September 2008 Archives

I blame it on the Percoset. I read American Digest every day but somehow missed this perfect gem (link #5) until Bird Dog at Maggie's Farm made reference to it. The link is to Gene Expression. The author -- agnostic -- took a look at some 'popular' academic theories and charted their number of citations at JSTOR (Short for Journal Storage.) From the Wikipedia entry:
As of June 2007, the database contained 729 journal titles and over 165,000 individual journal issues, totaling over 23 million pages of text.
What follows is wonderful:



(There are six other intellectual totems fetishes charted at Gene Expression) Agnostic then has this to say:
Some thoughts:

First, there are two exceptions to the overall pattern of decline -- orientalism and post-colonialism. The former may be declining, but it's hard to say one way or the other. The latter, though, was holding steady in 2002, although its growth rate had clearly slowed down, so its demise seems to be only a matter of time -- by 2010 at the latest, it should show a down-turn.

Second, aside from Marxism, which peaked in 1988, and social constructionism, which declined starting in 2002 *, the others began to fall from roughly 1993 to 1998. It is astonishing that such a narrow time frame saw the fall of fashions that varied so much in when they were founded. Marxism, psychoanalysis, and feminism are very old compared to deconstruction or postmodernism, yet it was as though during the 1990s an academia-wide clean-up swept away all the bullshit, no matter how long it had been festering there.

If we wanted to model this, we would probably use an S-I-R type model for the spread of infectious diseases. But we'd have to include an exogenous shock sometime during the 1990s since it's unlikely that epidemics that had begun 100 years apart would, of their own inner workings, decline at the same time. It's as if we started to live in sparser population densities, where diseases old and new could not spread so easily, or if we wandered onto an antibiotic that cured of us diseases, some of which had plagued us for much longer than others.

Third, notice how simple most of the curves look -- few show lots of noise, or the presence of smaller-scale cycles. That's despite the vicissitudes of politics, economics, and other social changes -- hardly any of it made an impact on the world of ideas. I guess they don't call it the Ivory Tower for nothing. About the only case you could make is for McCarthyism halting the growth of Marxist ideas during most of the 1950s. The fall of the Berlin Wall does not explain why Marxism declined then -- its growth rate was already grinding to a halt for the previous decade, compared to its explosion during the 1960s and '70s.
Emphasis mine. I grew up in an academic family and could see as a child how decoupled from reality the 'soft sciences' were. No accountability, just whomever had the biggest academic dick, whomever jockeyed themselves into the position of 'top dog' won the prize. When I moved to Boston and later to Seattle, I very much enjoyed the coffeehouse environment but could never understand what these people were talking about and they could never explain themselves to me in plain English. I wasn't 'trained' in their school of thought. This always struck me as odd as I could explain complex scientific ideas to people if they wanted to learn. Glad to see common sense starting to prevail...

Obama's TelePrompTer

Spot on - McCain should license this and put it into heavy rotation... From Iowahawk via Vanderleun:

Heh - it's not easy being a Pirate

| No Comments
Remember the Somali pirates who captured the Iranian ship loaded with �minerals� and �industrial products�. Well - from the South African The Times:
Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship
A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.

Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill �within days� of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.

Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers� Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: �We don�t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.�
Heh -- sucks to be you... Now the next question is where was that ship going before it was interrupted and how many others are out there.

A look behind the scenes at protective tariffs and their consequences.

From Carpe Diem:

U.S. Consumers Are Being Taken to the Cleaners
In May, I posted about tariffs on hangers from China, enacted to protect the only remaining domestic supply of hangers, M&B Hangers in Leeds, Alabama, and to "punish" Chinese manufacturers for "dumping."

Economist Frank Stephenson now reports in The Freeman that hanger tariffs are responsible for doubling the price of hangers from $28 to $56 per box over the last year, which will cost each dry cleaner $4,000 or more per year.

Bottom Line: If you thought your dry cleaning bills were high in the past, well "hang on," because as surely as night follows day, higher hanger prices will be passed on to U.S. consumers in the form of higher dry cleaning prices. Tariffs, which are simply taxes on Americans buying imported goods, ultimately "punish" U.S. consumers and firms with higher prices more than they "punish" China.

Further, Stephenson cites this analysis that divides the total cost of the hanger tariff to U.S. dry cleaners ($4,000 x 30,000 dry cleaners = $120 million year), by the number of potential domestic jobs saved (564 jobs) in the U.S. hanger industry, indicating that each American job saved costs us about $212,765 per year. Since the typical full-time worker in this sector earns about $30,000 per year, it would be cheaper for the U.S. to eliminate the tariff, purchase cheaper hangers from China, let the domestic industry die, and pay each American hanger worker $30,000 per year to retire.

And these tariffs are put in place by people who have only our best interests at heart.

Now what is the Congressional Approval Rating these days?

Comics for geeks

| No Comments
I love geeky humor and XKCD is an excellent place to get a daily dose. Today's was more science fun than geek. Check out: The Observable Universe, from Top to Bottom A thumbnail isn't going to do it justice -- go visit and enjoy!
I grew up when the NASA Mercury flights were just starting and my grade school would come to a stop and 120 students and faculty would cram into the assembly room to watch a small B&W television set whenever these launches took place. Private company SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon1 rocket into orbit.
Talk about goosebumps!

A bear and his honey

| No Comments
From the Great Falls, Montana Great Falls Tribune:
Grizzly bear trapped near Simms
State and federal wildlife managers trapped a 575-pound grizzly bear Tuesday night near Simms.

The bear, which was raiding beehives, is estimated to be 4 1/2 years old.

Officials believe the bear probably followed the Sun River from the Rocky Mountain Front in search of berries.

Bruce Auchly, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional information officer, said bear specialists fitted the animal with a radio transmitter collar and relocated it to the Flathead National Forest just west of Marias Pass on Thursday.

"It was kind of surprising 'cause it was so far out from the Rocky Mountain Front," said Mike Madel, FWP bear management specialist. Simms sits on the Sun River, 21 miles east of Augusta, and about 30 miles west of Great Falls.
A bit about what he was looking for:
In the fall, black and grizzly bears are in constant search of food before they den for the winter. Madel figures that is what brought the bear near Simms.

"The local chokecherry crop is not very good � spotty at best," Madel said. "I'm guessing he was following the chokecherries along the Sun River and found some beehives."
Talk about combining the two cultures best knows for human rights. Peter Hitchens writes at the London Daily Mail:
How China has created a new slave empire in Africa
I think I am probably going to die any minute now. An inflamed, deceived mob of about 50 desperate men are crowding round the car, some trying to turn it over, others beating at it with large rocks, all yelling insults and curses.

They have just started to smash the windows. Next, they will pull us out and, well, let's not think about that ...

I am trying not to meet their eyes, but they are staring at me and my companions with rage and hatred such as I haven't seen in a human face before. Those companions, Barbara Jones and Richard van Ryneveld, are - like me - quite helpless in the back seats.

If we get out, we will certainly be beaten to death. If we stay where we are, we will probably be beaten to death.

Our two African companions have - crazily in our view - got out of the car to try to reason with the crowd. It is clear to us that you might as well preach non-violence to a tornado.

At last, after what must have been about 40 seconds but that felt like half an hour, one of the pair saw sense, leapt back into the car and reversed wildly down the rocky, dusty path - leaving his friend behind.

By the grace of God we did not slither into the ditch, roll over or burst a tyre. Through the dust we churned up as we fled, we could see our would-be killers running with appalling speed to catch up. There was just time to make a crazy two-point turn which allowed us to go forwards and so out-distance them.

We had pretty much abandoned our other guide to whatever his fate might be (this was surprisingly easy to justify to myself at the time) when we saw that he had broken free and was running with Olympic swiftness, just ahead of pursuers half hidden by the dust.

We flung open a rear door so he could scramble in and, engine grinding, we veered off, bouncing painfully over the ruts and rocks.

We feared there would be another barricade to stop our escape, and it would all begin again. But there wasn't, and we eventually realised we had got away, even the man whose idiocy nearly got us killed.

He told us it was us they wanted, not him, or he would never have escaped. We ought to be dead. We are not. It is an interesting feeling, not wholly unpleasant.

Why did they want to kill us? What was the reason for their fury? They thought that if I reported on their way of life they might lose their livings.

Livings? Dyings, more likely.
What follows is a horrible (but not unexpected) story of life in Africa at the hands of the new Chinese owners. This makes Darfur, Tibet, all of the liberal poster children, look like a cakewalk in comparison.

Light posting tonight

Working on some other stuff...

Cost of living - 1930 to present

A bit of perspective in the current financial 'problems' Mark Perry writes at Carpe Diem:

The High Cost of Living vs. The Cost of Living High


Based on a suggestion yesterday from a student in my MBA class (MGT 551 Business Economics), the graph above shows the declining share of disposable personal income (data) spent on food (data), clothing (data), and shelter (housing and household operation) since 1929. From a high of almost 59% in 1933, the percent of disposable income spent on food, clothing and shelter today has continually fallen, and today (2007) is only 33%.

Bottom Line: When people today talk about the "high cost of living," they�re usually talking about the "cost of living high" (see Dallas Fed), because they're certainly not spending very much on the basics: food, clothing and shelter - that spending is at an all-time low as a percent of disposable personal income.

Like I said in an earlier post:

We may piss and moan about how poor people are but most people living under the poverty line have running water, cell phones, televisions, automobiles. Visit another nation and you will find that this is not the case over there.

For a quick reality check, Zimbabwe's GDP/per Capita is $200.

On the same note, The Masked Millionaire has a set of four basic rules on how to buy something when you have the cash for it and when you do not have the cash for it:

In God We Trust..All Others Pay Cash
Cash Is King

Here are four simple techniques to avoid money problems:
  1. Pay With Cash
  2. Pay With Cash
  3. Pay With Cash
  4. Pay With Cash
If you can't pay with cash then here are four alternatives:Don't buy the item until you can afford to pay with cash:
  1. Don't buy the item until you can afford to pay with cash
  2. Don't buy the item until you can afford to pay with cash
  3. Don't buy the item until you can afford to pay with cash
  4. Don't buy the item until you can afford to pay with cash

What he said...

A novel pedicure

| No Comments
From about three hours south of here -- in the Tacoma News Tribune:
Tiny fish will tickle your toes, remove dead skin at Kent salon
Hundreds of chin chin, or �doctor fish,� are hard at work this week trimming off dead skin and softening the feet of patrons at a Kent salon.

Kent Station�s Peridot Nail Salon is the first in the Northwest to offer a pedicure accomplished by hundreds of tiny toothless fish who nibble away at customers� feet.

Peridot co-owner Tuyet �Tweety� Bui said the technique � which involves a 15-minute soak in a warm water tank filled with fish � tickles but doesn�t harm customers� feet. The fish leave healthy skin behind.
Sounds like fun -- I know that maggots are used medically in cases of gangrene as they will only eat dead tissue and will leave the healthy tissue alone.

Physical Security Maxims

| No Comments
Heh -- great powerpoint presentation on some of the more egregious 'security' maxims out there. From Roger G. Johnston at Argonne National Labs - hat tip to Bruce Schneier for the link. Three examples:
Ignorance is Bliss Maxim: The confidence that people have in security is inversely proportional to how much they know about it.

Schneier�s Maxim #1: The more excited people are about a given security technology, the less they understand (1) that technology and (2) their own security problems.

Voltaire�s Maxim: The problem with common sense is that it is not all that common.
Lot's more at the site. It is easy to dismiss these as geek humor but they are carefully thought out and all too prevalent in the wild...

Pain and Politics

| No Comments
Bill Whittle is back again at National Review Online comparing Kidney stones with the present economic crisis.
The economy is passing a kidney stone. Here�s one man�s guide to survival.

Last Friday I was wrapping up my last day as the editor on Shootout. Five years, and 180 episodes, and I�d never missed a single one. They had hidden a cake with GOOD LUCK, BILL! for my surprise going-away party.

Just before noon I felt a little ... something. Five minutes later it felt like someone had punched me in the left kidney � hard. I went back to the edit bay to lie down for a moment. Things got a little better, then worse, then much worse. And then someone said they were going to drive me to the hospital.
He gets some pain medicine with little effect and then, three hours later he finally gets something that works:
I was reduced to simply mewling, and at about 3:30 P.M., the doctor went away for 15 minutes and when he came back he gave me a shot of Dilaudid, which is the name I will give to my first child, male or female.
And then the revelations start:
So imagine my delight, ten minutes later, to see the hallway door melt away as room was filled with unicorns! Little cartoon unicorns, each with a silky mane of bright blue or green or pink ... and when they giggled � which was continuously � they would lift up their little tails and rainbows would emerge. And in that one wonderful moment as my eyes rolled back and the white-hot light faded away and vanished � in that blissful instant I suddenly understood with perfect clarity the whole Hope and Change thing. I had gone from the horrible, nasty, mean Republican America to the other America. And it�s a much better place, it really is.
And then the reality starts:
Do you want to know what my honest-to-God first thought was when the pain got manageable enough to be able to hold a thought? I tell you: I thought of John McCain. And I�ll tell you what hit me the hardest: not his pain lasted for five years when mine lasted for four hours. But to add to that raw fear, lying in filth and knowing that those footsteps in the hall would bring not relief but more pain ... my God! When I think about those men on those fields from Bunker Hill to Baghdad, lying there for hours, awaiting rescue and relief that often simply never came ... I end up � and I don�t expect any of you to actually believe this � I end up grateful for those few hours.
And one more:
Here was my second thought: I would like to kiss the hand of those evil, greedy, horrible KKKorporations that made and tested Demerol and Dilaudid and the ultrasound sensor and clean needles and sterile IV bags and all the rest of it. I know they�re the villains of courtroom novels and Michael Moore movies and thus are wicked, greedy, soulless Nazis � but if I met a single one of them I would kiss their hands and feet in gratitude. And it did not elude me, when that blinding light finally went out and I felt good again, that my Moral Superiors who protest and vilify these companies at every turn have not � in point of fact � ever done a single thing to relieve my pain or anyone else�s. Nor could any of those murdering, Seventh-century barbarians we are fighting do so much as carve a block of wood to look like that ultrasound sensor. No, pain has been here forever, and when you strip all the plasma TV�s and jet travel and iPhones away you are left with the brass tacks: It takes civilization to remove pain, and Western Civilization to actually fix what�s causing it, more often than not. And that is another thing I try never to forget. And I had a final thought ...
Bill then segues into the financial crisis and has a couple very good observations. Read his entire essay -- it is worth the five minutes or so of your time.

Oh crap - it's not just us

| No Comments
From William Kristol writing at The Weekly Standard:
A Genuine and Immediate Crisis
I've received phone calls in the last hour from two economists I respect, one of them Larry Lindsey, the other in a position where he'd prefer not to be named. Both have government experience, neither is alarmist by nature, and they say this:
The huge European bank Fortis is apparently about to fail. The ripple effect on the American banking system could be disastrous, with bank runs, liquidity crises, and stock sell offs possible Monday. Wachovia may well fail next week. As Larry put it, this really will be 1933 soon if we don't move rapidly to stabilize the banking system.
Where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket?

The Taliban Surge

Last night on the Presidential Debate, Obama continually hammered on McCain saying that the Taliban was stronger than ever and was growing.

Like this Barrack? (from the UK Guardian via Instapundit)

Pakistani tribes fight back against Taliban
Moderate tribesmen in parts of militant-ravaged north-west Pakistan are challenging Taliban extremists threatening to overrun their area, in what could develop into a mass resistance movement.

Villagers in parts of North-West Frontier province and the tribal territory, faced with the violent advance of the Pakistani Taliban, are starting to organise an armed indigenous resistance in the absence of help from the state.

The resistance has parallels with the "Sunni awakening" in Iraq, where tribesmen took on al-Qaida militants in Anbar province and elsewhere.

The Pakistani movement relies on tribal customs and widespread ownership of guns to raise traditional private armies, known as lashkars, each with hundreds or several thousand volunteers.

These tribal armies cannot stop individual acts of terrorism, like the devastating suicide bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad last week that killed more than 50 people. But they aim to stop the development of an extremist mini-state in the north-west.

The lashkars are appearing in many areas, including Bajaur, in the tribal zone, and Dir and Buner in North-West Frontier province. The Taliban are heavily armed and entrenched in a line that runs along the Afghan border from South Waziristan, north through Bajaur and Mohmand, in the tribal area, and in adjacent districts in NWFP, including Swat.

"There's going to be a civil war, " said Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of the Awami National party, which runs the provincial government in NWFP. "It will be the people versus the Taliban."

The indigenous tribesmen are not idiots. They may not benefit from much of what the 20th century has to offer but they are neither stupid nor out of touch with the rest of the world. They see that these thugs can be forced out and they are manning up to do just that. Many of these places used to be popular with backpackers -- with hope, they will be popular again and their people can live in peace and freedom. Peace and freedom enforced with the barrel of a Kalashnikov.

I had put up a couple of links a few days ago when I ran into them but didn't feel much like posting.

Well, that story just keeps getting more interesting.

From the first two: From the Long War Journal:

Mystery surrounds hijacked Iranian ship
A tense standoff is underway in northeastern Somalia between pirates, Somali authorities, and Iran over a suspicious merchant vessel and its mysterious cargo. Hijacked late last month in the Gulf of Aden, the MV Iran Deyanat remains moored offshore in Somali waters and inaccessible for inspection. Its declared cargo consists of minerals and industrial products, however, Somali and regional officials directly involved in the negotiations over the ship and who spoke to The Long War Journal are convinced that it was heading to Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia's Islamist insurgents.

And what makes this really suspicious is the composition of the crew:

Suspicion has also been cast on the ship's crew, half of which is almost entirely staffed by Iranians - a large percentage of Iranian nationals for a standard merchant vessel. Somali officials say that the ship has a crew of 29 men, including a Pakistani captain, an Iranian engineer, 13 other Iranians, 3 Indians, 2 Filipinos, and 10 Eastern Europeans, possibly Croatian.

The officers (Captain, Engineer, etc.) and the Hotel Chiefs (chef, purser, etc.) will almost always be nationals or from friendly nations to the owners but the actual day-to-day operations are from all corners of the planet.

This many Iranians raises a bit red flag.

#2 from the first two -- coming in for a bit of hurt. From

Danish Warship Absalon is a Nightmare to Somali Pirates
Danish Warship Absalon(L16) has become a nightmare to Somali pirates. The Command and Support Ship Absalon left Frederikshavn on August 17 to join Combined Task Force 150 in the Gulf of Aden. The New Zonka Blog gives the details of departure.

The only problem is which of the three options to pursue:

Option 1: to take the pirates to Denmark and initiate legal actions. (this option is going to be costly as it involves time and money to the Danish government and is also risky)

Option 2: to release the pirates without taking any action ( this is the easiest option which has no legal problems)

Option 3: to handover the pirates to Somali administration for further legal action. (not known what will happen to the pirates as there is no functioning government in Somalia since 1991)

After considering the available options, Absalon did not take the pirates as prisoners on their operation on September 20. They seized only the weapons from pirates and left the pirates and their boats.

France has been doing Option 1 with some measure of success. As for the line:

as there is no functioning government in Somalia since 1991

Well now, in more recent news comes this little item from the BBC:

Somalia's pirates seize 33 tanks
A Ukrainian ship seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia was carrying 33 tanks and other weapons, the Ukrainian defence minister has confirmed.

Earlier, the country's foreign ministry said the ship had a crew of 21 and was sailing under a Belize flag to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

There has been a recent surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Russia announced on Friday it would start carrying out regular anti-piracy patrols in the waters off Somalia.

A navy spokesman said a warship had been sent to the area earlier this week and the aim of the deployment was to protect Russian citizens and ships.

Somalia has not had an effective national government for 17 years, leading to a collapse of law and order both on land and at sea.

Somali pirates are currently holding more than a dozen hijacked ships in the base in Eyl, a town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

It was not immediately clear where the Ukrainian ship had been taken.

And no word on the crew either... Really makes me want to go and visit that part of the world. Talk about 9th century backwater hell-hole. A true workers paradise indeed.

Financial crises - the Swedish solution

| No Comments
From the New York Times:
Stopping a Financial Crisis, the Swedish Way
A banking system in crisis after the collapse of a housing bubble. An economy hemorrhaging jobs. A market-oriented government struggling to stem the panic. Sound familiar?

It does to Sweden. The country was so far in the hole in 1992 � after years of imprudent regulation, short-sighted economic policy and the end of its property boom � that its banking system was, for all practical purposes, insolvent.

But Sweden took a different course than the one now being proposed by the United States Treasury. And Swedish officials say there are lessons from their own nightmare that Washington may be missing.

Sweden did not just bail out its financial institutions by having the government take over the bad debts. It extracted pounds of flesh from bank shareholders before writing checks. Banks had to write down losses and issue warrants to the government.

That strategy held banks responsible and turned the government into an owner. When distressed assets were sold, the profits flowed to taxpayers, and the government was able to recoup more money later by selling its shares in the companies as well.

�If I go into a bank,� said Bo Lundgren, who was Sweden�s deputy minister of finance at the time, �I�d rather get equity so that there is some upside for the taxpayer.�
Sweden's problems were quite different than the ones we are facing now but still, the hardline treatment of the lending institutions is something we really need to look at. If we bail them out, pat them on the back and tell them not to do that any more, we are in essence, rewarding them for their behavior and telling them that: (nudge nudge wink wink) don't do that again/way to go dude!

Watching the debate

| No Comments
In the first question, Obama directly laid the blame for the housing/financial crisis on the last eight years. He needs to work on his math as the genesis for the crisis occurred on Bill Clinton's watch, not Bush's. Bush warned against it quite a few times as early as 2001.

Smells like???

| No Comments
Hat tip BoingBoing and Mad Magazine.

The origins of the financial crisis

| No Comments
Boiled down into a very fast-paced ten minute YouTube video.
Lots of stuff and you can hit the pause button to Google the assertions and find them to be true. Needs to be spread around a bit as it succinctly sums up the origins of the problems, naming names.
From Michelle Malkin:
An Old Story
The Mother of All Bailouts is a rerun.

With what looks like imminent passage of the Mother of All Bailouts (following on the heels of a year�s worth of government-funded rescues of private homeowners, lenders, insurers, and automakers), Washington has turned Aesop�s famous fable about prudence and hard work on its head. The time is ripe for a revised 2008 edition of �The Ant and the Grasshopper:�
In a meadow on a hot summer�s day, a Grasshopper was chirping and carousing his time away. He watched scornfully as an Ant nearby struggled to store up large kernels of food and build a secure nest. The Ant pulled overtime shifts to pay off his loans and accumulate retirement funds for the future.

�Give it a rest,� the Grasshopper said. �Why bother saving and slaving and toiling and moiling? Let�s party!� The Ant demurred: �I am planning ahead for winter, and you should do the same.� The Grasshopper blew off the Ant, squandered his supplies the rest of the season and abandoned his home while on vacation (paid for by tapping every last cent of his home equity gain) instead of holding down a job.

When winter came, the Grasshopper�s pantry was empty, and his shelter ruined from neglect. The Ant, weary from planting, harvesting, and stocking up for months, was dining comfortably in his nest.

Cold, hungry, jobless, facing foreclosure and up to his two pairs of eyeballs in debt, the Grasshopper limped to the Association of Community Winged Insects for Rescue Now and demanded recourse. The office was swamped with thousands just like him. ACWIRN immediately put the Grasshopper to work registering dead ants as new voters.

Funded with tax dollars from the rest of the meadow�s residents, ACWIRN organized mass protests at the Bank of Antamerica, ambushed its top officials at their private homes, harassed their children and demanded that the meadow�s politicians halt all foreclosures (�We must keep Grasshoppers in their houses!�) and outlaw discriminatory lending practices against starving, homeless Grasshoppers (�Well-stocked shelters are basic insect rights!�)

The banking industry capitulated; the Orthoptera Lobby secured hundreds of millions of dollars in housing earmarks, grants and counseling subsidies to support the Grasshoppers with the shadiest credit and employment histories. Antie Mae, the meadow�s government-backed home lending giant, fueled the push for increased insect homeownership in the name of biodiversity. Its executives cooked the books and headed for the hills. Katie Cricket and the Mainstream Meadow Media joined the grievance-for-profit circus, profiling Grasshopper sob stories and drumming up ratings as bewildered Ants wondered who was looking out for them.

The banks drowned in toxic debt. More Grasshoppers fell behind on their mortgage payments. Bailout mania and panic gripped the meadow.

Our little Ant, minding his own business, heard a knock on his door one late winter night a year later. It was his old, sneering Grasshopper neighbor. With ACWIRN�s presidential candidate, Barack Cicada, now in office, the Grasshopper had been hired by the meadow as a tax collector.

�I�m here to take your provisions,� the Grasshopper cackled.

But it was the Ant who had the last laugh. �I�ve learned my lesson,� he told his shiftless friend. �Why bother saving and slaving and toiling and moiling? I�ve spent all my savings. I�m walking away from my mortgage. Thrift is for suckers,� the Ant said as he headed out the door, leaving the Grasshopper empty-handed.
Swiped in full as it was too good to excerpt. Definitely a tale for these times...

A solution to the current financial crisis

| No Comments
Jen and I are on a number of Internet Email lists. One she is on had this reply to the following question:
How would you solve the financial crisis?

It's time for Atlas to shrug.
The same list also offers the following quote from Albert Einstein:
We cannot solve the significant problems we face at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

I'm watching too much television

| No Comments
It has been ten days since my hip replacement surgery and as the DaveCave(tm) is in an outbuilding, I have not gone out there for anything more than a quick email check. Most of my time is either in the kitchen on this laptop or parked in the recliner in front of the television. This evening, I realized that it was Thursday and I had a new MythBusters show to look forward to. Like I said, I'm watching too much television.. I am visiting with the Doctor Thursday Aug. 2nd and will be taking home copies of the XRays and will post them at that time. Amazing difference in the bone tissue...

A quick heads up re: email viruses

| No Comments
From Denny who got it from one of his readers:
If you get an e-mail with "Nude Photos of Sarah Palin" in the subject line, do not open it. It might contain a virus.

If you get an e-mail with "Nude Photos of Hillary Clinton," do not open it. It might contain nude photos of Hillary Clinton.
Just spreading it along -- always helps to know these things...
Spent a couple hours in town switching a few of our business accounts from here to here. Monday will be spent moving my Dad's three accounts from here. I know that the odds of people loosing their funds from checking and savings accounts are pretty minimal. I also know that a combination of Federal and Banking agendas, craven greed, incompetence, a lack of morals/responsibility and finally, a failure to view the customer as an equal man to the manager and administrator got us into this pickle. I'll be damned if I am going to reward that behavior by letting them continue to use my money... (a bit of a run-on paragraph? ed.) (it says what I want to say! daveh)
Now this is not good -- from Reuters/South China Morning Post:
China banks told to halt lending to US banks-SCMP
Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

The Hong Kong newspaper cited unidentified industry sources as saying the instruction from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) applied to interbank lending of all currencies to U.S. banks but not to banks from other countries.

"The decree appears to be Beijing's first attempt to erect defences against the deepening U.S. financial meltdown after the mainland's major lenders reported billions of U.S. dollars in exposure to the credit crisis," the SCMP said.
Well, at least we know who our real friends are (as if we didn't already)...

Al Gore - WTF?

| No Comments
From FOX News:
Al Gore Urges 'Civil Disobedience' Toward Coal Plants
Al Gore called Wednesday for "civil disobedience" to combat the construction of coal power plants without the ability to store carbon, Reuters reported.

The former vice president, whose efforts to raise awareness of global warming have made him the most prominent voice on that issue, made the comment during a session at the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan.

"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore said, according to Reuters.
That idiot has drunk so much kool-aid that his shit is cherry flavored. All he has to offer is nihilism, he offers nothing positive or creative. No Coal -- OK. How about pro-Nuke? Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore saw the light years ago -- here is his essay in the Washington Post: Going Nuclear Meanwhile, the Goracle makes millions brokering 'carbon offsets' etc... I know it will never happen but I would love to see that little 'suggestion' come back and bite him on his ass...

That $700 Billion number?

| 1 Comment
From Forbes:
Bad News For The Bailout
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill seem determined to work together to pass a bill that will get the credit markets churning again. But will they do it this week, as some had hoped just a few days ago? Don't count on it.

"Do I expect to pass something this week?" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., mused to reporters Tuesday. "I expect to pass something as soon as we can. I think it's important that we get it done right, not get it done fast."

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, says his office has gotten "close to zero" calls in support of the $700 billion plan proposed by the administration. He doubts it'll happen immediately either. "I don't think it has to be a week" he says. "If we do it right, then we need to take as long as it needs."

The more Congress examines the Bush administration's bailout plan, the hazier its outcome gets. At a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle complained of being rushed to pass legislation or else risk financial meltdown.

"The secretary and the administration need to know that what they have sent to us is not acceptable," says Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn. The committee's top Republican, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, says he's concerned about its cost and whether it will even work.

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number.
Emphasis mine -- just how stupid do these people think we are? These are supposed to be the elite of society: the best schools, the best on-job training and mentoring, the best ethics and morals. Look at what they have given us and some people want a larger and more regulated government?

Methane Clathrates in the news

| No Comments
Once considered a doomsday hypothesis -- some measure of possibility but not likely as the known deposits are too deep in the ocean to be affected by any modest predicted warming. Clathrates are now in the news with some new data that suggests that they can be found very close to the surface as well. From The Independent:
Exclusive: The methane time bomb
Arctic scientists discover new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of a gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

Underground stores of methane are important because scientists believe their sudden release has in the past been responsible for rapid increases in global temperatures, dramatic changes to the climate, and even the mass extinction of species. Scientists aboard a research ship that has sailed the entire length of Russia's northern coast have discovered intense concentrations of methane � sometimes at up to 100 times background levels � over several areas covering thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf.

In the past few days, the researchers have seen areas of sea foaming with gas bubbling up through "methane chimneys" rising from the sea floor. They believe that the sub-sea layer of permafrost, which has acted like a "lid" to prevent the gas from escaping, has melted away to allow methane to rise from underground deposits formed before the last ice age.
And you know, in the end there is little we can do about stuff like this. The very idea that we can have an impact is hubris. I am sitting here looking at fresh snow on the mountains and melting frost outside my window. The sun has been in an extended cooing cycle with little or nothing to show any potential for change. Global cooling will hurt civilization a lot more than any warming that might happen.

Light posting tonight

| No Comments
Tired and need to do a Vulcan Mind Meld with the recliner. I am feeling a lot better since the surgery (nine days ago) -- a lot more energy, better appetite, better sleep patterns -- but still get fatigued early although this is lessening. For something interesting, check out these following links: These two:
Mystery surrounds hijacked Iranian ship

Danish Warship Absalon is a Nightmare to Somali Pirates
And these two:
NASA�s press conference on the state of the sun

Sun's Power Hits New Low, May Endanger Earth?
More spew tomorrow...
I had been having a lot of problems with constipation from taking Tramadol before the surgery and the Percoset after for pain control. (Yeah yeah -- I'm an Engineer and we work it out with slide rules) Visited a Colon Irrigation place today and I feel so much better it is like night and day. The turds (when I could squeeze them out) would thud against the porcelain (at least it was a thud and not a 'tink' as reported by another reader). With this scheme, I spent 90 minutes on a comfortable contoured fiberglass bench with an anal probe up my butt that was spewing warm pure water under constant pressure. Every five or ten minutes, I would feel a bit of gas and then another chunk would calve off the mother lode. I think I am back to that Pot Roast of February 2006. Going back again Monday. Seriously, if you are on opiates or any other medication that causes constipation, this process seriously rocks!!!
I ran into this article by William Greider at The Nation yesterday and since I had not seen references to it in the blogosphere, I thought it to be worth bringing to people's attention. Greider has been around for about 35 years and you do not stay employed for that long as a political journalist if you do not bring something to the table when you write. As for bringing something to the table, a Mr. snerdly_mortsnerd from Alberta, Canada has the following to offer:
>>>We had been warned by Bush several times that we were on unstable ground but the Democratic congress blocked any real action.>>>

WTF are you babbling about?

Bushie was praising the "fundamentals" of our economy just a few weeks ago.

And the reason for this clusterfluck is DEREGULATION - the anthem of GOP shysters.
Line by line:
We had been warned by Bush several times... --my words quoted.
WTF are you babbling about? --Mr. mortsnerd
The "warning" is a quote from my comment to Greidler's article. From the White House:
Just the Facts: The Administration's Unheeded Warnings About the Systemic Risk Posed by the GSEs
For many years the President and his Administration have not only warned of the systemic consequences of financial turmoil at a housing government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) but also put forward thoughtful plans to reduce the risk that either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would encounter such difficulties. President Bush publicly called for GSE reform 17 times in 2008 alone before Congress acted. Unfortunately, these warnings went unheeded, as the President's repeated attempts to reform the supervision of these entities were thwarted by the legislative maneuvering of those who emphatically denied there were problems.
What follows is an itemized list starting from 2001 citing the specific warning, the place the warning was published, and where to go to find a copy of it. There are more links on that web page for you to follow if you want additional data. As for the veracity of the source, what is being provided here are specific dates, publications and words. You are told where to go to look up those same words yourself. You can also use Google to find alternate references to these words from either pro-left or pro-right blogs. If the White House was lying about this (or anything else like this), I would think that they would be caught out in a heartbeat and we would have heard about it by now. I am talking about specific misrepresentation of facts. Now talking about misrepresentation of facts:
Bushie was praising the "fundamentals" of our economy just a few weeks ago. --Mr. mortsnerd
I am going to separate this out into two components. Believe it or not, our overall economy is not doing that badly. The focus these days is on corrupt banking practices and the mis-management (thanks Bill Clinton) of Fannie May and Freddy Mac. Both of these firms misrepresented their earnings. Had the earnings been correctly reported, they could have had an audit and adjusted the lending practices to make them a little more conservative. Instead, thanks to people like Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. A close friend of Bill Clinton, he was shit-canned from his post and yet still managed to receive a $58 million benefits and compensation package on his departure (annual pension, life insurance and stock package). Here is a nice PowerPoint presentation from 2007 that Fannie may did to explain the fraud problems: Mortage Fraud overview (PDF) Going back to the economy, let's look at some numbers: Unemployment is 6.1% -- this is a five year high. (BLS-PDF) (CNN) Canada is also 6.1% (StatCanada) France's unemployment dropped to 7.5% -- the lowest in 12 years. (IHT News) Germany is 8.4% - a 15-year low (Bloomberg) Gross Domestic Product per Capita measures the total earnings of a nation and divides it among the number of people living here. It is a good spot-check of productivity and wealth generation. Here are a few numbers from the CIA World Factbook updated June 19, 2008: USA - $45,800 Canada - $38,500 England - $35,000 France - $33,200 We may piss and moan about how poor people are but most people living under the poverty line have running water, cell phones, televisions, automobiles. Visit another nation and you will find that this is not the case over there. For a quick reality check, Zimbabwe's GDP/per Capita is $200. Finally:
And the reason for this clusterfluck is DEREGULATION - the anthem of GOP shysters. --Mr. mortsnerd
That is so far wrong, it is not even right... Bill Clinton pushed for the deregulation of Fannie May and Freddy Mac. From this New York Times article of 1999:
Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending
Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.
Deregulation is not a bad thing -- it allows market forces to act on setting the prices and is generally a good thing for the consumer. The problem is that there will be swings in price and performance -- we are seeing this now with air travel. Telephones were deregulated and we saw immediate boosts in performance and reduction in costs. If the organization being deregulated has a corrupt core, the act of deregulation will only expose that for what it is. Unfortunately, people bought houses without really thinking about how they would be paid for and the corrupt lending institutions played along looking for greater profits. It is not the function of the government to regulate every aspect of our lives -- England tried that and we broke away. Living here, you have a greater freedom than in most other nations but with that comes a responsibility to do what is right for the common good. Too many people forget this and are running in "Gimme" mode to the detriment of their friends, neighbors and to the rest of this nation.

Off to the recliner and the arms of Morpheus

Overexerted myself a bit yesterday and paying for it today.

Also, today was the first day I drove my truck (manual transmission) so I'm a bit sore.

Time to take a couple percoset, have a glass of wine and curl up with some TV show. Been getting into the new crop of Mythbusters/How It's Made type shows. Looking forward to being finally healed from the hip surgery.

There is zero bone pain anymore but the muscle tissue is inflamed and very tender.

Another great column by Bill Whittle

He has started writing essays at The National Review and his latest is a short and sweet remembrance of what this nation was and what it can become again.

The Undefended City
When I first got to college, back in the last few weeks of the Seventies, I finally got a chance to see an ordinary game of Dungeons and Dragons. My immediate inclination was to play as a Paladin: the pinnacle of Lawful Good, a character required to dash in and fight overwhelmingly powerful evil forces anywhere and at whatever odds. These contests were short, depressing and hilarious, but all D&D really came down to in the end was slaying small monsters, taking their gold, buying slightly better gear and then slaying slightly larger monsters. Why not just save some time and become a Vorpal Sword distributor? Then you get the weapons and the gold, and people bring them both to you. And so a larval conservative was born. And I never played again.

That was the attitude I took into The Lord of the Rings when the first of the trilogy appeared in 2001, just a few months after the Two Towers actually did fall and the idea of good and evil suddenly became - to me and no doubt to you too - a great deal less ironic and a great deal more real.

And there, in the darkness, staring up at that screen, I marveled at this monumental font of deep and eternal ideas: the aversion to facing danger, even when it is right in front of us; the value of old and true allies; the corrosive force of addiction; responsibility forsaken, then reclaimed - and through it all the fear that we may be lesser sons of greater fathers, and that we may no longer have the courage or the will to defend the City entrusted to our care.

This, and more, what was what John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was trying to teach me, down that dark river of the future - and he ought to know. The Lord of the Rings was written between 1937 through 1949 - years of dark waters, indeed.

A few years before Tolkien put pen to paper, an event took place that a man of his education would have undoubtedly been aware. On February 9th, 1933, the ruling elite of the world's great Civilization held a debate in the Oxford Union. With thunderclouds growing dark across the English Channel, at a time when resolute action could still have averted the worst catastrophe the world has ever known, these elites resolved that "This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country."

The Resolution passed by a vote of 275 to 153. Needless to say, this vote did not avert the fight. It guaranteed it.

Good stuff...

George W Bush's UN speech

| No Comments
In an alternate universe, Kim DuToit has the speech that Bush should be giving:
Mr. Secretary General, and the rest of you Commies, thugs, kleptocrats and tyrants:
"I wish I had good things to say about you and this organization in general, but I can�t find the words�not because I am inarticulate, as many of you may think, but because I want to retain some small trace of gentility and diplomacy, and not tell you what I, and a huge proportion of the American people, really think of you.

"So let me just say this: when we �went it alone� (which is our right as a sovereign nation), we were loudly condemned for being �independent cowboys�; yet, when we tried to engage the rest of you in our diplomatic initiatives, we got the cold shoulder. So I ask you, members of the United Nations: what is left for the United States to do?

"Let me tell you what�s next. To those of you who think you�ve had a good time by tweaking our tails�that would be Venezuela, North Korea and Iran, in particular�I have only one thing to say: the missiles are in the air. Don�t bother calling home to check�by the time you get to a phone, it will be too late, and all you�ll hear is silence. Which will make a welcome change for the people of the United States, because all we�ve heard from you in the past few years have been threats, bluster and insult.

"As for the rest of you: Russia should shut the hell up, because we�ve seen you off once already during the past dozen or so years, and we can do it again, any time we want to. China should likewise shut up, because if we impose even a six-month trade embargo on your asses, your entire economy will collapse like the house of cards it is. Don�t even think that the EU can pick up the slack, because they have even less money than you do. And speaking of the EU: you�ve become a totalitarian state, and we don�t like it. Straighten up, or we�ll start treating you like you were Russia.
Heh... There is more.

Failing the Windows Darwin Test

| No Comments
Heh -- from Slashdot comes this link to a North Carolina State University Psychology Department test and the results:
Fake popup study sadly confirms most users are idiots
For most of us, security issues happen to "other people"�we block popup ads, we carefully examine dialog boxes and, for those of us on the Mac platform, we snicker when confronted with something that attempts to mimic a Windows system warning. But everyone knows that they are exceptional�what's the behavior of a more typical user like? Some researchers have tested how college students respond to fake dialog boxes in browser popup windows and found that the students are so anxious to get the dialog out of the way, they click right through obvious warning signs.

The authors, who work in the Psychology Department of North Carolina State University, crafted a set of four fake dialog boxes. All of them contained the following warning: "The instruction at '0x77f41d24 referenced memory at '0x595c2a4c.' The memory could not be 'read.' Click OK to terminate program." One of the warnings was indistinguishable from the standard Windows XP system dialog, but the remaining three were had a number of warning signs that should tip off users to potential malware.
And the results:
Of the 42 students, 26 clicked the OK button for the "real" dialog. But 25 clicked the same button for two of the fakes, and 23 hit OK on the third (the one with the status bar showing). Only nine of them closed the window�two fewer than had closed the real dialog. In all cases, a few of the users simply minimized the window or dragged it out of the way, presumably leaving the machine's next user at risk.

The response time, which tracked how long it took the users to perform any action, was not significantly different among the different dialogs, indicating that there wasn't even any thought expended on evaluating the fakes.

Follow-up questions revealed that the students seemed to find any dialog box a distraction from their assigned task; nearly half said that all they cared about was getting rid of these dialogs. The results suggest that a familiarity with Windows dialogs have bred a degree of contempt and that users simply don't care what the boxes say anymore.
Why am I not surprised. When I worked for an engineering company in Seattle, a senior engineer complained that his laptop was sluggish. I started examining this and found that one virus had shut down Norton (we had a company-wide license for it -- not my choice). He had several hundred processes running on XP (it should be well under 50) and I was able to clean up about 3,000 instances of malware and general crap... It turned out that he would routinely let his grandkids 'play the free computer games' on his system when they came to visit. And this was a laptop that had confidential client data on it. Needless to say, I gave a lunchtime talk with some demonstrations and advised that people in his situation get a cheap stand-alone system for the grandkids to use.
From William Greider writing in The Nation:
Paulson Bailout Plan a Historic Swindle
Financial-market wise guys, who had been seized with fear, are suddenly drunk with hope. They are rallying explosively because they think they have successfully stampeded Washington into accepting the Wall Street Journal solution to the crisis: dump it all on the taxpayers. That is the meaning of the massive bailout Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has shopped around Congress. It would relieve the major banks and investment firms of their mountainous rotten assets and make the public swallow their losses--many hundreds of billions, maybe much more. What's not to like if you are a financial titan threatened with extinction?

If Wall Street gets away with this, it will represent an historic swindle of the American public--all sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims. My advice to Washington politicians: Stop, take a deep breath and examine what you are being told to do by so-called "responsible opinion." If this deal succeeds, I predict it will become a transforming event in American politics--exposing the deep deformities in our democracy and launching a tidal wave of righteous anger and popular rebellion. As I have been saying for several months, this crisis has the potential to bring down one or both political parties, take your choice.

Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics, a brave conservative critic, put it plainly: "The joyous reception from Congressional Democrats to Paulson's latest massive bailout proposal smells an awful lot like yet another corporatist lovefest between Washington's one-party government and the Sell Side investment banks."

A kindred critic, Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher in New York, defined the sponsors of this stampede to action: "Let us be clear, it is not citizen groups, private investors, equity investors or institutional investors broadly who are calling for this government purchase fund. It is almost exclusively being lobbied for by precisely those institutions that believed they were 'smarter than the rest of us,' institutions who need to get those assets off their balance sheet at an inflated value lest they be at risk of large losses or worse."
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. It looks now like a panic-mode by the politicians to save their own butts. We had been warned by Bush several times that we were on unstable ground but the Democratic congress blocked any real action.
From the BBC:
Collider halted until next year
The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva will be shut off until spring 2009 while engineers probe a magnet failure.

The incident on 19 September caused a tonne of liquid helium to leak out into the experiment's 27km-long tunnel.

Officials said the time required to fully investigate the problem precluded a re-start before the lab's winter maintenance period.
I know that a project this size will always have start-up issues but I want data NOW!!! Especially since the first proton beam worked so well. Grumble... Sulk...
Sarah Palin was set to deliver a strong speech at the pro-Israel / anti-Ahmadinejad demonstration across the street from the United Nations when Ahmadinejad was scheduled to visit. She subsequently was dis-invited. From Gateway Pundit we find out by who:
George Soros Group Takes Credit For Nixing Palin's Invitation From Anti-Ahmadinejad Rally
Friends of Obama kept Sarah Palin from speaking at the anti-Ahmadinejad rally.

Last week, Hillary Clinton reneged on a commitment to speak at the anti-Ahmadinejad rally at the UN after learning that Republican Vice Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin would also speak at the rally. Senator Joe Biden also refused to speak at the rally. Democrats offered to send Florida Representative Robert Wexler who had previously said that the choice of Governor Palin as VP candidate was an insult to the Jewish people.
That was nice.

But, in the end it didn't matter.
Members of a George Soros organization were able to collect 20,000 signatures in 24 hours to demand that Sarah Palin not speak at the UN rally against Ahmadinejad and she was disinvited.
Playing their little onanistic partisan games while blowing a chance to make a strong statement for the only Democracy in the Middle East to the face of someone who has publicly stated the Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth and who is developing nuclear weapons to do just this. I hope that Soros rots in hell for this -- he has no heart or vision for what this nation can be (and once was).

A bit on Fannie May from the New York Times

The New York Times in 1999 that is:
Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending
In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

"Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements," said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. "Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market."
But I thought this was all George W. Bush's fault. Clinton did it? As for Franklin D. Raines (emphasis mine) -- this is the same Raines who got the multi-million 'severance package' (again, NY Times) after being fired from Fannie May for 'misstating' the earnings. Hat tip to Carpe Diem for the flashback to this bit of Clintony goodness...

Light posting tonight

| No Comments
Went into town today to run some errands and to take my Dad to his Doctor for a routine checkup. Changing his prescriptions a bit (he is 92) and scheduling the next visit for two months instead of the usual four. I have been weaning myself off the pain killers -- took a half dose last morning at 4:00AM and didn't take anything more until we got back around 6:00PM when I took a full dose. Feeling very nice and floaty right now so I think I will sign off and go watch Captain Kangaroo or something on that mental level for a few hours. Department of Random thoughts: Jen was talking about the old Schoolhouse Rock! educational programs. (Still available on Amazon) I went through grade school before these came out but was well aware of them when they debuted. Was thinking that some of these would be really great with a Reggae treatment...

Quote of the day

And a good one given the current economic problems:

Please remind your readers that the reason that so many Americans mistrust and dislike the "elite" is that the best financial minds that the Ivy League could turn out created the subprime and securitization of mortgages mess.

The best and brightest political minds [from] those same universities created Fannie and Freddie.

Either these people aren't nearly as smart as they tell us they are, or success requires more than an expensive education.

-- Reader Kevin Burns in a comment at Instapundit

Hat tip to The Smallest Minority

Lizard cuteness

| No Comments
Some people have a vertical axis squirrel-cage wind turbine (low RPM/high torque). They noticed an Anole lizard spinning around, stopped the turbine, 'rescued' the little guy and an hour later, he was back again. It comes and goes as it pleases and seems to really like the ride. 2:54 of YouTube goodness.
Hat tip to Dark Roasted Blend for the link.

Thanks to Dr. Rusty Shackleford writing at The Jawa Report we have a very interesting revelation regarding all of the 'home-grown' videos smearing Sarah Palin.

Start here: Hope, Change, & Lies: Orchestrated "Grassroots" Smear Campaigns & the People that Run Them.

It turns out that the majority of the Sarah Palin smear videos were in fact, professionally made and are a direct result of these people: Winner & Associates

Rusty nails them down to IP and email addresses, people doing the voiceovers, similar emails being used in different areas (Craigslist advertising, etc...)

This report was released around Midnight yesterday (Sunday evening) and by Monday morning, most of the videos had been pulled from YouTube and Google Video.

Fortunately, Rusty made backups before releasing his findings. As of 5:55 today, Ethan Winner confessed but in a manner that leaves a lot open for doubt.

This will be interesting to watch as there are some Federal campaign finance laws that cover this sort of activity. Dirty politics? I would never have thought that anyone would stoop so low... Yeah... Right...

An oldie (1991) but a goodie

| No Comments
Australian politicians at their finest. First, here is what really happened and then (1:40), we have Senator Bob Collins -- the Minister for Shipping -- being interviewed:
And no, it's not Michael Palin interviewing Eric Idle.

Happy 100th Birthday - Spacetime

| No Comments
Relativity still seems so new and fresh but the basic foundations are getting to be 100 years old. From Lubo� Motl:
Hermann Minkowski: 100 years of spacetime
Exactly 100 years ago, on September 21st, 1908, Hermann Minkowski gave a talk titled "Raum und Zeit" ("Space and Time"; book version) in Cologne, Germany in which he proposed a natural interpretation of Einstein's special theory of relativity in terms of a geometry with an indefinite signature.
Better not do that Captain, it might destroy the space-time continuoum...
Unnnnhhhh -- let's rethink that a bit. From the UK Telegraph:
French troops 'ran out of ammunition' in Afghanistan
Ten French soldiers killed by Taliban fighters last month in Afghanistan were woefully ill-equipped, according to a report citing a classified Nato document.

The "secret" file quoted by a Canadian newspaper said that the French troops ambushed on Aug 18 in a valley east of Kabul did not have enough bullets, radios and other equipment to sustain them through two days of fighting.

The report is likely to fan tensions ahead of a French parliamentary debate over President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to send extra troops to Afghanistan. It promises to be heated, but Mr Sarkozy's decision will be approved as his ruling centre-right UMP party holds a strong majority.

According to the report cited by the Globe and Mail newspaper, the troops were forced to abandon a counter attack when the weapons on their vehicles ran out of ammunition only 90 minutes into the battle. One French platoon had just one radio, which was quickly knocked out, leaving them powerless to call for reinforcements.

The dead soldiers from that platoon "showed signs of being killed at close range", the report said.
Well, on one hand, I do thank N.A.T.O. for their help in the war on terrorism. But I do wish that they had better intelligence (or would listen a bit more closely to ours...)

A Deadwood Cathouse

| No Comments
A bit of history from our past. From Digital Deadwood comes this story of Ms. Dora DuFran and how her piano player (and lawyer) was able to maneuver around a new law (and make buck in the process).
Dora DuFran ran houses of ill-repute in Deadwood, Sturgis and Rapid City. The story below is an example of the many told of her during those wild and woolly days of Deadwood�s infancy. She never had any children although she did marry. You can visit her grave at Mt. Moriah, it is located very close to Wild Bills and Calamity Jane�s grave sites. If you go you will see a small marker near hers, that of her parrot, Fred. She had him buried there as he passed before she did.
A fun read and an insight on how the term cathouse came into use.

An amazing photographic journey

This beggars belief but is true. An amazing heartfelt story about a 35mm bulk loader with a Dymo label.

From Mike Mitchell at The Online Photographer:

The Amazing Gift of Woo Lai Wah
On my way to the basement to do some laundry, I noticed a package on my porch. It was in the usual spot where I ask delivery people to put things if there's no answer to the doorbell. Strange, though. I wasn't expecting anything; everything I'd ordered recently had been delivered.

When I came back upstairs I picked it up. It was for me, not my tenants, and it was from Hong Kong. There was no return address and the customs declaration on the side simply read "camera part." Very strange.

I took it upstairs and opened it and said to myself, wow, I used to have one of those:

So I'm thinking, what in the world is going on here?

I lifted it out of the box to examine it but immediately my attention went to what was underneath it.

What was at the bottom of the package was an amazing letter from a Ms. Woo Lai Wah and the contents were significant. Ms. Woo's family had visited the USA a few times and being into photography, had purchased several of Mike Mitchell's photographs. Later, Ms. Woo had made a trip into 'Chinese deep parts' (her words -- read the amazing letter), and found a ramshackle stand selling photographic stuff. She noticed the Mitchell name in Dymo Label on the side of the bulk loader, bought it and sent it off and it turns out that it was Mike's bulk loader from High School. (You could buy film in 100' rolls that was about 1/3 the cost of the pre-loaded cassettes.)

I used to have the same Kodak loader back when I was in High School. Wonder where mine is -- the things were built like a tank -- solid Bakelite with long felt light-locks. Were well worth the $18 or so they cost back in the 1960's (remember saving for that puppy!)

I looked at the rest of Mike Mitchell's website and really like it - added to the Blogroll...

Heh - just 'cause I can

| No Comments
Riffing on this of course. Swiped from Brother Theo who is across the pond.

Heh - sucks to be you Julius Rosenberg

| No Comments
From MS/NBC / Associated Press:
Rosenberg sons acknowledge dad was spy
About-face comes after father's co-defendant admits guilt for first time

After years of professing their parents' innocence, the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are acknowledging that their father was a spy.

The about-face came after their father's co-defendant, Morton Sobell, admitted for the first time that he and Julius Rosenberg stole non-atomic military and industrial secrets for the Soviet Union.

The Rosenbergs were executed in 1953 for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Since then, decoded Soviet cables have appeared to confirm that Julius was a spy, but doubts have remained about Ethel's involvement.
And my Jedi training detects the minute blip in the Force as thousands of far lefties switch their thinking from "innocent" to "martyr". Makes an Attosecond look huge by comparison.

Quote of the Day - Global Warming

��Global warming� is sub-prime science, sub-prime economics, and sub-prime politics, and it could well go down with the sub-prime mortgage.� --(Philip Stott, September 21) -Global Warming Politics Hat tip to Gerard

Hip blogging - Percoset

| 1 Comment
Modern pain medication is wonderful. The incision still hurts but I don't give a crap. Literally. A not-so-happy side effect is that it greatly affects the lower Gastrointestinal Tract to the point of making #2 visits a very rare and painful occurrence. Has anyone else ever had a stool hit the porcelain with a 'thud' sound? Just askin'

Ummmnnnhhh... Just a moment here

| No Comments
From the UK Telegraph:
Baroness Warnock: Dementia sufferers may have a 'duty to die'
The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are "wasting people's lives" because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.

She insisted there was "nothing wrong" with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.
Seriously WTF? You first dearie:

Well crap - LHC down for a while

| No Comments
First there was the 30K power transformer, now it's a Helium leak. From BBC:
Hadron Collider forced to halt
Plans to begin smashing particles at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may be delayed after a magnet failure forced engineers to halt work.

The failure, known as a quench, caused around 100 of the LHC's super-cooled magnets to heat up by as much as 100C.

The fire brigade were called out after a tonne of liquid helium leaked into the tunnel at Cern, near Geneva.

The LHC beam will remain turned off over the weekend while engineers investigate the severity of the fault.

A spokesman for Cern told the BBC it was not yet clear how soon progress could resume at the �3.6bn ($6.6bn) particle accelerator.

While the failure was "not good news", he said glitches of this kind were not unexpected during testing.
And quite honestly, with a project this size I am amazed that things have gone this smoothly. Looking forward to seeing some hard data!
And then, there are those that just go out and act. While Barack Obama was meeting with troops civilians in Iraq, Sara Palin met with wounded troops in Iraq. Now, she is meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his visit to the United Nations. From the Washington Post:
Karzai Agrees To Meet With Palin
Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will meet next week with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in New York, on the sidelines of the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, according to Afghan officials in Washington.
A bit more:
The request to Karzai for a sit-down came from Palin's team early this week and Karzai sent his agreement yesterday, officials at the Afghan Embassy said. Karzai, who will travel to Washington later in the week for a White House meeting with President Bush, expects to have separate telephone conversations with McCain and with Obama during his U.S. stay.
The Terrorist forces have been pushed out of Iraq -- they are now regrouping in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan and we need to nip this off in the bud.

Global Cooling - some more data coming in

| No Comments
A couple more sources of data are coming in suggesting that the last 30 years of warming may have been wiped out in the cooling trends of 2007-2008. From Classical Values:
Gains Of 30 Years Wiped Out
It looks like the era of Global Warming is Over. Icecap reports:
Many scary stories have been written about the dangers of catastrophic global warming, allegedly due to increased atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the combustion of fossil fuels. But is the world really catastrophically warming? NO. And is the warming primarily caused by humans? NO.

Since just January 2007, the world has cooled so much that ALL the global warming over the past three decades has disappeared! This is confirmed by a plot of actual global average temperatures from the best available source, weather satellite data that shows there has been NO net global warming since the satellites were first launched in 1979.

Since there was global cooling from ~1940 to ~1979, this means there has been no net warming since ~1940, is spite of an ~800% increase in human emissions of carbon dioxide. This indicates that the recent warming trend was natural, and CO2 is an insignificant driver of global warming.

Furthermore, the best fit polynomial shows a strong declining trend. Are we seeing the beginning of a natural cooling cycle? YES. Further cooling, with upward and downward variability, is expected because the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has returned to its cool phase, as announced by NASA this year.
This chart makes it pretty plain for all to see:
Click for full-size image
There is talk of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation:
La Nina and Pacific Decadal Oscillation Cool the Pacific
A cool-water anomaly known as La Ni�a occupied the tropical Pacific Ocean throughout 2007 and early 2008. In April 2008, scientists at NASA�s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that while the La Ni�a was weakening, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation�a larger-scale, slower-cycling ocean pattern�had shifted to its cool phase.
The PDO was discovered while examining Salmon production between Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. It was 'always known' than when fishing was good in AK, it was lousy here and vice versa. Rogue Pundit has some good info on the PDO if you want to learn more.

That's it for tonight

| No Comments
Had a full day and now that I am feeling better, I'm trying to sync up to a more productive schedule. Heading off to the recliner for an hour or so of TV (talk about soporific!) and then to sleep. I'll graduate to the bed in about a week or so -- the areas where the muscle tissue was dissected are still really weak and fragile. Some friends in town are moving to Montana (raising Dental Floss) and there is a large yard sale at their house tomorrow AM.
I ran into this a couple weeks ago but am now seeing it at least once/day on the various sites that I trollactively Participate in. From Mostly Cajun:
Could this one be true?
I�ve wondered about the Joe Biden VP selection myself and I know many of you have done similar thinking. Here�s the contents of an email I received this morning. Anybody think the dimmocrat party is not callous enough to try this?
Let me share some info with you that I have gotten from excellent sources within the DNC:

On or about October 5th, Biden will excuse himself from the ticket, citing health problems, and he will be replaced by Hillary. This is timed to occur after the VP debate on 10/2.

There have been talks all weekend about how to proceed with this info. generally, the feeling is that we should all go ahead and get it out there to as many blog sites and personal email lists as is possible. I have already seen a few short blurbs about this - the �health problem� cited in those articles was aneurysm. Probably many of you have heard the same rumblings.

However, at this point, with this inside info from the DNC, it looks like this Obama strategy will be a go. Therefore, it seems that the best strategy is to get out in front of this Obama maneuver, spell it out in detail, and thereby expose it for the grand manipulation that it is.

So, let�s start mixing this one up and cut the Obamites off at the pass - send this info out to as many people as you can - post about it on websites and blogs - etc etc
That would explain a lot of things and would be one of the most singularly block-headed maneuvers I have ever seen.

My New Hip

Here is a photo of the incision from this morning -- four days after surgery.

The plastic band-aid looking things are 3M Steri-Strips which work well with self-dissolving sutures. A wonderful advancement in surgical technology.

They will eventually fall off when the stitches are fully absorbed (in about two months). For now, we are keeping them covered with dry sponges. Pic below the fold:

Well crap - preserving the great art pieces

An interesting problem -- do you try to preserve a famous piece (in this case, Michelangelo's statue of David and remove it from public view or to you attempt drastic measures to prevent it from collapsing. From the London Times:

Michelangelo's David 'at risk of collapse' because of traffic and visitors
Four years after it was last cleaned and repaired Michelangelo's statue of David in Florence is "at risk of collapse", according to a restoration expert.

Antonio Borri, professor of construction engineering at Perugia University and part of the team monitoring the statue's state of conservation, said that cracks which been repaired during a 2004 restoration marking the 500th anniversary of the statue's creation had re-appeared.

A seminar in Florence tomorrow will discuss the options for saving the statue, which is kept at the Galleria dell Accademia and attracts more than a million people a year. These include enclosing it in a protective covering to stop further deterioration and even closing it to the public altogether for a period.

Professor Borri, who is a Florentine, said that the cracks had "re-opened one by one. David is coming apart". He said the blame lay with traffic vibrations and the pressure of thousands of daily visitors. Michelangelo's masterpiece - held by many to be the most perfect representation of the nude male form ever sculpted - was also vulnerable because of its huge size and the poor quality of marble Michelangelo used, Professor Borri said.

For a conservation not to last four years is unthinkable. Titanium skeletal structures are close to my mind these days but I do not see why they could not build a tank around the statue, fill it with a neutral silicone oil, tip it sideways, build a plastic scaffold and CAT Scan it to locate the cracks. Drill come careful holes, cement some titanium rods and bingo -- fixed for the next couple of generations. This way, the problem of the dodgey marble is bypassed. ALL of the cracks and flaws are located and identified (not just those that show up under optical observation) and a protocol for moving the work is established in the event that further repair is needed. And please tell me that the display room in the Uffizi is completely climate controlled down to the gaseous composition of the atmosphere -- not just temp and humidity... The poor marble is something that plagues artists and conservationists everywhere. David was commissioned in 1501 when Mike was a raw 26 years old. He didn't have the money to buy a stunning chunk of Carrerra -- he made due with what he could afford. Other 26-year-old artists have their artwork in a landfill as they never developed a talent. I grew up in Pittsburgh and a lot of the early Andy Warhol works were painted with crappy materials on cardboard boxes. Gorgeous but a conservators timebomb.

A wonderful look at life in Alaska

| No Comments
Jim Albrecht writes about his old neighborhood in Slate Magazine:
The Old Neighborhood
My Alaska, and Sarah Palin's, deserves better from America.

For a long time I've been an Alaskan in exile, spending only a portion of each year (the sunny part) in the homeland. As a result, I am the only Alaskan that most of my friends know. So, when Sarah Palin was picked as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, the e-mail poured in. "Not all Alaskan families are as weird as the Palins, right?" wrote a friend from California.

"Let me assure you," I wrote back. "They are all freaks."

I then described, at some length, the neighborhood I grew up in. There were my parents, superorthodox Catholics, complete with backyard statuary. Across the street, an Air Force officer and family. Next-door to them, a gay couple. Not just gay, but extra-flaming, mow-the-front-lawn-in-a-nightshirt-and-nothing-else kind of gay, walk-into-a-bar-yelling, "A beer for the queer!" kind of gay (in Alaska, in the 1960s!). My parents kept an extra set of house keys for "T-Bird Tommy," as the more flamboyant partner was known, so that when he came home drunk and couldn't find his keys, he would have a nearby spare.
A bit more:
The miracle of my childhood�what still casts a sunny light on my social memories of Alaska in the '70s�is that we all got along so well. Not just coexisted, but actually had relationships with one another: We played together, shared garden produce and salmon, pushed one another's cars out of the snow, and, in that pre-cable era, found each other's idiosyncrasies entertaining rather than infuriating.

The great thing about living among freaks is that you have to do something really special to be shunned. By contrast, when I went off to an Ivy League university, my chance at social advancement was snuffed out in the dining hall in the first week of school when I unceremoniously consumed a small bowl of lettuce with my hands.
There are a lot of Jim Albrecht's out there -- it will be fun to see if he has any other stuff published. The town we live in is small (about 200 full-time residents) but I recognize a lot of the characters...

Our Social Betters

| No Comments
Urbane Manhattanite Sandra Bernhard has this to say about Sara Palin by way of Plains Feeder:
Sandra Bernhard: Palin better stay out of Manhattan
From The Theater J Blog:
...Sandra warns Sarah Palin not to come into Manhattan lest she get gang-raped by some of Sandra�s big black brothers...
Sounds like Sandra is jealous because she isn't as 'cute' as Palin. Seriously, this is demonstrative of the level to which the Desperate-ocrat Party has sunk in their hate for Sarah Palin.
Compare and Contrast:

And there seems to be a little confusion at the The Theater J Blog at the same link posted earlier. I read:
Do check out this outrageous response from the conservative �Culture & Media Institute� so upset with the Washington Post for their review of the Jewish Community hosted, Gay and Lesbian sponsored, Government Funded Presentation of �Profane� Sandra Bernhard.

It�s the best publicity we�ve ever had!!!
Talking about publicity is a lot like talking about brand-name recognition. It's about getting the word out. A perfect example is when the Exxon Valdez ran aground. Exxon at that time had excellent brand-name recognition. Inside the Manhattan echo-chamber, this seems like a good thing (hey - ticket sales are up) but reading CMI tells an entirely different story...

Hey - remember the Melamine contaminated Pet Food

Well guess what. It's now in Milk for human consumption. From the Associated Press:

Tests find chemical also in liquid milk in China
China's tainted milk crisis widened Friday after tests found the industrial chemical melamine in liquid milk produced by three of the country's leading dairy companies, the quality watchdog said.

Singapore suspended the sale and import of all Chinese milk and dairy products because several tested items were contaminated.

Tainted baby formula has been blamed for killing four infants and sickening 6,200 in China since the scandal broke last week. Some 1,300 babies, mostly newborns, are currently in hospitals and 158 of them are suffering from acute kidney failure. Thousands of parents across the country were bringing their children to hospitals for health checks.

The crisis was initially thought to have been confined to tainted milk powder. But about 10 percent of liquid milk samples taken from Mengniu Dairy Group Co. and Yili Industrial Group Co. -- China's two largest dairy producers -- contained melamine, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. Milk from Shanghai-based Bright Dairy also showed contamination.

Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said tests revealed traces of melamine in samples of a Yili-brand yogurt bar and Dutch Lady-brand strawberry milk manufactured in China. Authorities said they plan to destroy all samples of these two products in Singapore. Officials also warned local food manufacturers against using milk products from China as ingredients.

Hong Kong's two biggest grocery chains, PARKnSHOP and Wellcome, pulled all liquid milk by Mengniu from shelves Friday. A day earlier, Hong Kong had recalled milk, yogurt, ice cream and other products made by Yili Industrial Group Co.

Starbucks Corp. said its 300 cafes in mainland China had pulled milk supplied by Mengniu. Seattle-based Starbucks said no employees or customers had fallen ill from the milk.

Jesus! I know that the Chinese will be brutally efficient about finding the people who allowed this to happen on their watch and that they will be marched from a courtroom to a waiting execution van in short order but still.

Who in their right mind would repeat the same scandal with a product for human consumption.

For those that do not remember from the Pet Food scandal, Melamine will test as protein when you are doing a simple chemical analysis so adding it to a product will boost the "available protein" content very cheaply. It is not until you do a specific test for melamine that it shows up for what it is. My brain is still trying to grasp that someone would add this to baby formula. These people are going to enjoy a level of hell far worse than the 9/11 hijackers and general islamist terrorists.

An interesting editorial at the Investors Business Daily:

The Real Culprits In This Meltdown
Big Government: Barack Obama and Democrats blame the historic financial turmoil on the market. But if it's dysfunctional, Democrats during the Clinton years are a prime reason for it.

Obama in a statement yesterday blamed the shocking new round of subprime-related bankruptcies on the free-market system, and specifically the "trickle-down" economics of the Bush administration, which he tried to gig opponent John McCain for wanting to extend.

But it was the Clinton administration, obsessed with multiculturalism, that dictated where mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk subprime loans now infecting like a retrovirus the balance sheets of many of Wall Street's most revered institutions.

Tough new regulations forced lenders into high-risk areas where they had no choice but to lower lending standards to make the loans that sound business practices had previously guarded against making. It was either that or face stiff government penalties.

The untold story in this whole national crisis is that President Clinton put on steroids the Community Redevelopment Act, a well-intended Carter-era law designed to encourage minority homeownership. And in so doing, he helped create the market for the risky subprime loans that he and Democrats now decry as not only greedy but "predatory."

Interesting -- thanks to Moonbattery for the link.

September 19th, 2008 Read arrrhhhhll about it heeerrrrrggghhhh. And what brand of Beer do Pirates like? PBRrrrrrgggghhhhh!!! (thanks Michael!)

A political endorsement

The National Association of Wholesaler Distributors came out wholeheartedly in favor of McCain/Palin (PDF). And who are they? They are an umbrella organization that covers the following groups:

NAW Member Association List

  • American Machine Tool Distributors Association ( Website)
  • American Nursery & Landscape Association (Website)
  • American Supply Association (Website)
  • American Veterinary Distributors Association (Website)
  • American Wholesale Marketers Association (Website)
  • Appliance Parts Distributors Association Inc (Website)
  • Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (Website)
  • Associated Equipment Distributors (Website)
  • Association for High Technology Distribution (Website)
  • Association for Hose & Accessories Distribution (The) (Website)
  • Association of Ingersoll-Rand Distributors (Website)
  • Association of Millwork Distributors (Website)
  • Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (The) (Website)
  • Association of Service & Computer Dealers International (Website)
  • Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers (Website)
  • Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (Website)
These are just the "A" listings -- we are looking at about 100 industrial trade organizations. Some small, some not so small and these represent what is left of the bedrock of American Manufacturing and Distribution. These are not Obama's people -- these are my people.
Read Mostly Cajun's blog a few minutes ago and saw this:
Dumplin�s demise
Yesterday evening I went to check on my boat after the hurricane. My boat Li�l Dumplin� is no more. She�s sunk. The lines tethering her so she would not be blown into the docks by hurricane winds couldn�t account for the storm surge and held her down until she filled.

I don�t have pictures. It�d be like taking pictures of a coffin at a funeral.

I don�t think I�m going to be able to recover her this time. It�s looking like salvage.
I have never lost a boat but I have had several and love being on the water. I cannot imagine what it would be like to loose one -- part of you there as well...

Rember the EepyBirds? (Coke and Mentos)

| No Comments
Here they are with 280,000 PostIt Notes. 3:17 minutes of geeky fun!

The social aftermath of Hurricane Gustav

| No Comments
From Mostly Cajun (Undetermined as yet by Snopes):
A nurse�s report on an evacuation shelter
From an email:
Hello Mr. O�Reilly,

I am a nurse who has just completed working approximately 120 hours as the clinic director in a Hurricane Gustav evacuation shelter in Shreveport, LA.

Over the last 7 days. I would love to see someone look at the evacuee situation from a new perspective. Local and national news channels have covered the evacuation and �horrible� conditions the evacuees had to endure during Hurricane Gustav.

True - some things were not optimal for the evacuation and the shelters need some modification. At any point, does anyone address the responsibility (or irresponsibility) of the evacuees?

Does it seem wrong that one would remember their cell phone, charger, cigarettes and lighter but forget their child�s insulin?

Is something amiss when an evacuee gets off the bus, walks immediately to the medical area, and requests immediate free refills on all medicines for which they cannot provide a prescription or current bottle (most of which are narcotics)?

Isn�t the system flawed when an evacuee says they cannot afford a $3 copay for a refill that will be delivered to them in the shelter yet they can take a city-provided bus to Wal-mart, buy 5 bottles of Vodka, and return to consume them secretly in the shelter?
And it keeps getting better and better...

A bit nappish

| No Comments
Got a lot done this A.M. and planning to take a couple hour nap. Good to be getting back on some kind of normal schedule...

Who am I

| No Comments
From Maggie's Farm:
Who am I?
  • I am under 45 years old,
  • I love the outdoors,
  • I hunt,
  • I am a Republican reformer,
  • I have taken on the Republican establishment,
  • I have many kids,
  • I have the VP spot on the ticket with less than 2 years in the governor's office.

A word to the wise

| No Comments
I woke up this morning around 7:30 or so -- I had been waking up reluctantly around 10:00 to 1:00PM so I am guessing that the constant pain prevented me from getting a lot of sustained REM sleep. Anyway, Jen took off the dressing and I used my crutches to get into the shower. It is Fall so we turn the furnace off at night. Word up -- cold crutch shoulder pads on the nice warm soft underbelly of a shoulder is a cruel thing first thing in the morning... Just sayin'

Back home -- Dave the Bionic Man

| 1 Comment
Got discharged from the hospital around 3:00PM this afternoon and am now home. Surgery went well -- 10:00AM Monday. The anesthesiologist was very good except that my legs didn't recover until late that evening. A classic case of rubberlegs. I started PT on Tuesday with walking and stepping up onto a platform. I have some restriction in movement until the dissected muscles heal but I am now completely pain free -- the only thing I feel is the ache from the incision and that will go away. Had an interesting event with the painkillers -- they have been giving me Percoset, two tabs every five hours. This worked except they would wear off and it took about 30-45 minutes for the next batch to take effect. Last evening, the night nurse said that he could give me my dose an hour early. This was at 10:00PM and since I wanted to get a solid nights sleep I said sure. I spent the next three hours having the most wonderful hallucinations. They were on a Hieronymus Bosch theme (with a bit of Eduard Gorey thrown in for fun). Not scary at all -- a lot of fun. What crowned off the whole experience is that my blanket was heavily textured and in my "dream state" I would be manipulating a branch and then I would wake up and realize that I was fondling the roughness of the blanket. Comments are turned back on and blogging will resume in full tomorrow or the next day.

Health Care around the world - France

Been (for some strange reason) Googling "health care" and the French system of National Health Care looks to be very good and it seems to have escaped our attention. Written by a 70 year old MD., A Brief History takes a good long look at it and likes what it sees. This site will be added to the blogroll when I get back. Check out: Health Care reform- The French system I and: Health Reform- France II and: Health Reform - France III and finally: Health Reform- the transition Good stuff - have not read it through to completion; something to do after I get back but what I read so far is excellent.

Calling it a night

| No Comments
Going out to the Dave Cave(TM) for a final check of email and then that's it for a few days. Go into the house of pain at 7:30AM tomorrow, surgery at 10:00AM and in there for two to three days. Looking forward to it as it has been a year and a half of almost constant pain or discomfort. I know that the incision will hurt but to be finally rid of the bone pain will be wonderful. Back in a few days...

Obama's "community organizer" cred

| No Comments
Nice column by Michelle Malkin at Town Hall:
Why Obama's "Community Organizer" Days Are a Joke
Rudy Giuliani had me in stitches during his red-meat keynote address at the GOP convention. I laughed out loud when Giuliani laughed out loud while noting Barack Obama's deep experience as a "community organizer." I laughed again when VP nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin cracked: "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."

Team Obama was not amused. (Neither were the snarky left-wingers on cable TV who are now allergic to sarcasm.) They don't get why we snicker when Obama dons his Community Organizer cape. Apparently, the jibes rendered Obama's advisers sleepless. In a crack-of-dawn e-mail to Obama's followers hours after Giuliani and Palin spoke, campaign manager David Plouffe attempted to gin up faux outrage (and, more importantly, donations) by claiming grave offense on the part of community organizers everywhere. Fumed Plouffe:
"Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack's experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed. Let's clarify something for them right now. Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies."
Let me clarify something. Nobody is mocking community organizers in church basements and community centers across the country working to improve their neighbors' lives. What deserves ridicule is the notion that Obama's brief stint as a South Side rabble-rouser for tax-subsidized, partisan nonprofits qualifies as executive experience you can believe in.
A bit more:
As I've reported previously, Obama's community organizing days involved training grievance-mongers from the far-left ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). The ACORN mob is infamous for its bully tactics (which they dub "direct actions"); Obama supporters have recounted his role in organizing an ambush on a government planning meeting about a landfill project opposed by Chicago's minority lobbies.

With benefactors like Obama in office, ACORN has milked nearly four decades of government subsidies to prop up chapters that promote the welfare state and undermine the free market, as well as some that have been implicated in perpetuating illegal immigration and voter fraud. Since I last detailed ACORN's illicit activities in this column in June (see "The ACORN Obama knows," June 19, 2008), the group continues to garner scrutiny from law enforcement:
Last week, Milwaukee's top election official announced plans to seek criminal investigations of 37 ACORN employees accused of offering gifts to sign up voters (including prepaid gas cards and restaurant cards) or falsifying driver's license numbers, Social Security numbers or other information on voter registration cards.

Last month, a New Mexico TV station reported on the child rapists, drug offenders and forgery convicts on ACORN's payroll. In July, Pennsylvania investigators asked the public for help in locating a fugitive named Luis R. Torres-Serrano, who is accused "of submitting more than 100 fraudulent voter registration forms he collected on behalf of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now to county election officials." Also in July, a massive, nearly $1 million embezzlement scheme by top ACORN officials was exposed.
I know that any organization will have its bad apples but ACORN is in a class unto itself when it comes to corruption and interference in the democratic process. Glad to see it getting some long deserved scrutiny...

Time to re-jigger your finances

Got anything at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc?

Too bad -- from Bloomberg:

Lehman Said to Prepare Bankruptcy as Buyers Withdraw
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. prepared to file for bankruptcy after Barclays Plc and Bank of America Corp. abandoned talks to buy the U.S. securities firm and Wall Street prepared for its possible liquidation.

Lehman and its lawyers are getting ready to file the documents for bankruptcy protection tonight, said a person with direct knowledge of the firm's plans. A final decision hasn't been made, though none of the other options being considered appeared likely, the person said, declining to be identified because the discussions haven't been made public.

Barclays, which had emerged as a leading candidate to acquire Lehman, pulled out first, contending it couldn't obtain guarantees from the government or other Wall Street firms to protect against potential losses on Lehman's assets. Bank of America withdrew about three hours later, according to a person with knowledge of the talks. Banks and brokers began consolidating trades in which Lehman is involved to minimize the impact of a possible bankruptcy filing tonight.

The U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve have struggled for three days to prevent the investment bank from failing before markets open tomorrow, people familiar with the situation said. With the two most serious bidders out of the picture, Lehman's options are few.

Bank of America pulled out of the Lehman deal but it did score another coup. From the Wall Street Journal:

Bank of America Reaches Deal for Merrill
In a rushed bid to ride out the storm sweeping American finance, 94-year-old Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed late Sunday to sell itself to Bank of America Corp. for roughly $44 billion.

The deal, which was being worked out in 48 hours of frenetic negotiating, could instantly reshape the U.S. banking landscape, making the nation's prime behemoth even bigger. The boards of the two companies approved the deal Sunday evening, according to people familiar with the matter.

Driven by Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis, Bank of America has already made dozens of acquisitions large and small, including the purchase of ailing mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. earlier this year. In adding Merrill Lynch, it would control the nation's largest force of stock brokers as well as a well-regarded investment bank.

A combination would create a bank of vast reach, involved in nearly every nook and cranny of the financial system, from credit cards and auto loans to bond and stock underwriting, merger advice and wealth management.

It would also show how the credit crisis has created opportunities for financially sound buyers. At $44 billion, or roughly $29 a share, Merrill would be sold at about two-thirds of its value of one year ago, and half its all-time peak value of early 2007. Merrill shares changed hands at $17.05 each on Friday, after falling sharply in the wake of Lehman's looming demise.

Not exactly a stable economy but I bet people are making fortunes with the right gamble. Not for me...

A visit to the zoo aviary

| No Comments
From the UK Sun:
Zoo's blushes at parrot's cusses
A PARROT is ruffling feathers at a zoo by telling visitors to �f*** off�.

Max the African Grey was donated by a previous owner who got fed up with his chatter.

The five-year-old also mimics car alarms and mobile phone ringtones.

Keeper Peter Hansom at South Park birdhouse in Darlington, Co Durham, blamed local school-children for teaching Max the obscenity.

He said: �He�s a bright chap and easily picked it up. There�s no knowing when he�ll blurt it out. I hold my breath when parents stand with small children at his cage.

�Sometimes he will just say �hello� or �bye� but as often as not it�s �f*** off�.

�It�s usually when people are walking away and least expect it.

�His favourite trick is to stick his head in a tin cup in his cage and then swear. He seems to know it makes a louder sound.�
African Greys are not stupid animals -- Max is probably having a great time riling up the visitors...

Comments turned off

| No Comments
I have been getting 30 to 50 comment spams each day so while I am away from the computer, I have turned off the comments.

21 Hours and Counting

| No Comments
Going in for a total hip replacement tomorrow -- surgery is scheduled for 10:00AM. I am stoked... I had really bad skin as a kid and grew up in Pittsburgh, PA when the steel mills were in full operation with no concern regarding pollution. This made me have major problems -- but -- there was this miracle drug called Prednisone that would cure the outbreaks. Unfortunately, we now know that heavy steroid use can cause Avascular Necrosis later in life and this is what has caused my hip to deteriorate to the point of being in constant pain. I am very much looking forward to the surgery as I am used to being relatively active and sitting around in a dull opiate haze is not my cuppa tea... There is no internet in the hospital so I will be offline for a few days. Due to the increase in spamming (school year), I will be turning off comments and trackbacks later this evening.

Happy sixth!!!

| No Comments
Jen and I celebrated our Sixth Wedding Anniversary today. Went out to see the new Coen brothers film: Burn after Reading We then went out to an excellent local Greek restaurant for dinner. Good stuff. Jen: I would marry you again in a heartbeat! And Burn after Reading is a must-see -- a wonderful comedy.

We had a sunspot

| No Comments
Yesterday, the face of the sun was graced with sunspot #1001 but:
A new sunspot has emerged, number 1001, but it is a small spot and may not last long. Readers with solar telescopes, take a look before it disappears.
Today, nothing -- no spots at all:

How to master Photoshop in one week

| No Comments
Excellent series of tutorials on Photoshop. Check it out here: How To Master Photoshop In Just One Week I am planning to spend a lot of time on the computer during the six-week convalescence after my hip surgery Monday. I'll be spending time here.

Yikes - what a way to go

Sad story from about 60 miles south of here -- from Seattle station KOMO:

Kent Man Killed By Exploding Lava Lamp
"Philip has been a kid who tinkers with things ever since he was little," a grieving Claudia Quinn told KOMO 4 News Monday night after her son's bizarre and tragic death.

Sunday, 24-year-old Philip Quinn was tinkering with a lava lamp at his home in Kent. His girlfriend and his parents became worried when they couldn't find him and couldn't get him to answer his phone.

Claudia and Bill Quinn drove from their home in Auburn to check on their youngest son. They thought maybe he'd just overslept. They were devastated by what they found.

"I looked around the corner and saw his body slumped there in the corner and just couldn't believe what I saw," said Quinn's father.

"There was glass from the kitchen clear to the living room," his mom told us. "They said it appeared that a piece of glass punctured his heart."

Philip, in a fatal act of experimentation, had placed a lava lamp on the kitchen stove. When used properly and heated only by a small lightbulb, 40 watts in most cases, a lava lamp is essentially harmless: a mix of wax or oil and water sealed in a glass bottle with a small air space at the top of the bottle to allow for the liquid to expand under heat.

At least it was a quick and relatively painless way to go. Cripes though -- talk about bad luck!

Be careful what you eat - Sushi

| No Comments
From CNN comes this story of two teenagers who did a little bit of research on their favorite subject - Sushi:
DNA testing uncovers suspect sushi
Two teenage girls used DNA bar coding to determine that some sushi on New York dinner plates was mislabeled with cheaper fish being passed off as a more expensive species.

Kate Stoeckle and Louisa Strauss were not science majors or even college students when they decided to take 60 samples of seafood and use a genetic fingerprinting technique to see whether the fish were labeled correctly.

The graduates of Manhattan's Trinity School in New York were inspired by Kate Stoeckle's father, Mark, a scientist and proponent of the use of DNA bar coding, a technique that greatly simplifies the process of identifying a species.

"Growing up, bar coding was dinner conversation, so I was familiar with it," Stoeckle said. "And then one night, while out to dinner, I asked, could we barcode sushi? Louisa and I love sushi, and we thought, why not apply the bar coding technology to see what food we're eating?"

After collecting samples from four restaurants and 10 grocery stores, spending about $300, the teens sent them to the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, where the Barcode of Life project began and where a graduate student had agreed to conduct the genetic analysis.
And the results?
The results showed that 25 percent of the girls' samples were mislabeled: half of the restaurant samples and six out of 10 grocery store samples.

In every case, less desirable or cheaper fish was substituted for its more expensive counterpart, Stoeckle said. She and her father would not divulge the names of vendors, citing a fear of lawsuits.

"It's not the fishermen, and it might not even be the restaurants," she said. "Most likely, the mislabeling is occurring somewhere at the distribution level."

For example, fish sold as white tuna turned out to be cheaper Mozambique tilapia, flying roe fish was replaced with smelt, and red snapper was mislabeled as Atlantic cod and Acadian redfish, an endangered species.
This does not surprise me at all. For our store, we are very careful about our vendors and there are some that I will not deal with under any circumstances. The previous owner always went for the cheap price. For some funny reason, every month that we have owned the store has seen an increase in sales -- August was our best month ever. The customer is very perceptive when it comes to the quality of the merchandise...

A charity with principles

| No Comments
Wonderful to see a strong sense of ethics -- from the Associated Press:
NY charity turns down share of $3M lottery jackpot
A New York charity says it has turned down a share of a $3 million lottery jackpot because accepting the money could send the wrong message to gambling addicts.

The Lighthouse Mission, which helps feed 3,000 hungry Long Island residents a week, had been chosen to share an anonymous donor's jackpot last month. The donor gave the winning ticket to the True North Community Church, which said it would share the money with other charities.

The mission's pastor, James Ryan, says he appreciates the offer but had to turn it down because his organization counsels against addictions, including gambling. He did not say what the mission's share of the prize would have been.
Very cool -- they certainly could use the money but their message and ethics were worth more.

The price of gas - economics

| No Comments
As if it needs explaining -- Rich at Shots Across The Bow explains the economics behind gasoline prices:
Gas Prices: The Real Story
It's amazing what you can learn if you just ask a question or two instead of assuming you already know the answer.

Why are gas prices spiking today?

Gouging, right? It's the evil big oil companies ripping us off again!

Actually, no, it isn't.
Visit his site for the full story. It is simple and obvious but it is amazing that so many people just do not get it...
You gotta love the green party -- they love to muck around with "environmental issues" but very few of them have practical experience or science degrees. From The Westerner:
Green activists 'are keeping Africa poor'
Western do-gooders are impoverishing Africa by promoting traditional farming at the expense of modern scientific agriculture, according to Britain's former chief scientist.

Anti-science attitudes among aid agencies, poverty campaigners and green activists are denying the continent access to technology that could improve millions of lives, Professor Sir David King will say today.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from Europe and America are turning African countries against sophisticated farming methods, including GM crops, in favour of indigenous and organic approaches that cannot deliver the continent's much needed �green revolution�, he believes.

Speaking before a keynote lecture tonight to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, of which he is president, Sir David said that the slow pace of African development was linked directly to Western influence. �I'm going to suggest, and I believe this very strongly, that a big part has been played in the impoverishment of that continent by the focus on nontechnological agricultural techniques, on techniques of farming that pertain to the history of that continent rather than techniques that pertain to modern technological capability. Why has that continent not joined Asia in the big green revolutions that have taken place over the past few decades?....
From this article at the London Times. One of the comments to this article sums up my thoughts exactly:
The "greenies" like to use science like a bludgeon when it's in their favor, and reject it as unnatural when it's not. They place their "Ideals" before humanity, and hope to take us all back to "hunter - gatherer" days.

Help in Afghanistan

| No Comments
Nice idea -- from Indianapolis' WIBC-FM:
Indiana National Guard to Help Afghan Farmers
New Guard unit will try to nudge farmers to crops other than opium poppies

64 Indiana National Guard members head for Afghanistan in December to help Afghan farmers grow something instead of opium poppies.

Afghanistan's poppy fields are a cornerstone of both the country's economy and the international drug trade. Indiana is one of five states assembling Guard units with agricultural experience to help wean farmers off poppies and help them find alternatives.

"Going in there and eradicating poppies (means) they can't feed their families, and we create an enemy while we're trying to create a friend," says Indiana Adjutant General Martin Umbarger.

Instead, he says, "agribusiness development teams" from Indiana, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee and Missouri will assist farmers with tasks from soil science to pest management.

Umbarger says Afghanistan had productive farms until the Soviet invasion nearly 30 years ago. He says the Indiana team will stay for a year, then give way to a fresh group of Indiana Guard members.

The Indiana troops will be stationed in Khost province, just across the border from Pakistan. 35 of the 64 troops will be in charge of security for the rest of the unit.
Very cool -- it's not enough to tell them to stop growing opium, we are teaching them how to farm other crops productively.

A landlord/tenant dispute in Canada

| No Comments
From the Kingston, Ontario Whig-Standard:
Tenant, landlord locked in battle
A bizarre standoff between a landlord and a tenant has been dragging on for nearly a year in Gananoque.

The battle - over a duplex that has had no power, water or heat for nearly that long -shows no sign of ending any time soon, despite the involvement of the provincial agencies and boards that are supposed to be able to police such disputes in Ontario.

The man at the centre of the dispute says it's a stark failure of the system that is supposed to protect tenants.

"I'm angry and I'm frustrated, and I'm just too stubborn to leave," said Jamie Davis, who moved into half of the North Street rental unit last year.

Before taking possession, Davis signed a three-year lease for $800 a month, utilities included, with a proviso that he would fix up the rundown house in exchange for not having to put down the customary last month's rent.

The landlord lives in the other half of the duplex.

Soon after moving in, though, the utilities to both sides of the duplex were shut off over non-payment of bills, and Davis says he has been in the dark -literally -ever since.
A bit more:
The landlord, Sam Gilbert, now faces charges under the provincial offences act for failing to provide vital services. The charge was filed by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing after Davis complained to their investigations and enforcement unit.
And the money quote:
Gilbert, a cigarette held in shaking fingers, said he couldn't explain the judgments against him or why he hadn't done what the tribunal ordered him to do.

"I can't read or write," said Gilbert, who said he works in construction and claimed that Davis had not paid him rent.

"He was supposed to pay me $800 a month, but he only ever paid me $200 to $300 a week," he said.

A little problem with the LHC

| No Comments
Check out the webcams at this site: LHC Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment Webcams Swiped from Movin' Meat
Check out one of Pilobolus' latest routines:
Amazing stuff - Raymond Crowe is also at this level but there is a big difference between one person and a largish ensemble.

An interesting funeral

| No Comments
A Mr. Mark Guardado was murdered on Sept. 2 and a few of his friends are planning to attend his funeral. Mr. Guardado was president of the San Francisco chapter of the Hells Angeles motorcycle club. The murder suspect (still at large) is a member of a rival gang. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Police mobilize for Hells Angels funeral
Police throughout the Bay Area are bracing for the biggest show of motorcycle club members since Marlon Brando hit town in "The Wild One."

No one knows exactly how many two-wheeled mourners in leather jackets are going to attend services Sunday and Monday for the slain president of the Hells Angels' San Francisco chapter, Mark "Papa" Guardado.

Some say there could be 1,000 Hells Angels, some say more.

"However many there are, we're going to be ready," said Officer Shawn Chase, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

Guardado, 46, was shot Sept. 2 outside a bar at 24th Street and Treat Avenue after what police described as a "wrestling match" with the gunman, who fled on a motorcycle. Christopher Ablett, 37, of Modesto, a member of the rival Mongols Motorcycle Club, is wanted on suspicion of murder.
A bit more:
If Hells Angels turn out in the number that some are predicting, Edwards said it could be the largest funeral procession in Daly City history, certainly the largest one on motorcycles.
Let us hope that sane heads prevail those days...

Heh - the view from New York

| No Comments
From John Renehan writing at Front Page Magazine:
I Am Not Having a Crisis
I am unusual, apparently. It�s not because I am a coffeehouse dweller, or an NPR listener, or prone to wear loafers with jeans. In the world I inhabited until recently, all of these are quite normal. Rather, it is that I am also a field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. Which places me in that subdemographic of New York lawyers who wear suits and work in office buildings until they decide to join the military and blow things up. (Trust me, there are some; just not many.) For this decision, I now endure lingering looks of concern from people who care about me.

I knew that friends and colleagues would be surprised. Prior to 2004, the year I left for basic training, I had shown no tendency toward reckless acts like joining the military. Nor did my colleagues know that members of my family had, in previous generations, routinely done stints in the armed services during times of national need. So I was prepared for a certain range of responses in New York, from puzzlement to backslapping support to outrage.

What I wasn�t prepared for was the quality of some people�s reactions�not simply surprise or distress, but something deeper and more permanent. People I had known for years started behaving differently toward me. This is a tough thing to put your finger on�but you can sense it. You can tell when you are being discussed, when people are trying to decide if they know you as well as they had thought.
A bit more:
And so their puzzlement continues. One distressed friend, hearing of my present employment, pounds the table and unleashes obscenities. Another tells people she thinks I�ve �changed.� (My oldest friends tell me I haven�t, which is a comfort.) And another tells me that she�s happy �that you�re doing something you care about,� with the forced enthusiasm of a supportive parent. All of which I try to take with good humor. But I wonder how we came to a point at which young persons�of a class that once viewed military service as an ordinary expression of its own privileged relationship to the state�could come to see the act of entering service as an oddity requiring special explanation.
Well said.


| No Comments
Interesting website. It is funded by the Annenberg foundation which has leanings towards the left but the site itself claims to be neutral. Check out FactCheck:
Our Mission
We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.
Looks interesting.

Heh - cute idea

| No Comments
Check out the Horse Head Pillow:
Brought to you by the folks at Kropcerkel

The Large Hadron Collider

The original one -- built about 13.8 billion years ago.

Not the one at CERN.

Click to embiggen.

Swiped from Bits & Pieces

It has a name - the Landscheidt Minimum

| No Comments
Considering that Dr. Theodor Landscheidt was a bit of an outlier (astrologer and amateur climatologist) it will probably be given another name -- a 'respected' scientist perhaps but this from his Wikipedia entry looks interesting:
Theodor Landscheidt
Theodor Landscheidt (born in 1927 in Bremen, Germany, died on May 20, 2004) was an author, astrologer and amateur climatologist.

In 1989, Landscheidt forecast a period of sunspot minima after 1990, accompanied by increased cold, with a stronger minima and more intense cold which should peak in 2030, which he described as the "Landscheidt Minimum". His work on solar cycles is cited by global warming skeptics to argue that observed warming is not anthropogenic and will soon be reversed, based on an assumption that fluctuations in climate are controlled by solar activity.

In 1983 he founded and financed the Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity in Lilienthal, near Bremen. The Institute (for which Landscheidt appears to have been the only active researcher) later moved with him to Nova Scotia, Canada.
This website lists some of Dr. Landscheidt's papers.

Nice font resource

| No Comments
Check out Type Oasis. Some beautiful stuff here: Pirates, Fantasy, Calligraphy and Blackletter Some junky stuff but a lot of beautiful fonts too.

9/11 - seven years later

| No Comments
Today is the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States. Spend some time over at Remember September 11, 2001 and say a prayer for the over 3,000 men, women and children that lost their lives that day. Never forget. Never forgive. Religion of peace indeed. Kudos to Senator McCain for spending this day at Shanksville, PA. Obama had a commemorative statement on his website but he is still on the road campaigning.

Arrrrggghhhhhh - time for some eye bleach!

| No Comments
Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple linked to this story where a reporter was given a Sarah Palin beehive hairdo and the Kawasaki 704 eyeglasses. From Denny:
Put Your Drink Down
So George sent me a link to this story and warned me to scroll all the way through and to put my drink down before doing so. It seemed innocuous enough.
So this reporter -- Anne Shooter -- gets made over. The result is good. They then photoshop the "Palin" look on some public figures -- Hillary, Cameron Diaz and then one more:
Gaaaahhhgh -- I did so NOT need to see that before going to sleep...

Unusual bear attack today

| No Comments
On Vancouver Island, Canada -- from the CBC:
Bear jumped on boat, mauled man on Vancouver Island
A bear mauling a man on a boat in Port Renfrew, B.C., wouldn't let go of its victim despite being struck with a gaff, beaten with a hammer and stabbed with sharp objects, one of the rescuers said Wednesday.

"It didn't let go until it died right in his boat," said Bruce Miller, who was the first to try to stop the attack.

Two men were fishing around 5 p.m. Tuesday when a black bear swam towards their boat and jumped aboard, RCMP Sgt. Roger Plamondon said Wednesday.

One of the men threw fish overboard, hoping to distract the bear, but he was still attacked, Plamondon said.

An unidentified 52-year-old man from Saltspring Island was taken to hospital with bites to his shoulder and arm, police said. He underwent surgery and is expected to fully recover.

Miller said he was working on his boat at the Port Renfrew Marina when he heard a "commotion."

"I just happened to look up and this bear was coming out of the water onto the dock, and right into the back of the guy's boat and went right at him," he said Wednesday.

"I had to take a second look � and the guy's friend or his brother was standing on the dock screaming."

Miller ran over with his gaff, a long pole with a sharp hook, and tried to fend off the attack of the bear, weighing about 136 kilograms.

"I gaffed him probably 10 times and was pulling on him and he wouldn't let go of the victim," he said.

"Two or three other guys came over to help and put more sharp stuff in it and gaffed it and beat it with a hammer and it wouldn't let go. Finally another gentleman came over with his filletting knife and cut the bear's throat."
Because of the cooler weather, one of the normal foods of the bears this time of the year (berries) have not ripened and they are forced to seek alternative sources of food before hibernation. All things are pointing to a cold winter so they are looking at tanking up as much as possible. There was no mention of whether the guy was cleaning his fish on the boat but the scent of that could have certainly drawn the interest of the bear.

Crap - two major earthquakes today

| No Comments
From CNN:
Major quakes hit Japan and Indonesia
A magnitude 6.9 earthquake rattled Japan on Thursday, within minutes of a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Indonesia, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from either quake, but both prompted tsunami warnings, although Japan's Meteorological Agency predicted it would be small, about 50 centimeter (20 inches).

The Indonesian quake occurred at exactly 9 a.m. (0000 GMT), the USGS said. Its epicenter was offshore, about 75 miles (120 km) north of Ternate in the province of Moluccas in eastern Indonesia. The quake was strongly felt in Ternate.
No news on damage or relief efforts needed.

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge

Tom Maguire at Just One Minute has been following the various threads of Obama's involvement with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama was the chairman.
The Times Discovers The Chicago Annenberg Challenge
Barack Obama wants to talk about education reform and has realized he can't duck his history with unrepentant Weatherman Bill Ayers and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

Fortunately the Times is here to help:

CHICAGO -- Senator Barack Obama learned how hard it can be to solve America's public education problems when he headed a philanthropic drive here a decade ago that spent $150 million on Chicago's troubled schools and barely made a dent.
Ahh, the old "I learned from my mistakes and occasional successes" spin I had suggested a few weeks back. Let's watch the Times hone in on the Bill Ayers connection - regular readers will recall that Bill Ayers co-wrote the grant proposal that led to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, then worked for years with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge through a group he formed and led called the Chicago School Reform Collaborative. There is an excellent chance that Obama and Ayers first partnered up on public school reform back in 1988, during an earlier city-wide push for hope and change in the Chicago schools.
One of Tom's commenters sums up the issue perfectly:
Mr. X, a candidate for US President, a member of a major political party, has omitted from his resume his ONLY executive experience, a position in which he oversaw the spending of $50 million dollars (plus at least the same amount in matching funds). The purpose of the project was to improve public schools. The conclusion at the end of the project was that no improvement had occurred.

Researchers looking at the paperwork for this project find that grants for teaching math were denied, but grants with political themes were granted.

Now substitute some Republican name for X in the preceding. Would you regard this as something worth looking into? Yeah, I think you would.
The "administrative overhead" was a bit over $8 million. That is a lot of paperclips... Steve Diamond is also covering this story and has some excellent observations. This is a complex and potentially very damaging seven years of Obama's life. It needs to be brought to light. Is this the person we want to run the United States?

Fossilized forest found

From the BBC:

Ancient trees recorded in mines
Spectacular fossil forests have been found in the coal mines of Illinois by a US-UK team of researchers.

The group reported one discovery last year, but has since identified a further five examples.

The ancient vegetation - now turned to rock - is visible in the ceilings of mines covering thousands of hectares.

These were among the first forests to evolve on the planet, Dr Howard Falcon-Lang told the British Association Science Festival in Liverpool.

"These are the largest fossil forests found anywhere in the world at any point in geological time," he told reporters.

"It is quite extraordinary to find a fossil landscape preserved over such a vast area; and we are talking about an area the size of (the British city of) Bristol."

The forests grew just a few million years apart some 300 million years ago; and are now stacked one on top of another.

It appears the ancient land experienced repeated periods of subsidence and flooding which buried the forests in a vertical sequence.

They have since become visible because of the extensive mining operations in the border area between the states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

Very cool -- would love to see it if I ever get to that area again.

We are still here!

| No Comments
The Large Hadron Collider powered up today and ran without a hitch. They only ran one proton beam so there were no collisions but nice to know that it worked flawlessly. This puppy is going to do some awesome research! In honor of the event -- check out the LHC Rap:

Nice science website

| No Comments
Just ran into Science Ray Adding it to the blogroll -- lots of wonderful photography.
Excellent essay from Elizabeth Scalia:
Psychologists Want to Purge Your Brain of Un-Green Thoughts
Somewhere between 1968 and 2008 the social messaging wires have gotten tangled.

Forty years after enlightened baby boomers and academics decried conformity and told the world to ignore �the establishment,� to not kowtow to �the man,� to �rap about problems to find solutions,� and to �not guilt-trip or judge other people�s life choices,� those same sorts � the now firmly ensconced �establishment� pretending otherwise � are wondering why they can�t get people to fall in line and do as they�re told to do and think as they�re told to think with respect to the environment and the �crisis� of �climate change,� the �crisis� which used to be called �global warming� until the news got out that the earth has been cooling for the last ten years and the arctic ice is refusing to melt.

Now, these establishment Boomers want you to kowtow to �the man.� They�ll brook no open discussions and they prefer you would learn to judge others � and to scold them � for their own good and for the planet�s.
Ahhh yes, the 60's -- that great "social experiment" And just as Bill Ayers is cropping up, a lot of the failed ideas are as well. Socialism is a dead duck -- get over it and move on. Your ideas did not work then and they do not work now.

A good thing to check each morning

| No Comments
Curious about the controversy over the Large Hadron Collider? Check out: Has the large Hadron Collider Destroyed the World yet? Lhluh78to7tO*To8t7liG... NO CARRIER

R.I.P. - Hector Zazou

| No Comments
Well crap - he was a wonderful composer. His music is hard to catagorize -- ambient like? From the Basque News and Information Channel eitb24:
French composer Hector Zazou dies
He passed away in hospital this morning after falling seriously ill earlier this year. He was 60 years old.

French ambient/neoclassical innovative composer and record producer Hector Zazou passed away in hospital this morning after falling seriously ill earlier this year. He was 60 years old.

He worked with Galician Carlos Nu�ez, Japanese Ryuichi Sakamoto, G�rard Depardieu, David Sylvian, Bj�rk, Suzanne Vega, John Cale, V�rttina, Jane Siberry, Siouxsie Sioux, Laurie Anderson, Melanie Gabriel, Lori Carson, Lisa Germano, Irene Grandi, Jane Birkin or Robert Fripp.

Crammed label enjoyed a long, friendly and fruitful relationship with Hector since the early 1980s, releasing 10 of his albums to date. 'In The House Of Mirrors', his most recently completed work, is due for release imminently.
He will be missed -- I really liked his work.

Read this

| No Comments
Kim DuToit's wife also writes and she hit the ball out of the park with this essay. Check out Fixing Hurricanes
Fixing Hurricanes
The comic Louis Black crafted an entire act based on overhearing stupid people say stupid things. In one of the routines he describes the feeling of hearing something said on the street and how it does things to your head. He uses the analogy of wanting to stab an ice pick in both your ears to get the thought out of your head, because try as you might, it�s damn near impossible to stop trying to figure out what in the heck they could have meant by it, or how they came to be so wrong. He used the gag of a woman saying, �if it weren�t for my horse, I�d have gone to college.�


* * *

Kim�s son and heir was at a shooting competition outside Houston last weekend. When he was checking out of the motel, folks were checking in who were from New Orleans, having (this time) evacuated the area. He overheard one of the women speaking and she said, �The government really needs to do something about these hurricanes.�

I�ve spent hours with that thought in the back of my mind, trying to figure out how many things could have gone wrong for someone to be that stupid. It�s easier to assume that he misheard what she said, or there was a preface to, or a word in, the conversation that was missed. Perhaps she meant to say, �the government really needs to do something about these hurricane evacuations,� or something that would indicate that she really didn�t believe that the government was capable of altering the weather.
An excellent rant/essay -- longish but a wonderful read.
Some people just do not get a clue. From the Cedar Rapids Gazette:
Marion man claims IRS has no jurisdiction over him
A Marion man has been accused of sending in a fraudulent tax return claiming a refund of all federal taxes he's ever paid because the United States is a "fictional entity" and he is not subject to governmental jurisdiction.

Richard L. Mellor, 53, of 2175 Stratford Dr., was charged with false or fraudulent claims in an indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court.

In August 2003, Mellor sent the return to the Internal Revenue Service claiming a refund of $240,009, court records show. Mellor claimed the taxes were paid in error, in part, because the United States is a fictional entity and he is not subject to the jurisdiction of the IRS.

Mellor also claimed he is not a U.S. citizen � he is a "citizen of Heaven."

If convicted, he faces a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

Mellor appeared Thursday in federal court in Cedar Rapids and was released on bond. His trial is set for Nov. 3.

A case Mellor brought against IRS agent Arnold Stevenson in March 2005 after an investigation into this tax return claimed Stevenson was an "agent of a foreign principal," and that he would be guilty of theft if he seized Mellor's money or property "according to international law."
Hey Richard -- word up man; do not drop the soap... Just sayin'

Minimal posting tonight

| No Comments
Had to run into town today, had dinner at an excellent Mexican place there and continuing with the theme, stopped at a local place to have a few margaritas before heading home. Just got back and a bit sleepy for some strange reason... Going to do a quick surf but I'm heading off to bed soon.

We have a commenter

I swiped this post: A simple question to Barack Obama from Neanderpundit a few days ago as I thought it was funny and relevant. Today, Phyllis Jones offered the following comment:

I have noticed that all the Conservative News Reporters when they report on anything that Barack Obama does, they always show his name as B. Hussein Obama. I read two articles on Friday and they both showed his name as "Hussein". They specifically use "Hussein" in their reporting of him, I don't like that because they want to implicate him as being a part of the enemy or the muslim religion which we know he's not. Barack's mother and father gave him that middle name years ago before anybody knew anything about the history of Hussein so they are not being very fair to him. Also, Sarah Palin and company are intentionally not letting her have interviews with the press or news media. I feel she has things to hide and John McCain is protecting her from the media. If she says she's strong and hangs with the "Good Old Boys" then she should be strong enough to stand up to the media questions. How are we suppose to evaluate her in the next 58 days if she doesn't speak afterall she is running for the second most important job in the country, and possibly, the first if anything happens to John McCain. John McCain wants everyone to think he has changed, but you and I know he hasn't. He is using this Palin choice as a cover job in hopes that she'll steal the limelight from him and not show his flaws. He cannot, which he is doing, use his military story to run the country - it was very historic - but come on, enough is enough. Another note, when John McCain took so long to make his decision or inform the public about his pick for VP, everyone in the Democratic party should have known that he was going to pick a woman - he was just waiting to see if Barack was going to pick Hillary as a choice for VP, the first woman VP choice (this move would have been historic as well as a good move for the Democrats (18 million votes) - we messed up on this one and McCain knew it. Barack could have picked Joe Biden as his Secretary of State, like Condoleeza Rice is. So to steal his thunder, he picked Palin because he knew all the women were waiting for a first pick woman in this position. Barack Obama should definitely show in all of his ads the picture of McCain and Bush together as often as possible so the people will get the message. You need to get the message out there that this is what America is voting for on the McCain/Palin ticket - 4 years of the same old thing. Palin's views on everything must be explored and exposed - she is not off limits just because she is a woman and a mother (aren't we all mothers). She accepted the nomination for VP and has hung with the "Good Old Boys" as she has stated over and over again, so she should be treated the same as any man would running for the same position and answer all the questions that are thrown her way. I'm not comfortable with her avoiding the media and not answering questions because she is hiding something that the public needs to know. Democrats please don't just register to vote, go out on election day and "VOTE", that is the only way we are going to win for White House. Let's do what the Republican's do - get out and show we really want something really big and historical for the country - get out and VOTE on election day, don't just talk about it "DO IT" - we can win the White House if we all stick together and vote for Barack Obama.

Just wow... Og at Neanderpundit noticed my link, came for a visit and had this reply to Phyllis:

Phyllis: I gotta know. Does it physically pain you to be this ignorant? I mean, I would certainly hope that your level of bloodymindedness would cause you some pain, or are you so sedated/numb that you have no idea?

Phyllis -- the Hussein is used because that is his name. Of course he was named way before Saddam Hussein was in the public eye; that is not the point. The point is that, while growing up, he had connections with Islam, attended a Muslim school in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971. His twenty-year connection with Jeremiah Wright's church opens the possibility of connection with the Nation of Islam as there was a good measure of cross-pollination between the two. As for Sarah Palin not granting interviews; she has only been the Republican V.President candidate for a few days (nominated on Sept 2nd) Since then, she has made several campaign stops as well as hunkering in and learning more about her job. She has several interviews scheduled. As for (your words) "using this Palin choice as a cover job"; McCain got inside the Obama OODA loop and disrupted it. A good and unconventional but wise decision and one that successfully tripped up the Obama campaign. You said: "when John McCain took so long to make his decision or inform the public about his pick for VP, everyone in the Democratic party should have known" OODA loop again, McCain waited until the last moment and then struck -- successfully too if current poll numbers are accurate. You: (aren't we all mothers) I'm not. About half of the people I know aren't either.

The price of Freedom

| No Comments
Watch this and then pass it on: Hat tip to Gerard at American Digest.

A two-fer for Obama

| No Comments
From Charles #1) - A Freudian slip?
Obama: 'My Muslim Faith'

Luckily, he has ABC News and George Stephanopoulos to jump in and correct him.
An excerpt of the interview can be found at YouTube. #2) - What year is it again?
Obama Suddenly Remembers: He Almost Joined the Military
He�s never mentioned it before, not even in two autobiographies, but Barack Obama has suddenly remembered that he considered joining the military.

Obama disclosed that he had once considered serving in the military.
�You know, I actually did,� Obama said. �I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school. And I was growing up in Hawaii. And I have friends whose parents were in the military. There are a lot of Army, military bases there.

�And I actually always thought of the military as an ennobling and, you know, honorable option. But keep in mind that I graduated in 1979. The Vietnam War had come to an end. We weren�t engaged in an active military conflict at that point. And so, it�s not an option that I ever decided to pursue.�
There is a wee bit of a problem here.
Just one problem with Obama�s little story.

Registration for selective service was not reinstated until 1980.
On March 25, 1975, Pres. Gerald Ford signed Proclamation 4360, Terminating Registration Procedures Under Military Selective Service Act, eliminating the registration requirement for all 18-25 year old male citizens. Then on July 2, 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed Proclamation 4771, Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act, retroactively re-establishing the Selective Service registration requirement for all 18-26 year old male citizens born on or after January 1, 1960. Only men born between March 29, 1957, and December 31, 1959, were completely exempt from Selective Service registration. The first registrations after Proclamation 4771 took place on Monday, July 21, 1980, for those men born in January, February and March 1960 at U.S. Post Offices.
Ya' know, some days things just don't go your way... UPDATE: Turns out that he registered in 1980. Bob Owens at Pajamas Media:
After contacting the Selective Service System for an answer several times since late June, Pajamas Media obtained official confirmation from the Selective Service System via email that Barack Obama did indeed register for the Selective Service as required by law, and is eligible to run for the presidency.
Mr. Owens,

Barack Hussein Obama registered at a post office in Hawaii. The effective registration date was September 4, 1980.

His registration number is 61-1125539-1.

Daniel Amon
Public Affairs Specialist

A couple weeks ago, I posted about an article in National Geographic about an underground labyrinth filled with stone temples and pyramids in 14 caves - some underwater.

Well, it turns out that there was somebody home.


From National Geographic:

Oldest Skeleton in Americas Found in Underwater Cave?
Deep inside an underwater cave in Mexico, archaeologists may have discovered the oldest human skeleton ever found in the Americas.

Dubbed Eva de Naharon, or Eve of Naharon, the female skeleton has been dated at 13,600 years old. If that age is accurate, the skeleton - along with three others found in underwater caves along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula - could provide new clues to how the Americas were first populated.

She opens up some interesting ideas about our origins on this landmass:

Clues from the skeletons' skulls hint that the people may not be of northern Asian descent, which would contradict the dominant theory of New World settlement. That theory holds that ancient humans first came to North America from northern Asia via a now submerged land bridge across the Bering Sea.

"The shape of the skulls has led us to believe that Eva and the others have more of an affinity with people from South Asia than North Asia," Gonzalez explained.

Some fascinating geology as well:

The remains were found some 50 feet (15 meters) below sea level in the caves off Tulum. But at the time Eve of Naharon is believed to have lived there, sea levels were 200 feet (60 meters) lower, and the Yucatan Peninsula was a wide, dry prairie.

The polar ice caps melted dramatically 8,000 to 9,000 years ago, causing sea levels to rise hundreds of feet and submerging the burial grounds of the skeletons. Stalactites and stalagmites then grew around the remains, preventing them from being washed out to sea.

Gonzalez has also found remains of elephants, giant sloths, and other ancient fauna in the caves.


Sometimes just the headline is enough

| No Comments
This headline certainly tells the story. From the Associated Press:
Palin's pastor urges flock to pray for the media

Let them eat Cake

| No Comments
Actually, no. From the Boston Globe/Associated Press:
Don't let them eat cake, Saudi cleric says
When Hala al-Masaad invited her girlfriends over to celebrate her 18th birthday with cake and juice, the high school student was stepping into an unusual public debate. Is celebrating birthdays un-Islamic?

Saudi Arabia's most senior Muslim cleric recently denounced birthday parties as an unwanted foreign influence, but another prominent cleric declared they were OK.

That has left al-Masaad with mixed feelings about her low-key celebration last month. She loves birthday parties, she says, because they make her feel that she has "moved from one stage of life to another."

"But I sometimes feel I'm doing something haram," she said sheepishly, using the Arabic word for banned.

The Saudi ban on birthdays is in line with the strict interpretation of Islam followed by the conservative Wahhabi sect adhered to in the kingdom. All Christian and even most Muslim feasts are also prohibited because they are considered alien customs the Saudi clerics don't sanction.
Talk about being sanctimonious uptight old prick. These people have no love, no sense of humor, no passion except for their 9th century moon worshiping.

Heh - read the numbers and weep

| No Comments
The tide is turning -- from USA Today:
Poll: Convention lifts McCain over Obama
The Republican National Convention has given John McCain and his party a significant boost, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken over the weekend shows, as running mate Sarah Palin helps close an "enthusiasm gap" that has dogged the GOP all year.

McCain leads Democrat Barack Obama by 50%-46% among registered voters, the Republican's biggest advantage since January and a turnaround from the USA TODAY poll taken just before the convention opened in St. Paul. Then, he lagged by 7 percentage points.
The 2004 election was between dumb and dumber and I am glad that dumb won. This time around, we have an inexperienced political hack (with great speech-making skills) v/s two genuine leaders
Proof once again that Islam is truly the Religion of Peace. From
Married at 9, slain by parents at 17
Despair among human rights workers in Pakistan over a rash of so-called "honour killings" intensified yesterday when it was disclosed that a girl forced into marriage with a 45-year-old man at the age of nine had been killed by her parents because she asked for an annulment.

The girl, 17, who had been fighting a lonely but successful legal battle, was coming out of court in the Punjabi city of Sahiwal after being granted the annulment by a judge when she was surrounded by a group of men and shot in view of police.
Despair but no action -- nobody had the stones to arrest these sons of pigs and monkeys? For a list of the last two months of Islamic violence check out this page at The Religion of Peace. In just the last six days -- September 1st through September 6th, there have been 118 murders and 270 people injured. It's not just Iraq -- there are Buddhists getting murdered in Thailand, Farmers trying to pump water getting blown up by a booby trapped pump, nine year old boys getting killed. These are not intelligent and thinking people -- these are people that make a Neanderthal look good by comparison. And one presidential candidate has expressed interest in sitting down and talking with these people -- as though that will have any effect...

Another video - the Mythbusters team

| No Comments
Major geekdom -- they were commissioned by NVidia to do a demo representing the difference between a CPU and a massively parallel Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) Check out Adam and Jamie as they paint the Mona Lisa Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.
Great seven minute YouTube here: Digital Grunt Like I said, got the tee-shirt...
It's true - if you do not believe me, go here: Purple Slinky Ignore at your peril!

Well DOH!

| No Comments
I have been noticing a large uptick in the level of comment spam attempts here. Just hit me today, all the students returning to school with shiny new laptops... About 30% of yesterday's spam was from .EDU addresses -- 10% from Europe and Latin America. The rest from the Zombie net at Comcast and Roadrunner, et. al. (ip addresses in the 60's and 70's)
Essayist Bill Whittle is an amazing writer but he doesn't post that frequently. He hones his essays until they are word-perfect. He just had a piece published at National Review Online:
Proud of the GOP
For the first time, I feel like we deserve to win more than they deserve to lose.

Two masterstrokes were accomplished in the last two days of this year�s Republican National Convention. In her first appearance on the national stage � which can only be called a tectonic event � Sarah Palin secured the conservative base for maverick John McCain, while also reaching out to Democratic women. Then on Thursday night, John McCain struck again, making a play for the rest of the Democratic party.

When John McCain was sewing up the nomination in the early spring, I spent a lot of time in many comment sections defending him in as many ways as I knew how. He wasn�t my first choice (Fred) or my second (Rudy), but he was the GOP nominee, fairly elected, and looking at the table I thought he was the only man who had a chance to win in November � because frankly, we Republicans don�t deserve to be this lucky.

Many conservatives were arguing that it would be better to sit this one out, and let the country go to hell, so that we could send the Republican party a message and re-emerge from the ashes in 2012 with �the next Reagan.� I pointed out that there were two problems with this theory:

First, you may not like the fact that Grandma smokes in bed, and you may indeed want to get her attention. But if that message consists of letting her set the bed, the house and the grandchildren on fire, perhaps there was a better way to �send a message.� Second, it pained me to point out that there was no �next Reagan.� Ronald Reagan was on the political scene for almost two decades before he became President. Who was waiting in the wings to magically fill this role? No one.

Newt Gingrich�s fire-breathing army of young reform Republicans who stormed congress in 1994 grew, in about a decade, into the party of Duke Cunningham, Trent Lott, and the Bridge to Nowhere. I watched this unfold � especially after 2004 � and time and time again, the core conservative values of discipline and responsibility were betrayed, mocked, and ignored. Restraint is not an easy sell in a society this affluent � not compared with the view of government as a bottomless bag of candy. That�s why we�re supposed to be the party of adults.

Power corrupts, and I believe there is no power more intoxicating and corrosive than the ability to spend other people�s money at will. If Newt�s Army could go so far astray, you can bet the country was disillusioned, disappointed, and furious � not just ready for change, but eager for it, even change as ethereal and diffuse as what Senator Obama has been peddling. We lost the Senate and the House in 2006 because of this. We were going to lose the presidency in 2008 for it. And we deserved to lose it.

And so � prior to this week � all we had was a grim determination to vote against a dangerous, socialized vision of the future. We were portrayed � largely accurately � as old, tired, out-of-touch, out of ideas, out of candidates . . . too white, too male, too square. It doesn�t matter how true or false that caricature was. That was the narrative, and there was enough of it that fit.

And then the earthquake came.
Two bits more:
Sarah Palin has done more than unify and electrify the base. She�s done something I would not have thought possible, were it not happening in front of my nose: Sarah Palin has stolen Barack Obama�s glamour. She�s stolen his excitement, robbed his electricity, burgled his charisma, purloined his star power, and taken his Hope and Change mantra, woven it into a cold-weather fashion accessory, and wrapped it around her neck.
And, finally . . . what of John McCain? I�ve read many comments about his speech being a disappointment. I don�t know how it looked or played from the floor. But I know how it played from my Los Angeles living room. I believe � and we�ll know soon enough if I�m right � that John McCain did something Thursday night more powerful and astonishing than Sarah Palin did the previous evening. Sarah stole Obama�s glamour. McCain stole his message. (Granted, that may not be a lot, apart from the glamour, but it was all Obama had left.)
What he said... The essay is three pages long - about five or ten minutes and well worth reading.

Unemployment numbers

| 1 Comment
Coyote Blog notes a coincidence between the recent spike in unemployment and the recent 12% raise in the mandatory Minimum Wage:
New Unemployment Numbers
US unemployment in August "jumped unexpectedly" to 6.1%, by the oddest of coincidences in the first full month just after new, 12% higher US minimum wages took effect.

The unemployment rate is higher than it has been in the United States in the last 5 years, but substantially lower than the rate most Western European countries like France and Germany experience even during peak economic times.

In response, the Obama campaign is urging further increases to the minimum wage and emulation of labor policy and legislation in France and Germany.
Cause and effect -- goes hand in hand and people wonder why... For those who don't want to click on the links above, the unemployment numbers are: France - 8% and Germany - 9.1%. Makes our 6.1% look good...
From FOX News:
Texas Man Kills Home Intruder With His Own Gun
When two gunmen smashed through the glass front door of her suburban Fort Worth home, Kellie Hoehn didn't think twice.

The 34-year-old mother of two grabbed a shotgun that had been pointed at her face early Wednesday, starting a struggle that ended with one intruder killed with his own weapon and another in the hospital.

"I wasn't going to let them get to my babies," she said, recalling the moment when she pushed up the muzzle of the shotgun, pointing it away from her children's rooms.
I love Heinlein's comment: An armed society is a polite society. Had the household been armed, there would not have been the scuffle -- it would just have been the removal of two goblins from the gene pool.
An interesting report from Newsmax:
Obama Had Close Ties to Top Saudi Adviser at Early Age
New evidence has emerged that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was closely associated as early as age 25 to a key adviser to a Saudi billionaire who had mentored the founding members of the Black Panthers.

In a videotaped interview this year on New York�s all news cable channel NY1, a prominent African-American businessman and political figure made the curious disclosures about Obama.

Percy Sutton, the former borough president of Manhattan, off-handedly revealed the unusual circumstances about his first encounter with the young Obama.

�I was introduced to (Obama) by a friend who was raising money for him,� Sutton told NY1 city hall reporter Dominic Carter.

�The friend�s name is Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, from Texas,� Sutton said. �He is the principal adviser to one of the world�s richest men. He told me about Obama.�

Sutton, the founder of Inner City Broadcasting, said al-Mansour contacted him to ask a favor: Would Sutton write a letter in support of Obama�s application to Harvard Law School?

�He wrote to me about him,� Sutton recalled. �And his introduction was there is a young man that has applied to Harvard. I know that you have a few friends up there because you used to go up there to speak. Would you please write a letter in support of him?�

Sutton said he acted on his friend al-Mansour�s advice.
And a bit more:
Although many Americans have never heard of Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour (his full name), he is well known within the black community as a lawyer, an orthodox Muslim, a black nationalist, an author, an international deal-maker, an educator, and an outspoken enemy of Israel.
How many more of these skeletons are in Obama's closet? Why doesn't he disclose these relationships?

A simple question to Barak Obama

Neanderpundit asks a simple question:
Bring on the Duh.
From Obamessiah, reacting to Palin�s speech:
�We�re into the final day of the convention, and not one serious word about the state of the economy, not one serious word about where they would lead,�
I have a question for you, Mr Obama:

Simply put...

That's it for tonight

| No Comments
The meeting went well -- it was run by the County and was addressing future plans and zoning. Most of the people out here moved out here for a reason and the interest in preserving "rural character" is high. The county planners are looking at adding housing and an industrial area. Needless to say, the meeting was well attended with about 100 residents showing up. I have to be in Bellingham for an 8:30AM doctors appointment so it's off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to bed. Had a bit of a glitch with the hospital -- over a year ago, I had a chronic ingrown toenail get really infected so went and had it taken care of (the podiatrist removed a chunk of the nail and it has been fine ever since). The infection didn't respond to the prescribed Cephalexin so two weeks later, I went in, got a culture swab taken and whoop-de-dooo MRSA... A couple weeks of Vancomycin sent that little gift packing and everything was fine. Unfortunately, I was never "cleared". I should have had two nasal swabs taken a week apart to verify that I no longer had an MRSA infection. Today is the 4th. My surgery is on the 15th. Since there is no time to get cleared, I will be spending my time in isolation... The plan was to get a group of joint patients together so we could act as mutual support through our three days in the house of pain but I will not have this option. Well crap...

Nice guys

These mokes should be given mental health screening and then institutionalized for a while...

From the Minneapolis

Sheriff's investigation: Anarchists discussed kidnapping delegates
A year ago, the Ramsey County sheriff's office began looking closely at a group called the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee.

What it found, according to an 18-page search warrant application and affidavit, led to weekend raids on two Minneapolis homes and a temporary St. Paul office for the self-described anarchist group.

According to the document, investigation learned:
  • The self-described anarchist group - whose main goal was to "crash" the Republican National Convention," according to its Web site - traveled to or communicated with affinity groups in 67 cities to recruit members and raise money.
  • Group members discussed the possibility of kidnapping delegates, blockading bridges, using liquid sprayers filled with urine or chemicals on police and throwing marbles to trip police and their horses.
  • At an "action camp" held from July 31 to Aug. 3 in Lake Geneva, Minn., one member talked of concealing inside giant puppets "materials" that could be used on the street. Others discussed the need for Molotov cocktails, paint, caltrops (devices used to puncture tires), bricks and lockboxes for protesters to lock themselves together.
  • Erik Oseland, one of the six group members arrested here, produced a video called "Video Map of the St. Paul Points of Interest." It included such major companies as Travelers Insurance and Qwest, hotels such as the Embassy Suites and the Crowne Plaza. Also included: the Pioneer Press building.
The main sources for the information were "regular surveillance" of the group and three people who posed as members - two informants and an undercover investigator. The informants monitored e-mails and conversations.

Geneva Finn of the National Lawyers Guild, which represents many of those arrested, said it was hard for her to weigh the evidence in the affidavit because "it's all based on the testimony of people who are not identified, and that's a real problem."

Police and the Sheriff's Department characterized the anarchists as troublemakers who had come from other cities and states to disrupt the convention.

"Yesterday, there was a group of people, not the protesters ... but a group of criminals who came here with a very express goal and intent," St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said Tuesday. "They came here to try to stop the convention, to crash the gates, to stop the buses and the delegates. ... They failed."

And of course, the ACLU is getting into the picture:

The ACLU and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild also criticized the police response to the protesters.

ACLU of Minnesota Executive Director Chuck Samuelson said he believes an excessive number are being charged with serious felonies such as conspiracy to commit riot.

Of the 284 arrests Monday, 130 were made on suspicion of felonies and 51 on gross misdemeanors. Samuelson said that in similar mass arrests during demonstrations, two-thirds are charged with misdemeanors.

Hey Chuck -- the ratio changed because this is not some home-grown protest. These are professional anarchists who traveled from other cities to cause havoc and they talked about kidnapping delegates. These mokes were taking things to the next level and fortunately, the police response was measured and appropriate.

I am still sad that the arrests happened when they did -- they gave the left some ammunition for P.R. among themselves. Better to watch the persons of interest and catch them in the act. Sill, that would have required a lot more manpower and you cannot have eyes everywhere.

As for the ACLU, they are in the same boat as the labor unions, MADD, Greenpeace, they started out doing great work and their efforts were needed but once their agendas were met, they didn't disband, they suffered scope creep and a corruption of their original ideals.

Light posting today

| No Comments
Been working at the store and there is a community meeting in 30 minutes. That will probably take a couple hours.

Great comment from Victor Davis Hanson

Maggie's Farm found the link to this great idea from Victor Davis Hanson:
Want Real Change? Quit Nominating Lawyers
The 2008 presidential campaign is supposed to be a referendum on "change" -- who brings it and who doesn't.

Real change, however, hasn't yet proven to mean new politics.

The "hope and change" Barack Obama sounds like a traditional Northern liberal who always wants to raise taxes on the upper classes and businesses, expand government services and provide more state assistance to the middle class and poor.

"Maverick" John McCain talks like a conventional Western or Southern conservative in favor of spending cuts, across-the-board lower taxes and smaller government.

This year the media seem to think change means race and sex -- whether Barack Obama's background of mixed racial ancestry or the gender of Democratic primary candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

It's certainly true that either the next president or next vice president will not be a white male. But does that mean de facto that the country will be run any differently?

There is, however, one area where we might have seen real change. The Democrats could have not nominated another lawyer. This may partly explain why former military officer John McCain and working-mom Sarah Palin are polling near even with Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, in a year that otherwise favors the Democrats.

A snowmobiling, fishing and hunting mom of five who was trained as a journalist seems like a breath of fresh air -- and accentuates the nontraditional background of former naval officer John McCain. If the Republicans win, it may well be that, like George Bush and Dick Cheney, or Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, they weren't members of the legal culture.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama got out of Harvard Law School, worked for a firm, offered his legal expertise as a community organizer and went into politics. Joe Biden graduated from law school and almost immediately ran for office.
What do you call 100 dead lawyers piled at the bottom of a cliff? A good start... (cue rimshot) An interesting idea and may well be part of the McCain/Palin success.

The horrible death toll in Iraq Chicago

| 1 Comment
From Instapundit comes a link to this story at CBS2Chicago:
Nearly 125 Shot Dead In Chicago Over Summer
Total Is About Double The Death Toll In Iraq

An estimated 123 people were shot and killed over the summer. That's nearly double the number of soldiers killed in Iraq over the same time period.

In May, began tracking city shootings and posting them on Google maps. Information compiled from our reporters, wire service reports and the Chicago Police Major Incidents log indicated that 123 people were shot and killed throughout the city between the start of Memorial Day weekend on May 26, and the end of Labor Day on Sept. 1.
According to the Defense Department, 65 soldiers were killed in combat in Iraq. About the same number were killed in Afghanistan over that same period.
In the same time period, an estimated 245 people were shot and wounded in the city.
It's time to pull out I tell you!

A wonderful analysis from Dr. Mercury

| No Comments
Over at Maggie's Farm, frequent technology poster Dr. Mercury sums it up nicely. Go here and read: From Sparks To Flame What he said...
Both campaigns have an issue with an unmarried 17 year old mother. Bristol Palin is pregnant. Barrack Obama's Mom was preggers with him at 17 and not married. When you read here, there really should not be any comparison -- from the UK Telegraph: From the "It's a small family matter -- we will deal with it at home really"
Pakistani women buried alive 'for choosing husbands'
A Pakistani politician has defended a decision to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands.

Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, told a stunned parliament that northwestern tribesman had done nothing wrong in first shooting the women and then dumping them in a ditch.

"These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them," he said.

"Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid."

The women, three of whom were teenagers and whose "crime" was that they wished to choose who to marry, were still breathing as mud and stones were shovelled over their bodies, according to Human Rights Watch.

The three girls, thought to be aged between 16 and 18, were kidnapped by a group of men from their Umrani tribe and murdered in Baba Kot, a remote village in Jafferabad district.

According to some reports, Baluchistan government vehicles were used to abduct the girls, and the killing was overseen by a tribal chief who is the brother of a provincial minister from the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

Some accounts said that two older relatives had tried to intervene, but they too were shot and buried alive with the teenagers.
So "cultural relevance" is all about supporting pig-ignorant 9th century thugs and giving them their way. Hey -- sound like a Democrat to me... (cheap shot I know but I am tired and feeling good
An interesting eddy to the flow of the news. From Classical values come these two posts: #1) - A Wholly Owned Subsidiary Of The Chicago Machine
This happened a while back but I'm just catching up. The DNC has moved a considerable portion of its operations to Chicago.
"This is part of the implementation of the plans Paul [Tewes] discussed last week with the state party chairs," Finney said. "As part of the efforts to fully integrate DNC operations with the Obama campaign here in Washington, in Chicago and in the states, political, field and constituency operations are moving to Chicago to work in the Obama headquarters. The goal is to consolidate these efforts into one operation and effectively drive one national strategy."
Isn't that interesting. So the Democrat Party is now a wholly owned subidiary of the Chicago Machine.
#2) - MoveOn.Org Has Taken Over Democrats
Newsweek reports that John Coale, a major Hillary fund raiser, has gone over to John McCain. There is a video from the Republican Convention at the link showing a five minute interview with Mr. Coale.
John Coale, a prominent Washington lawyer, husband of Fox TV host Greta Van Susteren and a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, announced today that he was supporting John McCain for president. Coale, who traveled with Sen. Clinton, President Clinton and her family through out the primary season, complained of sexism, and said the Democratic Party is "being taken over by the types" in an exclusive interview with's Tammy Haddad. He said he tried to prevent Clinton's brother, Tony Rodham, from attending an August 18th meeting in Scranton, Pa. with McCain campaign surrogate Carly Fiorina. "I urged him not to go and told him it would embarrass his sister, but he has a mind of his own."
And what do you know, Clinton's own brother has been meeting with the McCain campaign. Huge.
And a bit more:
Let me add that I think it is Hillary's intention to destroy the Democrat Party. Why? Because George Soros has bought the party. It is no good to her any more. Here is a report on it from 2004.
In a December 9th e-mail signed by "Eli Pariser, Justin Ruben, and the whole MoveOn PAC team," the Soros front group stated: "In the last year, grassroots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the Party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive. Now it's our Party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."
Who is behind the MoveOn PAC? George Soros. Another is the Tides Foundation which is funded by John Kerry's wife, Teresa Simões-Ferreira Heinz Kerry.
Not a big fan of the Clintons but they do play a good devastating game of political hardball when needed and they are doing it now. Hillary is pissed like we have never seen her before. I smell a faint whiff of burning sulfur as I am typing this. Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.

A big chunk of glass

| No Comments
A large telescope is being built in Chile - the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. The numbers on this puppy are huge -- the primary mirror is 27.5 feet in diameter. Today they announced a major milestone -- from Brookhaven National Laboratory:
Giant Furnace Opens to Reveal 'Perfect' LSST Mirror Blank
The single-piece primary and tertiary mirror blank cast for the LSST is "perfect", say project astronomers and engineers.

The LSST, or Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a large survey telescope being built in northern Chile, requires three large mirrors to give crisp images over a record large field of view. The two largest of these mirrors are concentric and fit neatly onto a single mirror blank. The single-piece primary and tertiary mirror blank emerged from the oven at the University of Arizona�s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab in Tucson, AZ, where team members gathered to celebrate this major milestone.

The Mirror Lab team opened the furnace for a close-up look at the cooled 51,900-pound mirror blank, which consists of an outer 27.5-foot diameter (8.4-meter) primary mirror and an inner 16.5-foot (5-meter) third mirror cast in one mold. It is the first time a combined primary and tertiary mirror has been produced on such a large scale.
To get an idea of the size, here is a photo of the mirror blank:
Like I said, a big chunk of glass.
The web page in question is not an official Obama page but it's still very classy... NOT From Mere Rhetoric:
Progressives Passing Around Fake Palin Bikini Pic, Gloating About Inexperience And "Patriotic Valley Trash"
I got the photo this morning from one of the progressive listservs that I subscribe to, complete with the snarky subject line "ready to lead from day one." Because obviously any woman who wears a bikini is unqualified for leadership. A little searching confirmed that it's just what it looks like - an amateurish fake based on someone's pool party Flickr photo. Which isn't stopping pro-Obama bloggers from displaying some absolutely exquisite hypocrisy:
Click for full size.

If you look very closely you can see a link to a post titled "McCain's ugly jokes AGAINST women." This screencap is from "The Bruce Blog," where the lead blogger is a self-described "yogi, a satirist, and militant." I don't think he's affiliated with the Obama campaign as much as he just really, really hearts it. He's got "Republicans for Obama", "Muslims for Obama", "Jews for Obama", and "Christians for Obama" widgets posted - so you can tell that he's also really, really into unity. Unless you're a woman who shamelessly wears bikinis and bitterly clings to guns. Then you're excluded on the basis of your gender, your social position, and your economic circumstances. Bummer.
Like I said, classy.
From Tampa Bay Bay News Nine:
Police: Burglary suspect trapped in portable toilet
A man was arrested Saturday afternoon after police said he broke into a truck and then was chased into a portable toilet by the owner and his friend.

Police said 22-year-old Lorenzo Earl Knight broke into a 1999 Ford F-150 in the parking lot of International Plaza and stole a digital camera. They said that he then broke into 2000 Ford F-150, and in the process he was seen by the owner of the second truck.
And of course, the inevitable:
According to reports, the owner of the truck and his friend chased Knight to a nearby construction site, where the suspect tried to hide in a portable toilet. Police said the victim and his friend found the portable toilet and turned it over, covering Knight in a "large amount of human waste."
Flushed with embarrassment?

Bristol Palin's future husband

Didn't take long for his identity to be discovered. From the New York Daily News:

Bristol Palin's pregnancy was an open secret back home
He's a superhunky bad-boy ice hockey player from cold country; she's a chestnut-haired beauty and popular high school senior.

The all-American teen twosome will make GOP vice presidential pick and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a grandma at age 44 - just in time for Christmas.

Doe-eyed Bristol Palin, 17, and ruggedly handsome Levi Johnston, an 18-year-old self-described "f---in' redneck," have been dating a year, locals in Wasilla, Alaska, told the Daily News.

And the pregnancy? An open secret in the close-knit town of 9,780.

A bit more:

"They've been together quite a while, more than a year," she said. "I hope everything comes out well. These are local kids."

And the two of them:



He certainly looks like he can take care of himself, his future wife and his child. She looks lovely. As I had said in an earlier post:

Given the way that Sarah Palin turned out and given the way that her kids are being brought up, the kids have got to be a lot more mature for their respective ages than equivalent kids in a nanny-state "protect them at all costs" environment.

I just hope the media will stand back a ways and let them get on with their lives.

Back from the sleep-apnea test

Turns out I have a very mild case of sleep-apnea. Not enough to require or even suggest that a CPAP machine be used which is wonderful. I got to try one for 15 minutes and it was a downright strange sensation. I suppose I could get used to it, especially given the alternatives, but I sure hope I don't have to use one ever... The mattress was unreal, I have found better ones at a cheap No-Tell Motel. The technician was a lot of fun -- he was born in Lynden (the Dutch community about 20 miles away near the Canadian border). Son of a dairy family, he knew our dairyman. Spent some time in the army traveling the world and then moved back to Lynden and does this. He had done metalwork and knew my blacksmithing teacher and now does cabinetmaking in his spare time. I have been getting a lot of comment spam recently so I disabled comments while I was away.

No posting today

Going in for a sleep study prior to my general anesthesia on the 15th. The clinic doesn't have WiFi so I will be forced to read a book! Shudder...

The power of Hugo Chavez - literally

| No Comments
Sucks to be you. Hugo Chavez has been 'nationalizing' the major utilities in Venezuela with very predictable results. From Reuters:
Power blackout in Venezuelan capital, oil province
A power blackout hit major parts of Venezuela on Monday, including the capital and an oil-producing province, darkening buildings, knocking out traffic lights and disrupting plane and train journeys.

It was the second massive outage in just over four months on the OPEC nation's electricity grid, which is creaking from outdated infrastructure and low investment.
Let me get this straight -- you want me to come in and build up a solid infrastructure fully knowing that when it is up and running, you will nationalize and pay me pennies on the pound? Not on your life buster! More:
It was the second massive outage in just over four months on the OPEC nation's electricity grid, which is creaking from outdated infrastructure and low investment.

There were no reports of problems in the country's mainstay oil industry, which is a leading supplier to the United States, the state oil company said.

In some areas, such as the central commercial city of Barquisimeto, electricity was lost for only a few seconds.
Like duh??? That is their only source of income. The barely feed themselves so the oil is where all of the infrastructure money goes. More:
In April, an even larger blackout hit Venezuela and officials failed to restore power for several hours.

That outage caused chaos for commuters who were caught in snarled traffic or forced to walk miles (kilometers) home as underground trains stopped operating and armed troops poured onto the streets to keep order.

After that outage, the government of President Hugo Chavez acknowledged there has been too little investment in the electricity grid over the last few years. It promised massive spending but warned it could take time for the new investment to improve the system.

Last year, the leftist government nationalized the country's largest private electricity company.
Emphasis mine -- how long is it going to take the poor citizens to realize that "for the people" means "for Hugo and his cronies". There has never been a successful pure socialist state. The only one that comes even close is Iceland because of its incredible riches but even there, as soon as someone starts getting successful, they are taxed into oblivion so the drive to be creative and clever and successful gets stymied and the nation as a whole suffers for the loss -- lots of nice art and writing but no commercial innovation...

Bristol Palin's pregnancy

| No Comments
A thought occurred to me today (yes, I know that is unusual but please hang in there). Given the way that Sarah Palin turned out and given the way that her kids are being brought up, the kids have got to be a lot more mature for their respective ages than equivalent kids in a nanny-state "protect them at all costs" environment. Look at the stories you hear coming out of liberal colleges. Look at the number of early pregnancies and single parents in the inner cities. Just sayin' ya know...

The case of the missing sunspots

| No Comments
Fascinating ongoing discussion at Watts Up with That. Editor Anthony Watts started off by pointing that we have gone one calendar month with no sunspots. Someone wrote in to correct him and let him know that the brief sun-specks that showed up on August 21 and 22 were being counted as full-on sunspots even though their life was only a few tens of hours at best. From Watts Up with That:
Sunspeck counts after all�Sun DOES NOT have first spotless calendar month since June 1913

After going days without counting the August 21/22 “sunspeck” NOAA and SIDC Brussels now says it was NOT a spotless month! Both data sets below have been recently revised.

Here is the SIDC data:

Here is the NOAA data:

The NOAA data shows July as 0.5 but they have not yet updated for August as SIDC has. SIDC reports 0.5 for August. It will be interesting to see what NOAA will do.

SIDC� officially counted that sunspeck after all. It only took them a week to figure out if they were going to count it or not, since no number was assigned originally.

But there appears to be an error in the data from the one station that reported a spot, Catania, Italy. No other stations monitoring that day reported a spot. Here is the drawing from that Observatory:

But according to Leif Svalgaard, “SIDC reported a spot in the south, while the spot(s) Catania [reported] was in the north.” This is a puzzle. See his exchange below.

Also, other observatories show no spots at all. For example, at the 150 foot solar solar tower at the Mount Wilson Observatory, the drawings from those dates show no spots at all:

Inquires have been sent, stay tuned.

Later in the post is the original post and it's import on our cooling weather patterns followed by over 150 comments ranging from frothing AGW'rs to people providing links to research on the cooling. A fun read in a barroom brawl sort of way...

Sara Palin's experience as Governor

People have been saying that Governor Palin doesn't have experience with matters military and foreign. Blackfive reports on some of her duties as Governor of Alaska:
Commanding Alaska's Guard w/ 24/7 missile defense
One area of Sarah Palin's background that may help her is Alaska's unique role in our national security and homeland defense. Several folks have have mentioned this but Tom W. was specific and his info jibes with the record.
Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It�s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.

As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's.

She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's counterterrorism plans.

Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense. Given Alaska's proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don't even know about.

According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out. This is a woman used to keeping secrets.

She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is.
I agree with that assessment except for the thought that her access to classified material may rival Biden's. Highly unlikely as Biden's seat on the Foreign Relations committee would expose him to information on a very wide array of topics. But her experience in keeping the homeland safe fits perfectly with her image as the competent American woman.It's not the same as having your finger on the button, but it a heckuva lot closer than Biden or Barry O has ever been.

Hat tip to Firehand for the link.

Well crap - R.I.P. Don LaFontaine

| No Comments
From Entertainment Tonight:
Don LaFontaine Dies at 68
LaFontaine, known as the "King of Voiceovers," died Monday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. LaFontaine's agent, Vanessa Gilbert, tells ET that he passed away following complications from Pneumothorax, the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity, the result of a collapsed lung. The official cause of death has not yet been released.

Over the past 25 years, LaFontaine cemented his position as the "King of Voiceovers." Aside from being the preeminent voice in the movie trailer industry, Don also worked as the voice of Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, as well as for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and UPN, in addition to TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. By conservative estimates, he voiced hundreds of thousands of television and radio spots, including commercials for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Ford, Budweiser, McDonalds, Coke, and many other corporate sponsors.

He recently parodied himself on a series of national television commercials for Geico. At last count, he has worked on nearly 5000 films, including appearances as the in-show announcer for the Screen Actors Guild and Academy Awards. Based on contracts signed, he has the distinction of being perhaps the single busiest actor in the history of SAG. Don is survived by his wife -- singer/actress Nita Whitaker, and three children: Christine, Skye and Elyse.
There is a fun video of him here at YouTube

January 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Environment and Climate
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
Climate Depot
Ice Age Now
Jennifer Marohasy
Solar Cycle 24
Space Weather
Watts Up With That?

Science and Medicine
Junk Science
Life in the Fast Lane
Luboš Motl
Next Big Future

Geek Stuff
Ars Technica
Boing Boing
Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
Hack a Day
Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF

The Argyle Sweater
Chip Bok
Broadside Cartoons
Day by Day
Medium Large
Michael Ramirez
Prickly City
User Friendly
What The Duck

Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
Sober in a Nightclub
You Drive What?

Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
Coyote Blog

Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
James Gurney
Joe McNally's Blog
The Online Photographer

A Western Heart
American Digest
The AnarchAngel
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Babalu Blog
Belmont Club
Bayou Renaissance Man
Classical Values
Cold Fury
David Limbaugh
Defense Technology
Doug Ross @ Journal
Grouchy Old Cripple
Irons in the Fire
James Lileks
Lowering the Bar
Maggie's Farm
Marginal Revolution
Michael J. Totten
Mostly Cajun
Power Line
Questions and Observations
Rachel Lucas
Roger L. Simon
Sense of Events
Sound Politics
The Strata-Sphere
The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Weasel Zippers

Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
Neptunus Lex
Other Side of Kim
Ramblings' Journal
Sgt. Stryker
shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2008 is the previous archive.

October 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives


OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 5.2.9