May 2008 Archives

In Fresno

Flew in this evening. Three hops from Bellingham to Seattle to Portland to Fresno. Got up at 5:00AM and I am ready to drop. It is great seeing her Dad again and talking business and politics and shit with him. More tomorrow - the bed is calling me...
Jen and I are flying down to Fresno tomorrow morning returning late on Monday. Her maternal Grandfather is celebrating his 85th birthday. He got married to a very cute 60-year-old a few years ago and life is very good... There is a computer at one place and our hotel has one in the lobby but with all that is happening, I cannot guarantee regular posts. I will not be bringing the laptop.
Check out this amazing card trick and play close attention to the replay from a different angle. From Maggie's Farm: The amazing color changing card trick This is only one part of Dr. Richard Wiseman's wonderful website: Quirkology. Needless to say, I'm buying the book...
From A Blog For All (Lawhawk):
A Debate I'd Pay To See
Czech President Vaclav Klaus wants to debate global warming junk science proponent and former Vice President Al Gore. Gore is ducking him thus far. I can't imagine why.
Klaus was speaking a the National Press Building in Washington to present his new book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles - What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?, before meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney Wednesday.

"My answer is it is our freedom and, I might add, and our prosperity," he said.

Gore a former US vice president who has become a leading international voice in the cause against global warming, was co-winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Gore's effort was highlighted by his Oscar winning documentary film An Inconvenient Truth.

Klaus, an economist, said he opposed the "climate alarmism" perpetuated by environmentalism trying to impose their ideals, comparing it to the decades of communist rule he experienced growing up in Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia.

"Like their (communist) predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality," he said.
Hell yeah! The book is not at Amazon yet but it looks like a good one. Klaus has an actual brain and he is not afraid to use it...

Awww Crap - Jimmy McGriff R.I.P.

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One of the most amazing masters of the Hammond B-3 Here is an obituary from the New York Times: Jimmy McGriff, Jazz and Blues Organist, Dies at 72 Here is his Wikipedia entry: Jimmy McGriff And finally, two tastes of his music from YouTube: Back on the Track and an un-named track The angels will be groovin' mightily in a few days...

The price of food in Afghanistan

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This is sweet -- from National Public Radio:
Food Gobbles Up Aghans' Income as Prices Soar
The sky-rocketing cost of wheat is breaking food budgets around the world. Families are paying more for bagels in Brooklyn and for flatbread in Afghanistan. The difference is that many Afghans are now spending half their earnings on bread alone. International aid is keeping the country � one of the world's poorest � from food riots and starvation. But the crisis may encourage some farmers to move out of the drug trade and into wheat.
Out of the drug trade and into Wheat. Gotta love unintended consequences. If we don't grow enough wheat, someone else will...
Never figured John McCain to be a moonbat. From CNN:
McCain calls for slashing U.S. nuclear arsenal
The United States should scrap a significant portion of its nuclear arsenal, Sen. John McCain said Tuesday in a speech laying out his nuclear security policy.

McCain also spoke about canceling the development of nuclear "bunker-busting" bombs and working with Russia and China to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

"Today, we deploy thousands of nuclear warheads. It is my hope to move as rapidly as possible to a significantly smaller force," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said at the University of Denver.

McCain advisers described the senator's policy as "significantly different" from that of President Bush in its goals and approach.
Emphasis mine -- yeah riiigghhhttttt -- like that is going to happen anytime soon. From a Realpolitik standpoint, Russia and China will keep on keeping on, supplying materials to whomever has the price all the while lying to us and saying that they have stopped. We saw this at the outset of Iraq with Russian, Chinese and French arms of recent manufacture being used against coalition forces. Russia is still supplying Iran with materials and technicians and China is China -- selling arms to Mugabe's thugs. A bit more:
The GOP candidate voiced support for the U.N. Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency as well as an updated Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Good thing I had set my drink down before typing as I would be blotting up the desktop. Where is this guy coming from -- talk about being a Republican In Name Only - RINO. Obama is looking better and better until they can persuade Fred to run in 2012.
Just wonderful -- reports like this have been around for years and they still keep coming in. From United Press International:
Report: Peacekeepers abusing children
A British non-profit organization called for an international investigation of alleged sexual abuse of children by aid workers and U.N. peacekeepers.

Save the Children said its research found children as young as 6 were forced to parlay sex for food, money, necessities, even cell phones in theaters of war and disaster, The Times of London reported Monday.

The organization said it researched conditions in the Ivory Coast, Southern Sudan and Haiti.

In one instance, a 12-year-old Ivory Coast girl said she was raped by a U.N. peacekeeper but village elders claimed their reporting the attack was ignored.
Time to disband the UNited Nations and start over. This gaggle of corrupt kleptocrats is worse than useless.

An alternative to DEET?

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This will be nice -- DEET is nasty stuff and it stings when it gets in your eyes... From WebMD:
Bug Off: Improved Repellents Beat DEET
Compounds Related to Active Ingredient in Peppers May Lead to Longer-Lasting Mosquito Repellents

Imagine dousing yourself with mosquito repellent at the start of summer and remaining bite-free nearly all season long.

Researchers in Gainesville, Fla., have identified several potent mosquito repellents that keep bugs from biting for up to 73 days -- more than three times longer than the current gold standard, N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, better known as DEET. DEET is the world's most widely used bug repellent.

Alan Katritzky of the University of Florida and colleagues used artificial neural networking software to predict how certain compounds called N-acylpiperidines would keep mosquitoes from feeding on human flesh. N-acylpiperidines are related to the active ingredient in pepper. The researchers identified 23 strong candidates, which they expected to be as effective as DEET.

Two volunteers wore cloth arm patches containing standard amounts of each compound and placed their gloved arms into a cage swarming with 500 mosquitoes. A lot of clock watching ensued. Researchers measured the repellent's duration by simply watching and waiting to see how soon the mosquitoes started feeding on each arm patch worn by the volunteers.

The experiment showed that "most of these novel acylpiperidines were equivalent to or better than DEET in duration of protection," Katritzky writes in the journal article. His team reports that DEET repelled the mosquitoes for 17.5 days. Some of the pepper-based compounds lasted up to 73 days.
Of course, if you take a shower or sweat, the repellent will wash off but still, something this strong and long lasting will present a nice alternative to DEET. I could see impregnated clothing as a vehicle for use. Microcapsules that break and release the chemical.

Production and Consumption

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An interesting observation from dispatches from TJICistan:
America has only x% of the world�s population, but consumes y% of z
I am sick and tired of hearing the phrase �America has only x% of the world�s population, but consumes y% of z�.

No matter what z you�re talking about (gasoline, beef, chlorinated water, housing, steel), it�s a fact that the world does not have any z. Z is produced by humans.

Except for times when government gets involved in the steal-and-redistribute game (once upon a time beyond their borders via imperialism; nowadays mostly with in borders via welfare state socialism) folks consume exactly what they produce.

TJICistan has only 1% of this neighborhood�s population, but it consumes 10% of this neighborhood�s books.

TJICistan has only 1% of this neighborhood�s population, but it consumes 50% of this neighborhood�s homemade cheese cakes.

You know, TJICistan has only 1% of this neighborhood�s population, but it consumes 100% of this neighborhood�s hand-produced wooden bowls.



You know why we consume X% of the gasoline and X�% of the beef, and X�% of the iron?

Because we willed it into existence in the first place.

Go produce something (besides whiney white liberal guilt and left-wing editorial columns) and quit your moaning, hippies.
What they said...

Oil Optimism

Looks like the "invisible hand" of the marketplace is at it again.

Demand is up, supply is up.

Score another one for Capitalism.

From the UK Telegraph:

Oil's perfect storm may blow over
The perfect storm that has swept oil prices to $132 a barrel may subside over the coming months as rising crude supply from unexpected corners of the world finally comes on stream, just as the global economic downturn begins to bite.

The forces behind the meteoric price rise this spring are slowly receding. Nigeria has boosted output by 200,000 barrels a day (BPD) this month, making up most of the shortfall caused by rebel attacks on pipelines in April.

The Geneva consultancy PetroLogistics says Iraq has added 300,000 bpd to a total of 2.57m as security is beefed up in the northern Kirkuk region.

"There is a strong rebound in supply," said the group's president Conrad Gerber.

The article also shows this graph showing the relative outputs of the Non-OPEC producers for 2007, 2008 and projected for 2009:


Click to enlarge.
Michael Fournier was set to break several worlds records this morning. Highest parachute jump, longest free-fall, highest velocity during free-fall but he was not able to do it. Reuters has why:
Record free-fall bid thwarted by rogue balloon
A French parachutist's bid to set a world freefall record was in doubt on Tuesday after the balloon that was to carry him 40 km (25 miles) above the prairie of Western Canada left without him.

The balloon that was to carry daredevil Michael Fournier to his jump height separated from its gondola when it was on the ground near North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and floated away.
That has got to suck... And it's not like he hasn't tried this before:
On Monday, high winds forced him to postpone the attempt for a world record.

Fournier has tried to make the jump twice before, in 2002 and 2003, but was turned back once by poor weather and then by a tear in his balloon.
His website has this photo:
Well Merde!
Thans to Barack _______ Obama, we now know what we have suspected. The walking dead are among us. From his Memorial Day Speech in New Mexico:
On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.
Hat tip to Atomic Nerds who reminds us:
Stay strong in the face of the coming undead, and remember: only headshots count!

Cool move for the Bush family

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Neat - from Texas on the Potomac:
Jenna Bush says it's OK for Ellen DeGeneres to use the Crawford ranch for her wedding
Maybe Dick Cheney will be there.

Ellen DeGeneres, the TV talk-show host and soon-to-be-married lovebird, received the permission of Jenna Bush Hager to hold her wedding at her family's Prairie Chapel Ranch in greater Crawford.

The subject came up when Jenna (we're going to have to get used to calling her "Hager") and her mom, first lady Laura Bush, were appearing on the comedian's talk show taped for airing on Wednesday.

"So, the ranch was a great place to get married - it looked like nobody could fly over and get pictures or bother you, really," DeGeneres said, according to an authoritative report on

"Yeah," responded Hager, "that was really nice."

"So, can we borrow it for our wedding, can we get the ranch?" asked DeGeneres, referring to her upcoming nuptials with actress Portia de Rossi.

"Sure," said Hager.

"Okay, great," said DeGeneres.

We believe that Hager, the ever-generous first daughter, was just being polite to DeGeneres, but you never know. Her mom didn't say "no" on the spot.
And her Mom or Dad could have later, quietly, said no but they didn't. That is class -- very cool...

Geeks gone bad - I will derive

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Hat tip to Mostly Cajun who found this YouTube gem. Check out I Will Derive The Geek is strong with this one...

The Lincoln Memorial

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A nice writeup on the Lincoln Memorial in the other Washington. From the Wall Street Journal:
A Misunderstood Monument
Critics of the Lincoln Memorial Insult Its Designers' Intelligence

Four score and six years ago this Memorial Day weekend, our fathers cut the ribbon at the Lincoln Memorial at the western end of the National Mall. Lincoln's only surviving son was there, and so was William Howard Taft, delivering a speech as large and windy as William Howard Taft. Warren Harding delivered an address, too -- a compliment paid to our greatest president from our worst.

As the years recede from its dedication in 1922, the memorial has come to stand for something its designers probably didn't foresee. It's a model of a certain way of understanding American history, a way that to some of us seems as starry-eyed and innocent as a preteen crush. You can't imagine it being built today, a half-century into our wised-up era.

When it opened there were already glimmers of this, the habitual pooh-poohing of the modern debunker. The architecture critic Lewis Mumford visited the memorial, gazed upon its classical serenity, noted its perfection of form and scale, and refused to be fooled. In truth, Mumford said, the Lincoln Memorial was a particularly clever piece of imperialist propaganda.
Read the whole thing -- the author (Andrew Ferguson) ties it up well and neatly puts Mumford in his place...
I knew that posting would be pretty thin on the ground for a few days so I posted this heads-up and this follow-up. The second post got this comment from loyal reader Vern:
It's too bad you are not posting anything for several days. Everyone needs time off, but it is quite inconsiderate of us loyal readers. It's almost as if you are making excuses and slacking off. Is this the example for the world you wish to set? I assume you are not lazy, but it's unfortunate that you promote your blog, suck us in to become viewers and loyal readers and leave us hanging like you don't care. Fairly pathetic and it shows a complete lack of character and a bit of under achievement and success potential.
What can I say Vern. Mea Culpa. Things got busy. The free Ice Cream has resumed tonight and should issue forth uninterrupted until the next time that life intrudes (like next Thursday when we fly down to celebrate Jen's grandfather's 85'th B-Day).

A bit of a problem in Seattle

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I used to live near here and went past it almost every day. From the Seattle Post-Intellegencer:
Mistake sends raw sewage into Ravenna Creek
An estimated 8 million gallons of raw sewage has poured into Ravenna Creek after county crews mistakenly diverted it into a Seattle storm drain, a King County spokeswoman said Saturday.

The sewage has overflowed at a rate of 800,000 gallons a day for 10 days and likely went into Union Bay, county Wastewater Treatment Division spokeswoman Annie Kolb-Nelson said.

"We are committed to finding out what happened," she said. "A spill of this level is unacceptable. We need to take steps to prevent this."

Crews stopped the flow of sewage into the creek on Friday after discovering the problem, Kolb-Nelson said.

The area most affected by the spill is a one-mile stretch of the creek from Northeast 45th Street near Mountlake Boulevard to the Union Bay Slough.
I am surprised that nobody noticed it and called it in to 911. 800,000 gallons/day is about 500 gallons/minute -- not a trivial amount.

Not Always Right

Check out: The Customer is Not Always Right.

A huge compilation (71 pages) of stories about clueless customers. Having run several businesses (Computer Store, Copy and Print and now the Grocery Store) I recognize a lot of these types...


Bodybuilding taken to extremes

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Good lord -- these pictures are unreal. Check out: When Bodybuilding and Steroids Go Too Far Definitely need some eyebleach after reading this post. Why these people do this and why they take such massive doses of steroids when the dangers are fully known and documented...
About ten days ago I posted this entry: Big Engineering projects - the London to New York transatlantic tunnel about the trans-Atlantic tunnel stretching from near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City to London, England. This tunnel was completed one hundred years ago this month (May) and the Grandson of the original engineer re-discovered it, restored it and installed a new Telectroscope based on his grandfathers design. There are now news articles about it's opening, some photographs and more information. Here is the New York City end:
Here is the London end:
News items: The Gothamist (a good overview), CNN/Europe (the story from London) and FOX and the Wall Street Journal (the story from New York City). A fascinating look at how extraordinary some of the older Engineering projects have been. We think that we are clever monkeys now but our ancestors did some amazing large-scale work themselves...
Busy weekend -- some really good weather, several local events and a lot of things to take care of at home and at the store...

No posting tonight

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Working on some web stuff and making a couple changes to my spam filtering scripts...

Cool blogging tool - Country IP Blocks

Been looking for something like this for a while...

One tool to cut down on Spam is to block the IP Addresses of offending users. This is done with a file called .htaccess which is populated with a list of known spammers. Works great.

One useful technique is to block large swaths of IP addresses specific to countries like China and most of Africa. The only problem is that part of a netblock can be assigned to that country while the other part of the netblock is assigned to... say... Canada which doesn't produce much spam (relatively speaking).

I can do a Whois on the IP Addresses and the registry shows the range of IP Addresses assigned to that owner but this is time consuming and not efficient.

Enter Country IP Blocks

There is a clickable list of Countries, select the ones you want and choose what sort of format you want the result in (including .htaccess) and bingo -- an instant list ready for use...

Minimal posting tonight

Working on the store website -- adding a community calendar and working to integrate a stand-alone PHP application into Textpattern. Couple of gotcha's but not advanced rocket science...

Sweet! A chopped Mercedes Smarte Car

From Telstar Logistics:
The Smart Car Monster Truck! Finally!
It's no secret that Telstar Logistics has a hankering for a SmartCar, but it's also no secret that we appreciate robust 4x4 capability as well. Thankfully, we no longer have to choose one or the other! According to Edmunds:
Created by Greek rally champion Stefan Attart, the head-turning Smart combines the body shell of the existing Fortwo with the industrial-grade four-wheel-drive underpinnings of parent company Mercedes-Benz's Unimog 406. The result? A towering two-seat monster truck dubbed the Forfun2.
Heh... Serious case of gear lust here. Looks like a lot of fun!
Talk about slimeball. From the New York Post:
A longtime confidant of rapper Dr. Dre claims the Rev. Al Sharpton threatened to march on the hip-hop icon's recording studio unless he donated a half-million dollars to charity.

Bruce Williams, Dr. Dre's former right-hand man, said the alleged extortion attempt involved Sharpton's displeasure with vulgar lyrics as well as a nasty feud between rappers 50 Cent and The Game.

"He said if we didn't have [$500,000], we marching. It's that easy," Williams said in an interview published on

Sharpton insisted yesterday he never spoke to Dr. Dre and has no recollection of ever meeting Williams.

He called the accusation "absurd."
Sharpton sets himself up as a "leader" but he's just a common hustler and 'poverty pimp'
Amazing record -- the photos are posted at Leland Wong's Journal:
Photographing a Wedding and then an Earthquake
Can you imagine what it was like to have been photographing a wedding in Sichuan, China when 7.9 earthquake hit and shakes for three minutes? (photos courtesy of Dragon Photo, ND Daily and
Here are three of them. Like I said, an amazing record of a horrible event.


Here is the site
Author Jerry Pournelle has hit the nail on the head with this one:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself.

Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.
I defy anyone to name a Bureaucracy where this is not the case...
From Yahoo/PR Wire:
Senate Uses Iraq War Spending Bill to Advance Illegal Alien Amnesty and Cheap Labor for Employers, Charges FAIR
A supplemental appropriations bill intended to provide funding for the war effort in Iraq is being used to promote amnesty for illegal aliens and more low-wage guest workers for powerful business interests. The addition of two amendments to the Iraq War Supplemental Appropriations bill will mean that in order to provide emergency funding for our troops in Iraq, senators will be forced to approve an illegal alien amnesty and expand guest worker programs that harm American workers.

The Senate Appropriations Committee today included an amendment offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would grant a five-year amnesty to 1.35 million illegal aliens working in agriculture, plus their spouses and children, and allow agribusiness to freeze wages for new guest workers at 2007 levels for the next three years. The five-year amnesty would likely be a prelude to permanent legalization for these illegal aliens.

A second amendment adopted by the committee, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), would vastly increase the number of unskilled H-2B guest workers permitted to work in this country. The Mikulski amendment would reinstate the exemption for returning H-2B workers from numerical caps on the program.

What we witnessed today in the Senate Appropriations Committee is a cynical attempt to use Americans support for our men and women in Iraq to advance blatant special interest legislation that benefits powerful business lobbies, charged Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Tying amnesty for illegal aliens and still more cheap labor for powerful business interests to support for our troops in Iraq is an unconscionable abuse of the appropriations process.
Just wonderful... Reminds me of that great Otto von Bismarck quote:
Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.
-Otto von Bismarck
Hat tip to Lubo� Motl for the link to this wonderful project. Let's look at a list of some prominent Global Warming activists:
Al Gore, B.A. Government (no science degree)
Alanis Morissette, High School Diploma
Bill Maher, B.A. English (no science degree)
Bono (Paul Hewson), High School Diploma
Daryl Hanna, B.F.A. Theater (no science degree)
Ed Begley Jr., High School Diploma
Jackson Browne, High School Diploma
Jon Bon Jovi (John Bongiovi), High School Diploma
Oprah Winfrey, B.A. Speech and Drama (no science degree)
Prince Charles of Wales, B.A. (no science degree)
Sheryl Crow, B.A. Music Education (no science degree)
Sienna Miller, High School Diploma
ABC - Sam Champion, B.A. Broadcast News (no science degree, not a meteorologist)
CBS - Harry Smith, B.A. Communications and Theater (no science degree)
CBS - Katie Couric, B.A. English (no science degree)
CBS - Scott Pelley, College Dropout
NBC - Ann Curry, B.A. Journalism (no science degree)
NBC - Anne Thompson, B.A. American studies (no science degree)
NBC - Matt Lauer. B.A. Communications (no science degree)
NBC - Meredith Vieira, B.A. English (no science degree)
Bill Nye, B.S. Mechanical Engineering (Bill Nye the Science Guy)
Gavin Schmidt, B.A. Ph.D. Applied Mathematics (
James Hansen, B.A. Physics and Mathematics, M.S. Astronomy, Ph.D. Physics (NASA, Gavin Schmidt's Boss)
James Lovelock, Ph.D. Medicine, D.Sc. Biophysics
Lonnie Thompson, Ph.D. Geological Sciences
Michael Mann, A.B. Applied Math, Physics, M.S. Physics, Ph.D. Geology & Geophysics (
Michael Oppenheimer, S.B. Chemistry, Ph.D. Chemical Physics
Richard C. J. Somerville, Ph.D. Meteorology
Steven Schneider, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering and Plasma Physics
Not too many climatologists out there and a lot of the people with the most exposure have little or no scientific training whatsoever. Now compare this to the people at the The Global Warming Petition Project First -- the Petition:

We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997 and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advancement of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gas is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produces many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.
And the signers:
Qualifications of Signers
Signatories are approved for inclusion in the Petition Project list if they have obtained formal educational degrees at the level of Bachelor of Science or higher in appropriate scientific fields. The petition has been circulated only in the United States.

The current list of 31,072 petition signers includes 9,021 PhD; 6,961 MS; 2,240 MD and DVM; and 12,850 BS or equivalent academic degrees. Most of the MD and DVM signers also have underlying degrees in basic science.

All of the listed signers have formal educations in fields of specialization that suitably qualify them to evaluate the research data related to the petition statement. Many of the signers currently work in climatological, meteorological, atmospheric, environmental, geophysical, astronomical, and biological fields directly involved in the climate change controversy.
Looks like a great project and one that needs more promotion (although 31,000 signatures is not that shabby especially considering the qualifications).
From the Hamilton, Ontario Spectator:
Global warming hysteria challenged
Book reveals how controversial the science is on climate change

An anti-nuclear, Toronto-based, urban-loving, 1970s peace activist who opposes subsidies to the oil industry might be the last person expected to detail cracks in the science of global warming.

But Lawrence Solomon has done just that in a short book with a long subtitle: The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, And Fraud (And Those Who Are Too Fearful To Do So).

The spark for the book came after an American TV reporter compared those who question the Kyoto Protocol to Holocaust deniers. But Solomon wondered about that, so he sought out the experts in specific fields to garner their views.

Consider Dr. Edward Wegman, asked by the U.S. Congress to assess the famous "hockey stick" graph from Michael Mann, published by the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which purported to show temperatures as mostly constant over the past 1,000 years -- except for a spike in the last century.

The IPCC claimed the hockey stick "proved" unique 20th-century global warming. But it didn't. Wegman, who drew on the initial skepticism of two Canadians who questioned Mann's statistical handling, found that his "hockey stick" was the result of a statistical error -- the statistical model had mined data to produce the hockey stick and excluded contrary data.

That mistake occurred not because Mann was deceptive or a poor scientist; he's an expert in the paleoclimate community as were those who reviewed his paper. But that was the problem: The paleoclimate scientists were trapped in their own disciplinary ghetto and not up to speed on the latest, most appropriate statistical methods.

Is Wegman the scientific equivalent of a medical quack? No. His CV includes eight books, more than 160 published papers, editorships of prestigious journals, and past presidency of the International Association of Statistical Computing, among other distinctions.
And a bit more:
The most intriguing part of The Deniers is the attempt by dozens of credible scientists to point out what should be common-sense obvious: The sun might affect Earth's climate.

"We understand the greenhouse effect pretty well," Solomon writes, "we know little about how the sun -- our main source of energy driving the climate -- affects climate change."

But the IPCC refuses to even consider the sun's influence on Earth's climate -- it conceives of its mission only to investigate possible man-made effects upon climate. But that's akin to a hit-and-run investigation where police rule out all cars except one model before they even question witnesses.

No one who reads The Deniers will be able to claim a scientific consensus exists on global warming. (Some scientists even argue the planet's climate is about to cool.)
Looks like an interesting book -- I'll have to see if our library can get a copy.
The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud**And those who are too fearful to do so.

Common knowledge - 25 secrets

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From Dave Johnston's site:
EXCLUSIVE: Secret Common Sense Knowledge Revealed
I�ve been living with secret knowledge for close to 31 years.

There is an elite group of individuals that exists largely under the radar of regular society. This group often meets under a cloak of secrecy, frequently staying under assumed names at places like the Holiday Inn Express in Rensselaer, Indiana.

The group, which has yet to be identified by name, exists to serve only one purpose:
�To advance the closely-guarded secret common sense knowledge that allows only a select few to succeed at everyday life.�

I became an official member of this group on November 23, 1989, when I was hastily pulled out of the crowd while attending WWF Survivor Series in Rosemont, Illinois and rushed into a nearby hotel bar to learn my fate. I was only 12 years old, but was informed that I had been chosen to learn these secrets from the moment I was born. My life has never been the same. It is a heavy burden to carry.

Today, because I simply cannot keep them a secret for one more day, I reveal the first 25 common sense facts about everyday life:
Wow - such courage. Here are the first five:
#1) - If you don�t pay for your house, they take it back.
#2) - If you buy a house that you cannot afford, you will not be able to pay for it (See also: #1).
#3) - Everything is paid for, even free downloads. Or free healthcare.
#4) - You do not have an inalienable right to not be offended.
#5) - Smaller portions of crap is still crap. So is crap with whole grain.
Too many people need to be told this...

Senator Kennedy

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You probably have heard by now that Senator Edward Kennedy has an aggressive kind of brain tumor. From Yahoo/AP:
Sen. Edward Kennedy has cancerous brain tumor
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor Tuesday in what could be the grim final chapter in a life marked by exhilarating triumph and shattering tragedy. Some experts gave the liberal lion less than a year to live.

Doctors discovered the tumor after the 76-year-old senator and sole surviving son of America's most storied political family suffered a seizure over the weekend. The diagnosis cast a pall over Capitol Hill, where the Massachusetts Democrat has served since 1962, and came as a shock to a family all too accustomed to sudden, calamitous news.
Damn! I knew two people who died from this and it is not a nice way to go -- this is something that despite Kennedy's politics, I would not want to wish on anyone... I do hope that Mary Jo Kopechne is waiting on the other side with a swimming pool full of salt water and a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 attached to a crane. To be done every day for a few thousand years...
What are they there for then... From The Daily Mail:
German army officers allow top Taliban commander to escape ... because they are not allowed to use lethal force
A Taliban commander with links to the killers of several British soldiers has escaped from German special forces because they were not allowed to shoot.

Elite soldiers from the German KSK had been charged with capturing the terrorist. After spending weeks searching for him, in cooperation with the Afghan army and secret service, they discovered that he was located near the town of Pol-e-Khomri in the north of Afghanistan.

Wearing night-vision goggles, the German team came within a few hundred metres of his hideout before they were discovered by Taliban forces.

It is unclear precisely what happened next, but the Berlin government will not let its soldiers fire shots in Afghanistan in any situation other than self-defence ... and the Taliban chief escaped.

If the German soldiers had opened fire they could have ended up on a murder charge.

The incident was reported yesterday by the German news magazine Der Spiegel which warned: 'The man and his network are active once again.'

It quoted an 'incredulous' British officer in Kabul as saying: 'The Germans are allowing the most dangerous people to get away and increasing the danger for the Afghans and all foreign forces here.'
Seriously now -- WTF? These people are making things worse by being there and getting in the way than if they just stayed home. And the post's title comes from here.
We got a phone call from the opening staff. I had run payroll on Saturday and inadvertently printed the checks with a June 1st date. I like to save money but not this way... I went in and changed the data and re-printed the checks. Jen came in later and worked on some new formulas for her lip balms. We had been thinking of seeing a movie and settled on The Forbidden Kingdom. You are not going to find a really deep plot but it is a lot of fun. Jackie Chan and Jet Li in their first movie together. The martial arts sequences between the two are wonderful. I am a bit disappointed as Jackie Chan always has outtakes after the final credits and this film didn't have them. What is interesting is that Jet Li is 45 and Jackie Chan is 54 and they both move like 18 year olds. See this one on the big screen if you have a chance -- again, minimal plot but a good story and lots of fun...

A lens

Holy crap - check out Canon's 5,200mm ultra-Telephoto lens:
I have a 500mm lens and consider it to be a fairly high power Telephoto. So high, as a matter of fact, that it hasn't been out of its case for several years. This puppy boggles the imagination. It is 20" by 24" by 75" long. That little boxy thing on the right side is a full-size camera body. It weighs 220 pounds so the four handles at the bottom are for the four people to lift it and set it on its stand. The closest focusing distance is 120 Meters and its designed use is for objects 18 to 32 miles away. Hat tip to Gizmodo for the link. Wonder if Nikon has a competing unit... UPDATE: Nikon's offerings only go to 2,000mm - still, a veritible optical powerhouse:
And of course, if you want to take things to the extreme, you can always get one of these:
3,910mm focal length, built in computerised drive and it's only $6,700. The optical tube only weighs 45 pounds. Plus, it's also a really cool telescope!

Daddy's little bundle of joy

Great photo -- hope they saved their work...


Swiped from this collection at the ever wonderful Dark Roasted Blend: Hilarious Kids and Babies, Part 2

Part one is here.

From the Voice of America:
Burma to Let Neighbors Take Lead in Recovery Efforts
Burma has agreed to let its Southeast Asian neighbors oversee an international effort to bring foreign medical teams and aid to areas hard hit by Cyclone Nargis.

The breakthrough agreement came Monday in Singapore during an emergency meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo says that while Burma has agreed to accept nearly 300 medical personnel from ASEAN countries, it does not mean there will be uncontrolled access.
Let's see now - 78,000 known dead and another 56,000 missing. Discounting those already dead, this is 56K/300 or one medical personnel per 186 citizens of Burma. Some more:
Burma allowed U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes to tour the Irrawaddy delta Monday and also announced that it would let small groups of representatives from several countries visit the cyclone-hit delta in the coming days.

The moves come as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is preparing to travel to Burma on Wednesday. It is unclear whether the country's top leader, General Than Shwe will meet with Mr. Ban, but he is expected to travel to areas affected by the disaster.

Burmese state television showed General Than Shwe making his second visit to the disaster zone today, traveling to some of the hardest-hit areas for the first time. Until Sunday, he had not made a single remark or public appearance about the disaster.
Sickening. Shwe The whole fucking regieme needs to go now.

One of the side effects of smoking pot... the fine mental clarity of thought that you experience. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Man accused of handing pot to court security
CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A man was arrested after pulling marijuana from his pocket at a security check at a court. The man was visiting the courts section of the Bradley County Justice Center on Monday when he was asked to empty his pockets into a plastic bowl, a standard procedure.

Sheriff Tim Gobble said the items he placed in the bowl included marijuana and rolling papers. When questioned, the man ran from the building, but officers captured him within minutes.

The man faces charges of having contraband in a penal institution and evading arrest.

Bummer man...

This happened in January of 2005 but I just heard about it today. He was famous for being the artist that drew Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman but he was also an accomplished illustrator specializing in Science Fiction themes (for which he won 11 Hugos) and did one of my very favorite illustrations:
There is a nice obituary at Book of Joe Three years late but still shocking to me.

Minimal posting tonight

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Was in town all day and need to work on some other stuff tonight. Besides, there's not that much interesting stuff on the web over the weekends. It's when people are goofing off at work that we get the really crazy stuff...
It's spring and one of our older hens just hatched her brood of four little ones.

A bit more from the Welding Rodeo

I went back to the Welding Rodeo again today. I was supposed to go with my Dad but he had forgotten about the event and was gone when I went to pick him up. He and his caretaker stopped into the store to say hi instead...

The local high-school that was working yesterday won the first place honors.

Here are two photos:


1st Place in the Amateur Category. Cool beans!


The photo doesn't begin to do it justice -- the round piece in the center rotates and is perfectly balanced. Nice clean welds. Being rural, a lot of these kids grew up helping their dads fix the tractor or logging equipment so welding is a skill learned early on.

I will have more photos of the event in a day or two.

We have three!

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Three sunspots showed up yesterday - very small, very weak and belonging to Cycle 23 (the one that should have completed last summer) but they are there. Along with the three visible ones, there are some others that accompany it so the official Sunspot Number is 23.

A bit of excitement on my way home today

Was heading home after a day in town and just before town, traffic was stopped. An aid car and later a firetruck arrived at the scene. Somebody had mis-judged a turn (the one posted 30MPH and marked with a bunch of big yellow arrows) and crashed. He was alive at the scene and the buddy he was riding with was unharmed. The bike will need a little work though:
Here is an overall shot of the scene:
He was wearing a helmet and leathers and the road conditions were perfect. He ignored the posted speed and mis-judged the turn. When you see a local vehicle slow down to 30 MPH to take a turn, there probably is a reason for this...

21 Mugshots

A wonderful collection of Police Mugshots including a couple of internet classics. Here are four of them:
This guy was spraying gold spraypaint into a paper bag and huffing the fumes.
I'm perfectly normal I tell you!
There are some things that mortal man was never meant to know...
A little case of makeup failure...

$883,000 worth of FAIL

Samsung built a wafer testing machine in its San Jose factory and had it shipped it to another of its factories, this one in Austin, TX.

Due to the delicate nature of the equipment, the shipper was told to keep it around 23 Celsius.

Guess what happened? From the Austin American-Statesman:

Samsung sues shippers
Machine for fab ruined when shipped at too cold a temperature, chipmaker claims

The difference between 23 degrees Celsius and 23 degrees Fahrenheit is about $883,000, according to a lawsuit filed this week by Samsung Austin Semiconductor.

Samsung filed a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of its insurance companies, seeking to recover the cost of a wafer analysis machine rendered useless when it was shipped at too cold a temperature.

The machines test the semiconductors that the company produces at its Austin plants.

The chip maker and its insurers want three shipping companies to pay $883,000 for the equipment, according to the complaint filed Monday at U.S. District Court in Austin.

The suit names Air Express International USA Inc., DHL Global Forwarding and Southern Refrigerated Transport Inc. as defendants.

A bit more:

According to Samsung's complaint, a Southern Refrigerated tractor-trailer hauled the machine from San Jose, Calif., to one of the chip maker's two factories in Austin. Because of its delicate, temperature-sensitive optical devices, the equipment had to be kept at temperatures around 23 degrees Celsius in transit.

A message left for Tony Smith, president of Texarkana, Ark.-based Southern Refrigerated, was not returned Friday.

"(The) driver incorrectly set the temperature on the ... trailer at 23 degrees Fahrenheit," Samsung said in the complaint, adding that the "sub-freezing temperatures damaged sensitive portions of the machine" and left it "worthless but for salvage value."


A reel classy intelechewual

Charles at LGF had a troll. He deleted the droppings and blocked the username. The troll wrote a reply:

We Got Mail!
Following a series of stupid and insulting comments in the Carnegie Mellon thread by a college kid at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Stinky Beaumont whipped out the banning stick and took away its account.

Uh oh. College know-it-all didn't like that. Not one bit. So it used its high-powered Mensa intellect to send the following email through our contact form, using the email address

I would normally delete the profanities, but in this case it would detract from the savory vitriol, so I've left them in.

Good lord... That person needs a serious dose of remedial English as well as waking up to reality. As one of Charles' commenters said:

I'll bet this little pathetic piece of moon bat guano just abhors the so called water boarding at Gitmo, but it seems the little arse wipe supports torture and rape...Moon bats go figure!

China's nuclear missles

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Wonderful link from Hot Air: Satellite photos: China�s nuclear missiles
Sat Photos Reveal China's Nuke Missile Sites
By Noah Shachtman

"Analysis of new commercial satellite photos has identified... nearly 60 launch pads for medium-range nuclear ballistic missiles in Central China," Federation of American Scientists' analyst Hans Kristensen reveals.
And I do not doubt that that location is already programed into the computers of our Trident submarines. Still...

Welding Rodeo 2008

It is mid-May and time for the annual Bellingham Technical College Welding Rodeo.

The school is also celebrating their 50th Anniversary so they put on quite the show. Tomorrow promises to be even better. I am taking my Dad out to see it as he used to be quite at home in a machine shop.

Today was the amateur teams, tomorrow will be professional welders.

The idea is that at 8:30, teams will paw through a yard full of scrap metal, take what they want back to their work area and start welding. The theme this year is motion.

The school also has an awesome Culinary Arts program which catered the event:



A team of students from our local high school was in the competition:


More art:



This is the scrap yard that people got to pick through:


When I took welding classes here three years ago, the old building was cramped and dirty. The welding booths were very small with poor ventilation.

The new shop is wonderful:



And all the while, there was a delightful Marimba Band playing:


Like I said, I will be back there tomorrow, spending more time and taking some more pictures. A fun day!

RIP - Robert Mondavi

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From the Associated Press:
Calif. winemaking patriarch Robert Mondavi dies
Robert Mondavi, the pioneering vintner who helped put California wine country on the map, died at his Napa Valley home Friday. He was 94. Mondavi died peacefully at his home in Yountville, Robert Mondavi Winery spokeswoman Mia Malm said.

He was 52 and a winemaking veteran in 1966, when he opened the winery that would help turn the Napa Valley into a world center of the industry. Clashes with a brother that included a fistfight led him to break from the family business to carry out his ambitious plans with borrowed money.

At the time, California was still primarily known for cheap jug wines. But he set out to change that, championing use of cold fermentation, stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels, all commonplace in the industry today. He introduced blind tastings in Napa Valley, putting his wines up against French vintages, a bold move.

Always convinced that California wines could compete with the European greats, Mondavi engaged in the first French-American wine venture when he formed a limited partnership with the legendary French vintner Baron Philippe de Rothschild to grow and make the ultra-premium Opus One at Oakville. The venture's first vintage was in 1979.
A Titan. You may joke about the cheap jug wines but his vintage stuff was heads above what anyone else was doing at that time and he helped raise the bar for everyone. I am enjoying a glass of Bandit Merlot from Three Thieves Winery -- it cost me $5.99 for a full litre and it is way better than any of the jug wines from ten years ago. Comes in a TetraPak as the three most expensive things in an average bottle of wine are the bottle, the cork and the label.
IBM is doing some interesting work in Solar Power. Laying out square footage of silicon solar cells is idiotic. The cost is so high that you are operating a net energy rat-hole. If you took the same money and invested it at 4%, you would make way more interest than any Electrical Utility would ever dream of charging you for the equivalent amount of electricity. And that electricity doesn't need to have its batteries changed every couple of years and that utility doesn't suffer from slow degradation of the cells leading to a trickle of power at 20 years. What makes sense is to concentrate the sunlight using cheap mirrors and use the intense focused beam to provide energy. From PhysOrg News:
IBM Research Unveils Breakthrough In Solar Farm Technology
IBM researchers have achieved a breakthrough in photovoltaics technology that could significantly reduce the cost of harnessing the Sun's power for electricity.

IBM today announced a research breakthrough in photovoltaics technology that could significantly reduce the cost of harnessing the Sun's power for electricity.

By mimicking the antics of a child using a magnifying glass to burn a leaf or a camper to start a fire, IBM scientists are using a large lens to concentrate the Sun�s power, capturing a record 230 watts onto a centimeter square solar cell, in a technology known as concentrator photovoltaics, or CPV. That energy is then converted into 70 watts of usable electrical power, about five times the electrical power density generated by typical cells using CPV technology in solar farms.

If it can overcome additional challenges to move this project from the lab to the fab, IBM believes it can significantly reduce the cost of a typical CPV based system. By using a much lower number of photovoltaic cells in a solar farm and concentrating more light onto each cell using larger lenses, IBM�s system enables a significant cost advantage in terms of a lesser number of total components.
A bit more:
The trick lies in IBM�s ability to cool the tiny solar cell. Concentrating the equivalent of 2000 suns on such a small area generates enough heat to melt stainless steel, something the researchers experienced first hand in their experiments. But by borrowing innovations from its own R&D in cooling computer chips, the team was able to cool the solar cell from greater than 1600 degrees Celsius to just 85 degrees Celsius.

The initial results of this project will be presented at the 33rd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists conference today, where the IBM researchers will detail how their liquid metal cooling interface is able to transfer heat from the solar cell to a copper cooling plate much more efficiently than anything else available today.
Very cool -- they already have the cooling technology in their datacenter servers, they just needed to scale it up a bit...
Big Engineering projects fascinate me. I had written earlier about The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel (also here) which runs from California to just south of New York City. Construction on this was begun in 1913 and it was originally designed for mail transport. Today, I ran into the story of another tunnel -- this one even more ambitious -- running from London, England to near the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC. The construction on this tunnel pre-dates the Alameda-Weehawken Tunnel by 30 years and this tunnel is one hundred years old this May. A curious feature is the optical Telectroscope which allows people on each end to stand face to face with their counterpart on the other end. A telegraph (now telephone) links the two ends. The London - New York tunnel was built by famous Victorian engineer Alexander Stanhope St George. It had fallen out of use (the Telectroscope was never completed satisfactorily) and his grandson, Paul St George has taken over and is planning to open it to the public, more as a museum piece and Victorian curiosity than as the original vision of a communications tool. From the UK Tiscali News:
100-year old Transatlantic engineering project nears completion
A long-forgotten tunnel connecting London and New York is due to be re-opened this summer.

Artist and inventor Paul St George has announced his plans to complete a fascinating engineering project started by his great grandfather, Alexander Stanhope St George, more than a century ago.

Using maps and drawings handed down through family, Mr St George has tracked down the location of the original excavation and is now finishing the drilling project that will complete a massive tunnel connecting London to New York.

He plans to use the tunnel to fulfill another part of his ancestor’s dream: to build and open a Telectroscope - a late Victorian optical device designed to allow people on one side of the Atlantic to see, in real time, those people on the other side.

"Several people throughout the 1890s claimed to have invented the Telectroscope, but nobody ever built one," says Paul St George. "I can now prove that my great grandfather was the only person with a workable plan - and finally I am in a position to turn that plan into a reality."

"Alexander Stanhope St George was not a dreamer, but an engineer with a practical and achievable vision."

The tunnel is expected to be completed by the end of May 2008. Telectroscopes will be installed at either end later in the summer.

Mr St George refused to confirm the exact locations in London and New York where the Telectroscopes will be sited, but it is rumoured that they may be situated near Tower Bridge in London and Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
The main website for Paul St George is here: The Telectroscope It's fascinating to learn what our ancestors were able to do without all of our modern gadgets...
Computer security maven Bruce Schneier has a nice essay on what it is like to try to detect security flaws in software:
The Ethics of Vulnerability Research
The standard way to take control of someone else's computer is by exploiting a vulnerability in a software program on it. This was true in the 1960s when buffer overflows were first exploited to attack computers. It was true in 1988 when the Morris worm exploited a Unix vulnerability to attack computers on the Internet, and it's still how most modern malware works.

Vulnerabilities are software mistakes--mistakes in specification and design, but mostly mistakes in programming. Any large software package will have thousands of mistakes. These vulnerabilities lie dormant in our software systems, waiting to be discovered. Once discovered, they can be used to attack systems. This is the point of security patching: eliminating known vulnerabilities. But many systems don't get patched, so the Internet is filled with known, exploitable vulnerabilities.

New vulnerabilities are hot commodities. A hacker who discovers one can sell it on the black market, blackmail the vendor with disclosure, or simply publish it without regard to the consequences. Even if he does none of these, the mere fact the vulnerability is known by someone increases the risk to every user of that software. Given that, is it ethical to research new vulnerabilities?

Unequivocally, yes. Despite the risks, vulnerability research is enormously valuable. Security is a mindset, and looking for vulnerabilities nurtures that mindset. Deny practitioners this vital learning tool, and security suffers accordingly.
He then goes on to point out the difference between a real computer security expert and the majority of the "duct tape" experts out there:
Security engineers see the world differently than other engineers. Instead of focusing on how systems work, they focus on how systems fail, how they can be made to fail, and how to prevent--or protect against--those failures. Most software vulnerabilities don't ever appear in normal operations, only when an attacker deliberately exploits them. So security engineers need to think like attackers.

People without the mindset sometimes think they can design security products, but they can't. And you see the results all over society--in snake-oil cryptography, software, Internet protocols, voting machines, and fare card and other payment systems. Many of these systems had someone in charge of "security" on their teams, but it wasn't someone who thought like an attacker.
Lot's of good thoughts in the comments as well...

Just one more - Antarctic "Warming"

Ran into this wonderful analysis of the horrible Antarctic Warming we are experiencing.

Climate Models Fail at Antarctic Warming Predictions
There is a a peer-reviewed study in the April 5th issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. It is by Andrew Monaghan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. "This is a really important exercise for these climate models," he said.

Monaghan and his team found that while climate models projected temperature increases of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.75 degrees Celsius) over the past century, temperatures were observed to have risen by only 0.4 F (0.2 C). "This is showing us that, over the past century, most of Antarctica has not undergone the fairly dramatic warming that has affected the rest of the globe," Monaghan said. The gap between prediction and reality seemed to be caused by the models overestimating the amount of water vapor in the Antarctic atmosphere."

"The research clearly shows that you can actually slow down sea-level rise when you increase temperatures over Antarctica because snowfall increases, but warmer temperatures also have the potential to speed up sea-level rise due to enhanced melting along the edges of Antarctica," Monaghan said.The gap between prediction and reality seemed to be caused by the models overestimating the amount of water vapor in the Antarctic atmosphere. The cold air over the southernmost continent handles moisture differently than the atmosphere over warmer regions.

But they fail to recognize that there may be a volcanic heat source as well such as the volcanic mountain range comprising much of the Antarctic Peninsula, including volcanoes such as the Seal Nunataks around the Larsen Ice shelf and under the Ross Ice Shelf here.

And to illustrate this, Anthony posts these two NASA images:


This is the average temperature trend from 1982 to 2004 - note the areas of warming and the areas of cooling.


Overlay this with the location of all of the active volcanoes. Both photos are thumbnails and can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Light blogging again today

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In town for acupuncture treatment and a bunch of stuff to take care of around the store and the farm. Today is the first stretch of good weather we have had since last summer. Oh yes - no sunspots:
There was a little "tiny tim" yesterday but it faded away...
If you have the time, there is an excellent 30-page paper that goes over what exactly drives our climate and how CO2 is completely overstated. Check out Solar Cycle 24: Implications for the United States by David Archibald and presented at the March, 2008 meeting of the International Conference on Climate Change. It is a scientific paper but very readable by the layman and it spells it out in great detail...

Global Warming - a list

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A nice list of links pointing to articles outlining all of the things that Global Warming will cause (hint: none of which are good). A couple good ones: Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty Antarctic ice grows, Antarctic ice shrinks farmers go under, farm output boost You get the general idea... But this is all SCIENCE!!!

Chinese foot binding

I thought had a good idea what happened when Chinese girls went through when their parents bound their feet to make them look "pretty" but I had no idea what the reality was.

A friend of GrrlScientist sent her some photos and she posted them at her blog: Living the Scientific Life

A Podiatrist's Nightmare
A friend sent these images depicting foot-binding in China. To say the least, I knew this practice was painful and caused permanent malformations, but seeing the damage makes my own feet scream in agony. How did such a strange and harmful behavior like this ever become a cultural fashion/fad/fetish?

An elderly Chinese woman who was one of the countless victims of foot-binding. She can barely stand or walk, even with assistance. Gee, I wonder why?

Scroll down for the photos -- the bones are not just bent, they are broken and the foot is entirely rearticulated. Not for the squeamish -- the last couple images are going to be with me for a long long time...

The KATRIN project is fascinating as it will determine the mass of the electron neutrino. This is useful as it will give us an idea of what interstellar "dark matter" really is (or isn't). It will also help to clarify the Standard Model which is beginning to show a little wear and tear around the edges...

The main page of the KATRIN project is here: KATRIN Homepage

What is fascinating about this is not only the science but the logistics of building the thing. It was built in Deggendorf, Germany and the project is in Karlsruhe -- a distance of 400 kilometers. The only problem is that this puppy is sooo big, they could not fit it under the bridges or on the roads. It had to go the long way around -- 9,000 kilometers from Deggendorf, via the Danube River to the Black Sea, out through the Bosphorus into the Mediterranean Sea, around Europe to the Netherlands, on the Rhine River and on to Karlsruhe.

The KATRIN website has a lot of pictures but a very nice summary can be found at Fogonazos:

How to move a 200-ton spectrometer across Europe
In November 2006, people living at Leopoldshafen, in Germany, witnessed a 200-ton container moving across the streets. It looked like an alien spaceship, but it was actually the main spectrometer of the KATRIN experiment, a project that will try to to measure the mass of the electron neutrino in 2009.

The main spectrometer is manufactured from stainless steel sheets, and it's 24-meter long, a size that have never been built before. The detector was manufactured by MAN DWE in Deggendorf, but then had to be brought to Karlsruhe, which is about 400 km away from Deggendorf. However, since the tank was too big for European roads, they had to take an interesting detour.

Here is one picture:


Here is a map of the route taken:


WOW! The master list of all of the photos (large filesizes) can be found here: Arrival of the KATRIN Main Spectrometer at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe

A grounded discussion of Global Warming

Check out this discussion by Bob Carter on YouTube Professor Carter's biography is here: Biography of Professor Robert (Bob) M. Carter
Bob Carter is a Research Professor at James Cook University (Queensland) and the University of Adelaide (South Australia). He is a palaeontologist, stratigrapher, marine geologist and environmental scientist with more than thirty years professional experience, and holds degrees from the University of Otago (New Zealand) and the University of Cambridge (England). He has held tenured academic staff positions at the University of Otago (Dunedin) and James Cook University (Townsville), where he was Professor and Head of School of Earth Sciences between 1981 and 1999.

Bob has wide experience in management and research administration, including service as Chair of the Earth Sciences Discipline Panel of the Australian Research Council, Chair of the national Marine Science and Technologies Committee, Director of the Australian Office of the Ocean Drilling Program, and Co-Chief Scientist on ODP Leg 181 (Southwest Pacific Gateways).
So academically, the guy is no slouch. Here is his article on Australia's Great Barrier Reef which many environmentalists are wringing their hands over:
The Great Barrier Reef is doing just fine: a precautionary tale
The matter of damage to the Great Barrier Reef by human activity has been much in the news lately. Current public perception is that the reef is being destroyed by one or all of land runoff, water turbidity, wonky holes, chemical pollution, crown-of thorns starfish outbreaks, tourist pressure, sea-level change and climate change, to name a few.

Against this background, the independent assessment by the Productivity Commission that "there is no conclusive evidence yet of water quality decline within the GBR lagoon or of any resulting damage to ecosystems" is particularly important, despite the mysterious "yet".

The Commission's conclusion agrees with studies completed in the 1990s by sedimentologists at James Cook University, and with more recent comprehensive environmental investigations in the Cairns' region. This research shows that muddy water is a normal natural phenomenon in all inshore reef waters, that inshore reefs thrive in such conditions, and that abundant space is available for the deposition of sediment before it will impact the main reef tract. At current rates of production, a direct sediment impact on the reef is going to take more than 100,000 years to occur, which is a little beyond the usual electoral cycle.
Much more at the website. Anyway, do yourself a favor and spend the ten minutes at YouTube

Meet Chilli

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Awwwww - cute!
From the UK Daily Mail:
Pictured: The giant 6ft cow that is as big as a small elephant
His name is Chilli and he's described as a gentle giant.

Which is just as well for his handler, Tara Nirula, pictured by his side.

His owners have contacted the Guinness Book of Records who are currently assessing his credentials and comparing them to other big bovines.

The black and white Friesian bullock weighs well over a ton and at the same height as a small elephant, casts a shadow over his cattle companions who are about 5ft.
And this wonderful typo or odd British phrase:
Despite his grand stature, Chilli only grazes on grass during the day and enjoys the occasional swede as a treat.
Emphasis mine -- have they heard from the Swedish Embassy yet? And a tip of the hat to Neatorama

Meet Tica

Here is part of an image of Tica.
This was not done with photography, CGI, Photoshop or any digital method. This was done 99% with an airbrush. The other 1% is other traditional illustration methods. More at here: Blair Art Studios
This is a painting completed in February 2005. It was a Portrait Class project that I decided to finish in my spare time after the workshop. It probably took a total of around 65-75 hours to complete. The small images are step by step photographs taken during the painting process, and the large image is the final painting after detail and skin texture are added with an eraser and colored pencil. The main colors are blocked in at the beginning, but refinement is withheld until the very end. Look for a more complete step by step article in an upcoming magazine issue~Dru Blair
The website shows it in various stages of completion. Amazing work! Hat tip to Dodgeblogium for the link!
From an email list I subscribe to:
I don't usually pass on serious threat advice or info. However we had all better wake up and start paying attention!

This morning, from somewhere in Pakistan, Taliban Minister of Migration, Mohammad Omar, warned the United States that if military action against Iraq continues, Taliban authorities will cut off America 's supply of convenience store managers. And if this action does not yield sufficient results, cab drivers will be next, followed by Dell Computer customer service reps, & Motel 6 and Motel 8 managers, and liquor store cashiers.

Who knew it would come to this - It's getting ugly.

Holy Crap -- this is awesome

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My God It's Full Of Stars

It is also slowish but my laptop is not the fastest puppy out there. Again, check out the World Wide Telescope
Check out Microsoft's World Wide Telescope. System requirements are a bit stiff but it should be awesome. Downloading the client as I type -- 20MB and will probably not do much of anything else for a few days at least... (grin)
Mischa over at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler has a few words:
How Do You Feel, Envirowhackos?
While noted mass murderer and instigator of what may eventually become the worst crime against humanity in history, Al Gore, gets ever more fat and bloated from the money he is skimming off of his Glowbull Wormening scam, people are starving to death and rioting all over the world (via Stop the ACLU):
In Haiti, the prime minister was kicked out of office Saturday, and hospital beds are filled with wounded following riots sparked by food prices.

In Egypt, rioters have burned cars and destroyed windows of numerous buildings as police in riot gear have tried to quell protests.

Images from Bangladesh and Mozambique tell a similar story.

And interesting pictures they are too, we might add. Meanwhile, the only ones getting truly obscenely fat are the Goreacle and the greedy pigs in AgBusiness feeding at the trough of biofuel subsidies. Hopefully they�ll all have massive, simultaneous, synchronized coronaries soon. Then we can feed their bloated carcasses to the poor.

So tell us, greenies, just how smug and superior do you feel now, knowing that filling up your car with ethanol just ONCE uses enough grains to feed a family for a year? Knowing that your biofuel craze and idiotic, imbecilic, cretinous cult of Gaia and your actions are responsible for the deaths of thousands, deaths that are occurring right NOW?

How does it feel to be on the road to being directly responsible for even more deaths than Adolf Hitler?

Do you feel at all, fucknuggets?
And it all started with a government subsidy for a fuel that costs more energy to make than it yields at the pump. Throw in a cooling climate causing lower agricultural yields and you have a recipe for disaster. And meanwhile, Gore is hauling in money hand over fist.
Jen and I were at a wine tasting today. Our distributors host these every few months to showcase new wines and to keep us store owners happy and thinking good thoughts about their wines. We were talking to another taster who commented on the prevalence of screw-top caps on wine bottles. His observation was an interesting one -- 10% of corked wine goes bad due to cork failure letting in Oxygen. The synthetic corks and screw tops and tetra-pak containers eliminate this. Market forces then dictate that as cork becomes less profitable, cork trees are taken out and the land is used for other types of agriculture or developed residentially - vacation housing. The unintended consequence of this is that the cork forest is home to several endangered species -- the Iberian lynx (150 remaining, 30 breeding females), the Iberian imperial eagle and the Barbary deer. Wine is not entirely to blame -- cork is a material with a lot of uses -- from Put A Cork In It:
The first thought that pops into most people�s heads when thinking about cork is its distinctive use as the stoppers on wine bottles. This earth friendly material actually has many other uses other than keeping liquid contained. Because of it�s versatile characteristics, it has also become a more popular option for flooring. Cork comes in a rainbow of colors ranging from alabaster to scarlet, and has many benefits. Cork floors have been used for commercial as well as private use. From simple to high class, cork is sure to give your house a comfortable feel. It can easily be cut to fashion floor mosaics, borders, and many other designs. You can even install cork flooring yourself by gluing it to the floor. If you are interested in ordering cork flooring, many websites make it readily available.

Because of the cork�s structure, it has many benefits. Not only is it comfortably cushy; it also reduces heat-loss, repels insects and mold, and prevents rotting thanks to its naturally waxy substance called suberin. The main function of suberin is to prevent water from penetrating the cork tissue. Cork can actually be submerged in water for extended periods of time without having any water damage. Suberin also makes cork fire resistant.
And Uses and Harvesting of Cork:
One of the main use of cork is in low temperature insulation, the insulation is used in water coolers, around the pipes of mechanical refrigerating systems, cold storage warehouses. When using cork for insulation it is first grounded up, pressed into molds and baked with its own natural resins into slabs of the desired shape.

Cork sheets or cork tiles are used in soundproofing and as floor coverings.

Cork is used to make stoppers for bottles and barrels. Cork composition is used to line metal caps for sealing bottles.

Other product that also uses corks are floats, innersoles for shoes, gasket, washers, fishing poles grips, bulletin boards, cork paper for cigarette tips.
An interesting cause and effect. Cork is enjoying a closer look by designers -- people are even producing a cork fiber so for its losses in the wine industry, new uses are cropping up.
Good news and stupid news. First, from the BBC:
No jabs, no school says Labour MP
Children who have not received all their vaccinations should not be allowed to start school, a Labour MP has suggested.

Speaking in the left-wing Fabian Society magazine, Mary Creagh said the move would increase the uptake of the controversial MMR vaccine.

In the same article, public health expert Sir Sandy Macara suggests linking child benefits to vaccinations.
And a bit more:
Public confidence in vaccination, and in MMR particularly, fell after research raised the possibility that the jab may be linked to an increased risk of autism.

The research has since been debunked, and a string of studies have concluded that the triple vaccine - which protects against rubella and mumps as well as measles - is perfectly safe.

But immunisation rates are still well below the 95% needed for so-called "herd immunity" and are particularly low in London.

As a result there have been several outbreaks of measles.
For more on Herd Immunity read here: Herd Immunity This article at Wikipedia states that for some diseases, you only need as few as 80% of the population to be immunized for protection of the entire population (Polio and Rubella in this case -- the percent rises to 92% for Pertussis (Whooping Cough)). What happens when you have a population with 50% immunization. This stupidity from El Sobrante, CA, a suburb of the San Francisco/Berkeley area... From ABC News:
East Bay Waldorf School closed Friday -- school closed after Whooping Cough outbreak.
The Contra Costa County Health Department is closing East Bay Waldorf School in El Sobrante until Monday because of a whooping cough outbreak. More than a dozen cases have been reported.

In the East Bay, a contagious disease has shut down an entire school.
And a bit more:
Students attending California schools are required to get immunizations for whooping cough but parents can opt out.

The state averages a 99 percent immunization rate. But at East Bay Waldorf School, health officials say less than 50 percent are protected from the disease and say that's why it was able to spread so easily.
Talk about blindness and willful stupidity. But that's to be expected at a Waldorf School -- from the same article:
The Waldorf School System was founded by Rudolph Steiner in 1919. He believed children were made stronger through illness and believed in a holistic approach to medicine.
How these places have credentials (and students) is beyond me. Hat tip to the Glen, the Puppy Blender at Instapundit

Seriously WTF? Talk about stupid tatoos


Words fail...

Current footware in Japan

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Hat tip to Living the Scientific Life:
Suicide Shoes: Get Yours Today!
A friend sent me these images today, claiming that these are "all the fashion rage in Japan". I find that hard to believe and besides, just looking at them makes me hurt all over. Anyway, I don't want to scare you away immediately, so I have arranged these shoes so the styles evolve from less to more insane. That way, you can build up your tolerance.
Here is a mid-range example:

Computer fun today

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Working at the store getting the video rental system up and running. It will import an Excel spreadsheet so getting our 1,800 DVD's entered is actually a fairly easy proposition but there are lots of duplicate reference numbers and the import throws up when it finds one. So far I'm up above the 1,000 mark so the end is in sight.

No more posting tonight

Still working on the website and with the deluge we are having, our satellite bandiwdth is in the terlit...

Just WOW!

Three amazing photographs at BLDGBLOG:

Click to embiggen.

Click to embiggen.

Click to embiggen.
[Images: Airborne electricity grabs hold of a volcanic plume - in this case, Chile's Chaiten volcano, which began erupting last week "for the first time in some 9,000 years." Photos by Carlos Gutierrez for UPI].

There are a bunch more at the Carlos Gutierrez link.

A big hat tip to Dennis Ranch for the links to these two editorials: First -- Al Gore And Climate Ka-Ching

Gore's reaction to the death and destruction caused by a cyclone ravaging Burma was to utter an emphatic "I told you so" Tuesday on National Public Radio. In an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" broadcast, the jolly green giant made the charge while talking about the paperback release of his ironically named book, "The Assault on Reason."

Ignoring the fact that the rising death toll is due in part to an incompetent, isolationist and authoritarian government that allows most of its people to live in shanty towns of tin and bamboo, Gore claimed that "we're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."

In other words, people die in Rangoon because of an SUV in Richmond, Va.

There's a "trend toward more Category 5 storms," Gore claimed, and this trend "appears to be linked to global warming and specifically to the impact of global warming on higher ocean temperatures in the top couple of hundred feet in the ocean, which drives convection energy and moisture into these storms and makes them more powerful."

Except, as we recently noted, the trend in the world's oceans -- as shown by measurements taken by a fleet of 3,000 high-tech ocean buoys first deployed in 2003 -- is toward cooling. As Dr. Josh Willis, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, noted in a separate interview with National Public Radio, "there has been a very slight cooling" over the buoys' five years of observation.

As Joseph D'Aleo, the Weather Channel's first director of meteorology, told National Review Online's Deroy Murdock that the slight warming trend "peaked in 1998, and the temperature trend the last decade has been flat, even as CO2 has increased 5.5%. Cooling began in 2002." He added: "Ocean buoys have echoed that slight cooling since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration deployed them in 2003."

Which all leads to this little bit of information:

So why the hype? Well, global warming is a growth industry designed to keep Earth and some bank accounts green.

Gore himself joined the venture capital group, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers just last September. On May 1, the firm announced a $500 million investment in maturing green technology firms called the Green Growth Fund.

The group announced another $700 million to be invested over the next three years in green-tech startup firms. But if the green technology business, uh, cools down, there will be no return on that investment. There would be no need for such investments if global warming wasn't a threat. So Gore just launched, among other things, a $300 million on an ad campaign to convince us it is so.

Speaking at a conference in Monterey, Calif., on March 1, the former vice president admitted to having "a stake" in a number of green investments into which he recommended attendees put money rather than "subprime carbon assets" such as tar sands and shale oil. He also is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management, which sells carbon offsets that allow rich polluters to continue polluting with a clear conscience.

Second -- Democrats' Windfall Tax - On You

The planned 25% tax on windfall profits would be imposed on oil company earnings above what the Senate's wise members decided was "reasonable." Never mind that what's "reasonable" to one person might be punitive to another.

Senators also want to impose steep penalties on "price gouging" -- despite the fact that some 17 separate studies have found it doesn't exist. The plan amounts to little more than an attempt to impose price controls -- a socialist tool dressed up in populist garb.

Democrats hailed their new measure as an attack on "the root causes of high gas prices." That's one of the more laughable comments to emerge from the Senate in some time.

As any student who's taken Econ 101 at the local junior college can tell you, higher taxes don't encourage production; they discourage it. But Senate Democrats apparently played hooky the day taxes were discussed. They should at least have read the report from their own nonpartisan Congressional Research Service in 2006.

Emphasis mine. The last time we instituted Price Controls on gasoline prices was during the Carter administration and this led directly to the huge gas lines. Typical that the Democrats would try something like this again and in such an underhanded way...

Light posting yet again

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Working on fine tuning the Crossroads site -- the stuff I'm working on is not "live" yet but should be fairly soon.

Comparitive housing prices

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Fun article at divine caroline:
Colossal Castle or Humble Home? Same Price � Your Choice
The subprime mortgage crisis has hit. America is homeless, broke, foreclosed, and in the midst of a financial crisis. Similar to when there were rumors of the draft resurfacing, many of us are saying, �I�m moving to Canada.� However, I urge you to look beyond our friendly northern neighbor to a more majestic and�dare I say�regal era. From the rolling green pastures of France, to the sparkling coastline of Mexico, why live in a cramped, rat-infested junior one-bedroom when you can reign high in your very own castle?
She then lists a number of examples. Here is one of them:
France v. Los Angeles � $500,000
Half a million dollars in France will get you five-bedrooms, or one quarter, of a nineteenth century chateau. This chateau is encircled with a rushing river, lush landscape, gardens, sauna, and swimming pool.

In the concrete jungle suburb of Los Angeles, Downey, your half a mil will buy this lovely four bedroom two-point-five bathroom home. It is encircled with growing weeds, a dead tree, and your own garden hose.

Unh Jen - start packing. We're moving to Downey...
This is abject lunacy - from CNN/Asia:
U.N. 'furious' as Myanmar aid 'seized'
Aid agencies are furious over the Myanmar's government's refusal to allow them to distribute food and supplies flown in for cyclone disaster victims.

The ruling military junta has been allowing planes to land, but is not letting the cargo be distributed by most foreign aid workers, especially those from Western nations.

The Asia head of the United Nations' World Food Program said Friday that the government had seized the contents of two flights that arrived in the morning at Yangon which carried enough food for 95,000 people. They contained 38 tons of high-energy biscuits, medical kits and other items.

"We off-loaded the food, and then the authorities refused us permission to take that food away," WFP director Tony Banbury said.

"We were told we needed a special letter from the Minister of Social Welfare. We hand-delivered a request to him. The answer back was 'No, you can't have the food.'

"That food is now sitting on the tarmac doing no good. I'm furious. This is unacceptable."
And a bit more:
Friday's move by the Myanmar military government to stop aid workers distributing supplies came one day before a national constitutional referendum that would strengthen the power of the military junta.

The government delayed voting in areas most ravaged by last Saturday's cyclone, but, despite urging by U.N. General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon, refused to cancel the balloting countrywide. Ban told authorities it may be "prudent" to focus their resources on emergency response efforts.

Political observers note that Myanmar has been isolated from outside influences since the military began ruling the country in 1962.
I wonder when the junta will fall -- I am betting in less than a year...

Very clever idea -- from CNN:

Amputee vets see eye-to-eye on Segways
U.S. Army Sgt. Jacque Keeslar lost both legs in Iraq nearly two years ago. To get around, he relies on a wheelchair and a pair of artificial legs, which help him walk in short bursts.

"If I have to do a half mile or mile of walking, it just exhausts me," Keeslar said.

Now, thanks to a specially designed Segway, the battery-powered transporter, Keeslar says he can ditch his wheelchair and get around without people looking down on him.

Keeslar was among 30 vets who received their own modified Segways this week, courtesy of Disability Rights Advocates for Technology.

The nonprofit group presented its latest batch of Segways to the veterans in a ceremony Wednesday at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia. That brings the number of Segways they have donated to vets to about 150.

A perfect example of appropriate technology.

OMFG! From The Consumerist:
Walgreens Thanks Nurse For Rescuing Comatose Diabetic By Sending Her Glucometer Bill
A woman went into a potentially fatal diabetic coma while in line at a New York-area Walgreens. Two nurses and an off duty sheriff's officer happened to be in line. They grab a carton of OJ, some sugar, and a glucometer and manage to raise her blood sugar a little bit. According to their reports, after the paramedics took the patient away, the Walgreens manager came out to demand that the merchandise be paid for, otherwise it's shoplifting. Good thing they were there, otherwise he might have tried to fine the diabetic for blocking the checkout line.
If this happened at our store, we would chalk these items up for store use or promotional. Talk about being unnecessarily anal. And Wallgreens apology? . . . . . . . . -- crickets --
From the BBC:
Irish Viking trade centre unearthed
One of the Vikings' most important trading centres has been discovered in Ireland.

The settlement at Woodstown in County Waterford is estimated to be about 1,200 years old.

It was discovered during archaeological excavations for a road by-pass for Waterford city, which was founded by the Vikings.

The Irish government said the settlement was one of the most important early Viking age trading centres discovered in the country.

Its working group, which includes archaeologists from Ireland's museum and monuments service, said it was of international significance and showed the community was wealthy and sought to remain at Woodstown permanently.

Almost 6,000 artefacts and a Viking chieftain's grave have been discovered at the site, which was established by the year 860. The grave contains a sword, shield and silver mark.
Fascinating -- it's interesting to read about the extent of their travels in an era with little to no navigational tools. Latitude could be determined fairly easily but Longitude wasn't available until Harrison's Chronometer. Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.

Got a big one in Iraq

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Hat tip to Charles at LGF for this story:
Got a Big Al Qaeda Fish in Iraq
Not completely confirmed but looking good: Leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq Arrested in Mosul.
BAGHDAD � The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was arrested in the northern city of Mosul, the Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

Spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said the arrest of al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, was confirmed to him by the Iraqi commander of the province. There was no immediate confirmation or comment from U.S. forces on the arrest.

The U.S. military in Baghdad said �we are currently checking with Iraqi authorities to confirm the accuracy of this information.�

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said that Mosul police �arrested one of Al Qaeda�s leaders at midnight and during the primary investigations he admitted that he is Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir.�
Good news if true. These scum need to be rolled up and wiped of the face of this planet.

RIP - Bebe Barron

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From the New York Times:
Bebe Barron, 82, Pioneer of Electronic Scores, Is Dead
Bebe Barron, who with her husband Louis composed the first electronic score for a feature film � the eerie gulps and burbles, echoes and weeeoooos that accentuated invisible monsters and robotic creatures in the 1956 science-fiction classic �Forbidden Planet� � died Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 82.

Her son, Adam, said she died of natural causes. Louis Barron died in 1989.

The score for �Forbidden Planet� � the tale of a starship crew that travels 17 light years from Earth to investigate why settlers on the planet Altair-4 have gone silent � �is truly a landmark in electro-acoustic music,� Barry Schrader, a professor of electro-acoustic music at the California Institute of the Arts, said Thursday.

While the Barrons created electronically produced themes for the film�s characters and events, Professor Schrader said, their score crossed the traditional line between music and sound effects.
She will be missed -- a music pioneer.

Smile for the camera, Senator Kerry

Kerry likes boobies.

From Caption This! comes this photo:


Heh. You are sooooo busted Senator Kerry... What would Theresa say:

From AgWeb:
Wheat Tour: Healthier Crop Found in Eastern Kansas
The health of the Kansas wheat crop is better in comparison to last year, according to field reports from the first day of the 2008 Hard Winter Wheat Tour sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council.

The tour averaged a calculated yield of 45.4 bushels per acre on the first day and logged 190 stops across northern Kansas and far southern Nebraska, which compares to 40.0 bushels per acre last year for the same route when 209 fields were sampled. This year�s calculated yield for the first day of the tour is the highest since 2005 when the tour reported a yield of 48.9 bushels per acre with 192 stops logged.

Tour participants in the first leg of the tour reported that crop conditions in the eastern part of the state are a great improvement over last year when a freeze caused severe damage to the region. However, crop conditions in the western part of Kansas are struggling due to dryness, late planting and poor germination rates.

A consistent theme of very low disease pressure or insect infestation was noted on the first day when all field reports were accounted for.
Germination rates are tied to the cooler weather but still, this is excellent news.

More on the government of Myanmar

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From the New York Times: (use bug-me-not for a username and login)
Myanmar Faces Pressure to Allow Major Aid Effort
As hungry, shivering survivors waited among the dead for help on Wednesday after a huge cyclone in Myanmar, aid agencies and diplomats said the delivery of relief supplies was being slowed by the reluctance of the country�s secretive military leaders to allow an influx of outsiders.
Despite the emerging scale of the disaster, the Myanmar government has let in little aid and has restricted movement in the delta, aid agencies say. It has not granted visas to aid workers, even though supplies are being marshaled in nearby countries like Thailand.
And the United Nations is being its usual useless self:
�We are seeing at the United Nations if we can�t implement the responsibility to protect, given that food, boats and relief teams are there, and obtain a United Nations resolution which authorizes the delivery and imposes this on the Burmese government,� Mr. Kouchner told reporters in Paris. He is a co-founder of the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

But the United Nations� under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, John Holmes, resisted the idea of taking action to force Myanmar to open its doors, though he noted that 50 to 100 United Nations aid workers were awaiting word on their applications for visas.

In 2005, the United Nations recognized the concept of �responsibility to protect� civilians when their governments could or would not do it, even if this meant intervention that violated national sovereignty. But it has been rarely applied.
And one more:
In Paris, Mr. Kouchner said that the French, British and Indian Navies had ships directly opposite the worst-hit areas of Myanmar and were ready to help.

�It would only take half an hour for the French boats and French helicopters to reach the disaster area, and I imagine it�s the same story for our British friends,� he said. �We are putting constant pressure on the Burmese authorities but we haven�t yet got the go-ahead.�
How could anyone be so craven -- the generals who rule Myanmar are destroying their people. This would be an excellent place for a Democracy. Hat tip to Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution for the link.
Hat tip to Firehand for the link to this story:
Nabbed and held captive by Brooklyn Jihadis!
A tree grew in Brooklyn.

No longer.

It has been uprooted by the Masjid At-Taqwa and other radical mosques that have sprouted up like huge mechanical mushrooms throughout the borough.

If you tarry in front of the Masjid At-Taqwa in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district and dare to take a photo, you might get hauled away by a group of angry Muslims in Islamic attire to the basement of the facility where a group of twenty �security guards� in karate suits will interrogate you.

This sounds preposterous.

But it happened on a weekend in late April at 3:00 in the afternoon.
The article goes on to talk about some of the people affiliated with that mosque including:
The place has played host to a number of notorious exponents of radical Islam, including Clement Rodney Hampton-El (Dr. Rashid), a key player in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Mr. Hampton-El is presently cooling his heels in a federal slammer since he was found guilty of seditious conspiracy. Mr. Hampton-El, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, fought as a mujahadeen under Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the holy war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan..

Upon his return, Hampton-El was hailed as a hero by members of the mosque. Imam Wahaj has said that he was sought out by young and old alike for spiritual advice as an �elder� in the community. Wahaj, in fact, appeared as a character witness for Hampton El when the former mujahadeen stood trial before Judge Michael Mukasey in New York�s Federal District Court on charges of seditious conspiracy and attempted bombing..

Hampton-El is currently serving thirty-five years in a supermax prison for America�s most dangerous inmates.
And the cast of characters goes on and on and on. That this could be happening in our country should be a sobering wakeup call...

Our rising Ocean

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From the January 1949 edition of Modern Mechanix:
Will Polar Waves Swamp America?
Farmer Williams was plowing the field back of his red barn in central Indiana shortly before noon. A few more furrows and he could quit for lunch. Then above the regular clatter of his tractor he heard an ominous, ground-shaking rumble. He turned on the tractor seat� and saw a towering mountain of water roaring down upon him.

The sweeping wave brought death to Farmer Williams and churned the Mid-West into an inland sea.

This may be the doom of America and our world as we know it. And that doom may crash upon us at any moment, according to Hugh Auchincloss Brown, 69-year-old electrical engineer of Douglaston, Long Island.

Engineer Brown firmly predicts this battered old earth is long overdue for another great flood unless we can put off our Day of Doom with a $10,000,000 atomic project.

Brown declares we must blast the Antarctic icecap with atom bombs!
Of course, anyone who has watched a glass of ice-water melt will know that this theory is pure bunk. Still, it is a cautionary tale of how preposterous ideas can become culturally accepted. I wonder what current "climate science" will look like in 25 years. If you want to read more of this lunacy, check out Cataclysms Of The Earth By Hugh Auchincloss Brown. A short biography can be found here: Hugh Auchincloss Brown

A good hire - Bill Bratton

In the last election, Boris Johnson defeated Red Ken Livingstone for the position of Mayor of London. One of his campaign promises was to cut crime. Today, he hired just the person for that job. From the UK Daily Mail:
Boris hires police chief who cleaned up the mean streets of New York as he puts crime at the heart of his manifesto
The man who cleaned up the streets of New York is to help mastermind Boris Johnson's crime crackdown in London.

U.S. police chief Bill Bratton will advise the new Tory mayor on how 'zero tolerance' of graffiti, fare-dodging and other minor crimes can prevent more serious offending.

The move underlines Mr Johnson's determination to wage war on youth violence and anti-social behaviour.

It chimes with David Cameron's promise to fight back against social breakdown and is further evidence that the capital will be a test-bed for a future Tory government.

Yesterday Mr Johnson proposed the creation of up to 100 weekend clubs, involving 'competition, discipline and punishment', to help troubled teenagers.

The 'respect schools' will offer youngsters activities such as football and boxing alongside academic subjects to help them perform the 'handbrake turn' needed to put them on the path to educational achievement.
Perfect choice. Maybe there is hope for England after all... Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.

Say goodbye to Sunspot #993

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Sunspot #993 was fading yesterday and today it is gone. Short lived and weak. From Spaceweather:
The cause of global cooling - the quiet Sun.
Derek Lowe and one of his readers compiled a map of the world. From Derek:
Science By Country
I�d like to see a map of the world with country size dependent on the number of scientific publications and patents � perhaps you�d want to use publications per capita, or per educated capita. That's a cartogram, and although there are plenty of interesting ones on the web, I haven't found that one yet. The US would loom large, that�s for sure. Japan might be the most oversized compared to its geography, although Singapore would also be a lot easier to pick out. Western Europe would expand to fill up a lot of space, with Germany, England, and France (among others) taking up proportionally more room inside the region and (perhaps) Spain and Portugal taking up somewhat less. Switzerland would swell dramatically.
This map can be found at Worldmapper:
A big version in PDF format can be downloaded from here. Derek has this observation:
Another region that would basically disappear would be the Middle East and most of the rest of the Islamic world. Iran would hang in there, smaller but recognizable, and you�d be able to find Pakistan, too. But the Arab countries (with the minor exception of Egypt) would nearly vanish. The figures from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (the multinational group involved) show that from 1995-2005, the Islamic countries contributed 2.5% of all the peer-reviewed scientific papers. That�s all the more interesting when you consider the amount of potential funding that washes around that part of the world.
Very true -- the people in the Middle East need to get their heads out of the sand and wake up to the fact that this is 2008 and the world is eclipsing them faster and faster. Only their oil money is keeping them from being primitive nomadic tribesmen and their oil is a finite resource...
From Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard comes this story:
Bar owners, city at odds over shrubs
They could be considered the $23,000 shrubs.

In an effort to comply with the city of Eugene�s 2005 outdoor smoking ordinance, owners at the Horsehead bar downtown said they spent more than $10,000 to replace tall fencing surrounding its back smoking area with planter boxes containing arborvitae and other plants.

Their solution, owners say, satisfies the idea behind the code � keeping employees safe from second-hand smoke. The code prohibits smoking within 10 feet of doorways and requires that 75 percent or more of smoking enclosures be open to outdoor air.

The city planning division disagreed, defining the vegetation as a wall capable of trapping enough smoke to harm bar workers. They also said the shrubbery went in opposition to explicit directions against its use when they conditionally approved a building permit for the planters last year.

As a result, the city has levied $12,960 in fines against the Horsehead since February.

The squabble has already gone before a city hearings official, who upheld the planning division�s interpretation that arborvitae are a wall.

It�s now headed to Lane County Circuit Court and possibly to the Eugene City Council, where councilors Betty Taylor and Bonny Bettman have said the code may need clarification.
Like this is a wall:
Christ on a corn-dog -- this is a perfect example of useless "nanny-stateism". People in positions of authority not engaging their brains and causing damage to others through unintended consequences... It will be interesting to see if these people are still in public office after the next elections...
Crap -- from CNN:
U.S. envoy: Myanmar deaths may top 100,000
The death toll from the cyclone that ravaged the Irrawaddy delta in Myanmar may exceed 100,000, the senior U.S. diplomat in the military-ruled country said Wednesday.

"The information we are receiving indicates over 100,000 deaths," the U.S. Charge D'Affaires in Yangon, Shari Villarosa, said on a conference call.

The U.S. figure is almost five times more than the 22,000 the Myanmar government has estimated.

The U.S. estimate is based on data from an international non-governmental organization, Villarosa said without naming the group. She called the situation in Myanmar "more and more horrendous."

"I think most of the damage was caused by these 12-foot storm surges," she said.

Villarosa also said about 95 percent of the buildings in the delta region were destroyed when Cyclone Nargis battered the area late Friday into Saturday.
To have so many people unprotected from such a minor event is unconscionable. Makes the poor local government planning of pre-Katrina New Orleans look like a walk in the park. And their government (a military junta -- read dictatorship) is activly stalling:
The United States has pledged $3.25 million and offered to send Navy ships to the region to help relief efforts -- if Myanmar's government agrees.

The U.S. military has flown six cargo helicopters onto a Thai airbase, as Washington awaits permission to go into the south Asian country, two senior military officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.

Other countries and world bodies including Britain, Japan, the European Union, China, India, Thailand, Australia, Canada and Bangladesh have also pitched in.
The leaders must really care for their people.
Hat tip to Theo for this perfect photo:
African Politics: Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil..........

....just be bloody evil!!

Minimal posting tonight as well

Had a Chamber of Commerce board meeting tonight and then helped Jen stock and close at the store. We just got back in and are both very tired. One of our Llamas (Willy) has made the wonderful discovery that if you jump high enough, you can clear the fence of the paddock. Just wonderful. He did it yesterday, we got him back in and he did it again today. (Our first llama pair we named Pancho and Lefty; we continued the "bad boy" riff on our second pair with Waylon and Willie -- except for Pancho, the names they came to us with were not anything we liked so a change was in order.) I was going into town for some stuff anyway so I picked up some electric fence material and tomorrow will have a little surprise for them. The present fence is woven wire and they were bending over it as the grass is always greener on the other side. This got the fence pushed down far enough that it is no longer five feet tall; more like three. I will be stringing a shock wire across the very tops of the poles so this should effectively put a stop to that little behavior pattern... Planning on spending tomorrow at home helping a good friend who we are hiring to do some work on the farm. Life goes on...

Horrible news from Myanmar

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The cost of last week's Cyclone Nargis is turning out to be a lot worse than initially reported. Myanmar is run by its military so there is no free flow of news. From Reuters/UK:
Myanmar cyclone toll climbs to nearly 22,500
Myanmar's military government raised its death toll from Cyclone Nargis on Tuesday to nearly 22,500 with another 41,000 missing, nearly all of them from a massive storm surge that swept into the Irrawaddy delta.

The United Nations' World Food Programme began doling out emergency rice in Yangon and the first batch of more than $10 million (5.06 million pounds) worth of foreign aid arrived from Thailand on Tuesday, but a lack of specialized equipment slowed distribution.
President Bush offered aid:
"Our message is to the military rulers," Bush said. "Let the United States come and help you, help the people."

He said he was prepared to make U.S. naval assets available for search and rescue.
But the military junta isn't letting it come in:
"The United Nations is asking the Burmese government to open its doors. The Burmese government replies: 'Give us money, we'll distribute it.' We can't accept that," Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told parliament.
And another article from Reuters/UK:
Cyclone exposes myth of "strong" Myanmar military
For decades, Myanmar's ruling generals have defended the military's iron grip on power as vital to keeping the former Burma intact and on the road to prosperity. This week's devastating cyclone, which has killed at least 15,000 people in the Irrawaddy delta, has exposed the fragility of that myth with potentially major long-term implications for the junta, analysts say.

Many survivors of Cyclone Nargis's 190 km (120 miles) per hour winds criticised the army for a sluggish response, especially when compared with its willingness to flood the streets of Yangon with troops to crush last September's monk-led protests.

"The regime has lost a golden opportunity to send the soldiers as soon as the storm stopped to win the heart and soul of people," one retired civil servant told Reuters.
My heart goes out to these people -- to be living under a repressive military junta since 1946 and then this...

Amy Winehouse lookin' good - NOT

Yikes -- I guess that when Keith Richards tells you that you need to turn it around, that is some advice that should be listened to. The UK Daily Mail had these recent photos of her:

She was slated to record the theme song for the newest James Bond film but:
The singer has been recording with pal Ronson in his studios in Henley, Oxfordshire on the new 007 title track for Quantum of Solace.

However the pair fell out amid Miss Winehouse saying the song was �rubbish� and Ronson cancelling the sessions, claiming she is not fit to record music.
A shame - Back to Black was wonderful...

Light posting tonight

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Working on the website for our store. I keep raving about Textpattern but it's awesome and very flexible. The user support forums are great -- the two questions I had were answered within an hour or two.
I had written yesterday about the crash that we saw yesterday. Turns out that the person in question was a real piece of work. From the Seattle Times
Maple Valley suspect had a history of violent attacks
The man police believe killed a Maple Valley woman and her neighbor had a violent past that included an assault on his father, who had given him room and board and rescued him from trouble for years, court documents say.

Daniel Dooly, 40, was convicted of assaulting his father in May 2000. He also had been convicted of assaulting a Maple Valley woman and burglarizing her house in 1998, and he had five charges of domestic-violence assault from 1989 to 1996.
A fitting end...

Say hello to Sunspot #993

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Sunspot #993 showed up two days ago. A small one but it is a member of Solar Cycle #24 so progress in warming is being made...

Today was such a nice day that we decided to go on a bit of a road trip.

We picked up my Dad at his house around 10:00AM and proceeded south to the town of Burlington where we took Route 20 and proceeded East.

This road is the North Cascades Highway and was only reopened a few days ago after snow removal crews cleared it for this season. We were aiming for Breakfast at Clark's Cabins in Rockport but missed it and had a lousy lunch. Their breakfasts rock but today, the service was horrible. We were seated promptly and then left to wait ten minutes before our orders were taken. Three simple meals took another ten minutes to prepare (how hard is it to nuke a portion of BBQ Beef and put it on a bun or to grill a cheese sandwich?) There was only one other table in the place and they told us that we were lucky -- they had to wait an hour for their meals... Sad to see a cultural icon like that take such a turn for the worse.

The bunnies are still there though and they were cute...

We continued East through the town of Marblemount and ran into the: "Adams Legion School of the Battalion & Battle of Marblemount"

Attention All Good Southern Soldiers And Ladies
You are here-by ordered to report to
Adams Legion School of the Battalion & Battle of Marblemount

All Union Forces are Welcome to attend also.

May 2nd, 3rd, & 4th

To be held in the Town of Marblemount.

This year in addition to the regular Schools we will be participating in Camp Living History and a Battle/Skirmish to be held in the Town and surrounding areas. Families are welcome and encouraged to attend, as there will be a need for period townsfolk. Ladies bring your rolling pins, frying pans, brooms and any other household weapon you can wield, as you will be an integral part of the Battle/Skirmish scenario.

All Confederate Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery are welcome and encouraged to attend. The Town of Marblemount is really excited to have us and they are taking care of firewood, water, facilities and all the publicity. It promises to be a fun weekend and a good way to start off the season. Camping is period. Please see the schedule and directions below.

For information, contact:
Col. Frank L. Starr III 425-743-9851

Lots of black powder goodness and that Cannon was LOUD! Rattled the windows... Next we went over Washington Pass and headed down into the Methow Valley (pronounced Met-Tao) to the wonderful town of Winthrop. Jen had a hot dog and some homemade ice cream and Dad and I each just had the ice cream as we had had larger lunches. We hung out in the sun while being observed carefully by this little sprite in an upstairs window:


Finishing our snacks, we walked around for a bit. There used to be a Blacksmith in Winthrop but he retired and a glass blower has moved into the shop. Watched him work for a few minutes -- gorgeous stuff but not my muse. Piled into the car and headed back over Washington Pass (Elevation 5477 feet)


Passing through the town of Concrete, I stopped to take a photo of the building that burned a few days ago.

I had initially posted about it here: Awww crap - the Concrete Castle burns in a suspicious fire Turns out it was three kids playing with lighters.


Stopped in Mazama to look at a cool little store people had told us about.

Fewer SKUs than our place; they have a full-service deli and bakery as well as espresso. Prices were a bit steep but they are miles away from any services.

Finally, on our way home, we passed the scene of a grizzly accident. A Ford Truck had wrapped itself around a tree and it must have been doing at least 60MPH. There were a few ambulance and aid cars but they weren't doing very much so it didn't look good for whomever was driving. We get home and I Googled this story from the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Crash victim may be killer
2 slain in Maple Valley; dead man in woman's truck likely the suspect

After searching 22 hours for a suspect in the double homicide of a Maple Valley woman and her neighbor, King County sheriff's deputies may have found the man... Skagit County, dead, with the truck he was driving wrapped around a tree.

Police believe Daniel Dooly, described by police as 40 and white, bludgeoned the woman to death early Saturday evening.

Friends and family identified the female victim as Zoe Heath, 41, a divorced mother of two. Heath's mother, JoAnn Stevens-Morton, said the attack happened while she talked with her daughter on the phone about Dooly's refusal to leave her house.

Heath, who had been working for the King County Department of Parks and Recreation, lived in a tiny farmhouse on the 10-acre rural property with her two daughters, some dogs and a pair of horses. Her mother said Dooly had stalked her for months.

It is unclear if the second victim, a male neighbor, was an intended victim or someone who just happened to be in the killer's path.

King County sheriff's spokesman John Urquhart said formal identifications of the bodies would not be made until autopsies are completed today.

Earlier yesterday, Urquhart had announced a manhunt for Dooly, saying the suspect had driven off with the woman's black-and-silver Ford F-250 pickup truck after the slayings.

After the truck was found, Urquhart said deputies could not positively identify the driver as Dooly, who is from the Renton area.

The truck was found smashed against a tree just west of the Skagit County town of Concrete about 4 p.m. It had been speeding, Urquhart said.

Yikes -- quite the bizarre ending to an otherwise wonderful day... Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) in a few minutes to check email and then an early bed for me...

A humble list of accomplishments

From an email list dealing with scissor and knife sharpening:
Over the years now, I have kept a persona of a newbie. A humble and always-learning student o' sharpening. I can no longer keep up this facade! Boys, in all truthfulness, I own the most powerful scissor, shear, clipper blade, knife manufacturing company in the world. I can't tell you which one because then I'd have to preface this post with an (ADV). Suffice it to say that whatever knowledge YOU have...I greatly surpass it. My daddy, my daddy's daddy, and my daddy's daddy's daddy were in this business. Uwe and his family have nothing on me and MY family.

Now although grit runs through my veins, this is not the only thing I know. I am quite the renaissance woman! Here is just a very short list of the things I know/and or can do/and/or or have done in my relatively short 37 years:

-I have advanced degrees in metalurgy (of course), marketing, robotics (holding the highest degree of Doctorate Of Robotic Knowledge or as we in the know call it: DORK), and having long ago having achieved the award of Greatly Enhanced Executive of Knowledge or: GEEK.

-I have dated Charlton Heston, Prime Minister Tony Blair, The Bush Sisters (doubled 'em), David Koresh(I don't know what I was thinking, he had nice eyes), and Lou Ferrigno.

-I hold 1,410 patents including these everyday items: Lee Press On Nails, Dr Scholl's insoles, Zithromax, and Tidy Cat Clumping Litter.

-I have scaled Mount Everest...twice

-I ghost wrote the movies 'Ghost', 'Ghost Busters', 'Ghost Rider'(ugh, why the director chose Nick Cage is beyond me!), and 'Ghost World.(what can I say, I like ghosts. They're sooo transparent)

-I once killed a man just for snoring.

-I am a world renowned musician in: oboe, harpsichord, vibraharp, recorder, lute, bagpipes, monovalve B'rugalsec, and keytar. I toured with Bob Marley and the Wailers at the tender age of 10. Possibly this is why I am drawn to places with a high concentration of Bobs.

-A little known fact: The highest rank in the Masons is held by a woman. Moi.

-I am asked (begged, really) to tour with Cirque du Soleil at least 5 times a year, as I am incredibly limber and my contortioning skills are stellar.

-I got Whitney off the nose candy.

-Tom Cruise was really jumping of the couch for ME. It was in editing that Katie Holmes' name was inserted. We both realized that it just wouldn't be ethical because I am a high priestess of Scientology.

-I am just months away from the cure for Appendiceal Carcinoma.

-I have been in contact with aliens and am working hard on getting them to give us the plans for interstellar time jumping. There ARE worm holes and I have been on Furboc 9 to prove it.

-I am the voice of Elmo, Spongebob, and a myriad of other well known characters. I am also the voice on all of those movie previews. 'One man's quest to hold the title of Most Accomplishments in a lifetime, goes wrong...wacky wrong. Starring Wil Ferrell...' Sound familiar? Yeah I'm that voice too!
The truth is out. And it WILL set you free. Bow before mere mortals. I am your Goddess.


And BTW: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with ME.
The funny thing is that I Googled this and she is right! Don't know what she sees in Furboc 9 though - the place had gone downhill a lot since the last time I visited (1853). The last Memnlorph stand was out of business and had relocated to Xtlorph 7 and you all know what I feel about Xtlorph 7. Uggghhh... Heh...

Minimal posting tonight

Fleshing out the Crossroads Grocery website I know I keep saying it but Textpattern really rocks -- very extensible.

A few words about London's new Mayor

Jennifer Marohasy compiled a few comments about Boris Johnson's defeat of 'Red Ken' Livingstone. Here are two:

There are a hundred reasons why Boris Johnson should not be Mayor of London. But his dinosaur views on the environment alone are enough to show what a disaster he would be for our city. The man who backed Bush against the Kyoto treaty and who doesn't believe there's a risk from passive smoking cannot be trusted with our future - or even, really, with his own. He's a 19th century man in a 21st century city.
--Sian Berry, Green Party, 25 April 2008

Under a climate change denier like Boris Johnson, we would have to fear for our futures, and for the jobs of all the hundreds who work for us. We would also have to fear for the physical security of the city itself, under the assault of unmitigated global warming, were others to follow Johnson's 'lead' on climate change.
--Jeremy Leggett, SolarCentury, 25 April 2008

And finally, here is something from Mr. Johnson himself:

The hypocrisy of the Europeans over Kyoto is staggering. They attack America in hysterical terms, and yet the 15 EU countries have never come close to meeting their own eight per cent target for cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. They have not even agreed which countries should cut the most. If America were to meet its Kyoto targets now, it would require a cut of 30 per cent in emissions, and how, exactly, is that supposed to work in the current economic downturn? It would exacerbate the recession, and when Bush says no, he is doing what is right not just for America but for the world.
--Boris Johnson, The Daily Telegraph, April 2001

Snow Doughnuts

These rarely form but crews clearing snow from the North Cascades Highway found some.

From the WA State Department of Transportation:

March 28, 2008
Mmmm. Doughnuts. (See the picture on the right.) Mike Stanford has a nose for snow donuts. Mike is one of our avalanche control technicians. Two years in a row he has found snow donuts along the snow covered North Cascades Highway during the spring opening work.

This year's donuts don't have the same consistency or luster as last year's donuts. Pictures of last years donuts.

In case you missed it, Mike Stanford and his snow donuts made national news last year. Pictures of the donuts were seen in papers as far away as England. They were all the rage.

Here are two photos from this year:


From Colorado's KUSA*TV 9NEWS:
Gas thieves use cigarette lighter at the wrong time
The sheriff's office says two men trying to steal gas from a boat instead started a fire.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says Cody Sellards and Timothy Long tried to steal gas from Hank Ibarra's boat early Friday morning.

"They were looking inside the gas can to see how much room, or how full the gas can was of gas," said Heather Benjamin, spokesperson for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. "They looked into it with a cigarette lighter and the fumes caught on fire."

"It was pretty exciting," Ibarra said. "About 3:15, the neighbors called, my wife answered the phone � Of course I got woke up and she said, 'The boat's on fire.'"

Actually, the boat wasn't on fire; the flames were coming from the gas can in front of it.

When Ibarra told authorities the burnt jacket found near the scene wasn't his, deputies called St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction and asked if anyone had come in with burns. That's how they found Sellards.

Long's injuries were not immediately known.

Sellards and Long face fourth-degree arson, theft and trespassing charges.
About time -- an interesting writeup in the London Times about Nigel Calder, a former editor of the wonderful New Scientist magazine and his current view of Global Warming Climate Change:
An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change
Nigel Calder, former editor of New Scientist, says the orthodoxy must be challenged

When politicians and journalists declare that the science of global warming is settled, they show a regrettable ignorance about how science works. We were treated to another dose of it recently when the experts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued the Summary for Policymakers that puts the political spin on an unfinished scientific dossier on climate change due for publication in a few months� time. They declared that most of the rise in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to man-made greenhouse gases.

The small print explains �very likely� as meaning that the experts who made the judgment felt 90% sure about it. Older readers may recall a press conference at Harwell in 1958 when Sir John Cockcroft, Britain�s top nuclear physicist, said he was 90% certain that his lads had achieved controlled nuclear fusion. It turned out that he was wrong. More positively, a 10% uncertainty in any theory is a wide open breach for any latterday Galileo or Einstein to storm through with a better idea. That is how science really works.

Twenty years ago, climate research became politicised in favour of one particular hypothesis, which redefined the subject as the study of the effect of greenhouse gases. As a result, the rebellious spirits essential for innovative and trustworthy science are greeted with impediments to their research careers. And while the media usually find mavericks at least entertaining, in this case they often imagine that anyone who doubts the hypothesis of man-made global warming must be in the pay of the oil companies. As a result, some key discoveries in climate research go almost unreported.

Enthusiasm for the global-warming scare also ensures that heatwaves make headlines, while contrary symptoms, such as this winter�s billion-dollar loss of Californian crops to unusual frost, are relegated to the business pages. The early arrival of migrant birds in spring provides colourful evidence for a recent warming of the northern lands. But did anyone tell you that in east Antarctica the Ad�lie penguins and Cape petrels are turning up at their spring nesting sites around nine days later than they did 50 years ago? While sea-ice has diminished in the Arctic since 1978, it has grown by 8% in the Southern Ocean.

So one awkward question you can ask, when you�re forking out those extra taxes for climate change, is �Why is east Antarctica getting colder?� It makes no sense at all if carbon dioxide is driving global warming. While you�re at it, you might inquire whether Gordon Brown will give you a refund if it�s confirmed that global warming has stopped. The best measurements of global air temperatures come from American weather satellites, and they show wobbles but no overall change since 1999.

That levelling off is just what is expected by the chief rival hypothesis, which says that the sun drives climate changes more emphatically than greenhouse gases do. After becoming much more active during the 20th century, the sun now stands at a high but roughly level state of activity. Solar physicists warn of possible global cooling, should the sun revert to the lazier mood it was in during the Little Ice Age 300 years ago.
The article generated over 900 comments -- some of them are the typical frothing at the mouth "OMFG - we're all gonna die" but many more of them are the reasoned "Hmmmm... this makes sense" variety. Glad to see some reality enter into this discussion.
From the Guardian:
Johnson beats Livingstone to become mayor of London
Boris Johnson was sensationally elected to one of the most powerful positions in Britain today when he ousted Ken Livingstone as mayor of London.

The Conservative MP, whose candidacy was once dismissed as a joke, beat Livingstone by 1,168,738 to 1,028,966 including second preferences - 53.2% to 46.8% - in a result announced five minutes before midnight.

The result set the seal on the best set of local election results for the Conservative party since 1992. The prospect of the Tories taking control of London has horrified Labour, and David Cameron will be hoping that the results set his party towards general election victory.

In his acceptance speech, Johnson, a journalist who first made his name as a national figure as a contestant on Have I Got News For You, acknowledged that many voters would have had their pencils "hovering for a moment" before they ticked the box on the ballot paper beside his name.

He promised he would "work flat out" to gain their trust.
Livingstone is a Socialist and was an ineffective mayor. Glad to see England recover its senses.
I was in Costco today doing a buying run for the store. Cruising through the tools and automotive section, I noticed some three-cell batteries. Since most 12-volt batteries use six cells, this caught my eye. Turns out they are selling this six-volt Golf Cart Battery for $78.89. Now there are a number of Golf Courses in this area (we have a great climate for grass and very fertile soil) but I thought it was a bit strange that Costco would be in this market. Then it hit me that there are a lot of people living off-grid and building electric vehicles out here and this would be the perfect battery for them to use. Very deep cycle, strongly built and lots of capacity. It doesn't show up on their website and the individual stores do have some measure of autonomy in what they carry but still, this is a wonderful addition to their product line. Kudos to Costco!

A bad season for Salmon

The Californian and Oregonian fishing season has been closed due to low populations...

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

All salmon fishing banned on West Coast
Salmon fishing was banned along the West Coast for the first time in 160 years Thursday, a decision that is expected to have a devastating economic impact on fishermen, dozens of businesses, tourism and boating.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez immediately declared a commercial fishery disaster, opening the door for Congress to appropriate money for anyone who will be economically harmed.

The closure of commercial and recreational fishing for chinook salmon in the ocean off California and most of Oregon was announced by the National Marine Fishery Service.

It followed the recommendation last month of the Pacific Fishery Management Council after the catastrophic disappearance of California's fabled fall run of the pink fish popularly known as king salmon.

It is the first total closure since commercial fishing started in the Bay Area in 1848.

Here is a PDF of the announcement from NOAA Work is underway to recover the population. Let's hope it wasn't started too late.

Our quiet Sun

Once again, the Sun has been without spots for an entire week.


It is more an Eye of HAL9000 malevolence than an Eye of Sauron malevelance...

Eye_HAL9000.jpg - versus - Eye_Sauron.jpg

Happy 44th Birthday: BASIC

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From Wired Magazine:
May 1, 1964: First Basic Program Runs
In the predawn hours of May Day, two professors at Dartmouth College run the first program in their new language, Basic.

Mathematicians John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz had been trying to make computing more accessible to their undergraduate students. One problem was that available computing languages like Fortran and Algol were so complex that you really had to be a professional to use them.

So the two professors started writing easy-to-use programming languages in 1956. First came Dartmouth Simplified Code, or Darsimco. Next was the Dartmouth Oversimplified Programming Experiment, or Dope, which was too simple to be of much use. But Kemeny and Kurtz used what they learned to craft the Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, or Basic, starting in 1963.

The college's General Electric GE-225 mainframe started running a Basic compiler at 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964. The new language was simple enough to use, and powerful enough to make it desirable. Students weren't the only ones who liked Basic, Kurtz wrote: "It turned out that easy-to-learn-and-use was also a good idea for faculty members, staff members and everyone else."

And it's not just for mainframes. Paul Allen and Bill Gates adapted it for personal computers in 1975, and it's still widely used today to teach programming and as a, well, basic language. (Reacting to the proliferation of complex Basic variants, Kemeny and Kurtz formed a company in the 1980s to develop True BASIC, a lean version that meets ANSI and ISO standards.)

The other problem Kemeny and Kurtz attacked was batch-processing, which made for long waits between the successive runs of a debugging process. Building on work by Fernando Corbat�, they completed the Dartmouth Time Sharing System, or DTSS, later in 1964. Like Basic, it revolutionized computing.

Ever the innovator, Kemeny served as president of Dartmouth, 1970-81, introducing coeducation to the school in 1972 after more than two centuries of all-male enrollment.
In the late 1970's and early 1980's, my Mom and Dad lived in Hanover where Dartmouth is located. My Dad got his first computer (Apple IIe+) for writing and during one Christmas visit (I was living in Boston at the time), I got him a dial-up account on the DTSS. 300 BAUD -- that was high tech. The modem cost $600 and was a bargain. We certainly have come a long long way from these beginnings...

Take that you.. you.. Lesbians!

Heh... From the BBC News:

Lesbos islanders dispute gay name
Campaigners on the Greek island of Lesbos are to go to court in an attempt to stop a gay rights organisation from using the term "lesbian".

The islanders say that if they are successful they may then start to fight the word lesbian internationally.

The issue boils down to who has the right to call themselves Lesbians.

Is it gay women, or the 100,000 people living on Greece's third biggest island - plus another 250,000 expatriates who originate from Lesbos?

The man spearheading the case, publisher Dimitris Lambrou, claims that international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of the islanders, and disgraces them around the world.

He says it causes daily problems to the social life of Lesbos's inhabitants.


Happy May Day

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And in honor of May Day -- from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Longshoremen to close ports on West Coast to protest war
While millions of people worldwide have marched against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and last week's New York Times/CBS News poll indicated that 81 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction - key concerns being the war and the economy - the war machine inexorably grinds on.

Amid this political atmosphere, dockworkers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have decided to stop work for eight hours in all U.S. West Coast ports on May 1, International Workers' Day, to call for an end to the war.

This decision came after an impassioned debate where the union's Vietnam veterans turned the tide of opinion in favor of the anti-war resolution. The motion called it an imperial action for oil in which the lives of working-class youth and Iraqi civilians were being wasted and declared May Day a "no peace, no work" holiday. Angered after supporting Democrats who received a mandate to end the war but who now continue to fund it, longshoremen decided to exercise their political power on the docks.
Seattle and Tacoma get their licks in as well. From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
Longshore union strikes against war
On Thursday, May Day, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will declare an eight-hour strike to protest the war in Iraq. Since the ILWU controls every port along the U.S. Pacific Coast, including Seattle and Tacoma, this strike demonstrates the collective power of workers willing to use it.

The ILWU is demanding "an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East." Although the majority of Americans repeatedly have expressed their desire to end the war, President Bush has not obliged us, so it drags on. Because our leaders refuse to listen, ILWU members are taking the next logical step for workers: Strike.

For those unfamiliar, the ILWU is perhaps the most militant and politicized worker organization in the nation. It operates in one of the most important sectors of the world economy -- marine transport -- and, thus, is in a strategic location to put peace above profits.
Once a wobbly, always a wobbly... It is a true shame that this union has not moved on from its socialist roots -- it was much needed at its time of formation but that time is past and it is time to move on.

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