April 2006 Archives

Light posting tonight

Starting to take apart one of the two Japanese Robot Arms that I won at auction a few weeks ago. Pictures of the controller are here. I will be using the parts for this. More on the Robot Arms themselves here. Pictures in a few days. I'll be doing more on the Pyrex story in a few days too.

First Cat Shit and now Cannabis

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Schizophrenia is very prevalent in today's society and causes for it are not clear. There has been an interesting link between Schizophrenia and Cat Feces containing a parasitic protozoan Toxoplasma gondii Now it seems that the use of Marijuana causes a "significant increase" From the website:
Use of street drugs (especially marijuana/hash/cannabis) have been linked with significantly increased probability of developing schizophrenia. This link has been documented in over 30 different scientific studies (studies done mostly in the UK, Australia and Sweden) over the past 20 years. In one example, a study interviewed 50,000 members of the Swedish Army about their drug consumption and followed up with them later in life. Those who were heavy consumers of cannabis at age 18 were over 600% more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia over the next 15 years than those did not take it. (see diagram below). Experts estimate that between 8% and 13% of all schizophrenia cases are linked to marijuna / cannabis use during teen years.
Chronic indeed!

A past life

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Meet Jeff Christie.
Remind you of anyone? From the website:
Yes, Jeff Christie is Rush Limbaugh!
Jeff Christie was at KQV twice in the early seventies. Jeff originally came to Pittsburgh to work at WIXZ. He came to KQV to do nights in 1972. A number of the phrases we still hear on his Rush Limbaugh show today on more than 600 stations "all across the fruited plain" were heard when he was on KQV. You can hear a sample of Jeff's work during the 14K days at the Reel Top 40 Radio Archives. He returned for a short time during KQV's final days of top 40 filling in middays before moving on to Kansas City. Rush Limbaugh's EIB network came from a term he used here in Pittsburgh in the early seventies. EIB = Excellence In Broadcasting
WikiPedia has more Curious indeed!

Country Lyrics

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Been listening to a fair bit of Country music -- goes with the landscape up here :-) Found an excellent website for Country song lyrics. Check out: Cowboy Lyrics

Just wonderful

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From Yahoo/AP comes this story of Mr. Ashraf Ahmed Abdallah Bashar:
Egyptian man pleads guilty to smuggling dozens of people to U.S.
An Egyptian man has pleaded guilty to smuggling at least 100 men from the Middle East into the United States.

Ashraf Ahmed Abdallah Bashar, 37, admitted to leading a smuggling ring that brought 100 or more men from Middle Eastern countries into the U.S. from April 2001 through January 2002, officials from the Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department said. He pleaded guilty Friday in federal court before Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson.

"Providing persons with unknown backgrounds undetected entry into our country is a threat to national security," said Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's criminal division.

Abdallah admitted to arranging land transportation and guides into the U.S., as well as layovers at safe houses in Guatemala and Mexico, for up to $8,000, according to plea documents. He told the men how to avoid capture during their journey across the southwestern U.S. border, according to his plea.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 24.
And of course, the people that he smuggled across were peaceful and only wanted to assimilate into the culture of the USA and to contribute to the sucess of this nation. Makes you wonder how many others are running the same racket...

Google tools

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Google continues to amaze me. They do have a problem with aiding Chinese censorship but they also do things like this:
Arabic to English

English to Arabic
As Google says:
Our system works better for some types of text (e.g. news) than for others (e.g. novels) -- and you probably should not try to translate poetry ... but do stay tuned for more exciting developments.
Wonder how it works on Friday Sermons...

How not to rob a casino...

From Reuters/UK:
Thieves gas selves in cyanide heist blunder
Two hapless Chinese thieves gassed themselves to death with cyanide along with five intended victims while trying to rob a gambling den in the city of Ruichang, the Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

A court in nearby Jiujiang on Thursday sentenced their three surviving accomplices to death for the robbery, carried out last June.

One of the three passed out for several hours from the effects of the gas -- but still remembered to rob the dead of 15,950 yuan (1,090 pounds), five mobile phones and a gold necklace when he came round, Xinhua said.

An email from Europe

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It is difficult to sit over here in the USA and watch Europe slide into decay. I ran into another example of this tonight in an email. I am building some Computer Numerical Controlled equipment for my metal shop and am on several email lists. The commercial "solutions" for CNC run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars but there is a strong hardware hacker contingent that finds surplus equipment and makes it work for home use. Some people are even running small and successful business with their equipment making and selling parts for whatever catches their fancy. Unfortunately, this is becoming harder and harder for our friends in Europe -- from the email:
Well, in the EU, they have essentially banned the mom&pop business, desktop manufacturing, etc. The amount of regulation is insane - you practically need ISO9000 registration, and a whole raft of other certifications to install a car stereo. Basically, if you don't employ 1000 people, you can't sell anything as a "product". Machine shops seem to still be permitted, though.

Scrounging is already outlawed, as all manufacturers have to set up these WEEE shops to recycle their old products. They'd have to be idiots to not take advantage of this requirement to not make sure their old products simply disappear. No usuable motors, circuit boards, transformers, etc. for tinkerers to experiment with.

I think most people are familiar with the entreprenurial inventor figure in the history of the US, so anything that actually legislates that sort of thing out is not going to go over well. All you have to say is "Oh, so under this law Thomas Edison and Henry Ford would have been put out of business, huh?" But, we do have to be vigilant, as legislators are so in the pockets of big business that they don't think of this stuff unless you constantly remind them.
The leaders over there are idiots -- where does the disruptive technology come from? People working in their garages and coming up with the better mousetrap. Sometimes I bemoan the state of innovation in the USA but compared to what the EU will be like in five years, we are a regular Tesla or Edison. Sad...

Andy Serkis

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While waiting for United 93 to start, they showed a still from King Kong. That got me to wondering what Andy Serkis was up to these days. He was the motion capture actor for Golum in LOTR, he also played Kong (as well as the ships cook Lump). Turns out that Andy is busy! He is doing a character voice on the animation: "Flushed Away", doing a television drama: "Longford", a biography of Eadweard Muybridge called "Freezing Time" (Muybridge invented motion pictures and is a fascinating character), an action/adventure based on the Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz: "Stormbreaker" and finally, this film which I cannot wait to see: "The Prestige" From the entry for The Prestige:
Bale and Jackman will play rival magicians in turn-of-the-century London who battle each other for trade secrets. The rivalry is so intense that it turns them into murderers.
They have David Bowie playing Nicolas Tesla. It's in post so it should come out relatively soon (this year) Cool!

United 93

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Jen and I saw this film tonight. Very powerful and very well done. The Writer and Director Paul Greenglass played it very straight relying just on telephone calls and flight recorder data for the conditions on the airplane. He could have "tarted it up a bit" and tried to flesh out the characters and provide a backstory but he didn't and this makes the film that much more powerful. I was expecting it to make me sad but it ignited that burning pit of anger in my gut that had been slowly turning into embers since the original 9/11. I was pissed as hell then and I am just as pissed if not more now. Regardless of your political views, you should see this on the big screen. Those idiots that started blathering about "Why do they hate us so much" simply do not get it -- this is a pathological culture. These people are truly evil, their false prophet Mohamed (Pigs be upon his name) is the prophet of Satan, not the true God. The people in power have suppressed all that is good about the Middle Eastern culture. As I have said before, my first wife was a Sufi and I had the great delight in meeting many wonderful Persians and Arabs. Some of the most gracious people in the world. The Sufi's have the concept of polishing you're heart so that it may reflect God's love to the world. The people in charge these days have no love, only hate and lust for power.

Brutus and the Chainsaw

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A cute fuzzy lil' critter story from Australia -- Yahoo/AP
Crocodile Attacks Chainsaw in Australia
A 14 1/2-foot crocodile mauled a chainsaw a worker was using Friday to clear up debris left by a tropical storm that lashed northern Australia. While the croc and worker were both uninjured, the saw's woodcutting days are over.

Freddy Buckland was cutting up a tree that fell against a crocodile enclosure at the Corroboree Park Tavern, 50 miles east of the northern port city of Darwin when the crocodile, called Brutus, apparently took exception to the chainsaw's noise and attacked.

"As he was trimming up the tree on the outside the croc jumped out of the water and sped along the tree about 18, 20 feet and actually grabbed the chainsaw out of his hands," said Peter Shappert, the tavern's owner.

"It must have been the noise ... I don't think he was actually trying to grab Freddy, but I'm not sure. He had a fair go at him ... I think he just grabbed the first thing he could and it happened to be the chainsaw," Shappert added.

Neither Buckland nor Brutus were injured.

The saltwater crocodile, which Shappert said he now is considering renaming Two-stroke in honor of the saw's fuel, appeared to like the snack.

"He chewed on the chainsaw for about an hour-and-a-half, then we finally got it out," Shappert said, adding that the saw was destroyed when it finally was retrieved from Brutus' giant jaws.

Saltwater crocodiles have been known to attack small power boats, apparently because they do not like the noise of outboard motors.
Emphasis mine -- love the dry Ozzie sense of humor... That chain saw is probably proudly displayed on the tavern wall and everyone had a round of beers.

Local Geek Fun!

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The 2006 Linuxfest Northwest is going on tomorrow in Bellingham. This is an annual event and I have missed the last couple ones but am planning to attend tomorrow. Keynote speaker is George Dyson. Looking forward to networking with some local geeks!
It seems that the swine responsible for the March 11, 2004 train bombings used a simple e-mail hack to avoid detection... From the International Herald-Tribune:
Madrid suspects tied to e-mail ruse
One of the leading figures indicted in the March 11, 2004, train bombings in Madrid used a simple trick that allowed him to communicate with his confederates on ordinary e- mail accounts but avoided government detection, according to the judge investigating the case.

Instead of sending the messages, the suspect, Hassan El Haski, saved them as drafts on accounts he shared with other radicals, according to papers issued by the judge, Juan del Olmo. They all knew the password and so they could access the accounts to read his comments and post replies, according to the judge.

This ruse meant that there was no digital trail that the authorities could easily trace, according to the judge and government. Had the messages been e- mailed, the government might have monitored them, as is common across Europe.

Intelligence officials have said in the past that terrorist groups were using the trick, which investigators call a "virtual dead drop." But few concrete examples have come to light, especially in an attack as extreme as the Madrid bombings, which killed 191 people.

Few details of this use of e-mail accounts were given in the lengthy indictment that named 29 suspects, mostly North African, this month. The government charges that these e-mail accounts were apparently used from as early as late 2003 until after the March bombings. But it does not detail how many people shared the accounts, and what kinds of instructions were given.

"This is probably a common method of communication among jihadists in Europe," Javier Jord�n, the director of the Center for Security Studies and Analysis at the University of Granada, said in a telephone interview.

"Haski is a person who traveled a lot and had lots of contacts," he said. "If he used this method, a logical interpretation is that many others did too."
That loophole is probably already closed in Yahoo, GMail, Hotmail, etc... but there are lots of small services out there that would still be usable. As long as the e-mail is on one server system, reading stays difficult without cooperation from that ISP. Once it gets routed into the Internet, then detection becomes easy. Crap...

Do as I say...

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and not as I do... From Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics comes this perfect example of the hypocrisy of Seattle government and why we are so glad to be out of there:
Full Kyoto: Greg Nickels' city car uses 5 gallons of gasoline a day
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is being hailed as an eco-hero by the likes of Vanity Fair [photo] for his Mayor's initiative to implement the Kyoto Protocol and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nickels #1 goal is to "Reduce Seattle�s dependence on cars". But while he's calling on other people to get out of their cars, Nickels' gluttonous dependence on his own official automobile should raise eyebrows. Seattle taxpayers provide the Mayor with a 2006 Cadillac DTS Luxury III for his exclusive official use. And use it he does. City expense records [sample] reveal that the Mayor has burned an average of 152.1 gallons of gasoline a month since Jan. 2005, the equivalent of 5 gallons of gasoline every single day of the year.

And it's not just the gasoline consumption that's profligate -- in the last 12 months alone, Hizzoner has spent roughly $36,000 in public funds on leasing, maintenance, fuel and other operating costs for his various luxury cars, and that doesn't even include salary and benefits for his chauffeur. May we all reduce our dependence on automobiles to $36,000 a year --
A bit of a funny story -- Seattle was for a while trying to implement a very expensive public transportation project, namely a Monorail. It was supposed to connect SeaTac airport with Downtown and then on to points north. The project was funded by licensing fees -- $100 or so was added to the annual license fee for each car registered to people living in the Metro Seattle area. People started registering their vehicles with friends who lived out of the city. Since we have moved to our farm, we have received a stern notice with each license renewal that we have to provide several pieces of proof that we are no longer living in Seattle. Our drugstore is about 15 miles away and they are also a Licensing office and we show them the notice, our drivers license and we all have a good chuckle. When will these people realize that top-down big government has never worked and will not work in the future -- the idea has been tried, fried and put down. Time to put the pipe away and find a real job...

Flooding in Romania

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From Yahoo/Reuters:
Danube bursts more dikes in Romania, hundreds flee
The swollen Danube river burst several waterlogged dikes in Romania on Thursday, swamping new villages and forcing hundreds more people to leave their homes, officials said.

Europe's second-longest river, which flows through a 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) stretch of Romania, has submerged large swathes of land in central and southeastern Europe.

Water levels have started falling in several countries, but Romania, the worst-hit, is still battling cracks in strained flood defenses in the Danube delta near the Black Sea and faces the risk of further flooding and evacuations.

"The water flow is expected to remain high over the next 35 days and this is a permanent threat to defenses and people," Environment Minister Sulfina Barbu told state radio.

Lefter Chirica, the government's representative in the county of Tulcea, told Reuters: "580 people fled overnight from the village of Ostrov in the delta as high waters threatened their lives after several dikes collapsed."

Flooding caused by heavy rain and melting snow has forced thousands of people living on the Danube's flood plains out of their homes over the past month, including around 15,800 in Romania where about 130,000 hectares of farmland and pastures are submerged.
This isn't the countryside, this is a city and it's dikes and water systems are failing. Not that long ago (in August, 2002 to be precise) a "100-year-flood" stuck and caused massive damage. It will be interesting to see who points what fingers where when people start talking about preparation and infrastructure. Here is an image from Dresden, August 2002:

I want a Freeware Utility to...

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Nice collection of freeware utilities for various tasks/problems/productivity. Visit: I want a Freeware Utility to ... 450+ common problems solved. Categories include:
Anti-Spyware/Anti-Virus/Anti-Rootkit/Security Freeware Utilities
Audio/Music/MP3/Real/Wav Freeware Utilities
Business/Office/Access/Excel/Word Freeware Utilities
Communication Freeware Utilities
Desktop Freeware Utilities
Editors/Notepad Replacements Freeware Utilities
and about a dozen more. Good stuff!


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Balaklava, Russia -- not a place you or I would have visited in the last 50 years or so and here is the reason why. From Fun Mansion:
Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Balaklava was one of the most secret towns in Russia. 10km south eas of Sevastopol on the Black Sea Coast, this small town was the home to a Nuclear Submarine Base.

Almost the entire population of Balaklava at the time worked at the Base, even family members could not visit the town of Balaklava without good reason and identification. The base remained operational after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 until 1993 when the decommissioning process started and the warheads and low yield torpedos were removed. Then in 1996 the last Russian Submarine left the Base, and now you can go on Guided tours round the Cannel System, Base and small Museum, which is now housed in the old weapons stowage hangers deep inside the hillside.
Twenty-two very cool photos including these three:


Very cool stuff -- would not mind taking the tour myself...


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From Reuters:
Iran has missiles that put Europe in range: report
Iran has received a first shipment of missiles from North Korea that are capable of reaching Europe, Israel's military intelligence chief was quoted on Thursday as saying.

Known in the West as BM-25s, the Russian-designed missiles have a range of around 1,500 miles, giving them a longer reach than the Iranian-made Shihab-4 missiles which are capable of hitting Israel.

The intelligence chief, Major-General Amos Yadlin, was quoted by Israel's Haaretz newspaper as saying in a lecture on Wednesday that some BM-25s had arrived in Iran.

The BM-25 was originally manufactured in the Soviet Union, where it was known as the SSN6, a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, Haaretz reported.

After the Russians decommissioned the SSN6, the missiles were sold to North Korea, which adapted them to carry a heavier payload, the newspaper's military affairs correspondent said.

In February, a German diplomat, citing his country's intelligence data, confirmed a German newspaper report that said Iran had purchased 18 disassembled BM-25s from North Korea.

Israel has been urging the international community to pressure Iran to halt its nuclear programme as well as its efforts to obtain long-range missiles.

Iran, the world's fourth largest producer of crude oil, says its nuclear programme is a peaceful project to provide electricity.

Israel is widely believed to have more than 200 nuclear warheads. It declines to comment on its atomic program, saying only it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.
And Europe (and the UN) continues to waffle... This cannot be writ any clearer on the wall -- these are bad mofos and they are not joking.

A computer interface

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I want one!!!!!!! Meet Jeff Han, Consultant for the Department of Computer Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University. His latest work is on Multi-Touch Interaction A 3:30 video can be found at YouTube His description:
Multi-Touch Interaction Research
While touch sensing is commonplace for single points of contact, multi-touch sensing enables a user to interact with a system with more than one finger at a time, as in chording and bi-manual operations. Such sensing devices are inherently also able to accommodate multiple users simultaneously, which is especially useful for larger interaction scenarios such as interactive walls and tabletops.
Watch the video -- this is amazing geek-fu

A bit short at the moment...

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Couldn't happen to nicer people -- from Haaretz:
$450,000 cash said stolen from PA finance minister during visit to Kuwait
Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar has had $450,000 stolen from his hotel room during his current visit to Kuwait, the Itim news agency quoted the Kuwaiti media as saying Wednesday.

According to the report, al-Zahar had asked the Kuwaiti authorities to keep the theft under wraps, but the incident was confirmed by a security official at the hotel.

The foreign minister, a senior member of Hamas, is on a tour of Arab and Muslim countries to drum up funds after Israel suspended the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and Western donors cut off aid to the Hamas-led government.

The European Union and the United States have cut off direct aid to the Palestinian Authority over Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previously signed peace agreements.

Itim also reported that an official at the Palestinian Finance Ministry has revealed that, despite its empty coffers, the PA has funded the trip for al-Zahar and his entourage.
And why would he be traveling with that kind of money -- buying arms? drugs? And these people want a state -- how about Plasma...


From Wikipedia: Schadenfreude is a German term meaning "pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune". Cox and Forkum post an excellent example today:
Visit their site for the full-size image. Another perfect example of unintended consequences.

Marv Klotz's Utilities

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Subtitled: Software for people who Build Things!; this is an excellent collection of quick little utilities for basic mechanical and machining calculations. Last update as of this writing was April 5th, 2006 so it is maintained and kept current. Lots of good links too -- this is an amazing resource!

Follow the Money - Spain

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A week old but still very interesting -- from The Guardian:
Missing Bin Ladens puzzle Spain
Spain's government said yesterday it had ordered an investigation into how the country was soaking up a quarter of one of the world's largest denomination bank notes, the �500 (�345) bill.

With tax officials and the Bank of Spain unable to explain where all the notes were going to, the country's ample black market and many money-launderers became the chief suspects.

The �500 notes are popularly known in Spain as "Bin Ladens" because like the al-Qaida leader, everybody knows they are around but hardly anyone has seen them.

The Bank of Spain said the notes were increasingly being drawn from high street banks and then disappearing. Last month 100m more notes were issued to high street banks than were handed in by them. That accounted for 26% of the total issued in all 12 eurozone countries, according to El Pa�s newspaper.

A booming building industry is thought to account for much of the high-denomination cash that has disappeared. Some 60% of real estate companies reportedly accept cash payments, while some are even said to demand them.

The deputy mayor of the southern town of Marbella, Isabel Garc�a, was found to have �378,000 in �500 notes in her safe when police arrested her in a corruption investigation earlier this month.

Spaniards have a tradition of squirreling savings away in cash hoards. "We had the same thing with 10,000 peseta notes," a central bank source said. "For some it is a way of laundering money. For others it is just a way of keeping their savings."
Hard to follow cash transactions when you are trying to tax people. Raise the taxes high enough and you force a large part of the economy to move underground. The government is clueless and people are still withdrawing the large bills...

Sunspot 875

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Looks to be a biggie - from SpaceWeather:
New sunspot 875 has a "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares.
X-Class is the biggest -- if one of them hits Earth square-on, we have brilliant Aurorae, radio blackouts, electrical distribution problems. Still a few days away from being any kind of threat though. Sure is beautiful though:
Image by Andreas Murner of Lake Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany.

Great test

From GuyK at Charming, Just Charming:

Subject: Are you a democrat, republican, or a Southerner
Seems like I remember posting this one once before but my friend MAXX DOG sent it to me and I cracked up after I read it ---again. So I reckon it is worth a repeat. I don't carry a Glock--hell, I'm a poor redneck and can't afford that high dollar ammo. I just keep a 12 gauge loaded and handy.

Subject: Are you a democrat, republican, or a Southerner
Here is a little test that will help you decide.
The answer can be found by posing the following question:
You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children.

Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges at you. You are carrying a Glock cal 40, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?
Democrat's Answer:
Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!

Does the man look poor! Or oppressed?

Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?

Could we run away?

What does my wife think?

What about the kids?

Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?

A small excerpt -- read the entire post. Do not miss the final line in the Southerner's Answer Heh...


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Just ran into this one and it looks good:
POGO.org Project on Government Oversight
They have a blog here: POGO Blog A sample entry:
Guess which Iraq reconstruction project is on time and on budget?
It�s the gigantic US embassy in Baghdad. USA Today reports:
The $592 million facility is being built inside the heavily fortified Green Zone by 900 non-Iraqi foreign workers who are housed nearby and under the supervision of a Kuwaiti contractor, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report. Construction materials have been stockpiled to avoid the dangers and delays on Iraq's roads.

"We are confident the embassy will be completed according to schedule (by June 2007) and on budget," said Justin Higgins, a State Department spokesman.

The same cannot be said for major projects serving Iraqis outside the Green Zone, the Senate report said. Many � including health clinics, water-treatment facilities and electrical plants � have had to be scaled back or in some cases eliminated because of the rising costs of securing worksites and workers.

"No large-scale, U.S.-funded construction program in Iraq has yet met its schedule or budget," the committee report said. [all emphasis POGO's]
Good stuff!

20 Years ago Today

Today was the 20th anniversary of the horrible accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. Yahoo/AFP has a report on the memorial ceremony:

Haunting vigils mark 20 years since Chernobyl disaster
Haunting night-time vigils marked the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the world's worst nuclear accident that shocked the globe, ravaged this corner of eastern Europe and affects millions of people to this day.

Clutching candles and carnations, hundreds of people silently poured into the central square of the Ukrainian town of Slavutich, built 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the east of the defunct nuclear power station to house its staff and others evacuated following the accident.

A shrieking siren pierced the silence around the time that two explosions ripped through reactor number four at the Soviet-designed plant on April 26, 1986, releasing a huge radioactive cloud into the air.

Somber-faced, many with tears in their eyes, the crowd made their way toward a monument honoring the 30 people who died in the first year after the accident that became a grim symbol of the hazards of atomic energy.

"I knew all of these people," Mykola Ryabushkin said, pointing to the portraits hanging on the monument.

The 59-year-old was an operator at the station and was working the night of the explosion that bathed the station in an otherworldly bluish light.

"I look at them and I want to ask them for forgiveness," he said, tears rolling down his cheeks. "Maybe we're all to blame for letting this accident happen."

Emphasis mine -- no you are not to blame. The only people to blame are the idiots who put operators on duty that had no experience with the particular kind of reactor and who decided to run a test that should never have been run. Wikipedia has an excellent article outlining the faults of that particular core and the timeline leading up to the accident.

Blowing a career?

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Meet Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan, author of the new book: "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" published by Little, Brown last spring. She got a lot of publicity as well as $500,000 for the book and a sequel. Too good to be true? According to this NY Times article -- yes:
Young Author Admits She Copied Another Writer
In an e-mail message this afternoon, Ms. Viswanathan said that in high school she had read and loved the two books she is accused of borrowing from, 'Sloppy Firsts' and "Second Helpings," and that they "spoke to me in a way few other books did."

"Recently, I was very surprised and upset to learn that there are similarities between some passages in my novel, 'How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life,' and passages in these books," the message went on.

Calling herself a "huge fan" of Ms. McCafferty's work, Ms. Viswanathan added, "I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words." She also apologized to Ms. McCafferty and said that future printings of the novel would be revised to "eliminate any inappropriate similarities."

Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown, said Ms. Viswanathan planned to add an acknowledgment to Ms. McCafferty in future printings of the book.
Of course, now that the subsequent printings will be edited, this makes the first editions that much more valuable... Probably an honest mistake but her editor should have caught that in a heartbeat. This is what a book editor does. At least she is graciously owning up to the error -- I will submit these two images as an example of someone who doesn't own up to their blatant plagiarism:
Thomas Mails

Ward Churchill
The top image is a pen and ink sketch done by Thomas Mails in 1972. The bottom one is a silk-screen done by Ward Churchill and presented as his own work in 1981. And he still continues to teach?

The Religious Policeman

Just ran into this blog the other day. From the website:

The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

A sample post:

The Work Ethic
When God created Saudi Arabia, he also presented us with three gifts:

- The Holy Mosques at Makkah and Madinah, for our spiritual needs
- The Oilfields, for our material needs
- The Indian Subcontinent, so that we had people to sweep out the former and pump out the latter.

Perhaps as a result of this, we have developed certain fixed ideas about what we will and will not do for a career.
Generally, we want to work in:

- the Armed Forces, Police, or Security services. However, you need to be in "the right tribes" to get these jobs.
- Saudi Airlines. As pilots, naturally. Egyptians (men and women) usually work as the cabin staff.
- Banks. (Nice clerical jobs)
- Civil Service (ditto)
- University or School. (teachers are very revered in Islam)
- Mosques (Imams ditto)
- Other professions, or as "Managers". But not salesmen, that's for the pushy Lebanese.

He then talks about a job opening for 500 people where 10,000 Saudi's showed up. Needless to say, they have their own rules for standing in line (Queueing in England):

The Four Rules of Saudi Queueing.
1. Queue is a foreign word, for foreigners. Saudis do not need to queue. If you see a line of people, that indicates that there is something desirable at the front, and it is waiting for you, so just go and get it.

2. If the line is from the Indian subcontinent, they will not dare to stop you from going to the front. Indeed they will be grateful, in their quiet and humble way, that you have honored their line with your presence.

3. If the line contains Westerners, they may object to your going to the front. Affect not to understand their unrefined languages. If some smartass has a smattering of Arabic, pull a face that suggests you can't make head or tail of his silly accent. However if there are no other Saudis around, be careful, as some of them can become extremely threatening and physical. The men can be scary as well.

4. If you meet another Saudi at the head of the queue, precedence goes to the better family or tribe. Unless one of you has a relation behind the window or whatever it is you are queueing for. However if a Bedu from out of the desert turns up, let him go first, because everyone expects him to be pig-ignorant and not understand queues and you just can't be assed trying to explain it to him, and anyway he can't read so he's probably come to the wrong place and he'll bugger off soon enough as it is.

Very much worth reading and will be added to the blogroll...

The Superconducting Supercollider

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Another Clinton legacy -- Damn Interesting has a nice writeup:
America's Discarded Superconducting Supercollider
Deep beneath the plains of central Texas lies a catacomb of tunnels once meant to house the most expensive physics experiment ever devised. That experiment, the Superconducting Supercollider, would have revolutionized our understanding of the physical world by giving us our first glimpse of the "God Particle." And, proposed during the Cold War, it would have been a monument to the technological and scientific prowess of the Western world.

But in 1993 after investing over $2 billion dollars into the project, President Clinton and Congress canceled it entirely. Highly sophisticated machinery and laboratories were simply sold to the highest bidder, and thousands of acres of empty land were parceled off and sold as well. All that now remains are 200,000 square feet of still-vacant factories and labs, and over 30 km of carved-rock tunnels slowly filling with water.

One of the most persistent mysteries of the Universe is why matter has mass at all. Physicists think they know the answer; a particle called the Higgs Boson, also called the "God Particle", is thought to exist that gives all other particles mass. Around this theoretical particle they constructed the glittering edifice of late-20th century physics known rather plainly as the Standard Model.

Despite its tremendous importance, the Higgs has never been observed in experiments. According to calculations, it exists in detectable form only at astoundingly high temperatures and pressures - similar to those of the first few seconds after the Big Bang. Particle accelerators smash sub-atomic scraps together to regularly recreate such conditions, but none exists powerful enough to actually see the Higgs.
Total estimated cost was to have been around $8.5B Given a US population of 298 Million, this puts the cost at about $28/per person. Considering that the construction would have taken over ten years, this puts the burden on each US citizen at less than one Espresso Coffee drink per year. This would have been amazing -- much more than the International Space Station and President Clinton killed it. Shame on you!

Light posting tonight

Working on the Cimroc 2 robot arm controller figuring out what to keep, what to eBay and what to toss into a landfill (hey, it is Earth Day after all!) Gorgeous day today -- first real day of spring -- temps in the 60's. Clear skies tonight, have a fire going in the studio so it's nice and toasty. Not too much happening in the world today -- that will change though...

A bumper sticker

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Saw this today - sums things up pretty accuratly...

Overheard between Bush and Cheney

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Ran into this transcript at Smug Nugget:
Hu's on the White House Lawn
Bush: Look Dick. You're the Vice-President. You must know all the world leaders.

Cheney: I certainly do.

Bush: Well you know I've never met most of them. So you'll have to tell me their names, and then I'll know who runs what.

Cheney: I'll tell you their names, George, but you know it seems to me they give these world leaders now-a-days very peculiar names.

Bush: You mean funny names?

Cheney: Strange names . . . like Mwai Kibaki.

Bush: Your whatty?

Cheney: Mwai Kibaki, the President of Kenya.

Bush: Oh.

Cheney: Let's see. Who else should you know? Putin's in Russia, Chirac's in France, Hu's in China . . .

Bush: That's what I want to find out. I heard that last one's coming to visit today.

Cheney: I said Hu's in China.
A wonderful reworking of a classic...

Problems with Pyrex - part two

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Just a quick note. About a month ago, I had written about how today's Pyrex glass cookware might not be what Pyrex originally was. When Pyrex cookware first came out, it was a true refrigerator to oven to table to refrigerator product. Lately though, people have been experiencing catastrophic failures of their Pyrex cookware when it has been subjected to the most modest changes in temperature or shock. The two things that give Pyrex its properties are a 10% Boron content and a long annealing process after manufacture. From my first entry:
#1) - Pyrex is another name for Borosilicate Glass and contains about 10% Boric Oxide in addition to the Silica and other chemicals. From Wikipedia:
The boron gives borosilicate glass a reduced thermal expansion coefficient (about one-third that of ordinary glass). This reduces material stresses caused by temperature gradients, thus making it more resistant to breaking.

#2) - Pyrex is also annealed which means that after it is molded to shape, it is held at near melting temperatures for a long time to allow the residual stresses to 'mellow out'.
From Wikipedia:
Annealing, in glassblowing and lampworking, is heating a piece of glass until its temperature reaches a stress-relief point, that is, a temperature at which the glass is still too hard to deform, but is soft enough for internal stresses to ease. The piece is then allowed to heat-soak until its temperature is even throughout; the time necessary for this varies depending on the type of glass and thickness of the thickest section. The piece is then slowly cooled at a predetermined rate until its temperature is below a critical point, at which it can no longer generate internal stresses, and then the temperature can safely be dropped to room temperature. This relieves the internal stresses, making the glass much more durable. Glass which has not been annealed will crack or even shatter when subjected to a relatively small temperature change or other shock.
I do not have the equipment to test for Boron but there is a very simple test to see if a piece of glass has been annealed or not. If it is not annealed, it will have stress and by using a set of crossed polarized filters, I can see and photograph the stress. Here is an example of a piece with internal stresses under regular light and under cross-polarized light:
I do a lot of photography and have some polarizing filters but these are too small to really look at the entire piece and they are circularly polarized which makes for better control over the image but isn't what I needed for this project. Today, I took delivery of a sheet of good-quality polarizing film 17" by 24". We are headed into town tomorrow anyway so I'll pick up a couple pieces of "Pyrex" and compare them with some of my 15-year-old ware. If I see stress lines, I may contact someone in the Chemistry department of the local University and see if they would like an interesting project for their students... More in a few days...

More aftershocks in Russia

The earthquakes in Koryakia (here and here) are not letting up.

The primary was about the same size as the San Francisco 1906 quake. The aftershocks are significant earthquakes themselves.

They just had two more earlier today -- 5.7 and 6.1 on the Richter Scale. Thank God the area is not highly populated...

An interesting protest

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From blogger The Big Pharaoh come some photographs of a demonstration in Alexandria, Egypt:
One Nation for All
I just came from a demonstration protesting the recent events in Alexandria and calling for a "one nation for all, Muslims and Christians." After the shock of what happened in Alex, I simply had to do something no matter how small it was.

The demonstration included the opposition movements Kifaya, Youth for Change, The Popular Campaign for Change, and Ayman Nour's party Al Ghad. People with no specific party or entity affiliation, like myself, were present as well.

The entities mentioned above are mainly secular and they were instrumental in the political upheaval of 2005. Unfortunately, they almost have zero grassroots support.

The demonstration was a success as far as I am concerned. Around 400-500 people showed up, Muslims and Christians, all reaffirming the fact that Egypt is for all and sectarianism has no place in our country.

The placard in the middle reads: Religion is for God and the homeland is for all.
And one more:

Enough persecution, enough discrimination, enough racism, enough underestimating our intelligence, enough you have destroyed our homes. Youth for change.
The very cool aspect is that there were no signs in English. This was not a demonstration played to the media, this was the real deal -- they were reaching out to other Egyptians and not to the Western Liberal Main-Stream-Media. The symbol at the bottom right of the second image is the combination Islamic Crescent and Christian Cross together.

Russian aftershocks

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They already had a 7.7 earlier this evening. (the San Francisco quake was estimated at 7.7 to 7.9) They just had a 6.1 aftershock...

Nature, red in tooth and claw

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Who trusted God was love indeed And love Creation's final law - Tho' nature, red in tooth and claw With ravine, shriek'd against his creed from In Memoriam -- Alfred Lord Tennyson Time once again for Earth Day and Cox and Forkum get into the spirit of things:
They also quote from this excellent essay:
The individuals singled out for attack by environmental terrorists -- namely, scientists, inventors and businessmen -- are the creators of industrial civilization. As heirs of Newton, scientists discover truths about the workings of nature. As heirs of Edison, inventors use these truths to create new products which improve human life. As heirs of Ford, businessmen figure out ways to perfect and mass manufacture these products profitably.

These three categories of individuals represent the exploiters of nature, those who transform wilderness to support man's life. They find plains and forests, dangerous jungles and insect-infested swamps, in which man's life is precarious, and they build a human environment by creating houses, electric heaters and chemical pesticides. They teach man his method of survival: using his mind to reshape nature to his needs.

As monstrous as it sounds, it is precisely because these heroes are the sustainers of human life that they are targeted by those who are willing to take up arms for their cause, environmentalism.
This has a personal resonance as terrorists from Earth Liberation Front burned down a wonderful Horticulture Facility in Seattle in 2001 while Jen and I were still living there. Their protest was against the Genetically Engineered Poplar Trees that were "being developed there". Only problem for them was that Dr. H.D. "Toby" Bradshaw was doing selective breeding and not genetic engineering. They had neither the equipment nor the budget for G.E., this was hybridization pure and simple. Dr. Bradshaw did work with some G.E. tissue samples but these were never propagated. The fire also destroyed an amazing library. It also destroyed one fourth of the world's population of an endangered plant species: Showy Stickseed If these people really wanted to do something about the environment, they would put the bong away, go back to school and take Algebra, Calculus, Chemistry (InOrg. and Org.) and then start in on the Hard Sciences.

A small typpoe

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Oops -- from Wired Magazine:
Typo Confounds Kryptos Sleuths
For more than a decade, amateur and professional cryptographers have been trying to decipher an encrypted sculpture that sits on the grounds of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Three-fourths of the sculpture has already been solved.

But now Jim Sanborn, the artist who created the Kryptos sculpture, says he made a mistake. A previously solved part of the puzzle that sleuths assumed was correct for years isn't. The new information, including what the mistaken text really says, is creating a buzz among enthusiasts who've been obsessed over the sculpture for years.

It all comes down to a letter that Sanborn left out of the sculpture. He only recently realized the omission was leading sleuths down a misguided path. His followers, however, aren't feeling any grief about the misdirection.

"Any time we get the sculptor saying anything for sure, it's cause for celebration," says Elonka Dunin, a game developer for Simutronics and co-moderator of a Yahoo group devoted to Kryptos who also maintains a comprehensive website about the sculpture. "We love to get any information out of him that we can."
And the error:
Sanborn realized only this week that the original decryption was incorrect while doing a letter-by-letter comparison of the plain text and coded text in preparation for a nonfiction book he's producing about the life of the sculpture and the unexpected interest it's garnered.

The mistake involves an "x" that Sanborn intentionally deleted from the end of a line in section two for aesthetic reasons, to keep the sculpture visually balanced. The "x" was supposed to signify a period or section break at the end of a phrase but Sanborn removed it thinking it wouldn't affect the way the puzzle was deciphered. It turns out the "x" made all the difference.

Pigs in Space

Oops. Make that Pigs Muslims in Space From Space Travel:

Malaysia Conference Considers How To Practice Islam In Space
How do Muslim astronauts pray in space? Malaysia's National Space Agency is holding a conference to consider such questions as the country prepares to send its first citizen into orbit.

A nationwide competition in the majority-Muslim country has narrowed the field to four astronaut candidates, three of whom are Muslims.

Two will eventually be trained and sent into space by Russia, and Malaysia's space agency -- or Angkasa -- said it had been scratching its head over how Muslim rituals could be carried out properly.

Performing ablutions for Muslim prayers with water rationing in space and preparing food according to Islamic standards will be among issues discussed, said Angkasa's director-general, Mazlan Othman.

Welcome to the 21st century guys -- hope you enjoyed your trip from the 9th... Ablutions can be ritualized -- you aren't going to bathe in space. Unh unh -- no way. As for food, Kosher is very similar to Halal and we have had Jews in space for a long time so you can just eat their food??? Right???

The astronaut will also visit the International Space Station, which circles the earth 16 times in 24 hours, so another thorny question is how to pray five times a day as required by Islam, she said.

Muslims also have to turn towards Mecca to pray and working out which direction that will be while hovering above the earth might also be challenging.

Yeah. Right. So you look at the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun as one day. Assuming 50% day and 50% night, 16 diurnal cycles in 24 hours makes that 45 minutes for each "day" so you will have to pray every nine minutes. Part of the prayer ceremony is bashing your forehead on the floor -- some people sport large bruises and calluses as an outward sign of their righteousness. Since Mecca is just down there somewhere (same direction as Jahannum), you can just use some bungee cords and bounce off the floor during prayer. Since it takes more than nine minutes to complete a proper Salah, you will just be spending your entire time in space bouncing off the floor in microgravity -- 45 minutes on, 45 minutes nap time and then back to 45 minutes on again... And why are these people going up to the Space Station? It is not as though they were real Scientists.

The agreement to send the Malaysians aboard Russian spacecraft was part of a billion-dollar deal in which Russia will sell Malaysia 18 Sukhoi 30-MKM fighter jets.

Well why don't they build their own or buy from a Middle Eastern manufacturer? Oh. Right. They don't have any industrial capability to speak of. They have purchased a number of foreign businesses but since they don't value education and science (or 50% of their population), they don't have this capability themselves -- if they do, it has been purchased, it is not created by them. No wonder they are scrambling like mad to establish a Caliphate, they have about a hundred years until they are fossicking about in the sand lopping off the heads of other tribesmen. They are scrambling to establish some level of power before it all dries up and blows away on the desert sands. If I ran the place, theocrats would be silenced and education would be paramount. I would hire top people from outside the Middle East and build a world-class University system -- Science, Engineering and Medicine. I would endow large research and development think tanks. Say what you may about capitalism, it works. The marketplace is not that difficult to figure out. Will they do this? Tune in in ten years and see -- the tipping point is that close...


Russian Earthquake

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No news on the web yet but there was a Magnitude 7.7 Quake about 4,000 miles NNE of Moscow in Koryakia in the Kamchatka Peninsula close to Alaska. They have had a fair bit of activity in the last few days. No Tsunami is expected.

What I have been working on...

Here are a few photos of the robot controller that I have been working on the last few days:

Here is the front of the controller. The cabinet stands just under six feet tall and is 30" by 30". Weight was around 1,200 pounds before I got started...

One reason why it was so heavy. Note the Coke can -- these two power transformers are a good 150+ pounds each.

A total of 568.1 Hours of run time. Practically brand new!

Here is the "brains" of the box -- the compartment on the right holds an IBM compatible computer running a 286 processor with a 287 math co-processor. Processor speed is a blistering 10 MHz (million cycles per second). System memory is right up there with a whopping 512 Kilobytes.

The compartment on the left holds the brains for the servo controllers (board on the right) which is even less powerful than the system on the right. The other five boards read the position of the arm and report that to the computer. The computer then issues commands to the servo drivers to move to where they should be.

These are the servo drivers which take the signals from the computer and turn it into electrical power to run the motors. Considering that each motor is more than one horsepower, we are talking significant amounts of power. The blue things to the right are power capacitors used for filtering and buffering the power to the controllers (note the COKE can again -- these puppies are *huge*). In this picture, I removed one of the servo controller boards and have it to the left.

Needless to say, with this much power, the system is going to generate some serious heat. Here is the ductwork that takes the air from the cooling fan. But what is that clear plastic tube?

Here is the cooling fan from the back. Hmmm... Wonder what is under that cover?

It is a refrigeration unit! The controller generated so much heat that a simple fan was not enough to keep it cool -- they had to use an air conditioner.
Needless to say, I have given some thought to using the reefer unit to make an awesome kegerator for serving our Cider. That would be fun. I'll have to see just how cold it can get and if it works at all - the unit has low hours but it is twenty years old... I'll have photos of the arms when I start working with them.
From Forbes:
New Research Finds Mercury Fillings Are Safe
Two new studies that found amalgam fillings to be safe are sure to revive the debate over whether or not "silver" fillings can harm other parts of the body.

While the latest research did report higher levels of mercury in children's urine after they received amalgam fillings, there were no statistically significant ill effects on the children's kidney function or their neurological capacities.

"We saw no observable differences in neuropsychological or kidney outcomes. I think the findings should be fairly reassuring," said the lead author of one of the studies, David Bellinger, a professor of neurology and environmental health at Harvard Medical School and a senior research associate at Children's Hospital in Boston.
Here is something I wrote in an email regarding Mercury in Dental Amalgams a few months ago:
A properly made amalgam has no "free" Mercury. Another amalgam in common use is Concrete. One of the ingredients (slaked Lime) is horribly caustic and will cause skin damage if not washed off completely.

People are using Concrete for kitchen countertops and eating off it. Kids play on it outside. You simply do not hear about skin irritation with concrete. Concrete contains a toxic component but a properly made amalgam will bind all ingredients together permanently.
'Nuff said -- a lot of dentists are getting rich promoting this bit of Junk-Science...

Light blogging tonight

#Dissecting the Robot Arm controller that I got at auction.

A reader had asked if I was going to use it to control the servo motors in the robot arms. No.

I have the manuals for the software and this system dated from the years when you "taught" a robot its moves with a small control box and you would sit there and step, step, step, change direction, step, step -- DANG! back up -- step, step until you had it doing what you wanted. You then saved this file and ran it until you had a new task and then it was another several days reprogramming it...

Since I will be taking the robots apart and using their guts to drive my Milling Machine and the 4*8 foot table for my Plasma Cutter that I plan to build this summer, I will be using the Industry standard G-Code programming language.

The flow chart is as follows:

Artwork - either CorelDraw or AutoCAD Lite. Save as DXF or HPGL file. Conversion to G-CODE - MACH3 from Art of CNC

MACH3 will take the generated G-CODE and spit out step and direction signals from the PC's Parallel port. It can handle up to six axes but I am only using three with an occasional 4th for the mill.

The first CNC machine I am building is a 2*4 foot wood router table. This will be powered by stepper motors and a controller from Hobby CNC.

The servos will be driven from Gecko Drives - these pack 1,600 watts (about two horsepower!) of control into a nice small package.

What prompted me to select these programs and hardware is that there are some DIY-CNC forums and the people who create these products are there, every day answering people's questions. The support is amazing.

In the case of MACH3, the programs author (Art Fenerty) is more than happy to take suggestions for future versions and bugs are quickly replicated and squashed flat.

In the case of the Gecko drives, Mariss Freimanis is on the lists and more than happy to walk people through their use.

So the long winded answer is that I am going to salvage what I can from the 1,200 pound, 30" by 30" by six foot tall box and turn around and use a simple low-end PC and about $400 of software and $400 of Geckos to turn my artwork into motion.

It might be fun to restore the box to working as an historical piece but not for me -- there are power supply components, connectors, relays and contacters, DIN rails and such to salvage and if not used for these projects, they will certainly come in handy for some future adventure...

On April 13th, a number of people noticed something a little "off" in the image at the top of Kimberly Butler's website. She is running for Mayer of New Orleans and her website showed her in the French Quarter. The problem is that the waste basket in the background is identical in size, shape and design to those used at Disneyland. I visited her website this evening and noticed that there had been a little bit of Photoshop happening... Original image from her website:
Image from today:
Here is a whole-screen capture of the original page. Here is the active link to her page. Two things come to mind. #1) - there has to be a photogenic spot in New Orleans; she didn't have to travel all the way to California to shoot a publicity shot unless this is her style of government (and that was a corporate jet that she "borrowed" for the trip.) #2) - if this is an interim shot until a replacement can be made, fine. If not, if this is the permanent replacement, her action on this is bullshit. Quietly weaseling out without a public apology or word of explanation speaks reams of the governmental style of New Orleans.

A comment from a Kool Aid Drinker

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In July of last year, I had written about DDT and linked to two articles on it which seem to go against a lot of people's "feelings". Had a comment today from a Mr. Bob Marley (email address was reefer@(a popular free email service).com Mr. Marley's IP address placed him within the Alachua County School System in Gainesville, Florida. His comment was succinct:
DDT is very harmful and should not be used for the cause of environmental damage.
I would ask Mr. Marley for a link to his sources. Show me where it says that DDT is harmful to the Environment when used in a proper manner. We are talking about a simple and effective and cheap way to save two million lives each year, year after year after year after year. Two Million People die needlessly from Malaria when they could be saved by a simple cheap dusting of DDT on the walls of their houses. Mr. Marley -- are these souls on your conscience and the consciences of those who perpetuate the lie that DDT is a toxic catastrophe? DDT is very effective in small quantities. When it started raising eyebrows back in the late 1960's, the State of California alone was using over 1,000,000 pounds (in 1970). By 1973, no use was reported and that next year 160 pounds were used under a "special local needs" provision for egregious pest control. As I quoted in my post, we were: �soaking the biota in DDT like it was bubble bath�� Instead of instituting an educational program and cutting back its use, the environmentalists decided to cut it completely and go cold turkey. Another quote from my post:
"Overruling the EPA hearing examiner, EPA administrator Ruckelshaus banned DDT in 1972. Ruckelshaus never attended a single hour of the seven months of EPA hearings on DDT. Ruckelshaus' aides reported he did not even read the transcript of the EPA hearings on DDT.
[Santa Ana Register, April 25, 1972]
Using DDT to cure Malaria has been effective before -- here is an excerpt from the IGreens.org.uk report:
Spraying DDT in houses and on mosquito breeding grounds was the primary reason that rates of malaria around the world declined dramatically after the Second World War. Nearly one million Indians died from malaria in 1945, but DDT spraying reduced this to a few thousand by 1960. However, concerns about the environmental harm of DDT led to a decline in spraying and, likewise, a resurgence of malaria. Today there are once again millions of cases of malaria in India, and over 300 million cases worldwide-most in sub-Saharan Africa. Cases of malaria in South Africa have risen by over 1000 percent in the past five years. Only those countries that have continued to use DDT, such as Ecuador, have contained or reduced malaria.

Malaria is clearly a human tragedy, but it is also an economic disaster. According to Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard's Centre for International Development, lost productivity from malaria costs afflicted patients about 1 percent of Africa's wealth every year. In many countries, malaria halves the economic growth that would otherwise occur.

While there is some evidence that DDT causes environmental harm, damage occurred only during widespread agricultural use of DDT in the 1950s and 1960s. It was alleged that DDT led to eggshell thinning and other effects in certain birds; these problems were shown to be reversible. No study in the scientific literature has adequately shown any human health problem resulting from DDT. Therefore, low-dose use of DDT indoors is unlikely to cause any significant harm to the environment or people.

Yet in 1995, the United Nations Environment Program proposed an international treaty to reduce and/or eliminate 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including DDT, from world-wide production and use. The result of such a process is obvious. As environmentalists have pushed to eliminate DDT over the years, the relationship between decreased DDT use and increasing malaria cases has become very clear.
Yo' Bob -- get some facts to back yourself up before you say it's alright for 2,000,000 people to die each year just to satisfy some environmental junk science feel-good idiocy.

More on my new robot masters

Was Googling trying to find some electrical information and ran into this news story at the NY Times Archives. The two arms I have are Dainichi Kiko PT-200's.
Japan Store Offers Robots
Published: July 9, 1983

The Seibu group today became the first Japanese department store to offer robots for sale. "Our aim is to serve as a contact point between owners of small firms, schools and restaurants on one hand and the robot maker on the other," said Naoyuki Moriyasu of Seibu.

He said in an interview that there is vast potential demand for industrial robots among owners of small companies. The robots on display at Seibu are the Dainichi Kiko Company's PT-200 and PT-300, two popular models out of 15 produced by Japan's largest robot maker. The PT-200 sells for $25,000 to $29,000 depending on the software and optional parts, while the PT-300 costs $33,000 to $42,000.

Mr. Moriyasu said a restaurant owner expressed interest in buying a robot. "The restaurant owner wanted counter robots that could dispense ice cream," he added.

Seibu plans to set up a robot corner in each of its 11 stores in Japan. Its nationwide 100-store supermarket chain eventually will act as agents for Dainichi's robots, Mr. Moriyasu said.
WOOT! Adjusting for inflation, $25K would be close to $50K and that is for just one arm. I got the whole deal for $200... I'll have pictures in a day or two.

Long day...

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Had a client call at 9:30 with an email emergency, then went into Bellingham to pick up my auction loot. The controller cabinet for the robot arms has to weigh over 1,200 pounds -- this thing is heavy.

They had a forklift to load it into my trailer but getting off the trailer and into the studio was a 60 minute meditation on Sir Issac Newton.

Had dinner with my Mom and Dad this evening and we just got back.

The controller is this big blue monolith sitting about five feet to my right -- it was built in 1985, sold to Boeing who used it for a bit. They then transferred it to a local school who wasn't really able to get it running. The controller uses MS-DOS and there is no hard disk and no software but this is not an issue as there is an amazing suite of CNC software available these days. The unit is actually in very good condition -- there is a meter that records the number of hours of operation and it is sitting at 568.1 Hours -- it's barely broken in!

Fun thing -- when Intel first came out with the 8080 and the 8086, there were no math functions available. If you wanted to multiply six times nine, you had to add nine to itself six times.

That takes a long time! Complex Multiplication and Division took even longer and Floating Point was Pure Unobtanium.

To address this, Intel developed the 8087 Math Co-Processor and they sold it with a daughter board for about $800 in 1980's dollars. You would c..a..r..e..f..u..l..l..y remove your 8086 (these things were spendy too), place it into the empty socket on the daughter board, plug the whole thing into the socket the 8086 used to live in, turn on the system and enjoy a major boost in performance.

Statistics, Math and Graphics applications would often see a greater than 1,000 times speed improvement.

This puppy had one of these installed:


This goes into my little Museum along with one of Dennis Hayes' first commercial Modems, a 2,048 bit core memory board and my IBM desktop card punch.

Hope for England

Some people at the British National Party are doing an amazing job of channeling Sir Winston Churchill and have fired a shot across the bow with this wonderful 54-page document: Rebuilding British Democracy (PDF)

Here are four excerpts:

Abolishing multiculturalism, preserving Britain
The present regime is engaged in a profound cultural war against the British people, motivated by the desire to create a new ethnic power base to replace the working class which they have abandoned in pursuit of their enthusiasm for globalisation, justified by a quasi-Marxist ideology of the equality of all cultures. We intend to rebuild the basis of democracy in Britain , which is the right of all free-born Britons to debate in public the facts as they see them by restoring true freedom of speech to Britain.

Furthermore, when we speak of 'British democracy' we do so in an ethnic as well as a civic sense. We do not accept the absurd superstition - propagated for different though sometimes overlapping reasons by capitalists, liberals, Marxists and theologians - of human equality. Whether the now totally discredited feminist argument that men and women are innately the same, to the partly refuted egalitarian claim that everyone within a given population is born as a blank slate with the same innate potential, or to the still dominant Politically Correct denial of the existence of differences on average between members of different races - we reject all these irrational myths.


Art and Culture
Schools in England will be encouraged to celebrate May Day and other ancient festivals, whilst the other folk nations of the British Isles will be encouraged to resurrect their ancestral folk traditions.

We will introduce the requirement that all children will be taught English as their first language in Britain , but also learn about their local ancestral language as well. This will apply to Welsh, Cornish, Manx, Scots Gallic, Doric or Lallans in Great Britain , and Ulster Lallans and Gaelic in Northern Ireland. English children will also be given an appreciation of the language of the Anglo-Saxon folk and to appreciate the beauty of Anglo-Saxon culture, such as its poetry, art and the meaning of citizenship.


Tough on the causes of crime - Criminals
Despite the unprecedented sums being spent on the police, Britain today faces record crime rates. Traditional and effective bobby-on-the-beat policing has been abandoned in favour of expensive and intrusive technological toys, such as CCTV cameras and over-reliance on patrol cars. Police management has lost its focus on preventing crime and has become a variety of politically-correct social work more concerned with the rights of criminals than with those of their victims.

We intend to rebuild the social contract where the criminal was afraid of the police and decent citizens were protected by the law. The liberal consensus which sees the criminal as the victim and the victim as the criminal will be abolished, and Politically Correct senior police officers, who clearly prefer helping the Exchequer squeeze extra stealth taxes out of Middle Britain to catching burglars, will be replaced.

One more:

Education for a British future
We are against the 'trendy' teaching methods that have made Britain one of the most poorly educated nations in Europe. These are based upon neo-Marxist egalitarianism, which has done untold damage both to the fabric of our nation and to an entire generation whose average level of attainment is now lower than before the introduction of universal state education.

We reject egalitarianism, and base our plans for the education system on the scientific fact that different individuals are born with different abilities and potentials. All are entitled to the same chance of realizing their own potential, but this cannot be done be forcing them all into a low-grade 'one-size-fits-all' education system. Under the present regime Britain is rapidly becoming the worst-educated major nation in Europe. This threatens us with economic decline, a barbaric culture, and a citizenry that cannot think well enough to govern itself. We intend to rebuild the entire British educational system in order that future generations of British children are not lost to illiteracy and selfish ill-discipline.

This has not come about by accident or due to mysterious forces like "permissiveness" or "the 60's." It has been the result of deliberate attempts by the left to abandon the traditional purpose of schools - to educate - in favour of using them as instruments of social levelling and politically-correct indoctrination, combined with the right's economics-obsessed lack of interest in the problem.

It's not just rhetoric -- these people have nailed the major problems and have cogent solutions for them. Check it out.

Nut Case

I present for your inspection General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the Iranian leader of the Revolutionary Guards. This is the guy who warned us about invisible airplanes, super fast torpedoes and sharks with fricken' laser beams.

This report at Breitbart/AFPshows just how deep the pathology of lies and fear reaches into this culture:

Iran issues stark military warning to United States
Iran said it could defeat any American military action over its controversial nuclear drive, in one of the Islamic regime's boldest challenges yet to the United States.

"You can start a war but it won't be you who finishes it," said General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the head of the Revolutionary Guards and among the regime's most powerful figures.

"The Americans know better than anyone that their troops in the region and in Iraq are vulnerable. I would advise them not to commit such a strategic error," he told reporters on the sidelines of a pro-Palestinian conference in Tehran.

As if we were going to put troops on the ground for this one. A couple well-placed bombs and all that fancy North Korean, Chinese, Russian and French equipment becomes a pile of expensive exotic rubble.

The article goes on a bit about the nutter who runs the place:

"The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat," Ahmadinejad told the gathering of regime officials, visiting Palestinian militant leaders and foreign sympathizers.

"Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is on the road to being eliminated," said Ahmadinejad, whose regime does not recognise Israel and who drew international condemnation last year when he said Israel should be "wiped off the map."

Unfazed by his critics, the hardliner went on to repeat his controversial stance on the Holocaust.

"If there is serious doubt over the Holocaust, there is no doubt over the catastrophe and Holocaust being faced by the Palestinians," said the president, who had previously dismissed as a "myth" the killing of an estimated six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies during World War II.

And they seem to be putting their money where their mouth is along with lots of our Middle Eastern 'Allies'.

From Michelle Malkin:

They are not with us
How did our "friends," Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, respond when we cut off and suspended $300 million in aid to the Hamas terrorist-controlled Palestinian Authority?

They lined up against us:
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged $80m in aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, finance minister Omar Abdelrazek said yesterday.

"We have received pledges from the Arab world that will help us operate for several months," the minister said on the website of Hamas. "In all, $20m from Saudi Arabia, $40m from Kuwait and $20m from the UAE are to be transferred," he said. "We will not collapse despite the war being waged against us by the racist Zionists, by the United States and the European Union," he said.

Abdelrazek said earlier that the government still faced a $120m monthly budget shortfall, despite having received $35m from Algeria. European Union governments yesterday endorsed the suspension of direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, the blocs Austrian presidency said.
Iran is kicking in more than $50 million. Russia has also pledged aid to Hamas.

More on the Hamas fundraising drive across Arab League states here and here.

The pathology of this culture is an unbelievable study -- the only thing that gives them their power is their oil reserves and with these getting harder and harder to extract (read: more $$$), they are looking to establish domination over as much land as they can. A second caliphate if you will.

They didn't get the first one right and they are sure missing the boat on this one. The backlash is only beginning.

Where is the Easter Bunny?

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This photo might explain his absence:
Follow the rabbit tracks. BAM! The tracks suddenly end where the wing prints of an owl start. This picture was taken by a friend of a friend who teaches in Bethel,Alaska. Photo by Susan Barstow.
Visit the website to see the full-size Image. Hat tip -- Dean's World

Unintended Consequences

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The Skagit lowlands are gorgeous. The soil is very fertile and they get a lot of water so this is primo agricultural land. Want to grow Tulips?
Skagit County accounts for the majority of the tulips sold in the USA. Same for some berries. They produce a lot of milk too. The State of Washington introduced Wetlands Mitigation Banking around 1995. The idea sounds good -- the State buys up large parcels of land that can be converted to wetlands and then allows small landholders to "buy" permits from this "bank" if they want to drain a marshy area or dig in a riverbed. The apparent beauty of this plan is that it eliminates a lot of tiny "postage stamp" wetlands scattered around and creates areas several hundred acres in size that are more environmentally sound and more easily managed. Until the Clear Valley Environmental Farm... Under this plan, the State will buy an 805 Acre ex-Dairy farm and convert 355 Acres of it into a wetland. The public notice was dated December 8th, 2005 and was initially posted at the Wetlands Mitigation website Unfortunately, it seems that it was not well publicized so very few people have heard about this. The problem? It has farms as direct neighbors. The wetlands will raise the water table. This land gets very wet during the winter rains and the farmers cannot plant if the soil is flooded. The Capital Press has a good article:
Deadline looms for wetland plan
Comment period for 805-acre proposal ends by April 24

Farmers in Skagit County, Wash.,say they are concerned about a proposal that flew in low under the radar: the purchase of an 805-acre farm near Clear Lake, half of which would be turned into a wetland mitigation bank.

�There are those of us who live and farm in that area who are concerned about the project�s impact on the drainage system,� said dairy farmer Ken Johnson. �We need to be able to get rid of floodwaters, and we need our low ground to drain in the spring.�

Of particular concern to Johnson are four engineered logjams that would be placed in Nookachamps Creek.

�It could raise the water table and back the water up,� he said. �It would make our land worthless for farming.
The idea of a Mitigation Bank is an excellent one but sheesh - they should have driven around and talked with some people before siting this here. Wrong place, bad engineering.


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Was bidding at an online auction that timed out at 7:00pm today and won three out of four items I was bidding on. The primary item is a pair of giant Japanese robot arms. Actually, only about four feet tall fully extended but each of them have two nice big servo motors with encoders and a couple extra stepper motors. The control console doesn't run (the hard drive was removed and the software is not available) but it has an excellent power supply and the servo controllers are industry standard. I now have the drive systems for my milling machine and the plasma table that I'll be building this summer. The other two items? A guillotine paper cutter -- these are being phased out for safety reasons but they are still the best cutters out there -- just be careful. A bead blaster -- this is a free-standing cabinet with a sand-blaster built in. I have a small hand-held blaster but the sand gets everywhere. This way, everything is contained. I did loose out on one other item -- there was a lot of 22 assorted older microscopes. A lot of these were missing eyepieces and objective lenses. I was looking at getting two or three for people to use in our tasting room and then donating the rest to our local grade school. The bidding was really slow and then some sniper just racked it up to way over what I was looking to spend. Oh well... The robot arms will be cool to play with :-)

Why does this not surprise me...

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From the News Telegraph:
Bureaucrats look to Kafka
France has created a "Kafka index" that measures the complexity of a project or law against its usefulness to cut red tape.

The index - referring to Franz Kafka's The Trial, which describes one man's fight against a nightmarish bureaucracy - is a scale of one to 100 measuring how many hurdles, from forms to letters or phone calls, are needed to win state permits or aid for a project.

"It is an indicator to measure as objectively as possible the most complex procedures so that we can then simplify them," said a government spokesman.

The index will be regularly updated on a website, raising the prospect of a hit parade of France's most Kafkaesque ministries.
I guess that the word "satire" did not translate very well into French...

Happy Easter / Passover everyone!

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Spending a quiet day at home with my Mom and Dad coming over for an early dinner.

Denny is on a roll...

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Had to swipe this:
From GOC of course...

A sea of foam

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Ran into this at BoingBoing but they pointed to a chat forum with a few images. I tracked it down to Strategy Page which has 14 images of the "event" Ellsworth AFB wanted to test a Fire Fighting system in a hanger. Their test was to actually run the foaming system for a few seconds. Their only problem was that the test did not go as planned:
So far, so good...

Unnhhhh... Guys?
(Note the camera platform)

About 15 feet of foam and still going strong...

Reached the camera platform and still going...

Of course, it all has to go somewhere...
I have not been able to find any reports about this in the media. Probably not something that they would want bandied about. For the full set of images, visit here: StrategyPage's Military Photos where you can find lots of very cool images such as this one:

A C-17 Globemaster III parts the skies over western South Carolina during a training mission on Feb. 2, 2003.
An interesting look at the Atomic Bomb and what it did for Japan:
The Moral Goodness of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima
On August 6, 1945 the American Air Force incinerated Hiroshima, Japan with an atomic bomb. On August 9, Nagasaki was obliterated. The fireballs killed some 175,000 people. They followed months of horror, when American airplanes firebombed civilians and reduced cities to rubble. Facing extermination, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally. The invasion of Japan was cancelled, and countless American lives were saved. The Japanese accepted military occupation, embraced a constitutional government, and renounced war permanently. The effects were so beneficent, so wide-ranging and so long-term, that the bombings must be ranked among the most moral acts ever committed.

The bombings have been called many things--but moral? The purpose of morality, wrote Ayn Rand, is not to suffer and die, but to prosper and live. How can death on such a scale be considered moral?

The answer begins with Japanese culture. World War II in the Pacific was launched by a nation that esteemed everything hostile to human life. Japan's religious-political philosophy held the emperor as a god, subordinated the individual to the state, elevated ritual over rational thought, and adopted suicide as a path to honor. This was truly a Morality of Death, which had gripped Japanese society for nearly three generations. Japan's war with Russia had ended in 1905 with a negotiated treaty, which left Japan's militaristic culture intact. The motivations for war were emboldened, and the next generation broke the treaty by attacking Manchuria in 1931 (which was not caused by the oil embargo of 1941).

It was after Japan attacked America that America waged war against Japan--a proper moral response to the violence Japan had initiated. Despite three and a half years of slaughter, surrender was not at hand in mid-1945. Over six million Japanese were still in Asia. Some 12,000 Americans had died on Okinawa alone. Many Japanese leaders hoped to kill enough Americans during an invasion to convince them that the cost of invasion was too high. A "Die for the Emperor" propaganda campaign had motivated many Japanese civilians to fight to the death. Volunteers lined up for kamikaze--"Divine Wind"--suicide missions. Hope of victory kept the Japanese cause alive, until hopeless prostration before American air attacks made the abject renunciation of all war the only alternative to suicide. The Japanese had to choose between the Morality of Death, and the Morality of Life.

The bombings marked America's total victory over a militaristic culture that had murdered millions. To return an entire nation to morality, the Japanese had to be shown the literal meaning of the war they had waged against others. The abstraction "war," the propaganda of their leaders, their twisted samurai "honor," their desire to die for the emperor--all of it had to be given concrete form. This is what firebombing Japanese cities accomplished. It showed the Japanese that "this"--point to burning buildings, screaming children scarred unmercifully, piles of corpses, the promise of starvation--"this is what you have done to others. Now it has come for you. Give it up, or die." This was the only way to show them the true nature of their philosophy, and to beat the truth of the defeat into them.
The parallels between Japan of the 1940's and Iran today bear thinking about. What will our relationship with the Middle East be like in 60 years...

Understanding Engineers

Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple has six wonderful tales that can help you to understand the mental processes of an Engineer. Here is one of them:
The difference between a mathematician and an engineer. An engineer and a mathematician are put in a room. At the other end of the room is a beautiful naked woman. They are told that every time a bell is rung they may move half the distance to the woman.

The mathematician: I'll never get there.
The engineer: Start ringing.

If you were a political science major you probably didn't get that joke. Have one of your coworkers at Pizza Hut explain it to you.
Five more where this one came from -- all good!

A new catalyst?

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Interesting news -- should be very cool if it actually scales up. From Science Daily:
Coal-to-diesel Breakthrough Could Drastically Cut Oil Imports
Professor Alan Goldman and his Rutgers team in collaboration with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a way to convert carbon sources, such as coal to diesel fuel.

This important advance could significantly cut America's dependence on foreign oil -- what President Bush called "an addiction" in his 2006 State of the Union address. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, our 286 billion tons of coal in the ground translate into energy reserves 40 times those of oil.
If this is starting to sound vaguely familiar, it should as it is. They are using the Fischer-Tropsch process invented in the 1920's but with an interesting twist:
"The key to energy independence in the next five decades is Fischer-Tropsch chemistry, amended and enhanced," said Goldman, a professor in the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "The study of catalysts, the little molecular machines that control chemical reactions, is my field. With our new catalysts, one can generate productive, clean burning fuels with Fischer-Tropsch, economically and at unsurpassed levels of efficiency."

This discovery is reported in the April 14 issue of the journal Science by Goldman and his colleagues. The work grew out of a National Science Foundation-funded research consortium, the Center for the Activation and Transformation of Strong Bonds, based at the University of Washington.

Fischer-Tropsch yields a wide distribution of molecular weight hydrocarbon products but without any way to control the desired mix. The molecular weight is the weight of a molecule of a substance, or the sum of the weights of all atoms in the molecule. The low-weight and the high-weight Fischer-Tropsch products are useful -- the light as gas and the medium-heavy as diesel fuel, Goldman explained.

"The problem -- the greatest inefficiency of the process -- is that you also wind up with a substantial quantity of medium-weight products that are not useful and you are stuck with them," Goldman said. "What we are now able to do with our new catalysts is something no one else has done before. We take all these undesirable medium-weight substances and convert them to the useful higher- and lower-weight products."
This is interesting but there are some fundamental problems that are not addressed with the new catalysts. There is a lot of CO2 produced, the process takes a lot of energy to run so it is horribly inefficient and there is a lot of clinker ash left over after the coal is partially oxidized and degassed. A very cool breakthrough but I do not see it scaling up to commercial levels of power generation though. It will be a great source of petroleum feedstocks for plastics production while we are waiting for the nuclear fallout in the Middle Eastern oil-fields to die down a bit (did I just say that?) but we really need to be looking at Nuclear Power as the real option for the future.

Loose cannon

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Just wonderful - from Yahoo/Opinion:
What To Do On Iran
As if the world needed any more reminders about just what a threat a nuclear-armed regime in Iran would pose to the world in general, and to Israel in particular, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again made it clear at a conference today in support of the Palestinians: "Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm." Ahmadinejad also told the crowd that "Palestine will be freed soon" and that Israel represents a "permanent threat" that has "harmed the dignity of Islamic nations."

It is not a stretch in the slightest to say that Ahmadinejad is the greatest threat the world has seen since Hitler. Debates about his mental stability or whether he may or may not be purely full of bluster are somewhat beside the point: the world has no choice but to take his threats at face value.
They then quote from a number of sources including Dr. Henry Kissinger and come to this conclusion:
Obviously, Kissinger's last conclusion is key: that other nations take threats like Iran seriously and bear their share of the burden and responsibility for dealing with them. But as Gerard Baker wrote yesterday at RealClearPolitics, the prospects for building a coalition to deal with Iran's nuclear belligerence seem depressingly bleak at the moment.
Hey Europe -- I think we got a "You're Welcome" for what we did 60 years ago but did you have to go and forget your lessons so damn quickly?

Soon to be added to the Blogroll

Been neglecting the Blogroll a bit too long. Some people have stopped posting, some recent discoveries to add. Check out the following (in no particular order):
The Futurist
Llano Estacado
Good stuff!

A comment to our Blog

Over a year ago -- February 2005 to be exact, I wrote about a high-school in Rhode Island. From my entry:
Where to draw the line� From Zero Intelligence:
School suspends 14 over explicit rap CD
14 students at Johnston High School made a rap CD. The lyrics were typical of modern gangsta rap and included topics like binge drinking, drug use and sex. Although they did this on their own and used no school resources the school has decided it has governing power over their private lives and has suspended all of them.
And my comment:
Jeezzz - this particular school administrator is taking over the role of the parents. How did they get hired and what are the parents thinking. The kids did this on their own time and without use of school resources so why should the school step in like this�
I had received two comments to this entry but the third one from today was so over the top that I have to bring it to you. From Steve:
yo i was one of the kids that dropped the CD and yeah i would do it again...I learned nothing from the stupid punishment...Ill realease lyrics on the PTO School Staff it dont matta...there words get ova it!
For fun, I looked up Steve's IP number and he wrote this from a computer located here: Gibbs College - Cranston (in Rhode Island) I can see playing around with the language once you have a good grasp of basic English but Steve's egregious spelling and grammar errors make me wonder how many remedial English classes he is going to have to sit through before he gets any sort of decent job. The other two comments were also worthy of note. The first one was from gianna posting from the Rhode Island branch of Cox Networking. She says:
excuse me i qo to johnston hiqh school and it was SOLD on school qrounds and it hurt a LOT OF PEOPLE...my friend made it and i cant talk to him anymore because of that
Perfect example of what I was talking about -- gianna plays with the UPPERCASE and likes to swap q for g. She missed one comma and apostrophe (punctuation light?) but her comment is grammatically correct and spellled gud two. The penultimate comment was from TJ posting from an East Coast branch of Comcast:
It is words. Not actions, it's words. It is a form of poetry, though vulgar. How dare anyone say they cannot talk bad about someone, they can SAY bad things about anyone. They cannot act on the suggested lyrics, but how dare anyone say what can come out of their mouths and how they can express it (the cd). It may hurt feelings, but noone has the right to govern on feelings alone. It is completely ridiculous. Oh, and gianna, you should stop judging by feelings and still be friends with these kids. They can express themselves anyway they want. Don't complicate matters because so called authority figures told you to.
A on grammar, A- on spelling (runon noone) but D on ethics. The line about:
They can express themselves anyway they want. Don't complicate matters because so called authority figures told you to.
Unnh - TJ You may feel like an adult but you most certainly are not one. The authority figures are there for your own good. Their job is to see that you have the basic mental tool-kit to get by in life, to get the job that you want and to be able to gain additional skills down the road to improve your life. My post was explicit in saying that I think the authorities were out of line in suspending the kids for something that was not done with school resources. I was not aware that the disk was being sold on campus -- that was not cool. Finally, I still ask where the parents were. Their responsibility is to monitor their kids educational progress and to help council them at home. For this system to have produced someone as well educated as Steve shows that that system is not working. Likewise with the free-wheeling TJ. At least we are not in Europe...

A cartoon

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Cox and Forkum was great today:


From their website:

Apparently some on the left are mobilizing to prevent military action against the U.S.-hating, terrorist-sponsoring, genocide-threatening, Nuke-seeking, Holocaust-denying, homosexual-executing theocrats of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

When will they wake up...

Swiped from mcarthurweb:
Cornell Biology Department to offer course on intelligent design. Two-month schedule starts with lecture on "Great Breakthroughs in Intelligent Design Research," followed by 59.5 days of lunch.

Sucks to be the Geek Squad right now...

Best Buy has a team of service people called the Geek Squad. Cool branding but it seems that they were playing a little fast and loose with some software. From the a Winternals Press Release:

Winternals Obtains Federal Court Restraining Order in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Best Buy's Geek Squad
A federal judge has granted a request by Winternals Software  for a temporary restraining order (TRO) requiring that Best Buy Co. and its subsidiary, Geek Squad, immediately stop using and pirating unlicensed versions of Winternals' copyrighted software.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued the TRO as part of a federal copyright infringement lawsuit filed April 11 by Winternals against Best Buy Co. and Geek Squad for allegedly using unlicensed software products created and marketed by Winternals, a leading provider of systems recovery and data protection solutions for computer systems.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Austin, alleges that Best Buy and Geek Squad have previously and continue to knowingly and fraudulently utilize pirated and illegal copies of Winternals' copyrighted software, including the award-winning ERD Commander 2005, a system repair and data recovery tool that boots a dead computer into a familiar Windows-like, point-and-click environment for rapid system recovery. The software helps users restore deleted data, reset passwords, copy files to and from unbootable systems, edit the registry, and access Restore Points on a dead Windows computer.

A bit more:

In an 18-page lawsuit, Winternals claims that officials for Best Buy and Geek Squad contacted Winternals in October 2005 to inquire about purchasing a license that would allow their employees to use Winternals' software in performing their jobs. Winternals entered into negotiations with Best Buy and Geek Squad in an effort to reach a licensing agreement which would have covered most of Geek Squad's estimated 12,000 employees at a cost of several million dollars, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that during the next three months, Winternals and the defendants entered into a trial-and-test agreement in which Winternals provided Geek Squad with trial versions of its software and provided training to many Geek Squad employees. The complaint contends that in February 2006, defendants abruptly informed Winternals that they were no longer interested in pursuing a licensing agreement. However, the lawsuit claims that Geek Squad employees continued to use Winternals' software in violation of the U.S. Copyright Act.

The complaint also alleges that, "at these training sessions, certain employees of Defendants approached Winternals' representatives and stated that many of Defendants' employees were very familiar with The Winternals Software and, in fact, had already been using The Winternals Software to repair malfunctioning and "dead" computers of Defendants' customers for some time without a license. These employees expressed that they were glad to see the Defendants finally coming into compliance with Winternals by seeking a license to The Winternals Software."

Winternals is the for-profit face of Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell who also host the most excellent website Sysinternals Sysinternals publishes cheap or free invaluable little system hacks while Winternals has everything wrapped up in a fancy big bow and comes with unbelievable corporate support. (at a price to match) I never liked Best Buy that much -- their name is a lie as they have a few "popular" items at discount but the majority of their bread and butter items are at MSRP. Also, if you buy anything more complex than a microwave, they are downright predatory when it comes to selling you the special extended warranty. Good to see that they are getting called on this -- Mark and Bryce do not deserve being screwed over.

Live from the French Quarter, New Orleans

From Wonkette:
Not Quite the Happiest Place On Earth
So we don�t have too much of a stake in the New Orleans Mayoral elections and it�s a bit (or a lot) out of our usual purview, but someone sent us this tip that we just can�t pass up. We don�t know much about candidate Kimberly Williamson Butler, but we have been to New Orleans, and, uh, this picture doesn�t quite look right to us:
They then show a fairly unclear composite photo. Here is mine. Here is the webpage to elect Kimberly Williamson Butler Here is a screen-capture in case she changes the photo. Here is my screen-capture of the area of interest -- note the wastebasket:
This is a wastebasket from Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. The wastebaskets are individually themed depending on what attraction they are near, this one is near the Haunted House but the overall shape and construction is unmistakable:
Needless to say, it looks a lot like Ms. Butler's publicity shot was done at the California Disneyland New Orlean's French Quarter and not in the city she hopes to lead... Hat tip to BoingBoing

US Foreign Policy

An excellent essay at The American Thinker:

The Essential Nobility of US Foreign Policy
Now that the Left, in the shape of the Academic Dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard, has decided that the Nazis were right, and the United States really is controlled by a Jewish cabal, it is useful to remind ourselves of the essential nobility of US foreign policy since Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, and the continuity of this essence.

The United States could have stayed out of the European theatre of World War Two, and left the British to die against the Nazis. America-Firsters and the Stalinist Left (which only switched to a pro-war line after Hitler invaded Russia) had demanded the USA stay out of Europe's ugly morass. The public likely would have preferred focusing on the Japanese who had attacked us and treating Hitler's declaration of war as a minor matter, to be dealt with later. Almost any other country in the world would have done just that.

FDR's policy of fighting the Nazis first combined American idealism with pragmatism. Just think what would have happened if the Nazis and Japanese had obtained ICBMs and nuclear weapons, as they would have within a decade, had Britain lost. American foreign policy was in our long-term interest, but at great sacrifice of lives and treasure. Our policy then was noble and yet practical.

One more taste:

The French hated US policy in World War Two. They couldn�t understand it, especially since their impotent fleet was sunk in the process. Stalin hated it, and demanded that the Western Allies send waves upon waves of troops into Europe to sacrifice their lives, as millions of Russian moozhiks were doing in the East.

It was Churchill and Roosevelt who decided on North Africa, just as it was Bush and Blair who saw the strategic logic of moving against Saddam's Iraq, fully aware of the risks. Iraq is the keystone to the Middle East. Overthrowing Saddam cut down one threat, and simultaneously put the hair-raising Iranian fanatics at a strategic disadvantage.

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

One of the things the Illegal Immigrants want is to be able to vote. The Democratic Party has been doing some serious campaigning on this issue. Here is a flyer that was distributed at many of the recent marches:
The Committees of Correspondence ask an interesting question:
Should Illegal Aliens Determine the Presidency of the United States?
That is not a rhetorical question, but one based on the political reality we have allowed to develop as a result of the massive influx of illegal and legal immigrants into this country over the last 20 or so years

The truth is the Democratic Party holds seats in the House of Representatives, they would not hold otherwise as a result of the massive influx of illegal aliens into the country and in particular into Democratic held portions of the country over the last generation. The Illegal Aliens cannot vote of course, but never fear the Democratic Party votes in their name.

True Socialist System that. The People have no vote, but the Elite make decisions in their name.

I have related some of this issue arising from the fact that Congressional Apportionment, is at the present time, decided not by the enumeration of Citizens in the Census but by counting ALL residents, Citizen, Resident LEGAL Alien and ILLEGAL Aliens, in my previous posts.
This is an interesting question and not that far off...

A Quote

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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

--Theodore Roosevelt
Hat tip - Tammy Bruce

Today's Orwellian Moment

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From Yahoo/Reuters
Iranian artists perform as they hold up samples of enriched uranium after Iran said on Tuesday it had produced low-grade enriched uranium, in Mashad, April 11, 2006. (Stringer/Reuters)

Handy CD/DVD Utility

Check out IsoBuster

It can scan a damaged CD or DVD and do an amazing job of finding and recovering 'lost' files.

Very good application and only $26 for the full version. A trial is available for free download.


GETS = Government Emergency Telecommunications Service

There is a toll-free number and you are given a card with a 12-digit PIN and you are prompted to enter your destination number (ie: the number you are trying to call). Your call will be routed through a private network separate from the Phone Company's and your calls can get through even when the public system is overloaded. Needless to say, not just everyone can get a GETS card. They are restricted to five broad categories of users:

  • National Security Leadership
  • National Security Posture and US Population Attack Warning
  • Public Health, Safety, and Maintenance of Law and Order
  • Public Welfare and Maintenance of National Economic Posture
  • Disaster Recovery

What prompted this bit of info is my finding out that none-other than our friends, the Council on American-Islamic Relations tried to get some. Needless to say:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations submitted an application last week, arguing that it should have access to GETS because it is the largest American Muslim organization in the United States and it was a major point of contact with the American Muslim community after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The request was denied in less than three hours. The government contractor explained that the group does not qualify for priority over lifesaving, law enforcement, the military, the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other members of the national-security emergency-preparedness community.

The story can be found here: Lawmakers reminded that they should have emergency calling card

CAIR has frequently shown themselves to be sympathetic with if not directly supportive of terrorist activities both abroad and in the USA. Can you imagine what a team of terrorists could do with these cards if they were pulling off another 9/11...

The Clinton/China timeline

I was researching something related and stumbled across this excellent Wikipedia article.

Essentially, under Mr. Clinton's watch as President, the Communist Chinese government directed large amounts of financial contributions to the Democratic Party.

Also, under Clinton's watch, the Chinese were able to operate an espionage ring in the Department of Energy such that they were able to steal complete designs of all seven of our current nuclear warhead designs.

In addition, stuff like this was happening (from the Wikipedia article):

On February 14 (1996), a People's Liberation Army (PLA) space launch vehicle crashed destroying the Loral Space & Communications satellite it was carrying. Chinese officials kept American investigators away from the crash scene. When they were finally allowed access, they found the highly militarily sensitive encryption chips were missing even though their encasing was left intact (encryption technology denies outsiders access to, or control over, American satellites in space). Loral and Hughes Electronics' engineers gave away missile secrets to China in the ensuing investigation. Loral CEO Bernard Schwartz was the top contributor to President Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and joined Ron Brown on numerous trade flights to China.

Here's another:

On March 21, 1996, Charlie Trie dropped off $460,000 into Clinton's legal defense fund. Trie's money was returned later when it was noticed that the money orders, from many different people, had sequential serial numbers. Immediately after the donation, Trie sent a letter to President Clinton that expressed concern about America's intervention in tensions arising from China's military exercises being conducted near Taiwan. Trie told the President in his letter that war with China was a possibility should U.S. intervention continue.

And people have the gall to complain about President Bush.

Clinton's "legacy" is one of double-dealing, lying and corruption.


Shocking, just shocking...

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First the immigration demonstrations and now this:
Immigration Counterprotest Draws Millions to Job Sites
In a grassroots counterprotest against yesterday�s nationwide rallies by illegal aliens, today millions of documented U.S. citizens took to their desks, factories, shops and other job sites to demonstrate their commitment to U.S. law and the American work ethic.

Police estimated that the crowds exceeded 220 million people, but they reported no incidents of violence.

Many workplaces flew the American flag, as usual, to express their ongoing devotion to the values and freedoms for which generations of U.S. troops have fought and died.

One unnamed American, a former Mexican who immigrated legally and became a U.S. citizen last year, said he joined the counter-demonstration because he admires the so-called �can-do attitude� he has found in his new home country.

The former-Mexican, who requested anonymity out of humility, said, �It�s as if Americans go to work every day and demonstrate �Si, se puede� � �Yes, you can�.�

However, an organizer of yesterday�s illegal alien rallies said today�s counterprotests just highlight the weakness of the opposition to the new civil rights movement.

�It�s pathetic,� said the unnamed spokesman for Somos America (which, in a foreign language, means �We are America�).

�No chanting, no banners, no Latino music, no crowds blocking traffic,� she said, �Just millions of Americans quietly doing their jobs. All they do is work and vote. What kind of impact do they expect that to make?�
A tip of the hat to Scott Ott at ScrappleFace

Happy Birthday Cheeta

Tarzan's Chimp buddy -- Cheeta -- is very much alive and just celebrated his 74th Birthday. From NBC11 TV:

World's Oldest Chimp Celebrates Birthday
'Cheeta' Starred In Tarzan Films

The world's oldest captive chimpanzee marked his 74th birthday Sunday with a party in Palm Springs, Calif.

"Cheeta" was dubbed the world's oldest chimp by the Guinness Book of World Records, according to the Web site for the primate sanctuary where Cheeta lives.

Cheeta starred in a dozen Tarzan films in the 1930s and 1940s before his retirement.

Chimpanzees rarely live past their 40s in the wild but often live until their 60s in captivity.

He celebrated his birthday with a sugar-free cake and washed it down with diet soda.

Cheeta's last film was "Dr. Doolittle" in 1967.

He is also an accomplished artist. Two of his paintings have hung in the National Museum in London.

Cheeta has also received a special comedy award from the International Comedy Film Festival of Peniscola in Spain.

And many many more!


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Everything you wanted to know about Silkworms Check out wormspit.com
Awwwww cutie...

Turf War to our north

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This past weekend, eight bodies were found in some vehicles in rural Ontario. Today's Globe and Mail has the back-story:
Biker gangs' feuds leave bloody trail
Turf wars between rivals have killed club members and innocent bystanders

In the aftermath of the discovery of eight bodies in rural Ontario this weekend, police sources have pointed to outlaw biker gangs, a criminal element with a bloody history in Canada.

During the 1990s, about 160 people died during the decade-long turf war in Quebec between the Hells Angels and a smaller biker club called the Rock Machine.

The Hells Angels wanted absolute control over the distribution of illegal drugs in the Montreal area. From 1994 to 2001, the Rock Machine fought furiously to keep its share of the market, and scores died as hostilities spread through Quebec.

When the turf war peaked during the mid-1990s, it was being won by the Hells Angels, who had greater resources and systematically killed off their rivals one by one.

The largest mass killing occurred in September, 1995, when the Rock Machine tried to plant a bomb at the clubhouse of a Hells Angels-affiliated gang. They were spotted and their bomb went off, killing three Rock Machine supporters.

While most casualties of the biker war were criminals, they also included two prison guards and an 11-year-old boy who was hit by shrapnel from a car bomb in August, 1995. The death of young Daniel Desrochers and the outrage that followed prompted Bill C-95, legislation that stiffened penalties for convicted offenders who are shown to be members of established criminal organizations.

Then, in the fall of 2000, facing public outrage over the growing death toll and the shooting of reporter Michel Auger, the Hells Angels and the Rock Machine announced a ceasefire in their war.

It was short-lived.

Within weeks, the Rock Machine obtained probationary membership in a major gang, the Bandidos -- historical rivals of the Hells.
What makes this of interest is that the Bandido's started in Bellingham and we have at least two of them in our small community (although I know that one of these two is currently in Federal lockup). Nice neighbors... We know some people who live fairly close to the USA/Canadian border and they see people running "packages" across all the time.

Immigration test

A great immigration test in the Netherlands -- from the Akron Beacon Journal:
Dutch immigration adopts debated test
Foreign applicants must watch video showing gay kiss, nudity to pass

The camera focuses on two gay men kissing in a park. Later, a topless woman emerges from the sea and walks onto a crowded beach. For would-be immigrants to the Netherlands, this film is a test of their readiness to participate in the liberal Dutch culture.

If they can't stomach it, no need to apply.

Regardless of whether they find the film offensive, applicants must buy a copy and watch it if they hope to pass the Netherlands' new entrance examination.

The test -- the first of its kind in the world -- became compulsory Wednesday, and was made available at 138 Dutch embassies.

Taking the exam costs $420. The price for a preparation package that includes the film, a CD-ROM and a picture album of famous Dutch people is $75.

"As of today, immigrants wishing to settle in the Netherlands for, in particular, the purposes of marrying or forming a relationship will be required to take the civic integration examination abroad," the Immigration Ministry said in a statement.
And the result of the film plus other precautions:
Both praise and scorn have been poured on Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, the architect of the new test and other policies that have reduced immigration by at least a third.

"If you pass, you're more than welcome," Verdonk said. "It is in the interest of Dutch society and those concerned."
Trying to move to a different nation without knowing it's culture or having the will to adapt to it is downright stupidity. To think that you can move there and then somehow "shame" the citizens into changing their behaviour to fit your mores is downright tyrannical; make that passive-aggressive tyrannical. Hat tip to fellow Whatcom blogger Robert Ashworth writing at The Slow Lane

Life in England

Just finished reading Theodore Dalrymple's book: "Life at the Bottom : The Worldview that Makes the Underclass" Theodore Dalrymple is the pen name for Dr. Anthony A.M. Daniels who until recently was a Physician working in Birmingham at a hospital that deals mainly with "poor" people. The book is a collection of essays he wrote from 1994 and 2000.

The "Underclass" he writes about are those people who fall victim to England's socialist welfare society where everyone is judged on their own merits and a wife-abuser or criminal or drug addict is excused from their behaviour as the welfare people do not want to prejudge the person. The educational system is worse than useless -- a high-school graduate cannot multiply six times four in their heads and they do not know when World War Two was fought (not even to the nearest decade). When asked about what interests them, they stare back blankly. They spend their lives watching the television, hanging out in "clubs" with their friends, their diet is entirely pre-made food, they do not exercise or read.

The welfare people, when they realize that one theory isn't working, do not bother to dismantle that program, they simply put another layer on top of what they are already doing to the extent that for every teacher their is in England, there is an Education Bureaucrat.

A number of Mr. Dalrymnple's essays can be found at the excellent City Journal.\

Here are a few excerpts from What is Poverty?

What is Poverty?
What do we mean by poverty? Not what Dickens or Blake or Mayhew meant. Today, no one seriously expects to go hungry in England or to live without running water or medical care or even TV. Poverty has been redefined in industrial countries, so that anyone at the lower end of the income distribution is poor ex officio, as it were - poor by virtue of having less than the rich. And of course by this logic, the only way of eliminating poverty is by an egalitarian redistribution of wealth - even if the society as a whole were to become poorer as a result.

Such redistribution was the goal of the welfare state. But it has not eliminated poverty, despite the vast sums expended, and despite the fact that the poor are now substantially richer - indeed are not, by traditional standards, poor at all. As long as the rich exist, so must the poor, as we now define them.

A bit more:

Just as it is easier to recognize ill health in someone you haven't seen for some time rather than in someone you meet daily, so a visitor coming into a society from elsewhere often can see its character more clearly than those who live in it. Every few months, doctors from countries like the Philippines and India arrive fresh from the airport to work for a year's stint at my hospital. It is fascinating to observe their evolving response to British squalor.

At the start, they are uniformly enthusiastic about the care that we unsparingly and unhesitatingly give to everyone, regardless of economic status. They themselves come from cities - Manila, Bombay, Madras - where many of the cases we see in our hospital would simply be left to die, often without succor of any kind. And they are impressed that our care extends beyond the merely medical: that no one goes without food or clothing or shelter, or even entertainment. There seems to be a public agency to deal with every conceivable problem. For a couple of weeks, they think this all represents the acme of civilization, especially when they recall the horrors at home. Poverty - as they know it - has been abolished.

Before very long, though, they start to feel a vague unease. A Filipina doctor, for example, asked me why so few people seemed grateful for what was done for them. What prompted her question was an addict who, having collapsed from an accidental overdose of heroin, was brought to our hospital. He required intensive care to revive him, with doctors and nurses tending him all night. His first words to the doctor when he suddenly regained consciousness were, "Get me a fucking roll-up" (a hand-rolled cigarette). His imperious rudeness didn't arise from mere confusion: he continued to treat the staff as if they had kidnapped him and held him in the hospital against his will to perform experiments upon him. "Get me the fuck out of here!" There was no acknowledgment of what had been done for him, let alone gratitude for it. If he considered that he had received any benefit from his stay at all, well, it was simply his due.

And one more excerpt:

I often take my doctors from the Third World on the short walk from the hospital to the prison nearby. It is a most instructive 800 yards. On a good day - good for didactic purposes, that is - there are seven or eight puddles of glass shattered into fragments lying in the gutter en route (there are never none, except during the most inclement weather, when even those most addicted to car theft control their impulses).

"Each of these little piles of smashed glass represents a car that has been broken into," I tell them. "There will be more tomorrow, weather permitting." The houses along the way are, as public housing goes, quite decent. The local authorities have at last accepted that herding people into giant, featureless, Le Corbusian concrete blocks was a mistake, and they have switched to the construction of individual houses. Only a few of their windows are boarded up. Certainly by comparison with housing for the poor in Bombay, Madras, or Manila they are spacious and luxurious indeed. Each has a little front yard of grass, surrounded by a hedge, and a much larger back yard; about half have satellite dishes.

Unfortunately, the yards are almost as full of litter as municipal garbage dumps.

I tell my doctors that in nearly nine years of taking this walk four times a week, I have never seen a single instance of anyone attempting to clean his yard. But I have seen much litter dropped; on a good day, I can even watch someone standing at the bus stop dropping something on the ground no farther than two feet from the bin.

"Why don't they tidy up their gardens?" asks a doctor from Bombay.

A good question: after all, most of the houses contain at least one person with time on his or her hands. Whenever I have been able to ask the question, however, the answer has always been the same: I've told the council [the local government] about it, but they haven't come. As tenants, they feel it is the landlord's responsibility to keep their yards clean, and they are not prepared to do the council's work for it, even if it means wading through garbage - as it quite literally does. On the one hand, authority cannot tell them what to do; on the other, it has an infinitude of responsibilities towards them.

I ask my Third World doctors to examine the litter closely. It gives them the impression that no Briton is able to walk farther than ten yards or so without consuming junk food. Every bush, every lawn, even every tree, is festooned with chocolate wrappers or fast-food packaging. Empty cans of beer and soft drinks lie in the gutter, on the flower beds, or on top of the hedges. Again, on a good day we actually see someone toss aside the can whose contents he has just consumed, as a Russian vodka drinker throws down his glass.

Apart from the antisocial disregard of the common good that each little such act of littering implies (hundreds a week in the space of 800 yards alone), the vast quantity of food consumed in the street has deeper implications. I tell the doctors that in all my visits to the white households in the area, of which I've made hundreds, never--not--once have I seen any evidence of cooking. The nearest to this activity that I have witnessed is the reheating of prepared and packaged food, usually in a microwave. And by the same token, I have never seen any evidence of meals taken in common as a social activity�unless two people eating hamburgers together in the street as they walk along be counted as social.

And the six years from Dr. Dalrymple's last essay in the book to present hasn't seen any change.

Kevin at The Smallest Minority writes:

If You Want More of Something,.Subsidize It
The UK's Home Office, the department of the British state responsible for keeping track of various government statistics, reports triumphantly that burglary is down in England & Wales by 20% from the previous year, and is now half of what it was in 1995! Just look!

And how is this done? Kevin offers this link to the Daily Mail:

'Let burglars off with caution', police told
Burglars will be allowed to escape without punishment under new instructions sent to all police forces. Police have been told they can let them off the threat of a court appearance and instead allow them to go with a caution.

The same leniency will be shown to criminals responsible for more than 60 other different offences, ranging from arson through vandalism to sex with underage girls.

New rules sent to police chiefs by the Home Office set out how seriously various crimes should be regarded, and when offenders who admit to them should be sent home with a caution.

A caution counts as a criminal record but means the offender does not face a court appearance which would be likely to end in a fine, a community punishment or jail.

And of course, if the police let more and more people go without writing them up, the crime rate (on paper) will seem to drop. What they fail to realize is that they are giving the criminals a carte blanche to continue.

Fortunately, this is not as serious here in the USA but I can see bits and pieces of it creeping into the system. Sad...

Today's demonstrations

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There are a number of demonstrations today regarding the "rights" of illegal immigrants. I see this as a great potential backfire for them as before, the visit to the hospital or the child in school was just sorta overlooked but now, with hundreds of thousands of marchers, Congress and the Senate will be forced to act and the fact that these people are illegal immigrants will ensure that they will not get what they were looking for (a free ride). From what I have read on other blogs, legal Hispanic immigrants are pissed at these people. And don't forget that the primary group organizing these reconquistas is A.N.S.W.E.R. - a front for the communist WWP:
A.N.S.W.E.R.�s director, Ramsey Clark, has served as the spokesman for the W.W.P since the early 1990s. Ramsey Clark is currently part of the legal defense team for Saddam Hussein, and was part of the legal defense team for Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic in the International Criminal Court. Another director of A.N.S.W.E.R., Brian Becker, is part of the W.W.P. Secretariat.

The former FBI Director under President Clinton, Louis Freeh, included W.W.P. in a talk about �domestic terrorist groups� on May 10, 2001 when speaking to Senate committees. He also denounced �Anarchists and extremist socialist groups - many of which, such as the Workers World Party, have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in the United States.�

The W.W.P. does not want to participate within the American political system, it wants to overthrow our democratic form of government and eliminate private property. LeiLani Dowell of the W.W.P. said at their conference in November, 2004, �I think that these elections proved to many that there is no choice between Democratic and Republican�and essentially no choice for working people under capitalism.�

A document on the A.N.S.W.E.R. website entitled �Who is the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition� states, �The global anti-war movement must be a movement of international solidarity against the U.S. empire.�
Peaceful demonstrations? From the Boston Globe:
Assault underscores tension as Congress weighs immigration reform
PORTLAND, Maine -- Dozens of people pressing for rights for illegal immigrants gathered for a peaceful demonstration on Monday just minutes after a counter-protestor was bloodied by a teenager who hid his face with a bandanna.

The attacker, described as a Hispanic teenager, went after one of three white people carrying signs arguing that illegals have no rights, police said.
Chuck Simmins in Rochester has posted a number of photos including this chap:
I love the dichotomy between the "Socalist Worker" on the sign and the very capitalist $80 Oakley sunglasses. Lots of the signs had references to various socialist groups... Hmm... Some photos from the Dallas protest including this wonderful one:
Here is an excellent short biography of Che -- what he was like. And finally, an interesting look at what Mexico would do if a bunch of US Citizens came in and started demonstrating. From City Journal
What Would Mexico Do with Protesting Illegals?
Deport them on the spot.

The Mexican government constantly hectors the American people about how we should treat its illegal migrants. President Vicente Fox, Foreign Secretary Ernesto Derbez, and Mexican consuls in the United States insist that Americans should be grateful for the hundreds of thousands of surplus Mexicans who break across our border each year. Without them, these leaders explain, the American economy would grind to a halt (never mind that Mexico�s management of its own affairs would seem to undercut the officials� economic expertise). Therefore, as a token of appreciation for keeping us afloat, say the Mexican apologists, we must grant amnesty to the law-breakers and reward them for illegal entry with a host of rights.

Fine. If Mexico wants to dictate our immigration policy to us, let�s follow their example to the letter. That example is particularly relevant on this further day of protests demanding amnesty for illegals. Among the demonstrators in at least 60 cities nationwide will undoubtedly be thousands of border lawbreakers. What would Mexico do? The answer is easy: deport them on the spot. In 2002, a dozen American college students, in Mexico legally, participated peacefully in an environmental protest against a planned airport outside of Mexico City. They swiftly found themselves deported as law-breakers for interfering in Mexico�s internal affairs.

If Mexico was willing to strip these students of their duly-obtained travel visas, imagine what it would have done had the students broken into the country surreptitiously�not just summary deportation but undoubtedly howls of complaint to the U.S. government for winking at this double violation of Mexican sovereignty. Open borders propagandists in the U.S. constantly present deportation as a patent act of cruelty that no right-thinking person would tolerate. Yet Mexico has no qualms about deporting not just illegals but legal immigrants as well whom it deems fractious.

If participation in an environmental protest constitutes unlawful interference in Mexico�s internal affairs, how much more intrusive would it deem mass demonstrations to legalize immigration law-breakers? No issue is more central to a country�s sovereignty than immigration policy. Yet we won�t be seeing any statements by Mexican diplomats today urging its citizens in the U.S. to refrain from efforts to influence American laws.

It is particularly delicious to imagine what would happen if American students in Mexico ran the American flag up a flag pole over an upside down Mexican flag, as students in a Southern California high school did last month. An international crisis! Each participant would be promptly ejected and possibly the American ambassador as well. When President Ernesto Zedillo tried to revise Mexican textbooks in the 1990s to be more favorable toward U.S. foreign policy, Mexico�s pundits denounced him as a traitor. Yet Mexican consuls in the U.S. work mightily to disseminate Mexican textbooks in U.S. schools and they have raised not a peep of remonstrance against Mexican protesters carrying signs such as THIS IS STOLEN LAND and WE DIDN�T CROSS THE BORDER, THE BORDER CROSSED US during the mass demonstrations last month.
It will be interesting to see what happens. I am a bit pissed that the Immigration bill foundered a few days ago, it seemed to be pretty balanced. Partisan politics again.

Didn't take long...

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I had written about Boot Camp earlier here: MAC --> Intel -->Windows XP Didn't take long for a BSOD to show up:
Hat tip to raving lunacy

Pigs fly

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And the Washington Post has an editorial that praises an action of President Bush. From Kim at Wizbang!:
The Washington Post: Bush Was Right
It's hard to believe but true. The Washington Post said in its lead Sunday editorial A Good Leak that President Bush was right to declassify the National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq and release it for public consumption:
PRESIDENT BUSH was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons. Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do. But the administration handled the release clumsily, exposing Mr. Bush to the hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy that Democrats are leveling.

Rather than follow the usual declassification procedures and then invite reporters to a briefing -- as the White House eventually did -- Vice President Cheney initially chose to be secretive, ordering his chief of staff at the time, I. Lewis Libby, to leak the information to a favorite New York Times reporter. The full public disclosure followed 10 days later. There was nothing illegal or even particularly unusual about that; nor is this presidentially authorized leak necessarily comparable to other, unauthorized disclosures that the president believes, rightly or wrongly, compromise national security.
In fact, not only does the Post's editorial say that Bush was right to release the document, but it also reminds its readers that this document proved that it was Joe Wilson who lied about Saddam's efforts to seek uranium from Niger.
Aparently, the liberal bloggers are going balistic. A good place for them to be :-)

I want one:

From the satire website ecoEnquirer comes this board game:
Just as the stock market crash of 1929 and the resulting economic depression led to the invention of the wildly popular game 'Monopoly', a new game based upon the 2005 hurricane season is the current favorite among best-selling board games.

Different state editions of the 'Hurricane Blame Game' for each of the hurricane-prone states are offered, such as the Florida Edition(shown above). The players represent trial lawyers who compete to see whose law firm can collect the greatest wealth from filing lawsuits against 'Big Oil' companies, or against individual states that failed to respond to hurricane strikes.

The game is a mixture of chance and skill. Hurricane tracks are shown on the board that represent all hurricanes that hit the state between the years 1851 and 2003. A card drawn from the "Chance" pile determines which hurricane has just hit the state. A roll of the dice moves the player around the board, and any privately held properties that are landed on are fair game for lawsuits, as are any states.

"The game has been especially popular in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida", game company Hasbeen, Inc. executive Charles Tarrow told ecoEnquirer. "Apparently, a number of attorneys in these states are honing their skills with the game as they await lawsuits being brought against petroleum companies."

The players do not have to prove that global warming caused individual hurricanes to be able to win lawsuits against the oil companies. "Just like in the real world, public displeasure with oil company profits after the 2005 hurricane season is expected to lead to successful lawsuits and large monetary awards, just like in our game", explained Mr. Tarrow. "Every player ends up being a winner."
Heh... Surprised that someone hasn't already come up with this one.

The Top Ten...

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...Junk Science Stories of the Past Decade
By Steven Milloy
My web site JunkScience.com celebrated its 10th anniversary on April 1, 2006. To mark the event, this column spotlights 10 big junk science stories of the last 10 years. In no particular order, they are:

1. The most toxic manmade chemical? That�s what some called dioxin, a by-product of natural and industrial combustion processes and the �contaminant of concern� in the Vietnam-era defoliant known as Agent Orange. Billions of dollars have been spent studying and regulating dioxin, but debunking the scare only cost a few thousand dollars.

Keying off Ben & Jerry�s claim on its ice cream packages that �there is no safe exposure to dioxin,� we tested Ben & Jerry�s ice cream and found that a single serving contained about 200 times the dioxin that the Environmental Protection Agency says is �safe� � and who�s afraid of Ben & Jerry�s?
Continue reading this Fox News story for nine more including: Cell Phones and Cancer, Electromagnetic Fields around Powerlines and of course, Global Warming.

Art imitates life

If you haven't seen Wallace and Gromit, you owe it to yourself to check them out. Classic quirky British humor. Their latest feature film is Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit The plot revolves around this giant rabbit that is eating its way through the town's vegetable gardens.
Basis in fact actually - from The Scotsman:
No vegetable is safe from curse of the were-rabbit
Worried vegetable growers have drafted in armed guards to protect their allotments from what they suspect is a gigantic rabbit.

Leeks and turnips have been ripped from the ground, while whole rows of onions, parsnips and carrots lie decimated by the creature's rampage through the prize vegetable plots of Felton, Northumberland.

The main clues to the culprit are some oversized pawprints and sightings of a cross between a hare and a rabbit with one ear larger than the other.

A small group of allotment holders have now clubbed together to hire two air-rifle marksmen with orders to shoot to kill.

Jeff Smith, 63, spotted the black and brown animal two months ago. He said: "This is no ordinary rabbit. We are dealing with a monster. The first time I saw it I thought to myself: 'What the hell is that?' I have seen its prints and they are huge. It is a brute of a thing."

Mr Smith, who has kept an allotment for 25 years, said: "We have two lads here with guns, but it is clever. They never see it. There were big rabbits before pesticides were introduced, but not like this."

Five people claim to have seen the giant rabbit. However, animal lovers have urged allotment holders to find a happy ending to the saga.

A spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said: "It seems ridiculous to demonise this animal for doing what it can to survive."
It is a competitive world out there Ms. Newkirk and that rabbit is stealing people's food. Getting rid of a pest is not demonizing, it is the assertion of one's place in the food chain. If you get an infection, do you refuse antibiotics? Here is an example of a large English rabbit:
I for one would not want that in my vegetable patch. Oh yes, I am demonizing the vegetables as well as I plan to rip them from their mother earth, flood them with water as I coarsely abrade their tender skin and then I will either chop them into pieces and place them over a pot of boiling water or I will just eat them raw. Yum!

Saucer Smear

James W. Moseley, J.S. has been examining and writing about UFO's for over 50 years. His Saucer Smear newsletter is a hoot! Don't try to email him though -- from the website:

We welcome your correspondence, pro or con, well-reasoned or otherwise, but please keep in mind that while Saucer Smear is on the Dreaded Internet, your humble editor is NOT! So, if you wish to receive a personal reply to your letter, or wish to have any chance of seeing it printed on Our Glorious Pages, please print it out, put it in an envelope, affix a stamp thereto, and SNAIL mail it to:
James W. Moseley
P.O. Box 1709
Key West, FL 33041

It's simple and loads of fun! Ask your grandma if you don't remember how to do it!
We thank you!

The individual Saucer Smear newsletters are fun reading. A lot of inside jokes and names of people that I am unfamiliar with but the overall writing is funny and tongue-in-cheek. Their front page is a classic too... And of course, there is a book:


Reverse Phone Directory

Just ran into the Mother of all Reverse Phone Directories Uses public-domain information -- some of their searches link to outside pages that use pop-ups but the main searches are fast and a bit spooky...

Yuri's Night

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Comes up in about three days and you can check to see if there is a party near you. So far, there are 77 parties scheduled in over 30 countries and seven continents (Antarctica included) Yuri's Night? From their website:
People everywhere love to party. Most parties don�t require a special reason or significant event. But when the celebration in question marks something as extraordinary as the dawn of human spaceflight, expect a HUGE party.

That party is Yuri�s Night, celebrated in dozens of cities around the world, on ALL seven continents. Yes, even Antarctica occasionally throws a Yuri�s Night party, and residents of the International Space Station have even been known to join in on the fun.

But who is this Yuri, and why are thousands of people worldwide celebrating him?

Yuri�s Night is the global celebration of human space travel, held annually on April 12. Yuri�s Night commemorates both the historic first flight of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961, as well as the launch of the first Space Shuttle (STS-1) exactly 20 years later. This year we�re celebrating the 45th anniversary of Yuri�s flight and the 25th anniversary of STS-1, so we expect the highest turnout ever!

With Yuri�s Night consisting of dance parties, educational events and even casual get-togethers, the range of Yuri�s Night events is as diverse as the people that host them. Whether in someone�s living room, a swinging nightclub or a world-class science museum, Yuri�s Night events all have one thing in common - people who are excited about the past, present and future of space travel and want to have a great time celebrating it.
Very cool! Nice to see people like Burt Rutan at Scaled Composites getting involved as well.
From the BBC:
Air trends 'amplifying' warming
Reduced air pollution and increased water evaporation appear to be adding to man-made global warming.

Research presented at a major European science meeting adds to other evidence that cleaner air is letting more solar energy through to the Earth's surface.

Other studies show that increased water vapour in the atmosphere is reinforcing the impact of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists suggest both trends may push temperatures higher than believed.

But they say there is an urgent need for further research, particularly at sea.

Dimming no more
Between the 1950s and 1980s, the amount of solar energy penetrating through the atmosphere to the Earth's surface appeared to be declining, by about 2% per decade.

This trend received some publicity under the term "global dimming".

But in the 1980s, it appears to have reversed, according to two papers published last year in the journal Science.

The decline in Soviet industry and clean air laws in western countries apparently reduced concentrations of aerosols, tiny particles, in the atmosphere.

These aerosols may block solar radiation directly, or help clouds to form which in turn constitute a barrier; or both effects may occur.

The lead researcher on one of those Science papers was Martin Wild from the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science (IACETH) in Zurich, and this week he has been discussing the implications of those findings at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual meeting in Vienna.
And of course, zero mention of the fact that the Sun's output rises and falls over time. The Wikipedia article on Global Dimming is excellent as well. The BBC article closes with these three paragraphs:
The conclusions presented here present two major challenges to the research community.

One is to find ways of extending experimental investigations into the oceans and the developing world.

The second is to integrate them into computer models of climate, something which is only just beginning to happen.
Emphasis mine. People need to realize that all of the "Global Warming" hype, especially the Anthropogenic Global Warming hype is based on models that have yet to be proven to be reliable. Scientists with an agenda will cherry-pick bits of data here and there that support their agenda while ignoring other data that contraindicates it. Sure, it seems that we are entering into a warming period, after all, there have been cycles of warming and cooling for the last thousand-plus years. The idea that humans are directly responsible for this latest warming trend is ludicrous. The idea that we can stop it is beyond hubris.


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High high geekdom here... Author Matt Fraction is releasing a new graphic novel: The Five Fists of Science Here is a PDF preview: The Five Fists of Science Here is the cover:
It stars Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla in a race to save the world from Thomas Edison and J.P Morgan. "Best part? It's true. Almost," says Matt.
Hat tip to BoingBoing I have long been a fan of Nikola Tesla and his run-ins with Edison and Morgan were legendary. Mark Twain was a close friend of Tesla. Tesla is unfortunately known as a bit of a crackpot but he invented a few things that you might use on a daily basis -- alternating current, AC motors, the system we still use today for electrical power distribution, fluorescent lights, X-Ray tubes and a little thing called Radio (he had demonstrated a remote controlled small submarine that moved and submerged several years before Marconi's three dots across the Atlantic). I have a copy pre-ordered at Amazon. The artwork looks fantastic.

John Humphreys - Sculptor, Doctor

The name John Humphreys might not be a household one but if you are the slightest bit geeky, you will have seen him and his work on film or video. Here is a frame:
This is, of course, from the famous Roswell Alien Autopsy footage. Like many films, the Roswell Autopsy film has been remade, coming out in Britain this month (no word as to when it will hit the colonies) and one of the people involved in creating the Alien is Mr. John Humphreys. From the Manchester Evening News:
Salford man admits alien autopsy fake
A Salford-born special effects expert, who has designed the aliens for Ant and Dec's big screen debut Alien Autopsy, claims he made models that 10 years ago fooled the world into thinking they were really watching the dissection of a real-life extra-terrestrial.

Sculptor John Humphreys has done modelling work for films such as Alexander and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and for TV series including Doctor Who.

But until now, he says, he has kept secret his most well-known work - footage of an alleged post mortem of an alien which, some say, crashed to Earth in Roswell in the United States in 1947. For years sceptics have claimed it was a hoax, but John has stayed quiet - saying he was sworn to secrecy.

But with the release of sci-fi comedy Alien Autopsy, which features Ant and Dec and which is based loosely on the Roswell film, John says he has decided to reveal his role in the making of the 1996 film.

John, who grew up on The Avenue in Lower Broughton and now lives near Eastbourne, says the latest film features creatures which are identical to the aliens he created for the Roswell film.

"All we did for the Ant and Dec film was recreate the models we made 10 years ago from photographs we took at the time," said father-of-two John, who says he also played the role of the surgeon in the original film as well as designing the iconic aliens.

"The first time around we put together a fantastic film in a very short space of time and the models we used were destroyed after we made the film," he said.

"Ant and Dec were great to work with - they have really kept their feet on the ground and they were a pleasure to be around. I visited the set for a few days and they were fantastic."
Emphasis mine -- not only did the props but got to be in front of the camera. Looking forward to the new version. Here is John Humphreys' home page Here is the website of The Truly Dangerous Company which features How To Make An Alien

April 18

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Considering all the saber-rattling that Iran has been doing recently, they would do well to remember that April 18th is coming in just under two weeks time. What significance does April 18th have you ask? Ever hear about Operation Praying Mantis:
Operation Praying Mantis
From Wikipedia
Operation Praying Mantis was the 18 April 1988 action waged by U.S. naval forces in retaliation for the Iranian mining of an American warship.

The 14 April mining nearly sank the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts, which was sailing in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will, the 1987-88 convoy missions in which U.S. warships escorted reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. By the time the Roberts was towed to Dubai on 15 April, battered but saved with no loss of life, U.S. planning for the retaliatory operation had already begun in Washington and in the Middle East.

The battle, the largest between surface forces since World War II, sank two Iranian warships and as many as six armed speedboats. The attack by the U.S. may have helped pressure Iran to agree to a ceasefire with U.S-backed Iraq later that summer, ending the eight-year conflict between the Persian Gulf neighbors.
The Iranians mined one of our ships nearly sinking it. We turned around and in four days, launched an offensive that handed the Iranian navy its ass on a plate and disabled several oil facilities. On our side, we lost two Marines who were on a helicopter that crashed in the dark. From the Wikipedia article:
Operation Praying Mantis is one of five American naval engagements cited by United States Naval Academy Prof. Craig L. Symonds in his book Decision at Sea (2005) as being decisive in establishing U.S. naval superiority. The others were the Battle of Lake Erie (1813), the Battle of Hampton Roads (1862), the Battle of Manila Bay (1898), and the Battle of Midway (1942).
If Iran tries this kind of shit again, we can respond in kind. I am sure that Operation Praying Mantis is on the minds of many of our military strategists these days...

The Chaos

You probably have seen variations of this poem around but this purports to be the original. From the Simplified Spelling Society:
The Classic Concordance of Cacographic Chaos
Introduced by Chris Upward

A number of readers have been urging republication of The Chaos, the well-known versified catalogue of English spelling irregularities. The SSS Newsletter [later designated J3] carried an incomplete, rather rough version in the summer of 1986 (pp.17-21) under the heading 'Author Unknown', with a parallel transcription into an early form of Cut Spelling. Since then a stream of further information and textual variants has come our way, culminating in 1993-94 with the most complete and authoritative version ever likely to emerge. The time is therefore now truly ripe for republication in the JSSS.

Our stuttering progress towards the present version is of interest, as it testifies to the poem's continuing international impact. Parts of it turned up from the mid-1980s onwards, with trails leading from France, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The chequered career of the first version we received was typical: it consisted of a tattered typescript found in a girls' High School in Germany in 1945 by a British soldier, from whom it passed through various hands eventually to reach Terry De'Ath, who passed it to the SSS; but it did not mention who its author was. A rather sad instance of the mystery that has long surrounded the poem is seen in Hubert A Greven's Elements of English Phonology, published in Paris in 1972: its introduction quoted 48 lines of the poem to demonstrate to French students how impossible English is to pronounce (ie, to read aloud), and by way of acknowledgment said that the author "would like to pay a suitable tribute to Mr G Nolst Trenit� for permission to copy his poem The Chaos.

As he could not find out his whereabouts, the author presents his warmest thanks, should the latter happen to read this book". Alas, the poet in question had died over a quarter of a century earlier.
Here are the first 34 of the poems 274 lines:
Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it's written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say - said, pay - paid, laid but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.
From "desire": desirable - admirable from "admire",
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming. (and me to my taxes...)

A slap on the wrist

No more Brie for you! From Dow Jones comes this story of an EU sanction:

EU Cites 10 Countries For Breaking Climate Change Rules
The European Commission Thursday sent warnings to 10 countries that haven't followed a range of climate change rules.

The regulations, including emissions controls and trading schemes, are part of a larger climate change initiative outlined under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Commission sent letters to Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, and Poland for failing to link their records on national emissions with a pan-European system.

The Commission warned Austria, Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, and Poland for not reporting plans to reduce and monitor greenhouse gas emissions.

The regulator requires annual reports on emissions, and cited Cyprus, Italy, Malta, and Spain for not submitting reports for 2004.

The Commission also warned Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain for not submitting data needed to prepare Europe for an international emissions trading scheme.

The regulator said the countries must respond to its complaints and fulfill their obligations, or else face legal action and possible fines.

The whole "international emissions trading scheme" is so poorly thought out and ineffective that any thinking human should break out laughing. Trying to limit CO2 production while blindly ignoring Methane and Water Vapor (not to mention India and China) is a blind exercise in economic suicide. With what these dolts are planning to spend, we could buy everyone in India and China a decent cookstove and eliminate a good chunk of the earth's overall air pollution. The EU needs to wake up and start listening to all of the climate scientists, not just the ones spouting their "party line". Buncha maroons...

Kodak screws over its customers

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Eastman Kodak has a resource where customers can store their images for free on a Kodak Server. You can set restrictions on use, viewing, downloading, etc... so that friends and family members can order prints, view galleries or you can maintain your photo archive as a private one. All that is required is that you purchase at least one of their digital prints each year. It was originally a service called OFoto but when you go to OFoto.com, you are redirected to KodakGallery. Too good to be true? Check out this story at Electronic Engineering Times:
Kodak accused of harming digital photo quality
A former employee has accused Eastman Kodak Co. of illegally tampering with the quality of customers' digital photos and making false advertising claims, according to a statement issued Wednesday (March 29) by the former employee's attorney.

Maya Raber, former Kodak director of engineering, filed a lawsuit in Alameda County (Calif.) Superior Court Tuesday, alleging wrongful termination by the Kodak Imaging Network and parent company Kodak. The suit claims that Raber was fired in retaliation for complaining about a Kodak project that Raber alleges deceives customers and irreversibly damages customers' photo files.

"Kodak disregarded consumers' interests in its efforts to save money," Raber said through the statement. "The plan was to hide behind the trusted Kodak brand, instead of promoting and protecting it."

A Kodak spokesperson said Wednesday that Raber's allegations are "completely false."

Raber, who oversaw Kodak's site software development department since 2002, claims that she and others objected to a cost savings plan, saying it would irreversibly damage photos, and offered the company alternative ideas to save money. Kodak chose to implement the project above these objections, Raber claims.

"Perhaps the most shocking thing about the project was the Kodak communication plan, leading customers to believe their photos are being optimized, when in fact they were being irreversibly damaged," Raber said through the statement.

Raber's complaint alleges that Kodak intended to market the unspecified project to make customers believe that they were getting a better photo format and service, when in reality their photos were being damaged. The complaint alleges that a Kodak executive responded to complaints about the project by saying that customers "wouldn't understand, anyway."

According to Raber, she was terminated when it became clear that she would continue to oppose the project.

"We can assure you that Ms. Raber's accusations are completely false," said a spokesperson for Kodak Wednesday through a statement. "We have not compressed images that are stored in the Gallery without our customers' knowledge. "We feel that Kodak has acted in a manner that is consistent with our corporate policies and ethics, and we will vigorously defend ourselves against all claims to the contrary."
Yikes! Some file formats are lossy (JPG for example). Data that is put into the image is meddled with to generate a very small image size but if very much compression is done, visual artifacts start showing up. This is very apparent with images that have straight lines and blocks of a single color. File formats like GIF, TIFF and PNG offer some compression but have the advantage of being loss-less. No data is lost and when decompressed, the original data is there bit by bit by bit. If Kodak is re-compressing customers images to save on storage space, this is unconscionable. Storage is a dirt cheap commodity these days with disk space selling for less than a dollar a GB retail. For them to violate their customers trust and -- worse -- brand it as an advantage, is a serious screw-up.

You are what you eat

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It has been bandied about that people who drink modest amounts of red wine have fewer health problems. What observers have failed to do (until now) is look at the other habits of red wine drinkers. Here is an interesting paper on food buying habits:
Food buying habits of people who buy wine or beer: cross sectional study
Objective To investigate whether people who buy wine buy healthier food items than those who buy beer.
Design Cross sectional study.
Setting Supermarkets in Denmark.
Data Information on number, type of item, and total charge from 3.5 million transactions over a period of six months.
Results Wine buyers bought more olives, fruit and vegetables, poultry, cooking oil, and low fat cheese, milk, and meat than beer buyers. Beer buyers bought more ready cooked dishes, sugar, cold cuts, chips, pork, butter or margarine, sausages, lamb, and soft drinks than wine buyers.
Conclusions Wine buyers made more purchases of healthy food items than people who buy beer.
Makes a lot of sense. Next time you go shopping, take a look around you and see what other people are buying. There is a reason that frozen pizzas and six-packs of Bud are sold everywhere. And that this nation has a problem with obesity...

MAC --> Intel -->Windows XP

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Die-hard MAC addicts raised their eyebrows when Apple announced that it was moving from a RISC CPU to an Intel one. Harsh words about "selling out" and becoming "just another Win/Tel box" were muttered. Well, the other shoe dropped. From Apple OSX:

Boot Camp Public Beta
Macs do Windows too.

As elegant as it gets
Boot Camp lets you install Windows XP without moving your Mac data, though you will need to bring your own copy to the table, as Apple Computer does not sell or support Microsoft Windows. Boot Camp will burn a CD of all the required drivers for Windows so you don't have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.

Run XP natively
Once you've completed Boot Camp, simply hold down the option key at startup to choose between Mac OS X and Windows. (That's the "alt" key for you longtime Windows users.) After starting up, your Mac runs Windows completely natively. Simply restart to come back to Mac.

What you'll need
  • Mac OS X Tiger v10.4.6
  • The latest Firmware update
  • 10GB free hard disk space
  • An Intel-based Mac
  • A blank recordable CD
  • A printer for the instructions (You'll want to print them before installing Windows, really.)
  • A bona fide installation disc for Microsoft Windows XP, Service Pack 2, Home or Professional.


The things I find...

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...while I should be finishing the taxes. From Maggie's Farm comes this alert for Wednesday (tomorrow):
Department of Useless but Fun Information
On Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 AM, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.
You have been alerted.

Brokeback Mountain

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In 30 seconds. With Bunnies. Heh...

Caring in the Workplace

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Was reading one of the machining magazines I get and noticed the wording on this advertisement:
Wonder what the working conditions must be like. Jen's comment was that it was positively Dickensonian...
Finishing off some needed bookkeeping for the IRS Bleagh Yes, they can tax your imagination... I will still post but I will not be reading the entire internet like I usually do, only 30% or so as I have time.

V for Vendetta

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Jen and I saw this today and OMFG -- it was an amazing movie. Started a bit slow but it kept building and building and building. Got more intense as more and more of the backstory was revealed. The casting was spot-on -- Natalie Portman was perfect in her role -- she is turning into an amazing actress. Hugo Weaving was a great choice for V -- he played Mr. Smith in the Matrix films. John Hurt was demonic as dictatorial as High Chancellor Stutler. The other characters were just as well portrayed. The premise is that much more spooky as it is entirely plausible in the next 20 years or so. See this one on the big screen...
It seems that from around the 1990's to present, there has been a seemingly unreasonable increase in the diagnosis of Autism and its variants in children. Many learned minds have tried to find the cause -- people have looked at Thimerosal (a mercury compound used as a preservative in vaccines) and as a result of public pressure, this has been dropped from use despite the fact that it was effective and had no known health issues. Other learned minds decided to take a bit of a larger view and came up with this. From Reuters/Health:
Study suggests rise in autism cases may not be real
A rise in autism cases is not evidence of a feared epidemic but reflects that schools are diagnosing autism more frequently, a study said on Monday.

Children classified by U.S. school special education programs as mentally retarded or learning disabled have declined in tandem with the rise in autism cases between 1994 and 2003, the author of the study said, suggesting a switch of diagnoses.

Government health authorities have been trying to allay widely publicized concerns that vaccines containing the mercury-containing preservative therimerosal, which is no longer used, were behind an autism epidemic.

There may be as yet unknown environmental triggers behind autism, study author Paul Shattuck of the University of Wisconsin at Madison said, but his research suggested the past decade's rise in autism cases was more of a labeling issue.

Autism was fully recognized in 1994 by all U.S. states as a behavioral classification for schoolchildren, who receive individualized attention whatever their diagnosis, he wrote in the journal Pediatrics.

Subsequent increases in the number of autism cases have varied widely by state but the average prevalence among 6- to 11-year-olds enrolled in special education programs increased from 0.6 per 1,000 pupils in 1994 to 3.1 per 1,000 in 2003.

During the same period, diagnoses of mental retardation fell by 2.8 per 1,000 students and diagnoses of learning disabilities dropped by 8.3 per 1,000 students.
And the curious incident was that the dog did not bark. For Sherlock Holmes, this solved a case of theft. For our children, this solves many cases of mis-diagnosis; there is no rising tide of Autism, there is only a more accurate Medical System. And your problem is?

Something wicked this way comes

I had posted about Iranian gold movements earlier today here: Follow the Money. Ran into another interesting bit at Neanderpundit where Og writes:

Damn ebay!
Every once in a while, I do several Ebay searches, to see if there's a preponderance of things I want - unless there is a glut of something, you can't get them cheap.

So today I find something that I've wanted for a long, long time. A Minox B

Usually, these things are a hundred and fifty bucks, or more. Today I bought one, without even really trying, for $22.

Dozens of these suckers have hit the market in the past couple of days. Now, I'm not a tinfoil hat kinda guy. but several things have happened in the past month that make me wonder.

1: You cannot buy an SPR22. I've been trying to buy one in 45-70 for over a year now. They ain't coming in. Why? Baikal, the manufacturer, has been building AK-47's by the trainload and shipping them to Syria.
2: You can barely find any 7.62 X 39 ammo. Of any kind. Why? Because apparently Wolf is shipping all THEY can manufacture to Syria.
3: All kinds of 'spy" type cameras, so long the standard tool of the alphabet soup agencies, are being dumped on the market. At the same time, cameraphones with sattelite technology are becoming available to the general public.

Does it seem like something is about to go down?

Most curious. I remember during the Vietnam War people started to notice when some new offensive was going to happen as late night Pizza deliveries to the Pentagon would go up. The question now is who is going to blink first. My bet is on Syria with Iran a close second. Hope you enjoy those 72 white raisins of exceptional purity guys...

My brain is bleeding!

Such a Happy Little Game...

Although popular television painting instructer Bob Ross has been pushing up Happy Little Daisies (tm) since 1995, his marketing empire is going strong offering people kits of brushes, paints and instruction on how to paint just like Bob Ross.

According to this current news item from Bob Ross Inc:

In Production.
Bob Ross Video Game.

Bob Ross Inc. has announced in March 2006 that they have filed a letter of intent to license to Joseph Hatcher's AGFRAG Entertainment Group to develop exclusively worldwide video/computer games based on Bob Ross' creative, unique and easy to learn painting techniques and TV show properties.

The Bob Ross video game, currently untitled, is planned to be developed for PC, the Nintendo DS handheld & on Nintendo's next-gen system coming later this year, code named Revolution. Release date was not announced. AGFRAG is currently seeking a publisher.

AGFRAG's Director of Development, Joseph Hatcher, has this to say about the announcement:
"I grew up watching Bob Ross on PBS and was always in awe of how quickly and smoothly he made these beautiful paintings, which helped inspire my creativity. There are generations that know Bob Ross and his painting techniques, and I want to share his talent with future generations in a new medium.
The Bob Ross game will utilize the unique inputs that the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Revolution have that can truly immerse the players while they learn to paint like Bob Ross and can play the addictive and fun games that we have planned for the title. I believe that Bob Ross Inc's and AGFRAG Entertainment Group's similar beliefs in independence, creativity, and teaching others will benefit how the game is developed and how the players of all ages will be able to enjoy this game.

I want the community to share with us their favorite Bob Ross shows, painting techniques, and what they'd like to see in the NDS and Revolution games. We want to keep the brush going."

An interesting number

A curious look at the Cost of Automobile Ownership:
Hybrids Consume More Energy in Lifetime Than Chevrolet's Tahoe SUV
As Americans become increasingly interested in fuel economy and global warming, they are beginning to make choices about the vehicles they drive based on fuel economy and to a lesser degree emissions.

But many of those choices aren't actually the best in terms of vehicle lifetime energy usage and the cost to society over the full lifetime of a car or truck.

CNW Marketing Research Inc. spent two years collecting data on the energy necessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage. This includes such minutia as plant to dealer fuel costs, employee driving distances, electricity usage per pound of material used in each vehicle and literally hundreds of other variables.

To put the data into understandable terms for consumers, it was translated into a "dollars per lifetime mile" figure. That is, the Energy Cost per mile driven.

The most Energy Expensive vehicle sold in the U.S. in calendar year 2005: Maybach at $11.58 per mile. The least expensive: Scion xB at $0.48 cents.

While neither of those figures is surprising, it is interesting that driving a hybrid vehicle costs more in terms of overall energy consumed than comparable non-hybrid vehicles.

For example, the Honda Accord Hybrid has an Energy Cost per Mile of $3.29 while the conventional Honda Accord is $2.18. Put simply, over the "Dust to Dust" lifetime of the Accord Hybrid, it will require about 50 percent more energy than the non-hybrid version.

One of the reasons hybrids cost more than non-hybrids is the manufacture, replacement and disposal of such items as batteries, electric motors (in addition to the conventional engine), lighter weight materials and complexity of the power package.

And while many consumers and environmentalists have targeted sport utility vehicles because of their lower fuel economy and/or perceived inefficiency as a means of transportation, the energy cost per mile shows at least some of that disdain is misplaced.

For example, while the industry average of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 was $2.28 cents per mile, the Hummer H3 (among most SUVs) was only $1.949 cents per mile. That figure is also lower than all currently offered hybrids and Honda Civic at $2.42 per mile.

"If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying high-fuel-economy vehicles," says Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, Inc. "But if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage, some high-mileage vehicles actually cost society more than conventional or even larger models over their lifetime.
Since I could only find the Yahoo/Finance source for this info, I tried to check it out at the source. CNW Marketing Research is a very prominant company in Automotive circles (a Google search comes up with 41K citations) but their reports seem to be available by subscription only. Their website is here: CNW Marketing Research

The true meaning of Service

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Swiped in its entirity from Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple:
The True Meaning Of Service
At one time in my life, I thought I had a handle on the meaning of the word "service... the act of doing things for other people."

Then I heard the terms:
Internal Revenue Service
Postal Service
Telephone Service
Civil Service
City/County Public Service
Customer Service
Service Stations

And I became confused about the word "service." This is not what I thought "service" meant.

Then today, I overheard two farmers talking and one of them mentioned that he was having a bull over to "service" a few of his cows.


It all came into perspective. Now I understand what all those "service" agencies are doing to us.
Have a wonderful day and I hope you are now as enlightened as I am.

Follow the Money

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Very interesting observation by Mover Mike:
Iran Withdraws Gold From West
An informed source at the central bank of Iran on Friday dismissed the news published in a Swiss daily on withdrawal of 250 tons of Iran's gold reserves from that country's Credit Bank.

The Central Bank official told IRNA "The news published in the Thursday edition of the Bern-based daily Der Bund, on Iran's withdrawal of 250 tons of its gold reserves, worth five billion Swiss francs, and transferring them to Tehran is totally baseless."

Der Bund had added in its report that since October 2005 Iran has withdrawn 700 tons of its gold reserves, worth 16 billion Swiss francs, from various Western monetary funds and transferred them to other unknown destinations, future sanctions.
Looks like Iran is preparing for the worst!
Yikes -- couple this with the recent supposedly successful ballistic missile and torpedo tests, looks like Iran is ramping up its offensive capabilities. I would not be surprised if we had a couple Trident subs playing cat and mouse in the Persian Gulf...

Barbie Dolls of the Pacific Northwest

Gerard Van der Leun has only been living in the Seattle area for less than a year and he already groks the PNW culture. Here he takes note of the latest Barbie Dolls for residents of the Pacific Northwest:
The North West Washington Barbies are FINALLY Available!
DO YOU RECOGNIZE any of these little dolls?

Laurelhurst Barbie: Available with a Volvo XC70, a Kate Spade handbag and Nike Sweatsuit. Her ponytail is pulled through the back of her baseball hat. She is very active on Juniors PTA and is fierce at school fund-raising auctions. Beware, you do not want to bid against her!

Comes with Double-tall soy latte with a splash of hazelnut, Xanax and Patagonia foul-weather gear. Optional accessories include either a black or yellow lab with tennis ball chucker.

Available at University Village.

Seattle Barbie: This modern day homemaker Barbie is available with a Mercedes 4WD SUV, a Prada handbag and matching Nike Yoga ensemble. She has a masters degree and double-majored, but has the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom with Ken's generous salary.

Comes with Percocet prescription and Botox. Starbucks mug and traffic-jamming Blackberry internet/cell phone device sold separately. Husband Ken is into fishing, golfing, baseball and is often "working" late.

Available at all Seattle-area Starbucks retailers.

Bellevue Barbie: This princess Barbie is only sold at Nordstrom. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade handbags, your choice of a BMW convertible or Hummer H2 and a longhaired foreign lapdog named "Honey". Available with or without tummy tuck, facelift, and breast augmentation.

Also available is her cookie-cutter development dream house.

Workaholic, cheating husband, Ken, comes with a Porsche.

Tacoma Barbie: This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, switchblade, '78 El Camino with dark tinted windows, and a meth lab kit. Available only after dark this model can only be purchased with cash - preferably small bills, unless you're a cop, then we don't know what you're talking about.

Boyfriend Ken is in jail.

Available at many pawn shops.
And he doesn't forget our neck of the woods either:
Bellingham Barbie: This Barbie is made out of recycled plastic and tofu. She has long straight brown hair, archless feet, hairy armpits, no make-up, and Birkenstocks with white socks. She does not want, or need, a Ken doll.

If you purchase the optional Subaru wagon, you will receive a free rainbow flag sticker.

Available at REI.
Downright prescient -- Gerard put this online last Thursday and this Sunday's Bellingham Herald had this article:
Ubiquitous Subaru an icon of the Northwest
From old to new, Bellingham drivers have a soft spot for these vehicles

If Bellingham were a car, it'd be a 1999 forest green Subaru Outback with a bumper sticker or two. So says Logan Parsons, a Western Washington University student. "I see a lot of them. It just seems like the Bellingham car. They're everywhere," she says.

In fact, ask just about anybody in town about Bellingham and any Subaru model and you'll get a knowing chuckle. Subarus, like fleece jackets or coffee mugs, are an iconic in-joke that seems to reflect the essence of the City of Subdued Excitement.

For that reason, Bellingham just might be the buckle of the Subaru Belt.
Interesting report today at The Register:
Bush preps historic Third Term - memo
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the office of the White House Counsel are preparing a draft document laying out the President's wartime authority to remain in office past 2008, The Register has learned.

The scheme is described as an emergency "continuity presidency," made necessary by the extraordinary circumstances and unique challenges of protecting the United States from the threat of international terrorism.
"The world changed on 9/11," a confidential DoJ memo obtained by The Register explains, "and no Administration in US history is better suited to adapt productively to those changes than this one.
"The Attorney General supports the basic framework in the White House Counsel's draft proposal for a future Executive Order establishing a Continuity Presidency, with two provisos: 1. There must be at least the appearance of a time limit, which the AG believes might be satisfied by tying the duration of the Continuity Presidency to the duration of the GWOT [global war on terrorism]; and 2. The House and Senate Majority Leaders and the Chairpersons of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees must issue a written certification that they have approved the plan.

"AG does not believe that the plan will succeed unless those conditions can be met. Suggest you liase with [the White House office of] Legislative Affairs and get their sense of the liklihood that the key Members will work with us."

The memo is signed Christine McIntyre, Special Assistant to the United States Attorney General, and is addressed to Philip Van Zandt, Special Assistant to White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
Of course, The Register tried to verify the memo before publishing this and:
The Register contacted the offices of the US Attorney General and the White House Counsel, and both declined to comment. Neither denied the memos, however.

Are they a hoax? We consulted renowned constitutional scholar Bud Jamison, of the prestigious Washington legal firm Horowitz Feinberg & Horowitz, for insight.

"I don't think they're a hoax, but I also don't think that there's anything here for the public to worry about, except the sad comment it makes on the current Administration," Jamison told The Register.
Jamison sums it up with these words:
"But," Jamison continued, "Bush is so accustomed to having his way, and he exists in such a weird bubble of manufactured reality, that I can picture him believing that his second term could be extended. Still, I'm confident that someone among the gaggle of boot-licking toadies he's surrounded himself with will muster the nerve to sit him down and explain the facts of life.

"This proposal will never see the light of day. It may take a while for reality to sink in, but once Bush appreciates the potential for grotesque public humiliation that he's courting, he'll kill it," Jamison concluded.

As for the inevitable political fallout from the leaked memos alone, Jamison sees little for Bush to worry about.

"It shows incredibly poor judgment and galling arrogance on the Administration's part, but that's nothing new. And you can be sure that Bush and Cheney have got complete deniability in this little caper," he said.

"And that goes for Gonzales, Miers, and Clement too. The five or six people involved will be sacked, and the press will be told that the affair was merely the unauthorized creation of a handful of over-zealous underlings acting on their own. The Republican-controlled Congress will decline to investigate, and the issue will soon be forgotten. A break in the Natalee Holloway investigation is all it takes for a story like that to be erased permanently from the news."
And on that cherry note, happy April First!

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