January 2009 Archives

From the South Carolina News and Observer:
Tandem instructor dies mid-jump; other man survives
A 49-year-old skydiving instructor died of an apparent heart attack Saturday afternoon, seconds after jumping out of a plane with a first-time diver.

The pair were attached to the same parachute in a form of skydiving known as a tandem-jump.

The men's identities were not immediately available.

When they landed on the ground, the diver tried unsuccessfully to revive his instructor using CPR. But the heart attack occurred about a minute into the jump, and too much time had elapsed for the instructor to have any chance of surviving, said Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker.

The instructor worked for Skydive Carolina Parachute Center, a business located next to the Chester County Airport. Reached late Saturday afternoon, an employee declined to comment.

Tandem-jumping is the company�s most popular program, according to its Web site. Divers take a 30-minute safety course.

�You will accelerate to over 120 miles per hour for up to 60 seconds,� the Web site says. �Then you can pull the ripcord and enjoy a breath taking five minute flight under your parachute built for two. Yes, these parachutes truly fly and you get to assist your instructor in steering.�
As one commenter stated:
Another good reason NOT to jump out of a perfectly good plane.
My sentiments exactly...

A good call - Economic Stimulus Package

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Michelle Malkin has these words to say about the proposed Economic Stimulus Package:
Stop, thief! Kill the bill, melt the phones
President Obama thinks he knows what the primary objective of Republicans in Washington should be: To �get things done.� Bashing Rush Limbaugh last week, Obama urged GOP lawmakers to ignore the voices of obstructionism and sign on to his behemoth stimulus package: �We shouldn�t let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.� Meeting with GOP leaders on Tuesday, Obama repeated his entreaty: �I don�t expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people�s business right now.�

Since when did it become the Republican Party�s top priority to �get things done?� It was as annoying a campaign platitude when John McCain adopted it as it is now coming from President Obama�s lips. History has shown us that �Get Things Done� is mindless liberal code for passing ineffective legislation and expanding government for government�s sake. �Reaching across the political aisle� and �putting politics aside� always entail selling out the right and putting conservative principles aside. How about preventing the damage done by Democrat meddlers trying to get their �things done?� How about getting more things undone?

For the past year, I�ve chronicled the inevitable lard-up of bipartisan bailouts and stimulus boondoggles � and the predictable Chicken Little dance in Washington when these massive emergency �fixes� have fallen short. Contrary to the belief that President Obama is America�s Lightworker who can defy political gravity, H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 guarantees more of the same old borrow-spend-panic-repeat cycle that got us into our current mess in the first place. This is not an investment in America�s future. It�s an unprecedented mortgaging of America�s future � which is why the bill is forever known in my book as the Generational Theft Act of 2009.
I have already emailed and will be calling tomorrow. This thing is nothing but a pork playground for irresponsible legislators who are thinking only of their own pockets and not their constituents (who voted them into office and who can just as easily vote them out.)

An excellent rant on AGW

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This time from James Lewis at Pajamas Media
Anthropogenic Global Warming: The Greatest Fraud in History?
Like famished swine shoving each other aside to get to the trough, self-proclaimed scientists and real politicians are again launching headline upon headline to claim yet another disaster in the name of utterly unproven global warming. Did you know that the flock of geese that flew into US Airways jet engines this month in New York City were put there by global warming? And that London fogs, or rather their absence, are making global warming worse?

Yep. It�s right there in the paper, Maud.

As scientific skeptics are finally discovering the courage to speak out, the hype machine is faltering just a little.

But President Obama just appointed a True Believer to be science czar in the White House. So we can expect the politicians to keep hammering on this little piggy bank until the last golden coin drops out. You�ll be paying for the biggest false alarm in history for years to come.

But what worries me most is that the credibility of science may never recover � and perhaps it shouldn�t. Credibility has to be earned, and once it�s squandered may never be recovered. By now far too many scientists have knowingly colluded in an historic fraud, one that would put Bernie Madoff to shame. We are seeing political larceny here on a truly planetary scale.

Why should scientists who�ve gambled their own reputations on this fakery ever be trusted again? They shouldn�t. Would you entrust your life savings to Bernie Madoff? Right.

I�m not a climatologist. Like most scientists I rarely judge what others do in their fields. And yet it�s been flamingly obvious for years now that the hypothesis of human-caused global warming violates all the basic rules and safeguards that protect the integrity of normal, healthy science. That�s why AGW (anthropogenic global warming) looks like a massive fraud, the biggest fraud ever in the history of science.

If that�s true, anybody who cares about science should be outraged. Even if you don�t care about that ask yourself if you want your next medical exam to be honest. Or the next time you drive across a traffic bridge, do you want the engineering tests to be falsified? If scientific corruption becomes endemic, we risk losing one of the great jewels of our culture.

So here are some fundamental violations of scientific integrity that any thoughtful person should recognize. I�m not going to touch on climatology � the case against the warming hypothesis has already been made very well by experts. I just want to talk scientific common sense.
What follows is a long (two pages) essay/rant with lots of links to back up his assertions. The 180+ comments are well worth reading through.
From Gateway Pundit:
200 Top Economists Say "Stimulus" Bill Won't Work
200 top economic minds signed a national ad published in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal against the trillion dollar spending binge proposed by democrats. The ad, sponsored by the Cato Institute, blasts the massive boondoggle that funds liberal projects under the guise of "stimulating" the economy.
The text of the advertisement:
"There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy."
--President-Elect Barack Obama, January 9, 2009
With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.

Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan�s �lost decade� in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today.
That is followed by 200 names including three Nobel Prize winners. The post also cites this report that only 42% of the general public supports this legislation.

The vanishing rainforests - nope!

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An interesting observation about the so-called "vanishing" rainforests in South America. From the New York Times:
New Jungles Prompt a Debate on Rain Forests
The land where Marta Ortega de Wing raised hundreds of pigs until 10 years ago is being overtaken by galloping jungle � palms, lizards and ants.

Instead of farming, she now shops at the supermarket and her grown children and grandchildren live in places like Panama City and New York.

Here, and in other tropical countries around the world, small holdings like Ms. Ortega de Wing�s � and much larger swaths of farmland � are reverting to nature, as people abandon their land and move to the cities in search of better livings.

These new �secondary� forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest � an iconic environmental cause � may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.

�There is far more forest here than there was 30 years ago,� said Ms. Ortega de Wing, 64, who remembers fields of mango trees and banana plants.

The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction by absorbing carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, one crucial role that rain forests play. They could also, to a lesser extent, provide habitat for endangered species.
And of course:
The idea has stirred outrage among environmentalists who believe that vigorous efforts to protect native rain forest should remain a top priority.
A well written article -- it goes into detail about the effect that the clear-cut--farming--reversion to forest cycle is having on the local economy. (hint: very good) Another environmental trope bites the dust... hat tip to Glen for the link.

Ran into this little gem from an electronic music website. From electro-music.com

Be very careful when ordering resistors from china!
A while back I was selecting 100k resistors for the summing stage of a VCO, the most common value in my belt was something like 100.6k

when I later wanted to select from that group the values where nowhere near what I had initially measured, even worse .. the longer I measured a resistor the lower its value got.

I first thought the multimeter was at fault, but another one gave me the same readings.

So then I suspected the resistors ( having seen fake transistors I wondered if they would mess with something as cheap as a resistor )

I took a few resistors and decided to do some temperature testing on them, I picked a "suspect" resistor, a carbon film resistor desoldered from a board from the junk box, a resistor from farnell, one from Conrad, and another one from a local shop.

I tied them to a power resistor together with a temperature probe and plotted the resistance versus the temperature.

The result is quite clear, I bought two sets of resistors from two different suppliers and both where ordinary 5% carbon film resistors marked as 1% metal film.

The fake ones are fairly easy to spot

1. Most if not all fake resistors I had had iron leads ( a magnet will help you out there )
2. The leads of these resistors are VERY flimsy
3. if you heat them ( soldering iron ) the resistance drops, in a metal film the resistance increases (slightly).

So be very careful where you buy, especially for synth applications the precision and the temperature coefficient really matter!

This is absurd. The cost difference between the 5% tolerance carbon and the 1% tolerance metal film is a few pennies at most.

The graph at the website makes it crystal clear the difference between the genuine 1% metal and the Chinese fake.

That's it for the night

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Working on a website for a local group...

Screen cleaner

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Got a dirty computer screen? Like Pugs? Go here.

An interesting question

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Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration? From IEC Fusion Technology:
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion
I thought it was about time to post this here. Originally posted at: Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion. Let me note that Low Radiation is more apt than no radiation. The main reaction between Hydrogen and Boron 11 produces only alpha particles which can be stopped with a layer or two of aluminum foil. However there are side reactions which will produce about one millionth the neutron flux of an operating fission reactor. If construction materials are chosen carefully there should be no long lived radioisotopes.
A bit more:
An interesting question is: when was the first steady state (operation times of at least 10s of seconds) electrically operated nuclear fusion machine which produces at least 10s of millions of fusions a second built? The astounding answer? 1959. So far 18 experimenters have produced similar machines including this young experimenter.
The estimate to get a working full-scale reactor is $200M and five years. This is a drop in the bucket and is sound science -- why is so much money being put into outdated designs (ITER at $3.7B overall) and this is getting only a few contracts from the US Navy.

A clever bit of writing

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Lost Generation
1:44 - commercial for AARP

Peanut Corporation of America

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This company is the one responsible for the Salmonella outbreak and the huge Peanut recalls. We already know that they had problems two years ago, now it seems that they had problems with their products being exported to Canada. From Yahoo News/Associated Press:
AP Exclusive: Peanuts tainted with metal fragments
The government acknowledged Friday that a shipment of peanuts from the plant linked to a salmonella outbreak contained a "filthy, putrid or decomposed substance" later identified as metal fragments. The shipment was returned to the U.S. in April, months earlier than reflected in a federal tracking database.

The rejected shipment � coming across a bridge between New York and Canada � was logged by the Food and Drug Administration but never tested by federal inspectors, according to government records. The incident took place in mid-September, the records show, weeks before the earliest signs of the outbreak.

The FDA said Friday that the shipment of chopped peanuts from Peanut Corp. of America in Blakely, Ga., was eventually destroyed, after back-and-forth efforts between the FDA and Peanut Corp. broke down and the FDA rejected as "unacceptable" findings by a private lab hired by Peanut Corp. to analyze its peanuts.

"The shipment was refused by FDA for filth," FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "The importer requested to destroy the product." Another FDA spokesman, George Strait, said later Friday that metal fragments were found in the shipment.

"The FDA did everything appropriately in handling the activities associated with this shipment," Kwisnek said.
A bit more:
The chopped peanuts in the export case were prevented by the FDA from being allowed back into the United States because the peanuts contained an unspecified "filthy, putrid or decomposed substance, or is otherwise unfit for food," according to the FDA's report of the incident.

Peanut Corp. didn't immediately respond to AP's request for comment. Federal inspectors previously reported they found roaches, mold, a leaking roof and other sanitation issues at the company's processing plant in Blakely.
Yikes -- we rag on the Chinese about their problems with tainted food. We have the same problem right at home...

Bulletproof - HP Storage Arrays

This had come up in a discussion and I remembered this video from about a year ago. YouTube to the rescue. This is a very well done marketing video for the Hitachi TagmaStore - Hewlett Packard StorageWorks XP12000 Disk Array:

A couple of caveats -- units like this are actually three or four identical units running synchronously in parallel. If two go down, one is still up and you are still running at full throughput. If this last unit suffers a catastrophic loss of a couple of disk drives, you are still running but at less throughput -- your data is mirrored onto multiple drives and if one goes out, the data is still on at least two other disks.

Power for these puppies comes from three separate power supplies. To make this even more bulletproof, large datacenters are located at the 'corners' of several power grids so each supply can be fed from a separate source. Ever wonder why the large Google and MSFT datacenters are in such odd locations? BINGO!

The shot was taken very carefully, it penetrated a lateral backplane (power distribution and environment management for that one unit) and the drives from that unit (and the fishtank).

Still, an impressive demonstration and regardless of who makes the hardware, the engineering behind all of this is very impressive.

Very high geekdom indeed!

Ouch! 59 to 0 - Blago is out

Good call. From St. Louis Today:

Rod Blagojevich removed from office as Illinois governor
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the boy-faced Chicago Democrat swept into office six years ago as an antidote to the scandal and corruption of his predecessor, was officially removed from office today in the wake of federal corruption charges.

A state Senate tribunal found that Blagojevich had engaged in a pattern of abuse of power. It was a verdict based partly on his governing style of the past six years, and partly on criminal allegations that he tried to extort political donations with his official powers and plotted to auction off President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.

The 59-member Senate crossed the necessary two-thirds majority for removal -- 40 votes -- at 4:41 p.m. The final vote was unanimous -- 59-0 -- to remove Blagojevich, 52.

A few moments later, they did the roll call a second time to correct a technical glitch.

Then, the Senate followed up with another vote to bar Blagojevich from holding public office. Again, it was unanimous.

Considering how deep he was into the Chicago machine, I wonder if we should start a Dead Pool on the guy. I give him three months -- end of April -- before he has an 'accident' or just mysteriously disappears.

The Global Warming Scam

A wonderful history lesson by John Coleman over at San Diego station KUSI:
The Amazing Story Behind The Global Warming Scam
The key players are now all in place in Washington and in state governments across America to officially label carbon dioxide as a pollutant and enact laws that tax we citizens for our carbon footprints. Only two details stand in the way, the faltering economic times and a dramatic turn toward a colder climate. The last two bitter winters have lead to a rise in public awareness that CO2 is not a pollutant and is not a significant greenhouse gas that is triggering runaway global warming.

How did we ever get to this point where bad science is driving big government we have to struggle so to stop it?

The story begins with an Oceanographer named Roger Revelle. He served with the Navy in World War II. After the war he became the Director of the Scripps Oceanographic Institute in La Jolla in San Diego, California. Revelle saw the opportunity to obtain major funding from the Navy for doing measurements and research on the ocean around the Pacific Atolls where the US military was conducting atomic bomb tests. He greatly expanded the Institute�s areas of interest and among others hired Hans Suess, a noted Chemist from the University of Chicago, who was very interested in the traces of carbon in the environment from the burning of fossil fuels. Revelle tagged on to Suess studies and co-authored a paper with him in 1957. The paper raises the possibility that the carbon dioxide might be creating a greenhouse effect and causing atmospheric warming. It seems to be a plea for funding for more studies. Funding, frankly, is where Revelle�s mind was most of the time.
And it just gets better. Names, places, dates, events -- it is a timeline of what went from some basic research to the Granfaloon that we have today. And who by the way is John Coleman? From FOX News:
Weather Channel Founder Blasts Gore Over Global Warming Campaign
John Coleman, now a weatherman at San Diego's KUSI, writes on his station's Web site that Al Gore is ignoring the faulty research behind global warming.

The founder of the Weather Channel is ridiculing Al Gore over his calls for action on global climate change, saying in a column that global warming is a "hoax" and "bad science."

John Coleman, now a weatherman at San Diego's KUSI, wrote on his station's Web site Wednesday that Gore refuses to acknowledge the faulty research on which the idea of global warming is based.

Coleman's lengthy scolding came as the former vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner addressed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and urged lawmakers to pass a bill that would put caps on heat-trapping gases and take the lead on a global climate treaty.

Coleman wrote that the Environmental Protection Agency is "on the verge" of naming CO2 (carbon dioxide) as a pollutant, and that seemingly all of Washington is on board with such CO2 silliness."

"I am totally convinced there is no scientific basis for any of it," Coleman wrote, describing the decades-old theory that increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere leads to global warming.

"Global Warming. It is the hoax. It is bad science. It is a high jacking of public policy. It is no joke. It is the greatest scam in history," Coleman wrote.
So he has a clue about what he is writing about... It's funny really, we live deep in the country isolated from large cities and their populations. The majority of what we eat is produced within a 50 mile radius with the exception of most canned products and grains (these are 100 miles away). The frenzy that urban people are whipping themselves into is beyond comprehension -- I am thinking that some hip new company could market Cilceces and Scourges and make quite the tidy sum pandering to those who really FEEL the ISSUES but who are too self-absorbed and mis-educated to seek the truth; who are content to parrot the words of their sainted authorities and live their lives of self-loathing and trepidation. Sad in a way -- this planet could enjoy a real revolution if people would just wake the fsck up and see...

A few more cases of range extension

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Following on this post about the Arctic Ivory Gull, I found a couple of other examples of critters outside their normal ranges. From the UK Telegraph:
Three snowy owls spotted in UK
The birds usually live in the far north around the Arctic circle and when they do venture south it is to northern Scotland.

However this winter the magnificent birds, which have a wingspan of up to six feet, have been spotted in Cornwall, Alderney and Guernsey.

Originally it was thought the birds were simply blown off course whilst looking for food further south.

However Alistair Riley, a local bird watcher who has spotted the owl several times in Alderney, has another theory.

He points out that a greater number of waxwings have been spotted in the UK this winter because a hard winter in the north means there are less berries to feed on.

In the same way he reckons that the snowy owl, which survives mainly on lemmings that have also had a hard winter, has come south looking for food.

"If birds are desperate for food they will head where they will find it," he said.

"The owls are extremely strong fliers and will cross the sea without too much of a problem. I guess these three have flown far further south than for a long time."

"It is very peculiar and we are just very lucky to see such a rare creature."
Emphasis mine -- it has been a hard winter and it was a long cold spring as well. The Waxwings in question? From the UK Telegraph again:
Invasion of waxwings suggests a cold winter
The birds, from Scandinavia, have appeared all along the east coast of Scotland and England, and have been moving steadily south and west in search of food.

Experts say there are already well over 1,000 in Britain, and the numbers are expected to increase still further.

Although they are occasional visitors to the UK, the numbers this year are unusually high and have been classed as an "irruption", to signify a large-scale arrival of a bird not normally found here. They have now been recorded inland as far south as Cambridge and Bedfordshire, and as far west as Conwy, North Wales.
And it is not just that side of the pond either. From The Tennessean:
Snowy Owl appears in Middle Tenn.
An arctic traveler has shown up in Spring Hill.

A Snowy Owl - the first recorded in the state since 1987 - has been hanging out around Highway 31 near a Cracker Barrel.

Birder Melinda Welton of Williamson County who saw it Saturday said the rare bird likely flew in because food supplies were in short supply to the North.

�It must be a lean year,� said Welton, a contract biologist.

The species is fond of lemmings � a type of rodent found in and near the arctic � but also goes for mice, voles, rabbits and fish.
The cold winter is affecting other things beside animal range. From the Canadian broadcast network CTV:
Cruise ship freed from St. Lawrence River ice
A cruise ship that spent 24 hours stuck in the ice in the St. Lawrence River has been freed with the help of a Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker.

The CTMA-Vacancier and its more than 300 passengers were en route to a week-long cross-country ski trip in the Chic-Choc mountains. Progress came to a grinding halt on Monday when the ice closed in around the ship near Matane, Que.
A bit more (Letendre is the Coast Guard Media Relations Officer):
"It's not unusual. It's normal operations for the winter. That's why we are there," Letendre said. But she added that such heavy ice conditions haven't been seen since 1993.
Throw another log on the fire -- it's gonna be a cold one... And the sun? No sunspots. Low output.

A twofer from Slashdot

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Slashdot had two stories this morning. One fantastic and one scary. Fantastic breakthrough on LED lighting. LEDs are the way to go. They are even more efficient than CFLs, dimable and have a much longer life expectancy. Also, they are not subject to early failure if they are put in a place where they will be repeatedly turned on and off and on and off during the day (such as a bathroom or storage closet) -- this behavior will kill a CFL in about 10% of its 'rated' life. The amount of Mercury in a CFL is a non-issue -- tiny enough as to be moot.
LED Lighting As Cheap As CFLs Invented
"New Scientist reports that a British team has overcome the obstacles to cheap LED lighting, and that LED lamps as cheap as CFLs will be on the market in five years. Quoting: 'Gallium nitride cannot be grown on silicon like other solid-state electronic components because it shrinks at twice the rate of silicon as it cools. Crystals of GaN must be grown at 1000C, so by the time a new LED made on silicon has cooled, it has already cracked, rendering the devices unusable. One solution is to grow the LEDs on sapphire, which shrinks and cools at much the same rate as GaN. But the expense is too great to be commercially competitive. Now Colin Humphreys's team at the University of Cambridge has discovered a simple solution to the shrinkage problem. They included layers of aluminium gallium nitride in their LED design... These LEDs can be grown on silicon as so many other electronics components are. ... A 15-centimetre silicon wafer costs just $15 and can accommodate 150,000 LEDs making the cost per unit tiny.'"
This next story falls into the class of disgruntled worker messing with the computer system:
Fannie Mae Worker Indicted For Malicious Script
"A former Fannie Mae contractor has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore, MD for computer intrusion. He attempted to propagate a malicious script throughout the company's 4,000 servers. The DC Examiner has details of the incident: 'Had this malicious script executed, [Fannie Mae] engineers expect it would have caused millions of dollars of damage and reduced if not shutdown operations at [Fannie Mae] for at least one week. ... The virus was set to execute at 9 a.m. Jan. 31, first disabling Fannie Mae's computer monitoring system and then cutting all access to the company's 4,000 servers, Nye wrote. Anyone trying to log in would receive a message saying "Server Graveyard." From there, the virus would wipe out all Fannie Mae data, replacing it with zeros, Nye wrote. Finally, the virus would shut down the servers.'"
Obviously, a system this large will have a comprehensive backup plan and they should have a fail-over strategy (think back to 9/11 how some companies were able to get back online in a few days while others could not and failed). The usual tactic for a disgruntled soon-to-be-ex employee is to run a script that changes the admin passwords or some such foolishness. From the DC Examiner article:
Makwana was fired from his contract position at Fannie Mae on Oct. 24 for changing computer settings without permission from his supervisor, FBI agent Jessica Nye wrote in a sworn statement. He had worked at Fannie Mae for three years as a computer engineer at the Urbana offices, where he had full access to all of the federally created mortgage company�s 4,000 servers. Before leaving work Oct. 24, Makwana allegedly tried to hide a code in server software that was set to activate the morning of Jan. 31, the agent wrote.

�Had this malicious script executed, [Fannie Mae] engineers expect it would have caused millions of dollars of damage and reduced if not shutdown operations at [Fannie Mae] for at least one week,� Nye wrote. �The total damage would include cleaning out and restoring all 4,000 of [Fannie Mae�s] servers, restoring and securing the automation of mortgages, and restoring all data that was erased.�

A spokeswoman for Fannie Mae declined to comment.

According to Nye�s statement, a senior computer engineer discovered the virus Oct. 29. The malicious code was hidden after a blank page, and �it was only by chance� that the senior engineer scrolled down and found the virus, Nye wrote. The engineer locked down Fannie Mae�s servers to determine whether other viruses were hidden inside and where the virus had come from, Nye wrote. Only about 20 Fannie Mae employees and contractors, including Makwana, had access to the server where the virus was stored.

An Internet Protocol address was eventually linked to Makwana�s company-issued laptop, Nye wrote. He was arrested Jan. 7.

The virus was set to execute at 9 a.m. Jan. 31, first disabling Fannie Mae�s computer monitoring system and then cutting all access to the company�s 4,000 servers, Nye wrote. Anyone trying to log in would receive a message saying �Server Graveyard.�
Probably thought he was a hot-shit computer guru but the fact that he was fired for: "changing computer settings without permission from his supervisor" speaks loud and clear that he was unsuitable for a corporate environment. There is no place in a large system of any kind for a free-wheeling rogue, regardless of how "good" that person may be at their job. Putz.

Object of Desire

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Me Want Bad!

null - Watch more free videos
Very clever idea actually. Looks like a lot of fun on a hot summers day.
The story about Hanson's boss caught my eye and I posted about it here. (Also got a very good comment from a James Butler.) Next up is this story: Forecasting Guru Announces: �no scientific basis for forecasting climate� And finally this morning comes a story that really drives home the present climate change:
Mature Arctic Ivory Gull Seen in Massachusetts - first time in over a century
One of the claims about �global climate change� is that it will affect the normal ranges of flora and fauna of our planet. Well, with a very cold northern hemisphere this winter, that seems to happening. A bird not seen (as a mature adult) in Massachusetts since the 1800�s , an Ivory Gull, normally an inhabitant of arctic areas, has been spotted. Here are the details from the Plymouth, MA Patriot-Ledger. - Anthony
GULL-LOVER�S TRAVELS: Birdwatchers flock to Plymouth to spot rare specimen
The temperatures were in the single digits, but not low enough to keep the gawkers away. A celebrity was in town, behind the East Bay Grille, a visitor not seen in these parts in decades, if not longer.

But these weren�t paparazzi, and this wasn�t a Hollywood star. Rather, they were avid birdwatchers � about 20 in all � braving the frigid air as they scanned the bay and the edges of the breakwater with binoculars and spotting scopes.

And they would be rewarded, catching a glimpse of a glimpse of a rare, fully mature ivory gull. A birdwatcher reported seeing one in Plymouth last week, and another was spotted at Eastern Point Lighthouse in Gloucester. From Sunday through Tuesday, the avian visitor was a regular in Plymouth, much to the delight of birdwatchers, who came from near and far in hopes of adding the extremely rare bird to their life list.

Ivory gulls normally stay well above Newfoundland, living on Arctic ice where they follow whales and polar bears to feed on the scraps and carcasses they leave behind after making a kill.
"affect the normal ranges of flora and fauna of our planet" indeed. The Earth has been cooling so we are going to see more and more species extending their range to the south. And your argument for Anthropogenic Global Warming again?

Minimal posting tonight

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Working on some other stuff...
Heh... Dr. Theon? -- Dr. Hansen's supervisor at NASA. From Watts Up With That:
James Hansen�s Former NASA Supervisor Declares Himself a Skeptic - Says Hansen �Embarrassed NASA�, �Was Never Muzzled�, & Models �Useless�
This is something I thought I�d never see. This press release today is from the Senate EPW blog of Jame Inhofe. The scientist making the claims in the headline, Dr. John S. Theon, formerly of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Arlington, Virginia, has a paper here in the AMS BAMS that you may also find interesting. Other papers are available here in Google Scholar. He also worked on the report of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident report and according to that document was a significant contributor to weather forecasting improvements:
The Space Shuttle Weather Forecasting Advisory Panel, chaired by Dr. John Theon, was established by NASA Headquarters to review existing weather support capabilities and plans and to recommend a course of action to the NSTS Program. Included on the panel were representatives from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Air Force, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
For those just joining the climate discussion, Dr. James Hansen is the chief climate scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and is the man who originally raised the alarm on global warming in 1988 in an appearance before congress. He is also the keeper of the most often cited climate data.
The full text of the letter is at the site. Classic. Wonderful. I just wish Theon had stepped up before Hansen hooked up with Gore to start this whole boondoggle. Although, from a Schadenfreude aspect -- it will be a lot of fun to see people backpedaling...

And in other Agribusiness News

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From the Houston Chronicle:
Kraft, Frito-Lay buyers agree to bribery pleas
Buyers for Kraft Foods Inc. and Frito-Lay Inc. are pleading guilty to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes as part of a scheme that helped drive up food prices nationwide, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Robert Watson of White Plains, N.Y., entered his plea in a Sacramento federal court Tuesday to accepting $158,000 from a California-based tomato processor. Watson, 59, was a Kraft senior purchasing manager.

The U.S. Attorney's office said James Wahl Jr., 58, a former Frito-Lay purchaser from Dallas, also has agreed to plead guilty to accepting about $160,000.

The charges say they each helped Randall Lee Rahal, a sales broker and director at SK Foods of Lemoore, charge their companies inflated prices. SK Foods grows and processes products like tomato paste and diced tomatoes, 95 percent of which are processed in California.

Attorneys for both Watson and Wahl did not immediately return telephone messages Tuesday.
Throw away the key. Why do people do these things that only hurt other people when they should know that they will be found out and prosecuted. It would take an idiot to think that they could get away with something like this -- corporate accountants have a good sense of what is happening and if something piques their interest, they will drill down until they find out what is happening. It may take a year or two but it will come to light.

More on the Peanut Butter recall

From the Washington Post:
Peanut Processor Knowingly Sold Tainted Products
The Georgia peanut plant linked to a salmonella outbreak that has killed eight people and sickened 500 more across the country knowingly shipped out contaminated peanut butter 12 times in the past two years, federal officials said yesterday.

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have been investigating the outbreak of salmonella illness, said yesterday that Peanut Corporation of America found salmonella in internal tests a dozen times in 2007 and 2008 but sold the products anyway, sometimes after getting a negative finding from a different laboratory.

Companies are not required to disclose their internal tests to either the FDA or state regulators, so health officials did not know of the problem.

The peanut butter and paste made at the company's Blakely, Ga., plant are not sold directly to stores but are used by manufacturers to make crackers, cookies, energy bars, cereal, ice cream, candies and even dog biscuits. Some of the country's biggest foodmakers, including Kellogg and McKee Foods, which produces Little Debbie brand snacks, have recalled more than 100 products made with the tainted ingredients, and the list keeps growing.

Federal investigators also said yesterday that they had found four strains of salmonella at the Georgia plant, including one in a sample taken from the floor near a washroom. Only the Typhimurium strain of Salmonella enterica has been linked to the outbreak.

"There is a salmonella problem at the plant," said Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC's division of food-borne, bacterial and mycotic diseases.
Hey -- let them self-regulate, everything will be just fine. It is strange how myopic things can be. I was out at the dairy we use picking up some milk for the store a number of months ago and the agents from the FDA had reviewed their pasteurization records and were concerned about the Fat Free milk. We didn't get any that day and the owner of the dairy brought it out to our store that following Saturday. The oversight is very high. Compare this to the problem that Creekstone Farms is having getting permission to test their cattle for BSE (Mad Cow Disease). I wrote about it in March 2006: Testing for BSE and an update on August of 2006: Testing for BSE - more. Creekstone has run this up as far as the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and is still trying. From the Creekstone website (click on the read more link):
Creekstone Farms, which provides high-quality Black Angus beef to distributors in the United States, Japan, Korea, and Europe, has been attempting for several years to meet its customers' interest in beef from BSE-tested cattle, which they currently can obtain from Asian and European meat processors. USDA has insisted that BSE testing in the United States may only be conducted by facilities under contract to USDA, not by private parties.

USDA currently tests far less than 1% of the cattle slaughtered in the United States for BSE. In 2006, USDA reduced its BSE testing ten-fold, yet it refuses to permit private companies such as Creekstone Farms to supplement the federal testing. BSE has only been detected twice in U.S.-born cattle, and never in cattle born since measures to arrest the spread of BSE were implemented in the U.S. in 1997.
Who has the USDA in their pocket? Why are they stalling on this.

R.I.P. - John Updike

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From the New York Times: John Updike, Author, Dies at 76
John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, prolific man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce and other adventures in the postwar prime of the American empire, died Tuesday at age 76. Updike, best known for his four "Rabbit" novels, died of lung cancer at a hospice near his home in Beverly Farms, Mass., according to his longtime publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.

A literary writer who frequently appeared on best-seller lists, the tall, hawk-nosed Updike wrote novels, short stories, poems, criticism, the memoir "Self-Consciousness" and even a famous essay about baseball great Ted Williams.

He released more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s, winning virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for "Rabbit Is Rich" and "Rabbit at Rest," and two National Book Awards. A great American writer.

The Big Equipment Move

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Started unloading the van this morning. U Haul vehicles come with a ramp so it was pretty easy to get stuff down... Except... The copy machine is huge and it weighs a good 800 pounds. It is on casters but the spacing on the casters was larger than the width of the ramp. Since I still need to keep an eye on my hip and not overdo it (and also, I either cracked a rib or sprained that area and it's still tender), I bailed, lashed it up again, made a few phone calls and drove into town to this place: Fountain Rentals to get a van with a lift gate. I drove by there occasionally on my trips into town but it never seemed to be a very big operation. Turns out most of it is hidden from the street. Founded sixty years ago, it is in its third generation of owners and employees. Awesome people and the truck was in great shape. The U Haul truck was very "floaty" when driving on the freeway -- serious wheel alignment or tie rod troubles or some such. The truck I got from Fountain was solid as a rock although it had 90K miles on it. And the best thing? U Haul charges $20/day plus $0.79/mile up to $0.99 on weekends. Fountain is $30/day but $0.49 all the time. Weekends are $15/day. The trip from U Haul to Monroe to Home and back to U Haul was over 200 miles. Guess who I will be using in the future. And the lift gate seriously rocked my world -- made the move a very safe and smooth operation. I am hurting and will be stiff as a board tomorrow (thinking about the leftover Percosets from my hip operation) but everything got moved and I didn't tip the copy machine over...

Get Lat Lon

Clever hack for Google Maps. Zoom in on a place and you get a constant reading of Latitude and Longitude as you go. Check out getlatlon

A little orthopedic surgery in Sweden

A strange story from Stockholm Sweden's The Local:

Too long leg becomes too short after failed op
A police officer with one leg longer than the other has been left with permanent injuries after a failed operation took too much off the leg, leaving it several centimetres shorter than the other, according to a report in Hallands Nyheter.

The police officer approached a private clinic in Gothenburg to correct a problem: one of his legs was longer that the other and it was agreed that surgery would remove two and half centimetres.

But after four operations the man has been left with back and knee pain and a leg that is now five and half centimetres shorter and with the imbalance now firmly on the other foot.

During the original operation the man lost a large quantity of blood and received several blood transfusions, writes Hallands Nyheter.

He felt pain soon after the operation and was submitted for an x-ray a week later.

The x-ray showed that one of the screws used to hold his knee together had loosened and that the joint was fixed 20 degrees out of position.

A further operation showed that a plate in the leg had been fixed incorrectly in the original operation.

What do you call the person that graduated lowest in his class in Medical School?


I picked up a lot of information on orthopedics while reading up on the ailment that necessitated my hip replacement. The actual procedure has been refined to the point where it is a very routine operation with minimal recovery time. Changing the length of a leg is in the same league. (In hip replacement, sometimes, if the femur is damaged, they have to cut away to get fresh tissue to attach the implant, the bone is then lengthened in the same operation.)

I hope this guy has a good lawyer as he has a couple million coming to him above and beyond the cost of the initial surgery.

A winters tale - from Michigan

A sad story from Bay City, Michigan. From television station WNEM:
WWII Veteran Freezes To Death In Own Home
Bay City Electric & Light Restricted Power To Man's Home After Not Paying Bills

Officials in central Michigan say a 93-year-old man who owned more than $1,000 in unpaid electric bills froze to death inside his home -- where the municipal power company had restricted his use of electricity.

Neighbors and friends of Marvin Schur want answers as to how this could happen.

�Now that we do know it was hypothermia, there�s a whole bunch of feelings that I�ve got going through me,� said Jim Herndon, a neighbor of Schur�s. �There�s anger, for the city and the electrical company.�

Bay City officials said changes are on the way in an attempt to not let another instance like this happen again.

An autopsy determined Schur, 93, died from hypothermia in the home he lived in for years.
There is a huge difference between running a business and having some common compassion. With the record cold weather, they should have waited until spring to deal with the matter of the unpaid bills. They could easily tell that he was using electricity for heat just by watching the meter. Putting a restrictor on it was just a slap in his face -- being able to have light but no heat. What a way to die...

Frigus delenda est

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Woke up to this fscking pastoral scene:
Well, at least it's not like I have to unload a truck or anything today.
Oh... Yeah... Right... Crap...

It seems they never learn - Citigroup

Citigroup is buying a $50M Corporate Jet.

From Minyanville:

Citigroup: $50 Million Private Jet Takes Edge off Recession
If your stock trades at $3.67 a share, buying a new $50 million private jet probably shouldn't be at the top of your list of things to do.

But that assumes 1. You're sane. 2. You have half an ounce of public-relations smarts. 3. You give a damn.

The jury is still out on Citigroup, which recently accepted $45 billion in taxpayer funds to keep the company alive.

Nevertheless, Citigroup plans to spend about $50 million on a new corporate jet, a French-made Dassault Falcon 7X, the New York Post reports.

Citigroup is trying to sell 2 older planes, both Dassault 900 EXs. The jets are about 10 years old and are valued at an estimated $27 million.

Seriously WTF???

Not only can they take commercial flights (and I would not begrudge them first class -- hell, even renting out the entire first class cabin if there were a couple of them flying), there are a lot of Jet Share programs out there where people pay a certain amount/month and gain access to a pool of aircraft.

As for selling two aircraft and buying one -- you are loosing carrying capacity. There are a lot of ten year old aircraft flying these days just as safe as can be.

Hell, there are DC-3's flying and a lot of Boeing 727's (used to be my favorite aircraft). And why French? Why not an American aircraft?

Back home again - long day

Drove a 14' U Haul truck the 80 miles or so from Bellingham to Monroe, loaded up and headed home. Unloading tomorrow will be interesting as although the Xerox Copier has casters, the spacing is wider than the ramp on the truck. I was able to load it on the loading dock today but will need to use a ramp tomorrow. Crossing fingers as this puppy weighs about 800 pounds...

It will be nice to have the wide-format printer set up too -- a big jump from 11" wide to 24" wide -- allows me to make bigger prints of my stuff.

Dinner was OK -- Jen's Hosin spice ribs were good but my Sweet and Sour Chicken was lackluster with huge chunks of carrots (larger than bite size) and only two pieces of pineapple in the entire dish.

We missed last year but the year before was exceptional. Tonight? Meh...

Light posting today - busy

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Heading down to pick up the cool stuff I won at this auction (renting a box-van first), then there is a meeting tonight for the water board and finally, it is the Chinese New Year and a local restaurant always does wonderful Chinese food this one night out of the year. Needless to say, I will not be near a computer for a while...
I had written a post on 01/08/2009 about the new release from Microsoft Research called Microsoft Songsmith. The idea is inherently an interesting one -- you select a song style, sing into the computer and MSFT BOB! Songsmith will deliver the elevator music to accompany your passionate lyrics. Well, some intrepid soul (Jack Tripper who writes at Entertainment Weakly) fed the lyrics of Sgt. Pepper�s Lonely Hearts Club Band as well as others and the results are... Interesting? Reaching for the Clorox or something a lot stronger? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Anthony Cristofani at Google

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Yesterday, I posted about the inane comment that Anthony Cristofani left on another post that was over one year old (September 03, 2007). Mr. Cristofani can be most charitably described as a Useful Idiot. Just for the hell of it, I Googled his name and found that this Blog comes up as number eight out of 4,500 hits. Heh...

Sponser an Executive

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Here is a charity that we can all get behind:
Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.

Nice collection of HDR photographs

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I tend to be conservative when shooting High Dynamic Range images but sometimes, over the top is called for. Check out Patrick Boland's Cockatoo Island Project Here is one:
Visit his website for full-size images. Gorgeous stuff. The use of HDR really brings out the grit and details in what would otherwise be a gloomy factory. Hat tip to Cory at BoingBoing for the link.

Concerns about Global Warming

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Turns out that people aren't that concerned about Global Warming. From The Daily Bayonet:
Global Warming's Sinking Support
What happens to a fake crisis during a real one? Do people care about Al Gore's traveling-planetary-fevah-circus when their jobs are in danger? Actually, not so much. A new Pew Research poll asked over 1500 Americans to rank 20 issues in order of priority.

Here are the results:
More at the website -- good to see that people aren't spending too much time thinking about this. Perfect example of junk science being politicized for personal gain.

Ongoing subsidence - part two

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Four days ago, I posted this:
Ongoing subsidence
I had posted photos of the big mudslide that happened a week or two ago.

There were lots of little slides that happened too from that weather.

Here is one of them on a county road that we travel frequently

Click for full-size image.

A couple of days ago, that traffic cone was sitting about a foot from the edge of the slide.

Yes, the planet IS trying to kill us�
I was on the same road today and this is what I saw:
Click for full-size image.
The bad thing is that the temps have been cold (it's 17F outside now) and there has been no precipitation and the subsidence is still moving -- this may be a small county road but it's the way home for a lot of people...

Getting the smoke back in

In electronics, when something breaks, it is because you let the smoke out of a component. You can often see a little puff of smoke and once that smoke goes away, it will no longer work.

Fortunately, the keen minds at Lucas Industries in England (Joseph Lucas being the Prince of Darkness) have developed replacement smoke.

The fine folks at The British Columbia Triumph Registry have more information:

NOS Lucas Replacement Wiring Harness Smoke Kit
Have you inadvertently let the smoke out of the wires on your classic British car? This, then, is the solution to your problem!

Here is presented for your perusal one Lucas Replacement Wiring Harness Smoke kit, P/N 530433, along with the very rare Churchill Tool 18G548BS adapter tube and metering valve. These kits were supplied surreptitiously to Lucas factory technicians as a trouble-shooting and repair aid for the rectification of chronic electrical problems on a plethora of British cars. The smoke is metered, through the fuse box, into the circuit which has released it's original smoke until the leak is located and repaired. The affected circuit is then rectified and the replacement smoke re-introduced. An advantage over the cheap repro smoke kits currently available is the exceptionally rare Churchill metering valve and fuse box adapter. It enables the intrepid and highly skilled British Car Technician to meter the precise amount of genuine Lucas smoke required by the circuit.

Unlike the cheap, far-eastern replacement DIYsmoke offered by the "usual suppliers", this kit includes a filter to ensure that all the smoke is of consistent size, It has been our experience in our shop that the reproduction Taiwanese smoke is often "lumpy", which will cause excessive resistance in our finely-engineered British harnesses and components. This is often the cause of failure in the repro electrical parts currently available, causing much consternation and misplaced cursing of the big three suppliers.

These kits have long been the secret weapon of the "Ultimate Authorities" in the trade, and this may be the last one available. Be forewarned, though, that it is not applicable to any British vehicle built after the discontinuing of bullet connectors, so you Range Rover types are still on your own...

This Genuine Factory Authorized kit contains enough smoke to recharge the entire window circuit on a 420 Jaguar, and my dear friend and advisor George Wolf of British Auto Specialty assures me that he can replace ALL the smoke in a W&F Barrett All-Weather Invalid Car(147 CC) with enough left over to test a whole box of Wind-Tone horns for escaped smoke. How much more of an endorsement do you need?

More, you say? Well, I once let the smoke out of the overdrive wiring on my friend Roger Hankey's TR3B, and was able to drive over 200 miles home from The Roadster Factory Summer Party by carefully introducing smoke into the failed circuit WITHOUT even properly repairing the leak. Another friend, Richard Stephenson, was able to repair the cooling fan circuit of his Series 1 E-type by merely replacing a fuse and injecting a small quantity of smoke back into the wires. So there!

So, if you're troubled by lost smoke, bid early and bid often! Thanks for looking!

I'll have to get some of this to see if it works on electronics -- the DIY stuff doesn't work for me.

The Humane Society - major FAIL

This is just sickening. From the Central Pennsylvania PennLive:
Demolition of Humane Society's pet cemetery irks some owners
Ellen Ewing, who has two Brittany spaniels buried in the Humane Society of Lebanon County's animal cemetery behind its Myerstown headquarters, said she and other pet owners couldn't believe what they saw recently.

She and others "walked around in shock" after seeing how gravestones were removed and markers covered over as the society converts the cemetery to a memorial park.

"We feel very violated," Ewing said, adding it looks like someone took a backhoe and pushed the headstones to one side of the cemetery, breaking some.

Tracy Stevens, president of the society's Board of Directors, has said the ground was sinking, making the cemetery difficult to maintain. Plans are to fence in the plot and create a memorial area in which dogs can exercise and prospective owners can meet pets, with no further burials planned.

Eventually, remaining headstones might be placed along a new memorial walk in a wooded area next to the cemetery, Stevens said.

Owners of pets in the cemetery weren't notified of the changes because the society lost the list of names, Stevens said. But the society did put a notice in its newsletter, she said.
The idiot that authorized this should be canned immediately. What an awful thing to do to someone's beloved critter. Does this person have the ability to love and to care for a creature -- how could they do this and not feel ashamed of themselves.

The Crab Canon

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J.S. Bach is one of my very favorite composers. When I was a kid, I took a lot of piano and organ lessons (even had thoughts about becoming a pipe organ builder). Here is a wonderful look at his Crab Canon from BWV 1079 A Musical Offering.

We have a comment - Anthony Cristofani

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Over a year ago, I ran into an article in the New York Sun where Pete Seeger recanted his love of Communism. The author -- Ron Radosh -- said:
So I felt some trepidation when I got Mr. Seeger's letter. Surely he was angry, or at the least peeved, by my article. I had been a banjo student of his in the 1950s and regarded Mr. Seeger as my childhood hero and mentor. But for decades since then, I have been publicly identified as an opponent of much of what he has believed; that the Rosenbergs were innocent, for example, or that Fidel Castro was a friend of the poor.

I almost fell off the chair when I read Mr. Seeger's words: "I think you're right - I should have asked to see the gulags when I was in [the] USSR." For years, Mr. Seeger continued, he had been trying to get people to realize that any social change had to be nonviolent, in the fashion sought by Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Seeger had hoped, he explained, that both Khrushchev and later Gorbachev would "open things up." He acknowledged that he underestimated, and perhaps still does, "how the majority of the human race has faith in violence."
I was intrigued that such an Icon of the cultural left would have such a major volte-face so I blogged it here: Pete Seeger recants on Communism Well, today, a Mr. Anthony Cristofani stopped by and left this:
By your definition, the U.S. must be communist: brute thuggery and corruption. And I guess Venezuela, then, is NOT communist. Have you actually read any Marx, Lukacs, Marcuse, Jameson? No? Don't write, then.
What a load of drivel. If the United States is so fucking awful in your eyes, why don't you move to the nearest Communist Paradise. Oops -- there isn't one. There has never been a Communist Paradise because Communism plain out and out does not work. If you read the N.Y. Sun article I linked to, one of the commentors had this poignant observation:
Had been living under communism through 1982 I've never dreamt that one day I'll have a warm feeling toward Pete Seeger, who up to this day used to be for me the quintessential hypocritical, blind-corrupted American leftist. His belated, brave gesture turns the prism through what we may see him to a considerable, and admireable degree.
--Tibor Csipan
Communism falls victim to Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.
The United States also suffers this problem but because of the set of checks and balances embedded in our Constitution, we never are as bad as a regime that is totalitarian. What is that number again? 100,000,000 people dead from the various Communist regiemes... The United States of America is not a Communist Nation and you insult our great country by impugning that I think that it is. We are a Federated Republic of States (you would have remembered that from your grade school history classes if you had been paying attention). Anthony Cristofani continues: "And I guess Venezuela, then, is NOT communist." No, Venezuela is a Socialist state that is being maintained on life support with the money from its oil riches. Now that people aren't driving as much, oil prices are down and Chavez is scrambling for cash. He was spending it on bread and circuses for his "people" and not investing in infrastructure and maintaining a budget surplus. He has started nationalizing foreign owned businesses again so this will screw him out of any large business wanting to invest there ever again. He is an idiot with a great public relations department. Read your newspapers -- this stuff is being written about almost daily. Anthony Cristofani again: "Have you actually read any Marx, Lukacs, Marcuse, Jameson? No? Don't write, then." Ooooo - don't write? How fucking scary you are you odious little man. Typical liberal -- free speech for me but not for thee if you disagree... As for Marx -- I read bits and pieces of him over the years and did not like what I read. I rarely finished anything of his that I picked up as one does not have to eat the entire egg to know that it is rotten. Turgid writer too... I did claw my way through to the end of Capital and the Manifesto. As for Gy�rgy Luk�cs, Herbert Marcuse and Fredric Jameson; no, I have not read them. For me, Postmodernism is a failed construct and we are finally coming back to our senses. Even Philosophy Today says so (subscription required):
Indeed, it is hard to give an overview of the major postmodernist tenets without seeming to fall into parody. All knowledge, scientific knowledge included, is held to be socially constructed through and through. Science is therefore merely one story among others. The world we know is one that is constructed by human discourses, giving us not so much truths as �truth-effects� which may or may not be pragmatically useful. From this point of view, epistemologically speaking, a scientific text is understood as being on a par with a literary text. Further, given that for Derrida language is a self-referential system, all communication is reduced to the model of an avant-garde poem in which all meaning is indefinitely deferred.
Hell, even Noam Chomsky is on board with this:
Keeping to the personal level, I have spent a lot of my life working on questions such as these, using the only methods I know of--those condemned here as "science," "rationality," "logic," and so on. I therefore read the papers with some hope that they would help me "transcend" these limitations, or perhaps suggest an entirely different course. I'm afraid I was disappointed. Admittedly, that may be my own limitation. Quite regularly, "my eyes glaze over" when I read polysyllabic discourse on the themes of poststructuralism and postmodernism; what I understand is largely truism or error, but that is only a fraction of the total word count. True, there are lots of other things I don't understand: the articles in the current issues of math and physics journals, for example. But there is a difference. In the latter case, I know how to get to understand them, and have done so, in cases of particular interest to me; and I also know that people in these fields can explain the contents to me at my level, so that I can gain what (partial) understanding I may want. In contrast, no one seems to be able to explain to me why the latest post-this-and-that is (for the most part) other than truism, error, or gibberish, and I do not know how to proceed.
This is showing up in academia as well -- consider this tracking of journal citations for the following terms as compiled by Gene Expression



Your zenith was fifteen years ago -- get over it. But it gets better. Anthony Cristofani was convicted of armed robbery and spent three years in jail:
It seems that, while attending UC Santa Cruz, he got himself arrested for armed robbery. He had accompanied his then-girlfriend, a freshman art student named Emma Freeman (who happened to be a National Merit Scholar) when she waived a semiautomatic Beretta around in a Costco and walked out with a boombox, a Walkman and a telephone. "They were such terrible robbers," said Lindsey. "Anthony was wearing his dance pants; they were doing pirouettes down the aisle of the store."

Anthony ended up doing three years in prison for the crime, spending his time writing a novel, learning French and studying poetry.
Twit -- and he is on MySpace: Anthony Cristofani and Facebook I love the MySpace comment: "I'm the Antonio right between Gramsci and Negri" Gramsci was the moke who realized that most civilized nations would not submit to the yoke of totalitarian rule lightly and prescribed a gradual incrementalism until such time as total rule is achieved. It is chillingly evident in today's society and is causing no small measure of concern. So, Mr. Anthony Cristofani, you are a perfect example of what Vladimir Ilyich Lenin called a Useful Idiot. I stand by what I have written and urge you and your compatriots to move to Venezuela or Cuba and enjoy practicing what you preach. Until then, you have neither the moral nor the intellectual authority to tell me what to do. You are a closed minded fool who fashions himself a thinker but in reality, you are not the sharpest tool in the box...

From the UK Telegraph comes this odd bit of history:

Nazi angel of death Josef Mengele 'created twin town in Brazil'
The steely hearted "Angel of Death", whose mission was to create a master race fit for the Third Reich, was the resident medic at Auschwitz from May 1943 until his flight in the face of the Red Army advance in January 1945.

His task was to carry out experiments to discover by what method of genetic quirk twins were produced - and then to artificially increase the Aryan birthrate for his master, Adolf Hitler.

Now, a historian claims, Mengele's notorious experiments may have borne fruit.

For years scientists have failed to discover why as many as one in five pregnancies in a small Brazilian town have resulted in twins - most of them blond haired and blue eyed.

But residents of Candido Godoi now claim that Mengele made repeated visits there in the early 1960s, posing at first as a vet but then offering medical treatment to the women of the town.

Shuttling between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, he managed to evade justice before his death in 1979, but his dreams of a Nazi master race appeared unfulfilled.

Downright bizarre...

A blonde joke

Also swiped from Denny.
Saturday Blond Joke
A blind guy on a bar stool shouts to the bartender, "Hey! Wanna hear a blonde joke?"

The bar immediately becomes absolutely quiet. In a hushed voice, the guy next to him says, "Before you tell that joke, you should know something. The bartender is blond, the bouncer is blond, and I'm a 6' tall, 200 pound blond with a black belt in karate. What's more, the guy sitting next to me is 6'2," weighs 225 pounds, and he's a blond weight lifter." He continues, "The fella to your right is blond, 6'5" and pushing 300 pounds, and he's a wrestler. Think about it seriously, Mister. You still wanna tell that joke?"

The blind guy says, "Nah! Not if I'm gonna have to explain it five times.
And one of his commenter's left another great Blonde joke. heh...

I want some TARP

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Great little ditty about the Government's Troubled Assets Relief Program:
Hat tip to Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple. Where's mine?
And it's the second time in recorded history. From Anthony Watts writing at Watts Up With That:
Snow falls in the United Arab Emirates
Yes more anecdotal evidence of a colder winter in the northern hemisphere. This is the second time in 5 years. A USATODAY story says it was �the first time ever� in 2004. Even the BBC reported it. There seems to be some confusion on the precendence between news organizations. In the 2004 stories, USATODAY says �first time ever� while BBC says �every 20 to 30 years�. I would tend to believe the Abu Dhabi local newspaper (over the BBC) who now says �second time in recorded history� in their story below. - Anthony
Anthony then links to this story in the Abu Dhabi National:
This is the frozen north � of the UAE


RAS AL KHAIMAH // Snow covered the Jebel Jais area for only the second time in recorded history yesterday.

So rare was the event that one lifelong resident said the local dialect had no word for it.

According to the RAK Government, temperatures on Jebel Jais dropped to -3�C on Friday night. On Saturday, the area had reached 1�C.

Major Saeed Rashid al Yamahi, a helicopter pilot and the manager of the Air Wing of RAK Police, said the snow covered an area of five kilometres and was 10cm deep.

�The sight up there this morning was totally unbelievable, with the snow-capped mountain and the entire area covered with fresh, dazzling white snow,� Major al Yamahi said.

�The snowfall started at 3pm Friday, and heavy snowing began at 8pm and continued till midnight, covering the entire area in a thick blanket of snow. Much of the snow was still there even when we flew back from the mountain this afternoon. It is still freezing cold up there and there are chances that it might snow again tonight.�

Aisha al Hebsy, a woman in her 50s who has lived in the mountains near Jebel Jais all her life, said snowfall in the area was so unheard of the local dialect does not even have a word for it. Hail is known as bared, which literally translates as cold. �Twenty years ago we had lots of hail,� said Ms al Hebsy. �Last night was like this. At four in the morning we came out and the ground was white.�

Jebel Jais was dusted in snow on Dec 28, 2004, the first snowfall in living memory for Ras al Khaimah residents.

�I had flown there in 2004 when it snowed, but this time it was much bigger and the snowing lasted longer as well,� said Major al Yamahi.
Was Al Gore visiting there last week?

Unintended Consequences - Bio-Diesel

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With the cold weather we have been having, an Inconvenient Truth is coming out about Bio-Diesel. All fuels will gel but Petroleum Diesel does so at around zero degrees Fahrenheit where Bio-Diesel is much higher - about ten depending on the original feedstock. This can make a difference. From Kate Galbraith at the New York Times comes this article about some Minnesota school busses running Bio-Diesel:
Biodiesel Congeals, School Buses Stall
Last month I wrote an article about the difficulties that winter conditions pose for various forms of renewable energy.

Biodiesel congeals at low temperatures, as John Jones, the transit director for the Summit Stage bus service in the Colorado mountains told me. He stopped using biodiesel in the winter after one of his buses filled with drunken revelers � and fueled by a biodiesel blend � stalled on the interstate in the middle of a frigid winter night.

Now a similar problem has hit Minnesota school buses, which also run on a biodiesel blend.

According to The Minneapolis Star Tribune, some school buses stalled in last week�s bitterly cold weather. Children got stuck in stalled buses or had a long wait in the freezing weather at their bus stops.

A few school districts were closed as a result of the problem.

Unlike most states, Minnesota law requires diesel fuel to carry a 2 percent biodiesel blend � a policy backed by soy farmers, whose crop accounts for most of the state�s biodiesel stock.

Diesel also can congeal at low temperatures, but experts say that biodiesel congeals more readily � though some ski resorts such as Sugarloaf in Maine have figured out how to run biodiesel blends year-round.
So we have a manufactured fuel that costs more energy to produce then it yields, only serves to bring food costs up and is only viable through a massive government subsidy program (our tax dollars). There are additives that you can use to mitigate the cold weather problems -- Sugarloaf probably keeps their tanks underground and out of the freezing weather. Here is a good website outlining a lot of issues with Bio-Diesel.
Words spoken by Chicago defense lawyer Ed Genson. From CNN/Politics:
Blagojevich's lead defense lawyer to resign
Prominent Chicago defense lawyer Ed Genson said Friday he intends to resign as attorney for embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the criminal case against the governor.

"I never require a client to do what I say but I do require them to at least listen to what I say. ... I wish the governor good luck and godspeed," Genson said in brief remarks to reporters.

Genson would not elaborate on his reasons for withdrawing from the case or any conversations he had with Blagojevich about his leaving the case.

Genson had headed Blagojevich's defense team since soon after the governor was arrested on December 9 on federal corruption charges. Among other allegations, federal prosecutors said the governor tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

Genson represented Blagojevich during proceedings in the Illinois state House in which legislators voted to impeach the governor. But on January 16, the U.S. attorney's office in the Northern District of Illinois said Genson would not represent Blagojevich in his state Senate impeachment trial. No explanation was given.

Blagojevich has denied any wrongdoing and said the House impeachment vote was politically motivated.
"impeachment vote was politically motivated" my lilly white ass. The guy is corrupt. Chicago is bidness as usual -- why should we be surprised. If Blago goes to prison, he will be the fourth of the last eight governers to do so.

Our friends in Israel

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Just got a big shot in the arm. From Noble Energy:
Noble Energy Announces Significant Natural Gas Discovery at Tamar Well Offshore Israel
Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NBL) announced today a natural gas discovery at the Tamar prospect in the Matan license, offshore Israel. The Tamar #1 well, located in approximately 5,500 feet of water, was drilled to a total depth of 16,076 feet to test a subsalt, lower-Miocene structure in the Levantine basin. Formation logs identified more than 460 feet of net pay in three high-quality reservoirs. The thickness and quality of the reservoirs encountered were greater than anticipated at the well location.

Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy's Chairman, President and CEO, said, "Tamar represents our first exploratory well offshore Israel in more than five years, and we are extremely excited by the results. This is one of the most significant prospects that we have ever tested and appears to be the largest discovery in the company's history. Early indications are that the resources identified are very substantial, at least equal to our pre-drill estimated gross mean resources of over three trillion cubic feet. Subject to the collection of additional data, the resource estimate for Tamar could further increase. This discovery continues to highlight the potential of our global programs and further demonstrates the significant value generated from our best-in-class exploration efforts."
Go Israel! Go Abiogenic petroleum origin!

That's it for the evening

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Was up at 6:00AM this morning and it was a long long day. DaveCave(tm) Bed That order...

Speaking troof to power

Stingray writing at Atomic Nerds totally nails the troofer movement - conspiracy theories, etc...

The last time LabRat let bitey off the leash, it prompted Tam to ponder
This ties in nicely with one of my favorite questions I ponder while chewing pencils to splinters, which is "Why do fuckwits love conspiracy theories?"
Commenter MarkHB opined in reply
Glib answer: It saves them having to think.
Well, not quite so much, I suspect. Now, take all of the following with a large pillar of salt. LabRat is the bio-geek of the household, so calling anything I'm about to say an oversimplified generalization is a bit like saying a man struck by lightning is feeling a bit under the weather, but the problem as I see it is that they can't help but think.

When your computer doesn't have anything to do, the processor can throttle down. It doesn't need to be grinding away very hard just to run a screen saver. The brain, however, is not like this. When the brain has unallocated processing capacity, it pretty much has to find something to do. It finds a book to read. It loads Halo and tosses sticky grenades onto Brutes. It writes a web browser plugin to make thumbnailing images easier. It writes a blog. It follows TV shows obsessively and creates fandoms. No matter what it is with that free time, it does something. Since you can't just install seti@home on the wetware between your ears, that means it's up to the individual to find some way to use those spare brain cycles. Some people try to just throttle down the processor, trying to achieve a perfectly empty mind through meditation, but about the point where the mind is good and empty, some stray thought pops in. Probably something along the lines of "Wow, that cow looks like I feel right now all the time. I bet there isn't a stray thought in there messing up his day. That cow has it all figured out!" And then that leads to silliness like the notion that you had lived before and since you once ate a cow you were cosmically screwed until you atone for having lunch off the critter that's got it all figured out, and then -- sorry, kinda got off on a tangent there*.

There are plenty of great outlets for these spare cycles, too. Smart folks redefine physics, or write best-selling novels. Then there are not so great outlets, like gay incestuous male-pregnancy Harry Potter fanfic, or more to the current point, conspiracy theories.

What follows is wonderful. Nails it -- totally nails it!

Back home again -- long day

The auction was a long one with about 2,400 separate lots going under the hammer. The history of the company and its downfall warrant a Wikipedia Entry regarding the actions of one man and the McDonald's Monopoly sweepstakes. I was able to pick up a couple treasures for very cheap: (All pictures will show a large version if you click on them.)

A nice Professional grade Epson photo printer
and a mid-size Xerox copy machine
with all of the bells and whistles...
Here are a few photos I took as the Auction was in progress:
The operation was huge -- they had the entire building.

cyrk_Epilog.JPG An Epilog Engraving Laser -- I bid on this
but dropped out soon as I can buy a new one
for $10K from Epilog and there was no indication
of how long the unit had been run.
A new tube costs a couple $K. It went for $4K


The screen printing division.

One of the huge automated embroidery machines.
I was talking with a former employee
and they said these cost several $100K each.
They sold for $1K each...


Warehouse and Office spaces.

The designers had quite the cushy digs...

No posting for a day or so.

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Off to this auction -- the preview is today so I'm driving down and spending the night in beautiful downtown Monroe, WA. I'm shutting off Comments and Trackbacks as the level of spam is a bit high. Back Friday evening.

A goodbye embrace

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Swiped from Denny:
Mark J. Perry at Carpe Diem has some interesting data about levels of government employment. Here is one of them:
Read the article for the rest -- a really interesting (and sobering) look given the decline of US manufacturing and the increasing socialist tendencies of our government. The next four years will be interesting...

Talk about a lucky day

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From the York, PA York Daily Record comes this tale:
Dog-gone-it! Man loses dog, river swallows car
PORT HURON TOWNSHIP, Mich.�A man driven to find his lost dog also lost his car after he drove onto the frozen Black River in St. Clair County, locked himself out of the idling vehicle, then watched as heat from the 1994 Buick's exhaust pipe melted the ice beneath it.

WPHM-AM, the Detroit Free Press and the Times Herald in Port Huron reported that a police dive team were expected Wednesday to help pull the car from the frigid river off Port Huron Township, about 55 miles northeast of Detroit.

The newspapers said the Buick was a loaner while the man's vehicle is being repaired at a collision shop.

Ongoing subsidence

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I had posted photos of the big mudslide that happened a week or two ago. There were lots of little slides that happened too from that weather. Here is one of them on a county road that we travel frequently
Click for full-size image.
A couple of days ago, that traffic cone was sitting about a foot from the edge of the slide. Yes, the planet IS trying to kill us...
Got up a couple hours earlier then usual to attend today's Auction. Heading off to the DaveCave(tm) for an hour and then to bed. Remodeling an apartment so a friend can move in this weekend. Putting down some new flooring in the kitchen/dining area and replacing some light fixtures (woven 'flower petal' shade, glass ball and swag chain are soooooooooo '70s).

Cledus T. Judd - Waitin' on Obama

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One of the stations I like to listen to is the Canadian JR.FM a Country Music station. They played this earlier today:
Heh... Cledus T. Judd is sort of like a thinking man's redneck "Weird Al" Yankovic More YouTube goodness here.
I was at this auction today: Design Decor specifically looking at this little bundle of techno-geek joy:
Under computer control, a large router is moved over a four by eight foot table (think whole sheet of plywood) and there is a height (Z Axis) control as well. It came with two computers and a copy of MasterCam2 software. You can buy a similar unit for about $3.8K minus software and 'puters. MasterCam2 is worth a couple hundred for the older version they had. Computers are about $800 each including monitor for what was there. The unit in question was about ten years old and the manufacturer was no longer in business. Their electronics was proprietary so if something broke, you were S.O.L. The unit was also an old-skool operating design; you talked to it through an MS-DOS program that uploaded your work to the router and allowed you to edit the GCode and to start and stop operations. These days, the computer actually controls the unit in realtime using software like MACH3 (free demo -- I use it and it rocks seriously). This allows you to run a pre-flight on the screen without having to run the machine. This allows you to see that your code is not going to try to plunge your router five feet below the surface of your tabletop. :) It also gives you a line-by-line view of your GCode as well as a Digital Readout of your cutter position. Much better. In terms of the machine electronics, companies like Gecko Drive and Campbell Designs (as well as a lot of others -- it's a long list and I'm trying to be concise) have commoditized motor drivers and sensor inputs into individual modules which can be swapped out as needed. The hardware was in great shape except for a lot of nasty crud on the bearings -- looking at disassembly and possible replacement. Rock solid otherwise. My thought was to pick it up, gut the old electronics and go Gecko. I already own MACH3 and a shop computer so no extra expenses there. Before this went under the hammer, there was a gorgeous huge tablesaw. You are looking at a 14" blade, Bissmeyer fence, 7.5HP 3Phase motor. About $4K new today. It went for $500. They moved to the CNC Router and I dropped out at $400, a bunch of people didn't cross the $1,000 line, a few people went up to $2K. What happened next was one of those moments that auctioneers live for. Two guys really wanted that CNC Router. Sometimes they were hesitant about upping their bid but they knew... KNEW that this piece of equipment would enable them to fart rainbows as soon as it was up and running in their shop. Bidding closed at $5,000. I talked briefly with the winner about 20 minutes after that sale (there was nothing else I was interested so I was heading out). The poor guy already had a wood shop but had zero training in CNC, GCode or MasterCAM. He had never run a CNC machine before. I pointed him to a great online CNC list, told him about the local Community College that I took my CNC classes from and he shook my hand profusely. As they say -- Caveat Emptor...

Except this one - Hamas being Hamas

Ran into this tidbit at Glen's place -- from the Jerusalem Post:

'Hamas torturing Fatah members in Gaza'
A Fatah official in Ramallah told the Post that at least 100 of his men had been killed or wounded as a result of the massive Hamas crackdown. Some had been brutally tortured, he added.

The official said that the perpetrators belonged to Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, and to the movement's Internal Security Force.

According to the official, at least three of the detainees had their eyes put out by their interrogators, who accused them of providing Israel with wartime information about the location of Hamas militiamen and officials.

A number of Hamas leaders and spokesmen have claimed in the past few days that Fatah members in the Gaza Strip had been spying on their movement and passing the information to Israel.

Two Hamas officials, Salah Bardaweel and Fawzi Barhoum, accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his "spies" in the Gaza Strip of tipping off the Israelis about the movements of slain Hamas interior minister Said Siam, who was killed in an IAF strike on his brother's home in Gaza City last week.
A bit more:

Eyewitnesses said that Hamas militiamen had turned a number of hospitals and schools into temporary detention centers where dozens of Fatah members and supporters were being held on suspicion of helping Israel during the war.

The eyewitnesses said that a children's hospital and a mental health center in Gaza City, as well as a number of school buildings in Khan Yunis and Rafah, were among the places that Hamas had turned into "torture centers."
Fatah and Hamas are the two political factions of the "palestinians". Ham-Ass are brutal thugs and Fatah has learned that cooperating with Israel gets them a lot of business, medical and schooling, employment, etc... all while retaining their identifies as an independent peoples. Hamas is operating out of the typical Arab 9th century cycle of shame and blame. They cannot accept the fact that their incompetent operations allowed Israel to come in with a few troops and destroy 90% of their infrastructure and kill their top commanders. No. There has to be some other reason so let's pick the closest one. Our fellow palestinians. My guess is that the backstory is that Israel is planning to dig Hamas out of the Gaza Strip and then let Fatah take over. This would do a lot for the stability of everyone and the resumption of everyday life. Fatah are not barbarians. More here and here.

That's it for this evening

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Got a small auction to go to tomorrow and an big one on Friday. Sandwich that in with everything else and it's going to be a busy week...
Chris Byrne writes a wonderful rant directed to people working in IT who cannot seem to advance beyond a $30K salary even though they have been working for ten years.
A Little Career Advice
A couple weeks back, a reader was asking for some career advice.

This guy has got 10 years of experience in IT, doing phone, desktop/deskside support, and light admin work; but he has no degree and no certifications.

He's currently making about $30,000 a year, and he wanted to know what he should do to improve his financial position, and career in general. More specifically, he wanted to know if I thought certifications would help in that; and how important not having a degree was.

The short answer is, not very much, and not very important.

The long answer is a bit more complicated, but it's important to understand. I know literally hundreds of guys like this; who have five to ten years experience, and are stuck in $30,000 to $45,000 a year, near-entry level positions.
It's a long post but it is a must read if you work in IT and want to advance your career. If you know anyone who works in IT, forward them the link -- they will thank you. He is not "polite" in his advice but he is 110% spot-on and is telling the simple unvarnished truth whether or not it's something you want to hear. Good stuff!

Picture of the day - The Sisters

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I had to run into town today to take care of some things and give my Dad his weekly B12 injection. (We doctor our own critters so administering a SubQ injection is something we have both done a lot -- Dad did object to the hoof trim and the shearing though.) Coming back around 3:30, I noticed the light on The Sisters was beautiful so I turned off the highway and went to a place where I knew there was a nice view-point. Here is today's photograph -- again, click for full-size:
There are some farm buildings off to the left outside of the field of view. I love that tendril of wood smoke drifting through the photo. Serves as a counterbalance to the mountains.

Bill Ayers in the news

UPDATE at bottom Heh... Known domestic terrorist who for some reason has gotten a free ride from the law and society had a bit of a comeuppance today. From the Toronto Star:
William Ayers turned back at Canadian border
An American education professor, one of the founders of a radical 1960s group known as the Weather Underground, which was responsible for a number of bombings in the United States in the early 1970s, was turned back at the Canadian border last night.

Dr. William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a leader in educational reform, was scheduled to speak at the Centre for Urban Schooling at University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. But that appearance has now been temporarily cancelled.

"I don't know why I was turned back," Ayers said in an interview this morning from Chicago. "I got off the plane like everyone else and I was asked to come over to the other side. The border guards reviewed some stuff and said I wasn't going to be allowed into Canada. To me it seems quite bureaucratic and not at all interesting ... If it were me I would have let me in. I couldn't possibly be a threat to Canada."
The article offers a mini-refresher course if you don't remember his actions:
Ayers first rose to notoriety in the early 1970s with the Weather Underground. The group claimed responsibility for bombings at the U.S. Capitol, a Pentagon restroom and New York City police headquarters. In 1970, a townhouse in New York the group was using to build a bomb blew up.
Of course he will get a lot of street cred from this and will be able to spin it into something that only makes his star shine brighter. Still, it is nice to see some nation grow a pair and recognize that he is still subverting the educational system and growing more little useful idiots. UPDATE: Jen pointed out -- rightly so -- that Ayers could have had an outstanding warrant, an unpaid traffic ticket, etc... Anything like this can cause an issue at the border.
People in Vancouver, BC are not happy with todays commute. From The Province:
Commuter chaos expected over Pattullo closure for four to six weeks
Commuter chaos is expected for several weeks after a fire Sunday that may see the Pattullo Bridge closed for up to four weeks or more.

The fire began early yesterday on a creosote-soaked wooden trestle supporting the southern end of the aging span linking Surrey and New Westminster.

Structural engineers, police and fire investigators probed the cause of the 3 a.m. blaze as it continued to smoulder late in the day.

Homeless people are known to live under that area of the bridge and a fence erected by Translink to keep them out was previously broken through.

It took fire crews from three Surrey halls to bring the spectacular blaze under control.

TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast said demolition of the wooden section will begin immediately.

The 72-year-old bridge carries an average of 80,000 vehicles every day � 20 per cent of the traffic that crosses the Fraser River. The bridge will be completely closed while repairs are made. Roads leading to the Port Mann Bridge were already gridlocked yesterday.
The bridge name is pronounced puh-Tello -- one person's comment summed up my thoughts exactly:
It's funny how readily available the unlimited funds for the Olympic Village is, but that decrepid old bridge still stands (barely) and we never seem to have the money to replace it...wow.
All the banks that received bail-out funds? Well guess what -- they are using off-shore tax-free havens to shield their funds from taxation. From the Washington Post:
Bailed-Out Firms Have Tax Havens, GAO Finds
Most of America's largest publicly traded corporations -- including several that are receiving billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers to finance their recovery -- have set up offshore operations that could help them avoid paying U.S. taxes on their profits, a government study released yesterday found.

American International Group, Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley are among the companies that are getting bailed out by U.S. taxpayers while having subsidiaries in locations where they can avoid paying U.S. taxes, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Of the 100 largest public companies, 83 do business in tax-haven hotspots like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands, where they can move their income into tax-free accounts.

It is all legal, but it could come to an end, given the dire condition of the U.S. economy and President-elect Barack Obama's campaign pledge to close this popular business tax loophole. The Treasury estimates that it loses $100 billion a year in tax revenue as a result of companies shipping their income off shore, and congressional leaders are vowing to introduce legislation forcing big companies to pay full freight.
And of course, the savings are passed through to the customers... No? This Nation needs a good thorough housecleaning. Dig out the corruption and graft.

Out shooting today

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I was bringing firewood into the DaveCave(tm) and saw that the light was really nice. Ran up the hill to the Mt. Baker Ski area and shot a bunch of stuff. Here is the first -- click for a much larger version:
This is one of the things I love about living here -- I can walk out my door and in 30 minutes be at this place. In Seattle that would be a full days expedition with no guarantee on weather.
Last Friday, I wrote about the unusually high failure rate of some Seagate hard drives. Well today, The Register had this to say:
Seagate isolates 'potential' Barracuda flaw
Offers free firmware upgrade, data recovery

After reports that its 1TB Barracuda drives are failing at an unusually high rate, Seagate says it has isolated a "potential firmware issue" that would seem to be the cause of this worldwide plague.

The company will provide a free firmware upgrade for those affected by the problem, and if you've lost data thanks to this firmware issue, it will provide free data recover services as well.

In a statement, Seagate says the firmware problem affects "some" Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives and "related drive families based on this product platform." And it explains that "In some circumstances, the data on the hard drives may become inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on."
A firmware update is cool but offering data recovery is downright awesome. Good move Seagate! Seagate's website has more information and the firmware downloads.

A meditation on Florida

From Gerard Vanderleun at American Digest comes this poignant meditation on what Florida has become:

Florida: The Fool's Golden State
The frozen rain that would not stop drove me out of Seattle a few weeks ago. I took shelter at a friend's house deep in the Florida Keys. No rain. No chill. Turquoise waters. Long bridges and longer sunsets. A half an hour north from Key West. Fish sandwiches, large flocks of snowy egrets, Tiki bars specializing in Rumrunners with a dark rum float. Hammocks and sunshine. Powerboats and new yachts and boat drinks and running up on plane past Little Palm Island and out into the Gulf Stream with twin Cats putting out a perfect wake.

In a word, "Paradise." Right?

Yes. If you don't track in for the close-up.

Because, as much as the boosters of Florida want you to believe it, Florida is no longer "ready for its close-up." Florida is still pretty from the air and also in the middle-distance. But a close up examination of Florida, in the Keys or elsewhere, is like a close-up of a once beautiful woman that time is beginning to dissolve into age lines, lank hair, and too many calories in too many visible places.

Like that fabled great beauty, Florida is going to great lengths to keep anybody from noticing. The brochures have increasing amounts of make-up slathered on in the form of retouching. The flab is being trussed up in Spandex or draped with new clothes cleverly cut for the "ample." Most of all, the fact that large sections of the Keys and the Florida coastline are really quite dead is being hushed up at every opportunity, and new shades of rouge are being applied to the corpse to keep the money rolling in.

But close up, the truth is still visible. Very, very visible. Even in the soft and lambent hues of yet another Tequila sunrise it can't be hidden. In the words of one man gazing across the bar to the person walking in from the beach, "No way I can drink her to a 10. Can't even get to 3."

Wonderfully written and sad to hear. Spent a few months there for an Oceanography class and have traveled through there a half-dozen times. Always wanted to get to the Keys but it sounds like that is a place that will never return.

From the BBC:
Zimbabwe rolls out Z$100tr note
Zimbabwe is introducing a Z$100 trillion note, currently worth about US$30 (�20), state media reports.

Other notes in trillion-dollar denominations of 10, 20 and 50 are also being released to help Zimbabweans cope with hyperinflation.

However, the dollarisation of the economy means that few products are available in the local currency.

On Thursday, the opposition leader said he was still committed to power-sharing intended to rescue the failing economy.

Since September, when the deal was signed, talks have stalled over who should control key ministries.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was due to hold talks with President Robert Mugabe "within this coming week" to try to resolve the political crisis.

He described Mr Mugabe as "part of the problem but also part of the solution".

The latest annual figure for inflation, estimated in July last year, was 231m% - the world's highest.
How to deal with Mugabe is very simple. Rope. Tree. Some assembly required.

Mark Your Time, Hu-Mans!

Iowahawk brings us a statement from Waxulon-6, Lord High Admiral of the Kremulakian Earth Invaders Go. Read. Obey.

On Wealth

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Quote of the day week month year decade:
You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation.

You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

--Dr. Adrian Rogers
Hat tip to Mr. Completely
Not much happening on the Intartubes this weekend. Had to go into town to get some stuff for the store, had dinner out and had a few Margarita's at the restaurant that hosted the music last night. Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) for email and then to bed.

The coming Change

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Click for full-size.

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

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Last Sunday, Chris Muir's Day by Day cartoon was excellent:
Click for full-size.
For those unfamiliar with the quote, the full text is here:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

--Percy Bysshe Shelley
Talk about being spot on...
Went out to a local restaurant as a friend of ours had his CD Release party tonight. We know Eric as the brewer at a local brewpub, pizzeria, wedding chapel and beer shrine. Turns out he has a really good tight band together. A fun evening but it's now 11:30 and I'm off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to bed. When the hell did I get old? Used to be able to pull all-nighters with zero problems.
If you have a 1TB hard disk from Seagate, check it's serial number and firmware revision and make sure your backup systems work (ie: don't just copy everything to another 1TB Seagate drive) From The Register:
Seagate customers swamped by Barracuda drive failures
Seagate 1TB Barracuda drives are failing at an alarming rate, with users complaining of a plague of such failures spreading across the globe.

Barracuda 7200.11 drives made in Thailand (ref: ST31000340AS with firmware level SD15) are failing at boot time with a firmware error that is said to lock the drive up and render it inoperable. Seagate's warranty procedure for failed drives has been used by owners, with an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorisation) number issued for the failed drive to be returned to Seagate and replaced. However, replacements are said to be of the same type, and so prone to the same error.
And ominously:
Seagate recently reduced its bare drive warranty period, raising some doubts about product quality standards.
They used to be some of the best drives out there and had a five year warrenty. Now it is three years.

Hey Kennedy family - suck it up

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The off-shore wind farm that Teddy Kennedy tried to block because: �But don�t you realize, that�s where I sail.� just got a key regulatory thumbs up. From the Boston Herald:
Cape Wind gets key approval
The controversial wind-turbine project off Cape Cod got a key regulatory thumbs-up this morning, moving the Cape Wind proposal closer to reality.

The U.S. Department of the Interior�s Minerals Management Service described its preliminary OK of Cape Wind as a �milestone� for offshore wind energy.

The decision was expected because a draft MMS report last year had already signaled the agency�s favorable view toward the project, which calls for 130 giant wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, costing more than $1 billion.

But there was some doubt that the MMS�s final report could be issued before President George Bush left office and before opponents, including some Massachusetts congressional members, could possibly torpedo the project.

Now MMS has release its long-awaited final draft - and it will go through a 30-day review.

Cape Wind still needs to get other government permits. But MMS�s OK is considered crucial.
Wind is not suitable for baseload and I do not believe that the New England grid is fully capable of dealing with the power generated by these new facilities but this is an excellent start to getting rid of our dependency on foreign oil for something as simple as power generation. Nuclear is the best (and cheapest) technology out there and obviously we need to be pushing a lot more than we are right now but Wind is a good source of peak power and we should not be ignoring it.
Hint: Not a darned thing. From David Harsanyi at the Denver Post:
Debate over; it's freezing
The carbon footprint of Barack Obama's inauguration could exceed 575 million pounds of CO2. According to the Institute for Liberty, it would take the average U.S. household nearly 60,000 years of naughty ecological behavior to produce a carbon footprint equal to the largest self-congratulatory event in the history of humankind.

The same congressfolk who are now handing out thousands of tickets to this ecological disaster only last year mandated the phased elimination of the incandescent light bulb � a mere carbon tiptoe, if you will. The whole thing seems a bit unfair.

And, on the day millions of Americans were freezing their collective backsides off, new Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman announced that Congress would fast-track climate change legislation. Waxman claimed "inaction on the climate issue is causing uncertainties that make it more difficult to emerge from the recession," according to The Associated Press.

Waxman's methane emission would merely reek if it weren't so catastrophically sad. I learned long ago that any dissent on climate alarmism will be met with unflinching fury, but is there anyone who can genuinely argue that inaction on "climate issues" (formerly known as global warming) has had a fundamental impact on the economic downturn?

Our plight will, in actuality, likely be exacerbated if Waxman gets his way. Playing on the public's fear of climate change, we are about to almost certainly see a nationalized energy policy and price controls through cap and trade.

The late economist and journalist Henry Hazlitt once wrote that those who attempt "to lift the prices of particular commodities permanently above their natural market levels have failed so often, so disastrously and so notoriously" that no one admits to wanting to try it. Then again, in those heady days, the Energy and Commerce chairman's job was actually assisting Americans with their energy needs, not making it more expensive.
With policies like this, it's no wonder that Waxman has a curious history:
Swiped from Michael Laprarie at Wizbang

A modest proposal for February Second

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Pascal Fervor has an excellent idea:
Let's Declare This February 2 "Al Gore Day"
Yes, it is time to initiate a viral meme on the Internet to honor our illustrious fearmonger protector of Mother Gaia. Let February 2, 2009 be declared Groundhog Al Gore day.

If, in the dead of this record setting cold winter, Al Gore comes out from whatever hole he's been hiding, it means he thinks the winter is going to be short. Let us hope he is finally right as too many people are hurting from this cold already.
Hat tip to Og for the link. Pass it on...

Excellent rant on Pacific Northwest Weather

Dr. Clifford F. Mass is a meteorologist and professor in the University of Washington Department of Atmospheric Sciences so he knows what he is talking about.

Here is an Editorial he wrote a few days ago for the Seattle Times:

Weather response must be grounded in science
The past several weeks remind us of this region's vulnerability to environmental disasters, as well as deficiencies in our preparations. It is clearly time for a careful assessment of Northwest environment hazards, a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of mitigation approaches, and a vigorous action plan to lessen the impacts of recurring natural events.

As an environmental scientist, I am frustrated by the poor information distributed by public officials, the media and others regarding the current and predicted frequency of extreme weather events. It is time for the scientific community to set the record straight.

With heavy precipitation and steep slopes, major flooding and landslides visit the region nearly every year, with billion-dollar floods occurring roughly once a decade. Powerful windstorms, such as the Columbus Day or Hanukkah-Eve events, can bring winds exceeding 100 miles per hour, with falling trees acting as "force multipliers." The greatest annual snowfalls on the planet hit our mountains, avalanches often close major highways, and lowland snow can cripple our hilly urban regions. Major earthquakes, although infrequent, have the potential to destroy buildings, bridges and other key structures, volcanic eruptions can spread choking layers of ash and dust, and tsunamis threaten the Pacific Coast.

Recent snow storms and floods revealed many weaknesses in our ability to deal with recurring natural threats. In Seattle, snow crippled the city for nearly two weeks, preventing thousands of people from working, shopping and other normal activities, while hundreds of auto accidents and a near catastrophic bus accident above Interstate 5 put the lives of hundreds at risk.

During such events communications among key agencies (such as Metro and Seattle's Department of Transportation) and between local governments and the public are critical, and throughout the snow period the system failed. Major bus routes were unplowed, citizens waited for buses that never came, Metro's Web servers failed under the load, and Seattle officials claimed effective snow removal for roads that were impassable.

Some city officials attempted to deflect blame by noting the infrequency of major snow events, but they missed an essential point. The question is not how often a dangerous event occurs, but rather whether a reasonable public investment will provide a net savings for society or reduce a serious risk to life and safety.

Catastrophic earthquakes occur once a generation or century, yet we are willing to spend billions of dollars to mitigate their effects. One suspects that a realistic estimate of the loss of income, productivity and sales, as well as the damage to vehicles and public property, due to the recent snows would exceed tens of millions of dollars; certainly, such losses outweighed the costs of additional snowplows and salt. And the risks to the lives of Seattle citizens were unacceptable.

Excellent comparison between the Earthquakes and Climate and the monies spent on each. He continues to address flooding and climate change due to Global Warming and has this to say:

How many times have you heard that severe windstorms and heavy rains will increase in the Northwest under global climate change? The truth is, there is no strong evidence for these claims and the whole matter is being actively researched. Some portions of the Northwest have had more rain and wind during the past decades, some less. And initial simulations of future Northwest climate do not suggest heavier rain events.

What he said...

Cartoons about Global Warming

A whole website devoted to them. Check out If Global Warming Is Real Then Why Is It Cold

Here are three:





Talk about a scientific MindFsck

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From New Scientist comes this story about our Universe and some people who went looking for something and found something entirely different. Very different:
Our world may be a giant hologram
Driving through the countryside south of Hanover, it would be easy to miss the GEO600 experiment. From the outside, it doesn't look much: in the corner of a field stands an assortment of boxy temporary buildings, from which two long trenches emerge, at a right angle to each other, covered with corrugated iron. Underneath the metal sheets, however, lies a detector that stretches for 600 metres.

For the past seven years, this German set-up has been looking for gravitational waves - ripples in space-time thrown off by super-dense astronomical objects such as neutron stars and black holes. GEO600 has not detected any gravitational waves so far, but it might inadvertently have made the most important discovery in physics for half a century.

For many months, the GEO600 team-members had been scratching their heads over inexplicable noise that is plaguing their giant detector. Then, out of the blue, a researcher approached them with an explanation. In fact, he had even predicted the noise before he knew they were detecting it. According to Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, GEO600 has stumbled upon the fundamental limit of space-time - the point where space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and instead dissolves into "grains", just as a newspaper photograph dissolves into dots as you zoom in. "It looks like GEO600 is being buffeted by the microscopic quantum convulsions of space-time," says Hogan.

If this doesn't blow your socks off, then Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab's Center for Particle Astrophysics, has an even bigger shock in store: "If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram."
Lots more at the article. A lot of well respected people are buying into this idea -- a machine dedicated to looking at these quanta needs to be built to study them directly instead of as just noise in a system. Just when you think that you have a handle on things... Richard Feynman said it best: If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics.

Chinese Drywall - an update

The day before Christmas, I ran into a story about contaminated drywall causing health problems. Chinese Drywall. The Sarasota, FL Herald Tribune has an in-depth report:

Ground zero in drywall dispute
As the investigation into toxic Chinese drywall continues, a single street in Manatee County appears to be ground zero for the largest cluster of problem homes.

Within the Lighthouse Cove subdivision of Lennar's Heritage Harbour development, sits a quaint street of two-story homes called Montauk Point Crossing. Today, it is a virtual ghost town.

At least six families have already moved out of their homes, either at Lennar's expense or their own. At least two more are planning their exits as soon as possible.

The residents, many with small children, are experiencing an outbreak of the same chronic symptoms -- respiratory problems, painful sore throats, headaches and nosebleeds -- which they attribute directly to the drywall chemicals filling their homes.

Lennar, a Miami-based company that is this region's largest builder, would not discuss any pending repairs, residents' health problems, or any other aspect of this story. Company officials said they stand by an earlier statement that the drywall is not a health risk and that Lennar is responding promptly to owners.

Residents of Montauk Point have seen their air-conditioners fail on a regular basis -- so often that the presence of a white HVAC repair truck became a running joke in the neighborhood. Metal within their homes corroded and turned black: piping, electrical wiring, even silver jewelry.

Electronics also began to fail and short-circuit. Residents say they have gone through multiple televisions, computers and cable boxes. Light switches stopped working altogether, or only intermittently.

"I'm on my third TV," said homeowner Dan Tibbetts. "Everything just dies."

A number of the homes are supposed to be repaired by Lennar in coming months, which could involve ripping out all the drywall and other guts of the house. It is still unclear at this point, though, whether the wiring and electrical systems will be replaced.

The builder is stonewalling saying that there is not a health issue. The number of people involved is not really large enough to do a class-action suit. The situation sucks -- these people were moving into their brand new home and had to deal with this. All of the health issues immediately resolve themselves when the people move away. Talk about a bad way to save a dollar. If the builder was more forthright, it would be possible to track where the drywall came from and prevent it from being installed somewhere else...

Spent the last five hours at a meeting for our County Planning Commission listening to public comment. As I mentioned, a developer wants to drop a development into our rural area (27 miles from the job market) and a number of people are trying to block this. This is also the time when the County 20 Year Plan gets decided and there is the question of opening up the land use to commercial and industrial development -- again, 27 miles from Bellingham. The general thought is that the Planning Commission will just rubber-stamp what the Planners want to do but it was good to get our voices heard and the Commission was very surprised at how many people showed up (over 100). I am reminded of Otto Von Bismarck: Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made.

Light posting tonight as well

Heading into town for a County Council meeting. Some developer is wanting to plunk down a lot of houses and a shopping center in our pristine wilderness. While I am in favor of growing the business base out here I am not in favor of this kind of rampant development -- it is out of character for the rural area.
Wonderful rant (posted in full) from Stingray at Atomic Nerds which completely explains the strife between the West and the Muslims (caution - major drink alert):
Stingray�s Fire Theory of How People Suck
Everybody has heard of the Fire Triangle, right? Three things are necessary for fire: fuel, heat, and oxygen, and should you remove one element everything collapses and the fire theoretically goes out. I�ve come up with a similar triangle, except it is for how much people suck, and it works backwards.

Look, I know the reason the triangle metaphor works for fire is because if you take a single leg out it all collapses, rather than needing all three legs gone, but I�m going to blame this on the fact that people are clever and can turn a triangle with a missing leg over on its side to a /\ which will still kinda stand. I�m reaching, you say? Fine. Design your own damn triangle. If yours includes blackjack and hookers, I may even be interested.


As with the fire triangle, there are three elements in this little polygon of human decency: Porn, Pork, and Pets. Take out any one side, and the odds are that you�ve still got a fairly decent person. Consider, there are many folks who find porn distasteful for some reason or other. Well, that�s no deal-breaker as far as being a tolerable person. So long as the person is still down for a good BLT and appreciates a good loyal dog, or a nice cute kitten, I�d be willing to bet we can all still get along. Not ameniable to cats, dogs, guppies and geckos? Again, I�ll look at you askance, but so long as we can ogle various lovelies both artificial and natural over a nice Christmas ham, there�s no need to get too worked up. Don�t like pork chops, but down with porn and pets (though hopefully not at the same time)? Again, probably still a decent enough person.

Take out another leg and see what happens. No porn, no pets? Well, we can discuss the finer points of bacon, but we�re going to run out of conversation before long. Likewise if you hate pork and pets, one can only discuss the exploits of Belladonna for a limited time. If porn and pork are off the table, we can discuss Fluffy for a while, though I suspect this condition is what spawns crazy cat ladies.

Now let�s go one step further. If you hate porn, pork, and pets, what the hell do you do for fun? Wait, you�re gonna tell me there�s a huge swatch of the planet where porn, pork, and pets are right out? I�m suspicious! And now, for a cherry on top, we find that Saudi Arabia has banned selling dogs and cats because you can pick up babes with pets.

So let me get this straight.

No bacon.

No titty mags.

And I can�t use Fido to go out and covertly attract some non-paper boobage, which I couldn�t see anyway because boobs are so horribly corrupting that they and anything attached to them must be hidden from all sight lest I lose my barely-there self control and go on Rapefest 9000.

See, now if I could at least get a ham sandwich in Riyadh, which sounds suspiciously like something you chant to summon an elder god with tentacles for a face anyway, things might just be tolerable. As it stands though, I think the options are either mass deployment of daisy cutters, or to relocate Las Vegas, and give a battalion or two of Marines the best deployment of their lives.

Hell, I think for this plan we might even be able to bring Frankie and the Rat Pack back from the dead to help out.
Nailed it. Heh...

Obama's Cadillac One

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I may not have voted for him but I am liking him more and more these days. He walks his talk. The Presidential Limousine has a lot of cool features. One of which is that the fuel is BioDiesel. Very cool -- promoting it this way will go a long way to lessen our needs of foreign petroleum products. We have the technology to convert waste materials into BioDiesel but unless there is a demand, the conversion plants will not be built.

You are what you eat - mislabeled Sushi

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Highschool student decides to use DNA bar-coding technology to look at Sushi. "White Tuna" turns out to be Tilapia, "Red Snapper" turns out to be several species. Of the seven restaurants tested, the majority had some problems. Four minute video on YouTube

Two passages

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We lost Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan was noted for the television series The Prisoner -- it seems that the AMC is remaking it for release this fall. They also have all 17 episodes of the original 1960's show avaialble here.

Light posting tonight - working on stuff

Was in town for acupuncture and now will be out in the DaveCave(tm) as soon as it warms up a bit (wood heat and the temps are plummeting tonight). It's not just me with the temperature -- from CNN:
Bitter cold to linger across U.S. through weekend
Frigid air gripped cities from the Canadian border to Florida on Wednesday, with some cities posting record lows.

Snow in cities such as Indianapolis, Indiana, brought rush-hour traffic to a near-standstill.

Records were posted in the Michigan cities of Flint, at 19 below, and Saginaw, 10 below, and in parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley, where places like Hot Springs and Monticello, Arkansas, were in the low S, said Andrew Orison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

He was unable to immediately access the previous records.

Subzero temperatures were accompanied by wind chills as low as 40 degrees below zero. The wind chill factor describes the combined effect of the wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin, making the temperature feel colder than it is.

"The temperature outside is unbelievable," said Jennifer Flesher of Princeton, Illinois, where she said the temperature was 8 degrees with a wind chill of minus 12. "I went outside to use a snow blower, and my lungs actually started hurting. It catches your breath."

Minneapolis, Minnesota, posted a reading of 19 below zero, and it was 14 below in Fargo, North Dakota, where the wind chill made it feel like 31 below, said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Orison said most temperatures were below zero in the Upper Midwest through the Great Lakes and into the Northeast.

The worst is yet to come, he said.
Well isn't that just wonderful -- air and snow temp are both right at 28F and dropping. If this was a result of radiation cooling, the air temp would be a lot lower as the snow takes time to release it's latent heat. With them the same, that means that it's the result of a cold front and will be likely to persist through tomorrow.

The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir

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Take one Volvo wagon, five miles of wiring, a couple golf-cart batteries, a custom programmed Linux box and several hundred of those annoying singing fish toys and you have the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir:
Hat tip to the ever wonderful Miss Cellania for the link.

Migration, taxes and work patterns

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Mark Perry has an interesting look at how successful taxes and unions are when it comes to attracting a workforce. From Carpe Diem:
Exodus From Forced-Unionism States Continues
The eight states enjoying the greatest net in-migration of people from other states between 2000-2008 all have Right to Work laws. But of the eight states suffering the worst out-migration, only Katrina-hit Louisiana has such a law (see chart below).
Click for full-size image.
And in further news, this story at Business Week:
Go East, young man? Californians look for the exit
Mike Reilly spent his lifetime chasing the California dream. This year he's going to look for it in Colorado.

With a house purchase near Denver in the works, the 38-year-old engineering contractor plans to move his family 1,200 miles away from his home state's lemon groves, sunshine and beaches. For him, years of rising taxes, dead-end schools, unchecked illegal immigration and clogged traffic have robbed the Golden State of its allure.

Is there something left of the California dream?

"If you are a Hollywood actor," Reilly says, "but not for us."

Since the days of the Gold Rush, California has represented the Promised Land, an image celebrated in the songs of the Beach Boys and embodied by Silicon Valley's instant millionaires and the young men and women who achieve stardom in Hollywood.

But for many California families last year, tomorrow started somewhere else.

The number of people leaving California for another state outstripped the number moving in from another state during the year ending on July 1, 2008. California lost a net total of 144,000 people during that period -- more than any other state, according to census estimates. That is about equal to the population of Syracuse, N.Y.

The state with the next-highest net loss through migration between states was New York, which lost about 125,000 residents.

California's loss is extremely small in a state of 38 million. And, in fact, the state's population continues to increase overall because of births and immigration, legal and illegal. But it is the fourth consecutive year that more residents decamped from California for other states than arrived here from within the U.S.
California -- welcome to the rust belt... I hope that the Californians are not like the people from Massachusetts who emigrated to free-wheeling New Hampshire and are now trying to turn it into a Massachusetts-lite.
Now this is downright silly (and I'm not talking about Monty Python). Wretchard at The Belmont Club found this story in the UK Telegraph about a new generation of food nannies:
Breakfast of champions
WRAP your head around this. The Telegraph reports that �food champions� will literally be coming to homes in Britain to make sure they don�t throw away leftovers, eat spoiled groceries and do not otherwise harm the planet.
Home cooks will also be told what size portions to prepare, taught to understand �best before� dates and urged to make more use of their freezers.

The door-to-door campaign, which starts tomorrow, will be funded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a Government agency charged with reducing household waste.

The officials will be called �food champions�. However, they were dismissed last night as �food police� by critics who called the scheme an example of �excessive government nannying�.
If any one of those idiots came around here, they would be escorted off our property. One of Richard's commentors mentioned a short story by F. Paul Wilson first published in 1987 called Lipidleggin. Another reader found it online. A wonderful read and soon to be a reality and not just science fiction: Lipidleggin

Al Gore in the news - again

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Not really, more like his antethisis. From MS/NBC:
Midwest temps plummet to well below zero
Some areas also see blizzard conditions; Chicago flights canceled

Temperatures across the upper Midwest crashed to Arctic levels Tuesday as a severe cold wave rolled in on the heels of yet another snowstorm, closing schools and making most people think twice before going outside. Thermometers read single digits early in the day as far south as Kansas and Missouri, where some areas warmed only into the teens by midday.
Let's see: Unusually quiet sun, PDO, ENSO We are in for some cold wet weather. Time to start cranking out the CO2.

Pets in the workplace - Sammy the Cat

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Talk about someone who needs to get a life... From MS/NBC:
Citizens angry cat banned from post office
Residents of the tiny Alabama town of Notasulga are rallying around a local fixture after his eviction from the post office.

"Sammy" the cat was banned from the building after someone wrote in to complain about the cat's presence.

"They said 'This is a federal building and he doesn't pay federal taxes so he can't come in'," said postal worker Rochelle Langford.

Before his banishment Sammy spent most of his time lounging in the post office's window.

Sammy's supporters think they've found a way to move him safely back in.

They've rented a P.O. Box in his name.

Post office workers say they'll allow Sammy back in, but will try to keep him out of the way of customers.
Talk about being small hearted...

Farming Pr0n

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It's the time of year where each day, there is fresh Pr0n in the mailbox. This morning it was the 2009 Catalog from Territorial Seed Company Jen is upstairs ogling tomatoes and squash.

Piano Rolls

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Fascinating seven minute YouTube clip on how Piano Rolls are made.
This is the last plant in the world to manufacture them but unfortunately, they have shut down operations (although they are keeping the equipment.

Odd bits from the DaveCave

I have been reorganizing the DaveCave(tm) and ran into some pretty cool stuff.


This is an original distribution disk for CP/M-86 -- a precursor to MS/DOS. The format is an eight inch floppy disk (the gray bar is a six inch machinists rule). Disk capacity at that time was a whopping 128KB but they were able to get it up to 1.2MB with quad density and using both sides.


This is my copy of WordStar.

Love it or hate it, WordStar was the primary word processing application of its time. Since it was used on a text based screen, your formatting and movement commands were entered through the keyboard as a set of [CTRL]+key commands. Once you got up to speed, it was very very fast. I also own the MailMerge and SpellStar disks. There was a book put out that allowed you to hack the printer table and enter your own width information. This allowed for true-proportional printing. Did a lot of desktop publishing and printing back then...

Fantastic news on the Fusion Front

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The U.S. Navy just extended its funding for preliminary studies of the Bussard Wiffleball 7 From the Office of the Federal Business Opportunities:
A--Plasma Wiffleball
Solicitation Number: N6893609R0024
Agency: Department of the Navy
Office: Naval Air Systems Command

The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake intends to procure on sole-sourced basis, a Cost Plus Fixed Fee contract for modification and testing of plasma wiffleball 7. The requirement is sole sourced to Energy /Matter Conversion Corporation (EMC2) who is the original developer of wiffleball 7 and holds the proprietary data rights. The address for EMC2 is 1202 Parkway Dr, STE A, Santa Fe, NM 87507-7253.
Hat tip to M. Simon for the link. EMC2 website is here. These are the people that will pull off commercial fusion power generation if anyone will. The "big science" projects like ITER are overly complex.
Unseasonable weather seems to be the norm this year, what with an over long and cold spring, a summer that didn't kick in until July and now the huge snowfall and icy rains with the landslides. Bismarck, North Dakota is now at minus 30F. From AOL/AP:
Blizzard Slams Northern Plains
A fast-moving blizzard brought snow and high winds to North Dakota on Monday, closing schools and causing more headaches for residents still trying to dig out from a record snowfall last month. And, forecasters said a blast of cold air was on the way that could send the thermometer as low as 30 below zero.

Travel was discouraged in the central and western parts of North Dakota because drifting snow, whipped up by high winds, made the visibility almost zero. While the travel advisory was lifted by midday, new advisories were posted in the southeastern part of the state.
Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.
It is amazing what some people will buy into. Hat tip to Neatorama for this link to the Water Resonator:
The WATER RESONATOR is the original water balancing technology used by Tibetan and Buddhist monks for hundreds of years. Each one has been meticulously designed and handmade by Buddhist monks. Each consists of a gold-plated platform affixed to a gold-plated frame that is geometrically precise. The gold-plated platform has a neodymium activator magnet at its center on the underside. Mounted to the three precise triangles are the three primary resonator arrays which consist of three Siberian Blue, optically clear, laboratory grade quartz crystals.

Each of the three crystals has two gold-plated, properly polarized, neodymium magnets which are wound against the crystal with powerful pressure which activates the energy of the crystal, much like a quartz crystal watch which pulses to a precise rhythm. This highly pressurized copper winding, combined with the magnetic field of the dual magnets, appears to generate a high power pulsing effect which in turn causes a profoundly positive and beneficial effect on water and other liquid beverages.
Plus, it's only $495!!! cough-BULLSHIT-cough...

The A.E.D.

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Check out the A.E.D. -- the Atlanta English Dictionary Such definitions as:
1. yup. mm-hmmm.

1. v. what happens when one expects to make a great impression in some form, a dazzling performance, a witty email, a job talk, etc and instead things fall flat.
Example: I really bloofed my interview, all I could think about was this damned collieflower I had, anyway, I doubt they'll call.

1. the practice of spelling out an abbreviation for comic or emphatic effect. WTF as double ewe tee eff?

More then just books

I got a spamming attempt last evening and when I traced the IP address, it came from Amazon.com

Looking into the IP report, I noticed a link to this place.

It seems that Amazon rents out their server space. Prices are a bit high ($0.10/hour pencils out to about $720/month) but if you needed an enterprise-level web hosting service, I can't think of who else to use...

Oh God
Thy Sea is so Vast
And My Boat is so Small

This is the Boat Ramp at Silver Lake (a County Park) Where I am standing is about ten feet above "normal" lake level and the water is at my feet:
Click for full-size image.
Today, I spent several hours walking through the area devastated by the landslide a few days previous. These don't really lend themselves to captions, what with the personal and physical damage. The big and wonderful news is that even though the slide happened well before sunrise, not a person was hurt, not an animal was hurt. One of life's miracles. For the following photographs, clicking on them will open a larger image in a new window.













A life well lived

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Hat tip to E3 Gazette

A look at atmospheric CO2 concentration

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Dr. Roy Spencer takes a 50-year look at the stunning rise of CO2 in our atmosphere:
50 Years of CO2: Time for a Vision Test
Now that there have been 50 full years of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration monitoring at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, I thought January 1, 2009 would be an appropriate time to take a nostalgic look back.

As you well know from Al Gore�s movie (remember? It�s the one you were required to come to English class and watch or the teacher would fail your kid), we are now pumping 70 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day as if it�s an �open sewer�.

Well, 50 years of that kind of pollution is really taking its toll. So, without further ado, here�s what 50 years of increasing levels of CO2 looks like on the Big Island:
As you can see, there has been a rapid�what? You can�t see it?�oh, I�m sorry. It�s that flat line at the bottom of the graph�here let me change the vertical scale so it runs from 0 to 10% of the atmosphere, rather than 0 to 100%�.
Read the rest to see the whole CO2 "issue" in its true perspective. And Dr. Spencer is someone certainly qualified to talk about this:
Roy W. Spencer received his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. Before becoming a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA�s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA�s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. Dr. Spencer�s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA�s Aqua satellite. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming.
Things just don't seem to be penciling out for CO2 to be a major driver in Anthropogenic Global Warming. The latest blast of science and observation comes from Dr. Gregory Young writing at American Thinker:
CO2 Fairytales in Global Warming
If one were to script a Global Warming scam one would have to be a knot-head or brain-dead to pick Carbon Dioxide (CO2) as the lead factor.

Of course we know now that CO2 was rolled out as the "poster child" nemesis against the environment. It was meant to get us hysterical enough to plead with our politicians to exact a tax on our carbon footprints so that we can save the planet earth. But it's turning out that the CO2 "poster child" has significant problems. Despite the fact that Carbon is a part of the CO2 molecule, the atmospheric science of CO2 directly contradicts what the AGW alarmists are trying to sell us. Promoting CO2 as the environmental monkey on our back is absolutely ludicrous. CO2 is friend to all life, not a foe.

I have already covered some of the arguments against CO2 as the lead agent causing Global Warming before in American Thinker pointing out (as many more are today) that Global Warming is a hoax of the worst order. So I won't repeat those details here. Suffice to say that current CO2 levels hover around 385 parts per million (ppm), a relatively minor constituent of earth's entire atmosphere -- less than 4/100ths of 1% of all gases present.

Nevertheless, Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming (AGW) proponents demand that unless we immediately reduce the amount of CO2 in the earth's atmosphere to less than 350 ppm, we (that is mankind) will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth.

Historically, and at one significant point indeed, CO2 atmospheric concentrations were much, much higher, 6,000 plus ppm. And guess what? The earth was more than just fine. It was incredibly filled with life. This fact seems to fall on deaf ears when talking to Global Warming protagonists.
And Dr. Young's credentials:
Dr. Gregory Young is a neuroscientist and physicist, a doctoral graduate of the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. He currently chairs a privately funded think-tank engaged in experimental biophysical research.
Not a climatologist but considering that he has two degrees and is working for a think-tank and not for academia, I would say he has a brain and knows how to use it. The comments section of this article is a good read -- people with ideas and links to back them up.

I sure hope they don't find out...

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I'm an embarrassment to Barack!
I only scored 13 on the Obama Test

A perfect storm - email variety

Holy SH&& - someone accidentally hit reply-all to an email at the US State Department and the load crashed their system. From The Associated Press:
Reply-all e-mail storm hits State
Many "reply all" fiascos result in mere embarrassment, but American diplomats have been told they may be punished for sending mass responses after an e-mail storm nearly knocked out one of the State Department's main electronic communications systems.

A cable sent last week to all employees at the department's Washington headquarters and overseas missions warns of unspecified "disciplinary actions" for using the "reply to all" function on e-mail with large distribution lists.

The cable, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, was prompted by a major interruption in departmental e-mail caused by numerous diplomats hitting "reply all" to an errant message inadvertently addressed and copied to several thousand recipients.
A bit more:
Most demanded to be removed from the list while others used 'reply all' to tell their co-workers, in often less than diplomatic language, to stop responding to the entire group, the officials said.

Some then compounded the problem by trying to recall their initial replies, which generated another round of messages to the group, they said.
Going to be some filtering being written sometime soon -- also, the best thing to do in a situation like this is to walk out for a coffee and come back in 30 minutes when it hopefully has settled down. When I worked for MSFT, someone's machine got an email spam trojan and the whole campus was hit pretty hard as people would get these emails that came from groups they recognized or were familiar with. Slashdot has more on the story.

Schadenfreude - Somali pirates and the ransom

He... Karma is a bitch. From the UK Daily Mail:
Pictured: The moment a $3million ransom was parachuted to Somali pirates
This is the dramatic moment a ransom of $3million was paid to Somali pirates to end the world's biggest ship hijacking.

The canister full of cash was parachuted onto the Sirius Star - observed by the U.S. Navy who provided these images - and the two-month ordeal of the 25 crew, including two Britons, was finally over.

However things went badly wrong for the pirates soon after the drop - they squabbled over how to split the money and then a wave washed off their getaway boat and drowned five of them.
A bit more:
It is not known what happened to the money or those who survived.
Emphasis mine. I am sure the serial numbers on the bills have been recorded and they will show up in circulation somewhere. I would have loved to see that little scenario play out with them each trying to get "their share" of the money. Hat tip to Jammie Wearing Fool for the link.

OK now - Iran and Argentina?

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From the Associated Press:
Turkey holds suspicious Iran-Venezuela shipment
Turkey was holding a suspicious shipment bound for Venezuela from Iran because it contained lab equipment capable of producing explosives, a customs official said Tuesday.

Suleyman Tosun, a customs official at the Mediterranean port of Mersin, said military experts were asked to examine the material, which was seized last month, and decide whether to let the shipment to go to Venezuela.

Authorities detected the equipment during a search of 22 containers labeled "tractor parts," Tosun said. They were brought to Mersin by trucks from neighboring Iran, he said. Turkey's Interior Ministry said an investigation was under way.

"Experts from Turkey's Atomic Institute determined there were no traces of radioactive material, but said the equipment was enough to set up an explosives lab," Tosun said. "We have asked the military to send experts to determine whether to resume the shipment."

Some barrels, labeled with "danger" signs, contained chemicals. Tosun said details were still unclear.
Way to go Turkey! Goes to show that you can be Muslim and pro Peace. Tractor parts? Come on now. And Argentina -- Chavez is no friend of the west but the idea that he supports Islamofascism makes my blood run cold. He has the money from his oil reserves and if he is charting a pro-Islamic course with Argentina, this will be very bad for the rest of the world.

Awwww - major cuteness

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Meet Mandelbrot the Fractal Teddy Bear:

Hat tip to BoingBoing for the link.


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Mr. Completely lists A Pet's Ten Commandments I defy you not to have a tear in your eye when you finish reading them. We are truly blessed to have these wonderful creatures sharing their lives with us...

Idols of the left in the news

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I had written about the TVA ash flood before and also noted that a high-power law firm moved in and is organising a class-action suit and that Erin Brockovich was working for them. The original article in my post had a photo of Erin, Instapundit linked to the photo of her as she appeared at the hearing and the post that Glenn linked to had an interesting comparison:


Gaaaaaahhhh... If that is what happens when you move to New York City and start "practicing law" then I want nothing of it. And: Party On Garth

A great way to run a company

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Talk about a great management idea -- from the Boise, Idaho Idaho Statesman:
Flying Pie will close for a week as the whole operations heads to Costa Rica
Imagine an employer who would shut down his business so his employees could spend a week relaxing on the beach in sunny Costa Rica.

That�s what Howard Olivier, owner of Flying Pie Pizzaria in Boise, is doing. And that means the pies won�t be flying at the two local pizzerias for a week, starting Tuesday. The restaurants will re-open Tuesday, Jan. 20.

The trip has been 13 years in the making. About 10 percent of workers� tips have been set aside for what was originally conceived as an excursion to Hawaii.

Some regular Pie customers who divide their time between Boise and Costa Rica convinced the staff that the Central American country was a better destination.

�We decided we didn�t want to spend our entire time in a hotel where it�s $30 a sandwich and where it�s hot and humid,� said Lesley Juel, marketing director for Flying Pie.

There are 62 people going on the trip, including pizzeria staff, some family and one former employee.

The total cost of the trip will be $116,000, all of which is covered by the tip money, Juel said.

Olivier is paying for a week's salary for the employees, some of whom could not afford to take the week off without pay.
Very cool -- 10% of tips isn't going to seriously cut into people's income and all of the money is being returned for this trip for employees and some past employees. C.R. is great -- had the joy to visit there for a few days fifteen years ago. Wish I had spent more time there (was traveling with my Mom and Dad and was on a 'tour'). I love stories about small businesses that are well run. The backbone of America -- I do hope that the new administration doesn't seek to tax us out of existence.
One consequence of all the flooding relates directly to the Internet. There is a fiber optic line running parallel to one of our roads. It was trenched into the ditch that runs alongside the roadway -- a very common practice. With running water covering the road, this ditch was stirred up and the fiber, being lighter than water, bobbed to the surface. Naturally, since the gravel, silt and mud are denser than water, the original trench has filled back in leaving several miles of fiber sitting on the surface of the ground. A good friend of ours works for the Department of Transportation road crew and clued us into this little bit of joy... An errant vehicle, a person walking along the road wondering what the fsck that is and ...bzztttt... the Internet goes dark for most of the Pacific Northwest.
From WNEP:
Double Doors Stop Would-Be Bank Robber
Police caught a would-be bank robber in the Poconos Thursday, after bank tellers wouldn't let him inside. The suspect didn't get away with anything in Monroe County.

Police said Luke Radick, 21, of Stroudsburg tried to enter the First National Bank of Palmerton in Sciota around 11:30 a.m.

Troopers said he was holding a shotgun and trying to hide his face with his sweatshirt. The bank has two sets of doors, and the tellers have to buzz each customer in. The tellers did not buzz Radick in and called police.
Awww -- poor Luke, the world just has it in for you. Dumbass...

An odd little comment

I have been getting hit with a lot of spam these days -- this stuff comes in cycles and is a mere annoyance, sort of fun to track and amend my script to stomp out these stupid script kiddies. Got a manually entered comment today for this post: Nice bunch of peopleThe comment was from a "muhamed ali" and the text in verbatim is:

god bless on muslem jewsh

Does he mean Jews? The Jewish? Or is he trying to channel this intellectual light and say Juice?

Hat tip Charles

What really caught my eye is the idiots IP address: That is Google -- probably traceable to a single desktop somewhere. Or a lab, or an office wing router. Somehow I don't think this would be a good career advancing move...

And, oh yeah, if you don't choose to look at my original post, the muslem jewsh in question are a curious self-loathing offshoot of Judaism called Neturei Karta.

For all the press they get, you are looking at about 500 to 1,000 people total. A minor splinter group but useful idiots to islamofascists everywhere. They trot these poor fools out to say: "Look, here is a Jew I am friends with." and the charade lurches on...

From the Bellingham Herald comes this photo of the SR 540 landslide:
Click for full size image

Senator Franken

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Meet the new Senator from Minnesota:
Swiped from here and found about it here.

I present the Republic of Molossia

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Not widely known is the fact that along with the large nations on this planet, there are many small nations. Nations with few people but a long and rich heritage and culture. One such nation is Molossia For more information on these micronations, check out the League of Small Nations

Make way for the new Microsoft Bob

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Microsoft Songsmith -- from Microsoft; bringing mediocrity to your desktop since 1987.
Clever idea actually -- you sing into it and it analyzes your pitch and temp and writes "music" to follow along. From Microsoft Research. Download here. Six hours of free use - $29.95 after that.

Islamic Finance - the real story

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It is not a matter of being socially responsible, it is another arm of Jihad and we need to wake up to these facts and realize who we are dealing with.
When the Coal burning power plant had that leak of the water and coal ash a few weeks ago, it was certain that lawyers would get involved. Turns out it's Erin Brockovich -- from the Knoxville News:
Brockovich visit concerns some
Businessman worries class-action lawsuit will follow

Erin Brockovich's arrival in Roane County is expected to draw a crowd, but the prospect of a class-action lawsuit by the New York law firm that's accompanying her is raising some concern.

"The minute we take legal action as a community, we will lose the ability to talk and negotiate with TVA directly," businessman Randy Martens said. "Our relationship with TVA will become purely adversarial and all dialogue will be handled by high-priced lawyers."

Brockovich will hold a press conference in Lenoir City today and a public meeting Friday at Roane State Community College with representatives of the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm.

The meeting had been planned at a church but was moved to Roane State to handle a crowd of 500 or more people, said Roane County Attorney Tom McFarland, who is helping to coordinate the visit.

Martens, owner of Credit Card Equipment Corp., is among business people putting together a list of needs to present to TVA.

Martens said he was curious when he heard of Brockovich's impending visit but became concerned when he called the firm and a staffer told him the visit was to explore a class-action lawsuit. "I said, 'Why start so soon,' and she said, 'Now is the time.' "
I can't help but feel a little cynical -- the only people who will really profit here are the lawyers. The people who were hit by this disaster will see a few pennies on the dollar of the settlement. The rest will go to the lawyers for their "work".
The main highway between Bellingham and where we live is State Route 542 otherwise known as the Mount Baker Highway (a Federal Scenic Byway). Here are some photographs of the highway around milepost #16:
Click for full-size image.

Click for full-size image.

Click for full-size image.

Click for full-size image.
These are swiped from the Washington State Department of Transportation Flickr website. The upshot of this is that the store usually gets our beer delivery on Thursdays and the beer truck was not able to make it out. A popular bar in Glacier is out of beer and just closed its doors. We have some beer but there are also a lot of holes where certain brands are sold out. I had joked this morning about this being the year that Maple Falls runs out of beer. I was talking to one of the longtime residents and no, Maple Falls has run out of beer twice before and one time was New Years Eve. Fortunately, Maple Falls did not run out of Whiskey so people just switched. I was joking at dinner that in retrospect, it is good that we got our annual 100-year-storm out of the way for this year. Could use a bit of that global warming. The rest of the state is getting hit really hard too.
The road that goes from where we are to Bellingham is State Route 542. Today, it is shut down in five places, blocked in one and has dangerous levels of water over the road in two places. Guess what day we get our major deliveries at the store. Bingo! The joys of owning a small business... Will this be remembered as the year that Maple Falls ran out of beer?
Sixty Five years ago today, Nikola Tesla passed away alone and penniless in a New York hotel room. I consider him to be one of my personal heroes -- he invented a few things that are still in use today. Radio. The Fluorescent Light. The system of commercial power distribution and use that is in place to this date. He was working with X Rays in 1887 -- Wilhelm R�ntgen 'discovered' them in 1895 (Tesla never discovered the medical applications, only the radiation itself). His work in Radio Astronomy when he was working in Colorado Springs is still considered groundbreaking. In 1917, he laid down some of the fundamentals of RADAR - this work was at such a low frequency that only distance could be measured but it was what was available at the time in terms of technology. Good friends with Mark Twain. He was known for being a flamboyant showman but remember, there was no National Science Foundation back then. To get funding for your projects, you had to attract people's attention and Tesla did and Tesla always delivered the goods. The man was a genius and the world is a lesser place for his absence.

That's it for the night

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Off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then an early bedtime. Woke up early to get to this auction -- picked up some good hand tools. A nice small optical measuring scale, a Starrett Combination Square, two buckets of hammers that will be perfect for blacksmithing -- odd ones too so there is minimal duplication with what I already had, a Hilti Powder tool -- these puppies use a .22 blank to drive special nails and bolts into concrete. I have rented them from time to time but at $200, they were too expensive to buy, at $45 it was a done deal. I was hoping to get a nice Miller spot welder but it went for a bit over full manufacturers list price, not the $100 or so I was hoping for. That fever buying is what keeps auctioneers in business. One thing I did notice is that for a business that was closing, there were a lot of high-ticket brand new tools there. If they had a financial crunch, why did they spend the $50K or so to buy them. And for the Combination Square, I already have two of them but these are cheap Taiwanese units. Pretty accurate for general work. Starrett tools are the absolute top end. A couple other companies make hand tools that are just as good (Mitotoyo is the only one that comes to mind). This square will not be used on a daily basis but every so often to check the accuracy of the Taiwanese units that I will continue to use on a daily basis.

The other errand in town was the meeting of Me, Jen and my Dad in preparation for his admittance into a Dementia Care facility. He is starting to slip away and although he is able to care for himself now (we have attendants coming in for a few hours each day to cook and clean), I would rather have him be in a safe comfortable place than to have him wander off and go missing in his present house. This is the man who was the smartest person I ever knew -- a Physicist, Author (Halliday and Resnick physics textbooks), Administrator and Manager (Dean of Arts and Sciences at U. of Pittsburgh), a man who loved the outdoors -- hiking, rock climbing, camping who is now exhausted by a 200 yard walk. I have known that this would happen for several years but his symptoms are getting to the point where this move is needed and it is not an easy decision to make. The good news is that the move will be under our control and on our timeline and not a panicked gotta-do-it-now event. The place is awesome -- lots of fun stuff to do, lots of on-site resources and a very high staff to resident ratio.

Just click on the ball

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and it will change color. Well there goes another 20 minutes that I will never get back again...

It's not just our neck of the woods

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There are problems all over the state. Major avalanche at the Hyack Ski Area (which was closed today) Highway problems all over the place. And we are scheduled for another couple days of rain...

Rain Rain Go Away

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UPDATE - see bottom of post Let's see now: A week of sub-zero temperatures = hard frozen ground Four feet of powder snow = nice blanket to keep ground frozen Six Inches of warm rain in 24 hours? An increase in river flow:
Click to embiggen...
The river is cresting about two feet above flood stage. It was touch and go whether we could get back from Bellingham to our town as a lot of the roads were closed. The main highway is closed between us and Glacier due to a large mudslide. UPDATE: The closure is about a mile after Glacier, not before.

Check out: Clever and Creative Billboard Advertising

Here is one:



How to do a snowman

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Here is how you do a snowman -- none of these puny little guys, this is the real deal:
Click to embiggen...
Mountain Man is one of my two favorite coffee places in our little town. Some friends opened up a bakery that also does a decent cuppa. For a town of 200 permanent residents we have a lot of amenities - post office, liquor store, gas station, our grocery store, library. Being in the center of nowhere has its advantages...

Done with the meeting

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Cold and wet. I got a call at 4:00 to bring the tractor down to the store as it looked like it might flood. There was a good 20" of standing water in parts of the back parking lot and it was coming up very close to the building. The guy who plows our lots pushed the snow up against a fence at the back of the lot. Unfortunately, that is the path that water takes when it runs off the asphalt and it was blocked by several tons of snow. Considering that we are expecting six to ten inches of water, this is not a good thing. It was raining while I was running the tractor so I am cold and soaked. Still wouldn't trade this place for the world. How I spent so long in the city is amazing to me in retrospect...

Light posting today and tomorrow

Spending today shoveling the wet snow away from the doorway of the DaveCave(tm)

Flooding is not an option. Have a meeting to attend later tonight.

Tomorrow, I will be at an auction in town -- looking to pick up a spot welder and whatever else looks interesting.

Just got a call from the store, the parking lot is really starting to flood so going to bring the tractor down and break up the snow a bit...

From Jolly Olde England comes Barry Bernard and Gas Bang Wallop (dot com!) Check out his YouTube videos Here's one:

Bleagh! Weather go away please!

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After 21 days of snow and ice, the temperature has warmed up to 35F and it has started to rain. And rain. And rain. National Weather Service has this to say:
Wunnerful, just freakin' wunnerful...

What a difference 66 years makes

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From 1941:
To 2007:
The document in question? The United Auto Workers Union contract with Ford Motor Company. 1941 -- 24 pages, 3.5" by 5" -- a total of 240 Square Inches of document. 2007 -- 2,215 pages, 8.5" by 11" -- a total of 207,102.5 Square Inches of document. Methinks something lost in the translation. Hat tip to Mark Perry at Carpe Diem.
As reported by The Onion News Service:

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard
That is just so cool -- like typing is soooo 19th century!

The bigger they are

The harder they fall -- from the LA Times:

Christine Maggiore, vocal skeptic of AIDS research, dies at 52
Until the end, Christine Maggiore remained defiant.

On national television and in a blistering book, she denounced research showing that HIV causes AIDS. She refused to take medications to treat her own virus. She gave birth to two children and breast-fed them, denying any risk to their health. And when her 3-year-old child, Eliza Jane, died of what the coroner determined to be AIDS-related pneumonia, she protested the findings and sued the county.

On Saturday, Maggiore died at her Van Nuys home, leaving a husband, a son and many unanswered questions. She was 52.

According to officials at the Los Angeles County coroner's office, she had been treated for pneumonia in the last six months. Because she had recently been under a doctor's care, no autopsy will be performed unless requested by the family, they said. Her husband, Robin Scovill, could not be reached for comment.

Jay Gordon, a pediatrician whom the family consulted when Eliza Jane was sick, said Monday that Maggiore's death was an "unmitigated tragedy."

"In the event that she died of AIDS-related complications, there are medications to prevent this," said Gordon, who disagrees with Maggiore's views and believes HIV causes AIDS. "There are medications that enable people who are HIV-positive to lead healthy, normal, long lives."

Delusional, scared, stupid and now, dead at 52. Considering that she contracted AIDS sixteen years ago, you think that she would have come around and started treatment. She would still be alive and healthy today.

Alternative medicine is a valid path but you must not ignore the decades of research that have gone into the pathologies of diseases like AIDS and the treatments that have resulted. Activist -- yeahhh rigghhhttt...

A nice reply regarding the climate

From Vin Suprynowicz writing at the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: 'Greenland and the polar ice cap are melting'Commentary
Constant Californian writes to respond to my piece on the global cooling of 2008:
"You may be aware of Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish scientist who was long skeptical of global warming," he writes. "He is not anymore. His complaint is with what he perceives as hysteria, and unsound policy. I wonder if your line of reasoning has more to do with ideology and your view of (proposed) policy, than a considered look at the science at work. The mechanism of global warming is well-established. ...
Vin quotes the rest of Constant Californian's concerns and then replies:
I replied:

Of course it would be more convenient for the Luddites if I were to accept their underlying assumptions and limit myself to "critiquing policy as regards energy and conservation." Just as, in 1500, it would have been judged much safer to study how best to discover and destroy witches rather than to challenge whether the old crones had any demonic powers in the first place.

As a matter of fact, challenging the existence of the supernatural powers of witches was prima facie proof that the challenger was himself a witch ("warlock," whatever), which was likely to get you burned.

Amazingly, under those circumstances, publicly expressed opinion -- holding that the demonic powers of witches was real -- was nearly unanimous! Ain't sealed systems grand?
And Vin is just getting warmed up. A wonderful (and detailed with links) rant. The money quote:
Only collectivists consider they have any moral right to criticize the "profligacy" of those who create enough wealth to use whatever they can buy on the free market, in any way they choose, whether it be "energy," land or long underwear. Collectivists are would-be thieves. They simply lack the courage to pull out a gun and deprive the "profligate fat cats" of their wealth directly -- they prefer to hire bully-boys in government uniforms to do the job for them, under the sanctified cloak of "shared sacrifice."

The Greens don't want to see "energy efficiency." They want to artificially make energy so expensive that we're forced to accept "reduced expectations" for our lifestyles and life expectancies.

If the greens choose to use less energy, God bless them. Let them go squat around some jungle fire in loincloths, eating half-cooked monkey meat. But somehow, this prospect does not appear to please them. Somehow, they will be happy only if they can impose energy-deficient poverty on me.
Wonderfully stated. Vin's blog is here: Vin Suprynowicz

Halfway to the South Pole

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The 2009 Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race is underway. It started January 1st. Here is the race website: Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race Here is the page on what it is like:
What�s it like to live as a competitor on the South Pole Race?

Imagine that all of the comforts you have in your everyday life, like hot water, a warm bed, electricity, a convenience store around the corner, are taken away from you... Instead you are living in the driest, windiest, coldest place on earth, with no creature comforts.

All of the food that you need, you have to pull behind you in a pulk. All of the fuel you need to heat that food, you have to drag behind you. It�s so cold, that everything freezes, including you - if you do not use the equipment to stay warm, your only shelter is the tent you are carrying... your daily routine becomes very different to the life you have at home!

An example day (all in freezing temperatures!)
Wake up in the tent
Brave getting out of sleeping bags into the icy cold of the tent, get dressed, pack away, get out all the things you have been keeping warm in your sleeping bag, such as batteries, store them on your body to keep them warm.
Scrape ice from tent inner � this has been created by your breath freezing on the tent inner during the night while you have been sleeping.
Put the stoves on (make sure you are wearing gloves, you don�t want to touch any metal which is extra cold � it will stick to you!).
Melt snow for hot water.
Breakfast: Porridge, muesli/energy crunch, raisins, milk powder, sugar
Lots of tea/coffee/ hot chocolate!
Fill all flasks and water bottles with hot water to last the day (e.g. 2 � 3 litres each)
Turn the Stoves off. Refuel stoves � be very careful not to spill any fuel on yourself as when the wind hits the fuel on you it will freeze rapidly, risking frostbite.
Daily wash routine. Make sure you put on lots of sun lotion and lip block, sunglasses! (The UV rays are so strong that you will burn to a cinder if you do not put on sun block, even though it is freezing. You must wear sunglasses to prevent snow blindness from the strong UV rays reflecting off the white surface)
Then the real joy of the morning, put your feet into icy cold boots.
Pack up tent and all equipment, pack pulks. Prepare navigation. Skis on.
Pray for a good visibility today.
And I grouse about the cold weather here!

Single Payer Medical Care in Canada

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A five minute YouTube video outlines why Single Payer is not the way to go.
From Free Market Cure Check out the primary website here. Lots of good reading (with links) and more videos.

The State of our Sun - 2008 edition

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Anthony Watts posts the 2008 year end review of Solar Activity:
State of the Sun for year end 2008: all�s quiet on the solar front - too quiet

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction center updated their plots of solar indices earlier today, on January 3rd. With the exception of a slight increase in the 107 centimeter radio flux, there appears to be even less signs of solar activity. Sunspots are still not following either of the two predictive curves, and it appears that the solar dynamo continues to slumber, perhaps even winding down further. Of particular note, the last graph below (click the read more link to see it) showing the Average Planetary Index (Ap) is troubling. I thought there would be an uptick by now, due to expectations of some sign of cycle 24 starting up, but instead it continues to drop.
There is a lively discussion in the comments section of this post (140 at this time) -- well worth reading.

Tools for News

Great collection of links to various tools for newsgathering.

Categories are: Audio, Blogging, Data Scraping, Data visualization, Design, Feed Readers, FTP, Legal Guides, Live Streaming Video, Maps, Networks and Assocations, Other, Photography, Polls, Programming, Public Databases, Slide shows, Social Bookmarking, Social Networks, Stress Relief, Text Editors, Tutorials, Twitter, Video, Wikis, Workflow

Some open source, some commerical but all of them look good.

Sean Penn in the news

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Sean Penn lives a bit of a contradictory lifestyle being on one hand "gay friendly" and on the other hand, palling around with dictators who are decidedly anti-gay. The LA Times wonders about this:
'Milk' star Sean Penn: Pal of anti-gay dictators?
I'm not surprised to discover that Sean Penn is under attack again for his outspoken admiration of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Raul Castro. The real shocker is who's doing the attacking: The Advocate, America's leading gay publication. James Kirchick, an assistant editor at the New Republic, pretty much eviscerates Penn, who just wrote a cover story in the Nation singing the praises of both Latin American dictators. Up until now, in the wake of his bravura performance as gay activist Harvey Milk in "Milk," the mainstream entertainment press hasn't bothered to ask Penn any tough questions about his political views.

But the Advocate doesn't pull any punches. Saying Penn is likely to win all sorts of prizes from prominent gay organizations for his role, Kirchick writes that "Penn's political activism, irrespective of his views on gay rights, negates the values for which a movement based upon individual freedom must stand." Kirchick calls Penn's Nation story a "love letter" to the dictators, comparing it to the notorious dispatches starry-eyed liberals sent back home during the early years of the Soviet Union, describing it as a worker's paradise, "neglecting to mention anything about the gulag, the 'disappearance' of political dissidents or any other such inconvenient truths about Communism."
Nothing new -- just the usual cognitive dissonance of the left.

Long exposure photography

How long? How about six months! From the UK Telegraph:

Click for full-size.
Stunning photographs of landmark captured over six-month period
The spectacular picture shows each phase of the sun over Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge taken over a six month period.

It plots the sun's daily course as it rises and falls over Brunel's famous structure, which spans the 702ft (214m) Avon Gorge.

Incredibly, the eerie image was captured on a basic pin-hole camera made from an empty drinks can with a 0.25mm aperture and a single sheet of photographic paper.

Photographer Justin Quinnell strapped the camera to a telephone pole overlooking the Gorge, where it was left between December 19, 2007 and June 21, 2008 - the winter and summer solstices.

His final photograph, called 'Solargraph', shows six months of the sun's luminescent trails and its subtle change of course caused by the earth's movement in orbit.

The lowest arc shows the first day of exposure on the winter solstice, while the top curves were captured in the middle of summer.

Its dotted lines of light are the result of overcast days when the sun struggled to penetrate the cloud.

Gorgeous -- right up there with the Solar Analemma.

Ironic little news item from Chicago station WBBM:
Ill. state workers to get ethics training
Think of a state that could use a little refresher course on ethics in government. There's a good chance a certain state whose governor allegedly tried to sell a U.S. Senate seat comes to mind.

And as it turns out, Illinois is set to hold just such an ethics course for state workers this Wednesday.

More than 200 state employees are expected to take part in the ethics seminar at University of Illinois-Chicago. Featured speakers include agency heads, as well as speakers from Gov. Rod Blagojevich's own office.
I got this in an email. I have seen it around for a long time and have no idea where it came from. A winter classic:
December 8 6:00 PM
It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9
We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the whole world? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had! Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life!

December 12
The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment! My neighbor tells me not to worry - we'll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbor.

December 14
Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so.

December 15
20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16
Ice storm this morning. Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17
Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. God I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own livingroom.

December 20
Electricity is back on, but had another 14 inches of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling! Took all day. The damn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about uying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying.

December 22
Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it's so cold, it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to piss. By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he's too busy. I think the asshole is lying.

December 23
Only 2 inches of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she's lying.

December 24
6 inches - Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snow plow, I'll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas Carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the damn snowplow.

December 25
Merry f---ing Christmas! 20 more inches of the damn slop tonight - Snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. God, I hate the snow! Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's a fricking idiot. If I have to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26
Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27
Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28
Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. The BITCH is driving me crazy!!!

December 29
10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30
Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plow driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, not only for the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his ass. The wife went home to her mother. Nine more inches predicted.
December 31
I set fire to what's left of the house. No more shoveling.

January 8
Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

Talkin' 'bout Luke Benjamin

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UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF POST Bad Boss Bad Boss, Whatcha Gonna Do The bad boss of the Lacey, WA pizza house is getting a lot of traction. The comment section at KING5 is now over 250 entries and Luke Benjamin and Dan Baxter are duking it out. For a joke, I googled: "Luke Benjamin" and got this:
Click to embiggen...


For the record, one of the fun things about running our store is that Jen and I have both worked for asshole bosses and we now know what NOT to do when it comes to our employees. Consequently, although our payroll is a bit higher than other business in our area, we have minimal employee turnover and since people like working for us, the overall efficiency way more than offsets the increased payroll. Win/Win. Management is an interesting subject and it is a skill that needs to be learned. It is not something that you just do. Thinking more about this, I have known about twenty people who started a business but who did not bother to learn even the most basic of management skills. Each and every one of them is now working for someone else. UPDATE: KING5 has started to require registration. The wonderful BUG_ME_NOT site has the perfect solution(s) to this odious little invasion of privacy.
Some amazing video of the BBC Top Gear team literally trying to destroy a Toyota pickup truck. Since BBC does not support embedding of YouTube videos, I have the following links: Top Gear - killing a Toyota part one, part two and part three. My truck (1999 Dodge Dakota) is getting up on 180K miles so I'm starting to think about a replacement. I love the Dakota and have had very little problems with it but given the current state of automotive manufacturing in the USA, I will be looking at other options when it comes time for the Dakotas replacement (figuring 200K to 250K) Hat tip to Carpe Diem for the link.
The 2008 Darwin Awards are now online - #1 is the curious case of The Balloon Priest:
The Balloon Priest
(20 April 2008, Atlantic Ocean, Brazil) In 1982 Lawn Chair Larry, beloved survivor of a Darwin-worthy attempt, attached 45 helium weather balloons to his comfortable Sears lawn chair, packed a picnic and a , and cut the tether. But instead of drifting lazily above the Los Angeles landscape, the combined lift of 45 huge helium balloons rocketed Larry into LAX air traffic lanes 16,000 feet above sea level. Astoundingly, he survived the "flight."

In homage to Larry's aerial adventure, a Catholic priest recently ascended towards heaven on a host of helium party balloons. Adelir Antonio de Carli, 41, was attempting to set the world record for clustered balloon flight to publicize his plan to build a spiritual rest stop for truckers.

Sitting for more than 19 hours in a lawn chair is not a trivial matter, even in the comfort of your own backyard. The priest took numerous safety precautions, including wearing a survival suit, selecting a buoyant chair, and packing a satellite phone and a GPS. However, the late Adelir Antonio made a fatal mistake.

He did not know how to use the GPS.

The winds changed, as winds do, and he was blown inexorably toward open sea. He could have parachuted to safety while over land, but chose not to. When the voyager was perilously lost at sea, he prudently phoned for help. But rescuers were unable to reach him since he could not use his GPS! HE struggled with the control panel as the charge on the satellite phone dwindled.
Nineteen more funny (albeit tragic) stories there at the site.

Jimmy Carter - man of many trades

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Not politics, certainly not foreign policy, not knowing when to STFU and now it seems, not being a builder. From the London Times:
Charity homes built by Hollywood start to crumble
Residents of a model housing estate bankrolled by Hollywood celebrities and hand-built by Jimmy Carter, the former US president, are complaining that it is falling apart.

Fairway Oaks was built on northern Florida wasteland by 10,000 volunteers, including Carter, in a record 17-day �blitz� organised by the charity Habitat for Humanity.

Eight years later it is better known for cockroaches, mildew and mysterious skin rashes.

A forthcoming legal battle over Fairway Oaks threatens the reputation of a charity envied for the calibre of its celebrity supporters, who range from Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt to Colin Firth, Christian Bale and Helena Bonham Carter.

The case could challenge the bedrock philosophy behind Habitat for Humanity, claiming that using volunteers, rather than professional builders, is causing as many problems as it solves.

April Charney, a lawyer representing many of the 85 homeowners in Fairway Oaks, said she had no problems taking on Habitat for Humanity, despite its status as a �darling of liberal social activists�. She said the charity should have told people that part of the estate had been built on a rubbish dump.

One man pulled up his floorboards to find rubbish 5ft deep under his kitchen. Other complaints include cracking walls and rotting door frames that let in rats and ants. Many residents have complained of mildew and mysterious skin rashes.

One resident said her children were suffering from skin complaints. �The intentions are good, but when the politicians and big-shot stars have left we�re stuck with the consequences. This house looks pretty but inside it either stinks or sweats,� she said.

Judy Hall, the charity�s local development director, said recently that it had been dealing with about 30 complaints. She added that skilled work was carried out by professionals.

Some residents dismiss their neighbours� worries. Diennal Fields, 51, said people did not know how to look after their homes: �It�s simple stuff: if there is mildew, don�t get a lawyer, get a bottle of bleach.�
If you want something done right, either do it yourself or hire a competent worker (one who is licensed, bonded and insured). And the Hollywood types just did this for the feel-good publicity and a few days of working out in front of some cameras. Christ on a corn-dog.
A great collection of tools for a senior admin from Brendan Gregg:
The following is a special collection of freeware tools for system administration written in Perl. They cover advanced topics for the experienced admin, and are a valuable addition to a senior admins collection or those wishing to be a senior admin. Most are related to performance or fault prevention.

Note: These are freeware programs and have nothing at all to do with the respective Operating System vendors.

Operating Systems
Any OS that runs Perl, unless specified at the top of the script. They have been developed on Unix.
I know I'll be using a bunch of these, especially turbo, xmanagerstat, cdrewind and wumpus. Heh...

Cool boss - Luke Benjamin

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No, make that cold boss. From Seattle station KING5:
Pizza employees ordered to work in the cold
LACEY, Wash. � Employees of a pizza delivery shop say the owners has cut off the heat in the store. And they say if the workers don�t like it, they can leave.

Dan Baxter, who works at the Pizza Time in Lacey, says he expects to be fired for talking to KING 5 News about this.

�When it�s really, really cold, like when it�s 19 (degrees) outside, it will be 25 in the store,� said Baxter.

So what about using the ovens to heat the place?

�The ovens create a little bit of heat, but the exhaust fans pull it all out,� said Baxter.
And the boss:
Owner Luke Benjamin stands by his chilly stance.

�They know where they work. If they can�t deal with it then there are plenty of other jobs out there,� said Benjamin.
And the real story:
The temperature was 55 degrees when we went in on Friday, but we saw something else. There�s a space heater in the office where Benjamin�s wife � the real boss � runs her accounting business.

Then we get to the real truth of the matter.

�It doesn�t look good, but she�s my wife and my boss and she tells me what she�s going to do and I�m not going to argue with her,� said Benjamin.
Not only is the guy whipped, he is taking it out on his employees. Schmuck.

Cool news from Iraq

From Gateway Pundit comes this great news:

Sovereignty Restored! US Hands Over Green Zone to Iraqis

They then quote from this Associated Press release:

The United States handed over control of the Green Zone and Saddam Hussein's presidential palace to Iraqi authorities on Thursday in a ceremonial move described by the country's prime minister as a restoration of Iraq's sovereignty.

At a ceremony marking the transition, Nouri al-Maliki said he will propose Jan. 1 be declared a national holiday to commemorate what he called "Sovereignty Day" - the day Iraq took the lead in security away from U.S. forces, regained control of its airspace and reclaimed a wide swath of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Iraq already marks New Year's Day as a holiday.

The area that became known as the Green Zone on the west bank of the Tigris River was occupied by the United States shortly after the 2003 U.S. invasion and walled off from the rest of the city.

Until Wednesday, Saddam's former palace formally served as the U.S. Embassy and headquarters of the U.S military in Iraq. Thursday's palace handover was mostly ceremonial, as most U.S. diplomats and military officials long since moved to a new embassy building on the other side of the Green Zone, which is also known as the International Zone.

A great day for our new friends and the start of stability in that part of the world. Hope is alive.

Review over at The New Republic:
Unpleasant Truths
There is an ungainly German word, Vergangenheitsbew�ltigung, that has no equivalent in the English language. It means "coming to terms with past," and it was coined to refer to the efforts of German intellectuals, journalists, and even some politicians who, over the past half century, insisted that facing unpleasant truths about their country's history was both a moral and political necessity. As a result of these efforts, Vergangenheitsbew�ltigung has become part of the core political culture of contemporary Germany.

A new German movie that has attracted considerable attention in Europe is part of this tradition--albeit in an unusual way. While Vergangenheitsbew�ltigung generally refers to examination of the Nazi era, this film looks at another chapter in German history: the rise, during the 1970s, of a radical left-wing group called the Red Army Faction (or the Baader-Meinhof Gang, after its leaders, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof). Obviously, the group's crimes were in no way analogous to those of the Nazis; the RAF ultimately murdered 34 people, while the Nazis murdered millions. Still, an honest reckoning with the past is exactly what the movie attempts. And, in providing a frank and unsentimental depiction of the brutal excesses associated with 1960s radicalism, it sets an example that Hollywood would do well to follow.
And to think that there are still idiots like this that think that violent chaos is the way to truth. William Ayers for one. Mental illness is more my thought -- should be drugged and institutionalized.

Major new Nikola Tesla website online

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From the DaveCave(tm), this just in: You probably know that I am a major Tesla geek. He is not widely known but he invented the system of electrical power generation, distribution and use that is used worldwide today. He invented the fluorescent light, the AC Motor, radio (no - really). Lots of stuff that we consider as bedrock to our present technological age. Check out Tesla Universe Of interest is the complete 20 year collection of the Tesla Coil Builders Association scanned and searchable. Lots of stuff here...

That's it for the evening

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Out to the DaveCave(tm) The weather got up into the 30's yesterday and today but it's now 12F outside and dead clear skies so it will get even colder through the night. Oh yes, snow is expected -- maybe starting tonight and running through Sunday. They say it will turn to rain and keep raining through Tuesday but they have consistently over estimated the temperature so I am guessing more and more snow. Great for the ski area and for our store but bringing feed, hay and water through four foot frozen snowpack is not fun, even with the tractor.

Lesson of the Lesser Antilles

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A cautionary tale from the tropics. Current thought is that Global Warming will cause an increase in tropical storms. Well, there may not be historical weather data with the precision we enjoy today but there is a solid 300-year written history contained in ships logs, newspaper accounts, state reports, official government gazettes, meteorological registers, consulate office reports, etc... This post at World Climate Report talks about what is found in that data and where it applies to our current "problem" of Global Warming. You should read the whole thing so I'll just leave you with the closing two paragraphs:
They summarize noting �We find no evidence of statistically significant trend in the number of tropical cyclones passing through the region on any time scale. While tropical cyclone numbers show no statistically significant trend hurricane frequency is down about 20% in the 20th century compared to earlier centuries. This decline is consistent with the 20th century observed record of decreasing hurricane landfall rates in the U.S.� How about this line � �Although there is no significant long-term trend since the beginning of the series the period 1968�1977 was probably the most inactive period since the islands were settled in the 1620s and 1630s.�

We have produced countless essays on the global warming � increased hurricane activity pillar of the greenhouse apocalypse (e.g., Gore�s Katrina coverage), and over and over we find no evidence from throughout the world to support such a claim. We are told the debate is over and that scientists are universally in agreement on this important subject. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing could be more at odds with the empirical evidence. Nothing could be more frustrating from the perspective of anyone willing to question the greenhouse dogma.
Certainly the damage from tropical storms and hurricanes is getting greater and greater but this is only the result of fools building in harms way. 100 year ago, you would never build your house on the coastline in the tropics as it was sure to get knocked down with the next storm. Now, people are wanting those ocean views and are willing to take that risk. It won't happen here...

Raps origins?

An interesting (and plausible) theory. From the UK Telegraph:
Rap music originated in medieval Scottish pubs, claims American professor
Professor Ferenc Szasz argued that so-called rap battles, where two or more performers trade elaborate insults, derive from the ancient Caledonian art of "flyting".

According to the theory, Scottish slave owners took the tradition with them to the United States, where it was adopted and developed by slaves, emerging many years later as rap.

Professor Szasz is convinced there is a clear link between this tradition for settling scores in Scotland and rap battles, which were famously portrayed in Eminem's 2002 movie 8 Mile.

He said: "The Scots have a lengthy tradition of flyting - intense verbal jousting, often laced with vulgarity, that is similar to the dozens that one finds among contemporary inner-city African-American youth.

"Both cultures accord high marks to satire. The skilled use of satire takes this verbal jousting to its ultimate level - one step short of a fist fight."
And a bit more:
The most famous surviving example of flyting comes from a 16th-century piece in which two rival poets hurl increasingly obscene rhyming insults at one another before the Court of King James IV.

Titled the Flyting Of Dunbar And Kennedy, it has been described by academics as "just over 500 lines of filth".
The full text of the Flyting Of Dunbar And Kennedy can be found here. Takes a little time to get used to the old English but quite the show of language. Definitely NSFW but a major drink alert.

Welcoming the year 2009

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Francesco Marciuliano has a rather pessimistic view of the coming year:
Click to embiggen...
Check out the rest of Cesco's work at Medium Large. Great stuff...

The economy and the media - a poll

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Interesting results from a poll on people's thoughts about the role of the Media in the current economic downturn. From Blue Crab Boulevard:
Media Making It Worse
77% of Americans believe that the media�s reporting is making the economic situation in this country worse. The percentage is the same for men and women and virtually constant across income demographics.
The US survey of 1000 adults was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation and is statistically representative of the total U.S. population. The survey question: �Do you think the financial press is making the economic crisis worse by projecting fear into people�s minds?� While the overall response indicated that 77% of Americans answered YES, here are highlights of note: Household Incomes: $25k - $35k � 79% answered YES $35k - $50k � 88% answered YES $50k - $75k � 76% answered YES $75k - more � 78% answered YES Demographics: 85% of young adults (18-24 yrs old) answered YES 77% of males and females alike answered YES 65% of blacks answered YES
Put this number in with the current Congressional popularity number (less than 10%) and you get an idea of what is actually causing the problems here...

Europe in the dark ages

Another interesting commentary on Europe and its current problems. From Steven Goddard writing at Watts Up With That:
An Opportunity for Europe in 2009
Consider the conflicted UK, where the government is dominated by people who claim to be concerned above all else about CO2 emissions, and where the power industry warns that the country�s electricity and natural gas capacity may soon be inadequate to meet basic needs. Russia is currently threatening to cut off natural gas supplies to Europe. Climate vandals are welcomed to 10 Downing Street where they embarrass the Prime Minister, and formerly great newspapers like The Guardian demonize environmental activists for trying to protect the country�s scenic heritage from unsightly windmills. Dr. Hansen was recently welcomed as an expert witness for the defence of power plant damagers, and children block airport runways to stop vacationers from using airplanes - in the name of protecting of the climate.

The UK is currently in the grip of what the papers describe as a �Siberian Cold Front.� Solar insolation is close to zero this time of year at that latitude, so solar power is out of the question as a significant winter energy source. The light winds and freezing conditions make wind generated power minimally useful and unreliable. Coal, nuclear and natural gas are the only practical options to stay warm, yet the government appears too paralyzed by climate fears to move forward with the needed additions to the energy grid.
Will we have to go over there again and pull their asses out of the fire or will they manage to rally and shake off this collective stupidity.

The blind leading the lame

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Couldn't think of a better pair. Al Gore and Archbishop Rowan Williams. From Religious Intelligence:
Church of England puts its faith in Al Gore's investment arm
The Church of England�s Church Commissioners have gone green, investing �150 million with former US Vice-President Al Gore�s environmentally minded investment firm, Generation Investment Management.

On Nov 18 the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith reported that in late September the Commissioners had placed the funds with Gore�s boutique management firm which follows an �environmentally sustainable global equities mandate.� Funding for the investment came from �cash and Treasury bills�, he said, and not from the sale of UK equities as initially planned.
Climate Change is all about money, power and politics. There is very little science behind anthropogenic global warming. Those two clueless twits deserve each other...
Fun stuff - parts one and two:

A bit of a thought

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I was thinking a few days ago about how nice firewood smells when it burns. Wonder if this is just through the association of fire with warmth and cooked foods or just a funny coincidence. What if burning wood smelled like rotted mink poo -- I have smelled this (many people in our town have smelled this because of the Great Glacier Mink Poo Spill of 2007) and it is about as vile as you can imagine. Would our brain re-wire itself over several generations to make this smell 'nice'

A sweet find

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From BBC News:
Car worth �3m is found in garage
A classic Bugatti car, which gathered dust in a Tyneside garage for almost 50 years, may fetch up to �3m ($4.35m) when it goes under the hammer.

Relatives of reclusive Newcastle doctor Harold Carr found the 1937 Type 57S Atalante in a garage after he died.

Now the classic car, thought to be one of just 17 built, is to be sold by Bonhams in Paris next month.

It was originally owned by Earl Howe - first president of the British Racing Drivers' Club.

Dr Carr, a former army surgeon, left the contents of a lock-up garage to his family when he died in 2007.

As well as the Bugatti, his nephew also discovered a classic Aston Martin, and a Jaguar E-type in the lock-up.

The nephew, an engineer from Newcastle, said: "We just can't believe it.

"Of course we're delighted and we're going to make sure the money is shared out among the family. It's a wonderful thing to leave."
Quite the story and the history. Gorgeous car even in its current state. And only 26K miles on the odometer.
This is ridiculous -- from MS/NBC:
Calif. Taxpayers Due Refunds May Get IOUs
If you expect you'll be getting a refund from California when you file your 2008 state income tax return, be prepared: you may instead receive a "registered warrant." Translation: an IOU.

California is rapidly running out of money. Blame it on the state budget deficit that continues to bleed billions of dollars from California's reserves. Facing inadequate credit to make up the difference, California's Controller John Chiang warns that by the end of February, the nation's most populous state may not be able to pay some of its debts, and instead be reduced to issuing those creditors IOUs.

"My office has projected that, in approximately 60 days, there will be insufficient cash available to meet all expenditures reflected in the 2008-09 Budget Act," stated a Tuesday letter from Controller Chiang to the directors of all state agencies. "To ensure that the State can meet its obligations to schools, debt service, and others entitled to payment under the State Constitution, federal law, or court order. California may begin, as early as February 1, 2009, issuing registered warrants...commonly referred to as IOUs...to individuals and entities in lieu of regular payments."
They did this back in 1992. You would think that they could see the writing on the wall. Aren't executives supposed to have this whole forecasting and vision thing worked out -- isn't that what they are being paid for?

R.I.P. - Donald Westlake

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Damn fine writer -- I used to read about five books/week when I was living in Seattle and Westlake was one of my favorite writers. From the NY Times:
Donald E. Westlake, Mystery Writer, Is Dead at 75
Donald E. Westlake, a prolific, award-winning mystery novelist who pounded out more than 100 books and 5 screenplays on manual typewriters during a career of nearly 50 years, died on Wednesday night. He was 75.

Mr. Westlake collapsed as he was headed to New Year�s Eve dinner while on vacation in Mexico, said his wife, Abigail Westlake.

The cause was apparently a heart attack, his publicist, Susan Richman, said.

Mr. Westlake, considered one of the most successful and versatile mystery writers in the United States, received an Academy Award nomination for a screenplay, three Edgar Awards and the title of Grand Master from the Mystery Writers of America in 1993.
His Dortmunder series is a lot of fun. Up until the last he always used manual typewriters. There is one more novel in the pipeline -- Get Real is scheduled for an April release.

From Judicial Watch:

Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" for 2008
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2008 list of Washington's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians." The list, in alphabetical order, includes:

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY): Let's start with the fact that Hillary Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as Secretary of State in the Obama administration. According to the Ineligibility Clause of the United States Constitution, no member of Congress can be appointed to an office that has benefited from a salary increase during the time that Senator or Representative served in Congress. A January 2008 Executive Order signed by President Bush during Hillary Clinton's current Senate term increased the salary for Secretary of State, thereby rendering Senator Clinton ineligible for the position. (Congressional "fixes" do not address the constitutional issue. Her appointment would be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.) And then, of course, there is the long history of corrupt behavior that follows Hillary wherever she goes, including Chinagate, Filegate, pardons for terrorists, pardons for cash (for her brothers), White House fundraising coffees, Whitewater, Travelgate lies, doing business with the State of Arkansas while her husband was governor, Web Hubbell, smear campaigns, false financial disclosure forms, John Huang, Chinese generals, the Lippo Group, paid sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom, cattle futures fraud, and stealing White House furniture. (This corruption is still going strong. In 2008, Hillary also received an illegal foreign campaign contribution in the form of a fundraising concert by music icon Elton John.)

The usual suspects -- looking forward to the 2010 elections.

Some non-climate media are starting to notice that the emperor is buck naked. From the Investors Business Daily:
The Warm Turns
Climate Change: The Earth has been warming ever since the end of the Little Ice Age. But guess what: Researchers say mankind is to blame for that, too.

As we've noted, 2008 has been a year of records for cold and snowfall and may indeed be the coldest year of the 21st century thus far. In the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month of October.

Global thermometers stopped rising after 1998, and have plummeted in the last two years by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius. The 2007-2008 temperature drop was not predicted by global climate models. But it was predictable by a decline in sunspot activity since 2000.

When the sun is active, it's not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month. Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop near zero. Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins. But this year, the start of a new cycle, the sun has been eerily quiet.

The first seven months averaged a sunspot count of only three and in August there were no sunspots at all � zero � something that has not occurred since 1913.

According to the publication Daily Tech, in the past 1,000 years, three previous such events � what are called the Dalton, Maunder and Sporer Minimums � have all led to rapid cooling. One was large enough to be called the Little Ice Age (1500-1750).

The Little Ice Age has been a problem for global warmers because it serves as a reminder of how the earth warms and cools naturally over time. It had to be ignored in the calculations that produced the infamous and since-discredited hockey stick graph that showed a sharp rise in warming alleged to be caused by man.
At the time that this nation was created, the issue was the separation of church and state. We now need to make sure that science and state (specifically politics) are kept separate. The sub-prime "research" into global warming is bunk. The idea that we can cause such a major change in such a huge system is pure fucking hubris. Game over guys, pick up what is left of your careers and move on...
There is a direct link between solar activity and visible sunspots. The more sunspots, the more active the sun and the more heat we get from it. This activity totally swamps any minuscule "greenhouse" phenomenon we get from gasses like water vapor, methane and... oh yes... CO2 From Joseph D�Aleo writing at Watts Up With That:
2008 Ends Spotless and with 266 Spotless Days, the #2 Least Active Year Since 1900, Portends Cooling
2008 will be coming to a close with yet another spotless days according to the latest solar image.


This will bring the total number of sunspotless days this month to 28 and for the year to 266, clearly enough to make 2008, the second least active solar year since 1900.
Birds are at the feeders, critters all have hay and I will be driving the tractor to the store to break up the ice. Still, this really sucks. We "normally" get about two weeks of having about six to ten inches of snow on the ground during winter. The long cold spring and now this long cold winter is unusual for this area. Nice for the skiers though so good for business.
@#$% 25F out there @#$% six more inches of snow over a base of solid ice Hey @#$% Al @#$% Gore -- send some warming this way. Just @#$% Sayin...

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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 January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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

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