June 2008 Archives

The Prisoner returns to the small screen

This could be very cool. From the UK Telegraph:
Sir Ian McKellen to star in remake of 1960s thriller The Prisoner
He will play the part of Number Two alongside the US actor Jim Caviezel, who has been chosen to reprise the role of Number Six.

The iconic role was played in the original ITV series by Patrick McGoohan, who may make a cameo appearance in the new series.

The Prisoner followed McGoohan's character, a former secret agent, as he found himself trapped in a mysterious and surreal village - originally set in Portmeirion in Wales.

Week after week he came up against Number Two who would thwart his attempts to escape and return to his previous life.

While the 1960s series played on Cold War politics, ITV says that the six-part remake starting next year will reflect modern-day concerns of freedom, security and surveillance.
I doubt that they would get someone of McKellen's caliber if the project was crap. Can't wait!

Happy Birthday S O S

The London Times has the story:
SOS: the signal that has saved thousands turns 100
�Send SOS,� one of the Titanic�s radio operators supposedly said to another after the famous ship struck that infamous iceberg. �It�s the new call and besides this may be your last chance to send it.�

That �new call� is 100 years old today, and people around the world who owe their lives to that piece of Morse code may reflect this morning on its importance.

In the past century, �SOS� has become a firm part of popular culture used in everything from DIY programme titles to Abba hits. But it began life in a far more serious setting after being adopted by the international community on July 1, 1908, as the globally recognised distress signal for ships at sea.

At that time voices could not yet be carried across the airwaves and sailors needed a standard means of saying, in Morse code, that they were in trouble.

Until then, the most commonly used distress call was the �CQD� signal, which was open to misinterpretation. After much deliberation, SOS was chosen to replace it because the signal � three dots, three dashes and three more dots � is such a clear message to send in Morse code.
CQD is _._. --.- -.. SOS is ... --- ... Considering that a foundering ship may have electrical problems and the antennas may have become damaged or suffer reduced output and considering that many ships founder in storms with a lot of lightning and Continuous Wave Transmission (the type used then) was very susceptible to this kind of interference, it's a wonder that CQD was ever agreed on in the first place... There was a bit of a precedent in that importent messages were preceded by CQ CQ CQ so it did serve as a sort of "Attention all stations".


Jen and I saw this today and were blown away. This is probably Pixar's best film to date with so many levels it has something for everyone. Well worth seeing on the big screen. The articulation and kinematics of the robots are spot on and Pixar's caricatures of people are wonderful -- the human personality comes through even though you know it is a cartoon. Ben Burt did the voice of WALL●E -- he has worked on some other interesting projects. The score by Thomas Newman was excellent. He is getting to be one of my favorite composers for film (along with Hans Zimmer, John Williams and of course Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Hermann and Basil Poledouris) Be sure to get there in time for the opening cartoon -- Jen and I were laughing non-stop. Also stay for the closing credits -- the first part was beautiful and the second part was a lot of fun with all sorts of 8-bit video game characters running through the scroll.

A spot of good news from England

A lot of the nany-statist policies in England are a direct result of the Labor party being in power. Well, they just got their ass handed to them on a platter. From the London Times:
Labour admits to 'terrible' result in Henley
A Labour minister admitted today that the Henley by-election result has been �terrible� for the party, but said the economy was to blame, not Gordon Brown�s unpopularity.

Labour came a humiliating fifth place behind the British National Party and the Greens last night, securing only 1,066 votes and losing its �500 deposit, as Mr Brown marked his first anniversary as Prime Minister.

�It�s a terrible result,� Ben Bradshaw, the Health Minister, said. �When people start feeling the pinch ... because of rising fuel and food prices, they take out their anxiety and frustration on the incumbent government.�

But David Cameron, the Conservative leader, said that Mr Brown was to blame for much of the economic distress being suffered by voters.

�One can argue forever about all the disasters and all the incompetencies of the last year but, at a time when British families are facing higher prices at the fuel pumps and every time they do the family shop, I think the most important thing about this Prime Minister is that he was in charge of the economy for 10 years and he didn�t put aside money in the good years.�
Heh... If it really was the economy, the Labor party would have landed in second or third place, not fifth. it's the party itself. Clueless and out of touch with its constituents -- always making promises without having the wherewithal to back them up... Hat tip to Kim du Toit for the link.
One of our cats - Demeter - found herself a nice comfortable hammock to rest in through today's heat:
Well, I guess that Jen will not be working on that weaving project today...

R.I.P. - Edith Macefield

Someone who stood her ground. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Edith Macefield, 1921-2008: Ballard woman held her ground as change closed in around her
Edith Macefield died at home, just the way she wanted.

The Ballard woman who captured hearts and admirers around the world when she stubbornly turned down $1 million to sell her home to make way for a commercial development died Sunday of pancreatic cancer. She was 86.

"I don't want to move. I don't need the money. Money doesn't mean anything," she told the Seattle P-I in October.

She continued living in the little old house in the 1400 block of Northwest 46th Street even after concrete walls rose around her, coming within a few feet of her kitchen window. Cranes towered over her roof. Macefield turned up the television or her favorite opera music a little louder and stayed put.

"I went through World War II, the noise doesn't bother me," she said in October. "They'll get it done someday."
She had lived a full life and lived it on her own terms. People like her are what make America great.

WTF - jolly old (socialist) England

Makes me want to emigrate -- from the UK Daily Mail:
Grandfather with 'For Sale' sign in car window given �100 fine for running street business
A car owner who put a for-sale note on his Ford Escort soon found another sign on the window - a �100 penalty ticket.

Victor Abrahams was accused of 'offering goods for sale in a parking place'.

When the 67-year-old grandfather called the council, he was told the offence had been introduced a year ago and had been advertised in the local paper.

But as he does not live in the North London borough of Barnet, he says he had no idea that new rules had been brought in.

'I don't live in the area but I've had my office here for the last 25 years and I've never heard of anything like it,' Mr Abrahams said yesterday.

'I've got a tax disc, I've got insurance, I was parked legally but I was penalised for advertising my car for sale.

'Lots of people do it so I can't believe it can be an offence. And why is the for-sale sign in my car window any different from a delivery van with the name and phone number of the company on the side? Or why is it different from a driving instructor's car that has the name and details of the driving school on the side? Surely if I'm offering goods for sale, so are they.'
But the government is there to help you. To guide you. To lead you.

Sweeeeeet!!! (hitting the PayPal link)

SCOTUS upheld the 2nd amendment a few days ago (5-4 decision though) with the Heller case. Hat tip to Kevin at The Smallest Minority for this link to these people selling this shirt. Meet the Heller Kitty:

A Paradise on Earth

Well I certainly didn't see this one coming... From the London Times:
Robert Mugabe sails through summit unchallenged
A defiant Robert Mugabe sailed unchallenged through the first test of his presidency by his peers.

Freshly sworn-in following a single-candidate election, he received a leader�s welcome when he strode into the African Union summit in Sharm el-Sheikh today and emerged unfazed, his authority intact.

He dined at a lavish luncheon given by his Egyptian hosts, hugged heads of state and other diplomats in the corridors and stayed at one of the most luxurious resorts in this Red Sea town.

Delegates from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lodged at the Sheraton, while their leader Morgan Tsvangirai remained holed up in Zimbabwe.
I have this mental image of a bunch of little girls playing dress-up tea party. Oh so very serious but without any real impact on the world. Rope, tree, Mugabe, some assembly required... And Sharm is not a bad place to be staying -- from here: Sharm El Sheikh
The simplicity of sun, sea and sand. The luxury of five-star hotels, water sports, shopping and entertainment. This is Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the most accessible and developed tourist resort communities on the Sinai peninsula. All around are Bedouins, colorful tents, mountains and sea. There are small, intimate hotels with modern designs, as well as larger hotel complexes belonging to International chains, plus about all the amenities one could expect of a tourist center, including casinos, discos and nightclubs, golf courses and health facilities. In fact, with diving and snorkeling, windsurfing and other water sports, horses and camel riding, desert safaris, and great nearby antiquities attractions, it is almost impossible for a visitor to ever suffer from boredom.
Why don't they ever hold these conferences in the places where they actually live so that they can get a direct handle on the problems they need to address...
Then move to Sweden. Sheesh, talk about a top-down nanny-statist, micro-managed bureaucratic Fuster-Cluck!@#$& Hat tip to Neatorama for this link to the Beeb:
Birthday party snub sparks debate
An eight-year-old boy has sparked an unlikely outcry in Sweden after failing to invite two of his classmates to his birthday party.

The boy's school says he has violated the children's rights and has complained to the Swedish Parliament.

The school, in Lund, southern Sweden, argues that if invitations are handed out on school premises then it must ensure there is no discrimination.

The boy's father has lodged a complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman.

He says the two children were left out because one did not invite his son to his own party and he had fallen out with the other one.

The boy handed out his birthday invitations during class-time and when the teacher spotted that two children had not received one the invitations were confiscated.

"My son has taken it pretty hard," the boy's father told the newspaper Sydsvenskan.

"No one has the right to confiscate someone's property in this way, it's like taking someone's post," he added.
So may pull-quotes, so little time... has complained to the Swedish Parliament -- you are such a navel-gazing solipsist that you wasted your parliaments time with this drivel? Your parliament is so navel-gazing that they actually spent time processing this? must ensure there is no discrimination -- so you have to invite the little turd who steals your lunch money. Your Birthday Party cannot be an enjoyable celebration with your close friends, it has to be done by a committee of all. The boy's father has lodged a complaint -- why doesn't the boy's father grow a pair and personally hand out the invites at school, making sure that the two kiddies are still not invited. The, blow some discretionary funds and throw a really awesome party for his son. We are not talking 'Giggles the Clown with his Balloon Magic' here, we are talking live music, inflatable play structures, pony rides, whatever... No one has the right to confiscate someone's property in this way, it's like taking someone's post," he added. -- No Shit Sherlock. The good news is that this kid will probably grow up to be a conservative and either emigrate or seek to work within for change...
I don't know what kind of flea Dr. Hansen has up his butt but his office and position shames the past glories of NASA. The AGW "troothers" are using data that are deeply flawed, using temperature measurement stations like this:


Click for larger image.

What was once a rural measuring station
has now been encroached
by heat producing structures.
and ignoring the more accurate data from satellite data and the ocean-going Argo robotic probes (from here) Granted, I cherry-picked the Marysville station as it is one of the most egregiously bad examples out there but there are a lot of semi-good and less-bad stations that show recent temperature increases without compensating for the messy asphalt parking lots, surrounding buildings, HVAC units, etc... What gets me about Hanson is that he is taking his scientific bully-pulpit and trying to effect political changes -- something a true scientist would never ever do. You may have personal beliefs but science should be pure and absolute. From Watts Up With That:
NASA�s Jim Hansen calls for energy company execs to be put on trial
This troubling news from the Guardian, UK
�James Hansen, one of the world�s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the �perfect storm� of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.�

complete story
I suspect he�ll be calling for the jailing of bloggers like myself next. I think Mr. Hansen has lost all sense of reason, and his last shred of credibility.
And the funny thing is, Dr. Hansen has ZERO formal training in Climatology. His CV is here: Dr. James E. Hansen To whit:
B.A., Physics and Mathematics, 1963, University of Iowa
M.S., Astronomy, 1965, University of Iowa
Ph.D., Physics, 1967, University of Iowa
And now, he goes and says this -- from The Daily Galaxy:
NASA's Leading Climate Scientist Says Corrupt Politics is Covering Up the Truth About Global Warming
James Hansen, head of NASA�s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, is widely respected as one of the world's leading climate scientists. He says the public is being lied to and duped by special interest groups about the severity of the threat that global warming poses. He also claims that policy makers and big oil executives are sacrificing public interest to line their own pockets.

"The problem is not political will, it's the alligator shoes - the lobbyists. It's the fact that money talks in Washington, and that democracy is not working the way it's intended to work," says Hansen.

Hansen told US Congress earlier this week that CO2 is already almost certainly at unsafe levels, and the situation will only become more dangerous the longer we continue to largely ignore the problem. Currently, CO2 concentration is 385 parts per million and is rising by 2ppm a year.

Hansen called on a moratorium for any new coal-fired power plants. He also advocated the creation of a huge grid of low-loss electric power lines buried under ground and spread across America. Such a move would give clean energy like wind and solar power a chance to compete with polluting energy like coal and oil. He believes that in order for this to happen it has to be made a national priority in the next presidency.

"The new U.S. president would have to take the initiative analogous to Kennedy's decision to go to the moon."
Missed it by that much... Yeah, decision to go to the moon but Hansen is Wrong Way Corrigan on this issue. The decision needs to be safe Nuclear (like France and Japan -- both over 70% of baseload) and using our vast Coal reserves to generate any liquid fuel we might need. Let's let Corn go back to being a food and not continue with the stupid subsidies for a fuel that doesn't work.

A fun time was had by all

About 20 people showed up at our house yesterday for tri-tip, shrimp and lotsa other great goodies that people brought. The weather cooperated with perfect skies and temps in the 80's. Pictures and comments are starting to appear here. Click next for more... I'm back online and comments have been enabled. I did that this afternoon and got 135 attempts from only four IP addresses. Talk about FAIL. And of course, the four new visitors to Dave's cesspit of shame have been duly noted and their IP addresses posted for other people to use. Each attempt at spam results in that system being banned from quite a few other systems.
Rotsa ruck IDIOTS!




A traffic accident on Wednesday

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I was heading south on I5 to an acupuncture appointment and traffic was wedged. Finally arrived at the scene of this accident. Nobody was hurt despite the spectacular appearance of the vehicle in question. I was shooting hand-held while driving so it's not the best framed of photos but that Acura is totaled. The front half was even worse with the front windshield completely flattened. The support columns did their job of protecting the driver but this was just barely.
From the Bellingham Herald:
Driver breaches cable median barrier on I-5
Traffic slowed to a crawl both ways on Interstate 5 north of East Sunset Drive Wednesday afternoon after a northbound car drove through the median and collided with a southbound pickup.

A 20-year-old Bellingham man was transported to St. Joseph Hospital with only minor injuries after losing control of his Nissan Acura shortly before 4 p.m. It went under the cable barrier before colliding head-on with a pickup driven by a 57-year-old Ferndale man. The pickup driver and his passenger were uninjured.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary said the Acura driver was cited for negligent driving, though troopers have no evidence he was speeding or that drugs or alcohol were involved.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Dustin Terpening said it is rare for a vehicle to go through the cable median barrier and into oncoming traffic. Terpening said this was the first time he recalled it happening in the Bellingham area since the barriers went up in 2005.
The cable barriers are supposed to dynamically absorb the force of collision and were touted as being the best thing since sliced bread when they were installed. They don't seem to work with cars with snouty front ends...
I have been getting hammered by as many as 140 attempts at comment spam each day. None of them have seceded -- we are talking epic FAIL here but it is still an annoying thing to have to go through daily and make sure that my script-fu is still working... We are having about 20 friends up to the farm for a weekend long party (a delayed solstice celebration) so I have temporarily turned off comments and trackbacks so I do not have to worry about anything. They will be turned back on Monday or Tuesday. And as an unintended consequence of the party, blogging will be a bit thin on the ground...
I have been doing photography for longer than I would care to admit. (cough 45-years cough) When I moved out to Seattle, there was one place to use for custom photo work and that was Ivey-Seawright later called Ivey Photo. Later, Prolab opened up and they were just as good, specializing in large printing whereas Ivey was the place to go for developing your rolls of film, including any special instructions for pushing or pulling on the various baths. Well, hard on the heels of the Prolab auction (here and here) comes this news of Ivey's closure. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Ivey Photo shutters film lab
Store a victim of shift to digital photography; workers' futures uncertain

Ivey Photo, among the few Seattle photo labs still processing professional-grade film, will close its doors Monday, the latest victim of the massive shift to digital photography.

The store's site, www.iveyphoto.com, on Wednesday consisted of a single page, stating, "As of June 30th @ 5pm Ivey Photo will be closing its doors. Thank you for your many years of patronage."

Some assets of the business, at 424 Eighth Ave. N., have been bought for $60,000 by BIGink LLC of Seattle, a producer of banners and tradeshow graphics, said that company's president, John Scholl.

BIGink bought Ivey Photo's high-capacity, large-scale printing and photofinishing equipment, some scanners, a van and some other equipment, Scholl said. It also received Ivey Photo's customer list and will pay Ivey Photo for any printing business the list brings to BIGink.

But BIGink took a pass on Ivey Photo's photo processing equipment -- the so-called wet side of the business, which includes developing film.

"We weren't interested in the photo business. It's dying," Scholl said.

Parent company Ivey Imaging, based in Portland, will keep a sales office in Seattle and stay open.
So the big swinging dicks that run da 'bidness' have decided that wet work is dying. Beneath them. Bubba, the future is digital... From the same article:
"We're not terribly sure why (Ivey Photo is being closed), because the film side is unique, and we are definitely the only ones doing what we do in Seattle," the employee said. "We had people from all over the country sending us film."

She said the business was still profitable -- "very much so," she added.
Prolab was profitable and running quite a bit of business but the owner wanted to close and did not want to sell to anyone else. Now Ivey has willfully self-imploded. Fortunately, there is still Panda Lab

Antarctic vulcanism

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More on the case of the under-ice volcanoes found in Antarctica from Jennifer Marohasy:
Fire Under the Arctic Ice
An international team of researchers was able to provide evidence of explosive volcanism in the deeps of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean for the first time. Researchers from an expedition to the Gakkel Ridge, led by the American Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), report in the current issue of the journal Nature that they discovered, with a specially developed camera, extensive layers of volcanic ash on the seafloor, which indicates a gigantic volcanic eruption.

"The Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and buried thriving Pompeii under a layer of ash and pumice. Far away in the Arctic Ocean, at 85� N 85� E, a similarly violent volcanic eruption happened almost undetected in 1999 � in this case, however, under a water layer of 4,000 m thickness."

EurekAlert: Fire under the ice
Nature: Explosive volcanism on the ultraslow-spreading Gakkel ridge, Arctic Ocean
I had posted about the under-ice volcanoes earlier in May of this year: Just one more - Antarctic "Warming" This was another paper at Nature, from a different team as the one above and it had these wonderful two images that make things perfectly clear what is driving things in that neck of the woods:

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.

Got an extra $162 kicking around?

You can get five pounds of these printed up:
Custom printed M&Ms with either two lines of text or an image or a mix of the two. Smaller sizes and special 'party packs' are available as well. My immediate reaction was WTF??? but this is actually a really cool idea! Hat tip to Photojojo for the link.
An interesting take over at Coyote Blog:
So Where Are They Storing All the Oil?
I find the current political demagoguery that oil speculators are now the ones responsible for higher oil prices to be absolutely laughable. I am willing to believe that oil supply and demand are perfectly inelastic over very short time periods, meaning that we might expect little change in supply or demand over a couple of days or weeks after a price change, allowing for a fairly free range of speculative excesses. However, there is every evidence that oil is by no means perfectly price inelastic, and supply and consumption do change with price. Already in the past few months we have seen, for example, substantial reductions in passenger car miles in this country.
An interesting read. Warren's commentors offer specific examples of what Warren is talking about -- an good look at the Futures market...

How to run a business - Umpqua Bank

Business Pundit has an interesting in-depth look at an Oregon Bank that has ferocious customer loyalty and is rated the 13th Best Place to Work by Fortune Magazine:

Fortune 100 Company Interview: Umpqua Bank Serves Up a Lifestyle
I wish my bank served chocolate coins on a silver platter. In fact, I wish everyone served me chocolate. Unfortunately, only a handful of businesses appear to comprehend this point. Ritz-Carlton, for example. And Roseburg, Oregon-based Umpqua Bank.

Umpqua has mastered the art of effective lifestyle retailing. It banks on pampered customers to differentiate itself from more standard, stress-inducing bank environments. The bank, which was founded in 1953, identified its core service strategy in 1994. Since then, its has gained more than $6.8 billion in assets. It also landed at 13th place on the 2008 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Remember Starbucks' move to sell music CDs in their coffee shops? Umpqua sells music, too -- in a different guise. The bank has its own Discover Local Music Program, which highlights up-and-coming artists in the bank's operating regions (mainly the Pacific Northwest). It also offers free Wi-Fi, its own brand of specialty coffee, and space for community events like movie nights and yoga classes.

Customers, in effect, hang while they bank. The idea is to walk in, gaze at interactive digital signage, sip free brew, lounge in the comfortable seating area -- and stick around long enough to do some banking on the side.

"We eliminate the chore from banking," says Lani Hayward, Umpqua's Executive Vice President of Creative Strategies. "The retail model gives people a reason to come in to the bank. Our customers and other community members use our stores as community centers. Many come for entertainment and or just to read the paper and enjoy a cup of coffee." She adds that when people come in to the stores, they are also more likely to do business with Umpqua or make an impulse buy.

Very good management -- it shows. Attention to detail and customer satisfaction...

Light posting tonight

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Working on some database stuff for the store and feeling a bit sleepy after an excellent acupuncture treatment. I have been bringing the right sidebar up to date and moving things around a bit -- check it out -- some new links, some dead links rehomed or removed...

Josef Stalin's Bomb

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An interesting bit of history -- from Yahoo/Reuters:
In Stalin's bomb lab, dreams of preservation
Behind a thicket of weeds and broken window panes, one of the former Soviet Union's dark secrets is the laboratory where captured German scientists worked to build an atomic bomb for Josef Stalin.

The Sukhumi Institute still exists, in a state of limbo. Limping along under semi-siege in Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia whose existence the rest of the world does not recognize, its Cold War past has been all but forgotten.

Once, around 250 German specialists lived here with their families and built centrifuges to separate uranium isotopes. Now a money-making sideline for the few scientists who keep the institute's research going is designing household heaters.

Deputy director Vladimir Kunitsky does have ambitious hopes for the institute, which was nearly wrecked by the separatist war that engulfed this region on the shores of the Black Sea after the Soviet Union collapsed.

He would like to turn part of the former bomb laboratory into a sanatorium, combining cutting-edge treatments using radioactive sources and a beautiful location a short walk from the Black Sea.

"We are preserving some kind of potential," he said in his bare office, where the paint is peeling off the walls.
The article underplays the conflict that happened here:
which was nearly wrecked by the separatist war that engulfed this region on the shores of the Black Sea after the Soviet Union collapsed
Over 200 physicists and other scientists fled and moved the institute from Sukhumi to Tbilisi(here and here). The conflict is your typical top-heavy government supressing any individual that may raise a questioning voice. Don't read if you have a vivid imagination or a weak stomach -- this is not fiction -- this is reality -- some people like doing this kind of crap. Che Guevara was a perfect example of a person like this.

Metal lathes and Auctions

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I don't know what it is about people at Auctions but the presence of a Metal Lathe brings out the impulsive buyer in them. I have been to Machine Shop auctions where people know what they are bidding on and the prices are reasonable. What prompts this post is that most manufacturing businesses will usually have a Lathe or a Mill to help with the repairs. In many cases, when the business shuts its doors and calls in an Auctioneer, the business owners and employees will have cherry picked the good stuff so what is left behind, unless it is specialized machinery like today, is generally not first rate stuff. At today's auction was a 15 year old predecessor to this piece:
This is a combination Mill/Lathe from Grizzly Tools and it sells for just under $1,000 including a couple of chucks, some centers, the change gears and a face plate. The unit at auction today had a patina of rust all over it, the wheel to move the crossslide spun freely with no motion of the crossslide, there was a good couple hundredths of backlash on the carriage, no chucks, no tooling, no change gears, faceplates, nothing... Yet some poor fool paid $600 for it! The machine was useless for any sort of precision work, only useful for the roughest of machining. You would probably be hard pressed to hold your accuracy to the nearest tenth of an inch. If I ever want to get serious about making money, I'll just buy up a bunch of clapped out machine tools and hold me an auction...

Back and tired - long day

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Slept at a motel near the auction and it was right at a major intersection. Traffic noise prevented a restful nights sleep. The auction was a lot of fun -- the company made Wind Chimes and other cast pewter pieces. The specialty equipment went to people who were in similar businesses and the bidding on them was fairly fierce. The other stuff went for pennies on the dollar. Got two nice Foredom rotary tools for $30 and a gorgeous Hegner scroll saw for $125. Also picked up a postage machine (it will take a stack of envelopes, moisten them, seal them and apply postage, a couple of printers and two shelving units full of hand tools and tooling for the Foredom rotary tool.

The entrance to the auction. The surrounding countryside was really nice. The business operated out of two trailers, a pole barn and several containers.

Some of the buildings had less than perfect integrity -- lots of water damage.


These are a CNC metal cutting chop saw and a vibratory tumbler for removing marks and sharp edges. The tumbler was about six feet wide, you could take a bath in it.

Some of the several thousand sets of molds used in their products. These are each two disks of polymer that has been cast and then vulcanized to harden them. They are spun rapidly while molten metal is poured into the center. The centrifugal force flings the metal into every part of the mold creating a finely detailed casting. Some of the work at the place was gorgeous.

These air compressors went for under $1,000 each... They list for five to seven thou each. If I had 20 amps of three-phase in the shop, one of these puppies would be coming home with me. All in all a fun day but I am tired and ready for an early evening...

On the road again...

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Settling into my motel room and getting ready for the 6:30AM wakeup call. Took a look at the auction site and it will be an interesting one. More as it happens...

I'm surrounded by idiots

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Had 156 attempts at comment spam last evening. The majority of the spam came from these three IP addresses:
All in all, a total of 20 unique IP addresses. People, if you hammer your head against a wall for 80 times with zero effect, what makes you think that the wall might start to crack on the 81st attempt. Talk about epic FAIL...

No posting for today and most of tomorrow

Off to this auction: Whispering Winds It begins at 8:00AM so I will be staying overnight today and get there early. Looking for metal and seeing how the bidding goes on tools and stuff... Back Tuesday late afternoon...

The high cost of Diesel Fuel

Another excellent post from Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority. This time, it is about the recent uptick of prices for diesel fuel:
More Unintended Consequences
Or were they really unintended?

Do you own a turbo-diesel pickup truck? Buy it on the understanding that you could get good performance and fairly decent mileage, and your fuel would cost less than gasoline? Do you own a diesel car for the same reasons?

Are you now pissed off that diesel costs more, significantly more, than gasoline? Have you been blaming it on Congress for passing "low sulfur" restrictions? Do you believe that it costs more at the pump because it costs more to refine?

You'd be wrong.
One reason why diesel fuel today is higher priced than gasoline is because of the unintended consequences of the 2007 EPA mandated ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) fuel - and not necessarily because it costs more to produce...

Everything changed in October of 2006, when the new U.S. ULSD regulations were implemented. Current U.S. ULSD is regulated to contain no more than 15-parts per million sulfur. In actual practice, U.S. ULSD contains just 7 or 8-ppm, which perhaps not coincidentally allows our ULSD to meet the somewhat stricter 10-ppm sulfur regulations in Europe. So, ULSD produced here in the United States has, for the first time, become acceptable for use in Europe. According to a 2/08 article in Reuters entitled "ANALYSIS-Exports keep U.S. diesel prices above gasoline", they reported that U.S. diesel fuel is currently being exported in quantity. The economics of "Supply & Demand" no longer apply to the U.S. diesel fuel market. American truckers could boycott diesel fuel, and it wouldn't necessarily produce lower diesel fuel prices.

According to a June 2008 article at MSN, entitled: Why is the U.S. exporting gasoline and diesel?, they report that U.S. oil companies were exporting more than 1.8 million barrels of crude oil, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products per day. The top five buyers of U.S. petroleum products were Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, Chile and Singapore. This article also indicated that Venezuela owns three CITGO refineries in the United States, and that about 30,000 barrels of refined products per day are being shipped back to Venezuela, where government-subsidized gas/diesel is currently being sold for a whopping $0.19 per gallon. If we weren't exporting diesel fuel, there would be more of a surplus, which could result in parity between gas and diesel fuel prices. What can we do? What should we do?
Hey, Maxine Waters and Maurice Hinchey, how about we "socialize" CITGO's refineries? I'm sure your good buddy Hugo Chavez wouldn't mind a bit!
What he said...

Just Damn...

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R.I.P - George Carlin One of America's comic geniuses. From Portland, Oregon's KOIN
George Carlin Has Died
ET breaks the news that comedian George Carlin has died from heart failure. The man who made famous the "seven words you can never say on television" passed away at 5:55 p.m. Sunday at Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica, his longtime publicist said. He was 71.

Carlin, who has had several heart attacks and a history of cardiac issues, went into the hospital this afternoon after complaining of heart problems.

Carlin has more than 20 comedy albums, 14 HBO specials, numerous TV and movie roles, and three best-selling books to his credit. Last year, he celebrated his 50th year in show business, and he had just finished his last HBO special in March, "It's Bad for Ya."
1. You know the state flower (Mildew)

2. You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.

3. Use the statement "sun break" and know what it means.

4. You know more than 10 ways to order coffee.

5 You know more people who own boats than air conditioners.

6. You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant.

7. You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" Signal.

8. You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain.

9. You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Veneto's.

10. You know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon.

11. You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon, Yakima and Willamette.

12. You consider swimming an indoor sport.

13. You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food.

14. In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark - while only working eight-hour days.

15. You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.

16. You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain," and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."

17. You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.

18. You know that Boring is a town in Oregon and not just a state of mind.

19. You can point to at least two volcanoes, even if you cannot see through the cloud cover.

20. You notice, "The mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it.

21. You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 50, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.

22. You switch to your sandals when it gets about 60, but keep the socks on.

23. You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.

24. You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.

25. You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time.

26. You measure distance in hours.

27. You often switch from "heat" to "a/c" in the same day.

28. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.

29. You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer), Deer & Elk season (Fall).

30. You actually understood these jokes and will probably forward them!

Hey! I resemble that remark...

Great Quote / Great Rant!

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Kevin Baker, writing at The Smallest Minority has posted an excellent, long and thoughtful rant on the origins of the environmentalist movement. The rant visits and weaves together several intterrelated ideas and is impossible to excerpt -- go and read the entire thing, it's well worth the ten minutes or so. The quote is from Freeman Dyson:
Engineering is very different from physics.

A good physicist is a man with new ideas.

A good engineer is a man who makes something that works with as few new ideas as possible.
Good stuff...

Living on a flood plain

I possess a somewhat morbid fascination with catastrophes and flooding certainly counts as one. A Force of Nature. An Act of God.

I have been following the recent flooding in the Midwest.

I also tracked floods in areas I used to be familiar with such as Big Thompson flood of 1976. When I was growing up, my parents and I used to vacation in this very area up until when I graduated from High School in 1969. So when I check in at Prairie Mary, it was interesting to read her most recent post:

For a few years in the Nineties I was the "flood plain lady" for the City of Portland. That is, I was the clerical specialist for the Site Development team, who had custody of the flood plain maps, and when someone called up to find out whether a property were in the flood plain, I was the one who was supposed to tell them. The maps were huge and there were a lot of them. I'd unroll them on the counter and try to figure them out. They were out of date. The flood plain was a legal category built on engineering estimates of a changing terrain and weather pattern. The public never understood that: to them it was simply whether the place would flood. Would it flood every fifty years? Every hundred years? Every five hundred years?

Hell, who cared? They just wanted to build what they wanted to build and they saw all this land sitting there with nothing built on it. Seemed perfect. Nice and cool. Fairly flat. Good view of the river... They asked their neighbor who had lived there ten-twenty years and the neighbor said it had never flooded before.

There is so much pressure from the public that the politicoes force the plans examiners to let people built on the flood plain if they build "flood resistant" buildings. (There's no such thing as a flood-proof building.) Mostly they required high foundations, so the sills of the house were above the height the water was likely to reach. Foundations with holes in them, so that water would flow through. (Waterborne gas tanks, sheds, vehicles and trailer homes would NOT flow through.) If water comes up one-third of the way on a structure, it will float -- then turn over -- unless it's attached to the foundation with steel straps.

One woman formerly from the Soviet Union came back with new plans every week. The last one showed foundations thirty feet high with a little one-story house perched on top. She knew from her experience in the homeland that if she nagged long enough, the authorities would shrug and say: "Aw, let her build. If she loses everything in the next flood, she asked for it." But we held fast. She had no clout.

A bit more:

When engineers go after a problem, they try to quantify and calibrate and invent classifications for sorting. So they got out all the rainfall measurements (since the 1800's when there were white people around to keep records) and then they figured out how much water that must have been rolling down the rivers. Then they got out their contour maps -- the ones with all the little lines that show elevation by getting closer and closer together as the rise gets steeper -- and tried to calculate the carrying capacity of the flood plains. They chose one of those elevation lines to be the isobath, the height they figured the water would reach. Of course, those lines greatly simplified the terrain and they were drawn quite a while ago. Land doesn't just sit there: people fill in with more dirt, banks erode.

The Flood of the Century in the Red River country in 1997 -- which was a few feet deep and miles wide -- was complicated because the Red River flows towards the north, so it melts from the south while the water is still frozen farther north, creating dams that raise the water level. The floods came so often in Winnipeg that people finally consented to create diversion canals -- they were barely adequate. Grand Forks failed to take any precautions so that the water came deep and hard. When a fire started, no one could get to it so it took out eleven buildings and sixty apartment units.

She closes with this:

It's hard to educate people who don't want to know. It's hard to commit massive and expensive relief efforts to people who have been warned and warned and restricted and guided over and over and over again. But we are being taught hard lessons in the wettest of ways. The bottom line is that the earth does not care. Romanticize all you want. Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, erosion, rainfall patterns -- no engineer can do much more than run along behind taking notes.

But people got so angry that when I was the flood plain lady, I kept a can of bear spray under the counter. If I'd had to use it, of course, the building would have had to be evacuated.

I am on a County-localized email list and someone there asked how to build a garage without having to get a permit because the architects and engineers fees were so expensive. Same damn mindset. See it all the time. The bear spray doesn't sound like a bad idea actually...

Out of this collection of links at Maggie's Farm comes this real gem:
Confidence in Congress: Lowest Ever for Any U.S. Institution
Just 12% of Americans express confidence in Congress

Gallup's annual update on confidence in institutions finds just 12% of Americans expressing confidence in Congress, the lowest of the 16 institutions tested this year, and the worst rating Gallup has measured for any institution in the 35-year history of this question.
Click to embiggen
Could have told you that myself. They are living in their own little world; only listening to those constituents who support their world views (ie: Berkeley, Manhattan, United Nations, Nelson Mandela, etc...) and these willfully stupid people have no clue as to what the realities are. Where is the RESET BUTTON. I want a nice big red RESET BUTTON for this wonderful nation. A cold reboot will be a bother but we need to clear the crap out and start over again...

What I did today...

Today was a busy day. It was Grizzly Tools annual scratch and dent sale. The doors open at 8:00AM. I got there a little after 7:00AM and this was my position in line:


Some people brought campers and spent the night -- like I said here, the fantastic stuff goes in a matter of minutes.


Once inside the tent, it was a mad scramble. Larger pieces had forms attached to them so you could remove the top sheet and the remaining form had a big red SOLD sign on it. I saw lots of these after about 30 minutes:


A couple shots inside the tents:


There were about six tents like this plus some additional smaller tents and the main store was open with deep discounts (20%) on lots of new items. The store needed a few things and the Hardware Sales event didn't really start until 11:30AM when the Bar-B-Que wagon started serving so I ran errands for two hours; two food wholesalers, a local produce stand and Wal-Mart because we were totally out of Hot Dog buns. Back at Hardware Sales, I made a beeline for the 'Q'


They were selling BBQ Beef sandwich's with a drink for 75¢. I got two and am still stuffed -- good stuff! I next waddled in through the entrance of the event:


Bought a few tools (a set of impact sockets and drivers for my cordless impact driver -- just like the big air tools just smaller) as well as a very clever hood for chop saw. I was going to refer you to the website for it (FastCap) but their site starts off with a mandatory video and is based on flash animation. Impossible to use with a satellite dish that has latency and dropped packet issues... Outside, there was a group called Firemen for Fun who gave rides to the kids on a gorgeously restored old truck:


All in all, a fun day!

A letter home from a Marine

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Hat tip to Theo Spark for this letter home from a Marine:
Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled.

I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m. But I am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing.

Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there's warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee. Their food, plus yours, holds you until noon when you get fed again. It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much.

We go on "route marches," which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it's not my place to tell him different. A "route march" is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks.

The sergeant is like a school teacher. He nags a lot. The Captain is like the school board. Majors and colonels just ride around and frown. They don't bother you none.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bulls -eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don't move, and it ain't shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don't even load your own cartridges They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain't like fighting with that ole bull at home. I'm about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake. I only beat him once. He joined up the same time as me, but I'm only 5'6" and 130 pounds and he's 6'8" and near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter,

Hat tip to The Register for this link to Without Hot Air dot com. From The Register:
Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap
Analysis A topflight science brainbox at Cambridge University has weighed into the ever-louder and more unruly climate/energy debate with several things that so far have been mostly lacking: hard numbers, willingness to upset all sides, and an attempt to see whether the various agendas put forward would actually stack up.

Professor David J C MacKay of the Cambridge University Department of Physics holds a PhD in computation from Cal Tech and a starred first in Physics, so we can take it that he knows his numbers. And, as he points out, numbers are typically lacking in current discussion around carbon emissions and energy use.

MacKay tells The Reg that he was first drawn into this field by the constant suggestion � from the Beeb, parts of the government etc � that we can seriously impact our personal energy consumption by doing such things as turning our TVs off standby or unplugging our mobile-phone chargers.

Anyone with even a slight grasp of energy units should know that this is madness. Skipping one bath saves a much energy as leaving your TV off standby for over six months. People who wash regularly, wear clean clothes, consume hot food or drink, use powered transport of any kind and live in warm houses have no need to worry about the energy they use to power their electronics; it�s insignificant compared to the other things.

Most of us don�t see basic hygiene, decent food and warm houses as sinful luxuries, but as things we can reasonably expect to have. This means that society as a whole needs a lot of energy, which led MacKay to consider how this might realistically be supplied in a low-carbon fashion. He�s coming at the issues from a green/ecological viewpoint, but climate-change sceptics who are nonetheless concerned about Blighty becoming dependent on Russian gas and Saudi oil � as the North Sea starts to play out � will also find his analysis interesting. Eliminating carbon largely equates to eliminating gas and oil use.

�I don�t really mind too much what your plan is,� MacKay told The Reg this week. �But it�s got to add up.�

He says he�s largely letting his machine-learning lab at Cambridge run itself these days, and is personally spending most of his time on trying out different energy scenarios.

MacKay sets out his calculations in a book, Sustainable Energy � Without the hot air. You can download it here.
You can bet that I'll be spending some time over the next week or so reading this draft. It's a 13 MB PDF file with another webpage with links to the citations. Looks well researched and very toxic to the AGW evangelists like the Goreacle...

Busy day tomorrow

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First up is the Grizzly Tools annual scratch and dent tent sale opening at 8:00AM. I am planning to be there at 7:00AM to get a good place in line. The fantastic stuff goes in a matter of minutes, the good stuff in the first hour or two. Next up is Hardware Sales' Tool Fair. From 11:30AM on, they serve a killer BBQ Beef sandwich with drink for 75� -- these sell out in an hour or so so it pays to get there on time. Hardware Sales is one of Bellingham's major treasures -- literally a place where if they don't have it, you don't need it...

It wasn't me - honest!!!

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Fridays are the days I take the store van into Bellingham to get supplies. Today when I went in, every place I visited had their internet service down. Wasn't back up until around 4:00PM. Nothing on the news media yet. Fortunately, most credit card machines can process a Debit card as a store-and-forward transaction so I was able to buy the needed supplies. I would hate to be the equipment operator that clipped that fiber optic line. Call before you dig indeed. One place I visited -- Grizzly Tools -- had their entire phone system running VOIP. Bet that will change in a couple weeks...

Baby turns 60 on June 21st

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An old Baby you ask -- yes. Baby was the name of a one ton machine that was the first computer to ever run a stored program. From The BBC:
One tonne 'Baby' marks its birth
Sixty years ago the "modern computer" was born in a lab in Manchester.

The Small Scale Experimental Machine, or "Baby", was the first to contain memory which could store a program.

The room-sized computer's ability to carry out different tasks - without having to be rebuilt - has led some to describe it as the "first modern PC".

Using just 128 bytes of memory, it successfully ran its first set of instructions - to determine the highest factor of a number - on 21 June 1948.

"We were extremely excited," Geoff Tootill, one of the builders of Baby told BBC News.

"We congratulated each other and then went and had lunch in the canteen."

Mr Tootill, and three other surviving members of the Baby team, will be honoured by the University and the British Computer Society at a ceremony in Manchester.
Truly the beginning of the beginning of this wonderful technology.

A tragic story and a grieving rant

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Move over Kitty Genovese Meet the two-year-old son of Sergio Casian Aguiar who was kicked to death by his father on a public highway while motorists and their passengers who stopped and saw the attack made no action to stop him. Emperor Misha writes this: You�ll Go To The Very SPECIAL Hell I am not going to excerpt because what I have read so far makes me want to weep and carry a baseball bat full-time (and I do not play baseball). How those puss-wads can live with themselves is beyond me... More here and here


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Zombie Systems and playing whack-a-mole. As you may have noted, I'm dealing with a lot of stupid script kiddies trying to post comment spam to this blog. Depending on what software they are using, very few if any actually get through and the majority of those get put into moderation on arrival and never see the light of day. After a few purposefully inflammatory remarks, I got a lot of really cheesy spam (Mmmmm... Spiced HAM!!!) from the middle east. I put those netblocks into my filter and am now getting the same spam attempts from Zombie systems in the USA. What these dicktards don't realize is that for each spam attempt, a log is created and I will contact the network admin if there are more than one or two attempts over a day or two. These people are cutting off their own hands. A networked game of whack-a-mole...
Hat tip to Irons in the Fire for this great link: Putting John Murtha in his rightful place
Click for full size image.
From Reuters:
It's a girl for Jamie Lynn Spears
Britney Spears' 17-year-old sister Jamie Lynn, star of Nickelodeon's popular TV show "Zoey 101," has given birth to a baby girl, People magazine reported on Thursday.

Jamie Lynn Spears gave birth to Maddie Briann on Thursday morning at a hospital in Mississippi, the magazine said.

A high school student who lives in Louisiana, Jamie Lynn Spears reportedly met the father, Casey Aldridge, the son of a Tennessee paper mill worker, at church. The couple are engaged, People magazine said.
With all of the drama in her older sister's life, it's no surprise that something like this would happen. At least he is manning up and marrying her...
Things had been quiet in Iraq, such that news from Afghanistan is on the front page, not news from Iraq. That didn't last -- the Shiites launched an offensive and the Iraqi and US military are pushing back. Big Time. From the Washington Post:
Iraq, U.S. Launch Crackdown
Operation in Southeastern Border City Meets Little Resistance

Iraqi and U.S. troops launched a military operation Thursday in the city of Amarah, a Shiite militia stronghold on the Iranian border, meeting virtually no resistance.

In a move that angered followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi troops detained the vice governor of Maysan province, who also serves as the mayor of Amarah, the provincial capital. Sadrist leaders in Maysan have vowed to cooperate with Iraqi troops but have suggested that the government is trying to expand its presence in Sadr strongholds to weaken the movement politically before provincial elections scheduled for the fall.

The operation, dubbed Promise of Peace, is Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's fourth major push this year against fighters and banned weapons in Iraqi cities that have been largely lawless for years. Earlier crackdowns targeted the southern port city of Basra, Baghdad's Sadr City district and Mosul in the north.

Amarah, which has roughly 450,000 residents, is one of the main gateways along Iraq's border with Iran. It has not been particularly violent in recent years, but U.S. and Iraqi officials say that having control over the city will allow them to reduce the flow of weapons and Iranian-trained fighters into Iraq.

Maysan Gov. Adel al-Muhoudir said that recent discussions between the government and local leaders had helped the operation start smoothly.

"Calm is surrounding the streets of the city, and the Iraqi forces are in control of all its access points," he said. "There is extraordinary cooperation from citizens."
al-Sadr is a persistent nuisance and should have been taken out years ago. Good that they are operating in Amarah -- Iran has been funding and supplying the terrorists, giving haven to Saddam's WMDs and other resources (see this post from March 30, 2004). It will be good to get that hole plugged...
From Colorado's CW2 News comes this story of a small-town businessman and his plans:
Denied ATV shop permit, businessman takes new tack
Announces a porn shop named after one of his biggest opponents

People in the small mountain town of Allenspark are drawing up the battle lines.

The controversy began when Jeff Mead wanted to open an ATV rental store there.

But nearby neighbors complained about the noise and enviromental impact.

Margie Patterson says Mead's clients have damaged pristine private land, a claim Mead dismisses.

The Boulder County Planning Commission recently denied the businessman a special-use permit to open his business.

So Mead put out a banner on his building which reads,"Patterson's XXX Porn Gallery".
Heh -- and there really isn't anything that Marge Patterson can do about it. Kudos to Mead for his sense of humor...

Talk about having a bad day

From Amherst, Kansas comes this story of a close call followed by just plain bad luck:
House Untouched In Tornado, Struck By Lightning Catches Fire
This story is nearly too ironic to believe, one house on Amherst was the only untouched on the entire block in the tornado, Wednesday morning it was struck by lightning and went up in flames.

You can say the Tindall family were the lucky ones last last Wednesday night.

"It's my understanding there was no damage to their house, I think they lost a cushion from their patio furniture," family friend Jennifer Walker said.

In fact the Tindall's have been giving of their time all week.

"They have been so involved in all the work that has been going on in Manhattan the last couple days by helping other families out."

Now those families are reaching out to them. Just after 1AM Wednesday morning they heard the crack of the lightning as is struck the roof of their home.

"She was like Mark I think the lightning hit our house, about that time is when the lights went off in the hallway. The room was already full of smoke she said she could see the bottom of the crib, but that quick smoke had already filled the room."
Yikes! The article said that they will rebuild.

No posting tonight

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Was in town for a weekly acupuncture treatment and am kinda tired as a result. Heading off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to an early bed.

The Berlin Tunnel

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A fascinating story from the Central Intelligence Agency:
Turning a Cold War Scheme into Reality
Engineering the Berlin Tunnel

Fifty years ago, the CIA embarked on a project to intercept Soviet and East German messages transmitted via underground cable. Intelligence was collected to determine the best place to hit the target, and then concrete planning for a new collection site was begun.

Early in 1951 when I was working in the Engineering Division of the Office of Communications, I received a message from some people in the office of the Deputy Director of Plans�specifically the chief of Foreign Intelligence/Staff D (FI/D), and a member of his team�requesting a meeting.

The meeting was short. The only question they asked was whether a tunnel could be dug in secret. My reply was that one could dig a tunnel anywhere, but to build one in secret would depend on its size, take more time, and cost more money. After the meeting, I was transferred to FI/D. Thus began planning for the construction of the Berlin Tunnel.

We started building the tunnel in August 1954 and completed it in February 1955. It was 1,476 feet in length; 3,100 tons of soil were removed; 125 tons of steel liner plate and 1,000 cubic yards of grout were consumed. This was not a small operation!

Debate has swirled around the net intelligence value of the operation. But the completion of this demanding project�accomplished in secret and under exacting conditions�is a tribute to the resourcefulness and expertise of an outstanding team of professionals.
Almost as good a story as the underwater telephone tap we put on the Russians back in the 1970's...
From Bloomberg:
Boeing Wins Protest of Northrop Aerial-Tanker Award
Boeing Co. deserves another chance to bid on the $35 billion U.S. Air Force aerial-tanker contract won by rival Northrop Grumman Corp., a government agency said.

"The Air Force had made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition," the Government Accountability Office said today in Washington. "We therefore sustained Boeing's protest."

Boeing appealed to the GAO after Northrop and partner European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. won the contract Feb. 29, snaring a program that had been Boeing's for more than half a century. Boeing claimed changes the Air Force made during the competition favored Northrop.

While the GAO ruling isn't binding, "the outcome here now is obvious: ," Loren Thompson, an analyst at Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Virginia-based public policy research group, said in an interview. "The Air Force will have to revisit the competition and start over."
Very good news -- the problem wasn't so much that Jack Northrop's company got the bid, the problem was that E.A.D.S. was involved as well. For crucial defense applications, you do not want to become beholden to another nation for critical parts. We are ostensibly friends with Europe now but that has changed before and it can change again. Europe has for forty years depended on cheap immigrant labor for its workforce and those people (mostly Islamists) are now becoming a palpable political force.
...that events in Afghanistan are now finally getting noticed. From the Los Angeles Times:
Afghans flee Kandahar area as Taliban gears up for battle
Thousands of frightened villagers fled a district in southern Afghanistan that was overrun by Taliban fighters, as Afghan and NATO forces on Tuesday flew in hundreds of reinforcements to confront the insurgents.

Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said early today that its troops had begun an offensive in the Arghandab district, and residents reported hearing exchanges of gunfire. But the scope of the fighting was not immediately clear.

About 700 Afghan troops were airlifted to the main coalition base outside Kandahar after Taliban fighters moved into villages in the strategic district, a fertile swath of land 10 miles northwest of the southern city. Kandahar was once the spiritual home of the Taliban movement.
There is nothing spiritual about these thugs, it is about power and corruption cloaked in the dressings of religion. These people are not stupid and they know how to manipulate the western media. After all, Adolph Hitler was viewed by many as the true leader of the New Germany for a long time until the mask fell from his face. This is the same pure evil, just the names have been changed... More:
Canadian troops, who have main responsibility for securing Kandahar and its environs, also were being repositioned in response to the developments, said North Atlantic Treaty Organization spokesman Mark Laity. He declined to give details about their deployment, citing operational security.

Local officials and villagers said the Taliban, who pushed into the area Sunday night, were laying mines, blocking roads and culverts and destroying footbridges, apparently preparing to do battle with arriving Afghan and Western troops.

As the two sides readied for confrontation, as many as 4,000 villagers took refuge in Kandahar despite their reluctance to leave their fields and farms. Arghandab is known for its grapes and pomegranates, which wither in the summer heat without constant care.

Harvest time was to have been late this month.

"The Taliban told families to leave the area," shopkeeper Abdul Jalil said. "We are afraid of a big fight very soon."
Right during harvest -- nice going people... Nothing says popularity like forcing people to move right when they are about to make their money for the entire year.
Taliban delenda est. (or should be really soon!)

It's not over for Illinois

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Yikes -- from The Associated Press:
Mississippi River breaks through Illinois levee
The rising Mississippi River broke through a levee Tuesday, forcing authorities to rescue about a half-dozen people by helicopter, boat and four-wheeler as floodwaters moved south into Illinois and Missouri.

But even as the water jeopardized scores of additional homes and businesses, officials said the damage could have been worse if the federal government had not taken steps to clear flood-prone land after historic floods in 1993.
A bit more:
Preliminary estimates were that the flooding has caused more than $1.5 billion in damage in Iowa, and that figure will undoubtedly rise as the high water moves downstream.

Still, officials said the cost would have been even higher if the federal government had not purchased low-lying land after the 1993 deluge, which caused $12 billion in damage.

Since then, the government bought out more than 9,000 homeowners, turning much of the land into parks and undeveloped areas that can be allowed to flood with less risk. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has moved or flood-proofed about 30,000 properties.

The effort required whole communities to be moved, such as Rhineland, Mo., and Valmeyer, Ill.

In Iowa, FEMA spent $1.6 million to buy out residents of Elkport, population 80, and then knock down the village's remaining buildings. Some residents moved to Garber, Elkport's twin city across the Turkey River, but others abandoned the area.
It will be interesting to see if those that stayed will ask the government to help them recover. Times like this, the government should be able to offer them these options: #1) - get a bail out but they have to move or #2) - stay with no bail out as they knew that this could happen Of course, the public outcry would be major...
I had been experimenting with the anti-comment spam scripts and they are running very well indeed. Since 10AM this morning, I had another 116 unique IP addresses trying to initiate comment spam and not one of them made it through the gateway and into the promised land. They are all stuck in the lowest plane of Na'ar waiting for the Ifrits to notice them. Sucks to be you little boy. Now returning to our regular programming...

How baby boys fight

Last night, I posted a reply to a comment I received yesterday.

I was trolling and I caught a swarm of little tiny fish.

On firing up my computer this morning, I found that 205 specific IP addresses had tried to leave a grand total of 1312 comments to various posts on my system.

The majority of the IP addresses were from RIPE controlled netblocks.

None of those posts made it successfully to my system.

They all failed.

Which brings me right back to this simple cause and effect.

If I get comments like this one:

Watch your words and fuck you.

I will reply with this:

Islam is not a path of light - it is the beginning of the descent into the great darkness of the soulless and there is only the light and the forgiveness of Jesus as your redemption.

I pity you in your weakness.

We have a comment - Islamic wisdom and tact

Back in February of 2007, I posted this: Pssst -- wanna see something secret??? It was a set of photos of some palestinian 'authorities' being given the grand tour and being allowed a photo-op with the Black Stone inside the Kaaba - the building engineered and built by the USA Corporation Bechtel Engineering who partnered with the brand new Saudi corporation Bin Laden Construction on the actual construction. I compared their reverence for a black rock that fell out of the sky with the 1970's icon of a glory hole. Well, it took long enough but I finally got a comment from an articulate individual named 'None'. Hey 'None' -- Homer had that idea for a name a long long time before you were ever a spark in your mothers loins -- how long ago? Try 800 BC... Anyway, None's comment:
Never mentioned ever that this came from the moon.

Watch your words and fuck you.
Ever the model of tact. Actually None, there is not a direct line from the moon to this rock -- it is a glassy meteorite. I misspoke and I apologize. The reason for that link though is that the pre-Islamic cultures in the middle east were avid moon worshipers and polytheists and when the mighty mo came to power and installed himself as the ruler of that sorry band of nomads, he did what the Christians did and co-opted the local festivals, holidays and practices. Here is a brief collection of talking points from here:
Introduction to basic facts of history:

#1) - Moon worship has been practiced in Arabia since 2000 BC. The crescent moon is the most common symbol of this pagan moon worship as far back as 2000 BC.

#2) - In Mecca, there was a god named Hubal who was Lord of the Kabah.

#3) - This Hubal was a moon god.

#4) - One Muslim apologist confessed that the idol of moon god Hubal was placed upon the roof of the Kaba about 400 years before Muhammad. This may in fact be the origin of why the crescent moon is on top of every minaret at the Kaba today and the central symbol of Islam atop of every mosque throughout the world.

#5) - The moon god was also referred to as "al-ilah". This is not a proper name of a single specific god, but a generic reference meaning "the god". Each local pagan Arab tribe would refer to their own local tribal pagan god as "al-ilah".

#6) - "al-ilah" was later shortened to Allah before Muhammad began promoting his new religion in 610 AD.

#7) - There is evidence that Hubal was referred to as "Allah".

#8) - When Muhammad came along, he dropped all references to the name "Hubal" but retained the generic "Allah".

#9) - Muhammad retained almost all the pagan rituals of the Arabs at the Kaba and redefined them in monotheistic terms.

#10) - Regardless of the specifics of the facts, it is clear that Islam is derived from paganism that once worshiped a moon-god.

#11) - Although Islam is today a monotheist religion, its roots are in paganism.
As for the stone itself, there is a good article at WikiPedia: Black Stone:
According to Islamic tradition, the Stone fell from Heaven during the time of Adam and Eve
From descriptions of the surface, it's a glassy meteorite or a piece of dirt that had been vitrified from the heat of a meteorite impact -- a tektite. Of course I had to look up the IP address of this moke. It began with 86. which is right in the heart of the RIPE registry. Yup - Jordan So in closing None, you should really watch your scholarship and your potty mouth. If you were really concerned about your spiritual path, you would abandon the false prophet you now worship. Islam gives a great feeling of strength to people who willfully keep themselves in the dark, but, Islam is not a path of light -- it is the beginning of the descent into the great darkness of the soulless and there is only the light and the forgiveness of Jesus as your redemption. I pity you in your weakness.
From Charles at Little Green Footballs
UMass Strips Mugabe of Honorary Degree
The University of Massachusetts has had a change of heart about murderous dictator Robert Mugabe: UMass trustees strip Mugabe of honorary degree after lobbying by students, Rep. Kevin Murphy:
LOWELL � Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, widely condemned for abuses in a country reeling from a growing humanitarian crisis, has been stripped of the honorary degree he received from UMass Amherst in 1986.

The UMass board of trustees, acting on the recommendation of UMass President Jack Wilson and after lobbying from UMass students and Lowell state Rep. Kevin Murphy, yesterday voted unanimously to take that �extraordinary� step in light of mounting international criticism of Mugabe�s human-rights record and allegations that his regime has been responsible for massive voter intimidation, fraud and violence associated with presidential elections in his country.

�We don�t do this lightly,� Wilson said prior to the vote. �We�ve never done this before. We don�t view honorary degrees as something that can be given and then taken back. It would be only in the most egregious of cases that one would consider doing that.�

This is how you know when dictators have crossed the final line�when not even academics will support them.
Charles then looks at the history of just how Mugabe got into power. Guess who turns up with an active role -- the man who never met a despot he didn't like...
But it�s instructive to look back at the role of another thug-hugger in this story, the man who was instrumental in bringing Mugabe to power: Jimmy Carter.
In April of 1979, the first fully democratic election in Zimbabwe history�s occurred. Of the eligible black voters, 64% participated, braving the threat of terrorist attacks by Mr. Mugabe�s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party, which managed to kill 10 people. Prior to the election, Mr. Mugabe had issued a death list with 50 individuals he named as �traitors, fellow-travelers, and puppets of the Ian Smith regime, opportunistic running-dogs and other capitalist vultures.� Nevertheless, Bishop Abel Muzorewa of the United Methodist Church emerged victorious and became prime minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, as the new country was called.

Yet the Carter administration, led by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, would have none of it. Mr. Young referred to Mr. Muzorewa, one of the very few democratically elected leaders on the African continent, as the head of a �neo-fascist� government. Mr. Carter refused to meet Mr. Muzorewa when the newly elected leader visited Washington to seek support from our country, nor did he lift sanctions that America had placed on Rhodesia as punishment for the colony�s unilateral declaration of independence from the British Empire in 1965.

Messrs. Carter and Young would only countenance a settlement in which Mr. Mugabe, a Marxist who had repeatedly made clear his intention to turn Zimbabwe into a one-party state, played a leading role. Mr. Young, displaying the willful naivet� that came to characterize Mr. Carter�s mindset, told the London Times that Mr. Mugabe was a �very gentle man� whom he �can�t imagine ... ever pulling the trigger on a gun to kill anyone.�
Those two deserve each other; the despot and his enabler...
After one of the longest and coldest springs ever, we have had some nice weather on our days off. The weekends at the store are too busy to not be there so we tend to take Sunday and Monday off -- this last few days have been gorgeous with weather supposed to stay this way for a while. One small sunspot on the sun after a couple weeks of none. Farmers are worried about the late harvest and really need this good weather:
Harvest needs warm weather
Whatcom farmers anxiously wait for sun to appear

Todd McPhail hasn�t put away his winter coat yet, and that�s not a good thing for a Whatcom County farmer in the middle of June.

�Once things start warming up, everything will start happening and we�ll be OK, but this is very unusual,� said McPhail, who has a 50-acre farm near Lynden where he grows several varieties of berries, corn and pumpkins.

�This season we�ll have berries that are smaller and not as many, but it can still be a good year. A lot of us have had a tough time remembering when it was this cold and wet in June.�

The return of sunny and warm weather is being anxiously awaited by local farmers, particularly those in the berry business.

Right now the berries are green, awaiting some direct sunlight to start ripening and producing the sugars needed for that sweet taste berry lovers crave. If it doesn�t get sunny soon, then it could put quite a crimp in a multimillion- dollar industry.
And it isn't just the berries:
It�s not just the berry farmers looking for sunlight; farmers who produce seed potatoes, hay and corn are waiting for things to dry out. Dick Holden, who has been in the hay business for 50 years, has been waiting all month for four days of good weather so he can start cutting about 75 acres of hay into square bails, which he sells to people who feed horses.
And there are all sorts of problems that crop up:
When the berries are ready for harvest, it�ll create an interesting labor situation. Typically the strawberries are being harvested now, which would leave a bit of a break until the blueberry and raspberry harvests.

This year it�s possible that all three berries will be ready at the same time and pickers will have to work quickly to get them all picked.

�It�s not just a Whatcom County problem; there will be labor, processing, packaging and freezing issues from British Columbia down to Oregon,� Burrows said.
Heading out again -- Jen is getting the front acerage mowed and then we will let Daniel (the 14 year old nephew who is visiting for the week) take over. The mower is a lot of fun -- a zero-turn Kubota Diesel with lots of torque.
From Cassy Fiano writing at Wizbang:
Global warming hits Washington hard... with SNOW in June.

One of the wonderful things about global warming is that no matter what happens with the weather, it can always be blamed on global warming. Of course, that only works if you're one of the Goracle's Kool-Aid drinkers. Any kind of weather symptoms whatsoever mean that global warming is real. Really hot? Global warming. Really cold? Global warming. Too many hurricanes? Global warming. Too few hurricanes? Global warming. Flooding due to excessive rain? Global warming. Droughts due to not enough rain? Global warming.

And on and on and on it goes.

Now, of course, for those of us who don't drink the Kool-Aid, stories like this one give us a lot of skepticism:
The Spokane area saw record low temperatures and even a little bit of snow Tuesday morning, and all just 11 days before the official start of summer.

Much of the Inland Northwest remained under a snow warning from the National Weather Service Tuesday morning. KHQ received calls from people in Reardan, Moscow, Pullman, Loon Lake, Airway Heights, Deary, Spokane's South Hill, and Deer Park who all say they saw snow Tuesday morning.
Heh... She even includes a few pictures -- here is one:

From the Tacoma, WA News Tribune:

Worst day ever for 27-year-old Tacoma bartender
Some days everything just goes wrong. For Stephanie Simmons, a 27-year-old bartender at El Gaucho restaurant in Tacoma, that day was just a few Sundays ago. What follows is her tale of woe in her own words, as told to News Tribune reporter Ian Demsky.

A few Sundays ago, I was moving. I pick up the rental truck and drive it to my sister's apartment and I meet a friend there. My brother and his friend are supposed to be meeting me there, too, but they're late.

I open up the back of the truck and the dolly and the blankets that I ordered are missing. I'm like, "OK, no problem. We can manhandle this stuff down the stairs - just me and my one friend."

We get all the stuff loaded in the back of the truck and go back to the rental company to pick up the dolly and the blankets.

I drive to the furniture gallery, where I'm picking up my new bed. As I'm backing out, I hit a car.

The whole tail of woe is fairly long so I am not going to quote it in its entirety but this popped out at me from the middle of the narrative:

And right then, a bird poops on my head.

And here is the close of Stephanie's day:

Right about this time the sun starts to go down. And I realize there's no overhead lighting in my apartment except in my bathroom and in the closet. I don't have a lamp. Not a lamp, not a flashlight, not a lighter, not a nothin'.

I decide the only way this day's going to get any better is if I sit in the closet - which is the only room with light that doesn't have a toilet in it - and get drunk.

So I drank the six-pack of Corona by myself in my closet, crying. With the squeezy lime juice, because I didn't have the dishes or silverware yet to cut the lime with.

Halfway tempted to print this out so that when I think I am having a bad day, I can remember that it pales in comparison to this poor woman.

That is it for the evening;

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I have over 200 photographs and 30 minutes of video that need my attention... The action at the demolition derby was so fast and furious that I kept my finger mashed on the shutter button for a lot of the events. Now, I get to weed through everything and pick out the good ones. Didn't mention before but in between the Combine events, they raced One-Ton Grain trucks and standard pickup trucks. Even on the qualifying rounds, piece were falling off. One grain truck damaged its radiator and for the next heat, the crew was able to find a donor vehicle and swap it out. Obviously, it was not a radiator designed for a 30-year-old Ford Grain Truck -- the vehicle came back into the arena with the hood removed and this radiator sitting cockeyed in the engine compartment with bungee cords holding it in place. Like I said, a lot of fun!

Abandoned spaces - Chinese Mall

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I am fascinted by abandoned places -- buildings and other structures left to rot in the elements. Here is an unusual one profiled in the UAE publication: The National:
Mall of misfortune
The people who work at the South China Mall, in the muggy, factory-filled city of Dongguan, have the honor of passing each day in the biggest shopping mall on the face of the planet. In theory, it�s a glorious place: a seven-million-square-foot retail-and-entertainment behemoth in the heart of China�s southern Pearl River Delta, the wealthiest region in a nation that boasts the world�s biggest population and its fastest-growing major economy. The mall is part of China�s new arsenal of superlatives: the world�s largest airport terminal, the highest train track, the golf resort with the most holes.

The employees of this giant mall could, if they wanted, spend their breaks driving bumper cars, browsing for house-wares, strolling along a Venetian canal, petting fake herons in an indoor rain forest, or gazing at an eighty-five-foot replica of the Arc de Triomphe � all, of course, without leaving the premises. They could also picnic next to the bell tower of St Mark�s Square in Venice, soak up the ambience of San Francisco, or take a ride on the mall�s indoor-outdoor roller coaster, a 553-meter flying railway known as Kuayue Shi Kong, or �Moving Through Time and Space�.

As it happens, it�s just those things � time and space � that give so much trouble to the workers here. They have too much of both. On a recent Friday afternoon, an amusement-park employee, slouched in a forsaken ticket booth, tried to kill time by making origami. Another worker slept, with perfect impunity, on a table. In front of the haunted house attraction, one attendant was doing hand-stands while two others looked blankly on.

There was nothing else to do, because the South China Mall, which opened with great fanfare in 2005, is not just the world�s largest. With fewer than a dozen stores scattered through a space designed to house 1,500, it is also the world�s emptiest � a dusty, decrepit complex of buildings marked by peeling paint, dead light bulbs, and dismembered mannequins.
The Malls website is here: South China Mall Just WOW! That would be fun to browse through, hate to think of what the upkeep costs are...

Back in town again

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The Combine Demolition Derby was a lot of fun. Just got back in after about 500 miles of driving today (we took the long way back) I'll be posting more later tonight...

A nice climate rant

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Check out: John Coleman's Comments Before the San Diego Chamber of Commerce John Coleman is a meteorologist and he founded the Weather Channel.
Global Warming and the Price of a Gallon of Gas
by John Coleman

You may want to give credit where credit is due to Al Gore and his global warming campaign the next time you fill your car with gasoline, because there is a direct connection between Global Warming and four dollar a gallon gas. It is shocking, but true, to learn that the entire Global Warming frenzy is based on the environmentalist�s attack on fossil fuels, particularly gasoline. All this big time science, international meetings, thick research papers, dire threats for the future; all of it, comes down to their claim that the carbon dioxide in the exhaust from your car and in the smoke stacks from our power plants is destroying the climate of planet Earth. What an amazing fraud; what a scam.
And he is just getting warmed up... A great rant! You can read more of his writing at Coleman's Corner.

Off for two days

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Heading off to eastern Washington and the town of Lind to see the famed Combine Demolition Derby. We will be back Sunday evening. I'm not bringing the laptop as I want to travel light. Pictures will follow...

Yikes - flooding in Iowa

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It's getting downright serious there. From the New York Times:
In Eastern Iowa, the City That �Would Never Flood� Goes 12 Feet Under
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa � They said this city would never flood. They talked about 1993, and 1966 and 1851, years when the Cedar River swelled and hissed but mostly stayed within its banks. They thought they were safe. They were wrong.

Cedar Rapids is experiencing the worst flooding in the city�s history. And the water is still rising. By Thursday afternoon, the Cedar River was about 29 feet deep, or 17 feet above flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. The water was expected to rise another three feet by Friday morning, and reach a record crest, 12 feet higher than the previous record, set in 1851.

�Usually if you break a record, you only do it by an inch or two,� said Jeff Zogg, a hydrologist for the Weather Service in Davenport, Iowa. �But breaking it by six feet? That�s pretty amazing.�
And it is not going to get any better anytime soon:
The pain will not end anytime soon. With heavy thunderstorms rolling in Thursday evening, and more rain predicted for the weekend, flood waters were expected to remain high for at least the next seven or eight days, said Dave Koch, spokesman for the Cedar Rapids Fire Department.

�We�ve got serious problems,� said Justin Shields, a Cedar Rapids City Council member. �And we�ve got a long way to go yet.�

Most of downtown Cedar Rapids was underwater. That includes City Hall, the county courthouse and jail, all of which, in acts of civic hubris, were built on an island in the middle of the river.

�Well, the island is part of the river now,� said Mike Goldberg, the administrative services director for Linn County.
And one sad example of someone unclear on the concept:
Demenick Ankum drove to his house on 19th Avenue to save anything he could. By the time he finished packing, his car was underwater. He had to pay a neighbor, Louie Brundidge, $10 to rescue him from the house in Mr. Brundidge�s red aluminum boat.

All that Mr. Ankum could carry with him was one blue plastic tub of clothes and a few framed photos of his children. Everything else was gone.

�I never even thought about flood insurance,� said Mr. Ankum, 33. �They said this place would never flood in 500 years.�
A 500 year flood does not mean that it will not flood for 500 years, it just means that you will only experience a flood like this every 500 years or so. It may flood again next year and not flood for 1,000 years. Given the climate change (cooling caused by diminished solar activity), this may become the norm for an indefinite time. We will see next year...

That's it for this evening

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Off to the DaveCave(tm), I also need to dig out one of my Bicycles so Daniel can use it while he is here (he is 14 and there are a lot of kids his age living around here), plus hauling the garbage can down from the head of the road. The chickens and ducks, sheep and goats are still running around. It is early dusk here and they are getting ready to be put back into their respective coops and barns. The weather finally warmed up a bit today (it's in the high 50's!!!) and it looks like it might not suck too badly over the weekend...
Maggie's Farm has an interesting list regarding Barack H______ Obama's voting record on Second Amendment Gun Rights along with links and footnotes documenting their claims.
Obama and the Second Amendment
Over the transom:

The presidential primary season is finally over, and it is now time for gun owners to take a careful look at just where apparent nominee Barack Obama stands on issues related to the Second Amendment. During the primaries, Obama tried to hide behind vague statements of support for �sportsmen� or unfounded claims of general support for the right to keep and bear arms. What's his record?

FACT: Barack Obama voted to allow reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the firearms industry.1
FACT: Barack Obama wants to re-impose the failed and discredited Clinton Gun Ban.2
FACT: Barack Obama voted to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting.3
That was just the first three -- there are nineteen more...

NASA'a new Lunar Rovers

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Great YouTube clip of NASA's new Rovers being tested in Moses Lake, WA Check out: NASA Tests Lunar Rovers in Moses Lake, WA And to make things interesting, we will be out in that neck of the woods this coming Saturday. A nephew of Jen's is coming for a weeks visit and we thought we would go see the Annual Combine Demolition Derby in Lind, WA. Blogging may be light -- I don't know what is available for WiFi but I will be taking the full camera setup and will have pictures when we get back.

Big drug bust in Afghanistan

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Looks like the Taliban may be experiencing a bit of a cash-flow problem in the next year or two. About �200 million worth ($750 million USD). From the UK Telegraph:
World's biggest drug seizure in Afghanistan
About 260 tons of narcotics were found in trenches and bunkers in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

No previous haul comes close to matching this find, which weighed roughly the same as 30 double-decker buses.

The previous record was set by Colombia's security forces when they uncovered 81 tons of coca.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said: "This was the largest ever single find of narcotics in history. It reflects the efforts of the Afghan government against the drug trade, and was so large that two aircraft were brought in to destroy the underground bunker in which the hashish was being stored."
The only problem is that Hashish is not the primary crop, Opium is. Again, the Telegraph:
But Afghanistan's biggest drug problem is not hashish of the sort that was found yesterday. Instead, opium is the major concern.

Last year, Afghans grew 9,000 tons of raw opium, enough to be refined into 880 tons of heroin, or 93 per cent of the world's supply.
Still, the Hashish was a wonderful find and the Heroin is out there and will be found. It has to leave the country somehow and the government is now actively against its trade...

A Hero - Eduard Burceag

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People like this are far and few between. A true Hero. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Rainier hiker 'sacrificed his life for his wife'
As blizzard raged, his body's warmth protected her

Battered by a blizzard on the slopes of this mountain, Eduard Burceag lay down in a snow trench, trying to use his body's warmth to protect his wife, Mariana, from the 70-mph winds.

Rangers alerted to an emergency at 10,000 feet found Burceag in the snow Tuesday morning. He had no pulse and would later be declared dead.

"He basically sacrificed his life for his wife," David Gottlieb, lead climbing ranger at Mount Rainier, said Wednesday. "Imagine you're laying in the snow. It drains you."
And more:
Eduard Burceag was a software engineer, father of two sons and an experienced mountaineer. It was that experience he apparently called on amid the blizzard.

The hikers dug a trench in the snow, Gottlieb said.

Eduard Burceag lay on the ground. His wife was sandwiched between him and Vlad, Gottlieb said. Despite the pleas of his wife and Vlad, he refused to move.

Eduard Burceag and Vlad were engineers with Seattle-based Active Voice, a communications company. Both men are from Romania.

Burceag's 31-year-old wife and a family friend, Daniel Vlad, 35, of Bellevue survived the ordeal. An Army helicopter from Mount Rainier plucked them off the mountain Wednesday. And after a brief stay at Madigan Army Hospital and Harborview Medical Center, the two were released.
As he was an 'experienced mountaineer', the party should have been a lot better prepared for bad weather. This does not take away from Eduard's heroism though -- he sacrificed himself to guarantee the safety of his wife and good friend.

Three from Theo Spark

Our Brother from across the pond is on a roll today. Here are three: #1)

Thought for the Day....
A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.


Click for full size.

#3) - And finally, this little news item from Yahoo/Reuters:

Antarctica base gets 16,500 condoms before darkness
One of the last shipments to a U.S. research base in Antarctica before the onset of winter darkness was a year's supply of condoms, a New Zealand newspaper reported on Monday.

Bill Henriksen, the manager of the McMurdo base station, said nearly 16,500 condoms were delivered last month and would be made available, free of charge, to staff throughout the year to avoid the potential embarrassment of having to buy them.

The base only has a skeleton staff through the long winter.

"Since everybody knows everyone, it becomes a little bit uncomfortable," Henriksen told the Southland Times newspaper.

About 125 scientists and staff are stationed at McMurdo base, the largest community in Antarctica, during the winter months when there is constant darkness.

The first sunrise will occur on August 20 and McMurdo's population will start to increase again in September when supply flights resume, peaking at more than 1,000 during the summer period.

Now before you go and try dividing the 125 overwintering station personnel into the 16,500 number (132 condoms per person!), realize first that this is the annual supply for the station. Now that the summer season is over, the transport planes are flying nearly empty so they cram as much stuff in them as possible for the next summer when the planes will be full of scientists and their toys scientific equipment...

The climate is cooling due to low solar activity and crops are not doing well. Food prices this summer are going to be much higher than usual. From AgWeb News Service:
Today's Top Ag News -- Ugh! More Rain
'Never seen anything like this.' That's a common refrain in portions of Iowa and no doubt other areas of the Midwest which have been deluged by rain and flooding this week. And, there's more rain falling across a broad portion of Iowa this morning, including areas north of where flooding is already severe. The National Weather Service has even shifted their terminology in some areas, going from "major" to "major severity" in terms of flooding in some locations.
Another article at AgWeb:
Iowa Floods Claim Significant Acres
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says Iowa needs sunshine for the crop already planted and to dry fields so farmers can at least salvage some soybean acres. Iowa, traditionally the top corn-and-soybean-producing state has lost significant acreage this year due to flooding and wet weather that is crippling farmers across the entire state.

Northey says 2% of the anticipated acres have not been planted in the state and an additional 7% were lost due to flooding, �so we�re down about 9% of what our expected acres were.�
And a bit more:
Soybeans are in worse shape, though there is still time to plant that crop if the weather cooperates. Northey says 14% of the Iowa crop is still not planted and 6% of the state�s crop has been lost due to flooding.

NASS expects Iowa to allocate 9.8 million acres to soybeans. The roughly 20% of non-planted/ruined soybean acres could result in a 1.96-million-acre loss.

�Some of those bean acres can still get planted, but you�d have some decreased yields,� Northey says. �If you got in and got those, you could still get 2/3 of a yield. But most of those areas right now are very wet, and they didn�t get planted because they were wet. They�re even wetter now than what they were before they didn�t get planted the first time.�
We sure could use a little of that Global Warming right about now. It is even impacting business at the store as fewer people are coming out for the weekend. Business is off about 30%.

That's it for tonight

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Got to make sure the ducks, sheep and goats are settled in their respective places and haul the garbage up to the head of the driveway. A nephew of Jen's is coming to visit for a week so I need to get all the pr0n er... stuff cleaned up in the DaveCave(tm) See you all tomorrow (when I get to play Plumber at the store).

Going out for a munch box

Last weekend Jen and I and my Dad went out to the Bellingham Highland Games -- a two-day celebration of everything Scottish. If it's not Scottish, it's Craaap!

Ran into a Scottish (Glaswegian actually) delicacy tonight on the 23x.net blog:

What is a Munchy Box?
In the west of Scotland, in the towns and villages surrounding Glasgow, there is a delicacy available in some of the more discerning fast-food outlets. It's called the Munchy Box (sometimes just Munch Box) and it's a sight to behold. The one I bought for this article is a regular-sized one, in a 10″ pizza box for about a fiver, but they can come in 12″ or beyond for eight quid and up.

Upon opening your Jock Monsieur, you will see a layer of Doner Kebab meat on top of a Naan Bread, maybe with some Glasgow Salad (chips) poking out from underneath. The wonders that await!

Once the top layer has been removed, you can clearly see the two tubs of Sauce, the Glasgow Salad on the left and the Crappy Salad in the middle with the Onion Rings, Pakora and Chicken Tikka all huddled together for warmth on the right.

Here are two photos -- layer one and layer two:



Good Lord -- talk about a heart-attack on a plate. That does look tasty though -- I want one -- that is food for a couple days...

A strange noise in the country

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I was working outside our store and kept hearing the strangest sound. Sort of a

.. pause ...


.. pause ...
Looked around -- were any of our neighbors working on something metal? Finally found this guy:

I sure hope the lil' guy doesn't find too many bugs in that wood -- it's pressure treated and the bugs will be concentrating the salts in their bodies. First woodpecker of the spring. Looks like a Red-breasted Sapsucker

Three on Oil

Three interesting posts on the current price of Oil and the forces behind it. First, from the Econobrowser:
Oil spike
Why did oil breach $138?

One key impetus certainly came from news about U.S. interest rates and the dollar. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet Thursday cautioned that the ECB may raise interest rates next month in order to contain inflation, while Friday's U.S. unemployment numbers may have put further U.S. rate cuts back on the table. The twin developments sent the dollar plunging 1.1% against the euro and the dollar price of many commodities soaring. Gold was up 2.6% and the Commodity Research Bureau Index up 3.5% (numbers from ino.com). Still, oil's 7.5% rise was clearly the Homecoming Queen.
The post goes on to talk about two leading factors:
In terms of news specific to the oil market, this story out of Saudi Arabia could be significant:
Saudi Arabia's Shura council (parliament) will hold a series of meetings over the next two weeks to discuss a controversial proposal by a key member to curb oil production to save reserves for better prices.
And this one:
Also noteworthy is an increasing likelihood of military conflict involving Iran:
An Israeli deputy prime minister on Friday warned that Iran would face attack if it pursues what he said was its nuclear weapons programme.
So it's not just the dollar weakening against other currencies. This post in the Econobrowser makes it very plain with this chart:
Click for full size.

Figure 1: Price per barrel of oil (WTI), in USD (blue),
in SDR (red), and in EUR (green).
Squares indicate values for June 6.
NBER defined recession dates shaded gray.
Sources: St. Louis Fed FREDII;
IMF International Financial Statistics;
Pacific Exchange Services;
and author's calculations.
Finally, this post at The Centre for Research on Globalization:
Perhaps 60% of today�s oil price is pure speculation
The price of crude oil today is not made according to any traditional relation of supply to demand. It�s controlled by an elaborate financial market system as well as by the four major Anglo-American oil companies. As much as 60% of today�s crude oil price is pure speculation driven by large trader banks and hedge funds. It has nothing to do with the convenient myths of Peak Oil. It has to do with control of oil and its price. How?

First, the crucial role of the international oil exchanges in London and New York is crucial to the game. Nymex in New York and the ICE Futures in London today control global benchmark oil prices which in turn set most of the freely traded oil cargo. They do so via oil futures contracts on two grades of crude oil�West Texas Intermediate and North Sea Brent.

A third rather new oil exchange, the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME), trading Dubai crude, is more or less a daughter of Nymex, with Nymex President, James Newsome, sitting on the board of DME and most key personnel British or American citizens.
And the Money Quote (literally):
Since the advent of oil futures trading and the two major London and New York oil futures contracts, control of oil prices has left OPEC and gone to Wall Street. It is a classic case of the �tail that wags the dog.�

A June 2006 US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on �The Role of Market Speculation in rising oil and gas prices,� noted, ��there is substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that the large amount of speculation in the current market has significantly increased prices.�

What the Senate committee staff documented in the report was a gaping loophole in US Government regulation of oil derivatives trading so huge a herd of elephants could walk through it. That seems precisely what they have been doing in ramping oil prices through the roof in recent months.

The Senate report was ignored in the media and in the Congress.
The report can be found here (53 page PDF): Senate Report
Tired and have a lot on my plate tomorrow. Going out to the DaveCave(tm) to deal with email and then off to bed...

What is it about teenagers and fire?

In late April of this year, a wonderful old building in Concrete, WA burned to the ground. I had written about it here: Awww crap - the Concrete Castle burns in a suspicious fire and had posted some photos a week later here: Our day today - a trip to Winthrop for some Ice Cream and a Hot Dog.

Turns out to have been three teenagers playing with lighters. When the fire got to where they couldn't control it, they ran and didn't bother to get help. Now this wonderful landmark is gone.

Well, it happened again yesterday. A 100 year old building in the heart of Lynden, WA burned.

I had to drop some things off at our bookkeepers today (they are in Lynden) so I brought my camera:




When I first heard about the fire, I didn't know what building it was in. I was worried that it might be one of these two. The first one houses a favorite restaurant -- one that has been there since 'God made Dirt'. Great homestyle cooking. The later two are the Dutch Inn, a rambling building containing a small hotel, several restaurants and gift shops, a small community theater. A lot of fun to visit and yes, the windmill works..

It turned out to have been Delft Square, across the street. Cement outer walls but all of the internal structure was wood




The fire department was out there this afternoon inspecting:



And the news came out in this afternoons Lynden Tribune:

BREAKING NEWS: Two in custody in relation to Delft fire
Lynden Police arrested two Lynden-area teen boys, ages 13 and 14, on Tuesday in connection with the fire that burned Delft Square Monday, Police Chief Jack Foster said.

Reports have been turned over to the Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, and identical charges are expected to be filed against the two youths by Wednesday, Foster said.

The charges will be: first-degree reckless burning, second-degree burglary, and criminal trespass, Foster said.

Like I asked before: What is it about teenagers and fire?

Lynden is a very small conservative town; founded by Dutch immigrants who moved here to farm. Those mokes are going to be ostracized if they have family in town. This wasn't some barn that could be rebuilt, this was a 100 year old landmark building in the heart of town and the damage will extend way beyond the harm to the businesses in the building; these businesses were a bank, several escrow, property and title businesses, an investment firm. I know that they will probably have off-site backups but the time needed to restore will throw a monkey wrench into a lot of people's lives...

Check out this guitar

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Holy Sh*t!!! Although Robert Moog passed away in 2005, his spirit (and his company) are still going strong. Moogmusic just announced The Moog Guitar - The Paul Vo Collector Edition. Wired Magazine has a nice article and a video clip of Lou Reed and others being blown away by the infinite active sustain, active damping (and all of this happens on a string-by-sting basis) as well as the tonal qualities. For $6,500 this is am amazing instrument. If I played guitar instead of keyboards/synthesizers I would be getting one. Just wow!!!

Meet Roadrunner

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Maximum Geekdom -- off the charts... I waited a few days after the initial announcements until more information was released. Roadrunner was commissioned by LANL (the Las Alamos National Laboratories) and built by IBM and it is the first machine to break the peta-flop barrier, something that was not expected for quite a few years from now... One peta-flop is one floating point mathematical operation per second with these zeros to the right: 000,000,000,000,000 That is one thousand trillion complex floating point calculations per second. The Daily Tech has the story:
New Military Supercomputer Breaks Performance Record
A new supercomputer in the U.S. has broken a barrier that many thought wouldn�t be broken for years to come. A new supercomputer-- dubbed Roadrunner-- has broken the petaflop barrier. Roadrunner was designed by engineers and scientists at IBM and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Ultimately, Roadrunner will be placed into a classified environment where it will be used to simulate what effects aging has on the stockpile of nuclear weapons the U.S. has in its arsenal. The problem it will work on is modeling how aging nuclear weapons behave the first fraction of a second during an explosion. Before beginning its nuclear weapons research, Roadrunner will be used to model the effects of global warming.

The Roadrunner supercomputer costs $133 million and is built using chips from both consumer electronics and more common server processors.
The more common server processors are not mentioned but I am looking at the numbers and the article mentions these tidbits:
Roadrunner has 12,960 chips that are an improved version of the...
-- and --
In total, Roadrunner has 116,640 processing cores
Now looking at the numbers (something I do a centi-flop rate) -- I subtract 12,960 of the sooper-seekret chips from the total processor count of 116,640 which gives me 103,680 "common server processors". Divide this by eight and we are back at 12,960 again. My guess on the architecture is that we have 12,960 individual rack mount systems of the "pizza-box" configuration with eight CPUs (this is actually a very nice "sweet spot" for enterprise scalability but that is another story) and each system houses one of the sooper-seekret chips. The chip in question -- here is the full quote:
Roadrunner has 12,960 chips that are an improved version of the Cell chip used in the PS3. These Cell processors act as a turbocharger for certain portions of the calculations the Roadrunner processes.
I love computer games! I do not play them, have only owned three of them and got tired of them after a few hours play. I prefer the real world. What I love about them is there is such a market for them that they have driven the computer graphics hardware to a wonderfully advanced state and now, they are driving Physics Computing to that same state. It is a fun time to be alive!!!

The perfect Pint

It seems that a pint no longer means 16 ounces to some bartenders... from the Wall Street Journal:

A Pint-Size Problem
Beer lovers nurse a grudge as some bars switch to smaller glasses

Four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline may be a cause for outrage. But it pales next to the righteous fury provoked by five-dollar-a-pint beer.

Beer prices at bars and restaurants have risen over the past few months, as prices of hops and barley have skyrocketed and retail business has slowed alongside the economy.

Some restaurants have replaced 16-ounce pint glasses with 14 ouncers -- a type of glassware one bartender called a "falsie."

And customers are complaining that bartenders are increasingly putting less than 16 ounces of beer in a pint glass, filling up the extra space with foam.

Two of the world's biggest glassware makers, Libbey and Cardinal International, say orders of smaller beer glasses have risen over the past year. Restaurateurs "want more of a perceived value," says Mike Schuster, Libbey's marketing manager for glassware in the U.S. Glasses with a thicker bottom or a thicker shaft help create the perception. "You can increase the thickness of the bottom part but still retain the overall profile," he says.

Fortunately, there is hope. Many smaller craft beer bars are using Imperial pints so you get the full 16 ounces plus room for a nice head. Some are serving the full 20 ounces with no head. The BeerAdvocate website has a lively forum on this topic.

A poor career move - burglary

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Memo to self -- when planning to burglarize a house, check it for dogs. Especially big dogs. Like a 22-stone English Mastiff. From the UK Daily Mail:
Burglar makes the mistake of choosing 22-stone mastiff's home
Of all the gardens in all the world, the thief had the bad luck to break into the one where Cromwell was peacefully gnawing on his bone.

The three-year-old English mastiff is a gentle pet. But his breed are also born guard dogs - and big ones at that.

Only the thief and Cromwell know exactly what happened next.

But it can't have been friendly, as the dog's owner heard a 'scream, a roar and a commotion' from the back garden.

George Watson, 43, had been having a bath and ran outside in his towel, to see the thief zooming off down the driveway in his van.

Apart from a very agitated dog, the only evidence the man left behind was the torn Teeshirt.
Cromwell, his owner George Watson and the burglar's torn shirt
And in case the moke tries to prosecute:
If the burglar decided to make a complaint, Mr Watson could not be prosecuted under the Dangerous Dogs Act because the incident took place on his private property.
Heh Let's see -- one stone equals 14 pounds so 22*14=308 If I saw a three hundred pound dog running after me I would depart in a hurry. I hope that Cromwell got a nice big bone for his treat...

Solar activity at a low

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Interesting report from University of Montana where a lot of the US Solar Research is done:
Sun goes longer than normal without producing sunspots
The sun has been laying low for the past couple of years, producing no sunspots and giving a break to satellites.

That's good news for people who scramble when space weather interferes with their technology, but it became a point of discussion for the scientists who attended an international solar conference at Montana State University. Approximately 100 scientists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America gathered June 1-6 to talk about "Solar Variability, Earth's Climate and the Space Environment."

The scientists said periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, but this period has gone on longer than usual.
And the money quote:
Tsuneta said solar physicists aren't like weather forecasters; They can't predict the future. They do have the ability to observe, however, and they have observed a longer-than-normal period of solar inactivity. In the past, they observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots. That period coincided with a little ice age on Earth that lasted from 1650 to 1700.
The sooner the politicians get off their environmental hobby horse the better. There is a great quote from Dr. Charles Krauthammer over at Maggie's Farm today:
For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class -- social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies -- arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).

Two decades ago, however, socialism and communism died rudely, then were buried forever by the empirical demonstration of the superiority of market capitalism everywhere from Thatcher's England to Deng's China, where just the partial abolition of socialism lifted more people out of poverty more rapidly than ever in human history.

Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but -- even better -- in the name of Earth itself.
What he says...

Comments back online

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Things seem to be under control now so comments are now enabled... (ducking for cover)
Only in England... Here is the WikiPedia article: The Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake And here it is in YouTube: Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling 2007 I love the description at WikiPedia:
Due to the steepness and uneven surface of the hill there are usually a number of injuries, ranging from sprained ankles to broken bones and concussions. A first aid service is provided by the local St John Ambulance (Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud Divisions) at the bottom of the hill, with a volunteer rescue group on hand to carry down to them any casualties who do not end up at the bottom through gravity. A number of ambulance vehicles will attend the event, since there is invariably at least one and often several more injuries requiring hospital treatment. Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling has been summarised as "twenty young men chase a cheese off a cliff and tumble 200 yards to the bottom, where they are scraped up by paramedics and packed off to hospital".
More at the event website: Cheese Rolling In Gloucestershire
Color me surprised - Chavez is the perfect example of why Marxism has never and will never be successful or stable. From The Associated Press:
Venezuelan intelligence law draws protests
A new intelligence law that President Hugo Chavez enacted by decree is drawing protests from human rights activists who say it could lead to serious violations of civil liberties and become a tool for cracking down on dissent.

Chavez says the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Law will help Venezuela detect and neutralize national security threats, including any assassination attempts or attempted coups.

But human rights activists warn that the law infringes on rights to due process and defense.

Under the law that Chavez decreed last week, Venezuelans who refuse to act as informants for intelligence agencies face up to four years in prison. Security forces don't need court orders for surveillance such as wiretapping and authorities can withhold evidence from defense lawyers if that is deemed to be in the interest of national security.
And the outcry from the left? . . . --crickets--

The 2008 Bellingham Highland Games

Jen and I went back again today to visit at our leisure. My Dad tires really quickly so outings with him tend to be short. Here are some photos:

This is taken from a tower at the site.
This is about 30% of the booths at the event,
this was taken around 4PM on the last day
so many vendors had already packed
and gone.
Another view from the tower.
The event is held at Whatcom County's Hovander Park.
The park is still a working 720 acre farm.

Yesterday's opening ceremonies had two large groups of pipers
marching in formation.
Over 400 bagpipes gathered in one spot.
The Flag Guard from the opening ceremonies.
Here is my Dad after walking about a mile.
This is hard to see as he used to hike,
backpack and rock climb...
Some Rugby action...
And some excellent music.
This was a local band: Maggie's Fury

All in all, a fun two days...

Jennifer Marohasy has a nice roundup of comments about the resoundingly defeated Cap and Trade bill that would have put serious economic hurt on the USAs businesses, would have made a few people very wealthy (Al Gore is heavily invested) and would have made little or no change in our current cooling climate. Here is one of her excerpts:
Wall Street Journal � Climate Change Collapse � June 06, 2008.

Environmentalists are stunned that their global warming agenda is in collapse. Senator Harry Reid has all but conceded he lacks the vote for passage in the Senate and that it's time to move on. Backers of the Warner-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill always knew they would face a veto from President Bush, but they wanted to flex their political muscle and build momentum for 2009. That strategy backfired. The green groups now look as politically intimidating as the skinny kid on the beach who gets sand kicked in his face. Those groups spent millions advertising and lobbying to push the cap-and-trade bill through the Senate. But it would appear the political consensus on global warming was as exaggerated as the alleged scientific consensus. "With gasoline selling at $4 a gallon, the Democrats picked the worst possible time to bring up cap and trade," says Dan Clifton, a political analyst for Strategas Research Partners. "This issue is starting to feel like the Hillary health care plan."
Heh... I love that line: The green groups now look as politically intimidating as the skinny kid on the beach who gets sand kicked in his face The rest of the excerpts are just as good. You can read the Wall Street Journal article in full here.
Spent this morning driving into town to meet up with my Dad and go to the Bellingham Highland Games. We got there just as it 'officially' opened -- they had people singing the Scottish, Canadian and USA National anthems and then two bands with a total of 400 highland pipers (plus drummers, etc...) massed out on the gaming field. Made the hair on my arms rise up. This is music that reaches back very deep into my character. I took some photos and will post them in a day or two. Now, I am working on some tactics to block the punks running comment and trackback spam scripts. I'm using a logfile analyzer to see if there is a trend I can exploit. So far it's mostly EU, Asia and Middle Eastern origin. To give you an idea of the volume I am dealing with, my raw logfile is usually 80 to 100 MB each month. Here it is just seven days into the month and I'm looking at a raw logfile 162 MB in size. Some people need to get a fscking life...
A sad story from The Daily Mail:
Two faces of Zimbabwe: In Rome, Mugabe's aides buy in bulk. In Harare, they can't afford bananas
When a bunch of bananas costs 100million dollars, who could imagine having carrier bags stuffed full of food?

Plainly not these Zimbabweans, who stood around a market stall in the capital Harare, looking helplessly at its laughable pricetags.

But as their president moved to use their hunger as a political weapon, it seemed his aides were stockpiling an armoury.

In Rome for a UN food crisis conference, they shopped near Robert Mugabe's five-star hotel, filling bags to breaking point with food, especially pasta, to take home.

And who could blame them? In a country where inflation is nearly 165,000 per cent and the government simply adds to the problems by printing more money, it appears to pay to stay close to the president.

Indeed, food is likely to become Mugabe's tool to bolster his support before the election run-off with Morgan Tsvangirai, a fortnight away.

For even as he reminded his audience in Italy of the food shortages in his country, yesterday his administration banned the distribution of food aid.

A third of the population relies on this aid, after years of poor harvests. Charity workers fear this ban means that food will become a political weapon in Mugabe's arsenal.

By allowing only government personnel to distribute food, only those who support Mugabe and his Zanu PF party might receive enough to quell their hunger.
The article has these two photos that serve to drive home the disparity:

And to think that twenty years ago, Zimbabwe was the jewel of Africa -- its breadbasket. It used to export food, had a very stable economy and the people were happy. Chalk up another one for Marxism...

We are so swept up in the cost of oil these days that we don't notice that it has all of the characteristics of an economic 'bubble' and its collapse will happen at some future time.

From CNN/Fortune:

Why oil prices will tank
Arguments that $4-a-gallon gas (or even higher) is here to stay are dead wrong. Housing's boom-and-bust cycle tells you why.

High-flying tech stocks crashed. The roaring housing market crumbled. And oil, rest assured, will follow the same path down.

Not everyone agrees. In an echo of our most recent market frenzies, some experts pronounce that the "world has changed," and that the demand spikes, supply disruptions, and government bungling we face now will saddle us with a future of $4, $5 or even $10 a gallon gasoline.

But if you stick to basic economics, it's clear that the only question is when - not if - prices will succumb.

The oil bulls are correct in their explanations of why prices have jumped. It's indisputable that worldwide demand has surged, chiefly driven by strong growth in China, India and the Middle East. It's also true that most of the world's reserves are controlled by governments in places like Russia and Venezuela that mismanage production, thus curtailing supply growth.

But rather than forming a permanent new plateau for prices - as the bulls contend - those forces are causing a classically unstable market that's destined for a steep fall.

An interesting analysis -- check out the original article for Shawn Tully's reasons. The comments section  (a separate page) is also interesting reading.

Due to the sheer volume of people trying to post comment and trackback spam, I have disabled these features for the next day or two until my ISP and I can work out a better way to filter these little turds out. Right now I am getting several hundred attempts (with zero successes) but my processing is being done late in the chain so there is a large CPU overhead involved. My ISP is looking at dealing with them much earlier so there is a much lower overhead. Looking at my raw logs, I'm seeing several attempts per second. Even before I disabled the comments and trackback they were 100% pure FAIL but CPU time is CPU time and the more efficient I get, the better...
It is possible to write a simple script to send out spam to the comments section of most blogs. Attempts to block this are problamatic. I have a counter-script that works pretty well but over the last two weeks, there has been a huge uptick in the volume, mostly from Europe and Latin America. To those jenkem huffers who are behind it -- F*** Y** America rocks and you pitiful little wankers don't have a clue about reality...
Yikes -- from the Daily Mail:
Second World War bomb which caused commuter chaos has been diffused
An unexploded Second World War bomb which forced the closure of a number of transport routes in the capital was defused today.

Army experts worked to disarm the 2,000lb UXB faced delays after discovering metal used to make the Second World War device was thicker than expected.

This morning, however, military engineers managed to cut through the casing of the bomb, which measures 5ft by 2ft, enabling them to begin 'steaming' the explosive inside to make it safe.

Commuters faced the prospect of more Tube chaos, however, as lines near the danger area were closed.

The bomb, which is lying on a gas main just 50 yards from the main sewage pump for east London, was unearthed by a mechanical digger on Monday in the banks of the Lea in Bromley-by-Bow near the Olympic site.

Construction workers made the discovery while widening the bank to take barges for the 2012 Games village construction.

It had lain dormant there for more than 60 years.

Running into that with some earth-moving equipment would certainly put me off my feed for a while. Wonder if the operator needed a change of underwear...

Dropping the facade - Zimbabwe

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From UK Telegraph:
Zimbabwean generals have 'taken Robert Mugabe's power'
Zimbabwe's generals have mounted a "military coup by stealth", reducing President Robert Mugabe to a "figurehead", a senior western diplomat said.

The tight circle of "securocrats", who sit on the Joint Operations Command (JOC) committee, are now believed to be in day-to-day charge of Zimbabwe's government.

They ensured Mr Mugabe did not step down after his defeat in the presidential election's first round in March and are now masterminding a campaign of terror to suppress the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and guarantee victory for Mr Mugabe in the June 27 run-off.

The government indefinitely suspended all work by aid groups and non-governmental organisations, accusing them of breaching their terms of registration.
The evil coming off of this image is palpable:
You are looking at (starting from the right): Augustine Chihuri - the national police commissioner Constantine Chiwenga - top ranking military officer Perence Shiri - commander of the Air Force and Paul Zimondi - commander of the prison service Well, this has gone from a political and humanitarian problem to a military problem. It deserves a military solution. Rope, Tree, some assembly required...
From The Register:
Windows XP given additional resuscitation
Looks like the Small, Cheap Computer� craze has yet again broken Microsoft's nerve to completely kill off Windows XP.

Following the software giant's concession to extend the life of XP Home for the sub-notebook market until 2010, Microsoft is today granting the same reprieve for low-cost desktop PCs too.

Microsoft has been under considerable pressure from computer makers to keep XP licensing available for budget systems. The last-gen OS was originally set for total extinction in June, 2008 � but the popularity of smaller boxes which lack the resources to run Vista adequately has given Microsoft reason to rethink its decision. Faced with either bumping the expiration date or letting Linux eat the entire emerging market, Microsoft has chosen to let Vista play the fall guy again.

Or as Microsoft explains the story at the Computex expo in Taipei, customers were demanding Windows on the low-devices because it is familiar to them.

According to Redmond, it's working with more than 20 OEMs on the extended offering. They include Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Quanta, Acer and Asus.

When the XP home licensing extension expires in 2010, Microsoft has said the successor to Vista (Windows 7), will already be in the hands of consumers. CEO Steve Ballmer insists the company hasn't made any blunders with Vista, but soon departing chairman Bill Gates has said the company could learn "plenty of lessons" from its handling of the OS.
Heh... Schadenfreude sure feels good -- I was on the Windows 2000 ship team at MSFT, XP was OK when it was being developed but Vista is a bloated hog of an OS designed by a balkanized collection of committees who didn't talk to each other and who were fighting turf battles over every last byte.

Newly released data showed that May 2008 was cold cold cold! From Watts Up With That:

UAH: Global Temperature Dives in May
Confirming what many of us have already noted from the anecdotal evidence coming in of a much cooler than normal May, such as late spring snows as far south as Arizona, extended skiing in Colorado, and delays in snow cover melting, (here and here), the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) published their satellite derived Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit data set of the Lower Troposphere for May 2008.

It is significantly colder globally, colder even than the significant drop to -0.046°C seen in January 2008.

The global ∆T from April to May 2008 was -.195°C

2008 1 -0.046
2008 2 0.020
2008 3 0.094
2008 4 0.015
2008 5 -0.180

Compared to the May 2007 value of 0.199°C we find a 12 month ∆T is -.379°C.

But even more impressive is the change since the last big peak in global temperature in January 2007 at 0.594°C, giving a 16 month ∆T of -0.774°C which is equal in magnitude to the generally agreed upon 'global warming signal' of the last 100 years.

The picture tells a thousand words:

Click for full-size...

The punishment fits the crime

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From Reuters:
Air Force leadership fired over nuclear issue
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the Air Force's top two officials on Thursday after mistakes involving their most sensitive mission -- the safety and security of America's nuclear weapons.

Gates said two incidents -- the shipment of nuclear missile fuses to Taiwan and the cross-country flight by an Air Force bomber wrongly armed with nuclear weapons -- exposed a systemic problem in the Air Force and an erosion of nuclear standards.

"Both the ... nuclear weapons transfer incident and the Taiwan misshipment, while different in specifics, have a common origin -- the gradual erosion of nuclear standards and a lack of effective oversight by Air Force leadership," he told reporters.

"A credible nuclear deterrent has been essential to our security as a nation, and it remains so today. The safety, security and reliability of our nuclear weapons and associated components are of paramount importance."
Good on Gates for having the stones to take out the problem starting from the top down. The Air Force is not a personal fiefdom, it is a branch of the United States Military and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is its leader behind President Bush.

He's got my vote

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From NPR:
Obama Bans DNC from Taking Lobbyists' Money
Presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama, exerting his new power as leader of his party, has told the Democratic National Committee to eschew all contributions from Washington lobbyists and political action committees.

Obama has spurned money from lobbyists and PACs ever since he declared himself a candidate for president. On Thursday, he extended that policy to the DNC.

Speaking in Bristol, Va., he told a cheering crowd: "We will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. We're going to change how Washington works. They will not fund my party. They will not run our White House. And they will not drown out the voice of the American people when I'm president of the United States of America."
My estimation of Mr. Obama just went up several hundred notches. There is an advantage to being a political newbie, you haven't been exposed to the corruption for very long and still have a well developed sense of ethics...
Jen and I look forward to this every year. It is a massive gathering of clans from all over. Scottish music, sports, pageantry, food and fun. I don't know how the weather will be -- there is a stalled system off Alaska that is sending cool rainy weather our way for the next week or so but that will not stop us. The website is here: Bellingham Highland If you are of a Scottish mind and can make it here, it is well worth your time.

Happy Birthday X86

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From Computerworld:
Happy birthday, x86! An industry standard turns 30
Intel's x86 microprocessor architecture has dominated large swaths of computing for three decades. Here's why.

Thirty years ago, on June 8, 1978, Intel Corp. introduced its first 16-bit microprocessor, the 8086, with a splashy ad heralding "the dawn of a new era." Overblown? Sure, but also prophetic. While the 8086 was slow to take off, its underlying architecture -- later referred to as x86 -- would become one of technology's most impressive success stories.

"X86" refers to the set of machine language instructions that certain microprocessors from Intel and a few other companies execute. It essentially defines the vocabulary and usage rules for the chip. X86 processors -- from the 8086 through the 80186, 80286, 80386, 80486 and various Pentium models, right down to today's multicore chips and processors for mobile applications -- have over time incorporated a growing x86 instruction set, but each has offered backward compatibility with earlier members of the family.

In the three decades since the introduction of the 8086, the x86 family has systematically progressed from desktop PCs to servers to portable computers to supercomputers. Along the way, it has killed or held at bay a host of competing architectures and chip makers. Even some markets that had seemed locked up by competitors, such as Apple's use of Motorola PowerPCs in the Macintosh computer, have yielded to x86 in recent years.

How did Intel's architecture come to dominate so much of the computing world? Let's take a look.
What follows is a nice long (four pages) examination of the history of the X86 -- the competition from RISC architecture, the Pentium floating point bug, the Intel 432 CPU, AMD and much much more. A fun timeline...

Our Oil supply

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An interesting chart. We blame the Arabs for our high oil prices but in actuality, we get most of our oil from Canada. Check out this chart from the Energy Information Administration Last year, we imported 5,983 Million barrels/day from OPEC nations and 7,456/day from non-OPEC nations. Saudi Arabia led the OPEC nations with 1,489/day while Canada provided 2,426/day Are we going to start griping about the Canucks?

Quite the story - lightning strike

I am interested in Tesla Coils. Have built a few and have collected the necessary parts to build a big one sometime down the road. On one of the email lists I subscribe to, a reader had this experience:

This is not exactly tesla coil stuff but it is interesting and has to do with large sparks.

Saturday night we had another thunder storm and tornado warnings. Lightning struck the house. There is a 19" hole in the roofing shingles and plywood on the roof. Directly below the 19" hole is a 7" diameter hole in the sheet rock ceiling in the upstairs bedroom. The bedroom floor has a 28" diameter hole in it. Down stairs the 28" diameter hole is directly over the refrigerator. The refrigerator measures 30" x 33". Several of the circuit brakers in the main panel were tripped. The 36" TV in the living room is fried. There was no fire and not even a sign of anything burned. All the holes look like a shotgun blast made them. The wood around the edge of each hole is splintered like all the wood that is gone was ripped away. We were in the living room watching TV at the time when it happened it sounded like a stick of dynamite went off in the kitchen. The TV made some cracking sounds and went off. There was a large flash of light from the kitchen area that reflected through the house. There was also a strong smell of smoke like something had burned. The burned smell had to be the wood that was missing from the holes because there was very little wood pieces laying round to clean up. The Insurance Company is refusing to pay for the TV since it was in the living room 20 feet away it could not have been struck by lightning. Allstate is being a jerk, your not in good hands with Allstate. The variation in hole sizes is very interesting.
Just WOW!
Very high geekdom indeed. I first read about it in this article in the Glens Falls, New York Post-Star:
Man driving motorized cooler faces DWI, other charges
In case you were wondering, a motorized cooler on wheels is a motor vehicle under state law.

A Whitehall man learned that on Memorial Day, when he was charged with driving while intoxicated after police pulled him over for swerving and driving on the sidewalk on a four-wheeled, motorized cooler known as a "Cruzin Cooler."

Leslie J. "Bomber" Marr, 57, could face felony DWI and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle charges because of prior arrests and convictions in drinking-and-driving cases, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

The electricity-powered Cruzin Cooler that Marr was riding contained 14 beers, the chief said.

LaChapelle said Whitehall Police Patrolman Andrew Mija stopped Marr at about 7:45 p.m. after the officer saw Marr swerving and preparing to cross William Street on the motorized cooler.

The machine has handlebars, and its operator sits on a seat atop the cooler, LaChapelle said.

"We were told it can do up to 12 mph," the chief said.
Curiousity aroused, I started googling and lo and behold these things really exist:
About Cruzin Coolers
Cruzin Cooler combines two basic necessities of life, the ability to have cold food or a beverage handy along with the means to get somewhere, without walking. With modern technology, the Cruzin Cooler is light-weight and comes in various sizes and colors and is available in gas and electric models, with a 10 mile range on electric models and 30 miles on the gas models.

The cooler is light enough to be driven to a location and then picked up and carried. The cooler can be used for hunting, sporting events, races, camping, golf or even a trip to the grocery store to keep your food cold all the way home. Marine use will be popular for the new cooler allowing you to take your fish/drinks/food/ ice to and from your boat with powered assistance and braking. Simply ride or power your way up and down ramps.

There are virtually hundreds of uses for the new coolers with thoughts of racing coolers not far behind!
And Cabella's carries them:
The coolest ride on four wheels. These motorized electric coolers are a standout for everything from tailgate parties at sporting events, to cruising around the neighborhood with your own mobile lemonade and ice-cream stand. The 300-watt electric motor puts out a top speed of 13 mph with a range of up to 15 miles between charges. Pneumatic tires with aluminum rims provide a comfortable ride on paved surfaces. Foot pegs give you a place to rest your feet when riding. The Cruzin Cooler can store up to 24 12-oz. cans and 8 lbs. of ice and has a weight capacity of 250 lbs. (tested to 540 lbs.). Optional Coolagon Wagon can be towed behind it (sold separately). The Coolagon Wagon is outfitted with a trailer hitch and a tow bar and has a 300-lb. weight capacity. It stores up to 72 12-oz. cans and 10 lbs. of ice. The Wagon also features an extendable handle that allows you to pull the cooler when not being towed, removable main lid, drink holder, separate drink access lid, steel inner frame with stainless steel bolts and nuts. The optional Cooler Seat with backrest fits the Cruzin Cooler or the Wagon.
This would be a blast to get for the store. $350 plus another $30 for the padded seat. Ten mile range would get me from home and back without any worries... Here is Ellen DeGeneres with hers:

The Parkersburg Tornado

Holy Shit! The National Weather Service has released its report on the May 29th, 2008 tornado that leveled half of Parkersburg, Iowa:

NWS personnel have rated the Parkersburg-New Hartford-Dunkerton tornado as EF 5 (correlated to wind speeds up to 205 MPH) on the Enhanced Fujita Scale at the locations of maximum damage. This is the first EF5 tornado in Iowa since the Jordan tornado of June 13, 1976.

A large and destructive tornado moved across Butler and Black Hawk counties on Sunday May 25th. The initial touchdown occurred near the Butler and Grundy county line, 2 miles south of Aplington at 4:48 pm CDT and quickly grew in size and intensity as it approached Parkersburg. The tornado was nearly 3/4s of a mile wide as it moved through the southern end of Parkersburg at 4:59 pm CDT. Significant structural damage occurred in the town of Parkersburg including 100 to 200 homes destroyed. The tornado maintained size and intensity as it move towards New Hartford. At 5:09 pm CDT the storm moved just north of New Hartford once again causing significant structural and tree damage. The tornado weakened around 3 miles east of New Hartford with lesser damage as it moved east to north of the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area. Significant straight line winds occurred along and just south of the tornado track with preliminary estimates of 90 to 100 mph. The tornado then grew in size to near 1.2 miles wide north of Dunkerton causing substantial damage to a farmstead there. The tornado lifted just before entering Buchanan county.

Here is a 17-page PDF report with some stunning photos. Here are two of them:



I am surprised that only eight people lost their lives.

Ouch!!! Talk about laying an egg

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From the Lynden Tribune:
Lynden hobby farm chicken lays massive egg
A Lynden chicken may become posthumously famous after laying an enormous and possibly record-breaking egg.

The egg laid by Thelma, an Araucana cross chicken owned by the Hamstra family, weighs just over 200 grams, about 7 ounces. Thelma died last Wednesday after laying the egg less than a week before on Thursday, May 22.

�We think it died from complications from the egg,� said Margaret Hamstra, whose fifth-grade son Jeff raised the chicken on their hobby farm on Kamm Road.
Makes my butt hurt just thinking about it...

Not holding my breath

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From CNN:
Clinton to suspend campaign, bucking for VP bid?
Sen. Hillary Clinton on Saturday will officially suspend her campaign for the presidency and "express her support for Senator Obama and party unity," her campaign said Wednesday.

The Clinton campaign said she will make the announcement at "an event in Washington, D.C.," where she will also thank her supporters.

Sen. Barack Obama and Clinton were in Washington on Wednesday to each address the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The candidates ran into each other at the AIPAC conference and had a brief chat, Obama spokeswoman Linda Douglass said.

"She's an extraordinary leader of the Democratic Party and has made history alongside me over the last 16 months. I'm very proud to have competed against her," Obama told the Israel lobbying group.

Obama became his party's presumptive nominee Tuesday and will be looking to unite Democrats divided by the long and contentious primary season.
I cannot imagine a worse choice for Vice President especially with Obama being a relative political newcomer. He needs to surround himself with good advisers, not Clinton cronies and picks...

Short night again - sorry Vern!

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Last night I dealt with about 1,200 emails and left a few hundred to scan. Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) and then off to bed. It was great to be sleeping in our own bed again, travel is fun but neither of us got a good nights rest on unfamiliar mattresses.

The Warner / Lieberman bill

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We have heard about the odious Warner / Lieberman bill currently in debate -- the one that would make a few people very very rich (Al Gore for one) and would levy a tens of trillions of dollars hit on business over the decade while effectively doing nothing about the climate. It is interesting to see the power behind the bill. From the New York Times:
Senate Opens Debate on Politically Risky Bill Addressing Global Warming
The Senate on Monday opened a raucous debate over climate change legislation even though it will put supporters of the bill, including all three presidential candidates, on the spot � essentially forcing them to come out in favor of high energy costs at a time when American consumers are paying record fuel prices.

While the three candidates are on record favoring legislative action on global warming, the Bush administration opposes a far-reaching bill.

The measure�s sponsors say the nation must take immediate action to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions, but many senators in both parties see the legislation as an expensive long-term plan that would do little to solve today�s energy supply and price problems. In fact, the legislation is not expected to pass in the Senate this year.

The debate, which could last all week, will force senators to take a stand on some of the most difficult, expensive and potentially life-altering questions the world will face in coming decades.

And lawmakers on Monday embraced the challenge, voting 74 to 14 in favor of the first of several procedural steps needed to bring the bill to the Senate floor.
What is particularly telling is this photo and caption in the lede:

Legislation was introduced by, from left, Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, Benjamin L. Cardin, Olympia J. Snowe, Barbara Boxer and John Kerry.
Nothing like having some of the biggest socialists in the Senate backing this piece of shite... Kerry hasn't done an honest days work in his life and Snowe and Boxer are right up there with him. For more information on the true cost of this foolishness, read this book review by Freeman Dyson at the New York Review of Books -- excellent stuff...
An oldie but a goodie:

Click for full-size
Swiped from Theo
Just to pick up some new cuss words... Heh. From the Washington Post:
Clinton Washed Away in Trickle of Delegates to Obama
Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer got up early yesterday. "Today, Michigan superdelegate Joyce Lalonde endorsed Barack Obama," he wrote in an e-mail at 6:56 a.m.

This raised an interesting question: Joyce who? But the real news came in the next paragraph: "Obama needs 41 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination."

It was the beginning of a day-long water torture for Hillary Clinton and her campaign, as Obama aimed, by day's end, to reach the 2,118 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination -- with a combination of superdelegates and regular delegates from the last two states to hold a Democratic vote, South Dakota and Montana.
The Houston Chronicle has a nice step-by-step chronology of events:
What went wrong for Hillary Clinton
On Dec. 5, the Chicago Tribune, Barack Obama's hometown paper, reported that new polling showing Hillary Rodham Clinton far ahead of the Illinois senator in the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania made her nomination look "inevitable."

The Tribune's "Swamp" blog declared that "the conclusion drawn by the polling experts appears to be: Forget about Iowa being close, Clinton's inevitable, she's going to be the Democratic nominee."

A funny thing happened on the way to the coronation. A charismatic young upstart with soaring rhetoric and a compelling life story became the Democrats' candidate of destiny, and December's inevitable nominee became the eventual loser.

"We haven't seen something this big go down since the Titanic," said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College. "This is an epic of mistakes and misallocation of resources."
A couple of the observations:
Mistakenly planned for knockout
Because of her record-breaking early fundraising and the front-loaded primary schedule, Clinton and her top strategists thought that they would have the nomination wrapped up by Super Tuesday, Feb. 5. She said as much when she appeared on ABC's This Week on Dec. 30, 2007.

"I'm in it for the long run," she told host George Stephanopoulos. "It's not a very long run. It'll be over by Feb. 5."

The result was a colossal miscalculation: Clinton spent every penny she had raised by Super Tuesday. She had little organization in the states that followed and was outspent by more than 4-to-1 by Obama. He won 11 contests in a row, most of them caucuses, and Clinton never caught up.
Too little, too late
Clinton didn't settle on a successful political "persona" � the working-class battler � until late in the campaign. By then it was too late to overcome the delegate edge Obama built in February. "Sybil had only 15 personalities," said Zogby. "There were too many different Hillarys in too many states � and many did not seem genuine." When Clinton finally found an approach that worked, it was too late.
And one more:
Bill Clinton impact
His controversial comments convinced people that it was time for an end to the Clinton-Bush dual dynasty. Democrats strongly approve of Bill Clinton's job performance but they also strongly want change. After seven consecutive presidential elections featuring a Clinton or a Bush on the ballot, many Democrats are looking for a fresh face.
Some of the comments to this article are priceless:
What went wrong for Hillary Clinton?

I think that she was incapable of hiding the fact that she's a lying, manipulative, power hungry monster that makes other politicians seem honest, safe, and trustworthy for a long enough period of time to get more votes in the primaries than Obama. In her defense I have to add that it's doubtful that anyone could have concealed that many character flaws long enough to get the nomination. If she hadn't been married to a former president during his two terms she probably wouldn't have made it past super tuesday.
Don't let the door hit you on your way out of Washington...

That's it for the night...

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I'm heading off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email. I subscribe to a couple fairly high-volume email lists so I get about 300 to 500 emails/day. It's pretty easy to weed through but I'm facing a few thousand out there so I'm going to break off here early, slay some email dragons and head off to bed. Flew on Horizon Air both down and back; one thing that struck me was that the flight attendants were having a good time -- good sense of humor and verbal banter. Down there we rented a Saturn Vue mid-sized SUV. We knew that we would be carrying other people and their stuff so we got something larger than a sedan. Uncomfortable seats for long trips. Great acceleration from zero to 40 but it was a slug from 40 on up. I could have mashed the gas pedal, it would drop to second gear and the engine would rev up to 5,500. Considering that Red-line was 6,500, I didn't feel comfortable doing this. Adding insult to injury, this car only had 21,000 miles on it and the radio ate one of the CDs that we brought. Stopped playing partway through track one and gave us a Disk Error when we tried to eject the disk. My truck has over 150,000 miles on it and the volume control on the radio is getting a little 'finicky' -- I expect that but I do not expect a such a steaming massive dose of FAIL on a vehicle with only 21,000 miles. It was a Canadian artist with a Canadian distributor so getting a replacement will be a pain. They said that they would take the vehicle into the dealership and the dealership would mail the disk back to us. Holding my breath here...

A brief bio of Senator McCain's wife

An amazing woman -- curious that the Media hasn't picked up on her many accomplishments... From Maggie's Farm:

Cindy McCain
The below came over the transom, but I see that the facts were extracted from this article in the WSJ:
She graduated from Southern Cal and was a special-needs teacher.

After her Dad died, she became involved with his beer-distributing firm and is now the chairwoman. Sales have doubled since she has taken over from her father.

They have a marriage prenuptial agreement, her assets remain separate.

She is involved around the world clearing land mines - travels to these countries on a detonation team and serves on their board.

They have a 19-year-old serving in Iraq, another son in the Naval Academy, a daughter recently graduated from Columbia Univ., an adopted daughter in high school, and a son who is the finance guy at the beer firm.

Raised kids in Phoenix, AZ rather than Washington DC. (Better atmosphere) He commuted.

In 1991, Mrs. McCain came across a girl in an orphanage in Bangladesh. Mother Teresa implored Mrs. McCain to take the baby with severe cleft palate. She did so without first telling her husband. The couple adopted the girl who has had a dozen operations to repair her cleft palate and other medical problems.

They have a Family Foundation for children's causes.

She is active with "Halo Trust" - to clear land mines, provide water and food in war ravaged and developing countries.

She will join an overseas mission of "Operation Smile", a charity for corrective surgery on children's faces.

She has had two back surgeries and became addicted to pain killers. She talks openly about it, which she says is part of the recovery process.

I am surprised the media is so quiet about her attributes.

Me too -- compare a woman like this with a woman like Hillary who uses the White House as a bully-pulpit to advance her own agenda. The Wall Street Journal article is well worth the read. Talk about Content of Character...

What a way to go - Fredric J. Baur

Organic Chemist and Food Storage Technician Fredric J. Baur passed away recently and his family complied with his wishes and interred his ashes in an iconic design of his.

From the Associated Press:

Ashes of Pringles can designer buried in his work
The man who designed the Pringles potato crisp packaging system was so proud of his accomplishment that a portion of his ashes has been buried in one of the iconic cans.

Fredric J. Baur, of Cincinnati, died May 4 at Vitas Hospice in Cincinnati, his family said. He was 89.

Baur's children said they honored his request to bury him in one of the cans by placing part of his cremated remains in a Pringles container in his grave in suburban Springfield Township. The rest of his remains were placed in an urn buried along with the can, with some placed in another urn and given to a grandson, said Baur's daughter, Linda Baur of Diamondhead, Miss.
Heh... Very cool and wonderful that the family complied.

Back to Bellingham today

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Heading back home via FAT, PDX, SEA and finally BLI airports. Lots of small commuter flights with an hour or so between flights to make sure our luggage gets transferred OK. A fun day. It was wonderful to see Jen's family -- great people -- but it will be good to get back. Neither of us slept well. See you in about ten hours -- next time, we take the train...
Saw this yesterday. It is total formula, the plot could have been written by a ten year old but OMFG -- it was FUN! Great performance all around -- the actors were having a lot of fun playing their roles. See it on the big screen and you will not be dissapointed (unless you are an uptight and pompus 'cinema critic')...

The pin-dicks in Brussels have passed some legislation that will be interesting to follow. From the UK Daily Mail:

Foreign trucks set to flood Britain's roads as Brussels passes new law
European truck drivers are set to swarm on to Britain's roads because of new competition laws passed in Brussels.

Foreign lorries are currently banned from acquiring fresh business in the UK once they have delivered their loads here, except in exceptional circumstances.

But a new regulation, passed by the EU Parliament last month, will let European hauliers take on three more British jobs before returning home within a week.

This will rise to seven jobs by 2010, and by 2014 the new law will allow them unlimited access to UK markets - both in the number of jobs and the time it takes to do them.

As overseas hauliers use cheaper fuel and unregulated labour, particularly from Eastern Europe, British operators claim they will be unable to compete.

Experts believe that the move will cost the British economy an estimated - 165million and cause hundreds of small hauliers to close.

Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "Britain's motorways are already stretched to breaking point without even more congestion from hundreds more foreign trucks pouring off the ferries from Europe."

Freight hauling in England has long been a family tradition with jobs being handed down Father to Son.

For a wonderful alternate-history version of this, check out Kieth Roberts haunting short story "The Lady Margaret" found in his collection titled: "Pavane" A few opening paragraphs below the fold:

From the New York Times:
As Oil Prices Soar, Restaurant Grease Thefts Rise
The bandit pulled his truck to the back of a Burger King in Northern California one afternoon last month armed with a hose and a tank. After rummaging around assorted restaurant rubbish, he dunked a tube into a smelly storage bin and, the police said, vacuumed out about 300 gallons of grease.

The man was caught before he could slip away. In his truck, the police found 2,500 gallons of used fryer grease, indicating that the Burger King had not been his first fast-food craving of the day.

Outside Seattle, cooking oil rustling has become such a problem that the owners of the Olympia Pizza and Pasta Restaurant in Arlington, Wash., are considering using a surveillance camera to keep watch on its 50-gallon grease barrel. Nick Damianidis, an owner, said the barrel had been hit seven or eight times since last summer by siphoners who strike in the night.

�Fryer grease has become gold,� Mr. Damianidis said. �And just over a year ago, I had to pay someone to take it away.�
And here is why:
In 2000, yellow grease was trading for 7.6 cents per pound. On Thursday, its price was about 33 cents a pound, or almost $2.50 a gallon. (That would make the 2,500-gallon haul in the Burger King case worth more than $6,000.)
The people making Griesel on their own have been sliding under the RADAR for the least fifteen years or so. As the article said, restaurants were paying people to get rid of their grease and there was no environmentally good way to recycle it except to turn it into fuel. These people are also not paying any of the federal highway taxes that are levied on fuel used for motor vehicles and trucks. Now, with the burgeoning bio-fuel business, grease is now a valuable feedstock and worth quite a bit. The homemade fuel people will find it harder and harder to get free or cheap feedstock. I would imagine that rural restaurants would still be a good source as the commercal buyers of grease will not want to drive that far. Still, if the home manufacturer has to burn ten gallons of finished product just to gather fifty gallons of raw material, this turns things around a bit... Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.

Back in Fresno

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The house that Jen's parents have at Pacific Grove has no computer so posting was non-existent for two days. (Sorry Vern) Her Grandfather's 85th Birthday was a lot of fun -- he is a retired L.A. Police Chief and has some great stories to tell. His wife passed away about ten years ago and he reently married Donna, someone he had known for a long time. They are a cute couple, very active and a lot of fun to be around. I wish them joy! Back to the real world tomorrow evening...

Definition of an optomist

Seen on the highway this afternoon. A VW bus with a trailer hitch...

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