June 2006 Archives

Aww Crap!

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Loompanics Unlimited - the mind-numbingly awesome alt.publishing house in Port Townsend, WA is shutting their doors... From their website: Loompanics Unlimited
Loompanics Unlimited is closed -- We welcome wholesale orders -- case quantities only (Minimum order -- 5 cases)

We are rapidly moving into the last days of Loompanics Unliimited's book selling. The Great Going Out of Business Sale has gone well for all of us, but the time has come to end our retail sales.

Monday, May 8th was the last day that we accepted retail orders.

The last several weeks have been exciting and fast moving. Many of the titles have been transferred to other publishers or to the authors and will be available from them. Their links follow:
Fortunately, they list twelve other publishing houses that are carrying on their titles. They close with this appropriate thought:
Remember! Free Speech! Like any muscle, use it or lose it!
Indeed! They will be missed...

Cool news about Hubble

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A bit of bad news a few days ago -- the primary camera on the Hubble Space Telescope stopped responding to signals from the ground. Fortunately, according to Yahoo/AP:
NASA revives main Hubble telescope camera
The main camera on the Hubble Space Telescope came back to life Friday for the first time in nearly two weeks after NASA engineers switched to a backup power system, the space agency announced.

The Advanced Camera for Surveys shut down June 19 after voltage readings exceeded the acceptable range. The switchover to the backup system began Thursday afternoon and was completed Friday morning, NASA said.

"This is the best possible news," said Ed Ruitberg, deputy associate director for the Astrophysics Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. "We were confident we could work through the camera issue, and now we can get back to doing more incredible science with the camera."

The camera is scheduled to resume observations Sunday night. Other instruments on the orbiting telescope have continued to operate during the outage.

The ACS camera, installed by a space shuttle crew in March 2002, increased Hubble's vision 10 times and has given the clearest pictures yet of galaxies forming in the very early universe.
After the initial blunder of the incorrectly ground lens, the scope has done some amazing science. Good to see it still ticking away!

Urban traffic

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Very interesting link from Maggie's Farm From Rachel DiCarlo at the Weekly Standard:
A Desire Named Streetcar
Desperate to get citizens to move to the city and ride mass transportation, local governments embrace "traffic calming."

Picture the standard congested American city. Traffic backs up on city blocks each day during rush hour as cars creep along, catching every red light. A half-mile trip takes half-an-hour. The forced on-and-off of the gas and brake pedals spends more gas--and creates more pollution--than if cars were traveling at consistent speeds. Emergency vehicles have a difficult time cutting through the gridlock.

New data from the Texas Transportation Institute's 2005 mobility report helps illuminate the big picture: Since 1982, the annual average traffic delay per commuter has risen from 16 hours per year to 47 hours per year, with a total 3.7 billion hours lost every year in traffic jams. The number of urban areas with more than 20 hours of annual traffic delay has jumped from 5 to 51. And the daily rush hour periods, where the likelihood of encountering congestion is highest, have grown from an average of 4.5 hours to a 7.1 hour expanse, covering nearly a third of every day.

One cause of this gridlock is a practice that sprang from the increasingly powerful "smart growth" movement, and has been implemented in almost every American city and in many suburbs: traffic calming.

Proponents of Traffic Calming -- mostly government planners--not only oppose new highway construction and, in some instances, highway maintenance, but want to reduce mobility by installing roadway barriers and traffic-slowing devices that clog up the roads. In other words, rather than alleviate congestion, traffic calming aims to induce it.

Why create congestion? The goal is to make driving as undesirable as possible, thereby discouraging sprawl and encouraging people to live in high-density areas, where they will either ride mass transportation or walk. Since most cities have trouble filling seats on their money-losing transit systems, traffic calming is also another way to try to make these systems more financially justifiable.

Traffic calming can be achieved in a number of ways. For instance, there are devices, such as speed bumps, small traffic circles, cul-de-sacs, and chicanes (which change a street's orientation from straight to winding), which help prevent cars from speeding through suburban neighborhoods. The most common practice is signal disruption--which guarantees that a driver who is obeying the speed limit will have to stop at almost every red light.

There are also choke points, which suddenly narrow a street to one travel lane; curb extensions, which eliminate right-turn lanes (so anyone who slows down to turn right slows down the cars behind her); median barriers, which reduce traffic volume (when located mid-block, median barriers do not help pedestrian safety, and, incidentally, have devastated some small roadside businesses by hindering access); orientation shifts, which change a one-way street into a two-way street; and vehicle exclusion lanes, among others. "Boulevarding" is the urban planning term used to describe when a variety of traffic-calming devices are used in conjunction with one another.
Seattle was rife with this and the City of Bellingham is floating the idea of adding two traffic circles to a very busy highway as a replacement for two traffic lights. Just say No

Scamming the Scammers

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Gotta love it -- from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Scamming the Nigerian scammer
The tables have been turned on at least one Nigerian scammer after an online vigilante successfully played him at his own game with an intricately laid "anti-scam" operation.

The campaign netted a life-sized wooden carving of a Commodore 64 computer keyboard which was sent all the way from Africa to the scambaiter who is code-named Shiver Metimbers.

Millions of dollars have been conned out of gullible Australians who fall for a variety of Nigerian scams (also known as 419 scams) received via spam email or in a targeted response to an online advertisements they have placed.

Shiver Metimbers runs a website called 419eater.com, which is an internet hub for scam-baiting advice and war-stories. But his most recently celebrated exploit is what he describes as an "artwork anti-scam" in which he poses as the director of Derek Trotter Fine Arts.

To ensnare his victim, Shiver Metimbers replied to numerous scam emails with a standard letter apologising that he was too busy to accept their business proposition at this time, asking instead if they knew of any local artists that might benefit from his financial help.

When he found a willing victim, his anti-scam unfolded in much the same way as a typical 419 scam, promising payment only after a substantial investment had been laid down - in this case the receipt of a series of commissioned wooden carvings from a local artist.
The guy's website is a hoot: 419eater and be sure to read the story of John Boko and Bert the hamster...
Wanna get something really cool? How about Kraftwerk's original Vocoder? On eBay of course -- ends July 5th:
Very cool bit of history. It will require major rebuilding as a lot of the components used have aged and need to be replaced but still...


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Chris Muir says it best:

Awww CRAP!!!!!!!!!

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GutRumbles (AcidMan) (Rob Smith) passed away last morning. The post from his daughter Samantha:
This is Sam. Rob has passed away. They found him at 2:00 this morning slumped over on the couch. He did not shoot himself and no pills or alcohol were found in the house. When I find out anything else I'll let you know. Out of respect for my family please do not leave nasty comments.
From one of the comments to Gutrumbles this evening:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely
in an attractive and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways,
body thoroughly used up, totally worn out
and screaming ~ WOO HOO what a ride!

Rob, you win.
He will be missed... DAMNIT!
Meet Buttercup -- our tractor:
She is a Kubota L4300DT 4WD diesel and was delivered to our farm on St. Valentine's day of 2004. A wonderful steed and a dear part of our household. Ran into a little problem a few days ago and it was not a mechanical failure but a user interface issue... We have had a stretch of warm weather so I was out cutting some of our 20 acres of pasture and orchard. The fields are not level and while moving from area to area, I was playing with the seat adjustment underneath the center of the seat. Something about tractors; they have zero suspension, no shocks, no springs. The only thing smoothing out the ride is the spring in your seat and I was getting bounced around a little too much for comfort. So I was tweaking this knob and not really getting any good results, bagged it and continued to cut. I then raised the cutter and moved to another area, started cutting and went about 10 feet when I realized that the sound was all wrong. The cutter connects to the three-point hitch at the rear of the tractor and you quickly learn to clue in to the auditory cues of how something is running. What I was hearing was cutter blades spinning but no pasture being cut. Turned my head around and saw that the cutter was at it's highest position, a good ten inches above the grass. I moved the height adjustment up and down a few times to no effect. Dang! Drove back into the barn and found something else to do. This morning, I called the local Kubota store, got their service department and told them my story. Their first question: Do the linkages work? (yes) Their second question: Had I changed the setting on the descent rate adjustment knob? (Huh?) This knob is located under your seat. (DOH!) It seems that for this tractor, the knob that controls the descent of the three-point hitch is located right in the center under the drivers seat while the knob that controls the comfort of the seat is located under the seat at the back. A set-it and forget-it knob is very handy and in a location that would make it seem to affect the seat while the knob that controls the comfort of the seat is in a position that requires the driver to stop the tractor, dismount, tweak the knob, get back on, work and see if the setting is OK, lather, rinse, repeat... On the plus side, I will not forget this. Ever. On the minus side, Kubota could have re-jiggered things to make it a little more intuitive. Outside of that, Buttercup is awesome. Very reliable and perfectly matched to what we want to do.

Zarqawi's reward in Paradise

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Shamelessly swiped from Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple:
Wanna know something Z-Man? You got 67 more of them to get through... Heh... Enjoy your time in Gehenna (the islamists spell it as jahannam) Hell could very well be the same place as Heaven -- living in God's love. The Sufi's have the practice of "polishing your heart" so that it reflects the love you have out to the world. To spend an eternity in Heaven, knowing what your ignorance and fear and hatred have caused you to do might well be the supreme torture. I rather like the words of Saint Isaac of Syria (or Nineveh) who wrote:
"... those who find themselves in Hell will be chastised by the scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be! For those who understand that they have sinned against love, undergo greater suffering than those produced by the most fearful tortures. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart, which has sinned against love, is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right to say that the sinners in Hell are deprived of the love of God ... But love acts in two ways, as suffering of the reproved, and as joy in the blessed!"
Sounds like an un-polished heart to me. RIP Z-Man, you are not missed.

Stopping telemarketers

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Interesting and seemingly effective way to stop automated dialing machines from considering your phone number to be "good" and saving the number for future calling. Requires you to be able to patch a WAV audio file into the beginning of your answering machine's message but it makes complete sense. There is also a hardware solution for $40 plus shipping: Telezapper Amazon has them here.

Bread and Water

BEGIN UPDATE: 07-01-2006 I had originally written this post to tease my wife for a coment that she left on another post. That earlier post was here and contained a paragraph about my cooking dinner using Beef from our new half-cow. Jen's comment:
I have to say, marrying a man who can COOK was the smartest move of my life!

I'm never going to lose weight if he keeps cooking like this.
Hence, this post about moving over to a diet of Bread and Water. Jen got the joke because her comment to this post was:
The hell we are! The garden's producing, we have meat in the freezer... Dave can do the bread and water thing. I'm gonna eat.
Tonights dinner? Hamburgers. Seared on each side for a few minutes on a hot gas grill and then turn the heat down and cook for a few minutes more. You don't normally think of hamburger as being tender but this stuff sure is. The flavor was amazing too. Jen's thought over dinner was that going back to supermarket beef would really suck. My thought was that we should call the farmer and reserve a steer for sometime late-spring of 2007. I really appreciate people's concern over my "impending diet" but it was a joke with my wife and not anything I was going to take seriously. END UPDATE: 07-01-2006 Found a new lifestyle that sounds really interesting... It is said that spending 120 days eating nothing but bread and water gives a person incredible mental acuity. Jen and I will be doing this over the next few months -- I'll keep you all posted on the results.

We all know the philosophy of goatonapole as illustrated here:


I now present for your edification the Regimental Goat. First, a bit of backstory from their website:

Shenkin (the Welsh pronunciation of 'Jenkins') is a goat from the Royal Herd at Windsor, and is the official mascot of the Royal Welsh, and is looked after by Goat Major Sgt. David Joseph BEM.

Regiments of the British Army have always been prone to adopt members of the animal world as their mascots: bears, apes, dogs, geese, ponies and rams are just a few that have graced ceremonial parades. Three Regiments used to parade a goat - The Royal Welch Fusiliers, the Royal Regiment of Wales, and the Royal Welsh Regiment. However on 1st May 2006 these three Regiments merged to form ' The Royal Welsh', of which Shenkin is the mascot.

Wild goats were at one time quite common in Wales, particularly in the mid and northern counties of the Principality. The goat, particularly the billy is hardy, stubborn, and when confronted, aggressive, and can live off the land in the most inhospitable climates - character traits that were, and still are, desirable in a soldier.

The origins of the Regimental Goat reach back to the Crimean War of 1854/56 where one of the Irish soldiers acquired a small goat kid with which he intended to supplement his meagre ration. He was on sentry duty at the time and tucked the live kid under his greatcoat.

During the night, he fell asleep, to be suddenly awakened by the agitated bleating of the animal. As he came to, he espied a Russian patrol advancing and was able to warn the forward picket who drove off the enemy.

The goat mascot was present during a review at Aldershot in 1856 by Her Majesty, Queen Victoria of regiments that had returned from the Crimea. On that occasion the Queen promised the 41st (The Welch Regiment) that upon his death, the goat would be replaced by one from the Royal Herd in Great Windsor Park. That custom has since perpetuated.

Within the 1st Battalion of the Regiment, the Goat was officially listed as Private Gwylim Jenkins. The soldier appointed as his keeper and trainer is known as the Goat Major.

The Goat often accompanied the Battalions on active service and were, when applicable awarded the appropriate service or campaign medals.

The last Goat of the Welsh Regiment to go on active service was that of the 1 Welch which accompanied the battalion to Korea in 1951.

Private Jenkins is that handsome fellow to the left. The life of a Regimental Goat is not always an easy one though -- from newsvine:

British Army Demotes Mascot Goat, Billy
A British army regiment's ceremonial pet goat was demoted in disgrace after it marched out of line before a host of dignitaries during a parade to mark Queen Elizabeth II's birthday, a military spokesman said Saturday.

The military mascot, a 6-year-old male goat called Billy, was downgraded from the rank of lance corporal to fusilier - the same status as a private - after army chiefs ruled his poor display had ruined the ceremony earlier this month at a British army base in Episkopi, western Cyprus.

Lance Cpl. Dai Davies, 22, the goat's handler, was unable to keep control during the June 16 march. The mascot darted from side to side, throwing soldiers off their stride, Capt. Crispian Coates, a spokesman, said by telephone from the base in Cyprus.

"The goat, which has been the regiment's mascot since 2001, was supposed to be leading the march, but would not stay in line," Coates said. "After consideration, the commanding officer decided he had no option but to demote Billy."

Ambassadors from Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands were among those who attended the march along with U.N. dignitaries.

Since the goat's demotion, soldiers of a lower rank are no longer expected to salute Billy as a sign of respect, Coates said.

Capt. William Rose, a soldier present at the parade, said the goat "was trying to head-butt the waist and nether regions of the drummers."

And you are expecting Billy to behave any differently? The drummers were probably off tempo -- everyone knows that goats have an innate groove goin' on. Lance Corporal Dai Davies needs to go back to step one with goatonapole and begin again the quest for his inner goat.


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The topic of Jacksonianism came up today. Steven Den Beste has the best description of what it is to be a Jacksonian.
The whole point of Jacksonianism is "You leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. You play fair with me and I'll play fair with you. But if you fuck with me, I'll kill you."
There is a good bit more at Steven's site and it is worth reading but the above quote gets to the heart of the matter. The antitheses is the Wilsonian who wants a world government and we have seen for the last hundred years or so just how well that works...

A boat ride

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Mostly Cajun just bought a boat and spent the last few days taking it home. Click on the link above to read the adventures of the Lil' Dumplin'. More here:
About the boat
The beginning of the story

Light posting tonight

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Farmer's Market is tomorrow. We were up at 4:30am to watch a neighbors house being moved about a mile to another neighbor. The house was so big they had to cut it in half. The moving crew was amazing -- no wasted motion, very slow and methodical and the move came off without a hitch. It is a lot of fun watching professionals at work. The truck driver positioned his truck within inches of obstacles but didn't clip anything. Dinner tonight was Beef Stew (from our half-cow -- we are going to be needing major dosages of Lipitor if this keeps up). I make it with a V-8 juice base and some hot peppers so this ain't your mommas dish. The stew meat was excellent -- no membrane, very little fat; just odd small trimmings of different kinds of meat. One thing that struck me tonight is the amount of "fluffing" that commercial supermarket meat goes through before it is sold. They brine it to cut back on the free blood. They can also dip it in a mild Clorox and water solution to get rid of any taint odors and some places will treat it with Carbon Monoxide gas to give it a bright red color. Truly fresh beef has a dark red color with a hint of gray to it. The looks and the bits of blood may take a moment or two getting used to but the flavor is very much worth it and like I said last night, we are eating from a cow who lived a peaceful life and was munching fresh sweet grass up until the day she was killed. Commercial beef live a very different life although inroads are being made there by people such as Dr. Temple Grandin. Finally, a guy is coming over tomorrow after market to look at a small welder that I am selling. A nice little Lincoln Mig-Pak 10 that was more than enough for my projects in Seattle but not with the work I do here. Getting it set up and running so he can try it out.


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Actually, one half of a cow and it is sitting in our freezer minus two T-Bone steaks. I had written earlier that we were planning to buy a side of beef. After a few weeks of locker aging and the butchering, it was ready so we picked it up today. Dinner tonight was amazing... The animal we got was a cow and these tend to be butchered a bit later in life (get a couple calves out first) and it was grass fed -- each of which contributed to a bit tougher meet -- but the flavor was amazing and the "toughness" was a lot less than some "prime" supermarket steaks I have eaten. The process was not rocket science so if you know several people with freezer space who like beef, it is definitely worth your time to explore. The flavor is far beyond what you get from most restaurants or markets and the cost is under $2.00/pound for an animal that has led a peaceful life in pasture, not confined to a stinking and overcrowded feedlot for the last couple months of its life. I can respect Vegetarians -- I was one for five years. Plus, we don't eat animal protein for every single meal but... but... Good heavens, was dinner ever yummy tonight!!! And we have a FREEZER FULL of more!!!

How not to pay a bar tab

From the Statesboro (Georgia) Herald:
Suspect arrested for check forgery
Man tries to use bartender�s checks to buy drinks

A man found a checkbook at a local bar Friday night and decided to use the checks to pay for drinks he bought, police said. What he didn�t know was the checkbook�s owner was the bartender.

Statesboro Police Capt. L. C. Williams said officers were called to Dingus Magee�s around 1:10 a.m. Saturday morning to meet with a bartender who said a customer was forging checks from a checkbook he lost earlier.

Another on-duty bartender noticed the customer, Jody Brian Minor, 21, McRae, was signing checks belonging to the victim in order to pay for his beverages, Williams said. The witness informed the victim, who then called police.

Statesboro Det. Terry Briley arrived to investigate and �identified the intoxicated (offender) as ... Minor,� Williams said.

Minor �was found to have in his possession the remainder of the book of checks belonging� to the victim, he said.

Minor was arrested, charged with theft of lost or mislaid property, theft by deception and three counts of first degree forgery, which is a felony offense, he said.

He was taken to the Bulloch County Jail to await bond, he said.


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Not only the second rock from the Sun. It is also the Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea. Check it out: VENUS - the Ocean online, real-time, anytime From their website:
Make your connection to the ocean through our cabled seafloor observatory.

VENUS, The Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea, is a facility that connects you via the Internet to underwater instruments on the ocean floor near Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The platform is expected to expand out to 50 different instruments such as physical and chemical sensors, acoustic (active and passive) sensors, and cameras. They also have instruments that are placed in sediments, on the bottom and on an �elevator� (profiler) that rises through the water. All of this is relayed via fibre optic cable to a shore station and made available over the internet to anyone wanting to use the data. The location (the Saanich Inlet in the Strait of Georgia) is a very interesting location for several reasons so their choice was excellent. Very cool! When I was in college, I majored in Physical Oceanography and Marine Biology. Wanted to be another Jacques Cousteau. Unfortunately, there were the other 999,999,999 people who also wanted this job. Got into computers back in 1978 and am happy with that decision but I still skim the journals and want to get another boat in the next five-ten years. Stuff like this is brilliant and major props to UVic for making it publicly accessible. This is a major boost to their schools but also to Oceanography in general.

Farm Humor

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Swiped from Maggie's Farm who swiped it Mr. Free Market:
A successful rancher died and left everything to his devoted wife. She was a very good-looking woman and determined to keep the ranch, but knew very little about ranching, so she decided to place an ad in the newspaper for a ranch hand. Two cowboys applied for the job. One was gay and the other a drunk. She thought long and hard about it, and when no one else applied she decided to hire the gay guy, figuring it would be safer to have him around the house than the drunk.

He proved to be a hard worker who put in long hours every day and knew a lot about ranching. For weeks, the two of them worked, and the ranch was doing very well.

Then one day, the rancher's widow said to the hired hand, "You have done a really good job, and the ranch looks great. You should go into town and kick up your heels." The hired hand readily agreed and went into town one Saturday night.

One o'clock came, however, and he didn't return. Two o'clock, and no hired hand. He returned around two-thirty, and upon entering the room, he found the rancher's widow sitting by the fireplace with a glass of wine, waiting for him.

She quietly called him over to her. "Unbutton my blouse and take it off," she said. Trembling, he did as she directed. "Now take off my boots." He did as she asked, ever so slowly. "Now take off my socks." He removed each gently and placed them neatly by her boots. "Now take off my skirt." He slowly unbuttoned it, constantly watching her eyes in the fire light. "Now take off my bra." Again, with trembling hands, he did as he was told and dropped it to the floor.

Then she looked at him and said, "If you ever wear my clothes into town again, you're fired."

Tell me it ain't so...

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From MS/NBC:
Lego to lay off 1,200, end U.S. production
Toymaker, struggling to compete with gadgets, seeks to cut costs

Lego Group, whose iconic plastic building blocks have entertained millions of children for more than 70 years, said Tuesday it will shed 1,200 jobs to remold itself in an era when kids prefer playing with electronic gadgets.

The Denmark-based company, which is one of the last to produce toys in the United States, plans to close its U.S. manufacturing plant and lay off 300 people there in early 2007. About 900 employees in Denmark also will be sacked over the next three years.

Production will be moved from Enfield, Conn., to Mexico, where costs are lower, the group said in a statement. The company�s distribution facility in Enfield will also be affected, Lego said, without providing details.

At Lego�s headquarters in Denmark, up to 900 production employees will lose their jobs over the next three years as nearly a third of the domestic production will be moved to the Czech Republic, the company said.

Some Lego products, including the popular Lego Technic and Bionicle, will still be made at Lego�s headquarters in Billund, 160 miles west of Copenhagen, which presently has a staff of 3,000 employees.

The production of the basic Lego bricks will be handled by Flextronics, a Singapore-based electronics manufacturer, which operates factories in Mexico and in eastern Europe. Flextronics also is taking over Lego�s factory in Kladno, in the Czech Republic, beginning Aug. 1.

�This is the last essential element in the restructuring of the group�s supply line,� Lego chief executive officer Joergen Vig Knudstorp said in a statement. �This way we can achieve great financial advantages in a very difficult market."
This actually could be a good move -- more from the article: ("Byrne" is Chris Byrne, a New York-based independent toy analyst.)
Byrne also said that Lego had suffered as it started to offer too many types of products, like radio-controlled toys, chasing the latest fads. Under Knudstorp, who took the reins in late 2004, Lego has refocused on compelling construction toys and pared down operations.

One of Lego�s expected hot toys this year is Mindstorms NXT � a robotic kit that enables the user to create an even more powerful robot than the original Mindstorms introduced in 1998. It is due to be released this summer.

Those efforts have helped Lego�s profits. In 2005, the privately owned company reported a net profit of 505 million kroner ($86 million), compared with a net loss of 1.93 billion kroner ($327 million) n 2004.

�They are redefining themselves as a core construction brand,� said Byrne.
Outsourcing the low-tech stuff and paring down to their core competencies. The two questions are, will they loose their edge and will the build-quality of their basic blocks suffer from being outsourced. Kids start with the blocks and move up from there. If they have an unsatisfactory experience at the entry level, they will not be inclined to continue with the brand.

How to gather free-range chickens

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What if you are a commercial chicken farmer and you have thousands of free-range chickens that need to be gathered?

You give Lewis/Mola a call and ask for a price on their Lewis/Mola PH2000:


From their website:

For generations, broilers have been harvested manually. While poultry processors have become increasingly automated, harvesting in the U.S. has continued to rely primarily on hand-catching. In today's high tech world, many processors are finding it increasingly difficult to secure qualified catch crews.

The Lewis/Mola PH2000 has revolutionized the catch process. Quite simply, it was the first machine proven to successfully harvest broilers in the United States. While the PH2000's design is unique, its operation is simple, its manufacturing... durable, and its reliability... outstanding. Consequently, conventional dependence on manual catch crews is now eliminated. At the same time, processors realize significant labor savings as the PH2000 requires less manpower.

Buck Buck!

The unheard-of scandal

The Head Lemur at raving lunacy writes about a scandal that many of us will never hear about but which needs to be given a much wider audience. Big hint -- this scandal has already cost each and every American Citizen the sum of $2,000 for services promised but for which, the companies in question have zero intent to deliver.
$200 Billion Broadband Scandal
The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal book by Bruce Kushnick, is a free .pdf download for the next few days.


Here is a taste of the synopsis:
The Commitment:
* By 2006, 86 million households should have already been wired with a fiber (and coax), wire, capable of at least 45 Mbps in both directions, and could handle 500+ channels.
* Universal Broadband: This wiring was to be done in rich and poor neighborhoods, in rural, urban and suburban areas equally.
* Open to ALL Competition: These networks were to be open to ALL competitors, not a closed-in network or deployed only where the phone company desired.
* Each State: By 2006, 75% of the state of New Jersey was to be wired, Pennsylvania was to have 50% of households by 2004, California to have 5 million households by 2000, Texas claimed all schools, libraries, hospitals.�Virtually every state had commitments.
* Massive Financial Incentives: In exchange for building these networks, the Bell companies ALL received changes in state laws that gave these them excessive profits, tax savings, and other perks to be used in building these networks.
And under whose watch did this happen? Some more from the summary site:
Background: Starting in the early 1990's, the Clinton-Gore Administration had aggressive plans to create the "National Infrastructure Initiative" to rewire ALL of America with fiber optic wiring, replacing the 100 year old copper wire. The Bell companies � SBC, Verizon, BellSouth and Qwest, claimed that they would step up to the plate and rewire homes, schools, libraries, government agencies, businesses and hospitals, etc. if they received financial incentives.
The download is a 1.6MB, 406 page book with 28 pages of citations and links to the research and documentation. Not light reading but it is a necessary one if you want to see our telephone industry in action. Before the whole internet thing got popular, I ran a multi-line BBS (it got up to 20 lines / Wildcat software) in Seattle. Back then, I constantly had to battle the telco over their charges -- I wanted lines with no dialtone, incoming calls only but it was something the telco's didn't admit that they could produce -- I had to visit their main office and look at their book of tariffs and show them that, yes indeed, they were supposed to offer this. I also had huge problems with the my outgoing lines (before the internet, BBS systems would call out to exchange packets of messages and files). A couple times/year, they would "forget" that I had a contract negotiated with MCI and they would move the account over to a generic "no long distance specified" billing which put LD calls at $1.36/minute instead of the $0.04 I was supposed to be paying. I always got a refund but a month or two down the road, I had another $800 phone bill... Scum-sucking bastards. And my sincerest apology to all the bastards out there not tied to the telephone company!


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Jen and I saw this movie today. Pixar just keeps getting better and better. The quality of the animation is amazing -- photorealistic, lots of wonderful little throw-aways -- contrails in the sky are fluffy tire treads, the insects are tiny cars as well, fun stuff like that. See this one on the big screen -- there is a reason it's the number one movie in theaters...

Tesla Statue

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Great article in a Pittsburgh, PA newspaper about a group of people who are trying to get Tesla's name up here it belongs. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Carnegie Mellon University unveils bust of great inventor Tesla
Some historians consider him the greatest inventor since Leonardo da Vinci, if not in history. Three of the Top 10 greatest inventions of the last century are his or directly based on his discoveries.

But anyone who thinks the answer is Thomas Edison must sit in the corner and wear a dunce cap.

The perhaps unexpected answer is Nikola Tesla -- the father of electricity, inventor of the radio, and guy whose discoveries led to computers and robotics.

Tesla, who died in 1943, has a close Pittsburgh connection, having worked here with George Westinghouse to develop his idea of polyphase alternating electrical current.

Westinghouse eventually purchased Tesla's inventions.

Carnegie Mellon University yesterday unveiled one of 19 bronze busts of Tesla that John Wagner, 78, of Ann Arbor, Mich., and his former students in Dexter, Mich., have donated to universities nationwide.

Mr. Wagner, a retired elementary school teacher, said he used Tesla's story to inspire students to write letters and raise money to offset the $114,000 price tag for the bronze sculptures.

His goal, he said, is to spread word about the man whose influence on modernity largely has been overlooked.
A bit more from the article about Tesla's inventions and his impact on our modern life:
In his lecture after the ceremony, Jeffrey Sellon, an electrical engineer with Western Engineering & Research Corp. in Denver, Colo., said Tesla's many discoveries, including as many as 750 patents, "had more profound an effect on the modern world than Westinghouse, Edison and [Albert] Einstein."

The National Academy of Engineers ranked electrification of the modern world -- based on Tesla's invention of alternating current -- as the greatest engineering feat of the 20th century, with Tesla's invention of radio ranked sixth along with his sizable influence on the eighth-ranked engineering feat -- computers.

Born in 1856 in Austria-Hungary, Tesla eventually emigrated to the United States when no one in Europe would embrace his ideas of alternating current. His U.S. patents for AC electrical transmission systems became the foundation for electric power used today.

He also invented robotic devices including a remote-controlled "teleautomaton" boat and developed the Tesla coil transformer, which spawned radio, X-ray tubes, and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

His other inventions include the telephone repeater, the induction motor, wireless communications and fluorescent lights.
John Wagner laughs as a Tesla coil-equipped robot creates an arc with the bust of inventor Nikola Tesla yesterday at Carnegie Mellon University. The bust was one of 19 that Mr. Wagner and his former students have donated to universities nationwide.
John Wagner's website is here: Nikola Tesla - Forgotten Scientist The International Tesla Society has a good list of his inventions and accomplishments. July 10th will be the 150th anniversary of his birth.


Subway Art

Amazing trompe l'oeil work. No clue as to artist or location but this stuff is downright clever.

Artwork here: Subway Art

Three examples:


Julian Beever is another contemporary artist who also specializes in anamorphic 3D. Here is one example of his work:


ROBOT update

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Microsoft's website for this project is here: Microsoft Robotics Studio

Our new ROBOT Overlords

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will be running Windows. Why do I feel very uneasy... Microsoft announced today that it has been developing a set of tools for designing and running robots. From The Register:
Microsoft gives monopoly robotic legs
Microsoft has answered the robotics industry's call for a monopoly standard with the release of a new software development package for powering devices of all sizes. The beasty hopes the software will make it easier for students and hobbyists to enter the robotics field and provide a common platform for companies to use.

Tandy Trower, a general manager at Microsoft, unveiled the Microsoft Robotics Studio today here at the Robo Business conference. Broadly speaking, the developer package provides a way to model robots and then write commands to make the devices function. While only in "community technology preview" today, the developer package will go "Gold" in October, The Register has learned.

The robotics industry is currently struggling with a severe lack of standards for software and hardware components. Companies produce mounds and mounds of custom code to run their specific platforms. This can make life difficult on third-party types who want to build add-ons for a wide variety products. The software situation also proves intimidating to students who want to dabble in the robotics field.

It may seem odd for Microsoft to step in with a plan for solving these problems, but the robotics directive came straight from the top. Bill Gates returned from one of his Think Weeks and ordered Trower to pursue the market and "see what Microsoft could do."

Trower wrapped the arrival of Robotics Studio with a lot of good natured fluff about Microsoft igniting a thrilling industry and giving poor students a helping hand. Lurking behind all of this is the obvious push to make Windows and Microsoft's developer tools a standard piece of the robotics industry where custom applications, Java and Linux already do quite well.

"What we are seeing right now is perhaps the second age of the PC, when the PC gets up off our desktops (and walks around)," Trower said, rather ominously.
Brings new meanings to the "Blue Screen of Death" and system crash... A bit more on the package itself:
Developers can start out and design a 3-D model of their robotic device courtesy of a Microsoft-provided license of the PhysX engine from Ageia. Then, they can tap into a visual programming tool to create and debug applications meant to run the machine.

The application can be fairly complex, according to Trower. Microsoft has shipped a "lightweight services-oriented runtime" with Robotics Studio. This lets a programmer create numerous, independent services for a device such as moving an arm, having sensors announce changes in state or firing up a motor. The failure of one service will not affect the other services, demonstrating that Microsoft might be better at building robotics software than it is as developing operating systems.

Always aware of its surroundings, Microsoft did make an openness pitch.

"The Microsoft Robotics Studio programming model can be applied for a variety of robot hardware platforms, enabling users to transfer their learning skills across platforms," the company said. "Third parties can also extend the functionality of the platform by providing additional libraries and services. Both remote (PC-based) and autonomous (robot-based) execution scenarios can be developed using a selection of programming languages, including those in Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Visual Studio Express languages (Visual C# and Visual Basic .NET), Jscript and Microsoft Iron Python 1.0 Beta 1, and third-party languages that conform to its services-based architecture."
I am certainly not planning to get rid of my CAD/CAM software any time soon. The main problem with running machine software on a windows platform is that Windows is not a real-time operating system. The various kibbles and bits of Windows come and go as they please and getting any application to synchronize to an invariable clock is next to impossible at any rate of speed. This becomes important when you are coordinating several motor-driven devices operating in the same physical area. Interesting to follow anyway. These people also are reporting Microsoft's announcement:


BetaNews and

Extreme Tech
It actually will be very cool if they can pull this off. Early computers each had their own operating systems and writing an application or utility for one and then porting it to another system was not really cost-effective. CP/M helped a lot as all of the Input and Output devices were located at standardized addresses. It was MS-DOS that started the ball rolling though. Robotics are very much at the late pre-CP/M stage.

Light posting tonight

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Shuffling some computers around for a technology refresh. Key problem is that two of these systems do not have floppy A: drives and most BIOS and some driver disks require booting from a floppy disk. I specifically need one of them upgraded so that it can recognize an SATA hard drive from another system. Fortunately, other people have done the legwork -- these three sites have valuable info that actually works first time:
Nightowl's Roost
Ultimate Boot CD
Cool stuff!

The Millennium Technology Prize

A major prize and there is a cash award of 1M EU so it isn't just some nice feel-good bit of publicity.

The prize comes from Finland, is awarded every two years and this is their second prize. The first one (2004) was Dr. Tim Berners-Lee (like duuuhhh???) This year it is Professor Shuji Nakamura. Who? Dr. Nakamura invented the Blue LED, a blue LASER diode, and the first white LED. From the Millenium Prize website:

Millennium Technology Prize winner Professor Shuji Nakamura and his work
Professor Shuji Nakamura is one of the most significant inventors of our time. In 1993, he stunned the optoelectronic community with the announcement of very-bright blue GaN-based light emitting diodes (LEDs). In rapid succession, he then announced a green GaN-based LED, a blue laser diode, and a white LED. All these developments were things that other researchers in the semiconductor field had spent decades trying to do.

Professor Nakamura's story is unique. Born in 1954 in Japan on the island called Shikoku, he received his master's degree in 1979 at the University of Tokushima. He started his scientific and technological career outside mainstream Japanese technology, working as an engineer at Nichia Chemical, a small phosphor company in the countryside.

At Nichia Chemical's laboratory, with only a limited budget and modest support from company management, Nakamura developed a highly-original two-flow growth system which led to the successful epitaxial growth of gallium nitride (GaN) in 1989. Three years later, he managed to produce p-type GaN, a fundamental breakthrough in III-V nitride research. Since the beginning of research into GaN almost three decades earlier, no-one had been able to create this particular compound.

In 1993, to universal surprise, Nakamura demonstrated bright-blue LEDs. Two years later he announced a green GaN-based LED, a blue laser diode, and a white LED. Professor Nakamura patented his innovations.

I remember the 1993 announcement very well -- people Geeks were salivating at the idea of other LED colors than red and infrared and then out of some "backwater" company in Japan comes verifiable proof of blue, bright bright blue, stable and on demand. And then, frickin' Blue LASERS! Professor Nakamura gets a Million Euros for the prize money but I hope he already has a nice nest egg, he should for all the wonderful work he has done.

A light in the darkness

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Sometimes the fruit does fall far, very very far from the tree. From the UK Telegraph:
Ayatollah's grandson calls for US overthrow of Iran
The grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, the inspiration of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, has broken a three-year silence to back the United States military to overthrow the country's clerical regime.

Hossein Khomeini's call is all the more startling as he made it from Qom, the spiritual home of Iran's Shia strand of Islam, during an interview to mark the 17th anniversary of the ayatollah's death.

"My grandfather's revolution has devoured its children and has strayed from its course," he told Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language television station. "I lived through the revolution and it called for freedom and democracy - but it has persecuted its leaders."
Beautifully put -- devoured its children and strayed from its course A bit more:
He also made clear his opposition to Teheran's alleged development of a secret nuclear weapons programme. "Iran will gain real power if freedom and democracy develop there," he said. "Strength will not be obtained through weapons and the bomb."

Mr Khomeini, 47, is a Shia cleric, but he believes that the holy men who have run the country since 1979 - to whom he dismissively refers as "wearers of the turban" - abused their power following the overthrow of the Shah.
Like they say: Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely is kinda neat... One last bit:
It stated: "As for his call to President Bush to come and occupy Iran, Hossein Khomeini explained that 'freedom must come to Iran in any possible way, whether through internal or external developments.

If you were a prisoner, what would you do? I want someone to break the prison [doors open]'."
What he said!

A decade long train-wreck

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King County, Washington decided in 1994 that it needed a unified computer system for bookkeeping and payroll. 12 years later and $39 Million in the dumpster, they do not have this and are planning to spend another $70 Million to do it right this time... From The Seattle Times:
Sims wants $70 million to repair computer fiasco
After King County blew $39 million on a botched attempt to modernize its accounting, payroll and human-resources computer systems, County Executive Ron Sims is ready to try again.

But getting the job done this time will require even more money � $70 million, according to a consultant's preliminary estimate.

And that doesn't include an estimated $34.5 million more needed to run the new systems over the next 10 years.

The goal is to give the county unified accounting and payroll systems � something it hasn't had since 1994, when the former transit and sewage agency, Metro, merged with King County government.

Of the four finance systems now in use, two are using mainframes from the 1970s.

After studying the debacle, which came to a head in 2000, and then figuring out how to do the job right this time, Sims says, his staff is prepared to put together a detailed plan. But until that plan is completed next year, the full cost won't be known.
And of course, the money for this boondoggle came from the county taxpayers. Yet another reason we bailed for another county. It will be interesting to see what the final butchers bill will be and if any of the people involved in the first go-round have been removed from office. The Times article has a bit about the managerial incompetence involved in the first attempt:
The first attempt to modernize the county's finance systems was in 1997, when the County Council appropriated $39 million for a project that was to be completed in 2000. Instead, the project was shut down in 2000 after inexperienced project managers spent the entire budget on just one part of the job.

When Sims suspended the project, the new payroll system had been installed for departments employing only one-third of county employees. The accounting system wasn't installed at all.

The council gave Sims $4 million more to "stabilize" the payroll system and figure out how to restart the project.

A post-mortem study said the aborted project suffered from a lack of teamwork, failure of the steering committee to verify optimistic reports from program managers, and customizing the newly purchased software rather than changing procedures.

Most astonishingly, consultants Dye Management Group and IBM found, "virtually no one within the county had any significant experience in implementing large, complex software application systems." And the Finance Department, which was in charge, didn't hire outside experts to manage the payroll part of the job.
Emphases mine -- yikes: they didn't have a clue how to do this and they didn't bother to get anyone in for the transition. I would prefer SAP over PeopleSoft but both are good applications. Better luck this time taxpayers...

An introduction

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Mark Steyn is one of my favorite writers -- a no holds-barred iconoclast who calls 'em as he sees 'em. Roger de Hauteville, at Maggie's Farm crafted this wonderful introduction to Mark's latest column and it is worth reading on its own:
Laughter, The Best Medicine
Why reject the faux socialism masquerading as Democrat activist politics these days? Because it's no damn fun.

They're all just cranks standing on the corner screaming at the traffic and holding placards that read: "The Werld Will End Yesterday." They're always crabby and narrow and in a huff. And they invest every one of their damp farts with the authority of a press release. It' s a sad thing when they display their female armpit hair gone gray as they hold their "Scooter Libby is the Anti-Christ" placards over their heads. Sakes, lighten up.

It's the "facists" (Their spelling; what's with the spelling? they've been to college for nine years) and the old fashioned Democrats that are having all the fun. We're smoking big cigars and telling jokes and drinking good booze and doting on our children and avoiding headaches by staying out of Post Modern Art museums and Eminem concerts. And a deer hunter knows infinitely more about nature than some PETA fanatic that's never been anywhere not served by a subway, handing out misspelled screeds outside a KFC.

Those "evildoers" are just that, doers; doing real things and having real fun while you Che Shirt snivelers mewl 24/7 that Bush is Hitler and Rove is Goebbels and Bill Gates is Satan and Wal*Mart is Hades and Crude oil is brimstone-- and get this: Al Gore is smart. Put a sock in it, Muffie and Biff. You're forever in the audience, and at the wrong show, to boot.

You know who's funny? Mark Steyn is funny. It's easy to be funny, when he's making fun of you:
Mark's column should not be missed either...


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Stands for National Animal Identification System and it is probably one of the worst-thought-out and little known bits of legislation that is creeping into our lives. The idea is that any animal is tracked from birth to death and records are kept of the animals location if it ever leaves its "premises" -- this would cover a horse leaving the ranch for a few hour ride in the country. When you talk and email officials involved, they say that this is strictly voluntary but if you read what is provided at the USDA website, it starts of voluntary and becomes mandatory in stages over the next couple of years. One area greatly affected is the traditional state fair. The one in Tulsa, OK just required that all sheep, goats and beef be microchipped. Their animal nomination site. The fine print from the nomination form:
...in compliance with the Rules and Regulations of the Tulsa State Fair and at any time from this date of nomination, I will make this live project animal available immediately upon request for test samples to be taken by officials of the Tulsa State Fair; United States Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, and/or any other Oklahoma State Agency. I understand that failure to cooperate fully with representatives of the above named organizations and/or microchip ID loss or indication of tampering with the device, will result in immediate disqualification of this project and loss of my participation privileges in all future Tulsa State Fair competitive events.
I have written about NAIS before here, here, here, here and here. A good place to begin is NoNAIS

Dixie Chicks get apolitical

They dug themselves a hole when they criticized President Bush ten days before Operation Iraqi Freedom started up. Record sales in the USA tanked and they have been getting minimal air-play. This is something that they should have figured as they play country music and the fan-base there is fairly conservative.

Now, Natalie Maines hits bottom and keeps digging. From the UK Telegraph:

How the Chicks survived their scrap with Bush
Will it be the salmon teriyaki with organic greens, or asparagus tempura and tuna sashimi? As the waiter hovers with pencil poised, the Dixie Chicks debate the menu with the practised air of professional restaurant critics. The Chicks have traditionally been branded a country band, but clearly it's some time since their diet consisted of ribs, tacos and pancakes.

Sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire project a polished Fifth Avenue elegance, and vocalist Natalie Maines is a vision of sculpted cheekbones and smoky eye-shadow.

And the meat of the article:

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country� I don't see why people care about patriotism."

She doesn't have a clue -- been living in Noo Yawk for too long and has lost touch with her roots...

Hat tip to Charles at LGF

Next to Godliness

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Interesting report that validates what Jen and I have always thought. From Yahoo News/AP:
Rat study shows dirty better than clean
Gritty rats and mice living in sewers and farms seem to have healthier immune systems than their squeaky clean cousins that frolic in cushy antiseptic labs, two studies indicate. The lesson for humans: Clean living may make us sick.

The studies give more weight to a 17-year-old theory that the sanitized Western world may be partly to blame for soaring rates of human allergy and asthma cases and some autoimmune diseases, such as Type I diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The theory, called the hygiene hypothesis, figures that people's immune systems aren't being challenged by disease and dirt early in life, so the body's natural defenses overreact to small irritants such as pollen.

The new studies, one of which was published Friday in the peer reviewed Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, found significant differences in the immune systems between euthanized wild and lab rodents.

When the immune cells in the wild rats are stimulated by researchers, "they just don't do anything they sit there; if you give them same stimulus to the lab rats, they go crazy," said study co-author Dr. William Parker, a Duke University professor of experimental surgery. He compared lab rodents to more than 50 wild rats and mice captured and killed in cities and farms.

Also, the wild mice and rats had as much as four times higher levels of immunoglobulins, yet weren't sick, showing an immune system tuned to fight crucial germs, but not minor irritants, Parker said. He said what happened in the lab rats is what likely occurs in humans: their immune systems have got it so cushy they overreact to smallest of problems.

"Your immune system is like the person who lives in the perfect house and has all the food they want, you're going to start worrying about the little things like someone stepping on your flowers," Parker said.

Challenged immune systems � such as kids who grow up with two or more pets � don't tend to develop as many allergies, said Dr. Stanley Goldstein, director of Allergy & Asthma Care of Long Island.
Makes a lot of sense --vaccines cause our bodies to generate antibodies to their weakened versions of disease -- why shouldn't ones lifestyle also affect the immune system. Hat tip to Roger L. Simon

Bill is Back!!!!!!!!!

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My favorite essayist has been swamped with his day job and has been unable to post. Now, Bill Whittle breaks silence with this post letting us know what is up (and it's great news):
Hello, faithful, faithful reader! Thank you for continuing to check back, against all common sense. It�s been a long time.

As you probably know by now, I prefer not to get paid by the word, or the page, but by the pound. That said, I�ll try to make this brief because there is much work to be done at long last.

I have been meaning to return to these pages for months now � months! Everything I have written here so far has just shot out of me like a fighter jet off a carrier deck: one or two 3-4 hour sessions during which I contract a case of the vapors, then next thing I know I�m reading what the Invisible Hand wrote and out the door she goes.

But for months and months now I have been struggling with a single idea, an essay I wanted to call CIVILIZATION, and despite dozens of false starts, I tear it all up the next day because it reads like an okay parody of me. There was so much I wanted to say, so many bases to cover, that it was like drinking from a firehouse � no fun.

Finally, this morning, after another hacking attempt last night, it finally hit me what I was doing wrong. I was trying to avoid delving into areas I had planned to save for later, but I needed these foundations to make the case, and it was going to turn into a 400 page essay. But 400 pages is not an essay. 400 pages is a book.


So, here is the plan: within 24 hours I will post the introductory chapter to a new book called AN AMERICAN CIVILIZATION. Then, over the next several weeks, I will post a series of chapters, looking at the various building blocks of such a civilization. Then, when those have been written, I will write that final chapter � Civilization � that ties it all together, and in doing so I cut the Gordian knot that has kept me flummoxed al these long months.

I will soon be on hiatus from my day job, and have about three weeks more work to do between now and the first week in September. I would like the have an entire book finished by then. And, unlike SILENT AMERICA, which is collection of disparate essays, this is an actual book-worthy idea, with each chapter building on the last and setting up the next. I have been thinking about this for almost a year now, and I am loaded, cocked, sighted and my finger is inside the trigger guard. And I can tell you that a few moments after I had that revelation on the way to work this morning, I have felt like a genii let out of a long and painful isolation. I can now turn that fire house outward and try my best to put out some of the fires that distress us all.
If you are unfamiliar with Bill's work, check out these examples:
Sanctuary (Part One) (Part Two)
Trinity (Part One) (Part Two)

Light posting tonight

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Working on some tax stuff and installing the CNC software on a new computer. The computer is one of the ones I wrote about on June 1st. The iTunes music system is a huge success -- over 10,400 tracks with 29 days of music and we are about half-way through importing our collection. Here is the link to the systems we are using but it now shows the price as $269 and not $149. They will probably run sales again so keep checking. Good deal at $150, not so good at $269... On XP it was a slug until I bumped the memory up a bit and installed a separate video card. This is the system that is running iTunes. For the CAD/CAM system, I am doing the same (I had the resources anyway) and at 256MB, it runs smoothly on Windows 2K Server.

Just kill me now...

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A new advertisement for Folgers Coffee View it here: Folgers - Happy Mornings The Folgers website is here: toleratemornings.com

Yet Another Engine Scam

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Meet the McMaster Motor
The McMaster motor is the centerpiece of a totally new way of looking at motorized transportation which involves the development of �
  • A new engine
  • A new fuel source
  • A new source of power to assist in the production of the fuel
The McMaster motor is a unique, two-cycle, rotary power plant with the same displacement volume as a 200 horsepower engine. It is equivalent to the six-cylinder engines found in many U.S. luxury cars, yet with only one-tenth the weight.

The motor�s two-cycle version is powered by a previously unused fuel system comprised of hydrogen and oxygen. Both chemicals are safe to handle, but mix them together at the right temperature and pressure and explosive power erupts.

In order to produce hydrogen and oxygen in the quantities needed, an efficient and inexpensive approach to generating electrical power from solar energy has been developed.
If your scientific Spidey Senses are not tingling by now, drift over to their "Technical" site. And of course, there is an Investors link. Ahhh -- it is an engine for separating dollars from people using two moving parts and fueled by Hydrogen and Oxygen. Sheesh -- a well-educated child of 10 could see several of the fatal flaws in this one...

Bleeding on the cutting edge

Sure looks purdy:


The story is not so nice though... From Casanova Cars:

Car dealer sues Mercedes as $1.7 million CLK-GTR wont travel 10 blocks
LA based car dealer Mark Johnston bought the car of his dreams a Mercedes AMG CLK-GTR Limited Edition Roadster for $ 1.7 million. Only 5 of these speed machines were made and this baby had entered the Guinness book of records as the most expensive production car. Mr Johnston was the proud owner of the only CLK-GTR in North America. The silver AMG Roadster is a product of Daimler Chrysler's long collaboration with H.W.A. and Mercedes-AMG, two German manufacturers of racing and high-end performance vehicles. But the car proved to be an expensive piece of scrap metal as after cruising in it for the first time after covering 10 city blocks the oil light came up which has not been fixed yet. After this the roadster's transmission failed to shift properly. Additionally, the hydraulic jack system failed and the windows became unglued, Mercedes sent and engineer from Germany who dismantled the car and took with him a number of parts to Germany to never install them again.

And the litany of problems:

"The car was absolutely gorgeous and we were excited about offering what we thought was a true gem to our customer base," Mark Johnston explained. "Unfortunately, the car turned out to be 'exotic' in the worst possible way. When we took it off the lot in 2004 for its first customer test drive, Ernie drove the car all of ten blocks with a prospective buyer when the oil light came on. We've been trying to get it fixed ever since, but the Mercedes folks have refused to stand behind the car as promised in our contract."

According to the complaint, the roadster's transmission failed to shift properly. Additionally, the hydraulic jack system failed and the windows became unglued. In 2005, the defendants dispatched a technician from Germany to examine the car in 2005; after dismantling it, the mechanic returned to Germany with a number of parts that were never reinstalled. Mr. Johnston asserts that the defendants later instructed Grand Prix to transport the non-working car to a Mercedes facility in Lake Park, Florida, which Grand Prix did at an additional cost of $10,000.

Although the Mercedes technicians determined that the car suffered an oil-pressure related engine failure and needed a new engine, the defendants were unwilling to make any repairs. The complaint asserts that the defendants were aware that several of the other Mercedes AMG roadsters in circulation had oil pressure-related problems.

"Mr. Johnston has exhausted himself trying to get Mercedes and the other defendants to recognize their warranty obligations," said John O'Malley, the Fulbright & Jaworski partner in Los Angeles who is representing Grand Prix Motors. "You'd think you'd be able to drive a $1.7 million car more than 10 blocks."

You would think that for this kind of money, there would be an effort to rectify the problems. Sounds like something made by a committee...

Canada starting to wise up

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From The London (Ontario) Free Press:
Nuclear way of future, Ontario decides
Six sites, including Tiverton -- home to the giant Bruce nuclear complex -- will be considered for new Ontario nuclear reactors as the province embarks on a controversial strategy to stave off power shortages, sources say.

Another potential site is at Nanticoke, along Lake Erie in Southwestern Ontario, which already has significant power transmission lines from a massive coal-burning power plant.

Today's expected announcement that Ontario will go nuclear -- costs have been estimated at up to $40 billion -- to solve its energy crunch was foreshadowed by a tough-talking Premier Dalton McGuinty, who said yesterday he's willing to take the risks of a power strategy critics argue breaks an election vow on coal and costs taxpayers billions on nuclear.
Yes, it will cost the taxpayers billions but that is the cost of constructing a new power plant, something that needs to be done anyway whether it is coal or nuclear. What part of "zero CO2 emissions" do you have a problem with?
I had posted about this excellent speech: The Origins of Political Correctness which links Marxism to today's epidemic of Politically Correct behaviour and professional victimhood. Also this one: Why Isn't Socialism Dead? on why Socialism still attracts followers after such a long failed history. Now, Fjordman guesting at The Gates of Vienna takes us all to school with this long but wonderfully written essay/rant.
Political Correctness � The Revenge of Marxism
I have heard people who have grown up in former Communist countries say that we in the West are at least as brainwashed by Multiculturalism and Political Correctness as they ever were with Communism, perhaps more so. Even in the heyday of the East Bloc, there were active dissident groups in these countries. The scary thing is, I sometimes believe they are right.

But how is that possible? Don�t we have free speech here? And we have no Gulag?

The simple fact is that we never won the Cold War as decisively as we should have. Yes, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union collapsed. This removed the military threat to the West, and the most hardcore, economic Marxism suffered a blow as a credible alternative. However, one of the really big mistakes we made after the Cold War ended was to declare that Socialism was now dead, and thus no longer anything to worry about. Here we are, nearly a generation later, discovering that Marxist rhetoric and thinking have penetrated every single stratum of our society, from the Universities to the media. Islamic terrorism is explained as caused by �poverty, oppression and marginalization,� a classic, Marxist interpretation.

What happened is that while the �hard� Marxism of the Soviet Union may have collapsed, at least for now, the �soft� Marxism of the Western Left has actually grown stronger, in part because we deemed it to be less threatening. The �hard� Marxists had intercontinental nuclear missiles and openly said that they would �bury� us. The soft Marxists talk about tolerance and may seem less threatening, but their goal of overthrowing the evil, capitalist West remains the same. In fact, they are more dangerous precisely because they hide their true goals under different labels. Perhaps we should call it �stealth Socialism� instead of soft Socialism.
It is impossi9ble to excerpt a small amount and deliver the strength of this essay. Plan to spend about 15 minutes reading it. I'll leave you with one little snippet:
Cultural Marxism has roots as far back as the 1920s, when some Socialist thinkers advocated attacking the cultural base of Western civilization to pave the way for the Socialist transition. Cultural Marxism is thus not something �new.� It has coexisted with economic Marxism for generations, but it received a great boost in the West from the 1960s and 70s onwards. As the Soviet Union fell apart and China embraced capitalism, the economic Marxists joined in on the �cultural� train, too, as it was now the only game in town. They don�t have a viable alternative to present, but they don�t care. They truly believe that we, the West, are so evil and exploitative that literally anything would be better, even the Islamic Caliphate.
The rest is just as good and spot on...

Airbus setback

Gotta love it when a government-sponsored monopoly takes it in the shorts. From Yahoo/AP:

Airlines pummel Airbus over A380 delays
Airlines around the world punished Airbus on Wednesday for delays in the delivery of its A380 superjumbo, demanding compensation, reconsidering orders � and in one case, striking a major deal with its rival Boeing Co.

Shares in Airbus' parent company crashed and Boeing's soared as repercussions of the production problems with the world's biggest passenger plane resonated throughout the industry.

They also raised questions about the European planemaker's management and strategy, and the future of the double-decker A380. Boeing is staking its bets on a smaller, more fuel-efficient model.

Singapore Airlines, one of the world's top carriers and the first to buy the A380, said it was unhappy with the delays Airbus announced Tuesday. It demanded compensation and, on Wednesday, worsened the blow by announcing it would buy 20 Boeing 787-9 aircraft worth $4.52 billion and take options on another 20 planes.

Emirates Airlines, another sought-after buyer, said it was reconsidering its order of 45 A380s. Australia's Qantas Airways said it was seeking talks with Airbus over its orders for 12 A380s and wants some of its money back. Malaysia Airlines said it was reviewing terms of its deal for six of the planes.

Wikipedia has a nice writeup on Airbus' parent company.

Kitchen engineering

Heh -- from an email list:

Why Engineers Don't Write Recipes
Chocolate Chip Cookies

532.35 cm3 gluten
4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
4.9 cm3 refined halite
236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogenous.

To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown.

Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

More here: Cooking for Engineers

Cool technology - hearing aids

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Hearing Aids have gotten quite fancy in the last five years or so. My Dad has a pair and they have a lot of signal processing and equalization horsepower built into them. This company has done something very simple and clever -- their hearing aids not only adapt to the auditory environment, the two aids will also talk with each other and so preserve the wearers sense of stereo and ability to locate sounds. From Med Gadget:
The Centra�: World's First Trainable Hearing Aid
The Centra�, from Siemens Hearing Instruments, is the first ever hearing aid that automatically adjusts to the user's preferences in a variety of different environments, offering unparalleled performance for the nine million Britons with hearing loss.

DataLearning surpasses simple data logging systems by not only recording wearer data, but actively applying that data to improve the hearing experience: over time, Centra 'learns' user volume preferences in different hearing situations and then automatically fine-tunes itself for optimum hearing. Centra combines this DataLearning technology with other exclusive features, such as SoundSmoothing� and ear-to-ear wireless� technology, making it the most advanced hearing solution available.

SoundSmoothing is the first sound suppression system that reduces impulsive non-speech sounds, like rustling paper and clanging dishes, while leaving speech signals intact. SoundSmoothing makes the listening experience more comfortable, reducing fatigue and increasing wearing time. It helps deliver unmatched listening comfort and speech intelligibility in noisy situations.

The ear-to-ear wireless technology enables hearing devices to talk to each other for the first time, adjusting and synchronising automatically in a process similar to natural hearing. This technology has been developed specifically for binaural use - wearing an aid in both ears - which offers the user significant benefits, including improved clarity, quality of hearing, and being able to identify more precisely where sound is coming from.
Very cool!
Roger L. Simon points to a wonderful article by Claudia Rosett:
The Unreality of U.N. Reform
What If �Later� Never Comes?

Not to be outdone by his own ruckus-raising deputy, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself is now instructing the U.S. on how to treat the corruption-plagued, unreformed and unrepentant U.N.

Writing in the June 12 Financial Times, Annan reminds us that the U.S. has been threatening to block U.N. spending unless the organization shows serious progress toward reform. So, declares Annan, �The U.N. faces a moment of truth.�

Passing the Buck to Us
But don�t get your hopes up. The rest of Annan�s article, like most of his record during his more than nine years as secretary-general, suggests that when it comes to U.N. failings he wouldn�t recognize the truth if it drove up in Kojo�s green Mercedes and offered him a ride. Noting that �A minor storm broke out last week when Mark Malloch Brown, my deputy, made a speech,� Annan goes on to reprise Malloch Brown�s argument that the U.N.�s failure to reform is not really the fault of the General Assembly, nor of the U.N. top management, and certainly it has nothing do with Kofi Annan.

Nope. The culprit according to Kofi and Malloch Brown is � you guessed it � the United States.
Time to pull the plug -- although some branches of the U.N. serve useful functions, the Security Council is useless and needs to be simply disbanded.

New developments in Tesla Coils

As a Card-Carrying Geek, I am fascinated by Tesla Coils. There has been a very interesting development in the last year or so with the advent of cheap, fast and high-power semiconductors. People are eliminating the high voltage circuitry, the expensive capacitors and the lossy spark gaps (over 50% of the input energy is lost in the spark gap of a traditional coil) and they are going with solid state drivers running at a few hundred Volts at high current (several hundred Amperes). Here is a coil that is 12" tall running at 700 Amps with streamers running out to 48" -- four times the height of the coil.
Want to build your own? Here is the book.

James Joyce's worst friend

Fascinating article in the New Yorker about Stephen James Joyce and his administration of his grandfathers estate; something which has scholars a bit hacked off...

The Injustice Collector
Is James Joyce's grandson suppressing scholarship?

June 16th marks the hundred-and-second anniversary of Bloomsday, the date on which the events in James Joyce's Ulysses take place. There will be the customary commemorative celebrations surrounding Leopold Bloom's famous walk through Dublin: public readings and festivals in cities around the world, including Dublin, New York, Berlin, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Melbourne. In Budapest, two hundred or so academics will convene a Joyce symposium - the twentieth to be held on Bloomsday.

There is a chance that Joyce's grandson, Stephen Joyce, will go to Budapest. He lives in the French town of La Flotte, on the Ile de Re, off the Atlantic Coast. He loves the island, which is the Martha's Vineyard of France, but he has sometimes been willing to leave it when academics have invited him to attend Joyce commemorations and symposia. The scholars courtesy is, in part, tactical: Stephen is Joyce's only living descendant, and since the mid-nineteen-eighties he has effectively controlled the Joyce estate. Scholars must ask his permission to quote sizable passages or to reproduce manuscript pages from those works of Joyce's that remain under copyright - including Ulysses and Finnegans Wake as well as from more than three thousand letters and several dozen unpublished manuscript fragments.

Sometimes, Stephen has declined an invitation to a gathering but then appeared anyway; more than once, he has insisted that the assembled scholars make room for him on their program. The aim of his presentations has been to question the value of academic criticism. "If my grandfather was here, he would have died laughing," he likes to say. At a 1986 gathering of Joyceans in Copenhagen, he explained that Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man can be "picked up, read, and enjoyed by virtually anybody without scholarly guides, theories, and intricate explanations, as can Ulysses, if you forget about all the hue and cry."

So far, he sounds like someone I'd like to have a pint with at the local but there is a dark side:

Over the years, the relationship between Stephen Joyce and the Joyceans has gone from awkwardly symbiotic to plainly dysfunctional. In 1988, he took offense at the epilogue to Brenda Maddox's Nora, a biography of Joyce's wife, which described the decades that Joyce's schizophrenic daughter, Lucia, spent in a mental asylum. Although the book had already been printed in galleys, Maddox, fearing a legal battle, offered to delete the section; the agreement she signed with Stephen also enjoined her descendants from publishing the material. Shortly afterward, at a Bloomsday symposium in Venice, Stephen announced that he had destroyed all the letters that his aunt Lucia had written to him and his wife. He added that he had done the same with postcards and a telegram sent to Lucia by Samuel Beckett, with whom she had pursued a relationship in the late nineteen-twenties.

"I have not destroyed any papers or letters in my grandfather's hand, yet," Stephen wrote at the time. But in the early nineties he persuaded the National Library of Ireland to give him some Joyce family correspondence that was scheduled to be unsealed. Scholars worry that these documents, too, have been destroyed. He has blocked or discouraged countless public readings of Ulysses, and once tried unsuccessfully to halt a Web audiocast of the book. In 1997, he sued the Irish scholar Danis Rose, who was trying to publish a newly edited version of Ulysses, calling it "one of the literary hoaxes of the century." (Around the same time, Stephen expressed his intention to obstruct a proposed new edition by the American scholar John Kidd; he told the chairman of Kidd's publisher, W. W. Norton, that he was "implacably opposed" to the project, which was never completed.) According to Hans E. Jahnke, Stephen's stepbrother, who once had a stake in the Joyce estate, the suit against Rose, which lasted five years, cost the estate roughly a hundred thousand dollars. The estate won the case. In 2004, the centenary of Bloomsday, Stephen threatened the Irish government with a lawsuit if it staged any Bloomsday readings; the readings were cancelled. He warned the National Library of Ireland that a planned display of his grandfather's manuscripts violated his copyright. (The Irish Senate passed an emergency amendment to thwart him.) His antagonism led the Abbey Theatre to cancel a production of Joyce's play Exiles, and he told Adam Harvey, a performance artist who had simply memorized a portion of Finnegans Wake in expectation of reciting it onstage, that he had likely "already infringed" on the estate's copyright. Harvey later discovered that, under British law, Joyce did not have the right to stop his performance.

Stephen has also attempted to impede the publication of dozens of scholarly works on James Joyce. He rejects nearly every request to quote from unpublished letters. Last year, he told a prominent Joyce scholar that he was no longer granting permissions to quote from any of Joyce's writings. (The scholar, fearing retribution, declined to be named in this article.) Stephen's primary motive has been to put a halt to work that, in his view, either violates his family's privacy or exceeds the bounds of reputable scholarship. The two-decade-long effort has also been an exercise in power - an attempt to establish his own centrality in regard to anything involving his grandfather. If you want to write about James Joyce and plan to quote more than a few short passages, you need Stephen's consent. He has said, "We have proven that we are willing to take any necessary action to back and enforce what we legitimately believe in." Or, as he put it to me during two phone calls that he recently made to me from La Flotte, "What other literary estate stands up the way I do? It's a whole way of looking at things and looking at life."

For him to destroy this material is an insult to his grandfather's life and estate, especially since that estate allows Mr. Stephen to live on a luxe island off the coast of France. What a putz...

Not a good day...

Two deaths rob the world of greatness.

First, Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti passed away.

You heard his music if you saw Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey #Not for everyone but gorgeous ethereal music -- he definitely plugged into a higher state of consciousness with his work.

A brief Obituary at Billboard Magazine

Second, one half of the wonderful Brothers Hildebrandt.

From Spider Web Art (their representatives):

Tim Hildebrandt has passed away. And, with him, so has an era.
Tim, 67, died today from complications due to diabetes. He is survived by his mother Germaine, twin brother Greg, sister Janie, wife Rita, son Charles, nieces Mary and Laura, and nephew Gregory.

Tim was an otherworldly artist. For 47 years, his captivating work fostered the dreams and fantasies of millions of fans, young and old.

Best known as part of the Brothers Hildebrandt team, Tim's career transported him to - and through - many worlds. Technically speaking, Tim and Greg worked side by side. But their work together on such masterpieces as the original Star Wars poster and 70's J.R.R. Tolkien calendars proved that their individual talents could coalesce seamlessly into one.

Tim was a wonderful man with a great sense of humor. While he loved and appreciated all forms of art, he had a particular passion for animation and illustration.

While he will be greatly missed by all of us who love him, we take comfort knowing that he will live on in the art that he created.

Here is just one sample of their artwork:


Coming home to roost

Very cool news. Dr. Andrew Wakefield was the key researcher in a Lancet paper which debuted the idea that there was a link between a common childhood vaccine (MMR) and some forms of Autism in children.

As everyone should know by now, this has been soundly debunked -- there is zero relation between the vaccine, the preservative Thimerosol and any form of Autism.

Well guess what... From The Guardian:

Doctor behind MMR scare to face four charges of misconduct over research
Andrew Wakefield, the doctor behind the scare over a potential link between the MMR jab and autism in children, is to face four charges relating to unprofessional conduct at the General Medical Council, it is reported today.

Mr. Wakefield, a surgeon who became a gut specialist, could be struck off the medical register and debarred from practising in the UK if the GMC finds him guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Following the publication of a research paper in the Lancet by Mr Wakefield and colleagues in February 1998 - which suggested a tentative link between the immunisation at the age of 18 months, a bowel disorder called Crohn's disease, and autism - many parents became anxious over the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine.

At the press conference to launch the paper, Mr Wakefield had parted company with his colleagues to say that, in his opinion, single jabs might be safer than the three-in-one MMR combination. The take-up of MMR slumped and is still low in some parts, especially areas of London. Public health experts have warned that measles outbreaks are possible, in which some children may be damaged and even die. The numbers of cases of mumps has risen. A top-level inquiry commissioned by the Medical Research Council examined Mr Wakefield's findings, and epidemiological studies were commissioned which found that children given the MMR vaccine were no more likely to become autistic than those who were not.

And it seems that the good Doctor was not clean when he wrote the paper:

In 2004 it was alleged that Mr Wakefield had had an undeclared conflict of interest at the time he wrote the Lancet paper: having been paid £55,000 by the Legal Aid Board to assess whether some of the children who featured in his research paper might have a case to sue for vaccine damage.

And of course, the alt.med people probably still believe this claptrap and will continue to "boycott" a simple injection that prevents serious diseases in their children.

Do you use Yahoo Groups?

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Do not open any email that says "New Graphic Site" in the subject line. From The Register:
JavaScript worm targets Yahoo!
A JavaScript worm that takes advantage of an unpatched vulnerability in Yahoo!'s webmail service has been discovered on the net.

The JS-Yamanner worm spreads when a Windows user accesses Yahoo! Mail to open an email sent by the worm. The attack works because of a vulnerability in Yahoo! Mail that enables scripts embedded within HTML emails to be run within a user�s browser instead of being blocked.

Once executed, the worm forwards itself to an infected users' contacts on Yahoo! Mail. It also harvests these address and sends them to a remote internet server. Only contacts with an email address of either @yahoo.com or @yahoogroups.com are hit by this behaviour.

Infected emails commonly have the subject line "New Graphic Site" and are spoofed so as to appear from "av3@yahoo.com". Users who open infected emails will be redirected to a webpage at www.av3.net/index.htm.
Nasty stuff!

Back online!

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What a weekend and it is still going on... I had posted here about what our schedule was. The Community Meeting was incredibly well run. This meeting was part of a County effort to re-evaluate the Zoning for this area. This neck of the woods has some of the last "developable" land in Whatcom County so there is a long line of salivating developers huffing and puffing to get in. To make matters more 'interesting', the first person in line is a local and is very environmentally conscious. His plan is actually nice but like all of the plans, not suited for this area. Dropping over 700 households into an agricultural and rural area is not a good idea especially since all the jobs are 45 minutes away. The second in line is D.R. Horton and the little piggies get worse from there (if possible). The Solstice Party/camp-over/pot-luck was a lot of fun -- people from Seattle came up and it was great to see old friends. The Cider was proclaimed to be dry and tart but very tasty. The Mead was not quite ready for prime-time so it did not make an appearance -- it needed another month or two to mellow out. Had a big bonfire and fnu was had by all. The Farmer's Market was a success - the weather was a lot nicer than last week and it is proving to be a great way to meet people in the community. Tomorrow, I head into Bellingham to pick up two Auction winnings; there was a Blacksmith Shop that was auctioned off Saturday Evening and although I could not attend, three of my absentee bids won (a vice (I don't have enough), some hammers and a Tuyere). I also snagged two receipt printers from a local school online auction and these will be used for our Point of Sale system in our Cidery. Busy? Me??? Naaaa.... [grin]

Roxy Music reforming with Brian Eno

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Very cool -- their last album: Avalon is wonderful and still sounds good today. From NME.COM:
Roxy Music reform with Brian Eno
They're making a new album

Roxy Music are working on their first album of new material with their original line-up for more than 30 years.

The band's last album was 'Avalon' in 1982, but this new effort will be the first to feature Brian Eno since 1973.

All five original members of the group - Bryan Ferry, Andy MacKay, Phil Manzanera, Paul Thompson and Eno are involved, reports Ananova.

The band, who rose to fame in the early Seventies glam rock era, have been recording with producers Rhett Davies and Chris Thomas although no release date for the album has yet been set.
Very nice to hear!

Political Correctness = Cultural Marxism

Transcript of an excellent speech given by Bill Lind:
The Origins of Political Correctness
Where does all this stuff that you�ve heard about this morning � the victim feminism, the gay rights movement, the invented statistics, the rewritten history, the lies, the demands, all the rest of it � where does it come from? For the first time in our history, Americans have to be fearful of what they say, of what they write, and of what they think. They have to be afraid of using the wrong word, a word denounced as offensive or insensitive, or racist, sexist, or homophobic.

We have seen other countries, particularly in this century, where this has been the case. And we have always regarded them with a mixture of pity, and to be truthful, some amusement, because it has struck us as so strange that people would allow a situation to develop where they would be afraid of what words they used. But we now have this situation in this country. We have it primarily on college campuses, but it is spreading throughout the whole society. Were does it come from? What is it?

We call it "Political Correctness." The name originated as something of a joke, literally in a comic strip, and we tend still to think of it as only half-serious. In fact, it�s deadly serious. It is the great disease of our century, the disease that has left tens of millions of people dead in Europe, in Russia, in China, indeed around the world. It is the disease of ideology. PC is not funny. PC is deadly serious.

If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious.

First of all, both are totalitarian ideologies. The totalitarian nature of Political Correctness is revealed nowhere more clearly than on college campuses, many of which at this point are small ivy covered North Koreas, where the student or faculty member who dares to cross any of the lines set up by the gender feminist or the homosexual-rights activists, or the local black or Hispanic group, or any of the other sainted "victims" groups that PC revolves around, quickly find themselves in judicial trouble. Within the small legal system of the college, they face formal charges � some star-chamber proceeding � and punishment. That is a little look into the future that Political Correctness intends for the nation as a whole.

Indeed, all ideologies are totalitarian because the essence of an ideology (I would note that conservatism correctly understood is not an ideology) is to take some philosophy and say on the basis of this philosophy certain things must be true � such as the whole of the history of our culture is the history of the oppression of women. Since reality contradicts that, reality must be forbidden. It must become forbidden to acknowledge the reality of our history. People must be forced to live a lie, and since people are naturally reluctant to live a lie, they naturally use their ears and eyes to look out and say, "Wait a minute. This isn�t true. I can see it isn�t true," the power of the state must be put behind the demand to live a lie. That is why ideology invariably creates a totalitarian state.

Second, the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness, like economic Marxism, has a single factor explanation of history. Economic Marxism says that all of history is determined by ownership of means of production. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, says that all history is determined by power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over which other groups. Nothing else matters. All literature, indeed, is about that. Everything in the past is about that one thing.

Third, just as in classical economic Marxism certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness certain groups are good � feminist women, (only feminist women, non-feminist women are deemed not to exist) blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. These groups are determined to be "victims," and therefore automatically good regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil, thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.
Lot's more goodness where this came from. The comment about the campuses being "small ivy covered North Koreas" is dead spot on...
James Lileks puts things very clearly in this short essay at Newhouse:
Self-Loathing and the Denial of Terrorism
You're an enlightened world citizen. Your T-shirt says "9/11 was an inside job." You're pretty sure we're living in a fascist state, that President Bush taps the Dixie Chicks' phones, Christian abortion clinic bombers outnumber jihadis, and the war on "terror" is a distraction from the real threats: carbon emissions and Pat Robertson. Then you learn that 17 people were arrested in a terrorist bomb plot. How do you process the information? Let's take it step by step.

Gosh, that's horrible, you think. But no -- that's what they WANT you to feel. Recall the prime directive: Question Authority (unless he's a college professor). The plotters must have been impoverished olive farmers radicalized by the removal of Saddam Hussein. Why, if someone came in and toppled your president, you'd go to their country and ... well, you'd thank them. Unless they did it for the wrong reasons! Then you'd blow something up. Like an SUV dealership. At night. Anyway, you understand; you care a lot about Iraqis these days. You think about Iraq more than China, to be honest, but it's not as if you'll scrape off your "Free Tibet" bumper sticker -- unless it's to make room for "Free Darfur." Or "Hands Off Darfur," depending.

Wait a minute: The "terrorists" were Canadian? You can understand someone blowing up trains in Spain and London. They sent troops to an illegal war cooked up by neocons who want to kill brown people for Exxon and Jesus, or something. You can understand, reluctantly, blowing up teens in an Israeli pizza parlor, because the Jews took the West Bank from the sovereign, ancient nation of Palestine. (How can a liberal socialist country behave so poorly? The world is full of mysteries.) But Canada? Isn't Michael Moore from Canada? You can get medical marijuana from married gay doctors in Canada, and no one has guns. You console yourself: Maybe they were really planning to attack the U.S.
And he is just warming up -- a short essay but an important one.

Crap... R.I.P. - Arnold Newman

One of the absolute greats. From the NY Times:
Arnold Newman, Portrait Photographer Who Captured the Essence of His Subjects, Dies at 88
Arnold Newman, the portrait photographer whose pictures of some of the world's most eminent people set a standard for artistic interpretation and stylistic integrity in the postwar age of picture magazines, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 88 and lived on the Upper West Side.

The apparent cause was a heart attack, said Ron Kurtz, the owner of Commerce Graphics, which represents Mr. Newman.

A polished craftsman, Mr. Newman first learned his trade by making 49-cent studio portraits in Philadelphia. He went on to become one of the world's best-known and most admired photographers, his work appearing on the covers of magazines like Life and Look, in museum and gallery exhibitions and in coffee-table books.

Mr. Newman was credited with popularizing a style of photography that became known as environmental portraiture. Working primarily on assignment for magazines, he carried his camera and lighting equipment to his subjects, capturing them in their surroundings and finding in those settings visual elements to evoke their professions and personalities.
He was a master -- one of my favorite works was this 1963 portrait of German Industrialist Alfried Krupp who, as a friend of Adolf Hitler, used slave labor in his factories. Here is an interview with Newman about the portrait:
"There's only twice I ever tried to deliberately show an individual as bad, and that was Alfried Krupp and Richard Nixon. Actually, I didn't do it on purpose to Nixon -- he did it to himself.

I deliberately put a knife in Krupp's back, visually. He was a friend of Hitler's and Hitler let him use prisoners as slave labor. If the prisoners fell, he just unchained them and they went directly into the crematoriums in Auschwitz.

Krupp's people realized I was Jewish, and they were worried that I might not be kind to him. I was trying to figure a way to show who he really was without being obvious. I lit from both sides and I said, "Would you lean forward." And my hair stood up on end. The light from the sides made him look like the devil. It's an un-retouched photograph. He actually was a handsome man."

A little question of identity

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Is this an X-Box or not. From X-Box Scene:
The website is down because someone removed the Xbox
Public Universities are always running on a limited budget which means they sometimes come up with "innovative" solutions. A couple of years back, an X-Box with some variant of Linux installed had been put in the server room to support a subject designed to teach computer-illiterate Philosophy students how to build their own web pages.

Five weeks into the "Web pages for Philosophy students" class [this year] the excrement encountered the rotary cooling device. The IT department's help desk started receiving calls from Philosophy students who were unable to access their web projects.

Flummoxed, the help desk staff escalated the job ticket to the Unix administrator. Unable to remotely access the X-Box, he trotted off to the server room. He was surprised to find that the X-Box was no longer present.

The administrator went down to the new manager's office to report the missing X-Box. The new manager was quiet for a moment and then sheepishly informed the administrator that it was he who had removed the X-Box. The manager had thought the X-Box was just a games console that the IT departments staff used for recreation when it got quiet. Noticing that the X-Box hadn't been moved from the server room for some time and that his son was going to be at home on school holidays for the next two weeks, the manager decided to take the X-Box home so that his son would have something to entertain himself with. The manager then drove home and retrieved the X-Box. The administrator got a labeling machine and plastered the words "This is actually a server" all across the console.
Heh... Kudos to whomever thought of using the X-Box -- it runs Linux quite well and makes an excellent server for under $200. I heard that it costs MSFT more to make and package than the MSRP. They make their money on the games. Using it as a Linux server is brilliant.
First there was David Sharp who died on the slopes of Mount Everest while 40 other climbers walked past without rendering assistance. Next, there was Bellingham resident Stanislav N. Zinkov who summited Mount McKinley and rescued two New Zealanders on his way down. Now, meet Daniel Mazur, a professional mountain guide from Olympia, WA. From Yahoo News/AP:
Man gives up Everest climb for rescue
Just days after a British climber was left to die near Mount Everest's summit, an American guide abandoned his second bid to stand on top of the world so he could rescue a mountaineer mistakenly given up for dead.

Not only did Daniel Mazur not scale the world's highest peak from the northern side, he also failed to get his two paying clients to the top.

"It was very disappointing for me to miss my chance at the summit, but even more that I could not get my job done," Mazur, of Olympia, Wash., told The Associated Press upon returning to Nepal's capital, Katmandu, on Thursday.

Mazur, his two clients and a Sherpa guide were just two hours from the 29,035-foot peak on the morning of May 26 when they came across 50-year-old Lincoln Hall, who was left a day earlier when his own guides believed he was dead.

"I was shocked to see a guy without gloves, hat, oxygen bottles or sleeping bag at sunrise at 28,200 feet height, just sitting up there," said Mazur, who scaled Everest once before, from the southern side, in 1991.

Mazur said Hall's first words to him were: "I imagine you are surprised to see me here."
Emphasis mine -- that has to rank right up there with Dr. Livingstone, I presume. Heh... And Mazur's comment:
"Oh yeah, it was worth it," he said. "You can always go back to the summit but you only have one life to live. If we had left the man to die, that would have always been on my mind ... How could you live with yourself?"

Light posting next few days

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Yeah again... We are having an annual Solstice Party/camp-over/pot-luck Saturday and I'm busy kegging ten gallons of hard cider and five gallons of mead for the event. There is also a community meeting tonight regarding a huge development proposed for this area (over 700 households). Then, the Farmers Market is on Sunday. I'll be posting but not as much...

Got him!

From The State/AP:
Bush hails operation to kill al-Zarqawi
President Bush and his military chiefs said Thursday that killing terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi struck a severe blow to al-Qaida and opens a new opportunity for the fledging democracy in Iraq.

"This violent man will never murder again," Bush said in the Rose Garden as he announced the U.S. airstrike on the militant whom Osama bin Laden had dubbed the "emir," or prince, of al-Qaida in Iraq.
Enjoy your 72 raisins dude...


Jen and I saw X-Men III this afternoon. WOW!

We were a bit bummed from reading the reviews -- they were saying that the character of Dr. Jean Grey was not developed enough and that there was an over-reliance on special effects but we were wondering exactly what movie these critics were watching. It certainly was not the one we saw.

Dr. Grey was perfectly portrayed as someone doing battle with her inner daemons. The special effects were required for the plot development and they were not over the top. You want to see over the top effects, see the latest installment in the Mission Impossible series -- we were fatigued after all the gratuitous crashes and booms.

The casting was excellent as usual -- Kelsey Grammer was perfect as the urbane diplomat Dr. Hank McCoy.

See this one on the big screen. You should see the first two before to fill in the backstory but the movie does stand alone.


How it is done -- Mountaineering division

Earlier, I had written about how British mountaineer David Sharp had been left to die on the slopes of Mount Everest and how more than 40 climbers had seen him and passed him by without rendering aid.

Local climber Stanislav N. Zinkov shows how it is done. From the Bellingham Herald:

Bellingham man summits Mt. McKinley
Descent unexpectedly includes rescue mission

Stanislav N. Zinkov ignored the advice to never climb Mount McKinley alone.

Only 23 of more than 1,100 climbers planning to ascend the Alaska mountain this year will try it solo. The danger, National Park Service rangers warn, is that with no partner, rescue is more unlikely if something goes wrong.

The 25-year-old from Bellingham made it the 20,320 feet to the top on May 23. He stayed there, on the highest point of North America, for 10 minutes, long enough to rig his camera on a tripod and take a picture of himself brandishing a Russian flag and a miniature bottle of vodka. (Zinkov immigrated to Bellingham from Russia in 1994).

When he left the summit, things stopped going according to plan. Two thousand feet down he found a pair of New Zealanders who were having trouble. One, named Eric, was so sick and exhausted he couldn't do up his own backpack straps.

Zinkov's risky solo ascent suddenly became an aid mission.

And the rescue:

The New Zealand pair was at the top of Denali Pass, on a tricky section climbers call Autobahn. Zinkov offered to help them descend. They roped up in a group of three, with Eric in the middle and Zinkov in the rear. If Eric fell, Zinkov would dig in with his crampons and ice ax to stop the fall.

As they descended, the man fell six times.

"A couple of those ... he was peeling me off and I had to dig in deeper to keep myself from falling," Zinkov said.

They moved slowly and reached the camp at 17,200 feet at midnight.

"My fingers were beginning to freeze," Zinkov said. Zinkov was too tired to keep climbing down to his own camp 3,000 feet below. Some climbing rangers gave him food and let him stay in their tent. He crawled into a sleeping bag and fell asleep. He never found out the names of the New Zealand climbers.

"I was so tired I didn't realize I went to sleep with my harness and carabiner still on," he said.

The rangers gave him a pin to honor him for being a friend to the mountain.

He roped himself to the two climbers -- if they had fallen and he had not been able to arrest, they would have been swept to their deaths. That is selflessness and courage. Check out this guy's training regimen:

He spent six months training. To prepare for skiing uphill with a sled-load of supplies, he would go up logging roads wearing a 65-pound backpack, towing a chain with a truck tire on the end. He went to the gym four times a week. He'd don a 75-pound backpack and use the StairMaster for an hour at a time.

Makes the "Iron Man" look positively anemic. Congratulations and kudos to Stanislav N. Zinkov, both for the ascent and for the rescue.


R.I.P. -- Billy Preston

Aww Crap -- I knew that he had been in very poor health but 59 is waaay to early for a man of his talent. An Obituary at the NY Times:

Billy Preston, 59, Soul Musician, Is Dead; Renowned Keyboardist and Collaborator
Billy Preston, the splashy gospel-rooted keyboardist whose career included No. 1 solo hits and work with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, died yesterday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 59.

He died after having been in a coma since November, his manager, Joyce Moore, told The Associated Press. He had voluntarily entered a drug rehabilitation clinic in Malibu, Calif., and suffered pericarditis there, leading to respiratory failure that left him in a coma.

Mr. Preston had an extensive career as a sideman, working with musicians from Little Richard to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His own hits included the Grammy-winning instrumental "Outa-Space" in 1972 and the No. 1 pop singles "Will It Go Round in Circles" (1973) and "Nothing From Nothing" (1974). He also wrote (with Bruce Fisher) the ubiquitous "You Are So Beautiful."

But his best-known performance was the afternoon he spent on a London rooftop with the Beatles in what was their last concert, which was filmed for "Let It Be." In a 2001 interview, he recalled, "They made me feel like a member of the band."

Had the great pleasure of seeing him perform a couple of times. He loved music and he loved sharing it with the audience. Damn -- The Heavenly Choir just got some really nice accompaniment.

Only 52% -- dang, I am slipping!

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You Are 52% Evil
You are evil, but you haven't yet mastered the dark side.
Fear not though - you are on your way to world domination.
Find your own score here: How Evil Are You? Hat tip to Maggie's Farm

Linksys Router fun and games

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Linksys makes decent home and office networking equipment. They were bought by Cisco a while ago so they must be doing something right. Almost... It seems that some people discovered that the software running on one of their popular routers was based on open source software and that Linksys did not hold by the copyright agreement for open source. They kept their modifications proprietary even though they were based on open source software that other people had worked on. Lifehacker has the story:
Hack Attack: Turn your $60 router into a $600 router
Of all the great DIY projects at this year�s Maker Faire, the one project that really caught my eye involved converting a regular old $60 router into a powerful, highly configurable $600 router. The router has an interesting history, but all you really need to know is that the special sauce lies in embedding Linux in your router. I found this project especially attractive because: 1) It�s easy, and 2) it�s totally free.

So when I got the chance, I dove into converting my own router. After a relatively simple firmware upgrade, you can boost your wireless signal, prioritize what programs get your precious bandwidth, and do lots of other simple or potentially much more complicated things to improve your computing experience. Today I�m going to walk you through upgrading your router�s firmware to the powerful open source DD-WRT firmware.
More info and backstory can be found here: Wi Fi Planet The Wiki on one of these projects is here: DD-WRT Wiki Hat tip to Gizmodo for the link!

Some interesting numbers...

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Something rankled me about a chart I saw recently looking at CO2 emissions linked with population numbers (CO2 per capita). What do these numbers have in common, nothing except furthering an agenda as it makes the USA looks particularly bad. The UN data for 2002 (all data of this type is a few years old) shows Metric Tons of CO2 generated per capita. Here are a few examples: USA - 20.1 China - 2.7 Russia - 9.9 India - 1.2 Japan - 9.4 Germany - 9.8 also: France - 6.2 There is an order to my choices of Nations, this Wikipedia entry is based on UN information and lists the top CO2 emitters by rank (except for France). The UN data shows the USA as being the "worst" polluter per capita except for oil producing nations in the Middle East and some small, low population island Nations that use diesel generators for power. Let us take another look at these numbers but not base our view on the number of citizens but on the overall productivity of the Nation. The Gross Domestic Product is a good measure of what "stuff" the Nation makes, how productive it is. In this light, the USA is not too shabby: The USA made $2.1 Million for each Metric Ton of CO2 emissions. China made $633K for for each Metric Ton of CO2 emissions. Russia made $1.1 Million for each Metric Ton of CO2 emissions. India made $2.9 Million for each Metric Ton of CO2 emissions. Japan made $3.3 Million for each Metric Ton of CO2 emissions. Germany made $3.1 Million for each Metric Ton of CO2 emissions. and also: France made $4.8 Million for each Metric Ton of CO2 emissions. To look at the first set of numbers, you would think that China is ten times more efficient than us but if you look at national productivity, you can see that we are actually more than three times more efficient than they are. The reason for including France is that this data shows what an impact Nuclear Power can have on CO2 emissions. The USA burns fossil fuels for electricity. France gets 70% of its electricity from Nuke Plants and it really shows on its environmental numbers.

Light posting tonight as well

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Was planning to have the spew back up to usual levels today but I'm otherwise occupied with writing an email to an Architect and former friend who has taken more than 18 months and close to $8K to draw up a set of plans for our new Cidery (ie: Barn) and who has still to deliver anything usable. I am fulminating too much to write anything coherent...

Back online tomorrow

The Farmers Market went very well -- crappy weather and very early in the season and we still made more than what we were expecting. Jen and I are taking it easy tonight and the usual spew will resume here tomorrow. I will be posting photos of the Farm and of the Market at Brown Snout Farm and Cidery tomorrow and Wednesday.

The Canonical OOPS File

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Slanted towards airplane accidents but there is lots of other good stuff too... Here is The OOPS List. Here are three samples:


Hat tip to BoingBoing

Ceci n'est pas une Post

Still busy -- got the music system ready to install tomorrow when we get back from the Highland Games. Still importing disks -- wish I could borrow a disk changer or one of those cute auto-loader robot thingies... Went into town today and picked up a wonderful older deep freeze -- a big chest freezer about twice the size that you can buy today. We are buying a half-cow and this will be perfect. High-quality grass fed, pasture raised beef for under $2.00/pound already butchered, wrapped and frozen. We have been eating local food more and more. Jen has been wrapping soap and I have been prepping photo-postcards to sell -- will be printing these tonight and tomorrow. Farmers Market in 36 hours - yikes! Title comes (of course) from the great Belgian Ren� Fran�ois-Ghislain Magritte and his painting:

Still busy...

Still busy for the next few days. Getting the music machine whipped into shape and ready to install in the living room (still more than 50% of the disks to import though). It will be connected to the household network so I can run instances of iTunes on my shop computer...

The Highland Games are tomorrow -- my Mom and Dad are driving up from Seattle for them. He came over from Manchester, England when he was 14 and retains a strong Scot identity. He has never been to an event like this so it will be fun.

That evening, a friend is coming for a visit -- she is the person who is designing our cider and mead labels.

The Farmer's Market is Sunday.

Monday, we relax and do nothing.

The spew should resume Tuesday.

Light blogging next few days...

Kinda busy with some projects.

The local Farmers Market starts this Sunday and we have a booth there.

If that wasn't enough, that weekend is also the Bellingham Highland Games so we will be there Saturday through the afternoon and then its home to madly label and pack.

Finally... I have been looking for a relatively inexpensive CHEAP computer system for use for the CAD/CAM system I'm building. Plus, I want to put all of our CD-ROMs onto a hard disk and put an iTunes machine in the living room tied to our hi-fi and household network. Used machines were running around $200 for something decent (more than 1GHZ CPU speed).

I was turned onto these systems from Fry's. It comes with Linspire Linux preinstalled but I already have a few licenses for 2000 and XP (I used to work at MSFT and can get the software for cheap through the company store). $150 for a 1.4GHz CPU, 128MB RAM, 40GB hard disk and OK video (but an AGP8 slot if I want to upgrade).

I bought two of them and have been getting them configured.

The iTunes machine is not tech for tech's sake, Jen and I both had large collections. I am about 40% through importing our CDs and have over 8,000 individual tracks and 21.5 days of material.

I had been using WinAMP for my personal machine but the new versions have major suckage -- to many features getting in the way of easy operation. I wish there were a few more things added to iTunes but it is a new program.

A quick rant -- when I bought the systems from Fry's/Outpost, I was planning to ship via UPS Ground. UPS is in this area pretty much every day and with the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, any shipment would be delayed a day or so.

The Fry/Outpost online ordering system defaulted to 2nd Day Air from DHL. I was unable to change it after I hit submit. I had calculated my shipping costs using UPS Ground but I didn't see that I had to re-enter my choice when submitting the order. $40 instead of $11.

What chaps my lilly white butt is that it took DHL one week to get those two packages from California to WA State. I got fed up yesterday, called and found that they were sitting in a depot about an hour south of me and would not be delivered for a few more days because "We only run a truck up there a few times/week."

I was a bit incensed and the dispatcher promised me that they would get it to me today. A guy driving his personal car dropped it off around 2:00PM.

DHL may be fine for large-city --to-- large-city shipping but for suburb and rural, forget them. UPS and FedEx do excellent service and I will using them for all future orders.

I heard that the two were merging.

The new company is going to be called FedUPS (rimshot)

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