April 2009 Archives


I would hate to be POTUS -- nothing like spending four or eight years of your life with every public gesture being photographed. That being said:
From Denny

More from Cancun

I had mentioned a person from Everson, WA returning with some kind of flu-like illness. It seems that things are afoot there -- from A Canuck in Cancun:
Swine Flu Cancun- More Bad News for Travelers
I really hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here I go. The government of Quintana Roo has ordered facilities with occupancy of greater than 80 people to close. This includes bars, nightclubs and restaurants in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya. Mayor of Cancun Greg Sanchez vaguely told the press that some hotels have been ordered closed, but refused to name them, only saying that they were in the Riviera Maya. Authorities are also preparing for a mass exodus (note this does not say "evacuation", read the linked source, they are just preparing for a lot of people to leave) of around 40 000 tourists on Friday and Saturday, virtually clearing the area of visitors. All archaelogic zones in the country have shut down, this includes the Mayan ruins in the area of Cancun. Eco parks at the moment are still open, but I suspect they may be ordered closed as well.

The Cancun airport is the first in Mexico to install 50 new heat thermometers to detect passengers with elevated fevers. The thermometers are set to be put into use tomorrow for both departing and arriving travelers. Cancun and Quintana Roo have yet to officially report a confirmed case of swine flu, maintaining that there are zero infected people in the state. And that's it for the good news.
It is imperative to remember that the U.S.A. averages about 200,000 hospitalizations due to plain old garden variety Influenza and 36,000 deaths. The Swine Flu has been in the news for about two weeks with one fatality. Given a uniform distribution of Influenza deaths, there would have been about 1,380 deaths during that same two weeks. The concern is that this is a different version of Influenza for which there are no vaccines at present.
A very interesting observation from pudge over at Sound Politics:
Obama's White House Web Site Still Breaks Millions of Links
When (or slightly before) Obama became President, his people broke millions of links to historical transcripts and videos, removing them from the White House web site. For example, this link to President Bush's so-called "Mission Accomplished" speech. It's just gone.

This sort of loss is intolerable. It matters. And yes, I know you can still find the content in various archives. But maintaining the links themselves are crucial. These are the footnotes and bibliography of much of the Bush years.

What should happen is simple: first, Obama's people should a new whitehouse.gov hierarchy for historical documents, perhaps ordered by year, perhaps by President's name, whatever. So for example, http://www.whitehouse.gov/bush-43/news/releases/. Put all of Obama's content in a similar location, http://www.whitehouse.gov/obama-44/news/releases/. Then all of the Bush content should be restored to that locations. Next, all existing URLs to /news/releases/.. should be automatically redirected to the Bush archives. Do the same for Clinton if necessary. And when Obama is gone, his replacement won't have to do anything to keep those historical records alive: they will remain in that location.

This really is important.
And it is not just Bush -- Clinton, Reagan, Carter -- all gone. The Internet Wayback Machine has them but that is not the place. Reminds me of Stalin's purges -- people would disappear from the historical record.
And yes, I am being a bit extreme here but, why would they do such a wholesale deletion of public records. Why could they just not (as pudge suggested) just move them to a separate file folder. And Bush maintained a lot of his predecessors records, press conferences, etc... These are just gone too.

An interesting item on the auction list

As you may know, I enjoy going to the auctions run by the James G. Murphy company. They do interesting industrial auctions and they always put on a good show -- even if you don't buy anything, the people watching is a lot of fun as people try to second-guess what the other person is thinking. They also do a monthly auction at their site -- mostly vehicles, contractor machinery, forklifts, trucks, etc... They also do the remainders from past auctions and they have the occasional interesting outlier. Their next auction is this coming Saturday and this sweet ride caught my eye:
1953 SARACEN FV603 6x6 armored personnel vehicle, ROLLS ROYCE B80 Mk6A 8 cyl
What a great rig for tooling around town -- no problems with road rage there...

Property Values these days

If you are willing to move, there are some incredible house values available today (and I am not talking Detroit). From the New York Times:
What You Get for... $225,000
WHAT: A seven-bedroom three-bath Victorian near downtown

HOW MUCH: $225,000


SETTING: This corner house at the edge of downtown Dubuque was built in 1890 for a department store owner. It is a half-mile from museums and galleries, the restaurants along Main Street and gambling boats on the Mississippi River. Also nearby are the 30-mile Heritage Trail and two downtown parks: Jackson Square and Washington Park. A seasonal weekend farmer�s market is about four blocks away.

COMMON SPACES: Many original details remain, including built-in china hutches, leaded stained-glass panels, storage cabinets and hardwood floors. The owners added limestone walls to the kitchen and an energy-efficient boiler. There are also a two-car garage and storage basement.

PERSONAL SPACES: The master suite has built-in storage cubbies and a sitting room. Many of the other bedrooms have window seats that look out over Madison and 17th Streets.

OUTDOOR SPACE: A wraparound porch and a small side yard.

TAXES: $1,157
WOW! If I was interested in living in a city and looking to relocate to the Midwest, something like this would be just wonderful. Talk about location... Hat tip to dispatches from TJICistan

SPQR Blues

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Do not follow this link unless you have the better part of a day to sit and read. From ComixPedia:
SPQR Blues is a webcomic�a sword-and-sandals soap opera in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Mysteries and danger are daily duty in the life of a bodyguard�or so Felix hopes when he signs on. Who is threatening the life of the young girl he has been asked to protect? What secrets lurk in the tunnels below the city? And who keeps putting animals on top of the arch?

Created in November 2005 by artist Klio, SPQR Blues is updated "mostly daily" and has gained a devoted following among fans of online comics, those interested in the history of ancient Rome and fans of outstanding comic art. Most of the characters are based on the actual inhabitants of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, whose names are known from graffiti, inscriptions, and the records of a notorious (and unresolved) ancient lawsuit.
Here is the first panel of SPQR Blues Here is the most recent (bookmark this to keep reading new episodes as they are written).

His first 100 days

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As seen through the eyes of the National Republican Senatorial Committee:
Hat tip to Cassy Fiano who found it on Hot Air And here is their take on the Fannie/Freddie debacle:

Swine Flu update

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Here is a good website to visit to see if you possibly have The Swine Flu

Spamalot - part deux

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Had one spam today. It came lurching in over the transom from IP Address (a RoadRunner account in Virginia) Two strikes against it: #1) - it was the random five or six characters with nonsense URLs. #2) - Ip Address is listed at spamhaus.org as being a an unsecured cess-pit. Added to the blocked list. Next? Anyone? Beuler?

Antarctic Slang

I have posted a few things about Antarctica. Had the great pleasure to visit there as a tourist back when my parents did a lot of traveling (we went on the little red Explorer that sank a few years ago). The website Cool Antarctica maintains a wonderful lexicon of slang. A few examples:
Beaker - A scientist, if said scientist is unwanted or unpopular, the term jafa, may be used - Just Another F..... Academic.

Fingy - The pronunciation of F.N.G.. A derogatory term of uncertain origin for the F... New Guy (or Girl).

Three-hundred-club - To belong, you need to go through 300 degrees Fahrenheit, this is achieved by rolling naked outside in a chilly Antarctic temperature and then going inside to hit the sauna.

Church sign wars

Heh - swiped from Maggie's Farm:
And yes, it shows major signs of being a Photoshop but it made me laugh so I posted it. So Nyaaaa...

Falling through the cracks - Swine Flu

One of our sales reps at the store told us about a client of his who recently returned from Cancun a week or so ago. They came down with something resembling the flu a few days ago -- worse than a common cold. They had the sniffles when John (sales rep) last dealt with them. The Centers for Disease Control do not report any cases in Washington State but this is not surprising -- these people probably did not go to their Doctor and if they did, their Doctor did not culture the virus and send it in for analysis. The town in question is Everson, WA -- about ten miles away. Wonder how many other cases there are out there...

Medical Masks

I love these -- I would so sell them in the store if I could get them cheap enough.



Hat tip Mark Perry at Carpe Diem Product here: Studio Samira Boon Online USA sale ($10 each) here: Compact-Impact

The kingdom of Spamalot

I get a lot of attempts at comment spam and have evolved a script that seems to take care of it without denying any legitimate comments. Worst case scenario, the comment gets put into moderation awaiting my approval. I have been getting a large number of spams recently that are using exploited forum pages to promote the usual PPCs (pills, pr0n, casinos). If the admin of a forum isn't diligent, a user can register, gain the ability to post and then offer their username/password to the bots that send this shite around the net. Fortunately, the signature for this is about as blatant as you can get so out of the 55 or so attempts (and I do mean ATTEMPTS) not ONE has been successful. When crap like this comes in, it gets sent to moderation which is a quarantine -- the post resides on my system but it is invisible to anyone trying to look for it from the outside world. This helps to stamp out the other kind of spam that has been happening a lot in the last couple months -- people will post an email with a five or six character "nonsense" word (eg: 5Zq17A) and then some random text and URLs -- bots looking for this nonsense word will not find it as it too is in moderation waiting for my deletion. A little work with RegEx and these are gone too. To top it off, about 20% of these pathetic little at temps are coming in from either Proxy IP addresses or IP addresses registered with one of the spam registration centers. I check these first. Proxy's get put into moderation as they may be someone with a legitimate reason to use a proxy. Registered IPs get dropped into the ole' bit bucket. Hey script kiddies, keep that wailing and gnashing of teeth down a bit, your Momma might hear you -- after all, your basement bedroom doesn't have any sound insulation from the rest of your folks house.

Senator Arlen Specter - always classy

From the L.A. Times:

Specter condemned Jim Jeffords' party switch in 2001
Reporting from Washington -- When a Senate Republican left his party in 2001, elevating the Democrats to majority status, one member of the GOP was especially vocal about his displeasure: Arlen Specter.

Specter said then- Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords' decision to become an independent was disruptive to the functioning of Congress. He proposed a rule forbidding party switches that had the effect of vaulting the minority to majority status in the middle of a congressional session.

"If somebody wants to change parties, they can do that," Specter said at the time. "But that kind of instability is not good for governance of the country and the Senate."

From The Hill:

Specter had disavowed a switch
News of Sen. Arlen Specter's party switch today comes after months of strong statements to the contrary by the Pennsylvania Senator.

In a March 17th interviewwith The Hill, Specter said he absolutely would not switch parties:
[Democrats] are trying very hard for the 60th vote. Got to give them credit for trying. But the answer is no.

I'm not going to discuss private talks I had with other people who may or may not be considered influential. But since those three people are in the public domain, I think it is appropriative to respond to those questions.

I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That's the basis of politics in America. I'm afraid we are becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party with so little representation of the northeast or in the middle atlantic. I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance. That's a very important principle in the operation of our government. In the constitution on Separation of powers.

And we will see just how well this goes over. From the Nashville Post:

Alexander And Corker Want Money Back From Specter
In a statement earlier today on his party switch to the Democrats, Sen. Arlen Specter said he would return any monies donated to his campaign as a Republican upon request.

Sen. Lamar Alexander who just hours ago rebuked Specter for his actions will be taking him up on that offer.

Alexander was one of a group of Senators supporting Specter financially in his expected primary with conservative Pat Toomey. Now that Specter is no longer a Republican, Alexander will be asking for a refund of that money.

"Sen. Specter said he would return contributions made to him in this cycle, upon request. That's the right thing for him to do, and we will request a refund," Alexander said in a statement released by staff.

Tennessee's other Senator, Bob Corker, will also be asking for a rebate on the money he has given the Senator from Pennsylvania. As point of fact, he already has.

Yeah - check is in the mail and all that... The President has term limits, why not these fools.

Pepsi Throwback

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Back on March 31st, I posted about High Fructose Corn Syrup and the powerful lobby that keeps it in our food and keeps sugar out. In that post, I mentioned that Pepsi announced that they were issuing Pepsi Cola and Mountain Dew in Sugar formulations. Being an avid Dew fan, I eagerly anticipated this. They arrived in our store today and Good God, that stuff is tasty. The difference is like night and day -- this is Mt. Dew the way it once was and should have remained all along. From the label:
  • Carbonated Water
  • Sugar
  • Citric Acid
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Caffeine
  • Gum Arabic
  • Brominated Vegetable Oil
  • Yellow 5
Sodium Benzoate is a well known (and safe) food preservative. The Gum Arabic and Vegetable Oil are there for mouth feel. Used to be a Coke drinker but not any more... I will be trying the new Pepsi Cola Throwback when I am in a Cola mood.

Give me a break - licensing and business

From United Press International:
Judge doesn't see humor in Cheba Hut shop
A Colorado judge says he won't give a liquor license to the Cheba Hut sub shop, saying he doesn't like the use of marijuana humor in its marketing.

Despite no opposition from neighbors and no record of police problems at its location near the University of Northern Colorado campus in Greeley, Judge Robert Frick, the city's lone liquor-license authority, denied owner Scott Jennings a license, The Denver Post reported Tuesday.

"This restaurant is founded upon the principles and theme of the illegal drug marijuana and incorporates other illegal controlled-substance-related themes," Frick said in his ruling, perhaps referring to Cheba Hut's motto, "Welcome to Cheba Hut. The only thing fried is the occasional customer," or its sub menu, which includes such sandwiches as "Magic Mushroom," "Thai Stick" and "Herb."

"It was a completely bogus decision," Jennings told the newspaper, which reported he has gone to District Court to get Frick's decision overturned on free speech grounds.
On the face of it, it sounds like the liquor control people made a decision based on their impressions of this one store. Only problem is that it is not just that one store, CHeBA Hut is a franchise with five stores and more on the way. They should reconsider as this is something that the franchise owners are probably willing to throw lawyers, guns and money at until it is resolved to their satisfaction...

Heh - Swine Flu

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Available on a T-Shirt here
From Ward's Auto World:
Criticism of Tata Nano Outrageous, Wrong-Headed
A few weeks ago, a machine that will save tens of thousands of lives every year -- many of them young children -- officially went on sale in India, beginning a journey that promises to improve the living standard of millions of families in one of the world's most impoverished nations.

And yet, many environmentalists who profess to be on a mission to save mankind are condemning this new device as an "environmental disaster" they would like to wish out of existence. Chief U.N. climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize, has said "I am having nightmares" about it. Many other groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also lament its debut.

What is this contraption that offers so much hope yet is so terrifying to some?

The Tata Nano, a tiny car with carbon-dioxide emissions of just 100 g/km and average fuel economy of 55 mpg (4.3 L/100 km).

Priced at $2,500, it is the world's cheapest car and designed specifically to give South Asia's low-income families a safer, all-weather alternative to a motorcycle or scooter, currently the only "family car" millions can afford.

If you have ever seen a family of four or five or six, weaving through India's chaotic traffic on a scooter, with infants and toddlers perched on the handlebars or hanging onto mom and dad for dear life, you can understand the momentous achievement the Nano represents.

India has the highest traffic-death rate in the world, exceeding 100,000 fatalities and more than 2 million serious injuries annually. That's a worse toll than India suffers from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, combined. A large percentage of these traffic deaths are motorcyclists who are so vulnerable in India's undisciplined traffic.

Ask any Indian parent why they would take such safety risks, and they will say they would prefer to take their children to school in a car, but a motorbike is the only transportation they can afford.

Starting now, the Nano offers a safe, affordable alternative. Sales bookings began April 9, and demand is expected to far exceed supply.

It is exactly this popularity that critics from green groups -- 100% of whom we can assume do not have to drive their children to school on a scooter -- fear. They are afraid the Nano will become so popular it will spark an industrial revolution, such as Henry Ford's Model T did in the U.S.

In other words, demand for the Nano will soar; leading to more factories being built, creating more jobs, which in turn will create more demand for cars, accelerating India's production of greenhouse gases. The Nano will create progress. And gosh, that will be terrible.

Unfortunately, this contemptible viewpoint, spewed from comfortable middle-class lodgings in the U.S. and Western Europe, has not received the heaping dose of ridicule it deserves. In the worst kind of cultural elitism imaginable, environmentalists argue that in their noble war on global warming, tens of thousands of traffic deaths annually in the developing world are acceptable casualties.

This is an utterly unacceptable position to take, no matter what. The birth of the Nano is an historic event that needs to be celebrated, and environmentalists need to reevaluate their rhetoric and game plan.

Otherwise, the world soon may decide the cure for global climate change is worse than the disease.
Wonderful! The author, Drew Winter, absolutely nails the blindness of the enviros. I wonder what it must be like for them to suffer so greatly from cognitive dissonance -- the inability to see.

The power of the mind

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Read this quickly:
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulacity uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid! Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn�t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny improatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig, huh? Yaeh, and I awlyas thugoht slpeling was ipmorantt.
Strange - huh?
Times are tough all over, money is tight so what does our government do? Grow, grow and grow some more.
From Mark J. Perry writing at Carpe Diem:
All Aboard the Federal Gravy Train: We're In The Midst of Largest Federal Gold Rush Since the 1960s
Federal spending is growing by leaps and bounds. The budget hit $3.9 trillion this year, double the level of spending just eight years ago. The government is also increasing the scope of its activities, intervening in many areas that used to be left to state and local governments, businesses, charities, and individuals.

By 2008, there were 1,804 different subsidy programs in the federal budget. Hundreds of programs were added this decade�ranging from a $62 billion prescription drug plan to a $1 million anti-drug education grant�and the recent stimulus bill added even more. We are in the midst of the largest federal gold rush since the 1960s.
The only reason the government tolerates us is that they need us to re-elect them time after time -- that and sending them our tax money for them to use. It isn't about governance, it's about power and control.

More Glow-Ball Warmening

From MyNorthwest:

Skagit Valley tulips finally bloom
The Skagit Valley tulips are a little late, but recent warm weather has fields of flowers blooming.

The director of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Cindy Verge, expects the tulips to reach their peak this weekend.

She told The Skagit Valley Herald this is the latest bloom season in at least a decade. Verge decided to extend the festival into the first weekend in May.

Got to love that line: "The Skagit Valley tulips are a little late," In whose calender is one month a "little" late. The effects of the quiet sun are very notable here. The growing season has been pushed back quite a bit.

Just three words: Octomom The Musical
"Octomom the Musical" Now Casting
Los Angeles -- Finally there's a way to become octo-mom Nadya Suleman without having to give birth or getting mixed up in a Charlie Kaufman movie.

"Octomom the Musical" scheduled auditions for Tuesday at Bang Comedy Studio. The casting session runs from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 457 N. Fairfax Ave.

The "fast-paced musical pastiche ripped from the headlines" is an "epic for our strange times," according to its website. The 10-week run will begin June 19, with performances every Friday and Saturday at 9:30 p.m.
I'll need a couple gallons of brain bleach to get rid of that thought...

Arctic Ice

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Some interesting things floating around the web regarding Arctic Ice and its potential for melting due to Anthropogenic Global Warming. Representative Henry Waxman is pushing for Cap and Trade regulation which will do nothing for the environment but make a few people very very rich. Rep. Waxman being interviewed by NPRs Tavis Smiley:
We're seeing the reality of a lot of the North Pole starting to evaporate, and we could get to a tipping point. Because if it evaporates to a certain point - they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn't ever sail through before. And if it gets to a point where it evaporates too much, there's a lot of tundra that's being held down by that ice cap.

If that gets released we'll have more carbon emissions and methane gas in our atmosphere than we have now. We see a lot of destruction happening because of global warming, climate change problems, so we've got enough warning signals and enough of a scientific consensus to take this seriously.
Tundra under the Arctic Ice? As for this line: "they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn't ever sail through before" Consider Roald Amundsen who sailed the Northwest Passage in 1906 -- his route was relatively free of ice but some of the passages were too shallow to allow for commercial shipping. Next up was RCMPV St. Roch who sailed the Northwest passage twice -- the first time took two years but the second time, they were able to do it in one shot. You can visit her in Vancouver at the Vancouver Maritime Museum Here is a photo of her under way. Anthony Watts ran into these photographs of US Navy Submarines surfacing at the North Pole with minimal or no Polar Ice. Here are five showing the variability of the ice over time
Skate (SSN-578), surfaced at the North Pole, 17 March 1959. Image from NAVSOURCE

Seadragon (SSN-584), foreground, and her sister Skate (SSN-578)
during a rendezvous at the North Pole in August 1962

This famous photo...

USS Pargo at the North Pole in 1993. (US Navy Photo)

USS Hawkbill at the North Pole, Spring 1999. (US Navy Photo)
Whaling ship Captain's Log Books have the same kinds of records. While they may have not gone through the Northwest Passage (not profitable), they certainly recorded ice that extended and retracted over the years.

From James Lileks

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On Twitter
Energy crisis, severe recession, now Swine Flu - did someone insert a line of code that said GOTO 1975?

John Edwards in the news again

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From the National Enquirer and before you scoff, remember that they were the first to break the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter story in the first place:
A federal grand jury is convening to investigate former presidential candidate John Edwards in connection with possible campaign finance violations related to paying his mistress, Rielle Hunter, The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively.

At least four former Edwards campaign workers recently received secret subpoenas to testify in Raleigh, N.C., according to a close source in Washington, D.C.

One witness has confirmed receipt of the government document and has already contacted a lawyer, according to the source.

Two major federal agencies - the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service - are involved in the investigation, divulged the source.

"The federal grand jury will determine if there's reason to bring any charges. No one's accusing John Edwards or anyone else in his campaign of breaking any laws - but there wouldn't be this type of activity if someone at a high level didn't have suspicions."

The source said: "The federal grand jury will investigate whether Edwards secretly funneled campaign funds to his former mistress and want to know if Edwards used money donated to his 2008 presidential campaign to pay the woman for her silence about the affair."

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Cook County's overtime time bomb
County workers stash overtime hours now -- for high pay later

If Joseph Lafata were to retire anytime soon from his job as a maintenance supervisor with the Cook County Highway Department, he'd have a nice cushion to take with him into retirement: a $60,000 payout for more than 1,000 overtime hours that he has accumulated -- hours that, in theory, he's supposed to take as paid time off.

County highway workers have amassed mountains of what's called "time-off overtime" -- TOOT, for short -- a Chicago Sun-Times review of county records shows, with Lafata piling up more overtime than anyone else.

The idea behind TOOT is this: Rather than pay county highway employees for all the extra hours they might end up working from week to week, some of them are allowed to take paid time off later.

But rather than do that, many have been accumulating it and then cashing in when they retire or leave their county job months or years later -- when their salaries are higher. Then, they are paid for that time at their final salary, which is sometimes much higher than what they were making when they accumulated the time.

In all, county records obtained by the Sun-Times show, highway workers have banked 44,000 hours of overtime currently worth about $2.2 million. Forty-one people -- more than 14 percent of everyone on the Highway Department payroll -- have each stacked up more than 300 hours, or nearly eight weeks.

Another 50 highway workers are sitting on 200 to 300 hours of accumulated overtime, records show.

And these aren't working stiffs earning minimum wage either:

Engineering assistant Michael Ponticelli, who makes $74,000 a year, has the second-most accumulated overtime, with more than 979 hours -- or $53,000 -- due him. Next on the list: engineer Bharat Patel, who makes $81,610.88 a year and has cached 824 hours of overtime. Maintenance supervisor James Poelsterl has banked 775 hours.

None of those employees returned calls seeking comment.

Just business as usual in Chicago...

You do not want to mess with hackers

The folks behind Pirate Bay have been in some legal hot water this last couple of months. They got some new IP addresses and had a bit of fun with the registration process.
From Torrent Freak:
Pirate Bay IP Addresses Assigned to Prosecution Lawyers
The Pirate Bay recently got a new range of IPs and to everyone�s surprise they are now linked to several movie and music industry lawyers involved in the TPB trial. According to the Pirate Bay�s Wikipedia entry the change was due to a hostile takeover, but most people know better.

RIPE is the Internet registry that keeps track of all IP-addresses allocated in Europe. When the Pirate Bay got a new range of IP-addresses this week, something odd happened. Aside from the usual TPB ASCII art there was some unusual information added to the RIPE database.

According to the recently updated RIPE database entry, the Pirate Bay is now listed as a customer of Danowsky & Partner law firm (who represented IFPI), Maqs Law Firm (representing the MPAA) and the Swedish anti-piracy bureau. All three were involved in the recent trial, which led some to believe that they somehow gained control over the site. This is nonsense of course.

So why is this info in there, some might wonder. One explanation might be that during the Pirate Bay trial the prosecution used (incorrect) data from the RIPE database claiming that this was the absolute truth. The Pirate Bay team probably put the lawyers� info in there themselves to show that this is not the case. Indeed, there is no doubt that they will have a hard time selling this �truth� to the public now, with their own names being featured in the recent entry.

Awww cute - a man and his Grizzly

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Meet Casey Anderson and Brutus On the tube Sunday, May 3rd at 9:00PM
Nancy Pelosi is no stranger to lying, deception and "creative" memory loss but this is a bit extreme. From Politico:
Pelosi playing defense on torture
Nancy Pelosi didn�t cry foul when the Bush administration briefed her on �enhanced interrogation� of terror suspects in 2002, but her team was locked and loaded to counter hypocrisy charges when the �torture� memos were released last week.

Many Republicans obliged, led by former CIA chief Porter Goss, who is accusing Democrats like Pelosi of �amnesia� for demanding investigations in 2009 after failing to raise objections seven years ago when she first learned of the legal basis for the program.

�As soon as the president made the decision to release [the memos], I was telling people that the Republicans were going to come after us, saying she knew about it and did nothing,� said an adviser to Pelosi (D-Calif.), speaking on condition of anonymity. �And I�m sure we�re going to get hammered again when they release all those new torture photos,� the person said.

But Pelosi�s allies were less prepared to confront the fallout from her convoluted answers during three sessions with reporters last week � answers that raised new questions and handed Republicans a fresh line of attack on a speaker at the height of her power.

�I�m puzzled, I don�t understand what she�s trying to say,� said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and currently the committee�s ranking minority member.

�I don�t have any sympathy for her � she�s the speaker of the House; there should be some accountability. She shouldn�t be given a pass,� added Hoekstra.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised to keep up the heat, telling reporters last week, �She and other leaders were fully briefed on all of these interrogation techniques. There�s nothing here that should surprise her.�
heh -- something about heat and kitchen comes to mind...

Where did this money go?

A quote from this article on the reliability problems with the Toyota Prius:

In 1993, the Clinton administration developed the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, awarding federal funds to Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors and giving them access to federal research agencies. The goal was to develop a car that got more than three times the gas mileage of full-sized vehicles already on the road.

Toyota was left out of the New Generation program, but it responded in 1994 by officially starting Project G21, a program to develop an environmentally friendly car. Three years later, the first Prius was released in Japan.

Chrysler, Ford, and GM still hadn't shown any New Generation prototypes by the end of the decade, but an unveiling was scheduled for January 2000 at Detroit's North American International Auto Show.

Heralded in newspaper accounts as a possible breakthrough, some of the designs certainly were radical, but, as it turns out, actually were just for dreamers. Each company rolled out a New Generation car, but after the show the prototypes disappeared from public view.

The federal government had already fed more than $1 billion to the three automakers-at a time when the American manufacturers were still highly profitable-with few results. The New Generation program was a failure at best; Ralph Nader called it "corporate welfare at its worst."

The project was killed by the Bush administration in 2002.

Emphasis mine -- over one billion dollars with nothing to show for it. Wikipedia has a good entry stating in part:

GM, Ford, and Chrysler all created working concept vehicles of 5 passenger family cars that achieved at least 72 mpg. GM created the 80 mpg Precept, Ford created the 72 mpg Prodigy, and Chrysler created the 72 mpg ESX-3.

Sure -- show us these cars and then don't go into production. Nice. And Ralph Nader's take on the whole fiasco:

The House of Representatives, Committee on the Budget has publicly denounced the program as corporate welfare asserting that the auto industry does not need the money, the same research is already being conducted by the Big Three, any technologies that do emerge as a result of PNGV will mainly benefit foreign manufacturers and foreign consumers, and a "Supercar" is unlikely to ever be mass-produced. Members of Congress such as John Kasich, (R-OH), John E. Sununu (R-NH) and Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ) are taking a pro-taxpayer stand by opposing this boondoggle.

The PNGV initiative has served as a smokescreen behind which the automakers have hidden for nearly a decade to protect themselves from more stringent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) standards.

It is hard to imagine an industry less in need of government support for research than the auto industry given that they raked in nearly $20 billion in profits in 1999. Through PNGV, the government is supporting research that the industry would or should do on its own in response to market competition, and should be mandated to undertake to meet tougher environmental standards. Instead, automakers insist that CAFE standards should not be raised since they are voluntarily participating in the PNGV initiative and are pursuing its long term goal of developing a "Supercar" capable of achieving up to three times the fuel efficiency of today's vehicles. In the meantime, the automakers choose not to deploy existing technologies that could dramatically enhance auto fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I want my Republic back dammit!

Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to an early bed. A few days ago, I checked DaveCave and it turns out there is a 'motivational singer' named Dave Cave who owns the domain. To each their own -- he has a good voice.
Check it out here: Maple Falls Community Garden

Oh the Humanity!!!

It's a catastrophe I tell you, a catastrophe:
And their retraction? . . . crickets . . . Of course, it is getting hotter and hotter all over the planet. From Australia's Sydney Morning Herald:
The big thrill... Christmas comes early for ski resorts

A FEW moments of stunned silence was the response from three-year-old Holly Foard-Whitelaw when she cast her eyes on snow for the first time at Thredbo yesterday morning. Then it dawned on her: where were all the presents?

The snow and the "Christmas trees" surely meant that Santa was nearby.

"She was really excited," said her mother, Caroline Foard, "but then when we told her [it wasn't Christmas] she was still pretty excited to pick it up and throw it around, and make snowballs � it's a bit of a novelty."

Holly has a heart condition and has had three bypass operations already. Her parents will have to "wait and see how she goes" with the cold weather and high altitudes.

"She's a pretty special little girl," Ms Foard said. "She's a little trouper."

The first snow of the season fell on NSW yesterday, the first time in 13 years ski resorts had experienced snow in April. Charlotte Pass recorded more than 25 centimetres by early yesterday evening.

A spokesman for Charlotte Pass Ski Resort, Joshua Elliott, said people there were expecting bigger snowfalls before the season compared with last year, and hoping for an earlier season. "We're definitely gearing up for a bumper season this year," he said. "There's some serious snow up there at the moment."

The Roads and Traffic Authority closed Kosciuszko Road between Perisher and Charlotte Pass yesterday and chains were required for many other roads. While the Bureau of Meteorology said it was too early to tell exactly what the ski season would hold, forecaster Michael Logan did say it was "quite early to be having such cold, snowy conditions down there".
Hat tip Anthony for the first link about the Ice Free Arctic in 2008 Anthony's comment:
Bad news from NSIDC
Last year we had the forecast from NSIDC�s Dr. Mark Serreze of an �ice free north pole�. As we know, that didn�t even come close to being true. Summer 2008 had more arctic ice than summer 2007, and summer 2007 was not �ice free� by any measure.

Long day but a fun one

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The weather was awesome -- started a bit on the cool side but warmed up nicely. There were even more people this week than last and the workshop with Chuck McClung was a veritable brain dump of great information on figuring out your microclimate, what to look for when buying plant starts, watering techniques, trellising and training, etc... A lot was covered in two hours. It turns out that we had just the right amount of topsoil and Llama poop -- we did the remaining two 40*5 beds and ran out of Llama poop and only have about a yard of soil left. Since we are also using 1/2 barrels for 'maters and squash, the remaining soil will be perfect for these. Also, the sod pile is now huge and will be an awesome source of topsoil for next season. Now I have to unload the truck, bring the tractor back home, crack open a beer or three and relax (an ibuprofen will be going down my gullet too...). Pictures will be online at the Maple Falls Community Garden website in a day or two.
The Community Garden has another work party tomorrow so I need to be up early and get some tools together. A noted writer and columnist will be presenting two workshops so that will be a lot of fun. Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to get the PA system together (gotta find some cables). It was noted last week that music would be a nice thing to have. I have a small PA system and will be taking my shiny new iPod out for a spin... It still is odd to think that I could hit shuffle and not hear the same song for forty days playing 24/7.
Stock up on hand sanitizers and face masks -- this could get interesting if you live in a large city. From Reuters:
Global flu epidemic fear grows, more U.S. cases
A new flu that has killed up to 68 people in Mexico could start a global epidemic, the World Health Organization warned on Saturday, as tests showed the strain might be spreading in the United States.

Mexico's crowded capital, where most of the deaths happened and home to some 20 million people, hunkered down in fear of the swine flu.
From N.Y. City's WCBS-TV:
Officials: 8 NYC Students Probably Have Swine Flu
At least eight students at a high school in New York City probably have human swine influenza, but authorities don't know for sure whether they have the strain that has killed people in Mexico.

City health officials say more than 100 students at the private St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens have come down with a fever, sore throat and other aches and pains.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden says a government lab needs to do more testing before authorities can pinpoint which strain of flu the students have.
The World Health Organization pegs it at a three on a scale of one through six. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a good page with a status report and common ways to minimize spread. Finally, there is a list of products available on Amazon.com These are for Bird Flu but same virus, different genetics and vector.

Linux Faire 2009

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Was a lot of fun. On April 17th, I had written that there is a new Federal Program looking at rolling out broadband to rural areas. Today, I met up with a team that is looking at doing this in Bellingham. They are deploying clusters of cheap nodes to deliver a web of WiFi hotspots throughout town. The key thing is that they are gathering a lot of the data on how to do this through other websites and linking into a large... well... Cluster of sites. The basic technology is C.O.T.S. (Commercial Off The Shelf) and is not rocket science -- antennas can be built for under ten dollars that way outperform commercial products costing tens of times more. The software is all open source and freely available and the hardware is cheap cheap cheap -- A full access node can be done for under $200 and a cluster member for about $50. Here are the folks from Bellingham WiFi:
The lunch was awesome as always -- the Salmon was a big hit but the other line was BBQ pulled pork sandwich with the vegetable slaw for $5. It rocked and I am still stuffed many hours later.
The event was well attended:

Next event is their Welding Rodeo next month. Another fun one.
Two days ago, I saw this entry by Marc Morano at Climate Depot (since updated) regarding Viscount Monkton of Brenchley being denied the opportunity to speak at the at the House Energy and Commerce hearing on Friday. Reader Spork sent me a private email pointing to this website. As I explained to him, I was not familiar with Climate Depot and could not find corroborating entries on other climate websites (or on the Energy and Commerce hearing website) so I held off on posting. Boy Howdy! Turns out it was true - from Viscount Monkton in a communication with Anthony Watts:
Once again I�m most grateful to Anthony Watts and his hard-working team for their kindness in exposing the less than democratic tactics of the Obama Democrats. The story circulated by the indefatigable Marc Morano is - as one would expect - accurate in every particular.

Early this week the Democrats told the Republicans they would have a �celebrity witness� for this morning�s hearing on the Waxman/Markey Bill, but they would not say who. The Republicans immediately contacted me and asked if they could tell the Dems they too were putting forward an undisclosed celebrity witness - me.

When the Dems eventually revealed that their �celebrity� was Al Gore, the Republicans told them I was to testify at the same time. The Dems immediately refused to allow the Republicans their first choice of witness. By the time they had refused, my jet was already in the air from London and I did not get the message till I landed in the US.

At first the Dems tried to refuse the Republicans the chance to replace me with a witness more congenial to them, but eventually - after quite a shouting-match - they agreed to let Newt Gingrich testify. The former Speaker of the House gave one of his best performances.

I attended the session anyway, as a member of the public, and tried to shake hands with Gore when he arrived, but his cloud of staffers surrounded him and he visibly flinched when I called out a friendly �Hello� to him.

His testimony was as inaccurate as ever. He repeated many of the errors identified by the High Court in the UK. He appeared ill at ease and very tired - perhaps reflecting on the Rasmussen poll that shows a massive 13.5% swing against the bedwetters� point of view in just one year.

My draft testimony will be posted at http://www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org shortly, together with a brief refutation of Gore�s latest errors.
From Marc Morano:
UK's Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claimed House Democrats have refused to allow him to appear alongside former Vice President Al Gore at a high profile global warming hearing on Friday April 24, 2009 at 10am in Washington. Monckton told Climate Depot that the Democrats rescinded his scheduled joint appearance at the House Energy and Commerce hearing on Friday. Monckton said he was informed that he would not be allowed to testify alongside Gore when his plane landed from England Thursday afternoon.

�The House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face,� Monckton told Climate Depot in an exclusive interview. �They are cowards.�

According to Monckton, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Energy & Commerce Committee, had invited him to go head to head with Gore and testify at the hearing on Capitol Hill Friday. But Monckton now says that when his airplane from London landed in the U.S. on Thursday, he was informed that the former Vice-President had �chickened out� and there would be no joint appearance. Gore is scheduled to testify on Friday to the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment's fourth day of hearings on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The hearing will be held in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

According to Monckton, House Democrats told the Republican committee staff earlier this week that they would be putting forward an unnamed 'celebrity' as their star witness Friday at a multi-panel climate hearing examining the House global warming bill. The "celebrity" witness turned out to be Gore. Monckton said the GOP replied they would respond to the Democrats' "celebrity" with an unnamed "celebrity" of their own. But Monckton claims that when the Democrats were told who the GOP witness would be, they refused to allow him to testify alongside Gore.
Here are the testimonies of Al Gore and Newt Gingrich
As readers here might know, I have a special place in my heart for Malthusians. Not... Those Cassandras who cry to the heavens that OMFG, we only have XX years of YY resource left are, at my most charitable, fools and at worst, self-centered willful idiots. Here are links to a few of my posts: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Today, Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog talks about another Malthusian cry of Doom and Gloom:
Repeating the Same Mistake, Over and Over
Flowing Data draws my attention to this nutty chart in the New Scientist (I have never read the New Scientist, but my experience is that in periodicals one can generally substitute �Socialist� for the word �New�).

Will the world really run out of Indium in 5 years? Of course not. New sources will be found. If they are not, then prices will rise and a) demand with be reduced and b) efforts to find new sources will be redoubled. Push come to shove, as prices rise too much, substitutes will be found (which is why John D. Rockefeller probably saved the whales). Uranium is a great example � sure, proved reserves are low right now, but companies that mine the stuff know that there is tons out there. That is why they are going out of business, there is too much supply for the demand. Any spike in price would immediately generate tons of new developed resources. And even if we run out, there are enormous quantities of thorium which is a potential substitute in reactors.

Absolutely no one who was old enough to be paying attention to the news in the 1970s could have missed charts very similar to this. I remember very clearly mainstream articles that we would run out of oil, titanium, tungsten, etc. by the early 1990�s. Seriously, name one commodity we have plain run out of (*cough* Julian Simon *cough*).

People say, well, the resources have to be finite and I would answer, �I suppose, but given that we have explored and mined about 0.000001% of the Earth�s crust and none of the floating mineral reservoirs in space (called asteroids), I think we are a long, long way from running out.�

You would think that the guys running this analysis would get tired of being so wrong so consistently for so many decades, but in fact their real point is not about resources but about the US and capitalism. The point of the chart is not really to say that the world will credibly run out of tungsten, but to tell the world that it is time to get out their pitchforks because the US is stealing all their wealth and resources. It is an age-old zero-sum wealth fallacy that has never held any water, but remains a powerful talking point among socialists none-the-less.
To restate my line of thought, there has never, ever been a time when a Malthusian said that we were running out (or that a commodity would get more expensive) and that they were proven to be correct. Never. There was even a famous wager -- lost of course...

A cool new product for Digital SLRs

I have been doing photography since high-school (and I graduated in 1969). I settled on the Nikon system after trying Leica for a while (Leica wasn't making SLRs at that time).

My last Nikon was the F2-SB of which I still have two bodies with motor drive and a bucket-load of accessories and lenses. This was the last all-mechanical Nikon - the F3 introduced an electronic shutter and if the battery died, you were stuck with (IIRC) a fixed speed of 120th/second. When the F2 battery died, you lost metering but if you are doing a lot of photography, metering is an accessory, not a necessity -- it is easy to guesstimate pretty accurately if you practice.

About seven years ago, I bought a Nikon D1x and loved it -- I had an older Coolpix just to get the feel of digital. My only gripe with the D1x was that you were stuck with a bland focusing screen. The F series of cameras had a large selection of about 30 different screens that you could swap in and out. Architectural rules, different focusing aids, optimized for low light, bright light, telephoto, wide angle, microscopy. The list is large.

Well, Katz Eye Optics comes to the rescue. I forget where I read about them but this is a fantastic product and fantastic people to do business with.

I ordered one of their screens for my D-90 (the D1x sits in its bag and will show up on eBay one of these days).

Very good turnaround on the order processing, exceptional communications (personal emails instead of automatic). The unit arrived well packaged and in flawless condition complete with a custom tool to aid with the install.

Installation instructions were on a six-page PDF downloaded from their website and were specific to my make and model of camera. The instructions came with some very clear photographs outlining exactly what I would be looking for.

All in all, well worth the $100 price and it improves the functionality of my D90 a lot.

If you own a DSLR and want a better viewfinder, check out Katz Eye Optics.

Major geekdom - Bellingham Technical College is hosting the tenth annual Linux Fest Northwest. They are pulling out all the stops -- John Maddog Hall will be there, so will Monty Widenius (he wrote MySQL) Website is here: LinuxFest Northwest 2009
The College also has a culinary arts program that is excellent. They will be running the food concession so I am looking forward to eating very well that day. Next month, the Welding Rodeo.

Now this is art I can get behind

Wonder if they will open a show here -- I could use the practice. From Yahoo News/AFP:

Czech art: shoot your lawmaker in the face
Two artists have offered Czechs angered by politics the chance to take revenge on their lawmakers by shooting them literally in the face, by turning their photos into air gun targets.

Tomas Cap and Michal Kraus have displayed the portraits of 200 lower-house deputies in plastic boxes on the wall of a Prague alternative gallery, in front of an air gun and a boxful of ammunition.

"We have seen lawmakers breach the promises they gave to voters so many times. The visitors of the gallery have a unique opportunity to show these politicians what they think," the artists said in a statement.

Two weeks after opening, the exhibition was a sad sight as most of the faces had been heavily damaged by airgun slugs, with some destroyed beyond recognition.

Heh -- Pelosi and Frank would be blasted to smithereens in the first ten minutes...

Homebrew Turntable and Tonearm

Very cool design. With the resurgence of vinyl record albums, getting a good turntable is an imperative. There are a lot of cheap bad options, there are a lot of good options with stratospheric pricing. Making your own is the third option. Here is Charles Altmann with his own design. The platter bearing? An intake-valve from a Harley Davidson Shovelhead Engine with valve guide. Turntable. Tone Arm.



Carrie Fisher Roasts George Lucas

Wonderful four minute rant by Carrie Fisher:

Recycling fun and games

From the London Daily Mail:
Dumped: 230,000 tons of rubbish we sort for recycling that ends up clogging landfill sites
More than 230,000 tons of waste sent for recycling by householders is being dumped in landfill sites every year, it is claimed.

Councils say the waste is ' contaminated', and it is cheaper to bury it than to remove the unwanted elements.

However, the policy risks bringing the entire council recycling regime into disrepute.

Details are revealed by consumer group Which?, which says that both councils and householders must make greater efforts to ensure that waste sent for recycling is properly sorted.

The consumer group says current failures mean that councils are having to spend �12million a year in England alone to dispose of waste which should be recycled.

The claims have triggered a fierce response from the Local Government Association, which said the savings generated by implementing a full sorting regime would be minimal.
This is predicated on the idea that recycling is actually a good idea. You might want to check out the wonderful Penn and Teller Bullshit series on Recycling -- especially the third sequence where the whole "running out of landfill" space is completely torpedoed.

A moldy golden oldie

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A biker is riding by the zoo, when he sees a little girl leaning into the lion's cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the cuff of her jacket and tries to pull her inside, under the eyes of her screaming parents.

The biker jumps off his bike, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch Whimpering from the pain, the lion jumps back letting go of the girl, and the biker brings her to her terrified Parents, who thank him endlessly.

A New York Times reporter has watched the whole event. The reporter addressing the biker says, "Sir, that was the most gallant and brave thing I seen a man do in my whole life."

The biker replies, "Why, it was nothing really, the lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger and acted as I felt right."

The reporter says, "Well, I'll make sure this won't go unnoticed. I'm a Journalist from The New York Times , you know, and tomorrow's paper will have this story on the front page. So, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?"

The biker replied, "I'm a United States Marine and a Republican."

The journalist leaves. The following morning, the biker buys a copy of The New York Times to see if it indeed reports news of his actions, and reads, on front page: U. S. MARINE ASSAULTS AFRICAN IMMIGRANT AND STEALS HIS LUNCH.
True then, true now (only with a smaller readership...)
Scientific American magazine used to be good. Really really good. I grew up with it and voraciously read every issue and looked forward to the Projects for Amateur Scientists column edited by C. L. Stong. I got out of reading it in the 1980's when I started getting completely into computers and working solely in that field. About ten years ago, I started subscribing to it again and was sorely disappointed at what I was reading. The articles were dumbed down and worse, politicized. They drank the Anthropogenic Global Warming Kool Aid and when Bjorn Lomborg published his reasoned debate, SciAm launched into a vicious ad-hominem attack that left many people on both sides of the fence stunned. No apology was ever given. Needless to say, I dropped my subscription after a few issues. Today, it was with joy that I read the following piece by Jeff Bercovici in Cond� Nast Portfolio:
'Scientific American' Editor Out in Reorg
The recession has finally come to Scientific American. Editor in chief John Rennie and half a dozen or so of his underlings are leaving amid a major reorganization of the 164-year-old magazine's operations, according to sources. Rennie has held his job since 1994. [Update: More than 20 employees have been let go overall, including president Steven Yee; details below.]

Unlike most magazines, which are sensitive to fluctuations in the ad market, Scientific American has long enjoyed a degree of insulation from economic ups and downs as a relatively isolated piece of the book publishing giant Macmillan, itself a unit of Germany's Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck.

This week's reorganization may signal a shift in Macmillan's hands-off treatment. With ad pages in Scientific American down 18.1 percent in the first quarter, the magazine is consolidating some of its operations with the New York office of Nature, the London-based journal. I'm told executive editor Mariette DiChristina has been appointed acting editor in chief for the time being.

I contacted SciAm publisher Bruce Brandfon to ask about the changes; he told me he could address "non-editorial" questions and steered me to Rennie for the rest. I'm still waiting to hear from Rennie.
As for Projects for the Amateur Scientist, there have been some incomplete copies on CD-ROM and one book published in early 1960 (still have my copy!). Fortunately, the last editor of the column has collected every single article and is selling them here: Bright Science for the very reasonable price of $57 which includes a lot of bonus materials. I got a copy a few years ago and it is very high quality and lots of fun. A lot of the projects were built around vacuum tubes but for anyone with a basic knowledge of electronics and Op Amps, conversion to solid state is trivial. The science is still cutting edge and awesome...

Cool technology

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Wouldn't you love to be a terrorist hunkered down hiding from our Army, hear something scuttling off in a corner and see one of these poking its nose around the corner:
From Mere Rhetoric:
Military Developing Shrinking, Shape-Changing, Insectoid Micro-Spybots
I was going to use the phrase "shrinking, shape-changing insectoid micro-spybots that can chemically transform upon command, climb up walls, and infiltrate small spaces." But that sounded so alarmist:
SquishBot is a program to develop a new class of soft, shape-changing robot. The goal is to design systems that can transform themselves from hard to soft and from soft to hard, upon command. Another goal is to create systems that change their critical dimensions by large amounts, as much as 10x. Such robots will be like soft animals that can squeeze themselves through small openings and into tight places.
Sweet dreams!
Reference here: SquishBot - Advanced Chemistry Robot that Inches, Climbs and Deforms Gives me the creeps just thinking about it...

The State of the Newspaper Industry

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A wonderful rant/remembrance of days past in the newspaper business. From Fred on Everything:
Passing the Torch
Onset of Boredom

The news racket is dead, mummified, and ready for a mausoleum. The joy has gone. Reporters once were once a misbegotten tribe of ashen-souled cynics, honest drunks chain-smoking their way to the grave, foul-mouthed, profane, boisterously male, believing in nothing but the certainty of corruption and the squalor that is human nature. In short, they were both philosophers and splendid company. You couldn�t chew the fat with a better crowd. They knew the world as no one else did. I mean the real world, big-city bus stations at three a.m. where things crawled forth that would unnerve the inhabitants of a rotting log, and city governments no better. They knew Linda�s Surprise Bar in Saigon and Lucy�s Tiger Den in Bangkok. Many had been in the military and survived the ritualized absurdity of GI life. Delicates and milquetoasts they weren�t.

They were the world�s true aristocrats. All the Heidelberg philosophers rolled into one grand taco, and exponentiated, would have known less of life than a cub on his second year on the police desk. Less that was worth knowing, anyway.

Maybe the news trade didn�t build character, but it built characters. Marquis, Mauldin, Royko, Charlie Reese, Smith Hempstone, Paul Vogel, names ancient and less so, mostly unknown in the wider world. Over drinks, usually lots of drinks, they told wild stores in the press bars of Taipei and Joburg, stories both impossible and sometimes true.

There was Six-Pack Muldoon, a chopper pilot working in Southeast Asia. Always flew with an open six-pack in the cockpit. Asked why, he said, �In thirty years of flying, I�ve only crashed twice. Both times I was sober. I�m not going to risk it again.�

That world is gone. The news biz has been sanitized, made polite and tedious, like a family pool hall with orange felt and no betting. The morgue has become �the library.� Newsrooms are �non-smoking environments.� As women came in, the boisterousness and dirty stories went out. The gals could do the job perfectly well, but the atmosphere changed. A true news weasel didn�t feel at home. You could no longer say, �So there we were on Bugis Street, and Murphy picks up this hooker with three thumbs, yeah, really�.�
And he is just getting warmed up. A wonderful and sad read. We lost something big when we lost this world...

Barrels of Fun

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Although I was raised by Liberals, I have been getting into the whole farm life 'thing', one of which is firearms. We have a shotgun and Jen's grandfather's old deer rifle. The only problem is that the rifle is chambered for an uncommon round -- .35 Remington -- so it is about $2.50 per bang. A sporting goods chain store was going out of business and firearms and ammo was 10% off. I looked at .22 rifles but they were a bit wimpy. I am not looking for just a plinking rifle, I want something that can take care of a coyote with a well aimed shot so I went for .22 Magnum. Picked up this puppy today:
Looking forward to setting up a sawhorse in our pasture and getting some muscle memory built up... (We live on 30 acres and ten acres is a hillside bordering on DNR land. Anyone there is, by default, trespassing. Perfect location for a range.)

A letter to Reverend Al Sharpton

A wonderful letter from America's Toughest Sheriff on the occasion of Reverend Al Sharpton threatening to come there, hold a demonstration and shake him down. From the Maricopa County Sherrif's Office (PDF):

Click to embiggen...
Succinct and to the point. Joe sounds like a great person to sit down with, have a beer or two and shoot the shit...
From The Viscount Monkton of Brenchley:
The Hon. Representative Ed Markey, and The Hon. Representative Joe Barton,
Committee on Energy and Commerce, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC.


Questions raised by the Subcommittee on Energy & Environment

I am most grateful for the fairness and good humor with which Chairman Markey conducted the hearing of 26 March 2009 on the question of adaptation to �global warming�. The calibre, commitment, and concern of Hon. Gentleladies and Gentlemen on both sides of the House were self-evident.

However, my notes of the hearing indicate that certain national and international executive agencies may have materially, serially, seriously, and successfully misled your Congress for several years about the imagined extent, anthropogenic component, and effects of �global warming�.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address to the nation in 1961, gave a warning �that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.� He said �
�Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. ... The prospect of domination of the nation�s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present � and is gravely to be regarded.�
Nearly all of your nation�s scholars and scientists owe their primary livelihood to the involuntary generosity of the taxpayer. Some of your rent-seeking, scientific-technological elite, taking willful and shameless advantage of the taxpayer�s largesse and of the scientific illiteracy that is now widespread, are mightily enriching themselves by misleading your Congress into appropriating disproportionately large sums to permit them to address the non-problem of anthropogenic �global warming�.

The right policy to address a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing. Therefore I am copying this letter to the President of the United States and to Madame Speaker Pelosi, with a recommendation that they should heed President Eisenhower�s warning, and should abandon all measures and expenditures in attempted mitigation of anthropogenic �global warming� until global mean surface temperature shall have increased by at least 2 Fahrenheit degrees compared with the temperature in the year 2000. That small, harmless, beneficial increase is not likely to occur for at least a century, if then.
This is a 54 Page PDF Document with all of the charts, citations, numbers, etc... you could want. Having read Brenchley's other writings, this will be spot on. Looking forward to reading at leisure over the next few days.
I had posted April 11th, 2009 about Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga, Ontario for 31 years. Mississauga is the sixth largest city in Canada. It has zero debt and $700 Million cash reserves. How did she do it? Low taxes and attracting businesses to her city. Meet Mayor Chester Stranczek of Crestwood, Illinois. From The Heartland Institute:
Mayor Returns $48 Million to Taxpayers, Then Retires
Every year, folks in Crestwood, Illinois, a suburb southwest of Chicago, open their mail to find a check paying for half their property taxes.

Who would do such an amazing, generous thing? The Village of Crestwood itself.

Crestwood's gift doesn't cover just the municipal property tax bill; it picks up half the tab for all government bodies that levy a property tax in the village, from schools to Cook County.

This practically unheard-of largesse is courtesy of Crestwood Mayor Chester Stranczek and his trustees, who have engineered such an efficient village government for the nearly 12,000 residents that they literally can pass out money to ease the property tax burden.

'Crazy' Promise Made
When he first became mayor 39 years ago, Stranczek promised property owners that some day the village would pay their taxes.

"They told me I was crazy," Stranczek said, but undeterred he began running the village like a business--a very lean business.

Stranczek, who retires this fall, explains it is done through a combination of privatization of village services, a friendly business climate, and fiscal restraint, all while providing a high degree of personal service.

Long before privatization became a familiar word, Crestwood was actively seeking more efficient and less costly contract providers for just about every municipal service.

Most Services Privatized
"We have only 21 full-time employees," Stranczek said, a remarkably small number for the long list of municipal services Crestwood provides.

"Should I give you the list? You'd be amazed," Stranczek said as he starts ticking them off: garbage removal, sidewalk replacement, street maintenance, water maintenance, sewer repairs, park maintenance and grass cutting, water meter reading and billing, ambulance service, engineering, bus service anywhere in the village for $1.10 a ride, a senior citizen center, youth services. And so on.

There are three full-time police officers and an all-volunteer fire department (whose members are paid for each call). Go down the employee roster, and you'll find one assistant services director, a half-dozen public works employees, a couple of senior service providers, and you're almost at the end of the list.

Community service officers, not police officers, patrol the two shopping centers, and crime is virtually nonexistent.
Treat the businesses well and they will return the favor, employ local citizens, pay taxes, etc... Although there is one fly in the ointment. From a recent Chicago Tribune article:
Poison in the well
Crestwood officials cut corners and supplied residents with tainted water for 2 decades

Like every town across the nation, south suburban Crestwood tucks a notice into utility bills each summer reassuring residents their drinking water is safe. Village leaders also trumpet the claim in their monthly newsletter, while boasting they offer the cheapest water rates in Cook County.

But those pronouncements hide a troubling reality: For more than two decades, the 11,000 or so residents in this working-class community unknowingly drank tap water contaminated with toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems, a Tribune investigation found.

As village officials were building a national reputation for pinching pennies, and sending out fliers proclaiming Crestwood water was "Good to taste but not to waste!," state and village records obtained by the newspaper show they secretly were drawing water from a contaminated well, apparently to save money.
No word as to the concentration of the chemicals. Nasty stuff (dry cleaning effluent) but only in large doses. I go back to Paracelsus' maxim: The Dose makes The Poison (or more accurately: "All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.") We can now measure things in vanishingly small percentages. Something that is a few minutes with a $3,000 instrument used to take ten days in a well equipped analytical laboratory. Just because we can find so many parts per billion of "Chemical XYZZY" doesn't mean that that dose is toxic. As an example. With people decrying the "huge amount" of CO2 in our atmosphere. Take a football stadium filled with 10,000 people. If that was our atmosphere, four people would be CO2.
Bzzzzt!!! There seems to be a self-regulating system at work. From PhysOrg:
Plants could override climate change effects on wildfires
The increase in warmer and drier climates predicted to occur under climate change scenarios has led many scientists to also predict a global increase in the number of wildfires. But a new study in the May issue of Ecological Monographs shows that in some cases, changes in the types of plants growing in an area could override the effects of climate change on wildfire frequency.

Philip Higuera of Montana State University and his colleagues show that although changing temperatures and moisture levels set the stage for changes in wildfire frequency, they can often be trumped by changes in the distribution and abundance of plants. Vegetation plays a major role in determining the flammability of an ecosystem, he says, potentially dampening or amplifying the impacts that climate change has on fire frequencies.

"Climate is only one control of fire regimes, and if you only considered climate when predicting fire under climate-change scenarios, you would have a good chance of being wrong," he says. "You wouldn't be wrong if vegetation didn't change, but the greater the probability that vegetation will change, the more important it becomes when predicting future fire regimes."

Higuera and his colleagues examined historical fire frequency in northern Alaska by analyzing sediments at the bottom of lakes. Using meter-long samples, called sediment cores, Higuera and his colleagues measured changes in the abundance of preserved plant parts, such as pollen, to determine the types of vegetation that dominated the landscape during different time periods in the past. Like rings in a tree, different layers of sediment represent different times in the past.

The researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the sediment's age, which dates as far back as 15,000 years. They then measured charcoal deposits in the sediment to determine fire frequency during time periods dominated by different vegetation. Finally, they compared their findings to known historical climate changes.

In many cases, the authors discovered, changes in climate were less important than changes in vegetation in determining wildfire frequency. Despite a transition from a cool, dry climate to a warm, dry climate about 10,500 years ago, for example, the researchers found a sharp decline in the frequency of fires. Their sediment cores from that time period revealed a vegetation change from flammable shrubs to fire-resistant deciduous trees, a trend which Higuera thinks was enough to offset the direct effects of climate on fire frequencies.

"In this case, a warmer climate was likely more favorable for fire occurrence, but the development of deciduous trees on the landscape offset this direct climatic effect. Consequently, we see very little fire," Higuera says.
The Ecological Monographs are published by The Ecological Society of America The full text (YES!)of Higuera et. al. can be found here: Vegetation mediated the impacts of postglacial climate change on fire regimes in the south-central Brooks Range, Alaska Kudos to ESA for allowing peons like us to read the full text of papers without having to go through the hassle of visiting a University Library. Thank You!

Here's a classic for Earth Day:

More on this insidious chemical can be found here: DHMO From the website:

What are some of the dangers associated with DHMO?
Each year, Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known causative component in many thousands of deaths and is a major contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment. Some of the known perils of Dihydrogen Monoxide are: Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities. Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage. Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
  • DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
  • Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
  • Contributes to soil erosion.
  • Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
  • Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
  • Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  • Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
  • Given to vicious dogs involved in recent deadly attacks.
  • Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere, and in hurricanes including deadly storms in Florida, New Orleans and other areas of the southeastern U.S.
  • Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.

What are some uses of Dihydrogen Monoxide?
Despite the known dangers of DHMO, it continues to be used daily by industry, government, and even in private homes across the U.S. and worldwide. Some of the well-known uses of Dihydrogen Monoxide are:
  • as an industrial solvent and coolant,
  • in nuclear power plants,
  • by the U.S. Navy in the propulsion systems of some older vessels,
  • by elite athletes to improve performance,
  • in the production of Styrofoam,
  • in biological and chemical weapons manufacture,
  • in the development of genetically engineering crops and animals,
  • as a spray-on fire suppressant and retardant,
  • in so-called "family planning" or "reproductive health" clinics,
  • as a major ingredient in many home-brewed bombs,
  • as a byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion in furnaces and air conditioning compressor operation,
  • in cult rituals,
  • by the Church of Scientology on their members and their members' families (although surprisingly, many members recently have contacted DHMO.org to vehemently deny such use),
  • by both the KKK and the NAACP during rallies and marches,
  • by members of Congress who are under investigation for financial corruption and inappropriate IM behavior,
  • by the clientele at a number of bath houses in New York City and San Francisco,
  • historically, in Hitler's death camps in Nazi Germany, and in prisons in Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Libya, Iraq and Iran,
  • in World War II prison camps in Japan, and in prisons in China, for various forms of torture,
  • during many recent religious and ethnic wars in the Middle East,
  • by many terrorist organizations including al Quaeda,
  • in community swimming pools to maintain chemical balance,
  • in day care centers, purportedly for sanitary purposes,
  • by software engineers, including those producing DICOM programmer APIs and other DICOM software tools,
  • by popular computer science professors,
  • by the semi-divine King Bhumibol of Thailand and his many devoted young working girls in Bangkok,
  • in animal research laboratories, and
  • in pesticide production and distribution.

Nasty stuff...

That is the smell and the taste of the Center of the Universe. From the UK Guardian:
Galaxy's centre tastes of raspberries and smells of rum, say astronomers
The hunt for chemicals in deep space that could seed life on other planets has yielded a large, fruity molecule

Astronomers searching for the building blocks of life in a giant dust cloud at the heart of the Milky Way have concluded that it tastes vaguely of raspberries.

The unanticipated discovery follows years of work by astronomers who trained their 30m radio telescope on the enormous ball of dust and gas in the hope of spotting complex molecules that are vital for life.

Finding amino acids in interstellar space is a Holy Grail for astrobiologists, as this would raise the possibility of life emerging on other planets after being seeded with the molecules.

In the latest survey, astronomers sifted through thousands of signals from Sagittarius B2, a vast dust cloud at the centre of our galaxy. While they failed to find evidence for amino acids, they did find a substance called ethyl formate, the chemical responsible for the flavour of raspberries.

"It does happen to give raspberries their flavour, but there are many other molecules that are needed to make space raspberries," Arnaud Belloche, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, told the Guardian.

Curiously, ethyl formate has another distinguishing characteristic: it also smells of rum.
And who said the science was dull... One of my favorite early summer desserts is to take fresh berries, angel food cake and make my own whipped cream. I get pure cream from a local dairy, none of that crap with the additives -- you do not need them if you have the real stuff. Add some powdered sugar and a couple tablespoons of a good single-malt or rum and you have a very tasty toping! Takes about five minutes to prepare.

Remembering the history of Earth Day

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Philadelphia, PA's The Bulletin remembers one of the co-founders of Earth Day:
Earth Day Philly Style
Environmentalist Loved Planet, Murdered Girlfriend

Today is Earth Day, a holiday created to honor the planet and to raise the consciousness of man�s effect on the environment. Philadelphia has a very strong tie to this day. One of its native sons, Ira Einhorn, was a co-founder of the environmentalist jubilee.

But Mr. Einhorn has another line on his resume. In addition to being a environmental guru, he is the Unicorn Killer.

While a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Einhorn dated a Bryn Mawr College graduate by the name of Holly Maddux. When the affair ended in 1977, Mr. Einhorn went into a jealous rage and murdered her.

He concealed his crime for 18 months by stuffing Ms. Maddux�s body in a trunk that he kept in his apartment. The foul odor of the decomposing corpse coming from Mr. Einhorn�s Powelton Village apartment caused neighbors to complain. In 1979, police found the trunk stored in a closet in Mr. Einhorn�s apartment.

Ira Einhorn, member of the counterculture pantheon, one of the founders of the environmentalist movement, icon of the liberal intelligentsia, was charged with murder. But it was not just a simple murder, it was a gruesome case of domestic violence.

At the bail hearing, Mr. Einhorn was praised by a contingent of luminaries � all testifying to his character. There were Ivy League professors, an Episcopalian minister and corporate executives who worked with Mr. Einhorn raising funds. They all stated under oath that he was a man of the greatest integrity.

Arlen Specter, currently Pennsylvania�s senior United States Senator, was Mr. Einhorn�s attorney. He managed to get the bail set at the unheard of amount of $40,000 for the suspected murderer. Only 10 percent was needed to free him. Barbara Bronfman, heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, paid it.

Proclaiming his innocence, Mr. Einhorn told all that he was framed. He said it was the CIA or the FBI who committed the murder and they were trying to frame him for it because of his political activities.

Some will note that another notorious Philadelphia murderer, Mumia Abu Jamal, used this defense a few years later. Like Mumia, Mr. Einhorn had no shortage of leftist followers.

Mr. Einhorn skipped bail and left Philadelphia in 1981. More than a decade passed when the DA's office tried Mr. Einhorn in absentia after being unable to locate him. He was convicted in 1993.

Several years after the absentia conviction, in 1997, Mr. Einhorn was located. He was living in France with a new girlfriend � a Swedish woman. The District Attorney�s office in Philadelphia immediately asked to have him extradited. However, the humane French refused to extradite Mr. Einhorn. French officals cited the use of capital punishment in Pennsylvania and the conviction in absentia as reasons for their refusal.
Nice guy -- what's a little spot of sociopathy when you spout the politically correct verbiage.

Oh yes, and Happy Earth Day

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From the Investors Business Daily:
The Late Great Planet Girth
Earth Day: We are now told that obesity causes global warming. Maybe that's why belief in human-caused climate change is at an all-time low. That and the fact that Antarctic ice is growing, not melting.

Over the past decade, as the earth cooled, the sun grew quiet and snow fell in Malibu, the disconnect between the computer models of Al Gore and the warm-mongers grew more apparent than ever. So much so that they started talking about "climate change" instead of "global warming."

That way, everything from drought to floods was covered, even record cold winters and snowfalls.

Even that's not working on an ever more skeptical public, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports national survey showing that just one of three voters � a new low � now believe that global warming is caused by human activity.

Nearly half (48%) believe the cause is naturally occurring planetary trends. Just a year ago, only 34% said warming was a natural phenomenon, while 47% said human activity was placing the planet at risk of disastrous climate change. That's a huge shift.

Interestingly, a growing number of Americans (58%) say we need to build more nuclear power plants, with 63% saying that finding additional sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy Americans currently consume. They recognize that a growing economy requires more energy, not less, and that nukes are a pollution-free way of getting it.
Hat tip Anthony.

Light posting today

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Heading into town for the weekly accupuncture session and working on some stuff at the farm.

Charles Osgood looks up and wonders

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Very cool - CBS's Charles Osgood is looking at the Climate and noticing the strange state of our Sun.
CBS� Charles Osgood on the Sun - and a surprising suggestion
The Osgood File. I�m Charles Osgood.

I know you�ve already got a lot to worry about as it is, but something rather odd is going on � on the Sun.

The Sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity � and last year, it was supposed to have heated up � and, at its peak, would have a tumultuous boiling atmosphere, spitting out flares and huge chunks of super-hot gas.

Instead, it hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity. Right now, the sun is the dimmest it�s been in nearly a century.

Did you know that? It�s true. Astronomers are baffled by it, but has the press covered the story? Hardly at all. Is the government doing anything about it? No, it�s not even in the Obama budget or any Congressional earmarks.

But, sooner or later, I bet it will turn out to be our fault � yours and mine. And in Washington, where everything is political, they�ll note that it began before President Obama took office � perhaps �another example of the failed policies of the Bush Administration.�

At an upcoming meeting of astronomers in the United Kingdom, they�ll be studying new pictures of the Sun taken from space, looking for any hint that the Sun will start heating up again and acting up again, the way it�s supposed to. But there is no sign of that, so far.

In the mid-17th Century, there was a quiet spell on the Sun � known as the Maunder Minimum � which lasted 70 years, and led to a mini-Ice Age here on Earth.

Right now, global warming is a given to so many, it raises the question: Could another minimum activity period on the Sun counteract, in any way, the effects of global warming?

Hush, child! You�re not even supposed to suggest that. The only thing that can change global warming is if we human beings � we Americans, especially � completely change our ways and our way of life.

I�m sure you�ll be hearing more about this solar dimming business, now that the story is out. Remember, you heard it here first�

The Osgood File. Transcripts, podcasts, and Mp3�s of all these programs can be found at theosgoodfile.com. I�m Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.
Hat tip to Anthony Watts who found this little gem of sanity...

Dave's iPod

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I am liking this -- I had tried portable music devices a couple times and never really liked them. Back when Sony made the ultra-portable cassette decks I was seldom without one but fell out of the habit (I trained the voices in my head to sing so I am never without music.) Got the iPod a few days ago and got everything loaded and synced. The user interface seriously rocks! Still have some space to fill though:
8K songs and counting...

A picture is worth a 1,000 words

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Especially one like this:
From Vanderleun who got it from the Heritage Foundation.

It does not get any clearer than this


Hat tip to Dr. Sanity and Maggie's Farm.

Read the post at Dr. Sanity for a detailed take-down of each of the factions. It is chilling to see just how far along we are...

From today's Bellingham Herald:

DEA accuses Bellingham doctor of illegally selling painkillers over the Internet
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating a Bellingham doctor who is accused of illegally prescribing a popular painkiller to hundreds of people over the Internet since November.

Peter R. Pfeiffer, who also is an anesthesiologist, allegedly prescribed 34,300 hydrocodone pills within three months to people in 12 states, the DEA announced Monday, April 20. Pfeiffer could not be reached for comment.

"The prescriptions were issued for other than legitimate medical purposes, and outside the scope of professional practice," the DEA said in a news release. "Dr. Pfeiffer allegedly failed to establish valid physician-patient relationship as required by multiple state laws and federal law."

Stupid as he was prescribing just the one drug and his scrips were written for 90 pills each. If you are going to leave a paper trail, don't make each piece of paper identical. Sheesh...

From The Washington Post:
Bailout Recipients Spent Millions on Lobbying, Records Show
Major recipients of federal bailout money spent more than $10 million to lobby lawmakers in the first three months of 2009, including arguing against pay limits for corporate executives, according to newly filed disclosure records.

The biggest spenders among major financial firms and automakers included General Motors, which spent nearly $1 million a month on lobbying so far this year, and Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., which together spent more than $2.5 million in their efforts to sway lawmakers and Obama administration officials on a wide range of financial issues.

The new statistics revive objections from public-interest groups and some lawmakers who argue it is improper for companies to be lobbying against stricter oversight and other regulations at the same time that they are benefiting from the government's massive Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP.

"Taxpayers are subsidizing a legislative agenda that is inimical to their interests and offensive to what the whole TARP program is about," said William Patterson, executive director of CtW Investment Group, an activist group affiliated with a coalition of labor unions. "It's business as usual with taxpayers picking up the bill."
A blot on our history -- makes Teapot Dome look like penny candy. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2010

Just Wow! - Bicycle parkour

If I tried this, I would be recognizable only through DNA. I would be a spot of strawberry jam on the pavement. Amazing riding...

Very minimal posting tonight

Working on the webpage for the Community Garden. Also, finally broke down and got an iPod. A couple years ago, I digitized all of the CDs that I had and here is the result:
I had remembered this as a gargantuan volume of data. It was back then, 49.4GB. The iPod? The 120GB Classic -- all of my CDs will fit on it and still have 59% remaining space... I love technology -- more faster please!

Aww Crap - Stephen Hawking ill

From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Stephen Hawking hospitalized, reported very ill
Stephen Hawking, the British mathematician and physicist famed for his work on black holes, was rushed to a hospital Monday and was seriously ill, Cambridge University said. Hawking has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks and was being treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, the university city northeast of London, the university said.

"Professor Hawking is very ill," said Gregory Hayman, the university's head of communications. "He is undergoing tests. He has been unwell for a couple of weeks."

Later in the afternoon, Hayman said Hawking was "now comfortable but will be kept in hospital overnight."

The illness had caused Hawking to cancel an appearance at Arizona State University on April 6.

Hawking, 67, gained renown for his work on black holes, and has remained active despite being diagnosed at 21 with ALS, (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), an incurable degenerative disorder also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
And while we know him as a scientist, we should not forget his wonderful music career.

Two industry titans merge -- SUN builds major hardware, Oracle is the SQL database to use when the others aren't robust enough. From Bloomberg:

Oracle to Buy Sun for $7.4 Billion as IBM Talks End
Oracle Corp. agreed to buy Sun Microsystems Inc. for about $7.4 billion in cash, swooping in after the server maker's talks to be acquired by International Business Machines Corp. failed.

Oracle will pay $9.50 a share, 42 percent more than Sun's closing price on April 17. Oracle plans to make Sun a profitable part of its business and said the purchase will add $1.5 billion to operating earnings, excluding some items, in the first year.

The takeover moves Oracle, the world's second-largest software maker, into the market for server and storage computers, pitting the company against IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison also gains Sun's Java programming language and Solaris operating system, which work with its top-selling database program.

"They're really going to zero in on just the most strategic part of Sun's hardware business," said Heather Bellini, an analyst at UBS AG in New York, with a 'buy' rating for Oracle's shares. "They'll end up making the company much better run."

Very cool -- I will assume that they are going to keep developing Open Office. There is the old joke: "What is the difference between Larry Ellison and God?" "God doesn't think he is Larry Ellison" (rim-shot)

That is it for the night

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Normally, I like to post five or more entries/day but the intarwebs have been very quiet today, I am tired and headed out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and heading off to an early night... More free ice cream tomorrow as it happens...

Closeup Magic - two artists

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I love close-up magic -- theatrical stuff is fun but you are talking more about mechanicals rather than skill. The efforts of some designer making a machine that creates the illusion rather than the dexterity and skill of someone who operates with a few simple props and their hands. Theatrical stuff is also only viewed from one angle. Floating people, the saw-in-half person, box jumpers, the knife box -- all the major tricks would be revealed if you could shift your point of view 90 degrees to one side. Ricky Jay is one of my favorite performers -- he stared in The Prestige (2006) as well as a bunch of episodes of Deadwood and the X-Files. Here is one three-minute clip of him manipulating a deck of cards. No soundtrack, no patter, just him, a deck of cards and a table.
A different style of performer is Sam Malone. He likes to give the audience the illusion that they are controlling the cards from time to time. If you know the trick, you will know that this is just... an Illusion...
Malone's take on Scarne's Aces is a good one:
Spent about five hours working on the Community Garden. Got two forty by five foot beds cleared of sod, tilled and laid out with logs. Filled with a layer of composted Llama poo and then about eight inches of topsoil that a company had donated. These are already subscribed! Two more to go next Sunday. Pictures will be up at the Community Garden website in a day or two.

Heh... From an email

It is true -- I was out buying .22 ammo for a rifle I am buying (store going out of business and having a sale). The one store didn't have any, the other was about 10 cents/round. My other rifle is chambered in .35 Remington and that is about $2.75/bang so I'm planning to shoot a lot of .22 Cheaperthandirt was high too. Cabella's has Hornady for about a nickel a pop.

That's it for the night

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Got a big work party for the Comunity Garden scheduled tomorrow at 11:00AM but I need to do a couple hours work to prep for it. Off to the DaveCave(tm) and then to bed...
Heh -- swiped from Mere Rhetoric

A bit of a walkabout

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Should be quite the adventure -- from Breitbart/AFP:
Trio depart Beijing on epic horse ride to London
A middle-aged British woman and two Chinese companions on Saturday set off on an epic horse ride that will see them cross China, Central Asia and Europe -- and arrive in London for the 2012 Olympics.

Megan Lewis, a 60-year-old British pony breeder and head of the expedition, said the three-year trek from Beijing to London was a lifelong dream.

But the former geography teacher, who is raising money for charity, admitted the more than 5,000-mile (8,200-kilometre) journey was as much a test of the horses as the riders.

"You know you're going to get lameness and all sorts of things with the horses, that's just part of what goes with it," she said.

"But we've got a couple of nice little horses and we've got support from everyone."

The first section of the trip will take the three-man team to Inner Mongolia, along the north of China, to end up at the Jiayu Pass in Gansu province in August -- the end of the Great Wall.

From there, they will ride across China's westernmost region of Xinjiang, Central Asia and Europe, to eventually end up in London in time for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 2012.
Just WOW! To commit to something like that when you are in your 60's is wonderful. Again, think of the stories they will have when they reach London.

Taking safety issues a little bit too far

From the London Daily Mail comes this story of nanny-ism at its finest:

Now BBC health and safety mandarins won't let three of the world's toughest men light a stove in case they have accident
They are among the toughest and most resilient of men, having survived in some of the most unforgiving places on the planet.

But that does not mean that BBC health and safety mandarins trusted them to be left alone to light a Primus stove - in case they had an accident.

Sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston revealed the 'absurd' rules he, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and war reporter John Simpson were subjected to on BBC2 adventure series Top Dogs. The three men went on gruelling trips to Afghanistan, around Cape Horn by boat and across the Canadian Arctic.

But the trio, each well-known for their survival skills in tough conditions, were all understood to have been taken aback by the health and safety rules.

This included a ban on lighting a Primus stove without supervision, and being given a 'huge' document warning them about hazards - such as tripping over.

Good lord -- these people have been on epic explorations, been there and done it all and the microcephalic twits at BBC feel it in their authority to hector them on the most basic of safety measures. One of these ponces, dropped out in a cow pasture would be sobbing for his mommy in an hour. What gives them the right to dictate how these real men should act.

Mind how you go now: Survival experts Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, John Simpson
and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, shown here in the Arctic, were given a 'huge' document
by the BBC warning them about hazards.

How not to run a company - JoWow

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I recently purchased a small Canon P&S to replace one that had fallen onto pavement. I thought it would be good to get some extra memory chips and I went specifically looking for 8GB SDHC card from a reliable manufacturer like SanDisk. I searched and this company called JoWow had the best price. OK I figured they had to have some kind of vetting process to be linked directly at Amazon's website. I placed the order for four of them. This was four weeks ago. No cards. I'm thinking that I should probably start emailing to see what happened with my order (I have other 4GB SDHC cards so this was not a gotta-get-it-by-tomorrow deal). What should show up in my inbox yesterday but an email 638K in size addressed to me and to 1,624 other customers. That's right, JoWow gave me over 1,600 known good email addresses and these people were customers of JoWow -- think of the phishing trip I could be going on if I wasn't so ethical. (harrumph...) Here it is:
Click to embiggen...
Unreal... To be pleading so hard to get a 4 or 5-star rating and to turn around and pull such a stupid security breach as this... And to not ship the product is just the icing on the cake.

Obama's Czars

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Outnumber the Romanov's Czars - from Ilya Somin writing at Volokh:
Obama Administration Now has More Czars than the Romanov Dynasty:
Over some 300 years, Russia was ruled by a total of 18 czars of the Romanov dynasty. However, as David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy points out, the Obama administration has now appointed more czars than that in just three months:
It has finally happened. With yesterday's naming of Border Czar Alan Bersin, the Obama administration has by any reasonable reckoning passed the Romanov Dynasty in the production of czars. The Romanovs ruled Russia from 1613 with the ascension of Michael I through the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in 1917. During that time, they produced 18 czars. While it is harder to exactly count the number of Obama administration czars, with yesterday's appointment it seems fair to say it is now certainly in excess of 18.

In addition to Bersin, we have energy czar Carol Browner, urban czar Adolfo Carrion, Jr., infotech czar Vivek Kundra, faith-based czar Joshua DuBois, health reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, new TARP czar Herb Allison, stimulus accountability czar Earl Devaney, non-proliferation czar Gary Samore, terrorism czar John Brennan, regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, and Guantanamo closure czar Daniel Fried. We also have a host of special envoys that fall into the czar category including AfPak special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell, special advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia Dennis Ross, Sudan special envoy J. Scott Gration and climate special envoy Todd Stern. That's 18.

This is a very conservative estimate, however. I will allow you to pick whom you would like out of the remaining candidates. For example you could count de facto car czar Steve Rattner even though the administration went out of its way to say they weren't going to have a car czar... before he ultimately emerged as the car czar . . .

Happy Birthday Hahnemuhle

From The Online Photographer comes this great story:

Happy Birthday Hahnemuhle
You digiheads want tradition? I got yer tradition right here.

The maker of my favorite inkjet printing paper, Hahnemuhle, in Germany (it's in Dassel, which is in North Germany, near Hanover), has been making paper continuously since William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. The company (which has only been called Hahnemuhle since 1886, which was two years before George Eastman marketed "The Kodak" and coined the famous slogan, "You press the button, we do the rest") is celebrating its 425th birthday this year. Not many companies, let along photographic companies, let alone digital photography product manufacturers, can lay claim to such a longstanding heritage.

Happy Birthday, Hahnemuhle. Here's to the next four hundred and twenty-five years.

And it is glorious stuff. I use Epson papers in my day to day work because of cost but Hahnemuhle is the good stuff if I want to make that special print. Lots of surface treatments available too -- canvas and linen tetures for "painterly" prints.

Like the good little environmentalists they are, the global warming folks are taking their favorite news stories and recycling them. Here are two items, one from March 25, 2008 and one from April 5, 2009:
Click to embiggen...
From Anthony at Watts Up with That:
The Antarctic Wilkins Ice Shelf Collapse: Media recycles photos and storylines from previous years
Those masters of disaster are at it again, and it appears our friendly scientists at that National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) help this story along each year.

It seems that not only is the photography recycled, so is the storyline. It seems to happen every year, about this time. Note the photos show shear failure and cracks, not melted ice. Shear failure is mostly mechanical-stress related, though ice does tend to be more brittle at colder temperatures.
And this little gem:
But wait, there�s more examples of that �not very often� Wilkins ice shelf breakup, again from the appinsys web site:
As the following historical satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf show, the disintegration / re-growth is an annual event (winter ice re-growth season; summer melt season).
Anthropogenic Global Warming is not real. Our climate is driven by the sun which is a variable star and we are entering a cool phase. It is a political power grab folks, it is not science.

One aspect of living in the country sucks. Broadband -- the lack of it -- to be specific.

It seems that Washington, DC is taking a page out of the 1930's Rural Utilities Services playbook and is putting some serious Benjamins toward getting rural broadband. We are talking $7.2 Billion worth. A wonderful turn of events brought the Mountain Area Information Network to my attention as they are operating the same sort of system that I would put in if we had the backing and, they are making all of the work they went through available for anyone to use for building their own network. MAIN's Local Network Cookbook is an excellent resource, outlining hardware options as well as what to expect to pay for the various components:

Local Network Cookbook:
A Recipe for Launching a Local Broadband Wireless Network

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $7.2 billion in stimulus funding for broadband deployment in unserved and underserved communities. This funding will be distributed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) over the next 12 months. NTIA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce; RUS is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A summary of federal broadband stimulus funding can be found at: Baller Herbst Stimulus 2-19-09 (PDF)

Most of this federal broadband stimulus funding is earmarked for nonprofit organizations and government entities. Commercial providers must receive special permission from the director of NTIA. It is not yet clear whether RUS will adopt this funding approach. Grant application windows are expected in June, November, and May, 2010. These are approximate dates until an official request for proposal (RFP) is issued.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local nonprofit organizations -- especially community media centers -- to become Internet service providers and begin developing new revenue streams. It's also an historic opportunity for advocates of Internet Freedom. The proliferation of community-based, broadband networks would be a huge step toward creating the critical "third pipe" alternative to the cable/telco duopoly, thereby generating market pressure to force the major carriers to restore "net neutrality" protections for broadband users.

The broadband stimulus opportunity opens the door to a vision for a new Jeffersonian Internet comprised of a network-of-grassroots-networks where civil liberties and quality journalism are valued over Wall Street business models.

An excellent guide and resource. Our local Chamber of Commerce has been working with a spin-off group called the Community Development Authority and one of the key tasks of the CDA is to see how feasible broadband is for the East County. I just emailed the members a couple links to this and it will be interesting to see the reply emails tomorrow...

The other thing that MAIN is doing is that they use some of the profits from their broadband services and web hosting to fund a Low Power FM radio station serving the community. This is something that has been of interest to me as well -- I worked as a DJ while living in Boston and loved it. Not something you can do and hold down a real job though so I switched first to running a large multi-line BBS for ten years and now, I blog... The application window for LPFM stations is closed these days but if the FCC opens up again, I'll be there...

Awww Cute - animal pictures

Boston.com's Big Picture hits another one out of the park.

Check out Scenes from the zoo

Some other pirates get jail time

Four of the founders of the file-sharing network PirateBay were sentenced to stiff fines and one year each of jail time. From TorrentFreak:
The Pirate Bay Trial: The Official Verdict - Guilty
While only a few weeks ago, it seems like an eternity since the trial of The Pirate Bay Four ended and the court retired to consider its verdict. The prosecution claimed that the four defendants were �assisting in making copyright content available� and demanded millions of dollars in damages. The defense did not agree, and all pleaded not guilty - backed up by the inimitable King Kong defense.

Today, Friday April 17, the court issued its decision:
�The court has found that by using Pirate Bay�s services there has been file-sharing of music, films and computer games to the extent the prosecutor has stated in his case,� said the district court. �This file-sharing constitutes an unlawful transfer to the public of copyrighted performances.�
Crap -- this is strictly manipulation of the court system by large Media companies. Torrents are used for a lot of legitimate file sharing, the few examples of pirated work throw the whole system into a bad light. Any software you download has a 99% chance of being infected with malware anyway so why bother... And yes, the "King Kong" defense has legal standing:
The defense has argued that they are not �assisting�, and dragged a giant primate into court to prove it. On the third day of the trial Carl Lundstr�m�s lawyer, Per E Samuelsson pointed out that the prosecution failed to prove that Lundstr�m had been involved in any transfers of any copyrighted material. This became known as the now famous King Kong defense.

�The admins of The Pirate Bay don�t initiate transfers. It�s the users that do and they are physically identifiable people. They call themselves names like King Kong,� Samuelsson told the court.

�According to legal procedure, the accusations must be against an individual and there must be a close tie between the perpetrators of a crime and those who are assisting. This tie has not been shown. The prosecutor must show that Carl Lundstr�m has personally interacted with the user King Kong, who may very well be found in the jungles of Cambodia,� the lawyer added.
Appeals time... And be sure to scan the over 1,000 comments -- this has hit a big nerve.
The US has not released the accounts of what actually went down on Easter Sunday but this sounds plausible and the author has their jargon down perfectly. From Theo:
What Really Happened to the Pirates
This is the first-hand account from a good friend's son on board the USS Boxer.

Subject: How did YOU spend Easter!?

I spent mine watching some pirates get spattered off the coast of Somalia!

I've been taking notes on facts and (well noted) speculation and rumors. What I know is on the eleventh of April, 2009 at 1600 two C17 cargo planes flew over Boxer and out of the back four parachutes emerged.

Then came the boats! Four very fast 1300 hp SWCC boats with radar and guns! After those were safely extracted the personnel and SEALs jumped. About 95 people in all arrived in the water near Boxer, Swam to the ship and entered the well-deck.

I spoke with some of the SEALs in the hangar bay where the are staging their gear for the time being. He was rearranging his gear and talking to a younger looking Ops guy with shoulder-length hair and a feeble semblance of a beard. I struck up a conversation with them and they're really friendly the older SEAL finished with his bag and reached for a rifle case casually unzipped it and pulled out a Mark 416 a highly specialized carbine and as he explained "it's basically an M -4, but made by H&K so it's better!"

"visible and non-visible lasers, colapsable stock. It's nice."

"And is that an advanced armament suppressor?" I asked.

"yeah that just makes it sound better, and the ladies love it!"

I asked him if it's the coolest job in the navy.

"well I haven't ever flown an F-18 off a carrier, but yeah, pretty much!"

"you guys don't wear any insignia."

"We don't wear it, but we're still in the Navy."

"I know that but what's with that?"

"Well I'm a Chief, and he is a second-class"

"oh, ok"

"So, Chief, did you come in as a SEAL?"

"yep, you don't have to be formal, that's why we don't wear it. It gets in the way and besides, we know who's in charge."

"well I have to get back to watch."

"OK, any time you see us over hear and just want to chat and shoot the shit, feel free!"

"Cool, thanks"

"any time"

I also found out from the CPO that the guys flew in from VB on C17's and that took 18 hours!

They parachuted into the ocean! That's' cool as hell!
The rest is quite the story. Go NAVY!

How much is a hit and run worth

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Five bucks to this poor sod. From Seattle station KOMO:
Hit-and-run driver gives boy $5 in hush money
MYRTLE CREEK, Ore. -- A driver who hit a teen boy with her car, knocking him up onto the hood and into the windshield, gave him $5 and asked him not to tell on her before fleeing the scene, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

The victim told a deputy he was walking down a city street around 6 p.m. when a white Honda sedan with California plates hit him from behind, throwing him onto the car's hood and into the windshield before knocking him to the ground.

The victim said the female driver got out of the car and handed him a $5 bill, then asked him not to tell on her. The woman got back into her car and drove away.

The victim said he felt fine until about an hour after the incident when he began having severe pain in his back, tail bone and left knee.
Ouch! Tailbone is painful -- broke mine slipping on some ice about 20 years ago and it took forever to heal. Knees are tricky too...

Great advice for job interviews

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With all the jobs being lost, getting hired again is an important skill. Ran into this website -- a lot of good information and video to back it up. Check out How To Nail an Interview
What is it that certain people say or do during a job interview that makes them stand out? Why do some people struggle to find work, while others land a job in no time? I wanted to know, and the only way to find out was to experience the interview from the other side of the table. If I could be the one asking the interview questions, not answering, I could see first hand what made candidates stand out. I could then take that knowledge and cater my behavior in any future interview to give myself the best chance of getting hired.

First, I needed to create a "corporate presence." I found a company that rented office space by the hour. It was in a downtown Seattle high-rise, had a killer view, and came with a secretary, who'd call me once an interviewee arrived. It was perfect.

Next, I posted a job on craigslist for a marketing coordinator at a "soon to launch" web company. Literally minutes after the posting, resumes poured in, 142 on the first day, 356 in the first week.

Finally, giving the interview wasn't enough. I wanted to be able to go back, review the footage, and dissect answers, body language, everything, to really see what makes someone look good or bad. So before scheduling any interviews, I got online, bought a couple of small cameras, picked up a couple lamps and lamp shades, and with a drill, some super glue, a little bit of cardboard, and electric tape, I constructed 2 hidden camera lamps.

Of course to make sure everything was legally kosher, everyone was required to sign and fax back an appearance release waiver before an interview was scheduled. The reason, "some company meetings will be filmed and we needed proof you'd be comfortable appearing on a video blog if hired."

After 6 interviews I decided to step down and have a friend take my place. I wanted to review the rest of the interviews from a completely objective perspective.

28 interviews later, and what did I learn? 22 tips.
It is not rocket science but it does take some effort on your part. You DO want that job don't you???
Great couple of comments from writer Jerry Pournelle:
Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apparently the Tea Parties were a success: at least they seem to have upset Pelosi and Company. The media doesn't quite know what to make of all that. On the other hand it's easy for us to make too much of it; we still don't have an identifiable leader, and it's not clear that the Country Club Republicans have learned (or forgotten) anything. The next step is the California ballot propositions. Nothing can stop the wave of higher taxes, but defeating the propositions despite their adulation from both parties and all the media would establish that progress is possible. By progress I mean, of course, reducing the size and cost of government.

The way things are headed now, the best career is a government job. Use the time you have to put in to learn how to do something you want to do, then use your retirement time to do it. It's not spectacular, and having the best and the brightest become government time servers won't do much for the economy, but you won't have to work very hard and you can retire without having to scrabble for your next meal. At my age that seems far more attractive than it did thirty years ago. Given the economy and the war on business and success ushered in the last election -- and the steps now being taken to make the new trend toward Europeanization of America permanent and irreversible -- young people ought to think hard about where they will be in thirty or forty years. Live long and prosper. But do not take the government as an example. Save, be thrifty, and do all your paperwork. Your real life will begin when you retire.

From the liberal view, the Old America is gone, finished off in the last election, and the trend toward government control of everything is now on track and inevitable, and the rules can be changed so that nothing can be done about that. We have seen their justification in articles about how the US is far behind Europe in civilization, as well as here.

The latest memo from the Department of Homeland Security is an example; and the Tea Parties will not curb enthusiasm for these new measures.
Sad to say, he is spot on regarding going to work for the government and following your bliss on retirement. When I was growing up, one in 19 people worked for some form of government. Now it is one in six.
From Forbes/Associated Press:
Talk of delaying WTC towers for decades
Officials say the owners of the World Trade Center site in New York have proposed indefinitely putting off building two of three planned skyscrapers, citing real estate market conditions.

An analysis was prepared for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on developer Larry Silverstein's plan for his three towers. It predicts the final tower may not be built until 2030 - nearly three decades after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Officials familiar with ongoing talks say the agency has agreed to back financing for one of the three planned towers. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential.

The Port Authority says real estate market conditions should determine if and when the other skyscrapers are built.
Screw the Port Authority -- the United States has an obligation to rebuild those two towers as a memorial to the thousands of Americans who were murdered on that day. This is not about real estate, this is about sending a message. If we dither on building, they will have won and will only hit us again and harder.

Bill Whittle on the Tea Parties

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Go and read:
On Wednesday, April 15th, thousands of Americans who have never before protested anything in their lives are going to be taking some hours from their busy workdays to go out into streets and show the Statists that they are not simply going to roll over and hand over the fruits of their labor to fund this growing aneurysm known as the Federal Government.

They will be on solid philosophical ground.

Anyone with any fundamental understanding of the United States Constitution, and the process by which it was negotiated, shouted over and eventually ratified, would tell you of the horror and shock that would confront every single one of them if they were to see what we have become: a gigantic, ever-growing welfare state that breeds resentment and dependency, perpetuated by a ruling oligarchy of 535 congressmen, 9 Justices, a president, vice-president and cabinet that contain people with three, or four, or five decades away from the people they represent and who function as an imperial aristocracy � because they are.

If you are feeling dismay and astonishment at what has happened to our Country, can you not find some way to take an hour or two from your busy schedule and attend one of these tea party events? Yes, I know it�s a lot of trouble. I know it�s hard to get out of work, tough to drive to the location, hassle with parking, and all of that. You probably don�t have a sign prepared and you don�t need one. You can make a hundred solid excuses why it�s damn near impossible for you to go, and I am sympathetic to all of it�
Go and read the rest -- Bill is a wonderful writer.

Alt.Energy - tilting at windmills

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I don't consider windmills to be a viable option for electricity. There is a lot of power there but it is variable and is no substitute for fixed power plants when it comes to baseload generation. Plus, they are expensive when you amortize the cost versus the power generated over the lifetime of the machinery. Coyote over at Coyote Blog found what happens when you generate 19% of your electricity from windmills:
The Problem With Wind
I have an innate confidence in technology. For example, while I understand solar to be uneconomic for powering my house today, I fully expect that to change. I look forward to the day, not that far in the future, when I can take my Arizona house off the grid, at least during the day.

In contrast, though, it may be that wind power can�t be fixed, in large part due to its inherent unpredictability. Sure, solar has a problem as well, in that it doesn�t work at night. But at least the times when solar is off here in Arizona (ie when it is dark) are predictable and coincide with lower load periods. Wind is utterly unpredictable and variable, and its peaks and troughs are unrelated to peaks and troughs in electricity demand.

So, if the grid is to reliably supply sufficient power to meet demand, wind must have a backup. And there is the rub. Because just about every technology that might currently be used as a backup takes a really, really long time to start up. Small gas turbines can be producing electricity from a cold stop pretty quickly, but a large coal-fired power plant can take days to go from a cold stop to producing electricity. This is in part because there are a series of steps where A has to precede B which must come before C to start plants up, and partially just because immediately heating the whole system up would cause the plant to blow up just from the thermal stresses.
Coyote sets the stage for a bit and then moves on to a specific example -- Denmark:
A recent article in the National Post argues the Danes are seeing absolutely no substitution from their substantial investment in wind.
There is no evidence that industrial wind power is likely to have a significant impact on carbon emissions. The European experience is instructive. Denmark, the world�s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power�s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).

Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmark�s largest energy utilities) tells us that �wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.� The German experience is no different. Der Spiegel reports that �Germany�s CO2 emissions haven�t been reduced by even a single gram,� and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to ensure reliable delivery.

Indeed, recent academic research shows that wind power may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions in some cases, depending on the carbon-intensity of back-up generation required because of its intermittent character.
It probably comes as no surprise that the Danes have the highest electricity costs in Europe. The article goes on to call wind power in the US a �huge corporate welfare feeding frenzy.�
Once again, If I were King: #1) - massive rollout of Nuclear Power #2) - dump a couple hundred million on these people: EMC2 #3) - massive coal to fuel conversion This would eliminate our dependence of foreign oil, provide our electrical needs for well over 500 years, provide industrial feedstocks for plastics and other manufacturing (waste from the coal conversion) and if #2) pans out, we can roll-back #1) The environmentalists are not about being green, they are about control.

Wonderful news - just what we need...

From Environmental Health Sciences:

Sewage Plants May Be Creating "Super" Bacteria
A wastewater treatment plant's job description is pretty straightforward: Remove contaminants from sewage so it can be returned to the environment without harming people or wildlife.

But a new study suggests that the treatment process can have an unintended consequence of promoting the spread of extra-hardy bacteria.

Some bugs are resistant to antibiotics, so they dodge the medical bullets that wipe out others. The more drugs that are used, the more robust they become. Since bacteria reproduce quickly -- one organism might turn into a billion overnight -- and they share DNA with others, antibiotic-resistant genes spread like Darwinian wildfire when conditions are right.

And at sewage treatment plants, it seems, the conditions are right, said microbiologist Chuanwu Xi, whose University of Michigan lab conducted the study.

"Wastewater treatment plants are most effective at treating sewage when they have conditions that allow beneficial bacteria to thrive and improve the quality of the water," said Karen Kidd, a University of New Brunswick ecotoxicologist familiar with the study.

"However, this study indicates that these conditions can also favor the mutation of some and act as a source of antibiotic resistant bacteria to the environment."

"To me," she added, "that's sobering."

And it's not like you can toss a jug of Clorox in every few hours.

Good business opportunity for some company to make a retrofit.

Check out SciGen:
SCIgen - An Automatic CS Paper Generator
SCIgen is a program that generates random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations. It uses a hand-written context-free grammar to form all elements of the papers. Our aim here is to maximize amusement, rather than coherence.

One useful purpose for such a program is to auto-generate submissions to conferences that you suspect might have very low submission standards. A prime example, which you may recognize from spam in your inbox, is SCI/IIIS and its dozens of co-located conferences (check out the very broad conference description on the WMSCI 2005 website). There's also a list of known bogus conferences. Using SCIgen to generate submissions for conferences like this gives us pleasure to no end. In fact, one of our papers was accepted to SCI 2005! See Examples for more details.
Here is my scholarly work -- it took seconds of agonising editing and research:
Decoupling Model Checking from Moore's Law in Vacuum Tubes
DaveH, Finnegan Dog and Luna Cat

Recent advances in embedded modalities and ambimorphic theory offer a viable alternative to the memory bus. Contrarily, an intuitive quandary in e-voting technology is the simulation of replication. The usual methods for the refinement of spreadsheets do not apply in this area. The improvement of cache coherence would minimally amplify relational information.

We motivate a system for concurrent epistemologies, which we call GAMBIT. nevertheless, the improvement of consistent hashing might not be the panacea that futurists expected. Existing flexible and knowledge-based heuristics use the intuitive unification of public-private key pairs and hierarchical databases to deploy interrupts. Unfortunately, this approach is continuously significant. Combined with authenticated communication, such a claim improves an approach for agents.

Another structured quandary in this area is the study of ubiquitous epistemologies. Nevertheless, empathic communication might not be the panacea that biologists expected. GAMBIT is Turing complete. We view hardware and architecture as following a cycle of four phases: improvement, provision, simulation, and provision. Combined with "fuzzy" communication, such a claim emulates an analysis of object-oriented languages.

Our main contributions are as follows. Primarily, we disconfirm that while the well-known semantic algorithm for the development of the partition table by Raj Reddy runs in O(2n) time, evolutionary programming and RPCs can interact to realize this mission. Second, we disconfirm that though link-level acknowledgements can be made random, modular, and peer-to-peer, e-commerce and congestion control are always incompatible.
And I am sticking to what I said!
So did Dutch artist Helmut Smits:
Heh... Hat tip to Neatorama

Quote of the day - Susan Boyle

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If it all gets too much and they lock me up, I want a great big strait-jacket with spots on it. A pink one... and a big zip on the back so I can escape.
--Susan Boyle
From CNN:
Unlikely singing sensation eyes date with queen
Television and YouTube singing sensation Susan Boyle has promised to be on her best behavior if she wins the right to sing for the queen.

The 47-year-old Boyle, who says she has never been kissed, was catapulted into the spotlight after her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables," on the television show "Britain's Got Talent" at the weekend.

The winner of the show gets to sing for the queen at the Royal Variety Show.

Boyle has a long way to go though -- having just won through to the second round after judge Simon Cowell described her first performance as "extraordinary."

Still, she was already thinking of how she would behave.

"Whatever comes my way, I am ready. It would be lovely to sing for the queen. There would be less of the carry on from me, and more of the singing.

"She is a very regal lady, very nice, so I would be nice too, and just get up there and give it a bit of wellie (try)," Boyle told the show's Web site.

Boyle said she was trying to take her new found fame in her stride.

"It's a challenge. Life is a challenge sometimes but this is different. And I like to test myself.

"If it all gets too much and they lock me up, I want a great big strait-jacket with spots on it. A pink one... and a big zip on the back so I can escape."
If you have not seen the clip of her singing, you need to spend the next seven minutes watching this...
Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then off to bed. The people from our Water Co-op are installing a water hydrant for the community garden tomorrow morning at 9:00AM and I want to be there to help and take some photos. I will be bringing out tractor down then too -- need to rip up the sod where the raised beds are going to so -- the soil there is mostly old river bottom so we will be doing a work party this Sunday. People need to pull out the egregiously big boulders and work some amendments into the sand before we put the topsoil and compost into the raised bed. Lots of work but lots of fun and the buzz from people in the community is wonderful.

Today's Tea Party

Finishing off processing a bunch of the images from today's Tea Party. I have a Nikon D90 and prefer to shoot in the raw file format as that gives me the most options for editing -- raw is basically a dump of what the sensor sees without any correction for ambient lighting or exposure. That way, I can work with it at my leisure instead of allowing the camera to decide what comprises a good photo. The downside is that I have to "process" each exposure in a digital darkroom and this takes time. Here are just a few shots from today -- the satellite connection has been running very very s..l..o....w...... for the last couple of days so I will upload more of them from the office.








More tomorrow. There were a couple people from the Ron Paul collective. Some people gave one-finger waves as they drove by but the number of car horns and waves was amazing for such a liberal town. Almost all commercial vehicles honked -- the big trucks were a joy to hear. I stayed for about 45 minutes to see if there was any cleaning up needed. Some people were picking up old soda cans and cigarette packs but there was no litter from the Tea Party that I could see.

Into one pocket and out of the other

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People liked what they heard when Obama promised to reduce the Federal Income taxes for over 50% of American tax payers. Sounds good but where will the money be coming from? How about the stuff you buy? An interesting look at common commodities and how much of their purchase price is taxes of one form or another. From the Center for Fiscal Accountability:
Tax Bites
Americans for Tax Reform Foundation has estimated average prices and taxes imposed on 13 popular targets for multiple layers of hidden taxes.

�Sin� taxes, telecommunications taxes, and taxes on tourists are included in the analysis. While most of these goods and services are subject to specific excise taxes and other charges, the tax �bite� also includes the cost of sales taxes, corporate income taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workmen�s compensation taxes, and other payments businesses must make to federal, state and local governments.
They have a nice graphic available for download as a PDF) The top five?
  • Cigarettes - 86.71% of the purchase price is a tax
  • Distilled Spirits - 79.60% of the purchase price is a tax
  • Car Rentals - 60.60% of the purchase price is a tax
  • Beer - 56.20% of the purchase price is a tax
  • Domestic Airfare - 55.00% of the purchase price is a tax
I knew alcohol and tobacco were taxed but I didn't have a clue that it was that large a percentage. Domestic Airfare? Yeah, the airports don't exactly pay for themselves (in spite of the food prices) but still...

Bellingham, WA Tea party

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Just got back -- huge crowd -- 1,500 to 2,000 easy. People were lined up along both sides of a major right of way (the Guide Meridian) for about five blocks standing several people deep. Some great signs -- I took a lot of photos and will put them up later tonight.

Why electricians charge what they do

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Check out this sequence of photos -- the snake was chasing a mouse in through the open knockout at the bottom of the box. It caught the mouse (see the last photo) but neither of them survived the shocking experience:



Dr. Theodore Gray knows his elements. This time, it's Oxygen and Bacon. From Popular Science:
Bacon: the Other White Heat
You know bacon is delicious, but did you know it contains enough energy to melt metal?

I recently committed myself to the goal, before the weekend was out, of creating a device entirely from bacon and using it to cut a steel pan in half. My initial attempts were failures, but I knew success was within reach when I was able to ignite and melt the pan using seven beef sticks and a cucumber.

No, seriously. The device I built was a form of thermal lance. A thermal lance, typically made of iron instead of bacon, is used to cut up scrap metal and rescue people from collapsed buildings. It works by blowing pure oxygen gas through a pipe packed with iron and magnesium rods. These metals are surprisingly flammable in pure oxygen, releasing a huge amount of heat as they are consumed. The result is a jet of superheated iron plasma coming out of the end of the pipe. For sheer destructive force, few tools match a thermal lance. But iron isn't the only thing that's flammable in a stream of pure oxygen.

Bacon is fattening because it contains a lot of chemical energy tied up in its proteins, and especially in its fat. You can release that energy either by digesting it or by burning it with a healthy supply of oxygen. The challenge isn't creating the heat; it's engineering a bacon structure strong enough to withstand the stress of a 5,000�F bacon plasma flame.
Here is the finished torch doing its work:
Mmmmm Bacon!

Hat tip to Theo

Don't know who the cartoonist is or where it originally appeared...

The new website is up

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I had been working on a website for the community garden that is just starting in this town. The site is just a stub for now but check in every week or so -- I'll be adding a lot as this is a time of high activity. Check out Maple Falls Community Garden

God Love Texas!

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Governor Rick Perry on House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 50 in support of states rights under the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution.
From the article linked above:
Gov. Perry Backs Resolution Affirming Texas� Sovereignty Under 10th Amendment
Gov. Rick Perry today joined state Rep. Brandon Creighton and sponsors of House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 50 in support of states� rights under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

�I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,� Gov. Perry said. �That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states� rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.�

A number of recent federal proposals are not within the scope of the federal government�s constitutionally designated powers and impede the states� right to govern themselves. HCR 50 affirms that Texas claims sovereignty under the 10th Amendment over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government.

It also designates that all compulsory federal legislation that requires states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties, or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding, be prohibited or repealed.

HCR 50 is authored by Representatives Brandon Creighton, Leo Berman, Bryan Hughes, Dan Gattis and Ryan Guillen.
Full text of the resolution. Short and to the point. Text of the tenth and some interpretation.

Solar power as it should be done

Looks like the old solar power satellite idea may be coming back with a vengeance. From MS/NBC:
PG&E makes deal for space solar power
Utility to buy orbit-generated electricity from Solaren in 2016, at no risk

California's biggest energy utility announced a deal Monday to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a startup company that plans to beam the power down to Earth from outer space, beginning in 2016.

San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric said it was seeking approval from state regulators for an agreement to purchase power over a 15-year period from Solaren Corp., an 8-year-old company based in Manhattan Beach, Calif. The agreement was first reported in a posting to Next100, a Weblog produced by PG&E.

Solaren would generate the power using solar panels in Earth orbit and convert it to radio-frequency transmissions that would be beamed down to a receiving station in Fresno, PG&E said. From there, the energy would be converted into electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid.
This idea has been kicked around since the late 1960's and we are now getting to the point where it can be a commercially viable process. The technology has caught up with the idea. The complexity of the system will be very high -- it has to be a geosynchronous orbit so having it be a manned station is not an option for a number of reasons. The structure will be huge with both the solar array and the transmitting antenna. Still, once the first one goes up, each of the successive units will be that much cheaper and easier... More. Faster. Please.

Google and YouTube

Not a winning combination it turns out. From David Silversmith at Internet Evolution:
Google Losing up to $1.65M a Day on YouTube
Google is spending more than $2 million a day on YouTube -- and it is nowhere near seeing a return on that investment. Indeed, it may be losing up to $1.65 million daily on the video site.

According to financial firm Credit Suisse and Internet measurement provider comScore Inc., YouTube Inc. is on track to serve 75 billion video streams to 375 million unique visitors in 2009.

That's the good news. The bad? To support those visitors, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) will spend more than $2 million dollars daily -- to be exact, up to $2,064,054 a day, or $753 million annualized, according to Internet Evolution calculations of YouTube's costs derived from a range of sources, including Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. , comScore, Credit Suisse, and Google itself.

Now, Google does not disclose sales figures by division, so there is no definitive revenue number for YouTube. The range of estimates from financial analysts stretches from a low of $90 million (Bear Stearns) to a high of $240 million (Credit Suisse).

All the numbers are well below the estimated maximum of $753 million Google is spending annually, based on our calculations. So, depending on whose version of revenues you accept, Google is losing anywhere from $513 million to $663 million annually on YouTube, or anywhere from $1.4 million to as much as $1.65 million every day.
Hat tip to Slashdot -- lots of good commentary there.

Heh - a Somali Tee Shirt

Swiped from Mostly Cajun:
R.I.P. J.G. Boswell From the Sacramento Bee:
The King of California
He was the biggest farmer in America and the last of California's great land barons, a man who had drained an inland sea and made the rivers run backward as he carved out the richest cotton patch in the world.

How his family had brought their Southern plantation to a corner of the West in the 1920s was a story of astonishing vision and will and the flouting of nature, not to mention a parade of hubris. Yet J.G. Boswell was quite determined to die without ever telling it.

"You don't get it, do you?" he snarled at me during a phone call in 1999 to discuss the idea of a book about him. "I don't give a damn about my legacy."
Another taste:
We piled into a beat-up Chevy truck and barreled into an immense engineered landscape where the earth hardly rose or fell an inch as it rolled out � the secret heart of California.

At some point, it occurred to us that we had traveled half a day, a distance of some 150 miles, and never left his farm. Nearly every road, field and irrigation canal belonged to Boswell and every worker we passed and he waved to was a Boswell worker, and every truck, tractor and leveler for which he politely moved to the side of the road bore the same diamond-B logo.
A wonderful obituary -- the book looks like it will be a lot of fun to read.

Wonderful people those Taliban

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From Infidels are Cool:
Afghanistan: Taliban Publicly Execute Couple for Eloping
Ah, the glories of Taliban rule.
HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) � Taliban militants publicly executed a man and girl on Monday for eloping when she was already engaged to marry someone else, an official said, in a sign of the grip the Islamists have over parts of Afghanistan.

Hashim Noorzai, head of Khash Rud district in southwestern Nimruz province, said the two were executed by gun shots in front of a crowd of villagers.

He said he had no details on how the Taliban had come to be involved in passing judgment on them but that much of the mainly desert district was under control of the militants.

Nimruz is a sparsely-populated area near the Iranian and Pakistani borders where foreign or government troops have little presence.
And the public outcry from moderate Muslims worldwide? . . . . - - - crickets - - - . . .
We had some nice Easter SEALS a few days ago. Now the dolphins are getting into the act -- from China's Xinhua News Agency:
Thousands of dolphins block Somali pirates
Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday.

The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China's fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China's.
I for one, welcome our new Marine Mammal Overlords...

A date with a serial killer

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Willie Pickton was Canada's worst serial killer. He was arrested in 2002 and came to trial in 2007.

Vancouver author raincoaster writes about meeting him in another context, a long time ago:

Date with a Devil
Willy Pickton is Canada's most prolific serial killer. He's been convicted of 6 counts of murder, and could face 15 more. But the DNA (and by DNA I mean chunks) of over 80 different women have been found on his farm. This month, he's appealing his sentence (surely the only time in his adult life Willy Pickton has been appealing) and thus I am reminded of the following, the time he tried to make me a notch in his wood chipper.

My story is relatively simple, and happened long before anyone said the words 'serial killer' in the neighborhood. By the way, I live on the Downtown Eastside, about two blocks from one of the corners on which he picked up his victims. According to Statistics Canada, in the 90's the average life expectancy here was 33, because of drugs, disease, and violence (mostly the first two). The government's response was to give massive tax breaks to old folks' homes, so they'd move in and raise the average. A statistical game, to make the neighborhood look better. It's now in the mid-forties, which is still less than any nation on Earth [note: on Metafilter someone corrected me. According to the latest stats, Swaziland has a lower average life expectancy, and I wish them luck resolving their civil war and the highest rate of AIDS in the world], and testament to the fact that even stuffing the bell curve with little old ladies can't hide a real problem.

Anyway, one night back in the 80's I was a struggling freelancer looking for a story. The Classical Joint was closing; it was an old jazz club that everyone had played in, from Bessie Smith on up, and I figured, what with editors all being middle-aged, a story about the last night of the Classical Joint would be saleable, so I grabbed my notebook, put on a black turtleneck and jeans, and went. It was packed with regulars all getting weepy on whiskey in teapots (no liquor license, very speakeasyish), and as I was taking notes I saw an ugly dude who seemed to know everyone running around taking pictures with a very expensive bunch of camera equipment. Figured pictures would make the article more tempting to an editor, I flagged him down and asked him if he'd be interested in collaborating, provided the pix turned out well.

A chilling story, well told. How many times in our life to we intersect with evil and not know it, not sense something wrong...

Organic farming just took a hit in England. Talk about government by the unfit. From the UK Telegraph:
Organic farmer evicted while gipsies are allowed to stay
Planners have been accused of making a "peculiar and outrageous" decision to evict Tina Johnston, 42, who has built a modest business growing fruit and vegetables on her 30-acre smallholding near Box, Wiltshire, a village on the A4 midway between Chippenham and Bath.

She moved into a caravan on the plot, situated on greenbelt land, in 2004 with the hope of convincing planners of the need to live there.

Despite support from villagers, her application has just been refused.

She and daughter Grace, nine, now face having to live in a 25ft horsebox on nearby non-greenbelt land.

Newly-formed Wiltshire Council has given Ms Johnston until this morning (Tues) to vacate her home or face a �20,000 fine. She also faces having to sell her business to cover �10,000 in legal fees.

Yet six months ago a Government planning inspector granted a group of 16 traveller families permission to stay indefinitely on a three-acre field elsewhere in Wiltshire, that they had illegally occupied in 2003.

After buying the field in Minety, near Wootton Bassett, for �80,000 in cash, they moved in over the August bank holiday weekend � when local councils were not working.

Within days they had dug trenches for power and water supplies, laid roads and built bungalows.

North Wiltshire District Council refused retrospective planning permission � but a Government planning inspector overturned its decision in 2005.
Disgusting abuse of power -- all "planners" should be shot...

Sorting Algorithms - an animation

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A lot of computing has to do with sorting through piles of data. Finding the most efficient way to do that is the work of many PhD.s in computer science -- efficient sorting is somewhat of a black art. Here is a wonderful website that illustrates some of the common sorting techniques along with different kinds of datasets. Check out: Sorting Algorithm Animations
These pages show 8 different sorting algorithms on 4 different initial conditions. These visualizations are intended to:
  • Show how each algorithm operates.
  • Show that there is no best sorting algorithm.
  • Show the advantages and disadvantages of each algorithm.
  • Show that worse-case asymptotic behavior is not the deciding factor in choosing an algorithm.
  • Show that the initial condition (input order and key distribution) affects performance as much as the algorithm choice.
It takes a minute or two for the entire page to load. Click on the little green round things to select the animation. Cool stuff!

Light posting tonight

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Working on a web page for a community garden that is coming together in our small town. A link will be posted when it is ready for prime-time.

Building a new powerplant in Kansas

Like pulling teeth. Mostly Cajun has the story and a wonderfully informative graph. Just a short excerpt - it's the graph that is important.

That's shorthand, in case you're wondering, for "Not In My Back Yard". It's a standard cry of the common raving moonbat, used to stop construction of anything from offshore windfarms (invoked by Teddy 'Swim, Bitch' Kennedy) to offshore drilling, to anything else.

This time it's Kansas dimmocrat governess Kathleen Sebelius vetoing new powerplants.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius surprised absolutely no one today by vetoing legislation designed to resurrect two coal plants in Western Kansas.

Now comes the big question mark: do lawmakers have the two-thirds majorities needed to override her veto? We'll find out in two weeks when lawmakers return to Topeka.

Quick history lesson: Sunflower Electric Power Corp. wants to build coal plants near Holcomb. State regulator rejects project because of carbon emissions. Legislature cries foul, four times passes legislation to authorize plants. Sebelius vetoes all four efforts.

Here's what Sebelius, a Democrat, had to say today in her latest veto:

"Last year, I vetoed legislation that forced the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to issue air quality permits for two new coal fired plants which would produce 11 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. These new plants would generate 1400 megawatts of electricity, most of which would be exported to Colorado and Texas. In fact, Kansas would only get 200 megawatts of electricity, while we would get all of the new pollution."

Cajun points out that Kansas will be missing all of the jobs, the tax base, the revinues from the plant, promotion of local business by all the workers at the plant spending their paychecks, etc. etc. etc. Here is the chart with Cajun's comments:

Click to embiggen...
The chart's from wikipedia for the year 2006. See that wedge that says "Other renewables"? That's wind and geothermal and solar and everthing else. 2.4 stinkin' percent. Why? Because 1. Without government subsidies, the stuff doesn't pay. 2. It's unreliable. Where windfarms are installed, they typically produce 20-40% of the installed capacity and MUST be backed up by other conventional generation to make up for times when the wind isn't blowing. Anybody promising more is bullsh*tting somebody...

What he said...

Anthropogenic Global Warming

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If you follow my posts, you will know that I consider the current hype over CO2 and its tenuous link to global warming to be junk science. Sub-prime science if you will. The geological record supports times of warming and cooling and times when the CO2 was at 6,000PPM instead of our paltry 350PPM -- and yes, the temperature averaged in the balmy 70's during that high time. Anthony Watts of Watts Up with That has an interesting post tonight:
A brick through Australia�s AGW window
This article from the Sydney Morning herald came with the message from Bruce saying: �a brick through the AGW window in Australia�. After reading it, and seeing that it is based on a book Heaven and Earth soon to be released by prominent Australian geologist Dr. Ian Plimer, I�ll have to agree. But as usually happens, he�ll probably be labeled a �denier� or an �advocate� as Gavin calls them, and ignored. Still, it is worth reading, since the journalist that has written it seems to question his own past writings. - Anthony

Beware the climate of conformity

Paul Sheehan Sydney Morning Herald
April 13, 2009

What I am about to write questions much of what I have written in this space, in numerous columns, over the past five years. Perhaps what I have written can withstand this questioning. Perhaps not. The greater question is, am I - and you - capable of questioning our own orthodoxies and intellectual habits? Let�s see.

The subject of this column is not small. It is a book entitled Heaven And Earth, which will be published tomorrow. It has been written by one of Australia�s foremost Earth scientists, Professor Ian Plimer. He is a confronting sort of individual, polite but gruff, courteous but combative. He can write extremely well, and Heaven And Earth is a brilliantly argued book by someone not intimidated by hostile majorities or intellectual fashions.

The book�s 500 pages and 230,000 words and 2311 footnotes are the product of 40 years� research and a depth and breadth of scholarship. As Plimer writes: �An understanding of climate requires an amalgamation of astronomy, solar physics, geology, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, palaeoecology, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, archaeology and history.�
And a bit more:
If we look at the last 6 million years, the Earth was warmer than it is now for 3 million years. The ice caps of the Arctic, Antarctica and Greenland are geologically unusual. Polar ice has only been present for less than 20 per cent of geological time. What follows is an intense compression of the book�s 500 pages and all their provocative arguments and conclusions:

Is dangerous warming occurring? No.

Is the temperature range observed in the 20th century outside the range of normal variability? No.

The Earth�s climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Despite this crucial relationship, the sun tends to be brushed aside as the most important driver of climate. Calculations on supercomputers are primitive compared with the complex dynamism of the Earth�s climate and ignore the crucial relationship between climate and solar energy.

�To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable - human-induced CO2 - is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly. Yet when astronomers have the temerity to show that climate is driven by solar activities rather than CO2 emissions, they are dismissed as dinosaurs undertaking the methods of old-fashioned science.�

Over time, the history of CO2 content in the atmosphere has been far higher than at present for most of time. Atmospheric CO2 follows temperature rise. It does not create a temperature rise. CO2 is not a pollutant. Global warming and a high CO2 content bring prosperity and longer life.
If you still believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming, you have either not done the science or you are under the spell of a Seminary School dropout who on leaving the White House as Vice President had a net worth of $2 Million but now is worth almost $100 Million. Global Warming certainly has been good to Mr. Gore but is the hype for real? No.

Took long enough but they got him...

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Phil Spector was found Guilty of 2nd degree murder. From CNN:
Phil Spector found guilty of actress' 2003 murder
After about 30 hours of deliberation, a jury on Monday convicted music producer Phil Spector of second-degree murder in the death of actress Lana Clarkson more than six years ago.

Wearing a black suit with a red tie and pocket square, Spector showed no reaction as the verdict was announced. Now 69, he faces a sentence of 18 years to life in prison when he is sentenced May 29.

Asked if he agreed to the sentencing date, Spector quietly answered, "Yes."

Prosecutor Alan Jackson said he believed the jury reached the correct verdict, and he acknowledged the strength and backing of Clarkson's family. But defense attorney Doron Weinberg said Spector's defense team disagreed and planned to appeal.

"We don't believe justice was done," Weinberg said.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler declined to allow Spector to remain free on bail pending sentencing, citing Spector's years-long "pattern of violence" involving firearms.

"This was not an isolated incident," Fidler said, noting Spector's two previous firearm-related convictions from the 1970s. "The taking of an innocent human life, it doesn't get any more serious than that."
He may have had a pivotal role in Rock and Roll but that doesn't allow him to get away with something as heinous as murder. Now if they would re-open the OJ case -- clean up the lot of them...

Yikes - HIV/AIDS in Washington, D. C.

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Not a good place to live. From the Washington Post:
HIV/AIDS Rate in D.C. Hits 3%
At least 3 percent of District residents have HIV or AIDS, a total that far surpasses the 1 percent threshold that constitutes a "generalized and severe" epidemic, according to a report scheduled to be released by health officials tomorrow.

That translates into 2,984 residents per every 100,000 over the age of 12 -- or 15,120 -- according to the 2008 epidemiology report by the District's HIV/AIDS office.

"Our rates are higher than West Africa," said Shannon L. Hader, director of the District's HIV/AIDS Administration, who once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe. "They're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya."
A bit more:
Black men, with an infection rate of nearly 7 percent, carry the weight of the disease.
Yikes -- HIV/AIDS has been known about for thirty years and people are still taking risks...

To all the new viewers - welcome aboard!

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Somewhere, somebody linked to my site and the traffic has shot up from one or two thousand per day to nine thousand on Saturday and 19,848 on Sunday! Welcome aboard -- feel free to wander around, kick the tires and check this place out. DaveH

Two Presidents - two letters

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An interesting look at two presidents of large US corporations and their reaction to the TARP bailout. Found this at Snopes and it is verified true. From General Motors president Troy Clarke:
Dear Employee,

Next week, Congress and the current Administration will determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in our nation's history. Your elected officials must hear from all of us now on why this support is critical to our continuing the progress we began prior to the global financial crisis. As an employee, you have a lot at stake and continue to be one of our most effective and passionate voices. I know GM can count on you to have your voice heard.

Thank you for your urgent action and ongoing support.

Troy Clarke
General Motors North America
From Gregory Knox of Knox Machinery -- a major supplier to the big three:
From Gregory Knox,

In response to your request to call legislators and ask for a bailout for the United States automakers please consider the following, and please also pass this onto Troy Clark, the president of General Motors North America for me.

You are both infected with the same entitlement mentality that has bred like cancerous germs in UAW halls for the last countless decades, and whose plague is now sweeping the nation, awaiting our new "messiah" to wave his magical wand and make all our problems go away, while at the same time allowing our once great nation to keep "living the dream".

The dream is over!

The dream that we can ignore the consumer for years while management myopically focuses on its personal rewards packages at the same time that our factories have been filled with the worlds most overpaid, arrogant, ignorant and laziest entitlement minded "laborers" without paying the price for these atrocities, and that still the masses will line up to buy our products.

Don't tell me I'm wrong. Don't accuse me of not knowing of what I speak. I have called on Ford, GM, Chrysler, TRW, Delphi, Kelsey Hayes, American Axle and countless other automotive OEM's and Tier ones for 3 decades now throughout the Midwest and what I've seen over the years in these union shops can only be described as disgusting.

Mr Clark, the president of General Motors, states:
"There is widespread sentiment in this country, our government and especially in the media that the current crisis is completely the result of bad management. It is not."
You're right, it's not JUST management, how about the electricians who walk around the plants like lords in feudal times, making people wait on them for countless hours while they drag ass so they can come in on the weekend and make double and triple time for a job they easily could have done within their normal 40 hour week.

How about the line workers who threaten newbies with all kinds of scare tactics for putting out too many parts on a shift and for being too productive (mustn't expose the lazy bums who have been getting overpaid for decades for their horrific underproduction, must we?!?) Do you really not know about this stuff?!?

How about this great sentiment abridged from Mr. Clarke's sad plea:
"over the last few years we have closed the quality and efficiency gaps with our competitors."
What the hell has Detroit been doing for the last 40 years?!?

Did we really JUST wake up to the gaps in quality and efficiency between us and them?

The K car vs. the Accord?

The Pinto vs. the Civic?!?

Do I need to go on?

We are living through the inevitable outcome of the actions of the United States auto industry for decades.

Time to pay for your sins, Detroit.

I attended an economic summit last week where a brilliant economist, Alan Beaulieu surprised the crowd when he said he would not have given the banks a penny of "bailout money". Yes, he said, this would cause short term problems, but despite what people like George Bush and Troy Clark would have us believe, the sun would in fact rise the next day and something else would happen where there had been greedy and sloppy banks, new efficient ones would pop up. That is how a free market system works. It does work if we would let it work.

But for some reason we are now deciding that the rest of the world is right and that capitalism doesn't work that we need the government to step in and "save us". Save us, hell! We're nationalizing and unfortunately too many of this once fine nations citizens don't even have a clue that this is what's really happening but they sure can tell you the stats on their favorite sports teams. Yeah, THAT'S important!

Does it occur to ANYONE that the "competition" has been producing vehicles, EXTREMELY PROFITABLY, for decades now in this country?...

How can that be???

Let's see:

Fuel efficient...

Listening to customers...

Investing in the proper tooling and automation for the long haul...

Not being too complacent or arrogant to listen to Dr W Edwards Deming 4 decades ago...

Ever increased productivity through quality, lean and six sigma plans...

Treating vendors like strategic partners, rather than like "the enemy"...

Efficient front and back offices....

Non union environment!

Again, I could go on and on, but I really wouldn't be telling anyone anything they really don't already know in their hearts.

I have six children, so I am not unfamiliar with the concept of wanting someone to bail you out of a mess that you have gotten yourself into. My children do this on a weekly, if not daily basis, as I did at their age. I do for them what my parents did for me (one of their greatest gifts, by the way), I make them stand on their own two feet and accept the consequences of their actions and work them through.

Radical concept, huh?

Am I there for them in the wings? Of course, but only until such time as they need to be fully on their own as adults.

I don't want to oversimplify a complex situation, but there certainly are unmistakable parallels here between the proper role of parenting and government.

Detroit and the United States need to pay for their sins.

Bad news people, it's coming whether we like it or not.

The newly elected Messiah really doesn't have a magic wand big enough to "make it all go away". I laughed as I heard Obama "reeling it back in" almost immediately after the vote count was tallied. We might not do it in a year or in four. Where was that kind of talk when he was RUNNING for the office?

Stop trying to put off the inevitable.

That house in Florida really isn't worth $750,000.

People who jump across a border really don't deserve free health care benefits.

That job driving that forklift for the big 3 really isn't worth $85,000 a year.

We really shouldn't allow Wal-Mart to stock their shelves with products acquired from a country that unfairly manipulates their currency and has the most atrocious human rights infractions on the face of the globe.

That couple whose combined income is less than $50,000 really shouldn't be living in that $485,000 home!

Let the market correct itself people. It will. Yes it will be painful, but it's gonna be painful either way, and the bright side of my proposal is that on the other side of it is a nation that appreciates what is has and doesn't live beyond its means. Gets back to basics, and redevelops the work ethic that made it the greatest nation in the history of the world and probably turns back to God.

Sorry don't cut my head off, I'm just the messenger sharing with you the "bad news".

Gregory J Knox
Knox Machinery, Inc.
Franklin, Ohio 45005
Now THAT is how you deliver a well-deserved smackdown!

What is old is become new again

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From the Chicago Tribune -- April 21, 1934
Click to embiggen (it is worth it!)
Swiped from The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid.
About a week ago, I had posted a link to an article in Electronic Design News which talked about the poor quality of the current crop of Compact Fluorescent Lamps. Because these lamps do not draw power uniformly, they can present a lot larger load to the power company than is listed on their rated specification. An 18 Watt bulb might actually be drawing 26 Watts. This doesn't show up on your bill as most residential power meters do not measure the power factor. Reader Man Mountain Molehill took the time to actually run some numbers and it's bad. Here are two images that show what is happening:
Scale factors: Voltage is 50V/div, Current is 200mA/div.
RMS line voltage is 126V, RMS current is 220MA.
Blue = V, Green = I

This works out to almost 28 watts worth of heating effect in the source for only a nominal 15 watts worth of light. No wonder the power companies are worried.

There are good technologies for power factor corrected switching supplies available, but they add a lot of cost, and never caught on, even though many governments here and in Europe tried to mandate high PF, low harmonic loads.

The truncated voltage wave is what things look like these days, since a huge percentage of the load takes current at or near the peaks.
And this is what the current harmonics look like out to 2kHz. Just awful.
The dirty dark secret of CFLs. Costco is starting to sell LED lights -- no bulb lights yet, just two kinds of flood and a small candelabra base lamp. I will look forward to replacing the CFLs as they die out with these...
These stories just write themselves. From the Seattle Times:
State agency offices pollute creek in Vancouver
Thirteen years after Washington state's environmental agency found a creek severely polluted, the contamination has been traced back to the agency's regional office.

City workers discovered this week that a sewer line from the building housing the regional offices of the state Department of Ecology and Department of Fish and Game, and a small U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contingent, was mistakenly connected to a storm water runoff system, rather than a municipal sewer main.

As a result, sewage from the building has been entering Burnt Bridge Creek and eventually Vancouver Lake for an unknown number of years.
And it took these idiots thirteen years to find the leak? This is something that could have been found in a few days if they were serious about it. Take samples and when you stop finding pollution, you are upstream from the source. Backtrack and run a video camera through the pipe. Here is what they did instead:
For 2 1/2 years, city workers have been using a probe mounted with a small television camera to survey 300 miles of underground storm water pipes. Municipal public works director Brian Carlson said this is the first time an old sanitary sewer has been found mistakenly hooked into a storm water pipe.
It doesn't require a video camera, it just requires opening up a manhole every few miles, do a chemical test for urine (five minutes). Still polluted? Walk upstream another mile or two and repeat. You do not need to view the pipe inch by inch and doing so is an incredibly inefficient use of time. And as for this quote:
Municipal public works director Brian Carlson said this is the first time an old sanitary sewer has been found mistakenly hooked into a storm water pipe.
I call bullshit - from the Seattle Times, December 16th, 2005:
Hospital waste ends up in lake
In mid-October, a Seattle city consultant spotted cloudy water, syringes, tampon applicators and toilet paper flowing from the pipe that is supposed to carry rainwater into south Lake Union.

A combination of peering down manholes and testing for bacteria in the water eventually led to a culprit: Swedish Medical Center's flagship hospital on First Hill, Seattle officials said. A sewer line apparently has been dumping raw sewage into the stormwater system and Lake Union.
And were they as efficient in tracing it back to the source:
But the utility also acknowledged that city workers first documented the problem seven years ago, when they videotaped soap and toilet paper pouring through the pipe from Swedish.

"I think we missed it," said Sally Marquis, who manages the utility's stormwater-system division. "Somebody saw the problem in 1998 and apparently took pictures, and then there was some time that passed, and we don't know why things were passed up."
Hat tip to Sound Politics for the link.

Celebrating Yuri's Night

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From the Yurisnight website:
On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin blasted off the launch pad in Baikonur at 9:08 AM local time. His call-sign for the flight was �Cedar.� Sergei Korolev, the Program�s Chief Designer, would call from the ground, ��Dawn� calling �Cedar.�� Gagarin made his historic 108 minute flight (orbiting around the whole Earth once) and parachute landed near his Vostok 1 capsule in the plains of Russia. This flight made him the first human to orbit the Earth and an international hero. Yuri was only 27 years old.

Seven years after his flight, on Wednesday 27 March 1968, Yuri was piloting a MiG-15 when he got into a tragic crash that ended his life. He was 34. People say that that is why John Glenn was not allowed to fly again for so long - to protect him. Yuri is survived by his wife Valentina and his two daughters, Lenochka and Galochka.

The Cosmonaut program is rich with traditions that honor Yuri�s first flight. It is customary to visit the Gagarin Memorial before your mission, to sign the log book in Yuri�s unchanged office, and to urinate on the tire of the bus that brings you to the launch pad (mostly because Yuri had to himself right before his flight). We hope the world will celebrate 12 April together and create new traditions of space and unity.
The first shuttle launch was twenty years later on the same day. The website has links to parties all over the globe.

Unfortunately, Snopes has it being a hoax but I really wish it was not:

( 1.) Press 1 for English is immediately banned. English is the official language; speak it or wait at the border until you can.

( 2.) We will immediately go into a two year isolationist posture to straighten out the country's attitude. NO imports, no exports. We will use the 'Walmart' policy, 'If we ain't got it, you don't need it.'

( 3.) When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it.

( 4.) All retired military personnel will be required to man one of our many observation towers on the southern border. (six month tour) They will be under strict orders not to fire on SOUTHBOUND aliens.

( 5.) Social security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn't put nuttin in, you ain't gettin nuttin out. The president nor any other politician will not be able to touch it.

( 6.) Welfare - Checks will be handed out on Fridays at the end of the 40 hour school week and the successful completion of urinalysis and a passing grade.

( 7.) Professional Athletes - Steroids - The FIRST time you check positive you're banned for life.

( 8.) Crime - We will adopt the Turkish method, the first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There is no more life sentences. If convicted, you will be put to death by the same method you chose for your victim; gun, knife, strangulation, etc.

( 9.) One export will be allowed...Wheat. The world needs to eat. A bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.

(10.) All foreign aid using American taxpayer money will immediately cease, and the saved money will pay off the national debt and ultimately lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we'll ask the American people if they want to donate to a disaster fund, and each citizen can make the decision whether it's a worthy cause.

(11.) The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in Congress.

(12.) The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.

Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes, but a vote for me will get you better than what you have, and better than what you're gonna get. Thanks for listening, and remember to write in my name on the ballot in November. God Bless America!!!!!!!!!!!

Bill Cosby!!!!!!!!

Now that is a platform I could get behind! I would love to be a fly on the wall when Cosby was meeting with someone like Ahmadinejad or Putin.

From Yahoo/Associated Press:
US sea capt. freed from pirates in swift firefight
An American ship captain was freed unharmed Sunday in a swift firefight that killed three of the four Somali pirates who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, the ship's owner said.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said a pirate who had been involved in negotiations to free Capt. Richard Phillips but who was not on the lifeboat was in custody. The Justice Department said it was reviewing evidence and considering criminal charges against the captured pirate.

Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, was safely transported to a Navy warship nearby.
The article is a bit thin on the details (no surprise there given how recently this just happened). I'll post more as I hear about it.

A very Happy Easter to everyone!

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I'll post this classic:
From Breitbart/Associated Press:
Iran says it controls entire nuclear fuel cycle
Iran now controls the entire cycle for producing nuclear fuel with the opening of a new facility to produce uranium fuel pellets, the Iranian president said Saturday.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the speech two days after the inauguration of the facility which produces uranium oxide pellets for a planned 40-megawatt heavy-water nuclear reactor near the town of Arak, central Iran.

Production of nuclear fuel pellets is the final step in the long, complicated chain of nuclear fuel cycle. The U.S. and its allies have expressed concern over Iran's developing nuclear program for fear it masks a nuclear weapons program�a charge Iran denies.

Heavy-water reactors use a different process than light-water ones, but have their own nuclear proliferation concerns. The West fears Iran could eventually reprocess spent fuel from the heavy-water reactor to produce plutonium for a warhead.

"Today, with the grace of God, Iran is a country controlling the entire nuclear fuel cycle," Ahmadinejad said on state television.
This means that Iran is now able to control the entire process from start to finish without being dependent on supplies from the Russians. Ahmadinejad's claim that this is for power generation is ludicrous considering the quantity of oil and natural gas that Iran is sitting on. They simply do not have the need. The heavy-water reactor (water with Deuterium instead of Hydrogen) is a very old design, a good one to start with as it doesn't require as pure a fuel as other designs, the Deuterium greatly assists the nuclear reaction. The idea that they will stop with just this one reactor is silly. If this is what Obama or the United Nations believes, they need to wake up and smell the cappuccino...

Fun with a trail-cam - what happened?

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I don't know who picked this post up and mentioned it but thanks!

Traffic here is usually about one to two thousand visits per day.

Yesterday was over nine thousand!

Welcome, feel free to stay and look around a while.

There have been a few questions about where these photographs were taken.

I do not know -- as I said in the post, these were forwarded through an email list I subscribe to and there was no data except for "Southern Texas".

Two demonstrations, One City

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There is a far-left group called "A New Way Forward" Their political agenda is to nationalize banks (for our own good of course). From their website:
12 million unemployed. Foreclosures up 81%. Wall Street has taken over. We must break up the banks and never again let them get so big that they distort our politics and take down the economy.
They had scheduled a bunch of demonstrations today (April 11th) to counter all of the Tea Party demonstrations scheduled for the 15th. Here are two demonstrations, same city, same blog reporting. Check out The Gateway Pundit:
The Big Fail... New Way Forward Loses Its Way In St. Louis
The Far Left A New Way Forward protests were held across the country today. These protests were must break up the banks and never again let them get so big that they distort our politics and take down the economy. They were also organized to counter the Tea Party protests that are drawing thousands of Americans out to protest the historic and dangerous binge spending by the current government.

Today the New Way Forward protesters were hoping to make their voices resound in those closed-door meetings with the bankers.

So how did they do?
They failed.
St. Louis Arch Tea Party Draws 1,500 Protesters! (Video)
1,500 protesters braved the cold (in the 30's) and wind today at the St. Louis Arch for the anti-Spendulus rally.
Kinda hard to argue with the facts... (grin)

Sailing around Cape Horn

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In 1929, Captain Irving Johnson joined the crew of the Phoenix for a run from Germany to Chile, around Cape Horn. He brought his camera.
Amazing footage. The Phoenix has been preserved at the NYC South Street Seaport

Bill Whittle is writing again

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Go and read
The Washington Post ran a column a few days ago, in which a Mr. Joel Berg applauds the Obama Administration for reducing the amount of charitable deduction that The Rich are allowed to take when they write a check to charity.

Mr. Berg � who runs a charitable foundation that feeds the poor � explains things for us thusly:
��It is wrong to give them [the very rich] unilateral power to decide whether their taxpayer-subsidized donations should go to, say, well-heeled operas or lavish care of pets rather than to organizations that meet more pressing communal needs.�
Mr. Berg lists two specific ways in which The Rich have been Letting Down the Team � again.
�First,� he writes, �such tax deductions are a highly inefficient way to fund social programs.� Got that? He continues: �Second, voluntary private charity is a less equitable way to solve community problems.�
See the problem here? �When the wealthiest Americans donate to charities,� writes Berg, �they are most likely to give to universities, hospitals and cultural institutions from which they and their families may benefit.�

The filthy swine!

The answer is simple. Don�t let The Rich have a big deduction on charitable giving, since they will donate to stupid things like the Arts or medical centers, instead of those charities doing important things � like Mr. Berg�s.

No sir! The answer is clear: simply tax them more.
�Combined with other progressive Obama tax proposals, that change would not only start to redress the inequality gap that has engulfed America in recent decades but would also help to pay for many effective domestic programs��
�Which Mr. Berg then helpfully goes on to list.

Well, I read this article in the Washington Post, and I thought: there you have it. The top ten percent, that pays sixty percent of the total income tax and which allows the bottom half � HALF! � to pay nothing� Those horrible, greedy bastards are not using their free-will generosity as �efficiently� as the government can, so let�s just take more of their money and call it square.

So let me now send a personal message to The Rich in America�

As an American and a patriot, I implore you � I go to my knees and beg you � LEAVE NOW.
What follows is some of Bill's best writing -- a tour de force of logic and reason. Check out the over 250 comments from his readers...

Easter Eggs

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Swiped from Mostly Cajun:
Egg Hunters
I always harbored a thought that the tradition of an Easter Egg Hunt was a pretty good metaphor for a large portion of society: Something free for the taking, delivered by some unknown entity. All you have to do is show up, and you get free stuff. Most sentient beings outgrow it, recognizing TANSTAAFL.

Of course, you have to modify this a bit to make it more in line with real life, but it�s just a metaphor, not an encyclopedia.

And then along comes John Cox who, with one picture, offers that even the Easter Egg Hunt isn�t making dimmocrats happy any more.

Heh - gotta get one for my truck

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Probably tip a couple of people over the edge but it would be fun to watch.
Ride with it through some neighborhoods in Seattle and listen for the heads exploding... Get yours here: GG&G
Some interesting observations from David St.Lawrence who lives in a rural town (Floyd, VA).
Early signs of an economic recovery?
I think we will see signs of recovery at the grassroots level before it is visible on a national scale.

With all of the chest beating and finger pointing going on in Washington, DC, it's hard to separate fact from fiction. In fact, it's hard to tell the real players from those who are under indictment or investigation for fraud, acts of treason, and so forth. The phrase "confederacy of dunces" comes to mind.

It does not seem there is much near term hope for the economy with the government printing money and raising taxes like there is no tomorrow. The machinations in Washington are providing more entertainment and outrage than results at this time so the outlook seems uncertain.

On the other hand, here in rural Virginia life goes on without the benefit of smoke and mirrors or teleprompters. The grim realities of growing unemployment and tight money are being dealt with every day by hard working merchants, contractors and a host of self-employed small business owners.

I can't pretend to know why things are getting better recently, but I have experienced a major increase in customer orders over the past few weeks and have heard the same news from many other businesses in Floyd County.

My custom picture framing business has improved so much that I am working longer hours than ever before and have had to bring on additional help just to keep from being overwhelmed.

In talking to my suppliers, I hear encouraging news of increasing business volume and the very interesting news that their collection departments are seeing a marked increase in customers catching up on unpaid bills.

Almost every business I have been following has been offering special deals like higher discounts and free shipping to motivate customers to buy now. For the first time in months, some of these companies are cutting back on the special deals, leading me to conclude that their business is picking up also.

Here in Floyd, the prevailing mood is guarded optimism. We are happy to see the increase in local business and in tourist traffic, but we continue to offer special deals and do not feel that we are out of the woods yet. Every customer is a treasure and the way to keep them coming back is by providing outstanding customer service and convenience.
Good news -- it's hard to say what is happening in this neck of the woods, our business is primarily tourist driven and the ski season is winding down and it will be a good two months before the river-rafting/hiking/fishing/camping season comes up to speed. Considering that David's business is picture framing (a luxury item more than a necessity), this is good news that he is busy enough to consider an employee. Being decoupled from the day to day machinations of Washington, DC, New York, etc... is a good thing!
Meet Hazel McCallion - the Mayor of Mississauga, Ontario for 31 years. Mississauga is the sixth largest city in Canada. It has zero debt and $700 Million cash reserves. How did she do it? Low taxes and attracting businesses to her city.
An entry at WikiPedia She won her last election with 92% of the votes. Some of our big-city Democratic mayors need to go back to school...

Fun with a trail-cam

UPDATE - 04/17/2009 - The comments are starting to slide into a ditch and it takes time to moderate them. Comments are closed for this post... A member of one of the email lists I subscribe to sent this in. They live in South Texas and have a Trail Camera set up and pointing to their water tank. (A trail-cam is a weatherproof digital camera with a motion detector -- it snaps a picture when something moves in its field of vision.) Here are a few photos:








I seriously wish I thought of this. Stingray at Atomic Nerds came up with this most excellent proposal for the problem of the Islamic Somali Pirates as well as the other Islamic poltroons making our lives hell. Reprinted in all of its resplendent Technicolor(tm) glory:
To The Shores of�. the Somali?
A copy of the following (with appropriate obvious modifications to the signature) will go into the mail to senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall on Monday morning.

Dear Senator,

I am writing today to formally request issuance of a Letter of Marque and Reprisal against pirates operating in and around the waters of the African continent. Article one, section eight of the US Constitution enumerates this among the powers of congress, so while Constitutional authority has not thus far been a subject of concern for the current administration, this would actually within the bounds of what the government is allowed to do. While such letters were banned by the Declaration of Paris in 1856, the United States did not actually sign that treaty, and honors it only as far as a gentleman�s agreement. Clearly, this is not binding, and in the face of having US shipping interests captured and held for ransom by pirates, some response above �tut-tut� is in order. Remember, the last time this situation arose, the US Marine Corps added a rather memorable line to their official hymn- one which kept would-be riff-raff at bay for over 200 years.

As recent events have demonstrated that a modern multi-billion dollar navy is no match for Somali pirates, I feel it is neither out of line nor inaccurate to note that as a private citizen using my own resources, I can perform a task the US Navy is currently failing at for a much greater cost efficiency. To go a step further, such a letter would generate revenue for the currently desperately cash-strapped government coffers, as the proceeds generated by any captured vessels would logically count to my personal taxable income. While I don�t feel it particularly fair to hand over a share of income earned by personally cleaning up after a government agency�s failings, such is the nature of taxation. Naturally, any income generated from anti-piracy operations on the high seas will be diligently reported to the IRS with the same honesty and accuracy as the very Secretary of the Treasury himself. Fair is fair, after all, and I�m sure the economy in the area where seized assets would be processed are quite compliant with the tracking and reporting needs of the IRS.

If you�re still unconvinced, Senator, consider that granting my request would benefit not only US shipping interests, but would also benefit our allies. Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a decrease in pirates makes shipping easier for everybody. With one simple letter, the US could regain the good will of other nations plagued by these modernized anachronisms. Can you place a dollar value on the thanks of a foreign nation (and if you can, would you be agreeable to deducting that amount from what the IRS will claim I owe)? Tales of Somali pirates terrorizing vessels operating under nearly any flag you care to name have been in the news for quite some time now, and it is within the power of congress to take steps to if not eliminate, at least severely reduce the losses suffered by many countries, and many more private companies.

Finally, consider the risk-to-reward ratio. A Letter of Marque does not grant me any special assistance from the government. It will cost only the price of the stationary on which it is printed, and should I fall victim to the pirates myself, it would be nobody�s fault or responsibility but my own. When I succeed, however, the government will generate revenue, make the seas a safer place, and stop the financial hemorrhage incurred by having US Navy resources operating in the area. How many sailors are drawing a paycheck across how many ships in order to have a staring contest with one small lifeboat? My private operations would be able to save the US literally hundreds of millions of dollars once the cost of the ships and weapons are factored in, and given current government spending practices, every last penny of those savings are desperately needed.

Thank you for your time and consideration, Senator. I look forward to receiving my official Letter as soon as possible, as clearly there is much work to be done.

Hell and Damnation! Sign me up -- I am useful in boats and know which end of a shotgun the pain comes out of.

Oh how I wish - from XKCD

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Would have saved everybody having to re-adjust their thinking...

Awww Cute - the new Honda Element

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A dog friendly vehicle -- clever idea. A small market but a fiercly loyal one. From Reuters:
Honda unveils dog-friendly car
Dog-crazy Americans will soon be able to buy a pet-friendly car with a cushioned dog bed in the trunk, fitted with a built-in water bowl and fan and a ramp to help less agile dogs climb in.

With the help of a rescue dog named Sammy, Japanese car maker Honda Motor Co unveiled the pet friendly version of its Element utility vehicle at the New York Auto Show.

It features easy-wash seat covers, a fitted dog bed with restraints to keep Sammy safe in the event of a crash, and a paw logo on the side. Honda said the car would go on sale across the United States from the fall of this year.
Someone had a bright idea in marketing...

Visiting with the neighbors

Was driving home around 5:00 this evening and spotted these critters by the side of the road:


These are part of the Nooksack Elk herd:

The North Cascade elk herd is the smallest of ten herds residing in the state. It is a small herd and the northern most herd in western Washington. Nevertheless, it is an important resource that provides significant recreational, aesthetic, and economic benefit to Washington citizens and a valued cultural, subsistence, and ceremonial resource to the Native American people of the area.

This is a reintroduced herd resulting from successful augmentations in 1946 and 1948 of eastern and western Washington elk. The estimated peak population of 1,700 elk occurred in 1984. Since then, the population has sharply declined to a current estimate of about 300 elk.

The core population in the Nooksack game management unit occupies about 1,230 square kilometers (492 square miles). About 125 other elk live in the agricultural lands along the Skagit River; the remaining elk live in the higher elevation, forested lands north of the Skagit River.

You see small groups every so often but to see a whole family together with 12 members is a rare treat. They kept their distance as I approached but as long as I stayed 500 feet away, they were content. A few kept watch but most were feeding on the new grass shoots.

Simpsons Stamps

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I love it!
More info here: US Postal Service Check it out, man...

The Obama's garden - a complaint

I had written earlier about how the White House tore up part of their lawn and planted a kitchen garden.

Very cool!

Not everybody agrees though - from la Vida Locavore:

Organic White House Garden Puts Some Conventional Panties in a Twist
In the aftermath of breaking ground on the new, 1100 square foot White House garden, Michelle Obama named chef Sam Kass to head the White House Food Initiative. And we know how Kass feels about food... he agrees with us!

All of this positive PR for organics feels very threatening to Big Ag. So one group, the Mid America CropLife Association, has sent an email defending chemical ag to Mrs. Obama. See the letter reprinted below.
Jill Richardson :: Organic White House Garden Puts Some Conventional Panties in a Twist

It is a large and complex issue -- there are some aspects to commercial organic farming that make me cringe to think about. That plus the added level of regulation, taxation and bureaucracy to deal with. There are some aspects about commercial farming that make me cringe too. Local? Great if you can get it. There is no one right way to grow food if you are trying to feed a nation. Some techniques are not economically viable. There may be mitigating factors (one tankful of 10% ethanol gasoline takes enough corn away from one person to feed them for a month). Some techniques do not scale up to commercial yields. People need to seek a balance and to find their comfort zone...

Carbon Credits - A Farmers view

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This was left as a comment to a post at Watts Up with That and Anthony felt that it deserved a post of its own:
Carbon Credits
I have changed my mind about participating in the carbon credit program. And have resolved to give the money I received to St Jude�s Children�s Hospital.

Here is why.

Recently I sat in the fire hall with a few dozen farmers. We had been invited to hear how we can get paid for carbon credits.

The speaker explained how their satellites can measure the carbon in our land individually and how much money we could get. Then asked for questions.

I asked �what is the source of this money�?

The presenter said it comes from big companies that pollute.

I asked �where do they get this money�? He had no answer.

So I answered for him, asking, �won�t it come from everyone who pays their power bill�? He then agreed and said �that could be�.

I then said isn�t this about the theory of man made global warming? he said �we are not going to talk about that�. Here they are on the prairie soliciting land for carbon credits tempting us with free money.
This is only the first half. Farmer Steve has a good head on his shoulders and an awesome bullshit filter.

Good corporate management

From the Kansas City Star:
KU professors found companies realized big tax savings by spending for lobbyists
A 22,000 percent return on investment?

Three professors at the University of Kansas say dozens of America�s largest companies got that sweet deal four years ago � not by hiring workers or purchasing new equipment, but by investing in Washington lobbyists.

Those lobbyists, the three said, helped write a federal tax break that eventually put roughly $100 billion in tax savings in the pockets of the firms and their shareholders, at a cost to the companies of just pennies on the dollar.

Stephen Mazza, a professor at KU�s School of Law, and two associates spent six months examining the effects of one part of the American Jobs Creation Act, a major tax overhaul passed in October 2004. They looked at a provision that gave companies a one-year window to bring overseas earnings back into the U.S. at a 5.25 percent tax rate, rather than the usual 35 percent, as a jobs-creation incentive. The three professors then looked at how much such companies as IBM, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly and Co. spent lobbying for the break, and how much they saved when it passed.

The result? Ninety-three of the country�s biggest multinational firms pulled in tax savings of more than $62 billion � after spending just $283 million to lobby for the bill.

The study concluded that almost 500 companies got an average 22,000 percent return on their lobbying investments.
Talk about misappropriating a resource... The American Jobs Creation Act was created to jump-start creation of jobs here, the reduced take rate was there to allow for the cost of retooling and setting up the factories to manufacture those items that were, at that time, being manufactured overseas. Instead, these companies took advantage of the cut while having no intention of moving the operations back to the USA. Why am I not surprised. And of course, we as consumers saw this reflected in the lower prices of those products. Looks like a good case for tax violation and substantial fine...

That's it for the night

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Working on a web page for our community garden and need to play with some software for a new camera. More this weekend...
Check out I Love Carbon Dioxide. In it, Justin C writes about those people who promote global warming and what their agendas are as well as the inconvenient truths of Carbon Dioxide (a needed trace gas and an incredible plant food). Check out the About page as well as the Top 15 Myths page -- well researched and documented. From this site, I found the other one -- Marc Morano's Climate Depot is now online. About Marc:
Marc Morano is the executive editor and chief correspondent for ClimateDepot.com, a global warming and eco-news center founded in 2009. Marc Morano served for three years as a senior advisor, speechwriter, and climate researcher for U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and managed the award-winning communication operations of the GOP side of the EPW Committee. Morano joined the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as the majority Communications Director in June 2006 after a decade and a half as a working journalist, documentary maker, radio talk show host, and national television correspondent.

Morano�s Senate website won the coveted 2007 Gold Mouse Award for being the "Best of the Best." The award was made possible by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the National Science Foundation. Morano�s website got so many readers in January of 2007 that the volume shut down the entire Senate website, including every Senator�s personal websites. Morano spearheaded the 2007 groundbreaking report of 400-plus dissenting scientists and the follow-up 2008 report of 650-plus scientists dissenting from man-made global warming fears. Gallup polling organization essentially recognized the impact of the U.S. Senate EPW website in a May 29, 2008 analysis. �Republican spokespersons and conservative commentators have long challenged IPCC reports as reflecting the �scientific consensus� on global warming by highlighting the views of a modest number of �skeptic� or �contrarian� scientists who question the IPCC conclusions.� Gallup concluded: �Growing skepticism about news coverage of global warming clearly goes hand in hand with Republicans' declining belief that it is already occurring.� (LINK)
I am in the middle of re-vamping the blog-roll and will include these two excellent sites...

A nine year old at play

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Jen's niece is nine years old and a real sweetheart. While we were riding in the car, she was playing with stuffed dog toy and announced to all of us that she was going to upgrade the toy to 2009 and proceeded to spend the next ten minutes doing so and keeping a running commentary about her work. A bit later that afternoon, she bought a stuffed cat to go along with her other toy. I suggested that she might need to upgrade the cat to be at the same version number as the dog. She proceeded to do this while we were walking along the sidewalk. It seems that stuffed cats can be upgraded in a few seconds where stuffed dogs take ten minutes. A funny observation on how pervasive computer technology is in today's society. Her Dad is a master mechanic, her Mom works in the family business office -- neither of them are �ber-geeks.
One of the more interesting reads regarding Climate Change (AKA Glow Ball Warmening or Anthropogenic Global Warming) is The Daily Bayonet. Along with his regular posts, each week he compiles a wonderful list of links examining the hypocracies and sub-prime science behind that political animal, A.G.W. The one for this week is wonderful -- I am not going to excerpt it, just go and read and check out the links and videos:
Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, April 10th 2009

Just wow! Stand By Me

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Just watch:
Done by the Playing for Change Foundation CD/DVD being released at the end of this month. $18 at Amazon.
There are several standards that you use to measure electrical power. The Volt and the Ampere are ones that most people have heard of. Multiply the two together and you get Watts (10 Volts * 10 Amps = 100 Watts). Multiply Watts by Hours and you get a Watt Hour (or Joule if you want to get Metric -- one Joule is one Watt Second). One unit of measurement that is not in common use is Power Factor. Household service meters and most small business service meters do not measure Power Factor so maintaining a good one is not an issue. As the Voltage swings back and forth (60 cycles per second), a purely resistive load will have the maximum current flow happening at the maximum voltage. Simple enough. When you have an reactive load, the maximum current can lag behind the maximum voltage creating huge loads on the line when the line is at a low point of that cycle. This can distort the waveform, cause overheating and put a big load on the system. That being said, let's segue into the increased use of Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL's) -- used wisely, these are a win/win deal especially the later units. They now have good color, come up to full brilliance in a few seconds and last for a long time if they are used correctly (only turned on and off infrequently). We do not use CFLs in our bathroom or cupboards but we do use them for interior lighting at the store and in our home -- it gets dark, the lights come on and stay on for a few hours. A lot of other people like them too as the price has been coming down (with the help of government subsidies (re: our tax dollars)). Problem is, most of these CFL's have a crappy Power Factor. From Electronic Design News:
Utilities suffer from CFLs� poor power factor
Every CFL light contains a small ac-dc power supply with reactive components in it that will affect the CFL�s power factor (PF) � that is, the load presented to the ac line. The closer the PF is to 1, the better. A load with low power factor (<.85) draws more current and is less efficient than a load with a high power factor for the same amount of useful power. The higher currents required by the lower PF devices mean increased energy lost in the grid due to such things as I2R losses. These power losses don�t show up directly on our electricity bill, but the utilities sure see the effects.

I put one of my home CFL bulbs on my Kill-O-Watt power meter recently and measured its power factor: It was .57. This is lousy. Although each CFL is only 13W, there are millions of them out there. Why no PF regulation, as there is of higher-power, but less ubiquitous devices?

I emailed Peter Banwell of the EnergyStar program and asked if EnergyStar was considering making minimum PF a requirement for Energy Star compliance. He replied, �We looked at this in detail several years ago and decided against it, though there are a couple of utilities that still support the idea. We may take this up in the future, as the market share grows, but right now it is still in the noise in terms of impacts.�

Coincidentally, after our email exchange I ran into Mike Grather of Luminaire Testing Laboratory. He recently ran a series of life-cycle and performance tests on a batch of 100 CFLs with various power ratings averaging approximately 20W each. They assumed a PF for the lights of at least .75 and sized the power supply at 3KVA. However, when they powered up the bank of CFLs, the 3KVA supply was inadequate. Grather checked the power factor for the CFLs and found they ranged from .45 to .50. Their �real� load was about twice that implied by their wattage.

CFLs are still an efficient form of household lighting, but their poor PF number is leaving money on the table. However, it�s clear that at about $2 each there�s not a lot of room for adding power factor correction circuitry. On the other hand, utilities are already going to great lengths to encourage consumers to switch to CFLs, including subsidizing the price of CFLs. I doubt that consumers would be interested in paying more for a feature that actually benefits the utility directly, not them. Perhaps utilities will start to subsidize high-power-factor CFLs, rather than the mediocre ones we can buy now.
The upshot is that you are replacing a 60 Watt incandescent bulb with a 13 Watt CFL. You are paying the utility for 13 Watt Hours of energy each time this bulb is illuminated for one hour. The utility has to generate 26 Watts though. They are loosing 50% of their residential revenue for each bulb installed. The savings of 26 from 60 is still substantial but not as wonderful as it seems on the outset...

Light posting tonight and tomorrow

Jen's Mom and Sister and Niece are visiting for two more days and we all spent today together. Had a nice lunch, went to a wonderful local museum, drove around, shopped some and got Chinese takeout from my favorite restaurant (a real hole-in-the-wall but awesome Chinese food). I'll be surfing a little bit tonight but we head down to the Tulip Festival tomorrow and I'll be away from the internet for quite some time...

Wildlife photographs

Check out these nature photographs at the Dir Journal Info Blog

Here is one from Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov:

At the Boston Globe Big Picture Check 'em out...
Just wow! From Science News:
Viruses could power devices
A computer virus won�t help your laptop work � but a biological virus could. Tweaking their genes just so could engineer viruses for making the rechargeable lithium ion batteries that power devices such as laptops, iPods and cell phones, researchers report online April 2 in Science.

In previous research, the same team used viruses to construct the negative electrode, or anode, of the battery. In the new work, the researchers engineered viruses for the positive electrode, or cathode. When the two are put together, the virus batteries should perform better than traditional lithium ion batteries and also be environmentally friendly, the team reports.

�Because the viruses are living organisms, we had to use only water-based solvents, no high pressures and no high temperatures,� says Angela Belcher, a materials scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and a study coauthor.
More. Faster. Hat tip BoingBoing
The "Constitution" of the internet is contained in the RFCs. Request for Comments cover general operation, file formats, system protocols, etc... RFC #1 was published April 7th, 1969 From the New York Times:
How the Internet Got Its Rules
Today is an important date in the history of the Internet: the 40th anniversary of what is known as the Request for Comments. Outside the technical community, not many people know about the R.F.C.�s, but these humble documents shape the Internet�s inner workings and have played a significant role in its success.

When the R.F.C.�s were born, there wasn�t a World Wide Web. Even by the end of 1969, there was just a rudimentary network linking four computers at four research centers: the University of California, Los Angeles; the Stanford Research Institute; the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The government financed the network and the hundred or fewer computer scientists who used it. It was such a small community that we all got to know one another.

A great deal of deliberation and planning had gone into the network�s underlying technology, but no one had given a lot of thought to what we would actually do with it. So, in August 1968, a handful of graduate students and staff members from the four sites began meeting intermittently, in person, to try to figure it out. (I was lucky enough to be one of the U.C.L.A. students included in these wide-ranging discussions.) It wasn�t until the next spring that we realized we should start writing down our thoughts. We thought maybe we�d put together a few temporary, informal memos on network protocols, the rules by which computers exchange information. I offered to organize our early notes.

What was supposed to be a simple chore turned out to be a nerve-racking project. Our intent was only to encourage others to chime in, but I worried we might sound as though we were making official decisions or asserting authority. In my mind, I was inciting the wrath of some prestigious professor at some phantom East Coast establishment. I was actually losing sleep over the whole thing, and when I finally tackled my first memo, which dealt with basic communication between two computers, it was in the wee hours of the morning. I had to work in a bathroom so as not to disturb the friends I was staying with, who were all asleep.
Written by Steve Crocker who was the author of RFC #1 Don't forget to check out RFC 1149

Bush's wiretaps?

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Obama's down with that - keep on keepin' on... From BoingBoing:
Obama DOJ invents radical authoritarian theory to defend Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping
The Obama administration has filed a brief in EFF's lawsuit against the government for its program of illegal, mass wiretapping of Americans, defending the practice, arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed, endorsing the Bush administration's invented "State Secret" theory, and augmenting it with a new theory, that "the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is "willful disclosure" of the illegally intercepted communications." This brief was not written by Bush cronies left behind by the outgoing administration: this is an invention of the Obama administration.

I don't expect the guy to walk on water, but I'd sure like it if he'd stop wallowing in the mud.
From Network World:
Yet another government attempt at cybersecurity
The timing of two cybersecurity bills just introduced by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) seems a bit funny. It is not so much that they were introduced on April Fools� Day; more importantly, they were introduced before the widespread review of U.S. cybersecurity ordered by President Obama is completed by Melissa Hathaway, acting senior director for cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils.

It would seem to make more sense to wait and see what Hathaway thinks is broken before submitting bills to fix it. While I expect that the bills will be changed when Hathaway reports her findings in a few weeks, the current bills are interesting and have the potential to impact just about everyone in the network or network security business.
A bit more:
There has been some controversy over two provisions in S 773. One provision that would empower the president to declare a "cybersecurity emergency" and shut down government networks and maybe even parts of the public Internet. The other provision says that the Secretary of Commerce "shall have access to all relevant data concerning such networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access." Some pendants have read this to mean that the government could wiretap any Internet communications but the drafters could have just meant that a network could not hide its design or performance from the government. This will have to be clarified during the legislative process.
Fscking idiots.

Making sense -- legalization of drugs

From the UK Guardian:
Legalisation of drugs could save UK �14bn, says study
The regulated legalisation of drugs would have major benefits for taxpayers, victims of crime, local communities and the criminal justice system, according to the first comprehensive comparison between the cost-effectiveness of legalisation and prohibition. The authors of the report, which is due to be published today, suggest that a legalised, regulated market could save the country around �14bn.

For many years the government has been under pressure to conduct an objective cost-benefit analysis of the current drugs policy, but has failed to do so despite calls from MPs. Now the drugs reform charity, Transform, has commissioned its own report, examining all aspects of prohibition from the costs of policing and investigating drugs users and dealers to processing them through the courts and their eventual incarceration.

As well as such savings is the likely taxation revenue in a regulated market. However, there are also the potential costs of increased drug treatment, education and public information campaigns about the risks and dangers of drugs, similar to those for tobacco and alcohol, and the costs of running a regulated system.

The report looked at four potential scenarios, ranging from no increase in drugs use to a 100% rise as they become more readily available.

"The conclusion is that regulating the drugs market is a dramatically more cost-effective policy than prohibition and that moving from prohibition to regulated drugs markets in England and Wales would provide a net saving to taxpayers, victims of crime, communities, the criminal justice system and drug users of somewhere within the range of, for the four scenarios, �13.9bn, �10.8bn, �7.7bn, �4.6bn."
Makes a lot of sense -- all of the warfare in Mexico stems from rival drug gangs seeking control. Same with Afghanistan. Legalize it, use the tax revenues to provide care and treatment for addicts. Makes you wonder why it isn't legal -- who is lobbying our politicians to keep it illegal?

Nothing today

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Had to run into town to get some stuff for the water for the Community Garden. Went out to dinner and had a few margaritas so feeling quite relaxed and sleepy. Have an early tomorrow (meeting with the guy who does the water for our town) so out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and off to bed.


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Pass it on...
These people need to get a good dose of reality shoved up their backsides... From Florida's St. Petersburgh Times:
Foreclosure looms over Tarpon Springs man who walked dog off leash
Robert Wirth Jr. may lose his house � all because of walking his dog in a deed-restricted community without a leash.

What seems like a relatively minor infraction has snowballed into a protracted court battle that he claims has cost him more than $100,000 in legal fees.

"We're running out of time because we're running out of money," said Wirth, 52, who works as a real estate broker.

It all started more than seven years ago because Wirth insisted on walking his black Labrador, Cole, regularly without a leash.
When we bought this place, one of the show-stoppers was whether or not it had a Homeowners Association or any CC&A's -- if it had, we would have not gone through with the sale. This sort of organization tends to have a really short shelf-life and can go bad at the slightest provocation.

Drawings come alive

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Fun gallery from Euphoria Magazine. One taste:

Fun morning

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We are sponsoring a community garden in the town we live in. Had the first meeting this morning and a lot of people showed up. Wonderful to see this level of interest! Now I'm heading off to Bellingham to get some stuff and to check in on my Dad.

Police in Philadelphia

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How stupid can you get - from philly.com:
Video sharpens focus on raid
The narcotics officers knew they were being watched on video surveillance moments after they entered the bodega.

Officer Jeffrey Cujdik told store owner Jose Duran that police were in search of tiny ziplock bags often used to package drugs. But, during the September 2007 raid, Cujdik and fellow squad members seemed much more interested in finding every video camera in the West Oak Lane store.

"I got like seven or eight eyes," shouted Officer Thomas Tolstoy, referring to the cameras, as the officers glanced up. "There's one outside. There is one, two, three, four in the aisles, and there's one right here somewhere."

For the next several minutes, Tolstoy and other Narcotics Field Unit officers systematically cut wires to cameras until those "eyes" could no longer see.

Then, after the officers arrested Duran and took him to jail, nearly $10,000 in cash and cartons of Marlboros and Newports were missing from the locked, unattended store, Duran alleges. The officers guzzled sodas and scarfed down fresh turkey hoagies, Little Debbie fudge brownies and Cheez-Its, he said.

What the officers didn't count on was that Duran's high-tech video system had a hidden backup hard-drive. The backup downloaded the footage to his private Web site before the wires were cut.

Madoff's world

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A fun read (well, I didn't have my money with Bernie) from Vanity Fair:
Madoff�s World
Among Bernard Madoff�s many dupes were his closest friends, including two tycoons he loved as surrogate fathers: the late Norman F. Levy�whose girlfriend, supermodel Carmen Dell�Orefice, would lose her life savings�and the prominent philanthropist Carl J. Shapiro. Amid the sobs, screams, and curses in Aspen, Palm Beach, and New York, with victims sharing their stories, the author gets behind Madoff�s affable fa�ade, to reveal his most intimate betrayals.
What follows is a wonderful eight-page insight into Madoff's world. One tiny excerpt:
�There must be some new word invented to describe the way you have redefined betrayal.�
I am still amazed that he thought he could pull it off -- there is no way to back out of a Ponzi Scam -- none.

Looks like the NoKo missile launch was a success.

Was hit by the obvious earlier today -- of course we would not try to hit it, we need to see what level of technology they have... DOH!

From New Zealand Channel 3:

North Korean rocket passes over Japan without incident
North Korea defiantly carried out a provocative rocket launch Sunday that the US, Japan and other nations suspect was a cover for a test of its long-range missile technology.

Liftoff took place at 11:30am (0230GMT) Sunday from the coastal Musudan-ri launch pad in northeastern North Korea, the South Korean government said. In Washington, the State Department also confirmed the launch.

The rocket flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese broadcaster NHK said, citing its government.

The world just got a bit more interesting. Their nuclear bomb was a fizzle but it did work.

Give them another ten years (and another xyzzy Jong Ill) and they will be dangerous.

Still sucks to be one of their citizens though:


Busy (and early) day today

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Had to wake up at 6:00AM to get Jen to the airport to meet up with her Mom, Sister and Niece in Seattle. They are off on an adventure for a few days. After dropping her off at the airport, I had breakfast here and then went to the season opening of the Bellingham Farmer's Market. A lot of fun. I'll have pictures up in a day or two -- had to do some computer work at the store. I have a major rant percolating about a large software company but I need to run some details to earth before I post. It isn't Microsoft. I am seriously pissed at not only the poor quality of the software but the excruciatingly bad customer service. More in a few days -- waiting for a reply.

Kudos to Oregon lawmakers

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When I order a pint of beer, I want 16oz and not a 14oz cheater pint or a 12oz specialty glass. Now, patrons in Oregon get to enjoy their full pints. From The Oregonian:
Lawmakers have your backs, Oregon beer drinkers
It's not quite policing pints, but some legislators want to make sure brewpubs and taverns pour you a full glass of beer.

A bill that debuted before a House committee Friday calls for the state to measure servings and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to issue decals to establishments that meet the "honest pint" 16-ounce standard.

"If someone advertises a pint, don't you think you should get a pint?" said Rep. Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley, the business and labor committee chairman who is co-sponsoring the bill.

Nope, it's not the most pressing issue facing Oregon, said Rep. Jules Bailey, D-Portland, the bill's chief backer. But the decal system would be voluntary for businesses -- and a bit of good cheer for consumers during a grim recession.

"Difficult times deserve an honest pint," said Evan Manvel, a conservation lobbyist representing himself Friday.
An amazing combination rant/multi-source fisking from Kevin at The Smallest Minority:
Do it Again, Only HARDER!
Well, FOX News has had the temerity to expose the "Mexican Canard" for what it is - a lie.

This, of course, makes no difference to The Other Side:
Tom Diaz, senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, called the "90 percent" issue a red herring and said that it should not detract from the effort to stop gun trafficking into Mexico.

"Let's do what we can with what we know," he said. "We know that one hell of a lot of firearms come from the United States because our gun market is wide open."
I don't know how I missed this before, but the UK's Guardian newspaper printed a piece last August that I wish I'd seen then. No matter, now's as good a time as any:
What follows is a must-read -- a reality check if you will for those who think that firearm crimes can be made to go away with the simple expedient of outlawing firearms. Fools.

The G-20 protests - The Big Picture

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Whomever got the idea for the Boston Globe's The Big Picture deserves a raise -- a substantial one. Their latest entry covers the protests at the recent G-20 meeting in London. I always love the cognitive dissonance that manifests in the minds of people in the teens and 20's. They are all about open communication but will shut down tighter than a clam if you bring up something that they do not agree with. They are all about peace and love but will resort to violence at the drop of a hat. They are all about learning but quiver at the sight of a Calculus textbook or anything approaching hard science. The subset of this last one is that they are vehement environmentalists but have none of the scientific background to justify what they say -- they are content to parrot the words of people they like and are incapable of coming up with an idea of their own. Here is one such luminary:
I see Paris. I see France. As he rattles down his fifteen minutes and goes back to his real profession: "Would you like fries with that?" Don't forget to check out the comments -- the ones in favor of the protesters are deliriously out in moonbat territory.
From "John McKittrick" at Closing Velocity comes this little heads up:
North Korean Launch Window Opens In 8 Hours
You still have time to run get popcorn:
North Korea has announced a launch window of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (0200 to 0700 GMT) sometime from Saturday to Wednesday.
Here's local Pyongyang time (and weather) for handy reference.
That was posted a couple hours ago -- the window just opened 30 minutes ago our current time. This will be interesting to watch. The USA announced that it has no plans to intercept but what we say and what actually happens are two different things at times...
I guarantee that if you read the text posted at this link, you can subsequently re-read any of your own writings and discover that you are the next Mark Twain. Makes Bulwer-Lytton look positively eloquent.

Luden's Cough Drop Commercial

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From 1967 - Frank Zappa soundtrack.
60 seconds of wonderful Zappa tightly controlled lunacy. Hat tip to BoingBoing for the link.
From Yahoo News/Associated Press:
Peter Madoff can spend $10K a month on expenses
Bernard Madoff's brother Peter gets access to $10,000 a month for living expenses under an agreement approved Friday in a lawsuit accusing him of swindling a college student.

Peter Madoff was in a Long Island courtroom to appeal a judge's order last week freezing his assets. That order came in a civil lawsuit filed by Andrew Ross Samuels, who claims Madoff took $478,000 of his trust fund and invested it in his brother Bernard's Ponzi scheme.

New York state Supreme Court Judge Stephen Bucaria approved giving Peter Madoff access to the money. The pact carries the same terms as a Justice Department document signed by Madoff on Dec. 24, in which he voluntarily agreed not to dispose of his substantial fortune and to curtail his personal spending until further notice.

He is permitted to spend $10,000 a month on living expenses, the judge said.
And a bit more:
His lawsuit claims Peter Madoff had "full knowledge" his brother was operating "a fraudulent Ponzi scheme and nothing more than an unprecedented fraud."
Good Lord! We do quite well on a little over $3K/month as we are both pretty frugal and carry no debt. To be forced to live on $10K/month would be the lap of luxury...
Click to embiggen - big file!

Swiped from here.

It is great to have Sascha here again -- we will have to monitor her closely so we don't loose any more ducks or chickens but still, a small price to pay. Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and move some stuff around. Changing the layout a bit.

Blago Meets RICO

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Cool news -- Illinois (make that FORMER) Illinois Governer Rod Blagojevich is guilty. From William A. Jacobson over at Legal Insurection:
Blago Meets RICO
As predicted on this Blog several months ago, the indictment of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been handed down, and it includes a sweeping RICO charge alleging that Blagojevich and others conducted a criminal enterprise, which the indictment calls the Blagojevich Enterprise. That enterprise consisted of Blagojevich, the Office of the Governor, and the campaign fundraising entity Friends of Rod Blagojevich.

The other defendants are Christopher Kelly, Chairman of Friends of Blagojevich; Blagojevich's brother, Robert; Alonzo Monk, former chief of Blagojevich's campaigns and a key fundraiser; William Cellini Sr., a Springfield businessman who was a long-time associate of Blagojevich; and John Harris, former Chief of Staff in the Governor's Office.

A detailed explanation of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) is contained in my prior post, Will Blago Meet RICO? Yes, Blago has met RICO.
Obama buddy Antoin "Tony" Rezko is there. The outcome will be interesting if the judges stick to their guns.

Could have told you that years ago

From the University of Melbourne:
Freedom to surf: workers more productive if allowed to use the internet for leisure
Dr Brent Coker, from the Department of Management and Marketing, says that workers who engage in �Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing� (WILB) are more productive than those who don�t.

�People who do surf the Internet for fun at work - within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office - are more productive by about 9% than those who don�t,� he says.

�Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos on YouTube, using social networking sites like Facebook or shopping online under the pretense that it costs millions in lost productivity, however that�s not always the case.�

According to the study of 300 workers, 70% of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB. Among the most popular WILB activities are searching for information about products, reading online news sites. Playing online games was the fifth most popular, while watching YouTube movies was seventh.

The attraction of WILB, according to Dr Coker, can be attributed to people�s imperfect concentration. �People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration. Think back to when you were in class listening to a lecture � after about 20 minutes your concentration probably went right down, yet after a break your concentration was restored.

�It�s the same in the work place. Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity.�
I wonder how many times this has been printed out and taped to the cubicle wall...

Gaming the system - Austin, Texas

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Talk about an abuse of the system -- from Yahoo News/Associated Press:
9 patients made nearly 2,700 ER visits in Texas
Just nine people accounted for nearly 2,700 of the emergency room visits in the Austin area during the past six years at a cost of $3 million to taxpayers and others, according to a report. The patients went to hospital emergency rooms 2,678 times from 2003 through 2008, said the report from the nonprofit Integrated Care Collaboration, a group of health care providers who care for low-income and uninsured patients.

"What we're really trying to do is find out who's using our emergency rooms ... and find solutions," said Ann Kitchen, executive director of the group, which presented the report last week to the Travis County Healthcare District board.

The average emergency room visit costs $1,000. Hospitals and taxpayers paid the bill through government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Kitchen said.
The article then mentions that eight of the nine have drug abuse problems. Sweet Baby Jebus -- 2,700 * 1,000 = $2,700,000 or $300,000 per person. You could institutionalize each of them and save over 50% of your tax dollars.

More white stuff

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This is getting freakin' ridiculous. That snow that started last night is now a good solid three inches on the ground here. Air temp is 29F so this will not melt away like yesterday's snowfall. Heading into town to work with the bookkeeper in a few hours. Where is my warming! Al Gore, you promised me warming!
Kind of wiped out from the acupuncture treatment so heading off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to bed. When Jen and I first met, I shared my life with a really sweet Siberian Husky. Everything was fine until we moved to the farm and got chickens and ducks. Sascha was in second heaven and would, every couple weeks or so, treat herself to a nice plump hen. We tried everything -- shock collar, extensive training and finally, after six months of working with her, we made the decision to find a new home for her. She is very very smart (goes with the breed) and as soon as she was sure that we were not watching, we would loose another bird. She is now living with an ex-SUN computer geek, wife and two daughters on a couple acres south of here. They are heading to a vacation in Mexico so we are hosting her here. It will be great to see her again.
A cool project is just starting out:
Belfer Cylinders Digital Connection
The Belfer Cylinders Digital Connection provides online access to digital audio files of cylinders in the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive. Belfer�s cylinder collection includes over 22,000 cylinders, 12,000 of which are unique titles. The goal of this digitization project is to provide 6,000 audio files by 2010.

The digital recordings, provided in both MP3 and WAV file format, can be searched or browsed by genre/subject.
6,000 files is 30/day for a 200 day work year. They are going to be busy! Sounds like a great resource for samplers although they are claiming ownership of the scan and stipulate non-commercial or scholarly use only.
Very high geekdom indeed! After World War Two, Churchill had the machines used to decode the German Enigma codes destroyed so they would not fall into enemy hands. Even though an Armistice had been signed, tensions were still strong in Europe and Russia. For the last fourteen years, sixty volunteers have been working to build a functioning replica of one of the Bombes (there were 210 of them operating during the war). The London Daily Mail has a nice article with photos on the new Bombe:
War veterans Ruth Bourne, left, and Jean Valentine,
who served in Women's Royal Navy Service during World War II,
stand in front of the machine that played a crucial part
in cracking the Nazi Enigma code.
The word Bombe comes from an earlier Polish code breaking computer. This Wikipedia link has a lot of data on the construction and theory and some good stories. Here is the main website for Bletchley Park

Well, the snow all melted but

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Just got back from town and it's raining and slushy. Got up to the 40's today so last night's accumulation melted but it's coming down again with the ground temp at 33 and the air temp at 30. Crap.
April is the time that you start to prep the garden for planting. We should not be having snow on the ground but here it is -- about two inches fell overnight. Temps are right at freezing so it probably will not stick around for any length of time but snow in April? We want warming and we want it now!

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