops in Iraq with annual holiday display bq. Nothing says happy holidays like, well, a 48-foot American soldier fashioned from rebar and 4,000 feet of twinkling lights. At least in Larry Hamilton's mind. bq. The Lodi man spent Sunday polishing off his contribution to the Delta skyline, piecing together the framework of the latest in his series of electrified, high-rise holiday spectacles. And of course: bq. The Hamiltons are no amateurs. bq. Father and son are construction contractors whose daytime job includes sprucing up aging Delta buildings. The two work for at least a month with welding torch and rebar to mold a form. Kids, don't try this at home. Still, very cool -- here are some photos:
Tony Hamilton, left, and father Larry admire their 48-foot creation Sunday after the lighting ceremony. The welded statue is poised as if the soldier is stepping onto the carport clutching a rifle.
Larry Hamilton, left, adjusts his soldier statue, made of rebar and strung with 4,000 feet of twinkling lights.

State of Fear - a review

Back40 at Crumb Trail points to an excellent review of Michael Crichton's new book -- State of Fear -- from the review: bq. A Chilling Tale We know that nature can kill. What most people don't know is that stupid ideas about nature can kill, too. bq. In "State of Fear" (HarperCollins, 603 pages, $27.95), Michael Crichton delivers a lightning-paced technopolitical thriller that turns on a controversial notion: All that talk we've been hearing about global warming -- you know, polar ice caps melting, weather systems sent into calamitous confusion, beach weather lingering well into January -- might be at best misguided, at worst dead wrong. Think "The Da Vinci Code" with real facts, violent storms and a different kind of faith altogether. Some more: bq. For example, the climate computer models relied upon by global-warming proponents like Drake -- or, in real life, by John Adams (NRDC), Carl Pope (Sierra Club), Kevin Knobloch (Union of Concerned Scientists) and John Passacantando (Greenpeace USA) -- predict that such warming will be strongest at the earth's poles, turning glaciers into floods and raising sea levels. In "State of Fear," Drake warns that Greenland's ice cap is melting and will push the sea level up by 20 feet. (As it happens, on Wednesday of this week Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, testified with similar alarm before a British legislative committee, saying: "If the ice-sheets in Greenland melt, sea levels would rise 6.5 metres and London would be underwater.") bq. Yet as Mr. Crichton has his scientist Kenner correctly note, Greenland's ice cap is in no imminent danger of melting away. It is well established scientifically that average temperatures in Greenland and Iceland have been falling at the rather steep rate of 2.2 degrees Celsius per decade since 1987. As for temperatures in most of Antarctica, they have been falling for nearly 50 years, and ice there has been accumulating rather than melting. And those sea levels? Nils-Axel M�rner, a professor of geodynamics at Stockholm University, has been studying the low-lying atolls of the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean. He has found "a total absence of any recent sea level rise" and has instead found evidence of a fall in sea level in the past 20 years -- a fact that Mr. Crichton has the good instinct to report in the course of pushing his plot forward. A bit more: bq. Of course, that didn't happen. In 1994, the World Conservation Union found known extinctions since 1600 to include only 258 animal species, 368 insect species and 384 vascular plants. Since the establishment of an endangered species list in the 1960s, only seven species have been declared extinct in the U.S.: four freshwater fish, a freshwater clam and two small birds. We mourn for them all, of course, including the clam, but we mourn all the more for the people duped by appalling scare tactics like those of Mr. Myers. Mr. Crichton gets the scare-mongers exactly right throughout "State of Fear." bq. Not that Mr. Crichton is 100% accurate. Kenner tells Morton's friend: "Environmental groups in the U.S. generate half a billion dollars a year." The actual amount for just the 12 largest environmental lobby groups in the U.S. in 2003 was $1.95 billion. That buys a lot of influence in the Washington. One way to mitigate its effect is to read "State of Fear" -- every bit as informative as it is entertaining. And it is very entertaining. Looks good... I'll have to add it to my local public library want list.

Happy Trails...

Back40 at Crumb Trail writes: bq. Geminids [W]hat experts believe will be this year's best meteor shower peaks tonight.
Gemini will climb above the eastern horizon from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. local time, when viewers can spot occasional "Earthgrazers." These long colorful streaks travel horizontally across the atmosphere.
Peak times will be after midnight, when locales such as Boston could see as many as 80 meteors per hour. During peak hours in North America, Gemini will be found high overhead next to the bright and visible Saturn and to the left of the distinctive constellation of Orion (the hunter). Southern Hemisphere stargazers can also spot the Geminids, just a bit lower in the sky and in slightly reduced numbers.
This year a nearly new moon will cooperate with stargazers and provide dark skies for optimal viewing. Avoiding man-made lights will make the shower even more impressive�fleeing the city's glare can enable viewers to see as many as ten times more meteors.
Sigh... We have had about .3 inches of rain today and it just started up again. Socked in. Still, Legend of Earthsea is on in 15 minutes so life doesn't entirely suck...

the great Flu Vaccine shortage

is now a surplus and more is on the way. Roger L. Simon has the info here: bq. Don't forget to take your Beanie Baby's temperature... The great flu shot shortage that created such a brouhaha during the election is now apparently an overstock problem. No one seems to want all the leftover vaccine and more is on the way.
"It's one of those things like Beanie Babies or something," said Doug McBride, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. "If you can't get something, you've got more people wanting them."

Ditch Kyoto - do some real work...

Lynne Kiesling at Knowledge Problem points out an interesting article regarding the costs of the Kyoto Treaty and points to some other ideas: bq. Save the World, Ignore Global Warming In Sunday's Telegraph Bjorn Lomborg had a commentary on climate change policy that is well worth a careful read and consideration.
Global warming has become the obsession of our time. From governments and campaigners meeting for the climate summit in Buenos Aires right now we hear the incessant admonition: making global warming our first priority is the moral test of our age.
Yet they are wrong. Global warming is real and caused by CO2. The trouble is that the climate models show we can do very little about the warming. Even if everyone (including the United States) did Kyoto and stuck to it throughout the century, the change would be almost immeasurable, postponing warming by just six years in 2100.
bq. He then goes on to discuss the prioritization of issues that the participants in the Copenhagen Consensus meetings in the spring established.
The Copenhagen Consensus gives us great hope because it shows us that there are so many good things we can do. For $27 billion we could prevent 28 million people from getting HIV. For $12 billion we could cut malaria cases by more than a billion a year. Instead of helping richer people inefficiently far into the future, we can do immense good right now.
We live in a world with limited resources, where we struggle to solve just some of its challenges. This means that caring more about some issues end up meaning caring less about others. If we have a moral obligation, it is to spend each dollar doing the most good that we possibly can.
So in a curious way, global warming really is the moral test of our time, but not in the way its proponents imagined. We need to stop our obsession with global warming, and start dealing with the many more pressing issues in the world, where we can do most good first and quickest.
So true. The Kyoto is a band-aid trying to stop a naturally occurring phenomenon at an incredible price for developed nations and it ignores the major polluters China and India (because they are developing). If these same nations that are hyping the cause of man-made global warming (which is trivial at best) turned their attention to some real problems they could have a wonderful effect -- take a look at Malaria (kills about 1.5 million people per year), Polio (which is staging a recurrence in Africa), they could radically curb AIDS (more free drugs to victims + education). Makes me want to bash some heads!

Regulation and the Market

Wretchard at The Belmont Club has an interesting post regarding the way that Europe regulates things as compared to the way the USA does. Interesting differences: bq. The World Standard Mark Schapiro in a Nation article entitled "New Power for 'Old Europe'" describes the effect of the expanding European Union on American business. He argues that the formation of a large common market operating under a single regulatory regime has destroyed the American ability to "set the standard" and argues this bodes ill for American dominance.
Since the fall of the Berlin wall, the European Union has been steadily transforming itself from a facilitator of trade to a sophisticated geopolitical power with the teeth to back up its policies--an evolution that has occurred largely under the American public's radar. Over the past decade, EU member states have ceded governing and enforcement authority to Brussels in areas ranging from environmental regulation to food safety, accounting standards, telecommunications policy and oversight of corporate mergers. As a result, US companies that do business in Europe--which remains America's largest export market -- are quickly learning that "old Europe" is now wielding new world power.
Just this year, US manufacturers of such goods as chemicals, cars and cosmetics have been confronted with EU regulations that force a choice: Either conform to the EU's standards of pre-emptive screening for toxicity--far tougher than US standards--or risk sacrificing the European market, which, with 450 million people, is now larger than that of the United States. In the process, the European Union is challenging US presumptions of unilateral decision-making on issues with tremendous consequences for American companies and consumers, treading on ground that has long been considered sacred turf.
bq. The three major examples that Schapiro uses are the chemical industry, cosmetics and automobiles. In place of the American attitude of "innocent until proven guilty" towards the chemical industry, Brussels is "placing the burden of proof on manufacturers to prove chemicals are safe--what is known as the 'precautionary principle.'" In the arena of cosmetics Brussels is now seen as the patron of consumer safety advocates in America. The EU has mooted banning or more strictly regulating many of the substances traditionally used to prepare beauty products. Wretchard cites a bit more from the article comments a bit and then says this: bq. Although Europe now has a single telephone number it is ringing under a pile of paper. By mandating the strict standards described by Schapiro, Brussels may be raising the production cost of all affected items already manufactured in the EU and raising the barriers to entry for all entrants, domestic and international. The disadvantage of establishing a separate standard from products already offered on the existing markets was described by a Canadian advisory body with regard to the United States.
For companies exporting to multiple markets, the promise of "one standard, one test, accepted everywhere" has become increasingly more attractive. ... The need to produce multiple versions of the same good, for example, can increase design and production costs, and prevent firms from enjoying the economies of scale that would flow from producing to satisfy a single globally accepted standard.
Wretchard comments a bit more and then start examining how the USA handled a regulatory question - Dolphin Safe Tuna bq. For years economists have debated whether "freer trade meant lower environmental standards". With a few name changes, the scenario that Schapiro described resembles the drama played out between Mexico and the United States in the 1991 Tuna Dolphin dispute.
In 1991, the U.S. imposed trade restrictions on Mexico and several other countries because of their excessive byproduct dolphin kill by tuna fishermen, levels above those allowed by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Mexico and its allies appealed to a GATT dispute settlement panel, claiming unfair trade practices. ... The GATT panel upheld Mexico's challenge, saying that the United States' embargo violated the GATT's non-discrimination policy among member nations, as the Mexican process of tuna fishing did not result in a differentiated product from other exporters.
bq. The European Union carefully avoids this pitfall by imposing their standards on the product and not the process. In the end the US exerted effective pressure on Mexico by careful marketing and psychic product differentiation.
In 1990, three major U.S. canneries announced that they would only sell tuna that was caught with dolphin safe methods. Labeling their products as dolphin safe became a way to differentiate the product by the process, by appealing to consumers desires to purchase dolphin safe tuna. Then in 1992, 10 countries (including the U.S. and Mexico) adopted the La Jolla agreement, which established an international limit on dolphin mortality rates among tuna fishers. From 1989 to 1993, dolphin deaths declined from nearly 100,000 to 3,600 (Christopher, Mexico's Marine Conservation Efforts. Dispatch, May 1, 1994, pg. 19), an impressive drop made possible through international negotiations.
bq. American regulators won -- but only by using the market. Ironically it was Paul Krugman who took up the intellectual argument against the "dolphin safe" campaign.
On the other side of the issue, free-traders like Paul Krugman argue that there is little reason to insist on global environmental standards, as doing so could diminish the gains from trade. Krugman correctly notes that, "international trade is really just a production technique, a way to produce importables indirectly by first producing exportables, then exchanging them". He then goes on to add, that "it does not matter from the point of view of the national gains from trade whether other countries have different relative prices because they have different resources, different technologies or different environmental standards. All that matters is that they be different then we can gain from trading with them."
bq. If Brussel's restrictive environmental regulations are seen by consumers as adding value those products may in time become the global standard. But since countries will continue to manufacture products tailored to the risk and return profiles of their consumers, Europe also runs the risk of pricing itself out of business. A "sophisticated geopolitical power with the teeth to back up its policies" must in the end succeed in the marketplace. It cannot regulate itself into success. Emphasis mine in that last paragraph. It will be interesting to see what the next five or ten years show regarding the two methods.

Strange web sites

Proof once again that anyone can put up a web site. I blogged earlier with some other examples here. Hat tip to Scott at AMCGLTD for this link to The Nibiruan Council: bq. Who is the Nibiruan Council? bq. The Nibiruan Council (also known as the Greater Nibiruan Council) is comprised of all the council members of the smaller, dimensional Nibiruan councils. It is one of the largest Council in the Galactic Federation of Worlds, and therefore, carries out the duties of the overseeing council of the Earth Grand Experiment for the Galactic Federation of Worlds. bq. What do they do? In regards to day to day operations, the NC shoulders a host of responsibilities such as: * Coordinating efforts for peace by supporting the creation and maintenance of alliances between different races and planetary civilizations in relation to the Earth Grand Experiment. * Providing support for emissaries and ambassadors of the many races and civilizations who are members of the Galactic Federation of Worlds. * Providing assemblies and forums to discuss the future of the Galactic Federation and its members in relation to the Earth Grand Experiment. * Reviewing requests for active duty in the dimensional councils of the Nibiruan Council. (This is a volunteer organization to which members can send representatives.) The website is very deep and well done - someone must have a lot of time on their hands...

All Wheel Drive Motor Home

Got a spare $399K lying around? You can have a custom all-terrain motor home. Link is here: Steel Wheels This thing is luxurious - here are two photos:
Outside view
Galley area

Death Penalty

From MS/NBC: bq. Jury says Scott Peterson should die Judge to impose sentence Feb. 25 for killing of wife, unborn son bq. The jury that found Scott Peterson guilty of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and the couple�s unborn son recommended Monday that he should die for his crimes. His attorney immediately said he would appeal. bq. A cheer went up outside San Mateo County Superior Court as the jury announced its opinion after 11� hours of deliberations over three days. The jury had two options in advising Judge Alfred A. Delucchi on the fate of Peterson, 32, a former fertilizer salesman: life in prison without parole or death by injection.
Good riddance to bad rubbish!

Deer Hunting

Hat tip to Mostly Cajun for this link to how one person hunts deer... bq. How to Hunt Wisconsin Whitetail Deer with a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon For those of you unfamiliar with cannon artillery talk, a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer cannon was a small cannon used during the Civil War. The early mt howitzer cannons were originally designed to be disassembled and packed into the mountains on horseback, hence the name, Mountain Howitzer. The later model Mountain Howitzers, like this one, were built on a carriage designed to be "pulled" by horses. bq. The "pound" designation ( 12 pdr ) in the name " 12 pound Mountain Howitzer ", refers to the weight of the projectile that the mt howitzer cannon shoots. Therefore, a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer ( 12 pdr ) shoots a 12 pound cannonball. All artillery cannons with smooth bore barrels were described in the "pound" weight of their projectiles. ( like the 12 pound Mountain Howitzer ) Artillery cannons with rifled barrels were described in the "inch" of their bore diameters. ( like a 3 inch Gun ) bq. First, let me start by saying that I'm pretty sure that it may not be entirely legal to use a Mountain Howitzer Cannon for deer hunting, at least not here in Wisconsin. ( I didn't actually ask the DNR about using a Mountain Howitzer, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like it ) Check with your own State Hunting regulations, ... or not ... (see hunting with artillery section) bq. But, never-the-less, if you live on the edge, and want a real hunting experience, ... read on ... Heh... Here's a photo - click on the photo to see the full-sized version:

Where�s My F***** Check?

A fine rant is delivered today by Sir Banagor regarding all the promotion he has done on his website for Republican ideas: bq. Okay, so we won. bq. It�s been over a month now and, as everyone knows, blogging is dying out. At least it seems to be on the Right. bq. We�re all burned out. We�ve all put our bids in on the winning team and gave it our all. It was a huge collective effort of Patriots vs. Terrorist-enabling scumbags, and it�s over. We�ve won. bq. Bush is throwing the bums out of the CIA and State. We went into Fallujah and killed a hell of a lot of bad guys. Elections are coming in Iraq. Arafat even fucking died which was one of the greatest gifts of all. A lot of big things are happening which we wanted to happen, and more is to come. bq. Life is returning to normal and blogging is going back down to levels which appear to be more human instead of machine-like. bq. It�s over. It�s finally fucking over. bq. Now where is my fucking check? bq. You know the one I mean: the Halliburton-Zionist-Evangelical-Country Club check. I�m talking about the big bucks. bq. In case you missed it, us �Right-wingers� are Capitalists. That�s with a capital C, folks. We do things for money, commerce, and goods. We believe in equitable trade and profit. bq. So where the fuck is it? Read the whole thing...

Chief Petty Officers

Navy Culture on display at The Braden Files: bq. Old Chiefs One thing we weren't aware of at the time, but became evident as life wore on, was that we learned true leadership from the finest examples any young lad was ever given, Chief Petty Officers. They were crusty bastards who had done it all and had been forged into men who had been time tested over more years than a lot of us had time on the planet. bq. The ones I remember wore hydraulic oil stained hats with scratched and dinged-up insignia, faded shirts, some with a Bull Durham tag dangling out of their right-hand shirt pocket or a pipe and tobacco reloads in a worn leather pouch in their hip pockets, and a Zippo that had been everywhere. Some of them came with tattoos on their forearms that would force them to keep their cuffs buttoned at a Methodist picnic. Most of them were as tough as a boarding house steak. A quality required surviving the life they lived. There were and always will be, a breed apart from all other residents of Mother Earth. bq. They took eighteen-year-old idiots and hammered the stupid bastards into sailors. You knew instinctively it had to be hell on earth to have been born a Chief's kid. God should have given all sons born to Chiefs a return option. A Chief didn't have to command respect. He got it because there was nothing else you could give them. They were God's designated hitters on earth. bq. When they accepted you as their shipmate, it was the highest honor you would ever receive in your life. At least it was clearly that for me. They were not men given to the prerogatives of their position. You would find them with their sleeves rolled up, shoulder-to-shoulder with you in a stores loading party. bq. ...When we ultimately get our final duty station assignments and we get to wherever the big CNO in the sky assigns us. If we are lucky, Marines will be guarding the streets. But there will be an old Chief in an oil-stained hat, a cigar stub clenched in his teeth and a coffee cup that looks like it contains oil, standing at the brow to assign us our bunks and tell us where to stow our gear... And we will all be young again and the damn coffee with float a rock. bq. Life fixes it so that by the time a stupid kid grows old enough and smart enough to recognize who he should have thanked along the way, he no longer can. If I could, I would thank my old Chiefs. If you only knew what you succeeded in pounding in this thick skull, you would be amazed. So thanks you old casehardened, unsalvageable sons-of-bitches. Save me a rack in the berthing compartment! Tough love at its finest.

The Importance of Time

Ian at Truck and Barter has an interesting observation on Time and Timeliness and the importance of this in economic development: bq. Timeliness important to development? Here's a random question inspired by a conversation with coworkers: does a "culture" of time-sensitivity have anything to do with economic progress? bq. After travelling a fair number of countries in Africa for a project, a coworker returned with stories about "meetings" that were the result of endless tracking down of people in government buildings that did not ever schedule anything. Time and again, secretaries would tell them that they don't schedule meetings, and that the best way to catch the person of interest was simply to talk to them on their way somewhere, or find them in their office. Meanwhile, I recently left school, where there were a fair number of students from Latin America, South America, and Mexico. Despite being among the best students in the class, there was a disctinct difference in their concept of time. From class times to meeting times to parties (which were, again, the best thrown at the school), preset times was clearly ignored. And from one of these students I learned that, at least in some countries, it is customary to have to ask someone three times to a function/event/meeting before the invitation is considered "real." And you need to hear a positive reply all three times to believe the person will show up. Anything less, and it's not binding. bq. Clearly, this paints with an awfully wide brush, and I mean to cast no aspersions. But from not simply my own observations but the comments of native people, there seems to be a distinct difference in how various parts of the world consider the issue of "timing" (as opposed to the passage of time). I can't help but notice that those areas with a less strict adherence to this "timing" also seem to correspond to less developed parts of the world; Africa, in specific. Though it's another stereotype (which I am uncomfortable about, but have no data at hand), compare this to the notion of German and Swedish punctuality. bq. Might there be some correlation between productivity and timing/timeliness, and thus perhaps development? What might be a good way to measure something like adherence to schedules? (And, while I'm asking, am I heading down a well-trod road that I don't know about?) Very interesting thought... I always looked at it as a matter of respect. If I ask to see someone and they schedule an appointment with me, I'm showing huge disrespect if I do not show up on time. A slap in the face. By the same token, if someone wants to see me, I will find out what time works well for them, make an appointment and be there.


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What may be the best Meteor Shower this year is set to peak tomorrow late evening. has the news here: bq. Make hot cocoa. Bundle up. Tell your friends: the best meteor shower of 2004 is about to peak on a long cold December night. It's the Geminids. The best time to look is Monday night, Dec. 13th. Sky watchers who stay outside for a few hours around midnight can expect to see dozens to hundreds of "shooting stars." Spaceweather has this to say: bq. GEMINID METEORS: The Geminid meteor shower is underway. Observers who watched the skies on Saturday night (Dec. 11th) and Sunday morning (Dec 12th) report seeing plenty of faint Geminids and a few bright ones every hour. This bodes well for the Geminid peak on Monday, Dec. 13th. The shower's peak is broad, which means there might be two good displays: (1) during the dark hours before sunrise on Monday, Dec. 13th, and (2) later the same day during the hours after sunset. If forecasters are correct, Geminids will be most numerous around midnight Dec. 13th-14th Cool - the sky is overcast right now but if it clears up, Jen and I will be out watching -- we are both Science Geeks...

Sensory Homunculus

Two very strange and cool images. Hat tip to BoingBoing.
Title: Sensory homunculus Description: This model shows what a man's body would look like if each part grew in proportion to the area of the cortex of the brain concerned with its sensory perception.
Title: Motor homunculus Description: This model shows what a man's body would look like if each part grew in proportion to the area of the cortex of the brain concerned with its movement.

Bad choice

Crap... I wrote about him here and here Bernard Kerik was an excellent candidate for the position of director of Homeland Security. He recently removed himself from the selection process saying that there was an issue with an illegal-immigrant Nanny but the problem may go a bit deeper. Blogger Roger L. Simon links to this article at Findlaw: Roger's comments first: bq. My "Nanny Problem" and Yours Bernard Kerik has withdrawn his name from consideration for Homeland Security Director for breaking what is probably the second most disobeyed law in the country (puff, puff) - employing an illegal alien as a housekeeper. Out here in the bourgeois nabes of Southern California, there's most likely a similar miscreant in every other house--or maybe even three out of four. bq. Of course, Kerik was a cop... and about to be America's security chief... so we shouldn't excuse him such things. But I'd wager a lot of the finger pointers in the media and elsewhere on this "astonishing revelation" are about as squeaky clean on the issue as those "distinguished barristers" Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood. Remember them? We've all been here before. When it comes to hypocrisy, this issue, which crosses party lines at will, even has marijuana beat. The real problem isn't Kerik, it's illegal immigration in this country and what to do about it. No one has even scratched the surface of that. bq. But as for Kerik, the whole "nanny" situation may be no more than a cover story for something far more serious. And the story from Findlaw: bq. Kerik Made Millions From Agency Contractor Bernard Kerik, President Bush's choice to run the Homeland Security Department, made $6.2 million by exercising stock options he received from a company that sold stun guns to the department - and seeks more business with it. bq. Taser International was one of many companies that received consulting advice from Kerik after he left his job as New York City police commissioner in 2001, when he was earning $150,500 a year. Kerik remains on Taser's board of directors, although the company and the White House said he planned to sever the relationship. bq. Partnering with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and also operating independently, Kerik has had business arrangements with manufacturers of prescription drugs, computer software and bulletproof materials, as well as companies selling nuclear power, telephone service, insurance and security advice for Americans working abroad. bq. The man who led the New York Police Department on Sept. 11, 2001, has been effusively praised by Senate Republicans and Democrats for his management during and after the attacks. He served the Defense Department in Iraq in 2003 as interior minister under the former U.S. occupation authority. bq. Federal ethics rules state that executive branch employees should avoid participating in decisions where their impartiality could be questioned, unless they receive approval from an agency ethics official. Well crap... He made some dirty money. This is a shame because with his track record he would have been perfect for the job. He was the best choice and I cannot think of anyone I would nominate for number two...

Dead Man Talking

bq. Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassah recently wrote an editorial in support of President Bush's election victory and what it means for the Arab world. The following is the article: Thus leads off the intro paragraph of this article at MEMRI Major hat tip to B.C. at the Anti Idiotarian Rottweiler for the link. Here are some excerpts: bq. The World Has Changed, But Not the Arabs "The world and relations between different countries have changed beyond recognition. In some cases even the countries have changed and a new order is controlling the world. What's more the United Nations is no longer able to control the relations between different countries. All this is happening in the outside world while nothing has changed for the Arab World. We are still living in the past steeped in our age old traditions. Our traditions are the source of our concepts, however old. This has always led us to conflicts with the outside world invariably ending in defeat for us. Such defeats in turn draw us back from the path of development. If there is anything which we have to do urgently it is to correct and remedy this situation. bq. "We had to give such a lengthy prologue because the U.S. administration - which is responsible for the changes that are sweeping through the world - has started criticizing the Middle East. The United States, which is criticizing the regimes in the region and the living conditions of their people, has succeeded in its efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. This U.S. administration has the strong backing of its people, who recently re-elected President George W. Bush for four more years. I hope that Ahmad Al-Jarallah has an excellent security team backing him up because someone is going to get pissed enough to want to take him out (it's a multi-cultural "honor" matter so you liberals don't need to get involved with thinking about it -- keep moving, nothing to see...) Here is one more paragraph: bq. "Bush considers the January elections very important. If one hopes the US will withdraw from Iraq in the same way as it did from Lebanon and Somalia, we must say it won't happen. The only thing left for Arab regimes, which are out of tune with the rest of the world, is to understand that standing against the United States is no longer the right way to show their patriotism, especially since they are the real enemies of their people and countries. They must understand the American Administration supports their people, for their freedom and human rights. America -- Fuck Yeah! -- to quote a movie line. The issue is freedom, human rights and taking ones rightful place on the world stage.


A wonderful website based out of the McMurdo Science Station in Antarctica. The author details the culture and living conditions there with a very jaundiced and wonderfully kind-of-snarky tone. Check out Big Dead Place Here is their intro on Science from the introduction and Welcome page bq. Science Science is the process of describing the universe through physical observation. Here are some things that are not science: distributing money to scientists, dispersing press releases to the media, inviting Congressmen to stay at Building 137 (that's a nice apartment for DVs, or Distinguished Visitors), and influencing your contract or your contract-completion bonus. Science is a rational approach to existence, and its true practitioners are, for lack of better words, on the right track. However, to unconditionally bestow respect on scientists is like emptying your wallet for each street musician. And to bestow respect on an agency that funds scientists is like giving your wallet to a bus driver with instructions to give it to a street musician. bq. Science, as an intellectual process, is not owned or orchestrated by any particular person or agency, nor is the funding of science a scientific act. The National Science Foundation is the manager of American Antarctica much like your department manager is the manager of your department: he or she has a lot of influence, but there are other forces at work. bq. In fact, the main purpose of the United States Antarctic Program, as stated by an external panel report published by NSF, is to establish a physical and political presence. This presence is kind of like hopping out of the car to stand in a parking space so no one nabs it while your friend drives around the block. (Our friend in this metaphor would be the as-of-yet nonexistent technology to cost-effectively extract minerals or hydrocarbons from Antarctica.) Now, imagine all the trouble that would arise if there were a bunch of people standing around in parking spaces, and bringing their friends and families to stand in parking spaces too, and they said they were just waiting for their friends to arrive. The biggest families would get the most spaces on the street, even if they were a bunch of lowlifes! To avoid this, the Antarctic Treaty was arranged, which meant that anyone who wanted to hold parking spaces for their friends had to perform substantial scientific activity. bq. In Antarctica, science is a parking permit, and those who want to stand in the parking spaces must first be able to afford the permit to stand there. These affairs do not reflect on the value of science as a sensible process. But science keeps many friends, whose close association with science is often overemphasized, sometimes with zeal, sounding less like science than like religion, which has little to do with understanding the universe through physical observation. Also, someone from this website was interviewed at Modern Drunkard Magazine: The intro for the interview: bq. When we think about Antarctica we tend to think about vast tracts of frozen wastes, of desperate men whipping dogs toward to lonely deaths or international glory, of Kurt Russell taking a flamethrower to shape-shifting aliens. bq. What we don't think about are bacchanalian orgies and non-stop drinking. Which proves how badly we've been misled, because that's precisely what's going on. Not only is there plenty to drink, there's plenty of reason to drink, as the following interview with a resident of the southernmost point of the world reveals. Wonderful stuff... I had the pleasure of visiting the continent about 12 years ago as part of an early eco-tourism effort from Lindblad Travel. We were not able to get into McMurdo but we had a wonderful afternoon at the French station -- Dumont d'Urville. I have some photographs of icebergs that are amazing -- all sorts of colors (from the algae) and shades of blue that are so intense, it burns the eyes...

Cake and the eating of cake...

Geoffrey at Dog Snot Diaries links to an interesting fallout from the Gay Marriage issue: bq. Domestic-partner benefits......gone. Many of Massachusetts major employers, companies like IBM Corp., Raytheon Co., Emerson College, Northeastern University, the National Fire Protection Association, Boston Medical Center, Baystate Health System, and The New York Times Co., are doing away with their domestic-partner benefits. Same sex couples will no longer be able to cover each other under employer health and dental programs. Why? Because in Massachusetts, homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals. They can marry. If they are legally married, then they are entitled to the same benefits. Sounds fair, right? HA! As if. GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) are still crying. Did you expect anything else?
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, or GLAD, a New England advocacy organization, argues that taking them away is an unfair hardship, because the decision to marry is still more difficult for gay and lesbian couples. .....Some said they simply aren't ready to marry just because a longstanding barrier to marriage was suddenly lifted.
bq. Wah fucking wah. bq. Be careful what you wish for -- you might get it... The responsibility of Marriage is not one to be entered into trivially but it is one to be cherished and rewarded. Back when Marriage was not available to gay couples, I could see getting domestic-partner benefits but now that the issue of marriage has been removed in a few states, the uncertainty of how to assign benefits to domestic spouses has been removed too... Put up or shut up.

The U.N. hits bottom, starts digging...

The United Nations is issuing a report this Monday critical of the United States and the Coalition that helped free Iraq. The issue here is that the Coalition spent money that Saddam stole from the Oil-For-Food swindle and the Coalition used it to help rebuild the falling-down infrastructure that would not have been falling down if Saddam had cared about his people. [set RANT=OFF] BC at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler has the story: bq. Time To Nationalize The Rope-making Industry (Note: Remove all loose objects from the room before reading any further.) bq. Words can't truly describe the feeling of being trapped in the dank, dark far reaches of the Idiotarian Parallel Universe� upon reading this. bq. Seeing the headline, we at first thought "That's gotta be a typo. "........
U.N. Audit Panel That Criticized U.S. Spending of Iraqi Oil-for-Food Monies Will Issue Report Monday
bq. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be a typo.....
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A U.N. panel critical of how the U.S.-led coalition authority in Iraq spent billions of dollars from the U.N. oil-for-food program and other sales of Iraqi oil will issue its report Monday, an official with the world body said.
bq. Go back and read that again...... bq. The body responsible for the single most corrupt deal in the history of deals on this planet, allowing a known mass-murdering, state-sponsored rape squad-employing madman to continue his reign of terror, has the swingin' jollies to actually bitch about what was done with the leftovers of the spoil that they allowed said murderous thug to accumulate, upon his removal from his throne? bq. Call the hippies and tell 'em to start growing all the hemp they can from the seeds in their stashes, because we're gonna need more rope than all the US factories can currently produce. bq. Read the rest if you've duct taped your head sufficiently. Here is a bit more from the news article: bq. The U.N. Security Council set up the Iraqi Development Fund to help the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority administer Iraq. The CPA administered Iraq from March 20, 2003, invasion to its dissolution June 28, 2004, when it handed the reins to the Iraqi interim government. bq. The development fund consisted of money from CPA sales of Iraqi oil, millions of dollars remaining from the U.N. Iraqi oil-for-food program and Iraqi assets that were dispersed worldwide. bq. A panel created by the Security Council - the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq - has accused the CPA of poorly managing Iraqi money and failing to stem corruption quickly enough. bq. In all, the CPA said it spent $20 billion from the Iraq Development Fund, and none from an $18.4 billion allocation from Congress. bq. Of the $20 billion the CPA spent, $11.1 billion came from oil sales. bq. The auditing panel also said the CPA gave $1.8 billion to Halliburton, a Houston-based oil services conglomerate, in no-bid contracts. It also said the ruling coalition authority was unable to track the money coming in or going out. bq. The U.N. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.N. auditing panel will issue a report Monday. These moneys were in the form of swiss bank accounts, cash hoards in Bank Vaults, Gold Bullion in tanker trucks. Here is a picture of some of the Gold:
Link to story here The United Nations has not released *any* accounting information at all of its entire Oil For Food program so to grouse about the Halliburton no-bid contract is Mr. Pot meeting Mr. Kettle... As for the no-bid process, this is something that is heavily audited and renewed (I'm quoting from memory here) every six months. It's a way to be able to get stuff done NOW without dealing with the competitive bid cycle and its inherent delays. The results of the transactions are checked later and if the company gouges, they get dropped from the program. Darn - the RANT mode got turned on again, didn't it...

Over There

It had to happen sometime... From CBC Arts News: bq. War in Iraq inspires TV series Veteran producer Steven Bochco will begin production next month on Over There, a television drama inspired by the war in Iraq. bq. The series will focus on one sergeant and his platoon, as well as the loved ones they left behind on the home front. It will air on FX, a U.S. cable channel. bq. John Landgraf, the president of FX, said the show will not take a pro- or anti-war stance. bq. "There's likely to be some controversy because the war is such a partisan football from both sides," he told the Hollywood Reporter trade paper. bq. Many of Bochco's productions are known for their gritty realism. He was the driving force behind Hill Street Blues, as well as NYPD Blue, which is about to end its 12-season run. bq. Over There is a rarity among war dramas as it deals with a war still being fought. The Second World War inspired Hogan's Heroes, the Korean War inspired M*A*S*H* and the Vietnam War inspired Tour of Duty � but all of these aired decades after the fact. Could be good -- I'll wait until I see the first couple episodes. Bochco has a pretty decent track record.

Awww Rats...

I had reported earlier (here) that Bernard Kerik was being chosen by President Bush as Cheif of Homeland Security. Now, it seems that Mr. Kerrik has backed out of the deal. MyWay/AP has the story: bq. Kerik Withdraws His Name for DHS Chief Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, President Bush's choice to be homeland security secretary, has withdrawn his name from consideration, the White House announced late Friday. bq. Presidential press secretary Scott McClellan, in a conference call to news organizations, revealed that Kerik had withdrawn "for personal reasons." bq. "The president respects his decision and wishes the commissioner and his wife, Hala, well," McClellan said in a statement. Damn -- He would have been perfect for the job...

Nice Physics website

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Was pointed to this via private email: HyperPhysics Very... deep... site...

Bill Cosby on Schools

From Michael King at Ramblings' Journal we get this story about wonderfully outspoken Bill Cosby: bq. The Cosby education tour continues in San Francisco Bill Cosby visited an award-winning inner San Francisco school yesterday, and gave his now-usual speech chastizing parents who fail their children. bq. San Francisco school chief Arlene Ackerman wrote a letter to Cosby, inviting him to see one of San Francisco's "dream schools," which are low-performing schools that have overhauled their approach to teaching, to greater results. bq. Cosby visited Charles Drew Elementary School in San Francisco's "poverty-stricken" Bayview-Hunters Point area yesterday.
After his visit, Cosby praised the school, but he stressed that it was parents -- not just the schools themselves -- who needed to step up to ensure their children beat the statistics. "Parents are 99 percent," he said. "School districts don't parent. They teach."
bq. Ackerman said she was happy to have Cosby air his views, even though they are politically incorrect. bq. Cosby has been hopeful that people would get over their shock following his initial comments last spring, and that they would be more ready to be about the business of change for the better.
"I think we're past the furor part now," he said. "It's a movement now that needs to happen. ... It's time for people to just stop seeing themselves so much as victims, so much in poverty, and realize what education does and fight for it like you're fighting for your life -- and you are because that's what our children are."
bq. It's well past time to be about the business. Well past time. Good stuff - Cosby is saying things that need to be said. A lot of people both white and black are still running on the 60's style welfare lifestyle and entitlement. This more than anything else has led to the disintegration of family life and the poor education given to their children. High crime and poverty follow. You take a look at immigrants from some oft he Asian countries and although they arrive dirt poor, they have no problem with working and they value their children's education more than anything else. Hence, you see the move from poverty to wealth in two or three generations. It's not "the man", it's not poverty, it's inability to keep a job and the lack of education.
Mostly Cajun works with very large electrical systems. This technology is completely different from your normal house wiring. House-wiring rules do not apply here. Every so often, he writes up a story of an interesting client -- today's is a classic: bq. Somebody messed up� This is why we do some of the things we do. bq. 4:30 pm a couple of days ago. I�d made it out of the office and was happily contemplating a brisk workout in my recliner when my cellphone rang. I immediately looked at the display. It said �restricted� which meant it probably wasn�t going to be good news. I answered it and my suspicions were verified. It was a client. And it wasn�t a social call. It was an emergency. So I turned around and headed to his plant. Cajun sets up the story a bit, talks about the client's plant which runs on 13,800 volts (told 'ya it's not house wiring) and gets to the part that failed: bq. That brings us to the second problem: About a year ago the load tap changer mechanism was �refurbished". This means they replaced contacts that wear and erode during normal operation. However (there�s always a however in these sad stories) they did not do the prudent checkout after completion of the work to make sure that the mechanical work did not disturb the settings of those limits. bq. So problem one added to omission two and came up �disaster". The voltage coming into the substation went too high. The controller told the load tap changer to step down. When the tap changer mechanism got to its bottom limit, instead of its electrical drive motor stopping because it hit the limit, the mechanism jammed and the motor burned a fuse. Now the motor would not run. bq. So when the utility voltage got back down to normal, the output voltage of the transformer went waaaay low, actually down to 13300 volts instead of the 13800 we wanted. The client found out about this when he tried to start a large (and critical) motor. When the motor tried to start, it sucked the system voltage down even further, resulting in a few other motors dropping offline. That�s when I got the call. Interesting stuff -- how one small problem can cascade and cause all sorts of major issues...

Reuters photos of the year 2004

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Reuters photos of the year for 2004 are up at Yahoo/Reuters. Some really good ones but it's interesting to see the MSM bias. The photos of Bush make him look less than Presidential, the photos of Kerry are flattering. Any photo from Iraq or Afghanistan is of bombed areas or people being loaded into ambulances or aid cars. I have seen lots of photos of happy Iraqi people -- kids and adults but none of them made it into this collection. The Israeli photos are uniformly against Israel (no photos of the palestinian atrocities and bombings) and the Palestinian photos are favorable or targeted to elicit a sympathetic reaction (kid riding his donkey near the wall) Hat tip to DGCI My favorite:
Austrian extreme sportsman Felix Baumgartner prepares to BASE jump from the giant Christ Redentor statue in Rio de Janeiro

IBM and China

bq. The China Syndrome If You Want to Understand IBM Selling Its PC Division, Just Look East bq. This week, as anyone knows who reads the business section of their local newspaper, IBM sold its personal computer division to Lenovo, a company presently based in mainland China. How far we have come! When IBM announced what was then its Entry Systems Division and introduced to the world the underpowered, overpriced, but fantastically successful IBM Personal Computer, China wasn't even a major trading partner with the U.S. Who would have guessed that times would change so much and so quickly? And who also would have guessed that all the analysis we've been reading about this transaction could be so shallow and misleading? There is far more to this deal than people are being told. bq. The simple story -- and the only one that made it in most papers -- is that IBM hasn't made much of a profit on PC products for years, so selling out is a simple way of improving corporate results and shifting capital to where it can be used more profitably. Well, yes and no. PCs HAVE become a commodity, and IBM hasn't made money on them since the late 1980s, but this story goes far beyond raising gross margins and cutting pension liabilities. But wait -- there's more: bq. What is absolutely key to this deal is that the buyer is Lenovo, the largest Chinese PC manufacturer. Yes, the division was unprofitable and IBM would have eventually had to do something about it, but Sam Palmisano wanted a Chinese buyer and was willing to accept far less cash than he might have received elsewhere just to get the buyer he wanted. bq. IBM got rid of a headache and in doing so, gained unique access to what will shortly be the world's largest IT market. This deal is all about China, not the U.S. bq. Doing business in China always requires having a partner. You don't just set up an IBM China and start selling stuff. You find a local partner company and move into the market together. Now IBM's partner will be Lenovo, the biggest, baddest PC maker in China, which is a good partner to have. IBM not only has its Chinese partner, it has a substantial equity position in that partner as a result of this transaction. That's unique as far as I know. Chinese-U.S. corporate partnerships aren't always the easiest marriages, but in this one, IBM actually has a vote. It also got Lenovo to move its global headquarters to the U.S. and accept an American CEO and 10,000 U.S. employees, which will have to change the way Lenovo runs its global business. And still more: bq. While IBM will still have design input on future PC products and those products will continue to carry the IBM brand for five years, the company will shortly have severed any major financial dependence on the future of those product lines. In short, this is the end of the line for IBM's marriage with Intel. Sure, they'll continue to sell boxes containing Intel (and perhaps AMD) processors, but the historic link is severed, with the result that IBM will be able to compete with impunity using its PowerPC and Power5 processors. bq. What Palmisano has done is clear the decks so he can compete unfettered in a completely different segment of the market -- servers -- where IBM DOES make money and where they will now proceed to crush the competition. bq. IBM's PowerPC investments are beginning to show impressive results. If you look at their November 9th press release on the p5-575 "super computer," IBM shows it can now comfortably combine and cluster scores of processors into a relatively small blade center chassis. Robert sums up with: bq. Winners in this deal are IBM, Lenovo, AMD, and Dell. Lenovo instantly doubles its market share. AMD eats away just a little bit more at Intel's power base. Dell, as the true PC market leader, will rely on its lower overhead to further hurt HP. bq. Losers in the deal are HP, Intel, and Sun. Especially Sun. Those guys are in trouble. So true -- SUN has been in serious trouble for the last five years or so. They kept their hold on proprietary operating systems and hardware for too long and that strategy backfired on them.

Victor Davis Hanson

He is on a roll today. His Friday essays are generally a very good read and sometimes they are a great -- go there and read it now - read. Today's is one of those -- he mixes up Tolkien and modern-day Europe and comes up with some interesting similarities: bq. The Ents of Europe Strange rumblings on the continent. bq. One of the many wondrous peoples that poured forth from the rich imagination of the late J. R. R. Tolkien were the Ents. These tree-like creatures, agonizingly slow and covered with mossy bark, nursed themselves on tales of past glory while their numbers dwindled in their isolation. Unable to reproduce themselves or to fathom the evil outside their peaceful forest � and careful to keep to themselves and avoid reacting to provocation of the tree-cutters and forest burners � they assumed they would be given a pass from the upheavals of Middle Earth. bq. For Tolkien, who wrote in a post-imperial Britain bled white from stopping Prussian militarism and Hitler's Nazism, only to then witness the rise of the more numerous, wealthier, and crasser Americans, such specters were haunting. Indeed, there are variants of the Ent theme throughout Tolkien's novels, from the dormant Riders of Rohan � whose king was exorcised from his dotage and rallied the realm's dwindling cavalry to recover lost glory and save the West � to the hobbits themselves. bq. The latter, protected by slurred "Rangers," live blissfully unaware that radical changes in the world have brought evil incarnate to their very doorstep. Then to their amazement they discover that of all people, a hobbit rises to the occasion, and really does stand up well when confronted with apparently far more powerful and evil adversaries. The entire novel is full of such folk � the oath-breaking Dead who come alive to honor their once-broken pact, or the now-fallen and impotent High Elves who nevertheless do their part in the inevitable war to come. bq. Tolkien always denied an allegorical motif or any allusions to the contemporary dangers of appeasement or the leveling effects of modernism. And scholars bicker over whether he was lamenting the end of the old England, old Europe, or the old West � in the face of the American democratic colossus, the Soviet Union's tentacles, or the un-chivalrous age of the bomb. But the notion of decline, past glory, and 11th-hour reawakening are nevertheless everywhere in the English philologist's Lord of the Rings. Was he on to something? bq. More specifically, does the Ents analogy work for present-day Europe? Before you laugh at the silly comparison, remember that the Western military tradition is European. Today the continent is unarmed and weak, but deep within its collective mind and spirit still reside the ability to field technologically sophisticated and highly disciplined forces � if it were ever to really feel threatened. One murder began to arouse the Dutch; what would 3,000 dead and a toppled Eiffel Tower do to the French? Or how would the Italians take to a plane stuck into the dome of St. Peter? We are nursed now on the spectacle of Iranian mullahs, with their bought weapons and foreign-produced oil wealth, humiliating a convoy of European delegates begging and cajoling them not to make bombs � or at least to point what bombs they make at Israel and not at Berlin or Paris. But it was not always the case, and may not always be. These are just the first couple of paragraphs -- it is worth the five minutes to visit his site and read the rest.

Political Correctness gone overboard

Hat tip to Charles at LGF for this story from Italy: bq. A public school in the northern Italian city of Treviso cancelled their Christmas play and replaced it with �Little Red Riding Hood��to avoid offending Muslim children.
Last week, a public elementary school in the northern city of Treviso decided that Little Red Riding Hood would be this year�s Christmas play instead of the Christmas story. The teachers said the famous tale was a fitting representation of the struggle between good and evil and would not offend Muslim children. The school�s traditional nativity scene was scrapped for the same reason. In another school near Milan, the word �Jesus� was removed from a Christmas hymn and substituted with the word �virtue.� In Vicenza province an annual contest for the best Nativity scene in schools was canceled. Conservative politicians and Churchmen blasted the moves. �Are we losing our minds?� said Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli, an outspoken member of the populist Northern League. �Do we want to erase our identity for the love of Allah?�
This is ludicrous -- Italy has such a strong spiritual history and to throw it away because of the objections of a non-native group of people is insane. If the nativity scene offends you -- don't look at it!

Google Suggest (beta)

Fascinating enhancement to the basic Google Search Engine. Give it a try here Google Suggest Here's their F.A.Q.

Dances with Moonbats

Bill at INDC Journal takes his life into his own hands to bring us a report from his examination of the strange spercies known as Moonbat. Part one is here. Part two is here. Caution -- do not be drinking anything liquid while reading this. Here is a sample:
bq. Oh here's a fantastic beauty, a Macroglossius lunarius grandiculus oculatus, or Big-Eyed Kravitz Bat. These fascinating creatures have extremely large eyes with a compound structure very similar to that of an insect. Here's an scientific approximation of how these amazing creatures see the world ...

Award against Hamas fundraisers

Excellent decision by Judge Arlander Keys, a Federal Magistrate Judge in Chicago... The New York Times has the story: bq. Judge Awards $156 Million in Terror Death A federal magistrate judge on Wednesday ordered three Islamic charities and a man accused of raising money for the Palestinian militant group Hamas to pay $156 million to the parents of an American teenager killed eight years ago by terrorists in the West Bank. bq. The judge, Arlander Keys, tripled the $52 million in damages that a federal jury awarded to Joyce and Stanley Boim, whose 17-year-old son, David, was shot and killed by members of Hamas while he waited at a bus stop. bq. The Boims brought their lawsuit under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990, which allows any American who is a victim of terrorism abroad to collect damages in United States courts. Last month, Magistrate Judge Keys found that two charities, the Islamic Association for Palestine and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, along with Mohammed Salah, who was accused of being a fund-raiser for Hamas, knowingly gave material support to Hamas and were legally responsible for David Boim's death. The funds of these organizations have been frozen by the US Government so it's not clear whether this will actually be awarded but as the attorney for the family says: bq. "We're very gratified by the verdict," said Richard M. Hoffman, a lawyer for the Boims. "In one sense, I think it sends a very strong message to those who have supported terrorist organizations. It paves the road for other victims of terrorism." Cool -- time to let these pigs know that they cannot get away with this.

WA State Governors Race

There is a manual recount going on for the governors race here. There was the initial machine count and Dino Rossi won by a slim enough margin to warrant an automatic machine re-count which Rossi won again. The Democrats demanded a hand recount -- first they wanted to count only those counties where they had a strong showing (hoping that they could pick up a few more votes) but then they promised to pay for the entire state to be recounted. Rossi has picked up some more votes. Stefan Sharkansky is covering this at Sound Politics: bq. T-r-e-n-d As mentioned by some commenters in previous posts, recount numbers continue to trickle in. In addition to yesterday's reports from Mason and Garfield, Skamania and Wahkiakum have reported today. Rossi ended yesterday +45. His lead has now grown to +46. As one of our more excitable Democrat readers put it in his comment last night: "Can anyone spell the word t-r-e-n-d?"

Heavy Metal shooting

What a tragic way to go... Comcast News has the story: bq. Gunman Kills 4 at Ohio Heavy Metal Show A gunman charged onstage at a packed nightclub and opened fire on the band and crowd, killing top heavy metal guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and three other people before a police officer shot him to death, authorities and witnesses said. bq. Police spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio identified three of the victims of Wednesday's shooting as Abbott, who played for the Texas-based band Damageplan, and two other men, Nathan Bray, 23; and Erin Halk, 29. bq. She identified the gunman as Nathan Gale, 25, of Marysville, 25 miles northwest of Columbus. Police said they had no information on a motive or any connection to the band. bq. The gunman had a hostage in a headlock and seemed to be preparing to kill him when the officer, James D. Niggemeyer, managed to shoot without injuring the hostage, police said. Suicide by cop. The Guitarist was in the forefront of Thrash-Metal a few years ago when he and his brother played for the Grammy-nominated band Pantera. Sad... UPDATE: MTV has an obituary up for Dimebag along with a nice slideshow of him at various events...


Back40 at Crumb Trail has an interesting view on predators and their role in the environment. He starts off with a quote from Aldo Leopold from Think Like a Mountain: "I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anemic desuetude, and then to death." And then goes on to cite a recent Oregon State University paper: Predators change the behavior of prey.
Research about wolves that began in Yellowstone National Park has been replicated in an adjacent area, and a growing body of evidence leads scientists to conclude that this historic predator may have an ecological impact far more important than realized in the American West. The near extinction of the gray wolf across most of the West in the past century now appears to have removed the natural element of "fear" from these ecosystems. It has triggered a cascade of ecological effects on everything from elk populations to beaver, birds, fish, and even stream systems - and helped lead directly to the collapsing health of aspen and some other tree species and vegetation...
There is a bit more of the paper quoted and then Back40 comments: bq. Though the researchers note that humans alter prey behaviors too I think that they understate the historic role of humans. Like wolves humans took prey of all sizes in all seasons and knew the habits of prey animals. They were patient and lethal even at a distance so they were difficult to detect and avoid. Sport hunters are blundering, smelly avoidable threats compared to those who hunted to live. bq. I also think that they understate the effects of fear. The damage to streamside Aspens isn't due to selective browsing so much as loafing near water. Elk and deer are ruminants and must spend time loafing. They regurgitate forage that has been partially digested and chew it again to expose more surfaces to digestive bacteria. Cud chewing is an integral part of their digestion process, an evolved ability that allows them to get much more nutritional benefit from forage than non-ruminant ungulates such as horses. They need to relax to do this and they like to be near water. When they loaf near water they also trample and browse more in the area. They won't loaf there if it's dangerous, they'll find a place where they aren't so anxious about attack so that they can relax and digest. There has been a lot of comment from the environmentalists that stream cover is important to the 'recovering' Salmon runs. Once again, the big picture is not mentioned, just the political fragments. As for here, we have coyotes, big cats, deer and elk. We also have great cover near the two streams on our property and the apple trees are doing fine (so far). We have to keep our household pets in at night but having them curled up at our feet is a minor price to pay for having a comfortable ecological balance happening outside...

Head Coverings

The United States Department of Justice has a PDF file with info on how to deal with Muslims in a respectful manner and addressing the issue of their head coverings. This is available here: It seems that there is another PDF available for a different group. Check it out here: Redneck

Parents on Strike

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Funny news but with a bit of a nanny-state twist... Yahoo/AP reports on one family dealing with a household of teenagers: bq. Parents Go on Strike, Move to Front Yard Even though the dishes, garbage and dirty laundry were piling up, homeowners Cat and Harlan Barnard were getting no help from their two children. bq. After begging and pleading with their 17-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter to help out around the house, the Barnards decided they were fed up. So they went on strike � and moved out to the front yard. bq. "This was our last-ditch effort," Cat Barnard said. bq. Since Monday morning, the Barnards have lived in a tent in their front yard, going inside the house only to use the restroom or shower. The couple sits on lawn chairs and roasts marshmallows over a hibachi. The result: bq. But Cat Barnard says the strike may already be paying dividends. She noted that her daughter washed her own clothes for the first time on Tuesday. bq. "This is war," Cat Barnard said. "I love my babies, but I don't like what they're doing." The nanny-state issue: bq. Whether the couple's actions could be regarded as abandonment depends on how much guidance the parents are still providing and "if the children are suffering as a result," said Carrie Hoeppner, a spokeswoman with the Department of Children & Families in Orange County. I'm sorry Carrie but you do not have a clue as to what is happening. The kids needed a lesson and they are getting a very very good one. Your agency does not have jurisdiction in this case and don't try to make a case out of it. Governmental Child Protective bureaucracies in general have had a rather miserable track record so why don't you just put a fucking sock in it and go home...

the first Bucky Balls

Buckminster Fuller took geodesics and created a mapping projection based on it -- Dymaxion. The Dymaxion projection doesn't present the Earth as a 'neat' rectangle but it does show all of the continents with minimal distortion compared to the huge polar regions of the Mercator projection. This web site has a wonderful Flash animation of the Earths Globe and it expands out into a Dymaxion Map of the world. Very cool stuff... More on Dymaxion Projections can be found here.

community-oriented V/S individual-oriented

Russell Wardlow writing at Mean Mr. Mustard has an interesting observation of lifestyles in Europe and the United States and how people perceive the difference. bq. Heard Jeremy Rifkin talking about his book on the Medved show yesterday. bq. The thesis of "The European Dream" is essentially the same as the recieved wisdom of the enlightened: sure, Americans get paid more and produce more and in general are therefore better off than most of Europe, but Europeans have a better quality of life because they work fewer hours, get more vacation time, etc. bq. I think that's all bunk, frankly, but the man seemed reasonable enough. Or at least, he did until he got about 5 straight calls of people showing a marked aversion to the European model. The general tenor: we like the priorities we set for ourselves in America, thank you very much. bq. At that point, Rifkin became defensive and a little testy, claiming that, "Hey, all I'm saying is that maybe the European model has something to offer. Why are people being so close-minded about it? Can't they admit even the possibility that aspects of the European way would be good for us as well?" The last sentence had a clear whine in it. bq. I was a little amused by the fact that he seemed to equate disagreement with his arguments as being close-minded, since most of the people who called in obviously knew something about both systems and weren't just fulminating against whatever it is them damn foreigners do over there. bq. But more than that, I couldn't suppress a groan when he tried to distinguish America and Europe by saying the former was "individual-oriented" and the latter "community-oriented." Russell then disagrees with Rifkin's thesis that Europe is community-oriented and proceeds to mop the floor with it: bq. Europe is not community-oriented, it's state-oriented, and that is a big damn difference. Most of the things that set Europe apart from America in terms of economics (and in many ways, in the realm of general culture as well) can be traced to our differing conception of the individual to the government. Francis Porretto wrote about this and drew the line as being either "subject" under a government or a "citizen" under one. bq. That distinction by itself is a useful shorthand, but even it fails to capture at least one very relevant point regarding Rifkin's "quality of life" argument: Europeans want to be taken care of by the government. That's not the attitude I think of when I hear the term "community-oriented." bq. Churches are community oriented. PTA groups are community oriented. The Shriners are community oriented. Wanting to be guaranteed a mandatory 5 weeks of vacation a year and the inability to be fired actually sounds a lot more like an "individual-oriented" worldview to me. And it's also precisely that kind of "suckling-teat" conception of the state that causes European communities (in the real sense, not Rifkin's misuse of the word) to atrophy into irrelevance. When you've got all your hopes of sustenance and protection coming from a centralized government, you don't have much concern for what's going on immediately around you.


The USA suffered an incredible wake-up call in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The Big Trunk at Power Line writes about this better than I can - I'm a linker not a thinker dammit... bq. Pearl Harbor Day 2004 The day after the devastating Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the Congress with his eloquent speech requesting a declaration of war. The clarity of his words remains bracing, even 63 years after the horrible day:
Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
The entire speech is at the above link. The Big Trunk then says: bq. The events of December 7 echo down the corridors of history. Among the comments on the significance of the attack, none surpasses Churchill's immediate assessment:
"To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!...Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder."
bq. Let us invoke Shakespeare's words as our prayer for this day: "What's past is prologue..."

Update to Marley's Ghost

I had written here about the woman who auctioned her Father's Ghost on eBay. There is an update: the online Casino which bought the Virgin Mary cheese sandwich just paid $65K for the cane (and attached ghost). The story is at ABC News/AP: bq. Online Casino Buys Ghost Cane for $65K An online casino offered $65,000 Monday for a metal walking cane that an Indiana woman put up for sale in hopes her son would believe his grandfather's ghost would leave their house with it. bq. will add the "ghost cane" to a collection that already includes a grilled cheese sandwich said to bear the image of the Virgin Mary. The casino paid $28,000 last month for the sandwich, which it bought like the cane on eBay. bq. "It's just the new Americana thing," said Monty Kerr, a spokesman for the online casino. "There's just a strong pop culture element to both the grilled cheese sandwich and the ghost cane � The sandwich especially has really ingrained itself in American history this year." bq. Kerr said the cane which Mary Anderson auctioned to ease her 6-year-old son Collin's fears that his grandfather's ghost was haunting their home in Hobart likely will go on tour like the famous sandwich. bq. The cane and the story behind it attracted 132 bids, dozens of imitators and landed the Andersons on NBC's "Today" show Monday. The casino emerged as the winning bidder after a slightly higher bid was withdrawn, Kerr said. bq. Even after the original auction ended, an eBay search using the keywords "ghost cane" yielded 86 results, including walking sticks, ghost cane bumper stickers and a purportedly haunted ghost thong. Heh...

Endangered Species Act,

From the Seattle Times: bq. Battle lines drawn on protection of species Western governors gathered last week to plan with the Bush administration and Congress how to change the Endangered Species Act, the 31-year-old law they say has cost developers, loggers and ranchers too much money and hassle for the few animals brought back from the brink of extinction. bq. "Just about everybody agrees the Endangered Species Act is broken," said Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., a cattleman turned chairman of the House Resources Committee. "The only way you are going fix it is with legislative change." bq. Pombo and Assistant Interior Secretary Craig Manson buoyed spirits at a meeting in a San Diego suburb Friday with the announcement that federal biologists have determined the sage grouse, a bird whose sagebrush territory sits atop oil and gas fields in 11 states, including Washington, is not threatened with extinction and does not need federal protection as an endangered species. The bird's numbers have plunged as agricultural and industrial development have intruded on nesting and breeding areas. And one of the reasons: bq. "The act has become something other than recovering species," Pombo said. "It's become a tool to stop growth, to stop mining, to stop logging. To stop a freeway from being built. It's become a tool that people are using to accomplish other goals." So true -- the law came about with good intentions. There was no legal way to preserve an area from development so by finding a critter whose survival depended on that particular bit of property, enviros were able to put a legal road-block against development. Unfortunately, this has come into common use and the population models that have been accepted are those put forth by the biologists working for the enviros. Basically, they have been able to write their own ticket. Time to balance the books a bit here. Logging is a renewable resource (just one with a 30-50 year time-line), mining is a lot less damaging to the environment than it once was and petroleum and natural gas drilling is downright benign with today's technologies (angled drilling) People grouse at the gas pump but still get a "Bambi Knee-Jerk" reaction every time someone mentions additional prospecting or (shudder) Nuke plants.

Marley's Ghost

Great story from ABC News: bq. A woman's effort to assuage her 6-year-old son's fears of his grandfather's ghost by selling it on eBay has drawn more than 34 bids with a top offer of $78. bq. Mary Anderson said she placed her father's "ghost" on the online auction site after her son, Collin, said he was afraid the ghost would return someday. Anderson said Collin has avoided going anywhere in the house alone since his grandfather died last year. bq. "I always thought it was just normal kid fears until a few months ago he told me why he was so scared. He told me 'Grandpa died here, and he was mean. His ghost is still around here!'" bq. Lest the boy's fears scare off potential bidders, Anderson added, "My dad was the sweetest most caring man you'd ever meet." bq. Some of the prospective buyers have posted their own messages. bq. "Your story brought tears to my eyes," one bidder said. "I just wonder how this will turn out for your son. I'm sure his Grandfather loved him very much." bq. Anderson also put her father's metal walking cane up for auction so she would have something to actually send the winning bidder. The proceeds from the auction will go to buy Collin a special present, she said. bq. Anderson makes one special request of the winner bidder: "I would like to ask you to write a letter after you've received the cane (and the ghost) to my son letting him know that he's there with you and you're getting along great."

Hue and Cry

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There have been a lot of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission recently over programming that is deemed by the letter writer to be "inappropriate" A major increase and it seems that it stems from one place - MediaWeek has the story: bq. Activists Dominate Content Complaints In an appearance before Congress in February, when the controversy over Janet Jackson�s Super Bowl moment was at its height, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell laid some startling statistics on U.S. senators. bq. The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, �a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes.� bq. What Powell did not reveal�apparently because he was unaware�was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003�99.8 percent�were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group. bq. This year, the trend has continued, and perhaps intensified. bq. Through early October, 99.9 percent of indecency complaints�aside from those concerning the Janet Jackson �wardrobe malfunction� during the Super Bowl halftime show broadcast on CBS� were brought by the PTC, according to the FCC analysis dated Oct. 1. (The agency last week estimated it had received 1,068,767 complaints about broadcast indecency so far this year; the Super Bowl broadcast accounted for over 540,000, according to commissioners� statements.) bq. The prominent role played by the PTC has raised concerns among critics of the FCC�s crackdown on indecency. �It means that really a tiny minority with a very focused political agenda is trying to censor American television and radio,� said Jonathan Rintels, president and executive director of the Center for Creative Voices in Media, an artists� advocacy group. Emphasis mine -- could not have said it better myself...

Cool and strange

You may know the name Rosa Parks -- she was the woman who would not sit in the "black section" of the city bus in 1955 -- she had finished shopping, had a couple bags of groceries and was tired and didn't feel like walking back to the rear of the bus... Busted, into the history books and race relations moves forward a biiiiig step. Fast forward to today -- she is living in an apartment in Detroit where the rent is $1,800 per month (strange) but since she is suffering from old age and issues with dementia, the landlord has said that they will null out the rent and let her live for free until she passes. (cool) CNN has the story here: bq. Rosa Parks' landlord has offered to let her stay in her apartment rent-free, two years after threatening to evict her when the owners said her caretakers missed rental payments. bq. Parks' doctors say the 91-year-old civil rights pioneer has dementia and is in poor health. Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit had been paying Parks' rent, which had been as high as $1,800 a month, since August 2003, the Rev. Charles Adams said. bq. "We did not want her set out in the street," Adams said. "We didn't want to make a big noise out of it. ... It was a simple act of kindness." bq. In an October letter, Riverfront Associates, which owns the apartment where Parks has lived since 1994, said she could stay for free for the rest of her life. Very cool!

A note on Comment Spam

I will be more than happy to host comment advertisements for those businesses wanting to promote their products. Please be advised that my fee is $1,000 US Dollars per instance for this hosting. Washington State enacted some anti-SPAM legislation with teeth a few years ago. This post is sufficient to serve notice and I will seek legal action. Again, commercial advertising based on comments to posts at this website will be billed to the Host Company at One Thousand United States Dollars Per Instance. WA State allows up to $2.400 per instance in the lawsuit so I am being gracious...

Light blogging today

Been busy. Jen and I found some cool stuff to blog about and it will be appearing tomorrow.

It was Global Warming I tell 'ya...

From the Fairbanks News-Miner: bq. Driver plunges into icy Chena All Earl Voorhis wanted was something to eat. bq. A little more than halfway through the Friday lunch hour, Voorhis drove to one restaurant, but found it was closed. bq. So he decided to take a shortcut across the Chena River to the Princess Hotel, or maybe Pike's Landing. bq. About 20 feet onto the ice, Voorhis' 1994 Ford F-350 pickup broke through and sank up to its headlights in the Chena. bq. He wasn't hurt and was able to scramble onto the roof of his truck cab, walk across the truck's hood, hop off, cross the ice and walk up the snow-covered riverbank to the Princess Hotel, where he reported the incident at about 12:45 p.m. Friday.
bq. "I saw the tracks from the other traffic," the 52-year-old said. "I thought it was solid." And recovering the truck? bq. Dan Kraykowski, Ben's Auto owner, who charges by the hour, said he didn't yet know what the bill would be. bq. "It ain't going to be cheap," Kraykowski said. The 'official' commentary? bq. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities does not recommend that motorists cross the Chena River. bq. "The ice crossings are not maintained nor are they plowed by the state," said DOT spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy. "It's inherently dangerous." DOH! My Mom's side of the family came from Erie, Pennsylvania. When I was growing up, people there used to drive across Lake Erie into Canada all the time but it stopped freezing solidly enough to do this around 1955 or 1960. Global Warming or just a general 400-year cycle... I just Googled to see if there was any anecdotal record of this and came up with an excellent one. Rick Danko, one of the founding members of The Band passed away in 1999 (born in 1942). His Obituary is here and well worth a read if you are into this groups music. The line that stood out was this one: bq. The son of a woodcutter and the third of four brothers, Danko was born on December 29th, 1942, in Simcoe, a town in rural southern Ontario. "He would tell me that in the kind of neighborhood he grew up in, the typical house would be back from the road, and you would just see a bare bulb inside a room with no curtains," says Andersen, who was raised on the opposite side of Lake Erie, in Buffalo, New York. "Their idea of fun would be driving across Lake Erie when it was frozen, spinning fishtails on the lake." A couple hundred years ago, the great rivers in Europe were freezing over. and around 900AD, wine grapes were growing in Greenland.

Liberal Asshats

Kevin Aylward at Wizbang is running a Weblog 2004 Awards. People are invited to visit the site and to vote once every 24-hour period. Noted Leftist Blogger site The Daily Kos*** posted some code to enable its readers to directly violate this request and to set up a script to automatically force new votes. Here's Kevin: bq. Count Every Vote Thanks members of the comment section at Daily Kos publishing automated voting code we've had to enforce strict IP checking for the polls. I had hoped that people would be able to conduct themselves in a civilized manner, but apparently that was too much to ask. Once the code got into circulation many of the sites nominated for Best Overall Blog got "help" by automated bots designed to continuously vote. bq. Those sites have been blocked permanently from accessing this site, but there's no way to stop future attacks short of limiting each IP address to one vote every 24 hours. Unfortunately this will affect AOL users and those behind corporate firewalls. The denizens of Daily Kos have left me no alternative. bq. Update: The IP addresses of those responsible will be submitted to their respective ISP's or universities for TOS violations. *** For reference, The Daily Kos is written by Markos Moulitsas Z�niga. In April of 2004, he wrote about the four USA Citizens who were brutally murdered, burned and hanged in Fallujah. I would post the link to this article but Kos has redacted it and when you try to link to it, you get his blogs front page. Fortunately, Charles at LGF saved a copy: bq. Daily Kos Gloats Over Fallujah Markos Moulitsas Z�niga, also known as �Daily Kos,� couldn�t restrain his joy over the gruesome deaths of four of his fellow citizens yesterday, and expressed one of the ugliest sentiments I�ve seen yet on the lefty blogs (and that�s really saying something).
Let the people see what war is like. This isn�t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush�s folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren�t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.
This is not what the situation was... But there is some nice karmic payback -- again Charles at LGF: bq. Kos Kandidates Krushed �Rising Democratic star� Markos �Screw Them� Zuniga sponsored 15 Democratic candidates for Congress, raising a total of more than half a million dollars for their campaigns from his gullible followers. bq. And every single one of those candidates lost. Good call, Kos! Heh...

Mudslides in the Philippines

Recent storms in the Philippines have killed a known 640 people and there are about 400 others missing. One of the causes is mudslides caused by illegal logging and bad forest management practices. CNN has an interesting story:
bq. Logging suspended in Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has suspended logging and pledged to prosecute violators after two storms set off mudslides and floods that killed 640 people and left nearly 400 missing in the northern Philippines. bq. Deforestation has stripped hillsides of vegetation that might have held mud and other debris in place during last week's tropical storm and typhoon, and many believe years of illegal logging set off the landslides. bq. Reinforcing that view, Arroyo said Saturday that illegal loggers would be prosecuted like terrorists, kidnappers, drug traffickers and other hardened criminals and called for unity amid the disaster. bq. "Our unity will lift up the nation from this tragedy in no time and bring justice to those who have needlessly suffered," she said on a visit to the hard-hit coastal town of Real in Quezon province. bq. She added: "I'm canceling all (logging) permits here and suspending issuance of all others."

Thai Paper Cranes

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I had blogged about this yesterday. Today the UAE news service Khaleej Times writes about the event: bq. Thai air force drops 97 million origami birds on southern Thailand The Thai air force launched one of its biggest military operations in recent history on Sunday, dispatching 51 aircraft to drop 97 million origami paper cranes on Thailand�s troubled deep south to bring peace to the region. bq. An armada of Hercules 130s, Nomads, BG-37 carriers, Cessna planes, AU-23 fighters, Bell helicopters and a handful of small civilian aircraft began lifting off, packed with paper birds, from Had Yai military airport at 9:09 a.m., deemed an auspicious time. The task force was bound for Thailand�s three southernmost provinces, Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. bq. �This is a huge task for the air force,� said Royal Thai Air Force combat commander Air Chief Marshal Tharit Pukthasuk, director of the origami operation. �We will try to drop as many birds as possible.� And the Muslim side of things? (Thaksin is the Thai Prime Minister) bq. Thaksin apparently got the idea for flooding the south with paper cranes after being given an origami bird by Thai academics two weeks ago. They had met the prime minister to criticize his handling of the deep south, the only region in predominantly Buddhist Thailand with a Moslem majority. bq. Moslem clerics in the south have greeted Thaskin�s origami campaign with some cynicism. bq. �The paper cranes campaign shows good intentions, but they are likely to just end up as garbage,� Waedueramae Maminchi, chairman of the Islamic Council of Pattani province, said in an interview. bq. Some Moslem leaders have shrugged off the gesture as meaningless unless it is followed by concrete policies aimed at deeper engagement with the southern communities to solve their problems with unequal education opportunities, exploitation by corrupt officials and acceptance of their historical, cultural and religious differences. This is a hard call -- still, with 500 deaths per year, there needs to be something done. The Muslims have moved to Thailand (which is predominantly Buddhist) as a source of cheap labor. Still, when you move to a new country, a certain amount of assimilation is required. At least develop some tolerance and learn to live quietly. I can't think of the last time a Buddhist suicide bomber killed anyone...

Rain Blogging

I work in one of the outbuildings on the Farm and use Wi-Fi to connect the computers here with the StarBand satellite base station in the main house. Works great but I am right at the distance limit for this setup and when it rains, the signal strength falls off and it becomes unreliable. It's raining now and I'm thinking about ordering a couple of cheap Yagi antennas... Time to re-type the last post from memory and find those links again... It was a good one about the Thai Paper Cranes referenced in this previous post...

Kofi's slide downwards...

Jeff Jacoby has an interesting editorial in the Boston Globe today. He cites Glen the Puppy Blender and mentions his minor efforts at blogging (Instapundit) but doesn't link to it... Harrumph - typical Main Stream Media thouroughness... Anyway, the article is of interest: bq. Annan is a symptom of UN's sickness... KOFI ANNAN has had better weeks. On Monday, the UN secretary general woke up to a Wall Street Journal column by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, publisher of the influential InstaPundit website, urging that he be replaced by Vaclav Havel, the much-admired former president of the Czech Republic. bq. In The New York Times, op-ed eminence William Safire reviewed the revelations that link the massive oil-for-food scandal to Annan's own family: Until this year, his son Kojo was getting monthly payments from a firm that had a major oil-for-food contract with the UN -- even though he'd left the company in 1998. The corruption enveloping the UN will not begin to dissipate, Safire wrote, until Annan resigns, "having, through initial ineptitude and final obstructionism, brought dishonor on the Secretariat of the United Nations." bq. Meanwhile, the latest National Review was out, with its cover photo of Annan and the headline, in large red letters: "You're Fired!" An editorial inside insisted that "Annan should either resign, if he is honorable, or be removed, if he is not," while an essay by Nile Gardiner, a former aide to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, explained why "Kofi's hour is up." With his record, Gardiner observed, "if Annan were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company . . . he would have been forced to resign months ago." bq. On Wednesday came another call for Annan's ouster, this one from the chairman of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which has amassed evidence that Saddam Hussein used stolen oil-for-food dollars to underwrite terrorism and suborn at least one senior UN official. It is "abundantly clear" that Kofi Annan should resign, Senator Norm Coleman said. "As long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes, kickbacks, and under-the-table payments that took place under the UN's collective nose." Jeff goes on to cite a bunch of other examples of the United Nations failures and goes on to close with these three short, brilliant paragraphs: bq. The UN is a corrupt institution, one that long ago squandered whatever moral legitimacy it had. The UN's founding documents venerate justice and human rights, but for the past 40 years, the organization has been dominated by a bloc of states -- essentially the Afro-Asian Third World -- most of whose governments routinely pervert justice and violate human rights. bq. Inside the United Nations, there is no difference between a dictatorship or a democracy: Each gets exactly one vote in the General Assembly. The reason the UN indulges vicious regimes like those in North Korea, Syria, and Cuba is that they are members in good standing, and most other governments lack the courage to cross them. The UN cannot be fixed unless that changes -- and that isn't going to change. bq. Cynicism, hypocrisy, bigotry -- these are the hallmarks of the modern UN. The free peoples of the world, and those yearning to breathe free, deserve better. And what would be better? I'll take up that question in a future column. So true - the relevance of this organization is shot. Time to shut the Security Council down like its predecessor the League of Nations and spin off the few small committees that actually do good work...

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

We know about the Sandwich with the face of the Virgin Mary which recently sold on eBay. There is also the Hello Kitty one (both blogged about here) Here is your chance to jump on the bandwagon. Thanks to Scott at AMCGLTD we now know about: bq. Your Own / Personal / Cheesus Pleased to be presenting Your Customized Grilled Cheese Relic Builder. I personally like the cylon one. The site that Scott is linking to is the online Casino Golden Palace -- these are the people that bought the Virgin Mary sandwich for $28,000.

The Chicago way

Michael King at Ramblings Journal comments on one tactic to use with terrorists - The Chicago Way. From the Untouchables - Sean Connery to Kevin Costner: "You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send on of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone!" bq. How do you get the bad guys to stop? By upping the ante A new piece by David C. Atkins on WorldNetDaily takes the Untouchables tactic to get the Islamic terrorists to back off. bq. The name of the tactic is taken from a memorable line in the 1980s movie version of The Untouchables with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery: "You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send on of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone!" bq. Atkins' take uses that notion along with the Cold War concept of "Mutually Assured Destruction."
I propose that the U.S. immediately adopt and publish the following nuclear doctrine: In the event of a WMD attack by terrorists on the U.S. homeland or U.S. military facilities overseas, the U.S will immediately and without discussion use its immense nuclear weapons capabilities to destroy the 100 largest Islamic cities on earth, regardless of state, and destroy all of the military facilities of Islamic-dominated states. This will include all of the capitals and at least the 10 largest cities of all Islamic-dominated states and the "holy" cities of Mecca and Medina. In addition, North Korean cities and military installations will be destroyed. Now suddenly everybody from Casablanca, Cairo, Damascus, Riyadh, Tehran, Islamabad, Pyongyang and Jakarta have skin in the game. The last thing they want would be a WMD attack on the U.S. It would mean certain destruction of their societies. They might even be motivated to actually and feverishly work against Islamic terrorism instead of the tepid lip service they currently give. Those "freedom fighters" currently being cheered in the streets would be transformed to deadly threats in the very societies that spawned them.
An interesting idea. It would certainly get the attention of the governments but the problem is that many of these people simply are not rational and they might do something along the lines of "Kill them all and let Allah sort it out afterwords"

Cool new personal aid robots

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Hat tip to Gizmodo Toyota has released some information about their new line of robots. Included are two interesting-looking personal aid robots for people with mobility problems. The i-unit is a four-wheel robot with upright low-speed and a recumbent high-speed modes. The i-walk is a bipedal robot able to climb stairs. Very cool stuff - here's a photo:

"Global Warming"

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Sherry Keller writing at A Western Heart talks about a speech an MIT Meteorologist gave at the National Press Club: From the article: bq. An MIT meteorologist Wednesday dismissed alarmist fears about human induced global warming as nothing more than 'religious beliefs.' bq. "Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?" said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, in a speech to about 100 people at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. bq. "Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief," Lindzen said. His speech was titled, "Climate Alarmism: The Misuse of 'Science'" and was sponsored by the free market George C. Marshall Institute. Lindzen is a professor at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. bq. Once a person becomes a believer of global warming, "you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists -- except for a handful of corrupted heretics," Lindzen added. So true... The models used are flawed. Climate history is being ignored and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon because of the funding available. The (in)famous Mann 'Hockeystick' chart has been shown to be dead wrong. I blogged about it here. The supporting data with some very damning updates can be found here.

One Cool and One Clueless...

From The Australian Financial Review: Cool: bq. Thailand makes paper birds for peace Thailand's often irascible Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, has ordained an unusual effort to make peace with a restive Muslim minority: by making origami birds. bq. A flock of at least 63 million cranes - one Japanese-style water bird of folded paper for each Thai man, woman and child - will fly to the Muslim dominated south on Thai air force planes on Sunday, the birthday of the country's revered King, Bhumibol Adulyadej. bq. If all goes according to plan, the bomb-bay doors will open and a symbolic payload of peace will flutter to the populace below. bq. Mr Thaksin put his nation up to this exercise last month as a gesture to heal the wounds of Thailand's troubled southern provinces, a region dominated by Muslims. bq. More than 500 people there have been killed this year in violence among Muslims, Buddhists and police. According to Japanese tradition, paper cranes bring peace and hope to those who lay eyes on them. Emphasis mine... Clueless??? Care to take a guess??? bq. "These birds will mean nothing to the people here, even if you made them out of paper money," says Hama Mayunu Abdul, a Muslim civic leader who runs a chain of tiny radio stations in Narathiwat. "Don't they know that Muslims cannot worship symbols, only Allah?" Not even no worship, the devout Muslim cannot use symbols or graven images. Video and photography is an anathema to a true devout Muslim. You are not supposed to worship these, you are supposed to THINK! I have had the great pleasure in my life to know some true Muslims. The people causing the problems for everyone are medieval apostates and need to be put down like the pigs they are. True Muslims are a generous, open minded and gracious people. Here is a photo of the Cranes from Yahoo/Reuters
A Royal Thai air force private rests among some tens of millions of paper birds the air force is transporting from a hanger to planes in Bangkok on December 3, 2004. Bags full of the origami cranes, made all-over Thailand, are scheduled to be air-dropped in the Muslim majority southern Thailand on December 5, as part of a government campaign to promote peace in the restive south where nearly 500 have died this year. The air drop also coincides with Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulydej's 77th birthday. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Dutch Maoist Organization

Sweeeettt!!! Glen Reynolds links to this story about a phony Maoist organization that was run by the Dutch Secret Service for twelve years... (WSJ - subscription only dammit) bq. Set up and run by spooks in 1969, his party, the MLPN, had its own newspaper, De Kommunist, written and edited by the secret service. As well as Mr. Boev� playing Chris Petersen, the secretary-general, it had a chairman (another fraud) and a Central Committee stacked with secret agents. To add authenticity, the party let Mr. Wartena and a handful of other true believers join its otherwise nonexistent ranks, telling them that they were part of a network of underground cells. . . . bq. "I totally wasted 12 years of my life," says Paul Wartena, an ex-MLPN member who was so dedicated to the cause he used to donate 20% of his salary to the fake party. He says he "had some doubts now and then" about the MLPN but stayed loyal because "I was very naive and Mr. Boev� was such a good actor." Now a researcher at a university in Utrecht, Mr. Wartena wants Dutch intelligence to pay him back for all his donations. bq. Mr. Boev�, now 74, scoffs at his acolyte: "He was an idiot." Heh...

New Secretary of Homeland Security

And an excellent choice too. Bush announced this morning that he had nominated Bernard B. Kerik ex-NTC Police Chief to replace outgoing Tom Ridge. The NY Times has the story: bq. Bush Names Ex-Police Chief to Top Security Post President Bush today nominated Bernard B. Kerik, the street-savvy former New York City police commissioner, to replace Tom Ridge as secretary of homeland security, saying Mr. Kerik has the "background and the passion that are needed to protect all our citizens." bq. "I'm grateful he has agreed to bring his lifetime of security experience and skill to one of the most important positions in the federal government," Mr. Bush said of Mr. Kerik, who is subject to confirmation by the United States Senate. The homeland security post was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The attacks took a significant toll on New York's fire department and its police force, at a time when Mr. Kerik was the police commissioner of the city. His most recent job? Kerik went to Iraq last year at the behest of the White House to help the Iraqis set up a security force. Kerik and Giuliani personified what true leadership is all about during the recovery from 9/11. He is definitely the right person for this position...

Rock and Roll stories

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There is a wonderful tale evolving at ProSoundWeb Six parts so far - #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 The narrator is a major recording engineer working on a large album project. The names are fake but the stories are so so true... Here is a taste from Episode Six: bq. Harmon�s whiny voice is so piercing and so brutally annoying that sometimes I consider purchasing a chalkboard on which I could scrape my nails in order to drown out the sound of his voice. It�s that bad. Because of his unusually irritating voice, he has the unique capability of winning arguments with little to no resistance. The repelling nature of his voice was the antithesis of a Siren. In fact, I would like very much to see a battle between a Siren and Harmon Neenot, as I�m sure that he would emerge victorious. bq. Along with his annoying voice, Harmon has some atrocious manners. He farts constantly, which unfortunately, is his least egregious offense on good etiquette. I absolutely refuse to ever shake his hand as he constantly picks his butt, and as if that wasn�t bad enough, he will invariably smell his picking finger. If his hand isn�t somewhere near his ass, then one can usually find it planted firmly in the waistband of his pants, much like the character Al Bundy from the Married With Children TV show. He is so much a caricature of disgusting habits that one can�t help but focus on the humor of such blatant displays of grossness. Still, Harmon�s idiosyncrasies (OK, I�m being kind here, savor the sensitive moment) are relatively harmless, as long as you don�t touch him and as long as you�re not a woman. It�s the women that should avoid him like the plague, as proven by how he treats his girlfriend. bq. Harmon derives great pleasure from putting down his girlfriend. He calls her trailer trash to her face, which to me is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black. In his defense, however, I must say she IS trailer trash. I wouldn�t admit that to him though, as I could only imagine that might further encourage such statements. When she�d call him on his cell phone, he�d yell at her, calling her a bitch and telling her that he was busy. He would then proceed to tell her that she should know better than to call him when he�s busy. How does someone know that you�re busy when they�re calling you on the phone? And why would you answer the cell phone if you�re busy? But I didn�t dare ask him that for fear that I might have to listen to a 10-minute explanation of how she�s just a fucking whore and needs to be kept in her place. Just the thought of having to listen to him talk for that length of time is too much for me to bear. bq. Strangely, despite Harmon�s bad manners and poor behavior toward women, which I could easily chalk up to the results of poor upbringing; despite vocal chords that could rip through steel, which I couldn�t really hold him accountable for as that is the work of nature; yes, despite his many shortcomings Harmon was the member of the band I could tolerate the most. As much as it pains me to say this, all things being relative, he is without a doubt my favorite member of the band. Used to live in Boston and was doing sound for various groups as well as gigging a bit (keyboards). I know Harmon - did sound for him... Not the person in this story but one just like him. Don't do sound anymore.

Cool Government website:

Hi -- We are from the Government and we are here to help you... This does not need to be a horror story. This site: GovBenefits.GOV looks interesting. In their words: bq. " helps citizens access government benefit eligibility information through a free, confidential, and easy-to-use online screening tool. After answering some basic questions, the user receives a customized report listing the benefit programs for which the user, or person for whom he or she is entering information, may be eligible." I tried it with data from our Farm and it turned up some interesting links... No obligation, no confidential info needed. Check it out.


Scott at AMCGLTD links to Castle Magic. These are professional builders who have specialized in building... well... Castles They studied old-school castle architecture and are using modern building techniques so you have a structure that is earthquake proof, warm and dry and looks like no other building in the neighborhhod... Building costs are high (no-brainer considering the two-foot-thick walls) but not out of range for a luxury house. Hmmm... Jen and I are looking at building a tasting room and Cidery for our business. Maybe give these people a call -- what's a million or so. Here's one of theirs:
This puppy is actually for sale for $1.5 Mil. -- located at 5,000 elevation in Sandpoint, ID. Looks gorgeous.

The French and the Russians in 1998

Wretchard has another excellent analysis of the actions of France and Russia during the 1998 blockade of Iraq. bq. The November 1998 issue of Proceedings, the journal of the US Naval Institute is no longer online. However I discovered a cached copy on my hard disk in the process of cleaning it out. One of the articles it contained was the third part of a series of six entitled Five Fleets: Around the World with the Nimitz by Lieutenant Commander William R. Bray, U.S.N. The events of that long-ago blockade on Iraq before the War on Terror took on a fascinating aspect in retrospect. Bray describes how the Nimitz was taking part in a UN sponsored mission to contain Saddam Hussein. One of its tasks was to support a U-2 flight over Iraq that Saddam had threatened to shoot down. The U-2 was an American aircraft assigned to a United Nations mission. What Bray described next was how the French tracked the Nimitz task force almost certainly on behalf of Saddam. He goes on to quote from the article and gives two examples of French actions: bq. On 3 November, one of the Nimitz's escorts reported being overflown by a plane bearing similar characteristics to the French built Atlantique, a twin-propeller engine aircraft used for maritime surveillance and antisubmarine warfare. Task Force 50 assets were unable to positively identify the aircraft, although it appeared the plane tracked back to the west, either to Saudi Arabia or Qatar, following its mission. No Gulf country has the Atlantique. On 9 November, an Atlantique-type aircraft again flew a maritime patrol profile in the northern and central Arabian Gulf, even dropping a passive acoustic listening device near a U.S. submarine operating on the surface. This time the aircraft was tracked back to Doha, Qatar. It was later learned that two French Atlantiques, deployed to Djibouti on the Red Sea, had flown to Qatar on 29 October for a bilateral training mission. The French made no excuses for their activity, but it seemed strange that they should use a bilateral training exercise to fly maritime surveillance patrol against U.S. ships during a period of heightened tension. bq. Likewise, in early November, the French frigate Jean de Vienne mysteriously deviated from her published schedule, which called for port visits outside the Gulf, and instead loitered close to U.S. ships in the northern Arabian Gulf until the crisis abated. The Jean de Vienne never actually obstructed U.S. operations, but her presence and odd behavior were highly suspect and a public statement from the French mission in Kuwait that the Jean de Vienne was operating in close coordination with her coalition partners had a disingenuous ring to it.

Comments on the Left and Elitism

Dr. John Ray writing at A Western Heart has an interesting thought about what defines a leftist: bq. A prescient friend among serious Democrats explained last week what was wrong with his party and how it had contributed to liberalism's defeat on Nov. 2. He believes a growing majority of Americans simply don't trust Democrats because Democrats don't trust Mr. and Mrs. America to make sound decisions for themselves and their families. Blue-collar Americans believe liberals are anti-Christian and seek to suppress all public expression of religious beliefs, including school prayer. That they are amoral--or, as Irving Kristol once said, a liberal is someone who thinks it is all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a porn film so long as she is paid the minimum wage. bq. Liberals see themselves as self appointed Robin Hoods, but they are seen by red-county Americans as taking from the productive and giving to the indolent. They look down on average Americans as misguided and too dumb to know what is good for them and their families. Since such people are unlikely to make the right decisions, a wise government must do it for them. And of course the bigger the government, the better. He goes on with this for a bit and then cites an excellent example of the Right's ideas on the matter with this quote from Newt Gingrich: bq. Rather than applauding Hillary Clinton's telling them last summer that their taxes must be raised because "we're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good," they prefer Newt Gingrich's observation that the Declaration of Independence's Pursuit of Happiness includes an active verb: "Not happiness stamps; not a department of happiness; not therapy for happiness. Pursuit." So true...

Road Rage Cards

Scott at AMCGLTD links to a company that sells Road Rage Cards This is a spiral-bound book of various things you might want to convey to another driver. Each saying is printed in both right-reading and reverse-reading for those times when the driver is looking at you in their rear-view mirror. Here's a sample:

Kerry - not dead yet...

Blogger David Limbaugh reports that J.F. (wannabe) Kerry is calling for: bq. Say It Ain't So, John Kerry Worldnetdaily is reporting that Kerry is, in effect, reneging on his election concession to President Bush in that he is trying to join the lawsuit of the two third-party candidates seeking a recount in Ohio. The Green and Libertarian Parties initiated this frivolous suit. President Bush won Ohio by 136,000 votes. The Washington Post ran a similar story today. bq. Did any of you people really believe John Kerry was feeling statesmanlike when he momentarily acted statesmanlike and gracious during his concession speech? bq. I didn't believe it for a second, because of observing the character of the man throughout the campaign and having learned about what he did in the past. If he were capable of shame, he should be mightily ashamed of himself for following in Al Gore and the national Democratic Party's footsteps to continue to undermine American democracy. bq. It would be one thing if there were any credible allegations of substantial voter fraud that could have altered the election results. But just as in Florida, these are all trumped up lies used as last-ditch efforts to reverse the popular will. Because the Florida lower courts and Supreme Court, through their lawlessness, forcing the United States Supreme Court to put an end to their efforts to hijack the election, the 2000 election history was revised on the spot to conform to the Democrat myth that Republicans stole the election. Emphasis mine in the last quoted paragraph. We have yet to see any evidence of any co-ordinated effort from the Republicans to affect the election outcome in either the 2000 or the 2004 election. Memo to Demo: The demographics of this nation are changing and you folks are waaay behind the times.

Bobby Mugabe has a bright shiny new idea

El Supremo Elected President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has spent the last couple of years driving his country into the ground. He has a brilliant idea on how to bring in much needed cash (Zimbabwe was once one of the richest nations in Africa and a food exporter -- after Mugabe took over, it became a food importer.) Michael J. Totten delivers the goods: bq. Weirder Than Libya When you visit another country you meet other people who are also visiting the country. Inevitably you�ll discuss other places you�ve been. If you go to Costa Rica you�ll meet people who�ve been to Guatemala and Bolivia. Go to Cancun and you�ll meet people who like the Virgin Islands and Hawaii. Go to France and you�ll run into lots of people who talk about London, Prague, and Vienna. bq. So what happens when you bump into others in Libya? I met a photographer who spends every summer in Darfur. And I met a British guy named Felix who told me the next place he wants to go is North Korea. Shelly said she wants to go to North Korea, too. Felix grinned ear to ear. �It�s great to meet people who are open-minded about nuttiness,� he said. bq. My nutty �tourism� package is only a few days old. (I say �tourism� because although I went as a journalist, no one in Libya knew that.) I figured North Korea might be the only place left for me to go after Ghaddafi-stan. Well, no, not exactly. There is at least one more �tourism� package weirder than Libya but less freaky than North Korea. But I can�t go on this one because I am not fat.
ZIMBABWE has come up with a bizarre proposal to solve the food crisis threatening half its population with starvation. It wants to bring in obese tourists from overseas so that they can shed pounds doing manual labour on land seized from white farmers. The so-called Obesity Tourism Strategy was reported last week in The Herald, a government organ whose contents are approved by President Robert Mugabe�s powerful information minister, Jonathan Moyo. Pointing out that more than 1.2 billion people worldwide are officially deemed to be overweight, the article exhorted Zimbabweans to �tap this potential�. �Tourists can provide labour for farms in the hope of shedding weight while enjoying the tourism experience,� it said, adding that Americans spent $6 billion a year on �useless� dieting aids.
I had written about Bobby Mugabe before here. here. here. here. here. here and here...

One of Clinton's pardons

Ex-President Bill Clinton pardoned a bunch of people just before his departure from the White House. One of those was Marc Rich. The Big Trunk at PowerLine reports that Mr. Rich: bq. The return of Marc Rich ABC reports that one month after his presidential pardon, Marc Rich was a middleman for several of Iraq's suspect oil deals: "Americans' role eyed in U.N. oil scandal." From the ABC News article: bq. Former American fugitive Marc Rich was a middleman for several of Iraq's suspect oil deals in February 2001, just one month after his pardon from President Clinton, according to oil industry shipping records obtained by ABC News. bq. And a U.S. criminal investigation is looking into whether Rich, as well as several other prominent oil traders, made illegal payments to Iraq in order to obtain the lucrative oil contracts. And where is Mr. Rich (he was pardoned after all)? bq. Rich is still living in Switzerland and unavailable for comment. Lying scum -- profiting from the hurt of children and poor people...

The Other grilled Cheese Sandwich

You may have heard about the Grilled Cheese Sandwich with the toasted likeness of the Virgin Mary which sold on eBay recently for $28,000. Here's a photo of said snack:
Another Grilled Cheese Sandwich sold at auction on Nov. 25th - this one sold for $61 and bore a different likeness:
hellokitty.jpg (Click for larger image)
Hat tip to 101-280

Global Warming - a heads up...

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There is a very interesting perspective to Global Warming at Henry Thornton today: bq. As far as the earth is concerned, and from a geological perspective, 99% of the earth's mass is hotter than 1000 degrees Celsius, and 1% of the earth's mass cooler than 100 degrees celsius - statistics here. bq. The temperature of space is about 2.7 degrees Kelvin, or expressed in the Celsius scale, approximately -269 degrees Celsius. bq. Therefore the net heat loss from the earth to space is enormous, from which space could be thought as an almost infinite heat sink. And fluctuations of this heat source will overwhelm anything that humanity thinks it could contribute. bq. And why are we not being cooked to a frazzle on the earth's surface by this enormous mass of matter at a temperature greater than 1000 Degrees Celsius underneath us? bq. Since the temperature gradient between the earth and space is somewhat steep, one wonders about the scientific basis of climate science and the hypothetical construct of anthropogenic CO2 induced global warming, given the overwhelming contribution that the earth's interior makes to the surface temperature of the earth and to space's ability to absorb all this thermal energy. bq. Given the mass of the solid earth is somewhat greater than that of the atmosphere, of which 0.033 percent is CO2, a simple physics 101 calculation of the heat balance might suggest that the contribution by CO2 to the earth's surface temperature is, for practical purposes, irrelevant. bq. Are these scientific facts incorporated into the climate models? No, for which self respecting climatologist would study geology - the necessary background for miners of coal, oil, metals and industrial minerals.

WA Governors Race

Brian Crouch who runs the excellent Medved Fan Site fact checks the Democrat's claim of voting machine accuracy and come up with some interesting data - he writes at Sound Politics: bq. We have a clarification on the Democrats' claim (see the post below) that "The error for voting machines is somewhere between 1 and 2 percent". bq. This is from the Assistant Elections Director for Voter Services:
Mr. Crouch, The statement that the error rate for voting machines is between 1 and 2 percent is not correct. The Federal Election Commission standard for error rates on voting machines is one mistake in 1,000,000 ballots read by the machine. This is the standard used in Washington State for certification of voting systems. It is the human error rate that is higher. It is generally accepted that 1 to 2 percent of the VOTERS fail to mark their ballot so that the machine can read it. Many of these were captured during the original count or the machine recount, as the machines are set to outsort ballots that the machine cannot read. The procedure for that is that if the machine rejects the ballot, the canvassing board will determine the voter intent from the marks on it and then duplicate or enhance the ballot to reflect that determination. If I can help with any other questions, please let me know, or contact our voting systems specialist, Paul Miller at or 360-664-3442. Thanks for checking with us! Pamela Floyd Assistant Elections Director for Voter Services 360-586-4173
bq. Just to reiterate Gregoire's claims:
Let me put this race in a little more perspective. Out of nearly 3 million votes cast, only 42 votes separate my Republican opponent and me. That's a difference of 0.0014 percent. The error for voting machines is somewhere between 1 and 2 percent, or 1,000 times as great as the vote difference.
bq. So. We are being asked to reject the accuracy rate of 1 in a million errors, for a manual recount with an expected error rate of 1 to 2 in a hundred errors. What gets me is that Gregoire wants to cherry pick the counties counted. She wants King which is Democratic leaning and she does not want recounts in counties with Republican leaning. This is turning into an interesting election...

Day by Day is back!!!

Chris Muir, the cartoonist for Day by Day was recently dealt a really shitty hand in life's poker so he took a couple months off to deal with things. He is back with a commentary on MSM and Bloggers in Pajamas:

Oil Prices Plunge More Than $3 a Barrel

From Forbes Magazine bq. Oil prices plunged more than $3 a barrel Wednesday on the heels of a sharp decline in heating oil futures after the U.S. government reported large increases in the nation's fuel supply less than three weeks before the start of winter. bq. Light, sweet crude for January delivery fell $3.33 to $45.80 per barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. And more: bq. The Energy Department reported that U.S. crude oil inventories grew by 900,000 barrels last week to 293.3 million barrels, or nearly 10 million barrels higher than a year ago. These inventories are part of this Federal program: Strategic Petroleum Reserve During Clinton's administration, President Bill drained these reserves to keep gasoline prices artificially low. President Bush has been quietly refilling them so gas prices are a bit high for now. From this page on the site: bq. But due largely to rising federal deficits, the Clinton Administration in 1994 suspended the purchase crude oil on the open market. Oil imports to the United States continued to increase, however, and the protection offered by the Reserve -- then with an inventory of less than 600 million barrels -- steadily declined. President Bush's announcement from the White House: bq. President Orders Strategic Petroleum Reserve Filled The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is an important element of our Nation's energy security. To maximize long-term protection against oil supply disruptions, I am directing today the Secretary of Energy to fill the SPR up to its 700 million barrel capacity. Good to see that it's having its intended effect...

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