June 2005 Archives

Career Limiting Move

Willis Stephens, a Brewster, N.Y. Assemblyman probably wishes there was a "time-travel and delete" feature on his email. From WFTV News/AP:
Lawmaker's Wayward E-Mail Refers To Constituents As 'Idiots'
A New York state lawmaker says he's embarrassed, after he mistakenly sent out an e-mail message that referred to his constituents as "idiots."

Assemblyman Willis Stephens says he thought he was sending the e-mail to an aide.

Instead, he sent the note to nearly 300 people on an online discussion group that focuses on the community of Brewster.

The message included the comment that he was "just watching the idiots pontificate."

Within an hour of sending the message Monday morning, Stephens sent another e-mail apologizing for the slip-up.

Stephens, a Republican, represents an area north of New York City.
Oops... Probably very accurate but Oops just the same.
New advances in Positron Emission Tomography have allowed medical researchers to track people's thoughts as they are being scanned and map these to the overall image of the surface of the brain so the locus of thought can be established. Looks like this guy was using 100% of his cranial capacity. Click on the "Continue Reading" link below for the image: (NSFW)

Happy Birthday to you!!!

The beginning of modern Science as we know it?
By A. Einstein
June 30, 1905

It is known that Maxwell's electrodynamics--as usually understood at the present time--when applied to moving bodies, leads to asymmetries which do not appear to be inherent in the phenomena. Take, for example, the reciprocal electrodynamic action of a magnet and a conductor. The observable phenomenon here depends only on the relative motion of the conductor and the magnet, whereas the customary view draws a sharp distinction between the two cases in which either the one or the other of these bodies is in motion. For if the magnet is in motion and the conductor at rest, there arises in the neighbourhood of the magnet an electric field with a certain definite energy, producing a current at the places where parts of the conductor are situated. But if the magnet is stationary and the conductor in motion, no electric field arises in the neighbourhood of the magnet. In the conductor, however, we find an electromotive force, to which in itself there is no corresponding energy, but which gives rise--assuming equality of relative motion in the two cases discussed--to electric currents of the same path and intensity as those produced by the electric forces in the former case.

Examples of this sort, together with the unsuccessful attempts to discover any motion of the earth relatively to the "light medium," suggest that the phenomena of electrodynamics as well as of mechanics possess no properties corresponding to the idea of absolute rest. They suggest rather that, as has already been shown to the first order of small quantities, the same laws of electrodynamics and optics will be valid for all frames of reference for which the equations of mechanics hold good.1 We will raise this conjecture (the purport of which will hereafter be called the "Principle of Relativity") to the status of a postulate, and also introduce another postulate, which is only apparently irreconcilable with the former, namely, that light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c which is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body. These two postulates suffice for the attainment of a simple and consistent theory of the electrodynamics of moving bodies based on Maxwell's theory for stationary bodies. The introduction of a "luminiferous ether" will prove to be superfluous inasmuch as the view here to be developed will not require an "absolutely stationary space" provided with special properties, nor assign a velocity-vector to a point of the empty space in which electromagnetic processes take place.

The theory to be developed is based--like all electrodynamics--on the kinematics of the rigid body, since the assertions of any such theory have to do with the relationships between rigid bodies (systems of co-ordinates), clocks, and electromagnetic processes. Insufficient consideration of this circumstance lies at the root of the difficulties which the electrodynamics of moving bodies at present encounters.
It is always the most simple of revelations that are the most earth-shattering. So pure there can be no other explanation. Happy 100'th birthday relativity -- may you continue to make Physics so simple to understand!

A ten question quiz

See if Karl Rove was talking about you here. I got ten out of ten -- Karl was not talking about me. Actually eleven questions but you have to look carefully... I got 11 out of 11.

A commencement speech

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Doc Searls points to a fantastic commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace to the graduating class at Kenyon University. Talk about a wakeup call! Heh... One paragraph:
And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.
Read the whole thing -- as Doc said, "It's wise from front to back."

Active targets

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Wonderful story from Baghdad as reported by Billy McCormac at the Stockholm Spectator blog:
Two down...
Yesterday we noted that Ulf Hjertstr�m, the sexagenarian Swede who survived a 67-day kidnapping ordeal in Baghdad, reportedly was paying professional bounty hunters a handsome fee to track down his erstwhile captors. Expressen, a Swedish tabloid, picked up the story and got in touch with Hjertstr�m to get the lowdown.

Hjertstr�m, an oil broker whose career took him to Iraq 25 years ago, makes no bones about the decision to exact revenge on his abductors. "I�ve lived [in Iraq] for a long time. This is how things are done there. It�s nothing new to me," he says.

Hearty Hjertstr�m "doesn�t want to go into detail" about the bounty hunters, but assures Expressen that they are "the best money can buy."

"They�re not twiddling their thumbs," declares Hjertstr�m, revealing that he has "received confirmation that two of [the kidnappers] have already been taken care of." When asked to elaborate on the fate of the purportedly captured men, the Swede says he "hasn�t inquired" but has his "suspicions."

Many in Sweden have expressed shock and dismay at Hjertstr�m�s eye-for-an-eye approach. But the plucky pensioner claims that revenge is not his primary motive. "I just want the people of Baghdad to feel safe on the streets."

Giuliana Sgrena could not be reached for comment.
Heh -- He is right -- that is how it's done over there and good on him for taking the initiative... The ululation from the left will commence immediately. Hat tip to Charles at LGF

I had posted a few links showing that the daughter of Deep Throat is involved with cultist Franklin Jones and that Franklin Jones' main thing seems to be extracting large sums of cash from his followers while he lives in luxury on a private island with nine wives. Blogger Rogers Cadenhead ran into an article in the San Francisco Chronicle (scroll down towards the bottom):

Untold story: The big bucks are going for her father's tale, but Joan Felt, the Santa Rosa woman who persuaded her 91-year-old live-in dad to come out as Watergate's "Deep Throat," has quite an intriguing story of her own.

Susan Hales of Merrillville, Ind., phoned us the other day to say she'd spotted Felt on TV during the coverage of her dad, former FBI honcho Mark Felt. Joan Felt, she said, was the same "beautiful" woman who briefly took her in to her Santa Rose home years ago after they had spent some wild times as devotees of onetime Marin County spiritual sect leader Da Free John, a.k.a. Bubba Free John, a.k.a. Dau Loloma, a.k.a. Da Love-Ananda, a.k.a. Franklin Jones.

Hales remembered Joan Felt talking freely about her association with Da Free John, the son of a Long Island window salesman who claimed to be an "incarnation of God" and whose nine wives included a Playboy centerfold.

Finally, two readers left some comments that I think deserve a wider audience as they typify the sloppy logic of the left. Reader "Oh Dear" from New Zealand left the following:

It's a shame that you insist upon parading your ignorance and poverty of mind on the web, but that - for better or for worse - is one of the reasons the net exists, i guess.

If someone was looking for a definition of an Ad Hominem attack, this comment would be a good place to start. What ignorance and poverty of mind are you talking about? If you can see it to call me on it, you must be able to cite some examples. Show me where I am being ignorant. I call what I was doing "fact checking" and I was backing it up with "links to source data"... The second reader comment was from "tony" in Japan:

Why don't you put a photo of yourself on your blog and list under it all your qualifications re: spiritually?

Why don't you comment on your own limitations instead of muck raking about things you know almost nothing about.

Th statements you have made about Sri Adi Da are untrue, hearsay and I assure you to put it bluntly, ignorant.

Sri Adi Da owns nothing, He is a renunciate.

Why should my reports on a deceitful "guru" require my photo and personal qualifications for "guru-hood"? I am very much aware of my personal limitations but last I checked, they do not extend to fact finding and link clicking. I call bullshit on your protestations of untrue, hearsay and ignorant. The fact that he can claim to be renunciate is bookkeeping smoke and mirrors. He may not have a personal checking account but I bet that whatever little Frankie wants, little Frankie gets including nine wives, a gorgeous tropical island, gourmet foods... His followers will seemingly do anything to indulge his sensuality. I will repeat something from an earlier post: Great photo -- I am reminded of a horribly spoiled and self-indulgent five year old boy.



Some storm-chasers captured an awesome three-minute video of the birth of a tornado. Minnesota TV Station KARE-11 has it
Some politicians from Iran were visiting the EU headquarters in Brussels and their practices ruffled a few feathers. From Yahoo/Reuters:
No beer? No lunch!
A lunch meeting between a leading parliamentarian in Belgium and counterparts from Iran has been canceled because the beer-loving Belgian could not stomach a ban on alcohol.

"Even for the tolerant Herman De Croo, that was a bridge too far," De Croo, a Dutch-speaking Liberal, told De Standaard daily Thursday.

De Croo, president of parliament's lower house, had been due to entertain the speaker and members of the Iranian parliament Friday during their visit to Belgium -- famous for its diversity of beer brands.

But he said lunch had been canceled because the Iranians, who as Muslims do not drink alcohol, wanted their hosts to do the same.

"I did not receive such demands in writing. But ... I was indirectly asked not to serve alcohol," said De Croo.

The visit ran into further trouble after Iran's parliament speaker Gholamali Haddadadel insisted he would not shake hands with the female president of Belgium's Senate.

Anne-Marie Lizin, a Socialist, then canceled their meeting. She said in a statement that Iranians should respect local customs in Belgium, just as Belgians should in Iran.
Emphasis mine -- christ on a corn dog. When in Rome etc. etc. etc. These people are supposed to be politicians and to practice diplomacy. Maybe some good will come out of it and the Eurocrats will wake up to what these people are really like and what they really think of us...

An interesting race

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Hillary is getting an interesting competitor for her Senate post. From the Chicago Sun-Times/AP:
Nixon son-in-law moves to run against Clinton
Gearing up for a possible run for Senate against Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Richard Nixon's son-in-law Edward Cox announced the formation Wednesday of an exploratory committee that includes Henry Kissinger and other GOP elders.

The New York lawyer also accused Clinton of being "more concerned about the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire" than the needs of New Yorkers.

"She parachuted into New York solely for the reason of running for the Senate, and now she's running for the presidency," said Cox, who is married to Nixon's daughter Tricia. "How can she focus on the problems of New York when she's really thinking of running for the presidency?"
His dream team has some interesting names:
The exploratory committee includes Kissinger, Nixon's national security adviser and secretary of state; Theodore Roosevelt IV, former chairman of the League of Conservation Voters and a managing director at Lehman Brothers, and William H. Taft, a former ambassador to NATO and legal adviser to the State Department.
That will be an interesting one to watch. If she looses the Senate seat, getting traction to run for President will be that much harder...

A moving experience

I posted a story at our commercial site about scoring some apple processing equipment and how I had to rent a trailer to move it.

I had rented it from the local U-Haul franchise in Bellingham but I had a very bad experience with them and will not be using them again in the future.

While I was returning the trailer yesterday, a wheel bearing on my truck failed. Five miles away from home everything was fine and then something started making noise. I tried limping along at 20 MPH but another couple of miles and it sounded like I was crushing gravel.

I called Jen to give her a heads up on what was happening and then called the U-Haul office to see what they could do.

It turns out that they had a tow truck and would be able to recover the trailer. (I have AAA for the truck but they would not deal with a truck and a trailer -- I had to get the trailer off first.)

I asked how much it would be and the guy on the phone didn't know -- he would have to figure it out (I was about 20 miles from their store). I asked if it would be more than $50 and was told no -- it would not be that much.

About an hour later, the u-Haul truck shows up and then I have AAA tow the truck into a local garage for repair.

Jen comes into town to give me a ride back. We stop into the U-Haul office to make sure that everything is fine and we are told that the towing fee was $70 and that the tow truck driver told me that this was the cost.

Point One: The tow truck driver didn't say anything about the price. He was the same guy I spoke with on the phone who told me that it would be under $50.
Point Two: Had I known in advance that the charge would be $70, I would have had Jen borrow a truck from one of our neighbors. Worst case scenario, I would have had her drive me to Home Depot where I can rent a truck for $20 for four hours -- she had to come into town anyway to pick me up.
Point Three: We have the most basic cheapest AAA membership and I had to pay for the truck to be towed into town. The charge for that was only $30

I have rented trailers from that U-Haul several times before for moving milk tanks and other equipment. I will not be renting from them ever again...

I'm shocked and awed...

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The American Library Association rolls over on its back and enters full moonbat mode:
ALA Council Calls for Withdrawal from Iraq
The Council of the American Library Association (ALA) has passed a resolution that calls for the withdrawal from Iraq of all U.S. military forces and a return of full sovereignty to the people of Iraq. The resolution passed June 29 during the annual conference of ALA in Chicago. The resolution further urges the U.S. government to switch its budgetary priorities from the occupation of Iraq to the improved support of vital domestic programs and calls upon the government to provide material assistance through the United Nations for the reconstruction of Iraq, including its museums, libraries, schools, and other cultural institutions. The resolution will be sent to all members of Congress, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, President, and the press. The Council is the governing body of ALA and determines all policies for the association.
'Scuse me but don't you fine folks 'do books' for a living? Try reading some of them sometime -- history would be an excellent place to start, Europe from around the 1920's through 1950's would be a great place to start. Check out this little turd for a place to start and realize that his work caused hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths...

72 raisins

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This has come up before but there is a new book that explores this in quite some detail... Islamofascist "Martyrs" (shahids) are allowed to kill themselves if their deaths promote the Jihad (struggle). Otherwise, in Islam, suicide is verboten. Shahids are given a little bit of extra encouragement to sign up by being promised a rather cushy afterlife including 72 dark-eyed virgins. It turns out that there might be a wee problem with the translation of some older source documents. The Guardian has a review of a new book that explores this in quite some detail:
Virgins? What virgins?
It is widely believed that Muslim 'martyrs' enjoy rich sensual rewards on reaching paradise. A new study suggests they may be disappointed.

In August, 2001, the American television channel CBS aired an interview with a Hamas activist Muhammad Abu Wardeh, who recruited terrorists for suicide bombings in Israel. Abu Wardeh was quoted as saying: "I described to him how God would compensate the martyr for sacrificing his life for his land. If you become a martyr, God will give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness." Wardeh was in fact shortchanging his recruits since the rewards in Paradise for martyrs was 72 virgins. But I am running ahead of things.

Since September 11, news stories have repeated the story of suicide bombers and their heavenly rewards, and equally Muslim scholars and Western apologists of Islam have repeated that suicide is forbidden in Islam. Suicide (qatlu nafsi-hi) is not referred to in the Koran but is indeed forbidden in the Traditions (Hadith in Arabic), which are the collected sayings and doings attributed to the Prophet and traced back to him through a series of putatively trustworthy witnesses. They include what was done in his presence that he did not forbid, and even the authoritative sayings and doings of his companions.
The reviewer then talks about some of the inconsistencies in the Koran and supporting texts and gives a few examples. He then goes on to the book:
This naturally leads to the most fascinating book ever written on the language of the Koran, and if proved to be correct in its main thesis, probably the most important book ever written on the Koran. Christoph Luxenberg's book, Die Syro-Aramaische Lesart des Koran, available only in German, came out just over a year ago, but has already had an enthusiastic reception, particularly among those scholars with a knowledge of several Semitic languages at Princeton, Yale, Berlin, Potsdam, Erlangen, Aix-en-Provence, and the Oriental Institute in Beirut.

Luxenberg tries to show that many obscurities of the Koran disappear if we read certain words as being Syriac and not Arabic. We cannot go into the technical details of his methodology but it allows Luxenberg, to the probable horror of all Muslim males dreaming of sexual bliss in the Muslim hereafter, to conjure away the wide-eyed houris promised to the faithful in suras XLIV.54; LII.20, LV.72, and LVI.22. Luxenberg 's new analysis, leaning on the Hymns of Ephrem the Syrian, yields "white raisins" of "crystal clarity" rather than doe-eyed, and ever willing virgins - the houris. Luxenberg claims that the context makes it clear that it is food and drink that is being offered, and not unsullied maidens or houris.

In Syriac, the word hur is a feminine plural adjective meaning white, with the word "raisin" understood implicitly. Similarly, the immortal, pearl-like ephebes or youths of suras such as LXXVI.19 are really a misreading of a Syriac expression meaning chilled raisins (or drinks) that the just will have the pleasure of tasting in contrast to the boiling drinks promised the unfaithful and damned.

As Luxenberg's work has only recently been published we must await its scholarly assessment before we can pass any judgments. But if his analysis is correct then suicide bombers, or rather prospective martyrs, would do well to abandon their culture of death, and instead concentrate on getting laid 72 times in this world, unless of course they would really prefer chilled or white raisins, according to their taste, in the next.
Enjoy your raisins guys -- couldn't be happening to a nicer bunch of people...

A fun list

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From the ever interesting Wikipedia comes this list: List of people widely considered eccentric From the website:
Definition of eccentricity
Eccentricity is necessarily defined relatively. For the purposes of this article, an eccentric is someone whose behavior, beliefs and/or hobbies deviate in a significant way from the accepted norms of their society, but otherwise can function largely as normal in society. He or she may be regarded as strange, odd or at least unconventional, irregular and erratic. Other people may regard the eccentric with apprehension but also with amusement.
They break it out by category: Architects, Aristocrats, Artists, Athletes, Business, Entertainers, Political leaders, Inventors, Occultists, Pranksters, Religious figures, Scholars and scientists, Writers and Others A small excerpt of the people included: William John Cavendish Bentinck-Scott Edward Leedskalnin "Judge" Roy Bean Wendy Carlos Brigid Berlin And many more -- a fascinating look into some of the more interesting minds out there...

Squeaking wheel? Meet Grease!

Two wonderful links regarding the Mann, et. al. 'paper' relating the abrupt and recent rise in global temperatures. And the great curiosity of the United States Committee on Energy and Commerce. Here is the Hockey Stick graph that started it all overlaid with some corrected data:
Click for full-size Image
From Paul at Wizbang comes the overview:
Hockey Stick Graph Creators Iced
Steve Verdon over at OTB gives us good news. It appears that Mann et. al. have drawn the attention of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

They have a few questions to ask.
1) Your curriculum vitae, including, but not limited to, a list of all studies relating to climate change research for which you were an author or co-author and the source of funding for those studies.
2) List all financial support you have received related to your research, including, but not limited to, all private, state, and federal assistance, grants, contracts (including subgrantsor subcontracts), or other financial awards or honoraria.
3) Regarding all such work involving federal grants or funding support under which you were a recipient of funding or principal investigator, provide all agreements relating to those underlying grants or funding, including, but not limited to, any provisions, adjustments, or exceptions made in the agreements relating to the dissemination and sharing of research results.
There are a few more line items from the E&C and then, Paul closes:
I'm guessing the creators of the global warming hockey stick are --shall we say-- pucked.
Next up is Back40 at Crumb Trail who goes in for the long and deep view:
Drop Trou
The US House Committee on Energy is snoufling around a hornet's nest.
As reported briefly yesterday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has requested information from Michael Mann (and collaborators) and the heads of IPCC and NSF. The tone of the letters places House E&C essentially in ethics investigation mode...
The bone of contention is Michael Mann's infamous hockey stick and his surly refusals to cooperate with critics and release his data and methods so that they can be analyzed independently. There are other concerns about oversight and review since Mann both did the study and wrote the report that reviewed it for the IPCC. Congress is legitimately involved since they did some funding.
Whatever climatology scientists think of this concern, and whatever IPCC insiders know about its legitimacy, this is absolutely an appropriate concern of Congress, which should be doing a lot more oversight into conflict of interest . . . The ultimate consumer of IPCC information is Congress and other major decision-making bodies. If Congress hears that there are questions about the information that they have been given, especially concerning such a politically touchy issue, it is their prerogative to investigate.
However, the usual suspects are in full shriek mode claiming abuse of power and political motivations. It's not abuse, it's congress doing its job for a change. If anything the complaint should be that they aren't doing such things well enough or often enough. Some of the objections seem pretty silly and not surpisingly, politically motivated. What a surprise, each side has political motives.
Time to say goodbye to an outdated trope? Time to read some history books? 900's and 1480's-1560's would be a great place to start. Welcome to this planet -- the only constant is change...


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Very cool alternative to [Shft]+[PrintScreen]: Cropper
Lots of options, very classy and it's freeware... What is not to love!

Moron Mao More on Mao...

I had written about a very interesting book here: "Mao more than ever"

Now, thanks to Roger L. Simon, we find that the book is gaining traction. Here are two links worth looking at: The first one is from Japundit:

Pictures of Chairman Mao
At 814 pages, it may be a bit heavy for summertime reading - and may take the entire summer to get through - but Mao, the Unknown Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, seems to be a book that should be required reading for anyone interested in East Asia.

The second one is a Book Review from The Japan Times

The Red emperor's new clothes
Latest study on Mao exposes the true scale of his oppression

It is savagely ironic that just when China is viciously attacking Japan for trying to rewrite its history, here is a book that claims that the whole official history of the revered founding father of Communist China is a myth written to cover up the evil of a monster.

The authors, Jung Chang, who wrote the best-selling "Wild Swans," and her husband Jon Halliday, estimate that Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong) was responsible for killing 70 million of his own people in his determination to enforce his rule over China. This is far more than Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin, who are widely recognized as evil dictators. Yet Mao's portrait still has pride of place overlooking Tiananmen Square at the entrance to the historic Forbidden City, seat of power of Chinese emperors.

This is a nuclear weapon of a book: It devastates the reputation of Mao and most of his henchmen, and raises questions about the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party. Among the authors' claims:
  • The famous "Long March," under which the barefoot Communist armies beat a retreat from Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang (KMT or Nationalist) armies surrounding them, was inglorious. Chiang let the Red armies go. He needed them as a buffer against warlords in Guizhou and Sichuan and was constrained because Stalin held his son Chiang Ching-kuo as a hostage in Moscow.
  • Mao and his leading comrades never actually marched, since they were carried in litters and generally treated "like landlords."
  • The renowned battle of the crossing of the Dadu River was a myth. Supposedly the Reds, under KMT machine-gun fire, bravely crossed a bridge that had been set on fire with its planks removed so that they had to pull themselves across using the incandescent chains. A 93-year-old eyewitness said the Red soldiers borrowed doors and coffin lids to replace planks that had been broken, but there was no attack and no deaths at the bridge.
  • Mao never tried to pit his Reds against the Japanese: He was too busy plotting to destroy his own rival commanders and to maneuver Stalin to help give him control of China on a plate.
  • In Yenan in 1941, Mao funded his operations by turning 30,000 acres of fertile land to opium production.

Much more at the Japan Times site. It is interesting that the left holds Mao up as a god when he is just another stinking turd in the punchbowl of life...

He and many other very cool products are featured on this website: Uncrate
Uncrate bills itself as:
Uncrate is a web magazine for guys who love stuff. Our team finds the best gadgets, clothes, cars and more so you can blow your rent money easier.
They choose items with strong and good design but I bet that Jen is drooling over a few of these items too. Not just for men. Added to the Blogroll under "Geek Stuff"

New Telephone Technology

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The auction has closed (winning bid $10.56) so I don't know how much longer eBay will keep this online but this was an auction for a classic bit of telephone technology.

I present the Sysco IP Phone Model TC-04 by BubbaTel:


From the eBay description:

You are bidding on a genuine authentic Sysco IP Phone Model TC-04 by BubbaTel. This model has the following features and capabilities:
  • VOIP Capable! - Voice is actually transmitted via UTP Cat5e
  • State of The Art Security - Almost Impossible To "Listen Into Encrypted Conversations"
  • Premium Quality Half Duplex Audio - Receiver Is Also The Microphone
  • High Tech VOIP voice processor - I mean come on just look at it!
  • Echo Reduction Unit Comes Pre Installed To Prevent That "Tin Can Sound" That Often Accompanies VoIP Telephones.
  • Optional On Hold System Can Be Utilized By Simply Hanging The Unit On A Nail In The Wall (Nail Not Included).
  • Waiting On Hold Music Is Available By Placing Unit Near Radio or Other Audio Source (Radio Not Included).
  • Beveled Edges To Prevent Harmful Cuts While Speaking Or Listening.
  • Perfect For Short Distance Communication! 2.5 Feet Of Cord Provided
  • Could Possibly Work With Any Key System, PBX, or IP System: Vodavi, Nortel, Cisco, Avaya ect. Although neither me nor Bubba Tel is responsible for any adverse effects or damage that may be incurred to your telephone or intra network if not installed by a Bubba Tel Representative.
  • Caller ID Could Be Possible, If Holes Were Drilled Into Each Side Of the Unit.
  • WiFi / 802.xx / Blue Tooth / UHF / VHF / Ham Radio / 101.9 WJHM / AM / FM / AM PM / EST / 900 Mhz Ready! All you have to do is cut the cord!
  • IR (Infared) Capable With Optional Flashlight (Not Included)

We could use one of these puppies around the farm! Hat tip to BoingBoing


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Want a definition of Irony? Read the following press release from Freestar Media:
Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Caf�" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.
Sweet! Of course, it is at the initial stages but this would be ironic if the five Selectmen decide to go along with it. Weare is located in south central New Hampshire, close to Mass. The town has about 8,000 people. A hotel would work well. The only objections might come from other townspeople -- they might need to change the zoning for the lot.

Community Service and a Barber's Tale

Swiped from Madfish Willies:

Community Service
One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he asked about his bill and the barber replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing community service this week."

The florist is pleased and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber goes to open there is a thank you card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing community service this week."

The cop is happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber goes to open up there is a thank you card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Later a Republican comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing community service this week."

The Republican is very happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber goes to open, there is a thank you card and a dozen different books such as "How to improve your business" and "Becoming more successful".

Then a Democrat comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing community service this week."

The Democrat is very happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen Democrats lined up waiting for a free haircut.

Heh... Maybe there is a reason why they are such a wonderful target.

Cool site

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Check out BrowserSpy This is a website that can tell you a lot of information about your system -- bandwidth speed, status and versions of ActiveX, Acrobat, Java, Flash, etc., security issues and some SPYware, Virii, etc... An interesting peek into your system. Hat tip to the Physics Geek A good compliment to Steve Gibson's ShieldsUP

The Throne Room

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Only $70 from here -- fun idea...
This article at Front Page Magazine details some of the abuse that people at the Guantanamo Bay prison suffer through. An eyewitness account:
What I Saw at Gitmo
Last week, I was privileged to be part of a Department of Defense trip to the Joint Task Force - Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I got to see the operations of this "controversial" facility up-close � something particularly important after Sen. Richard Durbin�s comparison of its guard to Nazi stormtroopers and calls of leftists to shut the center down. Our group went to GITMO to check out tales that the military was being too tough on these terrorist detainees. We left convinced that America is being extraordinarily lenient � far too lenient.

After speaking with soldiers, sailors, and civilians who collectively staff Gitmo, I left convinced that abuse definitely exists at the detention facilities, and it typically fails to receive the press attention it deserves: it�s the relentless, merciless attacks on American servicemen and women by these terrorist thugs. Many of the orange jumpsuit-clad detainees fight their captors at every opportunity, openly bragging of their desire to kill Americans. One has promised that, if released, he would find MPs in their homes through the internet, break into their houses at night, and "cut the throats of them and their families like sheep." Others claim authority and vindication to kill women, children, and other innocents who oppose their jihadist mission authorized by the Koran (the same one that hangs in every cell from a specially-designed holder intended to protect it from a touching the cell floor � all provided at U.S. taxpayer expense). One detainee was heard to tell another: "One day I will enjoy sucking American blood, although their blood is bitter, undrinkable�." These recalcitrant detainees are known euphemistically as being "non-compliant." They attack guards whenever the soldiers enter their cells, trying to reach up under protective facemasks to gouge eyes and tear mouths. They make weapons and try to stab the guards or grab and break limbs as the guards pass them food.
Emphasis mine. These are not spiritually advanced people. These are morally bankrupt souls who would pass most Psychiatric evaluations for insanity and delusional behavior with flying colors. There is nothing noble about them or their 'cause'. The really sad thing is that if there was not such a culture of self-failure and blame in the middle east, these would probably be our best friends. I have met many sane people who worship Allah and they are wonderful, warm and gracious people. The people (the Islamofascists) are a very vocal minority who are being led by theocrats who lust for power and have no qualms about keeping their own people repressed and ignorant to maintain that power and to keep a standing army of cannon-fodder...

Another web test:

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I am:
The Stupid Quiz said I am "Totally Smart!" How stupid are you? Click here to find out!
Some good questions. Trick? No -- read them first.

Satellite imagery of Zimbabwe

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here is 2K worth of the current political situation in Zimbabwe under Mugabe from The Prudent Investor:
PICTURE: Left shows a shantytown in Mbare south of Harare that is missing on the right picture. 2 million people are homeless in the middle of the African winter.
Also, a photo of Bobby Mugabe's $15M new crib:
And the caption:
The world must not remain quiet in the face of an unprecedented act of barbarism from an aging despot who builds himself a 110-room mansion for 15 millions US dollars at the same time this is happening. Half of the starving population of Zimbabwe depends on foreign aid.
A tip of the hat to BoingBoing UPDATE: The Bearded Man has higher resolution imagery of the same area. Sickening. Here are the two images there at low resolution -- you can visit TBM's site and see even more detail. These were homes that were bulldozed and burned by Mugabe and nobody in the 'Global Community' are raising their voices! Shades of Saddam and his Kurdish 'problem'

Going to Pot

medGadget has a timeline of references for Medicinal uses of Pot:

Marijuana As Medicine: A Short History
With the recent SCOTUS decision on medical marijuana and our coverage of a possible nonmedgadget, and as a part of our regular Friday "The Good Old Days..." feature, we have decided to take a look into the history of cannabis as medicine. Conveniently enough, CBS 5 TV of SF/Oakland/San Jose (where else?) brings us a short list titled "The History Of Marijuana As Medicine", part of which we reproduce below:

2737 BC -- Emperor Shen-Nung in China prescribes cannabis for beri-beri, constipation, 'female weakness,' gout, malaria, rheumatism and absentmindedness.

2000 BC -- In Egypt, cannabis is used to treat sore eyes.

1400 BC -- A Bronze Age drug trade supplied hashish and opium to ancient cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean as balm for the pain of childbirth and disease.

1000 BC -- Cannabis use begins in India to overcome hunger and thirst by the religious mendicants.

1000 BC -- Bhang, a cannabis preparation (a drink, generally mixed with milk) is used as an anesthetic and anti-phlegmatic in India.

200 BC -- In ancient Greece, cannabis is used as a remedy for earache, edema, and inflammation.

200 AD -- A Chinese physician, Hoa-Tho, prescribes cannabis as an analgesic in surgical procedures.

800 AD -- Mohammed allows cannabis but forbids alcohol.

1000 AD -- Moslems produce hashish as medicine.

1621 -- The medical book The Anatomy of Melancholy by English clergyman Robert Burton claims cannabis is a treatment for depression.

And many many more...

I don't use it, it puts me to sleep with unpleasant dreams but I do not consider it to be as evil as the current crop of legislators paint it to be and there seem to be some major medical benefits for its use.

In my thoughts, the US Government could make great advances in the "drug war" if they legalized it but licensed it and taxed it.

They could deliver several standardized products through the same channels as are used for Liquor distribution, derive tax revenue from them.

Someone driving under the influence (a simple chemical test) would be subject to the same penalties as driving over the BAC limit. The customer would be assured of a standardized product, no surprises, no rip-offs, no hassles from 'The Man'. What's not to love?

Of course, any criminals involved in distribution would loose money so they would not be happy.

But criminals do not influence the Government now, do they? Crime Lords and Senators? Naaaa...

An update to an earlier post

It is a strange world sometimes. I had written this post: "One Question and One Answer" a few days ago about China's announcement of an ICBM that could target sites in the USA. Now today, Bill Gertz comes up with this bit of forecasting:
Chinese dragon awakens
China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials.

U.S. defense and intelligence officials say all the signs point in one troubling direction: Beijing then will be forced to go to war with the United States, which has vowed to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.

China's military buildup includes an array of new high-technology weapons, such as warships, submarines, missiles and a maneuverable warhead designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses. Recent intelligence reports also show that China has stepped up military exercises involving amphibious assaults, viewed as another sign that it is preparing for an attack on Taiwan.

"There's a growing consensus that at some point in the mid-to-late '90s, there was a fundamental shift in the sophistication, breadth and re-sorting of Chinese defense planning," said Richard Lawless, a senior China-policy maker in the Pentagon. "And what we're seeing now is a manifestation of that change in the number of new systems that are being deployed, the sophistication of those systems and the interoperability of the systems."
I can certainly see why they want Taiwan -- Taiwan has the ISO 9000 factories, the quality of build. The motherboard in the computer you are using now probably came from Taiwan. I do wood and metal working -- tools from China are "lots of heavy cast iron but little 'precision'" and the tools from Taiwan are lots of precision and a well engineered quantity of cast alloy. More expensive (is it???) but much better quality. Much less time spent on maintenance. Taiwan is also a fiercely independent Democracy. It is not China and I do not think that its people will submit willingly to Communist Overlords. Bill Gertz' article has a sobering Coda:
Michael Pillsbury, a former Pentagon official and specialist on China's military, said the internal U.S. government debate on the issue and excessive Chinese secrecy about its military buildup "has cost us 10 years to figure out what to do"

"Everybody is starting to acknowledge the hard facts," Mr. Pillsbury said. "The China military buildup has been accelerating since 1999. As the buildup has gotten worse, China is trying hard to mask it."

Richard Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said that in 10 years, the Chinese army has shifted from a defensive force to an advanced military soon capable of operations ranging from space warfare to global non-nuclear cruise-missile strikes.

"Let's all wake up. The post-Cold War peace is over," Mr. Fisher said. "We are now in an arms race with a new superpower whose goal is to contain and overtake the United States."
Been wondering about the cost of steel these days? Look to China because they have started buying a lot more than they used to. Cost of Gas? Same. The Gasoline issue is interesting as it seems that they are building up a large reserve as they are buying more than they expend for industrial and transportation uses. They are building a surplus to last them for several years...

An odd way to go...

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Very high cringe-factor but a unique way to commit suicide. Superglue. From the Associated Press as reported by WFMY News:
Suicide By Super Glue
A man killed himself by sealing his mouth and nose with super glue.

A young Thai man with a history of moodiness has killed himself by gluing his mouth and nose shut with super glue.

Bangkok police say the young man's body was found Thursday morning in his bedroom, apparently after suffocating overnight.

They say a small amount of cash and a note saying "Here is all that I have, take what you please" were also found on the bed.

The man's family told police he had argued with his sister Wednesday, over some money she borrowed and did not repay.

He then went into his bedroom, where his body was found ten hours later.
Gaaahhh... I think of all the ways to go, suffocation is the one that gives me the blue-blind paralytic willies. To do this voluntarilly...

Peace and Quiet

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The last of our houseguests have pulled out the driveway, the last load of dishes is in the dishwasher and Jen and I are able to kick back, relax and veg out on our computers... The usual level of posting will resume in a few hours -- building a blacksmithing forge and want to put in a few hours on that.

Backing up critical files

There is a long thread on Slashdot regarding ways to back up critical files, espeically long ones (video). Lots of great ideas and opinions but this one caught my eye:

The cheapest way
Rename all of the files so they have filenames like "Teen_Lesbian_fff_Hot!Hot!Hot!.avi". Now make them available through your favorite p2p service. Even better, prepend these files with short snippets of pr0n. You'll find that years later you can kick up just about any p2p client and you'll find your files are still available.


Busy today...

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As I had mentioned earlier here, the next couple of days are going to be a bit nuts. Had cataract surgery yesterday and Saturday, we are playing host to 15-20 people for a first annual Solstice party. They are descending tomorrow to go hiking, drink our homemade mead and cider, eat some jerk chicken and cook some hamburgers and talk about hiking and everything else. This is a camp-out too so we are doing a potluck breakfast as well. Jen and I have known these people for several years and they are a great group. They have monthly "socials" but since these are held in the Seattle area, we don't always get to go down. Looking forward to this. I'll be blogging a bit tonight but the entries over the next two days will be thin on the ground.

One Question and One Answer

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Our "Missile Defense System" is an expensive boondoggle that doesn't work and should be scrapped. Except that it is getting better and we need it. Question: Do we need it? Answer: here
China achieves ICBM ability to strike US
China has achieved intercontinental missile strike capability from land or from a submarine, enabling it for the first time to target parts of the US from the Chinese coast, a report said on Wednesday. China has had land-based capability for quite some time with the DF-31 missile.

About 10 days ago, it flight-tested a JT-2 missile�a submarine version of the DF-31�and it proved the same capability of hitting a target 6,000 miles away. The successful flight-testing of the submarine-launched missile, US officials said, marks a major advance in Beijing�s long-range nuclear programme.

The test�monitored by American intelligence agencies� "is a significant milestone in their effort to develop strategic weapons," a US official said. The JL-2 intercontinental missile was launched from a Chinese submarine near the Port of Qingdao and tracked to a desert impact point in western China several thousand miles away, the US said.
And the USA Missile Defense System is needed why? And the Chinese Offensive Missile System is needed why? There will be a quiz on Wednesday...

The Supreme Court and Land Grabs

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Cox and Forkum nail the recent Kelo decision by the Supreme Court (5-4).
05.06.23.PropertyWrongs-X.gifClick for full-size Image
The Kelo case deals with the rights of property owners and "the good of the community" -- can local governments seize homes and businesses and turn them over to private developers. Law Professor Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has been on a roll with lotsa of links on the subject here, here with this wonderful comment from a reader:
This ruling leaves open the possibility that the City of Detroit can take away the factories of General Motors (who knows how to lose money) and award them to Toyota (who knows how to make money). Given GM's woefull book value, the factories could be had for literally a steal, and the tax revenues would be immense.
and here. Go and read -- I'll be here when you get back!

Insane Corporate Efficiency

David St. Lawrence writes at Ripples -- a blog I read several times a week. He was involved in business management and is now semi-retired, working for his wife's woodworking business and has just had his first management book published. He has been writing about Corporate Efficiency and some of the insane behavior that results. Today, Part 3 was published. Here are the links to the three (so far) parts: Link to Part One Link to Part Two Link to Part Three He starts off in the first part with trying to define insanity:
According to Einstein, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Another definition of insanity is non-sequiter responses to communication or situations

Another definition of insanity is continued non-survival behavior.

Another is the inability to understand the nature and consequences of ones acts.

Still another definition, insanity is when you try to make reality conform to your views, rather than to conform your views to reality.
He then asks:
When was the last time you talked to a Customer Service Rep and got mechanically scripted answers that did not apply to your questions?

When was the last time you talked to your boss about your performance and got meaningless gobbledygook?

When was the last time you encountered the Phone Tree From Hell when you had a problem that required a human answer?

When was the last time you were in a weekly staff meeting that made no sense?

When was the last time you attempted to point out that a proposed design or product had already been soundly criticized by existing customers?
It gets better from there (although this is really good itself). David is a wonderful writer and his blog is worth checking out.

Back from the eye doctor

Just got back home from the eye doctor and the surgery went very well.

I'm seeing from the eye and although the vision has halos and weird chromatic aberrations around bright high-contrast things, the vision is outstanding for detailed objects at a moderate distance -- much much better than before.

The other vision weirdness is the same thing I had when I had the right eye operated on and it goes away in a few days. I got videotapes of both operations and they really torque the eyeball around during surgery -- it looks like a partially filled beachball being played with by a rat terrier.

I would be very surprised if the eye didn't take a few days to regain its normal shape and vision...

Jen and I were very impressed by the quality of the doctors and support staff -- if you need any sort of eye surgery, either cataract or refractive, you could not do better than to check these people out: Pacific Laser and Cataract Institute.

A speech by Hillary Clinton

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Here is the transcript of a speech given by Hillary D. Rodham as she graduated from Wellesley College in 1969. Interesting foreshadowing of her current politics. A few excerpts:
...and I find myself in a familiar position, that of reacting, something that our generation has been doing for quite a while now. We're not in the positions yet of leadership and power, but we do have that indispensable task of criticizing and constructive protest...
I love that line -- "not in the positions yet of leadership and power" Pure Queen Hillary
Our love for this place, this particular place, Wellesley College, coupled with our freedom from the burden of an inauthentic reality allowed us to question basic assumptions underlying our education. Before the days of the media orchestrated demonstrations, we had our own gathering over in Founder's parking lot. We protested against the rigid academic distribution requirement. We worked for a pass-fail system. We worked for a say in some of the process of academic decision making.
So an 18 year old knows more about establishing an academic curriculum and maintaining a set of tests than a professionally trained Educator. One more:
And then respect. There's that mutuality of respect between people where you don't see people as percentage points. Where you don't manipulate people. Where you're not interested in social engineering for people. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences. And the word "consequences" of course catapults us into the future.
Boy she sure lost that one a long time ago. Triangulation is her middle name and integrated life? Gimme a break. She seems to be a good politician these days with a definite sense of public service but she is the consummate Democrat with governmental controls fed by high taxes. Not my choice...

From another source...

Thought I would post this fragment from another website. It is about a person who visits Vandenberg Air Force Base in CA frequently. The SRB assembly building mentioned is a Solid Rocket Booster assembly building. These things do not stop burning once they are ignited and Vandenberg does a lot of rocket launches:
I've actually climbed around on those big Titan rockets. Very big, quite explosive (solid rocket engine parts that is...), and very cool.

At one point, after many days of handing my badge to whoever asked for it, I was taken aback after being asked for my badge well outside of the next building I was being escorted to. Once inside I asked the regulars what was up with that.

The quick answer was "Oh, all those other times you were asked for your ID were just formalities. This is the SRB assembly building. If we blow up, they want to know who was in here. That's why your ID is behind a nice thick concrete bunker.

Looking around, the "No Smoking" signs had a whole 'nother meaning.
Heh indeed!

The Eleventh Fold

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Meet Britney Gallivan:
Photo of the 11th Fold, One More to go.
Alternate Direction Folding has the following limit:

Folding Paper in Half 12 Times
Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.
Through the Looking Glass, L. Carroll

Britney Gallivan has solved the Paper Folding Problem. This well known challenge was to fold paper in half more than seven or eight times, using paper of any size or shape.

In April of 2005 Britney's success was mentioned on the prime time CBS television show Numb3rs.

The task was commonalty known to be impossible. Over the years the problem has been discussed by many people, including mathematicians and has been demonstrated to be impossible on TV.

For extra credit in a math class Britney was given the challenge to fold anything in half 12 times. After extensive experimentation, she folded a sheet of gold foil 12 times, breaking the record. This was using alternate directions of folding. But, the challenge was then redefined to fold a piece of paper. She studied the problem and was the first person to realize the basic cause for the limits. She then derived the folding limit equation for any given dimension. Limiting equations were derived for the case of folding in alternate directions and for the case of folding in a single direction using a long strip of paper. The merits of both folding approaches are discussed, but for high numbers of folds, single direction folding requires less paper.
The article goes on to show Britney's maths and proofs -- the website is hosted by the Historical Society of her hometown. Cool stuff. I would put using gold foil at mildly cheating since it is so very malleable (the most malleable metal commonly available) but her work is clear and looks good. Fun stuff!

Portable Numbers and Cell Phone Taxes

Interesting article on how cell phone carriers treat the portable numbers after you move to a new area.

Forbes has this information as well as a way that you can get around it (although you need to change your cell phone number).

How To Duck Cell Phone Taxes
Cell phones have not been proven to cause cancer, so why exactly are they taxed like they do?

Steve Largent, head of the main cell phone lobbying group, recently complained to Congress that the average 16.8% in combined federal, state and local taxes his customers pay has traditionally been levied on products like cigarettes. Americans pay an average of just 6.9% for typical non-carcinogenic goods and services.

Exorbitant cell phone taxes may seem like one of life's annoyances you just can't do anything about. In fact, as I recently discovered, you can.

So far, cities and towns have gotten away with treating the country's 182 million cell phone subscribers as easy marks. Cell phones taxes increased nine times faster than taxes on other goods and services between January 2003 and April 2004, according to one industry study. In a particularly egregious case, Baltimore just hit its residents with a new $3.50 per month tax.

But ever-higher cell phone taxes are likely to have another effect: More people will go to the effort of dodging them.

That's what I did. A year after moving to Los Angeles from New York, I was reading my Verizon Wireless bill and noticed I was still paying New York taxes. New York, as it happens, has the highest state and local taxes in the country: 16.2% (if you add federal charges, it's 22.2%). I estimated I was giving my former city and state about $75 per year they didn't deserve.

When I called Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone, to complain about the tax screw-up, I learned something odd. The operator told me that as long as I kept my old New York number, I would have to keep my old New York tax bill. It didn't matter that I had switched my billing address to L.A., she said, taxes are linked to area codes. If I wanted to pay L.A. taxes, she suggested, I needed to switch my phone number to an L.A. area code.

That gave me a better idea. There are some states, blessedly, that don't soak their cell phone-using residents. One of those, I happened to know, is Idaho--a state I visit regularly. (The Gem State has a 2.2% tax rate, I would later discover, the fourth lowest in the country.) Well, I triumphantly informed the operator, I am moving to Idaho.

Since it was clear I'd have to lose my coveted New York number to avoid Verizon-levied taxes, I changed to an Idaho number, provided an Idaho address, then promptly turned around and requested paperless billing, which I paid from my Los Angeles address.

Since my fake move, my monthly bill has shown a tiny Idaho tax of about $1.15 per month. At that rate I figure I am saving about $60 per year. If I was a bigger cell phone user, I would have saved far more. (I learned later, if I wanted to be a real cheapskate, I should have "moved" to Nevada, which holds the record for the country's lowest cell phone taxes at just 1.1%.)

I also felt a bit guilty. I had established that is was practical to dodge high cell phone taxes. But was it legal? And was it ethical?

The relevant federal law, it turns out, is the Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act, which went into effect in 2002. Cell phone users are supposed to pay taxes in their "area of primary usage," the law says. For me, that area is clearly California, not Idaho, so to comply with the law I should have switched my area code to Los Angeles. Though phone companies are physically able to determine where most calls originate, they also take easier shortcuts and simply use billing addresses and area codes.

There is a good bit more in the article including a chart of what each state charges. The chart told me that my own Washington State has the 3rd highest tax rate at 21.52% (of which 5.48% is the overall Federal tax). Sheesh -- the things you find on the internet these days...

Ahhh rats...

There was a recent launch of a new kind of spacecraft - one that used a sail to propel the craft with particles from the sun acting as the wind. ABC News/AP has the story:

Russian Space Agency: Solar Launch Failed
Solar Sail Vehicle Crashed Back to Earth When Rocket's Engine Failed

A joint Russian-U.S. project to launch a solar sail space vehicle crashed back to Earth when the booster rocket's engine failed less than two minutes after takeoff, the Russian space agency said Wednesday.

The Cosmos 1 vehicle was intended to show that a so-called solar sail can make a controlled flight. Solar sails, designed to be propelled by pressure from sunlight, are envisioned as a potential means for achieving interstellar flight, allowing such spacecraft to gradually build up great velocity and cover large distances.

But the Volna booster rocket failed 83 seconds after its launch from a Russian nuclear submarine in the northern Barents Sea just before midnight Tuesday in Moscow, the Russian space agency said.

A shame -- the article went on to say that several other attempts at Solar Sails have failed as well. A very interesting and feasible project -- the Delta/Vee is not that great (acceleration) but the potential speed is not too shabby (186,000,000 miles per second; it's not just a good idea, it's the Law).

Here is a modest proposal from Dr. Roy W. Spencer:
Time for Action on Global Warming!
I've decided it's time to get serious about Global Warming. The national academies of science of eleven nations recently united to warn us of impeding climatic doom resulting from our careless inflation of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from its God-ordained 19th century value of 0.00029 to the current astronomical magnitude of 0.00038. With increasing fears that this extra plant food will cause a choking of our cities and highways with unwanted greenery, and the Russians' concern that winter temperatures will warm above -40 deg. F, thus changing the hibernation habits of the endangered Siberian snow snake, I must now join the chorus of voices calling for action.

Unfortunately, most of the bills currently being debated by congress (McCain-Lieberman; Domenici-Bingaman) to help reduce the use of fossil fuels will fix only a miniscule part of the problem, with literally unmeasurable effects on global temperatures in the coming decades.

In response to this lack of leadership, I have decided it is time to campaign for my own legislation. I am hopeful that my ideas will take our congressional leadership by storm, and become part of the energy bill now being debated in the Senate.

The Spencer-Spencer bill (the name reflects my desire to get full credit for these ideas) will meet the challenges of Global Warming head-on, avoiding most our projected future emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. I propose a gradual phase-in, over periods of up to 10 days, of the following measures:
1) Addition of a $10 per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. This will result in an immediate reduction in gasoline use, probably remove our dependence on foreign oil, and there will be no need to drill in ANWR. Millions of displaced workers in the petroleum industry will be needed in the rapidly-expanding bicycle manufacturing sector. As a side benefit, the Europeans will no longer be jealous over our low fuel taxes (the real reason for current poor relations), and a new era of cooperation between the U.S. and the EU will emerge.

2) The average gas mileage of cars will be increased to meet a mandated 100 mpg. This will force the automakers to use their high-mpg fuel injection and lean combustion technologies that they have been hiding from us through collusion with the petroleum industry (I read about this terrible injustice while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store).

3) Electricity generation will be required to be at least 90% from renewable resources. Using my extensive background in physics and economics, I have calculated that this will reduce electricity consumption by close to 90%, a huge savings in energy.

4) Re-institute a national speed limit, set to 35 mph. After our country's previous success with speed limit reductions to 55 mph, a lower limit should be even more attractive to the public. (The 35 mph limit should be more than enough, anyway, since most ground transportation will be by bicycle.)

5) Jogging will be outlawed. It is a little known fact that the extra carbon dioxide (and methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas) emitted by joggers accounts for close to 10% of the current Global Warming problem. This will have an additional, rejuvenating psychological advantage for the overwhelming majority of us who do not jog, resulting in an immediate jump in productivity and thus GDP.

6) All roads and buildings in cities will be required to be painted white. This will eliminate the urban heat island effect, which is clearly out of control.
You know, that would work. And also, his numbers at the beginning are correct. Carbon Dioxide comprises 0.00038 of today's atmosphere. The earliest records approximate a value of 0.00029 so the overall balance of CO2 has increased 0.00009 compared to all of the other gasses and vapors in the last couple hundred years. This is critical -- we must reverse all progress!!!!!!!!! Return to the Stone Age!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stop egregious exclamation-point consumption!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jen and I are driving to Seattle tomorrow for my second Cataract surgery. The first one was an awesome success but I wanted to wait a few months for that eye to settle out before I had the other one done. This weekend, we are having a bunch of people up for a camp-out / Cider and Mead tasting party -- the Cider and the Mead will be close to our final recipes for commercial production so we will be doing a formal tasting profile to get people's opinion. We like the stuff but if it's swill to the general public, we need to know... So far, the reactions have been very good so this should be fun. I will be posting but not as much. And -- mandatory Public Service Announcement: And no, I am not the age to have cataracts. However, I spent a lot of time outdoors hiking and skiing (snowfields) as well as years of active sailing in the Puget Sound area. Generally without sunglasses. Heads up to people out there. If you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors ESPECIALLY in a situation where you get the sunlight from above AND the sunlight reflected off the water/snow, wear a good grade of eye protection. Not cheap sunglasses, something that is warranted to block UV light. Blue-blockers ain't it. Spend at least $30. This is to protect your eyesight. Doing this is what caused my eyes to develop cataracts 20 years before they should have.

A quote on Schooling

I'll say it again: in one century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering remedial English in college.
Meet Joe Sobran Quote here (scroll down a bit) Hat tip to Kim DuToit for the original post which prompted me to find Joe's own website. Thanks!

Michael Dell looks at Laser Printers

The hot printers these days are Ink Jet -- awesome photorealistic images, the inks are now very long-life -- but -- they are very slow and expensive to run (cost per page for ink). Much office and basic print work is just black text and line graphics. For this, a laser printer works just fine. The downside for the laser printer is the initial buy-in cost. I had a business ten years ago and a decent mid-range black and white laser printer was about $1,200. This was an HP LaserJet 4+ -- a real workhorse. If you optimized your print files it would do 20-30 pages/minute and the resolution (with the extra memory I added) was 1,200 by 1,200 so black and white graphics were somewhat possible. Cost per page was about two to three cents. I had quite a nice side-business printing peoples papers and theses (my store was near the University of Washington). Today, the 'classic' laser printer broke the $100 price point with Dell's announcement. Ars Technica has the news:
Dell pimps $99 laser printer, throws up gang signs
Laser printers... not exactly the hottest in tech, if they're even really gadgets at all, but I couldn't let this one sneak by. Meet the Dell Laser Printer 1100, which sports 15 pages per minute print speed and a 600dpi resolution. Best spec of all? It's US$99.There are a few tricks up Dell's sleeve to help lower the price, but it's really nothing new. The toner cartridge that ships with the unit is half-capacity, printing only 1,000 pages. Dell will be selling 2,000-page toner cartridges for $65. Even at that, it's a far cry from the direct-from-manufacturer (i.e., not aftermarket) price that hovers around $80-100, for printers with a heftier price tag.

At that price, the 1100 is almost half the price of low-end laser printers from the likes of HP and Lexmark, and is competitive in terms of toner cost. Is it time for a price war? I can only say that I hope so. It pains me to see so many people choosing ink-jet printers based on price, when the ink is a complete rip-off, and not always suited for the casual user who only prints something once every 3 months. I mean, c'mon folks, is ink jet printer ink really worth $8,000 a gallon? Let's stop this rip-off train! Also, while the printer is officially Windows-only, keep an eye out for OS X and Linux availability through CUPS.
The downside? It is not natively Postscript Compatible which makes true page layout difficult, its largest sheet size is legal (8.5*14), it only has 2MB of RAM on board with no option for expansion (for dense pages, this can cause a slowdown in printing) and the Windows only makes it sound like the drivers are very specific so when Windows Longhorn is (finally) released, Dell will need to provide new drivers for it or the machine is toast (think Win-MODEMS). Still, it is a wonderful opening shot to a new printer war. It will be fun to see how this industry shakes out. I still have my LJ4+, parts are still available from HP, toner is cheap thanks to a large second-source toner market. Fun times to be alive! BTW -- if you are looking for a higher-end laser printer, Dell's 1700n is not bad at all. Level 3 Postscript, 25 prints/minute, user expandable memory, 1,200 DPI -- basically the same as my HP LaserJet (Except it has CAT-5 interface) and the price starts at $249 -- fully tricked out (all the RAM, large paper drawer) it's $409.

Senator Dick Durbin (Dem - Ill) has been in the news recently for his statements comparing the treatment of the war detainees at Guantanamo to the terrorist victims of the Holocaust, the Communists (hey -- what's 100 million people dead?) and Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Talk about a misguided attempt at moral equivalence... Today as reported by the Washington Post, he apologized:

Durbin Apologizes for Remarks on Abuse
Senator's Comparison to Actions of Nazis and Soviets Had Drawn Wide Condemnation

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday offered a tearful apology on the Senate floor for comparing the alleged abuse of prisoners by American troops to techniques used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge, as he sought to quell a frenzy of Republican-led criticism.

Durbin, the Democratic whip, acknowledged that "more than most people, a senator lives by his words" but that "occasionally words will fail us and occasionally we will fail words." Choking up, he said: "Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies."

And the apology was accepted graciously:

During a later vote, Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) shook Durbin's hand and thanked him for apologizing. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said of the apology: "It was good for the troops, and it was good for Senator Durbin."

McCain said the lesson is "Watch your words."

"It's a very partisan atmosphere," he said. "Things have a great resonance."

The Democratic party needs to get back to its roots and take care of its constituents. It has spent too much time trying to block and divert the work of the standing President of the United States -- prolonging the nomination process of key people, playing parliamentary tricks... Their actions are a key reason why I left their party. I want a party who will represent me, not act like a senile Tyrannosaurus Rex whose brain is dead but whose body is still thrashing and destroying.

Batman Begins

Jen and I went to see this tonight and it seriously rocks.

If you ever liked the original comics and have not seen this movie because of the previous Batman attempts, please go -- this one is 110% true to the nature of the original work.

The Batman character doesn't even appear until the second half of the film. First Sin City and now this Batman -- maybe the higher-ups in Hollywood are finally copping to the fact that comic readers are very possessive of these characters and are very annoyed when liberties are taken with them to sell to the general public.

Let us hope that this is the beginning of a nice long long ride... They set the stage for at least one sequel too. Two possibly.

RIP Jack Kilby

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He may not be a household name but we all use what he invented and for which he received the Nobel Prize. From Yahoo/AP
Microchip Pioneer Jack Kilby Dies at 81
Nobel laureate Jack Kilby, whose 1958 invention of the integrated circuit ushered in the electronics age and made possible the microprocessor, has died after a battle with cancer.

Kilby died Monday at age 81, said Texas Instruments Inc., where he worked for many years.

Before the integrated circuit, electronic devices relied on bulky and fragile circuitry, including glass vacuum tubes. Afterward, electronics could become increasingly more complex, reliable and efficient: powering everything from the iPod to the Internet.

During his first year at Texas Instruments, using borrowed equipment, Kilby built the first integrated circuit into a single piece of semiconducting material half the size of a paper clip. Four years later in 1962, Texas Instruments won its first major integrated circuit contract, for the Minuteman missile.

Kilby later co-invented the hand-held electronic calculator.

"TI was the only company that agreed to let me work on electronic component miniaturization more or less full time, and it turned out to be a great fit," Kilby wrote in an autobiography for the Nobel Committee in 2000, the year he won the prize for physics.
The obituary goes on to talk about his history, his inventions and tells a little bit about his character, intelligence and modesty. One of the titans of technology -- right up there in the pantheon with Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Issac Newton.
A great Physics story:
Sir Ernest Rutherford, President of the Royal Academy, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, related the following story:

Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score. The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.

I read the examination question: "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer." The student had answered: "Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building."

The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had really answered the question completely and correctly! On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this.

I suggested that the student have another try. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he hadn't written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on In the next minute, he dashed off his answer, which read: "Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula x=0.5*a*t^2, calculate the height of the building."

At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and gave the student almost full credit. While leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said that he had other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were. "Well," said the student, "there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of simple proportion, determine the height of the building."

"Fine," I said, "and others?"
There are several more ways and they keep getting better and better. The student in question was Niels Bohr (pronounced "bore") and Bohr's comment was wonderful:
At this point, I asked the student if he really did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, but said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think.

People unclear on the concept

Pharmacists has a great responsibility to make sure that peoples meds are dispensed accurately. Should they assume responsibility for filling the prescriptions in the first place?

From Reuters comes this story of the "Jesus Pharmacists" who routinely refuse prescriptions for contraceptives and pain medication:

Docs want to dispense drugs if pharmacists won't
The American Medical Association wants legislation that will allow physicians to dispense drugs when pharmacists say their consciences will not allow them to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, painkillers and mood stabilizers.

The AMA says conscientious objection by pharmacists is a major public health problem in many areas of the country.

It can't be that bad now can it? Unfortunately:

Some pharmacists first balked at filling prescriptions for oral contraceptives and the emergency contraceptive pill called Plan B. But a coalition of medical specialty societies, including the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), now claims the refusals have spread to medications for mental conditions and pain medicines.

Moreover, they say that pharmacists often refuse to refer patients to other pharmacists to get prescriptions filled.

Dr. Mary Frank of Mill Valley, California, a former president of the AAFP, said some pharmacists are also refusing to return prescriptions that they refuse to fill and "they are lecturing patients. This is interfering with patient's access to care."

(emphasis mine) What idiots -- they are there to act on the Doctors orders and to serve as a final check and balance to make sure that contra-indicating drugs are not prescribed simultaneously. If they are unable to keep their personal belief system from interfering, they need to find a new line of work.

DOH! -- Cool thinking outside the box

From the Detroit News comes this story of a Doctor who was doing a lot of work with animals and had a flash of inspiration.

DMC doctor finds way to spot disease in infants
Before symptoms arise, machine intended for animals can scan babies' brains, detect problems.

A Detroit doctor -- using a machine first created to study monkeys and rodents -- is finding new ways to detect brain disease in infants months or years before symptoms surface.

Tucked in the basement of Detroit's Hutzel Hospital, a scanning device as big as a small refrigerator maps out chemicals in the brains of babies weighing as little as 2 pounds.

For years the process, called micro positron emissions tomography (PET), was used only on animals undergoing tests in research labs. A larger version of the scanner is used regularly on adults and children but is imprecise when used on infants.

But then an idea struck Dr. Harry Chugani, a neurologist who spent years conducting animal research at the University of California-Los Angeles.

"I said to myself, 'A monkey is about the same size as a newborn -- why don't I stick one of these machines in the nursery?'" said Chugani, now director of the PET Center at Children's Hospital of Michigan.

With $500,000 and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Chugani managed to snag one of the scanners and is now running tests on newborns at Hutzel.

In doing so, Chugani and his team of doctors are able to pinpoint problems that can show the source of epileptic seizures or signs of cerebral palsy and other brain diseases.

"We can do a scan and try to see what's in store for them," said Chugani, who has sent about 30 infants, bundled up and strapped down, through the machine since it came to Hutzel late last year.

Heh... Monkey indeed. The problem here is one of resolution. The machine can only detect so many pixels over a defined space and if this fixed space has to accommodate a large person, a very tiny one will only intersect a few of the available pixels and the resulting image quality is poor.

Tomography is very cool. It is used in Geology (using earthquakes as the beam source). It can also be use with X-Rays to get an overall view of the structure (the standard CAT Scan) You can use Magnetic Fields spinning around the subject to get a handle on tissues (MRI). PET is done with injectable tracers.

This Wikipedia article describes the process very nicely.

This company had re-invented a medical PET scanner for use on small lab animals and its use for tiny people will be wonderful. The fact that Doctor Chugani is now the director of the PET Center at Children's Hospital of Michigan shows that other people are listening.

I had posted about the upcoming Iranian 'elections' and the fact that members of the sitting government were running illegal polling places in the USA -- trying to add the sheen of legitimacy to a corrupt theocratic government and maintain its power. Many of the Persians in the US have Iranian relatives so there is a considerable leverage exerted on them. The elections happened on the 17th. I read Will Franklin's WILLisms pretty much every day and found that he went to the 'polling place' in Houston with a camcorder and laptop. Today he has a transcript and screenshots at his website.
I woke up early Friday morning and read the news at Publius Pundit that there would be an Iranian polling station set up relatively near my house in Houston, Texas.

I weighed whether or not to go.

On the one hand, it could be interesting, I could meet some pro-freedom Iranians protesting the poll, I could interview the pro-Mullah Iranians conducting the poll, I could hopefully get some pictures and/or video of the actual polling stations, and I could see for myself, unfiltered, just how the election was organized.

On the other hand, it could be dangerous-- or worse, a non-event, a monumental waste of time, an underwhelming experience. I could waste an entire day just sitting around a hotel lobby hoping for some fireworks to go off, while missing out on a chance to research and write actual blog posts (and wasting my time, otherwise).
One of my favorites is this exchange:
Me: Is this a free and fair election?
[The look on the Iranian agent's face was amazing.] Me: Free and fair... like anybody can vote for anybody they want to? Iranian agent: You want to introduce yourself first, maybe. Me: My name is Will Franklin. Iranian agent: Okay, and... you're a... journalist. Me: Journalist.
Heh... Will managed to be kicked out by the manager of the Ramada Hotel in less than 20 minutes after arriving. The story would be a fun one if people were not living in oppression over there.

Holy S#$& -- He signed it!!!

And John Hinderaker of Powerline has the pictures. As you know, I have had a day counter at the top of the page listing how many days it has been since Presidential wannabe John F. Kerry said on National Television that he was happy to sign his Standard Form 180 and release several hundred pages of his military records still sealed (including the status of his original discharge from the Navy -- was it Honorable or Dishonorable) He signed it about 30 days ago but, of course, there is a catch. He authorized the records to be released to three people only. The release is also restricted to be:
A single, one time copy of the complete military record and medical record of of John F. Kerry.
The purpose of the release is stated Page one:
To provide, on a 1 time basis, a complete copy of Senator Kerry's military record to a reporter at the Boston Globe.
Page two:
To provide, on a 1 time basis, a complete copy of Senator Kerry's military record to a reporter at the Associated Press.
Page Three:
To provide, on a 1 time basis, a complete copy of Senator Kerry's military record to a reporter at the
The designation is illegible but the reporters name is at the bottom of this page: Steve Breun (sp?) at the LA Times. (The handwriting is pretty bad.) Oh great -- this will be whitewashed beyond description. We see time and again how accurate the main-stream media is. This has been signed for 30 days -- we can give these people some time to look over the 200 or so documents and write their story. I was going to post some small copies of the images available at Power Line but you can just visit the full-size ones at their site: Powerline: You Saw Them Here First Page One Page Two Page Three
Kevin Aylward writing at Wizbang tells the story of the latest attempted Palestinian Suicide Bomber -- a 21 year old woman; a burn victim who was given a pass to enter Israel for medical treatment:
Palestinians Use Female Burn Victim As Suicide Bomber
Wafa al-Biss, the would-be suicide bomber asked reporters: "Do you think they'll forgive me?"

SHIKMA PRISON, Israel -- A badly burned Palestinian woman was alternately defiant and tearful Monday after Israeli soldiers caught her trying to enter Israel with 22 pounds of explosives hidden on her body.

The woman, who suffered serious burns on her hands, feet and neck in a kitchen explosion five months ago, had been granted permission to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment when she raised the suspicion of soldiers at the Erez checkpoint.

Video released by the military showed 21-year-old Wafa al-Biss taking off articles of clothing on the orders of soldiers searching for explosives, and rubbing her disfigured neck with her burned hands and screaming.

The military said she tried to blow up the explosives Monday but failed and was not injured.

In an unusual move, Israel's security service allowed reporters to interview al-Biss just hours after her arrests. "My dream was to be a martyr," she said. "I believe in death."
And a bit more:
After an hour of interviews her story got more convoluted and confused. She changed her story often, and eventually declared that someone else had planted explosives in her underwear without her knowledge. "I did not intend to carry out an attack," she said.

As the interviews wound down and the seriousness of her situation became clear, she is reported to have told reporters, "I didn't kill anyone. Do you think they will forgive me? I hope they show me mercy. I didn't kill anyone."
Kevin also links to an AP Video The video mentions the womans burns but they make it sound as though she received them when the bomb failed to detonate and that she was being given medical care for them. The Washington Post article linked to above has the correct story. It also has a great comment:
Israeli military spokeswoman Maj. Sharon Feingold expressed outrage that Palestinian militants used a humanitarian case as a suicide bomber.

"These terror organizations are not only the enemies of the Israelis, but also of the Palestinian people themselves, who suffer as a result of this abuse of the young, the sick, the wounded," she said.
As Jen says -- they want a state? Let's give them one:


Cool film coming soon -- Freeborn

Here is the main website: Freeborn

This is from the "About the Project" page:

In late 2004, during a shoot for a horror film by ReQuest entertainment entitled "They Feed", the producer, Cory Turner, and his associates offered Anthony Brownrigg the opportunity to direct an upcoming low budget werewolf film they had written entitled "Devoured".

Brownrigg looked at the project, and thought that the script needed some work. He already had an idea of what he wanted to see - but thought he would take a different approach. He thought it would be a good idea to get some feedback from 'werewolf fans' before he started work on the script. The people who buy the tickets might have some ideas on what they wanted to see. It might be worthwhile to ask the customer what they wanted.

He put a small message board on the Internet. He titled it "Building the Ultimate Werewolf", and explained on the board what he wanted to do; to get the fans' input, on what they wanted, and didn't want, in a werewolf movie.

By the second day, the site posted over nine thousand hits. Turner and Brownrigg immediately began to conference; discussing the significance of letting the fans have a voice before scripting began. On the boards, various topics were raised. Topics such as, "How tall is a werewolf", "What kind of fur does a werewolf have?" and "do werewolves have tails?" Due to the fan on-line discussions, the questions continued to get more and more detailed. Ideologies got more intricate, and it became more and more clear that the original script just wasn't fitting. It didn�t have the scope the fans were looking for.

Brownrigg and Turner decided that an entirely new script was necessary. Brownrigg was already in agreement with what the fans were saying - it was more in keeping with his own vision. So the entire project became the property of Brownrigg, with ReQuest taking a lesser role of Associate Producers.

Over the weeks the fan site became larger. Thousands of hits became millions of hits, from over forty-seven different countries. Brownrigg asked the fans to give themselves a name, and "The Pack" became an entity.

Ohh this looks really good. The trailer is simple but I like the moodiness and the premise. No word on the site as to when the film is due (they say sometime in 2006) but it will be eagerly anticipated by this household. I for one loved Jack Nicholson's character in Wolf. My Father is a textbook writer and growing up, I had the occasion to meet many people in the publishing business. Wolf skewers them wonderfully.

Watch your money

Thinking about this, it makes total sense but it's still not very nice. From MSN/Money comes this story of a robbery at the gas pump:

Hosed at the gas pump -- by your debit card
You may have topped off with just $20 worth of unleaded, but the debit-card transaction could freeze as much as $75 in your account, sometimes for days.

If you ever use your debit card to pay at the pump, watch out: Did you know that every time you top off the tank, a chunk of your checking account can be blocked -- sometimes for days, with the potential to cause you all sorts of financial headaches and bounced checks?

That's what happened to Jessica Hathaway, a state employee from Allentown, Pa. Earlier this year Hathaway stopped during her commute to fill up her car at Rauch's Mini Mart, a Shell station. She bought $22.29 worth of gas using her debit card.

The next day Hathaway balanced her checkbook using her bank's telephone service -- and something didn't add up. The bank said that she'd made two purchases the previous morning: one for the $22.29 and one for $75.

Trouble is, she'd only bought the gas.

Finally Hathaway called the service station, and an attendant explained to her what few people know.

How your money gets frozen
If you use your debit card at a pump that does not require a PIN, the station regularly will block out an amount -- often $50 or $75 -- on your card.

That amount doesn't "un-block" as you drive away. Instead, the hold remains until that evening, and sometimes for up to several days, until the station does a "batch" transaction, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

I can see doing this for a reason -- if they are not asking for your PIN, they are not actually verifying the transaction, they are running it as a credit card -- the money does not get taken out of your account until the "batch" is run at the end of business day. What gets my goat is that they are floating themselves nice interest-free loans for several days. For you and me, being loaned $75 for three days isn't a big deal but to a large corporation, getting several hundred-thousand of these loans every day starts adding up to a nice revenue stream. This is just less money they have to borrow. They should credit the $75 at the time the batch is run and they should run the batch every day at a minimum...

Evolution of a logo: Starbucks

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Good bit of research at deadprogrammer's caf� tracing the evolution of a well known corporate logo from its origins, the 'naughty' one and the sanitized one. Talking about the Starbucks Siren:
How the Starbucks Siren Became Less Naughty
Corporate logos often have elements that most people don�t know about. For instance the arrow in the Fedex logo that was covered in depth on The Sneeze. This arrow made me think a little about the Starbucks logo.

As and introduction to this bit of research let me present a short quote from the cult cartoon show Futurama (episode [2ACV12] "The Deep South") in which one of the characters, Fry, tries to engage in "maritals" with a mutant mermaid:
"Umbriel: What the hell is that?
Fry: Yeah I�m a little confused too. How do I� y�now�with the tail and all.
Umbriel: I�m not your first am I? I mean, I lay my eggs and leave and you release your fertiliser.
[Scene: Outside Colonel�s House. Fry runs away from the house at top speed.]
Fry (gasping): Why couldn�t she be the other type of mermaid, with the fish part on top and the lady part on the bottom?"
An excellent post on how they went from here:
To here:

Electronics resource

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One of the problems when working with do-it-yourself electronics is finding data on the "obsolete" chips that are still in widespread use. A few manufacturers keep their older stuff online (kudos as this is only a few pennies of webspace) but most stuff just drops into the bit bucket. I just ran into this website www.alldatasheet.com and it comes pretty close to living up to its name. The user interface seems a bit awkward but if you are familiar with the standards for parts numbers, it's actually pretty straightforward. I am into Analog Synthesizers and I typed in the part numbers for a few obscure chips and darned if they didn't have PDF files of the data sheets... Excellent resource if you are trying to repair or modify something or reading a DIY article from a few years ago and trying to replicate it with modern components. Good stuff... Funded by Google Ads so be sure to click on a few of them so the site gets the revenue.

Art these days...

...is what people can get away with. In this case, an $18K bar of soap. Soap is made from fat and a strong base (usually Lye) -- the two saponify and we have that wonderful soap.

Here is the story of an artist who made a bar of soap with a special fat and proceeded to sell it for $18,000.

From CNN/Reuters:

Bar of soap sells for $18,000
Perhaps the oddest piece of work at Art Basel is a bar of soap, displayed on a square of black velvet, purportedly made from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's fat, removed during liposuction.

Gianni Monti's work called 'Clean Hands' -- the title is a play on the name of an anti-Mafia group -- sold in less than an hour for 15,000 euros ($18,000) to a private Swiss collector, according to Monti's Galerie Nicola von Senger of Zurich.

And from Ananova:

Berlusconi's fat becomes soap
A bar of soap reportedly made from fat pumped from Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has gone on display.

Artist Gianni Motti claims he made the soap made from fat from Berlusconi's liposuction operation.

It is part of an art exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, where anyone wishing to wash their hands with Berlusconi can buy it for £10,000.

The artist who put the soap on display, Gianni Motti, 47, claims to have acquired the fat from an employee of an elite plastic surgery clinic in Lugano in Switzerland.

Motti said: "Berlusconi had face lifting and liposuction operations in a clinic in Lugano, where I have good connections that provided me with some of the fat. It was jelly-like and it stunk horribly, like butter gone off or old chip pan oil."

Hat tip to BoingBoing


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Jen and I did not vote for Bush, we voted against Kerry whom we considered to be a highly flawed candidate. One of the Democrats we talked about and wished was running was Senator Joe Biden from Delaware. He flirted briefly with a Presidential race earlier but dropped out. He may be back -- from ABC News/AP:
Biden Intends to Seek Presidency in 2008
Del. Sen. Joseph Biden Says He Intends to Run for President in 2008

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said Sunday he intends to run for president in 2008.

But Biden, who also sought the nomination in 1988, said he would give himself until the end of this year to determine if he really can raise enough money and attract enough support.

Going after the nomination "is a real possibility," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"My intention, as I sit here now, is, as I've proceeded since last November as if I were going to run. I'm quite frankly going out, seeing whether I can gather the kind of support," Biden said.
The Republican Party clearly won the 2004 election but they are not doing that well these days and a strong Democratic candidate would attract both of our interests. If this were a perfect world, everyone would be a rabid libertarian; self-reliant, take care of their friends and neighbors and have as small a government as possible (national defense, standardized highways, rail and utilities and a national research organization for big science and medicine). Alas...

The problem of reading...

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...is that you come to the end of the story. I just discovered a problem with web browsing -- it is here

Eyes for Lies

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Eyes for Lies is an interesting blog written by a woman who claims to be able to tell when anyone is lying. She backs this up with some fascinating posts. From her Bio:
About Me...
Being able to see lies is a peculiar thing. At first, I had no idea that I was unique. It was something I grew into over time. I slowly realized that what I can see - others cannot. It wasn't like I had a revelation one day that I was a human lie detector. For me, I slowly began to see I was exceptionally skilled at reading other people. Then the more the truth revealed itself, the more I realized I was onto something but I just didn't know how to describe it. I couldn't put my hand on the exact reason I was different. I just knew I was.

People have called me psychic trying to explain why I can see so much, but I knew that wasn't it. I knew what I saw was based on concrete, real things -- nothing magical but I just couldn't put my hands on it.

In a quest to further define myself, I started sharing my insight in advice forums on the web. I wanted to see how my advice compared to others. Each time I shared my insight, perfect strangers raved about it. Strangers started questioning if I was a professional counselor or a marriage therapist because I hit the nail on the head so often. I actually developed a following and people sought me out by name -- and waited for my advice. I frequented forums for over two years. This experience once again solidified that I had a unique talent and ability to understand people -- perfect strangers -- that was beyond average but I just couldn't explain why. Again
She links to this article at MSNBC that talks about another person with this ability. I remember hearing about some deaf people who were skilled at lip reading watching a political debate. They burst out laughing at several times although nothing funny was being said. When asked, they replied that the person speaking was lying and they could spot it plainly.

The Way of the Left

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Jay Tea at Wizbang has an interesting insight into some of the enflamed rhetoric being tossed around by the Democrats and Iraqi war protestors:
Shouting into the abyss
A while ago, I wrote about the "heckler's veto," where people are prevented from speaking by being shouted down or threatened. It's a despicable tactic.

And it's a tactic that seems to have evolved. Its practitioners have learned that shouting someone down requires meeting them face-to-face, and that doesn't always work -- especially in silent forums such as online and print discussions.

So they went looking for a way to adapt the heckler's veto to work, and they seem to have found one. If you can't increase the volume of your argument, increase the intensity. Ratchet up the rhetoric. Push everything into the extreme, and hope that the sound and fury of your words will overshadow the lack of substance.

With that tactic, everything becomes easier. Bush isn't a bad president, he isn't woefully wrong, he isn't misguided, he isn't leading us into disaster. He's Hitler, he's Satan, he's evil incarnate. Karl Rove is no longer a cunning political operative, a brilliant strategist, a visionary with a plan that you disagree with. He's Machiavelli, he's the evil genius, he's the puppet master, he's the shadowy power behind the throne. The war in Iraq isn't an error, it isn't a failure, it isn't wrong, it's American genocide and a ravenous lust for oil. And less-than-delicate treatement of prisoners, captured bearing arms against Americans on the battlefield while not in uniform (in violation of the Geneva convention) isn't mistreatment, it isn't questionable, it isn't a cause for concern, it's torture and slaughter and death camps and Gulags and the Killing Fields all over again.

I'm not the only one to have noticed this phenomenon. Jeff Harrell takes a different approach, exploring in depth just how and why this tactic works so well. It's a damned fine read, and Jeff definitely is on to something.

I've mentioned before "Godwin's Law," and I'd like to see it extended a bit. I'd like to see anyone who makes a comparison to some great atrocity in the past be immediately challenged to explain exactly what that great atrocity entailed, and then go into detail showing precisely how the current event compares with the historical one.

I'd like to blame this entirely on the Left, but it's done by those on the Right as well. I've heard numerous people toss around "communist" and "socialist" as insults, believing that they are dropping rhetorical bunker-busters that ought to end the discussion immediately. Unfortunately, they usually just come across as frothing, John Birch No-Nothings and ended up marginalizing themselves.
Here are a couple of paragraphs from Jeff Harrell's essay that Jay linked to:
I hate terrorists with all my heart. I hate the terrorist masterminds who make casual decisions about life and death. I hate the financiers and tyrants who bankroll terrorism. I hate the brainwashed kids from Mauritania and Sudan and Pakistan who aspire toward martyrdom. I hate them all. I watched the towers burn; I am quite comfortable with saying that I hate them all. And frankly, it seems to me that any American who doesn�t hate them all has a pretty seriously mixed-up values system.

If it were up to me, we�d throw every terrorist, even every strongly suspected terrorist, into a big hole, pave over the top, and get on with our lives. Crucifixion of the worst of them strikes me as entirely reasonable. Drawing and quartering, heads on pikes, all the medieval rituals that came to define our culture�s idea of cruelty: These all seem totally appropriate to me.

Which is precisely why I don�t get to make the decisions. As individuals, we members of the West are no better morally than our ancestors were. It�s only as a society that we elevate ourselves above the medieval and call ourselves civilized.

So a balance must be struck. On the one hand, if we descend to public torture and executions and abandon our ideas of justice and propriety, we abdicate our claim to cultural superiority. But on the other hand, if we simply turn the other cheek, the terrorists and their totalitarian Islamist leaders will wipe us off the face of the earth. This war, as much as any war in our nation�s history and more so than some, is a war of survival. If we choose not to fight, our culture will be overwhelmed by the totalitarian Islam that gathers like a wave in the poor corners of the earth, poised to surge out and bury the liberal democracies of the West. But on the other hand, if we fight this war too thoroughly and too well, our culture will vanish because we�ve chosen to abandon it.

We�re traversing a tightrope over the abyss of a new Dark Age.

That�s why I say that Dick Durbin was right. He was right that to the average American what we�re doing at Guantanamo Bay seems horrifying. He was also right to ask the question in the most sacred of all our secular temples, the floor of the United States Senate. He was a small-minded fool, of course, for asking the question in such a careless and irresponsible way. But let us not follow foolishness with foolishness. Let us not slip off the tightrope in either direction. Let us not succumb to the soft bigotry of low expectations and in so doing let all the things that make our culture worth saving slip from between our fingers. And let us not allow ourselves to be crushed under the weight of intolerably high expectations, squeezing our will to fight right out of us. Let us instead choose the narrow path. Let us wage this war with a heavy burden of doubt, questioning always, keeping ourselves perched delicately at the summit of man�s achievement.
Wow -- with writing like that, Jeff gets put on the Blogroll. He nails it exactly...

Lights out

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Very cool idea -- the city of Sydney Australia is turning out the lights this weekend so that urban dwellers can see the stars. From CBC News
Lights out for Sydney this weekend
The Australian city of Sydney is switching off many lights in its harbour area this weekend to let people have a better view of the stars.

Astronomers are applauding the plan to douse floodlights on Sydney's famous Harbour Bridge as well as lights in some downtown office buildings. The request came from the Sydney Observatory.

Warrick Couch, a professor at the University of New South Wales, said he would like to see more "lights-out" events in the future.

"We're just suggesting that this is something we should do more often, because people who live in the city miss out on seeing a lot in the sky each night," he said.
Light pollution is a very important thing for astronomers. The big scopes of yesteryear such as Mt. Palomar are now useful only for teaching because the cities have grown up so much around them. Jen and I had the pleasure of visiting the observatories at Mauna Kea in Hawai'i -- it was interesting driving around Hilo at night because they use low-pressure Sodium lights for streetlights. These are very easily filtered out at the scope where the standard high-pressure mercury lights are almost impossible to counteract.

An Online Encyclopedia

James Randi is a very interesting character. He is a professional magician who uses the art to debunk scam artists and hoaxers. A professional skeptic if you will.

He wrote a book called An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural and just recently placed it online with some entries updated.

The online version is here: An Encyclopedia of Claims... The entry for Delphi (Also, Delphos):

The Oracle of Delphi, probably the best-known of the Greek divining agencies, was essentially a political force. The women in charge were not above accepting bribes to give appropriate answers to inquirers. It was believed that the god Apollo spoke through the Pythian priestesses while they were in various states of drug-induced trance.

The ambiguous nature of their utterances became a popular joke, as when they were asked to tell King Croesus the outcome of an upcoming battle to be fought across a river. The response: "When Croesus passes over the river he overthrows the strength of an empire." The questioner was pleased and left a generous offering at the temple. A great empire did fall that day, but it was his own. Such procedures gave rise to the expression, "Delphic statement" used to designate anything that can be taken two or more ways.

Today, investment advisors and meteorologists are the tamer versions of the Oracle of Delphi.

Downing Street memos are forgeries?

Fake but accurate?

The left tries a forgery again and it blows up in their faces. Hat tips to Glenn the puppy blender at Instapundit who links to these two blog posts. The first is from Captain Ed at Captains Quarters:

Did Lucy Ramirez Find The Downing Street Memos?
The media and the Leftists have had a field day with the Downing Street memos that they claim imply that the Bush administration lied about the intelligence on WMD in order to justify the attack on Iraq. Despite the fact that none of the memos actually say that, none of them quote any officials or any documents, and that the text of the memos show that the British government worried about the deployment of WMD by Saddam against Coalition troops, Kuwait and/or Israel, the meme continues to survive.

Until tonight, however, no one questioned the authenticity of the documents provided by the Times of London. That has now changed, as Times reporter Michael Smith admitted that the memos he used are not originals, but retyped copies (via LGF and CQ reader Sapper):
The eight memos -- all labeled "secret" or "confidential" -- were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith, who has written about them in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.

Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.

The Lucy Ramirez reference is regarding another "memo" scandal that happened last year just before the Presidential election. Captain Ed continues:

Readers of this site should recall this set of circumstances from last year. The Killian memos at the center of CBS' 60 Minutes Wednesday report on George Bush' National Guard service supposedly went through the same laundry service as the Downing Street Memos. Bill Burkett, once he'd been outed as the source of the now-disgraced Killian memos, claimed that a woman named Lucy Ramirez provided them to him -- but that he made copies and burned the originals to protect her identity or that of her source.

The second link that Glen links to is this one from Marc at USS Neverdock

Britain - Downing Street Memos Fake
The AP reports that the Sunday Times reporter, Michael Smith, now admits he typed the memos himself and burned the originals in order to protect the identity of the source. Yeah, right.

And some more:

So, an un-named source, without seeing the orginals, says the content "appeared authentic". Have journalistic standards slipped so far, that the Sunday Times accepted Smith's story, without asking to see the original documents, using an un-named source to verify them and whose best opinion was they "appeared authentic"? This being the case, all of the AP's assertions in the rest of the article are baseless and meaningless.

If all this sounds familiar, it should, Dan Rather of CBS, had to resign after using these same tactics in an attempt to smear Bush just before the last US presidential elections. And CBS had to issue and apology. Time for Smith to go and the Sunday Times to apologize.

After pounding the Downing Street memo drum, watch the media now play the fake but accurate horn.

And a bit more:

Smith appears to be tripping up here. He says he returned the originals because they were on government paper and therefore government property. So, photocopying a page out of a book makes the words no longer the property of the author?

Now let me get this straight. Dan Rather's forged documents were typed up on a computer using the default setting of Microsoft Word. And now Smith wants us to believe that his legal secretary used "an old fashioned typewriter" to forge the Downing Street memos? When was the last time you saw an old fashioned typewriter, let alone use one? Why would you want to type them up on a typewriter instead of a computer? Was Smith trying to make them look more authentic? Was he trying to avoid his own Rathergate?

Newsflash -- Moonbats hit bottom, start digging. Film at 11:00

Scum walks

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Wretchard at The Belmont Club has an essay on a prisoner who is due to be released and the nature of his crime:
Memory Hold the Door
The assassin of Col. James Rowe, the "political prisoner" Danilo Continente, is scheduled to be freed from prison on June 28th after serving his maximum sentence. Philippine President Fidel Ramos refused to pardon Continente during his term of office despite representations by 'human rights organizations'. But with his sentence served, Continente will soon be a free man. The left-leaning Philippine Daily Inquirer has started a countdown to the blessed moment.
And the man in question (an excerpt):
When Rowe was held captive as a POW in Vietnam, during which he suffered from dysentary, beri-beri and fungal attack -- diseases unknown in Durban's Guantanamo -- he protected his fellow prisoners by concealing his identity as a Special Forces Officer, which if revealed would single them out for special cruelty. His deception worked for months. But the Left did not forget.
Acting on a request from the North Vietnamese, students in a so-called anti-war organization in the United States researched public records and formulated biographies on Americans captured in Vietnam. After reading Lt. Rowe's biography, his Viet Cong captors became furious. They marched him into a cramped bamboo hut and forced him to sit on the damp clay floor. Several high ranking Viet Cong officials were staring down at Lt. Rowe. They held out a piece of typed onion skin paper.
"The peace and justice loving friends, of the National Liberation Front, who live in America, have provided us with information which leads us to believe you have lied to us," they informed Lt. Rowe. "According to what we know, you are not an engineer . . . you have much military experience which you deny . . . You were an officer of the American Special Forces."
Lt. Rowe sat dumbfounded, unable to comprehend that his own people would betray him. He felt it was over. He had lied to the communists for five years. Worse in their eyes, the Viet Cong had believed him. They had lost face and, for that, he would be punished. Soon after, the Viet Cong Central Committee for the National Liberation Front sent orders to Rowe's camp ordering the cadre to execute the uncooperative American prisoner.
Another excerpt:
The communists, however, never forgot Lt. Nick Rowe. They never forgot the threat men such as he posed to them and their view of world domination. Shortly before 7 a.m. on April 21, 1989, a small white car pulled alongside a gray, chauffeur-driven vehicle in a traffic circle in the Manila suburb of Quezon City. The barrels of an M-16 rifle and a .45-caliber pistol poked out the window of the white car and spit out more than two dozen shots. Twenty-one of them hit the gray car. One of the rounds hit Col. James "Nick" Rowe in the head, killing him instantly. The hooded NPA killers had ties to the communist Vietnamese, Rowe's old enemies in Vietnam. It took the communists nearly 25 years, but they finally silenced Nick Rowe. What they could not do in a jungle cage in South Vietnam's U Minh Forest through torture, intimidation, and political indoctrination, they did with a .45 and an American-made M-16 on the streets of Manila.

His killer will be free in 9 days.
A true hero and his killer gets to walk free after 16 years in the slammer.


I had written about these troglodytes before: here - killing animals given to their no-kill shelter and here - purposefully mis-quoting the Dalai Lama.

Now two other stories have cropped up. The first deals with killing animals again -- from FOX News:

PETA Workers Charged With Animal Cruelty
Two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (search) have been charged with animal cruelty after dumping dead dogs and cats in a shopping center garbage bin, police said.

Investigators staked out the bin after discovering that dead animals had been dumped there every Wednesday for the past four weeks, Ahoskie police said in a prepared statement Thursday.

PETA has scheduled a news conference for Friday in Norfolk, Va., where the group is based.

Police found 18 dead animals in the bin and 13 more in a van registered to PETA. The animals were from animal shelters in Northampton and Bertie counties, police said.

WAVY has photos of these mokes:


I present Adria Joy Hinkle and Andrew Benjamin Cook. The WAVY website also had this interesting set of numbers:

PETA has euthanized animals for years. In Virginia last year, the activist group euthanized 2,278 animals, sterilized 7,641 and found homes for 361.

Placing only 361 critters is piss-poor performance. The Friday news conference was covered by The Charlotte Observer. They use archaic registration -- use Bug Me Not for a password.

PETA leader calls acts hideous, but not cruel
Newkirk says dead animals dumped in trash bin didn't suffer

Dumping the bodies of dead dogs and cats in the garbage is wrong, but the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Friday that animal cruelty charges against two employees won't stick.

Ingrid Newkirk, president of the animal rights group, called the dumping of animals "hideous."

But she told a news conference there was no indication of "pain or suffering" among the 31 animals that police in northeastern North Carolina found. Police in Ahoskie, in Hertford County, about 60 miles southwest of Norfolk, found 18 dogs and cats in a shopping center garbage bin and 13 more in a van registered to PETA.

The animals had received lethal injections, Newkirk said.

Some officials in Hertford County, however, said PETA had broken a promise to find homes for the animals.

The Virginia Pilot/Hampton Roads has some more info and talks about how the counties are reacting:

At least one county in North Carolina has cut its relationship with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals after two PETA workers were arrested Wednesday for allegedly dumping animal carcasses into a trash container behind a grocery in Ahoskie , N.C.

"As of today, we have temporarily suspended our agreement with PETA until the issues are resolved," Sue Gay, health director for Northampton County, said Friday evening.

And some more:

Police suspected that PETA workers were killing the dogs and cats they were picking up from shelters and clinics because carcasses wrapped in plastic bags were found in the bins every Wednesday for four straight weeks, according to Ahoskie police Detective Jeremy Roberts. A total of 80 dead animals were dumped, he said.

How stupid -- don't bother changing your Modus Operandi. Don't think that someone might be checking the contents of the dumpsters and reporting animal carcasses. Just come by every Wednesday and drop off 20 dead critters. Sheesh...

They have more -- this is Susan Gay (the health director for Northampton County) mentioned a few paragraphs above:

"What I understood," she said, "was that they would pick up the animals from us and they would be assessed as to whether they could be adopted or not."

Many of the animals were strays and sick, she said, and probably not good candidates for adoption. But there was supposed to be an examination by PETA's medical team.

PETA has veterinarians on staff to make sure the animals are healthy enough to be adopted, Gay said, "and if they are healthy enough, there would be an attempt to adopt it out."

Tonya Northcott , a veterinary technician at the Ahoskie Animal Hospital, said that among the dead found Wednesday were a mother cat and her two kittens picked up that day by PETA.

"There was nothing wrong with them," she said of the animals, noting that they had been dewormed and that she had been told there would be no problem finding homes for the cats.

"They'll never get another one of them from us," she said.

The other PETA story starting to break is this one from The Chicago Tribune. Again, use Bug Me Not to get a registration username and password.

PETA sues to block transfer of 4 elephants from farm

The plan to send four elephants from a controversial farm in McHenry County to a foundation in Oklahoma that is affiliated with a circus has sparked a federal lawsuit to stop the transfer.

Unable to reach an agreement that would send all 12 of Hawthorn Corp.'s remaining elephants to a Tennessee sanctuary, the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month approved the transfer of four of them from the circus-training facility near Richmond to the Endangered Ark Foundation in Hugo, Okla.

That angered People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals because the foundation is run by the same family that manages the Carson & Barnes Circus. PETA calls all circuses "three rings of abuse."

Jen's comment: "So it's better to leave the critters where they'll get substandard care than to have them cared for properly but maybe get trained to do some things." My thoughts -- I am not an authority on Circuses and there are probably some bad Circuses out there but I am seeing a mental pattern in PETA similar to the mental pattern environmental groups have towards logging. All Bad. Must Stop. Living here in the middle of logging country reveals the truth that loggers are the most environmentally conscious people out there. They want the trees to grow so that their next generation can come back and harvest them.Practices that damage the soil or creates environmental problems are simply not done. If a procedure is discovered to cause damage, it is changed. Jen and I have both taken tours through managed forests and they are gorgeous and healthy. As for the Elephants, they may be asked to do tricks but they are very social animals and I bet that these critters are acclimated to large groups of people and would love to perform. To read more about this group of loving individuals (here is a photo of their founder Ingrid Newkirk -- what a harpy)


check out this entry at the Activist Cash website. Be sure to check the links: SOURCE LIBRARY AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

  • Click here to learn what motivates PETA.
  • Click here to read about PETA's "black eyes."
  • Click here to find out where PETA's millions come from.
  • Click here for audio and video of PETA officers and other animal rights extremists.
  • Click here to discover how PETA is connected to other activist groups.
  • Click here to see PETA's cash donation to the terrorist Earth Liberation Front.
  • Click here to see $70,000 in PETA grants to a convicted animal-rights arsonist.
  • Click here to see the money trail between PETA and its phony "physicians committee" front group.
  • Click here to learn about PETA's hypocritical practice of killing thousands of animals.

A bunch of hypocrites in my book -- they are in it for the money...

Fascinating Band

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I want to hear these people perform:
From this article at the Guardian:
'I like tights - and very pointy shoes'
Their clothes went out of fashion 500 years ago, but Circulus are playing some of the hippest venues in the country. Alexis Petridis meets Britain's number one medieval folk band.

On an overcast Tuesday afternoon, a commotion is taking place on the roof of a terraced house in south-east London. Circulus, a septet who can lay claim to being Britain's foremost medieval-influenced progressive psychedelic folk band, are having their photograph taken. This is proving to be a complicated and noisy process.
Emphasis mine -- like I sad: "I want to hear these people perform" The rest of the article is a hoot -- these people are definitely having waaay too much fun. Here are two paragraphs describing their upcoming album:
With its rauch pfeifers and crumhorns, psychedelic guitar solos, squealing vintage synthesisers and songs about pixies and burning scarecrows, Circulus' debut album, The Lick on the Tip of an Envelope Yet to Be Sent, is so far removed from anything else currently available, so blithely unconcerned with any contemporary notions of cool, that it makes for genuinely shocking listening.

It is by turns preposterous, unsettling, tear-jerkingly beautiful and wonderfully refreshing: the one thing it is not is a concerted effort to storm the charts by sounding a bit like Coldplay or Franz Ferdinand, which may explain the flurry of critical excitement the band are currently generating. But it is merely the tip of the iceberg, the musical wing of a wilfully skewed world view that Tyack has been formulating since a visit to America in the late 80s, when homesickness led him to begin attending Elizabethan music concerts: "When I discovered Elizabethan music I was like, wow," he says. "It was exactly what I was pining for, some ancient culture. I didn't really want to hear any modern music at all. All I did was go to early music concerts and mix with early music boffins for about five years, discovering a whole world of ..." His voice trails off as he searches for the right phrase. "Something great," he decides, with a beatific grin.
The band has a website at Circulus

Dr. Sanity talks about two scathing reports:

Medical Scaremongering
Nobel prizewinners in the Royal Society attack Lancet editor over publication of flawed research, and using "scaremongering" tactics:
The letter suggests that the decision to publish such research stemmed from a desire to attract headlines and not from balanced assessment of the best evidence. "The remarkably poor editorial judgment responsible for this policy is reflected again in the present egregious, error-strewn and wholly unwarranted attack on the Royal Society," it said.

Professor Mark Pepys, of the Royal Free Hospital, London, who drafted the letter, said: "The Pusztai and MMR papers are the two most serious examples. The MMR study was not well reviewed � it was a disgracefully bad piece of work and the decision to publish it was clearly scaremongering.

"It has had terrible effects: children have died of measles, mumps is now out there, it has ruined the vaccination programme for MMR and cost the British taxpayer millions to repair the damage." Other signatories include Sir Paul Nurse and Sir Aaron Klug, who have won Nobel prizes for their work, Sir Walter Bodmer, one of the world�s leading geneticists, and the neuroscientist Dame Nancy Rothwell.

The Lancet paper on MMR was trying to link a mercury-based preservative Thimerosol used in this vaccine to incidents of Childhood Autism. Thimerosol has been in use in this capacity since the 1930's -- why the sudden connection... The Pusztai paper referenced was one written by one Arpad Pusztai who discovered that if you fed Genetically Modified potatoes to Rats, they had problems. What Dr. Pusztai neglected to mention is that potatoes belong to the Solanaceae family, the same family as Deadly Nightshade, and are toxic to rats. Any potatoes...

Dr. Sanity then goes on to a personal issue, Hormone Replacement Therapy and the problems that a Lancet paper has caused her:

The article goes on to discuss the infamous Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) study:
In 2003 Professor David Purdie, of Hull-York Medical School, a leading authority on HRT, criticised a Lancet study suggesting that the treatment could double the risk of breast cancer as "unbalanced and inflammatory".

An accompanying editorial that urged women to stop taking HRT in light of evidence about its health risks caused further outrage among doctors, who said that it would dissuade thousands from taking a medication with proven benefits.
I have lived in a state of mildly simmering outrage ever since the above was touted in the medical community some years ago. My own outrage stems from the fact that I was going through menopause at the time and began to get flack from my physicians about my decision to go with HRT and then ERT (Estrogen-only replacement therapy). What many of my doctors couldn't seem to understand was that I could not function without the HRT. I went for months without sleeping through the night; I had almost continual hot flashes; panic attacks, irritability and mood swings. One helpful doctor wanted to put me on antidepressants.

Why, I asked, couldn't I get back on HRT? Oh, I was told, the risks are too great. Well, I went to the original literature and read the articles--and lo and behold, it was exactly as Dr. Purdie suggested above. For example, when you are talking about a 20 in 1000 chance of developing breast cancer (which is the risk WITHOUT EITHER HRT OR ERT) doubling--you get 40 in 1000 (that's the actual risk of HRT; if you use ERT, the risk goes from 20 in 1000 to 25 in 1000). Let me tell you, that risk seemed pretty darn good to me in exchange for being able to sleep and function as a normal human being again.

She goes on for a few more paragraphs and then has this trenchant observation:

I know women who decided never to take hormone replacement therapy because of these studies. Some of them have never returned to feeling as well as they did pre-menopause. Others, it doesn't seem to bother much. I suspect there is considerable individual physiological variability associated with the number of estrogen receptors and such, which probably determines how sensitive one is to estrogen depletion. But it is an individual thing, and each individual should decide for themselves whether the risk is worth it or not. Everything in life is a trade-off, after all. It is only in a culture where litigation thrives that miracle drugs like HRT, or anti-inflammatory agents (e.g., Vioxx, Celebrex, Ibuprofen etc.) are damned because they have side effects. EVERY SINGLE DRUG HAS SIDE EFFECTS. Litigation is only possible if the individual abrogates his/her own personal responsibility in determining what the risk versus benefit is for each medication they are prescribed.

So true -- the concept that someone can assume personal responsibility over their lives is becoming alien to this culture. We see this all the time since moving up to a farm 45 minutes away from the nearest city. People from the city ask us what would we do if... and our answer is deal with it. They cannot wrap their brains around this simple concept.

One nice side effect is that Jen and I are a lot happier -- we are in control of our lives a lot more than when we were living in Seattle. Happier and healthier...

IFM's "Peace Memorial" -- a commentary

Jeff Jarvis has an excellent proposal for how to replace the 300,000 sq. ft. space allocated to a bunch of terrorist appeasers masquerading as the sensitive left.

I wrote about this story here. Jeff says:

Using the innocents, continued
I've changed my mind. I don't want to redo the International Freedom Center to turn it from an flagellation fest into a celebration of democracy and freedom in America.

No, I want to eliminate it.

The memorial at the World Trade Center should say everything that needs to be said.

So in the place of the so-called Freedom Center, I want to see the truest expression of American freedom: commerce.

I want to see stores that sell scanty clothes, no burkas allowed.

I want to see restaurants that serve liquor.

I want to see movies that show anything, even sex.

I want to see bookstores that celebrate free speech.

I want to see stores selling products from all over the world: the fruits of globalization.

I want to see life there. Defiant, unapologetic life.

Just to be clear (reacting to a comment): I am not talking about the memorial; I endorse the memorial. It is this -- as Ed Cone put it -- noise around that from the Freedom Center that is bothersome.

So don't bother with the Freedom Center, not here. Let the memorial speak for itself. And hand the rest of the space back to the living. That's what I'm trying to say, in my hyperbolic way.

Hat tip to the Physics Geek.

OMG! Talk about spinoffs...

As the website said:
Sometimes, we at Medgadget lose our objective, professional detachment and can only say: this would be frickin' awesome.
From Medgaget:
Holographic Movies for Medical Imaging
You might not expect a professor of biochemistry and internal medicine to develop holographic television. But Dr. Harold Garner is well on his way toward doing just that, and now Popular Science has labelled his early work one of five "great ideas for the future":
The heart of the holographic system is the digital light processing micro-mirror chip, made by Texas Instruments and currently used in television, video and movie projectors. Those devices incorporate a computer that processes an incoming digital signal by rapidly - several thousand times a second - changing the angle of each micro-mirror to reflect light from a regular light bulb. The resulting image is a two-dimensional video projected onto a screen.

...Dr. Garner's system also requires a different kind of digital signal than those feeding into today's projection TV sets. His signal is a sequence of two-dimensional interference patterns, called interferograms, which can be generated either from scratch or from data gathered from 3-D imaging applications, such as sonograms, CAT scans, magnetic resonance imaging, radar, sonar or computer-aided drafting.

"This technology is potentially powerful for medical applications," Dr. Garner said. "We could easily take data from existing 3-D imaging technologies and feed that into our computer algorithms to generate two-dimensional interferograms."

On a computer screen, interferograms look like tiny random black dots similar to an off-the-air TV channel's "snow." But the patterns, when fed into the digital light processing micro-mirror chip, cause the tiny mirrors to change in a way that, when laser light is reflected off them, projects a 3-D moving image that appears suspended in air, in a special material called agarose gel, or on a stack of liquid crystal plates similar to computer screens.

"Holographic visualization of organs, for example, would improve diagnosis of ailments such as a swollen, damaged or malformed heart," Dr. Garner said. Other possible medical applications include visualization aids for training surgeons, measuring teeth and bone development, and viewing the possible results of plastic surgery before it's actually done.
Sometimes, we at Medgadget lose our objective, professional detachment and can only say: this would be frickin' awesome. One of us is particularly tickled by the fact that the 3D images are reconstructed in a tank filled with agarose gel, which was a prominent player from our laboratory days.

There's more at Dr. 'Skip' Garner's website, 'Garnering Information'. There's no movies of beating human hearts yet, just some helicopters and fighter jets - because those are cool too.
Ring Ring Ring... Dr. Gardner, this is Dr. Lindstrom from the Nobel Prize Committee. Are you available to come to Stockholm this Fall. Wanting to decrypt holographic data and seeing that an off-the-shelf Texas Instruments DLP MEMS chip would do the job well is pure Genius in my book... It is easy to have an idea. It is less easy to bring the idea to a successful fruition. It is downright hard to bring the idea to a successful fruition with C.O.T.S. technology. (Commercial Off The Shelf) Here is a frame from a video available here
and sure, the image is grainy and monochrome but so were the first Holograms. This video made me think of Doug Trumbull's 1983 film Brainstorm. I can't find any images online but the main plot device was a helmet that could record and play back thoughts and experiences. When first revealed in the film, it was a huge device with fumes from liquid gasses swirling about. At the end of the film, it was a stylish coronet about the size of a pair of sunglasses... Technology moves on and this is one to follow -- I will be there with some $$$ should Dr. Garner's company ever go public...

Home-made stoves

Some of these are for camping (ultra small and lightweight), some of these are for family cooking. Some nice design ideas, both thermodynamic and the use of found/recycled materials.

From the The Home-Made Stove Archives website:

This no-frames, no frills website is dedicated to those brave experimenters spending time in building their own backpacking stoves or modifying commercial made ones. When I did my searches on this topic it turned out to be a very difficult task to find out about models quoted in discussions groups and web boards. URLs are not always mentioned, links show tendencies to expire and change. So here is to you The Archives.

The policy here is kept simple: when interesting material is found on the net, a written request is sent by e-mail to the experimenter, asking the permission to re-publish her/his work on this website. The original material is kept as-is, the only modification will be applied to frames (no framing allowed here!) if this can be done without significant changes to the original pages. The author's website URL will be included as a link to the main page. An editor's note could be added and kept separated by the author's work. Anyone willing to submit her/his works, tips, findings, schemes, pictures, drawings, links, hints and kinks is warmly welcome:

Some clever designs including this one which is a redesign of the Sierra Zip stove: Peter's Redesigned Sierra Zip Stove Peter adds a battery powered fan to increase output and beefs up the burner and case still managing to clock in under eleven ounces for the complete unit.

A tool for artists

This looks like a really interesting project: InstantSOUP

From their website:

Welcome to InstantSOUP, an electronics cookbook.
InstantSOUP is a path into electronics using an approach of "learning by making", introducing electronic prototyping in a playful, non-technical way. It was developed following the experience gained in teaching physical interaction design at Interaction-Ivrea.

InstantSOUP is intended for an audience of design students - interaction design, product design, architecture - and for people who work with Macromedia Flash and Action Script. It makes the first steps into the world of physical prototyping almost as easy as preparing Instant Soup.

InstantSOUP is a way to connect the virtual and physical worlds. It teaches how to make physical input devices for games, how to connect repurposed electronic gadgets to Flash, how to activate physical objects from remote locations and even how to create little robots. When you start mixing the different soup ingredients your possibilites are pretty vast.

InstantSOUP uses the Wiring language and prototyping board developed by Hernando Barragan in Interaction-Ivrea.

Wiring is an off-shoot of the fascinating Processing language... Here is one of their projects -- Tinkertoy. A radio controlled car toy is under the control of the InstantSOUP board in front.

Click for full-size Image

Barn Swallows

Fascinating article on Barn Swallows.

We have barns here and love having the swallows nest -- since we have six critters (4 Goats and 2 Sheep), the swallows do a wonderful job of keeping the flies down.


I didn't know that you could make artificial nests or that they were that communal. Another winter's project...

Quick and Dirty IQ test

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Fun stuff.

Your IQ Is 105
Your Logical Intelligence is Above Average Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius Your Mathematical Intelligence is Above Average Your General Knowledge is Average

What's yours?

Not too surprising -- Education department

From The Guardian:

Only dead scientists are known to teens
Teenagers are so out of touch with modern science that they cannot name a single living scientist, a survey reveals today.

Environmentalist and broadcaster David Bellamy was the closest that two out of almost 1,000 respondents got. Others cited Madonna, Chemical Ali, Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher Columbus. Some students even plumped for their science teachers.

Students, aged 13-16, were asked to name a famous scientist in an online survey carried out by exam board OCR. Isaac Newton (39%) and Albert Einstein (29%) topped the list, which included Marie Curie, Charles Darwin and Alexander Fleming; but the students were stumped when it came to naming living scientists.

The findings also reveal that although eight out of 10 students (79%) said scientists were clever, just 7% said they were "cool or fun". Over half (51%) said they thought science lessons were boring, confusing or difficult - feelings that intensified as students progressed through secondary school in years 9, 10 and 11.

Students also resented the fact that science is compulsory, with many wishing to drop it at GCSE. If given the choice, 45% of students would take biology GCSE, 32% chemistry, 29% physics, 19% combined science and 16% would opt out altogether. Clara Kenyon, OCR's director of general assessment, said: "The results go to show the growing apathy in today's students about science ... It is startling that no students named those responsible for recent scientific advances, for example, Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep, or Professor Colin Pillinger, who headed the Beagle 2 space probe to Mars project.

Of course, they are more than happy to use tech (iPods, Nintendo, Cell Phones, etc...) but to actually try to create it? Naaaaa. Sheesh!

This group is organizing lawyers to represent the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Blogger Rocco DiPippo takes a closer look at this organization and what he finds is not good:
Michael Ratner and CCR: Fighting Against the War on Terror
On May 30, 2005 the NY Times reported on an increasingly successful effort by the Center for Constitutional Rights,(CCR) which it described only as "a group based in New York," to enlist lawyers to represent detainees being held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The story focused on CCR's success in recruiting prominent law firms to the effort including Clifford Chance, Dorsey & Whitney; Allen & Overy; Covington & Burling and Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering Hale & Dorr a firm that, oddly enough, also does business with companies involved in the U.S. defense, national security and government contracts sectors.

Now those prisoners, who Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld calls 'the worst of the worst,' will be allowed access to U.S. legal representation, setting the stage for what will be a major propaganda nightmare for those in charge of protecting the U.S. from the totalitarian Islamist fanatics who seek to destroy it.

Among those prisoners is Osama bin Laden's close personal aide and driver.

On July 23, 2003, U.S. Major General Geoffrey Miller said that three-quarters of the roughly 660 prisoners that were at that time housed at Guantanamo had confessed to at least some involvement in terrorism. And it is known that some of the prisoners released from the original 660 initially held there have since been recaptured in combat against U.S. forces. Nevertheless, the violent Islamists who end up being incarcerated at Guantanamo are treated better than any combat prisoners have been in the history of warfare.
Enough background -- lets get to the origin of this organization:
The CCR was founded in 1966 by attorneys Morton Stavis, William Kunstler, Ben Smith and Arthur Kinoy--all members of either the Communist Party or the radical left. Before forming CCR, Kunstler and Kinoy drafted and circulated a detailed memo calling for the creation of a 'new Communist Party.' That never materialized. Instead, Kunstler and the other lawyers, some of whom were also members of the National Lawyers Guild, a communist front group, focused their energies on building the CCR and formulating and fulfilling its main mission of clearing legal roadblocks for leftist revolutionaries and enemies of the U.S. and capitalist economic system.

In candidly describing his life's work of representing and advocating for violent radicals, CCR founding member William Kunstler once said, "I stay in this profession only because I want to be a double agent, to destroy the whole f*cking [U.S.] system." Throughout his life, Kunstler made clear that CCR's main mission was to keep violent leftist revolutionaries and other enemies of the U.S. out of jail and on the streets where they could toil away at destroying the institutions of American democracy.

Beginning in the 1960s, the CCR worked closely with two other "civil liberties" groups with communist and far-left pedigrees; the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), which, as stated earlier, shared membership with the CCR, and the ACLU.
There is a lot more here to read -- very well researched and documented with links you can check out for yourself. Obviously, there is a need for all sorts of checks and balances but this group seems to be pushing the envelope a bit much. The irony of this is that the United States of America is one of the few places in the world where they could get away with this behavior -- even thrive -- without disappearing. Hat tip to Charles at LGF
This looks to be an awesome festival if you are into Science history. Oak Ridge is one of the sites where the first atomic bombs were developed and its other name was Secret City. This weekend is the Secret City festival:
Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the End of World War II
More than 10,000 residents and visitors are expected to participate in the 2005 event which will feature the world premiere of the documentary film "Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story," a TVA/Manhattan Project Family Reunion, an expanded World War II re-enactment, Oak Ridge history story telling, fun activities for children and much more.
CNN also has the story:
Bomb-building facility opens its doors
Public gets rare look at calutrons that fueled first A-bomb

The government is offering a rare glimpse of the massive machines used to enrich uranium for the "Little Boy" bomb -- the first atomic weapon used in war, dropped 60 years ago in August on Hiroshima, Japan.

Inside the high-security Y-12 nuclear weapons plant remain the last of 1,152 calutrons that once filled nine buildings. The machinery was part of the top-secret bomb-building Manhattan Project, which turned this rural countryside about 30 miles west of Knoxville into a "secret city" of 75,000 people between 1942 and 1945.

"Don't you know the people in Knoxville wondered what in the world was going on out here," Department of Energy guide Ray Smith said Monday. "All this material was coming in, truckload after truckload, and nothing ever left."

Got kids?

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Then you already know this list by heart: Things Adults learn from Kids
  • There is no such thing as child-proofing your house
  • If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite
  • Baseballs make marks on ceilings
  • You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on
  • When using the ceiling fan as a bat you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit
  • A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way
  • The glass in windows (even double pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan
  • When you hear the toilet flush and the words "Uh-oh", it's already too late
Lots more at the site Heh...

A new tourist location

This is very cool -- I would love to poke around here for a while. From the NY Times:

New Sight in Chernobyl's Dead Zone: Tourists
Sometime after visiting the ruins of the Polissia Hotel, the darkened Energetic theater and the idled Ferris wheel, the minivans stopped again. Doors slid open. Six young Finnish men stepped out and followed their guide through a patch of temperate jungle that once was an urban courtyard.

Branches draped down. Mud squished underfoot. A cloud of mosquitoes rose to the feast. The men stepped past discarded gas-mask filters to the entrance of a ghostly kindergarten. They fanned out with cameras, to work.

Much was as the children and their teachers had left it 19 years ago. Tiny shoes littered the classroom floor. Dolls and wooden blocks remained on shelves. Soviet slogans exhorted children to study, to exercise, to prepare for a life of work.

Much had also changed. Now there is rot, broken windows, rusting bed frames and paint falling away in great blisters and peels. And now there are tourists, participating in what may be the strangest vacation excursion available in the former Soviet space: the packaged tour of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, scene of the worst civilian disaster of the nuclear age.

A 19-mile radius around the infamous power plant, the zone has largely been closed to the world since Chernobyl's Reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, sending people to flight and exposing the Communist Party as an institution wormy with hypocrisy and lies.

For nearly 20 years it has been a dark symbol of Soviet rule. Its name conjures memories of incompetence, horror, contamination, escape and sickness, as well as the party elite's disdain for Soviet citizens, who were called to parade in fallout on May Day while the leaders' families secretly fled.

Now it is a destination, luring people in. "It is amazing," said Ilkka Jahnukainen, 22, as he wandered the empty city here that housed the plant's workers and families, roughly 45,000 people in all. "So dreamlike and silent."

And a bit more:

It is what Mary Mycio, a Ukrainian-American lawyer in Kiev and author of a soon-to-be released book, "Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl," calls a "radioactive wilderness," an accidental sanctuary populated by wolves, boars and endangered birds. Its beauty cannot be overstated.

This would be awesome to see... Hat tip to Michael J. Totten for the link!

The xyzzy 'Effect'

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We have all heard about the pop-psychology Mozart Effect -- playing classical music to increase your newborns Braaaiiinnnsss... An email brought me this canonical list:
A new report now says that the "Mozart effect" is a fraud. For you hip urban professionals: as it turns out, playing Mozart for your designer baby will not improve his IQ or help him get into that exclusive pre-school. He'll just have to be admitted to Harvard some other way.

Of course, we're all better off for listening to Mozart purely for the pleasure of it. However, one wonders: if playing Mozart sonatas for little Hillary or Jason could boost their intelligence, what would happen if other composers were played in their developmental time?

LISZT EFFECT: Child speaks rapidly and extravagantly, but never really says anything important.
BRUCKNER EFFECT: Child speaks very slowly and repeats himself frequently. Gains reputation for profundity.
WAGNER EFFECT: Child becomes a megalomaniac. May eventually marry his sister.
MAHLER EFFECT: Child continually screams -- at great length and volume that he's dying.
SCHOENBERG EFFECT: Child never repeats a word until he's used all the other words in his vocabulary. Sometimes talks backwards. Eventually, people stop listening to him. Child blames them for their inability to understand him.
BABBITT EFFECT: Child gibbers nonsense all the time. Eventually, people stop listening to him. Child doesn't care because all his playmates think he's cool.
IVES EFFECT: Child develops a remarkable ability to carry on several separate conversations at once.
GLASS EFFECT: Child tends to repeat himself over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
STRAVINSKY EFFECT: Child is prone to savage, guttural and profane outbursts that often lead to fighting and pandemonium in the preschool.
BRAHMS EFFECT: Child is able to speak beautifully as long as his sentences contain a multiple of three words (3, 6, 9, 12, etc). However, his sentences containing 4 or 8 words are strangely uninspired.
Last but not least, the CAGE EFFECT: Child says absolutely nothing for 4 minutes, 33 seconds. (Preferred by 9 out of 10 classroom teachers.)
Heh... The Cage reference is to a piece that is actually very wonderful when played correctly. The sense of timing and introspection developed throughout is a delight.

Speeding Motorcycle

Cool fusion of technology for motorcycles -- hat tip to Gizmodo for this link. Available for Europe only for now but a simple thing to expand into the states:
(by Diode, they mean Light Emitting Diode or LED)

Speed Camera Warning GPS for Motorcycles!
Yes, the very first speed camera warning system that's perfectly legal to use in Europe, and that's based on GPS technology, finally makes the transition to motorcycles.

Back in June last year, I mentioned the French Inforad GPS system {link}, an innovative GPS that holds a downloadable database of all fixed radars and potential areas where mobile radars operate. When you ride close to an area where there's a radar, the system starts beeping and flashing a diode to warn you to slow down.

Well, the folks at Inforad have launched a MOTORCYCLE specific warning system! The new system consists of:
  • A fixed unit, bolted on to your motorcycle (probably under the seat)
  • A removable cartridge holder (the cartridge plugs into your computers USB port)
  • A small antenna
  • A diode on a 20 cm long tube
  • A powerblock wired to your battery

The central unit is connected to the removable cartridge. If new radar positions are available on the internet, you connect the cartridge to the USB port of your computer and download them. The cartridge has enough memory to hold 10,000 radar positions.

Sheesh -- take a community speedtrap database, add Lat and Long and some 'glue-ware' and you are up and running... Very cool idea!

A conference room

High Geekdom here... From the writeup at BoingBoing:

Late in 2002, [Dreamworks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg] gave his technology team six months to build a network that would bring all the projects to him. By the middle of 2003, DreamWorks was fitted for 21st-century moviemaking with its Virtual Studio Collaboration system bridging Glendale and Redwood City. Headed by Derek Chan, the team built a large conference room, two smaller video rooms, and a remote editing room at each site, linking the large rooms that McGrath and Darnell used to create Madagascar with a dedicated 30-Mbps fiber-optic line, and the smaller rooms with a 24-Mbps line.

The facilities are a work of design genius. The conference rooms are identical down to the maple furnishings and wall paneling, the swivel leather chairs, and the sliding storyboard panels. Chan's team tested 30 microphones to capture the broadest range of voice timbres and 70 fabrics to identify the color match that would make the remote collaborators seem most lifelike. The rooms have enough lumens to light a movie set and are outfitted with special light scoops to reduce shadowing and to keep participants from getting "raccoon eyes." Each room contains monitors and camera controls that allow people on both ends to work on the same files, view the same footage, or easily zoom in on a face, picture, or image.

The setup creates the illusion that distant collaborators are sitting at the same table. The staff now uses the rooms for everything from story pitches to performance reviews. "I remember when we wrapped animation on Madagascar," Darnell recalls. "We gathered everyone up here in Redwood City and they did the same in LA, and we had this party with cake and champagne; but for each group, half of the party was taking place virtually."

Very clever design -- you are seated at a table and looking at another table with your colleagues. Only, you are looking at a video wall and your colleagues are several hundred miles away... Jen and I see a movie every couple of weeks and most of the theaters in our area have digital projectors. In the pre-film advertisements, we saw and ad for using the theater for corporate presentations and meetings. Makes sense, they already have the projectors and sound system. Add a T-1 and you are good to go...

More Communist Dictators

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While we are on the subject, Val at Babalu Blog links to a wonderful entry at Reason over Might
Cuba's decline: By the numbers
The disastrous "progress" that Cuba has experienced over the past 40-50 years, during its "pretty revolution", can be quantified. The following figures are attributed to UN, FAO, and UNESCO sources and tell it all. A catastrophic decline in living standards, productivity, healthcare, and income -- all attributable directly to the Great Leader, F. Castro himself, beloved icon of the dreaming revolutionary left (see table below).

Interestingly, there has been no tradeoff for Cubans: they have not received better living conditions in exchange for less freedom or greater freedom in exchange for worse living conditions. Instead, they have received the worst of both worlds. They suffer their ignominious, imposed poverty in conditions of oppression, in a police state that negates civil liberties, where freedom of expression and political activity are remote dreams, where an arbitrary legal system means that anything you do or say can be held against you at the whim of the dictator and his minions.
Here are just a few entries from the table that John drew together. It lists numbers, the first one from pre-Castro 1959, the second one from 2004:
Population in million inhabitants
1959: 6
2004: 12

Per capita income, $ per year
1959: 1200
2004: 70

Telephones per 100 inhabitants
1959: 15
2004: 3,5

Electricity consumption per capita, watts
1959: 450
2004: 75
Sobering thought...

Mao more than ever

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Richard Bennett links to what looks to be a very interesting book:
De-mystifying Mao
This is for all you muesli-eating Guardian readers:
The author of Wild Swans and her historian husband, Jon Halliday, have torn away the many masks and falsehoods with which Mao and the Communist party of China to this day have hidden the true picture of Mao the man and Mao the ruler. Mao now stands revealed as one of the greatest monsters of the 20th century alongside Hitler and Stalin. Indeed, in terms of sheer numbers of deaths for which he responsible, Mao, with some 70 million, exceeded both.

Far from being the first Chinese communist leader to stand up for the Chinese peasantry and to respond to their needs and lead them out of exploitation, Mao is exposed as a man who disdained the peasants, despite his protestations to the contrary. He is shown during his command of armed forces in the countryside in the late 1920s and early 30s to have lived off the produce of the local peasants to the extent of leaving them destitute. He consciously used terror as a means to enforce his will on the party and on the people who came under his rule. In the course of the Long March, Mao is shown to have had no qualms in sacrificing thousands of scarce fighting men in fruitless diversions to serve no other purpose than to advance his bid for leadership.
As Richard says: "More people need to know this."

Cool tool

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One site I visit frequently is Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools. Today's entry is very cool:
Cheap car iPod

If you don't want to spend $300 for an iPod and FM transmitter, now you can get MP3 audio in your car for just $30 with the VR3. With a good capacity keychain flash drive (a 500MB stick costs just $45), you can load up lots of great audio for your car (500 MB = 8 hours of audio files, or 16 half-hour programs). Already own a flash drive? You are more than halfway there. Plug the flash drive into your computer's USB port, copy over the downloaded files you want to listen to, and plug the drive into your VR3, which sits in your car's cigarette lighter port. The VR3 plays through your car's FM Tuner and is grounded, so the audio quality is as good as your car stereo, at least in my and my friends' cars. There is no shuffle; files play only sequentially. But the player holds its position when you turn the power off (at least in our cars) -- great for audio books.

The play/stop and skip forward, skip backward buttons are easy to find by feel, in case you can't see the device easily because of where it plugs in your car. If you do have an iPod, the VR3 comes with a wire for playing your iPod out into it as well. It's really a beautiful little tool.
Very clever idea -- I already have a flash drive. I already have ripped a number of my favorite CDs to MP3. This $30 gadget now brings the two together and allows for a good selection of tunes in the car...

Small Balls in Japan

I'm talking about pens here -- what were you thinking? Japan Times has the story:
Pen makers cross swords in battle for thinnest lines
Sharper points for drawing kanji seen as critical to profiting from teen microwriting craze

In the competition for writing ever sharper lines, pen makers have been jostling for the title of the world's smallest ball points.

The effort isn't merely an attempt to satisfy engineers' egos; it is a critical part of the stationery industry's latest trend: ball point pens that can draw razor-sharp lines for writing microscopic kanji.

The field was pioneered by Pilot Corp., a leader in the industry, which released a pen with a ball diameter of 0.3 mm in June 1994. Before that, 0.5-mm balls had been the smallest.

"Initially, I thought it wouldn't sell," said Toshio Yamauchi, general manager of the writing instrument division of Pilot Ink Co., the firm's production unit. "The common sense in the industry is that a ball point pen should be priced at no more than 100 yen, and that pens with such sharp tips would only form a niche market anyway."

Yet, despite its 200 yen price tag, the 0.3-mm ball point pen became an instant and long-lived hit. In the past 10 years, the firm has sold 200 million of the pens in Japan.
And who is buying these?
In an unexpected development, the new pens started attracting schoolgirls who were in the habit of jotting tiny notes in between the lines of text in their textbooks.

The introduction of numerous ink colors also helped power the craze, which was adopted by young women and others who wanted to express themselves in different ways.

The colors used for writing itty-bitty characters in diaries or personal day planners change according to the mood of the day, company officials said. Some girls will even use more than 10 colors in one letter.

"Their feeling is not writing text, but rather drawing text, I think," Yamauchi said.
Engineers would be a good market too -- when I worked for an Engineering company, most of the people there liked really fine-line pens and pencils. I used to use Rapidograph pens a lot when I was in college and for a few years later. Switched to felt-tip, now using ball-point. Gotten more fussy about content than style...

Smoking is good for you!!!

At least according to the Chinese Government -- The Globe and Mail has the story:
In China, cigarettes are a kind of miracle drug
Here's some exciting medical news from the Chinese government: Smoking is great for your health.

Cigarettes, according to China's tobacco authorities, are an excellent way to prevent ulcers.

They also reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, relieve schizophrenia, boost your brain cells, speed up your thinking, improve your reactions and increase your working efficiency.

And all those warnings about lung cancer? Nonsense.

You're more likely to get cancer from cooking smoke than from your cigarette habit.
And follow the money:
Welcome to the bizarre parallel universe of China's state-owned tobacco monopoly, the world's most successful cigarette-marketing agency.

With annual sales of 1.8 trillion cigarettes, the Chinese monopoly is responsible for almost one-third of all cigarettes smoked on the planet today.
I wonder how much money this monopoly is bringing in versus how much the health expenses are (lost productivity, etc...). Goes to show what an excellent form of government Communism is.

Terry Schaivo -- the final autopsy results

The results of Terry Schiavo's autopsy has been released and it exonerates her husband Michael. CNN has the story:
Schiavo autopsy finds no sign of trauma
An autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.

But what caused her collapse 15 years earlier remained a mystery. The autopsy and post-mortem investigation found no proof that she had an eating disorder, as was suspected at the time, Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin said.

Autopsy results on the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman were made public Wednesday, more than two months after her death March 31 ended a right-to-die battle between her husband and parents that engulfed the courts, Congress and the White House and divided the country.
Time to put this to rest and move on...

The New Batman movie

Great review from the Canadian Canoe/Jam website. Considering that the review ends with this sentence:

Welcome home, Bruce. We missed you.

You can guess that it is a favorable one. Jen and I have seen some trailers and it looks good. Here are the first three paragraphs:

Batman Begins completes the superhero movie's transformation into meaningful cinema, a shift that began five years ago with Bryan Singer's play-it-straight X-Men.

It's as if the all-seeing, toga-wearing Watcher from the classic What If? comic books posed this stumper: What if a costumed crimefighter flick treated its subjects completely seriously, and rooted them in an alternate reality that's uncomfortably close to our own?

The answer is Memento director Christopher Nolan's cinematic reboot of the Caped Crusader mythos, a dark, stylish and gritty drama that happens to revolve around a guy dressed as a giant flying mammal. But it might disappoint action movie aficionados hoping for a Spider-Man 2 level of CGI pyrotechnics and pizzazz, and who aren't willing to embrace a meatier, brainier take on the genre.

Jen and I are psyched. This looks to be really really good...

Running Windows 2K SP4 (plus latest security fixes) Earlier today, I was resizing a window and accidentally grabbed the Taskbar instead, drawing it up to cover about 50% of the screen area. Of course, the desktop icons are now squished into the top 50% of the screen but my BIG QUESTION is this. Whenever I open an IE session from the IE icon or from the quick launch icon in the Taskbar, everything is fine -- I get a nice full-screen instance of IE. If I see a link I want to follow and right-click on it and ask IE: "Open in New Window", the #@$& new window that opens covers the top 50% of the screen instead of all of it. Some how, my raising the Taskbar caused Internet Explorer to limit its function. I have poked around the registry as much as I feel comfortable. Does anyone know how to get my child windows to open full-size? I am embarrassed for having to ask -- worked at MSFT for five years (perma and full-time) and was on the ship team for Windows 2K Datacenter but this just plain has me stumped...
Working on some other stuff so not as much time to surf as usual. I'll have a couple posts up this evening though...

All cooped up

Wrote about building some bird coops at our Farm website: All Cooped Up

Quake in Chile

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There has been a Magnetude 7.9 earthquake in Chile 70 miles ENE of Iquique, Chile (pop 206,000) Link here: Magnitude 7.9 - TARAPACA, CHILE Bloomberg News has a preliminary report.
Northern Chile Is Hit by Magnitude 7.9 Earthquake (Update2)
A magnitude 7.9 earthquake shook northern Chile, at 18:44 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Web site. The government said at least one person died in the quake.

The quake was located in the mountains 115 kilometers (71.5 miles) east northeast of the city of Iquique in north Chile, the USGS said. The epicenter of the earthquake, which struck 1,515 kilometers north of Santiago, was 111 kilometers below ground.

Dionisio Perez, 80, died when his home fell on him, Jorge Correa, undersecretary of the interior, said. The quake caused houses to collapse and caused power and telephone outages. Electricity is being restored in some areas, Correa said. As many as 6 more may have died.

Aftershocks from the quake may last for a month, Chilevision said. Chile, the world's largest copper producer, is one of the world's most seismically active nations. In 1960, 5,000 people died in the country when it was hit by a 9.5 earthquake, the largest recorded in the world, according to the Web site of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Fifty Writing Tools

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Roy Peter Clark at the Poynter Institute wrote a series of weekly columns last year outlining fifty tools for better writing. The introduction is here: Fifty Writing Tools
At times, it helps to think of writing as carpentry. That way, writers and editors can work from a plan and use tools stored on their workbench. You can borrow a writing tool at any time. And here's a secret: Unlike hammers, chisels, and rakes, writing tools never have to be returned. They can be cleaned, sharpened, and passed on.

Each week, for the next 50, I will describe a writing tool that has been useful to me. I have borrowed these tools from writers and editors, from authors of books on writing, and from teachers and writing coaches. Many come from the X-ray reading of texts I admire.
Here are the first two paragraphs fromWriting Tool #28: Writing Cinematically
Turn your notebook into a camera.
Before there was cinema, writers wrote cinematically. Influenced by the visual arts -- by portraits and tapestries -- authors have long understood how to shift their focus back and forth to capture both landscape and character.

Many authors now write books with movies in mind. But cinematic techniques can be traced to the earliest expression of English literature. A thousand years ago, the unnamed poet who wrote the epic "Beowulf" knew how to write cinematically. He could pull back the lens to establish heroic settings of land and sea; and he could move in close to see the jeweled fingers of the queen or the demonic light in a monster's eyes.
Good stuff...

Windows XP Security issues

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Long and good essay on security issues with Windows XP along with some excellent ideas for securing your computing environment. From Futurepower
Windows XP Shows the Direction Microsoft is Going.
You have a right to know.

You have a right to all the information you need to make an informed choice about any product you buy.

The author wrote this article because of the need to give his customers fundamental information about the direction Microsoft wants to take them. Few people have the technical background to understand fully the advantages and disadvantages of software as complex as an operating system. Without fundamental information, it is difficult for non-professionals to understand the advice of professionals.

The author is not anti-Microsoft in any way. There appear to be management problems at Microsoft, but the author would like any problems to be fixed, rather than have the entire world suffer through Microsoft doing poorly. Because he has spent considerable time trying to understand the problems, and because he cares deeply about fixing the problems, the author is, in that sense, "more pro-Microsoft than Bill Gates".
One idea that I really liked is based on the thought that you do not need a powerful computer to read email and surf the web. The author (Michael Jennings) wrote:
There is a solution to problems with network security of Microsoft software that involves using two computers for each user. Use an old computer to connect to the Internet; it does not matter if it is slow. Run the Linux operating system and the Mozilla browser and email client on the old computer.

Use a new computer for all other tasks. Use a KVM switch to connect one Keyboard, Video monitor, and Mouse to both computers. Run both computers simultaneously. Remove the TCP/IP protocol software from the new computer running the new Microsoft operating system, so that it cannot possibly connect to the Internet. For file sharing, network the computers together using a protocol like NETBEUI or IPX, or other means. IOGear makes KVM switches that have no video degradation at high resolution.
Very clever idea. I use my main machine for Photoshop and Music software. I do not need the power of this box for email or web surfing and I certainly do not need TCP/IP for the household network. The box that runs the weather station does need to upload it's files to our Brown Snout Farms weather station page but that can be done in several different ways (copy the files to the email/web machine and have a daemon FTP them from there every 15 minutes.) The article was written a few years ago but it is still current and has lots of useful suggestions for securing your box.

People unclear on the concept

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This story is so wrong in so many ways it defies commentary. From the SF Gate website:
Mother shut boy in basement to protect him from pit bull
12-year-old was killed by family dog; owner sees death as tragic accident but defends the breed as loving pets

Hours before being mauled to death by the family pit bull, 12-year- old Nicholas Faibish had been told to stay in the basement separated from the dogs, said his distraught mother, Maureen Faibish, who called The Chronicle on Saturday, trying to make sense of what she called a "freak accident."

"I put him down there, with a shovel on the door," said Faibish, who had left the boy alone with the dogs on June 3 to run some errands. "He had a bunch of food. And I told him, 'Stay down there until I come back.' Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me."
And the attack:
On the day of the attack, Maureen Faibish arrived at the family home at 711 Lincoln Way about 3:15 p.m. to discover her son's lifeless body in a front bedroom. His face had been mauled, and he was covered with bite wounds and had a hole in his scalp from the attack.
And the mom:
"It's Nicky's time to go," she said. "When you're born you're destined to go and this was his time."
Bullshit -- Nicky was killed because you were too stupid to see that your dogs were a threat and should have been put down. Since you left him in the basement, I'm betting that he had to use the bathroom. He was found in a bedroom so that reinforces my thought. What a horrible way for a kid to go -- bleeding out from a dog attack. As for the mom -- here is a quote:
"Even after the whole thing," she said, "I'm not mad at my dogs. I just love them to death."
The whole thing?!? Your dog just killed your 12-year-old son and you are defending the dog. I am hoping for a nice looong stay in the gray-bar hotel...

School "nanny-ism" gone too far...

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Timid, quivering and ineffective management is all I can think of when I read this story from the Boston Herald:
Science project involving BB gun too dangerous
Two middle school students who spent months working on a science project to prove how dangerous BB guns can be were disqualified from the state middle school science fair - because BB guns are too dangerous.

Amherst Regional Middle School eighth-graders Nathan C. Woodard and Nathaniel A. Gorlin-Crenshaw spent seven months researching and testing their hypothesis that BB guns can be deadly and shouldn't be used by children. Minors can't purchase BB guns, but they can receive them as gifts.

The students said they proved that BB guns can penetrate a human to cause a fatal injury; pellets can penetrate farther than BBs; and clothing affects how far a BB and pellet will penetrate.

The boys spent about $200 on ballistics gelatin, which has the same density and consistency as human flesh, to use during their ballistic tests, which were done under the supervision of science teacher Jennifer D. Welborn and Nathan's mother, Sharon L. Downs.

"We put a lot of time into this - every Monday and Thursday since November," Gorlin-Crenshaw told The Republican of Springfield. "We devoted a weekend to the actual testing."

But 10 days before the June 4 event at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, they were told not to bother attending.

"We had everything ready except gluing the poster," Woodard said. "We got an e-mail that the project was hazardous and it couldn't be shown because they didn't want to encourage kids to use ballistics."
That is just plain rude -- a slap on the face. They could have allowed the exhibit but required that the guns displayed there be models or be rendered unusable. These kids sent in the plan and spent seven months plus $200 bucks. The article closes with the kids decision:
They boys were invited to present their findings to some judges and receive a certificate of accomplishment, but they rejected the offer because they weren't allowed to compete.

Woodard and Gorlin-Crenshaw said they were insulted by the invitation.

"I see their point of view. I don't agree with it," said Woodard, who used his father's BB gun for the testing. "I was really disappointed. We had a good point to prove."

The pupils said they're going to send their findings to the Amherst Police Department for review, which in recent years has had to deal with the use of BB guns more frequently during the commission of crimes.
Good on them -- they had the stones to not settle for appeasement and are still more than happy to release their data to people who can actually use it.
Blogger Mark in Mexico pinged my site with a reference to this post of his. I think it is well worth checking out if you live in a city with a large Middle Eastern population and have some time to help out our new friends. (The true Muslims, not the Islamofascists)
SMCCDI needs your help (doesn't involve money)
The SMCCDI (Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran) is asking for information to help locate illegal polling stations being set up in the United States for the upcoming national election in Iran. These polling stations will most likely be in hotels, Iranian culture centers or maybe even in Armenian culture centers. SMCCDI says that, to be legal under Iranian law, the polls must be monitored by agents of the Iranian government. Those agents are currently not allowed by US law to move more than 25 miles from their offices in DC (inside the Pakistan embassy) nor 12 miles from their offices in New York (Iran's UN legation).

In 2001, the Iranian government tried this same stunt and the SMCCDI was able to get at least a large portion of these polls shut down. The SMCCDI says that many Iranian-American's are being extorted to vote because they still have family members or property in Iran.

Go here to read the whole story. Go here to read the letter sent by SMCCDI to The White House, Homeland Security and the FBI.
Good stuff -- if you want to do your bit for true Freedom and Liberty and have some time to ferret out these places, contact the SMCCDI and donate an afternoon of your time. The cities targeted so far are: Oklahoma City (OK), Cleveland and Columbus (OH), Chicago (IL), Scottsdale (AZ), Philadelphia (PA), Nashville (TN), Atlanta (GA), Tampa (FL), Denver (CO), Boston (MA), Potomac and Baltimore (MD), St. Louis (MO), Jackson (MS), East Lansing and Detroit (MI), Minneapolis (MN), Ft. Lee and Teaneck (NJ), Manhattan (NY), Manassas (VA), Washington (DC), Milwaukee (WI), San Francisco/Oakland and San Jose and Ontario and Orange County/Irvine dale and Downy and San Diego (CA), Houston (TX). This is election fraud of the worst order.

Logging Blogging

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Did a writeup of our visit to the Deming Logging Show over at Brown Snout. It was a fun show!

The Bushpig

No, this isn't a political post, it's a new toy to come out of Australia. The Bushpig. Think of a very small motorcycle with hubless wheels. The hubless wheels allow you to stick your feet in through the wheels and use your balance to steer it. Speed and braking is controlled with a hand-held throttle. $1,500 or so when imported into the USA. From their website:
Bushpig�s sideways stance is similar to surfboards, skateboards and snowboards with the center mounted high-performance 43 cc two stroke engine delivering a smooth surf-like ride and top speeds of over 20 mph. The slender mid-engine chassis uses two large hub-less ten-inch off-road knobby tires, which surround each foot making the rider's feet the axis of the wheel. This unique feature makes the rider literally part of the machine, giving the rider an unparalleled level of stability and control.
Looks like a lot of fun!

A word on Pacifism

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An interesting thought on Pacifism from Mostly Cajun
Because we made it safe�
I am often amused by protestors. Okay, add to that "infuriated", "amazed", "aghast", "flabbergasted" and several other words. Let�s just say that I peer into the "workings" of the "minds" of the opposition and have trouble understanding the logic behind their thoughts.
He offers a parable and then says this:
The anti-American Left would do well to learn th nature of the enemy. The fundementalist Muslim ideology is staunchly opposed to the licentious behaviours associated with the Left: homosexuality, adultry, pornography, drugs. If you want to see what the Muslim enemy has in mind for its "ordered society" you can simply look at Afghanistan under the Taliban or Saudi Arabia under the Wahhabists or Iran under the ayatollahs. None of these societies would allow the open libertine lifestyles which Hollywood and the Left wish to portray as the norm. The Left, in opposing the war against Muslim terrorists, finds itself in the position of an arsonist opposing the firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze in his own home. It their un-natural zeal to oppose the war and the administration which is prosecuting it, the side with the very people who hate the Left�s "ideals".
Well said...

How to Spend $50 Billion


An interesting list from WILLisms:


The graphic and underlying data can be found here:

The Copenhagen Solution
Why global warming should rank at the bottom of the world's priorities.

We're not sure what motivated Tony Blair's visit this week to the White House; he came to town with a losing hand--and played it. The British Prime Minister wants President Bush to commit the U.S. to billions in debt relief to the world's poorest countries through a mechanism called the International Finance Facility, which the Administration rightfully considers a nonstarter. Mr. Blair also wants the U.S. to sign on to his views on global warming. This is tilting at windmills in more ways than the Prime Minister may realize.

Instead, what Mr. Blair mainly got was a commitment from the Administration to release another $674 million in humanitarian relief--most of it food aid--for Africa, above the $3.2 billion per year it already provides. This is not nothing. By one estimate, the additional money will help feed 14 million people at risk of starvation in East Africa for a year. But if Messrs. Bush and Blair are to avoid falling out publicly at next month's G-8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, they will need to do more than split their differences. A better approach to thinking about development is required.

Fortunately one exists, called the Copenhagen Consensus. The brainchild of Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg, the Consensus is an attempt by leading economists (including three Nobelists) to set priorities for spending on development using traditional cost-benefit analysis. "We need to know what we should do first," says Mr. Lomborg. "Not being willing to prioritize does not make the problem go away: It simply becomes less clear--and, most likely, more expensive to solve in the end."

This is what makes politicians and environmentalists scurry away to find a dank hidey-hole -- an application of brains! Sure we can dump money into Kyoto but it will not have much of an effect and much much more can be done by focusing in other areas. There are places in India and China where the air pollution is so dense it's visible from space. The primary cause? Cooking fires. If we spent $5 per household for a cheap stove and delivered fuel oil to these villages, that would do a lot more for air pollution than staring like a deer in the headlights at CO2. H2O vapor is by far the worse greenhouse gas but since we cannot do anything about that, we sit mesmerized by the one we have some influence over.

Great lyrics from the Cowboy Junkies. An excellent example of Irony from the NY Times. They did a very long (nine pages on their website) hand-wringing apologetic article on the horrible abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison and how the USA is insensitive towards the Muslims and all other people in general. The article is illustrated with photos by Andres Serrano. You may know him as the creator of Piss Christ -- a crucifix suspended in a jar of his own urine.
Please tell me where the hell is his moral compass. To support those people who say that we are horribly mistreating people of one faith and then to dunk the icon of one of the worlds largest religions in a jar of his own urine and call it art. Hypocrite is the word that comes to my mind...

2,000 year old seed germinates

From the NY Times

After a 2,000-Year Rest, a Seed Sprouts in Jerusalem
Israeli doctors and scientists have succeeded in germinating a date seed nearly 2,000 years old.

The seed, nicknamed Methuselah, was taken from an excavation at Masada, the cliff fortress where, in A.D. 73, 960 Jewish zealots died by their own hand, rather than surrender to a Roman assault. The point is to find out what was so exceptional about the original date palm of Judea, much praised in the Bible and the Koran for its shade, food, beauty and medicinal qualities, but long ago destroyed by the crusaders.

"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree," says Psalm 92. "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age. They shall be fat and flourishing."

Well, we'll see. Dr. Sarah Sallon, who runs a project on medicinal plants of the Middle East, notes that the date palm in ancient times symbolized the tree of life. But Dr. Elaine Solowey, who germinated the seed and is growing it in quarantine, says plants grown from ancient seeds "usually keel over and die soon," having used most of their nutrients in remaining alive.

The plant is now 11.8 inches tall and has produced seven leaves, one of which was removed for DNA testing. Radiocarbon dating in Switzerland on a snip of the seed showed it to be 1,990 years old, plus or minus 50 years. So the date seed dates from 35 B.C. to A.D. 65, just before the famed Roman siege.

Three date seeds were taken from Level 34 of the Masada dig. They were found in a storeroom, and are presumably from dates eaten by the defenders, Dr. Sallon says.

It will be interesting to compare this plant with the current Date Palms. I know with Corn, the first Corn plants were inedible by today's standards -- people plant the seeds of the plants that do what they want and unconsciously hybridize the crop. GM Foods has a long looong history...

Cleaning House

Finally! NASA has been spiraling out of control over the last twenty years or so. They are a government agency and have suffered from severe scope creep -- expanding until the bureaucracy was standing in the way of science. President Bush has appointed a new chief and heads are starting to roll:

NASA Chief to Oust 20
Shake-Up Linked to Mars Initiative

New NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin has decided to replace about 20 senior space agency officials by mid-August in the first stage of a broad agency shake-up. The departures include the two leaders of the human spaceflight program, which is making final preparations to fly the space shuttle for the first time in more than two years.

Senior NASA officials and congressional and aerospace industry sources said yesterday that Griffin wants to clear away entrenched bureaucracy, and build a less political and more scientifically oriented team to implement President Bush's plan to return humans to the moon by 2020 and eventually send them to Mars.

The moon-Mars initiative has put severe pressure on NASA's budget, forcing Griffin into a difficult balancing act -- trying to build quickly a next generation spaceship without crippling programs ranging from Earth observation satellites and aeronautics research to maintaining the Hubble telescope.

At the same time, the sources said, Griffin wants to restore NASA's glamour, reasserting the engineering and science leadership that has been eroding since the Apollo era. To this end, the sources said, he is willing to oust as many as 50 senior managers in a housecleaning rivaling the purge after the 1986 Challenger explosion.

"Some people make a lot of changes; some people make a few," said Ed Weiler, director of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "He's going to want people that are on his wavelength, and his wavelength is that he's an engineer and a scientist."

Emphasis mine. Cool -- finally, a Geek in charge rather than a Washington career-administrator. We had Americans walking on the surface of the Moon and got them back safely. Apollo 14 Astronaut Alan B. Shepard hit a golf ball up there! No other nation has done this. We need to keep going -- launching one fragile shuttle every two years doesn't cut it...

Scientology in Indonesia

Sad story about Scientologists flying to Indonesia to "help with the recovery" and also to recruit the population into their cult:

Scientology: Cult of greed in divine garb
Sri Lankans did not invite Scientologist to come to Sri Lanka and or sought their support and assistance. They came and saw the situation after tsunami favorable to them and in the pretext of helping the affected people; they started exploiting the human misery and began to proselytize Sri Lankans. Shame on them - said Venerable Medagama Dhammanda of the Asgiriya Chapter, Kandy.

The Venerable Medagama Dhammanda of, has challenged Scientologists to refute allegations made against them in Sri Lanka.

Having extensively investigated their activities here, he said that these cultists and other dubious NGOs rode on the crest of the December 26 tsunami. No government authority or any other reputed organization had either invited them here or solicited their assistance. It is they who had seized the unexpected opportunity, to expand their questionable activities under cover of engaging in social service. If they are sincere about their charitable intentions, he pointed out; they should stick to such work instead of craftily trying to wean away Buddhists and Hindus from their traditional religious beliefs. Charity demands nothing in return - neither political nor religious conversions, he said.

Emphasis mine on that last sentence -- well said... The article then goes on to list several investigations into Scientology that show them up for what they are -- a money-grabbing cult. Sad that they should try to capitalize on the grief of these people.

Lutes and Guitars

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Catalog page from a London builder of Lutes and Guitars. The level of craftsmanship is amazing. Check it out:
Click for full-size Image
I reduced the resolution of this image, visit the site for their full-size (and large) images. If you are into Music and/or woodworking, this site is a must-see.

Thermos Bottles

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Odd disaster from a Thermos Bottle... WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, MN has the story:
The Cost Of A Cup Of Coffee: $77K
A cup of coffee nearly cost a Twin Cities family the biggest investment most people will ever make: their home.

It is only fitting a story about something so destructive, one that sounds cooked up, would take place in a kitchen.

"I was in shock, I didn't know what to think," Ron Greenberg said.

Understandable, considering a cup of coffee forever changed Greenberg's morning routine.

"That's what I was doing here, is holding onto the thermos here, by the handle, twisting this, when the thermos broke away, the handle broke away from the thermos and it started shooting black stuff out there," Greenberg said.

Greenberg's two-year-old breakproof Stanley thermos broke.

"It was like a smoke bomb going off," Greenberg remembered. "It filled up the whole kitchen and the whole living room with a cloud of black smoke."

"I had no idea, when he said the thermos handle came off," Maureen Greenberg said. "I could never have imagined the mess we'd have."

That black stuff was charcoal, and it covered the Greenbergs' kitchen.
And the $77K charge:
"When my mom was packing my lunch, she washed the table once and then packed my lunch and then when I got to school and had lunch, my sandwich was black on both sides," 8-year-old Amy Greenberg said.

"We had to move out into a hotel for several days," Ron Greenberg said.

"To find it went everywhere in our house was really overwhelming," Maureen Greenberg said.

Even more overwhelming was after eight weeks of cleaning, the Greenbergs were stuck with the bill.

"The final total was $77,882.63," said Maureen Greenberg.
Their insurance finally paid for it and Stanley admits to having the same problem with other bottles. Their insurance finally paid the cleaning bill (after initially refusing it). Popular Science has an article on the Stanley Thermos and it says:
The ubiquitous coffee-carrying Stanley vacuum bottle has turned 90 years old. Like so many good products, it's easy to take it for granted. It's always there when you need it, and it works flawlessly. The container uses a double-wall stainless steel bottle. Liquids are contained in the inner bottle that's surrounded by a vacuum cavity, which, in turn, is insulated and protected by a barrier of ground charcoal--believe it or not. As unusual as the design may sound, it works. And although the design has been owned by several different companies, its most well-known parent is Aladdin. Aladdin sold the business and Stanley branding rights to Pacific Market International or PMI--a Seattle-based consumer products company founded in 1983.
I have one of their older Field Green bottles -- I'll have to make sure it never comes into the house otherwise this might happen:
Their heating system was running at the time of the bottle breaking and it distributed the charcoal throughout the house.

Big Solar

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The Fresno Bee has an article on a very large Solar Installation in Clovis:
Clovis fruit packer goes solar
The $6.4 million system is believed to be the largest in California.

With energy costs of $1.5 million per year, Pat Ricchiuti has a strong incentive to reduce the power bill at his business.

So, the owner of P-R Farms is installing what is believed to be the largest, privately financed solar-energy system in the state at his Clovis packinghouse.

The $6.4 million system features 7,730 solar panels � each 3 feet, 4 inches by 4 feet � on the roof of his 150,000-square-foot packinghouse. Ricchiuti's investment after state rebates was $3.2 million for the 1-megawatt system.

"It was the right thing to do," said Ricchiuti, president of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.
Here is a picture and a bit more:
With the 50% rebate, Ricchiuti will recoup his investment in about 11 years. With no rebate, it would have taken 20 years, and Ricchiuti would not have done the project, he said.
Got a question for you... What are the projected maintenance costs? This is a Solar Electric plant -- the energy is stored in batteries and these need to be replaced every three to five years.
Is that cost built in?
Solar Electric panels have specific lifetimes -- their output drops and they become energy sinks after about 15 years and useless at 30.
Is that cost built in?
The Environmentalists grouse mightily at the levels of pollution from silicon chip fab lines as chemicals like Arsenic and Selenium are used and released into the waste stream. The surface area of the Silicon in an average home computer is about the size of one or two playing cards. Here we are talking about over 92 Thousand Square Feet of Silicon chips and the pollution controls needed to compensate for their manufacture.
Is that cost built in?
Finally, you received a rebate of 50% from those ever-so-generous taxpayers of California.
How do they feel about subsidizing your business like this?
Do they receive a discount?

Sky Pilot

Interesting solution to the high price of housing in Silicon Valley.

From the Mercury News (use Bug Me Not to get the email and password -- save yourself from SPAM)

Sky drivers: Commuters take wing to beat traffic
It's commute hour on a Monday evening, and Bill Byrne is zipping past hundreds of cars crossing the Dumbarton Bridge and crawling up Interstate 880. Not by squeezing his car onto the shoulder, mind you, or by weaving in and out of traffic on a motorcycle.

No, Byrne is above all that. The 37-year-old applications developer is cruising 3,500 feet above the fray in a rented propeller plane. He slips into the pilot's seat for his commute almost every day, which shrinks the three-hour journey home from his Mountain View office to a 75-minute trip, door to door.

"I feel the best when it's Friday and I'm doing that," the Davis resident said.

Byrne is among a handful of Bay Area commuters who trade the highway for the skyway. These hobbyist pilots fly to their high-tech jobs in Silicon Valley from Oakland, Martinez and even Ashland, Ore. It's a way to escape the valley's stratospheric housing prices, avoid some of the worst commute traffic in the nation and reclaim a few hours of enjoyment.

The numbers actually work out pretty well -- the housing prices in the Valley are so high that by moving out beyond normal commuting distances, you are able to afford the purchase and operating costs of a private airplane. One person in the article rents his plane out during business hours to a local flying club and gets $80 or so per hour.

Urban Mushing

Cool idea out of Oregon -- Dog Powered Scooter


They mate a high-end street scooter with a harness assembly for either one or two dogs. Looks well thought out and engineered.

Here are two other photos -- the first is at rest and shows the position of the dog with the scooter.

Note that the dog is a bit behind the person allowing the person to control the dog and allowing the dog to see what the person is doing.

The second is the dog sitting, the design of the harness allows the dog to do this without changing the position of the scooter.


The scooter looks awesome too -- it is made in Taiwan from a Dutch design.

A bit pricey ($500 for the harness and scooter) but worth it if you are doing a lot of short hops in a city.

We have a Siberian Husky that loves to run and these dogs work well in harness. When we were living in the city this would have been a lot of fun for all parties involved!

A curious aberration of behaviour...

Meet Baby Man -- a 54 year old native of Phoenix, AZ:
From the Phoenix New Times article:
Baby Man
At 54, William Windsor sleeps in a crib, eats in a high chair and does it in his diaper -- by choice. Believe it.

It's late on a warm Thursday night in April, and William Windsor heads to the checkout stand at the Fry's supermarket at 20th Street and Highland Avenue, in central Phoenix.

Customers and cashiers stare at the 5-foot-11, 180-pound man, who is dressed in a pink bonnet, pink shorty dress, and white patent leather shoes. Gold heart-shaped earrings twinkle beneath his carefully curled hair. Under his dress, you can see his diaper. He takes his place in line with a carry-all basket full of juice and Gerber baby food.

"Oh shit! It's Baby Man," says one cashier, a Hispanic kid who's heard the legend but has never been a witness to the spectacle. "It's like Sasquatch!" he says. "You don't believe it exists until you see it."

And even then, you're likely to think Baby Man is the star of a hidden-camera TV show, a singing telegram, or maybe on his way to a costume party. But Windsor is for real. This is no spoof.

The customers waiting in line behind Windsor -- a 54-year-old semi-retired singer and actor, and "full-time adult baby/diaper lover" (AB/DL) -- are giggling, then grimacing. But Windsor seems oblivious.

When offered a business card and asked for an interview, Windsor doesn't bother to remove the pacifier he's sucking on before responding.

"Oh, cool," he says from the side of his mouth.

He promises he'll call the next day to answer the biggest question of all:


And then he gets into his Buick sedan -- personalized license plate: "DIAPER1" -- and drives home to his east Phoenix apartment where he'll play with stuffed animals, eat in his high chair, and maybe play on the Internet, searching for friends.
Then he'll wash his messy nappies before putting himself down for the night in a custom-made crib big enough for a baby his size.
It is cool that he gets to live out the lifestyle of his choice but jeeezzz... talk about wasting your potential. Running away from life. I don't care what kind of childhood you had (and the article goes into his history and it is not a bad childhood), this is a bit extreme. Don't you want to DO anything? To make a mark on life? UPDATE: Had to do a seperated-at-birth comparison with this moke:
Hard to say who is more self-indulgent.

A new Battlebot

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There is a special breed of Robots called Battlebots -- these are built specifically for competition with other Battlebots in a demolition derby sort of match. Meet The Finalizer -- this is the first Battlebot running software based on Microsoft .NET technology.
IT professionals and developers attending a keynote session at Tech�Ed 2005 today got a surprise guest appearance by The Finalizer � a high-end, smart BattleBot built with Microsoft .NET technologies by ASPSOFT Inc., a Florida-based software consulting company, certified Microsoft solution developer and Microsoft Regional Director.

BattleBots, best known for their to-the-death duels on cable TV, have been billed a hit sport among geeks. Tough, remote-controlled robots armed with lethal saws, pulverizers or spears, they are built with one purpose in mind: to destroy an opposing BattleBot. At Microsoft�s biggest annual technology-education conference, The Finalizer made three appearances during a keynote address by Paul Flessner, Microsoft senior vice president for the Windows Server System Division. It even participated in two of the demos.

In addition to getting some laughs, The Finalizer showcased the power of .NET and other Microsoft technologies that make it a formidable opponent in the BattleBot ring � and a useful prototype for scenarios outside the ring. The .NET platform is one of four key investment areas highlighted Monday in the Tech�Ed keynote of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
It will be interesting to see how this unit fares against real Battlebots. The Finalizer tries to add autonomous behavior to its actions -- this may actually be a disadvantage when playing with robots that are under full control by their operator watching the event. It will be fun to see what happens. It would be nice if "The Finalizer" website was better -- there is lots of flash (flaming logos personified) but very little content. This is a very visual subject and they need to get lots of images up there to capture people's interest...

The Fresno Beehive

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Jen's family lives near the Fresno, CA area and the main newspaper there is the Fresno Bee. There is an offshoot blog called the Fresno Beehive that looks pretty good. Lots of local culture and music.


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Neat online How-To manual in Wiki format. Lots of cool stuff including the Balducci Levitation Some stuff is pretty obvious, some not so. The site is fairly young so it will be interesting to see it mature. The Wiki format is interesting in that it allows people to go back an edit an entry that someone else has posted. The old entries are saved and the admin can revert back (in case someone posts SPAM). The overall effect is a good one -- I use Wikipedia a lot and have always found its information to be of high quality.

Trolling for Chickens

Had a wonderful comment left on an older post: Snakes and Democrats

A Mr. Thomas Wiler whose IP address puts him somewhere in Texas wrote back today with the following:

You generalize too Much. Your knowledge of chickens is limited. Much too limited to put it on the internet and waste my time going to it. I suspect you are a Publican as described in The Bible.I know many democrats who are kind and caring people who are more compassionate than are arrogant.I do not know that many republicans who fit this description.

Where to start...

First of all Thomas, it was not my knowledge of chickens that was being posted on the internet. The chicken story was quoted from another website -- the text was indented and I provided a link to the specific post from Mostly Cajun so that my readers could go and look for themselves.

Secondly, if I did choose to post about Chickens, I might have a thing or two to offer. My wife and I live on a 30 acre working farm in northern Washington. Among our critters include ten Ducks, 30 Guinea Hens and about 25 Chickens. Our farm website is here if you want to look for yourself. Our primary business is the production of commercial Hard Cider and Mead with the first products to be available this fall (in final stages of licensing). The animals are for our own food and for pest management.

Thirdly - the Publican comment. I am not a tax collector, I am a farmer. Besides, looking at Luke 18:10-14 we see that the Publican gets the better deal as he humbled himself before God and "he who humbles himself will be exalted".

Lastly, you say:

I know many democrats who are kind and caring people who are more compassionate than are arrogant.I do not know that many republicans who fit this description.

You might be limiting your relationships with Republicans as we know many who fit that description. Being patriotic and standing up for this country is not arrogance, it is pride. Understanding the big picture is not arrogance, it is the compelling need for the truth.

There are many Republicans who fit firmly into the braying moonbat camp and truth be told, I consider myself much more of a Libertarian than Republican. My switch from the Democratic party was not a love of the Republican party, it was from disgust at what the Democratic party has become in the last ten years. My vote last November was not so much a vote for Bush as it was a vote against Kerry whom I consider unfit for his Senatorial post let alone the noble office of the President.

Your very words lay claim to the mental blindness of the committed Democrat:

  • you misread my post and do not see that I am quoting someone
  • you make make claim after claim without presenting any information to back up your position
  • you then launch a personal attack with name calling
  • you make two blanket generalizations

If you have something meaningful to say or wish to enter into a dialog, be my guest but please do not post comments like this again...

Take Back the Memorial

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Among the plans for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center Towers, there is going to be a 50,000 Sq. Ft. Memorial room detailing the events of 9/11 and listing the names of the over 3,000 people killed by Islamofascist terrorists on that horrible day. There are also plans for something that has no right to be there. A 300,000 Sq. Ft. International Freedom Center -- a monument to the moonbats. The new website Take Back the Memorial has the details:
"Ground Zero has been stolen, right from under our noses. How do we get it back?"

That is the question Debra Burlingame asked on June 7, 2005. Ms. Burlingame is a member of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation board of directors and the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, pilot of American Airlines fight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

She asked that question because there are powerful forces in this country that believe Ground Zero should be the forum for their political ideology. They want to take part of that hallowed ground and dedicate it to a "narrative of hope," part of the International Freedom Center (IFC).
The website goes on to ask a rhetorical question:
So tell me, at Ground Zero, should we carve in cement and bury in an underground 50,000 square foot museum the names of the nearly 3,000 people that Islamic terrorists murdered that day? Should visitors to the World Trade Center�s memorial be left to wonder what happened that day and where the artifacts of 9/11 are? Above ground, should we build a park with reflecting pools, a cultural center, and a 300,000 square foot International Freedom Center where visitors can hear lectures and discussions on why they all hated us, what we did to bring 9/11 upon ourselves, and the correct world-view future generations must choose so they won�t hate us and attack us anymore? Why not also discuss all of man�s inhumanities to man, especially those by Americans on Americans and all the other people in the world, since time immortal while we are at it in order to promote our own political agenda? Does this all sound like a good idea to you?
The people backing this IFC are the usual barking moonbats:
Michael Posner, executive director at Human Rights First who is leading the world-wide "Stop Torture Now" campaign focused entirely on the U.S. military. He has stated that Mr. Rumsfeld�s refusal to resign in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal is "irresponsible and dishonorable.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, who is pushing IFC organizers for exhibits that showcase how civil liberties in this country have been curtailed since September 11.

Eric Foner, radical-left history professor at Columbia University who, even as the bodies were being pulled out of a smoldering Ground Zero, wrote, "I�m not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House." This is the same man who participated in a "teach-in" at Columbia to protest the Iraq war, during which a colleague exhorted students with, "The only true heroes are those who find ways to defeat the U.S. military," and called for "a million Mogadishus." The IFC website has posted Mr. Foner�s statement warning that future discussions should not be "overwhelmed" by the IFC�s location at the World Trade Center site itself.

George Soros, billionaire founder of Open Society Institute, the nonprofit foundation that helps fund Human Rights First and is an early contributor to the IFC. Mr. Soros has stated that the pictures of Abu Ghraib "hit us the same way as the terrorist attack itself."
There is information about what you can do to prevent the IFC from horning in on this sacred site -- links of people to write to and contact information. This is a sacred site and is the memorial of a horrible terrorist attack on the United States. We must not let it become a mouthpiece for the far left.

Another day at work

Mostly Cajun is a commercial electrician and occasionally writes about incidents at work. High voltage is a lot different than house current and it has its own set of rules.

Todays is a perfect example: Blowup!

Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Early in my career as a high voltage power systems technician I ended up in a facility which had just suffered multiple major power outages. An electrical fault had resulted in an underground 13,800 volt feeder cable failing. I was thrown in the middle of the whole thing, almost as an afterthought, but that was okay. I was there. While an electrical contractor was pulling in a new feeder cable, the client asked if I would help with their investigation of some other faulted equipment.

This plant is located on the northern shore of a ship channel, and on the other side of the channel is a marshy area, then more river, then lake, in other words, a lot of water. The prevailing wind is from the south, laden with moisture from thirty miles of marsh between the plant and the Gulf of Mexico. It's southern Louisiana, where the night time air is saturated: 100% humidity every night from May to October. The fault occured on a soft, muggy June night.

He is setting the stage -- the incident itself:

So let's fast-forward to that sweet June night. One of the operators is making his rounds. This requires that he pass through the electrical equipment room and check a few things. And he finds the air conditioner just died. The room and the equipment is still cool, but he KNOWS it's important that it STAY cool. So he throws open the double doors on the south side of the room, opening it to that muggy breeze. And he opens the north door to the room, so that the breeze can blow straight through. The muggy night air flows in and begins condensing on the electrical equipment which is cooled below the dew point.

Happy that he'd done the right thing, the operator finishes his rounds and returns to his air-conditioned control room. And in about half an hour, there's a loud blast from the electrical equipment room, and all the lights go out, except for a few ghostly indicators powered by the UPS system.

The whole story is great. Check it out.

Progressive Rock

The "ultimate" website for Progressive Rock fans.

Started off as an Italian student's dissertation and move online and translated into English. From their History page:

Even after being ill-treated and object of recurring criticisms by irreducibly detractors and although "out of fashion" for some time, Progressive Rock "music for the mind" today, still boasts, all over the world, innumerable admirers and collectors to confirm its large musical artistic value. Its principal characteristic is to be "timeless music", immortal, explaining the incessant interest enjoyed over the years.

Born in England at the end of the sixties and direct descendant of "Psychedelic" and "Pop/Symphony Rock", this type of music developed mainly in Europe until mid-seventies, the period in which its decline began. The principal philosophy of the creators of this current music was to experiment with new harmonies, rhythmic schemes to contrast the stagnant melodic scene of that period.

After the unripe initial alchemies experimented for more than a biennium, by various groups, amongst which we recall: Family, Blossom Toes, Beatles, Arzachel (Uriel), Soft Machine, Pretty Things, Group 1850, Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, Moody Blues, Nice, Skip Bifferty, Skin Alley, Second Hand, Giles - Giles & Fripp, United States Of America, Vanilla Fudge, July and Small Faces, Progressive Rock reached its maturity. Therefore, complex musical passages were composed. Intriguing and refined, some of which were surprisingly enjoyable, characterized by continual and sudden tone changes, rhythm and modo (in contrast with classical structures: verse, chorus, verse), and were of extraordinary lengths of time, covering a whole LP.

A huge discography with over 700 photos of album covers and MP3 clips; an excellent resource for this music.

Spray On Mud

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Wired Magazine has an article about this product for Off-Roaders who don't want to actually go off-road.

Spray-On Mud Makes a Splash
It's sold as a must-have accessory to give urban SUVs a whiff of the outback. But U.K. officials say drivers who use spray-on mud to avoid identification by police speed cams face hefty fines for obscuring their license plates.

Targeting self-conscious 4x4 owners whose rugged vehicles seldom see obstacles bigger than a speed bump, the enterprising British e-tailer behind Sprayonmud sells the scent of the countryside in a squirt bottle.

For 8 pounds (about $14.50), buyers get 0.75 liters (.85 quarts) of genuine filthy water, bottled from hills near the company's premises on the rural England-Wales border. The aim, says the website, is "to give your neighbors the impression you've just come back from a day's shooting or fishing -- anything but driving around town all day or visiting the retail park."

("retail park" is the British term for shopping mall) And there are people who will probably buy this stuff... If it was offered in the US I would get two bottles for some relatives of Jen's who do a lot of off-roading.

Poor Vision at NASA

Remember the Hubble Space Telescope and how the primary lens was made wrong -- they had to fly up a set of special corrective optics to fix it because the manufacturer screwed up? Something like that couldn't ever happen again now could it? Guess what -- from Yahoo/Space
Deep Impact Team Solves Blurry Photo Problem
The scientists behind NASA's Deep Impact mission said Thursday they hope to fix the spacecraft's blurry vision by using a mathematical process on the images it captures after they have been transmitted to Earth.

The announcement was made at a press briefing at NASA headquarters in Washington, during which the Deep Impact team discussed the special fireworks show the mission will is expected to produce on July 4th.

The spacecraft was launched in early January aboard a Delta II rocket, and is scheduled to rendezvous with Comet Tempel 1 early next month. Twenty-four hours before contact, the spacecraft's two main parts�Flyby and Impactor�will separate and take part in a very carefully orchestrated hit-and-run.

However in March it was discovered that the Flyby spacecraft's High Resolution Instrument (HRI) was not focusing properly. The team will use a process, called deconvolution, to remedy the situation. Deconvolution is widely used in image processing and involves the reversal of the distortion created by the faulty lens of a camera or other optical devices, like a telescope or microscope.

"The process is a purely mathematical manipulation that works extremely well," said Don Yoemans, a co-investigator for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). JPL is managing the mission for NASA.

"Even if you have a perfect telescope, which is limited by diffraction, you can use deconvolution to improve the resolution" Yoeman said. "The process is sometimes time consuming, so the biggest effect on the science is a delay while you do all the processing to get the quality that you expected."
'Scuse me for asking the obvious but doesn't the National Arrows and Spears Administration ever CHECK these things prior to being put on the rocket and launched? They must have enough rocket scientists there who could run a few simple optical tests in one of their large space-vacuum simulators. Buncha maroons! And yes, Deconvolution works very well for gaining resolution -- I do a lot of photography and use this tool from time to time. Only problem is that it can introduce artifacts so if you do not know what the original source looks like, it is not the best tool in the shed to be using unless there is no other hope. (ie: The optics are that much out of focus.)

Pulse Jets

Imagine going for a drive in this puppy...
Click for full-size Image
...and yes, the tubes near the drivers back are glowing red hot. Here is a wonderful site for building all sorts of jet and turbine engines as well as metalworking in general. The author -- Bruce Simpson -- has done an amazing job building these engines from scratch and documenting them on the website. There is enough there for a machinist to get started. He also sells a CD-ROM with step-by-step plans for about $40.

How to make a Million Dollars

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Good set of Powerpoint slides and notes from a Duke University speech from Marshall Brain (who has made a Million Dollars several times over) If you are of an entrepreneurial bent, you probably know most of this already but some good nuggets to pick up and well worth the five minutes or so to peruse.


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On a bit of a submarine kick since running into the Civil War/Jules Verne link.

(Previous entries here and here). Here is a collection of training manuals for the standard Fleet Submarine of 1940's vintage. These are Diesel/Electric boats. Amazing resource -- imagine being in one of these while you are under attack, the lights go out and you still know where each control is and what it does. The level of training is amazing.


I have had the pleasure of touring a few WW-II vintage boats, taking tourist sub rides and working with two small research submarines while in college -- I have the highest regard for the people who drive these boats. At my last job, we hired a consultant for a specific project. He was a retired Nuclear Submarine Captain and one of the smartest people I have ever met. One of the quietest too but when he wanted something, it got done. One of the reasons he was hired... (one of the parties outside the company was 'difficult')

International Postal Codes

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Need to mail something to another country. Here is the canonical list of International Postal Codes. This is what is required on the envelope for it to reach its destination.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

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I had referenced the book in this post about a newly discovered Submarine that may have influenced Jules Verne's designs for the Nautilus. I loved the book and loved the Disney movie when it came out. Our littlest Goat is named Esmeralda after the sea lion onboard the Nautilus in the Disney movie. I was digging around a bit and ran into this site. Appropriately for a submarine site, it is amazingly deep and vast. I present for your enjoyment: Vulcania Submarine
Click for full-size Image
This site not only chronicles Pat Regan's efforts at building the first working scale Nautilus Submarine but Pat also links to a lot of Verne, Disney and general underwater memorabilia as well as other people's working submarine projects. Befitting the original Captain Nemo, Pat now lives on a volcanic island and continues his work there. This stuff is for real folks...

Dancing to "Music"

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The Physics Geek runs into some strange things during his perambulations of the 'net. This one is about a guy stuck in traffic behind a car with a boombox.
I may be the most famous man in the upper Connecticut River Valley today. It didn't take real ID, nor surveillance cameras, nor road checkpoints. No, all it took was that pesky punk with the loud radio and the coffee-stained upholstery.

This morning I was sitting on the bridge once again, waiting for the train to pass. As fate would have it, who was right in front of me but Radiokid (that's right, that's what I call him now)! I was so happy I almost thanked him for the opportunity to right my wrongs!

Just as polite and cheerful as could be, I hopped out of my faithful 'Yota and trotted up next to him. "Hi!" I grinned. "Say, would you mind turning down your music, please?"

His response was direct and coarse, and I shall not here repeat what he said. Except to say that it sounded a lot like Fuck you.

That made me even happier. I looked at him real mean, like I was about to rip his guts out through his throat, and I said, "Turn it down right now or I swear I'm going to start dancing." I waited a second until he realized what I'd actually said, I got a great double take, and then I said, "And you don't want that." I then followed up with some more taunting, like Bring it on, and Don't think I won't.

Sure enough, he cranked up the volume until his whole car was reverberating. So nice of him to oblige.

And so, right there on the bridge, in full view of the morning traffic, the CT River, and the city of Brattleboro, VT, I worked it, baby. I didn't just put on a little cha-cha. Oh no. This sucker incurred the full measure of my wrath. And I don't mind saying, it was a damned fearful thing. Men trembled. Women shrieked. I give Radiokid credit -- he lasted nearly a half-minute before he pulled out of line and skinned out. I know exactly which move it was that crossed the line for him, too. But you don't want to know about that.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to beech trees for giving me the idea. Brilliant. Absolutely devastating. A million thanks.
This was not his first encounter with Radiokid -- the first is here I love it -- two contacts and Radiokid flipped him off both times. The author then applied satire and severe mockery and Radiokid folded. Gotta love it!

The benefuts of a Colldge Educashion

Kelly at Suberban Blight writes about a letter her husband received:

My husband Pete is a dean at a small university in the Atlanta area. Today, he received the following from a student:
My name is xxxxxxx xxxxxx and I am in biology. The instructors name is xxxx xxxxxx. The reason I am righting you is for the fact that he is giving lechers for the whole 4 hours and not giving us tome to work in team time. The other reason is for the fact that he gives us things to study and from the lechers and says to study tem because a lot of the questions will be on the test but his lechers and study's do not have any thing to do with his tests. Not only this he is giving way to much home work there is no why that you can read 4 chapters from his class and 2 from a nether and 3 in a nether and retain information for the quiz and test to read that much week by week remembering that is difficult I am not the only one that thinks this why in the class and I would like it if you could do something about this for all of us I can get a potation whiten up for you if you would like.
Now, granted, Pete's university traditionally serves kids from backgrounds that can only be termed as economically challenged. These students haven't had the best educational foundation to start with...but the young man who wrote the above letter is, in a very short period of time, going to be walking around with a college degree.

Pete gets home and she adds an update:

Pete read this post, and takes exception. My husband says that this guy is highly unlikely to be walking around with a college degree any time in the near future, unless he pulls some miraculous "Flowers for Algernon" stunt out of his ass. "We don't just pass 'em through, hon," he told me. "He still has to pass English...and me..."

Amazing stuff -- they actually let this guy out of high-school and he made it through the college admissions process...

Stanley Kubrick's Photography

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A set of gorgeous photographs by Stanley Kubrick at the Chicago Times website. The photos are here: Photos The story is here: Story
Stanley Kubrick gives Chicago a Look
Rare, unpublished photos reveal the early visual handiwork of a great filmmaker

Few people know that before he started making movies, Stanley Kubrick was a star photojournalist.

Six weeks after graduating from high school, Kubrick went to work for Look magazine the way other kids went to college.

Much later, Kubrick called his job at Look "a miraculous break." It taught him a lot about photography, but more that that, Look "gave me a quick education in how things happened in the world." In the summer of 1949, Look sent him to Chicago to shoot the pictures for a story by Irv Kupcinet. He brought back 40 rolls of film and a rare record of his own education as a filmmaker.
Here is one:
Click for full-size Image
Pump Room of Ambassador East, Chicago 1949
Original caption: Diners in the fabulous Pump Room of Ambassador East, however, think little of paying $10 for lunch.
Hat tip to BoingBoing If the Chicago Tribune website asks for registration, use Bug Me Not for a password.

The Joy of Tech

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Ran into this website through an email list. Fun cartoons. Here is an excerpt from the "Five Stages of Intel Macs"
Click for full-size Image

From the Department of the Obvious

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From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation comes this about a paper published in the Journal Pediatrics:
Delinquent Youth Far More Likely to Die and Die Violently Than Youth in the General Population
New study of deaths of delinquent youth, the most comprehensive in 60 years, finds minorities most at risk and girls increasingly endangered.

Plagued by a high rate of homicides, youth in the juvenile justice system, a group largely composed of poor racial and ethnic minorities, are four times more likely to die�and if they are girls, eight times more likely�than youth in the general population, according to a new study that considers violent death a major public health threat for America�s troubled young people. The study appears in the June edition of the journal Pediatrics.

"We need to get away from the stereotype that delinquent youth are just bad kids. They are a group of young people who are especially vulnerable to early and violent deaths," said Linda A. Teplin, Ph.D., Owen L. Coon Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, an expert on criminal justice populations, and the study�s principal author. "All the young people in our study had at least one encounter with the juvenile justice system," she added. "And that means there were opportunities to intervene."
A bit more on this study:
Teplin and her colleagues followed 1,829 youth (1172 males and 657 females), some for more than eight years, who between the ages of 10 and 18 years old came through Chicago�s Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. More than half of the sample were African American, almost a third were Hispanic and about 16 percent were non-Hispanic white.

As of March 2004, 65 had died, almost all in a violent manner. Homicides, murders that usually involved guns, accounted for 90 percent of the deaths, while encounters with law enforcement (technically known as death by "legal intervention") claimed another 5 percent. Other causes of death included suicides and car accidents.

Overall, the mortality rate among delinquent youth was four times higher than youth in the general population, even after controlling for demographic differences. Moreover, it was three times higher than the rate recorded in a 1940 study that previously had been viewed as the reference point for mortality rates in delinquent youth.
Duuhhh! And of course, like a true liberal, they are looking to fund a program to 'intervene' rather than deal with the problem at its source - a sense of entitlement fostered by the welfare society, the poor conditions of the schools and the difficulty of not being able to call a spade a spade. Bill Cosby is able to get away with his criticisms because he is famous. Someone less well known would be shouted down as being politically incorrect and not sensitive enough...


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Wretchard is on a roll at The Belmont Club with two excellent articles about conditions in Zimbabwe and the possibility of an uprising. From Monday: The Sound of Silence comes this report from Sister Patricia Walsh of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, which describes what is actually happening on the ground.
"Family and Friends, thank you for your telephone calls, your e-mails and all your support and encouragement in these dreadful days and hours - it is a great help.The international press says that the police are destroying "illegal structures" in Zimbabwe. Let me share with you a little of what is very legal but has been destroyed.In 1992 many thousands of people were put into a Holding Camp at a Place called Hatcliffe Extension, they were not allowed to build permanent structures because this was going to be temporary.
And more:
On Friday morning last week I got a call that the riot police had come into a section of the area and demolished everything - most of the wooden Shacks are just broken to pieces. I went out on Friday and Saturday - people were sleeping out in the open, many of them sick, cold and hungry. On Saturday I visited again some had managed to leave (those who have Z$500 000 - and have some relatives in "legal" places".On Sunday morning I got a call that the police had given instructions That all structures in the original section have to be demolished within 24 hours, including the cr�che, clinic and other structures which we had built with and for the people. Where do I get people on Sunday to come and dismantle all the buildings. I decided to wait until Monday. On Sunday evening I received one phone call after another saying "come quick they are going to kill us" - others would say "don't come you might be killed".Early on Monday morning I drove out to Hatcliffe, already in the distance I Could only see smoke rising up - nothing else. I arrived, I wept, Sister Carina was with me, she wept, the people tried to console us - they were all outside in the midst of their broken houses, furniture and goods all over the place, children screaming, sick people in agony. Some of the people who are on ARV drugs came to us and said we are phoning Sister Gaudiosa (Sister is doing the ARV programme) but she is not answering us, we are going to die". We explained that Sister was on Home leave but that we would help in whatever way we could.
And today: Zim talks about even more trouble brewing -- this time it's a 'Stay Away' -- a two day strike planned for this Thursday and Friday: Southwest Radio Africa describes the plan:
Please note that the Stay Away on Thursday and Friday is official - it has the support of all major civic bodies in the country. They are calling for a solid two-day stay away from work to protest in a manner that will not expose people to the violence and intimidation of the Police and the Army. Just stay at home - do your buying on Wednesday and then take a 4-day break. Do not go out if you can avoid it as there may be trouble and the safest place for you is at home.

Please note that this is not the only action being taken - there are several initiatives being run at the same time. Further action is planned for next week and you will be informed of this as decisions are taken and the relevant information can be released to the public. We are not prepared to take this nonsense anymore. The country is collapsing and with it our companies and jobs are in serious jeopardy. The Police and the Army are just as fed up but they want to see what you feel about this situation. The Stay Away is your first shot at this. Lets act together as we did before.
And Wretchard then comments:
My own simpleminded take on all this, without the benefit of special knowledge or experience in southern Africa is that the opposition to Mugabe will be nonviolent for now, but is unlikely to remain so for long. The reason: food. The Washington Post reports that Zimbabwe's granaries are empty and the only prospect of replenishment is international food aid. The UN is on the case: when Mugabe's in need, the UN will heed.
I have only skimmed the surface of each post -- there is a lot here to read (He provides links to the source materials) and something needs to be done. Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa, exporting food.

A Cuban Odyssey

People trying to escape dictator Fidel Castro's 'Marxist Paradise' of Cuba sometimes show an inventive streak that borders on genius.

Witness this one boat:


The report from MSNBC/AP

Let's grab a cab to the United States
Coast Guard intercepts Cubans in floating taxi

A vintage blue taxicab converted into a seagoing vessel and carrying several Cuban immigrants was intercepted Tuesday off Key West by the Coast Guard, a television station reported.

And the Coast Guards take on this:

The Coast Guard declined to comment. "Under U.S. government policy, we cannot discuss migrant interdiction operations until disposition is complete," said Petty Officer Sandra Bartlett. That process often takes days, she said.

Under U.S. immigration policy, Cubans who reach U.S. shores generally are allowed to stay while those caught at sea are usually returned.

I realize there are laws and procedures to follow but I wish we were more lenient about letting people in from Cuba. There are parts of the nation that are groomed for tourism but the Cubans themselves live in poverty and Castro's much vaunted health-care and education is a joke.

Hat tip to BoingBoing

The value of Google

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There are many ways to assess the value of something. Google is certainly of value to me -- I have it as the home page for all of my browsers and use it several times/day. There are also financial valuations -- Google has risen to the top here as well. BBC News has the story.
$80bn Google takes top media spot
Internet search phenomenon Google has overtaken a swathe of venerable rivals to become the world's biggest media company by stock market value.

After its shares hit an all-time high on the New York markets on Tuesday, Google is now worth $80bn (�44bn).

This takes it ahead of media leviathan Time Warner, which is valued at $78bn.

The valuation comes in spite of the fact that Google's annual sales total just $3.2bn, a fraction of Time Warner's $42bn.
Very cool - Larry and Sergey came up with an idea whose time was right, delivered a working implementation and proceeded to mop up the competition. Well done!

The Original Nautilus Submarine

Wonderful archaeological find as reported in the UK Times Online:

American Civil War submarine found
A unique boat from 1864 may have inspired Jules Verne to create Captain Nemo's vessel Nautilus

A BRITISH explorer has found an early submarine that he believes was the inspiration for Nautilus, Captain Nemo's vessel in Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

Colonel John Blashford-Snell discovered the half-submerged, cast-iron wreck off the coast of Panama while searching for ancient ruins.

She was built in 1864 by a visionary craftsman, Julius Kroehl, for the Union forces during the American Civil War. But the boat, called Explorer, was never used in the conflict and was subsequently taken to Panama where she was used to harvest pearls.

She was ideal for this purpose because of a unique lock-out system, identical to the one in the Nautilus from Verne's book, published in 1870.

The lock-out system is a reversible air-lock that enables submariners to leave the vessel, harvest pearls from the sea-bed, then return to the submarine. Like Explorer, Nautilus was also used to gather items from the seabed.

Colonel Blashford-Snell, who runs the Dorset-based Scientific Exploration Society, said: "I had been told about the sub 20 years ago and it was described as a Japanese mini-sub. I was then told that in fact it was just a boiler, so I didn't worry about it. Then recently I was on an exploration in the area looking for ancient ruins and forts. I was contacted by a maritime museum in Canada who knew we were in the area and asked if we could examine the vessel."

When Colonel Blashford-Snell and his team dived to examine the wreck they discovered that it was much older than previously thought.

He explained: "It was quite an experience because we had an expert with us who said it was much earlier than we had thought and in fact dated from the American Civil War. It had a conning tower and I felt as if Captain Nemo should be in it at the controls."
Very cool! I hope they preserve it.

Great programming quote

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From an email list I subscribe to:
The "C" language combines the power and speed of Assembly Language with the ease and readability of Assembly Language


int main()
    std::cout << "Heh...\n";

Would you like a bomb with that?

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Terrorists are infiltrating quietly. One small cell was found in Lodi, California. The Sacremento Bee has the story. (use Bug Me Not to get around their stupid registration system)
Two Lodi men arrested for suspected al Qaeda ties

Federal officials believe they have broken up an al Qaeda terror cell operating in Lodi and have arrested two men and detained two others as part of a wide-ranging investigation, authorities said Tuesday.

One of the men arrested, 22-year-old Hamid Hayat, is accused in a federal criminal complaint of training in an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan to learn "how to kill Americans" and then lying to FBI agents about it.

His training included explosives and weapons instruction and using photographs of President Bush as targets, court documents indicate.
When are people going to wake up and recognize the great sickness that has infected the Islamic Culture today. I have nothing against Islam but some of its practitioners are downright psychotic. For them, it has become more of a mental illness then a spiritual practice. What worries me is that the moderates will not denounce them. This would shut them up but the moderates allow them to survive and some of them actually fund them. "You reap what you sow" really crosses cultural boundaries -- if someone wanted to look for a universal truth, this would be a contender right behind "Don't Panic"

A well grounded man

Interesting article at Slate about Survivors of Lightning Strikes.
Don't Stand By Me
Surviving a lightning strike.

Jerry LeDoux is a guy you don't really want to interview, because interviewing him means having to be near him, and that's like planting yourself by a dartboard. The stone claw hanging from his neck attests to his grisly encounter with a bear's jaw at a roadside park in August 1990. (His wife, Bee, brandishes a photo album that documents the mauling before he's done telling the story.) The Purple Heart on his Navy Seals sniper hat testifies to the three bullets he took in Vietnam. The ugly black mark on his finger is evidence that he once air-nailed it to a floorboard. The scar on his left arm is proof that he accidentally screwed his flesh to the wall. The long knife wound on his hand? "Things happen," he says. The most improbable of his many accidents is the one that left the least visible evidence�just a few white splotches on his arms and a discoloration near his hairline. But that doesn't mean it's easily forgotten. LeDoux rolls up his sleeve to show off a tattoo of a man getting struck by lightning engraved on his left bicep.

All LeDoux remembers about the moment he was struck in August 1999 is that he was standing ankle-deep in a puddle when he was overcome by an intensely bright light. He woke up a half-hour later, 20 feet away, with a vague taste of battery acid in his mouth, he said. The soles of his shoes had melted, his two-way radio had exploded, and several of his teeth had shattered. The medical ID tag he wore around his neck was melted into his chest. He drove home from work that afternoon and was back on the job the next day. "I didn't even know I was hurt. I didn't realize anything was wrong," says LeDoux, a 62-year-old master mechanic from Sulphur, La. It took several weeks before he realized just how fried his circuits were�and almost six months to find a doctor who believed he'd been struck.
The Slate article goes on to tell the stories of a few other Strike victims and to describe some of the symptoms. Interesting in that no physical or neurological damage can be found by diagnosis but talking to a number of survivors, there is very much a common set of symptoms. From the Slate article again:
Tremors, mini-seizures, and sleep disorders are common symptoms. So are chronic pain and a lack of equilibrium. "I'm scared to death to get stopped on the highway because I can't walk a white line," says Bubba Babineaux. Many survivors experience intense headaches and a constant ringing in their ears. Some complain that they overheat easily. Babineaux, for instance, has shaved his head to compensate for a persistent feeling that he's about to spontaneously combust. In some cases, these symptoms don't appear until months or even a year after the accident. One widespread symptom is chronic irritability. "Anything would set me off," LeDoux says, with an unsettling glare, before explaining that he now takes nine medications to ease his pain. Lightning-strike survivors often talk about "mourning" their old selves.
There is a support group:
Lightning Strike & Electric Shock Survivors International, Inc. (LS&ESSI, Inc.) is a non-profit support group by and for survivors, their families, and other interested parties.
I have played with high voltage before and am in the process of accumulating the parts for a fairly large Tesla Coil.
(please note: The unit in this picture is not mine. It is from these wonderful people: HVFX Ltd.
Mine will be about the same size and performance.) I have not Danced with the Serpent yet and do not plan to. High Voltage is not House Current -- it plays by its own rules -- you need to learn a different set of safety procedures.

Least Wanted

A fascinating collection of non-celebrity Mug Shots archived at Flickr

Here's one moke:


A lot of them are from the early 1900's through 1950 -- gaunt characters who probably stole for food.

Fascinating cross-section of people in a Diane Arbus/Dorothea Lange sort of way...

TiVo hacks

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Own a TiVo? Here are a couple hacks you can do courtesy of Yahoo/PC World:
Secret TiVo Tips and Tweaks
If you own a TiVo digital video recorder, you know that this magic appliance can change the way you watch TV. But, with a little work from you, your TiVo is capable of much more. With several innocent gimmicks, you can make using TiVo even slicker.

Whether it's a simple trick, like turning your TiVo into a clock, or a serious hardware hack to increase the amount of storage space in the device, we're here with several tips, tricks, and pointers to more information, so you can get more out of your TiVo time.
A couple of samples:
An 'Easter Egg'

There's something about showing off some cute trick your gadgets can do that tempts all of us to push the buttons to see what happens. Many electronic devices and software programs have hidden features--often called "Easter eggs"--tucked away behind obscure keystroke combinations. TiVo is no different. To see a TiVo Easter egg, follow these steps:
  • Enable closed-captioning display on your TV.
  • Using your TiVo remote, go to Browse by Name.
  • Select the characters SHAGWELL.
  • Press Thumbs Up.
You'll be presented with a short video hidden inside your Tivo.

If you look closely, there are more Easter eggs inside this one.
And this one:
Get More Recording Time
A group of Linux gurus have figured out how to replace your original hard drive with a new one, or add a second drive to your TiVo. This allows you to upgrade the number of hours on your TiVo yourself while still allowing it to work with TiVo service.

There is now a whole forum dedicated to help with this procedure at the TiVo Upgrade Center.
The article also mentions the TiVo HAQ FAQ website.

Lego Loom

Elisa Stead attends Wellesley College and has built a working loom from Legos.

Click for full-size Image

Lots more pictures, text and the source code at her website. Very cool stuff!

Vintage Pharmaceutical Advertising

A website with a great collection of old Pharmaceutical ads from magazines.

Here is one for Injectible Whole Opium from Roche:


Lots more at the site. (I reduced the resolution and cropped the image to conserve download times.)

Update on Joan Felt / Adidam

I had written about the daughter of Deep Throat (Mark Felt) here and two people left comments that deserve a closer inspection. In my post, I looked at Rick Ross's websites entry on Franklin Jones. He is now called Adi Da Samraj and lives quite the life (private island in Fiji, nine wives, the best of food and drink) while his followers live in almost poverty so as to keep sending him money. Great photo -- I am reminded of a horribly spoiled and self-indulgent five year old boy.
Anyway, as I had said, two comments were left. The first one pointed to a blog by a Randy Hayes - a software author who was involved with Adida for a while. Needless to say, the blog was very critical and mentioned his dealings with lawyers. Unfortunately, although I had it on the screen last evening, as I was writing this decided to hit [F5] to refresh it and see if anything had been posted since then. It now returns the dreaded Blogger 404:
Click for full-size Image
Also, for a look at the amount of money that is expected by Adi Da, check out the second comment which is this link: Adidam Tithing Guide (October 9, 2001). Here are a few excerpts: From Adi Da writing on Money:
Do not lock yourself into circumstances that are non-productive. Create arrangements that support your individual and collective responsibility for money and for your support of [Adidam Samrajashram, Adidam], and the community organization. Do this maximally and collectively. Such responsibility is a most serious and real dimension of your Spiritual commitment. Understand your responsibility in these terms, and never violate it. Uphold these financial agreements as a sacred commitment. They are a clear sign of your devotional surrender to Me.
And the Money? Sit down and brace yourselves:
All Adidam members are required by their vow to Sri Adi Da to pay tithes & fees:

Payments for Sacred Purposes @ 15% of Gross Income
Congregational Services Fee: $10/month.
Wisdom Express Fee: subscription to the newly published Teaching Word -about $25/month.
Regional Fee to pay the regional expenses: $55/month.
Samrajya Fee: $108 annual fee due each July.
They then list these other "Optional Pledges"
Optional Pledges:
  • Yajna Pledge
  • Sacred Development Fee (formerly the Avadhoot Fund)
  • Other Outstanding Pledges (e.g. Auctions)
  • Gifting and Fundraising: Funds must come from excess and cannot jeopardize tithe and fee obligations.
And if you do not pay, they have varying levels of penalties for starting at two months delinquent -- here is what happens if you are three months late:
3 months behind: If you fall 3 months (90 days) behind, you will be required to have a cultural consideration and to make a new agreement about immediate resumption of payments. If the new agreement is not kept, you will be put "on hold". "On hold" means you are restricted from access to the Sanctuaries as well as from participation in Darshan occasions, celebrations, Guruvara, parish, and other community events. However, the "on hold" status does not relieve you of your cultural responsibilities (including financial).
Christ on a Corn Dog -- if ANY main-stream church had these financial requirements, there would be such a public outcry. If a priest or minister excommunicated a parishioner for not paying for three months, they would be removed from office. (Not being given Darshan is essentially the same as not being able to take a sacrament and/or receive teachings.) My first wife was very spiritual and we were involved in the Sufi tradition for some years. Islamic based but truly a Religion of Peace -- wonderful people. One thing that I really liked is that they had some of the world Sufi teachers coming through the Northwest for Darshan and teachings and although there were fees to attend, they were never exorbitant and if you were unable to pay, there were options to work, a few scholarships and no one complained if you only contributed a few $$$ if that was all you were able to pay. The fees charged by these teachers were not that much more than their transportation and lodging expenses -- they were operating from a pure desire to spread the word and teach people. The fact that Adi Da is so money-grubbing and lives in such luxury tips his spiritual practice over the edge and lands it squarely in Cult land.
A change in the force - as the Broward-Palm Beach New Times reports:
And South Florida's Tabloid Valley vanishes.

Checkout lanes at grocery stores are all the same. Behind the rows of gum and breath mints are America's most delicious impulse buys: tabloid newspapers.

Cellulite Stars!
Drug Collapse!
Angelina Rejects Brad!
Did Britney's Hubby Cheat?
Slater's Stripper Obsession Drove Wife Away!
Lisa Marie Presley Engaged!
You've thumbed through them. You might have even bought one and gawked at photos of Janet in a thong, Jack with his paramour, and Dubya with his pair o' twins. Maybe you've even tested one of those miracle diets.

For the past 30 years, the epicenter of pay-any-price, play-any-story journalism has been South Florida. The suburban stretch of Interstate 95 from Lantana to Boca Raton has long been known as Tabloid Valley, a place where scandal-, celebrity-, and money-obsessed reporters perfected checkbook journalism between sips of single-malt scotch.

But Tabloid Valley is disappearing. All of the major scandal sheets -- the National Enquirer, Globe, Star, and National Examiner -- have been consolidated into one company, American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, and in the past decade have seen plummeting circulation. Now, the tabloid of all tabloids is packing up. Later this month, the National Enquirer, which came to sleepy Lantana in 1971, will move to New York City. It will leave behind a history in South Florida that includes helping to knock Gary Hart from the 1988 presidential race, breaking the news of neighbor Rush Limbaugh's OxyContin addiction, and receiving a deadly anthrax-laced letter.

Behind it all is a story of unscrupulous journalists, illicit sex, Mafiosi, and a murder-for-hire plot.

It's a Shocker!
Next, we will hear that Bat Boy is panhandling on the Miami streets living in a cardboard shack...
The whole story is a lot of fun if you have any interest in the publishing world. Cutthroat competition, deals, scoops, booze, dames and fun times...

More troubles at Los Alamos

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The University of California has managed the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 63 years. This Lab is where our nuclear weapons are developed. In the last five years or so, it has been coming to light that the lab is not well managed and that they have serious problems with equipment theft, credit card fraud and security lapses. A new Director, Pete Nanos (a former Navy vice admiral), was brought in to run the place and he met with such opposition that he 'retired' after only two years. This September, the UC's contract to manage the lab expires and there is a question as to who will become manager. One of the Whistleblowers -- Tommy Hook -- had been scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month about alleged financial irregularities at the nuclear weapons lab. He was at home in bed last Saturday night when he got a phone call asking to meet him at a bar about 45 minutes away. This is the result:
CNN/AP has the story:
Los Alamos whistle-blower beaten outside bar
A Los Alamos lab whistle-blower scheduled to testify before Congress was badly beaten in an attack outside a Santa Fe bar.

Tommy Hook was in a hospital recovering from a fractured jaw and other injuries, his wife, Susan Hook, said Monday.

Hook's wife and his lawyer believe the attack was designed to keep him quiet.

Susan Hook said the assailants told her husband during the attack early Sunday that "if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut."
And this wasn't just a bar brawl gone bad:
According to Hook's wife, the 52-year-old lab employee got a telephone call late Saturday night -- after he was already in bed -- wanting to meet with him at a Santa Fe bar about 45 minutes from their home.

She said her husband told her the man never showed up, but as he was leaving the topless bar's parking lot, a group of men pulled him from his car and beat him.

"They left him in the parking lot for dead," Hook's lawyer, Robert Rothstein, said Monday at a news conference where pictures of Hook's bruised and swollen face were passed around.
And more:
Rothstein said the assailants didn't take Hook's wallet, other personal belongings or his car. In the absence of any other motive, it appears the beating was related to his whistle-blowing, Rothstein contended.
That nest of vipers needs to be cleaned out. Pete Nanos' expression was draining the swamp and I think he had a good handle on the situation. He is a Vice Admiral and the Navy does not promote stupid people...
An old story -- from March 2004 but I just ran into it and it is cool regardless -- about a ball of paint:
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. -- Rick Barker, left, an arborist, uses an incremental borer to retrieve a core sample from Michael Carmichael's giant ball of paint. Carmichael, right, is having the core sample sent to the Guiness Book of World Records in London, UK to have his creation officially recognized as the largest ball of paint in the world. Carmichael began the project by painting a regulation size baseball in 1977 to arrive at the current 111-inch in circumference ball after 18,000 coats of paint. (03/13/04 AP photo) Eighteen Thousand Coats of Paint? The story (with more photos) is here at Roadside America

Our own private Gulag

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Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple posts a wonderful list of items that should shut up the most strident Amnesty International activist (although they have been doing a wonderful job of back-pedaling recently) Last first -- sometimes news items go away from the linked websites. Here is what I was talking about when I said that Amnesty International was back-pedaling:
'Don't know for sure' about Guantanamo: Amnesty USA
Despite highly publicized charges of U.S. mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, the head of the Amnesty International USA said on Sunday the group doesn't "know for sure" that the military is running a "gulag."

Executive Director William Schulz said Amnesty, often cited worldwide for documenting human rights abuses, also did not know whether Secretary Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved severe torture methods such as beatings and starvation.
Here is a part of Denny's list swiped from Northeast Intelligence Network:
  • Not one of the illegal enemy combatant detainees who came from Afghanistan had a Qur'an in his possession when captured.
  • A brand new Qur'an in the specific, native language of each individual was provided to each "enemy combatant".
  • Each illegal enemy combatant detained at Guantanamo is given three nutritious halal meals (culturally-appropriate and in accordance with Islamic dietary law) per day. The meals include all optional condiments.
  • Each illegal enemy combatant detainee receives Muslim feast meals at special times in accordance with Muslim feasts and holy periods during the year.
  • Each illegal enemy combatant detainee has unrestricted access to Muslim Imams and religious instruction.
  • Each illegal enemy combatant detainee has a Quibla, a large green and white sign in his cell which points toward Mecca.
  • Each illegal enemy combatant detainee hears Islamic loudspeaker calls to prayer five times daily.
  • Each illegal enemy combatant detainee received a brand new Muslim prayer cap.
  • Each illegal enemy combatant detainee received a brand new prayer rug.
  • Each illegal enemy combatant detainee received brand new Islamic prayer beads. Each illegal enemy combatant detainee received Islamic holy oil.
  • Each illegal enemy combatant had ALL of this done and paid for him at US taxpayer expense and this is far, far in excess of requirements delineated by Geneva Convention Cat. III protocols on the treatment of Prisoners of War.
And the MSM on this? . . . . . . Crickets...

Geeks -- Start Your Engines!

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A "one-use" Disposable Camcorder -- GizMag has the story:
It had to happen one day but we didn�t quite expect it so soon. The digital imaging revolution took another leap forward today with the introduction of the CVS One-Time-Use Video Camcorder -- the world's first disposable digital video camera. For US$30, the CVS camcorder records up to 20 minutes of 640x480 video and sound. The video camcorder's 1.4-inch color playback screen lets consumers instantly enjoy their home videos and even delete unwanted segments with the press of a button. Once finished shooting, consumers simply return the video camera to their local CVS/pharmacy store and get a DVD to view and share the same day. Video camera processing, that is, burning the DVD for you, costs US$12.99.
Sooo -- we are looking at $30 to buy and $12.99 to get the DVD and I am assuming that CVS keeps the camera so that it can be recycled with fresh batteries, etc... Of course there is going to be some form of Digital Rights Management to keep this from being hacked but I'm betting less than one week to break the DRM and tell people how to keep reusing it. The Camcorder is being rolled out on June 26th. At $30, we are getting very competitive with basic webcams and I would buy one of these just for that. Of course the real question is, how long until this puppy can boot Linux...

Ethnic Eateries in the USA

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Interesting insight into who owns the Ethnic Chain restaurants. From Business Week
Who's Behind the Ethnic Eateries?
Some of the biggest fast-food chains own stakes in "fast-casual" outlets -- but they're not eager to publicize the link

Did you like that whole-wheat penne with smoked mozzarella and roasted eggplant at the trendy Pasta Pomodoro outlet the other night? If so, thank Wendy's. Yup, the fast-food chain famous for its all-beef burgers has a stake in these Italian eateries, where guests can also order organic wine at cozy wood tables illuminated by hand-blown Italian lamps. It's a far cry from tiled floors and neon lighting.

Pasta Pomodoro, which has 45 locations in California and Arizona, isn't Wendy's only foray into so-called fast-casual dining. The Dublin (Ohio) company also has invested in Caf� Express and Baja Fresh Mexican Grill.
A few examples from the list:
Fast-casual spawn: Baja Fresh
The concept: More than 300 quick-casual Mexican food restaurants in 23 states
Fast-food name behind it: Wendy's

Fast-casual spawn: Boston Market
The concept: About 630 home-style cooking fast-casual restaurants in 28 states
Fast-food name behind it: McDonald's

Fast-casual spawn: Tim Hortons
The concept: More than 2,700 fast-casual restaurants with a bakery focus
Fast-food name behind it: Wendy's
There is nothing wrong with this but still, it would be nice for them to be a bit more transparent about it. I don't do fast food in general but I do electronics and geek stuff and I choose to not shop at Best Buy for a number of reasons (price and customer support). I would not like to be shopping at some other retailer and find that it was a subsidiary.
Anyone who has seen the movie Top Gun will know that "Maverick" and "Ice Man" were the radio call signs of the two protagonists. What you might not know is that when the move was released in 1986, there was a serious problem at one Air Force base when more than one third of the new airmen adopted Maverick as their call sign. This and other facinating nuggets are here at Call Signs: There is a preamble including the transcript of an order and how the order was routed. We are introduced to a Lt. Col. Hallowell James and there are a few paragraphs about the various airplanes for the branches of service. A paragraph excerpted:
As a rule, Air Force pilots are not the same breed of fighter pilots as seen in the movies. Their role was to concentrate on all aircraft; on larger bombers and transport planes, in addition to jet fighters. On the other hand, Naval aviators were legendary for their swagger and testosterone saturated adventures that all come with being a fighter pilot. Most of the Naval and Marine Aviators used their assigned call signs, instead of their real names, to refer to each other, especially on assignment or at social situations. Hallowell thought it somewhat stupid that call signs were used in lieu of formal names and ranks but since most Air Force pilots didn�t use them outside the cockpit, he viewed it as an odd little idiosyncrasy of most carrier-based fighter pilots.
The order is an attempt to "clean up" some of the call signs (this was also around the time of the Tailhook scandal) and refers specifically to:
The order also sets up a commission headed by "LT.COL HALLOWELL JAMES". Unfortunately:
This order was distributed through the Armed Services but ironically, the copy that was sent to Lt. Col. Hallowell James was misrouted to a Lt. James Hallowell based in Anchorage and the original recipient never saw it for three days.
Needless to say, I am far from the end of this wonderful story and it gets better and better and better. If you have any interest in the Military or Aviation, go there and check it out. The story was written by Jeffrey Clyde Sears -- his main website is here and the above article was filed under the Short Stories section here. Good stuff!

Sing little birds...

As we wind up to Saddam's trial, some back-story comes to light.

From MS/NBC/Newsweek:

Saddam's Aides: Singing 'Like a Canary'
Some of Saddam Hussein's most notorious former lieutenants have been dishing dirt. Senate investigators looking into prewar U.N. Oil-for-Food deals have named Saddam's former personal secretary and security chief, Abid Hamid Mahmoud al-Tikriti, former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan and former foreign minister Tariq Aziz as key witnesses who have provided inside info about Saddam's regime.

Senate staffers traveled to Baghdad earlier this year to interview Iraqi officials, and their reports are among the first official accounts of what captured Iraqi leaders are saying. "In interview after interview, the officials were generally forthcoming and quite proud - even boastful - of their creativity in undermining U.N. sanctions," says Sen. Norm Coleman, who leads one of several congressional probes into Saddam-era oil deals. According to Senate documents, Ramadan is one of the most talkative captives, supplying pithy quotes about how Saddam allegedly manipulated the prewar oil program to buy support from influential foreigners. Senate investigators quote Ramadan saying that Saddam's regime gave foreigners oil allocations - which could be cashed in for lucrative brokerage fees - as "compensation for support." Al-Tikriti told investigators the former Iraqi leader and his aides "were all extremists" on the issue of oil sales to Israel. If they found an Iraqi oil buyer was selling to Israel, they would "not allow it," al-Tikriti said.

That soft fluttering sound you hear is a house of cards falling to the floor. Kofi - better buff your resume...

Paris Hilton is not the only person famous for being famous.

She has a Great Aunt who wrote the book.

And now this Aunt is in the news yet again... From CNN/Law Center:

Family feud over Zsa Zsa Gabor's will
Gabor and her ninth husband sue her only daughter

A multimillion-dollar family feud over who controls ailing socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor's will has spilled into the courtroom.

Gabor, 88, and her ninth husband are suing her only daughter, accusing Francesca Hilton of stealing $2 million (euro1.63 million) by forging her mother's signature to take out a loan on Gabor's $14 million (euro11.39 million) Bel Air home.

The inheritance spat involves family names associated with the most lavish of lifestyles. Hilton's father was Gabor's second husband, hotel magnate Conrad Hilton. She's the great-aunt of Paris and Nicky Hilton.

The suit filed Wednesday in Superior Court alleges elder abuse, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks to force Hilton to return the money and asks for punitive damages. A judge Friday scheduled motions to be heard on June 28.

I'm sorry -- this was relevant how?

Bad Dog / Good Dog

From the Chicago Sun-Times comes this story:
The best Chicago dog story ever
The cops had to fire so many shots to stop the lunging pit bull, the gunpowder set off an overhead smoke detector.

Still, the dog didn't die.

But she wasn't the toughest dog on the block. That title belongs to Maya, a 74-pound black Lab who took on India, the 120-pound pit bull who was mauling a sixth-grader on the Northwest Side.

Now 5-year-old Maya is being hailed as a hero -- a selfless pooch who rushed out of her home to save a stranger and has a scarred body to prove it.

She's the pride of her Albany Park neighborhood, and teachers at the injured boy's school have pooled their money to help pay her bills.

"I think it's wonderful," said Chicago Police Sgt. Magge Lameka, one of the first two cops on the scene. "She practically gave her own life for a stranger -- not even her owner. Coming to the aid of a stranger, I mean, you can't find a lot of people who would do that.

"If anyone's a hero, that black Lab was."
The pit bull had attacked a 12-year-old coming home from school. The Lab was a neighbors dog who took it upon themselves to attack the pit bull and drive it off the child. Wonderful story. A good friend of ours is in Alaska for three months working as a guide. We are having the great pleasure of taking care of his Chocolate Lab for the summer -- a great dog and we will be sorry to see her go back home. (unnnhh -- Frank? Your dog... ran away -- yeah) Also, anyone who assumes the responsibility of having a hair-trigger attack dog like a pit bull needs to be aware that something like this can happen in a moment. Training goes a long way to break this reflex behavior but unfortunately, most people don't bother to follow through with this (and test it) and they are left with the worst kind of "watch dog" -- one that will attack strangers regardless of whether they are a threat or not.

Awesome news from The International Herald Tribune:

Ebola milestone: Disease blocked in monkeys
Scientists trying to develop vaccines against the deadly Marburg and Ebola viruses in Africa are reporting an important milestone, a new type of vaccine that prevents the diseases in monkeys. Successfully immunizing monkeys is an essential step toward producing vaccines for people.

Two new vaccines, one for Marburg and one for Ebola, were 100 percent effective in a study of 12 macaques being published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine. Monkeys given just one shot of the vaccine and later injected with a high dose of the virus did not even get sick. Normally, all the animals would be expected to die.

The Marburg and Ebola viruses are closely related, and in both people and monkeys they cause hemorrhagic fevers that can be fatal within a week. There is no vaccine or treatment for either disease. Death rates in people can be high, sometimes exceeding 80 percent or 90 percent.

Those are two very very scary diseases. The incubation period is so short and the course of the disease is so quick and debilitating that it doesn't spread very far but the chance of someone catching it and then getting on an airplane is always there.

Again, the last line of the last paragraph: "Death rates in people can be high, sometimes exceeding 80 percent or 90 percent."

How was the vaccine created? Don't tell the lefties or the Enviros (but I repeat myself) as it was done through Genetic Modification. From the same article:

To make the vaccine, the scientists used another virus, VSV, for vesicular stomatitis virus, which causes a mouth disease in cattle but rarely infects people. They chose it because it has a similar genetic structure to the Marburg and Ebola viruses, and because other researchers have had success with it in developing vaccines.

They altered VSV by removing one of its genes - the change makes it harmless - and replacing it with a gene from either the Marburg or Ebola virus. The transplanted gene forced VSV to produce Marburg or Ebola proteins on its surface. The proteins cannot cause illness, but they provoked an immune response that protected the animals from Marburg or Ebola.

The word "fixed"

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Richard Bennett writes on the Downing Street Memo and takes issue with the word "fixed"
Downing St. memo no surprise
The Air America crowd is bleary-eyed with excitement over the minutes of a meeting of Tony Blair�s cabinet in 2002 where the pending liberation of Iraq was discussed. Their claim that the memo is some sort of "smoking gun" on secret plans to falsify intelligence is a testament to their illiteracy. Here�s the passage that gets their hearts pounding:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime�s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
The term "fixed" is understood by Franken�s minions as meaning "fabricated", but it should be properly understood in its British sense as "placed", this being a British document and all. The document is saying that Bush will furnish the evidence of Saddam�s misbehavior. There was, of course, general consensus around the world in the late 90s and early 00s that Saddam�s government would likely arm terrorist groups at some point with deadlier weapons than they could come up with on their own. This was the predicate for the Iraq Liberation Act the US Congress passed in 1998, and the basis of some vigorous anti-Saddam campaigning from Blair during the Clinton Administration. So there was no reason to believe that evidence supporting the liberation of Iraq would be anything but genuine.
Very good point... It was more of an "it's time to go do this" statement than "we need to cook the books" one...

Almost a Darwin Award Winner.

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Amazing video at big-boys.com A guy jumps out of a perfectly good airplane, is parachuting to earth and decides to set off a flare. Unfortunately, his aim is off and it hits the chute. The very flammable chute... (he has a reserve, uses it and survives)

Interesting words

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We all know what Monopoly means. There are many people wanting to buy but there is only one vendor. I just ran into its opposite. Monopsony
Monopsony means that a business with monopoly power can control the supply of the goods that they buy. That means that it can reduce the quantity of an input demanded in order to depress the price of that input. This contrasts with a competitive buyer, which simply buys as many units of input as long as the marginal benefit exceeds the input price, over which it has no control. Monopsony power in essence gives a business the ability to control their unit cost of paying for an input, similar to how a monopoly can control their price.
Interesting. Another favorite word that I ran into at my last job is Allision.
Collision and Allision
When one thinks of admiralty law the archetypical fact pattern that comes to many people�s minds is a collision or allision (vessel contact with a fixed object). There are many well ingrained legal concepts and rules, some of which are unlike anything found in land based law.

Highland Games

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Yesterday, Jen and I went to the Annual Bellingham Highland Games. Text and pictures are over at our Brownsnout website

Bob Geldof and Live Aid

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Great rant in The Scotsman about Bob Geldof and his attempts to end poverty in Africa:
Geldof is wrong: aid to Africa hasn't worked
Perhaps I�m just growing old and grumpy but the sight of Bob Geldof parading his millionaire ego at Holyrood was more than I could bear. Yes, the plight of sub-Saharan Africa is desperate, but it will be cured by hard economic logic rather than pop-star emotion.

Geldof thinks African poverty is our fault. He thinks we are not giving Africa enough free financial aid - an extra �50 billion a year, or roughly the entire national income of Scotland, would be handy.

He also wants us to forgive all debt interest owed by African governments - I�ve seen numerous conflicting estimates, but we�re in the billions-a-year category. And he is anxious that the G8 countries open their economies to African imports without expecting the same in return. This is called "fair trade".

Just for a moment, let us ask: what has happened to the half a trillion dollars lent to the independent African countries since the Sixties? We are talking your taxes here. The whole point about borrowing is that you invest and end up richer than you started, even after paying back the loan. How come most of Africa is now poorer than when the loans began?

The answer has nothing to do with the usurious West demanding interest payments. During the Eighties alone, there were at least 92 attempted military takeovers in sub-Saharan Africa, affecting 29 countries. Not to put too fine a point on it, your money was wasted in civil war and corruption.

Remember Geldof�s famous Live Aid concert of 1985, to raise donations to end famine in Ethiopia? Well, the Ethiopians were starving not because you lent them money but because their utterly mad dictator, the odious Mengistu Haile Marium, had butchered at least 100,000 of them in imposing his Marxist dictatorship. Then he launched a series of external wars, with the help of Cuban tanks lent by his fellow nutter, Fidel Castro. That bumped off thousands more, while destroying the local economy. And by the way, much of the food aid paid for by Live Aid ended up being stolen by Mengistu to feed his armies. Never mind, it made Geldof famous, even if it didn�t help the Ethiopians.

When your loans were not funding genocide, they were funding Swiss bank accounts. Western aid has corrupted generations of African politicians as it is the fastest route to riches for the local elite.

By 1982, the former Belgian colony of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) had accumulated a foreign debt of $5 billion. Not coincidentally, its president, Mobutu Sese Seko, accumulated a personal fortune of $4 billion. I know the Belgians ran Zaire in a despicable way. But I also know that the country is one of the most mineral-rich on the face of the Earth and should be lending money itself by now. The reason it is one of the saddest countries on the planet is not because you don�t send them charity.
Keep reading -- the author George Kerevan has some ideas on how to get Africa started on the right path and it doesn't involve fund-raising and an infusion of money into a corrupt government. Spot on writing...

Reliability Issues

From The Guardian comes an interesting report on high-end home appliances and their reliability:

Trendy appliances often least reliable
Dyson vacuum cleaners, Smeg dishwashers and Hoover washing machines may be the more fashionable appliances on the domestic scene, but they are also the most likely to break down, the consumers' magazine Which? says today.

Owners have to have them repaired more often than those who opt for less trendy brands, according to the experiences of nearly 15,000 Which? readers who responded to a survey.

People are buying into "fashion" brands for their homes, despite them proving far more unreliable, the researchers say.

And some specific numbers using Dyson as an example:

Within six years of purchase 29% of upright Dyson vacuum cleaners and 22% of their cylinder vacuums needed repairing. The Dyson repair rate is also getting worse. A 2002 survey found that 21% of the company's upright vacuums needed repairing within six years, and a 2001 survey revealed that 14% of its cylinder vacuums broke down.

But despite ranking low in reliability, Dyson owners are still relatively likely to recommend the products to a friend. An average of 38% would recommend their Dyson, making it the fifth most popular vacuum cleaner, despite being the least reliable of those surveyed.

A failure rate of over 20% is downright actionable. Which? has a website here.

Meet "Moxie CrimeFighter"

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From the St. Petersburg Times
Jillette names daughter Moxie CrimeFighter
Comedian/magician Penn Jillette's latest stunt did not involve his usual sidekick, Teller: He became the father of a baby girl.

Jillette, 50, and his wife Emily, 39, welcomed Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette on Friday, according to publicist Glenn Schwartz. It was the first child for the couple, who married last year.

"We chose her middle name because when she's pulled over for speeding she can say, `But officer, we're on the same side,'" Jillette explained. "`My middle name is CrimeFighter.'"
Heh... Penn & Teller have a website here.

Wrath of Kahn - Trek Trivia

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Some little-known facts about the Star Trek movie The Wrath of Kahn. Here are a few:
  • The background noise for the Enterprise was recorded from a heating/air conditioning duct beside a screening room on the Paramount lot.
  • The Genesis Effect shown in Dr. Marcus' proposal was the first all-digital CG sequence to appear in a film.
  • Due to budget limitations, sets and props were re-used wherever possible. Space Station Regula 1 was the space station from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)... turned upside-down.
  • All of Khan's men were Chippendale dancers at the time.
Lots more at the site...

The Art of Science

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Winners from the 2005 Show. Some gorgeous images here: Here are four examples -- these are thumbnails, the full-size images are available at the site:

Rising Sea Level?

Naaa - falling shore. The Houston Chroniclehas the story:

Coast leaving scientists with a sinking feeling
Controversial NOAA report says Louisiana's shores plunging fast - are Texas' next?

By century's end, much of southern Louisiana may sink into the Gulf of Mexico. The Texas coastline, including Galveston, could soon follow.

That's the sobering - and controversial - conclusion of a new report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that finds the northern Gulf of Mexico is sinking much faster than geologists thought.

The report centers on the humble benchmark, a small metal disk bolted to the ground, that provides a standard elevation above sea level for land surveying and mapping as well as determining flood-prone areas.

But there's one problem with benchmarks: They don't give reliable elevation readings if they're sinking along with everything else.

That's what the geologists who wrote the NOAA report say is happening in Louisiana: The yardstick is broken. Instead of minimal geologic subsidence along most of the Louisiana coast, as previously thought, the state's entire coastal region is sinking at least 5 feet every century.

And although a number of local officials disagree with the report's conclusions about Texas, here's a scary thought: Similar forces could well be at work just a few miles south of Houston.

"Subsidence doesn't stop at the Texas border," said Roy Dokka, a co-author of the NOAA report and a Louisiana State University geologist.

A colleague of Dokka's in Houston, the editor of the Houston Geological Society Bulletin, is more blunt in his assessment of the report. "Galveston," says geologist Arthur Berman, "is history."

Ouch -- that will be a difficult one to work around...

Europe is sinking

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England's Tony Blair has some interesting words on Europe and England's priorities in the U.K. Telegraph:
Blair gives up on his EU dream
Tony Blair has given up on Europe as an issue worth fighting for, senior allies of the Prime Minister have told The Sunday Telegraph.

A leading Blairite cabinet minister made the admission last night as the European Union descended into deeper turmoil, with doubts surfacing over the future of the single currency.

Mr Blair, who will seek to shift the focus of his administration on to poverty in the Third World this week during talks with President Bush, has told his closest allies: "Africa is worth fighting for. Europe, in its present form, is not."
Why stay with a sinking ship...
Rogers Cadenhead writes at Workbench (Blogroll to the right) He got my attention as being the person who Popesquatted Benedict XVI I liked his blog and added it to the roll. Today, he has uncovered a nasty can of worms:
Looking Deeper into Joan Felt
The press has encamped itself outside the Santa Rosa, Calif., home where Mark Felt lives with his daughter Joan, waiting for the next move from Family Deep Throat.

Joan Felt, who has said she'd like to "pay some bills" from their notoriety, is described in today's Washington Post as a Sonoma State University Spanish lecturer and former Fulbright scholar.

Reporters have yet to discover her association with a spiritual group called Adidam, brought to light by members of an online discussion group about the movement.

Joan Felt's phone number, which has been publicly listed, turned up on three official Adidam sites as the contact for a study group in Santa Rosa. The pages have recently been deleted or edited to remove her name and phone number, but could still be found Friday morning in Google's cache. I was unsuccessful contacting her by e-mail or phone.

Adidam has 1,000 to 3,000 adherents, according to a Religious Movements project published by the University of Virginia.

Santa Rosa lies around 45 miles from the Mountain of Attention, a 1,000-acre "meditation retreat" in Lake County that was for many years the headquarters of the movement and founder Adi Da Samraj's residence.
Hey -- Dad has a stroke, the Guru neeeeeds the $$$ What is your problem? Check out Rick Ross's website on this turd: Franklin Jones Not doing to badly for a spiritual kinda person...
Makes me want to sign up for a special teaching. I think "Indulgence" might be a good topic to start...
Interesting article from openDemocracy. Unfortunatly, they seem to miss one point. From the website:
The hidden history of the United Nations
Dan Plesch rediscovers a forgotten story of the 1940s: how the United Nations was forged, beat the Nazis and established a lasting peace.

The history told about the defeat of Nazism and the founding of the United Nations in the 1940s has become distorted. A false view of the past is being used today to shape how we think about our future. The military power of the victorious wartime allies is offered as a model for running the world, while the UN�s supposed utopianism is seen as ineffective and irrelevant.

This is a travesty of the facts. We are taught that the UN began with the signing of the Charter in 1945. In fact, that agreement was the culmination of a complex military and political effort that began in 1941. Understanding the UN�s wartime origins provides a powerful and much-needed reminder that the UN is not some liberal accessory but was created out of hard, realistic political necessity.

The historical records show how Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt created the United Nations to win the war both militarily and politically, and to create the foundations for a lasting peace. Their first expression of Anglo-American policy was in the Atlantic Charter of 1941; this included freedom from want, social security, labour rights and disarmament as well as self-determination, free trade and freedom of religion. Churchill himself remarked during the height of the fighting in 1944 that the "United Nations is the only hope of the world".
The article starts to nose off in the right direction by talking about Coalitions but it also takes note of the first of the Marxist Idealogues who have made the United Nations what it is today:
A real coalition
The "United Nations" had been the official name for the coalition fighting the axis powers since January 1942, when Roosevelt and Churchill had led twenty-six nations, including the Soviet Union and China, in a "Declaration by United Nations".

The declaration committed the twenty-six not to cut separate peace deals with the Nazis and to subscribe to the principles of the Atlantic Charter for the post-war world. The Charter provided the political basis for countering Nazi ideology; it caught the imagination of people around the world, including the young Nelson Mandela and other anti-colonial activists.

The United Nations was a real entity, not a spin-doctored slogan offering a gullible public the promise of world peace at the end of the war. The allies fought the war as the United Nations and created organisations in its name and on its foundation. The British Library holds scores of wartime publications by or about the United Nations. It was celebrated in music, prayer and exhibitions. Anthologies were published of the exploits of "Heroes of the United Nations".
No problem there -- back then, the United Nations had stones. They had their MOJO working. Now? They have taken a few wrong turns, tried to be everything for everybody, failed to prevent real human-rights abuses from happening on their watch and done fuck-all to try to stop the USA and 30 other nations from forming another coalition that might overtake it in terms of real world security.
Memo to Kofi:

I am reminded of Simon Keeper's Job Description(1):
A job in the towers cooking the books for the shills that grease the skids.

And of the nameless writer of The Memo to Turner(2):
You're the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine.
(1) - Cowboy Junkies: Simon Keeper/Irony (2) - Rolling Stones: Memo to Turner

How to talk to an Artist

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Great collection of Q&A from ARTnews Online
Are you a contemporary artist?
All living artists are contemporary.

What movement did you join?
Movements are art-historical labels, usually applied in retrospect to artists long departed from the scene. And don�t worry about being able to place an artist in a specific category. "People want to define you and say what you are and what you do," says Faith Ringgold, who works in a range of media, from quilting to painting to illustrated children�s books. "That�s why I like being an artist�because I get to define who I am and what I do."

You�re an artist? Oils or acrylic?
There are many forms of expression that fall outside the traditional categories of easel painting. A simple "Tell me about your work" is preferable.

Do you own your own gallery?
Artists usually do not own galleries; they work in studios. The two are very different.

Do you have any extra pictures you don�t want?
Do you ask bankers if they have any extra money they don�t want?

Your work is exactly like so-and-sos.
"Do you mean I�m not original? I�m derivative?" worries the artist.

It must be fun to play all the time. When do you actually work?

Ouch! This question is universally loathed. Artists understand very well that they�re not coal miners, schoolteachers, or insurance adjusters. But they work very hard�and consider their work to be work, not play.
Some good points and some silly ones -- more at the site. I love Photography and Jen loves Weaving. Do we want to make a job from our hobbies?

A new Museum

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This takes the cake -- from Yahoo/NYPost:
Nader's House of Horrors
His two presidential plans had put the project on hold, but Ralph Nader says an architectural firm is now "putting final touches on the plans" for his dream of a lifetime: a museum in his hometown of Winsted, Conn.

This won't be just any museum, mind you.

It will be � yes � a celebration of tort law.

You know, like the case that won $2.9 million for the woman who spilled a hot cup of McDonald's coffee in her lap.

Or the fellow who convinced a jury he deserved $3.6 million when he got falling-down drunk and lost an arm to an oncoming subway train.

Or the restaurant worker who developed a phobia about propane after surviving an explosion caused by a gas leak. No physical injuries, mind you, just a bad case of the willies � worth a whopping $3.8 million from the local gas company, a jury said.

Or the Illinois man who won $1.5 million when he electrocuted himself in the subway by urinating on the third rail � because there were no signs in his native Korean warning that such activity might be dangerous. (Columnist John Leo suggested that perhaps such signs will be available at the museum gift shop.)

The museum will feature products that have been pulled off the market because of such lawsuits. (No word if visitors will be issued air bags to protect them from any lingering danger.)

It also will have a courtroom in which famous tort lawsuits will be re-enacted (see above).

Exhibits are being designed by the same company that has done work for the Harry S Truman Library and the Walt Disney Boyhood Home.

Somehow we doubt that they'll include the millions of people who now pay sky-high rates for health and auto insurance, thanks to product-damage cases.

Or the millions unable to get adequate medical care because physicians have fled states where the constant threat of tort litigation has driven their malpractice insurance premiums to unaffordable levels.

Perhaps there'll be a hall of fame for lawyers who have become gazillionaires by pocketing the lion's share of such verdicts and settlements, usually at their clients' expense. (One such tort lawyer, John Edwards, was even nominated by the Democrats � naturally � for vice president.)

So far, says Nader, he's raised half of the $4 million needed to open the museum � adding that he expects the rest to come from the trial-lawyer industry.

If they don't ante up � after all the money Ralph Nader has helped put in their pockets over the last 40 years � it would be a monstrous case of ingratitude.
Is it just me or isn't this just horribly wrong. Talk about bad taste and hubris...

A disturbance in the Force

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Very cool image. There is a website here which will give you an Astronomy Photo of the Day. Some are historic, some are cutting edge. The one for last May 23rd is amazing and beautiful:
Click for full-size Image

What causes small waves in Saturn's rings? Observations of rings bordering the Keeler gap in Saturn's rings showed unusual waves. Such waves were first noticed last July and are shown above in clear detail. The picture is a digitally foreshortened image mosaic taken earlier this month by the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn. The rings, made of many small particles, were somehow not orbiting Saturn in their usual manner. Close inspection of the image shows the reason - a small moon is orbiting in the Keeler gap. The previously unknown moon is estimated to span about seven kilometers and appears to have the same brightness as nearby ring particles. The gravity of the small moon likely perturbs the orbits of ring particles that come near it, causing them to shimmy back and forth after the moon passes. Since inner particles orbit more quickly than outer particles, only the leading particles of the inner rings and the trailing particles of the outer rings show the wave effect.
A much larger image can be found here

New Features in Windows XP

Courtesy of the fine people at Something Awful. They have compiled a set of example of little known features available in the latest upgrades for Windows XP. Here are four screenshots:


And of course, the classic:

The Weirdest Book

The Ferret works at the Borders Books and Music Headquarters and there is a "free book room" for employees where they put samples and older books.

He ran into this one, scanned a few pages and put them here.

The Weirdest Book I Ever Got
One of the best things about working at the Borders Books and Music headquarters was The Free Book Room.

See, as the world's second-largest book retailer, we were swamped in books of all sorts. Sample books from publishers trying to get in the door, example books that current publishers wanted us to buy, and cartons filled with the good books that everybody wanted.


The strangest book I ever found, however, was a graphic novel:

A Creationist's View of
and the
Theory Of Evolution

It had a big dinosaur skull on the cover, and was drawn and written quite competently. The graphic novel featured the author - a balding, white-haired, mustachioed guy in a turtleneck, if the pictures were to be believed - showing all the evidence of dinosaurs, with scanned-in photos next to huge blurbs like "CARBON DATING IS A HIGHLY FLAWED AND IMPERFECT SCIENCE!"


Weird. But not over-the-top. He seemed normal until I got to this panel:

Yes, that's correct; he has the theory that dinosaurs, enraged by fallen angels, attacked Noah's Ark as the flood began in a no-holds battle to the finish.

And yet that was not enough. He illustrated it for a possible movie, claiming it would be far more exciting than Jurassic Park.

Ferret has some scans of the pages:


More at The Ferret's site. I reduced the image sizes and resolution to conserve download time. He is right -- it would be a great movie. It is however not good science and Carbon 14 data is stunningly accurate these days...

If you are looking for Noah's Flood, check out the Gibraltar dam breakthrough and its flooding of the Black Sea at the end of the last big Ice Age. Water level in the Black Sea rose several hundred feet in a few months. Bob Ballard (of Titanic Fame) has been investigating this and doing some amazing work. Link here.

Spark Bang Buzz

The Spark Bang Buzz website has not been updated in a while (it posts that the last entry was August 2004) but there is lots of neat cool stuff there.

Among the entries are these examples:

Fun stuff -- I'll be trying the salt-water/Aluminum sounds in a few days.

An interesting switch

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From Slashdot we learn that Apple is finally deciding to switch from the Power PC chips it has been using in every MAC over to the Intel line of X86 processors which all Windows boxes use. When MAC was still running their original operating system, this would have been next to impossible but with the advent of OSX, this becomes simple as OSX is actually a GUI for the underlying OS which is Unix and Unix runs on Intel chips just fine. Blogger (late and lamented) Steven Den Beste writing at USS Clueless had some strong feelings about the MAC CPU and its limitations. An excerpt from Article one
...Motorola has given up on further development of high-speed PPCs, which is almost certain. What we're seeing now out of Motorola in terms of new processors is the result of process improvements on existing designs. The G4 as it exists has hit its ceiling, and the only way Motorola could again become competitive at the top end is by completely rearchitecting, in particular to increase the number of pipeline stages. (Both Intel and AMD have just gone through that, with the P4 and Hammer respectively.) This is a massively expensive undertaking, and given the significant cuts in Motorola's semiconductor group over the course of the last two years, and given that Apple is the only customer they have for top-end processors, it is easy to see that if they had to cut anything, top end PPCs would be high on the list. For their embedded customers, the existing design is more than adequate since in embedded applications low power consumption (and heat generation) is much more important than high compute power.
Article Two is where the meat is. Steven talks about porting the operating system over to X86 chips and getting the applications to run but then he introduces something called the "Launch Loop" and comments:
Yes, Apple could offer such machines for sale. That's not the problem. The problem is this: Who would buy them? Why would anyone want to during the critical first two years?

No matter how cool it is, no matter what its other features might be, the ultimate value of any operating system, and its ultimate purpose, is to run applications. And irrespective of any other feature it might have, its primary value is calculated by customers based on how many and what kinds of apps it makes available. The OS is an enabler; use of an OS gives you access to a certain set of apps. It is the number and kind and variety of apps which is the ultimate source of the OS's value; the features of the OS itself are of minor importance by comparison except to a relatively small population of OS groupies.
If you have ten or fifteen minutes, Article Two is an excellent read. Article One is too and if you are planning to read them both, start there. Steven has stopped writing but he is keeping the website up for reference -- lots of good stuff there...

The stability of the Euro currency

I had written yesterday how the Euro is tanking and how Germany was considering re-introducing the Mark to separate its strong economy from the weaker ones in the EU.

Now it seems that Italy is thinking about the very same thing.

MyWay/Reuters has the story:

Italy minister says should study leaving euro-paper
Italy should consider leaving the single currency and reintroducing the lira, Welfare Minister Roberto Maroni said in a newspaper interview on Friday.

Maroni, a member of the euro-skeptical Northern League party, told the Repubblica daily Italy should hold a referendum to decide whether to return to the lira, at least temporarily.

He also said European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet was one of those chiefly responsible for the "disaster of the euro."

The euro "has proved inadequate in the face of the economic slowdown, the loss of competitiveness and the job crisis," Maroni said.

In this situation, the answer is to give the government greater power to defend national industry from foreign competition and "to give control over the exchange rate back to the government."

Ern Malley

In the 1940's, Australia's literary scene was rocked by the discovery of a new Poet -- Ern Malley. These works came to light after his untimely death at age 25. Here is the introduction to his collection of Poems as published by the Angry Penguins press:
Max Harris's response, written for the 1944 Angry Penguins as an introduction to Ern Malley's poems, The Darkening Ecliptic:
Ern Malley prepared for his death quietly confident that he was a great poet, and that he would be known as such. He prepared his manuscript to that end � there was no ostentation nor the exhibitionism of the dying in the act. It was an act of calm controlled confidence. He treated death greatly, and as poetry, while undergoing the most fearful and debilitating nervous strain that a human being could possibly endure. He was dying at the age of 25 with Grave�s Disease.

Nobody had any idea that Ern Malley wrote poetry. For several years he was thought of simply as the young man who worked as a motor mechanic at Palmer�s Garage on Taverner�s Hill in Sydney, after leaving the Summer Hill Intermediate High School at the age of 14. When he turned 17 he went off alone to Melbourne, where little or nothing was known of his activities. He was said to have been living alone in a room in South Melbourne and earning his living peddling insurance policies for the National Mutual Life Assurance Company. He returned to Sydney where, after refusing to be operated upon, he died of Grave�s Disease. Even his sister, next of kin, did not know that he wrote. In Sydney he was known to possess only one book � Veblen�s "Theory of the Leisure Classes." That is all.Yet I am firmly convinced that this unknown mechanic and insurance peddler is one of the most outstanding poets that we have produced here.

Yet this is not based on any romantic reaction to the circumstances by which his poetry has come into possession, nor by the great artistic self-possession with which he treated his forthcoming death. It is the perfection and integration of his poetry. This brief study will, then, treat almost entirely of the quality and nature of his poetry.

But first I feel there is justification for completing the story of Ern Malley. Recently I was sent two poems from a Miss Ethel Malley, who wrote saying that they were found among her brother�s possessions after his death on July the 23rd, 1943. Someone suggested to her they might be of value and that she send them to me for an opinion. At this stage I knew nothing about the author at all, but I was immediately impressed that here was a poet of tremendous power, working through a disciplined and restrained kind of statement into the deepest wells of human experience. A poet, moreover, with cool, strong, sinuous feeling for language. I sent these poems to my co-editor, Mr. John Reed, and they were then shown to a number of people, most of whom, without any information about the author, bore out my opinion. Then, at my request, Miss Malley sent the complete MSS, along with the facts about her brother as she knew them.
The Miss Malley is Ern's sister. There is a website with Ern's Poetry and biography with photos and a painting of him by noted artist Sidney Nolan. Oh -- one last item. Ern was a literary hoax. Two conservative Australian Poets fabricated his work to mock the growing trend of Modernism. Great stuff!

More ethanol fuel fun and games...

Wanna read about a "successful" gas station launch of Ethanol Fuel?

The story is at The Country Today which uses frames stupidly.

Here is the -- main page.
Here is the -- story I'm talking about.
I'm going to put my comments inline with the story -- a Fisking if you wish.

E85 fuels new station
Wisconsin's first ethanol fueling station north of Milwaukee opened May 26, receiving a steady supply of customers.

People were lined up all day to buy E85 blend - offered for 85 cents during the grand opening of the station at Highways 21 and 49 in Waushara County.

Automotive fuel at 85 cents/gallon and you wonder why people are lining up?

"This is a fabulous response," said Paul Olsen, president of Utica Energy.

No, it shows that people aren't dummies.

Renew E85 is a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol. The station also sells a blend of 10 percent ethanol.

"Renew E85 is one of the ways we can reduce dependence on foreign oil," Mr. Olsen said in a statement. "Ethanol is a renewable resource and is proven to maintain automobile performance and decrease environmental pollution."

"reduce dependence on foreign oil"? -- explain how this is done when any high-school science student can tell you that it takes more energy to produce Ethanol than can be recovered by its combustion.

Where do we get that energy to produce the Ethanol -- moonbeams?

As for "renewable resource" -- explain please.

Explain also "maintain automobile performance" when it has been shown time and time again that an internal combustion engine gets worse gas mileage on Ethanol than with Gasoline. Gasoline carries an energy capacity of 9,000 Watt Hours per Liter. Ethanol carries an energy capacity of 6,100 Watt Hours per Liter.

Utica Energy began manufacturing ethanol at its plant southwest of Oshkosh in 2003. It produces about 50 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Oh wait -- that's right -- Paul Olsen (the guy who said all that) runs the company that is making this snake oil. Never mind then...

E85 can be used by cars and trucks designated as flexible-fuel vehicles. Some examples are many models of Ford Taurus, Dodge Cargo minivans, Mercury Sables and larger trucks such as a Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Silverado.

This I did not know -- you have to use a special car. Probably a late-model car so the other 95% of the cars on the road cannot fill up at the pumps without possibly damaging their vehicles.

"When we built the ethanol plant we promised that we would sell ethanol-based fuel," Mr. Olsen said. "People have been waiting for it."

Like duhhh...

E85 sells for $1.55 a gallon because licensed ethanol blenders such as Utica Energy receive a federal tax credit of 51 cents per gallon for renewable fuel.

So our tax dollars are funding this project and enabling Mr. Olsen to make a lot of money.

"From the corn growers' point of view, we are just thrilled that these ethanol plants are buying as much corn as they are," said Bob Olsen, executive director of the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board. "Certainly the price of ethanol is cheap compared to gasoline."

He said ethanol plants' demand adds about 10 to 15 cents per bushel of corn sold by farmers.

Here we get to the heart of the matter. Corn already has a major set of uses in our lives. Food products, high-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, animal feed, beer; Ethanol production is a minor part of Corn's use and this one industry is raising the overall price of Corn 10 to 15 cents/ bushel. Considering that Corn has been selling recently for about $2.00 to $2.30/bu, this is a significant impact that will raise the overall prices to the consumers for tortillas, bread, corn products, soft drinks, adhesives, edible oil, batteries, paint, medicines, meats and beer. All to feed an artificially subsidized energy sink (more overall energy to produce than it yields).

"Farmers don't have to haul corn to market as far," he said. "A lot of corn in the past was hauled out of state to market."

BZZZTTT!!! -- transportation costs are covered by the buyer.

At 10 cents more per bushel, state corn growers are capitalizing at about $35 million more in income per year, Mr. Olsen said.

Their gain -- good for them but it is also our loss with higher prices for everything else that uses Corn. Plus, the money that is used to fuel this artificial "alternative" comes from our Federal Income Tax so we are paying for the very thing that is causing the higher prices.

Woodpecker season

Funny stuff... From ABC News/Good Morning America comes this story:

N.Y. Woodpecker Thinks Reflection Is Enemy
In Upstate New York, Mirrors Not Safe Around Woodpecker Who Thinks Reflection Is an Enemy

Car owners around town are covering their mirrors in an attempt to outsmart a woodpecker who apparently thinks his reflection is an enemy.

Tim Taylor, who owns Thruway Auto Glass, said he replaced 30 smashed mirrors last year and 18 this year because of the bird, which has claimed this area east of Syracuse as his territory.

"People come in pretty mad. One guy's been in here three times already because he keeps forgetting to cover up the mirrors," Taylor said.

During breeding season, male woodpeckers aggressively defend their turf, even against imaginary foes, said bird-watcher Benjamin Burtt.

Anne Miller has had two mirrors on her Pontiac Grand Prix smashed and watched the bird attack her neighbor's Malibu.

"I told him to shoo. He did. Then he came right back and finished the job," she said. "Instead of flying off, he walked across the windshield and did the passenger mirror. I was flabbergasted."

Heh... I used to live in Boston and that area was the precursor of Silicon Valley when mainframe computers walked the earth.

It was also the center of the previous generation of high-tech -- the machinery for large fabric and paper mills were made in that area. A lot of small business sprang up providing ancillary services to these manufacturers. Tool and Die and Machine Shops were very common.

There was this one large Machine Shop north of Boston (near Gloucester) that had large skylights in their roof (as did many factories of that time -- these buildings were originally built during the 40's and 50's). They started dumping all of their scrap metal bits outside the factory in a large pile. All of a sudden, their skylights started breaking. They finally pieced it together and what was happening was that Sea Gulls were picking up pieces from their junk pile and flying up with them. The Gulls thought these were crabs or shellfish. The way Gulls deal with shellfish is they carry them up a hundred feet or so and drop them onto a hard surface, dive down and eat the critter through the remains of the broken shell. Unfortunately for the Machine Shop, these Gulls were dropping the scrap onto the glass of the skylights. The scrap pile was moved under cover and the skylight problem stopped...

Motorcycle + Gas Turbine = 286 Horsepower

Better be prepared to drop $150K and wait a while (only five made per year) but this is a gorgeous bit of work.
The MTT Turbine Superbike
As the leaders in turbine innovation, MTT has produced the ultimate in high performance machines: the MTT Turbine SUPERBIKE. The critically acclaimed SUPERBIKE is the world's first turbine powered street legal motorcycle in its class, and has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the "Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever to Enter Series Production" and the "Most Expensive Production Motorcycle". Powered by a Rolls Royce Allison gas turbine engine, the SUPERBIKE has demonstrated over 300 hp and 425 ft/lbs of torque on the Dyno Jet 200, and has been clocked at a record-breaking 227 mph.
Very pretty although I'm more of an older BMW kinda guy.

The Seven Summits

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A local woman just succeeded at her quest to be the Youngest Woman to climb the Seven Summits. The Bellingham Herald has the story: Bow woman, 20, reaches top of Mount Everest
Fisher becomes youngest person to reach "Seven Summits"

Twenty-year-old Danielle Fisher of Bow has reached the summit of Mount Everest, becoming the youngest person to complete the "Seven Summits," the circuit of the tallest peaks on each of seven continents, according to her family.

"At approximately 8:00 a.m. Nepal time (7:15 p.m. our time) Danielle stood on top of the world," a family e-mail announced to supporters Wednesday evening.

A 23-year-old man formerly held the record. The youngest woman to previously climb all seven peaks was 35.

Fisher grew up in Skagit County. Her father, Jerome, oversees a contracting company. Her mother, Karen, counsels middle-school students.

She accomplished the feat despite being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder when she was in sixth grade. Fisher continues to take ADD medication, even when she�s climbing.

She learned during climbing trips with her father that she functions well at high altitude.

"When I�m climbing, I have to be a focused and organized person," she told The Bellingham Herald in an earlier interview. "There�s one thing: Get to the top and back safely."
We have a lot of climbers in this neck of the woods. I had written about Ed Viesturs assault on 14 tallest mountains (all of the ones above 8K Meters) here: 14 times 8,000 = amazing!

The American Gulag

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Amnesty International issued a 308 page report calling the base at Guantanamo Bay a human rights failure and "the gulag of our time". Bill at INDC takes a closer look at Gitmo and the conditions there.
Now that Amnesty International has declared Gitmo the "gulag of our time," the terrible stories are leaking out:

"Americans are very kind people," one English-challenged detainee said in the March 4 paper. "If people say there is mistreatment in Cuba with the detainees, those type speaking are wrong, they treat us like a Muslim not a detainee."

"I�m in good health and have good facilities of eating, drinking, living, and playing," remarked another. "The food is good, the bedrooms are clean and the health care is very good."

In a February 16 Gitmo dispatch, an American Forces Press Service report described the treatment of Camp Delta�s roughly 520 detainees from about 40 nations. Troublemakers wear prison-style orange jumpsuits and mainly are confined to rudimentary accommodations. But those who follow camp rules wear white outfits and exercise seven to nine hours daily, often playing soccer and volleyball. In quieter moments, "chess, checkers and playing cards are the most requested items," Rhem wrote. As for reading, "A security official explained Agatha Christie books in Arabic are very popular and that camp officials are working to get copies of Harry Potter books in Arabic."

Detainees eat culturally sensitive meals and follow arrows painted on dorm floors to face Mecca. "Prayer calls are broadcast over loudspeakers five times a day," Rhem added.
Bill then cites the case of another horribly tortured person and then closes with this:
Now, I'm not stating that Guantanamo - based on either the criteria for continued detention and review, or all individual cases of confinement and interogation - is a paradise or necessarily fair, but when Amnesty International compares the facility to the network of Soviet slave labor camps where millions were worked to death ... well, let's just put it lightly and say that Amnesty International mortally undermines itself as an effective and credible human rights organization.
He then points to a trenchant comparison by John Podhoretz:
Why Gitmo's no gulag
Can it be? Did Amnesty International, which purports to be the world's leading independent monitor of human rights abuses, describe the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay as "the gulag of our times"?

Yes, it did. So let's do a few comparisons between Gitmo and the Gulag - the network of Soviet prison camps set up by Stalin in the 1920s.

Number of prisoners at Gitmo: approximately 600.
Number of prisoners in the Gulag: 25 million, according to peerless Gulag historian Anne Applebaum.

Number of camps at Gitmo: 1.
Number of camps in the Gulag: At least 476, according to Applebaum.

Political purpose of Gulag: The suppression of internal dissent inside a totalitarian state.
Political purpose of Gitmo: The suppression of an international terrorist group that had attacked the United States, killing 3,000 people while attempting to decapitate the national government through the hijack of jets.

Financial purpose of Gulag: Providing totalitarian economy with millions of slave laborers.
Financial purpose of Gitmo: None.

Seizure of Gulag prisoners: From apartments, homes, street corners inside the Soviet Union.
Seizure of Gitmo prisoners: From battlefield sites in Afghanistan in the midst of war.

Even the most damaging charge Amnesty International levels against the United States and its conduct at Gitmo, that our government has been guilty of "entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," bears no relation to the way things worked when it came to the Gulag. Soviet prisoners were charged, tried and convicted in courts of law according to the Soviet legal code.

For this reason, Gulag prisoners like Vladimir Bukovsky and Anatoly Sharansky (later Natan Sharansky) were able to gum up the Soviet legal works by using the letter of Soviet law against their captors and tormentors.

The problem with the Gulag wasn't that the letter of the law wasn't followed, that the prisoners were given "arbitrary and indefinite" sentences. It's that the charges were trumped up and confessions were coerced.

The situation at Gitmo is entirely different. No one argues that the vast majority of those imprisoned there were al-Qaeda personnel. The problem, according to those who scream about unfairness, is that the prisoners aren't being treated as lawful combatants under the terms of the Geneva Convention or as prisoners of war.

They have been handled under special terms because they are stateless with allegiance not to a country but to a terrorist group. Their nations of origin wouldn't have wanted them back, would have killed them or would have foolishly released them to foment further terrorism.

Amnesty International was founded in part to serve as a watchdog of Communist human-rights abuse. They surely know that even though they might consider the American camp at Guantanamo Bay a terrible violation of human rights, it is a speck on a speck of a mote of dust compared to the Everest of horror that was the Soviet Gulag.

Or, maybe not. The people at Amnesty International really do think that the imprisonment of 600 certain or suspected terrorists is tantamount to the imprisonment of 25 million slaves.

The case of Amnesty International proves that well-meaning people can make morality their life's work and still be little more than moral idiots.
Very well said...
The Euro is tanking, hitting an eight-month low last Wednesday. Germany is thinking about an alternative -- from the BBC:
Euro report whips up German storm
A political storm has broken out in Germany over reports that the government may be distancing itself from the European single currency.

Stern magazine said that Finance Minister Hans Eichel had been present at a meeting where the "collapse" of monetary union was discussed.

The government is planning to blame the euro for Germany's economic weakness, the magazine added.
Makes a lot of sense -- some EU nations economies are in the crapper (to use a technical term) but Germany has a pretty strong business and industrial market going. No sense for Germany to tie its currency to one that is failing...

A tale of two ratings

Will Franklin at WILLisms noticed something about President Bush's Approval Ratings -- that they were more than twice that of another politician:
Jacques Chirac, Fin.
Jacque Chirac's political career is, effectively, over.

The latest French polls show his popularity at an all-time low, following the resounding rejection of the E.U. referendum.

Today, only 24% of the French approve of Jacque Chirac.


You could fit the approval rating of two Jacque Chiracs inside of President Bush's, with room to spare:

Cool vendor -- Eastwood

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Hat tip to Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools website for the link to this great place. Eastwood Supplies
Eastwood is primarily an auto-body parts and tools supplier, but oh what tools. For example, welding equipment. You might not need TiG welding equipment, but you might find use for the gloves (fireplaces) or the jeweler's torch. Or painting equipment. You probably don't need to powdercoat brake calipers, but you *could* powdercoat your grill, lawn furniture, whatever.

Or maybe you need shop tools. Specialty tools like garage wheel alignment on the cheap, or your own garage lift (user-installable!). Wheel dollies for moving cars in your multi-car garage laterally. I first encountered the catalog because I needed tracer dye for a head gasket leak; I ended up buying hard-to-find 3M abrasive pads for removing the old gasket material as well as the dye and the UV lamp. Best thing about it? Buy something once and you get the catalog for well over a year. There's always something in it if you're a handy kinda person...
Zimbabwe used to be an exporter of food, now it imports. It used to be a wealthy country, now its poverty level is among the highest in Africa. What happened? President Robert Mugabe came into power. The latest atrocity from his government --- CNN has the story:
Zimbabwe police burn 6-mile line of vendors' stalls
Police continued demolishing thousands of shacks and vendors' kiosks in opposition strongholds Monday, burning a 10-kilometer (six-mile) long line of curio stalls along the road near Victoria Falls.

A spokesman for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party called the crackdown tyranny and urged the people to resist. Lawyers for the party sought a court order Monday that banned police from demolishing shacks and kiosks and demanding compensation for the owners of buildings destroyed in what the government calls a campaign to clean up the cities.

Thousands of street traders have been arrested and their wares seized or destroyed since the May 19 start of the crackdown, which the government has described as an urban renewal campaign.

Police using torches, sledgehammers and bulldozers have also burned and demolished the homes of the urban poor in informal settlements around the country.
And of course, Mugabe's activities are fully supported and aided by the United Nations.

A surge of ships

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The news is a few days old but of interest. From the Hampton Roads Pilot Online:
5 ships ordered to "surge" to support war on terror
The Navy has ordered five ships and 2,800 sailors to deploy on unexpected missions to support anti-terrorism efforts in the Balkans and Middle East. Four of the ships will leave today.

The deployments are in response to requests from the European Command and the Central Command and are not exercises, Vice Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander of the 2nd Fleet, said Tuesday.

While most ships know several months in advance � sometimes a year or more � when they will deploy, these ships were given between six and eight weeks� notice to get ready, Fitzgerald said.
Hmmm -- I wonder what is up...

Fifteen Minutes

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Energy Fog

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A very good article deconstructing many of the claims for alternative fuels. This builds on what I wrote about here earlier about Archer Daniels Midland.

Alternative-Fuel Nonsense
Forcing the U.S. to import less oil would only hurt Americans.

Proposals for extra billions of dollars in federal subsidies invariably attract impressive bipartisan support. If someone proposed big subsidies to replace fuel-guzzling airplanes with hot-air balloons, organizations would instantly spring up and eminent Beltway bandits would scramble for a piece of the action. Groups with names like �Americans for Everything Wonderful� would suddenly flood the talk shows with representatives arguing that we could easily reduce dependence on imported oil by simply elevating our balloons with imported liquefied natural gas. Lobbyists inconspicuously tied to the coal or corn industries might provide additional hot air about methanol or ethanol. If the White House and Congress were dominated by Democrats, the sales pitch would be about cooling the planet. If Republicans held the purse strings, balloon subsidies would become a national-security emergency.

The current debate about U.S. oil policy is equally enlightened. It is dominated by a special-interest lobby whose primary interest is to enrich automakers and alternative-fuel producers, and by journalists whose enthusiasm for the green agenda has clouded their understanding of basic economics.

In 2004, the Apollo Alliance was patched together as an election-year opportunity to promote $300 billion in federal subsidies and tax breaks, largely for ethanol and methanol to (as the Kerry campaign put it) �help farmers and coal miners.� This year, it has again endorsed a $12-billion subsidy plan.

Meanwhile, Set America Free, a group associated with the Apollo Alliance, has made a highly publicized claim that the government could painlessly bribe or compel Detroit (but not BMW or Infiniti) to make cars that get 500 miles per gallon. This bizarre number starts with the Toyota Prius, which gets about 44 mpg. What they don't tell you is that the figure would fall to 32 mpg if the Prius ran on the group's proposed mix of 85 percent ethanol. They claim such a car's mileage per gallon could be doubled by adding heavy batteries to be plugged in for short trips on electricity (i.e., 67 horsepower and no air conditioning) alone.

The article then goes on to look at the real cost of some of these alternatives as well as talk about oil and terrorism and how this is not and has never been a real issue. Good stuff!

From a Washington Post article by Bob Woodward
How Mark Felt Became 'Deep Throat'
As a Friendship -- and the Watergate Story -- Developed, Source's Motives Remained a Mystery to Woodward

In 1970, when I was serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and assigned to Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the chief of naval operations, I sometimes acted as a courier, taking documents to the White House.

One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room. It could be a long wait for the right person to come out and sign for the material, sometimes an hour or more, and after I had been waiting for a while a tall man with perfectly combed gray hair came in and sat down near me. His suit was dark, his shirt white and his necktie subdued. He was probably 25 to 30 years older than I and was carrying what looked like a file case or briefcase. He was very distinguished-looking and had a studied air of confidence, the posture and calm of someone used to giving orders and having them obeyed instantly.

I could tell he was watching the situation very carefully. There was nothing overbearing in his attentiveness, but his eyes were darting about in a kind of gentlemanly surveillance. After several minutes, I introduced myself. "Lieutenant Bob Woodward," I said, carefully appending a deferential "sir."

"Mark Felt," he said.
This is only the first part of a long story and a wonderful read. The story is finally being told.

Buying a Camera Online

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When shopping around for a new camera and reading the advertisements in the "popular" Photography magazines, you will run into companies that offer deals that are substantially lower than the other vendors. You give them a call and they will be more than happy to sell you the camera at that price but they will then suggest that you might also want to buy the battery and the battery charger and the neck strap and the lens cover. Checking with the manufacturers website, you will find that all of these come standard in the box with the basic camera purchase. These places are generally located in Brooklyn, NY. Hat tip to BoingBoing for this link to Don Wiss who has visited the street addresses of these Brooklyn vendors and recorded the greatness of their storefronts. One sample:
Click for full-size Image
Broadway Photo (bwayphoto.com), a.k.a. A&M Photo World LLC (amphotoworld.com) and Digital Liquidators (digitalliquidators.com) 2922 Avenue L A&M Photo World is now claiming to be at 2920 Ave L. Note peephole in the cardboard under the store number.
When I bought my Nikon D1-X, I wound up getting it from Glazers Camera in Seattle. Their price was on par with reputable mail-order and their service is awesome. The people there know what they are talking about...

Bunch of Nerds and Geeks

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Here is a website for anyone interested in building a full-size robotic R2-D2 unit. Actually really cool -- the members galleries have some really fun photos and the level of workmanship on some of these droids is very high. Among the members is a Mr. Kelly Krider. You have seen his work before on the large screen -- he is the lucky sod who was paid to build the robotic R2-D2 for George Lucas. Here is a photo of his glorious R2 Unit posed with a few other robot hacks. C3.141--something...
Click for full-size Image

Amazon Deals

Great website -- it scrapes the Amazon.com website and snags deals and displays them on their website sorted by several categories.

I present: Dealazon

Some deals are awesome -- several pieces of Calphalon cookware going for dirt cheap. Some are not so hot -- digital cameras which everyone steeply discounts going for a steep discount.

Caveat emptor but certainly check it out.

If you are into this kind of thing (shopping for something you don't need just because it is a "great deal"), you might also want to check out woot!

These people sell lots of merchandise, a single item at a time, one item per day, new items posted at midnight. Some stuff sells out immediately, some stuff lasts for the entire day. They are supposed to be very reliable but you have to know what you are buying and there are no returns.

House Theft - another story

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I had written here about a case of House Theft -- a situation where a house sits unoccupied for a while -- long enough for someone to forge a power of attorney and transfer the ownership to a third party. Bonnie Williams ran into this article and left a comment with her own story -- the comment was posted as one run-on paragraph. I have taken the liberty of inserting line-breaks to separate the narrative into paragraphs. The text remains unchanged.
I have had my home and everthing I own in the world, all my daughter's photo's birth to 2004, my expensive and beautiful designer wardrobe, jewelry including a $500,000 Cartier ring, 2 Porsche automobiles, on and on and on stolen.

The crime was committed by a man I have never met or heard of, who forged documents, lied and sold my Virginia Country Club Estate home and 3/4 of an acre of land it is on to the man next door.

Everyone involved in this incident has a different interest or defense of their crime or mistakes and no one, except for a neighboring police department who arrested the suspect in one of my Porsches as a stolen vehicle, is doing anything about this. Long Beach Police Department, the city I reside in, took all the police reports, assigned case numbers and detectives and then suddenly did an about face regarding all theft and forgery (proven to a detective handling the stolen vehicle)of my name on DMV records for starters. Maybe because LBPD was called out to the seen of the crime while it was occurring and upon being presented with a forged Deed of Trust by the criminals told family members that there was nothing they could do, the deed he showed him proves he is the owner (I was in Mexico while this occurred, of course).

Why, isn't possession 9/10ths of the law? Why, if all my belongings, my automobiles, my mail, including utilities in my name, and knowing personally the neighbors on every side of the property, again, why I ask would that not be possession.

If they want a civil matter made out ot the argument, then why would they allow the seizing of a persons property and eviction of their only, sole means of shelter prior to any civil litigation. 9/10ths means 9/10ths! This is the same department who specifically told me to file a stolen vehicle report separate from the original fraud and forgery report that included all my worldly possessions and then after the suspect was arrested told the Gardena Police Detective ready to convice the suspect on forgery and grand theft auto, that they made a mistake, it is a civil matter, and they should have never filed the report to begin with.

He forged my signature on Department of Motor Vehicle registration documents, it is proven he forged my signature, that is a crime. If he was in any way legal with his acts he never would have had to forge two automobile registrations. This probably soulds confusing and I know it does'nt read well. Sorry, I get so angry I can't even express myself correctly. I actually am articulate.

It is almost 1 year from the day my home was taken. My 11-year-old daughter is living with my brother and I have been staying with what was my estranged husband (marriage at least has been reconsiled) since this crime. I don't know how to take on a police detective if he is trying to cover a departments mistake or if he really doesn't know what constitutes a criminal act.

Gardena is in 100% agreement with me and wants to convice this man, the only deterrent is LBPD. They have not even investigated the crime, how would they know if it was a civil or criminal matter? Any suggestions, advise, involvement or ideas I would gladly appreciate.

Please, please get involved if you can, this is the 3rd instance of this I have heard of beside my own and everyone of them needlessly gets misunderstood, miss-policed or not pursued due to lack of knowledge or due to the strangeness of the crime.
She then gives her email address (I left this in the original post linked above). Sounds like a very cut and dried legal matter and a good case to get a lot of $$$ from the City of Long Beach (they are the ones directly responsible for the activities of their Police Department). I would hope that the original bill of sale for the properties were kept in a bank safety deposit box and not in the house. That way she can at least prove ownership at one time. If her language is this flustered one year later, the cops may have thought her hysterical and not credible when the theft was first discovered. I would check into getting a lawyer who would work on commission. One of the Porches and some Jewelry would be a good payment for what should amount to 20 hours work or so...

Soros Egged

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George Soros is a billionaire who has spent a lot of money recently funding far-left groups (talking solidly in Moonbat territory here)and has sworn to take president Bush down. He was visiting Georgia (ex-Russian state) and met with some protesters -- from Pravda:
Georgians throw eggs at George Soros in Tbilisi
The protesters began hurling eggs shortly after Mr. Soros emerged from the hotel and got into the car

Landslide Blogging

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Blogger Gerard Van der Leun lives near where the Laguna Beach landslides are taking place and he offers some photos and commentary:
Cubist speed sculpture by nature in Laguna Beach
FIRST IT IS JUST ONE HELICOPTER HOVERING, then two, then four, then seven. Up over the house here on Arch Beach Heights above Bluebird Canyon in Laguna Beach.

The choppers are all set on hover and they are not going away. How annoying. Call the police department to complain. "Why in the devil are there all these helicopters over my house?"

"Bluebird Canyon's had a major landslide. 20 homes wiped out. We're evacuating the canyon. Turn on your TV."

"Which channel?"

"All of them."
Hat tip to Roger L. Simon

The Belmont Club

Wretchard at The Belmont Club has been having serious problems with his blogging software.

He has been using a backup site for the last few weeks. He found the problem and it is related to the number of articles published.

He deleted a few, added a pointer to his new site and all new posts will be placed there.

Old Site (archive of older articles) -- The Belmont Club

New Site (all new articles) -- The Belmont Club

Site News can be found at Wretchard I have updated my Blogroll.

A new medical Blog

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Looks to be interesting -- EPIDEMIca The site is Canadian but they cover news from all over.

Art and Promotion

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Great article/rant at Viceland on artists and how they become successful.
Creative Publicity
Today's Artists Don't Need a Studio

Hey, which celebrities did Mick Jagger network, flirt with, fuck, or try to meet to get where he is today?

Jagger comes from a time when narcissism, exhibitionism and � oh, yes � hard work and creativity were still the only tools of the trade. The idea of �meeting the right people,� expending some of your creative energy to set up a mini-self-promotion agency, wasn�t on the front burner. Drive and talent did most of it. Can you believe it? He actually thought his talent would carry him through. Mick and his ilk were the last to subscribe to the old myth of the creative genius. It seems incredible today, but it was once considered beneath an artist to do his own marketing. The cranking out of flyers and invitations, the false patter of cocktail schmoozing, the gossipy jangle of telephones, or a mind for business were all considered alien to the artist�s creativity. Somebody else took care of that shit.

Compare Mick to my downstairs neighbor Adam Andrews. Adam is a 20-year-old musician and artist who came east from Portland to make it in New York. For him each day is a trade-off between developing his very original musical style and finding ways to get it noticed. He takes it for granted that nobody will ever know his name unless he sticks it in their face. So he�s copped a free, hip, noticeable haircut from his friend in beauty school, learned to crash parties, compiled a massive mailing list on his computer, produced his own CD with ripped-off cover art, and sucked up to the very people he once read about in seventh grade in Interview but now detests.

All this self-promotion is taking the bite out of Adam�s creativity. Before he came to New York, he was knocking out a song a week. Now he�s been pushing the same demo for over a year. But because of people like him, artists who are spending more time on their work will never get noticed. There�s just too much aggressive marketing competition.
And a bit more:
Maybe the worst aspect of the Baby Networker phenomenon is the callousness with which they approach established talent. In the past, young, worshipful artists sought out culture heroes who�d inspired them. These groupies were the types who had memorized every word or chord progression of their favorite celebrity. William Burroughs had a string of them. So did stuffy old poets like James Merrill and aging rock stars like Dylan. Even that old Nazi sympathizer Leni Reifenstahl, who filmed for Hitler and just turned 100, still has a young buck-bottom to carry her camera equipment. When these old-fashioned idolizers finally met their idols, they were always full of admiration and awe. They wished only to serve and learn.

Not so today. Fledgling artists don�t worship idols, they merely fix them in their sites as potential targets. Imagine somebody working James Joyce or Shakespeare cuz they knew he was well positioned in the industry. There they�d sit, yawning during Hamlet or admitting that Ulysses put them to sleep while in the same gesture slapping some half-baked adolescent manuscript or homemade CD down for him to read or listen to.

The Democratic Middle Class?

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An interesting article in the Washington Times about how a traditional bastion of the Democratic party is eroding:
Loss of middle class a 'crisis' for Democrats
The Democratic Party, the self-proclaimed defender of the middle class, was trounced by Republicans among those voters in the 2004 election, according to a Democratic advocacy group that says the party faces "a crisis with the middle class."

A report released yesterday by Third Way says support for Republicans begins at much lower income levels than researchers had expected: Among white voters, President Bush got a majority of support beginning at an income threshold of $23,300 -- about $5,000 above the poverty level for a family of four.

The report says the economic gains of Hispanics have translated into strong Republican gains, as have economic strides across every category, save for black voters.

"As Americans become even modestly wealthier their affinity for Democrats apparently falls off. With middle income voters, it is Democrats -- the self-described party of the middle class -- who are running far behind Republicans, the oft-described party of the rich," the report says.
Very interesting -- the report stressed: As Americans become even modestly wealthier their affinity for Democrats apparently falls off.. This should be a no-brainer for anyone. The Democratic party projects an image of large government control and high taxes to pay for this. Someone drifting through life looking for handouts think this is great. The Republican party projects an image of self-reliance and small government. As people begin to accumulate wealth, they feel more independent and want as little external control their lives as possible. Less taxes, less stupid legislation.

Light posting

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Jen and I have some family visiting so posting has been/will be light through tomorrow (Thursday)

January 2021

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democrats give conservatives indigestion
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