August 2008 Archives

Global warming Cooling - the IPCC's accuracy

From the UK Telegraph:
The 'consensus' on climate change is a catastrophe in itself
As the estimated cost of measures proposed by politicians to "combat global warming" soars ever higher � such as the International Energy Council's $45 trillion � "fighting climate change" has become the single most expensive item on the world's political agenda.

As Senators Obama and McCain vie with the leaders of the European Union to promise 50, 60, even 80 per cent cuts in "carbon emissions", it is clear that to realise even half their imaginary targets would necessitate a dramatic change in how we all live, and a drastic reduction in living standards.

All this makes it rather important to know just why our politicians have come to believe that global warming is the most serious challenge confronting mankind, and just how reliable is the evidence for the theory on which their policies are based.

By far the most influential player in putting climate change at the top of the global agenda has been the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chan ge (IPCC), set up in 1988, not least on the initiative of the Thatcher government. (This was why the first chairman of its scientific working group was Sir John Houghton, then the head of the UK's Meteorological Office.)
A bit more:
The common view of the IPCC is that it consists of 2,500 of the world's leading scientists who, after carefully weighing all the evidence, have arrived at a "consensus" that world temperatures are rising disastrously, and that the only plausible cause has been rising levels of CO2 and other man-made greenhouse gases.

In fact, as has become ever more apparent over the past 20 years �not least thanks to the evidence of a succession of scientists who have participated in the IPCC itself � the reality of this curious body could scarcely be more different.

It is not so much a scientific as a political organisation. Its brief has never been to look dispassionately at all the evidence for man-made global warming: it has always taken this as an accepted fact.

Indeed only a comparatively small part of its reports are concerned with the science of climate change at all. The greater part must start by accepting the official line, and are concerned only with assessing the impact of warming and what should be done about it.
And more:
The idea that the IPCC represents any kind of genuine scientific "consensus" is a complete fiction.

Again and again there have been examples of how evidence has been manipulated to promote the official line, the most glaring instance being the notorious "hockey stick".

Initially the advocates of global warming had one huge problem. Evidence from all over the world indicated that the earth was hotter 1,000 years ago than it is today.
And more:
By the time of its latest report, last year, the IPCC had an even greater problem. Far from continuing to rise in line with rising CO2, as its computer models predicted they should, global temperatures since the abnormally hot year of 1998 had flattened out at a lower level and were even falling � a trend confirmed by Nasa's satellite readings over the past 18 months.

So pronounced has this been that even scientists supporting the warmist thesis now concede that, due to changes in ocean currents, we can expect a decade or more of "cooling", before the "underlying warming trend" reappears.

The point is that none of this was predicted by the computer models on which the IPCC relies.
For a good read, go here and download the PDF of Prejudiced Authors, Prejudiced Findings

Hurricane Blogging

Marcus is blogging from New Orleans - check out Ridin' Gustav:
And So It Begins...
The first squall just hit, a steady rain, some gusts, and it got dark in a hurry.

Too dark for decent outdoor pics, but that never stopped me. :-) I had to jack the gamma into lower earth orbit, but those aren't stars you're seeing, but raindrops.
A bit more:
I am in a well built multi-story home. This home took 4-5 ft. of water during Katrina. A 30 ft. storm surge would not flood the upper stories of this residence. The lower floor is constructed entirely of steel-reinforced cinder blocks. It would require a direct hit from a Fujita Class V tornado to take down this home. The French Quarter hotel where Mayor Nagin and the rest of the emergency staff, along with virtually all the media reporting on the storm, are staying, is no better protected.

The only place I can readily imagine that could be safer would be in a bank vault, provided I could locate one high enough not to flood.

I think that for the vast majority of people, evacuation in the face of this storm is the only prudent course of action. I believe my situation to be unique, or I would have bugged out.

I have been a believer in disaster preparedness for a long, long time. I could survive for at least, I don't know, three months maybe, without any outside resources. The most likely repercussion, the almost certain repercussion, is that I'll be without power for awhile, and thus unable to access the Net. I have no doubt that someone that reads this will then conclude that I have met my reward, in more ways than one. We shall see.
We shall see...
Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom has compiled with links the spew from the left about Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin:
Time to keep a running list of Sarah Palin�s sins � lovingly gathered, mostly in crazed speculative form � by members of the Church of Diversity and Otherness coddling.

1) Alan Colmes: Poor prenatal care (waiting too long after her water broke to get to a hospital) on Palin�s part created a Downs baby. Reached for comment, Science suggested Colmes shut his ignorant yap � and for Chrissakes, get a tan.

2) Andrew Sullivan, et al: �Concern� that Palin taking time away from the young defective she should have shitcanned with a metal rod and some clinical suction (call it �compassionate eugenics�!) could cause even more harm to the useless little drain on society that should never have been born in the first place (call it �the nurturer�s addendum for those greedy hick breeders who refused to take the high road and just snuff the damaged goods in utero�). A child needs a stay-at-home-mother! � if that child happens to be the child of a Republican breeder! Or haven�t you people been paying attention to the nuances of establishment feminist theory?*
And 13 others - great stuff to read...

Not how to do it - bank robbery

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From the Fort Worth, TX Star-Telegram:

This thief evidently didn't make it through robbery school
Ever had one of those frantic days when you can't find your car keys when you really need to get somewhere fast?

Police say that's what happened Friday to Dexter Dwayne Williams, 47.

About 6 p.m. Friday, a robber passed a note to a teller at Chase Bank in the 4800 block of South Cooper Street, Lt. Blake Miller, a police spokesman, said.

Grabbing money (the amount wasn't reported), the thief ran outside just before bank employees locked all the doors, Miller said.

The robber ran toward a Dodge Dynasty parked nearby. Oops. He had left his keys in the bank.

Justin Dean, an employee at a nearby Arby's restaurant, said: "I saw him run through our parking lot and jump into that car, and then take off running behind the shopping center."

Police found Williams, unarmed, hiding near a trash bin about a block from the bank. He had thrown his hat and a red T-shirt into a trash receptacle behind a store in the same block as the bank, Miller said.

There's more.

"He wrote the note on the back of one of his checks that had all his personal information on it," Miller said. "He's definitely not the brightest criminal that we've come across."

Police recovered the money taken from the bank, and a red T-shirt and a hat that matched what the robber was wearing.

Late Friday, Williams was in the Arlington jail with bail set at $50,000.

That gene pool needs a little more clorox - sheesh!

Facts about Sarah Palin

This website publishes a few of the little-known facts about Sarah Palin. Here are a few of them:

  • Sarah Palin isn't allowed to wield the gavel at the convention because they're afraid she'll use it to kill liberals.
  • Sarah Palin once won a competitive eating contest by devouring three live caribou.
  • Sarah Palin once carved a perfect likeness of the Mona Lisa in a block of ice using only her teeth.
  • Sarah Palin doesn't need a gun to hunt. She has been known to throw a bullet through an adult bull elk.
  • Sarah Palin can divide by zero.


The smear machine gears up

Senator Obama's people are running quite the smear machine on Governor Palin and Senator McCain. Charles Johnson delivers the goods:
Who's Behind Anti-Palin Smear Site?
Suddenly appearing among the Google search results for �sarah palin gay,� a web site titled: Sarah Palin Supports Gay Rights.
Charles then quotes the contents of that website and continues:
Interesting. There�s nothing else on the page. This sure looks like the work of the dastardly right-wing anti-gay attack machine, doesn�t it?

But look who�s really behind this.

In the Linux console, if you enter the following commands, you can learn the secrets of a political dirty trick. First, look up the host of �� to get the site�s IP address.
host has address
Then use the same command to look up the domain name pointer of that IP address.
host domain name pointer
Well, well. �,� eh?

And what happens if you enter on your browser�s address line?

Why, you�re redirected to none other than, the official Barack Obama site that�s supposed to be defending him against smears.

Looks like they may have a second purpose: to generate a few smears of their own.
Sooooo busted - heh... There are a couple updates with additional smear pages and some of the 500+ comments have uncovered more examples. There is no evidence that Obama is directly behind these but this is not a very classy way to run a campaign and reflects badly on the candidate.

The Tragedy of the Commons

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First published in Science in December 1968. The thesis is that communities that share resources inevitably pave the way for their own destruction; instead of wealth for all, there is wealth for none. Unfortunately, this paper has been used as the basis for government policies regulating natural resources. Writing in Monthly Review, Ian Angus exposes it as the myth it is:
The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons
Will shared resources always be misused and overused? Is community ownership of land, forests, and fisheries a guaranteed road to ecological disaster? Is privatization the only way to protect the environment and end Third World poverty? Most economists and development planners will answer "yes" -- and for proof they will point to the most influential article ever written on those important questions.

Since its publication in Science in December 1968, "The Tragedy of the Commons" has been anthologized in at least 111 books, making it one of the most-reprinted articles ever to appear in any scientific journal. It is also one of the most-quoted: a recent Google search found "about 302,000" results for the phrase "tragedy of the commons."

For 40 years it has been, in the words of a World Bank Discussion Paper, "the dominant paradigm within which social scientists assess natural resource issues" (Bromley and Cernea 1989: 6). It has been used time and again to justify stealing indigenous peoples' lands, privatizing health care and other social services, giving corporations "tradable permits" to pollute the air and water, and much more.

Noted anthropologist Dr. G.N. Appell (1995: 34-5) writes that the article "has been embraced as a sacred text by scholars and professionals in the practice of designing futures for others and imposing their own economic and environmental rationality on other social systems of which they have incomplete understanding and knowledge."

Like most sacred texts, "The Tragedy of the Commons" is more often cited than read. As we will see, although its title sounds authoritative and scientific, it fell far short of science.

Garrett Hardin hatches a myth

The author of "The Tragedy of the Commons" was Garrett Hardin, a University of California professor who until then was best known as the author of a biology textbook that argued for "control of breeding" of "genetically defective" people (Hardin 1966: 707). In his 1968 essay he argued that communities that share resources inevitably pave the way for their own destruction; instead of wealth for all, there is wealth for none.
And the money quote:
Given the subsequent influence of Hardin's essay, it's shocking to realize that he provided no evidence at all to support his sweeping conclusions. He claimed that the "tragedy" was inevitable -- but he didn't show that it had happened even once.

Hardin simply ignored what actually happens in a real commons: self-regulation by the communities involved.
Sad and amazing that such an unproven essay got such wide influence and propagation. No critical thinking at all...
Chilling story out of Minneapolis today. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Police raid RNC protest sites in Twin Cities
Ramsey County authorities conducted raids across Minneapolis and St. Paul Friday and Saturday as a pre-emptive strike against disruptive protests of the Republican National Convention.

Five people were arrested and more than 100 were handcuffed, questioned and released by scores of deputies and police officers, according to police and elected officials familiar with the raids.

In a statement Saturday morning, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the St. Paul raid targeted the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group he described as "a criminal enterprise made up of 35 self-described anarchists...intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention."

"These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers," Fletcher said. Deputies seized a variety of items that they believed were tools of civil disobedience: a gas mask, bolt cutters, axes, slingshots, homemade "caltrops" for disabling buses, even buckets of urine.
While I completely disagree with those who were going to demonstrate (and their methods), this action just handed them a lot of valid ammunition. Better to monitor their behavior and nip it in the bud the first time they do something actionable. This May 21, 2008 article in the Minneapolis, MN City Pages should have been a big heads up:
Moles Wanted
In preparation for the Republican National Convention, the FBI is soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups

Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.

Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County Courthouse, where he�d been served a gross misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open his phone and checked his messages. He was greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn�t in trouble.

Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson�s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.

�She told me that I had the perfect �look,�� recalls Carroll. �And that I had the perfect personality�they kept saying I was friendly and personable�for what they were looking for.�

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant�someone to show up at �vegan potlucks� throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI�s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort�s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division�s website, is to �investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.�

Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.
Considering that a lot of those arrested were not Minneapolis residents, it looks like they didn't do their homework...

Another traffic fine/foreclosure story

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This time from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Milwaukee man faces foreclosure because he didn�t pay parking fine
The ticket went unpaid for four years, eventually amounting to $2,600 in fines

Peter Tubic ignored a $50 parking fine in 2004, and on Monday, it cost him his $245,000 house.

In what city officials believe is the first case of its kind, the city foreclosed on Tubic's house on W. Verona Court after repeated attempts to collect the fine - which over the years had escalated to $2,600 - had failed.

"Our goal isn't to acquire parcels," said Jim Klajbor, special deputy city treasurer. "Our goal is to just collect taxes. . . . It is only as a last resort that we would pursue . . . foreclosure."

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Richard Sankovitz technically stayed the judgment to give Tubic one last chance to explain why he hasn't paid or even responded, but Sankovitz ruled in favor of the city's foreclosure.
It sounds like the guy just flaked but there are some extenuating circumstances here:
According to the Social Security Administration, Tubic, 62, has been disabled since 2001. He has been diagnosed with psychological disorders that limit his "ability to understand, remember and carry out detailed instructions," according to documents from the administration.

In addition he suffers from chronic pain caused by degenerative diseases of the knees and spine, as well as chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity, among other ailments.
And to cap it off:
Tubic first got the fine for parking his Ford E150 with no license plates in the driveway of the home, which belonged to his parents at the time . The radiator had broken and Tubic couldn't get his plates renewed unless the van passed an emissions test. He didn't have the money to make the repair and had more pressing worries, he said.

His father was suffering from dementia. His mother was battling cancer, and he was their live-in caretaker. He needed to shop, cook, clean, maintain the house and tend to his parents' needs.

The van repair could wait, he thought.

Then a man from the city showed up and told him otherwise. It was February 2004. Tubic would have to move the van or get license plates for it within 30 days, per city zoning codes, the man said. Somebody had complained.

Several days later Tubic's dad died. Tubic was overwhelmed, he said.

"It was a combination of things financial and emotional, my caregiving role, all heaped themselves on me at the wrong time," he said. "I still don't function well."
You think that the bureaucrats could cut him a bit of slack... And to think that some people want an even bigger government.

Draconian measures in Florida

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Don't mess with Sarasota County -- from A journal of the politics of driving:
Florida County to Seize Homes with Red Light Cameras
Sarasota County, Florida hopes to seize homes from the owners of vehicles accused of not paying a red light camera ticket.

The Sarasota County, Florida Board of Commissioners unanimously voted on Tuesday to move forward on a proposed ordinance authorizing the seizure of the home belonging to anyone accused of not paying a red light camera ticket. The commissioners must now hold another public hearing and vote on the issue before beginning the process of installing the cameras.

"Failure to pay any amounts provided for under this article may result in the filing of a lien against the property of the registered owner," the proposed red light camera ordinance states. "Such lien shall be subject to foreclosure as provided by law."
A bit more on the reasoning behind this maneuver:
Like several other Florida communities, Sarasota County intends to install red light cameras even though the state legislature has refused to authorize their use. Without the ability to suspend drivers' licenses and registrations -- which would require state support -- county officials saw home seizure as the only realistic means of convincing residents to pay up. With $2.25 million in annual revenue expected from 18,000 citations, the county wanted to take no chances with non-payment.

But the county is risking legal challenge. Both the state attorney general (view ruling) and Florida Department of Transportation (view ruling) have ruled that photo ticketing is illegal in Florida. The largest photo enforcement vendor in the US even took a swipe at its competitor, American Traffic Systems, for operating cameras in violation of the law.
It will probably get shut down but there is no telling how much cash they will be getting before it is down or what penalties they will have to pay for circumventing the state law. Sounds like someone should loose their job for this...

Gustav - it's time to get out.

From Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog:

It's time to leave New Orleans
Today is the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's catastrophic hit on the Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama coast. Unfortunately, I think that people living in New Orleans should mark the anniversary of Katrina by getting the heck out of the city. You live at the bottom of a bowl, much of it below sea level. While New Orleans must exist where it is, this is not natural. Nature wants to fill up this bowl with huge quantities of Gulf of Mexico sea water. There is a storm capable of doing that bearing down on you. If you live in New Orleans, I suggest you take a little Labor Day holiday--sooner, rather than later, to beat the rush--and get out of town. Gustav is going to come close to you, and there's no sense messing with a major hurricane capable of pushing a Category 3 storm surge to your doorstep. Don't test those Category 3 rated--but untested--levees. Conventional pre-Katrina wisdom suggested that the city needed 72 hours to evacuate. With the population about half of the pre-Katrina population, that lead time is about 60 hours. With Gustav likely to bring tropical storm force winds to the city by Monday afternoon, that means that tonight is a good time to start evacuating--Saturday morning at the latest. Voluntary evacuations have already begun, which is a good idea.

Here it comes again...

Dr. Masters is a meteorologist and founder of the Weather Underground -- this Weather Underground -- not Obama's good buddy.

From the UK Telegraph:

French surgeons destroy brain tumour on conscious patient in world first
French brain surgeons have conducted a world first by destroying a brain tumour on a conscious patient using keyhole laser surgery, it has emerged.

The team from Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris drilled a 3mm hole into the skull of a patient under local anaesthetic, inserting a tiny fibre-optic cable armed with a laser.

The doctors were then able to "see" the metastatic tumour and steer the cable thanks to a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, which uses magnetic and radio waves.

Once inside the skull, they carried out a computer simulation of the treatment. Then they activated the laser, which heated and killed the tumour tissue for up to two minutes. The MRI scan allowed them to modify the exact energy output needed from the laser.

The patient remained wide awake throughout and was said to have felt nothing. Once all the cancer cells were dead, the cable was removed and the patient allowed to return home the same day.

I'm surprised to see that this has not been done before -- we have had the technology for at least ten years. Cool idea though!

The Art and Craft of Programming

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From Kevin Pang
Top 10 Things That Annoy Programmers
Here is #8
8. Scope creepFrom Wikipedia:
Scope creep (also called focus creep, requirement creep, feature creep, and sometimes kitchen sink syndrome) in project management refers to uncontrolled changes in a project's scope. This phenomenon can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered a negative occurrence that is to be avoided.
Scope creep turns relatively simple requests into horribly complex and time consuming monsters. It only takes a few innocent keystrokes by the requirements guy for scope creep to happen:
  • Version 1: Show a map of the location
  • Version 2: Show a 3D map of the location
  • Version 3: Show a 3D map of the location that the user can fly through
Argh! What used to be a 30 minute task just turned into a massively complex system that could take hundreds of man hours. Even worse, most of the time scope creep happens during development, which requires rewriting, refactoring, and sometimes throwing out code that was developed just days prior.
And for #1?
1. Their own code, 6 months later
Heh. So true...
Gustav is gaining strength and it's projected path does not look good:
Click for full-size.
Brenden Loy reported on the National Hurricane Center's report on Katrina back in 2005. Katrina made landfall as a CAT3 and was at best a CAT1 or CAT2 storm as it did its damage to New Orleans. A lot of other areas got hit much harder. Here is the link to the New Orleans Hurricane Center

More on Sarah Palin

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Ace of Spades has been live-blogging the Palin nomination. Go here and start scrolling down...
Meet Sarah Palin:
She has more balls than McCain, Obama and Biden combined... Photo swiped from here.
Three articles about Barack Obama's associations with people who are not exactly "presidential". From National Review comes these two: #1) - Chicago Annenberg Challenge Shutdown? A cover-up in the making? #2) - William Ayers, Model Citizen? The Obama campaign�s lame defense. And from Family Security Matters: Exclusive: Obama: The Company He Kept Some interesting reading. The guy is getting a pass from all of the mainstream media -- there are some questions that need answering.

Progress with fusion

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A bit of great news today - from MS/NBC Cosmic Log:
Fusion effort in flux
Researchers have finished the first phase of an unorthodox, low-cost nuclear fusion experiment that has generated a megawatt's worth of buzz on the Internet � and they are now waiting for a verdict from their federal funders on whether to proceed to the next phase.

Richard Nebel, leader of the research team at EMC2 Fusion in New Mexico, declined to detail the results of the project, saying that was up to the people paying the bills. But he did said �we have had some success" in the effort to reproduce the promising results reported by the late physicist Robert Bussard.

"It's kind of a mix," he said.

The Bussard fusion design, also known as inertial electrostatic confinement or Polywell fusion, is radically different from the multibillion-dollar mainstream approach to the fusion challenge. The idea behind it is that a specially designed high-voltage electrical field can drive ions so closely together that they spark fusion reactions, ideally releasing more energy than the device expends.

In 2005, Bussard said his last test device (named WB-6 because its design was reminiscent of a Wiffle Ball) produced results so promising that he felt he was on the right track toward a breakthrough in low-cost fusion power.
The US Navy has funded the project to the tune of $1.8 million so they are prettty serious. The engineer wants to scale it up to 100MW where it should produce continuous power. The people doing the research are here: EMC2 FUSION DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Very cool!

Well crap...

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From Wired:

Bell Labs Kills Fundamental Physics Research
After six Nobel Prizes, the invention of the transistor, laser and countless contributions to computer science and technology, it is the end of the road for Bell Labs' fundamental physics research lab.

Alcatel-Lucent, the parent company of Bell Labs, is pulling out of basic science, material physics and semiconductor research and will instead be focusing on more immediately marketable areas such as networking, high-speed electronics, wireless, nanotechnology and software.

The idea is to align the research work in the Lab closer to areas that the parent company is focusing on, says Peter Benedict, spokesperson for Bell Labs and Alcatel-Lucent Ventures.

"In the new innovation model, research needs to keep addressing the need of the mother company," he says.

That view is shortsighted and may drastically curtail the Labs' ability to come up with truly innovative discoveries, respond critics.

"Fundamental physics is absolutely crucial to computing," says Mike Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society. "Say in the case of integrated circuits, there were many, many small steps that occurred along the way resulting from decades worth of work in matters of physics."

Bell Labs was one of the last bastions of basic research within the corporate world, which over the past several decades has largely focused its R&D efforts on applied research -- areas of study with more immediate prospects of paying off.

And let's see -- the five year chart of Alcatel-Lucent's stock prices shows this:

Click for full size.

Just another case of piss-poor management...

Another use for Marijuana

Some interesting chemical activity in the Cannabinoids - they are antibacterial. The original paper: Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity Study A news item for the non-chemically inclined: Killing bacteria with cannabis From the Ars Technica news item:
Killing bacteria with cannabis
Pharmacists and chemists have found another use for the multipurpose cannabis as a source of antibacterial chemicals for multidrug resistant bacteria. Ironically, inhaling cannabis is known to damage the lung's ability to fend off invading pathogens, but the ingredients in cannabis, particularly the cannabinoids, have antiseptic properties. Although scattered research has been conducted since the 1950s, no comprehensive study existed that relates the structure of cannabinoids with antibacterial activity. Giovanni Appendino, Simon Gibbons, and coworkers attempted to remedy that problem by examining the activity of five common cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives.

All five cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, and CBN) were potent against bacteria. Notably, they performed well against bacteria that were known to be multidrug resistant, like the strains of MRSA that plagued U.K. hospitals. CBD and CBG have the most potential for consumer use because they are nonpsychotropic.
Fascinating -- the paper said that in the USA, there were more deaths per year from MRSA than from AIDS. I have had it and I know another person who had it. Nasty stuff!

A huge sinkhole in Guatemala

From National Geographic:
Giant Sinkhole Swallows Guatemala Homes


After rumbling for weeks, part of a poor Guatemala City neighborhood plummeted some 30 stories into the Earth on Friday.

The reportedly 330-foot-deep (100-meter-deep) sinkhole swallowed about a dozen homes and is so far blamed in the deaths of three people�two teenagers, found floating in torrent of sewage, and their father, who was pulled from the chasm.

Rainstorms and a ruptured sewer main may have caused the sinkhole, officials in Guatemala told the Associated Press. After the collapse, the seemingly bottomless depths gave off tremors, sounds of flowing water, and the scent of sewage.
Just Damn! To think that it could happen that quickly.
Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse takes a look at the Democratic Party of 1972 and of today and draws some interesting conclusions:
It was long past midnight on July 14, 1972 when George McGovern, a good and decent man, stepped to the podium in Miami Beach to give his speech accepting the nomination of the Democratic party for president. A genuine war hero who hated what the Viet Nam War was doing to the country, McGovern rode to the nomination on the scruffy coattails of the young, the disaffected, the grudge holders, the racialists � the entire victimhood society that now controls the Democratic party.

You knew this convention was going to be different when the Illinois delegation headed up by Richard J. Daley was summarily booted from the premises when challenged by a faction led by Jesse Jackson. Daley�s �elected� delegates did not contain enough women, minorities, or homosexuals according to the new party rules pushed through by McGovern and his revolutionaries. Humiliated, Daley vowed to show McGovern who ran the Democratic party in Illinois by barely lifting a finger for him in the general election campaign. Nixon gained nearly 60% of the vote to carry the state in November.

McGovern never knew what hit him. He thought that if he allowed the crazies who rioted in 1968 to take over the party, that he would expand the base and create an entirely new coalition of the young, the left, and minorities along with traditional Democratic allies like organized labor and the intelligentsia that would open a new era in government and politics.

What McGovern didn�t count on was backlash. He himself recognized this when he remarked �I opened the door to the Democratic party and 20 million people walked out.�

In Denver this year, graduates of that 1972 laboratory in identity politics are now firmly in control of the Democratic party. They have gone from revolutionaries to party insiders. They are in Congress, the Senate, the statehouse, and staff the numerous special pleader organizations and groups that form the backbone of the party. Barack Obama was all of 10 years old at the time. His running mate, Joe Biden, was part of that revolution, running his first campaign for the Senate on a McGovern platform and winning that fall � one of the few Democratic bright spots in an otherwise dismal political year.

The 1972 convention was an unmitigated disaster for the Democrats as every special interest group with a cause or a grudge got to debate their pet issue in full view of a national TV audience that dwindled as the convention droned on. The long windedness of the speakers, the confusion, the disorganization, the whole spectacle of long haired freaks wanting to legalize marijuana, lesbians wanting recognition, women�s rights advocates pressing for an equal rights amendment, and speaker after speaker trashing the United States for its involvement in Indochina went on long past midnight, even unto dawn on a few days.
He then quotes from McGovern's speech and draws a few conclusions:
But it is on the left where this impulse is the strongest. Today they seek the same top down solutions to problems � or see a government solution to something that either isn�t a problem or would curtail our freedom of choice � advocated by George McGovern in 1972. The difference is that those 1972 Democrats were outriders, amateurs trying to play a professionals game. The result was a slaughter at the polls.

But today, those kids have grown up and become professionals. They know how to run national campaigns. They have learned not to be so forthcoming in how they intend to give us �hope and change.� The more nebulous their rhetoric the better. In this, they have found the perfect vessel � Barack Obama; a man who says absolutely nothing and says it with great feeling and emotion better than anyone in American history.

If they win, we will enter an era where the majority will attempt to remake America into something more like a European social democracy. In fact, they brag about where many of their ideas come from � the failed economic models in France and Germany. Regulation of business and industry will be reintroduced. Social programs like national health insurance, top down mandated education reform, and the alphabet soup of programs for the poor will be expanded to include �the middle class� thus making more Americans more dependent on government than ever before.

I don�t mind losing if the Democrats proudly run on that kind of platform with full disclosure of how they intend to turn America into a semi-socialist state. But they don�t have the guts to do it because they know they would lose. Hence, they will continue to hide behind Obama�s soaring rhetoric that promises such a bright future but is a little hazy on the details.
It's a long post and I have only excerpted a little bit of it -- well worth going there and reading the entire thing.

No posting tonight

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Did my usual buying run for the store today and then came back and helped to close -- we are training a new employee and this was her first evening shift. Tired and hungry -- heat up some Chinese leftovers, check email and off to an early bed. My usually scheduled acupuncture session is on Wednesdays so the benefits of last weeks session have worn off. Looking forward to getting the new hip put in as living in an opiated haze is not the way I like to go through life. Three weeks and counting!!!
He is in the news these days with his investment in wind power but his machinations for drinking water aren't as public. From the Washington, D.C. paper The Examiner:
T. Boone Pickens wants your water
Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens is about to make a killing by selling water he doesn�t own. As he does it, it will be praised as a planet-friendly wind project. After he pulls it off, the media will deride it as craven capitalism. In truth, it is one the most audacious examples of politics for profit, showing how big government helps the biggest business steal from the rest of us. The plotline behind Pickens� water-and-wind scheme is almost too rich to believe. If it were a movie script, reviewers would dismiss it as over-the-top.

The basic story amounts to this: Pickens, thanks to favors from state lawmakers whose campaigns he funded, has created a new government whose only voters are two of his employers; this has empowered Pickens to more cheaply pump water from an aquifer and, by use of eminent domain, seize land across 11 counties in order to pipe the water to Dallas. To win environmentalist approval of this hardly �sustainable� practice, he has piggybacked this water project onto a windmill project pitched as an alternative to oil.

Pickens� scheme is a perfect demonstration of why it�s worth asking cui bono � who benefits � from regulatory and environmental initiatives. Last week, this column pointed out that Pickens, before his current lobbying blitz for increased federal support of wind power, built the largest wind farm in the world.
A bit more:
Roberts County, Texas, sits atop the Ogallala Aquifer, a huge underground reservoir that stretches all the way to South Dakota. It�s in Roberts County that T. Boone Pickens set aside eight acres from his ranch for drilling deep into the aquifer.

Then he turned this parcel into a town, basically, with only two eligible voters � both of whom were his employees. (This required a change in Texas law in 2007 � a change facilitated no doubt by his $1.2 million in campaign contributions to Texas legislators in 2006). Then there was an election in this district, in which both voters voted to make this 8-acre municipality a special fresh-water district.

Pickens� wholly owned government entity now can issue tax-free bonds (meaning he can borrow at a serious discount) and use the power of eminent domain to pressure landowners to sell � or to take their land if they hold out. The eminent domain power is key to building the pipeline that will run this water down to the Dallas area, where Pickens hopes to sell the water. If your land lies in the path of his proposed pipeline, you got a letter explaining that T. Boone wants to buy a stretch of your land � and explaining that he can use eminent domain if you resist. If this begins to sound too cutthroat to the public, Pickens just reminds journalists and politicians that following this water pipeline will be the transmission cables for Pickens� mammoth wind farm.

Are you really going to side with some greedy holdout ranchers over the future of green power? Sure enough, the Sierra Club is now rallying behind this whole scheme.

Nobody owns the aquifer � that would be too capitalist, of course � but in Texas, whoever has the water beneath his land can pump as much as he wants. The limits on this are usually pumping capacity (which requires money) and ability to sell it (which requires, among other things, pipelines). Pickens has cleared those hurdles, and now he can drain the aquifer faster than anyone ever before, future generations and other water users be damned.
He didn't get to where he is today by being stupid or ethical. And there is not a thing that can be done to prevent it -- the enviros are so besotted by the wind farm that they don't pay attention to the aquifer...

A convenient list

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Compiled by a bunch of moonbats but still quite handy. It's a list of fascinating people, organizations and government bodies. Check out the Right Web - exposing the architecture of power that's changing our world. Now I'll be able to check out the ideas of people I haven't heard of before. Thanks guys!


From the UK Sun:

No humanity for 'evil' Taliban
Presenter Lyse Doucets astonishing statement comes as an Apache gunship hero revealed the fanatics aim to capture a British soldier and SKIN HIM LIVE on the internet.

Military Cross winner Ed Macy - whose book Apache is serialised in The Sun from today - tells how an intelligence officer gave details of the Taliban butchers' sick plan.

It made Army Air Corps Warrant Officer Macy and his comrades even more determined to rescue a mortally wounded Marine from a Taliban stronghold - which they did with four soldiers strapped to the outside of two Apaches.

But BBC World News correspondent Doucet claimed the public also want to seeing the kinder side of the Afghan extremists.

Asked what was missing in media coverage, she said: "It may sound odd but the humanity of the Taliban, because they are a wide, very diverse group of people."

Good Lord - what a wilfully clueless useful idiot...

The price of Lithium Batteries

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From John McElroy at Autoblog:
The down side to Lithium Batteries
Uh-oh. In the pell-mell race to develop lithium-ion batteries for plug-ins, EV's and hybrids, has any automaker taken a hard look at where all that lithium is going to come from? Guess what? Not only are global lithium supplies pretty tight, prices are about to skyrocket.

Today, the United States imports almost all of its lithium. We get most of it from Chile, then Argentina, and a little bit from Canada and Zimbabwe. The only producer in America is actually a German company, Metallgesellschaft, which has a mine in Nevada. Yet, even though we import most of our lithium, the United States is the world's largest processor of the material.

But a lot of others want to get in on the game. China, no surprise, is emerging as a major player. It's buying all the lithium it can from Australia. China does have some lithium sources of its own, but they're mainly in Tibet. (Say! Do you think that's another reason why they're so hard-core about keeping Tibet within the People's Republic?)
And recycling doesn't really work so far:
You'd think that such a valuable material would get recycled a lot, but that's not the case. Today, only 3% to 4% is recycled, and while that will probably increase, it won't increase a lot. Recycling lithium takes a lot of energy, so much so that recycled lithium costs five to six times more than getting it from virgin material.
There are some other technologies coming into play but nothing as (relatively) cheap as LiIon is these days. Another perfect example of BOHICA -- Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.

Trent Lott on pork

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Trent Lott finally owns up to being one of the more egregious pork-barrel spenders in the Senate. From
As promised: Trent Lott spills the beans
TUSCALOOSA | When former Senate Majority Leaders Trent Lott spoke here two weeks ago at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner sponsored by local Republicans, he had some revealing things to say, both about GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and his own party.

Some of his seemingly unguarded comments reinforced McCain's ornery, hot-headed, "maverick reputation and some of it was, frankly, an admission that the modern Republican Party and congress, which the former Mississippi senator left last year after 35 years, has lost its way.
And the money quote:
Lott was known as one of the "Princes of Pork" while he was in Congress for his ability to bring home the bacon to Mississippi and he said that also caused some friction with McCain.

"John used to harass me because I would get earmarks -- or pork barrel projects -- in Mississippi," he said. "And I would say, 'Well, yes, John, I'm a senator from Mississippi and we're the poorest state in the nation.'

"But we're not anymore, that pork paid off."

Then Lott made a couple of admissions I found startling.

"But you know what, in my heart I knew he was right," he said of his pork barrel ways. That's no way to do business, we shouldn't be doing all that earmarking -- it got completely out of control.

"It got out of control with Republicans and that's why we are being punished a little bit," he added. "Because we forgot how we got there, what we believed in, the principles that after 30 years put us in the majority, gave us the White House, the congress, the senate, the house. And then we ran out of ideas...
Nice of him to 'fess up but I hate to think of all the damage he has done. Damage to the legislative process and to the Republican party...
From the Washington Post:
Biden's Son, Brother Named in Two Suits
A son and a brother of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) are accused in two lawsuits of defrauding a former business partner and an investor of millions of dollars in a hedge fund deal that went sour, court records show.

The Democratic vice presidential candidate's son Hunter, 38, and brother James, 59, assert instead that their former partner defrauded them by misrepresenting his experience in the hedge fund industry and recommending that they hire a lawyer with felony convictions.

The legal actions have been playing out in New York State Supreme Court since 2007, and they focus on Hunter and James Biden's involvement in Paradigm Companies LLC, a hedge fund group. Hunter Biden, a Washington lobbyist, briefly served as president of the firm.

A lawsuit filed by their former partner Anthony Lotito Jr. asserts in court papers that the deal was crafted to get Hunter Biden out of lobbying because his father was concerned about the impact it would have on his bid for the White House. Biden was running for the Democratic nomination at the time the suit was filed.

Hunter Biden was made president with an annual salary of $1.2 million, despite his inexperience in the hedge fund industry, the lawsuit said. Before that, he had been part of the Washington law firm Oldaker, Biden & Belair, which earned $1.76 million in lobbying revenue in the first half of 2006, according to Congressional Quarterly's CQ MoneyLine. One of its biggest clients is the National Association of Shareholder and Consumer Attorneys, a District-based group representing law firms specializing in investment and corporate law.
This is going to be an interesting race -- not that the last couple haven't been dull...

2008 cooler than normal

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This just in from the BBC:
World heading towards cooler 2008
This year appears set to be the coolest globally this century.

Data from the UK Met Office shows that temperatures in the first half of the year have been more than 0.1 Celsius cooler than any year since 2000.

The principal reason is La Nina, part of the natural cycle that also includes El Nino, which cools the globe.

Even so, 2008 is set to be about the 10th warmest year since 1850, and Met Office scientists say temperatures will rise again as La Nina conditions ease.
Temperature outside is in the high 50's; cooler than normal for August. Rained a couple inches too -- yesterday was nice.

The Tater Tot Explosion

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Great story from Julie Carter at The Westerner:
The tater tot explosion
Any cowboy will tell you that bachelorhood has its advantages, but cooking isn't always one of them.

A fella is usually pretty busy all summer - in a hurry and trying to get his work done so he can do his other stuff that involves horses, saddles, trailers and ropes.

The recent monsoon rains forced through the area by the landlocked hurricanes have left Dan the team roper fending for himself for days on end because there is no roping practice at his partner's and therefore no home cooked meals from his partner's wife.

For Dan, rain brings on some of the issues that become glaring in bachelorhood. No one to visit with except the dog, and while that's acceptable most of the time, there is also no one to cook for him except ... himself.

Proof of the danger in that came one night this week.

Leaving his work at the farm implement dealership quite hungry, Dan said he had stopped on the way home and bought a bag of frozen tater tots with a plan to make a tater tot casserole.

Upon arrival at his humble homestead, he placed them in a the bottom of casserole dish, added a can of Wolf Brand Chili on top and then a nice covering of grated cheese for the next layer.

Thinking his culinary creation was looking quite good, he added a few sliced-up wieners on top and then yet another layer of some diced jalape�os.

To his way of thinking, this had to be about the best supper ever.

Knowing he had piled a lot of food into the one dish, he shoved it in the microwave and cranked it up a ways, thinking it would take awhile to get it all warmed completely through.

He wasn't sure exactly how long he needed to set it for, so he allowed plenty of time for his masterpiece to get done all the way through.

Then, remembering he needed to go check on Pittsburgh's water, he headed out the horse corrals while his delectable dinner cooked nuclear-style.

He got sidetracked, as cowboys are wont to do, and it was a good 30 minutes before he got back to the house.

What he found inside his kitchen was the aftermath of the complete explosion of his microwave and its contents.

There was chili, wieners and tater tots all over the ceiling with tendrils of cheese hanging in various places around the room.

His first move was to pick up the microwave and deliver it to the trash, knowing it would never be the same again.

Too tired to care much about the mess, his main concern was still the fact he was very hungry.

Like most cowboys in cow camp after long hard day, he resorted to the old stand by - canned peaches.

He first drank off the liquid, then, he filled the can up with whiskey, sat down, and ate his supper of "pickled" peaches.

None of this would have happened if it hadn't rained for days and days and had he just been able to rope.
The pickled peaches doesn't sound bad at all...

A site for fonts

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There are lots of bad fonts out there. Just ran into this website and am very pleased with the fonts they have. Check out DaFont Free for personal use.

Nancy Pelosi - unclear on energy

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The Democrats now have an "energy policy" Only problem is they aren't very clear on the subject matter. From the Wall Street Journal:
Pelosi on Natural Gas: Fossil Fuel or Not?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi�s message on energy, already evolving in recent weeks, might have to evolve a little more.

On NBC�s �Meet the Press� on Sunday, the speaker twice seemed to suggest that natural gas � an energy source she favors � is not a fossil fuel.

�I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels,� she said at one point. Natural gas �is cheap, abundant and clean compared to fossil fuels,� she said at another.
Earth to Nancy - natural gas is very much a fossil fuel.

The 2009 consumer crash

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A sobering read from Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker:
The 2009 "Consumer Crash" Call is UNDERSTATED
I was directed this morning to a lovely article over at The Prudent Bear calling for a 2009 "Consumer Crash".

It is full of charts and documentation, and I strongly suggest you read it. All of it. It should in fact be required reading for our political entities and every high school student in the nation, along with every literate adult.

It is very heavy on charts and statistics, some of which I am going to unabashedly quote, and expand on.

Yes, expand on.

Here's the first pair:

Click for full size.

Now this looks very bad, but in fact it is much worse than it looks. Why? For the same reason the rest of these charts are worse than they look - they portray averages, but not distributions.

And it is the latter - distribution - that is the real problem.

See, there are a very large number of people - perhaps much as 25% of America, that have no debt at all. Not even a car loan. I'm one of them, and in fact this has been, in the main, my viewpoint since I was a youngster.

Yes, I've had car loans and mortgages, but I never was one to run a credit card balance or charge plate at a store. Ever. There are quite a few people like me, some of them older, some younger, but not everyone is in debt up to their eyeballs.

This may sound encouraging. In fact, its not. Its quite discouraging, and seriously so, because for every person who is prudent, there is one who is doubly underwater to the degree depicted in the graph.

The impact of this will not sink in until you think about it. There are plenty of people, including those on Kudlow every night, who try to claim that "the consumer's debt load, while rising, is manageable."

They're looking at this same graph you are above, and while they are alarmed, they're saying "oh, yes, its a bit over 1x income, but that's not horrible given that debt service is in the low teens as a percentage."

What they're missing is that there is 20% of our population that is being utterly smashed, with debt to income ratios north of 300% and total debt service requirements in the 60% range or more!
Jen and I are into maintaining as little debt as possible -- we have credit cards and use them but the balance is paid off each month. We went into debt to buy the building that our store is in but that was paid off as soon as we could. The next few years are going to be interesting for people but I hope that they take the hard lesson to heart and rebuild on a stronger footing next time.

Hurricane Fay aftermath

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I had heard that Hurricane Fay was dropping a lot of rain on Florida but I didn't realize that it was this much. From Weather Nerd: The great flood of Fay
Fay has continued to absolutely soak the area with ridiculous amounts of rain. The 7-day rainfall map from the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service shows the extent of the deluge:

Some numbers:
MELBOURNE BEACH 3.9 SSE              25.28
COCOA BEACH                          24.38
CAPE CANAVERAL                       22.83
DELTONA                              22.69
SATELLITE BEACH                      22.40
PALM SHORES 1.4 W                    21.44
DELTONA 2.9 SE                       20.94
MELBOURNE 7.0 NW                     20.57
ORANGE CITY                          19.81
HILLIARD 5.4 NW                      19.70
TALLAHASSEE 5.7 SE                   19.17
Yikes -- sometimes when we get a pineapple express we can get six inches in a day but it is only for one day and the ground has time to recover. Imagine it raining like that for seven days continuously -- "Biblical" comes to mind...
Today's WTF moment brought to you from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
North Korea noodle to delay feeling of hunger: report
North Korea, facing its worst food shortage in nearly a decade, has come up with a culinary innovation aimed at delaying the feeling of hunger - noodles made from soybean, a report has said.

A research institute at the country's education ministry has succeeded in making the food by mixing soybean with corn, Chosun Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan, said.

Soybean has never been consumed as a staple food in North Korea and it has been used only for side dishes such as fermented bean curd and bean sprouts, it said.

"When you consume ordinary noodles [made from wheat or corn], you may soon feel your stomach empty. But this soybean noodle delays such a feeling of hunger," the paper said on its website.

The new noodle has almost twice the protein and five times more fat than the normal noodles consumed by North Koreans, it said.

It represents a technological breakthrough as soybean has previously proved difficult to turn into noodles it lacks starch, Chosun Sinbo said.

Workers from food processing plants, companies and government agencies as well as housewives have been visiting the research institute to learn about the noodle, it added.

A recent survey found up to half the people in North Korea were having to forage for foods and some were resorting to eating edible grasses and roots.
Goes to show what wonderful progress the communists are making. And do we want to elect one as president? Nobama.

Death Race - a movie review

Talk about great first paragraphs -- Philip Kennicott at the Washington Post:
Before execrating "Death Race" as a cultural abomination with no redeeming value, let's take note of several of its significant technical accomplishments. It may not be possible to make a film with less plot and more action. And the testosterone saturation level has also been pushed to the very limits of earthly possibility. If a movie could drag its knuckles on the ground, "Death Race" would leave eight little tracks in the sand.
And apparently it doesn't have the sardonic humor that the original 1975 Bartel/Corman film had. I'll pass although I'll have to see if we have the original at our store -- get it if we do not...

Socialism's roots

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Kevin, writing at The Smallest Minority has been excerpting bits from David Horowitz's The Politics of Bad Faith. His latest is an excellent read:
By 1917, Russia was already the 4th industrial power in the world. Its rail networks had tripled since 1890, and its industrial output had increased by three-quarters since the century began. Over half of all Russian children between eight and eleven years of age were enrolled in schools, while 68% of all military conscripts had been tested literate. A cultural renaissance was underway in dance, painting, literature and music, the names Blok, Kandinsky, Mayakovsky, Pasternak, Diaghelev, Stravinsky were already figures of world renown. In 1905 a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament had been created, in which freedom of the press, assembly and association were guaranteed, if not always observed. By 1917, legislation to create a welfare state, including the right to strike and provisions for workers' insurance was already in force and -- before it was dissolved by Lenin's Bolsheviks -- Russia's first truly democratic democratic parliament had been convened.

The Marxist Revolution destroyed all this, tearing the Russian people out of history's womb and robbing whole generations of their minimal birthright, the opportunity to struggle for a decent life. Yet even as this political abortion was being completed and the nation was plunging into its deepest abyss, the very logic of revolution forced its leaders to expand their Lie: to insist that the very nightmare they had created was indeed the kingdom of freedom and justice the revolution had promised.

It is in this bottomless chasm between reality and promise that our own argument is finally joined. You seek to separate the terror-filled actualities of the Soviet experience from the magnificent harmonies of the socialist dream. But it is the dream itself that begets the reality, and requires the terror. This is the revolutionary paradox you want to ignore.
Go there and read the rest -- it is a sobering read.

Cool Archaeological find in Mexico

From National Geographic:
Portal to Maya Underworld Found in Mexico?
A labyrinth filled with stone temples and pyramids in 14 caves�some underwater�have been uncovered on Mexico's Yucat�n Peninsula, archaeologists announced last week.

The discovery has experts wondering whether Maya legend inspired the construction of the underground complex�or vice versa.

According to Maya myth, the souls of the dead had to follow a dog with night vision on a horrific and watery path and endure myriad challenges before they could rest in the afterlife.

In one of the recently found caves, researchers discovered a nearly 300-foot (90-meter) concrete road that ends at a column standing in front of a body of water.

"We have this pattern now of finding temples close to the water�or under the water, in this most recent case," said Guillermo de Anda, lead investigator at the research sites.

"These were probably made as part of a very elaborate ritual," de Anda said. "Everything is related to death, life, and human sacrifice."

Stretching south from southern Mexico, through Guatemala, and into northern Belize, the Maya culture had its heyday from about A.D. 250 to 900, when the civilization mysteriously collapsed.
There is more information in this National Geographic article: Maya Water World

Sunspots and the lack thereof

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We haven't had a sunspot in more than a month. We almost had one two days ago. From SpaceWeather August 21st, 2008:
NEW SUNSPOTS: A new sunspot is emerging near the sun's eastern limb. Pavol Rapavy sends this picture, taken just hours ago, from his backyard observatory in Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia:

These spots aren't large, but they are noteworthy as the first sunspots in more than a month. Moreover, they are growing rapidly, offering an opportunity for onlookers to witness sunspot genesis in action. If you have a solar telescope, take a look.
From SpaceWeather August 22nd, 2008:
NOT A SUNSPOT: Not every spot on the sun is a sunspot. As an example, consider this photo taken yesterday by John Stetson and students (P. Fazzi and J. Fairfull) in Freeport, Maine:

The butterfly-shaped "sunspot" near the bottom of the frame is the International Space Station. "We caught it making a transit of the sun," says Stetson. "The station's silhouette was huge."
The persistent lack of sunspots indicate a quiet sun with lower output than usual. A quiet sun = lower temperatures here.

Here we go again - New Orleans

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Maybe they should just let the whole town sink... From the San Francisco Chronicle:
New Orleans repeating deadly levee mistakes
Signs are emerging that history is repeating itself in the Big Easy, still healing from Katrina: People have forgotten a lesson from four decades ago and believe once again that the federal government is constructing a levee system they can prosper behind.

In a yearlong review of levee work here, The Associated Press has tracked a pattern of public misperception, political jockeying and legal fighting, along with economic and engineering miscalculations since Katrina, that threaten to make New Orleans the scene of another devastating flood.

Dozens of interviews with engineers, historians, policymakers and flood zone residents confirmed many have not learned from public policy mistakes made after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, which set the stage for Katrina; many mistakes are being repeated.

"People forget, but they cannot afford to forget," said Windell Curole, a Louisiana hurricane and levee expert. "If you believe you can't flood, that's when you increase the risk of flooding. In New Orleans, I don't think they talk about the risk."
And the next storm that comes along and breaches the levees -- people will cry to FEMA and require that the gubmint bail their sorry asses out again. Let it sink...

Contains sulfites - Wine and Sulfur

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A nice article on the use of Sulfur in Winemaking:
Reconsidering sulfites
Progressive vintners weigh the pros and cons of the controversial winemaking tool

On almost every wine label, a challenging subject is concealed behind an opaque, almost nonchalant warning: "contains sulfites."

The term encompasses sulfur dioxide as well as many derivative forms of sulfur. Sulfites are present in all wines both as an additive and as a natural by-product of fermentation, and many countries require that their presence be indicated on the label.

Long viewed as a necessary, if unromantic, tool by winemakers, and either ignored or completely misunderstood by consumers, the role of sulfur in wine has become a hot topic. From health issues (see "Debunking myths," Page F4) to sulfur as a winemaking tool at a time when there's a push within the industry for wines made with minimal intervention, sulfur dioxide is in the spotlight like never before.

Sulfur dioxide has been used in the production of wine for centuries - primarily as a buffer to keep wine from reacting with too much oxygen, but also to inhibit microbial spoilage (from bacteria or rogue yeasts) that could lead to off flavors and aromas, and as a winemaking technique to partly control fermentation.
A fascinating read -- it also debunks the old sulfites=headache myth.

A good question

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From Global Warming Politics:
Cognitive Dissonance
I must ask a very serious and urgent question of our media. Why do you continue to talk glibly about current climate �warming� when it is now widely acknowledged that there has been no �global warming� for the last ten years, a cooling trend that many think may continue for at least another ten years? How can you talk of the climate �warming� when, on the key measures, it isn�t? And now a leading Mexican scientist is even predicting that we may enter another �Little Ice Age� - a �peque�a era [edad] de hielo�.

Such media behaviour exhibits a classic condition known as �cognitive dissonance�. This is experienced when belief in a grand narrative persists blindly even when the facts in the real world begin to contradict what the narrative is saying. Sadly, our media have come to have a vested interest in �global warming�, as have so many politicians and activists. They are terrified that the public may begin to question everything if climate is acknowledged, on air and in the press, not to be playing ball with their pet trope.
A good question...

Sums it up perfectly

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From The Anarchangel:
Click for full-size...
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A century after introduction, Hydrox cookies back
If a kid'll eat the middle of an Oreo first, does the same go for a Hydrox? A new generation of children are getting a chance to find out.

Kellogg Co. announced today that it had reintroduced the Hydrox brand for a limited time to mark the 100th anniversary of the cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie.

The Battle Creek-based company says Hydrox cookies started returning to store shelves this week.

The treats were introduced in 1908. They were reformulated and rebranded as Droxies in 1999 by Keebler Co., which Kellogg acquired in 2001.
Very cool -- these were my cookies of choice growing up. Hat tip to American Digest for the link.

Olympic star Michael Phelps arrives home

Michael Phelps Returns To His Tank At Sea World

ORLANDO�Fourteen-time Olympic gold medalist and SeaWorld main attraction Michael Phelps returned to his seven-million-gallon water tank Wednesday to resume his normal schedule of performing in six shows a day for marine park crowds every day of the week.

Phelps, the 6'4", 200-pound aquatic mammal, and the first ever SeaWorld swimmer to be raised in captivity by foster swimmers (Mark Spitz and Dara Torres), was recaptured by trainer Bob Bowman in a hoop net baited with an entire Dutch apple pie following Phelps' final Olympic event last Sunday. Phelps was then tethered to the rudder of a container ship bound for St. Petersburg, guided down local waterways, and introduced back into his home habitat, the tank in SeaWorld's 5,500 seat stadium, known to park officials and visitors alike as "Phelps' Happy Harbor."

"Michael seemed really excited to be back," said Bowman, adding that the male swimmer became playful upon entering his tank, breaching the water and sounding repeatedly. "He just started swimming freestyle and backstroke, and only stopped to slide belly first onto the tank's platform so he could be fed dozens of fried egg sandwiches."
From The Onion of course.

Traffic Engineering

A nice article at The Wilson Quarterly about Traffic Engineering and the work of Hans Monderman in particular.
The Traffic Guru
If you were asked to name a famous traffic engineer, in some pub quiz gone horribly wrong, chances are slight you could hazard a good guess. It is true that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, was trained as a traffic engineer, but his notoriety does not derive from tinkering with the streetlights in Tehran. Bill Gates got his start developing software for a device to count car traffic, but he was a computer boffin more interested in the technology than the traffic. Your memory might flicker in recognition at the names of William Phelps Eno, the putative �father� of traffic control, or Henry Barnes, the onetime New York City traffic czar credited with inventing the �Barnes Dance,� wherein an entire intersection, for a moment, is given over to a �four-�way pedestrian �crossing.

Traffic engineers are rather obscure characters, though their work influences our lives every day. A geographic survey of East Lansing, Michigan, for example, once found that more than 50 percent of the retail district was dedicated to �automobile space��parking, roads, and the like. By and large, the design and management of this space is handed over to traffic engineers, and our behavior in it is heavily influenced by their �decisions.

In the last few years, however, one traffic engineer did achieve a measure of global celebrity, known, if not exactly by name, then by his ideas. His name was Hans Monderman. The idea that made Monderman, who died of cancer in January at the age of 62, most famous is that traditional traffic safety �infra�structure��warning signs, traffic lights, metal railings, curbs, painted lines, speed bumps, and so �on��is not only often unnecessary, but can endanger those it is meant to protect.

As I drove with Monderman through the northern Dutch province of Friesland several years ago, he repeatedly pointed out offending traffic signs. �Do you really think that no one would perceive there is a bridge over there?� he might ask, about a sign warning that a bridge was ahead. �Why explain it?� He would follow with a characteristic maxim: �When you treat people like idiots, they�ll behave like idiots.� Eventually he drove me to Makkinga, a small village at whose entrance stood a single sign. It welcomed visitors, noted a 30 kilometer-per-hour speed limit, then added: �Free of Traffic Signs.� This was Monderman humor at its finest: a traffic sign announcing the absence of traffic �signs.
And statistics prove that his ideas work. The throughput is increased and the rate of accidents is cut approximately in half. In our neck of the woods, the DOT is micro-managing a lot of our highways and roads; putting in roundabouts, traffic lights, etc... in an attempt to cut down on the number of accidents (which is already pretty low). I'll have to forward copies of this article to some of the engineers and managers and see what they say.

Generate Power from the Wind

Ran into this webpage the other day: Oregon Wind

Helyx HE-40 "The Urban Turbine"
A Vertical Axis Turbine

Oregon Wind Corporation proudly introduces a revolutionary new technology that will offer affordable, portable, renewable power generation anywhere it is needed. The Helyx Urban Turbine design overcomes many of the limitations of propeller-style turbines (noise, vibration, bird kill), making it appropriate for urban environments as well as remote locations.

Features and Benefits:
  • Appropriate for urban environments, remote locations, anywhere power is needed
  • Appropriate for all temperatures and conditions, including snow and ice and strong winds
  • Allows for production of power where it is used, avoiding grid transmission problems
  • Runs silently
  • Produces almost no vibration
  • Safe for wildlife (birds view it as a solid object)
  • Requires no tail assemblies, slip ring connectors, high wind turbine blades or high elevation mounting towers

The unit is 17" diameter by 42" tall so it is pretty substantial. No list price is offered. What isn't mentioned until you dig deep into the site is that the maximum power output is only 40 Watts! That is enough to run a few high-efficiency lights but that is it. Talk about efficiency -- sheesh! I could run a couple of mice in an exercise wheel and get better output...

From Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple:
As one of my correspondents noted: �The Democrats have suddenly developed a keen sense of morality. John Edwards has been banned from making a speech at the democratic convention for having an affair and lying about it. Bill Clinton will be speaking in his place.�
I keep scratching my head trying to understand what passes for cognition in these people. And to think that close to 50% of the people in this nation think that these are the people to govern the United States of America...

A prestigious award - NOT!

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Hat tip to Jason Kottke for finding this wonderful story:
What does it take to get a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence?
My name is Robin Goldstein, and I�m the author of a new book called The Wine Trials (book here; website here). Lately, I�ve become curious about how Wine Spectator magazine determines its Awards of Excellence for the world�s best wine restaurants.

As part of the research for an academic paper I�m currently working on about standards for wine awards, I submitted an application for a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. I named the restaurant �Osteria L�Intrepido� (a play on the name of a restaurant guide series that I founded, Fearless Critic). I submitted the fee ($250), a cover letter, a copy of the restaurant�s menu (a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes), and a wine list.

Osteria L�Intrepido won the Award of Excellence, as published in print in the August 2008 issue of Wine Spectator. (Not surprisingly, the Osteria�s listing has since been removed from Wine Spectator�s website.) I presented this result at the meeting of the American Association of Wine Economists in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, August 15.

It�s troubling, of course, that a restaurant that doesn�t exist could win an Award of Excellence. But it�s also troubling that the award doesn�t seem to be particularly tied to the quality of the supposed restaurant�s �reserve wine list,� even by Wine Spectator�s own standards. Although the main wine list that I submitted was a perfectly decent selection from around Italy meeting the magazine�s numerical criteria, Osteria L�Intrepido�s �reserve wine list� was largely chosen from among some of the lowest-scoring Italian wines in Wine Spectator over the past few decades. The reserve list appears in its entirety below (with scores and some excerpts from the Wine Spectator reviews of those wines added here):
The wine list that follows has some of these descriptions from the Wine Spectator magazine: Unacceptable. Sweet and cloying. Smells like bug spray� Smells barnyardy and tastes decayed. Just too much paint thinner and nail varnish character� Earthy, swampy, gamy, harsh and tannic... A culinary version of the Sokal Affair?
From the Lynden Tribune:
Lynden man self-publishes electrical engineering book
With 86 years behind him, John R. Dunki-Jacobs is not ready to stop.

He ponders his diverse life in his home on Bertrand Drive west of Lynden, near a wall in his office which he calls his "wall of fame." On the wall are awards and honors given to him throughout his career as an electrical engineer.

On a table across the room is a copy of his new book, the product of 12 years of work.

The title, '*Industrial Power System Grounding Design Handbook*' might be a little intimidating. Dunki-Jacobs intends the book to fill a 30-year void as a comprehensive reference for electrical engineers and post-graduate college students and professors.

Dunki-Jacobs and his co-authors, Frank Shields and Conrad St. Pierre of New York, published the 600-page book themselves. This decision was made when they discovered that most publishers offer only a 12 percent royalty to authors. Their reasoning, he said, was that this is the industry standard.

"In my younger days," Dunki-Jacobs said, "[price-fixing] was against the law."

To self-publish the book, however, he needed to learn how to create things like an index and a table of contents since publishers usually do this themselves.

"Microsoft Word has a beautiful program for that," Dunki-Jacobs said.

The authors found a company to bind and print the book, and all that was left was sales.

"Of course, I have no sales force," Dunki-Jacobs said.

He recruited his colleagues to help, and they agreed to jump on board the sales effort.

"I think I'm getting to the point where I've sold quite a few books already," Dunki-Jacobs said.
A bit about his life:
He was born in the old Dutch East Indies during World War II.

"I grew up there," Dunki-Jacobs said. "I was there during World War II. I was a Japanese P.O.W. for three years."

He said his experience as a prisoner of war taught him to persevere even through the hardest of times.

After the war, his family moved to the Netherlands. He graduated from a technical school in Amsterdam.

He worked in Sumatra for Standard Oil Company as a powerhouse manager from 1948 to 1953, and married his wife Louise in 1950.

"Since our marriage," Dunki-Jacobs said, "I have lived at 13 addresses."

They immigrated to the United States in 1954, living in Lynn, Mass., for two years. From there he moved to Schenectady, N.Y., where he worked for General Electric for 30 years. During his time with General Electric, he traveled to places all over the world, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Venezuela and Indonesia, as well as within the U.S.
And his retirement?
He and his wife moved to Lynden in 1990, and they appreciate the atmosphere of the town.

"We enjoy every minute of it," he said.

Dunki-Jacobs' "wall of fame" includes several accolades from his long career. His most prized award came from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. In 1996, the IEEE presented him with the Medal for Engineering Excellence, given to only one person out of the 375,000 members each year.

"I look back on that as a tremendous honor," Dunki-Jacobs said.

He is a Life-Fellow of the IEEE and the recipient of the R.H. Kaufmann Award and five General Electric Management Awards.

As he sits in his Lynden home office, Dunki-Jacobs ponders his future as an author. He has a second book in the works, and even though he officially retired in 1984, he said he is not there yet.

"I'm not ready yet to retire," he said.
I wish they made more people like that -- talk about a life well-lived! Lynden is a small agricultural town about 30 miles away -- ten miles north of Bellingham. A lot of Dutch people settled near there so there is a strong Dutch component to the towns architecture. A gorgeous little gem of a town with some nice restaurants. Our accountant's office is there.

Imperial Fleet Week in San Francisco

God would I love to see this in person. Talk about hippies heads exploding. Check out Imperial Fleet Week in San Francisco Hat tip to Military Motivator for the link.

Jon's response to Roseanne's rant

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I had posted about Roseanne Barr's unreal reply to Jon Voight's wonderful editorial. Jon replied in his usual classy way:
Click for full-size.
Hat tip to The Mock Dock for the link.

Minimal posting tonight

Did the Tuesday buying run for the store, got back at 6:00PM and then had to assemble some shelving units and stayed until the store closed at 10:00 to help train a new employee who started today. Jen spent the entire day at the store and we just got home a few minutes ago. Have some take-out Chinese food in the microwave, poured myself a nice glass of wine (from Three Thieves - their Bandit Merlot -- surprisingly good stuff!) and am going to surf a bit, check email and then head up to bed -- a long day and I am tired...
From Pittsburgh's station WPXI comes another news story:
New Castle Man Hides $30K In Trash; Money Not There When He Returns
A New Castle man thought a garbage can on Cunningham Avenue would be a good place to hide his money, but that didn't turn out to be the case.

The man, whose name has not been released, allegedly stuffed $30,000 inside the can, but when he went to retrieve it later, it was gone.

Police aren't saying why the man hid they money in the trash can. The man is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who returns the money.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Castle Police Department
A huge loss (if it is real) but what was he thinking...

Heh - here is a candidate I can back

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Click to embiggen.
Swiped from here: Dr. Mercury

Classy lady - Roseanne Barr

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She has a blog and posted this reply to John Voight's wonderful editorial:
jon voight
is a frightened little girl in a pink ballet tutu, who acts like Obama just wandered in from the rain forest with a bone thru his nose and a communist pamphlet in his loincloth. The neocons who own jon voight and make him dance on the chabad telethons are the worst most elitist people on earth. glen beck and jon voight are their bitches... both of them are used tampons who must be flushed down the toilet immediately! jon voight your evil spawn angelina jolie and her vacuous hubby brad pitt make about forty million dollars a year in violent psychopathic movies and give away three of it to starving children trying to look as if they give a crap about humanity as they spit out more dunces that will consume more than their fair share and wreck the earth even more.
And she goes on and on and on and on and... Like I said, classy lady.

Heh - do not mess with Granny

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From Pittsburgh's station WPXI:
Elderly Woman Grabs Gun, Holds Would-Be Burglar At Bay
An 85-year-old great-grandmother from Lake Lynn, Fayette County kept an alleged burglar at bay using a .22-caliber pistol.

According to police, a 17-year-old suspect was attempting to burglarize Leda Smith overnight.

That's when Smith grabbed her gun and told the teen that she would shoot him if he moved, police said.

"I had the gun on him before he turned around and said, 'you've had it,' " Smith told Channel 11-News.

According to police, Smith ordered the boy to dial 911 and then gave him some advice.

"Dial 911 and don't attempt to throw the phone at me, or do anything bad or I'll just shoot you," Smith said.

When police arrived, they took the teen into custody.

Charges have been filed against the boy and an alleged accomplice.
An armed society is a polite society. -- R.A.H.
Been browsing around today looking at alternative energy websites. Changed the Blogroll heading to include Alt. Energy and added a few links. These three look interesting as well: #1) - Energy from Thorium Discussions #2) - Crowlspace and #3) - Tom Ligon�s Link and Resource List for the Bussard Fusion Reactor Enjoy digging!

Re-training in Pakistan

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Really nice story coming from Pakistan. From the Los Angeles Times:
Pakistani women burned by acid or fire rely on beauty of others
Saira Liaqat squints through her one good eye as she brushes a woman's hair. Her face, most of which the acid melted years ago, occasionally lights up with a smile. Her hands, largely undamaged, deftly handle the dark brown locks.

A few steps away in this popular beauty salon, Urooj Akbar diligently trims, cleans and paints clients' fingernails. Her face, severely scarred from the blaze that burned about 70% of her body, is somber. It's hard to tell if she's sad or if it's just the way she now looks.

"Every person wishes that he or she is beautiful," says Liaqat, 21. "But in my view, your face is not everything. Real beauty lies inside a person, not outside."

"They do it because the world demands it," Akbar, 28, says of clients. "For them, it's a necessity. For me, it isn't."
A bit more on the origins:
Liaqat and Akbar got into the beauty business in the eastern city of Lahore thanks to the Depilex Smileagain Foundation, an organization devoted to aiding women who have been burned in acid or other attacks.

About five years ago, Masarrat Misbah, head of Pakistan's well-known Depilex salon chain, was leaving work when a veiled woman approached and asked for her help. She was insistent, and soon, a flustered Misbah saw why.

When she removed her veil, Misbah felt faint. "I saw a girl who had no face."

The woman said her husband had thrown acid on her.

Misbah decided to place a small newspaper ad to see if others needed similar assistance.

Forty-two women and girls responded.
And some quotes from the two women at the beginning of the story:
Liaqat is grateful for having achieved her goal of being a beautician. She worries about her eyesight but is determined to succeed.

"I want to make a name for myself in this profession," she says.

Akbar plans to use her income one day to support her little girl, whom she has barely seen since the attack.

"I'm independent now, I stand on my own two feet," she says. "I have a job, I work, I earn. In fact, I'm living on my own . . . which isn't an easy thing to do for a woman in Pakistan, for a lone woman to survive."
It is a tragedy that these people have to grow up in such a 7th Century culture and suffer such pain and anguish. Still, it is awesome that Masarrat Misbah set up the foundation, arranged for some money to provide medical care and taught these women the beauticians skills. Living independently in Pakistan must be next to impossible...

How much Uranium is there?

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Readers will know that I strongly believe that we need to push for more Nuclear power generation and that if we can get over 80% of our baseload coming from Nuclear, our petroleum costs will be a thing of the past. That and the problems associated with the widespread burning of Coal will go away. A standard rebuttal to this argument is the "fact" that we have only "X" years of Nuclear Fuel available to us. I have seen "X" as low as five years which is downright laughable... Well, bw writing at Next Big Future comes up with a different value for "X" How about Five Billion Years:
How long can Uranium last for nuclear power ? 5 billion years at double current world electricity usage.
Breeder reactors: A renewable energy source by Bernard L. Cohen, American Journal of Physics, 1983 (H/T Crowlspace) Uranium can last for 5 billion years with a withdrawal rate of 6,500 tonne per year from the oceans [with breeder reactors this would be double current world electricity usage]. This estimate does not include using Thorium which is more common in the earth's crust than Uranium.

A 600MW breeder reactor has been working in Russia since the 1980s and an 800MW version will be completed in about 2012.

Excellent molten salt reactor designs are ready to be built. Molten salt reactors were built and operated for a few years in the sixties and seventies in the USA
bw then looks at extracting Uranium from Seawater -- the Japanese are doing this and getting fissionable Uranium for about $100 to $800/pound and at $400/pound, One Million BTUs worth of energy would cost 1.1 Cents worth of fuel. We need this NOW people -- start writing your representatives!

We need more Arctic Icebreakers

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This moment of splendid cognitive dissonance is brought to you by the New York Times:
A Push to Increase Icebreakers in the Arctic
A growing array of military leaders, Arctic experts and lawmakers say the United States is losing its ability to patrol and safeguard Arctic waters even as climate change and high energy prices have triggered a burst of shipping and oil and gas exploration in the thawing region.

The National Academy of Sciences, the Coast Guard and others have warned over the past several years that the United States� two 30-year-old heavy icebreakers, the Polar Sea and Polar Star, and one smaller ice-breaking ship devoted mainly to science, the Healy, are grossly inadequate. Also, the Polar Star is out of service.

And this spring, the leaders of the Pentagon�s Pacific Command, Northern Command and Transportation Command strongly recommended in a letter that the Joint Chiefs of Staff endorse a push by the Coast Guard to increase the country�s ability to gain access to and control its Arctic waters.

In the meantime, a resurgent Russia has been busy expanding its fleet of large oceangoing icebreakers to around 14, launching a large conventional icebreaker in May and, last year, the world�s largest icebreaker, named 50 Years of Victory, the newest of its seven nuclear-powered, pole-hardy ships.
Well, we know from this post a few days ago (and a lot of other evidence) that although the ice thins during the summer, it re-freezes in the winter and the overall extent of the ice is not changing -- if anything, it is increasing. The summer of 2007 had major melting but the summer of 2008 is right back to where it was before -- 2007 was an anomoly in the most classical sense. This fact has not escaped the Russians as they are planning to operate 14 conventional and seven nuclear ice-breakers in the near future. We also know from the historical records of whaling ship logs, that there have been times when a "Northwest Passage" was open -- it came and went. I also like that the NYT article mentioned Climate Change instead of Global Warming which it used to excess a few years ago...

New Scientist has a blog!

It's called Short Sharp Science Blog and here is one post:

Why conservatives are happier than liberals
The exuberance displayed by Barack Obama's supporters might make Republicans look like geriatric chess enthusiasts, but a new survey suggests that conservatives are happier than liberals - and offers one reason why.

Liberals, claim New York University psychologists Jaime Napier and John Tost, have a tougher time rationalising social and economic inequality than conservatives.

The recent surge in home foreclosures, for instance, is due to poor economic choices on the part of borrowers, a conservative might think.

Liberals, on the other hand, seethe at predatory lenders and lax government regulation of the mortgage industry.

The result: conservatives mix a martini and hit the country club, while liberals write angry letters and stage protests.

Of course, American political views aren't so binary, yet the happiness divide seems to be real. Previous studies, including a 2006 survey from Pew Research Center have found the same general trend, much to the delight of conservative pundits like George Will, who noted that "liberalism is a complicated and exacting, not to say grim and scolding, creed."

Heh... Added to the blogroll.

Why I no longer read Harper's Magazine

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It used to be good -- fair and balanced but San Francisco libtard Lewis Lapham, as Senior Editor, has made it a cess-pit of non-critical thinking and calumny. Hat tip to Instapundit for this link to Jammie Wearing Fool:
'Why a Requiem Mass for a Pet Canary?'
Wow, this guy sounds like a real Class A douchebag. Was probably just jealous Tim Russert achieved fame and respect far beyond anything he could imagine.
Friends and family of Tim Russert are saddened by a piece in Harper's magazine by Lewis Lapham, who characterizes the late host of NBC's "Meet the Press" as a toady of the establishment and asks, "Why a requiem Mass for a pet canary?"

Russert died June 13 of a heart attack at age 58, and soon "the story was being wrapped up in the ribbons of a national tragedy, up there in lights with the death of President Ronald Reagan and the loss of Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer on the field at the Little Bighorn," Lapham writes in the September issue.
The article about Lapham's post goes on for a while and then JammieWearingFool closes with these three wonderful links:
A search for this dope turned up this paean to the odious Molly Ivins, so you have an idea where the old coot is coming from. And if you want the true essence of moonbattery, check out this interview with the psychotic Bill Moyers.

His crowning journalistic achievement was traveling ahead in time to witness the 2004 GOP Convention.

Classy guy.
The Bill Moyers interview was an eye-opener. Moyer was perfect in every way for the Joseph Campbell interviews but the one with Lewis Lapham at the above link is jaw-droppingly brain-dead. These two people talk about the Oligarchy of the rich when they themselves are the oligarchy of the willfully deluded and the cabal of the morally and intellectually weak. The joke is that they seriously think that they are seeing things as they actually are and that they are correct in their assumptions and conclusions.

No posting today

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Very busy. Less busy tomorrow...

An interesting reactor

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Just got turned on to Hyperion Power Generation From their website:
Invented at the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory, Hyperion small modular power reactors make all the benefits of safe, clean nuclear power available for remote locations. For both industrial and community applications, Hyperion offers reliable energy with no greenhouse gas emissions. Hyperion power is also cheaper than fossil fuels and, when you consider the cost of land and materials, watt to watt, Hyperion�s innovative energy technology is even more affordable than many developing �alternative� energy technologies.

Small enough to be transported on a ship, truck or train, Hyperion power modules are about the size of a "hot tub" � approximately 1.5 meters wide. Out of sight and safe from nefarious threats, Hyperion power modules are buried far underground and guarded by a security detail. Like a power battery, Hyperion modules have no moving parts to wear down, and are delivered factory sealed. They are never opened on site. Even if one were compromised, the material inside would not be appropriate for proliferation purposes. Further, due to the unique, yet proven science upon which this new technology is based, it is impossible for the module to go supercritical, �melt down� or create any type of emergency situation. If opened, the very small amount of fuel that is enclosed would immediately cool. The waste produced after five years of operation is approximately the size of a softball and is a good candidate for fuel recycling.

Perfect for moderately-sized projects, Hyperion produces only 25 MWe � enough to provide electricity for about 20,000 average American sized homes or its industrial equivalent. Ganged or teamed together, the modules can produce even more consistent energy for larger projects.
No word on cost but it looks like a sweet design.

The Arctic Ice - melting? No!

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Despite much handwringing from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado about the vanishing Arctic Icecap, it seems that the ice is doing just fine thank you. From The Register:
Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered
Just a few weeks ago, predictions of Arctic ice collapse were buzzing all over the internet. Some scientists were predicting that the "North Pole may be ice-free for first time this summer". Others predicted that the entire "polar ice cap would disappear this summer".

The Arctic melt season is nearly done for this year. The sun is now very low above the horizon and will set for the winter at the North Pole in five weeks. And none of these dire predictions have come to pass. Yet there is, however, something odd going on with the ice data.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado released an alarming graph on August 11, showing that Arctic ice was rapidly disappearing, back towards last year's record minimum. Their data shows Arctic sea ice extent only 10 per cent greater than this date in 2007, and the second lowest on record. Here's a smaller version of the graph:


The problem is that this graph does not appear to be correct. Other data sources show Arctic ice having made a nice recovery this summer. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center data shows 2008 ice nearly identical to 2002, 2005 and 2006. Maps of Arctic ice extent are readily available from several sources, including the University of Illinois, which keeps a daily archive for the last 30 years. A comparison of these maps (derived from NSIDC data) below shows that Arctic ice extent was 30 per cent greater on August 11, 2008 than it was on the August 12, 2007. (2008 is a leap year, so the dates are offset by one.)

Another politically-driven scientist shill for AGW. These people should have their funding seriously cut...

WTF - Cinderella busted?

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Today's WTF moment brought to you by CNN/AP:
Cinderella, others arrested in Disneyland labor protest
Cinderella, Snow White, Tinkerbell and other fictional fixtures of modern-day childhood were handcuffed, frisked and loaded into police vans Thursday at the culmination of a labor protest that brought a touch of reality to the Happiest Place on Earth.

The arrest of the 32 protesters, many of whom wore costumes representing famous Disney characters, came at the end of an hour-long march to Disneyland's gates from one of three Disney-owned hotels at the center of a labor dispute.

Those who were arrested sat in a circle on a busy intersection outside the park holding hands until they were placed in plastic handcuffs and led to two police vans while hundreds of hotel workers cheered and chanted.

The protesters were arrested on a misdemeanor count of failure to obey a police officer and two traffic infractions, said Sgt. Rick Martinez of the Anaheim police. They were cited and released, Sgt. Chris Schneider said.

Bewildered tourists in Disney T-shirts and caps, some pushing strollers, filed past the commotion and gawked at the costumed picketers getting hauled away. The protest shut down a major thoroughfare outside Disneyland and California Adventure for nearly an hour.

"It's changing my opinion of Disneyland," said tourist Amanda Kosato, who was visiting from north of Melbourne, Australia. "Taking away entitlements stinks."

The dispute involves about 2,300 maids, bell hops, cooks and dishwashers at three Disney-owned hotels: the Paradise Pier, the Grand Californian and the Disneyland Hotel.

The workers' contract expired in February and their union says Disney's latest proposal makes health care unaffordable for hundreds of employees and creates an unfair two-tier wage system. The union also says Disney wants to create a new category of part-time employees who would receive greatly reduced benefits.
If these people are unhappy with Disney, they are more than free to find employment somewhere else or to go back to school, learn a trade and change vocations. Disney is a business and has a bottom line just like all businesses. Labor unions had their time but they aren't protective of their members any more, just another example of top-down nanny state-ism.

Very cool

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This is a really nice gesture from some amazingly talented people. From Monsters and Critics:
Johnny Depp's Matilda money
Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law have donated their earnings from new movie 'The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus' to Heath Ledger's daughter Matilda.

The actors - who replaced Heath following his death from an accidental prescription drugs overdose in January - wanted to give their money to Heath's two-year-old child with actress Michelle Williams to ensure she has a secure future.

The movie's director Terry Gilliam said: "The three actors were totally heroic coming in. This doesn't happen very often - where there's a tragedy like this, and very famous, very successful actors suddenly say, 'OK, we'll do whatever it takes to help.'

"They came, they did the work, they allowed the movie to be finished, they didn't take money - the money goes to Heath's daughter. That's extraordinary!
This was a really nice gesture.

The Truth About ANWR Drilling

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Go here and read this: The Truth About ANWR Drilling Hat tip to David at Making Ripples for the link. Also, here is the first of eight excellent YouTube videos on the issue of available petrolium reserves. Well worth watching.

Why I'm voting Democrat

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Swiped from Denny who swiped it from George:
I�m voting Democrat because: I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

I�m voting Democrat because: I believe three or four pointy headed elitist liberals need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would NEVER get their agendas past the voters.

I�m voting Democrat because: I believe oil companies� profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn�t.

I�m voting Democrat because: I believe that paying $4.00 a gallon or more is no reason to drill for the mountain of oil we are sitting on in THIS country. We wouldn�t want to have to move a couple of Polar bears now would we?
Lot's more at This ain't Hell
The best plans laid low by an antique programming language. From The Register:
COBOL thwarts California's Governator
Inspite - or perhaps because - of its "difficult" birth, Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL) has become a survivor in the world of computing. That's caused problems when it comes to maintaining systems running the language.

COBOL has now taken center stage in the rumbling controversy over the State of California's budget. California is $15bn in debt and been without an approved budget for more than a month thanks to deadlock between legislators in the state parliament.

Enter COBOL. State controller John Chiang has said it would take six months to re-configure California's aging COBOL-based payroll system in order to cut the salaries of California's 200,000 state employees, under an order from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to try and rein in the deficit.

Chiang has reportedly refused to issue reduced pay checks on the grounds the system cannot be changed quickly enough.

Ironically, the only ones who can make the changes - part time retired COBOL programmers - were among 10,000 employees laid off as part of the cuts.

The irony is this drama is being played out in a state that's home to the brains and expertise driving Silicon Valley, where the focus is the future not the past of things like COBOL.

It is not the first time that the importance of COBOL has been underestimated. Leading up to the year 2000 (Y2K) changes, vast armies of ancient programmers were brought out of retirement to upgrade COBOL code, which had only a two-digit field for the year.

Some 180 billion lines of COBOL code are reckoned to run the world's businesses and a further five billion lines are added every year.
Heh... And the creeping giant meatball just keeps growing bigger and bigger and bigger...

Minimal posting tonight

Busy day -- I am involved in the local Chamber of Commerce and today we met with some people from the government (Federal and State) highway departments concerning a few issues. This was a five hour long field trip (fun) followed by a great buffet lunch and a couple hour meeting. Later this evening was a public meeting regarding a developer who wants to drop about 800 homes into our little corner of paradise -- a city with businesses, stores and lots of extra people. Basically, there is little or no opportunity for employment out here so these people would have to drive the 30 miles into Bellingham each day. Nuts... Just got home and am tired so I will not be doing that much web surfing.

Free Software

There are some excellent small utilities that the authors are offering for free. I use several of these on a very regular basis.

I just found this site which reviews the more popular ones: Freeware Reviews

My personal favorites -- Microsoft's SyncToy for disk backup Microsoft's TweakUI for fine tuning the XP desktop

Piriform's CCleaner, Defraggler and Recuva

Then there is MediaMonkey, NoteTab and TotallyFreeBurner.

For website design and work, I use FileZilla and NVu. Lots of great stuff out there!

Michael Phelps

If you have been following the progress of the Olympics, one name stands out. US Swimmer Michael Phelps has been earning gold medal after gold medal. Here are two reports from the New York Post: Here is the first:

That's it. The thesaurus is exhausted. The dictionary has just declared bankruptcy. With Michael Phelps, all the fitting adjectives have been used and re-used and worn down to the nub: amazing, astounding, astonishing, remarkable. Incredible, unbelievable, implausible, inconceivable.

It already had been an historic (and momentous and significant and otherworldly) Olympics for Michael Phelps. It is now something else, something beyond words, something beyond deeds. In the course of 80 minutes yesterday at the National Aquatics Center, Phelps not only attained history, he transcended it. And he isn't finished yet.

First, he won the 200-meter butterfly, his fourth gold medal (and fourth world record) at these Games, the 10th gold medal of his career, shattering the mark he shared for just over 24 hours with Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz, Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi and Russian gymnast Larissa Latynina.

Then - after a quick stop by the medal stand, where the familiar ditty the "Star Spangled Banner" was played once again - it was back in the pool for the 4x200 freestyle relay.
And of course, he came in first for his leg and his team came in under seven minutes -- a world record for the event. Here is the second article which outlines his diet and training:
Swimming sensation Michael Phelps has an Olympic recipe for success - and it involves eating a staggering 12,000 calories a day.

"Eat, sleep and swim. That's all I can do," Phelps, who won two more gold medals today, told NBC when asked what he needs to win medals. "Get some calories into my system and try to recover the best I can."
So what does he eat:
Phelps lends a new spin to the phrase "Breakfast of Champions" by starting off his day by eating three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise.

He follows that up with two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.

At lunch, Phelps gobbles up a pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayo on white bread - capping off the meal by chugging about 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

For dinner, Phelps really loads up on the carbs - what he needs to give him plenty of energy for his five-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week regimen - with a pound of pasta and an entire pizza.

He washes all that down with another 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.
Holy crap! My intake is about 2,500/day - I physically could not eat that much.
Try 157 - from The Long War Journal:
Cross-border strike targets one of the Taliban's 157 training camps in Pakistan's northwest
Ten Taliban fighters, including a commander, were killed in a strike on a training camp and headquarters in South Waziristan. The compound was one of 157 Taliban and al Qaeda camps established in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province.

Taliban commander Abdul Rehman, along with Islam Wazir, three Turkmen, and "several Arab fighters" were reported to be among those killed in today's strike. Some reports indicate up to 25 terrorists were killed in the attack.

The compound is thought to have been run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami, a radical faction with close links to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. A Taliban training camp and a headquarters building were hit in the strike.

The attack on the Taliban camp in South Waziristan comes one day after a senior US intelligence analyst said al Qaeda has metastasized in Pakistan's tribal regions, and is poised to strike at the US and the West.

"[Pakistan's tribal areas] is a stronger, more comfortable safe haven than it was for them a year ago," said Ted Gistaro, a senior intelligence analyst at the National Intelligence Council said in a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Pakistan claims to be an ally of the USA -- it needs to start acting like one.

PWNED! From ynetnews:

Iranian minister's Oxford degree 'a fake'
British university denies claim it bestowed honorary doctorate on Tehran interior minister, who, in turn, displays forged degree certificate riddled with errors as 'proof'

Iran's new interior minister has raised an uproar among lawmakers and Iranian media over an apparently fake claim that he holds an honorary doctorate from Britain's Oxford University. To back his case, he's shown off a degree certificate riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.

Oxford issued a statement Wednesday denying it ever awarded Ali Kordan an honorary doctorate of law, as he claimed to parliament before it approved his appointment to the post earlier this month.

Some of the errors:

But in the certificate, "entitled" is misspelled "intitled," and it says Kordan was granted the degree "to be benefited from its scientific privileges."

The clumsily worded document says Kordan "has shown a great effort in preparing educational materials and his research in the domain of comparative law,that has opened a new chapter,not only in our university,but, to our knowledge,in this country" - leaving out spaces after all but one of the commas. It was published in several Iranian papers this week.

Harrumph -- this wonderful person is just being framed by the Joooooooosss... Nice to see that it's not just people in the US that fall for this kind of thing. How about instituting mandatory background checks during the hiring process?

Unique people - Michael Maniaci

A male soprano -- when he hit puberty, his vocal chords didn't change so he has this amazing voice. A good article on him at the London Times:

The man with the 300-year-old voice
Michael Maniaci's unique soprano voice gives him the air of an antique castrato

We are endlessly fascinated by the high male voice, from Jimmy Somerville to Michael Chance, from Pavarotti to Steve Tyler. But the young American singer Michael Maniaci is something else again: a real-life male soprano. "I don't sound like a counter-tenor or a woman" he explains. "It's quite unique."

He does not sing falsetto, nor does he have a baritone register, as counter-tenors do. On the other hand, he is whole and male (he obviously shaves; he assures me he is fertile). It is just that some quirk in his development led to all the appurtenances of puberty appearing except one - his larynx did not grow along with the rest of him. As a consequence, his voice never broke.

Next week the 31-year-old singer appears on stage for the first time in Britain in Tim Albery's production for Opera North of The Fortunes of King Croesus. It is the first performance here of this rare Baroque opera by Reinhard Keiser, who was a mentor to the young Handel. It had its premiere in Hamburg in 1711. Maniaci plays Atis, Croesus's son, a role that would originally have been sung by a castrato. He may be the only man on the planet who can sing this role at pitch, which goes up to a B natural, two octaves above middle C.

His WikiPedia entry: Michael Maniaci And a YouTube clip: Chi perde un momento (Handel)

Al-Qa'eda in Iraq - cucumbers

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They just can't get a break these days (and good for that!) From The Telegraph:
Al-Qa'eda in Iraq alienated by cucumber laws and brutality
Al-Qa'eda is losing support in Iraq because of a brutal crackdown on activities it regards as un-Islamic - including women buying cucumbers.

Besides the terrible killings inflicted by the fanatics on those who refuse to pledge allegiance to them, Al-Qa'eda has lost credibility for enforcing a series of rules imposing their way of thought on the most mundane aspects of everyday life.

They include a ban on women buying suggestively-shaped vegetables, according to one tribal leader in the western province of Anbar.

Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes, a Sunni elder, told Reuters: "They even killed female goats because their private parts were not covered and their tails were pointed upward, which they said was haram.

"They regarded the cucumber as male and tomato as female. Women were not allowed to buy cucumbers, only men."

Other farcical stipulations include an edict not to buy or sell ice-cream, because it did not exist in the time of the Prophet, while hair salons and shops selling cosmetics have also been bombed.

Most seriously, Sheikh al-Hayyes said: "I saw them slaughter a nine-year old boy like a sheep because his family didn't pledge allegiance to them."
And those on the left still cling to the silly notion that you can reason with these animals. They need to be driven to the ends of the earth and wiped out like the toxic vermin that they are...

A record collection online

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High geekdom -- a guy starts collecting 78RPM records and a few years ago, started digitizing them. He is up to over 3,700 tracks -- check out My Collection Found the link at SlashDot.

Bob the manager - the Blog

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Wonderful reading -- a Blog recounting the events of Bob, the clueless and incompetent manager. Great stuff... A small taste (Bobs first day getting introduced to the staff):
Already weary, Ben, Dave, and Chris introduced themselves. They spoke extensively about the PHP environment, and the development infrastructure that all our sites are built on. It was a convincing speech, evangelizing the merits of open source, PHP, and mySQL.

�Hmm. You know, I think this place will run much better on Java and Oracle. mySQL is just not enterprisey enough. We have to think big now that I am here,� he said, while our collective jaws dropped to the floor. �Anna, can you set up a meeting where I can discuss this with the boys?�
Multiple drink alert -- we have all worked for people like Bob...
An interesting look at the current stock market crash happening in China. From Russel Winter:
Chinese Guillotine
The crash of China�s stock market is now pretty much along the lines seen in the 1929-1932 US crash, the Japanese 1989-1992 crash and the NASDAQ bust. Last night it fell another 5.2% to 2,470. I recall the hook last year on this one: �the Chinese authorities would hold it all together until after the Olympics�. Talk about a misplaced bet on the Wizard of Oz.

If China�s market is compared to the Japanese bust, it is amazing how overlapping these mania-bust markets are. We see the guillotine phase lasted about two years in Japan and initially removed 60% of the price at the peak. It then chopped in sloppy sideways action for a half decade, before making a final bottom over a decade after the peak, and removing about 75% from top to bottom. So far the Shanghai market has been shaved 60%, suggesting that the guillotine phase is fait accompli, with the long sandpapering phase around the corner. You should notice that shorting this might not be a low risk option now, as sandpaper markets tend to experience impressive trading rallies or pops. Next we get the fallout effects elsewhere from the Chinese guillotine. It will be absolutely essential to plug in the negative effect from China going forward.
Russ then offers a chart of Shanghai market and compares it with Japan, NASDAQ and the housing bubble. Very similar curves... His comments are great to read as well.

Flip - Nancy Pelosi

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From The Hill:
Pelosi indicates openness to offshore drilling vote
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday night dropped her staunch opposition to a vote on offshore oil drilling in the House.

Republicans, reacting to high gas prices, have demanded a vote on additional oil exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf, where drilling is currently blocked by a moratorium. Until now, Pelosi (D-Calif.) has resisted the idea as a �hoax.� But in an interview on CNN�s Larry King Live, she indicated that she was open to a vote.

�They have this thing that says drill offshore in the protected areas,� Pelosi said. �We can do that. We can have a vote on that.�

She indicated such a vote would have to be part of a larger package that included other policies, like releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which she said could bring down prices in a matter of days.
Funny, that's just what the people have been saying all along. Dump about 30% of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve onto the market to teach the oil speculators about betting against the USA and then proceed to drill drill drill... I mean, Cuba has invited the Russians and the Chinese to drill the fields off of Miami -- why can't we have some of that milkshake.

The Perseids

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Tomorrow night should be the best night for viewing the Perseid Meteor Shower. More information from Science@NASA:
The 2008 Perseid Meteor Shower
Mark your calendar: The 2008 Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12th and it should be a good show.

"The time to look is during the dark hours before dawn on Tuesday, August 12th," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center. "There should be plenty of meteors--perhaps one or two every minute."

The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is far away, currently located beyond the orbit of Uranus, a trail of debris from the comet stretches all the way back to Earth. Crossing the trail in August, Earth will be pelted by specks of comet dust hitting the atmosphere at 132,000 mph. At that speed, even a flimsy speck of dust makes a vivid streak of light when it disintegrates--a meteor! Because, Swift-Tuttle's meteors streak out of the constellation Perseus, they are called "Perseids."
Time to break out the lawn chairs and the blankets. Should be a good show.
Joshua Green writing at The Atlantic has a wonderfully detailed account of how Hillary Clinton's campaign self-imploded One taste:
Two things struck me right away. The first was that, outward appearances notwithstanding, the campaign prepared a clear strategy and did considerable planning. It sweated the large themes (Clinton�s late-in-the-game emergence as a blue-collar champion had been the idea all along) and the small details (campaign staffers in Portland, Oregon, kept tabs on Monica Lewinsky, who lived there, to avoid any surprise encounters). The second was the thought: Wow, it was even worse than I�d imagined! The anger and toxic obsessions overwhelmed even the most reserved Beltway wise men. Surprisingly, Clinton herself, when pressed, was her own shrewdest strategist, a role that had never been her strong suit in the White House. But her advisers couldn�t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution. Major decisions would be put off for weeks until suddenly she would erupt, driving her staff to panic and misfire.

Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence�on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to �do the job from Day One.� In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles� heel. What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton�s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make. Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency. What follows is the inside account of how the campaign for the seemingly unstoppable Democratic nominee came into being, and then came apart.
Five pages of blow-by-blow reporting on what happened complete with transcripts of memos and emails. To think that we came close to having this harpy in office...
Hat tip to Weasel Zippers for todays moment of WTF:
Cindy Sheehan Thanks her Power-Base for Signing Petition to get her on Ballot: The Homeless......
Because according to Cindy, they "get it"......
In this brief message sent out to supporters at 1 pm today-- Cindy describes the challenge-- and thanks San Francisco's homeless population who "get it"-- who understand how the system really works.

The disenfranchisement of the homeless population here in SF is criminal and this is obviously the population that is strongly in support of my campaign because they are the ones that have been screwed over the most by this (cyst)em and they know the people in power are only there to preserve their power, not help the people who need to be helped.
Rest here>>>>
Talk about overextending ones' fifteen minutes of fame. She even has a web page.

Stone arch falls

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From Yahoo/AP:
Iconic stone arch collapses in southern Utah park
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, Utah - One of the largest and most photographed arches in Arches National Park has collapsed.

Paul Henderson, the park's chief of interpretation, said Wall Arch collapsed sometime late Monday or early Tuesday.

The arch is along Devils Garden Trail, one of the most popular in the park. For years, the arch has been a favorite stopping point for photographers.

Henderson said the arch was claimed by forces that will eventually destroy others in the park: gravity and erosion.

"They all let go after a while," he said Friday.
These things happen. There was an iconic formation in New Hampshire called the Old Man of the Mountain that collapsed in 2003.
From BoingBoing:
Utility shuts off net connectivity for up to six hours
Lifehacker's Gina Trapani writes about a Mac utility for people who can't resist the temptation to check email or browse the Web while working on a project.
Freedom serves a simple purpose: It disables all wireless and Ethernet networking on your Mac for up to six hours at a time. After the time you specify is up, Freedom re-enables your network adapters and display a confirmation.
Of course I don't need this -- I can turn off the internet any time I want to. I just don't want to...
They helped us out and are very pro-American. Why aren't we reciprocating... From Weasel Zippers:
We Helped in Iraq, Now Help us Beg Georgians.....
Good question, why aren't we doing more, a lot more. Georgia is staunchly pro-Western and in particular, pro-American. They stuck by us and sent troops to Iraq and Kosovo and Russia has quickly turned into an enemy. This is precisely why so many countries are so hesitant to ally themselves with the US. C'mon George, do something......
As a Russian jet bombed fields around his village, Djimali Avago, a Georgian farmer, asked me: �Why won�t America and Nato help us? If they won�t help us now, why did we help them in Iraq?�

A similar sense of betrayal coursed through the conversations of many Georgians here yesterday as their troops retreated under shellfire and the Russian Army pressed forward to take full control of South Ossetia.

Smoke rose as Russian artillery fire exploded less than half a mile from the bridge marking South Ossetia�s border with Georgia. A group of Georgian soldiers hastily abandoned their lorry after its wheels were shot out and ran across the border.

Miriyan Gogolashvili, of Tkviav, said: �The Russians will be here tomorrow. They want to show us and the world how powerful they are. Tomorrow it will be Ukraine and nobody in the West is doing anything to stop them. Why were our soldiers in Kosovo and Iraq if we don�t get any help from the West now?� he asked.

Rest here>>>
The guy has a point. We did serious harm during the Kuwait war when we promised aid to the Kurds and then failed to deliver. We are doing the same here...

Animal Rights

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An interesting website for something that has been bothering me for a while. A bit from Stop Animal Rights:
Every day your right to own pets is at risk. A small but well organized group is taking away this right. This is called animal rights.

Animal rights has nothing to do with animal welfare. Animal welfare is the humane treatment of animals. Animal rights uses propaganda, distorted facts, scare tactics and outright lies to accomplish their agenda of eliminating the owning of pets.

One of the primary ways they are working towards this goal is by getting laws passed that place undue burdens on pet owners and violate our civil rights. One such type of law is Mandatory Spay/Neuter. If all pets are spayed/neutered, there are no more pets to breed. Another commonly seen law is Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which restricts certain breeds from being kept. Once a few breeds are prohibited, it is easy to add more breeds to the list, and then more after that.

Find out what you can do to ensure that you will always have the right to come home to a happy, loved pet! Information and links are available on this site, as well as a discussion forum where you can find answers to your questions about pet laws.

With your help, we can win the fight!!
It focuses on groups like PETA that want to ban animal ownership and who lobby for compulsive spay/neuter and banning of specific breeds. Another aspect to the nanny state that is creeping into our life...

A strange story in Boston

Hat tip to Neatorama for the link to these stories in the Boston Globe.
Many-layered identity is emerging
Father in kidnap case thought to be German immigrant and veteran con man

Authorities were developing evidence yesterday that Clark Rockefeller's true identity is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a native of the small Bavarian village of Siegsdorf, Germany, who has spent the last three decades in the United States as a high-society con man, marrying at least two women, working on Wall Street, and perhaps committing violent crime.

Investigators have matched Rockefeller's fingerprints to a thumbprint included on immigration records submitted by Gerhartsreiter in the late 1970s when he was entering the United States as an exchange student, a law enforcement official said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Those prints have also been matched to a stockbroker license application filed under the name Christopher Crowe, believed to be an alias used by Christopher Chichester, who has long been a suspect in the 1985 disappearance and presumed slayings of a San Marino, Calif., couple who rented him a guesthouse.

"I think we're getting close, but I wouldn't want to come out and say definitively who this person is," said Noreen Gleason, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office.

Said Warren Bamford, special agent in charge of the Boston office: "We're probably not going to confirm this person's identity until we have a birth certificate in our hands."

Another day in the pursuit of Clark Rockefeller's identity brought another set of revelations, most notably that he had a brief but remarkably unproductive career under the name Christopher Crowe, a bond salesman on Wall Street in the late 1980s who spun extravagant tales but rarely closed deals.

One former colleague at Nikko Securities International, Richard Barnett, said bluntly: "The man knew very little about corporate bonds."

Authorities were able to sketch a trail yesterday that began with Gerhartsreiter arriving in Connecticut as a German exchange student, moving to Wisconsin to marry a young woman in 1981, heading to California in the mid-1980s as Chichester, before returning East to work on Wall Street as Crowe, and eventually marrying Sandra L. Boss on Nantucket in 1995 as Clark Rockefeller.

But on July 27, police say, Rockefeller, newly divorced from Boss, kidnapped their 7-year-old daughter, Reigh Storrow Mills Boss, off a street in Boston. Authorities said yesterday that he had left a fingerprint behind on a wine goblet, a print that matched the stockbroker application filed by Christopher Crowe.
This story is incredibly twisted and strange.

Huge propane explosion in Toronto

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Today's word is Bleve -- boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion Two articles on the Toronto blast - so far only one fatality. First: The National Post News plus links to other reporting and an incredible YouTube video Second: Reporting on the fireman's death as well as more information on the fire.

Allah arested in West Hartford, CT

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From FOX61 News:
Almighty Supremebeing Allah Arrested
Members of the East Central Narcotics Task Force arrested a West Hartford man was arrested after a short chase in South Windsor Thursday evening.

According to police, Almighty Supremebeing Allah, 35, of 119 Elmhurst St. West Hartford refused to stop for a marked cruiser and was detained about a mile down the road after the initial stop.

He was charged with Reckless Driving, Disobeying an Officers Signal, Interfering with an Officer, Criminal Attempt/Sale of Cocaine Criminal Attempt/Possession of Cocaine.

Police say Allah was held on a $260,000.00 bond and will be in Manchester Superior Court on Friday.
Well that should quiet things down a little bit...

Whoops - retraction time!

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Thanks to commenter Larry, the attribution to the excellent post on guns belongs to Marko Kloos at the Munchkin Wrangler and not to Maj. L. Caudill USMC. My apologies.

Take it for granite - Radon levels

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Something to check if you have granite countertops. From Snopes:
Claim: Some granite countertops may emit radon.
Status: True.

In July 2008, news articles appearing in The New York Times and The Houston Chronicle cast light upon a household toxin problem few people had previously given any thought to: the potentially hazardous content of their kitchen counters. Both articles reported on elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer, being emitted by some granite countertops.

The Environmental Protection Agency says homeowners should take action if radon gas levels in their domiciles exceeds 4 picocuries per liter of air, and some granite countertops have been found to let off far more than that. For example, radon was measured at 100 picocuries per liter in the kitchen of the New York summer home of Dr. Lynn Sugarman, and the gas was determined to be emitting from the richly grained cream, brown, and burgundy granite countertops in that room.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (smoking is the first) and is considered especially dangerous to smokers, whose lungs are already compromised. Children and developing fetuses are vulnerable to radiation, which can cause other forms of cancer.

It's not true that all granite countertops emit alarming amounts of radon. Most such countertops tested for this emission either registered no release of the gas or such a small quantity that it was statistically insignificant when compared to ordinary background radiation all of us live with. However, some granite countertops were found to emit not only measurable amounts of radon, but amounts at levels high enough to give one pause (such as the case in the Sugarman home mentioned above). Just how much of a health risk this phenomenon truly poses to homeowners is still a matter of debate, with some researchers pegging the cancer risk from granite countertops at "one in a million." Nonetheless, Lou Witt, a program analyst with the Indoor Environments Division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said: "There is no known safe level of radon or radiation. Any exposure increases your health risk."
Test kits are available at any large hardware store or online.
Something to print out and hand to people when they question why people should be armed. UPDATE: Attribution incorrect -- fixed It comes from Marko Kloos writing at the Munchkin Wrangler. From Dennis Ranch:
The Gun is Civilization by Maj. L. Caudill USMC(Ret)
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat-it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.

People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways.

Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.

People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable. When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded.

I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation�and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.
As Robert Anson Heinlein said: An armed society is a polite society.
A perfect reason why I do not live in a large city. From the New York Times:
I Like My Ice Chilled Just So
Pardon us, but was that Hoshizaki or Kold-Draft that you wanted with your Grey Goose?

Did you say you like your cocktail with a cube or a lozenge or a tube with a dimpled end? Do you want that iced tea served over crushed or would you prefer fragmented?

Questions like those may seem kooky or even risible to those content to cool a summer drink with chunks of ice from the sturdy waffle-bottomed tray parked next to the prehistoric peas in the freezer. But for some, the idea of consuming generic ice is enough to raise goose bumps and not the good kind.

There are those � and don�t wear yourself out looking for statistical surveys on this one � for whom water in chunky frozen form is a source not merely of interest but also obsession. You can find them, of course � alongside every other compulsive with an affinity group or microcohort � on the Web.

They post recipes for making ice with a level of internal clarity greater than that of a D-flawless diamond. They make YouTube videos of a deliberately Captain Kangaroo-style na�vet� that demonstrate the beauties of cubes formed by boiling distilled water once to release any trapped air molecules and then boiled again and frozen before being plunked in a glass.

They forego refrigerator ice altogether in favor of the commercially produced kind, ordering products like the Air AI-100S portable ice cube maker, capable of producing fresh ice in 10 minutes, up to 28 pounds of it a day. Some aficionados, like the country singer Vince Gill (who has a Scotsman), even raise the ante by installing commercial-grade ice machines in their homes. And some set out on a kind of gourmet ice hegira (Safeway to Gristedes to Fairway) whenever friends come to drink.
Almost $200 for an ice making machine. Yikes. It's just frozen water people -- get over it...
Allowed? Not allowed? From Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection:
Simon Blint, Director of Visitor Relations at the SF MOMA, Yeah You Asshole, Photography is Not a Crime
Simon Blint, Director of Visitor Relations at the SF MOMA is a first rate asshole.

Recently I blogged about my excitement regarding the San Francisco MOMA's decision to begin allowing photography in their permanent collection after years of maintaining a closed no photography policy. Directly because of this change in policy, I decided to purchase a family membership in order to support the museum, both with my artistic energy and financially. I was excited to begin spending regular time exploring and documenting the museum.

Unfortunately, I should have known better than to really believe that the San Francisco MOMA was serious about opening up the art and architecture entrusted to them to the general public.

After purchasing my family membership and visiting the museum today I was forcibly thrown out of the museum by two museum security guards at the direction of the Director of Visitor Relations Simon Blint.

My crime? Taking a photograph from the second floor stairs in the SFMOMA's atrium (an area where the SF MOMA's own website explicitly says photography is allowed).
Geez -- Thomas goes on to talk about his communication with Mr. Blint who does sound like an arrogant a**hole on a power trip. If I am ever in S.F., MOMA will be a place to visit. With camera. And from the MOMA website:
Photography is not permitted in the galleries. Flash photography is permitted only with a handheld camera in the Atrium.
Which is where Thomas was shooting.

Not so secure - Medeco Locks

Some researchers demonstrated how to crack Medeco's highest security lock at this years DefCon conference in Vegas. From Wired:

Researchers Crack Medeco High-Security Locks With Plastic Keys
Life takes Visa, says the credit card company's catchy and ubiquitous TV ads.

And now, according to a group of security researchers speaking at the DefCon hacker conference Friday in Las Vegas, Medeco high-security locks take Visa, too. As well as MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards.

To be more precise, the researchers say that plastic used in all of these credit cards can be easily fashioned into simulated keys that open three kinds of M3 high-security locks made by the Virginia-based Medeco Security Locks company -- locks that are used to secure sensitive facilities in places such as the White House, the Pentagon, embassies and other buildings.

"Virtually all conventional pin-tumbler locks are vulnerable to this method of attack, and frankly nobody has really considered it or looked at it before," says Marc Weber Tobias, one of the researchers.

Back to the drawing board... Schlage Primus locks are still proof against this kind of hacking.

No posting tonight

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Had dinner and am tired - didn't really see anything that caught my eye on the intar-nets so calling it a night.

Busy day today

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Friday is when I do the main buying run for the store. Was in town all day and am just now home and fixing some dinner (spaghetti with chopped up tomatoes, Kalamata olives, garlic and artichoke hearts saut�ed together with a little chili flakes and brown sugar). I'll post as I eat...


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It is 9:30 and pitch dark outside. Summer sure was short what with the long, cold and wet spring. Still no sunspots so I am guessing a long, cold and wet fall and winter. Good for the skiers and boarders anyway...

Tractor Pull

A few days ago I wrote that my Dad and I had been to an Antique Tractor and Machinery show -- here are a few of the pictures from the event:
This photo does not begin to do justice to the site. There were literally thousands of tractors, engines, farm machinery, etc...

Fun for everyone.

Lots of dragonflies out that day.

And of course, the tractor pull.
Here is the website for the Puget Sound Antique Tractor and Machinery Association who hosted the event. A lot of fun and some gorgeous restorations...

Minimal posting today

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Working on some other stuff...

The Ethanol scam - EPA

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Interesting article on how the EPA is driving the production of Ethanol with zero regard for food price increases and the futility of making Ethanol. From CNN/Money:
EPA rejects ethanol waiver request
Environmental agency says it will not curtail the government's ethanol production requirement despite request by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday it will not curtail a rule requiring that ethanol be added to gasoline, turning back a claim that the additive was artificially raising food prices.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry petitioned the EPA in late April to grant a 50% waiver on the nation's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which calls for 9 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be added to gasoline supplies this year.

"I am greatly disappointed with the EPA's inability to look past the good intentions of this policy to see the significant harm it is doing to farmers, ranchers and American households," said Perry in a statement. "For the EPA to assert that this federal mandate is not affecting food prices not only goes against common sense, but every American's grocery bill."

After a weeks-long delay in its ruling, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said the government agency denied the waiver request because it did not find that the RFS caused "severe economic harm."
Your typical beaurocrat - sad to see that he is a Bush appointee...
High science -- the LHC has cooled down and it will see first light September 10th. From Ars Technica:
LHC to run first particles in early September
Scientific research usually moves in fits and starts, as missed controls and technical glitches put discovery at the mercy of far too many variables. It's a relatively rare thing to be able to look at a calendar and figure out when progress is going to happen. Those of you interested in the fundamentals of physics, however, can circle a date: on September 10th, the first beams of particles will enter the Large Hadron Collider.

Although construction of the 27km structure was completed earlier this year, its superconducting magnets need to be chilled down near to absolute zero to function properly. CERN, which runs the LHC, has been hosting a web page that tracks the cooling progress. As of today, all but one segment is down in the area of its target temperature of 1.9K, and the one outlier is sitting at a chilly 4K, meaning it should be ready to go in the very near future.
Doing actual research is a long way off as there are always last-minute glitches to be worked out but still, a momentous day.

Frank at IMAO has figured out why Nancy Pelosi is acting in a way that is so contrary to the needs of the United States of America:

Why Pelosi Is Against Drilling
Why do you think the Democrats are against drilling? If we have oil, you drill for it. That's something you learn in kindergarten. It's basic logic. So why are Democrats against something so good and basic?

Are they protecting the interests of mole people over those of humans?

I've long suspected that the Democrats are in the pockets of the mole people. I bet if you look at their donations, you'll find lots of it comes from underground. The disgusting mole people hate us for our success -- just like terrorists and liberals -- and are probably using the Democrats as an instrument against us -- just like terrorists and liberals. Plus, they don't want us to have their precious oil which they worship as a god.

I bet Pelosi is actually a mole person herself. She does always shriek when her beady eyes encounter sunlight. We really need to have some sort of committee identifying and jailing Communists and mole people hiding in our government. I will head up that committee, but I won't do it for government pay. At no extra charge, I'll also test for replicants. Think about it.

See for yourself:



Frank seems to be on to something...

The Anthrax terrorist -- a round-up

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Ace of Spades has an excellent roundup of what is known about Dr. Bruce Ivins who committed suicide after the investigation was getting close:
FBI/DOJ Briefing on the Case Against Bruce Ivins
Oh, PS: Ivins was a Registered, Real, Vote-in-Every-Primary Democrat; Lefty Blogs Begin Doubting His Guilt Based on This

An NPR report details evidence already mentioned.

Some highlights from the briefing:
* "Sole suspect" in investigation

* Focused on Ivins' (USAMRIID) lab in 2005; Ivins in 2007
* Identified a "genetically unique" parent material used in attacks called RMR-1029 from single, specific flask; "created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins;" "no one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins;" ruled out all persons who could have had access to flask, except Ivins
* Ivins skilled in techniques necessary to create weaponized spores; Ivins had access to freeze-drying machine called "lyopholizer" used to create dry spores from wet material; other technicians consulted him on the proper use of this machinery, demonstrating his expertise.
* In days leading up to each mailing, Ivins was working "inordinate" number of off-hours, particularly at night and also on weekends, in the lab; records show he did not work such hours either before or after the attacks; Ivins was never able to provide "satisfactory" answer as to why he was working strange hours.
And a couple more items:
Not Yet Addressed in Briefing But Important:
ABCNews reported much earlier in the case that the spores were coated with bentonite, a coating that only the Iraqis were researching. It seems that not only was this report wrong, it was entirely spurious and made up wholesale. Glenn Greenwald, of all people, makes the interesting speculation that Ivins himself was the dishonest source for this report, hoping, perhaps, to get the media to pressure the FBI into investigating foreign suspects rather than domestic ones.
So if you're wondering why Ivins' political affiliation has not been reported -- as many of you were certain would be the main storyline here, assuming he had turned out to be Republican -- there's your answer. Surely the MSM would be calling him a Republican in every report, but, alas, it turns out he's a Democrat, and hence no reportage on this aspect of his political beliefs whatsoever.

I wouldn't read too much into his political affiliation; his main party was of course "Crazy."

But yeah, goddamnit, I do know that if he had been a Republican, the MSM and the left would be going beserkers and blaming this all on us.

And I find it a bit unsettling that members of the "Reality Based Community" immediately begin offering conspiracy theories based on little more than the fact that Ivins was a Democrat, so of course he can't be guilty.
Think what you might, I know that this is true -- if Ivins had been as strong a Republican as he was a Democrat, this would have been a major news item in the MSM. As it is: . . . crickets . . .

A hot time in California

From the LA Times:

Ventura County hot spot puzzles experts
A patch of land in Ventura County's section of Los Padres National Forest where the ground recently heated up to 812 degrees continues to puzzle firefighters and geologists after weeks of monitoring.

"It's a thermal anomaly," said Ron Oatman, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

Firefighters responded to reports of a blaze there a month and a half ago, when observers noticed smoke rising from the parched scrub. But when they arrived, they found no flames.

Firefighters and geologists who have surveyed the area in the Sespe Oil Field are uncertain what's causing the heat, but they do have a theory.

Allen King, a retired geologist with the U.S. Forest Service who went to the site Friday, said the smoking ground is "a normal occurrence" that does not appear to be the result of human activity.

The hot spot is in an area considered to be an active landslide that has shifted for more than 60 years. Several hundred feet below its cracked surface lie pockets of gas, tar and oil.

King said he suspects cracks along the landslide's slope allow oxygen to enter into the earth and hydrocarbon material to "seep out" of the fine-grain shale. The combination can create underground combustion, he said.

I grew up in Pennsylvania and these were common. A fire would break out in a coal mine, catch a small vein and burn for a hundred years.

From CNN:
Justice: Hackers steal 40 million credit card numbers
Eleven people were indicted Tuesday for allegedly stealing more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers, federal authorities said.

The indictments, which alleged that at least nine major U.S. retailers were hacked, were unsealed Tuesday in Boston, Massachusetts, and San Diego, California, prosecutors said.

It is believed to be the largest hacking case that the Justice Department has ever tried to prosecute.

Three of the defendants are from the United States; three are from Estonia; three are from Ukraine, two are from China and one is from Belarus.

The remaining individual is known only by an alias and authorities do not know where that person is.

Under the indictments, three Miami, Florida, men -- Albert "Segvec" Gonzalez, Christopher Scott and Damon Patrick Toey -- are accused of hacking into the wireless computer networks of retailers including TJX Companies, whose stores include Marshall's and T.J. Maxx, BJ's Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Barnes and Noble and Sports Authority, among others.

The three men installed "sniffer" programs designed to capture credit card numbers, passwords and account information as they moved through the retailers' card processing networks, said Michael Sullivan, the U.S. attorney in Boston.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP:
11 charged in connection with credit card fraud
Eleven people, including a U.S. Secret Service informant, have been charged in connection with the hacking of nine major retailers and the theft and sale of more than 41 million credit and debit card numbers, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
The hack:
Sullivan said the alleged thieves weren't computer geniuses, just opportunists who used a technique called "wardriving," which involved cruising through different areas with a laptop and looking for accessible wireless Internet signals. Once they located a vulnerable network, they installed so-called "sniffer programs" that captured credit and debit card numbers as they moved through a retailer's processing networks.

The information was stored on two servers in Ukraine and Latvia - one with more than 25 million credit and debit card numbers and another with more than 16 million numbers, Sullivan said.
Probably would have gotten away with it if they hadn't gotten so careless and greedy. No word on how the takedown was done. I bet there are some high-level job openings at TJX's IT department...

Getting hip - September 15th

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I had posted last November that I was diagnosed with Avascular Necrosis in my left hip. It has been getting progressively worse so I went in to see my Orthopod this morning and am scheduled for surgery September 15th. In the X Ray from last year, the joint looked normal with only a faint line where the lesion is. Today's X Rays showed that the ball was collapsing and had the visual texture of cottage cheese. Really looking forward to the pain relief...

A nuclear Iran

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John Bolton has some strong words about Iran and what is going on there. From the Wall Street Journal:
While Diplomats Dither, Iran Builds Nukes

This weekend, yet another "deadline" passed for Iran to indicate it was seriously ready to discuss ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Like so many other deadlines during these five years of European-led negotiations, this one died quietly, with Brussels diplomats saying that no one seriously expected any real work on a Saturday.

The fact that the Europeans are right -- this latest deadline is not fundamentally big news -- is precisely the problem with their negotiations, and the Bush administration's acquiescence in that effort.

The rationality of continued Western negotiations with Iran depends critically on two assumptions: that Iran is far enough away from having deliverable nuclear weapons that we don't incur excessive risks by talking; and that by talking we don't materially impede the option to use military force. Implicit in the latter case is the further assumption that the military option is static -- that it remains equally viable a year from now as it is today.

Neither assumption is correct. Can we believe that if diplomacy fails we can still take military action "in time" to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons? "Just in time" nonproliferation assumes a level of intelligence certainty concerning Iran's nuclear program that recent history should manifestly caution us against.
As things get more interesting...

Our ancient climate - Antarctica

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Curious news from Live Science:
Ancient Moss, Insects Found In Antarctica
Mosses once grew and insects crawled in what are now barren valleys in Antarctica, according to scientists who have recovered remains of life from that frozen continent. Fourteen million years ago the now lifeless valleys were tundra, similar to parts of Alaska, Canada and Siberia � cold but able to support life, researchers report.

Geoscientist Adam Lewis of North Dakota State University was studying the ice cover of the continent when he and co-workers came across the remains of moss on a valley floor.

"We knew we shouldn't expect to see something like that," Lewis said in a telephone interview.

The moss was essentially freeze dried, he said. Unlike fossils, where minerals replace soft materials, the moss tissues were still there, he said.

"The really cool thing is that all the details are still there," even though the plant has been dead for 14 million years. "These are actually the plant tissues themselves."

Lewis' findings are reported in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
PNAS can be found here (a great read!) The more we study something, the curiouser it gets...
From Looking for Lissa; hat tip The Smallest Minority:
Once you decide that most soldiers are upstanding, decent, intelligent people, and every soldier you�ve met nicely supports that assumption, how do you go back to thinking they are children who can�t think for themselves and are being exploited by the neocons?

Once you decide that the bigger government is, the more inefficient and greedy it becomes, how do you go back to thinking that all social problems would be fixed if we properly funded them?

Once you decide that the problem with education isn�t lack of funding � see the schools in DC � but a screwed-up union and an ossified system which disregards merit, how do you go back to �It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber�?

Once you decide that affirmative action is generally not a good idea because race preferences are generally not a good idea, no matter what the context, how do you go back to supporting ethnic preference in government contracts? (Clarence Thomas is the uber-perfect example here; I railed at him for decrying affirmative action when the only reason he had gotten on the Supreme Court was to be The Black Justice. It NEVER crossed my mind that perhaps he was QUALIFIED for the job. Witness my soft bigotry.)

Once you decide that some people � NOT ALL PEOPLE, NOT MOST PEOPLE, but some very small percentage of people � are poor because they won�t work hard enough to get un-poor, how do you go back to believing that, because there are poor and hungry in our country, our nation has failed?
What she says...

Quite honestly, I am surprised that nobody has thought of this before.

From the London Times:

Captains' logs yield climate clues
Records kept by Nelson and Cook are shedding light on climate change

Britain's great seafaring tradition is to provide a unique insight into modern climate change, thanks to thousands of Royal Navy logbooks that have survived from the 17th century onwards.

The logbooks kept by every naval ship, ranging from Nelson's Victory and Cook's Endeavour down to the humblest frigate, are emerging as one of the world's best sources for long-term weather data. The discovery has been made by a group of British academics and Met Office scientists who are seeking new ways to plot historic changes in climate.

"This is a treasure trove," said Dr Sam Willis, a maritime historian and author who is affiliated with Exeter University's Centre for Maritime Historical Studies.

"Ships' officers recorded air pressure, wind strength, air and sea temperature and other weather conditions. From those records scientists can build a detailed picture of past weather and climate."

Some of the early finds:

One paper, published by Dr Dennis Wheeler, a Sunderland University geographer, in the journal The Holocene, details a surge in the frequency of summer storms over Britain in the 1680s and 1690s.

Many scientists believe storms are a consequence of global warming, but these were the coldest decades of the so-called Little Ice Age that hit Europe from about 1600 to 1850.

Wheeler and his colleagues have since won European Union funding to extend this research to 1750. This shows that during the 1730s, Europe underwent a period of rapid warming similar to that recorded recently - and which must have had natural origins.

Another use of ships logs was to look at Polar Ice and the idea that we are in danger of it melting is ludicrous. It has melted before on a regular basis. Polar Ice melting is not a new phenonomon...

Not much has been made of Barack _______ Obama's early years in politics, specifically his time in the Illinois legislature. Stanley Kurtz at the Weekly Standard takes a look:
Barack Obama's Lost Years
The senator's tenure as a state legislator reveals him to be an old-fashioned, big government, race-conscious liberal.

Barack Obama's neighborhood newspaper, the Hyde Park Herald, has a longstanding tradition of opening its pages to elected officials-from Chicago aldermen to state legislators to U.S. senators. Obama himself, as a state senator, wrote more than 40 columns for the Herald, under the title "Springfield Report," between 1996 and 2004. Read in isolation, Obama's columns from the state capital tell us little. Placed in the context of political and policy battles then raging in Illinois, however, the young legislator's dispatches powerfully illuminate his political beliefs. Even more revealing are hundreds of articles chronicling Obama's early political and legislative activities in the pages not only of the Hyde Park Herald, but also of another South Side fixture, the Chicago Defender.
A bit more:
What they portray is a Barack Obama sharply at variance with the image of the post-racial, post-ideological, bipartisan, culture-war-shunning politician familiar from current media coverage and purveyed by the Obama campaign. As details of Obama's early political career emerge into the light, his associations with such radical figures as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, Reverend James Meeks, Bill Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn look less like peculiar instances of personal misjudgment and more like intentional political partnerships. At his core, in other words, the politician chronicled here is profoundly race-conscious, exceedingly liberal, free-spending even in the face of looming state budget deficits, and partisan. Elected president, this man would presumably shift the country sharply to the left on all the key issues of the day-culture-war issues included. It's no wonder Obama has passed over his Springfield years in relative silence.
Shades of the Manchurian Candidate

Dumb criminal - metal thieves

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Mostly Cajun has been following the careers (mostly short) of the idiots who steal electrical copper from energized systems. (here, here, here, here and here) Here are some mokes who stole a 20' length of railroad track. From the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader:
Police follow the trail the rail left to arrest 4
All police in eastern Kentucky had to do to find the section of missing railroad track was follow the gouge marks in the road.

Williamsburg Police Officer Shawn Jackson said an off-duty officer saw four people near the CSX Transportation tracks in the Wofford community.

Jackson said the officer watched them struggle, trying to load the almost 20-foot long rail onto a truck, then hook a chain around it and drive off, dragging it.

Uniformed officers followed the trail the rail left in the roadway to a nearby metals buyer and arrested Brenda Harmon and Carl Moses of Willamsburg along with Eric Brooks of Rockholds and Janie Lawson of Tunnel Hill, Ga. It couldn't be immediately determined Monday morning whether the four had attorneys.
First of all to be directly observed by an off-duty officer. Next to not realize that you were leaving an obvious trail. Looks like the gene pool can use a little chlorox down there...

Hard to find 800 numbers

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Handy list of 1-800 numbers for most businesses. Check out Hard to find 800 Numbers Also, as a heads up, if you dial 1-800-555-1212 you will be connected to directory assistance for, you guessed it, 1-800 numbers.
From Cassy Fiano at Wizbang:
House Republicans revolt!
All last week, I've been calling around my various contacts, asking them what's been going on in the world. I hate being in the dark, so to speak, and hate to think that I'm missing a huge news story. Well, I missed something all right. I only missed the best thing to happen to the House of Representatives since the Democrats took over! House Republicans revolted on Friday to protest when the Democrats adjourning for a five-week vacation without doing anything about the energy crisis. Pioneer Pelosi responded by having the lights, mics, and CSPAN cameras turned off. But Republicans wouldn't be deterred.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats adjourned the House, turned off the lights and killed the microphones, but Republicans are still on the floor talking gas prices.

Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders opposed the motion to adjourn the House, arguing that Pelosi's refusal to schedule a vote allowing offshore drilling is hurting the American economy. They have refused to leave the floor after the adjournment motion passed at 11:23 a.m., and they are busy bashing Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for leaving town for the August recess.

At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark. But as Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz..) was speaking, the lights went back on and the microphones were turned on shortly afterward.

But C-SPAN, which has no control over the cameras in the chamber, has stopped broadcasting the House floor, meaning no one was witnessing this except the assembled Republicans, their aides, and one Democrat, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has now left.

Only about a half-dozen Republicans were on the floor when this began, but the crowd has grown to about 20, according to Patrick O'Connor.

"This is the people's House," said Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.). "This is not Pelosi's politiburo."
And they are still at it: There are apparently 30 Republicans currently there... and oh, what a surprise, no Democrats. Pioneer Pelosi is too busy with her book tour to do her duty as Speaker of the House.

Message to Democrats: you should be in there with the Republicans. In the real world, we don't get five week taxpayer-funded vacations. And when there is an honest-to-God crisis going on, and the government you control is the only thing standing between Americans and relief, you should be working every day to fix it. Your energy plan does not work, because you have no energy plan! Chris Muir sums it up perfectly:
Click to embiggen.

This should be an interesting lawsuit

From the UK Telegraph:
Knights Templar heirs in legal battle with the Pope
The heirs of the Knights Templar have launched a legal battle in Spain to force the Pope to restore the reputation of the disgraced order which was accused of heresy and dissolved seven centuries ago.

The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ, whose members claim to be descended from the legendary crusaders, have filed a lawsuit against Benedict XVI calling for him to recognise the seizure of assets worth 100 billion euros (�79 billion).

They claim that when the order was dissolved by his predecessor Pope Clement V in 1307, more than 9,000 properties as well as countless pastures, mills and other commercial ventures belonging to the knights were appropriated by the church.

But their motive is not to reclaim damages only to restore the "good name" of the Knights Templar.

"We are not trying to cause the economic collapse of the Roman Catholic Church, but to illustrate to the court the magnitude of the plot against our Order," said a statement issued by the self-proclaimed modern day knights.
Publicity grab? Settle for a few pennies on the dollar? Actually descendants of the original Knights Templar? Like I said, this will be an interesting case to watch.

Saving the Planet

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Wonderful op-ed from Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post:
Pelosi: Save the Planet, Let Someone Else Drill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes lifting the moratorium on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and on the Outer Continental Shelf. She won't even allow it to come to a vote. With $4 gas having massively shifted public opinion in favor of domestic production, she wants to protect her Democratic members from having to cast an anti-drilling election-year vote. Moreover, given the public mood, she might even lose. This cannot be permitted. Why? Because, as she explained to Politico: "I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet."

A lovely sentiment. But has Pelosi actually thought through the moratorium's effects on the planet?

Consider: 25 years ago, nearly 60 percent of U.S. petroleum was produced domestically. Today it's 25 percent. From its peak in 1970, U.S. production has declined a staggering 47 percent. The world consumes 86 million barrels a day, the United States, roughly 20 million. We need the stuff to run our cars and planes and economy. Where does it come from?

Places such as Nigeria, where chronic corruption, environmental neglect and the resulting unrest and instability lead to pipeline explosions, oil spills and illegal siphoning by the poverty-stricken population -- which leads to more spills and explosions. Just this week, two Royal Dutch Shell pipelines had to be shut down because bombings by local militants were causing leaks into the ground.
And his take on ANWR:
Here in the United States, one out of every three ears of corn is stuffed into a gas tank (by way of ethanol), causing not just food shortages abroad and high prices at home but intensive increases in farming, with all of the attendant environmental problems (soil erosion, insecticide pollution, water consumption, etc.).

This to prevent drilling on an area in the Arctic one-sixth the size of Dulles Airport that leaves undisturbed a refuge one-third the size of Britain.
What he said...

Why I don't like going to the Mall

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Just read this post from Deep In The Blue. Kevin V absolutely hits the nail on the head. Not politically correct but right on the money whether you like it or not. I'll be here when you get back...

Air travel these days

Jen is back from her cousins wedding -- apparently a gorgeous ceremony in a wonderful Church. She flew on Allegiant Air which is billing itself as a no-frills cost effective airline.

Since they have regular flights between Bellingham and San Francisco, she thought she would give it a try. The cost of the flight was OK but she then had to reserve a seat which cost an additional $13 and if she wanted to check a bag, that would have been another $15 each. We are both into traveling light and it was only for two nights away so she took a carry-on. Coming back, she had a valuable watch disappear as it was going through the XRay machine. She put it in the bin along with her shoes and stuff and when she went to retrieve it, the watch was gone. She spent some time looking for it but the people who were doing the search for her were the same people on whose watch it went missing in the first place. Minetta's morons...

I went out to the airport to pick her up at 7:30. A plane rolls in, a few people get off and then a TSA uniform ushers them back into the corridor and they were then held for 45 minutes. This was the first case where the luggage arrived before the passengers... It turns out that there were two passengers on board whose names were on the no-fly list and they weren't identifying themselves when asked.

The TSA finally went through the passenger manifest and asked every person to show their ID. The names of the two people were Arabic. Mohamed and someone else. Makes me wonder who else is living in Bellingham -- to get listed on the no-fly list is pretty extreme...

Rats in Pacific Palisades

Insanely creepy story from the LA Weekly:

Palisades Rathouse: Unchallenged by Health Officials, Elderly Twins Fed Local Vermin Population
Old ladies lovingly nurtured rats, turning a home in one of the nation's priciest enclaves into Willard

Last October 25 was the kind of community-council meeting that made news in Pacific Palisades. A smooth-talking, overperfumed lobbyist for a global gas company was there explaining that a proposed gas terminal some 28 miles off the coast would pose no harm to the denizens. A local woman disagreed, leaving in tears. An LAPD vice cop - a Sergeant Crump - showed up in an undercover 'drug-dealer hippie' getup, and, to an audience with mouths agape, reported that teenagers in the squeaky-clean Palisades had been buying booze and drugs by a local Mobile station.

Somewhere in the presentations, the local code-enforcement fetishists had their say. Susan Oakley made an impassioned plea: "There's flagrant violations!" The owner of Subway was using signs to promote sandwiches. The new CVS drugstore had neon lights - not allowed.

On a rare day like this, when the audience is almost as big as the 22-member council, the minutiae can go forever. But it's a tidy, rule-obeying bunch. When the clock strikes 9 p.m., the librarian turns the lights off and everyone must leave promptly.

First-timer Scott Denham fidgeted as his chance to speak approached, then barely got to be heard. He sprang from his seat at about one minute before 9, speaking rapidly to beat the librarian's stopwatchlike closing procedure.

At 34, Denham stood out as being at least 30 years younger than almost everyone else in the room. He began, "Hi, my name is Scott Denham. I just moved in to the Palisades with my wife and two young children. ... [Twenty seconds left.] I'm here because we have a major, major rodent problem. There's an infestation on my neighbor's property. It's spilling over, and it's posing a serious health risk to my family. ... [Ten seconds left.] I need your help. We're not getting any help from the city or the county. ..."

What follows is a six-page Kafka-esque story of governmental mismanagement, mental health 'issues' and denial.

Just downright bizare...

Crap - bad times on K2

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From the London Times:
Seven climbers feared dead in ice fall on K2
As many as seven climbers were feared dead last night after an ice fall on the world�s second-highest mountain.

At least a further five were believed to be spending the night stranded 26,000ft up K2, close to a cliff face above the avalanche, their ropes swept away below them.

With climbers straggling in off the mountain to their camps yesterday evening, the scale of the feared disaster became apparent. One body was found late last night.

Rescue attempts were hurriedly being put in place, with progress today crucial to the chances of survival of the missing. They include Gerard McDonnell, who last Friday became the first Irishman to reach the summit of �the savage mountain�. He and his mainly Dutch team were on the way down when a section of ice about 40ft high broke off near the summit. The group was in an area known as the Dead Zone, heading for a treacherous stretch called the Bottleneck, where the rock face narrows dramatically 1,800ft from the peak.

A total of 17 climbers, including the Dutch, are thought to have been caught up in the ice slip on the 28,251ft (8,611-metre) mountain. Other climbers came from Norway, Australia and Nepal. None is believed to be British.
Everest is a long hard slog but it is not as brutal as K2

Got one - Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar

Great news from CNN:
Al Qaeda: Weapons expert among dead 'heroes'
Al Qaeda ended days of speculation Sunday by confirming that one of its chemical weapons experts was killed last week along with three other "heroes," according to a statement posted on a radical Islamist Web site.

The statement, dated July 30, provided no details on how or when the al Qaeda operatives were killed. It was signed by al Qaeda's top leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid.

A senior Pakistani official said last week it was a "near certainty" that weapons expert Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar died in a U.S. airstrike Monday in Pakistan's tribal region.
The feral offspring of a monkey and a pig. The worshiper of the false prophet. Good riddance. His kind are a blot upon the face of Allah.

Quote of the day - Economics

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A great post for a different reason but this quote jumped out at me. From today's Russ Winter:
�Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works�.

- - - John Stuart Mill
So true -- look at the current banking bubble, the housing bubble, the crash, the gasoline bubble. Mill was no dummy...

Pausing for a moment...

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Was in town earlier today taking my Dad to an antique tractor pull and steam engine demonstration. Took a bunch of photos which I will post later tonight or tomorrow. The store has been busy so I combined that trip into town with a buying run so we are stocked up for now. British Columbia is celebrating with a long weekend so we have a lot of Canadians visiting. We are very rural with relatively cheap land prices whereas north of us is one huge 50-mile long conurbation that stretches from the Vancouver on the coast to Abbotsford to our North. A lot of Canadians have vacation homes or come here and rent cabins. Heading out to dinner and a few more Margaritas and then off to home.

Drinking the cool aid - Russia in the 1930's

In the 1930's, during the height of the U.S.A. economic depression, thousands of U.S. citizens were lured by the lies regarding the prosperity of the Soviet Union and how good Communism was as a form of government that the came over for a visit. The New York Sun has an excellent review of a book that accounts for what happened.

Banished: 'The Forsaken' by Tim Tzouliadis
This is a very sad book, the story of thousands of Americans who, during the Depression, lured by sham Soviet propaganda and pro-Soviet falsehoods spread by the likes of George Bernard Shaw and the corrupt New York Times Moscow correspondent, Walter Duranty, migrated to the USSR in search of jobs and a role in the "building of socialism." It was, in the words of the author, "the least heralded migration in American history" and a period when "for the first time in her short history more people were leaving the United States than were arriving." Most of these expatriates, not intellectuals but simple working men, were quickly disenchanted and wanted to return home, only to find that Moscow considered them Soviet citizens and barred them from leaving. Ignored by the American government, many of them ended in the gulag. In Tim Tzouliadis's "The Forsaken" (Penguin Press, 436 pages, $29.95), their dismal story is told with great skill and indignation usually missing from Western accounts of communist Russia.

An incredibly sad story -- the book also deals with the blind stupidity here in the U.S.A.

Much of the book deals with American-Soviet relations during the 1930s and 1940s. We are given examples of the incredible na�vet� of Franklin Roosevelt, who lacked even elementary knowledge of the Communist regime: He is quoted as asking, "How could Stalin afford to buy all these factories?" There are vignettes of the no less na�ve vice president, Henry Wallace, who visited the concentration camp at Magadan and found nothing amiss, as well as of the despicable American ambassador to Moscow, the multimillionaire Joseph Davies, who liked everything in the Soviet Union and even took Stalin's show trials at face value. These public figures eclipse the poor devils who had themselves migrated to the Soviet Union � and who flit in and out of the pages of this book, faceless and nameless.

I consider FDR to be one of America's worst presidents -- his tenure established the basis for the pervasive socialism and big government that we are now having to deal with. Teddy was spinning in his grave...

No posting tonight

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Was in town today dropping Jen off at the airport for her cousin's wedding (he is marrying his boyfriend of five years) and then did the shopping run for the store. Had a hot-dog in town, came back out here, unloaded and priced and then went to a local cantina for a few Margaritas. Have the rest of a bowl of leftover Hot and Sour Soup heating in the microwave and then it's off to bed after checking email in the DaveCave(tm). I am tired...
All of the efforts that I have seen for alternative energy vehicles (electric/hybrid/etc...) have been to use the commercial electrical grid as a source of energy -- topping off the batteries of a hybrid, generating hydrogen or being used to provide the 20-50 mile range for a pure EV. I used to live in Seattle and we had power outages there on a regular basis -- two or three times/year. I now live a few miles from the Canadian border; my favorite radio station is in Vancouver, B.C. (JRFM!) and they have the same issues. We live on 30 acres and we have even more days of no power. How about making this a two-way street? From an Engineering standpoint, this is a trivial issue and the extra gubbins on your hybrid and the transfer box for your house would add another $2K max to the cost of your vehicle. You would be able to drive your car to your garage, plug it in and your house would never, ever go dark again. Anyone interested???

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