June 2009 Archives

I love going to auctions but I make sure to do my homework first and to drop out when the bidding gets into cloud cuckoo land. Witness (or is that witless) this poor schlub bidding $760.00 on a clapped out 40 year old South Bend engine lathe. The bid:
The Lathe:
The Location:
This was once a nice lathe -- probably purchased sometime in the late 1960's to mid 1970's judging from the magnetic motor switch. South Bend made really nice equipment. I have a much older South Bend lathe that I bought off some guy who was cleaning out his grandfather's house. Still had the old manuals and tooling and it was in pristine condition -- the old guy knew how to work it. One of the best $1,200 I ever spent... This poor unit spent the last 40 years under the tender ministrations of teenagers in shop classes. No tooling visible, one chuck but no indication as to the runout or condition of the ways. And some poor fool thinks that it is worth $760. As an example, $1,500 gets you this fine unit from Grizzly:
Really similar capacity (11" swing and 26" length v/s 12" swing and 24" length), brand new with free shipping (USA only), good guarantee and it comes with a couple of chucks, some tooling, a faceplate and it basically ready to roll whereas the poor South Bend will require several hundred hours (if there is any damage to the ways) and at least a bearing replacement to bring up to snuff... If I saw this at an auction, I would drop out right around $150 at the maximum. Caveat Emptor.

A little ditty for our times

Swiped from Denny
A wonderful explanation of how Green's debate over at The Daily Bayonet:
The debate is over, the science is settled.

How often have radical greens repeated those phrases in an effort to shield their global warming hoax from the inconvenient truth that there is no global warming? Well we won�t be hearing those tired old phrases much longer, because there is a new explanation greens can use when faced with inconvenient truths.

I call it the SUE defense, the Shut-Up Explanation. Here�s a quick and dirty example of how it works:
Skeptic � �There has been no global warming since 1998.�
Green � �Shut up!

See how effective it is? It�s brilliant. In fact, it�s so easy to use that there have been two high profile cases of the new Shut Up Explanation in the news already.

Exhibit One: The recent EPA action to bury an internal study that found CO2 has no impact on climate. Really? How interesting. Shut Up!

Exhibit Two: The fate of Mitchell Taylor, a scientist who has studied polar bears for 30 years and who says that the number of bears are increasing or stable, not decreasing as the WWF and scaredy-greens claim. His views won�t be presented at the upcoming Copenhagen conference because, well, Shut Up!

Occasionally the fervent green activist will come across a person who does not immediately fold at the Shut Up Explanation. In which case greens are authorized to escalate to DefCon Eleventy and accuse them of treason. Here�s a snippet from the Alarmist�s Handbook:
Use of excessive exclamation points is approved when calling for the death, execution, incarceration or public flogging of stubborn skeptics, for appropriate usage please apply the Romm standard.

Clearly skeptics need new tactics to deal with the devastating new argument, I�ll have to bring it up at the next vast right-wing conspiracy meeting.
What they said. DaveH -- who doesn't shut up very well...

Blogroll update

Deleted a few links that I no longer visit regularly. Added some new ones. If you were a fan of Gary Larsen's The Far Side comics, be sure to check out The Argyle Sweater.

Going Vegan? Watch these restaurants

An interesting report from Vegan blog QuarryGirl:

Operation Pancake: Undercover investigation of LA vegan restaurants
Is your vegan food really vegan? We pull out all the stops to test 17 LA area vegan restaurants for non-vegan ingredients, and to find out why seven of them failed miserably.

From Pure Luck to Green Leaves, Vegan House to Vegan Plate and Rosemead to Taipei we pull back the covers on the seedy world of vegan restaurants, and an international supply chain that pumps eggs and milk into our supposedly vegan food on a daily basis.

Surely, a vegan restaurant is safe to eat at if I'm a vegan?
Really? Regular readers of quarrygirl.com will recall us publishing an email and photos from "Mr. Wishbone" detailing the contents of a dumpster at LA Vegan Thai with non-vegan ingredients plainly visible, and presumably used as ingredients in the food (pancakes in this case).

After we published Mr. Wishbone's findings, several people wrote in with stories about potentially non-vegan ingredients being sighted in vegan restaurants, and one particular thread on the quarrums "Vegan Dirt" began to get rather busy, with accusations flying here and there about shrimp paste being spotted in some restaurants, and "vegan cheese" that looked and tasted exactly like dairy-based cheese being served in others.

And The Plan:

The Plan
During the meeting, Mr. Wishbone outlined an ambitious plan that would enable us to test for common non-vegan ingredients (eggs, casein [a component of milk], and shellfish) in a multitude of menu items from local vegan restaurants. The plan would be a logistical, financial and time-sucking nightmare but, if done properly, and to scientific testing standards, it would be a ground-breaking and highly reliable indicator of just how "pure" food from vegan restaurants really is.

The technique:

The testing kits that Mr. Wishbone was to obtain could positively identify three common non-vegan allergens (hen's egg, milk protein (casein), shell-fish), and were highly sensitive (down to parts per million, which explains our intense focus on process and hygiene), so we targeted food items that contained vegan "cheese", vegan "fish" (including shellfish and non-shellfish), creamy sauces, breads and stuff that had an expanded, sweet, crispy or bubbly texture (often created using eggs as binders in the cooking process).

Of 17 restaurants tested, ten came back clean, some of them came back with overload ratings (higher than high). A lot of the raw materials are imported from Taiwan so mislabeling is a big issue. Still, casein based cheese (as noted in the article) behaves completely differently from Vegan cheese that it is odd that the chefs at these restaurants would not have noticed the difference. For someone with food allergies, this is a sobering read...

Michael Jackson's Patent

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Michael Jackson was the owner of US Patent #5,255,452 Method and Means for Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion.
You got it the wrong way around if you believe that steaming load. From Bloomberg:
Big Oil�s Answer to Carbon Law May Be Fuel Imports
America�s biggest oil companies will probably cope with U.S. carbon legislation by closing fuel plants, cutting capital spending and increasing imports.

Under the Waxman-Markey climate bill that may be voted on today by the U.S. House, refiners would have to buy allowances for carbon dioxide spewed from their plants and from vehicles when motorists burn their fuel. Imports would need permits only for the latter, which ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulva said would create a competitive imbalance.

�It will lead to the opportunity for foreign sources to bring in transportation fuels at a lower cost, which will have an adverse impact to our industry, potential shutdown of refineries and investment and, ultimately, employment,� Mulva said in a June 16 interview in Detroit. Houston-based ConocoPhillips has the second-largest U.S. refining capacity.

The same amount of gasoline that would have $1 in carbon costs imposed if it were domestic would have 10 cents less added if it were imported, according to energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie in Houston. Contrary to President Barack Obama�s goal of reducing dependence on overseas energy suppliers, the bill would incent U.S. refiners to import more fuel, said Clayton Mahaffey, an analyst at RedChip Cos. in Maitland, Florida.
We have two refineries here which are big drivers of the economy. A lot of people live in towns like ours and drive 40 miles to the refinery to work. A local community college has an excellent welding program and graduates get excellent job offers from the refinery. If the refinery closes, there will be a lot of ancillary jobs that will be lost. The politicians do not know what they are doing -- they are so out of touch with reality it makes my eyes bleed...

Timmy's is becoming Canadian

Whenever I go up into Canada, there seems to be a Tim Horton's on every streetcorner. Decent coffee, good food, great donuts. A Canadian institution... Actually no, they are a spin-off from Wendy's. But they are reorganizing as a Canadian company. Feeling confused -- check out this story from the CBC:
Tim Hortons to register as Canadian firm
Tim Hortons Inc., the coffee chain with an image as Canadian as hockey and maple syrup, said Monday it plans to change its registration to become a Canadian company.

The company said it has filed a plan with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to become a subsidiary of a firm incorporated in Canada. Tim Hortons is currently the subsidiary of a U.S. firm, after being spun off by former owner Wendy's International in 2006.

The management and board of directors of Tim Hortons said the move would boost the company's position to take advantage of lower Canadian tax rates commencing in the year after the change is made.

"The company currently earns the substantial majority of its income in Canada," Tim Hortons said, owing to the fact that it has 2,930 outlets in Canada and 527 in the United States.
Some of the stores share a building with a Wendy's -- this explains a lot...

Typical Seattle

Talk about being an idiot -- from The Seattle Times:

Seattle man sues city to stop fireworks show at Gas Works Park
The city should conduct a thorough environmental review before letting thousands of people watch fireworks from the partially remediated toxic waste site that is Gas Works Park, an environmental activist says.

A Lake City man has sued to stop Fourth of July events at the park at the north end of Lake Union until the state shows that gathering to watch fireworks there is safe for viewers, the park and surrounding wildlife.

Benjamin Schroeter, who is not an attorney, filed the suit, arguing that the city failed to conduct a review in accordance with the State Environmental Policy Act before permitting the annual event.

But city officials maintain that the fireworks display, a once-a-year civic event, is exactly what the state had in mind when it exempted certain activities from environmental review requirements.

And the city already places conditions on the event's private contractor so it doesn't do anything to release any contamination during the Independence Day celebration, Christopher Williams, deputy superintendent of the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department.

Talk about causing a waste of time and money during a time when budgets are hurting. Schroeter needs to go back on his meds or something...

DOH! Why don't they do this here...

From CNN/Tech:
Europe getting a universal cell-phone charger
(CNN) -- The frantic hunt for the right cell-phone charger will soon be a thing of the past -- in Europe at least -- as major manufacturers on Monday agreed to introduce a universal adaptor within six months.

Most cell phones currently rely on different chargers, causing mountains of waste electronics.

Industry leaders, including Apple, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, have struck a deal with the European Union to introduce the one-size-fits-all charger by January 1, 2010, offering a solution to one of modern life's chief frustrations.

As the number of cell phones has exploded over the past few years, so have the number of chargers -- generating mountains of waste technology as users change or upgrade handsets.

Now the cell phone industry has agreed to standardize its chargers, making all handsets compatible with a micro-USB plug already standard on handsets such BlackBerrys.
This will be a breath of fresh air. There are several people that drive the store van and most of their cellphones have a mini-USB jack but there are some electronic incompatibilities. Our Motorola phones will not charge with the Sprint/Nokia charger even though it plugs in just fine. I thought there were supposed to be some standards here...

Neverland - an urban exploration

Urban Explorer Jonathan Haeber broke into Neverland one evening in late 2007 and took some photographs. He posted his images at Bearnings. Flash forward to the present -- Jonathan reposted his thoughts, this time with a lot more images. Haunting words and story:

Saying Goodbye to Neverland and Michael Jackson
I wanted to make this post, not simply to jump on the bandwagon of the media outpouring for Michael Jackson. I'm not here to judge his life or talk about his finances, or his troubled past, or the allegations, or even Bubbles. I'm writing this simply to tell a story. It's a story that I didn't really have the inclination to say before. Now that Michael's "Ranch" no longer exists, and the rides dismantled  it simply stands as a bank-owned shadow of its former self, I wanted say a few things about my experience at Neverland, and the truth behind how I was able to get in.

In many ways, I feel this is sort of a confession. I never saw Neverland as an interesting place. At first, I didn't understood its potential to tell a photographic story. As someone who finds significance in historic architecture, I neither saw Neverland as significant, nor historic. All of that changed.

In December of 2007, I was on my way down to Ventura for the Holidays. I had taken multiple trips down the 101 before. Each trip, I made it a point to stop at a roadside abandonment to photograph at night. As it invariably is every December, just prior to Christmas, the radios are filled with the repetitious yuletide jingles of yore. Usually, the six-hour drive is bearable if I switch from one station to the next - between commercials. This particular drive down, I grew weary of the music. I'm not exactly sure why Michael came to mind. Part of it probably had to do with the silence and the habit of mine to imagine music in my head in such moments. It's also possible that I passed the off-ramp for Los Olivos and thought of the place, only to think of it more and more. Whatever it was, the idea of then-abandoned Neverland began to roll around in my mind. The radio was off, and I began mentally turning over rocks in the process. What did Neverland mean about Michael? Then the big one loomed: Why couldn't Neverland be 'historic' in my mind?

Here are four of the photographs -- gorgeous work:




From ABC News:
Axelrod: Obama Won't Rule Out Middle-Class Tax Hike
White House senior adviser David Axelrod said the president won't rule out a health care reform bill that includes a middle-class tax hike.

"The president had said in the past that he doesn't believe taxing health care benefits at any level is necessarily the best way to go here. He still believes that," Axelrod told me on This Week, "But there are a number of formulations and we'll wait and see. The important thing at this point is to keep the process moving, to keep people at the table, to the keep the discussions going. We've gotten a long way down the road and we want to finish that journey."

I pressed Axelrod on whether Obama will draw a line in the sand and veto any bill that funds health care reform with tax hikes for people making under $250,000 a year -- despite a pledge Barack Obama made during the 2008 presidential campaign not to raise taxes on the poor and middle-class.

"One of the problems we've had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don't get anything done. That's not the way the president approaches us. He is very cognizant of protecting people -- middle class people, hard-working people who are trying to get along in a very difficult economy. And he will continue to represent them in these talks," Axelrod said.

"But they're also dealing with punishing health care costs, and that's something that we have to deal with."
What a little weasel... Say one thing to get elected and then turn right around and pursue the socialist agenda you have been talking about since before you were a senator. The good news is that this sort of thing will hopefully motivate people to get up and act when the time comes around. There is a TEA party being held in Bellingham on the 4th and I am planning on being there...

Our bailout, their Rum

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There are lots of stories like this ready to crawl out of the woodwork. From Bloomberg:
Bailout of U.S. Banks Gives British Rum a $2.7 Billion Benefit
In June 2008, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh Jr. agreed to give London-based Diageo Plc billions of dollars in tax incentives to move its production of Captain Morgan rum from one U.S. island -- Puerto Rico -- to another, namely St. Croix.

DeJongh says he had no idea his deal would help make the world�s largest liquor distiller the most unlikely beneficiary of the emergency Troubled Asset Relief Program approved by Congress just four months later.

Today, as two 56-foot-high (17-meter-high) tanks for holding fermenting molasses will soon rise from the ground on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, the extent to which dozens of nonbank companies benefited from last October�s emergency financial rescue plan is just beginning to come to light.

The hurried legislation adopted by a Congress voting under the threat of sudden global economic collapse led to hidden tax breaks for firms in dozens of industries. They included builders of Nascar auto-racing tracks, restaurant chains such as Burger King Holdings Inc., movie and television producers -- and London�s Diageo.

�It�s kind of like the magician�s sleight of hand,� says former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman William Thomas, a California Republican who ran the committee from 2001 to 2007 and oversaw all tax legislation. �They snuck these things in a bill that was focused on other things.�
The article goes into great detail on several of these scams. Everyone in Congress had their pet project they wanted to fun. Pork writ large. What was Obama's campaign promise again? Government transparency and cutting back on Pork?

More news from Honduras

Good news if they can hold out! From the Wall Street Journal:

Honduras Defends Its Democracy
Fidel Castro and Hillary Clinton object.
Hugo Chavez's coalition-building efforts suffered a setback yesterday when the Honduran military sent its president packing for abusing the nation's constitution.

It seems that President Mel Zelaya miscalculated when he tried to emulate the success of his good friend Hugo in reshaping the Honduran Constitution to his liking.

But Honduras is not out of the Venezuelan woods yet. Yesterday the Central American country was being pressured to restore the authoritarian Mr. Zelaya by the likes of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Hugo himself. The Organization of American States, having ignored Mr. Zelaya's abuses, also wants him back in power. It will be a miracle if Honduran patriots can hold their ground.

That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chavez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vasquez Velesquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.

It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too.

Mrs. Clinton has piled on as well. Yesterday she accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." Fidel Castro did just that. Mr. Chavez pledged to overthrow the new government.

Honduras is fighting back by strictly following the constitution. The Honduran Congress met in emergency session yesterday and designated its president as the interim executive as stipulated in Honduran law. It also said that presidential elections set for November will go forward. The Supreme Court later said that the military acted on its orders. It also said that when Mr. Zelaya realized that he was going to be prosecuted for his illegal behavior, he agreed to an offer to resign in exchange for safe passage out of the country. Mr. Zelaya denies it.

Many Hondurans are going to be celebrating Mr. Zelaya's foreign excursion. Street protests against his heavy-handed tactics had already begun last week. On Friday a large number of military reservists took their turn. "We won't go backwards," one sign said. "We want to live in peace, freedom and development."

Besides opposition from the Congress, the Supreme Court, the electoral tribunal and the attorney general, the president had also become persona non grata with the Catholic Church and numerous evangelical church leaders. On Thursday evening his own party in Congress sponsored a resolution to investigate whether he is mentally unfit to remain in office.

Interesting times -- the article goes on to talk about the history of Honduras and its time under military rule back in the 1980s.

From FOX News/Associated Press:
Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years in Prison
Historic swindler Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison Monday for a fraud so extensive that the judge said he needed to send a symbolic message to potential imitators and to victims who demanded harsh punishment.

Scattered applause and whoops broke out in the crowded Manhattan courtroom after U.S. District Judge Denny Chin issued the maximum sentence to the 71-year-old defendant, who said he lives "in a tormented state now, knowing all the pain and suffering I've created."

Chin rejected a request by Madoff's lawyer for leniency and said he disagreed that victims of the fraud were seeking mob vengeance.

"Here the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of manipulation of the system is not just a bloodless crime that takes place on paper, but one instead that takes a staggering toll," Chin said.
And his wife is being classy and bailing:
"I am embarrassed and ashamed," she said. "Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused. The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years."
Glad to see him get the sentence he deserves -- there is no way to gracefully back out of a Ponzi Scam. He should never have started it.
Had a new kind of spam attempt just a short while ago. As you recall from a few posts ago today, I get to see the URL that the commenter leaves. Generally with hijacked thread spam, the moke will leave a bunch of links to online fora that have been hijacked. It will be at a popular site like www.yahoo.com/groups/etc/etc/etc/porn_site.html and the idea is that people will read the comment on my blog, voluntarily choose to visit a questionable website that may try to corrupt their personal system and view the important message that the spammer left for their viewing pleasure. The one tonight had a single hijacked link placed in the URL section and not the comment body -- there were just a few random characters in the comment body. This would have gone through without a hitch except for one problem. The 'bot they used had an IP Address that was known by zen.spamhaus.org as a site for spam. So, in one swell foop, they announced a new and potentially successful (for them) kind of comment spam but they did so using a compromised machine that was already recognized as a source of spam and therefore their attempt was immediately placed into purgatory. I am now looking at writing a few lines of PERL to nuke these puppies whenever they show up... Fish in a barrel. I am not a programmer but I would love to challenge one of these turds to some programming fu -- actually, I already am and I am beating their sorry asses to the ground and stealing their lunch money. Heh...
"If they were merely incompetent, then at least SOME of their actions would have been to the benefit of the country."
--Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy
Say what you like about the man, he was prescient with this. 2010 and counting...

Radio Locator

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Handy tool -- give it your location and it will spit out a list of radio stations that you should be able to receive. Check out Radio Locator You can also locate vacant channels.

Military coup in Honduras

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Sigh... And just a few days before an election. From Reuters:
Army overthrows Honduras president
The Honduran army ousted and exiled leftist President Manuel Zelaya on Sunday in Central America's first military coup since the Cold War, triggered by his bid to make it legal to seek another term in office.

U.S. President Barack Obama and the European Union expressed deep concern after troops came for Zelaya, an ally of socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, around dawn and took him away from his residence. He was whisked away to Costa Rica.

Zelaya, who took office in 2006 and is limited by the constitution to a four-year term that ends in early 2010, had angered the army, courts and Congress by pushing for an unofficial public vote on Sunday to gauge support for his plan to hold a November referendum on allowing presidential re-election.

Speaking on Venezuelan state television, Chavez -- who has long championed the left in Latin America -- said he had put his troops on alert over the Honduran coup and would do everything necessary to abort the coup against his close ally.
A bit more:
Honduras, an impoverished coffee, textile and banana exporter with a population of 7 million, had been politically stable since the end of military rule in the early 1980s. But Zelaya has moved the country further left since taking power. His push to change the constitution drove a rift between his office and the nation's other institutions.

A former businessman who sports a cowboy hat and thick mustache, Zelaya fired military chief Gen. Romeo Vasquez last week for refusing to help him run Sunday's unofficial survey on extending the four-year term limit on Honduran presidents.
Reading between the lines here, the government had been politically stable since the military ceded power in the 1980's. Zelaya is a crony of Chavez who wanted to amend the Honduran constitution to remove the four-year term limit. I am guessing that this will be a good thing for the Honduran people -- we will see when the next election takes place. There are a lot of updates over at Venezuelanalysis -- worth checking out as the reports from the media are contradictory -- Zelaya resigns, he doesn't resign, power and phones are being cut off... A lot of the people involved studied at the USA's School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). School of the America's Watch has the story and some photos.

Remember Steorn - the Irish company?

Back in 2006, they claimed to have developed an over-unity electrical generator that put out more power than was used to drive it. They called this technology Orbo and said the following on their website:
What is Orbo?
Orbo is a technology that creates energy from magnetic interactions. Orbo provides free, clean and constant energy at the point of use.

Orbo is a platform technology that can be engineered to power anything from a phone, to a fridge to a car.

Orbo is controversial - science tells us that energy can not be created - yet Orbo does this. Orbo is an over unity technology - it provides more energy out than is put in.

Orbo is a result of many man years of technological development using a "Victorian Science" approach. It is a technology that has been derived phenomologically, through test, implementation and retest.

Steorn will provide Orbo to the product developers under license. These product developers will provide Orbo powered products to the public.
They staged a public demonstration but the room lighting overheated their mechanism and they were not able to show anything. They also invited a jury of scientists to analyze the technology and last week, they published their findings:
Jury Announcement
In August 2006 the Irish company Steorn published an advertisement in the Economist announcing the development of �a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy�. Qualified experts were sought to form a �jury� to validate these claims.

Twenty-two independent scientists and engineers were selected by Steorn to form this jury. It has for the past two years examined evidence presented by the company. The unanimous verdict of the Jury is that Steorn's attempts to demonstrate the claim have not shown the production of energy. The jury is therefore ceasing work.

The jury consists of scientists and engineers in relevant fields from Europe and North America, from industry, universities and government laboratories. Information about individual members can be found at http://stjury.ning.com/

Chairman, Steorn Jury
And another one bites the dust. The joke of the matter is that Steorn is presently marketing two sensors for measuring magnetic fields. Given their confusion over what constitutes over unity, I would not touch one of their sensors with a ten-foot pole. Most claims of over-unity stem from stunningly bad lab work or improper use of test equipment. A lot of the work done with moving magnets develop pulse waveforms and not the smooth sine curves that commercial electrical power uses. Cheaper meters assume that the AC waveform will be a sine wave and give incorrect readings when confronted with a stream of pulsed current. Swap out the measurement tools with a nice $300 Fluke or Tektronix multi-meter and your free energy suddenly evaporates...

Just how bone-headed are these mouth-breathing morons.

Here is a screen-cap of a typical spam attempt. Note the nonsense names and URL.

Also note the standard (six in this case) four to six random characters leading the body of the text and then the wonderful: commentx-space-comma where x is an integer from one to nine.


It was easy enough to write a line of regex to knock out the four to six characters, now all I have to look for is the commentx section... What a looser. And of course, the IP address ( gets put into the killfile so that system will never be able to access this website again. Teach that person not to practice safe hex... (Hello Cablevision subscriber in Hicksville, NY)

Bear sightings in Ohio

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Great video from FOX News:
Gotta love the rabbit -- I'm faster than a bear

Kitty kitty kitty...

A cute story about a very lucky woman in South Africa -- from the London Daily Mail:

I share my home with 11 cats - four cheetahs, five lions and two tigers
Sharing a bed with your furry friend has taken on a whole new meaning for Riana Van Nieuwenhuizen.

The sanctuary worker shares her South African home with not one but FOUR orphaned cheetahs, five lions and two tigers.

Forty-six-year-old Riana said: 'I love them all. But they're a handful.'

Here are two of the photos that accompany the article:



How incredibly lucky to be able to live with these amazing creatures.

From Science Daily:
High Blood Pressure Could Be Caused By A Common Virus, Study Suggests
A new study suggests for the first time that cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common viral infection affecting between 60 and 99 percent of adults worldwide, is a cause of high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and published in the May 15, 2009 issue of PLoS Pathogens, the findings further demonstrate that, when coupled with other risk factors for heart disease, the virus can lead to the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

"CMV infects humans all over the world," explains co-senior author Clyde Crumpacker, MD, an investigator in the Division of Infectious Diseases at BIDMC and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "This new discovery may eventually provide doctors with a whole new approach to treating hypertension, with anti-viral therapies or vaccines becoming part of the prescription."

A member of the herpes virus family, CMV affects all age groups and is the source of congenital infection, mononucleosis, and severe infection in transplant patients. By the age of 40, most adults will have contracted the virus, though many will never exhibit symptoms. Once it has entered the body, CMV is usually there to stay, remaining latent until the immune system is compromised, when it then reemerges.
Never knew about CMV -- the link between it and vascular problems is interesting to say the least.

Enough already - Michael Jackson

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The guy was a genius and truly the King of Pop but... From Morbid Anatomy:
Michael Jackson to be Plastinated by Gunther von Hagens!
Breaking news just in from John Troyer of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath, who will be lecturing on the invention of the modern human corpse at Observatory next Thursday (click here for info): it has been announced that Michael Jackson's body will be plastinated by the infamous Gunther von Hagens!
I had the great pleasure of seeing von Hagen's Bodyworlds exhibition when it was in Vancouver, BC. a few years ago. Fascinating and beautiful work.

Still programming the new Cash Register

Still working on the new Register. Compared to the Casio TS-3100, this Sharp XE-A505 is a joy to work with. Being able to save sales data on an SD card is fantastic -- the fact that it is either CSV or QuickBooks format is perfect.

You can also save machine programming to the same card so if we want to change any of the settings, I can do this in the office and walk the card down to the register. A few keystrokes and the new program takes effect.

Now I just have to pry off 20 keytops and cut out the labels for the various departments. That and a few last minute changes to the functions (setting up the various pay-by departments for Charge, Check, WIC/EBT, etc...) and it will be ready to roll out. My only gripe so far is that it uses tape that is 1.75" wide. Most registers use 2.25" and 1.75" is hard to find. I mail-ordered two cases through the internet so it's not bad, just need to remember to do this again when I am down to my last couple rolls...

Great graph from Mark Perry at Carpe Diem that shows two examples of just how well endowed the Canadian medical system is:
Jen and I have both had to have several MRI's and CT's -- so did my Mom. Imagine having to wait six months to get it -- to not know what was happening to a joint. The conditions that lead up to my hip needing replacement were barely visible on an XRay but stood out like a sore thumb on the MRI.

A wise use of Federal money

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An example of what our tax dollars are being spent on. From FOX News:
Federal Government Funds New $21 Million Airport for Alaska Town With 46 Residents
U.S. Department of Transportation gives state $21 million to a new airport in an interior Alaska community with just 46 residents that already has an airport.

An interior Alaska community with just 46 residents is in line for a new $21 million airport.

The state received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build the airport at Takotna 17 miles west of McGrath and 300 miles west of Fairbanks.

The amount spent is not really an option under Federal Aviation Administration rules, said Roger Maggard, the state Department of Transportation's airport development manager.

"The fact of it is, in order to meet all the dimensional requirements that the FAA requires for funding an airport, they do become quite expensive," Maggard said. "It doesn't matter in terms of airport costs whether it's 50 people or 250 people or 500 people. It still requires the same airport facility."
Christ on a Corn Dog -- if the airport doesn't meet your standards then lower your standards. It really is that simple. Think of what that money could have been spent on in terms of better water, an upgraded sewage treatment plant, an upgrade to their electrical system. But noooooooo... It has to be a brand new airport. 2010 - counting the days...

A serious WTF moment from Sweden

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From the Swedish website The Local:
Swedish parents keep 2-year-old's gender secret
A couple of Swedish parents have stirred up debate in the country by refusing to reveal whether their two-and-a-half-year-old child is a boy or a girl.

Pop�s parents, both 24, made a decision when their baby was born to keep Pop�s sex a secret. Aside from a select few � those who have changed the child�s diaper � nobody knows Pop�s gender; if anyone enquires, Pop�s parents simply say they don�t disclose this information.

In an interview with newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in March, the parents were quoted saying their decision was rooted in the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction.

�We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,� Pop�s mother said. �It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.�

The child's parents said so long as they keep Pop�s gender a secret, he or she will be able to avoid preconceived notions of how people should be treated if male or female.

Pop's wardrobe includes everything from dresses to trousers and Pop's hairstyle changes on a regular basis. And Pop usually decides how Pop is going to dress on a given morning.
Good lord -- talk about a sure-fire way to raise a fucked-up individual. I can only imagine the personality problems that will surface as this child hits puberty and beyond. The line: "the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction" is proof positive that Swedish Liberal Universities are just as wretched as our own. Gender Studies indeed -- how about the basic three R's and take it from there...

I'm shocked - shocked I tell you

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From CNet News:
E-mails indicate EPA suppressed report skeptical of global warming
The Environmental Protection Agency may have suppressed an internal report that was skeptical of claims about global warming, including whether carbon dioxide must be strictly regulated by the federal government, according to a series of newly disclosed e-mail messages.

Less than two weeks before the agency formally submitted its pro-regulation recommendation to the White House, an EPA center director quashed a 98-page report that warned against making hasty "decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data."

The EPA official, Al McGartland, said in an e-mail message (PDF) to a staff researcher on March 17: "The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward...and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision."

The e-mail correspondence raises questions about political interference in what was supposed to be an independent review process inside a federal agency--and echoes criticisms of the EPA under the Bush administration, which was accused of suppressing a pro-climate change document.

Alan Carlin, the primary author of the 98-page EPA report, said in a telephone interview on Friday that his boss, McGartland, was being pressured himself. "It was his view that he either lost his job or he got me working on something else," Carlin said. "That was obviously coming from higher levels."

E-mail messages released this week show that Carlin was ordered not to "have any direct communication" with anyone outside his small group at EPA on the topic of climate change, and was informed that his report would not be shared with the agency group working on the topic.

"I was told for probably the first time in I don't know how many years exactly what I was to work on," said Carlin, a 38-year veteran of the EPA. "And it was not to work on climate change." One e-mail orders him to update a grants database instead.
Well color me surprised. And the outrage in the mainstream media? ... ... crickets ... ...

Stupid spammers

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Now this is downright unreal... For the last couple of days, I have been seeing a variant of the four to six character random word marker spam. This one has the usual four to six random characters followed by a space, followed by the phrase: "commentx" where x is an integer from one to nine, followed by a space and finally, a comma. Now tell me how long it took to write a line of regex to nail that stupid bastard. Ten seconds and you would be about right... I have been seeing ten to fifteen attempts per day and none of them have been successful. Fscking mouth-breathing drooling morons.

No posting tonight

Our old cash register at the store is getting cranky -- some of the number keys don't work reliably so I went out today and got a new one. Learning how to program it tonight so this will take an hour or three. A quick heads up -- if you are looking for a Cash Register or know someone who might be, stay the hell away from Casio. I had purchased a mid-line Casio register a few weeks ago but had been running into major issues with it. I thought that it would be a good register as it offered programming directly from a PC and it also used Compact Flash cards for saving and restoring data. The programming interface is through a Serial port only, the User Interface for the computer application is horrid -- straight out of Windows 3.11 and the Compact Flash data storage is, at my most charitable, next to worthless as the file format is ASCII strings but unusable by standard applications. This is the most recent model that Casio makes but it has the look and feel of something fifteen years old. What really gets my goat is that they charged extra for the application AND for the programmers manual $120 and $35 respectively. Needless to say, I am not buying another Casio product in the future... The unit I picked up today was made by Sharp. Connects to the PC via USB port, it registers on your PC as an external device. The programming interface is nice and easy and it uses an SD card to archive up to one year of your data. File format? Either CSV or Quicken/QuickBooks -- your choice... Want to buy a cash register, buy a Sharp XE-A505 - best couple hundred you will ever spend...

The humanity!!!

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Brings tears to my eye. From FAIL Blog:
We have product loss insurance for our own grocery store but the deductible is very high and for specialty wines, how do you go about setting a value. OUCH!

Ribbit ribbit ribb - OW!!!

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Remember all the one-legged frogs that were caused by the enviros shopping list of industrial horrors? Chemical pollution. Increased UV radiation caused by the hole in the ozone layer (the natural hole that comes and goes). Strike another one for Occam's Razor -- from the BBC:
Legless frogs mystery solved
Scientists think they have resolved one of the most controversial environmental issues of the past decade: the curious case of the missing frogs' legs.

Around the world, frogs are found with missing or misshaped limbs, a striking deformity that many researchers believe is caused by chemical pollution.

However, tests on frogs and toads have revealed a more natural, benign cause.

The deformed frogs are actually victims of the predatory habits of dragonfly nymphs, which eat the legs of tadpoles.
The article then goes on to point out that if it was a true teratogenic problem, then you would see multiple limbs and other deformities just as frequently as missing ones. Chalk one up for science and one down for environmentalist sub-prime science. Again, I am passionately for the environment but I have a science background and want the decisions being made to be made on the basis of peer-reviewed science and not politics.


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Swiped from Theo:
What do you believe in???
Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama go to heaven, God addresses Al first.

''Al, what do you believe in?''

Al replies: "Well, I believe that I won that election, but that it was your will that I did not serve. And I've come to understand that now.''

God thinks for a second and says: "Very good. Come and sit at my left.''

God then addresses Bill. "Bill, what do you believe in?''

Bill replies: "I believe in forgiveness. I've sinned, but I've never held a grudge against my fellow man, and I hope no grudges are held against me.''

God thinks for a second and says: "You are forgiven, my son. Come and sit at my right.''

Then God addresses Barack. "Barack, what do you believe in?''

He replies: "I believe you're in my chair."

Rest in Peace


One of a kind -- in all senses of the phrase.


Also missed -- an 80's icon who aged well and who met her end with peace and grace.

Tasmanian devils?

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From the New Zealand website stuff.co.nz:
Stoned Wallabies creating opium crop circles
Wallabies are getting stoned on Tasmania's opium poppy crops and hopping about in circles, authorties say.

Attorney-General Lara Giddings says wallabies have created crop circles of squashed poppies as they increasingly hop in to the fields eating the poppy heads.

That causes them to get high and run around in turns creating crop circles, she told a budget estimates hearing.

"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Ms Giddings is quouted in The Mercury newspaper as saying.

"Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high."

Tasmanian Alkaloids field operations manager Rick Rockliff said wildlife and livestock which ate the poppies were known to "act weird" - including deer and sheep in the state's highlands.

"There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles," Mr Rockliff told The Mercury.

Tasmania is the world's largest producer of legally grown opium for the pharmaceutical market.

About 500 farmers grow the crop supplying the market with about 50 percent of the world's raw material for morphine and related opiates.

Ms Giddings was answering questions about the security of Tasmania's poppy stocks, which are considered some of the safest in the world.
Heh. That would be fun to see -- someone out there with a camcorder needs to post it to the Tube of You for the rest to see...

Ground the AirBus

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A long and well researched post on why I will not be flying an AirBus for a long time. About a twenty minute read but he really lays things out step by step with full documentation. From William Cox at the American Chronicle:
Ground the Airbus?
Since entering service in 1974 with many technological innovations, such as computerized fly-by-wire control systems, user-friendly cockpits, and extended use of composite materials, 5,717 aircraft have been manufactured by Airbus, an European aerospace company. More than 5,100 Airbuses remain in service.

Not including losses attributable to terrorism, rebellion or military action, Airbuses have been involved in 23 fatal crashes causing the deaths of 2,584 passengers, crew members and people on the ground. In addition, there have been five nonfatal accidents causing 21 serious injuries.

While the overall number of accidents and fatalities are not disproportionate to the crash experience of Boeing aircraft, three of the Airbus crashes involved a separation of the composite vertical stabilizer (tail fin) from the fuselage. Five hundred, or one in five of the Airbus deaths, including 228 from Air France Flight 447, resulted from these three crashes.

In addition, Airbus composite stabilizers, rudders and couplers have also been involved in a number of other emergency in-flight incidents that did not lead to crashes, injuries or deaths.

There is now a question whether all Airbus aircraft equipped with composite stabilizers and rudders should be grounded until the cause of the crash of Flight 447 can be identified and it can be determined if the aircraft can be inspected, safely repaired, and returned to service.
Especially interesting in light of Boeing's announcement that they were grounding the new DreamLiner until some structural issues could be resolved with their composite body parts... From the Chicago Tribune:
Analysts said they were concerned to learn that stress-testing of the 787's wings caused its composite structure to "delaminate," or fragment, in the crucial area where the wings are integrated with the aircraft's body. Also worrisome is the fact that the materials didn't behave as Boeing's computer models had predicted.

Boeing officials said the issue should be relatively easy to fix and would involving retrofitting small metal plates to reinforce the plane's structure in about 36 areas.

But the incident throws into question the advanced computer modeling that Boeing used to design the 787 and that it had been relying on to streamline testing of the brand-new plane.

"The crucial fact that cannot be lost in the news it that the certification of the airplane relies upon [Boeing] proving to the FAA that its predictive modeling works," said Wood. "The fact that it didn't work begs the question as to where else the predictors will fail?"
Maybe add the DreamLiner to that list too... Bring back the DC-3 -- I loved that airplane; 727 too...

Sowing a different crop

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Afghan farmers are turning away from Opium -- from the Asia Times:
Afghan farmers ditch opium for saffron
HERAT, Afghanistan - Abdul Samad has given up growing poppies. The farmer from Gulmir, from a village in Pashtun Zarghon district of Herat province, has found monetary and spiritual benefits in switching to saffron.

"I always felt sinful when I was growing poppies," he said. "The money brought me no joy, and did not allow me to change my life."

In 2007, Afghanistan supplied more than 90% of the world's opium poppy, the raw material for heroin.

Abdul Samad grew the illegal crop for five years until a new government program helped him make the switch to saffron, the world's most expensive spice.

"I make more money than I used to," he said. "With poppy, I got between US$400 and $600 for each jerib of land. Now I make more than US$5,000." A jerib is approximately half an acre.
The article goes into a good bit of the backstory -- Iran is trying to hold onto its "monopoly" but the Afghani's are just smuggling in the bulbs over the border and growing away. The price of Saffron is now about $3K USD per pound whereas the base black tar opium's price has fallen due to overproduction. Afghanistan used to be quite the place to visit. Times have changed and maybe things are swinging back again. I would love to visit that area. Talk about win/win...

Crap... R.I.P. - Philip Simmons

One of America's true artists passed away last Monday. Philip Simmons was a world renowned Blacksmith living in Charleston, South Carolina. The Post and Courier has an obituary:
Artist in iron dies
Renowned Charleston blacksmith, Philip Simmons, was 97

Philip Simmons, whose skill with the hammer and anvil elevated him from a humble working man to an artisan widely recognized as a national treasure, died Monday night. He was 97.

The renowned blacksmith died in his sleep at Bishop Gadsden retirement home surrounded by family.

Simmons' great popularity can't be explained simply by his ability to bend iron. He also was one of the gentlest Charlestonians of his time.

As he carried on a craft practiced in Charleston since the 1730s, Simmons also became one of the city's most well-known ambassadors. Thousands of visitors to Charleston stopped by his house and forge at 30 1/2 Blake St. either to watch him at work or to listen to him tell tales.

And every visitor here passed one of his gates, whether they recognized it or not. His work remains all over the Lowcountry, and it also stands in the Smithsonian, the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia and as far away as Paris and China.

Simmons realized he wanted to pursue this trade soon after he moved to downtown Charleston from Daniel Island in 1920 to go to school at Buist Academy. He later designed the arch over its entry gate, one of the best examples of his unique lettering style.

As Simmons walked to Buist, he began noticing and admiring the wrought iron along Charlotte Street. He eventually passed by the shop of blacksmith Peter Simmons (no relation) and was intrigued. He began an apprenticeship there at age 13 and became a full-blown blacksmith five years later.

His 77 years at the forge spanned two eras. When he began, blacksmiths were sort of like car mechanics of their day, making horseshoes and other practical items. By the time he laid his hammer down a few years ago, blacksmithing was seen as more of an art form.
I ahve seen photos of his work -- he was on the same level as Samuel Yellin -- a true master.

A simple gate but the execution is perfect. There is a foundation in his name: Philip Simmons Foundation that is seeking to preserve his shop and his public works. The Foundation website has his favorite quote: "If you want your prayers answered, get up off your knees and hustle." Words to live by -- a well lived life and a peaceful exit. God Speed!

There is a body of science and psychology that deals with numbers that people choose when trying to create a random series. Hint -- they are rarely truly random and you can use statistics to see the difference. From the Washington Post, Bernd Beber and Alexandra Scacco take a look at the Iranian election returns:

The Devil Is in the Digits
Since the declaration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's landslide victory in Iran's presidential election, accusations of fraud have swelled. Against expectations from pollsters and pundits alike, Ahmadinejad did surprisingly well in urban areas, including Tehran -- where he is thought to be highly unpopular -- and even Tabriz, the capital city of opposition candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi's native East Azarbaijan province.

Others have pointed to the surprisingly poor performance of Mehdi Karroubi, another reform candidate, and particularly in his home province of Lorestan, where conservative candidates fared poorly in 2005, but where Ahmadinejad allegedly captured 71 percent of the vote. Eyebrows have been raised further by the relative consistency in Ahmadinejad's vote share across Iran's provinces, in spite of wide provincial variation in past elections.

These pieces of the story point in the direction of fraud, to be sure. They have led experts to speculate that the election results released by Iran's Ministry of the Interior had been altered behind closed doors. But we don't have to rely on suggestive evidence alone. We can use statistics more systematically to show that this is likely what happened. Here's how.

We'll concentrate on vote counts -- the number of votes received by different candidates in different provinces -- and in particular the last and second-to-last digits of these numbers. For example, if a candidate received 14,579 votes in a province (Mr. Karroubi's actual vote count in Isfahan), we'll focus on digits 7 and 9.

This may seem strange, because these digits usually don't change who wins. In fact, last digits in a fair election don't tell us anything about the candidates, the make-up of the electorate or the context of the election. They are random noise in the sense that a fair vote count is as likely to end in 1 as it is to end in 2, 3, 4, or any other numeral. But that's exactly why they can serve as a litmus test for election fraud. For example, an election in which a majority of provincial vote counts ended in 5 would surely raise red flags.

Why would fraudulent numbers look any different? The reason is that humans are bad at making up numbers. Cognitive psychologists have found that study participants in lab experiments asked to write sequences of random digits will tend to select some digits more frequently than others.

They conclude that the numbers combinations seen would only statistically occur four out of 100 times. They then look at the McCain/Obama and the numbers there are 70 out of 100. There is a parallel study that looks at the first digits of a number -- Benford's Law is a fun read. An interesting example of its use in financial fraud detection can be found in this article from the Journal of Accountancy.

An unusual order for some bread

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A fun story - from the New Orleans The Times-Picayune :
Laurel Street Bakery takes large order for visiting elephants
It was undoubtedly the most curious order of Hillary Guttman's baking career: 180 loaves of fresh baked wheat bread. For elephants.

"Ringling Brothers just called us randomly and asked if we could do it for the elephants who are in town this week," said the owner of Laurel Street Bakery. "My first thought was, 'You can't get this from the grocery store?' But apparently elephants need bread with no preservatives."

Guttman made the circus animals the same multigrain bread she bakes for her human customers, "but they asked us not to include the seeds. We're actually about to deliver them. They were stacked up in boxes all over the bakery this morning and getting a lot of attention."

Part of the deal included complimentary tickets for Laurel Street's entire staff to see the circus at the New Orleans Arena on Thursday, although Guttman admitted she would have fulfilled the order even without the lagniappe.

"I'm 8 months pregnant. I was in the kitchen 11 hours. I thought I was going to keel over" she said. "But it was such a unique opportunity. It's not every day you get to say you baked bread for elephants."

Vegetarian support group PWND



Swiped from the wonderful passiveaggressivenotes Flickr stream.

A curious collection

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There is a museum for everything -- from the New York Times:
Bright Lights, Wide Eyes: Nostalgic Collections That Speak Volumes
There is nothing quite like the gasp that escapes your mouth as you walk through three small buildings on a residential street here and find yourself mutely stared at by 1,400 eyes and grinned at by hundreds of painted lips over leathery chins. You are sharing company with beings barely this side of cartoon, bearing long proboscises or protruding goggle eyes, shapeless torsos and eerie charm. Lining the walls are photographs of these very figures perched on the knees or cradled against the shoulders of the men and women who once gave them voice: dummies and their ventriloquists.

At the Vent Haven Museum the unsettling amazement is unremitting. In one room you almost feel as if you have bumbled onto a stage surrounded by a peculiar audience, each listener gawking in silence. In another the figures are arrayed in rows like Pinocchios who have finally made it to school. Just as no two humans are smart in precisely the same way, no two of these creatures are dummies in precisely the same way.
The article goes on to talk about a couple other museums as well. Just being in that room would give me the willies. Imagine being in there at dusk with no lights as it got darker and darker and something rustles off in a corner. Very cool that someone is taking care of the lil' guys -- the stories they could tell...
From The Australian / AFP:
Kids' 'nuclear reactor' clears streets
Two six-year-old boys pretending to have built a mini nuclear power plant prompted German police and the fire brigade to clear their street, authorities said today.

The schoolchildren in the western town of Oelde had built the nuclear reactor mock-up out of a computer casing and taped a "radioactivity warning'' they had printed out from the Internet on its side.

"When the boys returned to their 'nuclear power plant' from a brief stop at home they were sent away again as the area and a wide radius around it had been cleared and blocked off,'' police said in a statement.

Residents were ordered not to leave their homes and firefighters tested for a radioactive leak.

The boys' parents thought the fire department was conducting a drill until they read about the operation online and what led to it.

They reported to the police station and explained their six-year-olds had not managed to build an actual nuclear reactor.
I can see the need for caution when dealing with something unknown but c'mon now -- a computer case? A non-radioactive computer case?

Not quite what it seems - the sleeper truck

Very high automotive geekdom - from Jalopnik:

Oklahoma: Home Of The Sleepiest Sleeper Truck Ever
From most outward appearances, this Chevy C10 pickup is a totally crusty heap, much abused by its uncaring owner. That impression is very, very wrong. Would you believe this thing runs 12.3 second quarter-miles?

These two photographs tell the story:



And this movie shows it in action:

The End of an Era - Kodachrome

Before I got into digital, I shot Kodachrome 25. Lots and lots of it. From the Seattle Times:

Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak's taking Kodachrome away
Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak is taking your Kodachrome away.

The Eastman Kodak Co. announced Monday it's retiring its oldest film stock because of declining customer demand in an increasingly digital age.

The world's first commercially successful color film, immortalized in song by Simon, spent 74 years in Kodak's portfolio. It enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and '60s but in recent years has nudged closer to obscurity: Sales of Kodachrome are now just a fraction of 1 percent of the company's total sales of still-picture films, and only one commercial lab in the world still processes it.

Those numbers and the unique materials needed to make it convinced Kodak to call its most recent manufacturing run the last, said Mary Jane Hellyar, the outgoing president of Kodak's Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group.

"Kodachrome is particularly difficult (to retire) because it really has become kind of an icon," Hellyar said.

Well crap. I am not going back to film any time soon, digital gives me good image quality plus a lot of advantages but still, this is really the end of an era. Kodachrome had the most wonderful color, vibrant and accurate. I am in the DaveCave(tm) and about five feet away are several large boxes of Kodachrome slides -- several thousand shot over forty years of photography...

Interesting legislation from Mexico

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From the Seattle Times:
Mexico expected to enact liberalized drug law
Will Mexican cities become Latin Amsterdams, flooded by drug users seeking penalty-free tokes and toots?

That is the fear, if somewhat overstated, of some Mexican officials, especially in northern border states that serve as a mecca for underage U.S. drinkers.

The Mexican legislature has voted quietly to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and other drugs. Past efforts have proved highly controversial, most recently three years ago, but President Felipe Calder�n is expected to sign the bill into law this time.
A bit more:
Some critics have suggested easing the punishment on drug possession sends the wrong message at a time when Calder�n is waging a bloody war on major narcotics traffickers. But Calder�n proposed the decriminalization legislation.
Actually, Calder�n is sending the perfect message as it is the drugs illegal status that gives the power to the traffickers. Remove the illegal status and you remove their power. That and the state can tax the revenues. Win all around...

Okay... John Lennon's pact with Satan

Explains a lot -- from Tradition in Action, Inc:

John Lennon's Pact with Satan
A book by Joseph Niezgoda - The Lennon Prophecy, A New Examination of the Death Clues of the Beatles - makes a good case for John Lennon making a pact with Satan in exchange for fame and fortune. The author is a first generation Beatle fan, has read every book out on the rock group, and admits conflict with his love of the music and the evil that he perceives surrounds it. His book - a 15-year project - was an effort, he said, to try to define or make sense of that evil.

In fact, this is the book I was always planning to write about the Beatles. Since I threw out my Beatles albums along with the rest of my rock music many years ago, I've been gathering facts about the clues and signs of a Satanic link, evidence of camaraderie with occultists and their dabbling with the occult. Believe me, plenty exists.

There is nothing new in the facts Niezgoda presents - they were all out there. He just brings the clues - as he calls them - together to make a convincing case of Lennon's pact with Satan. I believe it's a valid thesis, although I would go further and say the other Beatles' also signed the contract. Throughout the book, he certainly implicates the whole group as linked to the occult.

Niezgoda starts his book with the well-known remark Lennon made to his friend Tony Sheridan in the mid-1960s: "I've sold my soul to the Devil.' In the next chapters he goes on to show how this nobody group of British miscreants rose to fame: It is explained by a pact John Lennon made with the Devil for fame and fortune.

And the scary thing is that these people think this is true... From their website:

Tradition In Action is committed to defend the perennial Magisterium of Holy Mother Church and Catholic traditions. TIA also works for a restoration of Christian civilization, adapted to contemporary historical circumstances.
Black Five has a very good point on the comments between Barbara Boxer and Brigadier General Michael Walsh. For those that have not seen this video, Boxer asked General Walsh to call her Senator and not Ma'am as: "I worked really hard for it." From Blackfive:
The difference between addressing someone with their title and "Sir or Ma'am"
Apparently, Barbara Boxer, a Senator from California where some of the biggest military bases exist, doesn't understand respect when she hears it.

As a former Army Officer, if one of my soldiers called me "Lieutenant", instead of "el-tee" or "Sir", I would know that he found me lacking. Calling me by my job title or rank is only done because it is the lowest requirement of respect.

The. Lowest. Requirement. Of. Respect.

If one of my soldiers called me "Captain", without using my last name behind it or "Sir", I would know that he found me substandard.

BG Walsh was showing Barbara Boxer respect by calling her "Ma'am" instead of "Senator." Believe me, the title "Senator" does not really hold a whole lot of credibility in the US military. It's a job, and a Corporal leading a team in Baqubah has more honor than most of those holding that title.

Sir or Ma'am is showing Barbara Boxer respect that doesn't have to be shown to her. BG Walsh can call her Senator all day and night. Instead, the general called her "Ma'am" - a term in deference to her and to show respect for what she earned.

But if she wants to be associated with that den of corruption and incompetence, be my guest.
Even Queen Elisabeth's proper address is Ma'am. There is no disrespect there... Boxer's opponent is running this wonderful video:

Cool find south of here

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A major archaeological find has been announced in Everett, WA, about an hour south of here. From the Everett, WA Herald:
Archaeological find at Snohomish County site
Stone tools used by some of the first people in the Pacific Northwest had lain, for thousands of years, undisturbed beneath the forest floor.

A developer in 2007 uncovered thousands of artifacts -- including spear points, stone knives and scraping tools -- while performing a survey on land where he planned to build more than a dozen homes.

The ancient trove, investigated with just a few small test digs, put those plans on hold.

State archaeologists believe they've found one of the best preserved sites of human activity from what's known as the Olcott period, 4,500 to 9,000 years ago.

"The developer accidentally bought himself one of the most significant sites in Washington state," said Allyson Brooks, the state's historic preservation officer. "The site is extremely significant for our understanding of the first inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest."

The Stillaguamish and the Tulalip tribes are among those who have a strong interest in the site's culture and history. The Herald was asked not to report the location to prevent looting.
Very cool -- the article goes into some detail about similar sites in the Northwest as well as what might happen regarding Tribal ownership of the property. I would love to see some of these points -- imagine looking at something that was fashioned 9,000 years ago. That is history...

Photos of this weekend

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A bunch of the people who came up this weekend have posted their photos. Check out the party: Northwest Hikers

In other political independence news

Say hello to the independent nation of Greenland! From the BBC:
Self-rule introduced in Greenland
The Arctic island of Greenland is assuming self-rule, in the latest step towards independence from Denmark.

The move follows a referendum on greater autonomy in November. It will see Greenland take a greater share of revenues from its natural resources.

The local government is taking control of the police and the courts. Greenlandic - or Kalaallisut - becomes the official language.

Denmark has the final say in defence and foreign-policy matters.

Copenhagen has ruled Greenland for three centuries. It granted the territory limited sovereignty in 1979.

But the new self-rule system takes the Arctic island and its 57,000 inhabitants closer to independence.

Greenlanders - most of whom are native Inuit - will be treated as a separate people under international law.

Much of the oil, gas, gold and diamonds the island holds has been inaccessible because of the Arctic ice covering most of the land mass.

But US experts believe it will become easier to exploit the island's mineral wealth as global warming melts the ice sheets.

Independence advocates hope the expected increase in revenues from minerals will help fund a final breakaway from Copenhagen.

But analysts say any push for independence is likely to be put on the backburner by Greenland's new leftist government.

Newly elected Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist has vowed to concentrate on tackling big social problems, such as alcoholism, domestic violence and a high suicide rate.

Greenland currently relies heavily on subsidies from the Danish government - which provide 30% of its GDP.
Emphasis mine -- do not be holding your breath on that one... Still, this is great news. I hope one of the businesses they choose to develop is tourism -- I have always had a fascination for the remote places on this planet. I have visited Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, spent two months backpacking through Iceland, did the same through Newfoundland, been up to Alaska a couple times. Visiting Greenland would be a treat. As for the mineral resources, the ice sheet is stable (growing actually) and it would not be an issue to drill through it to get the oil and natural gas that is probably down there.
On June 12th, the day of the Iranian election and the beginning of the massive protests against Ahmadinejad's blatant theft of said election, President Obama had the following words to say:
Obama "excited" by Iran's robust election debate
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday he was hopeful the robust debate taking place in Iran's presidential election would advance his administration's efforts to engage longtime U.S. rival Tehran in new ways.

"We are excited to see what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran," Obama told reporters when asked about the Iranian election during an event at the White House.
Emphasis mine. It seems that his handlers realized their errors and his TelePrompTer now reads:
Obama to Iran's leaders: Stop 'unjust' actions
WASHINGTON (Associated Press) � President Barack Obama on Saturday challenged Iran's government to halt a "violent and unjust" crackdown on dissenters, using his bluntest language yet to condemn Tehran's postelection response.

Obama has sought a measured reaction to avoid being drawn in as a meddler in Iranian affairs. Yet his comments have grown more pointed as the clashes intensified, and his latest remarks took direct aim at Iranian leaders.

"We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people," Obama said in a written statement. "The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights."
And one woman is wearing the face of the protest -- Neda From Time Magazine:
In Iran, One Woman's Death May Have Many Consequences
Iran's revolution has now run through a full cycle. A gruesomely captivating video of a young woman � laid out on a Tehran street after apparently being shot, blood pouring from her mouth and then across her face � swept Twitter, Facebook and other websites this weekend. The woman rapidly became a symbol of Iran's escalating crisis, from a political confrontation to far more ominous physical clashes. Some sites refer to her as "Neda," Farsi for the voice or the call. Tributes that incorporate startlingly upclose footage of her dying have started to spring up on YouTube.
A tragedy but if her death helps to bring freedom to the Iranian (Persian) people, it will be a life well lived. The mullahs have all the guns and the power but the people have the will to live free. We shall see which is the more potent force. Regardless, this is one Genie that will not fit nicely back into its bottle...

Inside the 'church' of Scientology

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The St. Petersburg Times is doing an excellent expose of the inner workings of the church cult of Scientology:
The Truth Rundown
High-ranking defectors provide an unprecedented inside look at the Church of Scientology and its mercurial leader, David Miscavige.

The leader of the Church of Scientology strode into the room with a boom box and an announcement: Time for a game of musical chairs.

David Miscavige had kept more than 30 members of his church's executive staff cooped up for weeks in a small office building outside Los Angeles, not letting them leave except to grab a shower. They slept on the floor, their food carted in.

Their assignment was to develop strategic plans for the church. But the leader trashed their every idea and berated them as incompetents and enemies, of him and the church.

Prove your devotion, Miscavige told them, by winning at musical chairs. Everyone else � losers, all of you � will be banished to Scientology outposts around the world. If families are split up, too bad.

To the music of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody they played through the night, parading around a conference room in their Navy-style uniforms, grown men and women wrestling over chairs.

The next evening, early in 2004, Miscavige gathered the group and out of nowhere slapped a manager named Tom De Vocht, threw him to the ground and delivered more blows. De Vocht took the beating and the humiliation in silence � the way other executives always took the leader's attacks.

This account comes from executives who for decades were key figures in Scientology's powerful inner circle. Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are speaking out for the first time.

Two other former executives who defected also agreed to interviews with the St. Petersburg Times: De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, and Amy Scobee, who helped create Scientology's celebrity network, which caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

One by one, the four defectors walked away from the only life they knew. That Rathbun and Rinder are speaking out is a stunning reversal because they were among Miscavige's closest associates, Haldeman and Ehrlichman to his Nixon.
Quite the lead-off to what should be a fascinating series. There is a photograph of Miscavige:
His bearing reminds me of this wonderful Arnold Newman photograph of industrialist Alfried Krupp shot as Germany was tooling up for WWII:
Cut from the same cloth...

Health care - a third way

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From the Wall Street Journal -- meet Senator Ron Wyden:
Wyden's Third Way
'People don't want the government in the driver's seat . . . They don't want the decisions (about their treatment) made in Capitol hearing rooms with a bunch of legislators in dark suits." So says Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden of the Healthy Americans Act, his plan for compromise in the polarized politics of healthcare reform.

Mr. Wyden, slouched amiably on his office sofa with his long legs on the coffee table, looks awfully relaxed for a man in the middle of the battle over health-care reform. On the day before our meeting, the political calculus shifted: The Congressional Budget Office predicted that the bill from the Senate Finance Committee would increase the federal budget deficit by $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years. Worse for Democrats, the astronomical price tag would still leave millions of people uninsured.

The news changed the views of some who had begun to see a bigger government role in medicine as inevitable. It also shifted attention to less-radical approaches, like the one Mr. Wyden is co-sponsoring with Utah Republican Bob Bennett.

"The country has bailout fatigue," Mr. Wyden explains. "The Congressional Budget Office said our proposal was budget neutral in the short term and that it would essentially start bending the cost curve downward in the third year."
And his plan?
Mr. Wyden takes a long view: "Ever since the 1940s, we essentially disconnected individuals from being involved in health care. It's all about third parties, and they pay all the bills and individuals don't have the opportunities for the choices. In fact, millions of people who are lucky enough to have employer coverage don't get any choice."

Which brings us back to dealing with the price tag of reform. Mr. Wyden is in the hot seat because his plan would convert the current tax exclusion for health benefits into a tax deduction for individuals to make insurance more portable. But taxing health benefits was pilloried on the campaign trail by Barack Obama, and the opponents have kept after it. "I think the way to go," Mr. Wyden says, "is with a generous deduction that sends a market-oriented message." He says that means that, if you shop carefully for your health care, you're going to get your taxes cut.

The typical family of four spends about $13,000 a year for their health care for the year, he says. In the Healthy Americans plan, they set the deduction at $19,000. "If you get a deduction of between $17,000 and $19,000 for a middle-class family of four . . . [that] now spends $13,000 on health care, we've got a chance to give millions of people . . . more money in their wallet because they got a chance to shop in a new system driven by informed choice and financial incentives to make those choices."
It will be interesting to see the results five years down the road if this plan is accepted as it puts a good bit of responsibility on the individual -- something that the Democrat plan is looking to remove with their one-size-fits-all approach. And the reaction:
The tax aspects of the Wyden plan have nonetheless earned him the wrath of some Democrats as well as labor unions that carry fully loaded benefits plans and benefit from the current tax exemption. Some unions have even taken out ads against him in his home state of Oregon. As a powerful Democratic interest group, their objections have caused other would-be health-care reformers to capitulate. Montana Democrat and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has said his own health reform plan will create a union carve-out.
There is a lot more detail at the article -- the 40+ comments are well worth looking at too.

A new way to deal with mosquitos

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Someone was thinking... From the New York Times:
Getting Mosquitoes to Poison Their Own Larvae
Controlling the mosquito that�s largely responsible for infecting people with the dengue fever virus isn�t easy. That�s because the bug, Aedes aegypti, has evolved in parallel with humans, living around them and breeding in even the smallest puddles of water � rainwater in a discarded can, say, or the saucer under a flower pot.

With so many potential breeding sites, spreading pesticide can be a painstaking, door-to-door activity. But Gregor J. Devine of Rothamsted Research, an agricultural institute in Britain, had a different idea: why not let the mosquitoes do the work?

Building on laboratory studies that showed that adult mosquitoes could pick up an insecticide and transfer it, he and his colleagues conducted field experiments in Iquitos, Peru, using pyriproxyfen, a compound that kills larvae but is not harmful to adult mosquitoes (or to people, either, in the amounts used).

After getting a meal of blood from a human, a female A. aegypti likes to find a dark, damp spot to rest while its eggs develop, buzzing off later to find water to deposit the eggs in. Dr. Devine said their work, described in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, took advantage of this routine.

He and his team set up �dissemination stations,� consisting of dark, damp cloths dusted with pyriproxyfen, in the nooks and crannies of above-ground tombs in a cemetery. When a female rested on the cloth, its legs picked up some of the pesticide, which came off when it later landed in a breeding pool. The researchers found that putting stations in as little as 3 percent of the available spots in the cemetery resulted in coverage of almost all the breeding habitats in the immediate area, and mortality of up to 98 percent of the mosquito larvae.
98% success rate is not shabby! Very cool idea for breaking the breeding cycle. I still think that DDT needs to be reintroduced -- the problems we had before was because we were marinating in it, using it for everything. If we use it wisely, it is very effective and safe.

Peace and Quiet

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The last of the people pulled out of our driveway a few minutes ago. We had about 20 people here for the event. Fun was had, food was eaten and the bonfire was a good one -- very mellow...

Crap RIP - Ali Akbar Khan

From the Washington Post:

Bengali Musician Was 'An Absolute Genius'
Ali Akbar Khan, 87, a Bengali musician who was regarded as one of the finest artists of Indian classical music who helped popularize the genre in the West through appearances on television, record and stage, died June 18 at his home in San Anselmo, Calif., of a kidney ailment.

The son of a revered musician and teacher, Mr. Khan began intensive training as a child and partnered with sitar player Ravi Shankar -- his future brother-in-law -- performing duets throughout India.

Mr. Khan was a virtuoso of the sarod, a 25-string instrument in the lute family. His chosen musical genre is based in part on the concept of the raga, which consists of improvised music based on a variety of scales. From these scales, or permutations of them, Indian musicians follow traditional forms but add their own inflections and feeling.

The late American violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who became one of his earliest champions in the West, said he considered Mr. Khan "an absolute genius, the greatest musician in the world."

Had the great pleasure of seeing him perform in Seattle about ten years ago. An amazing musician.

It can't happen here?

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A chilling parallel -- from David Deming writing at Watts Up With That:
Historic parallels in our time: the killing of of cattle -vs- carbon
Over the past several years we have learned that small groups of people can engage in mass suicide. In 1978, 918 members of the Peoples� Temple led by Jim Jones perished after drinking poisoned koolaid. In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven�s Gate cult died after drugging themselves and tieing plastic bags around their heads. Unfortunately, history also demonstrates that it is possible for an entire civilization to commit suicide by intentionally destroying the means of its subsistence.

In the early nineteenth century, the British colonized Southeast Africa. The native Xhosa resisted, but suffered repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of British military forces. The Xhosa lost their independence and their native land became an English colony. The British adopted a policy of westernizing the Xhosa. They were to be converted to Christianity, and their native culture and religion was to be wiped out. Under the stress of being confronted by a superior and irresistible technology, the Xhosa developed feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. In this climate, a prophet appeared.

In April of 1856, a fifteen-year-old girl named Nongqawuse heard a voice telling her that the Xhosa must kill all their cattle, stop cultivating their fields, and destroy their stores of grain and food. The voice insisted that the Xhosa must also get rid of their hoes, cooking pots, and every utensil necessary for the maintenance of life. Once these things were accomplished, a new day would magically dawn. Everything necessary for life would spring spontaneously from the earth. The dead would be resurrected. The blind would see and the old would have their youth restored. New food and livestock would appear in abundance, spontaneously sprouting from the earth. The British would be swept into the sea, and the Xhosa would be restored to their former glory. What was promised was nothing less than the establishment of paradise on earth.

Nongqawuse told this story to her guardian and uncle, Mhlakaza. At first, the uncle was skeptical. But he became a believer after accompanying his niece to the spot where she heard the voices. Although Mhlakaza heard nothing, he became convinced that Nongqawuse was hearing the voice of her dead father, and that the instructions must be obeyed. Mhlakaza became the chief prophet and leader of the cattle-killing movement.

News of the prophecy spread rapidly, and within a few weeks the Xhosa king, Sarhili, became a convert. He ordered the Xhosa to slaughter their cattle and, in a symbolic act, killed his favorite ox. As the hysteria widened, other Xhosa began to have visions. Some saw shadows of the resurrected dead arising from the sea, standing in rushes on the river bank, or even floating in the air. Everywhere that people looked, they found evidence to support what they desperately wanted to be true.

The believers began their work in earnest. Vast amounts of grain were taken out of storage and scattered on the ground to rot. Cattle were killed so quickly and on such an immense scale that vultures could not entirely devour the rotting flesh. The ultimate number of cattle that the Xhosa slaughtered was 400,000. After killing their livestock, the Xhosa built new, larger kraals to hold the marvelous new beasts that they anticipated would rise out of the earth. The impetus of the movement became irresistible.

The resurrection of the dead was predicted to occur on the full moon of June, 1856. Nothing happened. The chief prophet of the cattle-killing movement, Mhlakaza, moved the date to the full moon of August. But again the prophecy was not fulfilled.
Read the rest of this chilling tale and consider the path we are going down. 2010 and 2012 are not that far away...

Just WOW!

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I had to post this -- whomever wrote this speaks with my voice and the voice of a lot of other people I know. From Nicki Fellenzer at The Liberty Zone:
I'm a home grown American citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer felt the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me.

Now I no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. There must be someone. Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you're willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now. You might ask yourself what my views and issues are that I would horribly feel so disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me?

Well, these are briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:
One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I'm not a racist. This isn't to be confused with legal immigration.

Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.

Three: Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.

Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.

Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don't you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!

Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don't you start there.

Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don't trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.

Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why ‑‑ what do you have against shareholders making a profit?

Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.

Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we'll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band‑Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let's have it. Let's say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try ‑‑ please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.

Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now.

Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let's just slow down and get some input from some non-politicians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law.

I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I'm busy. I'm busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course.

What happened?

You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance.

Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.

From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us.

We want our voice back.

You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington.

Our president often knows all the right buzzwords and the latest is 'unsustainable'. Well, no kidding! How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don't want your overpriced words.

Stop treating us like we're morons.

We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you �- not for long -� because we are coming.

We will be heard and we will be represented. You think we're so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work, pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you.

You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust.

We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish.

We didn't ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when hewill rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.

Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don't care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now.

We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back.

We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired.

Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you.

If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are.

If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one.

We are coming. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming.

We the people are coming.
What he said...

Minimal posting over the next few days

A few days ago, I posted:
Also, this weekend, we are hosting the fifth annual Solstice party. A bunch of crazed backpackers and hikers from the Pacific Northwest will descend upon our farm for a weekend of food, liquor and debauchery. Guerrilla Croquet will be an especial feature. Bonfire on Saturday evening. Pictures will be posted.
Well -- it si Friday evening and people are starting to show up and pitch tents. Posting will be pretty thin for the next couple of days...

Tea parties all over - China

From the China Digital Times comes this story of a Tea Party:
New Tax Plan Sparks China Protest


From BBC:
Protesters in the south-eastern Chinese city of Nankang have overturned police cars and blocked roads over plans to more strictly enforce payment of taxes.

Officials in Nankang said several hundred protesters blocked a major road while others delivered a petition to a local government office.

[...]China�s official Xinhua news agency said the local government�s plan to more strictly enforce payment of taxes from the furniture makers and dealers has been suspended in the face of the opposition.
Danwei has more details, including a video which seems to have been just recently pulled from the Internet.

Zuihulu has posted photos of the crowds and overturned police cars on Fanfou.
Taxed Enough Already!
Then have I got a deal for you! From MS/NBC/Associated Press:
Have I got an office tower for you
Skyscrapers across the U.S. are being sold at fire-sale prices

The 40-story skyscraper sits on a prime corner in the country's wealthiest commercial market, steps from the Museum of Modern Art and a few blocks from Rockefeller Center and Central Park.

It recently sold for $100,000.

The 1330 Avenue of the Americas building � which sold for close to $500 million three years ago � was auctioned last month for the minimum to a Canadian pension fund unit after owner Harry Macklowe defaulted on a $130 million loan.

A month before that, the John Hancock Tower � Boston's tallest skyscraper � sold at auction for just over $20 million. The 33-story Equitable Building in downtown Atlanta is set to go up for auction next month; its owners owe more than $50 million to the bank and have only half of the building leased.

Loan defaults in the worst commercial real estate market in decades have created tens of billions worth of distressed properties across the nation, sometimes forcing cut-rate auctions of landmark skyscrapers. Developers are falling behind on mortgages as tenants leave and can find no financing to cover payments, analysts say.
Sounds like the developers are not pricing their properties according to the market. Back when I was living in Seattle, I had a retail business and operated in two locations. Each time, finding a good cheap location without all of the triple-net bullshit was a difficult task. There are some good landlords out there but there are some really bad and out of touch with reality ones too...

Speaking of music

I am off to the DaveCave(tm) to load more crap software on the new computer and to start arranging wiring and modules. Pictures in a week or two.

Successfully found homes today for a couple of items that I had been carrying around for longer than I wanted to. Now have some space to work in. I will be posting a bunch of other stuff on eBay -- I'll drop a link when things are up.

If anyone in the Seattle/Bellingham/Vancouver BC area needs a nice Roland keyboard controller or a Mackie twenty-four channel, eight buss recording mixer with meter bridge, leave a comment as I have both at an excellent price. Pickup only.

Also, when I was starting to have serious problems with my hip culminating in its replacement, one thing my acupuncturist suggested was Cordyceps as an energy booster. I tried it and it made me feel a little strange but it didn't do anything to me.

I was in yesterday for a treatment and asked if she had a bottle as it sounded like a good thing -- I have been feeling great and nice and mellow but very low energy. I read the bottle this morning and it said 2-3 capsules, three times/day. I took two and I have not been this wired in a long long time. Shows just how much having the pain from the bad hip kept me down. I have some blank gelatin capsules and will probably take a half capsule on Saturday morning.

If you want to see something really strange, Google Cordyceps and check out the video. And David, the word you are looking for is disoriented. The ant is disoriented. The infection causes a disorientation. The word "disorientated" is in the common vernacular but it is wrong.

Now, if you don't mind, I have this urge to climb up on the roof as I have some fruiting bodies coming out of the back of my head and I need to get them aired out...

Just as the rise of computer gaming drove the incredible advances in graphic cards back in the 1980's (thank you games!), the use of samplers in pop music have driven that hardware to a very high level of sophistication where you can have as many as 1,000 notes being played simultaneously as well as running some large computer applications with no glitches or degradation of sound. A group of people have been taking current sampling technology and going retro -- 1700's retro. Here is one large example:


The pipes in the casework are non-speaking -- decoration only. Here is a smaller example:


Key, pedal, control and stop action are all controlled by MIDI. The full version of the software is about $600 and you then start buying sample sets. Here is where the fun begins, you can be playing on a Theater Organ and in 20 seconds, be playing on an organ that J.S. Bach played on when he was in his 30's and 40's. A few more keystrokes and you are playing a lush symphonic organ of the type that Camille Saint-Saens used when he composed his majestic Symphony #3. The specific software is about $500 for the full version (cheap considering that P Diddy is not going to be buying a copy -- this market is small). A fun time to be alive!!!

Talk about a stable personality -- an easy going human being. James von Brunn was the asshole that shot and killed Stephen T. Johns at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. A bit of his personality revealed by Yahoo News/Associated Press:
FBI: Child porn on accused museum shooter computer
Child pornography was found on a computer belonging to the white supremacist charged with shooting and killing a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the FBI said in court documents.

Agents found the material on a desktop computer seized from the Annapolis, Md., apartment where 88-year-old James von Brunn lived with his son and son's finacee, FBI Special Agent Ronald Farnsworth said in an affidavit filed Wednesday in support of a search warrant. Investigators searched the home last Thursday, taking more than 30 items, including ammunition, computers, thumb drives, CDs, memory cards, cell phones and videos.
That is so wrong on so many levels -- I really hope that he survives so that he can take the stand and show the world the Content of his Character.

Doctor Doom - Dr. Nouriel Roubini

I heard Dr. Roubini speak on the radio a few days ago and was impressed with his track record and ability to respond to difficult questions in an interview without the need of a TelePrompTer. Dr. Roubini predicted the current financial meltdown back in 2006 and gave details of how it would go down - prescient details it turns out. The New York Times did a nice three-page article about him last fall:
Dr. Doom
On Sept. 7, 2006, Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, stood before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund and announced that a crisis was brewing. In the coming months and years, he warned, the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession. He laid out a bleak sequence of events: homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt. These developments, he went on, could cripple or destroy hedge funds, investment banks and other major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The audience seemed skeptical, even dismissive. As Roubini stepped down from the lectern after his talk, the moderator of the event quipped, �I think perhaps we will need a stiff drink after that.� People laughed � and not without reason. At the time, unemployment and inflation remained low, and the economy, while weak, was still growing, despite rising oil prices and a softening housing market. And then there was the espouser of doom himself: Roubini was known to be a perpetual pessimist, what economists call a �permabear.� When the economist Anirvan Banerji delivered his response to Roubini�s talk, he noted that Roubini�s predictions did not make use of mathematical models and dismissed his hunches as those of a career naysayer.
I love that line about: "he noted that Roubini�s predictions did not make use of mathematical models and dismissed his hunches as those of a career naysayer" Now what other line of work uses mathematical models to influence political action? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? I love that the Global Warming scientists cannot take the data of the last 200 years and produce a model that will accurately hindcast the weather patterns. Back to the story -- here is another excerpt, talking about models:
�When I weigh evidence,� he told me, �I�m drawing on 20 years of accumulated experience using models� � but his approach is not the contemporary scholarly ideal in which an economist builds a model in order to constrain his subjective impressions and abide by a discrete set of data. As Shiller told me, �Nouriel has a different way of seeing things than most economists: he gets into everything.�
His thoughts on the ultimate size of this recession:
For months Roubini has been arguing that the true cost of the housing crisis will not be a mere $300 billion � the amount allowed for by the housing legislation sponsored by Representative Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd � but something between a trillion and a trillion and a half dollars. But most important, in Roubini�s opinion, is to realize that the problem is deeper than the housing crisis. �Reckless people have deluded themselves that this was a subprime crisis,� he told me. �But we have problems with credit-card debt, student-loan debt, auto loans, commercial real estate loans, home-equity loans, corporate debt and loans that financed leveraged buyouts.� All of these forms of debt, he argues, suffer from some or all of the same traits that first surfaced in the housing market: shoddy underwriting, securitization, negligence on the part of the credit-rating agencies and lax government oversight. �We have a subprime financial system,� he said, �not a subprime mortgage market.�
Here is his website and his blog. Some interesting thoughts -- it is good to have a small business right now. People have to eat and we are seeing a large uptick in food stamps and WIC checks. The local community garden is booked solid and people are eating off their produce -- nice to see! It is time for a sweeping change in Washington...

My new anthem

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From Miss Celania:
Hey - I resemble that remark! Heh...
I have recently been getting off-the-wall comments posted to posts that have nothing to do with the comment. Today's example came in on a post from a few months ago talking about local stuff. The text of the post was how this person was a newcomer and they hoped they didn't do anything wrong and if they did, they hoped that we would help them. If you were going to post something like that, you would either email the sysop or you would post it to a recent blog entry, not something from two months ago. I googled the first sentence of their comment and got 47 hits -- all identical comments to blogs and all irrelevant. I Googled the given name and got about 7,000 hits, the twenty or so that I looked at were all within the last couple of days. They were registrations to various websites. What seems to be going on here is that the seeder is posting comments on blogs and the bots will then come along, search for a key phrase or name and drop their odious little package of joy. What makes this latest one so deliciously ironic is that one of these websites was this one: www.stopforumspam.com. These fine folks are fighting the same war against stupid script kiddies and I will be spending a lot of time with them trading ideas, strategies and lists. So, instead of gaining a new foothold by avoiding the random four to six characters and gibberish URLs and the multiple fora links, these idiots came up with a new idea that was heretofore untraceable but just got blown out of the water. I am still busy loading stuff on the new computer and preparing for the get together this weekend but I should have a couple more lines of PERL in the next day or two. This will be fun!

Now this is a Nature Photograph

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The Nature Gods were smiling on Jason Edwards a few years ago. From the London Times:
Wildlife photographer captures rare glimpse inside the kangaroo pouch
For wildlife photographer Jason Edwards, it was the day the �god of photography threw me a line�.

Two years ago Mr Edwards was on a field trip with a female researcher documenting desert mammals in the Australian Outback for an international project when they came across a wild, but remarkably friendly, red kangaroo.

The researcher immediately recognised the marsupial as an orphan that she had raised by hand six years before and the kangaroo � who was carrying a tiny, hairless, month-old joey in her pouch � soon recognised the scientist.

As the pair�s friendship was rekindled, Mr Edwards, a Melbourne-based science and nature photographer, realised that he had been handed a unique opportunity: to get up close and personal to a wild kangaroo that was comfortable enough with humans to possibly let him photograph her joey in her pouch.

After a few days of returning to the semi-desert national park in far northern New South Wales and talking to and sitting with the kangaroo, the researcher was able to get close enough to her former orphan to open her pouch.

In a matter of seconds, Mr Edwards managed to slip in a macro lens and capture this rare glimpse of life inside the marsupial�s pouch. The photo � of a newborn joey, known as a pinkie, suckling the mother�s teat � is being exhibited as part of the New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography Exhibition in Sydney.
What an amazing occurrence -- to have a mother so trusting and a good photographer. Hat tip to Neatorama for the link. The gallery of the ten prizewinners can be found here.

Fun with Airport Security Officers

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From Dave Hingsburger's Blog: Rolling Around In My Head:
An Elephant Disappears
Suddenly, I lost existance.

I was waiting patiently in the airport, quietly watching people go by. My luggage was stacked up next to me and I felt that I looked like quite the world traveler. Suddenly this illusion was shattered when a security type guy came with a luggage cart and began loading my luggage. I sputtered a protest, 'Hey, that's my luggage.'

He looked at me, annoyed and said, "Luggage can't be left unattended."

"I AM attending it," I said incredulous.

"You don't understand, SOME BODY needs to be in possession of the luggage," he said and I didn't get his implication, not yet, I was still too startled.

"I am in possession of this luggage, it is MINE," my voice is rising.

He looks at me with exaggerated patience, "SOME BODY (long pause) needs to be attending the luggage."

I got it then, I wasn't SOME BODY, "Are you suggesting that I can't supervise my own luggage because I'm in a wheelchair?"

"You need to settle down, sir."
Fortunately, there was a good resolution to this. You have to wonder how much these security guards are being paid and what level of training they receive.

Good haul in Mexico

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This will set things back a bit -- from The Miami Herald/Associated Press:
Military finds one of Mexico's largest meth labs
The Mexican Navy gave reporters a firsthand look Tuesday at what they described as one of the largest methamphetamine labs ever found in the country, with enough ephedrine to produce more than 40 tons of the drug.

The smell of chemical solvents was overwhelming at the remote mountaintop site in the northern state of Sinaloa, where Navy personnel on patrol last week stumbled across an enormous holding tank they initially thought might be used to water a marijuana plantation.

Instead, the tank fed water to a pair of enormous sheds where sailors found 49,640 liters (13,000 gallons) of ephedrine, a chemical used to make methamphetamine. That is enough to produce 40.2 metric tons of the drug, or about 309 million individual doses.
Meth is nasty stuff -- there is a lot of that up here and it is patently obvious when someone is taking it. They look like shit and act crazy. The more of this crap removed from the streets the better. I keep wondering why the Federal government is not legalizing Marijuana. The amount of tax they could receive is huge and it would completely dismantle a lot of the organized crime in the US, Canada and Mexico. Makes you wonder who is in the pocket of the organized criminals...

A tale of two blogs

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I have been writing about my dealings with the Customs and Border Patrol recently here, here and here and about their power grab in trying to get knives that can be opened with one hand placed in the same category as switchblades and therefore illegal. When dealing with any large organization, a "corporate culture" develops. There is nothing written down, no policy set but this culture forms and affects the day to day operation of the organization. New hires are indoctrinated into this culture and people who leave the organization find their lives affected even after several years away. Look at Google and Microsoft for examples. I found two blogs -- one is for the Department of Homeland Security which is the parent organization for the Customs and Border Patrol. The other one is for the Transportation Security Administration. Here are two perfect examples of "corporate culture" From the TSA Blog:
Useful information, presented in a fun fashion. Blogger Bob likes his job. From the DHS Blog:
yadda yadda yadda we are spending 1.8 billion dollars of your tax money and there is not a thing you can do about it yadda yadda yadda...
Now that the new computer is up and running, I have to load my music applications onto it and get the drivers for the odd bits of hardware installed. One of the nice touches with this system is that they, by default, included a full copy of the Acronis backup software. This is the application that I would have installed anyway. This allows me to take a disk image, install something and if the install doesn't work, I can restore back to the previous image. They installed a stripped down version of Windows Vista and there may be compatibility problems with some of the drivers for the older equipment. This kind of a safety net is invaluable. Thank you SweetWater! My main applications are Sonar, Acid, Adobe Audition (used to be Cool Edit Pro) and a couple other obscure utilities and such. Been playing with Traction and Cubase so these will get loaded as well. Also, this weekend, we are hosting the fifth annual Solstice party. A bunch of crazed backpackers and hikers from the Pacific Northwest will descend upon our farm for a weekend of food, liquor and debauchery. Guerrilla Croquet will be an especial feature. Bonfire on Saturday evening. Pictures will be posted.
From today's XKCD:
Click to embiggen...
Ice Wine is wonderful stuff. Freezing the grapes just before harvest concentrates the flavors and the sugars. The result is a very high gravity wine (18%ABV or greater) with a crystalline sweetness and intense flavor. These are generally served chilled as an after dinner dessert wine. Yummy stuff! Well, it seems that an established vineyard in Brazil just had its first freeze -- temps down to -7.5C. From Joe D�Aleo writing at Watts Up With That:
First Ever Ice Wine in Brazil
Our friends at the METSUL reports that for the first time ever in Brazil icewine has been produced in this unusually cold June in Southern Brazil. This is a release on the Vinicolo Vineyard website. The following is a rough web based translation from Portuguese to English. The original Portuguese story is here.
Just as a heads up, the vineyard is near Santa Catarina. Santa Catarina is located 46 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. I do not know what elevation but in terms of Latitude, Santa Catarina is at the same relative latitude as Ft. Meyers, Florida. It should be warm there...

Something to watch out for

A sobering post from Double-Tapper:
Al Qaeda to attack US from Mexico with Bio weapons
U.S. counterterrorism officials have finally authenticated this video (I posted it back in the beginning of April) by an al Qaeda recruiter threatening to smuggle anthrax into the United States via tunnels under the Mexico border.

The video makes clear that al Qaeda is looking to exploit weaknesses in U.S. border security and also is willing to ally itself with white militia groups or other anti-government entities interested in carrying out an attack inside the United States, according to counterterrorism officials interviewed by The Washington Times.

The video first aired by the Arabic news network Al Jazeera in February and later posted to several Web sites, including here, shows Kuwaiti dissident Abdullah al-Nafisi, a veteran recruiter for al Qaeda with close ties to the Taliban, telling a room full of supporters in Bahrain that al Qaeda is casing the U.S. border with Mexico to assess how to send terrorists and weapons into the U.S. "Four pounds of anthrax -- in a suitcase this big -- carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the U.S. are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour if it is properly spread in population centers there," the recruiter said. "What a horrifying idea; 9/11 will be small change in comparison. Am I right? There is no need for airplanes, conspiracies, timings and so on. One person, with the courage to carry 4 pounds of anthrax, will go to the White House lawn, and will spread this 'confetti' all over them, and then we'll do these cries of joy. It will turn into a real celebration."

Hezbollah -- an Iran-backed terrorist organization based in Lebanon -- is using routes that Mexican drug lords control to smuggle contraband and people into the United States to finance operations.

In the video, al-Nafisi describes his admiration for Hezbollah and says that al Qaeda has scientists and resources at its disposal.
A bit more:
Over 3500 illegal aliens of middleastern origin are apprehended by the U.S Border Patrol along the Mexican border each year.

According to Todd Benesmen of the San Antonio Times, the human smuggling of middleasterners begins in the Terrorist state of Syria.
And don't forget that in the weeks running up to the invasion, there was a non-stop convoy of trucks running up from Iraq to Syria. Want Saddam's WMDs? Look at Syria. Here is a photo of the contents of one tanker truck that was stopped after the United Nations coalition was in country:
Those are bars of gold weighing 15 Kilograms each. And let's not forget the fighter jets buried in the sand:

And yes, I know that these are 1970's vintage MIG-25's. All the good stuff got sent to Syria, all the crappy stuff was buried. It will be tragic but it will be a wakeup call for the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Patrol. They spend their time (at least in this neck of the woods) hassling taxpaying citizens all the while crap like this is slipping through their fingers.

Redneck Fire Alarm

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From an email list:
Excellent detailed and long essay by Willis Eschenbach over at Watts Up With That:
The Thermostat Hypothesis

The Thermostat Hypothesis is that tropical clouds and thunderstorms actively regulate the temperature of the earth. This keeps the earth at a equilibrium temperature.

Several kinds of evidence are presented to establish and elucidate the Thermostat Hypothesis � historical temperature stability of the Earth, theoretical considerations, satellite photos, and a description of the equilibrium mechanism.
An excellent read -- he directly explores the Sun's contribution to our climate, something that the AGW'ers do not bother to consider. 209 (so far) excellent comments too -- Watts Up With That is becoming a daily read for me.

Horror story from Seattle's station KING-5:

Hollywood film turns horror story for Seattle homeowner
When Daphne Tomchak was approached to allow producers to use her home for the set of a new movie, the out of work architect felt like it was a remake of "Pennies From Heaven."

"Cool, I could get a remodel, they would pay me a little bit of money," she said.

The film, "The Details," is said to be a dark comedy about a couple whose yard is infested with raccoons.

Daphne moved all of her stuff into the basement and moved herself into a friend's house.

The movie makers gave her $13,000 up front for her troubles.

Tomchak gave permission for producers to remodel her home to fit their script, with the understanding that they would pay for everything to be fixed when they were done.

But just three days into the project she got word that financing for the film had fallen through.

Tomchak came home to find rugs torn up, walls ripped down, electricity cut, trees chopped, and nobody taking responsibility.

"I was kind of in shock," she said.

Tomchak says the demolition of the home was supposed to be even worse, including one scene where a character takes a chainsaw to one of her walls. If there is any silver lining to be found here, it's that the financing ran out before they shot that scene.

Googling her name gives me an address that borders on the Washington Park Arboretum -- that is not a cheap place to live and those houses are gorgeous.

This is going to be one interesting and expensive lawsuit...

From the Seattle Post-Intellegencer:
Obama creates Pacific Northwest Trail
When the national scenic trails system was created four decades ago, the goal was to build a walking path across the United States.

That goal came closer to reality in March, when President Obama signed a bill creating the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and two others. They are the first such trails designated in 26 years.

"The dream of a transcontinental pathway across America is 1,200 miles closer to reaching fruition," said Ron Strickland, a former Washington resident who first proposed the Pacific Northwest trial in 1970.

The trail will eventually run from Glacier National Park in Montana to the Pacific Ocean at Cape Alava in Washington. Portions of the trail have existed for centuries, and for the past three decades the nonprofit Pacific Northwest Trail Association has been gradually improving the route and erecting a few signs.

The federal designation means money will be provided to connect all portions of the trail, build bridges and other improvements, and erect signs and access points along its length, said Jon Knechtel of the association.

"I anticipate that within 10 years, this will gain the same popularity as the Pacific Crest Trail," Knechtel said.
Very cool -- the infrastructure of the trails systems in the Northwest needs a lot of work. There are volunteer crews that go out but they can only do so much. Getting some federal funds will help a lot both to establish and connect this new route but also to help improve the existing ones. We have a group out here that is building a trail along an old railroad right-of-way -- some people love the idea, some people do not but it is slowly moving forward.

A pleasant evening with a friend

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Bring your drool cup - this is a life well lived... From The Countertop Chronicles:
In awe
Anyway, I spent a most fascinating night last night. Visited a friend from East Tennessee who used to be a very active gun show dealer and is now a college professor. I had never actually seen his �collection.� I say collection cause its really like a museum.

We of course started out with his collection of fine booze. 10 different kinds of moonshine. Some other moonshine type spirits from around the world. Then about 10 kinds of Rye. He gave me a bottle of Templetons, but let me sip from a 50 year old unlabeled bottle of bootlegged Templetons (ie: before they went legit). And, he had about 25 kinds of bourbon and sour mash�s Some Pappy�s. 18 year Elijay Craig. Bookers and Bakers. Oh, and the George Dickel Special Reserve which held its own against EVERYTHING else we drank. It really is quite good. Might even become my new house whiskey.

Then, of course, after sipping and some steaks, we headed over to the guitar collection. He had some 60 or 70. Lots of old Gibsons, some Martin�s. And a bunch that I don�t know what they were. Mostly acoustics in one room, and then of course, another room full of Gibson electrics (and some early Fenders). Just what you�d expect from a good �ol boy from East Tennessee.

After some more bourbon, we then made it to the first safe of the evening. Which had some wonderful rifles in in - and a collection (20 or 30) of gorgeous Dan Wesson revolvers. The next safe, had a few more rifles in it, and perhaps another 20 or 30 Ruger single action revolvers of varying vintage and style. Oh, and some more rifles and a bunch of Colts and Smith and Wessons. And then of course, the assorted random calibers.

Which led to the next safe that had his collection of fine hunting rifles. Including a bunch he personally purchased from Jack O�Conner himself.

He had a bunch of fine shotguns lying outside this safe in boxes. And I thought. Wow. 250 guns (and 2 1/2 hours to look at and touch and lust over). Thats a hell of a collection. I need to get going. But no. We haven�t gotten to my vault yet.

And sure enough, there is one more. And in it he has a good 150 shotguns. All in impeccable condition. Each, nicer than the previous one. All total, about 400 guns give or take a few.

Oh yeah, and he had some knives too. They were lost on me, but all were in the $500 and up range. Which I don�t get (i have a Buck 110). And about a dozen motorcycles.

It was a drool fest.
Holy crap -- I thought that in my 58 years I had collected some cool stuff. This is amazing.

How not to set up web-based email

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I was trying to send an email to a local technical organization. This is a group of people hosted at a local University engineering department. I typed my message, hit send and this is what I was greeted with:
And a detail of exactly what caught my eye:
I am thinking of heading into town tomorrow so I'll just swing by and talk with them. Surprised they are still using sendmail and not Postfix. Gaaaa -- I had to administer a sendmail system once. It had already been installed when I was hired. I put up with it for about three months and then switched them over to Postfix when they did a server upgrade -- much better for the end user and for the admin...

What's for dinner - The Heart Attack Grill

Heh... From Mark Perry at Carpe Diem:

I love the idea of the fry bar. Using lard is an inspired touch! Next time you are in Chandler, Arizona, stop by - The Heart Attack Grill

Time lapse Photography

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If you want to do any sort of motion capture or time lapse photography, the Mumford Time Machine is the gold standard for controllers. Unfortunately, by the time you get it fully equipped with sensors and camera cables, you are looking at over $400 -- fully worth it if this is what you do but a bit steep for the casual experimenter. Fortunately, there is the Camera Axe:
Camera Axe
Camera Axe is open hardware and open software project that helps you get some of those difficult to capture photographs. It can use various sensors like light triggers and sound triggers to activate a camera or a flash.
The downside is that you have to have the circuit board made and you need to purchase the components and assemble the project but for someone like me, this is not a downside, this is part of the fun of a project like this. He also publishes the source code so any refinements and changes can be made and resubmitted for other people to use. The circuit boards are made in China. A US company -- Batch PCB -- accepts orders and when they have enough to run a huge batch, the order is placed and ten days later, you get your boards -- total turnaround time is about a month but the prices are cheap! The guy bought everything new and the cost of the unit was about $120. A good scrounger should be able to get that in around $70 (the board is $21 and the display is $25) A project for this winter...

A look at toaster technology

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From the ever wonderful (and recently married!) Miss Celania:
If Oracle made toasters... They'd claim their toaster was compatible with all brands and styles of bread, but when you got it home you'd discover the Bagel Engine was still in development, the Croissant Extension was three years away, and that indeed the whole appliance was just blowing smoke.

If Hewlett-Packard made toasters... They would market the Reverse Toaster, which takes in toast and gives you regular bread.

If IBM made toasters... They would want one big toaster where people bring bread to be submitted for overnight toasting. IBM would claim a worldwide market for five, maybe six toasters.

If Xerox made toasters... You could toast one-sided or double-sided. Successive slices would get lighter and lighter. The toaster would jam your bread for you.
One more:
If The Rand Corporation made toasters... It would be a large, perfectly smooth and seamless black cube. Every morning there would be a piece of toast on top of it. Their service department would have an unlisted phone number, and the blueprints for the box would be highly classified government documents. The X-Files would have an episode about it.
Heh -- I can see Mulder eating a piece of that toast right now...

Obama gets excited by the Iranian debate

Gimme a break - Ahmadinejad out and out steals the election and Obama is excited by the debate? From Reuters:
Obama "excited" by Iran's robust election debate
President Barack Obama said on Friday he was hopeful the robust debate taking place in Iran's presidential election would advance his administration's efforts to engage longtime U.S. rival Tehran in new ways.

"We are excited to see what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran," Obama told reporters when asked about the Iranian election during an event at the White House.

"Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact there has been a robust debate hopefully will advance our ability to engage them in new ways," he said.
Here is some of that debate from MyWay/Associated Press:
Iran declares win for Ahmadinejad in disputed vote
Iran declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner Saturday of an election that pitted the conservative establishment against candidate with broad backing from the country's youth. Riot police attacked opposition supporters, beating them with clubs and smashing cars.

A statement from Mousavi posted on his Web site condemned what he described as the "manipulation" of election results.
Some more debate:
Police attacked the demonstrators near the Interior Ministry, where the election results were announced, beating them with clubs and smashing cars.
And some more:
An Associated Press photographer saw a plainclothes security official beating a woman with his truncheon.
Of course, an election fraud like this could never happen in the USA. Oh... Wait... And what is ACORN up to these days?

Cool Tool - Bank Tracker

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This website scans the banks financial reports and gathers data as to its overall health. Check out Bank Tracker Locate your favorite Bank or Credit Union
Someone who gets it. From Michigan television station WWMT:
Rural Mich. counties turn failing roads to gravel
Some Michigan counties have turned a few once-paved rural roads back to gravel to save money.

More than 20 of the state's 83 counties have reverted deteriorating paved roads to gravel in the last few years, according to the County Road Association of Michigan. The counties are struggling with their budgets because tax revenues have declined in the lingering recession.

Montcalm County converted nearly 10 miles of primary road to gravel this spring.

The county estimates it takes about $10,000 to grind up a mile of pavement and put down gravel. It takes more than $100,000 to repave a mile of road.
Makes perfect sense. Even if a paved road is little traveled, it is still subject to frost heaves and erosion and will need to be repaired from time to time. An oiled gravel road is just fine for driving -- a little dusty in the dry heat of summer but you can lay down another coat of oil and fix that. Potholes and frost heaves are fixed in an afternoon with a grader and a truck full of gravel and not with hugely expensive paving equipment. The comments for this post are a hoot to read - frothing on both sides of the fence...

Nosebleed time - a fast computer

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I had written earlier about the new music computer that arrived the other day. Holy crap is that machine ever fast. And dead quiet. I can barely hear a whisper when my ear is next to it. I live on 30 acres and the DaveCave(tm) is a separate building from the house so the ambient noise level is not zero but damn close (when the Coyotes aren't singing backup). That machine is dead quiet. Quad-core i7 Intel CPU, 6GB RAM -- this will be an awesome tool for the next five years or so. I will be reshuffling the old music 'puter and doing a technology trickledown over the next couple of weeks or so. I am selling off a bunch of stuff (mixing board, MIDI keyboard controller, etc...) and I'll take some photos of the new setup in a week or two.
Seems that the size of the cell in the comb is really important. From Michael Bush at the Bush Farms website:
Most of us beekeepers spend a lot of effort fighting with the Varroa mites. I'm happy to say my biggest problems in beekeeping now are things like trying to get nucs through the winter here in Southeastern Nebraska and coming up with hives that won't hurt my back from lifting or better ways to feed the bees.

This change in beekeeping from fighting the mites is mostly because I've gone to natural sized cells. In case you weren't aware, and I wasn't for a long time, the foundation in common usage by beekeepers results in much larger bees than what you would find in a natural hive. I've measured sections of natural worker brood comb that are 4.6mm in diameter. This 4.6mm comb was drawn by a hive of commercial Carniolans and this 4.7mm comb was drawn on the first try by a package of commercial Carniolans.

What most beekeepers use for worker brood is foundation that is 5.4mm in diameter. If you translate that into three dimensions, instead of one, that produces a bee that is about half again as large as is natural. By letting the bees build natural sized cells, I have virtually eliminated my Varroa and Tracheal mite problems. One cause of this is shorter capping times by one day and shorter post capping times by one day. This means less Varroa get into the cells and less Varroa reproduce in the cells.

I have mostly done this either with wax coated PermaComb (fully drawn plastic comb) or self drawn comb on foundationless frames or frames with blank starter strips. 4.9mm foundation is available from Dadant and Sons and from Brushy Mt. This size(4.9mm) has been found sufficient to resolve the mite problems.
More information here:
Four Simple Steps to Healthier Bees
Dee Lusby's POV on Beesource
Natural Cell Size
Organicbeekeepers Yahoo group
Curious that such a simple change can have such a great effect...

Oopsie - black fiber

When dealing with fiber-optic data lines, there is white (or bright) fiber -- a line that is in use, there is dark-fiber -- a physical line but it is not being used at the time.

It seems that there is also black-fiber. From the Washington Post:

Metro Dig at Tysons Stirs Underground Intrigue
This part happens all the time: A construction crew putting up an office building in the heart of Tysons Corner a few years ago hit a fiber optic cable no one knew was there.

This part doesn't: Within moments, three black sport-utility vehicles drove up, a half-dozen men in suits jumped out and one said, "You just hit our line."

Whose line, you may ask? The guys in suits didn't say, recalled Aaron Georgelas, whose company, the Georgelas Group, was developing the Greensboro Corporate Center on Spring Hill Road. But Georgelas assumed that he was dealing with the federal government and that the cable in question was "black" wire -- a secure communications line used for some of the nation's most secretive intelligence-gathering operations.

"The construction manager was shocked," Georgelas recalled. "He had never seen a line get cut and people show up within seconds. Usually you've got to figure out whose line it is. To garner that kind of response that quickly was amazing."

And a bit more:

Georgelas, the developer whose company was overseeing the work in 2000 when the Chevrolet Suburbans drove up to the Greensboro Corporate Center, said he figured that the government was involved when an AT&T crew arrived the same day to fix the line, rather than waiting days. His opinion didn't change when AT&T tried to bill his company for the work but immediately backed down when his company balked.

"These lines are not cheap to move," Georgelas said. "They said, 'You owe us $300,000.' We said, 'Are you nuts?' "

The charges just disappeared.

Heh... I have administered T-1's bonded pairs and various OC-nnn lines before. If something happens, you will get a call within an hour or so.

With a standard home phone line or with cable broadband access, the company depends on the end user to report any service problems. By not having to put diagnostic equipment on every line (and pay people to monitor it), they save a lot of money and pass the savings over to you. When you sign up for a T-1, you are contracting to pay the company several hundred bucks/month but you are getting 24/7 live monitoring of line conditions and a guaranteed bandwidth. Last place I worked, I was moving some of the network wiring around and had unplugged the CSU for a few minutes to relocate it. This broke our connection with our provider and about ten minutes later, I got a phone call from them.

To have several people physically show up at the site of the break indicates a level of service that is several orders of magnitude greater. (The way they find the break is very cool geek-fu called Time Domain Reflectometry)

It is starting

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What you ask? The decline of our health-care system. From the Knoxville, Tennessee News Sentinel
New downtown Knoxville Mercy hospital shelved
Mercy Health Partners said Thursday it has shelved plans to build a new downtown hospital because of the economy and uncertainty over the national health care debate.

The unanimous decision made by Mercy's board of directors comes a year after the health system announced that it would build a $400 million replacement facility on the site of the former Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee if certain financial benchmarks were met.

"The economy has put us in a position where we can't do it," said Jerry Askew, senior vice president of external affairs for Mercy Health.
And more:
Last year, Mercy provided more than $129 million in uncompensated care to the poor, uninsured and underinsured.

In addition to the economy, hospital officials also cited "the unpredictability of the national health care policy debate."

The Obama administration has announced its intention to enact sweeping health care reform this year.

"The only certainty is that reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid are going to go down," Askew said.
$129 Million is not chump change - Knoxville has a population of around 180K people so this is about $700 per person. They have over ten hospitals (same source) so are well served medically. For Mercy Health Partners to decide not to build, there must be some powerful writing on the wall. Jen and I disagree on the subject of government health care. She things that something must be done. I think that the right thing must be done and Obama is most assuredly not doing the right thing.
About an hour but well worth it -- he clearly explains where Republicans and Conservatives lost their way and what needs to be done about it. Very bipartisan on a lot of points too.
Congressman Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Coleman, the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve Board. 5:24 of nothing...
Hat tip to Parkway Rest Stop

Government help explained - from IMAO:


On the left: Your business On the right: Your business on government bailouts 'Nuf said...

It seems that we may be able to get licenses for Low Power FM Radio stations again. The FCC had an all too brief window open in 2000 and it's been closed since then. Low Power FM allows you to run a station of 100 Watts or less for "community" services. This would give a range of about 10 miles. Where we live is about 30 miles from Bellingham, WA and we can receive a couple of stations but no NPR, none of the classical stations and the majority of the stations that we can receive are Canadian -- some good programming but nothing that serves our community. I am involved in the startup of a 501(c)3 Foundation and getting a station is one of our priorities. In addition to providing local news and programming, there is a huge Slavic community out here and it would be awesome to get them involved in programming in their own language. We did have a 10 Watt pirate radio station that was run for a number of years by an electrical engineer but he passed away suddenly and the station is now off-air. News on this development can be found at FMQB:
Hearing Held On Low Power FM
A hearing was held on Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet regarding the Local Community Radio Act (H.R. 1147). FCC Audio Division Chief Peter Doyle testified on behalf of the bill, which would allow the FCC to license thousands of Low Power FM community radio stations across the country. Also testifying on behalf of low power radio was Cheryl Leanza, representing the United Church of Christ, the Prometheus Radio Project, and the more than 200 radio stations of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Four new co-sponsors signed onto the bill Thursday, bringing the total to 58.

U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA), who introduced the bill, explained why the bipartisan legislation is needed. "In 2000, the Federal Communications Commission started to create new community radio stations, run by local schools, churches, community groups and governments. They did this because their mission from Congress is not to help entrenched lobbies, but to make sure that as many Americans as possible have access to the public�s airwaves to fulfill a basic human need � the right to communicate. But responding to broadcasters� concerns, Congress called time out and asked for an independent study to examine the issue. The premise of Congress� decision to order the study was that if the study confirmed the FCC�s findings, Congress would remove its prohibition on the FCC, and allow it to fully implement community radio. The study came back, agreed with the FCC that these stations can be created without harming listeners. And through two unanimous, bipartisan votes, the FCC has twice now recommended that Congress do so. I am asking Congress to keep its part of the bargain."

Leanza said in her testimony, "This is radio that speaks directly to the questions and concerns of the day, unfiltered through large corporate entities or boardroom decisions. Instead, community organizations and volunteers put blood, sweat and tears into the daily effort of bringing the culture, news, and local events to their towns and neighborhoods."
It is very interesting to note that the two primary groups opposing this are the National Association of broadcasters (no big surprise there -- they represent "big radio") and National Public Radio (surprise -- I guess they foster alternative media but it can only be their alternative media.)

Clever and bored - a bad combination

From the Baltimore Sun:
Prairie dogs return to Md. Zoo
It took just 10 minutes for a dozen prairie dogs to outwit the creators of the Maryland Zoo's new $500,000 habitat.

Aircraft wire, poured concrete and slick plastic walls proved no match for the fast-footed rodents, the stars of a new exhibit that opens today.

As officials were promoting the return of the zoo's 28 prairie dogs - their former digs had been out of sight in a closed section of the animal preserve for more than four years - some of the critters found ways to jump, climb and get over the walls of their prairie paradise, a centerpiece exhibit just inside the zoo's main entrance.

None got away, but for a few anxious minutes, they found every weakness in the enclosure built to hold them. Zookeepers had to bring out nets to catch escapees.
Heh -- that would have been fun to see. Critters can be a lot more creative at problem solving than we give them credit for. Intelligence is not just speech and memory...

A case of embezzlement in Vermont

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From the Bennington, VT Bennington Banner:
Arlington woman charged in wire fraud
An East Arlington woman has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors on charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

Denise M. Hall, 51, of East Arlington, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return, after taking between $120,000 and $200,000 from her employer, Rosemary Altea of Dorset, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Darrow.

Hall was employed by Altea, a nationally known self-proclaimed psychic and "spiritual medium" who has appeared on "Oprah" and "Larry King Live," between 2001 and 2008 as an office manager and bookkeeper.
Geee, now if only there was some way that Ms. Altea could have found out earlier...

That is it for the night

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Stuffed with left-over spaghetti (homemade sauce with grass fed beef) and a glass or two of a nice cheap red wine and I am headed off to the DaveCave(tm) to get my new toy up and running (and to check emails).
This is getting ridiculous. From Bloomberg:
House Health-Care Proposal Adds $600 Billion in Taxes
Health-care overhaul legislation being drafted by House Democrats will include $600 billion in tax increases and $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel said.

Democrats will work on the bill�s details next week as they struggle through �what kind of heartburn� it will cause to agree on how to pay for revamping the health-care system, Rangel, a New York Democrat, said today. The measure�s cost is reaching well beyond the $634 billion President Barack Obama proposed in his budget request to Congress as a 10-year down payment for the policy changes.

Asked whether the cost of a health-care overhaul would be more than $1 trillion over a decade, Rangel said, �the answer is yes.� Some Senate Republicans, including Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, say the costs will likely exceed $1.5 trillion.
People will look back on this time and shake their heads. We should have learned from FDR's meddling as it prolonged the Great Depression. Now that we are in a minor depression, who gets elected but another meddler...
From the Nanaimo Daily News/Reuters:
Chinese sub collides with cargo towed by U.S. warship
A Chinese submarine accidentally collided with an underwater sonar array being towed by a U.S. military ship, CNN reported on Friday, quoting an unnamed military official.

The incident occurred on Thursday near Subic Bay off the coast of the Philippines, according to the CNN report.

The destroyer USS John S. McCain was towing the array, deployed to track underwater sounds.

"The John S. McCain did have a problem with its towed array sonar. It was damaged" on Thursday in Subic Bay, a Pentagon spokesman told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The spokesman, who asked not to be identified, would not confirm other details of the CNN report, including whether the array collided with a Chinese submarine. He said the U.S. destroyer was not damaged and was not hit by another vessel.

The U.S. Navy does not view the incident as a deliberate move by Beijing to harass military ships operating in the region, CNN reported.
The passive sonar arrays are designed to be as quiet in the water as possible. If the Chinese didn't know it was in the water, they would never have found it unless they went active and if you are sneaking up on a US Destroyer, going active is something you really do not want to do...
A good hard look at Obamacare and why it needs to be rejected. From the Wall Street Journal:
How to Stop Socialized Health Care
It was a sobering breakfast with one of the smartest Republicans on Capitol Hill. We can fix a lot of bad stuff President Barack Obama might do, he told me. But if Mr. Obama signs into law a "public option," government-run insurance program as part of health-care reform we won't be able to undo the damage.

I'd go the Republican member of Congress one further: If Democrats enact a public-option health-insurance program, America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare state. To prevent this from happening, there are five arguments Republicans must make.

The first is it's unnecessary. Advocates say a government-run insurance program is needed to provide competition for private health insurance. But 1,300 companies sell health insurance plans. That's competition enough. The results of robust private competition to provide the Medicare drug benefit underscore this. When it was approved, the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost $74 billion a year by 2008. Nearly 100 providers deliver the drug benefit, competing on better benefits, more choices, and lower prices. So the actual cost was $44 billion in 2008 -- nearly 41% less than predicted. No government plan was needed to guarantee competition's benefits.

Second, a public option will undercut private insurers and pass the tab to taxpayers and health providers just as it does in existing government-run programs. For example, Medicare pays hospitals 71% and doctors 81% of what private insurers pay.

Who covers the rest? Government passes the bill for the outstanding balance to providers and families not covered by government programs. This cost-shifting amounts to a forced subsidy. Families pay about $1,800 more a year for someone else's health care as a result, according to a recent study by Milliman Inc. It's also why many doctors limit how many Medicare patients they take: They can afford only so much charity care.

Fixing prices at less than market rates will continue under any public option. Sen. Edward Kennedy's proposal, for example, has Washington paying providers what Medicare does plus 10%. That will lead to health providers offering less care.
Three more at the site -- well thought out and they have the numbers to back up their arguments.
From MyWay/Associated Press:
House set to send FDA tobacco bill to Obama
After more than a decade of efforts by smoking opponents, Congress prepared to take a final vote Friday on legislation giving the government far-reaching powers to regulate tobacco and limit tobacco industry marketing and sales practices that lure young people into smoking habits.

The House was expected to give overwhelming approval to legislation that for the first time gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to ban tobacco ingredients deemed dangerous to health, prohibit use of candied and flavored cigarettes popular among young people and prohibit use of words such as "mild" or "light" that give the impression that the brand is safer.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a leader in anti-smoking campaigns, said the bill was "truly historic and puts us one small step away from finally acting to address the tobacco epidemic in our country."
Noble words but buried in another paragraph:
It gives the FDA power to order changes to ingredients, including tar and nicotine, to protect public health.
Emphasis mine. Waxman needs to get booted out of office ASAP.
Stupid politician -- no biscuit! From the UK Telegraph:
US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive
The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.

Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.

The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.

Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.
Dan Kildee, you are a moron. Worse than a moron. Granted the housing market is still very much up in the air these days but there is an incredible need for low cost housing. Here is what I would do. You are going to have to claim ownership of these properties anyway in order to demolish them. How about this; how about giving the houses away to families with the stipulation that they live in them for a minimum of five years. Demolishing a house is an expensive proposition considering that this idiot is talking about returning the land to a park-like condition. Now that we have given the family the house for free, how about taking the demolition money and do two things: #1) - set up a free hands-on house remodeling school with tool bank and #2) - provide each homeowner with $10K in credit at a nearby Lowes or Home Depot. I would start with the people still clinging to their post-Katrina FEMA trailers in Louisiana -- but they are all George Bush's fault...

Taking a break for dinner

Am setting up a computer for the music stuff in the DaveCave(tm) Don't have the monitors or keyboard set up but just for fun, I plugged it in for a few seconds and it is dead silent. So either I have a brick (a nice shiny rack-mounted brick) or it is one of the quietest machines I have ever seen. The build quality is really good -- cables nicely routed and a solid case. Came from Sweetwater Sound -- one of their CreationStations. I had done business with them a few years ago and was very pleased by the service and technical support* and this purchase was no different. The cost is right at where I would be if I purchased the parts and put it together myself so it's well worth the money. *I never needed service on anything I purchased from them but they maintain an awesome online library of drivers, patches, user contributions and demos as well as software updates for most current and past music software. Good thing to have if an obscure library program that you use (cough)Sound Diver(cough) sells off to another company (cough)eMagic(cough) that refuses to support it...

Not much posting today

A computer I had ordered came in today so I will be getting it set up and configured. Normally, I like to roll my own but this is for the music setup I have and the company manufactures them specifically for this task. I have not powered it up yet -- it is rack mounted and I need to shuffle some equipment around -- but it is supposed to be dead quiet which will be nice as most systems of any size sound like a jet taking off... The other feature is that it's install of Windows has been stripped to within an inch of it's life. Since Windows can multitask, running something along with your music software can cause problems as having a sudden change in system load can cause an audible glitch in your recording. This is not a machine to connect to the internet. There is no browser, there is no email, no office software, no Instant Messaging, no anti-virus, no firewall, nothing. I will install a few common utilities (NoteTab, Foxit PDF reader, Defraggler, CCleaner, Recuva) but nothing else. If I want to upgrade a piece of software, I will go to another machine, download the patch, burn a DVD and walk that disk over to this system. The words "Lean and Mean" come to mind...

Object of Desire - Blastolenes

Higher geek-fu than I have seen in a long, long time...

What would it be like to cruise down the road in this:


But we need to set the stage first -- here is writer Kevin Kelley talking about his first sighting. Go and read. I'll be here waiting...

Back? Great! The parent site is here: Blastolene

Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time drooling -- bring a cup.

The engineering and execution behind these wonderful creations is top-notch...

Gary Varvel - cartoonist

I had linked to a wonderful cartoon by Gary Varvel (from the Indiana Star) on May 26th, 2009 Theo found this one today (from February 9th, 2009):
So true...

Iran and Israel - when and how

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An interesting analysis by John R. Bolton. The fact that we did not confirm his posting to the United Nations is one of this country's greatest mistakes. The guy is a major asset and he would have gone a long way to cut through the bullshit at the U.N. From the Wall Street Journal:
What If Israel Strikes Iran?
The mullahs would retaliate. But things would be much worse if they had the bomb.

Whatever the outcome of Iran's presidential election tomorrow, negotiations will not soon -- if ever -- put an end to its nuclear threat. And given Iran's determination to achieve deliverable nuclear weapons, speculation about a possible Israeli attack on its nuclear program will not only persist but grow.

So what would such an attack look like? Obviously, Israel would need to consider many factors -- such as its timing and scope, Iran's increasing air defenses, the dispersion and hardening of its nuclear facilities, the potential international political costs, and Iran's "unpredictability." While not as menacingly irrational as North Korea, Iran's politico-military logic hardly compares to our NATO allies. Central to any Israeli decision is Iran's possible response.

Israel's alternative is that Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs reach fruition, leaving its very existence at the whim of its staunchest adversary. Israel has not previously accepted such risks. It destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 and a Syrian reactor being built by North Koreans in 2007. One major new element in Israel's calculus is the Obama administration's growing distance (especially in contrast to its predecessor).
Mr. Bolton then cites six possible outcomes of an Israeli attack and gives an analysis of the outcome of each one. The next ten years are going to be "interesting" indeed...

Socialized medicine at it's finest hour

Perfect example of why the government should stay the hell out of health care. From the UK Telegraph:
Woman gives birth on motorway after being sent home by hospital
Rebecca Longley, 20, delivered Aaliyah herself as boyfriend Andrew Mildenhall tried to stay focused on the road ahead.

The couple had first gone to the hospital that morning and then again in the evening but were told both times that Miss Longley wasn't ready to give birth.

Two hours later the beauty therapist's waters broke but when she phoned the same hospital, medics advised her to stay at home.

Ten minutes later the couple decided to take matters into their own hands and head back to the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester, Hants.

But before they got there Miss Langley went into labour and gave birth to 6lb 1oz baby girl Aaliyah on the front passenger seat on the M3 motorway.
Her first child -- thank God that there were no complications. I remember reading that there is a government mandated maximum wait time for the Emergency Rooms over there so that ambulances are directed to park with their engines running until such time as there is a slot open for their patient. The government already runs the Department of Motor Vehicles, Homeland Security, Amtrak, the Post Office and Social Security -- we can plainly see what a fantastic job they are doing there. And there are idiots that seriously think that letting them run our health care would be a good idea?
A wonderful three-part interview of Professor Ian Plimer on the subject of Global Warming. He talks about his new book: Heaven+Earth: Global Warming - The Missing Science

Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the links.
I had written earlier about my two most recent experiences crossing from Canada into the United States here, here and here. In the first of the above links, I wrote this:
Holy Crap - now I know why they asked that question
A few days ago, I posted about my second time through US Customs and the experiences of the journey. (the first trip was posted here)

The thing that stood out (besides the having to wait for so long and the search of the truck without my being asked or being told) was the questions about sharp objects or weapons. I replied that I was carrying a pocket knife but nothing else.

This post at Irons in the Fire explains why the question.
Here is a little more on this quiet little power grab and why you should do something about it. The United States Customs and Border Patrol are seeking to reclassify any knife that can be opened with one hand as a 'switchblade' and therefore making it an illegal weapon. I am all about border security but this is getting downright picayune and stupid. Every single folding knife that Jen and I own are assisted opening -- it makes sense to be able to open a pocket knife with one hand. We have a few knives kicking around that are the old-school two-handed open but these do not get used for the basic reason that they are inconvenient and impractical to use. Here is a picture of what I carry daily - a Benchmade 942 in 154CM stainless steel:

(the photo is of the Benchmade 940, not the 942
blade shape (reverse Tanto) and handle are identical)
(image is copyright Benchmade 2008)
This is not a switchblade. This is a personal tool used daily. I used it less than 30 minutes ago to break down some shipping cartons and it gets used probably 10 to 20 times every day. This is not a weapon, it is not dangerous, it is a personal tool. It is Mine! What makes this even more galling is that there is only a 30-day period for Citizen Comments. What's more, the comments have to be sent in the form of a letter through the postal system, they do not have any provision for email or voicemail comments. Here is the information you need -- please act: Here is Knife Rights -- Essential Tools - Essential Rights
Model Letter to Customs and Border Protection
Below is a Model Letter to U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP). VERY IMPORTANT: You'll note there is no email listed. CBP has made it perfectly clear they are NOT ACCEPTING EMAIL COMMENTS. Clearly they are trying to discourage comments by making this more difficult than it needs to be. You MUST MAIL THIS LETTER. The letter must be RECEIVED by CBP NO LATER THAN JUNE 21st. Please mail your letter as soon as possible.
And here is an excellent editorial from Blade Magazine's Ben Sobieck:
U.S. Customs Seeks to Prohibit Assisted Opening Knives
Assisted opening knives could be reclassified as illegal switchblades if a measure proposed by United States Customs and Border Protection (Customs) becomes law.

On May 21, Customs proposed a revision of what constitutes a switchblade (click here to read the proposal). This new interpretation would deem assisted opening knives, as well as those featuring one-hand operation, illegal per the U.S. Switchblade Act of 1958.

Specifically, Customs seeks "revocation of four ruling letters and revocation of treatment relating to the admissibility of certain knives with spring-assisted opening mechanisms." Those four ruling letters do not classify assisted openers as switchblades.

The current federal definition of a switchblade is any knife that opens automatically using gravity, inertia or hand pressure to a button or device on the handle. Assisted openers and one-hand operation knives rely on studs, grooves or other devices attached to the blade to open. These blades must be manipulated by hand to open.

If enacted, the Customs proposal would effect the 35.6 million people who own one-hand operation knives, according to the American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI). Furthermore, Knife Rights indicates roughly 80 percent of all knives sold in the United States use one-hand operation. The knife industry as a whole employs 24,000 people and contributes an estimated $8 billion annually to the economy, according to Knife Rights.

Both knife advocacy groups are voicing opposition to the measure.

"The [Federal Switchblade] Act is very clear that a switchblade must have an activating button on the handle," a post on Knife Rights's Web site states. "Without a button, it is not a switchblade and this has been upheld by numerous cases on many levels over the years. CBP's convoluted reasoning in their proposal to reach back beyond the law and to expand their regulatory purview by rationalizing 'intent' as justification for this new interpretation is a stretch, at best, and illegitimate at worst."

AKTI filed for an extension of the 30-day minimum public comment period required of Customs. That period ends June 21. Update: Customs denied AKTI's request for an extension. AKTI is also drafting an official response to the proposal.
The Blade Editorial had a little history too:
This is not the first time Customs sought to restrict assisted opening knives. In 2000, Customs seized 80,000 Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) knives. Over a 16-day period, CRKT lost roughly $1 million in sales due to the seizure, according to AKTI. Customs eventually released the knives back to CRKT.
Again, I am all for strong borders but this kind of scope creep needs to be nipped in the bud. There is a big difference between drug smuggling, terrorists entering the US to wage warfare and illegals streaming in looking for work and a United States Citizen carrying a common pocket tool.

The Superball

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Og took a break from blogging but is now back with a vengeance. Check out his story about a superball:
The superball
Remember these? I do. I do really, really well.

I bought one of these bastards with my own money- at a time when I didn�t have a lot of scratch to throw around. I think it was Confirmation money. I saw the commercials and thought, good lord, I HAVE to have one of those.

And then I got it home. I realized, there is barely a piece of concrete in the neighborhood. Our driveway was shingletab, the sidewalk gravel, the street was oiled crush&run. There was concrete in front of the front door. So I would stand there and throw the superball at the concrete, but instead of flying many feet into the air, it just bounced up and hit the ceiling of the porch, back down to the concrete, lather, rinse, and repeat. Think �Bam. Thump. Bam. Thump. Bam. Thump. Ow!� as it bounced back and forth and finally creamed me in the throat, or groin, or eye, or ear.

Without concrete, a superball isn�t a very fun toy. So I was disappointed I�d spent my $5 for something I couldn�t play with.
What follows is a multiple drink alert story. Wonderful stuff...
From The New Zealand Herald:
Residents angry after town's only pub shut down
Kumara residents are thirsty - and angry.

From its goldmining heyday, when the West Coast township had a tally of 50 pubs, it now has none after the Liquor Licensing Authority cancelled the licence of Empire Hotel publican Peter Jenkinson.

The pub's closure has turned some thirsty residents against woodturner Carey Dillon, who campaigned to have the pub closed down, the Press reported.

Mr Dillon, whose store and home is diagonally opposite the Empire on the main road supplied the authority with videos showing patrons drinking and smoking on the street outside the pub. He appeared at the authority's hearing as an objector.
Kumara has 405 residents -- and Mr. Dillon will be moving to another town in 9... 8... 7... 6...
Mr Dillon was unable to be contacted yesterday, and his home and shop were locked.
Bad for the town of Kumara -- with this one act, they have lost their village idiot and their liberal nanny-stater (but I repeat myself).

The Holocaust Museum Shooting

They have a 'suspect' named James von Brunn -- if this is the same person (most likely) he is a true nutcase, completely off his rocker. He posted on a lot of different sites and most of these have been taken down but various internet caching services still have copies: From Google's cache of Holy Western Empire (his home page):
A new, hard-hitting expos� of the JEW CONSPIRACY to destroy the White gene-pool.


James W. von Brunn

Here are 350pp of FACTS condensing libraries of information about the Talmud, Democracy, Marx, Genetics, Money, Aryans, Negroes, Khazars, The Holy Bible, Treason, Mass-media, Mendelism, Race, the �Holocaust� and a host of suppressed �bigoted� subjects, all supported by quotations from many of history�s greatest personages. Learn who is responsible for the millions of Aryan crosses covering the world�s battlefields. Why our sons and daughters died bravely but in vain. Learn why the �browning of America will alter everything in society from politics and education to industry, values and culture.�
Here is Google's cache of him at Free Republic:
Obama is missing!
The American People Demand to Know:


Obama has lived for 48 years without leaving any footprints -- none! There is no Obama documentation -- no records -- no paper trail -- none -- this is no accident. It is being done on purpose with Media help - but to serve whom & why???
From Google's cache of RonPaul for President:

by James von Brunn

Remember, the un-Constitutional Federal Reserve Act (1913) gave JEWS control of America's MONEY. Followed by control of America's principal sources of information .

Early on, during the war-torn 20th Century, the only broadcast networks : ABC, CBS, and NBC -- were JEW owned. Today, JEWS control ALL important sources of information (the major networks, Newspapers, Magazines, Book-publishing, Tin-Pan Alley, Music & Recording Industry, Hollywood, Encyclopedia Britannica, Public schools and Universities, the Catholic Church, etc.).

Bit by bit Liberalism ascended. Bit by bit the Constitution was re-interpreted. Bit by bit government institutions and Congressmen fell into JEW hands -- then U.S. diplomacy, businesses, resources and manpower came under JEW control.

White men sat on their collective asses and did NOTHING -- NOTHING BUT TALK. Never before in World history has a great Nation been conquered so completely, while offering NO physical resistance !

White talkers LOVE their Enemies.

Today, on the World stage, White men are LAUGHED AT, their women taken, raped, and bred by stronger men.

And America ?

America is a Third-World racial garbage-dump -- stupid, ignorant, dead-broke, and terminal.

Prepare to die, White America -- you deserve it.

Heil Hitler !
He is badly wounded but I hope that he survives and is brought to trial. Pure evil and hatred like this should be exposed to the light of day before being snuffed out like a roach on a kitchen floor. How willfully stupid to not even do the simplest of research... Hat tip to a number of blogs especially Charles for the various links.

Great sign

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Swiped from Denny:
Wonder who is going to do the bumper stickers -- I'd order a couple...

Two mounds on Salisbury Plain

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Wonderful archaeological find -- from the London Times:
6,000-year-old tombs found next to Stonehenge
A prehistoric complex, including two 6,000-year-old tombs, has been discovered by archaeologists in Hampshire.

The Neolithic tombs, which until now had gone unnoticed under farmland despite being just 15 miles from Stonehenge, are some of the oldest monuments to have been found in Britain.

Archaeologists say they will hold valuable clues about how people lived at the time and what their environment was like.

The discovery is also close to Cranborne Chase, one of the most well researched prehistoric areas in Europe.

�It�s one of the most famous prehistoric landscapes, a Mecca for prehistorians, and you would have thought the archaeological world would have gone over it with a fine tooth comb,� Dr Helen Wickstead, the Kingston University archaeologist leading the project, said.

From examining similar sites, archaeologists know that complex burial rituals were common at the time. Typically bodies would be left in the open air until the flesh had decayed, leaving only a skeleton. Then bones were put in special arrangements in the tombs.

�The tombs were like bone homes for important people in the community,� Dr Wickstead said.

The tombs were discovered by Damian Grady, an English Heritage photographer, who flew over the area in a light aircraft taking aerial photographs of the land, looking for marks or features on the landscape suggestive of ancient monuments. One photograph showed two long mounds.

After discussions with colleagues, Mr Grady was left in little doubt that the mounds were the site of ancient tombs. He contacted Dr Wickstead inviting her to investigate.

After carrying out a survey of the land using electromagnetic detectors and ultrasound, Dr Wickstead created a map of what lay beneath the fields. She was able to identify the two tombs with troughs on each side, known as long barrows, typical of Neolithic burial sites.

Her team was also found artefacts, including fragments of pottery, flint and stone tools, close to the surface.
The soil was undisturbed so they were able to get pollen samples to establish dates and climate. Very cool!

Job Claims as reported in the Media

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An interesting numbers shell game is happening with the US Job Market. We are at well over 9% unemployment (up from around five at the beginning of this year) and 1.6 million people are newly out of work. President Obama is going around claiming that his policies have Saved or Created 150,000 jobs and people are lapping up the puddle of Kool Aid off the newsroom floor. An interesting analysis at The Wall Street Journal:
The Media Fall for Phony 'Jobs' Claims
The Obama Numbers Are Pure Fiction.

Tony Fratto is envious.

Mr. Fratto was a colleague of mine in the Bush administration, and as a senior member of the White House communications shop, he knows just how difficult it can be to deal with a press corps skeptical about presidential economic claims. It now appears, however, that Mr. Fratto's problem was that he simply lacked the magic words -- jobs "saved or created."

"Saved or created" has become the signature phrase for Barack Obama as he describes what his stimulus is doing for American jobs. His latest invocation came yesterday, when the president declared that the stimulus had already saved or created at least 150,000 American jobs -- and announced he was ramping up some of the stimulus spending so he could "save or create" an additional 600,000 jobs this summer. These numbers come in the context of an earlier Obama promise that his recovery plan will "save or create three to four million jobs over the next two years."

Mr. Fratto sees a double standard at play. "We would never have used a formula like 'save or create,'" he tells me. "To begin with, the number is pure fiction -- the administration has no way to measure how many jobs are actually being 'saved.' And if we had tried to use something this flimsy, the press would never have let us get away with it."

Of course, the inability to measure Mr. Obama's jobs formula is part of its attraction. Never mind that no one -- not the Labor Department, not the Treasury, not the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- actually measures "jobs saved." As the New York Times delicately reports, Mr. Obama's jobs claims are "based on macroeconomic estimates, not an actual counting of jobs." Nice work if you can get away with it.
More at the site including some interesting comments at their forum.

Larry Moore update

I had written earlier about the asshat in the San Francisco government who had taken Larry Moore's money -- Larry is the homeless guy that started shining shoes to make money and had saved almost $600 for an appartment. Ms. Christine Falvey from the S.F. Department of Public Works demanded that he pay them $491 for a sidewalk vendor permit. Her quote is perfect liberalese:
Christine Falvey, spokeswoman for Public Works, said the department�s contact with Moore was meant to be �educational.�

�We certainly don�t want to hamper anyone�s ability to make a living,� Falvey said. �Our education efforts are actually meant to support that effort by making our streets an enjoyable place for people to visit.�
It seems that this has brought a lot of good attention. From the San Francisco Television Station KBCS:
SF's Homeless 'Shoeshine Man' Back In Business
Larry Moore has been homeless for years, living under storefront overhangs, and most recently, under a highway bridge.

About six months ago, he had had enough and started shining shoes as way to get his life back in order. The grand plan�make enough money to get into local housing.

At the corner of New Montgomery and Market Street in San Francsico, Moore wears a pair of slacks, a nice dress shirt and a tie. He became known to passersby as the best-dressed shoeshiner in the city.

Moore's venture was moving along nicely, but when the Department of Public Works learned that a new business was running without proper permits, they started coming down on him.

"I'm homeless, trying to pay my own way, and was just [surprised] that I couldn't get on my feet," Moore reacted.

Being a good citizen, Moore complied with city laws because he didn't want to be treated any different than other street businesses. So he gave up every penny he had earned in the process to pay for a permit and had to delay his plans to find a roof over his head.

Moore's plight was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle last week and readers responded immediately.

Hundreds of customers flooded his make-shift stand with shoes and money in hand. The politicians starting show up too, and before you could say "Shine Mister," Larry had reassurances that the city was ready to help him.

After collecting nearly $1,000 from so many new clients, Moore was finally able to pay his way into some temporary housing.

His only problem now, though, is getting readjusted to the comforts that many of us take for granted. Since he'd been on the streets for so long, Moore said he just couldn't sleep in a bed.

"I tossed and turned for hours� so I threw everything on the floor and made a pallet and was out like a light," he said, noting it was the best sleep he's had in years.

Travis See runs the Custom Shop, an upscale clothier on the corner of New Montgomery and Market, and said this couldn't have happened to a better guy.

"He's done nothing but add to the corner. He's done nothing but add to people's experience. He's just a good guy," See explained.

Moore is now a local hero, with fans stopping by to chat. Joey Moreland was visiting from Mississippi for a conference. He said he read about Larry's plight and had to meet him.

"I thought it was just a perfect example of how people can just bootstrap themselves, so it's never too late to do more," Moreland observed.

That, too, is Moore's message, that anyone can succeed as long as they try.

"Don't give up, there's always hope. And that's my biggest thing�there's always hope for every individual," Moore concluded.
That is the American Spirit -- if someone is genuinly trying to make it, give them a break. If they are just looking for a free ride, let them keep looking. Our government officials could stand to learn that and to cut some slack for the small business people that are keeping things running. Our store has over ten people on payroll. These checks are supporting individuals and families. If the government makes it so we cannot operate profitably, that would be a big impact on our town of 200 permanent residents.

Spam - a shotgun blast

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Had several days of peace and quiet and then blammo -- got 45 spam attempts this morning with 33 unique IP addresses harvested and added to the block list. They were all of the four to six random characters followed by a bunch of gibberish URLs. None of them made it -- they were all placed into moderation and deleted. LOOSERS!

Job Loss and the Stimulus Bill

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A nice look at the predicted job losses and the reality from the people at Political Math
I will be visiting this site regularly.
David Letterman staying classy as always:
Daughter getting knocked up by Alex Rodriguez? The daughter that Sara brought to the game was 14-year-old Willow. From Newsday:
Palin was being honored at an anniversary celebration for the Manorville-based Independent Group Home Living Inc. after attending a Yankees game. She was joined by her husband, daughter Willow and a sister.
And if this had been Rush Limbaugh joking about one of Nancy Pelosi's three daughters, he would have been tarred and feathered by the media... Hat tip to Glen, Jim and Dan
Some common sense in Berkeley? From the Bay Area News Group:
Berkeley says bye to biodiesel
Berkeley has ended its six-year attempt to save the world by burning biodiesel in its trucks and machinery amid concerns it actually increases greenhouse gases worldwide and exacerbates hunger.

The city stopped receiving shipments of biodiesel derived from soy bean crops last month.

The City Council will consider formalizing its policy on the matter in September.

"Four years ago we looked at this and thought it was a really good idea to do biofuels when there were no crop-based biofuels, but the situation has changed beneath us," said Robert Clear a member of the city's Community Environmental Advisory Commission which recommended the city change its policy on biofuels.

In 2003, the city started using 100 percent biodiesel in its more than 100 cars and trucks that run on diesel fuel. But that biodiesel was derived from recycled frying grease. Over the years, the supply changed to a crop-based biofuel.

New thinking on that product and its implications for global warming have changed for the worse.

Although biodiesel pollutes less than regular diesel when it comes out of a tail pipe, the farming involved to produce crop-based biofuels actually increases pollution worldwide, city officials say.

Clear said American farmers who are now converting their crops to grow soy beans to meet the biodiesel demand are decreasing the amount of land used to grow food for people and cattle.

That in turn has caused an increase in demand for land to grow food in South America and South East Asia where farmers are burning down virgin forests. The burning of the forests releases carbon into the atmosphere and there is a decrease in the amount of carbon the plants suck out of the atmosphere: two big negatives for global warming.

Add that to the fact that American farmers are growing less food because they are using their land for biodiesel production and you have a crimp on worldwide food supplies that contributes to global hunger problems.
And the "hello - lightbulb" moment for Deputy Public Works Director Andrew Clough:
"Right now it doesn't sound like there is a good option," Clough said. "What seemed like a really good idea maybe isn't such a good idea as we thought because of all the considerations."
They mention land use and emissions. The Federal subsidies are another issue -- our tax dollars at work, doing something they should not be doing...

Obama's speech to the Middle East

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Instead of platitudes, what if he had said the following:
"Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells."
He did -- back in 2002 More from Foreign Policy in Focus:
How Not to Support Democracy in the Middle East
President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo to the Muslim world marked a welcome departure from the Bush administration's confrontational approach. Yet many Arabs and Muslims have expressed frustration that he failed to use this opportunity to call on the autocratic Saudi and Egyptian leaders with whom he had visited on his Middle Eastern trip to end their repression and open up their corrupt and tightly controlled political systems.

Imagine the positive reaction Obama would have received throughout the Arab and Islamic world if, instead of simply expressing eloquent but vague words in support of freedom and democracy, he had said something like this:
"Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells."
Could he have said such a thing?

Yes. In fact, those were his exact words when, as an Illinois state senator, he gave a speech at a major anti-war rally in Chicago on October 2, 2002.

Coddling Tyrants
Egypt is the second-largest recipient of U.S. military aid, while Saudi Arabia is the number-one buyer of U.S. arms. Obama would have enormous leverage, should he choose to wield it, in pressing these two regimes to end oppression of their own people, suppression of dissent, toleration of corruption and inequality, and mismanagement of their economies. Yet he was apparently unwilling to take advantage of his highly publicized visits with the leaders of these two countries to break with his predecessors' coddling of these tyrannical regimes.

To his credit, while in Egypt Obama did engage in a few symbolic efforts to demonstrate a concern for human rights. He didn't praise his Egyptian host, the dictatorial president Hosni Mubarak, from the podium, as is generally customary on such occasions. Nor did he physically embrace Mubarak or Saudi King Abdullah or otherwise offer visual displays of affection, as is typical during such visits to leaders in that region. The Obama administration invited some leading critics of the regime, including both secular liberals and moderate Islamists, to witness his University of Cairo speech. However, Kefaya, Egypt's leading grassroots pro-democracy group, boycotted the speech. It demanded that Obama show his commitment to democracy in deeds, not words.
An interesting examination of our policies past and current...
An interesting graph comparing the current recession alongside the five others:
From Political Math who also did this wonderful video:
An interesting turn of events -- the sale of a percentage of Chrysler Motors to Fiat (for no money changing hands?) has been put on hold by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Liberal -- appointed by BillC) From MS/NBC/Associated press:
Chrysler sale on hold, but for how long?
Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg grants delay in controversial Fiat deal

Chrysler�s five weeks of breakneck-speed bankruptcy proceedings came to a screeching � but possibly temporary � halt Monday, when a Supreme Court justice delayed its sale of assets to Italy�s Fiat.

The move could derail the government�s ambitious plan for the U.S. automaker to blaze a path to profitability without the burden of many of its debts.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stay just a week before Chrysler says the government-backed sale must go through. After June 15, Fiat could walk away from the deal and leave the struggling U.S. automaker with little option but to liquidate.
And a bit more:
Chrysler�s ability to speed through the process has partially been a result of the involvement of the Obama administration�s auto task force, which provided $4.5 billion in bankruptcy financing and helped negotiate a deal between the company�s stakeholders.

Under a deal brokered in the days leading up to Chrysler�s April 30 Chapter 11 filing, Fiat will receive up to a 35 percent stake in the new company created by the sale, in exchange for sharing the technology Chrysler needs to create smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
So no money will change hands, F.I.A.T. (fix it again 'tonio) will get 35 percent of what was not that long ago a good company in exchange for some nebulous technology that Chrysler itself could have developed if they had listened to their FSCKing customers... As for a liberal judge stopping this, there are some interesting legal grounds. I refer specifically to the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4:
To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
And the resultant U.S. Code Title 11 specifically Chapter 1, Section 105:
Sec. 105. Power of court
(a) The court may issue any order, process, or judgment that is necessary or appropriate to carry out the provisions of this title. No provision of this title providing for the raising of an issue by a party in interest shall be construed to preclude the court from, sua sponte, taking any action or making any determination necessary or appropriate to enforce or implement court orders or rules, or to prevent an abuse of process.
yadda, yadda, yadda At the heart of the Chrysler bankruptcy process is that it is the job of the Court system to process a bankruptcy and not that of the President. What is happening here is an override of the Constitution and our legal system. An abuse of process if you will. Major props to Ms. Ginsburg for pulling the plug on this one...
Cindy Sheehan in the news... Yet again... From Dallas/Fort Worth Television Station WFAA:
Small crowd joins Cindy Sheehan-led Bush protest in Dallas
About 50 people joined Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist whose son was killed in the war on Iraq, in a protest this afternoon near former President George W. Bush�s Preston Hollow home.

The march was sponsored by the Dallas Peace Center, which has been involved in protests with Sheehan since 2005, when the California mother staged a prolonged demonstration outside Bush�s ranch in Crawford, Texas.
And Cindy:
"I think this is going to be the protest of the summer,� Sheehan said in an interview this morning. "It�s really picking up a lot of energy."
A couple of things to remember: #1) - Cindy Sheehan - media whore #2) - Cindy Sheehan - milking Casey's Death but not Honoring his memory. Notice the nice headstone on Casey's grave? She did not buy one. If she really cared about her son (and her son's memory) and supported what he was doing (he enlisted and then re-upped and loved what he was doing for the Iraqi people) she would provide a memorial for his grave. No, she just uses it to glorify Cindy. Like I said, about four years ago, she had some measure of traction in the media. Now, she is a bitter lonely woman. Her family (other kids included) disowned her, her husband divorced her. Maybe she has spent too much time living with cats, I do not know. She needs to get help...

Naaaaaaa - really?�?�?�?�

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From The New York Times comes this hard--to--believe story:
Bank Accused of Pushing Mortgage Deals on Blacks
As she describes it, Beth Jacobson and her fellow loan officers at Wells Fargo Bank �rode the stagecoach from hell� for a decade, systematically singling out blacks in Baltimore and suburban Maryland for high-interest subprime mortgages.

These loans, Baltimore officials have claimed in a federal lawsuit against Wells Fargo, tipped hundreds of homeowners into foreclosure and cost the city tens of millions of dollars in taxes and city services.

Wells Fargo, Ms. Jacobson said in an interview, saw the black community as fertile ground for subprime mortgages, as working-class blacks were hungry to be a part of the nation�s home-owning mania. Loan officers, she said, pushed customers who could have qualified for prime loans into subprime mortgages. Another loan officer stated in an affidavit filed last week that employees had referred to blacks as �mud people� and to subprime lending as �ghetto loans.�
Hell - BillC pushed for them to do this and when the standing president pushes, you move. Scumballs like Barney Frank aided by lying about the stability of the two major loan agencies. The Republicans in congress warned about the bubble but Congress did not investigate or act and now everyone is blaming Bush -- we inherited this from Bush...

Three Woofs And A Woo

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Cute weblog from up north -- check out Three Woofs And A Woo
The stor(ies) of 3 border collies, a photographer, & the Fantabulous, Flamboyant M(yste)r(y) Woo!

Too Big to Fail

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by the Austin Lounge Lizards:
From TorrentFreak:
Pirate Party Wins and Enters The European Parliament
When the Swedish Pirate Party was founded in early 2006, the majority of the mainstream press were skeptical, with some simply laughing it away. But they were wrong to dismiss this political movement out of hand. Today, the Pirate Party accomplished what some believed to be the impossible, by securing a seat in the European Parliament.

With 99.9% of the districts counted the Pirates have 7.1 percent of the votes, beating several established parties. This means that the Pirate Party will get at least one, but most likely two of the 18 (+2) available seats Sweden has at the European Parliament.

When we asked Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge about the outcome, he told TorrentFreak: �We�ve felt the wind blow in our sails. We�ve seen the polls prior to the election. But to stand here, today, and see the figures coming up on that screen� What do you want me to say? I�ll say anything�

�Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it,� Falkvinge said. �This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it�s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples� lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept that the authorities� mass-surveillance,� he added.
Very cool -- pay the artists and composers, not the media corporations. Legitimize personal file sharing. Remove DRM. Makes a lot of sense -- I share files with people from time to time, if there is a song I think someone would like or if I hear something that I like. The idea of being able to buy a song for $0.99 from iTunes is pure genius. Considering the gains that the conservatives are also making, there is hope yet...

Now this is my kind of church

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From the Helena, Montana Independent Record:
Billings brew pub hosts church
For all Christians who have done time on hard wooden pews in scratchy suits and ties, who have searched through musty hymnals and used church programs as fans while listening to sermons on the horrors of hell � relief has come.

At The Well, shorts and flip-flop sandals are accepted attire, barstools provide ample seating and hymnals are not required. A cold beer can provide relief from the heat � fire, brimstone and otherwise.

It doesn�t look like church, but that�s because The Well is a church for people who don�t believe in church.

�Don�t read this the wrong way,� said Minister Ryan Tucker before the start of Sunday�s Theology on Tap gathering at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company.

�There�s nothing wrong with church. I just sensed that there was more room at the table for people who aren�t into the conventional, traditional church.�

Tucker and fellow minister Jon Hall started The Well last summer, and a core group of followers began meeting at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company taproom earlier this month. The church�s name is a nod to the water well where the people of a village would gather to discuss events of the day. Local bars and taverns have come to be known as watering holes for the same reason. They are also gathering places.
And a bit more:
George Moncure, of the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company, said he was open to the idea of having church services at the Garage Pub because of The Well�s focus on community. The tap room at the brewery isn�t typically busy on Sundays, he said, and customers who are not interested in the sermon can drink their beer at the bar.

Tucker, a graduate of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, was a student minister for 11 years in churches in the Southeast U.S. before moving west to Billings. Hall previously worked as a student minister for five years before joining Tucker to start The Well.

The Well is not affiliated with any denomination. The term Hall uses to describe The Well is �post-denominational,� meaning that it has moved beyond division based on doctrinal differences.

Discussion and questions are welcomed during the sermon, and Tucker solicits interaction. His message is designed so that if discussion leads in a new direction, he is ready.

Tucker strives for what he calls �profound simplicity� in both an understanding of God and in fulfilling the church�s mission, �to live community and serve others.�
Jen and I are both very spiritual but our church is more often found on a trail or watching a critter than in a building with other people. This place sounds great -- getting back to the very early roots where it was a handful of people meeting over a meal (and most likely a beer or two).
Spent the morning taking my Dad through the Bellingham Highland Games. Since he doesn't last that long at public events, we also went yesterday by ourselves so we could tour the various booths and events at our own speed. I'll have photos up in a bit. Heading out to untangle some wire from our riding mower and sharpen the blades and then knock down the weeds in the Llama pasture. We just doubled the size of their pasture so they are very happy. More this evening...

West Virginia's State Rock

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Bituminous Coal if you had not already guessed. From the Charleston, NC Daily Mail:
Measure makes coal W.Va.'s state rock
Bituminous coal is now West Virginia's official state rock.

Gov. Joe Manchin has signed a House of Delegates resolution making the designation based primarily on coal's contribution to the state's economy and history. West Virginia is the nation's No. 2 coal producer behind Wyoming and a key source of energy to the South and East.

The resolution notes explorer John Peter Salley found coal near Racine in 1742 -- he named the Coal River as a result. George Washington observed a Mason County coal fire in 1770, and Conrad Cotts opened the state's first commercial coal mine near Wheeling in 1810.
And there is the usual (if small) chorus of moonbats in the comments section...

Object of desire - Spyder II GX

Major geekdom. From Wicked Lasers comes the Spyder II GX.


Only $1,699.99 - here is the video:

After seeing this, I wonder how many units are being shipped to Redmond, WA addresses... Posted 06/02/2009 and already 17K views. I will sit back and wait until these are around $200 -- should be a year or two.

Check it out:
Great acapella and love the rainstorm at the beginning...
Readers will know that Anthony Watt's blog Watts Up With That is one of my daily reads. It is well worth checking out as Anthony digs into the underlying science behind Anthropogenic Global Warming and debugs it; shows the misconceptions and stunningly bad science and data manipulation that goes into most of the claims of Warming. Indeed, it was voted the Best Science Blog back in 2008. Joe Romm also blogs -- he is over at Climate Progress and he claims that Anthropogenic Global Warming is real and that we need to hamstring our economy in order to prevent it. The usual watermelon liberal bullshit. Things must not be going too well for him as the two two most recent posts read as follows:

Two screencaps as he might change it later. Quite a lot of bile for someone who claims that the Science is settled...

America's best selling car

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This particular model sold more than any domestic vehicle or truck. Cheaper than a Yugo, gets better mileage than a Prius, cuter than a Mini, gets more babes than a 'Vette.

Meet the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe - from the Boston Globe:

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe is America's best-selling car
The Little Tikes Cozy Coupe outsold every car in the United States in 2008 with more than 457,000 units delivered. Mrs. G insisted that our grandson get one on his first Christmas - and it had to be new. Used wouldn't do.

The company has sold more than 10 million Coupes worldwide in the model's 30-year run.

That's why, on June 6, the Cozy Coupe will be inducted into Cleveland's Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum.


Why I love Bureaucrats

Copied in its entirety from A Chequer Board of Nights & Days:
When Bureaucrats Attack


When people wonder why it is that there is so much antipathy towards government�s tendency to officiously meddle in the lives of ordinary individuals, I like to point them to stories like this:
He sleeps under a bridge, washes in a public bathroom and was panhandling for booze money 11 months ago, but now Larry Moore is the best-dressed shoeshine man in the city. When he gets up from his cardboard mattress, he puts on a coat and tie. It�s a reminder of how he has turned things around.

In fact, until last week it looked like Moore was going to have saved enough money to rent a room and get off the street for the first time in six years. But then, in a breathtakingly clueless move, an official for the Department of Public Works told Moore that he has to fork over the money he saved for his first month�s rent to purchase a $491 sidewalk vendor permit.

�I had $573 ready to go,� Moore said, who needs $600 for the rent. �This tore that up. But I�ve been homeless for six years. Another six weeks isn�t going to kill me.�

The bureaucrat told Moore that she found out about his business after reading about his success in this paper.

Along Market Street, Moore�s supporters are indignant. Nothing happens when mentally ill men wander the street talking to themselves and drunkards pee in the alleys. Yet Moore creates a little business out of thin air, builds up a client base, and the city takes nearly every penny he�s earned.

Christine Falvey, spokeswoman for Public Works, said the department�s contact with Moore was meant to be �educational.�

�We certainly don�t want to hamper anyone�s ability to make a living,� Falvey said. �Our education efforts are actually meant to support that effort by making our streets an enjoyable place for people to visit.�
To be fair, this entire episode has been most educational. It tells me what kind of compassionate response I can expect when government gets involved in the health care industry.
I can only imagine the circle of Hell where Ms. Falvey will be spending the rest of eternity. I hope she enjoys the attention as she certainly earned it...
A few days ago, I posted about my second time through US Customs and the experiences of the journey. (the first trip was posted here) The thing that stood out (besides the having to wait for so long and the search of the truck without my being asked or being told) was the questions about sharp objects or weapons. I replied that I was carrying a pocket knife but nothing else. This post at Irons in the Fire explains why the question:
And, as a knifemaker, I now have to note that the President
is after your knife, too.
Beware! That folding knife in your pocket may turn you into a criminal if the Obama administration gets its way. Although there has been a lot of fear and speculation that the new administration wants to take your guns, the most pressing threat now is actually to your pocket knives. With the changing of the guard at U.S. Customs, that agency has now embarked on redefining "switchblades" under federal law to include a wide variety of one hand opening knives that never were intended to be prohibited. In fact, many of the knives U.S. Customs now seek to prohibit under the Federal Switchblade Law had not even been invented at the time of its enactment! Furthermore, four previous U.S. Customs ruling letters (prior administrations) specifically determined "assisted opening" knives not to be defined as switchblades.

This new proposed U.S. Customs regulation is so broad that thousands of pocket knives will fall under its sweep and millions of knife owners will be affected. The problem is not simply that imports will be banned (which is bad enough), but that the "agency determination" will be used by domestic courts and law enforcement to determine what a "switchblade" is under both federal and state laws. Many states, including New Hampshire, fail to define switchblades and simply rely on the federal definition.
Just effing wonderful, isn't it?
They just keep grabbing and grabbing... The only good thing is that this will get a lot of quiescent people active. They push. We push back.
Major Geek -- check out this article on Marc Weber Tobias at Wired Magazine:
The Ultimate Lock Picker Hacks Pentagon, Beats Corporate Security for Fun and Profit
Tobias is laughing. And laughing. The effect is disconcerting. It's a bwa-ha-ha kind of evil mastermind laugh�appropriate if you've just sacked Constantinople, checkmated Deep Blue, or handed Superman a Dixie cup of kryptonite Kool-Aid, but downright scary in a midtown Manhattan restaurant during the early-bird special.

Our fellow diners begin to stare. Tobias doesn't notice and wouldn't care anyway. He's as rumpled and wild as a nerdy grizzly bear. His place mat is covered in diagrams and sketched floor plans and scribbled arrows. His laugh fits him like a tinfoil hat. It goes on for a solid 20 seconds.

But Tobias isn't crazy. Far from it. He's a professional lock breaker, a man obsessively�perhaps compulsively�dedicated to cracking physical security systems. He doesn't play games, he rarely sees movies, he doesn't attend to plants or pets or, currently, a girlfriend. Tobias hacks locks. Then he teaches the public how to hack them, too.

Like many exceedingly bright people, Tobias has the exhausted air of a know-it-all. Over dozens of dinners, he has walked me through how to pick simple locks ("Uh, is there something wrong with your hands?") and bypass combination dials ("A brain-damaged monkey could do it faster"). He has described how to outwit security technologies like motion detectors ("Duh"), face-recognition software ("It's stupid, even if you think about it!"), fingerprint scans ("What child came up with that?"), and heat sensors ("You can get this one�maybe").

We've covered key card hotel locks over seafood, in-room credit card safes over sandwiches. While we ate a decent steak dinner, Tobias used the house crayons to diagram one of the largest jewel robberies in history; over dessert, he showed me how a person less honest than himself would pull the heist again.

Thinking like a criminal is Tobias' idea of fun. It makes him laugh. It has also made him money and earned him a reputation as something of the Rain Man of lock-breaking. Even if you've never heard of Tobias, you may know his work: He's the guy who figured out how to steal your bike, unlock your front door, crack your gun lock, blow up your airplane, and hijack your mail. Marc Weber Tobias has a name for the headache he inflicts on his targets: the Marc Weber Tobias problem.

Lock-breaking is equal parts art and science. So is the ability to royally piss people off. Tobias is a veritable da Vinci at both endeavors. His Web site's streaming video of prepubescent kids gleefully opening gun locks has won him no points with mothers or locksmiths, and his ideas about how to smuggle liquid explosive reagents onto commercial airlines spookily presaged the Transportation Security Administration's prohibitions against carry-on liquids. Over the past 20 years, Tobias has been threatened by casinos, banned from hotel chains, and bullied by legions of corporate lawyers. And enjoyed every minute of it.
Heh... Tobias' website is here: Security.org

Nancy Pelosi's popularity

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How popular is she? Let's put it this way, Gallup presents these two numbers: Dick Cheney - 37% approval rating Nancy Pelosi - 34% approval rating Heh...

Barry in Europe - always classy

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UPDATE at end Doesn't this guy have any protocol advisors? From the London Times:
Barack and Michelle Obama decline dinner with the Sarkozys
The Obamas turn up in Paris this evening, but have declined a dinner invitation from the couple next door: the Sarkozys.

President Obama�s reluctance to spend more than minimum time with the French leader on his visit for the D-Day anniversary has come as an embarrassment to the Elys�e Palace.

America�s First Family will not be dining with President Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, even though they are staying at the residence of the US Ambassador, yards from the Elys�e apartments where the Sarkozys spend their weekends.

Mr Sarkozy�s staff were trying yesterday to arrange another private moment between the couples. Mr Obama is due to fly back to Washington tomorrow night or on Sunday.
This on top of not inviting the Queen to the memorial service for the 65th aniversary of D-Day... UPDATE: It was Sarko who did not invite the Queen. My bad.

I am sure they meant no harm...

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Bad news from within the State Department - from CNN:
Ex-State official, wife accused of spying for Cuba
A 72-year-old former State Department employee and his 71-year-old wife have been arrested and charged with illegally aiding the government of Cuba for nearly 30 years, the Department of Justice announced Friday.

Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn Myers, were charged with conspiracy to act as illegal agents of the Cuban government, providing classified information to that government, and wire fraud, according to court documents unsealed in Washington.

The couple appeared briefly Friday before a federal magistrate in Washington, who ordered them held without bail pending a detention hearing Wednesday. Judge John Facciolo agreed with prosecutors that the couple might try to flee the country if not held.

They were arrested late Thursday, the Justice Department said.

The State Department isn't clear at this stage on what information the Myerses may have passed to their Cuban handlers, according to a senior State Department official, who said that such information would come out of a full damage assessment.

"We were confident" at the time of Kendall Myers' retirement, the official said, that he had been passing information to Cuban intelligence. Diplomatic security officials "let it go for a while" to see what information might emerge.

The official said Myers was an "upper-level civil service employee." He was a European analyst at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and "had come up in the ranks," the official said.

The official also said it was unclear whether Myers acted for financial reasons, but a law enforcement official said the couple's primary motive was not money. The couple were "true believers" in the Cuban system, the official said.

"The abuses of our system, the lack of decent medical system, the oil companies and their undisguised indifference to public needs, the complacency about the poor, the utter inability of those who are oppressed to recognize their own condition," Myers wrote in a diary quoted in the federal affidavit.

"Have the Cubans given up their personal freedom to get material security? Nothing I have seen yet suggests that," he wrote. "I can see nothing of value that has been lost by the revolution. The revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit."
Fscking Kool-Aid drinker: "I can see nothing of value that has been lost by the revolution. The revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit" They are willfully blind and have no desire to seek the truth. What bothers me is that they could have sent sensitive European information to Castro who would have turned around and given it to his puppet-lords in the USSR. Setting the Cold War back a bit -- now that is something to put on your resume... In an ideal world, these two mokes will be reincarnated as rurals in 1960's Cuba. And they will have chronic medical probelms...
From the Kansas City Star:
Roeder decries �being treated as a criminal�
The man accused of killing late-term abortion provider George Tiller says he�s �being treated as a criminal� even though he hasn�t been convicted of anything.

Scott Roeder called The Associated Press on Thursday from the Sedgwick County Jail and disputed what he called �broad brush� characterizations of him as being anti-government.

�I want people to stop and think: It is not anti-government. It is anti-corrupt-government,� Roeder said.
What did he think it would be -- fluffy bunnies and unicorn farts?
Looking for an adventure but your typical "safari" just doesn't do it? Check out Somali Cruises - from their website:
Welcome to Somali Cruises
It's like a safari, only better

"Safari" is the Swahili word for adventure and that's just what we have in store for you.

We sail up and down the coast of Somalia waiting to get hijacked by pirates. We encourage you to bring your 'High powered weapons' along on the cruise. If you don't have weapons of your own, you can rent them on the boat.
There is even a guarantee:
We guarantee adventure
We guarantee that you will experience at least two hijacking attempts by pirates or we will refund half your money back, including gun rental charges and any unused ammo (mini gun charges not included). How can we guarantee you will experience a hijacking? We operate at 5 knots within 12 miles of the coast of Somalia. If an attempted hijacking does not occur, we will turn the boat around and cruise by at 4 knots. We will repeat this for up to 8 days making three passes a day along the entire length of Somalia. At night the boat is fully lit and bottle rockets are shot off at intervals and loud disco music beamed shore side to attract attention.
Prices are reasonable too -- only $800/day for basic accommodations and you can rent a Barrett M-107 .50 cal sniper rifle for $55.00/day with the Ammo at 25 rounds 50 cal armor piercing at $9.95. Sign me up!
You can run a scam for a while but it will always catch up with you. From CNN/Money:
Countrywide's Mozilo accused of fraud
SEC: Countrywide founder and 2 others misled investors about mortgage lender's health - Mozilo pocketed $140 million from insider trades.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday filed securities fraud charges against former Countrywide Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo and two other former executives.

The trio was charged with deliberately misleading investors by telling them the company was a quality lender of mostly prime mortgages and had prudent underwriting standards, while it actually was engaging in very risky lending practices in order to build and maintain market share.

Mozilo was also charged with insider trading for selling his Countrywide stock for nearly $140 million in profits while knowing that Countrywide's business model was deteriorating.

Along with Mozilo, the SEC charged former Chief Operating Officer and President David Sambol and former Chief Financial Officer Eric Sieracki with hiding the company's true practices and condition from shareholders.
No word as to sentencing (if any). Ten years would be a nice start. Not only lied to investors about the strength of the company but also sold his personal shares knowing that Countrywide was going down.

Microsoft going John Galt

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Now this will be interesting to see -- from Bloomberg:
Ballmer Says Tax Would Move Microsoft Jobs Offshore
Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steven Ballmer said the world�s largest software company would move some employees offshore if Congress enacts President Barack Obama�s plans to impose higher taxes on U.S. companies� foreign profits.

�It makes U.S. jobs more expensive,� Ballmer said in an interview. �We�re better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the U.S. as opposed to keeping them inside the U.S.�
Hell -- if I was a developer there and got offered the chance to move to Ireland for a couple of years, I would jump at the chance. The article goes on to point out what Obama's proposals are and to note that they are not in line with his wishes to stimulate the local business economy...
From Las Vegas, NV television station KLAS:
The Raelians Target Las Vegas for a UFOland
The Raelian Movement is announcing plans to build a UFOland in Las Vegas where visitors can attend a Happiness Academy and see a full-size replica of a UFO.

Raelians believe that humanity was created by extraterrestrial scientists and they want to share their belief with visitors to Las Vegas. They will also host a museum and a 1000-seat theatre where their spiritual leader, Rael, will give lectures.

"The museum will display all the evidence we've gathered for the past 35 years that shows we were indeed created by scientists -- highly advanced human beings from another planet," said Ricky Roehr, leader of the North American Raelian Movement.

He said he expects the UFOland to become one of the most popular destinations in Las Vegas within the next five years.
At least they show a good sense of humor in their choice of locations... I mean, with people like (later) Michael Jackson and (later) Elvis running around there, it is not like anyone is going to notice anything strange...
An interesting question. A commercial treasure-hunting company goes and finds a ship. Who gets to keep the loot?
From the BBC:

Spain awarded shipwreck treasure
A deep sea treasure-hunting company has been ordered by a US judge to hand over half a million gold and silver coins to the government of Spain.

The company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, raised the haul from a shipwreck in the Atlantic, suspected to be that of a Spanish naval vessel.

The Spanish government argued that the treasure formed part of the country's national heritage.

But Odyssey intends to appeal, saying it has a claim to the treasure.
Valid points on both sides of this but I am siding with Odyssey Exploration. Spain certainly has the information on where their ships went down, they have all of the logs and charts in their museums. Why didn't they go out and find it -- it is profitable otherwise Odyssey would not be in business. Odyssey found it and they have been more than gracious in preserving the archaeological value of the items and letting experts examine and document the artifacts. They are not melting these treasures for spot gold prices. What would the Spanish government do?

Great story from Missoula, Montana:

'Totally floored': Ronan woman given 1969 Ford Mustang she bought at 15 for her 50th birthday
Julie Moore was pretty sure her 50th birthday was going to slip by with little fanfare.

Her son Bill, an X-ray technician at Community Medical Center in Missoula, was scheduled to work, and her daughter, Jeri Rice, lives far away in Fayetteville, Ark., with husband Steve.

Besides, Julie and her husband Willard had been busy planning another celebration, the 30th anniversary of their purchase of Willard's, their downtown bar, for Friday. That was tempered by the death of a dear friend, longtime Ronan teacher William 'Pat' Williams; the Moores served as ushers at his funeral last Saturday morning, then joined others at the Mission Mountain Country Club to hit golf balls on Williams' favorite hole in his memory.

Several of them retired to Willard's after that, and it was around 8:30 p.m. when Julie heard a familiar voice.

"Mom! Mom!" Bill Moore hollered as he entered Willard's. Julie turned; she was surprised to see her son.

And more stunned as the crowd parted and she saw who was with him: her own mother, Vivienne Hunter; her dad, Ron Hunter; her stepmother, Jewell Hunter.

Her brother Reed and his girlfriend, Ginny Cogswell, were there, too. Most shocking of all: Jeri and Steve had flown in from Arkansas to surprise her.

"With the bar's birthday and the passing of a friend, I thought I'd let my birthday kind of slide by this year," Julie says. "There was no such luck with this crew."

But the biggest surprise wasn't that they were all here.

It was what they brought with them.

Bill Moore blindfolded his mother, twirled her around and pushed her toward the back door of the bar.

Once outside, the blindfold was lifted and there in front of Julie was her birthday present: a red 1969 Ford Mustang fastback.

And not just any '69 Mustang fastback. It was the same Mustang Julie had purchased when she was 15 years old, back in 1973 when she was a sophomore at Sentinel High School, as her first car.

"I just about fainted," Julie says. "I was totally floored."

It was Bill Moore who found the Mustang, covered in pitch and sitting in disrepair under a pine tree in a Missoula backyard. He'd run into the man who bought it from his mother 10 years ago, and told the owner if he ever wanted to sell it, to give him first crack at it.

Julie's son, daughter and mother banded together to buy it back. Bill did much of the work over the winter to get it up and running again, but more family and friends came on board to help as time went on.

"I think maybe the biggest surprise of all is that so many people were able to keep it a secret for so long," Julie says.

Now that will be a birthday that will be remembered down many generations of that family.

Another run up to Canada

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After my last adventure crossing the border, I thought it would be a good thing to just go up there a few times to acclimate them to the fact that I do cross the border on a regular basis. There were a few things I wanted to get for the DaveCave(tm) so I headed up to Ikea this afternoon. They make a very nice cable management tray and I picked up a few of them for the music stuff and the computers (they fasten under the back of your desktop and allow you to make four bundles of cable so you can seperate power and low-level signal to prevent noise):
Heading North, I was asked a few more questions than usual by the Canadians but heading South was a different matter entirely. The line at customs was moving pretty quickly -- the wait was about 15 minutes with two officers manning the booths. I pulled up and was asked where I had been, what I bought, where I lived, what I did for a living, etc... and saw the guy do a doubletake and start to jot down stuff on a tear-off form. He handed me this sheet of paper, kept my passport and motioned me over to an available parking stall. Fortunatly, I had the presense of mind to bring a book with me as it was about 20 minutes before my name was called. The officer inside asked me the same questions but also if I was bringing any drugs, either prescription or non into the states, they also asked if I had any sharp objects or knives or firearms. I told them that I was carrying a pocket knife but negative on anything else. The told me to sit down again. This time I was able to sit in a place where I could watch my truck. I had locked it but left the windows open. They reached in, unlocked the cab and proceeded to toss it completely. I set a 'trap' in the center compartment (a few sheets of paper in a very specific order) and they went in there too. At no time did they ask for permission to enter the truck or even tell me that they were going to search through it. Finally, I was cleared to go. It will be curious to see what happens over the next couple of times as these two incidents are the first time I had any problems at the border. Jen said that she wants to go to Ikea sometime so maybe we will head up in the store van (nice and shiny and new) and not my beat-up old farm truck.

A great new blog

From Donald Mills: The problem with young people is... A small taste:
God Damned Teenagers and Their Pierced Noses Make Me Crazy!
The problem with young people today is that they all have piercings.

When I was a lad, we didn�t pierce our ears, tongues, nipples or anything else.

If we wanted to mutilate ourselves we took a job in the sawmill and let nature take its course. We punched a hole in a time card not in our face damn it.
Alright, one more:
God Damned Young People and Their Video Games Make Me Furious!
The problem with young people today is that they play video games.

Back in my day, we didn�t have video games. My friends and I had sensible toys like BB guns and bowie knives. Wholesome toys that instilled decent values and prepared you to be a productive member of society.

But these young people today�all they do is play the damned video games. Night and day. They�re burrowed away in their dimly lit basements, rotting their brains, ruining their eyesight and developing skin tones normally reserved for corpses and naked mole rats.

It�s insidious and dangerous. All this foolhardy �gaming� is turning them into gormless butterballs while, at the same time, deluding them into thinking that they�re actually capable of doing things.

Well I have news for them. They may be able to throw a 50 yard pass on the �Madden Football,� and kill a man with their bare hands on the �Splinter Cell� but turn the games off and these young people would be hard pressed to pick their own noses without an instruction manual, cheat codes and parental assistance.

The only positive is it keeps them off the streets and out of the way of decent old folks out for a Sunday stroll.

Here�s a video game they might want to try � it�s called �If You Really Want to be a Navy Seal, Get Off Your Ass, Go Outside and Get Some Exercise Junior.�
Heh -- I resemble that man...

Big Scary Gun bullshit in Boston

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Why don't they just roll over and fscking die already.

From Officer.com:

Boston Mayor Says No to M-16s on Officers
The Boston Police Department wants to arm neighborhood patrol officers with high-powered military assault weapons, but the mayor doesn't think it's such a good idea.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino said Friday he will not approve a police department plan to put semiautomatic M-16 rifles in the hands of regular patrol officers. But Menino says he's open to giving them to "specialized units."

The police recently obtained 200 M-16s free of charge from the U.S. military and had planned to give them to dozens of officers for their patrols after training them to use the rifles.

However, some community leaders criticized the lack of public notice and questioned the reasoning behind arming district officers with M-16s when the city's SWAT team already has such weapons.

On how many levels is this just plain wrong -- not wrong, stupid! First of all, these are not: "high-powered military assault weapons", these are semi-automatic rifles that look scary to the liberal brain. The problem is that if they see something like this:


They throw up a little in their mouth but say, OK; it's a target shooting or a hunting rifle. We can allow that and look at how nice we are being to all of those bitter gun clingers out there. Then, show them one of these:


Their soft little heads implode. This is a Colt M-16 rifle.

The only differences between the two firearms are these: #1) - cosmetic -- the "scary assault weapon" has more attachments and is not as smooth a profile and #2) - the M-16 can fire more bullets than the other rifle. The first rifle takes clips of eight rounds and you can get clips of up to thirty rounds for the M-16. Otherwise, they are very similar. You get one 'bang' per trigger pull (that is what semi-automatic means).

The rounds they fire are very similar in size -- the top one is .22 Magnum and the bottom one is usually chambered in 5.56mm NATO. These are each about a quarter inch in diameter (5.56mm NATO is actually .224 caliber). For the members of the Boston Police Department to receive 200 of these from the U.S. Military is an incredible gift and to have the Mayor refuse it on such trivial and politically motivated terms is abject bullshit.

There is no real reason to refuse these, their presence would be a notable deterrent to crime and the cost would be minimal (training and maintenance).

I had written earlier (here and here) about Dealergate. This is the seemingly one-sided approach to which Chrysler dealerships are being closed by the Government. Chrysler themselves are not making this decision, it is the Federal Government (the Car Czar) and out of the 789 Dealerships being closed, only ONE of these dealers contributed to Obama's campaign and that was for a measly $200. Every other dealership that is facing closure donated money to the Republican Party (with some supporting Clinton and Edwards). Yesterday, this missive popped up in my in-box:
Follow up to your post on Chrysler
I represent Leonard Bellavia and wanted to offer this information to you as a follow up to your blog post on Chrysler closings. I hope you pursue it.

After taking the deposition of Chrysler�s President, it �became quite clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25% of its dealers� in the worst auto market in 30 or 40 years said attorney Leonard Bellavia who represents a group of Chrysler dealers who will have their dealerships yanked away from them on Wednesday June 3, 2009 in US Bankruptcy court. Mr. Bellavia went on to say at a press conference on Tuesday May 26, 2009 �It really wasn�t Chrysler�s decision. They�re under enormous pressure from the President�s Automotive Task Force.�

When FOX correspondent Major Garret asked the question of Robert Gibbs at Thursday May 28, 2009 White House Briefing, Mr. Gibbs replied, �Under enormous pressure?� Gibbs went on to say deciding which dealers may or may not be closed �That�s not the job of the President�s auto task force. That�s the job of the individual car company.� Well, it should be in an American Capitalist system. But it�s not. There are 789 dealers who will have their franchise contracts terminated in US Bankruptcy Court as part of Chrysler�s emergence from bankruptcy and its sale to Fiat.

Thinking that the decision to close 25% of Chrysler dealers and put 40,000 Americans out of work during the Great Recession must then be Fiat�s requirement � as part of their purchase of Chrysler � the question was put to them during hearings in US Bankruptcy court last week. When Fiat was asked if they wanted the dealers closed as part of the purchase deal, they said, �whether it [the restructuring] occurs before or after the closing of the deal is not a material difference.�

So, if it�s not Chrysler�s decision to terminate 25% of its dealers now, and it�s not the President�s Auto Task Force decision, and it is not a material difference to Fiat � Then whose agenda is it to PUT 40,000 AMERICANS OUT OF WORK AND FORCE THE CLOSING OF 789 PROFITABLE DEALERS DURING THE GREAT RECESSION?
A very good point. Chicago style politics writ large. 2010 and 2012 will be interesting... And, thinking about the leadership style in Chicago and in New Orleans (from an earlier post today), what is it about certain cities that causes them to develop a sociopathic pathology in their government. And secondly, and more important, why has no one suggested a way to cure this illness -- surely everyone is not on the take there -- there must be an honest politician or three...

Business as usual in New Orleans

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Why am I not surprised... From Louisiana station WWLTV:
City's new hurricane command center in disrepair
When hurricanes threaten emergency operations centers, or EOC�s, across the state are the nerve centers for first responders and emergency managers. It's where they come together to make key decisions for public safety.

That won�t be happening anytime soon inside the space that is designated to become New Orleans� new emergency operations center.

Located on the ninth floor of City Hall, it's mostly empty aside from some wires hanging from the ceiling and piles of broken concrete sitting on the floor.

It was supposed to be ready by Monday, the first day of hurricane season.

"Unfortunately there's been some problems with getting that work done," said Col. Jerry Sneed, the city�s emergency preparedness chief.
This is downright crazy -- during Katrina, Mayor Nagin proved himself to be incapable of leading and was more of an impediment than of any use and the idiots re-elected him. What does it take to shake people loose down there. And it isn't like they have President Bush to blame when the next one strikes...
Absolutely nails it:
There is an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term.

This year's term was: "Political Correctness."

The winner wrote:
"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."
Unfortunately, there is nothing about this either on the search.tamu.edu website or Snopes...
Jack Murtha -- A.K.A. the Prince of Pork The fine folks at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has put together a wonderful interactive website that allows you to follow the links between Murtha, his money and the businesses that benefit by his position. Check out You Don't Know Jack Nice to see that the tables are starting to turn -- from another one of their websites: CREWS most Corrupt:
Murtha Walks Out Of Press Conference
A visibly angry Rep. John Murtha cut his Showcase for Commerce press conference short Friday morning after a reporter�s question about Kuchera Defense Systems of Windber, which is under investigation by the federal government.

Kuchera offices were raided in January, and the company was suspended from receiving new Navy contracts last month. The Kuchera family and related companies are major campaign contributors for Murtha.

�What�s that got to do with me?� Murtha shot back to a reporter�s question about the investigation.

�What do you think? Do you think I oversee these companies? That�s the Defense Department�s job. That�s not my job. You guys write these stories. You don�t have a clue what this is all about.�

Murtha would not answer a question about whether he would distance himself from Kuchera. The congressman cut the session off when asked if he had hired a lawyer.

�What kind of question is that?� Murtha fumed, leaving the Pasquerilla Conference Center, 301 Napoleon St.
Heh... Don't let the door hit 'ya where the good Lord split 'ya...

North Korea in the news

Talk about a world-class asshat. Two news items: #1) - from Yahoo News/Associated Press:
North Korea prepares missiles; South beefs up defenses
North Korea prepared to test-fire missiles at launch pads on both of its coasts, reports and experts said Tuesday, as South Korea beefed up its naval defenses.

The moves further heightened soaring tensions in the region following North Korea's underground nuclear test last week, and came as speculation grows that leader Kim Jong Il has selected his third son to inherit rule of the secretive communist country.

North Korea may soon launch three or four mid-range missiles, believed to be modified versions of its Rodong series, from its east coast, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported. An American military official confirmed an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. was being readied at a base on the North's west coast.

The U.N. Security Council is considering measures to punish the North for the nuclear test, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said Tuesday that Washington is looking for "creative ideas."
Creative ideas? You want creative ideas, how about this. Every time a missile is erected on a launch pad, destroy it and the pad. We can look down and see what is happening, why don't we do something with this information. Their production facilities are deep underground so location and destruction would be difficult. They still have to be launched from a pad though... Set 'em up, take them down -- balistically. #2) - confirms the son's appointment -- from the Washington Post:
N. Korean Leader's Youngest Son Named Successor
North Korea's ailing leader has chosen his youngest son -- who is just 26, attended a Swiss boarding school and reportedly admires basketball great Michael Jordan -- as heir to the family dynasty that rules the secretive state, South Korea's intelligence service told lawmakers in Seoul.

Kim Jong Un is the third son of Kim Jong Il, the "Dear Leader" who suffered a stroke last summer and who has since appeared thin and frail. He is the grandson of the late Kim Il Sung, the "Great Leader" and founding dictator of North Korea.

If Kim Jong Un does become the new leader -- and there are analysts who doubt the decision is final -- this second consecutive father-to-son handoff would be unique among nations that call themselves communist. There was no indication, however, that Kim Jong Il would be handing over power any time soon.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service declined to confirm the reports.

Kim Jong Un attended the International School of Berne, which is about 15 minutes outside the Swiss capital and a few hundred yards from the North Korean embassy. While Kim was at the English-language school, which has about 280 students from 40 countries, he befriended the children of American diplomats and learned French and German, according to the Swiss weekly L'Hebdo.

Kim attended the school under the false name of Pak Chol, the weekly said, and school officials and his classmates "thought they were dealing with the son of the driver of the embassy." Friends and staff at the school remembered a shy boy who enjoyed skiing, loved the National Basketball Association and spoke highly of action-movie actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.

He reportedly left the school at 15 to return to North Korea, and little about his life there is known by the outside world.
Left school at age 15 and is now 26 -- more than enough time to be brainwashed for the role. How can these people live with themselves...
Tim Vasquez is a weatherman's weatherman. His site Weather Graphics is a wonderful read and I will be definitely checking out his software as I love to follow the weather up here. He has done an exceptional analysis of the weather conditions surrounding the Air France flight 447 tragedy. Be sure to check out the comments -- a lot of pilots weigh in and there is more data presented. A fascinating although tragic read.

Busy day today

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With the gorgeous weather, I have been taking care of a lot of outdoor stuff. Had a Chamber meeting this evening so just now sitting down to the 'puter. Had another couple of spammers -- the hijacked forums type is now sending about 30 to 40 different URLs, frequently for the same parent domain so weeding these out is absolutely simple. The actual list of fora changes so a list of 30 will come in with ten already in the hopper and 20 new addresses for me to click and add... Whomever is behind this is a rank amateur and is not thinking their strategy through. If I were running this, I would just send at most, four or five out at a time, that way, I am not polluting my database. I would also invest in a better grade of bots as the majority of these are coming in from systems already in the zen.spamhaus.org database of confirmed spammers.

Environmental bullshit in the media

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If the globe is not warming, let's look at other ways to hamstring CO2 production (and thereby capitalism) If CO2 goes into the atmosphere, it will cause the Oceans to acidify and this will cause the coral reefs to deteriorate. This pseudo-science piffle can be found at the Australian branch of News.com:
Acid seas 'attacking shellfish, corals'
From correspondents in Bonn, Germany

CLIMATE change is turning the oceans more acid in a trend that could endanger everything from clams to coral and be irreversible for thousands of years.

Seventy academies from around the world urged governments meeting in Bonn for climate talks from June 1-12 to take more account of risks to the oceans in a new UN treaty for fighting global warming due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

The academies said rising amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted mainly by human use of fossil fuels, were being absorbed by the oceans and making it harder for creatures to build protective body parts.

The shift disrupts ocean chemistry and attacks the "building blocks needed by many marine organisms, such as corals and shellfish, to produce their skeletons, shells and other hard structures", they said.

On some projections, levels of acidification in 80 per cent of Arctic seas would be corrosive to clams that are vital to the food web by 2060, it said.

And "coral reefs may be dissolving globally" if atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were to rise to 550 parts per million (ppm) from a current 387 ppm.

Corals are home to many species of fish.

"These changes in ocean chemistry are irreversible for many thousands of years and the biological consequences could last much longer," they said.

Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, the British science academy, said there may be an "underwater catastrophe".

"The effects will be seen worldwide, threatening food security, reducing coastal protection and damaging the local economies that may be least able to tolerate it," he said.

The academies said that if current rates of carbon emissions continue until 2050, computer models indicate "the oceans will be more acidic than they have been for tens of millions of years".
Another example of this twaddle can be found at the BBC from this January:
Acid oceans 'need urgent action'
The world's marine ecosystems risk being severely damaged by ocean acidification unless there are dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions, warn scientists.

More than 150 top marine researchers have voiced their concerns through the "Monaco Declaration", which warns that changes in acidity are accelerating.
First of all. Reef systems are dynamic. They advance and retreat. They come and go. Some are better than others. The Hawai'ian reefs have always been marginal while the Caribbean reefs are awesome. This is a simple fact of life and chance, not anything to do with CO2. A few years ago, the enviros had their panties in a twist over how the Great Barrier Reef of Australia was doomed, doomed I tell you. Segue to today -- the Science Daily of April, 2009:
Spectacular Recovery From Coral Bleaching At Great Barrier Reef Marine Park In Australia
Marine scientists say they are astonished at the spectacular recovery of certain coral reefs in Australia�s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from a devastating coral bleaching event in 2006.
Reefs are a dynamic system - change happens and the idea that we can affect them with our own actions is pure hubris. Now: CO2 If you show an Aquarist, especially someone who specializes in tropical reef habitat aquariums the above two news stories, they will snort their coffee out through their nose and call you an idiot (or worse). Check out this section of the Marine and Reef Aquarium Supply home page:
There is a whole section on hardware for the specific purpose of adding gaseous CO2 to freshwater and saltwater aquaria. The CO2 in freshwater tanks is plant food -- if we did not have CO2, we would not have plants. When it comes to Reef tanks, things get interesting. Here is a quote from the Drs. Foster and Smith site:
Calcium Reactors
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

What They Do�How They Work In nature, seawater bathes coral reefs in many minerals and elements. Of all the minerals and elements present in natural seawater, no mineral is consumed as quickly or in as large of amounts as calcium. Hard corals, which are the building blocks of the coral reef, demand large amounts of calcium to build their skeletons. Providing enough calcium to meet the demands of all the corals, invertebrates, and algae in a closed ecosystem creates a real challenge for the hobbyist.

To help you meet this challenge, consider adding a calcium reactor to your aquarium system. Calcium reactors automate the process of replenishing calcium as well as other minerals and trace elements.

A calcium reactor is essentially a chamber full of aragonite, which is the crushed skeleton of ancient hard corals. Aquarium water is pumped through this chamber along with pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 lowers the pH in the chamber to an acidic level, which dissolves aragonite into the aquarium water. In addition to dissolving the calcium, this process also dissolves nearly all the minerals and trace elements the coral used in order to grow. Therefore, a calcium reactor takes much of the guesswork out of adding trace elements to your reef aquarium, because it replenishes these minerals and elements in the near exact proportions that the corals need to thrive.
Emphasis mine -- these 'reactors' are mimicking the chemistry that normally happens on a reef. Again, reefs are not static, they are dynamic, they change. Old reefs die, new reefs are born and the presence of Carbon Dioxide gas in the water is the vital transport mechanism to this ancient cycle. Sure, you can bubble CO2 through a flask of some seawater until you have a saturated solution and then drop in a chunk of coral, that coral will dissolve. --BUT-- it will have been turned into food for new corals. Your little experiment in the lab may support your pet theory but it in no way represents the dynamics of reef life and what goes on in the real world. Take a look at the historical record of temperature and CO2 over the last 600 Million Years (derived from Ice core samples):
The late Ordovician had CO2 levels about ten times what we are now experiencing, the average temperature was from 22C to 12C - 71F to 53F. It was a time of incredible Coral growth. From the middle Ordovician in the Paleozoic major coral groups were contributors to massive reef systems. There, in the late 1920s, the young Australian geologist discovered a rich deposit of fossil corals from the Palaeozoic era. (The Ordovician s part of the Palaeozoic era) The politicians/lobbyists and the environmentalists have two very specific agendas. The politicians are looking to grab power and money. If they control the purse strings on legislation regarding CO2, they will control who gets to do what and who is rewarded for this. The environmental movement has sadly been hijacked by cultural marxists who want to destroy the United States and bring everyone back to the Middle Ages. Sometimes I despair that these people are not thinking through the consequences of their actions. CO2 is not an enemy, it is an old friend. Global warming or global cooling will happen regardless of what we do one way or the other. The Sun drives our climate, not some small whiff of gas. There is no "tipping point" as all studies have shown that there is a negative feedback regulatory action in the Earth's temperature, when it gets hot, it will cool off, when it gets cold, it will warm up again. Right now, we are recovering from a recent Ice Age, the Earth has been warming up to around 1998 when it started cooling off again. More people die from cold than from heat so we should really be looking at developing nuclear power instead of pissing away our limited petroleum resources on "alternative" sources that will never ever deliver baseload and any peaking will be unreliable. Yes, I am ranting but... When I see abject stupidity like the two leading news items, stuff published without even picking up the phone and calling a University Oceanography department, I sometimes wonder what the Mainstream Media's role is in all this. What thrill up their leg do they get by helping to hamstring our progress. Bleagh. Off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and to bed...

An atypical California School

Let us hope that this sort of place catches on -- sooner rather than later... From The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid:
Reporting from Oakland -- Not many schools in California recruit teachers with language like this: "We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism. . . . Multicultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply."

That, it turns out, is just the beginning of the ways in which American Indian Public Charter and its two sibling schools spit in the eye of mainstream education. These small, no-frills, independent public schools in the hardscrabble flats of Oakland...mock liberal orthodoxy with such zeal that it can seem like a parody.

School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing teachers they consider to be underperforming. Unions are embraced with the same warmth accorded "self-esteem experts, panhandlers, drug dealers and those snapping turtles who refuse to put forth their best effort," to quote the school's website.

It would be easy to dismiss American Indian as one of the nuttier offshoots of the fast-growing charter school movement, which allows schools to receive public funding but operate outside of day-to-day district oversight. But the schools command attention for one very simple reason: By standard measures, they are among the very best in California.
A bit more from the L.A. Times story about just how good the school performs:
The Academic Performance Index, the central measuring tool for California schools, rates schools on a scale from zero to 1,000, based on standardized test scores. The state target is an API of 800. The statewide average for middle and high schools is below 750. For schools with mostly low-income students, it is around 650.

The oldest of the American Indian schools, the middle school known simply as American Indian Public Charter School, has an API of 967. Its two siblings -- American Indian Public Charter School II (also a middle school) and American Indian Public High School -- are not far behind.

Among the thousands of public schools in California, only four middle schools and three high schools score higher. None of them serves mostly underprivileged children.

At American Indian, the largest ethnic group is Asian, followed by Latinos and African Americans. Some of the schools' critics contend that high-scoring Asian Americans are driving the test scores, but blacks and Latinos do roughly as well -- in fact, better on some tests.

That makes American Indian a rarity in American education, defying the axiom that poor black and Latino children will lag behind others in school.
It is a bit strange though that, throughout the whole four page article, there is no mention of the schools website. It is here and is a fascinating read: APICS I love the common sense section It is not that hard to see why other school administrators aren't lining up to learn how they do such remarkable work. That would mean that the other schools would actually have to teach and that is above their pay grade...

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