September 2009 Archives

IP Banning turned back on again

For two weeks, I was logging incoming spam but not immediately banning the originating IP address. This greatly worked in my favor as each zombie system was shilling for several clients and by waiting a week or two, I was able to harvest a lot more domain names to block. What was especially inane of these id10t's is that they thought that if there were enough domain names in one spam, that maybe some of them would get through??? If I block for and if is in with 49 other URLs, #1) - it will still get blocked and #2) - those 49 other URLs will get recorded in the log file and also be blocked when I run the processing script. If anyone ever puts the authorship of comment spam program on their resume, I would not even consider them qualified to sweep my floors...

Heh - Sarah Palin's latest book

Sarah Palin has a book coming out November 17th, 2009. Nobody knows what is in it specifically. It is titled: Going Rogue: An American Life It is available for pre-order at Amazon and is their Number One bestseller:
Click to embiggen...
Say what you may about her, the fact that she has this much pull as an ex-Governor and Hockey Mom says volumes...

Earthquake in Seattle

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Someone is predicting an earthquake in Seattle within about three weeks or so. Should be interesting to see if this happens...

Relief efforts in American Samoa

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I am wondering if the largest employer in American Samoa is offering relief to its employees. Probably not much considering this story from Snopes. PLEASE NOTE: There have been a lot of embelleshments to this story on the internet. What I am quoting is the list of items that Snopes has determined to be factual. It is, by itself, very damning. From Snopes:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's home district includes San Francisco.

Star-Kist Tuna's headquarters are in San Francisco, Pelosi's home district.

Star-Kist is owned by Del Monte Foods and is a major contributor to Pelosi.

Star-Kist is the major employer in American Samoa employing 75% of the Samoan workforce.

Paul Pelosi, Nancy's husband, owns $17 million dollars of Star-Kist stock.

In January, 2007 when the minimum wage was increased from $5.15 to $7.25, Pelosi had American Samoa exempted from the increase so Del Monte would not have to pay the higher wage. This would make Del Monte products less expensive than their competition's.

Last week when the huge bailout bill was passed, Pelosi added an earmark to the final bill adding $33 million dollars for an 'economic development credit in American Samoa'.

Pelosi has called the Bush Administration 'corrupt'.

She should know.
Like I said, not much chance of a large relief effort from Del Monte...

Now this is my kind of Farmer's Daughter

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From the Dublin, Ireland Independent:
Farmer's daughter disarms terrorist and shoots him dead with AK47
An Indian farmer�s daughter disarmed a terrorist leader who broke into her home, attacked him with an axe and shot him dead with his own gun.

Rukhsana Kausar, 21, was with her parents and brother in Jammu and Kashmir when three gunmen, believed to be Pakistani militants, forced their way in and demanded food and beds for the night.

Their house in Shahdra Sharief, Rajouri district, is about 20 miles from the ceasefire line between Indian and Pakistani forces.

It is close to dense forests known as hiding places for fighters from the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which carried out the Mumbai terrorist attack last November.

Militants often demand food and lodging in nearby villages.

When they forced their way into Miss Kausar�s home, her father Noor Mohammad refused their demands and was attacked.

His daughter was hiding under a bed when she heard him crying as the gunmen thrashed him with sticks. According to police, she ran towards her father�s attacker and struck him with an axe. As he collapsed, she snatched his AK47 and shot him dead.

She also shot and wounded another militant as he made his escape.

Police have hailed the woman�s bravery.

They said she would be nominated for the president�s gallantry award.

She may also receive a �4,500 reward if, as police believe, the dead terrorist is confirmed as Uzafa Shah, a wanted Pakistani LeT commander who had been active in the area for the past four years.

Supt Shafqat Watali said Miss Kausar�s reaction was �a rude shock� for the militants. �Normally they get king-like treatment but this was totally unexpected,� he said.

Miss Kausar said she had never fired an assault rifle before but had seen it in films and could not stand by while her father was being hurt. �I couldn�t bear my father�s humiliation. If I�d failed to kill him, they would have killed us,� she said.
Awesome and I love that the police praised her. Not mentioned in the story is the fact that the Lashkar-e-Taiba is an Islamic terrorist organization.

An interesting observation about Obama

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From Walt Bussey writing at American Thinker:
Playing At Being President
The longer he is in office, the more it appears that Barack H. Obama doesn't really want to be president but only to play at being president. He doesn't seem interested in dealing with the messy, day-to-day responsibilities of the president's job. He doesn't want to be the Chief Executive and propose legislation that will move the country forward to new heights. He doesn't want to be Commander-In-Chief of the military and execute a necessary war. He doesn't take on the fiscal responsibilities required of the executive to deal with our economic issues. He doesn't want to be leader of the United States and act with dignity and forcefulness to put American interests forward in the world community.

Barack Obama, like a child playing a game, seems to ignore reality and live in a make-believe world. He goes to international conferences and makes speeches so that (as he imagines) the countries of the world see him as the organizer of a global community; he appears on radio and television to speak and be seen as the leader of the country that he refuses to lead; he wants to talk; he loves to talk. And like the child who plays at being doctor or father or mother, he talks about what he wants. Like a child, he overuses the first person pronouns. All his rhetoric is "I" and "me" and "my" and, sometimes, the inclusive "us" and "our." He wants to be seen and heard. But he doesn't want to do (except to make speeches, and even these are prepared by others, canned, and read from a teleprompter). Those speeches in which he does seem to be taking charge are followed by a child-like loss of interest in the subject. He loses interest in playing that game and goes on to another.

In the meantime, other world leaders, especially our enemies and potential enemies are operating in the real world of economic turmoil, international power rivalry, and horrendous weapons. In these perilous times, made more so by his apparent lack of interest in dealing maturely with real issues, we cannot afford to have a chief executive who abdicates his duties and only plays at being president.
And the liberal "progressives" follow right along with the all style, no substance pathology. Hat tip to Maggie's Farm Walt regularly blogs at The Lemming Watch

Dang - and I was just there

Check out this hammer from Harbor Freight -- I like the priorities:
Hat tip to Toolmonger for the link.

Crap - massive earthquake in Indonesia.

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This is not a retelling of the American Samoa quake from two days ago. From Google/Associated Press::
Powerful earthquake rocks western Indonesia
Indonesia's meteorological agency says a powerful earthquake has shaken western Indonesia.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami alert for Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Thailand.

The Indonesian agency said the tremor had a magnitude of 7.6. Its epicenter was just off the coast of Sumatra.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the strength at 7.9.

The shaking could be felt in high buildings in the capital, Jakarta, several hundred miles, kilometers away and in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.
No more details as to the depth, tsunami warnings, etc...

A list of actors to avoid

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There is a petition circulating that asks that convicted child rapist Roman Polanski be set free. Polanski invited a 13 year old girl to Jack Nicholson's home for a "photo shoot". He proceeded to give her Quaaludes and Champaign and when she was liquored up, he anally raped her. She and her family brought charges, Polanski admitted the rape but when it seemed that the Judge might actually sentence him, he broke bail and fled to France (no extradition treaty with the USA). It was found that he was traveling to Switzerland to accept an award. Switzerland does have an extradition treaty with the USA so he was arrested by the Swiss police. This article at The Guardian lists some of the petitions signers:
Release Polanski, demands petition by film industry luminaries
Woody Allen, David Lynch and Martin Scorsese today added their names to a petition demanding the immediate release of Roman Polanski from detention in Zurich. The director was arrested on Saturday over a three-decade-old underage sex case when he arrived to receive a lifetime achievement award at the city's film festival.

"Film-makers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision," says the petition, which is co-ordinated by the Soci�t� des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD), a film industry organisation which also represents performance and visual artists.

"It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary film-makers, is used by police to apprehend him," it adds.

The petition has now been signed by more than 70 film industry luminaries, including Polanski's fellow directors Michael Mann, Wim Wenders, Pedro Almod�var, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Julian Schnabel, the Dardenne brothers, Alejandro Gonz�lez I��rritu, Wong Kar-Wai, Walter Salles and Jonathan Demme. Actors Tilda Swinton, Monica Bellucci and Asia Argento, as well as producer Harvey Weinstein, have also put their names on the petition. Yesterday, Weinstein stated he was "calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation".
I stopped going to see Woody Allen flics after he started his sleeping with his adopted daughter (34 year age difference -- he adopted her as his daughter when she was seven). As Woody's natural born son says:
Allen and Farrow's only biological son, Ronan Seamus Farrow, said of Allen: "He's my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression. I cannot see him. I cannot have a relationship with my father and be morally consistent.... I lived with all these adopted children, so they are my family. To say Soon-Yi was not my sister is an insult to all adopted children."
There are some names that I will miss -- Terry Gilliam for one, Tilda Swinton another. Most of the names are people I don't normally go out of my way to see anyway so no big loss. Polanski needs to serve his time for the crime he committed. End of story. Hat tip to the always excellent Maggie's Farm for the link.

Voter Fraud in NY State

From Andrew Breitbart's Big Government:
Massive Voter Fraud in NY Linked to ACORN
The Working Families Party and local Democratic Party Officials are at the center of a massive voter fraud scandal in Troy, NY.

According to the Times Union:
Dozens of forged and fraudulent absentee ballots from people registered to vote on the Working Families Party line were filed in the Sept. 15 primary elections in Troy.

Documents at the county Board of Elections show the fraudulent ballots were handled by or prepared on behalf of various elected officials and leaders and operatives for the Democratic and Working Families parties.

There may be as many as 50 absentee ballots that were forged, according to people close to the case. Countywide, there were 126 absentee ballots applied for on the Working Families Party line.
And the ACORN link:
What isn�t mentioned is that WFP is nothing more than a front group for ACORN. Or as Roger Stone put it:
The Working Families Party is not about working people or families and it isn�t really a party. The WFP is a wholly owned subsidiary of ACORN. Bertha Lewis co-chair of the Working Families Party is the Executive Director of New York ACORN. New York ACORN leader, Steven Kest was the moving force in forming the party and WFP headquarters are located at the same address as ACORN�s national and New York office at 88 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

WFP is essentially a money funnel which pays for an aggressive door to door canvas. Largely funded by unions, the WFP is ACORN�s �political arm� in New York State. Candidates supported by the Working Families Party and issues supported by ACORN are both advocated on the door steps of target voter homes as they share one major voter canvas.
So another couple low level employees get tossed under the bus and it's business as usual... The Democrats will never investigate -- ACORN helps them get elected.

Say buh-bye to Norman Hsu -- from Yahoo/Associated Press:

Ex-Dem fundraiser sentenced in NYC to 24 years
Former Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu was sentenced Tuesday to more than 24 years in prison by a judge who accused him of funding his fraud by manipulating the political process in a way that "strikes at the very core of our democracy."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero sentenced the 58-year-old Hsu, who raised money for Hillary Rodham Clinton and others, to 20 years in prison for his guilty plea to fraud charges and another four years and four months in prison for his conviction at trial for breaking campaign finance laws.

In a lengthy criticism of Hsu's fraud, the judge said the former fundraiser used political contributions to win respect and impress investors as he committed campaign finance fraud.

A bit more -- about his crimes:

Prosecutors say Hsu obtained millions of dollars from investors by claiming clothing or high-technology ventures would pay returns of 14 and 20 percent. Instead, he spent the money on himself or made charitable contributions to enhance his image, they said.

Hsu's decade-long Ponzi scheme collapsed in September 2007. Besides the sentence he received Tuesday, Hsu must serve three years in prison for a conviction in California.

Good riddance -- I guess the Hsu fit in this case... (rimshot)

Dan Rather's lawsuit dismissed

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Ex-Journalist Dan Rather tried to pawn an obvious fake document (the George Bush TANG papers) as legitimate in an attempt to discredit President Bush. It took Charles Johnson about an hour to to scan the document, type the same document in Microsoft Word (default settings) and alternate the two images in this animated GIF:
One of these images was supposedly written in 1973, one of them was written in 2004. There is no typewriter that could produce a document like that in 1973. You could do this on a phototypesetter but you would not use one for a casual memo. Rather was summarily let go and he sued CBS for $70,000,000 worth of lost income and damages. Today, the suit was dismissed. From Yahoo/Reuters:
Appeals court dismisses Dan Rather's suit vs. CBS
A New York state appeals court on Tuesday dismissed former TV newsman Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS Corp in which Rather claimed he was made a scapegoat in a scandal over a 2004 report on then-President George W. Bush's military record.

The ruling on Tuesday by a panel of judges of the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division said Rather's $70 million complaint should be dismissed in its entirety and that a lower court erred in denying CBS's motion to throw out the lawsuit.

Rather says CBS breached his contract by not giving him enough on-air assignments after he was removed as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" in March 2005.

The appeals court ruled he failed to sufficiently support his claim that he lost business opportunities due to CBS's failure to release him to seek other employment.

Rather sued CBS, parent of the CBS television network, Viacom and others in September 2007, claiming he had been made a scapegoat to "pacify the White House." CBS was part of Viacom until the companies split in 2006.
Emphasis mine. I love that line about pacifying the White House. There was no pacifying needed -- the document he hinged his story on was so patently fake he should be ashamed of himself AND his support staff for not recognizing it for what it was. He wanted to believe and that was enough for him. That is not journalism...

Still subprime - the FHA

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Just wonderful -- from the Wall Street Journal:
Subprime Uncle Sam
The Treasury has announced new "capital cushion" requirements for financial institutions to reduce excessive risk and prevent taxpayer bailouts. Seems sensible enough. Perhaps the Administration will even impose those safety and soundness standards on federal agencies.

One place to start is the Federal Housing Administration, the nation's insurer of nearly $750 billion in outstanding mortgages. The agency acknowledged this month that a new but still undisclosed HUD audit has found that FHA's cash reserve fund is rapidly depleting and may drop below its Congressionally mandated 2% of insurance liabilities by the end of the year.

At a 50 to 1 leverage ratio, the FHA will soon have a smaller capital cushion than did investment bank Bear Stearns on the eve of its crash. (See nearby table.) Its loan delinquency rate (more than 30 days late in payments) is now above 14%, or from two to three times higher than on conventional mortgages. Its cash reserve ratio has fallen by more than two-thirds in three years.

The reason for this financial deterioration is that FHA is underwriting record numbers of high-risk mortgages. Between 2006 and the end of next year, FHA's insurance portfolio will have expanded to $1 trillion from $410 billion. Today nearly one in four new mortgages carries an FHA guarantee, up from one in 50 in 2006. Through FHA, the Veterans Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers now guarantee repayment on more than 80% of all U.S. mortgages. Sources familiar with a new draft HUD report on FHA's worsening balance sheet tell us that the default rates have risen most rapidly on the most recent loans, i.e., those initiated or refinanced in 2008 and 2009.

All of this means the FHA is making a trillion-dollar housing gamble with taxpayer money as the table stakes. If housing values recover (fingers crossed), default rates will fall and the agency could even make money on its aggressive underwriting. But if housing prices continue their slide in states like Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada�where many FHA borrowers already have negative equity in their homes�taxpayers could face losses of $100 billion or more.
Lining up for the second crash in our double-dip recession. In 3... 2... (earth shattering Ka BOOM!)

Our hard-working science administrators

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Bunch of wankers. From FOX News:
Workers' Porn Surfing Rampant at Federal Agency
Employee misconduct investigations, often involving workers accessing pornography from their government computers, grew sixfold last year inside the taxpayer-funded foundation that doles out billions of dollars of scientific research grants, according to budget documents and other records obtained by The Washington Times.

The problems at the National Science Foundation (NSF) were so pervasive they swamped the agency's inspector general and forced the internal watchdog to cut back on its primary mission of investigating grant fraud and recovering misspent tax dollars.

"To manage this dramatic increase without an increase in staff required us to significantly reduce our efforts to investigate grant fraud," the inspector general recently told Congress in a budget request. "We anticipate a significant decline in investigative recoveries and prosecutions in coming years as a direct result."

The budget request doesn't state the nature or number of the misconduct cases, but records obtained by The Times through the Freedom of Information Act laid bare the extent of the well-publicized porn problem inside the government-backed foundation.

For instance, one senior executive spent at least 331 days looking at pornography on his government computer and chatting online with nude or partially clad women without being detected, the records show.

When finally caught, the NSF official retired. He even offered, among other explanations, a humanitarian defense, suggesting that he frequented the porn sites to provide a living to the poor overseas women. Investigators put the cost to taxpayers of the senior official's porn surfing at between $13,800 and about $58,000.
Emphasis mine -- what a steaming pile of crapola... And these are the people that determine the path of scientific research in the United States?

Minimal posting tonight

Long long day -- had to run down to Lynnwood; about 80 miles south of here. Extended shopping -- trips to the Costco business center, Homebrew Heaven and Harbor Freight. Grabbed a bite to eat in Mt. Vernon and came back up for a Water Board meeting. Going to unpack, check email, have a glass or three of wine and enjoy an early bedtime.


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A good look at the relationship between these two with an extra special helping of Chicago politics. From Kathleen Parker at The Washington Post:
Not Far From the Tree
While everyone in Washington is suddenly pretending they've hardly ever heard of ACORN, they might want to pretend they've never heard of the SEIU, one of the nation's largest unions.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and the Service Employees International Union are as tight as Heidi Klum and a new pair of jeans.

You don't think about one without the other.

You also don't talk about either organization without mention of Wade Rathke, co-founder of ACORN and founder of SEIU Local 100 in New Orleans. Rathke, who resigned from ACORN last year as "chief organizer" after it became known that his brother embezzled almost $1 million from the association, continues to run Local 100, as well as ACORN International, recently renamed Community Organizations International.

Rathke's social justice empire is so vast that he is more hydra than man. Nine heads are surely better than one when you're organizing communities in at least 12 countries. While Rathke and ACORN undoubtedly have done much good for impoverished people here and abroad, it appears likely that American taxpayers indirectly have been helping to underwrite unionizing activities and advance political goals through the commingling of Rathke's various interests.

As an ironic sidebar, America's health-care reform debate could become stalled -- not by Senate Republicans demanding a cost analysis (how mundane) but by dot-connecting prompted by the Halloweenish ACORN sting starring a faux pimp and prostitute.

Screenwriters, poise your pens. Just for fun, keep this name in mind: Rod Blagojevich.
What follows is a very interestering read. And the Blago link?
In Illinois, former governor Blagojevich (thank you for your patience) helped position the SEIU so that it could unionize health-care workers when he signed an executive order allowing collective bargaining. The SEIU showed its appreciation in advance by becoming Blagojevich's largest contributor, handing over $1.8 million for his two gubernatorial campaigns.
Chicago politics writ large...

Congratulations Germany

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Germany just had national elections and Chancellor Angela Merkel was victorious. What is even more important is that her bloc (the CDU/CSU) also won the largest number of votes so Germany will swing back toward right-centrist and prosperity. From the BBC:
Victorious Merkel vows recovery
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the priority of her second term in office will be to return prosperity to Europe's largest economy.

Mrs Merkel, who swept back to power in Sunday's election, will now open talks with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

She believes a coalition between them and her centre-right CDU/CSU bloc offers the best chance for recovery.

Her previous coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD) suffered their worst election performance for decades.

In her victory speech, Mrs Merkel said she wanted to be a chancellor of all Germans at a moment of crisis and that protecting and creating jobs would be her "highest aim".

She added: "We can really celebrate tonight, but afterwards we have a hard job ahead of us."
Congratulations Ms. Merkel It will be interesting to see if any on the far left learn their lesson when they see the turnaround in the German economic situation. Probably not... Low taxes and a small government equal a greater prosperity for all.

Now this is just wonderful news from Tikrit

From Al Jazeera:

'Al-Qaeda members' flee Iraq jail
At least 15 senior al-Qaeda members have escaped from a prison in Tikrit, Iraqi officials said, with authorities locking down the city as they search for fugitives.

Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Iraqi military spokesman, said on Thursday that six of the escaped inmates are considered dangerous.

Police sources told Al Jazeera that all of the men are charged with killing civilians and attacking security forces in the province in Salahiddien, north of Baghdad.

They added that one of the prisoners, who has been sentenced to death, was re-arrested near the jail.

The prisoners are said to have escaped through a window space half a metre square.

The break-out is not the first time al-Qaeda members have escaped from jail, suggesting the prisoners received outside assistance.

I really wish that we started treating these mokes like prisoners of war instead of civil criminals. That way, the firing squads would be a lot easier to use. These are cowards who dress in civilian clothes, hide in civilian crowds and use that cover to attack the coalition soldiers. If they had a soldiers honor and dressed in uniform, then, yes, treat them with respect. Otherwise, take them out back and shoot them.

You would find the terrorism problems going away very very quickly.

Sad but true...

A reporter asks some inconvenient questions at an environmental film premiere and gets booted off the press deck.
Hat tip to Theo for the link.

Winning hearts and minds - Obama and schooling

UPDATE: Correction at bottom of post

Now this is getting ridiculous. From the Boston Globe:

More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation
Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

As for the agrarian comment -- students are in school when most fields are being prepped and planted and students are back in school when most harvests take place. Up here, we are in the middle of the corn harvest, the berry harvest is just winding down and the apple harvest is just gearing up. Students have been in school for three weeks. See below...

As for the longer school time, how about making the schools better.

I posted this graph from Mark Perry before here: But if we throw more money at it


The teachers union only serves to protect the teachers, it does nothing to advance the quality of education. Another example of a Union that is well passed its prime. Pournelle's Iron Law again...

Jen just read this post -- her family farms in California and it is not uncommon for schoolkids there to miss a month of school during fall harvest. The need for the time off is known and accepted by the teachers.

She also mentioned that lengthening the school year is something that has been floating around for some time -- it is not unique to Obama.

More light posting today

Working on some stuff -- posting Jen's backpacking trip to Flickr and working at the store. This is the last nice day of weather expected for the next couple of days so the painters are there buttoning things down.

Street painting

I used to think that Julian Beever was good. Check out Kurt Wenner -- from the London Daily Mail:
Monsters climbing through the floors, magic carpet rides through fantastical cities... Yes, it's the return of the 3D artist
As tourists watch in wonder, a bizarre assortment of mystical animals appear to enjoy a rowdy lunch.

Elsewhere, two children are taken on a magical flying carpet ride across a peaceful city, while a woman is startled out of sleep when a crowd of angry bikers and drivers plough through her living room wall... in the centre of Waterloo Station.

We've either slipped into an alternate reality where anything is possible - or we're exploring the imagination and perception-bending 3D artwork of street artist Kurt Wenner.
One taste:
Kurt's website is here: Kurt Wenner Quite the fine arts painter and architect as well...

District 9

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It had been a while since Jen and I had taken the time to see a movie so we saw District 9 tonight. If you have not seen it yet, do yourself the favor of seeing it on the big screen. Incredible film. One that will stick with us for a long long time...

Light posting today

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Had to work a morning shift and then heading into town to get some things for the store. Our usual corn provider has come to the end of their season so I need to locate someone in a different micro-climate that still has ears for sale. There is also a Gun and Knife show I want to check out.

Shocking I tell you - absolutely shocking!

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Who would have thought it. From The Washington Post:
ACORN Funded Political, For-Profit Efforts, Data Show
Documents released by a Senate Republican on Thursday show that leaders of the ACORN community organizing network transferred several million dollars in charitable and government money meant for the poor to arms of the group that have political and sometimes profit-making missions.

ACORN's tax-exempt groups and allied organizations, long a target of conservative ire, used more than half their charitable and public money in 2006 to pay other ACORN affiliates, according to an analysis by the tax staff of Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

On Thursday, Grassley called the transactions a "big shell game" and said ACORN donors may be surprised by how the liberal group known for helping the poor obtain housing and health care was spending their money. He urged the Internal Revenue Service to take a closer look.
And Obama worked hand in hand with ACORN when he was "community organizing" in Chicago. He served as their lawyer for a while.
Conflict of interest anyone? From the Wall Street Journal:
Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large U.S. Loan
A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.

The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.

The awards to Fisker and Tesla have prompted concern from companies that have had their bids for loans rejected, and criticism from groups that question why vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting loans subsidized by taxpayers.

"This is not for average Americans," said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-tax group in Washington. "This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It's status symbol thing."
A bit about the car:
The four-door Karma, powered by a lithium-ion battery, will be able to run solely on electric power for 50 miles, and will achieve an average fuel economy of 100 mpg over the span of a year, the company says. Production is scheduled to start in December, with about 15,000 vehicles a year expected to hit the U.S. market starting next June.
(cough)BULLSHIT!!!(cough) No way in hell will any kind of sports-car -- even a hybrid -- be able to achieve that kind of gas mileage. My only guess is that since they say it will run 50 miles on electricity alone, they are getting this number by running it for 60 miles and doing a full recharge at home. Doesn't look like they are factoring in the cost of the electricity used to drive the car the 50 miles either, or the fact that a good 80% of that electricity (at least in the USA) comes from dirty old coal.
From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Venezuela seeking uranium with Iran's help
Iran is helping to detect uranium deposits in Venezuela and initial evaluations suggest reserves are significant, President Hugo Chavez's government said Friday.

Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Iran has been assisting Venezuela with geophysical survey flights and geochemical analysis of the deposits, and that evaluations "indicate the existence of uranium in western parts of the country and in Santa Elena de Uairen," in southeastern Bolivar state.

"We could have important reserves of uranium," Sanz told reporters upon arrival on Venezuela's Margarita Island for a weekend Africa-South America summit. He added that efforts to certify the reserves could begin within the next three years.
A bit more:
Chavez's project remains in its planning stages and still faces a host of practical hurdles, likely requiring billions of dollars, as well as technology and expertise that Venezuela lacks. Russia has offered to help bridge that gap, and Chavez has announced that the two countries have created an atomic energy commission.

But Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom, has said there are no concrete projects and that any joint work on mining deposits of uranium or the radioactive metal thorium would have to wait until Venezuela decides whether it wants Russian help exploring them and, if so, create a joint venture for the purpose.
Now this should be fun in 10-15 years when President for Life Chavez nationalizes the Russian facility. And they have Thorium as well -- Thorium is turning out to be quite the fuel to use for power generation. Very simple to clean up and reprocess the waste -- not like U235.

A different sort of conservation

Makes a lot of sense -- only they are sooo cute. From Wildlife Extra News:
Chris Packham - It is time to let the Panda go?

Part One - Can we afford Pandas?
I've been upsetting most peoples sentimentalities again recently by saying, loudly thanks to BBC Radio and the written media, that it time we found the courage to give up on Pandas. Let them go, wave goodbye, maybe have a party, or a wake, whatever, just stop wasting money trying to 'save' them from extinction. I know, a bit controversial to question conservation, the great invention of all the good folk who want to save everything from themselves, let alone spout such heresy about its most sacred icon. For those of you who are not aware of my maverick musings on this matter I'll precis them here.

An ex-carnivore bamboo muncher unfortunately ends up in the most populated place on earth. Its food predictably all dies with disastrous regularity and its digestive system is poorly adapted to its diet. It's slow to reproduce, tastes good, but in a blind strike of evolutionary luck it is plump, cute and cuddly. That is from an anthropological point of view. So given only the latter in the formative days of conservation the pioneers choose it as a symbol and begin to investigate its conservation. Panda porn, or the lack of it, made us all giggle in the sixties and seventies and gradually the fat pied ones became greater than the sum of the sense in keeping them alive. But having spent so much it's very difficult to stop. We are now spending millions and millions of dollars on a loser which lives in a country being stormed by the whole worlds greedy despite its horrible politics. It's Catch 22 for Pandas and we're caught by the credit cards despite our very own desperate credit crisis. So I say stop, save our relatively paltry funds for cases where we can make a real difference, because that's our job.
Chris actually makes a very good case for this. For the same amount that we are paying to get one panda pair to give birth to one cub, we could save millions of acres of Amazonian rainforest.

Comment spew

Got the code revision dialed in a bit more.

By monitoring IP addresses, I am able to harvest a lot more spam attempts than if I just block them on the first offense.

This way, some some zombie system wants me to buy "fluffy bunny online", I can hang off nuking their ass and collect additional opportunities to gamble online and to watch hot toaster on toaster action.

This afternoon alone, I had 23 spam attempts and two legitimate comments. The comments sailed through just fine. Each and every comment spam attempt was put into moderation for me to review.

I keep mentioning that I am not a programmer, I am a hardware geek. My favorite programming language is solder. Still, my programming fu is many orders of magnitude greater than these idiots running the botnets. About 50 lines of perl, some regex and three flat-file "databases" and I whip their puny asses into the ground and make them drink bongwater.

Element 114 confirmed

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Very cool -- from Science Daily:
Superheavy Element 114 Confirmed: A Stepping Stone To The 'Island Of Stability'
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy�s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been able to confirm the production of the superheavy element 114, ten years after a group in Russia, at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, first claimed to have made it. The search for 114 has long been a key part of the quest for nuclear science�s hoped-for Island of Stability.

Heino Nitsche, head of the Heavy Element Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group in Berkeley Lab�s Nuclear Science Division (NSD) and a professor of chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, and Ken Gregorich, a senior staff scientist in NSD, led the team that independently confirmed the production of the new element, which was first published by the Dubna Gas Filled Recoil Separator group.

Using an instrument called the Berkeley Gas-filled Separator (BGS) at Berkeley Lab�s 88-Inch Cyclotron, the researchers were able to confirm the creation of two individual nuclei of element 114, each a separate isotope having 114 protons but different numbers of neutrons, and each decaying by a separate pathway.

�By verifying the production of element 114, we have removed any doubts about the validity of the Dubna group�s claims,� says Nitsche. �This proves that the most interesting superheavy elements can in fact be made in the laboratory.�

Early evening...

Working on some other stuff in the DaveCave(tm) so heading out there.

Extracted the hard drive from my bricked laptop and picked up an external case for it today so transferring a lot of the misc files over to the new one.

I use Acronis for daily backup on every machine but I didn't want to do a complete restore (OS and all) and this way, I can review each file to see if it is something I want to keep.

Picked up the new Diana Gabaldon book at Costco so Jen and I will be busy for a week or two -- she gets to read it first as I have a bunch of stuff I'm working on at the store. The county fire marshall is requiring us to install a comprehensive fire alarm system and the roofers and painters are just finishing off.

Silly season in Pittsburgh, PA

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The G-20 is meeting in Pittsburgh, PA and the royal loonies have taken to the streets. From Yahoo/Associated Press:
G-20 opponents, police clash on Pittsburgh streets
Police fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke at marchers protesting the Group of 20 summit Thursday after anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling trash bins and throwing rocks.

The march turned chaotic at just about the time that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived for a meeting with leaders of the world's major economies.

The clashes began after hundreds of protesters, many advocating against capitalism, tried to march from an outlying neighborhood toward the convention center where the summit is being held.

The protesters banged on drums and chanted "Ain't no power like the power of the people, 'cause the power of the people don't stop."

The marchers included small groups of self-described anarchists, some wearing dark clothes and bandanas and carrying black flags. Others wore helmets and safety goggles.

One banner read, "No borders, no banks," another, "No hope in capitalism." A few minutes into the march, protesters unfurled a large banner reading "NO BAILOUT NO CAPITALISM" with an encircled "A," a recognized sign of anarchists.

The marchers did not have a permit and, after a few blocks, police declared it an unlawful assembly. They played an announcement over a loudspeaker telling people to leave or face arrest and then police in riot gear moved in to break it up.
Considering that the majority of these idiots came in from outside Pittsburgh, it is heartening to see how few of these silly children there are. And of course, if there was a successful anarchic nation and if they moved there, they would find something else to protest about. It isn't the real truth, it's the posturing and the (misdirected) passion.

Our quiet Sun

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I have been posting about the Sun's current quiet period and its effect on Earth's climate (cooling since 1998). This is finally starting to get traction in the media and in scientific journals. From Physics World:
The Sun could be heading into period of extended calm
Researchers in the US may have discovered further evidence that the Sun is heading towards an extended period of quiet activity, the like of which has not been seen since the 17th century. The impact this may have on climate is poorly understood but it would be good news for satellite communications, which would continue to avoid the harsher impacts of space weather.
A bit more:
We were expecting to reach the next solar maxima around 2011�2012. However, space weather experts have been surprised over the past few years to report very few signs that the number of sunspots has been picking up since the last solar minimum in 2006. This has prompted some space scientists to forecast that we are heading towards another prolonged spell of quiet sunspot activity, the last of which was observed between 1645 and 1715 in a period called the "Maunder Minimum".
If we are going to have an event on the scale of another Maunder Minimum, we are in for some seriously cold disruptive weather for the next 500 years or so...

The Staffordshire Hoard

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I had posted about it before yesterday but here is the official web page for The Staffordshire Hoard:
About the hoard
The Staffordshire Hoard is an unparalleled treasure find dating from Anglo-Saxon times. Both the quality and quantity of this unique treasure are remarkable. The story of how it came to be left in the Staffordshire soil is likely to be more remarkable still.
Some gorgeous pieces - there is also a large Flickr stream

Narcissus in office

An interesting observation by Dan Gainor at Fox News:

Obama's Speeches-- Obama Mentions Self Nearly 1,200 Times!
Obama loves to hear himself talk - about himself. In just 41 speeches so this year, not including this week's big speech at the United Nations, Obama has talked about himself nearly 1,200 times - 1,198 to be exact. (That breaks down to 1,121 'I's and just 77 "me"s.)
Nar-cis-sism - noun
1. inordinate fascination with oneself;
excessive self-love;
In mythology, Narcissus was the guy who fell in love with his own reflection.

In 2009, he's the president of the United States.

Instead of adoring his own image, Obama loves to hear himself talk - about himself. In just 41 speeches so far this year, not including this week's big speech at the United Nations, Obama has talked about himself nearly 1,200 times - 1,198 to be exact. (That breaks down to 1,121 'I's and just 77 'me's.) And that just includes 34 weekly addresses and his seven major speeches. Count the hundreds of other public speeches and he'd be off the charts.

And if you needed any more confirmation, there was this past Sunday's Obama-palooza on the network talking head shows. Obama pulled a presidential first, going back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back on five different networks. He hit This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, Meet the Press on NBC, Face the Nation on CBS, as well as interviews on both CNN and Univision.

"We're essentially roadblocking the time by appearing on each station," David Axelrod, senior adviser to the president, told The New York Times. -- Pretty easy to monopolize a message when you block all five networks. And yes, the media didn't just let him, they reveled in it. CNN's Howard Kurtz and others even did stories about Obama's overexposure, only mildly hinting at the irony that they were making the problem worse at the same time.

The interviews went off as expected. Obama kept his "I" on the nation's problems. He mustered 387 personal mentions in just 82 minutes of air time. Forget the economy, health care, racism or whatever. Every 13 seconds, Obama was talking about - Obama. Next stop, David Letterman on Sept. 21. You already know the topic.

Makes a lot of sense when you think about it...

An ACORN twofer

First, it looks like ACORN is coming unraveled. From the National Review:
ACORN: Tax Cheats
ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis told Fox News Sunday on September 20 that her group �absolutely pays its taxes.� But her claim crumbles before the $548,213.25 federal tax lien that the Internal Revenue Service filed against the embattled New Orleans-based activist organization. Louisiana state tax officials also have slapped $334,121.43 in tax liens on ACORN since last October 29.
The article cites chapter and verse. Public organizations' tax records are public domain and a couple people have been doing some digging and tracking down the shadow organizations that are behind ACORN. Second, here is one lawyers take on the lawsuit. Again, from the National Review:
ACORN's Lawsuit
From a lawyer reader. I've redacted a bit from the opening in which he gives his background. He's not a specialist, so take it for what it's worth. It strikes me as pretty reasonable.
I hope all is well with you and yours.

I just wanted to give you a quick lawyer's take on the ACORN complaint against Breitbart, Giles, and O'Keefe. By way of background, I am [redacted] .... but would obviously like to keep my identity concealed if you should decide to pass this along to anyone.

First, ACORN filed in state court in Baltimore to get the home field advantage, but there is diversity jurisdiction and it will almost certainly be removed to federal court. That will likely be the defendants' first move. I'm not terribly familiar with that federal district, but it is surely more conservative than a Maryland state court. Moreover, it lies in the Fourth Circuit, which is one the most conservative in the country, so there is an excellent appellate "back stop" that will be a great advantage to the defendants.

Second, ACORN's legal theory is very, very thin. Their only cause of action is for a violation of the Maryland wiretapping statute. I'm certainly no expert on that statute, and I have no opinion as to whether Giles and O'Keefe violated it. But, for the sake of argument, let's assume they did. The violation of a criminal statute does not automatically give rise to civil liability in the absence of an express statutory provision that creates a private cause of action. I've litigated that issue on behalf of corporate defendants many, many times and my recollection is that I've never lost on it. I'm somewhat surprised that ACORN didn't include some other common law claims, such as intentional infliction of emotional distress or false light breach of privacy. But the problem with those claims is the vast, vast body of First Amendment law protecting media defendants (which surely includes Breitbart, Giles, and O'Keefe here).

Third, with a little bit of careful thought, the defendants could plead some interesting counterclaims. The federal False Claims Act and RICO come to mind, and would be very interesting.

Fourth, even if the defendants don't plead any counterclaims, the scope of discovery against ACORN will be incredibly broad, as it almost always is in civil litigation. ACORN has far, far more to lose from what could come out during discovery than what they are asking for in this suit.

Fifth, it's sorta bizarre that the fired employees are joining in the suit with ACORN, the entity that fired them. That complicates just about every legal theory, and even has possible ethical complications for their attorneys. I'd have to think about the issue some more, but at first blush I think the defendants' attorneys might want to move to disqualify the ACORN attorneys from representing all three plaintiffs on the grounds that the fired employees have, essentially, wrongful discharge claims against ACORN. Even if the motion is unsuccessful, each of the plaintiffs will have to take a stand, very early on in the litigation, as to whether or not the firings were appropriate. None of them have any good answers to that question.

In short, Learned Hand once said that he feared a lawsuit more than death or taxes. With good lawyering from the defendants (which I'm sure their going to get), ACORN is about to find out what Hand meant. ACORN has very little to gain and a lot to lose.

Keep up the great work!
Not thinking too clearly here -- this will be a fun trial to follow...

Housing Foreclosures - not out of the woods yet

Some grim forecasting from Tim Cavanaugh at Reason Magazine:
Corpse of a Thousand Houses
All signs point to a new flood of real estate foreclosures that no amount of government sandbagging will prevent. Sources of trouble:

� A record 7.58 percent of U.S. homeowners with mortgages were at least 30 days late on payments in August, says Equifax, up from 7.32 percent in July. Delinquencies are not only rising from month to month, but rising at a faster pace. More than 41 percent of subprime mortgages are delinquent. (That's quite an increase from 2007, when I took heart from the fact that only 10 percent of subprime mortgages were in default. But, well, at least the glass is still more than half full, right?)

� About 1.2 million loans out there are in limbo: The borrower is in serious default yet the bank has not started the foreclosure process. Another 1.5 million are in early stages of the foreclosure process but the bank hasn't yet taken possession of the home. Counting these and loans that are highly likely to end up in default, one analyst estimates three million to four million foreclosed homes will come on the market over the next few years. And don't believe the freshwater economists when they tell you there's no such thing as a free lunch: Some 217,000 Americans have not made a mortgage payment in one full calendar year, but their lenders have yet to begin the foreclosure process.

� Option ARM recasts (not resets, as Calculated Risk explains) are as much of a time bomb as ever, with nearly all borrowers in this class making only minimum payments and negatively amortizing their mortgages.
People are pointing to the current stock price increases as the beginning of the recovery. Some people are looking at a double bottoming -- we have had the first crash and the second one is out there waiting for us...

The GOP and fundraising

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Some interesting numbers from Pejman Yousefzadeh:
The Supposedly Dead GOP . . .
It�s not as dead as many thought:
Despite being in the minority in Congress, Republican campaign committees outraised Democrats by $1.7 million in August as they have aggressively collected political cash amid the rancorous debate over health care.

Republicans also held an edge over Democrats in the amount of money available, when counting debts, as both parties set the stage for the 2010 elections, in which more than three dozen competitive House and Senate seats are at stake.

The GOP spike is a departure. In each of the past four years, the party in power � whether Democrat or Republican � raised more than the minority�s fundraising committees in August, a USA TODAY review of campaign records shows.

�Republicans have been able to tap into some of the anger against Democrats in power and translate that into fundraising,� said Nathan Gonzales of The Rothenberg Political Report. �There are a lot of Republicans who wish the election were this November, not November 2010, because they feel like the momentum is on their side now.�
Not bad for a supposedly soon-to-be-extinct party. Of course, this was to be expected; there are no final victories or defeats in politics, which means that there is a predictable ebb and flow when it comes to political fortunes. But this fact was ignored by a whole host of people who�in some cases gleefully�predicted the demise of the Republican party. I wonder what those people must be thinking now.

Hey Artists!!!

From Iowahawk:
Earn Big $$$ the NEA Way!
It's true -- U.S. government demand for art and art-like products has never been higher! Uncle Sam and the good folks at the National Endowment for the Arts are on the lookout for go-getting, obedient artists like you for a fast-paced career in state propaganda. With the quick and easy Federal Art Instruction Institute course, now you too can get a first class ticket on the federal art gravy train!

Tell Me More!

From heath care to the economy to the environment, Washington has become infested with pesky state enemies who are clogging up the legislative pipeline and making life miserable for our cool, art-loving president. That's why he has ordered the NEA to fund obsequious bohemians to help him exterminate the competition and drive traffic to his hip new website The Federal Art Instruction Institute will show you how to get off funemployment and on the payroll of this exciting $3.6 trillion growth industry!

How can the Federal Art Instruction Institute help me?

Unlike traditional art schools, the Federal Art Instruction Institute doesn't waste your time on boring Post-Modernist theory, messy bodily fluids, or painful self mutilation. With our easy-to-learn program you will quickly learn how to channel your natural artistic ability and suburban self-loathing at state enemies who, when you think about it, are a lot like your parents.

Can you draw triangles? The Federal Art Instruction Institute will show you the easy way to turn them into Ku Klux Klan hoods. Turn them upside down and they become scary vampire fangs! Even a simple black rectangle can become a Hitler mustache with our easy to learn methods.

Our award winning studio instructors includes some of the top young professional kowtowers, bumnuzzlers and bootlicks working in the government art field today -- people like Buffy Wicks, Yosi Sergant and Michael Skolnik. They will keep you up to date on all the hot new policy trends and enemy lists, and what your patrons at the NEA need you to do about it. Using tried and true traditional art techniques from Cuba, Germany and central Asia, they will teach you how to pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it -- for big cash prizes!
More at Iowahawk...

Sarah Palin in Hong Kong

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Sarah was over there and gave a significant speech. There is an excerpt published on her Facebook page:
So far, I�ve given you the view from Main Street, USA. But now I�d like to share with you how a Common Sense Conservative sees the world at large.

Later this year, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall � an event that changed not just Europe but the entire world. In a matter of months, millions of people in formerly captive nations were freed to pursue their individual and national ambitions.

The competition that defined the post World War II era was suddenly over. What was once called �the free world� had so much to celebrate � the peaceful end to a great power rivalry and the liberation of so many from tyranny�s grip.

Some, you could say, took the celebration too far. Many spoke of a �peace dividend,� of the need to focus on domestic issues and spend less time, attention and money on endeavors overseas. Many saw a peaceful future, where globalization would break down borders and lead to greater global prosperity. Some argued that state sovereignty would fade � like that was a good thing? � that new non-governmental actors and old international institutions would become dominant in the new world order.

As we all know, that did not happen. Unfortunately, there was no shortage of warning signs that the end of the Cold War did not mean the end of history or the end of conflict. In Europe, the breakup of Yugoslavia resulted in brutal wars in the Balkans. In the Middle East, a war was waged to reverse Saddam Hussein�s invasion of Kuwait. North Korea�s nuclear program nearly led to military conflict. In Africa, U.S. embassies were bombed by a group called al Qaeda.

Two weeks ago, America commemorated the 8th anniversary of the savagery of September 11, 2001. The vicious terrorist attacks of that day made clear that what happened in lands far distant from American shores directly affect our security. We came to learn, if we did not know before, that there were violent fanatics who sought not just to kill innocents, but to end our way of life. Their attacks have not been limited to the United States.

They attacked targets in Europe, North Africa and throughout the Middle East. Here in Asia, they killed more than 200 in a single attack in Bali. They bombed the Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Last year in Mumbai, more than 170 were killed in coordinated attacks in the heart of India�s financial capital. In this struggle with radical Islamic extremists, no part of the world is safe from those who bomb, maim and kill in the service of their twisted vision.

This war � and that is what it is, a war � is not, as some have said, a clash of civilizations. We are not at war with Islam. This is a war within Islam, where a small minority of violent killers seeks to impose their view on the vast majority of Muslims who want the same things all of us want: economic opportunity, education, and the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families. The reality is that al Qaeda and its affiliates have killed scores of innocent Muslim men, women and children.
It's about a ten minute read -- she touches on a couple of very good topics. Well worth reading. She "gets it"

Heh - GW Bush

Swiped from Theo:


Ohhhhh - now this will be fun!

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From CNN:
ACORN sues filmmakers
ACORN filed suit Wednesday in Baltimore, Maryland, against two filmmakers who secretly recorded videos embarrassing to the agency, claiming the pair violated state law by recording their conversations without permission of the employees involved.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing the further distribution of the videos.

The recordings represented "clear violations of Maryland law that were intended to inflict maximum damage to the reputation of ACORN," the community organizer's attorney, Arthur Schwartz, said. "Unfortunately, they succeeded."

Defendants James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, conservative activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute seeking advice on setting up a brothel with underage girls from El Salvador, recorded the videos in Baltimore and three other cities., registered to Washington Times conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, is a co-defendant in the lawsuit. Contacted by CNN, Breitbart had no comment on the suit. O'Keefe and Giles did not respond to requests for comment.
I pity that poor ACORN fool Arthur Schwartz. Does he not understand what happens during the process of Discovery? Both parties are obligated to participate. Breitbart's publication of the Giles/O'Keefe videos was just the opening salvo. He then stood back and waited. ACORN stepped up to the plate and to mix sports, Game, Set, Match

Very major archaeological find in England

Incredible. From Google/UK Press Association:
Anglo-Saxon gold hoard discovered
A 55-year-old metal detectorist has unearthed the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, archaeologists said.

The staggering discovery, on private farmland in Staffordshire, will redefine perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England, experts predict.

Terry Herbert, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, came across the hoard as he searched a field near his home with his trusty 14-year-old detector.

Experts said the collection of more than 1,500 pieces - which will be officially classified by a coroner as treasure - is unparalleled in size and may have belonged to Saxon royalty. The hoard, believed to date back to the seventh century, contains around 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver, far bigger than previous finds - including the Sutton Hoo burial site.

It may take more than a year to value the collection and, given its scale, the financial worth of the hoard cannot be estimated.

Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum's Department of Prehistory and Europe, said: "This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries. (It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells."

Many of the items in the hoard are warfare paraphernalia, including sword pommel caps and hilt plates, often inlaid with precious stones. The exact location of the discovery has not been disclosed but it is understood to be near the Lichfield border in South Staffordshire.

Mr Herbert, who has been metal detecting for 18 years, came across the buried hoard in July after asking a farmer friend if he could search on his land. He said: "I have this phrase that I say sometimes; 'spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear', but on that day I changed coins to gold. I don't know why I said it that day, but I think somebody was listening and directed me to it.
You read the accounts of some of the older hard-rock miners and they also had a 'nose' for Gold. What an incredible find. Just on spot metal alone, you are looking at just under $2M at today's prices for Gold and Silver. The historical and archaeological value is priceless...
And you might make better decisions. Nancy Pelosi is about as out of touch with reality as anyone can get and still be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. From CBS News:
Pelosi Seeks to Make Health Reform Bill More Liberal
When House leadership brings a final health care bill to the full House floor, it may be more liberal than moderate House Democrats expected, according to reports.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is planning to include in the bill a tax on wealthy Americans, as well as a more robust government-run health insurance plan (or "public option"), abandoning the compromises leaders in a key committee worked out with the moderate Blue Dog Democrats, according to Roll Call.
Just for fun I tried to see if Pelosi had held any Town Hall meetings during the recent recess. Didn't see anything but I did find this little clip:
Well, given that there were over two million marchers in Washington on 9/12, there may be a few bad apples but... Like I said, she needs to spend some time with actual people. You know, her constituents; not just her moneybags and lobbyists. Brings to mind the words of Mark Twain:
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

Tried to buy ammo recently?

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An interesting article on the severe shortage of ammunition. From Yahoo/Associated Press:
America armed, but guns not necessarily loaded
Bullet-makers are working around the clock, seven days a week, and still can't keep up with the nation's demand for ammunition.

Shooting ranges, gun dealers and bullet manufacturers say they have never seen such shortages. Bullets, especially for handguns, have been scarce for months because gun enthusiasts are stocking up on ammo, in part because they fear President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress will pass antigun legislation � even though nothing specific has been proposed and the president last month signed a law allowing people to carry loaded guns in national parks.

Gun sales spiked when it became clear Obama would be elected a year ago and purchases continued to rise in his first few months of office. The FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System reported that 6.1 million background checks for gun sales were issued from January to May, an increase of 25.6 percent from the same period the year before.

"That is going to cause an upswing in ammunition sales," said Larry Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association representing about 5,000 members. "Without bullets a gun is just a paper weight."

The shortage for sportsmen is different than the scarcity of ammo for some police forces earlier this year, a dearth fueled by an increase in ammo use by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are working overtime and still can't keep up with the demand," said Al Russo, spokesman for North Carolina-based Remington Arms Company, which makes bullets for rifles, handguns and shotguns. "We've had to add a fourth shift and go 24-7. It's a phenomenon that I have not seen before in my 30 years in the business."

Americans usually buy about 7 billion rounds of ammunition a year, according to the National Rifle Association. In the past year, that figure has jumped to about 9 billion rounds, said NRA spokeswoman Vickie Cieplak.
We have an older rifle (from a Grandfather) that is chambered in a bit of an odd cartridge. I special ordered two cases about six months ago. Picked up a sweet .22 Magnum tackdriver a couple months ago from the GI Joes store closing. I can still occasionally find cartridges (cheap stuff) at WalMart and when I do, I get a couple hundred (always using cash to pay for it). We The People and all that kind of stuff...
Thanks to Cassie Fiano for this story:
Sweet: Obama to spend more on welfare in one year than Bush did on the entire Iraq war
One of the things liberals criticized Bush most for was, obviously, the war in Iraq. Among their many illegitimate complaints was that it �cost too much�. So of course, when they find out that Obama plans to spend more on welfare in one year than Bush did on the entire Iraq war, then surely these guardians of fiscal conservatism will be even more outraged.

As a candidate for president, Barack Obama decried the financial toll that the Iraq war was taking on the economy, but Obama�s proposed spending on welfare through 2010 will eclipse Bush�s war spending by more than $260 billion.

� During the entire administration of George W. Bush, the Iraq war cost a total of $622 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service.

President Obama�s welfare spending will reach $888 billion in a single fiscal year�2010�more than the Bush administration spent on war in Iraq from the first �shock and awe� attack in 2003 until Bush left office in January.

Obama�s spending proposals call for the largest increases in welfare benefits in U.S. history, according to a report by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. This will lead to a spending total of $10.3 trillion over the next decade on various welfare programs. These include cash payments, food, housing, Medicaid and various social services for low-income Americans and those at 200 percent of the poverty level, or $44,000 for a family of four. Among that total, $7.5 trillion will be federal money and $2.8 trillion will be federally mandated state expenditures.
The article puts the cost into perspective:
In that same West Virginia speech last year, Obama said, �When Iraq is costing each household about $100 a month, you�re paying a price for this war.�

The Heritage study says, �Applying that same standard to means-tested welfare spending reveals that welfare will cost each household $560 per month in 2009 and $638 per month in 2010.�

� By 2014, annual spending on welfare programs will reach $1 trillion for the fiscal year.
Only if the big government liberals stay in office. Don't count your chickens just yet...

More nanny-state blues - English Coal

From the UK Daily Mail:

Welsh steam train forced to use coal shipped 3,000 miles from Siberia when local coal mine is only THREE miles away
Regulations are forcing a Welsh steam train to use coal shipped 3,000 miles from Siberia rather than from a mine three miles away.

Planning conditions on the Ffos-y-Fran mine in South Wales mean that coal has to be transported by rail rather than via local roads.

However there is no rail link between the mine and the Brecon Mountain Railway, so the local coal cannot be used.

A bit more and the reason for the ruling:

According to The Telegraph, planning permission for the mine had stipulated coal could only be transported by rail after residents voiced concerns about noise and dust coming from the mine.

Up to 20,000 tonnes of coal is dug every week at the mine, with most of it going to the Abethaw power station in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Well you have to plan these things out otherwise civilization will fall apart...

How about letting the market drive things -- just like they have for the last 300 years. Worked great until planners and councils got their fat grubby hands into things.

...if someone asks to see it? Well -- from Patrick J. Michaels at the National Review:
The Dog Ate Global Warming
Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature. Raucous policy debates such as cap-and-trade would have no scientific basis, Al Gore would at this point be little more than a historical footnote, and President Obama would not be spending this U.N. session talking up a (likely unattainable) international climate deal in Copenhagen in December.

Steel yourself for the new reality, because the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared.

Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren�t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense.

In the early 1980s, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists at the United Kingdom�s University of East Anglia established the Climate Research Unit (CRU) to produce the world�s first comprehensive history of surface temperature. It�s known in the trade as the �Jones and Wigley� record for its authors, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley, and it served as the primary reference standard for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2007. It was this record that prompted the IPCC to claim a �discernible human influence on global climate.�

Putting together such a record isn�t at all easy. Weather stations weren�t really designed to monitor global climate. Long-standing ones were usually established at points of commerce, which tend to grow into cities that induce spurious warming trends in their records. Trees grow up around thermometers and lower the afternoon temperature. Further, as documented by the University of Colorado�s Roger Pielke Sr., many of the stations themselves are placed in locations, such as in parking lots or near heat vents, where artificially high temperatures are bound to be recorded.

So the weather data that go into the historical climate records that are required to verify models of global warming aren�t the original records at all. Jones and Wigley, however, weren�t specific about what was done to which station in order to produce their record, which, according to the IPCC, showed a warming of 0.6� +/� 0.2�C in the 20th century.

Now begins the fun. Warwick Hughes, an Australian scientist, wondered where that �+/�� came from, so he politely wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, asking for the original data. Jones�s response to a fellow scientist attempting to replicate his work was, �We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?�

Reread that statement, for it is breathtaking in its anti-scientific thrust. In fact, the entire purpose of replication is to �try and find something wrong.� The ultimate objective of science is to do things so well that, indeed, nothing is wrong.

Then the story changed. In June 2009, Georgia Tech�s Peter Webster told Canadian researcher Stephen McIntyre that he had requested raw data, and Jones freely gave it to him. So McIntyre promptly filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the same data. Despite having been invited by the National Academy of Sciences to present his analyses of millennial temperatures, McIntyre was told that he couldn�t have the data because he wasn�t an �academic.� So his colleague Ross McKitrick, an economist at the University of Guelph, asked for the data. He was turned down, too.

Faced with a growing number of such requests, Jones refused them all, saying that there were �confidentiality� agreements regarding the data between CRU and nations that supplied the data. McIntyre�s blog readers then requested those agreements, country by country, but only a handful turned out to exist, mainly from Third World countries and written in very vague language.
Further reinforces the facts that: #1) - we do not understand our climate #2) - an increase in Carbon Dioxide would be fantastic for agriculture and it's impact on overall temperature would be minimal #3) - there is no science here, only political agenda #4) - the people with the loudest voices are the people who are making the most money The comment about the measurement stations being encroached is the subject of the wonderful blog: Surface Stations

Just frickkin' wonderful

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From The Washington Examiner:
Democrats on path to repeat housing disaster
With all the attention paid to the health care battle, ACORN, and the president's "Full Ginsburg" appearances on five Sunday talk shows, few people noticed a hearing with an exceedingly boring title -- "Proposals to Enhance the Community Reinvestment Act" -- held last week in the House Financial Services Committee. But the session marked a key moment in the ongoing battle between Republicans and Democrats over what caused our current financial woes -- and how we might best avoid getting into the same trouble again.

At the hearing, and in others across Capitol Hill, Democratic majorities are pressing hard to expand some of the very policies that led to the reckless home lending that in turn helped lead to the great financial meltdown. If Chairman Barney Frank and his fellow Democrats have their way, we'll do it all again -- and more.

At issue last week was H.R. 1479, the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. It would expand and strengthen the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which required banks to make loans in low-income areas that many lenders had traditionally shunned.
But it will be better this time around... The good news is that Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson is up for re-election next year -- she hails from Texas and they don't tolerate far left blithering idiots.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people. From Google/AFP:

Mystery shrouds Lebanon's 'Madoff' case
A shroud of mystery surrounding the bankruptcy of a top Lebanese financier was growing on Friday as his list of alleged victims, mainly Muslim Shiites, also does.

Salah Ezzedine, a Shiite from southern Lebanon in his 50s who has been dubbed the "Bernard Madoff" of his country, was arrested earlier this week when he filed for bankruptcy.

Reports surfaced that he had squandered more than 1.5 billion dollars (1.05 billion euros) of his clients' money.

Mohammed al-Duheini, mayor of the southern town of Toura, said on Friday that "around 250 residents from my town placed their money in the hands of Salah Ezzedine, and he would give them interest rates that topped 25 percent.

"He managed to win the trust of the Shiites of south Lebanon and handled a lot of their money," he told AFP.

From Google/Associated Press:

Shiite financier investments embarrasses Hezbollah
A Mideast version of the Bernie Madoff scandal is threatening to tarnish Hezbollah's reputation in Lebanon for being incorruptible, and the powerful Shiite militant movement faces calls to bail out small investors to keep its position from being undercut.

Hundreds of Lebanese sold land or drained their retirement savings and handed over hundreds of millions of dollars to Salah Ezzedine, a Shiite businessman with connections to Hezbollah.

The anti-Israeli Hezbollah is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations and maintains the strongest military force in Lebanon. For its Shiite followers, however, it is seen as a trusted quasi-government that provides social services and aid. The group gets substantial funding from Iran and paid out millions to rebuild the Shiite heartland in south Lebanon after a devastating 2006 war with Israel.

Hezbollah has said it had nothing to do with the alleged swindle and has so far resisted pressure to rescue the investors.

Nevertheless, many investors put their trust in Ezzedine, principally because of the financier's connections to Hezbollah and because of his reputation as a pious, respectable Shiite. Ezzedine's investment company promised as much as 40 percent in annual returns, according to residents of this southern Lebanese village.

Good to see such a nice bunch of people take such a hit. Madoff had a lot of liberals investing with him so this is draining the swamp at both ends...

Tornado Hunting

First, XKCD:


And it seems that the quarry is getting scarcer and scarcer.

Global Warming anyone? From Watts Up With That:

Global warming = more tornadoes | Not happening this year
With the onset of the Autumnal Equinox today at 21:18 UTC, the severe weather season winds down. I reported earlier on the finding of Ryan Maue, who showed that we've reached a 30 year low in Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) which is a measure of global hurricane activity.

Now it appears the 2009 tornado season is significantly lower as well, which is a very, very, good thing. The actual number of tornadoes so far this year is only 850 compared to the previous three years, all above 1000. 2008 saw 1691 tornadoes in the USA, almost double. The three year average is 1297 tornadoes. Tornado related deaths are also way down with only 21 so far this year compared to 126 last year and a 3 year average of 91.

How many times to people have to hit themselves over the head before they understand that the whole Anthropogenic Global Warming bullshit is just that -- bullshit. The way they target CO2 while not mentioning the more critical gasses (ie: water vapor) shows that this is a political agenda and not true science.

The myth of Second Hand Smoke

Always wondered about this -- the difference between drawing a raw draft into your lungs and breathing the air in a smoky room is probably a million to one in concentration. Plus, the smoke in the room air is at room temperature and the volatiles are not as active as they are when heated.

From BMJ (wholly owned by the British Medical Association):

Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98

Objective To measure the relation between environmental tobacco smoke, as estimated by smoking in spouses, and long term mortality from tobacco related disease.
Design Prospective cohort study covering 39 years.
Setting Adult population of California, United States.
Participants 118,094 adults enrolled in late 1959 in the American Cancer Society cancer prevention study (CPS I), who were followed until 1998. Particular focus is on the 35 561 never smokers who had a spouse in the study with known smoking habits.
Main outcome measures Relative risks and 95% confidence intervals for deaths from coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease related to smoking in spouses and active cigarette smoking.
Results For participants followed from 1960 until 1998 the age adjusted relative risk (95% confidence interval) for never smokers married to ever smokers compared with never smokers married to never smokers was 0.94 (0.85 to 1.05) for coronary heart disease, 0.75 (0.42 to 1.35) for lung cancer, and 1.27 (0.78 to 2.08) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among 9619 men, and 1.01 (0.94 to 1.08), 0.99 (0.72 to 1.37), and 1.13 (0.80 to 1.58), respectively, among 25 942 women. No significant associations were found for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before or after adjusting for seven confounders and before or after excluding participants with pre-existing disease. No significant associations were found during the shorter follow up periods of 1960-5, 1966-72, 1973-85, and 1973-98.

Conclusions The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.

The whole paper is available online at the link Looking around the BMJ website is fascinating, I will be adding it to my blogroll next time I do an update. From their About page:

About BMJ
The BMJ is an international peer reviewed medical journal and a fully 'online first' publication. Our publishing model continuous publication means that all articles appear on before being included in an issue of the print journal. The website is updated daily with the BMJ's latest original research, education, news, and comment articles, as well as podcasts, videos, and blogs.

All the BMJ's original research is published in full on, with open access and no limits on word counts. We do not charge authors or readers for research articles, nor for other articles arising from work funded by open access grants. The BMJ's vision is to be the world's most influential and widely read medical journal. Our mission is to lead the debate on health and to engage, inform, and stimulate doctors, researchers, and other health professionals in ways that will improve outcomes for patients. We aim to help doctors to make better decisions. The BMJ team is based mainly in London, although we also have editors elsewhere in Europe and in the US.

A nice change from the restrictive policies of companies like Elsevier (which has been caught publishing fake journals to promote specific drugs -- Astroturfing at its worst)

Conservative commentator Steven Crowder visits U.C. Berkeley and interviews some people...
$38K/year and you get this level of education? Big hat tip[ to Maggie's Farm for the link!

Back in town - longer than planned

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I was so dead tired driving over to Winthrop that I decided to stay the night there and get up early and drive home today. I set the alarm for 7:00AM and we both slept right through it... Got on the road at 10:00AM (had breakfast in town at the Rocking Horse bakery) Have to spend a couple hours at the store now but will be back this evening, reading the internet. Had eight comment spam attempts and one legitimate comment. I will post the legit comment as it emphasizes something that I have been thinking about -- more later.

Off to Winthrop - back around Midnight

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Finished everything for today -- now heading out SR-20 and over Washington Pass to pick up Jen. That is it for posting tonight -- we will be back sometime around midnight...

Here we go fucking over an innocent Nation

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From CNN:
Zelaya returns to Honduras
Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya returned Monday to the capital city of Honduras, where he said he is planning to meet with his critics to arrange for his return to power.

"I have never seen the sky so blue and beautiful," he told CNN en Espa�ol in a telephone call from the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

It was Zelaya's first view of the city since June 28, when he was awakened by soldiers who then put him, still in his pajamas, on a plane out of the country.

"I have returned so that dialogue can carry on in my own land and in my own city," he said. "I hope that in the next few hours we'll be able to communicate with the coup plotters."

"For the moment, thanks to [Brazilian] President [Luiz Inacio] Lula, ... we have protection here."

Zelaya called on the armed forces to allow the matter to be resolved through dialogue. "They're members of the pueblo," he said. "We look for immediate dialogue. ... Our position is peaceful, it always has been."
Brazil is an excellent choice for a neutral third-party. But it gets worse:
Zelaya's return comes as the United States has stepped up its call for the current Honduran government run by de facto leader Roberto Micheletti to restore Zelaya to power.

Earlier this month, the United States revoked the visas of Micheletti, 14 supreme court judges and others.

The United States also said it was terminating all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras in a bid to pressure the interim government to end the political turmoil and accept the terms of the San Jose Accord, which was brokered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. The accord calls for Zelaya's return to power.
And more:
The political crisis stemmed from Zelaya's plan to hold a referendum that could have changed the constitution and allowed longer term limits. The country's congress had outlawed the vote and the supreme court had ruled it illegal.

Micheletti and his supporters say that Zelaya's removal was a constitutional transfer of power and not a coup. The United Nations has condemned Zelaya's ouster and does not recognize Micheletti's government. While the United States has called Zelaya's ouster a coup, it has not formally designated it a "military coup," which, under U.S. law, would have triggered a cutoff of all non-humanitarian aid. Senior State Department officials said the Obama administration was reluctant to make the formal designation in order to preserve its flexibility for a diplomatic solution.

A presidential campaign in Honduras kicked off this month. However, the United States said it would not support the outcome of the elections unless Zelaya was restored to power.
This is so bad on so many different levels. Chavez is now effectively "President for Life" of Venezuela and he wanted his buddy Zelaya to have the same status. Zelaya was openly committing voter fraud by having vote counting machines with election results on them before the election ever took place. It is interesting that when the US tries to assist a nascent Democracy, the left raises up the "Imperialism" rallying cry but not a peep when we crush a legitimate Democracy and allow a nation to slide from Democracy to Dictatorship...

Uranium - 1,300 pounds of it

Fascinating article on the discovery of 600 Kilograms of weapons grade Uranium 235 found in Kazakhstan. From The Washington Post:
Half a Ton of Uranium -- and a Long Flight
On a snowy day in December 1993, just months after Andy Weber began his diplomatic job at the U.S. Embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan, he met with a tall, bullet-headed man he knew only as Col. Korbator.

"Andy, let's take a walk," the colonel said. As they strolled through a dim apartment courtyard, Korbator handed Weber a piece of paper. Weber unfolded it. On the paper was written:

90 percent
600 kilos

Weber did the calculation: 1,322 pounds of highly enriched uranium, enough to make about 24 nuclear bombs. He closed the note, put it in his pocket and thanked the colonel. After several months of patient cultivation of his contacts, Weber finally had the answer he had been seeking.
A bit more:
This is the story of Project Sapphire, the code name for an early pioneering mission to secure a portion of those nuclear materials before they could fall into the wrong hands. New documents and interviews provide the fullest account yet of this covert operation to remove the dangerous uranium from Kazakhstan and fly it to the United States. When it was over, the U.S. government paid Kazakhstan about $27 million for the cache.

Efforts to lock up nuclear materials scattered around the globe are still underway. This week, at the U.N. Security Council, President Obama will chair a high-level meeting on the continuing dangers of proliferation.

Weber first learned of the uranium in Kazakhstan during the summer of 1993, when Vitaly Mette, a former Soviet navy submarine commander, discreetly set up a meeting by leaving a message for Weber with his handyman and car mechanic. Mette, who wore a leather jacket and kept his thick hair combed back from his angular face, told Weber that he wanted to sell uranium to the United States. But he was vague about the uranium's enrichment level. The uranium was stored at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, an enormous industrial complex that fabricated reactor fuel in the grimy city of Ust-Kamenogorsk, in Kazakhstan's northeast. Mette was the director.
A bit more:
In 1993, two years after the Soviet Union's collapse, its former republics were brimming with highly enriched uranium and plutonium. That summer, Viktor Mikhailov, the Russian atomic energy minister, revealed that Russia had accumulated up to 1,200 metric tons of highly enriched uranium, more than was previously thought. The Iranians and the Iraqis were casting about for material to build nuclear bombs. "We knew that Iran was all over Central Asia and the Caucasus with their purchasing agents," recalled Jeff Starr, who was then director for threat reduction policy at the Pentagon.

But the former Soviet lands were also awash in scams and deception -- people offering to sell MiGs, missile guidance systems or fissile material, real and imagined. When Weber filed his initial reports on his meetings with Mette, he recalled, "A lot of people thought it was a scam."
Makes our "wild wild west" look positively tame by comparison. One more excerpt:
At 3 a.m., with the plane on its way, the uranium was driven from the Ulba plant to the airport, with Weber in the lead security car, a Soviet-era Volga. "It was black-ice conditions," he recalled. "And these trucks were sliding all over the place, and I'm thinking, 'I don't want to make the call to Washington saying one of the trucks with highly enriched uranium went off the bridge into the river, and we're trying to locate it.' But somehow, miraculously, we made it all safely to the airport."

It took three hours to load the plane. But before it could take off, the runway had to be cleared of snow. Sleet, ice and rain blanketed the airfield, a pilot later recalled. There were no plows to be seen. Finally, airport workers brought out a truck with a jet engine mounted on the back. They fired up the engine and blasted the runway free of snow.

The C-5 heaved itself into the sky. The next day, two more C-5s flew in and back out with the remaining uranium, the gear and the team. The enormous transports, operating in total secrecy, flew 20 hours straight through to Dover with several aerial refuelings, the longest C-5 flights in U.S. history. Once on the ground in Delaware, the uranium was loaded into large, unmarked trucks specially outfitted to protect nuclear materials during the drive to Oak Ridge.
Like the dynamite truck in Sorcerer Using jet engines on a truck for snow removal is actually not uncommon:
Looks like Verizon is getting out of the landline business. From the New York Times:
Verizon Boss Hangs Up on Landline Phone Business
Roll over in your grave, Alexander Graham Bell.

That was in effect what Ivan Seidenberg, the chief executive of Verizon Communications -� one of the largest descendants of the old Bell System � declared this morning.

Speaking to a Goldman Sachs investor conference, Mr. Seidenberg said Verizon was simply no longer concerned with telephones that are connected with wires.

All traditional phone companies are suffering because many customers are canceling their landlines in order to use phone service from their cable companies or simply to rely on their cellphones. Speaking earlier at the Goldman conference, Randall Stephenson, chief executive of AT&T, and Ed Mueller, head of Qwest Communications, both talked about seeing a day when their landline businesses would stop shrinking.

Mr. Seidenberg said that his �thinking has matured� and that trying to predict when the company would stop losing voice landlines �is like the dog chasing the bus.�

In other words, that snipping sound you hear around copper phone lines is just going to get louder.

This prospect, however, doesn�t rattle him.

Not only does Verizon control the largest mobile phone company in the country, it has also largely moved away from copper wires. Verizon is selling off most of its operations in rural areas and is spending billions to wire most of the rest of its territory with its fiber optic network, or FiOS.
Emphasis mine. Oh. Joy. So we get saddled with a third-tier telco that charges us more $$$ than Verizon ever did and who doesn't give a @#$% about maintaining the equipment. They are just interested in squeezing out that last dime. We are close enough to the switch that we could have DSL if they wanted to spend $30K on a DSLAM and the leasing fee for the T1 -- I know a lot of people that would sign up (myself included). I don't want to become a CLEC but that could be an interesting route...
I like his music but I think his vision isn't quite as clear as he thinks it is. From CNN:
U.S. racism 'everywhere,' says Dave Matthews
Watching the Dave Matthews Band moments before they take the stage is like watching a football team bursting out of the locker room before a big game.

They slap hands. Bump fists. Jump up and down, exclaiming "Feel the love, feel the love!" The energy in the air is electric.

And when they walk out on stage, the energy explodes into thousands of shining faces. People dance in the aisles. Others sing every word to every song. A few share funny cigarettes.

For more than three hours, the jubilant atmosphere creates a sense of community between an amphitheater filled with strangers and the ethnically diverse musicians leading the charge on stage.

But then DMB is all about community -- creating its own and giving back. BAMA Works Fund -- the group's charitable foundation -- has handed out $5 million in grants to worthy causes, including schools and victims of Hurricane Katrina.

And despite the unexpected passing of saxophonist LeRoi Moore due to complications from an ATV accident last summer, the band members seem to be recharged. In June, DMB notched its fifth consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard chart with "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King."

We caught up with Matthews just as news hit the Web that former President Jimmy Carter believed racism was the root of some of the negativity directed toward President Obama in recent weeks. The 42-year-old singer-songwriter offered a unique perspective, as a man who split his childhood between the United States and South Africa during apartheid. The following is an edited version of the interview.

CNN: President Carter said he thinks that a lot of the animosity directed toward President Obama is race related.

Dave Matthews: Of course it is! I found there's a fairly blatant racism in America that's already there, and I don't think I noticed it when I lived here as a kid. But when I went back to South Africa, and then it's sort of thrust in your face, and then came back here -- I just see it everywhere. There's a good population of people in this country that are terrified of the president only because he's black, even if they don't say it. And I think a lot of them, behind closed doors, do say it.
(cough)Bullshit(cough) The 2008 Census estimate shows 12.8% of the USA population as being black. Obama won the 2008 election with 53.7% of the popular vote. A lot of white people voted for him and were really hoping that he would win. Jen voted for him, I narrowly did but opted for McCain. I like some of the people Obama has appointed but am really getting tired of some of his other choices, his Chicago political machine and his going back on his word regarding transparency, cutting pork, open office, bipartisan, etc. etc. etc.). It has nothing to do with race; Obama's presidency makes Jimmy Carter's look good and that speaks volumes.
Jimmy Carter really needs to Shut The Fuck Up at times... From Breitbart/AFP:
US might have been involved in 2002 Chavez coup: Carter
The United States knew about an abortive coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002, and may even have taken part, former US president Jimmy Carter has told a Colombian newspaper.

"I think there is no doubt that in 2002, the United States had at the very least full knowledge about the coup, and could even have been directly involved," Carter said in an interview with El Tiempo published Sunday.

The former US leader said it is understandable that Chavez continues to blame the United States for the failed overthrow attempt.

The Venezuelan president, considered a bulwark of leftism in Latin America, was overthrown by a civilian-military junta for about 48 hours in April 2002, before returning to power.

Then-president George W. Bush denied any US involvement in the abortive coup and called on Chavez, a fierce US critic, to "learn a lesson" from the attempted overthrow.

Carter told El Tiempo that he believed Chavez was elected in a "fair" vote in 1999, had carried out necessary reforms for Venezuela and ensured that "those who are traditionally excluded are able to get a larger share of the national wealth."
Emphasis mine -- that "fair vote" was about as fair as Zelaya's vote in Honduras. The computers with the vote counting software were found when Zelaya was escorted from the country and the results were already in for an election that had not happened yet. Chavez has had three coup attempts and he himself tried one back in 1992 against the popular president Carlos Andr�s P�rez. P�rez was brought down by a financial scandal, not a popular vote. At that time, the term limit was four years with two successive terms being the limit. Chavez winkled this up to six years with a congressional referendum in 2000 just like Zelaya tried to do. Chavez' 2006 election results were certified by the Carter Center (beginning to see some rot in the foundation here?) and as of February 2009, the term limits have been removed... Chavez is not stealing the wealth of Venezuela but he is squandering it. When the Oil reserves dry up, Venezuela will become a third-world hell-hole as it has no other resources -- Chavez is not building universities, factories, expanding agriculture. He is playing bread and circuses and destroying the nation entrusted to his care...

Long day tomorrow

The roofers are finishing off the store roof repairs. The next-to-last owner had put on a good metal roof but really cheaped out when it came to the Dutch Gutters. The flashing that was installed was no where near the correct kind and ten years of rot had taken their toll. All of the fascia boards needed to be replaced.

I thought that I had purchased more than enough but I was about 60' short. I will be in town tomorrow camped out on Builders Alliance's front door waiting for them to open at 8:00AM. I was already in town this evening looking at Home Depot and Lowes but neither of them had 2X10 #1 Cedar Fascia board. The had something that they claimed was #1 Cedar but it was crap. Abject junk.

There is another thirty years left on the metal part of the roof. The membrane the roofers are putting on will have at least a 30 year life, I need to have the fascia boards have a 30 year life as well...

The joke is that the B.A. #1 Cedar is about $4/lin. foot and the Lowes and Home Depot crap was about $3.50/lin. foot for wood so knotty and punky I could stick my pocket knife into parts.

I then run back to the store so the painters can prime and paint the new wood while the roofers are working on the existing new fascia and installing downspouts.

One of our employees has a child care problem so she needs to be gone by 11:00AM (the shift generally ends at 2:00PM) and our evening person has a relative staying with them undergoing radiation therapy and she needs to be at the hospital for her treatment -- I will need to spend about four hours running the till.

I do well with people on a day to day basis but not so well in a production environment. I love music but never was comfortable performing. I get the classic "deer in the headlights" look and make mistakes.

Finally, Jen, who was supposed to be out backpacking until next Sunday, gave me a call this evening from Winthrop, WA. She had gotten turned around and when she discovered her error, decided to pack out and go home. She could have continued but with her delays, she would have extracted two days after the scheduled day. I will give one day leeway but if she was not back by the evening of the 28th, I would have called out Search and Rescue. Her best time would have put her at the extraction point at the afternoon of the 29th.

I will be driving out there and picking her up (not that I am complaining, Winthrop is a gorgeous little town) and bringing her back that same evening as I have some maintenance people showing up at the house Tuesday morning to finish the installation of our new cooktop.

And this is supposed to be a bucolic life of idyll leisure?

What with all the boards and committees I am on (Jen is a lot smarter in that regard) and the day-to-day operation of the store, the building, our own 30 acres of farm with critters plus whatever I sneak in edgewise for photography, blacksmithing and music... I am busier now than when I was living in Seattle and working full-time at Microsoft.

I am loving it a lot more though. A lot... LOT! more...

I am actually doing hands-on stuff that has a direct impact on people's lives. Being on the Chamber board helps to promote the other business in this area and through this, we help each other out. Rising tide lifts all boats. Being on the Water Co-op board helps to guarantee a safe supply of drinking water for our local community. Being on the broadband committee and the Foundation will help bring broadband and a low power FM station to all of the community.

This is Community Organization; not arranging bank loans and tax "advice" for pimps who want to set up brothels staffed with teenagers from El Salvador...

The melting Icecaps - a curious consequence

From a respected news source:
An ice shelf off the coast
of Greenland in 2006 (above) and
last week (below).
Melting Ice Caps Expose Hundreds Of Secret Arctic Lairs
ZACKENBERG RESEARCH STATION, GREENLAND -- Claiming it to be one of the most dramatic and visible signs of climate change to date, researchers said Monday that receding polar ice caps have revealed nearly 200 clandestine lairs once buried deep beneath hundreds of feet of Arctic ice.

"We always assumed there would be some secret lairs here and there, but the sheer number now being exposed is indeed troubling," said noted climatologist Anders Lorenzen, who claimed that the Arctic ice caps have shrunk at the alarming rate of 41,000 square miles per year. "In August alone we discovered 44 mad scientist laboratories, three highly classified military compounds, and seven reanimated and very confused cavemen. That's more than twice the number we had found in the previous three decades combined."
A bit more:
Scientists predict the problem will only get worse as rising temperatures release methane trapped in Arctic permafrost, perpetuating the warming cycle and threatening the habitats of those who depend on the ice caps for safety from the prying, meddling public.

Earlier this week a flying saucer surfaced and is reportedly still pulsating with increasingly intense, unearthly colors. And late last month, a mystical order of Nazi occultists emerged from an underground bunker where they had spent decades communing with the Hyperborean gods and attempting to breed a new Aryan super-species destined to destroy Homo sapiens and rule the earth for untold millennia.

The 12 elderly Germans were detained by local law enforcement in Wainwright, AK.

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council survey, 78 percent of sinister one-eyed industrialists based in the Arctic have been forced to relocate their powerful underworld shadow governments, with many now secretly orchestrating world affairs from dormant volcanoes on remote islands.

Many villains have also been forced to change their entire way of life.

Zawallah, the super-intelligent ape whose gold-teleporter crippled the global economy during the 1980s, recently ceased operation of his orbital heat cannon. Others, meanwhile, are genuinely concerned about the effect that increased temperatures may have on the future of humanity.

"Gwaahhhhrrr-huaawwwrr-gwaahhhrrrr," cried test subject PR-433809-21, the ghastly result of a human cloning experiment gone horribly awry. "Pwwwuuuagharrgh!"

But not all inhabitants of the polar ice caps are upset by global warming. Last month saw the thawing out of a team of British explorers frozen in 1848. Expedition members told reporters they were confident that, if more ice melts, they can finally complete their original mission of discovering a Northwest Passage.
Reporting on this global catastrophe is from The Onion; America's Newspaper of Record.

Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander

There is a big kerfuffle at Media Matters:

Candid Camera: Behind the scenes video at 9/12 protest shows Fox News producer coaching crowd
We just received the following behind the scenes footage from an anonymous tipster showing what appears to be a Fox News producer encouraging a crowd to scream and holler during a "report" by Fox News' Griff Jenkins at the 9/12 protest:

They have a couple of videos that show the FOX live feed and then a shot from the side showing the person directing the crowd. The article goes on:

We would expect that type of behavior from a producer of, say, a daytime talk show with a live studio audience like Oprah or Maury or Jerry, but from a cable news producer? Really?

Of course, the other side (the Leftist Liberals) would never ever stoop to such a tactic now would they... Check out this Zombietime photoessay: Anatomy of a Photograph

An analysis of a single seemingly innocuous photograph, and the pervasive media bias it reveals.
My photo essay of the anti-war protest in San Francisco on September 24, 2005 was not the only report done about the event. A few other outlets ran their own coverage. But the one photo from the rally that was seen by the most people was this:

Why? Because the San Francisco Chronicle, which had the only mainstream media coverage of the rally, published this photograph on the front page of its Web site as a teaser for their article about the event.

Now, let's take a closer look at this image.

What follows is a step by step documentation of how the image was staged and who was staging it. Here are the last two images:

Here's my full original photo, uncropped. Now we can see that the girl is just one of several teenagers, all wearing terrorist-style bandannas covering their faces.

But, as you'll notice, the bandannas are all printed with the same design. Was this a grassroots protest statement the teenagers had come up with all by themselves?

To find out, let's take a look at another photo in the series, taken at the same time:
Oops -- it looks like they're actually being stage-managed by an adult, who is giving them directions and guiding them toward the front of the march. But who is she?

The last picture in the series reveals all.
It turns out that the woman giving directions belongs to one of the Communist groups organizing the rally -- if her t-shirt is to be believed, since it depicts the flag of Communist Vietnam, which has been frequently displayed by such groups at protest rallies in the U.S. for decades.

The San Francisco Chronicle featured the original photograph on its front Web page in order to convey a positive message about the rally -- perhaps that even politically aware teenagers were inspired to show up and rally for peace, sporting the message, "People of Color say 'No to War!'" And that served the Chronicle's agenda.

But this simple analysis reveals the very subtle but insidious type of bias that occurs in the media all the time. The Chronicle did not print an inaccuracy, nor did it doctor a photograph to misrepresent the facts. Instead, the Chronicle committed the sin of omission: it told you the truth, but it didn't tell you the whole truth.

Because the whole truth -- that the girl was part of a group of naive teenagers recruited by Communist activists to wear terrorist-style bandannas and carry Palestinian flags and obscene placards -- is disturbing, and doesn't conform to the narrative that the Chronicle is trying to promote. By presenting the photo out of context, and only showing the one image that suits its purpose, the Chronicle is intentionally manipulating the reader's impression of the rally, and the rally's intent.

Such tactics -- in the no-man's-land between ethical and unethical -- are commonplace in the media, and have been for decades. It is only now, with the advent of citizen journalism, that we can at last begin to see the whole story and realize that the public has been manipulated like this all along.

Media Matters is squalling like a stuck pig over something that the liberal media do all the time... Hypocrites.

Cool news on the Low Power FM radio arena

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From the Prometheus Radio Project:
New FCC Commissioners Unanimously Support the Local Community Radio Act
In the first Congressional oversight hearing since the three new FCC Commissioners took office, all five Commissioners endorsed the Local Community Radio Act HR 1147/ S592, unanimously reaffirming the FCC's continued support for the bill.

FCC Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Baker and Clyburn expressed support for the Local Community Radio Act in a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. Introduced by Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-14) and Rep. Lee Terry (NE-2) in February, the bill would repeal a 2000 law that restricts Low Power FM radio (LPFM) radio to rural areas.

"We are very pleased that the Commission has again voiced their support for this important bill, which would allow community radio to expand into thousands of towns, cities and neighborhoods throughout the US," stated Cory Fischer-Hoffman, Campaign Director at the Prometheus Radio Project.

This is the third time that the Commission has unanimously requested that Congress return authority to the FCC to manage "third adjacent channel restrictions" on Low Power FM radio (LPFM). These restrictions, imposed by Congress in 2000 in response to concerns that LPFMs could cause interference to full power stations - limited low power radio to rural areas. Since a 2003 congressionally-mandated engineering study showed that LPFMs do not harm full power stations, the FCC has told Congress they are ready to move forward with community radio. The bill now awaits a mark-up in the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Technology and the Internet.
Emphasis mine -- the idea that Congress stole the authority to manage an aspect of Radio for which there was already a bureau (the Federal Communications Commission) shows just how power-grabbing they are. The two main entities that lobbied for this and are actively lobbying to prevent the return are the National Association of Broadcasters (no big surprise there) and ALSO National Public Radio. Looks like NPR wants to present an alternative but it has to be their alternative and no other alternatives need apply...
Egypt is mostly Muslim. Muslims think Pigs are unclean. Egypt just killed all of their pigs. For what happened, check out this article at the New York Times:
Belatedly, Egypt Spots Flaws in Wiping Out Pigs
It is unlikely anyone has ever come to this city and commented on how clean the streets are. But this litter-strewn metropolis is now wrestling with a garbage problem so severe it has managed to incite its weary residents and command the attention of the president.

�The problem is clear in the streets,� said Haitham Kamal, a spokesman for the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs. �There is a strict and intensive effort now from the state to address this issue.�

But the crisis should not have come as a surprise.

When the government killed all the pigs in Egypt this spring � in what public health experts said was a misguided attempt to combat swine flu � it was warned the city would be overwhelmed with trash.

The pigs used to eat tons of organic waste. Now the pigs are gone and the rotting food piles up on the streets of middle-class neighborhoods like Heliopolis and in the poor streets of communities like Imbaba.

Ramadan Hediya, 35, who makes deliveries for a supermarket, lives in Madinat el Salam, a low-income community on the outskirts of Cairo.

�The whole area is trash,� Mr. Hediya said. �All the pathways are full of trash. When you open up your window to breathe, you find garbage heaps on the ground.�

What started out as an impulsive response to the swine flu threat has turned into a social, environmental and political problem for the Arab world�s most populous nation.

It has exposed the failings of a government where the power is concentrated at the top, where decisions are often carried out with little consideration for their consequences and where follow-up is often nonexistent, according to social commentators and government officials.
The rest of the article is fascinating as it shows how the garbage collection is done (or was done) and the cultural barriers in place over there... It is ironic that the initial ban on swine was because of Trichinosis -- back then, you could not tell if a piece of meat was infested but you could tell if it was rotten. So they banned all pig products. Now, it is so culturally ingrained that there is almost a phobia against the animals. Think of all that tasty pork that went to waste...

One afternoon in the city

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From an email list:
Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting.

Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop.

We were only in there for about 5 minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and said, 'Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?'

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires. So my wife called him a poop-head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, we didn't care. We came into town by bus and the car had an Obama sticker.

We try to have a little fun each day now that we're retired. It's important at our age.

We Will Know in Two Years

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Awesome geekdom. The Polywell Fusion Reactor just got almost $8M in funding. The amount needed to get to the next step (feasibility) was $2M so they have enough to do that and go to production. From M. Simon's IEC Fusion Technology:
Polywell Gets The Dough
EMC2 has gotten almost eight million dollars to do further experimentation on the Polywell Fusion concept.
Energy Matter Conversion Corp., (EMC2)*, Santa Fe, N.M., is being awarded a $7,855,504 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research, analysis, development, and testing in support of the Plan Plasma Fusion (Polywell) Project. Efforts under this Recovery Act award will validate the basic physics of the plasma fusion (polywell) concept, as well as provide the Navy with data for potential applications of polywell fusion. Work will be performed in Santa Fe, N.M., and is expected to be completed in April 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-C-0125).
I think this is the award based on the solicitation discussed here and here and here.

Evidently the $2 million promised in May was just a place holder and the actual funds are significantly greater. This means that the work on WB-8 and the engineering for WB-9 will go forward with the next milestone in April of 2011. Which is in accord with Rick Nebel's promise that We Will Know In Two Years.
The Polywell reactor is the outgrowth from the Philo Farnsworth (invented Television) and Robert Hirsch Fusor, invented in late 1950's. We are able to get sustained Fusion reactions from just a few magnets and some high voltage (and yes, I am greatly oversimplifying). Hospitals use these for producing radioactive isotopes for cancer treatment. Teenage kids have built working units. The Polywell reactor does work. It doesn't produce a net gain in power; it needs to be scaled up. This money will allow the people at EMC2 to see if that will definitely work. Once they determine that it can be scaled up to be self sustaining, they will then need $100M to complete Phase 2. As they say on their website:
Successful Phase 2 marks the end of fossil fuels
And to think that clods like George Soros could find $100M in the crack in their sofa. All the good that this would do for the world. Makes the ITER look like not only an energy sink but at �10B $$$ sink. (especially since it is not scheduled to come online until 2018)
Two things going on here. First: we are getting a lot of this kind of spam but it is in the form of a couple lines for one URL, about forty lines of the crap listed in the link above but more varied, not just for "fluffy bunny" and then about forty different URLs, generally hijacked chat fora. What these people do not seem to grasp is that it only takes one known URL to toss the entire comment into moderation. Adding more URLs only broadens their chance of EPIC FAIL and allows me to harvest an even greater database of known-bad forum URLs... Second: When I see a zombie machine, I have been blocking their IP address. Not any more, the text of their comments now gets read into a specific logfile. The result of this is that although their feeble attempts at posting still consistently show EPIC FAIL, I now harvest even more known-bad forum URLs as they constantly try new shit all the time. I am now searching for about 700 URLs and about 1,200 known bad IP addresses. I do block ranges -- I write for North America and generally block China, Africa, most of Europe and Russia. As always, if someone from those corners of the planet want access, my email is not blocked. I can unblock a specific range or single IP address...

James O'Keefe's work before ACORN

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Heh... It seems that James O'Keefe was working on other projects before his wonderful work with Hannah Giles.
Hat tip to the E3 Gazette for the link...

The Blue Dogs

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Chris Muir nails it:
Click to embiggen...
From their website: Talk Like A Pirate Day 2009
Arrr! We be the pirate guys, matey.
Or, in another vernacular, we are guys, John Baur and Mark Summers. And that really should be all you need to know about the origins of Talk Like a Pirate Day. We're guys. Not men, with responsibility and suits and power ties. We're guys, with all that that implies. But here are the details.

Once upon a time -- on June 6, 1995, to be precise -- we were playing racquetball, not well but gamely. It wasn't our intention to become "the pirate guys." Truth to tell, it wasn't really our intention to become anything, except perhaps a tad thinner and healthier, and if you could see our photos, you'd know how THAT turned out. As we flailed away, we called out friendly encouragement to each other -"Damn, you bastard!" and "Oh, jeez, my hamstring!" for instance - as shots caromed away, unimpeded by our wildly swung rackets.

On this day, for reasons we still don't quite understand, we started giving our encouragement in pirate slang. Mark suspects one of us might have been reaching for a low shot that, by pure chance, might have come off the wall at an unusually high rate of speed, and strained something best left unstrained. "Arrr!," he might have said.

Who knows? It might have happened exactly that way.

Anyway, whoever let out the first "Arrr!" started something. One thing led to another. "That be a fine cannonade," one said, to be followed by "Now watch as I fire a broadside straight into your yardarm!" and other such helpful phrases.

By the time our hour on the court was over, we realized that lapsing into pirate lingo had made the game more fun and the time pass more quickly. We decided then and there that what the world really needed was a new national holiday, Talk Like A Pirate Day.

First, we needed a date for the holiday. As any guy can tell you, June 6 is the anniversary of World War II's D-Day. Guys hold dates like that in reverence and awe so there was no way we could use June 6.

Mark came up with September 19. That was and is his ex-wife's birthday, and the only date he could readily recall that wasn't taken up with something like Christmas or the Super Bowl or something. We also decided -- right then and there on the court on June 6, 1995 -- that the perfect spokesman for our new holiday was none other than Dave Barry himself, nationally syndicated humor columnist and winner of the Pulitzer by-God Prize. So, naturally, we forgot all about it.
And a Pirate's favorite beer? PBRrrrrrrrrr

Playing the Race Card

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With all of the cries that people who oppose Obama's ideas are, by nature, Racist, Rob Allen shows us the Race Card:
His comment:
Maybe it's about time to put this thing away for good.


I love this one done in 1999 by Victor Navone
When I saw this one today:
It reminded me a lot of Victor's work but this is from Mike Stern Great stuff!

Remembering Norman Borlaug

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He passed away recently at the age of 95. Penn and Teller did an excellent Bullshit video on his work:
Gary Jones had a good post a few days ago:
Elitist Monsters
Or, Elitist Nonsense part II.

Thinking about the passing of Norman Borlaug.
Norman Borlaug arguably the greatest American of the 20th century died late Saturday after 95 richly accomplished years. The very personification of human goodness, Borlaug saved more lives than anyone who has ever lived. He was America's Albert Schweitzer: a brilliant man who forsook privilege and riches in order to help the dispossessed of distant lands. That this great man and benefactor to humanity died little-known in his own country speaks volumes about the superficiality of modern American culture...

In the mid-1960s, India and Pakistan were exceptions to the trend toward more efficient food production; subsistence cultivation of rice remained the rule, and famine struck. In 1965, Borlaug arranged for a convoy of 35 trucks to carry high-yield seeds from CIMMYT to a Los Angeles dock for shipment to India and Pakistan. He and a coterie of Mexican assistants accompanied the seeds. They arrived to discover that war had broken out between the two nations. Sometimes working within sight of artillery flashes, Borlaug and his assistants sowed the Subcontinent's first crop of high-yield grain. Paul Ehrlich gained celebrity for his 1968 book "The Population Bomb," in which he claimed that global starvation was inevitable for the 1970s and it was "a fantasy" that India would "ever" feed itself. Instead, within three years of Borlaug's arrival, Pakistan was self-sufficient in wheat production; within six years, India was self-sufficient in the production of all cereals.

After his triumph in India and Pakistan and his Nobel Peace Prize, Borlaug turned to raising crop yields in other poor nations especially in Africa, the one place in the world where population is rising faster than farm production and the last outpost of subsistence agriculture. At that point, Borlaug became the target of critics who denounced him because Green Revolution farming requires some pesticide and lots of fertilizer. Trendy environmentalism was catching on, and affluent environmentalists began to say it was "inappropriate" for Africans to have tractors or use modern farming techniques. Borlaug told me a decade ago that most Western environmentalists "have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists in wealthy nations were trying to deny them these things."
Real environmentalism does not oppose the green revolution, it seeks to continuously improve it. The overwhelmingly beneficial effects of the green revolution are not perfect: there are costs as well as benefits. The remaining work is to lower the costs and continue to increase the benefits. We really do need to emerge from under the nonsensical aesthetic of paleo-environmentalism. These aren't the good guys. These aren't the folks who actually work to conserve and improve the environment. They are more like a religious cult with patently absurd ideas fervently held in spite of the evidence against them. We should name and shame them, and not forget their crimes in future when they try to reinvent themselves, be born again as is so often the case with social criminals, and infect future efforts at real progress.

They are the cautionary example that can be used in education. They claim good intentions but their actions prove the lie. They are merely extremists who chose the environment as their cause, something to be extreme about, and it was the extremism that fired them rather than environmental improvement. These are the type of people that degrade any effort and they really do need to be identified and contained so that real progress can be made.

Borlaug, OTOH, is the real deal.
Ehrlich is another one of those Malthusians who cry about some huge disaster some indefinite time in the future and hope that we forget them when that disaster never materializes. I challenge any Malthusian to show a correct prediction. They are always wrong.

But if we throw more money at it

Our public schools are not doing a very good job of education.

The political and teachers union response is to throw more money at it.

Mark Perry shows the results in this graph:


From Mark's website (he is quoting this article from Andrew Coulson, Director, Cato's Center for Educational Freedom):

Education Spending Doubled, Stagnant Test Scores
Since 1970, inflation adjusted public school spending has more than doubled. Over the same period, achievement of students at the end of high school has stagnated according to the Department of Education's own long term National Assessment of Educational Progress (see chart above). Meanwhile, the high school graduation rate has declined by 4 or 5%, according to Nobel laureate economist James Heckman.

So the only thing higher public school spending has accomplished is to raise taxes by about $300 billion annually, without improving outcomes. The fact that more schooling without more learning is not a recipe for economic growth is confirmed by the independent empirical work of economists Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann. Their key finding is that academic achievement, not schooling per se, is what matters to economic growth.

Based on this body of research, the president's decision to pump $100 billion into existing public school systems is likely slowing the U.S. economic recovery.

A tale of two cameras

I made the move from film to digital about ten years ago. I picked up a used Nikon Coolpix 950 from a fellow employee at MSFT and learned the ins and outs of digital and talk about the proverbial duck to water. I wanted to move up to a "pro" camera as I had been shooting with an F2sb for about thirty years and had a large number of lenses. I knew about the D-1 but I also knew that they were coming out with the D-1x -- same body but with internal improvements. I got the D-1x and fell in love -- except -- one afternoon, the strap slipped off my shoulder and the D-1x hit the pavement with a minimal impact (I still had the strap around my arm and I had lifted my arm to break the fall. The camera was dead. This happened about six months after I purchased it. The repair cost me about $900. I like to carry a small point-and-shoot for when the D-1 (or the D-90 I upgraded to) is not convenient. I had been using a Canon Powershot 650 but that had been trashed out on a trip and was not repairable. I picked up a Canon G-10 for its replacement last March. Awesome little camera. A few weeks ago, while sitting in the car, something sticky oozed onto the protective shutter over the lens and the shutter would not open properly. Bummer. I checked a local repair facility and it would be about $130 to fix. I checked with Canon and they said that the camera was still under warranty -- even for something that was done to the camera, not just a hardware failure. I bundled the puppy off and got an email acknowledging its receipt a few days later. A couple days after that I received an email saying that it was fixed and on its way to me via UPS 2nd Day. Picked it up today and I am very happy -- all of my settings were preserved and the camera works perfectly. If I didn't have such a sizable investment in Nikon lenses (fisheye through 500mm plus a butt-load of macro) I would consider Canon for any future "pro" camera purchases...

Stabbing our allies in the back

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WTF? From Yahoo News/Associated Press:
Poles, Czechs: US missile defense shift a betrayal
Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama's decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.

"Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back," the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama's new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous "gray zone" between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere.

Recent events in the region have rattled nerves throughout central and eastern Europe, a region controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, including the war last summer between Russia and Georgia and ongoing efforts by Russia to regain influence in Ukraine. A Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine last winter left many Europeans without heat.

The Bush administration's plan would have been "a major step in preventing various disturbing trends in our region of the world," Kaczynski said in a guest editorial in the daily Fakt and also carried on his presidential Web site.
Hillary Clinton -- Ms. Clinton to the white courtesy phone please... Idiots

3... 2... 1... Down the Memory Hole

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Hat tip to Bruce at No Looking Backwards for this prime candidate for the 'ole memory hole:
Ready the Memory Hole!
How long until this page goes bye-bye?
When Obama met with ACORN leaders in November, he reminded them of his history with ACORN and his beginnings in Illinois as a Project Vote organizer, a nonprofit focused on voter rights and education. Senator Obama said, "I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That's what I did for three and half years before I went to law school. That's the reason I moved to Chicago was to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. I've been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.�
With the obligatory screengrab for when the page does get redacted. Bruce also remembers the great Michelle Malkin quote:
Barack Obama can no more disown ACORN than he could disown his own shadow.
When Joe Wilson had the stones to tell Obama that he lied during his speech, he wasn't 100% correct. If the Obamacare passes, there will be no illegal aliens. From The Washington Times:
Obama: Legalize illegals to get them health care
President Obama said this week that his health care plan won't cover illegal immigrants, but argued that's all the more reason to legalize them and ensure they eventually do get coverage.

He also staked out a position that anyone in the country legally should be covered - a major break with the 1996 welfare reform bill, which limited most federal public assistance programs only to citizens and longtime immigrants.

"Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken," Mr. Obama said Wednesday evening in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. "That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else.

Mr. Obama added, "If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all."
This will be the biggest fuckup this Nation has done since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. At least now, the illegals are scrambling to make a living. If we put them on the dole, they will become a burden on the rest of us during a time of economic hardship.

Happy 126th Birthday - Standardized Time Zones

Constitution's B'Day yesterday, Time Zones today. A celebratory few days... From The Library of Congress:
On November 18, 1883, four standard time zones for the continental U.S.A. were introduced at the instigation of the railroads. At noon on this day the U.S. Naval Observatory changed its telegraphic signals to correspond to the change. Until the invention of the railway, it took such a long time to get from one place to another that local "sun time" could be used. When traveling to the east or to the west, a person would have to change his or her watch by one minute every twelve miles.

When people began traveling by train, sometimes hundreds of miles in a day, the calculation of time became a serious problem. Operators of the new railroad lines realized that a new time plan was needed in order to offer a uniform train schedule for departures and arrivals.

Since every city was using a different time standard, there were over 300 local sun times to choose from. The railroad managers tried to address the problem by establishing 100 railroad time zones, but this was only a partial solution to the problem.

The fact remained that the different railroad lines were using time schedules that varied from each other and from the cities they passed through, causing considerable befuddlement. Where railroad lines using different time zones intersected with each other, or with cities using different time standards, travelers were especially confused.

During the mid-nineteenth century, people throughout the world had experimented with methods of standardizing their clocks. In 1830 the U.S. Naval Observatory was created to cooperate with Great Britain's Greenwich Observatory to determine time based on astronomical observations. Accurate sea navigation based on the calculation of latitude and longitude, depended on accurate timekeeping.

Samuel Morse's invention of the telegraph made it possible to coordinate time signals over long distances. In the 1840s, the Royal Greenwich Observatory established an official standard time for all of England, Scotland, and Wales. The U.S. Naval Observatory was responsible for keeping official time in the United States.
An idea whose (cough) time (cough) had come. Cool tip -- cell phones are synchronized to NIST atomic clocks so if you want to know exactly what time it is (to the nearest second or three), check your phone. GPS receivers have better resolution but you need to hack them to get the time data out...

Bleeding edge typography

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I am a type geek. Here is a hand assembled font with an x height of only three pixels:
The fact that it is so very legible beggars the mind...

Objet d'Arte

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From Slashdot:
Gene Roddenberry's Mac Plus Is Coming Up For Auction on Thursday
"In 1986, Apple unveiled one of the most popular Macintoshes ever, the Mac Plus. The company gave the first one (serial number #F4200NUM0001) to Star Trek's creator, Gene Roddenberry. And now this very Mac Plus will go up for auction at a Hollywood collectibles event on October 8th and 9th, complete with a letter of authenticity from Roddenberry's son. The estimated value is only $800-$1200, which seems reasonable enough, given its double historical significance."
Auction site is here: Very first Apple Macintosh Plus [serial number 0001] given to Gene Roddenberry by Apple Computer Another item listed: The largest privately held photographic archive of Star Trek images Out of my price range but a delicious bit of history...

Dain bramaged spammers

I know I love to rag on these idiots but it is such a cheap target, it gives me a little thrill up my leg every time one of these losers visits and actually tries to post something. Been seeing a resurgence of the hijacked-fora scam where someone will register and leave a post on some forum and then hit as many blogs and link to that post -- generally PPC but mostly Pills these days. A couple days ago, I announced that I would be away from the computer for a few days -- I figured that people might be watching the site and I was correct, over 50 attempts where I usually get 10-20. None of them seceded but five legitimate comments were posted and went live without going into moderation. These posts will use one hijacked forum. I will then get a followup that links to 20 or 30 different sites, usually;; You get the idea... Now, these followup comments are including new fora that aren't in my list. So now, while the will trigger banishment, it also blocks the comments linking to and These idiots are not fit to be on the internet.

From Michelle Malkin at Hot Air:

Video: Pelosi chokes up over potential for political violence
Never mind, of course, that we've already seen political violence - it's coming from the unions. And from ObamaCare supporters, such as the protester in Tucson who elbowed a man to the head after disrupting a Tea Party forum. The incitement is coming from groups supporting ObamaCare like HCAN, who trains their followers on how to disrupt town-hall forums and create turmoil. Is Pelosi all choked up about those groups, or calling for them to take responsibility for the violence, actual and potential, that they incited this summer? Of course not:
Asked at a news conference on Capitol Hill about the possibility of anti-government rhetoric leading to violence, Pelosi, D-Calif., started to choke up as she recalled violent episodes that took place in San Francisco.

"I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw - I saw this myself in the late 70s in San Francisco, this kind of - of rhetoric was very frightening and it gave - it created a climate in which we - violence took place," Pelosi said.

"And so I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made, understanding that - that some of the people - the ears it is falling on are not as balanced as the person making the statement might assume," she said.

"But, again, our country is great because people can say what they think and they believe, but I also think that they have to take responsibility for any incitement that they may cause."

In 1978, former San Francisco city supervisor Dan White shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk inside City Hall. Milk was at the time the highest-ranking openly gay elected official in the country.

Pelosi knew both Moscone and Milk as a Democratic Party activist in the 1970s.
It wasn't political debate that drove Dan White to commit murder. He was a lunatic. At his trial, White tried to evade responsibility for his acts in part through arguing that he had a diminished capacity caused in part by his diet, which led to it being ridiculed as 'the Twinkie defense.' White only got sentenced to a short term in prison, which was a grave injustice. He should have gotten two life terms for the murders, which was a good argument for a better approach in California to law and order.

Milk and Moscone's murder has nothing to do with political debate, and no one other than White was responsible for the murders. Pelosi wants to silence opposition since she cannot outargue it, and her implied references to the murders of Milk and Moscone as somehow comparable to political opposition to the Obama administration is flat-out despicable.

Update: It's also worth pointing out that Dan White was not a right-wing politician; he was a registered Democrat and considered a moderate. He assassinated Moscone after the mayor refused to reappoint him as supervisor, a post White had resigned but then regretted leaving. He shot Milk five times on the way out of City Hall after personal animosity between the two had erupted earlier over a zoning dispute.

This is the same woman who lied about being told by the CIA about the enhanced interrogation techniques that caused us to get so much valuable information so early after 9/11. This is the same woman who called the TEA Party participants "Nazi's" Sadly, she doesn't come up for re-election until 2014 but now we know to watch her every move and she knows it...

ACORN performs an internal audit

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From Big Government:
Once Upon an ACORN: Why ACORN�s Internal Audit is a Sham
The announcement by ACORN that it is creating a panel of inquiry consisting of its corrupt friends is a fairy tale. ACORN did the same thing last year after an internal scandal but when the honest people on ACORN�s internal panel began asking uncomfortable questions, it cast them out.
What follows is a cautionary tale about ACORN's history of voter registration fraud and their shakedowns of large corporations. Bertha Lewis is ACORN's chief organizer. About the audit:
Now Bertha Lewis, who helped Wade and Dale cover up Dale�s embezzlement, wants the same kind of committee packed with corrupt friends of ACORN to whitewash all the institutional corruption that is the essence of the ACORN network. The network consists of, um, well, nobody knows how many hundreds of individual affiliated groups.

Bertha says that the panel will include:

* John Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress
* Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Board Member, RFK Foundation, former MD Lt. Governor
* Andrew Stern, International President, Service Employees International Union
* Henry Cisneros, Executive Chairman, Cityview
* John Banks, Vice President of Government Relations Con Ed
* Eric Eve, Senior VP of Global Consumer Group, Community Relations, Citigroup
* Harvey Hirschfeld, President, Lawcash
*Dave Beckwith, Executive Director, Needmor Fund

Bertha says the panel will be independent and will do a really good job recommending what should be done to fix ACORN. The problem is Bertha, who is only a figurehead anyway, has been lying for so long she might not even know what�s true and what�s false. That happens when you lie a lot, so you should always tell the truth.

The panel is filled with hardcore leftists who don�t like America�s Constitution and free markets. They want America to be more like France where they eat cheese, or maybe a little like the old Soviet Union where they ate each other. They hate freedom and will do anything to stamp it out. They believe the ends justify the means.
The Center for American Progress is funded by George Soros whose stated goal is to have one world government and to destroy the nationalism of the United States. Townsend is a nasty piece of work. Stern - in bed with SEIU founded by the Rathke brothers. The list goes on. As one of the comments said: ACORN's internal audit is like Tony Soprano requesting that 12 members of his family be on his jury

Happy 222nd birthday

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On September 17th, 1787, the US Constitution was signed. Let us not forget the words.

ACORN - San Diego offices

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The ACORN videos?

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They hit New York City ACORN offices too... Same story, same reaction. Finally, the New York Times picked up on the story:
Conservatives Draw Blood From Acorn
For months during last year�s presidential race, conservatives sought to tar the Obama campaign with accusations of voter fraud and other transgressions by the national community organizing group Acorn, which had done some work for the campaign.

But it took amateur actors, posing as a prostitute and a pimp and recorded on hidden cameras in visits to Acorn offices, to send government officials scrambling in recent days to sever ties with the organization.

Conservative advocates and broadcasters were gleeful about the success of the tactics in exposing Acorn workers, who appeared to blithely encourage prostitution and tax evasion. It was, in effect, the latest scalp claimed by those on the right who have made no secret of their hope to weaken the Obama administration by attacking allies and appointees they view as leftist.

The Acorn controversy came a week after the resignation of Van Jones, a White House environmental official attacked by conservatives, led by Glenn Beck of Fox News Channel, for once signing a petition suggesting that Bush administration officials might have deliberately permitted the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Even before Mr. Jones stepped down, Mr. Beck had sent a message to supporters on Twitter urging them to �find everything you can� on three other Obama appointees.
Unnnhhh... There were a lot more issues with Van Jones than the petition. Van Jones didn't just sign some petition, he was on the Organizing Committee of the Troofer group:
He is also on video calling Republicans assholes, he is an avowed Communist, the list just keeps going and going and going...

No New Taxes - Obama's promise

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He said repeatedly that there would be no new taxes for those under a certain income level. (that goalpost was moved a number of times). Then he comes into office, hikes the tobacco tax and now the Cap and Trade scam. From cNet News:
Obama administration: Cap and trade could cost families $1,761 a year
The Obama administration has privately concluded that a cap and trade law would cost American taxpayers up to $200 billion a year, the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent.

A previously unreleased analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Treasury says the total in new taxes would be between $100 billion to $200 billion a year. At the upper end of the administration's estimate, the cost per American household would be an extra $1,761 a year.

A second memorandum, which was prepared for Obama's transition team after the November election, says this about climate change policies: "Economic costs will likely be on the order of 1 percent of GDP, making them equal in scale to all existing environmental regulation."

The documents (PDF) were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute and released on Tuesday.
Obama is on record as saying that he wants to make energy costs skyrocket and that he wants to put the coal power plants out of business.

Calling a spade a spade

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An interesting premise from David Yeagley's web forum:

Liberalism: Ancient Phallicism
Liberalism is a social form of sublimated male homosexuality. It is complex, expressing itself in social policy, political rhetoric, and even philosophical tenets, but it is the ancient, inverted sexuality of imbalanced libido.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) first offered an organized theory of the human psychology in the form of a triumvirate, the Id, the Ego, and the Super-Ego. The Id was all the raw energy, the Super-Ego was the inherited and cultivated restrictions on the Id, and the Ego was simply the manager - the negotiator between energy and restraint.

Sex was the innate energy, in the form of endless desire for unification with some exterior object, then its consumption. It was a cannibalistic identity fusion. This was the bodily expression of the psychology.

The Freudian theory notes psychological challenges intimately connected with the growth of the body itself. The birth process is a terrifying separation from unity. Remaining psychological life is a prolonged attempt to recover that lost, original unity.

The Oedipal Complex is all about resentment and blame placed on the father, who is perceived as the agent of separation. Male homosexuality is more an expression of anger toward the father than identification with the mother. Robert Stoller's later identification of 'hostility' as a prime characteristic of sexual energy is certainly consistent with this view of sex as aggression, (Sexual Excitement, Simon & Schuster, 1979.) Apparently negative, destructive motives are fundamentally associated, albeit usually unconsciously, with even the heterosexual act.

So what are liberals so hostile about?

Reality. Their condition has received speculation by a number of conservative commentators. David Horowitz suggested it was like 'religious faith,' (The Art of Political War, 2000, p.192). Ann Coulter said liberal tactics involved suppressing anger (Treason, 2003, p.16). Michael Savage has called liberalism a �mental disorder� before 2005 (Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, 2005) on his radio broadcasts.

Understanding liberalism as a chronic psychological condition affecting one's entire world view is a modern interpretation, of course. Obviously, liberalism is always about destroying one's society, one's country, even one's race. This is all Freudian. It is quintessentially Oedipal. In that it strikes the 'fatherland,' or, the home, it is clearly homosexual in nature - male homosexual.

The above is about 50% of Dr. Yeagley's original post and the replies on the forum are diverse and interesting. Some of them present a good look into a functioning liberal mind.


Light posting tonight

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Got a busy day tomorrow and still not fully rested from this weekend. DaveCave(tm) and then bedtime.

Sure sucks to be ACORN now...

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Couldn't happen to a nicer more corrupt organization... Remember the hooker and her pimp that went into the Baltimore, MD office of ACORN and they wanted to get money for a house to open a brothel and how the ACORN representatives bent over backwards showing them how to do it and how to cheat on their Income Tax returns to conceal the funds? Remember how the same people pulled the same stunt at the Washington, D.C. office with the same results? Well, it seems that the same people pulled the same stunt in San Bernardino, CA:
The Maryland story is especially interesting as it seems that they are not allowed to operate in Maryland at all. But of course, I'm only posting this because I am a racist...

The People v/s The Press

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And The Press comes out looking pretty shabby... From The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press:
Press Accuracy Rating Hits Two Decade Low
The public�s assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys, and Americans� views of media bias and independence now match previous lows.

Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate. In the initial survey in this series about the news media�s performance in 1985, 55% said news stories were accurate while 34% said they were inaccurate. That percentage had fallen sharply by the late 1990s and has remained low over the last decade.
And, as a picture tells a thousand words:
It was interesting to read the various reports about the TEA party march on Washington, D.C. An initial report pegged it at 6 million people but the official figure was 2.7M. The New York Times and NPR published reports of tens of thousands of people marching...

An interesting thought on Higher Education

Sums it up nicely -- from The Chronicle of Higher Education:

What's the Matter With Cultural Studies?
The popular discipline has lost its bearings
By Michael Bérubé

In the spring, I was asked to participate in a plenary panel at the Cultural Studies Association (U.S.), and the opportunity led me to rethink the history of the field. The session's title was "The University After Cultural Studies." As is my wont on such occasions, I decided to take issue with the idea that the field has had such an impact on American higher education that we can talk about the university after cultural studies.

For what kind of impact has cultural studies had on the American university as an institution over the past 20 or 25 years? The field began in Britain in the late 1950s with a Marxist critique of culture by Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, as the British New Left broke with the Communist Party's defense of the Soviet invasion of Hungary.
Emphasis mine -- exactly my thoughts... Considering the origins of "cultural studies" and considering that there has never been a successful Marxist or Communist state, I begin to wonder just who it is that is running these institutes of Higher Education and who is inculcating the brains of our children with such rubbish. Are "prestigious" Universities going to be the next big bubble? I know our local trade schools and community colleges are doing a booming business and are being forced to expand...
After I posted the last item on the spam, I had over 30 of them waiting for me to delete. Each and every one of them was placed into moderation but the two legitimate comments I had during the same time frame went online without a problem. These spammers truly have a lesser intellect if they think that they can make money from this odious behavior. All they do is piss people off and cause people like me to get really good at regex and Perl. Fscking loosers...

Dave's back

Back after a helacious five days but a good five days. I think. Off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email but I thought I would check comment spam first and Boy Howdy was I ever rewarded... I announced my thirty-hour absence with intent: see what would crawl out from the basement apartment in their mamma's house. 21 attempts and zero successes. A couple of them had HTML content so screwed up, there is no browser that would have been able to parse it. A couple of them included an IP address from upstate NY that is linked to a known address of a botnet controller. That information has been passed on already... I have been toying around with some new code that should be even easier to administrate. Is there is anyone reading my words that runs one of these comment spam nets and could explain the following:
#1) - how much you make per month in actual (your currency of choice); and

#2) - how much could you be really earning if you spent your time at real work instead of these "get rich fast" scams
These idiots have been polluting the internet since day one. They were on BBS' before then. They were word-of-mouth, pamphlets, paid advertisements in newspapers and telegraph messages for several hundred years previous. Drums and smoke signals before that. Spam is not new... I ask you this: If I had a surefire way to make money, which would I do:
#1) -- sit back and amass a bleeding fortune, gobs of money, rich as a Senator? or:

#2) -- go out and try to share my surefire way with any idiot out there who could scrape up the price of entry...
And I'm not telling!

On the road again

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The race was a lot of fun. About 700 bicyclists participated -- Jens and my hands are physically sore -- I was cutting fruit and she was making sandwiches and bagels with peanut butter and jelly. We are now off to Eastern Washington for her two-week backpacking trip. Posting will resume tomorrow evening...

Awwww crap - RIP Norman Borlaug

I had written about Dr. Borlaug's achievements before here, here, and here. He passed away at age 95. From Ag Wired:
Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Passes Away
Norman E. Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner for developing high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat used to prevent famine in developing countries throughout the world died today in Dallas, Texas.

Borlaug, whose career was dedicated to employing science to combat international hunger, was Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture in Texas A&M University�s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. He was 95.

In 2007, he accepted the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor of the United States. This capped a string of major awards and honors throughout his scientific and humanitarian career.

�We all eat at least three times a day in privileged nations, and yet we take food for granted,� Borlaug said in recent interview. �There has been great progress, and food is more equitably distributed. But hunger is a commonplace, and famine appears all too often.� Even at age 95, Borlaug still traveled internationally working tirelessly for improvements in agricultural science and food policy. He regularly could be found in his office on campus in College Station advising students and providing counsel to fellow faculty members on research and scholarship.
One of these unsung American Giants who make the world a much better place but who do not seek the spotlight. Godspeed Dr. Borlaug...

Once more into the breech

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It is 6:20AM, thinking about dawn outside and we will be driving 40 miles and gaining 5K feet elevation to hand out fruit slices and power bars to a bunch of insane bicyclists (who are also gaining 5K feet elevation). Remind me to respectfully decline participation in this #$%Z^ event next year. I am soooo not a morning person...

Economics quote of the day

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Mark Perry posted this as a quote of the day and I agree:
Quote of the Day
If you believe the Keynesian argument for stimulus, you should think Bernie Madoff is a hero. He took money from people who were saving it, and gave it to people who most assuredly were going to spend it. Each dollar so transferred, in Krugman�s world, generates an additional dollar and a half of national income. The analogy is even closer. Madoff didn�t just take money from his savers, he essentially borrowed it from them, giving them phony accounts with promises of great profits to come. This looks a lot like government debt.

If you believe the Keynesian argument for stimulus, you don�t care how the money is spent. All this puffery about �infrastructure,� monitoring, wise investment, jobs �created� and so on is pointless. Keynes thought the government should pay people to dig ditches and fill them up.

If you believe in Keynesian stimulus, you don�t even care if the government spending money is stolen. Actually, that would be better. Thieves have notoriously high propensities to consume.
~John Cochrane
This is so spot on and really clarifies my whole issue with the stimulus program and with Keynesian economics.

Long day today and longer day tomorrow

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Just got done with the dinner event -- sold about 150 hot dogs so that was profitable for both Chambers of Commerce. There has been some "interesting" blood between the two so it was really good to be working side by side and splitting the profits evenly. Now I need to unpack the van and get it loaded and ready for the race in the morning. The road is shut down at 7:30 so I am looking at a 6:00AM alarm. I am not a morning person. Grumble... No free ice cream tomorrow -- after the race, we tear down the stand, load out and then Jen heads off to Eastern Washington for a two week backpack. We will be hitting the road around 3:00PM and spending the night somewhere on the other side of the Cascades. Winthrop or thereabouts. I drop Jen and her friend off at the trailhead and then head back home that evening.
One of the big contentions of the Anthropogenic Global Warming crowd is that our climate exhibits positive feedback -- if it gets cooler, the tendency is for it to get even more cool and if it gets warmer, the tendency is for it to get even more warm. Positive feedback is like stepping on the accelerator when your car is moving too fast and stepping on the brake when it is moving too slow. The AGW-ers believe that our climate exhibits positive feedback even though the historical record shows quite the opposite. New studies have come out showing why we have a nice self-regulatory negative feedback loop in place on our planet. It has to do with another greenhouse gas - the Oxygen that we breathe... From the University of Copenhagen:
More oxygen � colder climate
Using a completely new method, researchers have shown that high atmospheric and oceanic oxygen content makes the climate colder. In prehistoric times, the earth experienced two periods of large increases and fluctuations in the oxygen level of the atmosphere and oceans. These fluctuations also lead to an explosion of multicellular organisms in the oceans, which are the predecessors for life as we know it today. The results are now being published in Nature.

Everybody talks about CO2 and other greenhouse gases as causes of global warming and the large climate changes we are currently experiencing. But what about the atmospheric and oceanic oxygen content? Which role does oxygen content play in global warming?

This question has become extremely relevant now that Professor Robert Frei from the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with colleagues from Departamento de Geologı�a, Facultad de Ciencias in Uruguay, Newcastle University and the University of Southern Denmark, has established that there is a historical correlation between oxygen and temperature fluctuations towards global cooling.

The team of researchers reached their conclusions via analyses of iron-rich stones, so called banded iron formations, from different locations around the globe and covering a time span of more than 3,000 million years. Their discovery was made possible by a new analytical method which the research team developed. This method is based on analysis of chrome isotopes � different chemical variants of the element chrome. It turned out that the chrome isotopes in the iron rich stones reflect the oxygen content of the atmosphere. The method is a unique tool, which makes it possible to examine historical changes in the atmospheric oxygen content and thereby possible climate changes.
The cool thing (pun intended) is that the article in Nature is a full paper. Peer reviewed. It is not a letter which is not.

ACORN looses Census Department support

Very cool news. One of the chief complaints about ACORN is that it actively goes out and register voters and that a large number of their staff members have been arrested for registering non-existing voters -- including dead people and imaginary ones like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The idea that they would be responsible for counting citizens gave me the paralytic willies. Now, they are out of the game. From Andrew Breitbart's excellent BigGovernment: U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves� Letter Announcing Decision to Sever ACORN Ties
Dear Ms. Hurd:
The goal of the U.S. Census Bureau�s partnership program is to combine the strengths of state, local, and tribal governments, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, schools, media, businesses and others to ensure an accurate 2010 Census. While not (sic) Census bureau employees, partners are advocates for census cooperation and participation. They serve a trusted voices within their communities and are critical to our strategy to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

The Census Bureau has established criteria for partnerships, which are listed on our Web site at , and reserves the right to decline partnership or to terminate an existing partnership agreement with any group that 1) may create a negative connotation for the Census Bureau; 2) could distract from the Census Bureau�s mission; or, 3) may make people fearful of participating in the census.

To that end, and in keeping with the standards we shared with your organization and others who volunteered to partner with the Census Bureau to help promote the 2010 Census, we are today terminating our Partnership Agreement with ACORN.

Over the last several months, through ongoing communication with our regional offices, it is clear that ACORN�s affiliation with the 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts.

While not decisive factors in this decision, recent events concerning several local offices of ACORN have added to the worsening negative perceptions of ACORN and its affiliation with our partnership efforts.

We do not come to this decision lightly. It was our original assessment that your organization could be helpful in encouraging cooperation with the 2010 Census among individuals who are historically hard to count, including renters, low-income residents, the linguistically isolated, and others. As of today, we have close to 80,000 partnership agreements with national and local groups � many of whom are trusted voices and serve these same populations � and we will be relying upon those groups to continue our outreach in the communities you serve. The full participation of those populations remains of utmost importance to us.
The joke is that ACORN is supposed to be by and for the inner city blacks and disadvantaged when in fact, it was founded by Wade and Dale Rathke:

Dale likes money and embezzled a million of it from ACORN. Wade doesn't like to pay taxes. And to think that ACORN and SEIU (another Rathke organization) are close to Obama, William Ayers, etc. And of course, none of this is present in the mainstream media...

Stuff today

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Been busy doing the last minute things to manage the kitchen event tomorrow. The race is called Ride 542 -- State Route 542 (also known as the Mount Baker Highway) is the road that the race is happening on so the 542 theme is used throughout. Eat 542 is tomorrow early evening and we are beginning to have some serious issues with the event planner. We met a few weeks ago and decided that 200 servings would be appropriate -- the runners get to eat for free but Charlie will kick in $5/head for their meals and everyone else pays $5.42 for a really good hot-dog (Hemplers all natural), a can of soda, a bag of chips and a side of potato salad. I got a phone call from him this afternoon and he said that there will be about 100 runners and that his volunteers expect to be fed for free... This is being pitched as a big community event so we are expecting quite a number of locals to stop by for their dinner. We are in danger of running out of food! It is too late to purchase some more dogs -- we get them wholesale and buying them retail will throw off the cash flow. This event is supposed to be a moneymaker for the two Chambers of Commerce but I am starting to have some misgivings about it... Our store is planning to run a food station at the top of the bicycle race the following day. Charlie told us four weeks ago to expect 200 people so we bought energy bars, bananas, oranges, etc... for that many people and at $400, this was about what we wanted to donate for the publicity. In an email yesterday, he tells us that he is expecting 700 people to enter the race and that we need to buy more food. In the words of the great Starkist Tuna commercial, Sorry Charlie...
To kick it off, there is a large banner being printed for the event. He did not ask us for our logo until last Thursday, two days before the first event. If our logo is not on the banner, we will not be participating ever again. The guy has a great vision but his project management skills are nonexistent and this is not just me -- a lot of other people are getting very very burned as well...

Idiot spammers

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Here is an example of what I am currently dealing with:
Y'a know, the first instance of and that post is tossed into moderation and then deleted. Why they think that 57 instances of in one comment attempt will make it more effective is beyond me. Fscking loosers...
The same crew that had so much fun in Baltimore pulled the same stunt at the Washington, D.C. ACORN office and got the same reaction. The ACORN officials that they talked to had zero problems helping them to get a loan to buy a house to use as a brothel with imported teenage girls from El Salvador. Check out the video at BigGovernment So to those people who were saying that it was just the one office in Baltimore that was rotten, guess what...

Eight years ago today

I was waiting to take the bus in to work and someone walked up and told us what had happened. This was the act that lifted the veil of liberalism from my eyes. I began to ask questions and did not like the answers that I was getting from the left. Never forget. Never forgive.

Comment spam

Been getting some really stupid spam these days. Someone will post about 30 or 40 links -- all of which have the same base URL. Crap like:
D0lph1ns??? Ahem... If I am looking for this string:, I will catch it on the first instance so you do not need to have forty instances of it.

New Laptop

As I had mentioned, my laptop bricked this morning. Doesn't look like a hard drive failure, the boot never got that far -- looks motherboard level. Picked up a new HP at Costco today -- cheaper than the three-year-old unit and twice the RAM (4GB) and a speedy dual-core Centrino processor. 500GB hard disk as opposed to the 300 in the old one. I'll be removing the hard disk in the old unit and giving it away. Maybe there is a theatre group that can use a prop. I might just have some fun with Mr. Shotgun and two of our rifles... My only gripe now is that I have to spend a couple hours re-loading Office 2003, ACAD14, all my photo and video utilities and getting updates for everything. I use Acronis backup software and have backups but I do not want to restore the old XP system so I need to do these one at a time... And major props to PC Decrapifier for automating the process.

A poll on the President's speech

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A wonderful example of skewed polling from CNN:
CNN Poll: Double-digit post-speech jump for Obama plan
Two out of three Americans who watched President Barack Obama's health care reform speech Wednesday night favor his health care plans � a 14-point gain among speech-watchers, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll of people who tuned into Obama's address Wednesday night to a joint session of Congress.
And buried in the last paragraph:
The sample of speech-watchers in this poll was 45 percent Democratic and 18 percent Republican.
A man and a woman wire themselves with audio and video -- she dresses like a prostitute, he dresses like a pimp. They go into a Baltimore ACORN office and see what they can do about getting them a house as no bank or other lending business will touch them. The want to use the house as a brothel and bring in some 13-year old women from Central America. Far from being outraged, the people at the ACORN office are very helpful, even telling the woman how to evade paying taxes. From Breitbart:
ACORN fires 2 after hidden-camera footage aired
The group ACORN has fired two employees who were seen on hidden-camera video giving tax advice to a man posing as a pimp and a woman who pretended to be a prostitute.

Fox News Channel broadcast excerpts from the video Thursday. On the video, a man and woman visiting ACORN's Baltimore office asked about buying a house and how to account on tax forms for the woman's income. An ACORN employee advised the woman to list her occupation as "performance artist."

The pair also claimed they planned to employ teenage girls from central America as prostitutes, and an ACORN employee suggested that up to three of the girls could be claimed as dependents, according to transcripts of the video posted online by conservative activist James O'Keefe.

O'Keefe told Fox he posed as the pimp and that he was shocked by the ACORN employees' helpfulness.

In a statement, ACORN Maryland board member Margaret Williams said the video was an attempt to smear ACORN, and that undercover teams attempted similar setups in at least three other ACORN offices.
It will be interesting to see what heads roll when the corruption at ACORN becomes public knowledge. BigGovernment is doing a good job of following the developments on this and other events.

A fun day

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Things are starting to seriously ramp up for the Ride-542 event this weekend. I am running the kitchen for Saturday's Eat-542 and the store will be at the end of the Ride that following morning handing out power bars and fruit. I come down this morning to find that Microsoft installed an update on all of our computers and in the course of the re-boot, my Laptop is bricked. No word if this is just an unfortunate coincidence or something that wasn't checked out enough in the update but it's damned inconvenient. I have backups but it's still a pain to restore... Blogging will probably be light over the next couple of days. Saturday is the big dinner (planning for 200 people) and then Sunday, we head up the mountain to hand out treats to the riders and then Sunday afternoon, we pile in the car and drive East and Jen gets dropped off for a two week backpacking trip.

A fine upstanding young Citizen

A good candidate for being locked away for life.

From The Smoking Gun:

Texas man, 19, facing felony raps in two states over phone hoaxes
A Texas man is facing felony charges in two states for placing prank phone calls that caused significant damage to fast food restaurants.

James Tyler Markle, who was exposed last month in a TSG story on Pranknet, an online network of criminal prank callers, was arrested yesterday for a June 20 call targeting a McDonald's in Lufkin, Texas (Markle lives in Diboll, a neighboring city). Markle confessed to the crime following his arrest, according to police.

As detailed in the below criminal complaint, Markle, 19, convinced a McDonald's worker to set off the restaurant's fire suppression system, which released a liquid from overhead extinguishers. Markle then told the employee that the liquid contained a toxin and directed the worker to break the store's windows "for ventilation." Four windows were eventually smashed and the eatery incurred damages in excess of $5000, according to police.

Investigators connected Markle to the call after subpoenaing records for his Skype account, which showed that calls were placed from his number to the McDonald's, and then to the cell phone of a McDonald's employee. Shortly after placing the June 20 call, Markle, a convicted child rapist, was in the Pranknet chat room crowing about his successful attack on the restaurant.

As seen in this transcript, Markle--who used the nickname "Prankster"--reported that he was "about to go by McDonalds and take some pics" of the damage, and promised to "let yall see them." He also referred to the eatery's broken windows and the triggering of the business's Ansul fire suppression system.
Sometimes a person is just so twisted that it just makes sense to shoot them and start over. The child in the rape conviction? She was five.
A major disaster happened in Russia and it has not gotten much press here. A reader emailed me a power point presentation of an analysis of the disaster (basically water hammer lifting the turbines up out of their housing) but the Boston Globe's Big Picture beat me to it with their always excellent photographs. Check out The Sayano-Shushenskaya dam accident Here are three images: Generator hall -- before and after:

A closeup of one of the turbines -- these things are about 40 feet in diameter. Imagine the forces that can toss it around like a dry leaf in a storm...
At least 74 confirmed deaths.
From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Taxpayers face heavy losses on auto bailout
Taxpayers face losses on a significant portion of the $81 billion in government aid provided to the auto industry, an oversight panel said in a report to be released Wednesday.

The Congressional Oversight Panel did not provide an estimate of the projected loss in its latest monthly report on the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. But it said most of the $23 billion initially provided to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC late last year is unlikely to be repaid.

"I think they drove a very hard bargain," said Elizabeth Warren, the panel's chairwoman and a law professor at Harvard University, referring to the Obama administration's Treasury Department. "But it may not be enough."
These politicians are rewarding these companies (Union companies I might add) for their incompetent management and they are using our money. I used to be a die-hard Chrysler/Dodge person but I am now leaning to Ford when it comes time to replace my old Dakota...
Very cool. In the middle of President Barack Obama's speech to Congress this evening, Wilson got up and shouted: "You Lie" when Obama was denying that Obamacare would not cover illegal immigrants -- the largest part of the uninsured and their numbers are being counted when the 42 million uninsured is bandied about. The real number is closer to five million. From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Obama heckled by GOP during speech: 'You lie!'
In an extraordinary breach of congressional decorum, a Republican lawmaker shouted "You lie" at President Barack Obama during his speech to Congress Wednesday.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., tried to call Obama to apologize in person, but ended up speaking to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

The contrite congressman, "expressed his apologies" to Emanuel, not the president at whom he had shouted a few hours earlier, Wilson's office said.
Yes, that was not the polite thing to do but we have passed the time when politeness is all that is called for. A bit more:
Wilson's outburst came after Obama said that extending health care to all Americans who seek it would not mean insuring illegal immigrants.

"You lie!" Wilson shouted from his seat on the Republican side of the chamber.
Obama has repeatedly said that he is open to ideas from both sides of the House but he has not met with any Republican (meeting to discuss the Health Care plan) since May of this year. The transparency that he promised during his campaign simply is not there. He promised to broadcast meetings on CSpan -- they have not been broadcast, there haven't even been transcripts released. The present plan for Healthcare will seriously hurt this Nation if it passes and there will be no simple way to undo it.

Stoned Lemurs

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Great film about the Black Lemur of Madagascar:
I love the way the little guy just s..l..o..w..s.. right down after a few nibbles...
From the Congressional Record, The United States Senate, Mar 16, 2006:
And some excerpts from one Senator's comments:
Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America's debt problem.

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies.
My friend, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, likes to remind us that it took 42 Presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just 5 years. Now, there is nothing wrong with borrowing from foreign countries. But we must remember that the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours.
Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here." Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.
This Senator was pretty adamant about keeping the debt as low as possible and was very annoyed that it was going above one Trillion. Well, Congress is now talking about raising the limit to Twelve Trillion and Obama is strangely quiet. This in a span of only three years... Major hat tip to Moonbattery for the link.

The Old Cajun

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A classic and great joke -- have heard it a few times but always forgot to post it here. This is from Miss Cellania:
The Old Cajun
An 80-year-old Cajun goes to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor is amazed at what good shape the guy is in and asks,� how do you stay in such great physical condition?�

I�m Cajun and I am a hunter,� says the old guy, �and that�s why I�m in such good shape.. I�m up well before daylight and out hunting all day .. I have a beer, and all is well.�

�Well� says the doctor, �I�m sure that helps, but there�s got to be more to it. How old was your Father when he died?�

�Who said my Father�s dead?�

The doctor is amazed. �You mean you�re 80 years old and your Father�s still alive. How old is he?�

�He�s 100 years old,� says the old Cajun. �In fact he hunted with me this morning, and then we went to the topless beach for a walk and had a little beer and that�s why he�s still alive. He�s Cajun and he�s a hunter, too.�

�Well,� the doctor says, �that�s great, but I�m sure there�s more to it than that. How about your Father�s Father? How old was he when he died?�

�Who said my Nono�s dead?�

Stunned, the doctor asks, �you mean you�re 80 years old and your grandfather�s still living! Incredible, how old is he?�

�He�s 118 years old,� says the old Cajun.

The doctor is getting frustrated at this point, �So, I guess he went hunting with you this morning too?�

�No, Nono couldn�t go this morning because he�s getting married today.�

At this point the doctor is close to losing it. �Getting married!! Why would a 118 year- old guy want to get married?�

�Who said he wanted to?�

The Stimulus Package

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I bet Obama didn't see this coming. From Ammo Land:
Another 1,000,000+ Guns Added to American Homes in August
Data released by the FBI�s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported 1,074,757 checks in August 2009, a 12.3 percent increase from the 956,872 reported in August 2008.

So far that is roughly 9,076,205 gun bought this year! The total is probably more as NICS background checks may cover the purchase of more than one gun at a time.

This latest jump in background checks show that Americans are solidly in-favor of keeping firearms in the hands of law abiding citizens and clearly shows that proponents claiming the USA wants more gun control are blatantly wrong.
And the interesting news -- the item ignored by the mainstream Media:
Crime Rates Falling
The most stunning in all of this is that we have not seen an increase in crime, murder rates have fallen across most of the USA and Americans have shown that they can be trusted with firearms ownership. This is directly in contrast to what the national media and gun control supporters would have us believe.
Robert A. Heinlein said it best:
An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
This guy is about as predictable as they come. From Reuters:
"Capitalism is evil," says new Michael Moore film
Capitalism is evil. That is the conclusion U.S. documentary maker Michael Moore comes to in his latest movie "Capitalism: A Love Story," which premieres at the Venice film festival Sunday.

Blending his trademark humor with tragic individual stories, archive footage and publicity stunts, the 55-year-old launches an all out attack on the capitalist system, arguing that it benefits the rich and condemns millions to poverty.

"Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil," the two-hour movie concludes.

"You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people and that something is democracy."
Bullshit! Capitalism has no inherent good or evil associated with it. It is the actions of people on a day to day basis as they go through life. The people are good or evil. The idiots at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who gave out the sub-prime mortgages, the idiots at AIG and Goldmann Sachs who came up with CDOs that leveraged these mortgages... These people are evil and need to be regulated. Something that Barney Frank should have been doing from the get-go if he wasn't in bed with one of the key players for ten years. Oh. Wait. As for the Democracy angle, a little heads up is in order, we are not a Democracy, we are a Republic. Iran is a Democracy. Venezuela is a Democracy.
We are in the middle of a recession and the government keeps on spending. From The Hill:
Senate must raise debt ceiling above $12T
The Senate must move legislation to raise the federal debt limit beyond $12.1 trillion by mid-October, a move viewed as necessary despite protests about the record levels of red ink.

The move will highlight the nation�s record debt, which has been central to Republican attacks against Democratic congressional leaders and President Barack Obama. The year�s deficit is expected to hit a record $1.6 trillion.
The comments are a good read. I liked this one from Michael Buchman:
When my money is short�I'm expected to review my priorities. I have to stop eating out and start paying bills.Congress needs to do the same thing. There are many programs which can be cut without impacting overall budget. Get real. Greater DEBT is not going to PAY OFF debt.
The ray of hope is that this is starting to polarize people on both sides of the aisle. The 2010 elections will be very interesting to say the least...

One big happy family

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This is insane -- we are giving up our Republic without a whimper. From the UK Telegraph:
UN wants new global currency to replace dollar
In a radical report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said the system of currencies and capital rules which binds the world economy is not working properly, and was largely responsible for the financial and economic crises.

It added that the present system, under which the dollar acts as the world's reserve currency , should be subject to a wholesale reconsideration.

Although a number of countries, including China and Russia, have suggested replacing the dollar as the world's reserve currency, the UNCTAD report is the first time a major multinational institution has posited such a suggestion.

In essence, the report calls for a new Bretton Woods-style system of managed international exchange rates, meaning central banks would be forced to intervene and either support or push down their currencies depending on how the rest of the world economy is behaving.
And be sure to check out the 300+ comments to the above post. Well... It's not like Obama is getting all kissey-face with the UN From Financial Times:
Obama to seal US-UN relationship
Barack Obama will cement the new co-operative relationship between the US and the United Nations this month when he becomes the first American president to chair its 15-member Security Council.

The topic for the summit-level session of the council on September 24 is nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament � one of several global challenges that the US now wants to see addressed at a multinational level.

�The council has a very important role to play in preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons, and it�s the world�s principal body for dealing with global security cooperation,� Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, said last week.
And we all know just how effective impotent and corrupt the United Nations is...
Had to run into town as the store was out of 2% milk. Even though the weather has been crappy (cold and raining), business at the store has been great. The out of towners were committed to their campsite anyway so they soldiered through (with the help of a lot of beer and wine). Weather tomorrow (Tuesday) is supposed to be great. Fortunately, that is the day that the roofers are scheduled to come and finish nailing up the fascia boards on the store building. They are currently in the barn of one of the guys who is painting the building so I need to be up early and run the trailer over there to pick them up. Finally, had a scheduled meeting to finalize plans for the Eat-542 event this Saturday. This is a high-carb and protein dinner for the Run-542 participants of this event as well as a good time for anyone else who wants to show up. I had 6:00PM written on my calender and a couple other people did as well but there was a verbal exchange between three people that referenced 5:00PM and that was when the key players showed up. I and a couple other people walked in as things were breaking up. Oh well... I am in charge of the Kitchen and have the design, equipment and layout nailed so nothing needs to be done except for a quick run into town to pick up kraut, ketchup and a couple other things on Thursday. Done this before... So I am off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then off to a relatively early bed.

New backpacking technology

Jen and I both backpack -- me not so much with my new hip but I am planning to start again next year.

The technology keeps advancing at a wonderful rate -- we have come a long way from the Kelty external frame pack I used to hike around Iceland back in 1974.

Check out the newest in backpack designs -- the Archwood FlexTrek 37trillion:

Halfway tempted to walk into my local REI and inquire about getting one of them...

President Obama's speech tomorrow

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As much as I dislike the way he is leading this Nation down the Socialist path, he is our duly elected President and deserves some measure of respect. He is scheduled to deliver a speech to kids in school tomorrow and the conservative talk-show hosts had their knickers in a bunch over the very idea. One point is that the supporting materials did include plans for an essay the kids were supposed to write after the speech on how they could "Serve their President" -- this sticks in my craw as it is Obama who was elected as the Citizens servant, not the other way around. I have read most of the speech (very long!) and see nothing objectionable in its 2,500 words. Miss Cellania found the perfect cartoon to show how I feel about this:

Happy Labor Day - California

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From the Ventura County Star:

Jobless rate 4th highest in U.S.
On Labor Day 2009, what Californians need most is a lot more labor.

In its annual report on the state of working Californians, released today, the nonpartisan California Budget Project reports the job losses suffered during what is being called the "Great Recession" wiped out all the gains of the previous recovery and that the total number of jobs in the state is now roughly what it was nine years ago when there were 3.3 million fewer working-age adults.

"The current recession stands apart from prior downturns for both the depth and breadth of destruction in the job market," the report says. "California has lost more jobs at a faster rate in the past two years than during any prior recession for which data are available, and employment has fallen in nearly every major sector of the economy."

Because of the decline in the number of jobs coupled with growth in the labor force, the report finds that the percentage of working-age Californians who hold jobs has fallen to its lowest level in 32 years. Citing U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the report says just 57.5 percent of California adults are working.

And the State Government just keeps growing and growing, taxes keep going up. When will it end. The article does not mention how many people work for the state government. Be sure to click on the Show Comments link at the bottom of the page. The comments are lively and include a lot of links to data.

James Tracy - flaming idiot or visionary

Meet James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing Academy, a New England Prep school. Say good bye to him as I do not see him being in that position for very long. From the Boston Globe:

Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books.
There are rolling hills and ivy-covered brick buildings. There are small classrooms, high-tech labs, and well-manicured fields. There's even a clock tower with a massive bell that rings for special events.

Cushing Academy has all the hallmarks of a New England prep school, with one exception.

This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy's administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks - the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital.

"When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books," said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. "This isn't Fahrenheit 451 [the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel in which books are banned]. We're not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology."

Emphasis mine -- these phrases of yours: "shape emerging trends and optimize technology" James, are you actually trying to get something across here or are these just two of your stack of buzzwords that sound nice but have no meaning, no content... I can see modernizing the library, bringing in a bunch of computers for the students to use, but to toss out your Cushing Academy's Cultural DNA -- to get rid of the 20,000 books that previous students have used for your school's 144 years -- is insanity. Your hubris is bound the bounds of human normalcy. You are not the God of Cushing, you are only its caretaker for a few years. And what sort of facilities will these little snowflakes be able to enjoy:

Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a "learning center," though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.

And to replace those old pulpy devices that have transmitted information since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1400s, they have spent $10,000 to buy 18 electronic readers made by and Sony. Administrators plan to distribute the readers, which they're stocking with digital material, to students looking to spend more time with literature.

Those who don't have access to the electronic readers will be expected to do their research and peruse many assigned texts on their computers.

"Instead of a traditional library with 20,000 books, we're building a virtual library where students will have access to millions of books," said Tracy, whose office shelves remain lined with books. "We see this as a model for the 21st-century school."

So, you are spending $500K, getting rid of 20,000 books and replacing them with three big-screen tv sets (only three subjects can be studied by a group of students -- none of this reading at your own pace stuff), there are 18 Kindle readers and the Sony equivalent, there are some study carrels for students to bring their own laptops (let's say 20 -- they are only budgeting $20K) So you are going from a theoretical 20,000 separate sources of information down to a maximum of 41. What happens when your 42nd student wants to check out a book? Needless to say, saner heads are speaking out:

Not everyone on campus is sold on Tracy's vision.

They worry about an environment where students can no longer browse rows of voluptuous books, replete with glossy photographs, intricate maps, and pages dog-eared by generations of students. They worry students will be less likely to focus on long works when their devices are constantly interrupting them with e-mail and instant messages. They also worry about a world where sweat-stained literature is deemed as perishable as all the glib posts on Facebook or Twitter.

Liz Vezina, a librarian at Cushing for 17 years, said she never imagined working as the director of a library without any books.

"It makes me sad," said Vezina, who hosts a book club on campus dubbed the Off-line Readers and has made a career of introducing students to books. "I'm going to miss them. I love books. I've grown up with them, and there�s something lost when they're virtual. There's a sensual side to them - the smell, the feel, the physicality of a book is something really special."

And one last bit:

William Powers, author of a forthcoming book based on a paper he published at Harvard called "Hamlet's Blackberry: Why Paper is Eternal," called the changes at Cushing "radical" and "a tremendous loss for students."

"There are modes of learning and thinking that at the moment are only available from actual books," he said. "There is a kind of deep-dive, meditative reading that's almost impossible to do on a screen. Without books, students are more likely to do the grazing or quick reading that screens enable, rather than be by themselves with the author's ideas."

So Mr. Tracey -- enjoy your fifteen minutes in the spotlight and I hope in the years to come, you come to fully appreciate the wrong you have done to those students in your charge. Needless to say, there are over 400 comments to this at the Boston Globe website...

The fifteen laws of Hydrogen

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A lot of people are jumping on the Hydrogen bandwagon looking to it as an alternative to Gasoline for our vehicles. It just ain't gonna happen and Don Lancaster gives us fifteen "talking points" to consider:
1. Terrestrial hydrogen is ONLY an energy carrier or transfer media and NOT a substance capable of delivering net NEW BTU's to the on-the-books economy.

2. Terrestrial hydrogen creation is inefficient as considerably more energy of usually much higher quality has to be input than is eventually returnable.

3. No large terrestrial source of hydrogen gas is known. Water, of course, is a hydrogen sink and, by fundamental chemical energitics, is the worst possible feedstock.

4. The CONTAINED energy density of terrestrial hydrogen by weight is a lot LESS than gasoline. And drops dramatically as the tank is emptied. The energy density of hydrogen gas by volume is a ludicrous joke.

5. Virtually all bulk hydrogen is produced by methane reformation. And thus is EXTREMELY hydrocarbon dependent.

6. Hydrogen has one of the widest explosive ranges known, the least spark energy required for ignition, and has no known colorants or odorants. Its flame is often invisible or nearly so.

7. There is more hydrogen in a gallon of gasoline than there is in a gallon of liquid hydrogen.

8. No effective vehicle compatible means of hydrogen storage is known that is remotely as cheap, safe, dense, and convenient as carbon bonded hydrides.

9. No infrastructure exists for gaseous hydrogen distribution. Pipelines in particular raise major density and embrittlement issues.

10. Electrolysis from high value sources such as grid, wind, or pv is totally useless as a hydrogen source because of the staggering loss of exergy. There ALWAYS will be more intelligent things to do with the electricity.

11. Improper burning of hydrogen produces highly polluting nitrous oxides.

12. Terrestrial hydrogen is basically a POLLUTION AMPLIFIER that INCREASES the pollution of its underlying sources. It is utterly ludicrous to claim that hydrogen is in any manner, way, shape, or form "nonpolluting".

13. Hydrogen rots most metals through embrittlement.

14. "Carbon Neutral" solutions would appear better than "Carbon Free" because (A) A significant measure of the energy of most fuels is in its carbon fraction, (B) Carbon appears to be essential for convenient and safe room temperature liquids, and (C) Reformation is not required or else is simpler, cheaper, and wastes less energy.

15. An optimal hydrogen storage solution exists by carbon bonding as in heptane or iso-octane. Both of these room temperature liquids ain't broke.
At the same page (linked to above) Don also links to some of his articles that cover the same information but go into much greater detail. I recommend starting with Energy Fundamentals and More Energy Fundamentals. A lot of people are running on little but wishful thinking. I also include those people who are trying to economies on fuel costs by running an electrolytic cell off their cars electrical system. It does not take that much effort ( a month or two of studying five hours/week) to grasp the very fundamental scientific principals behind power production and the efficiency of processes and once you do, you can see for yourself how fallacious most of the claims are. I can see a more viable market for Unicorn Farts.

A new weapon in the firefighters arsenal

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I had been blogging about the Station Fire as it threatened the Mt. Wilson Observatory. What I did not know is that this fire used for the first time, a modified Boeing 747 that holds up to 24,000 gallons of retardent and releases it via a pressurised delivery system so it can cover a three mile long swath. Here it is shown doing some test passes over a grid:
Hat tip to Telstar Logistics for the link.

The once great nation of England

From the London Daily Mail:
Britain's blade culture claims another victim ...Scouts' penknives
Along with a box of matches and a piece of string, they've always been an essential part of a Scout's kit.

But now penknives are going to be restricted on scouting trips as a seemingly innocent tradition succumbs to concerns over the nation's blade culture.

The Scout Association is advising boys and their parents that they should not bring such knives to camp - despite it being legal for anyone to carry a foldable, nonlocking blade in a public place as long as it is shorter than 3ins.

Scouts have been taught to carry knives and have used them to cut firewood, prepare food or carve tools ever since Lord Baden-Powell founded the movement more than a century ago.

But in a recent edition of their official in-house magazine, Scouting, they are advised that neither they nor their parents should bring penknives to camp.
A bit more:
The Scout Association says the advice is designed to help reduce intimidation and bullying among its members. But some troop leaders believe the directive undermines the aims of Scouting.

Sheila Burgin, a troop leader for 4th Sevenoaks Scout Group in Kent, said: 'Whatever happened to the first Scout Law: a Scout is to be trusted - that is to carry and use a knife safely?

'I allow my Scouts to bring a knife to meetings, but with their parents' permission. They are taught how to use it correctly and risk losing it if they use it inappropriately.

'If you teach young people to respect knives they will value them as a tool. If you treat knives as dangerous implements they may never feel comfortable with them and that is a great loss.'
Good lord -- I have always carried a knife since I was in my teens. The idea that it should be banned makes about as much sense as banning silverware and saying that we now need to eat with our fingers. You can make a weapon out of almost anything -- why target knives?

Heh - Argyle Sweater on the Stimulus Package

Scott Hilburn at The Argyle Sweater nails it:
Click to embiggen...

A Venezuelan two-fer

Two stories from that workers paradise, Venezuela: From Yahoo/Associated Press:

Critics march against Chavez across Latin America
Thousands of opponents of Hugo Chavez marched against the Venezuelan president across Latin America on Friday, accusing him of everything from authoritarianism to international meddling.

The protests, coordinated through Twitter and Facebook, drew more than 5,000 people in Bogota, and thousands more in the capitals of Venezuela and Honduras. Smaller demonstrations were held in other Latin American capitals, as well as New York and Madrid.

The Honduras march was led by Roberto Micheletti, who became president when Chavez ally Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a June coup.

"Any politician who tries to stay in power by hitching up with a dictator like Hugo Chavez, he won't achieve it," Micheletti said. "We'll stop him."

And, despite Associated Press' obvious bias, Honduran ex-president Zelaya was ousted because he tried to circumvent the Honduran constitution and install himself as president for life. He was staging an election and was ousted before the election took place. In his offices were vote tallying computers showing that he won the election that never took place. This was not a coup, this was a rightful action of a democratic government and they deserve our support and truthfulness in reporting.

Item number two -- from the UK branch of Reuters:

Chavez minister vows more Venezuela radio closings
Venezuela will pull the plug on 29 more radio stations, a top official in President Hugo Chavez's government said on Saturday, just weeks after dozens of other outlets were closed in a media clampdown.

Infrastructure Minister Diosdado Cabello closed 34 radio stations in July, saying the government was "democratizing" media ownership. Critics say the move limits freedom of expression and has taken critical voices off the airwaves.

The powerful Chavez ally has threatened to close over 100 stations in total, part of a long-term campaign against private media that the government says are biased against Chavez's government.

"Another 29 will be gone before long," he told thousands of Chavez supporters at a political rally, without giving details which stations would be closed or when.

Cabello also said he was launching a new legal case against Globovision, the country's most prominent anti-government television network, accusing it of inciting a coup against Chavez.

Business as usual. I hope that they do stage a coup here. Chavez is bankrupting the country and when the oil runs out, Venezuela is going to be in a very sad shape.

An interesting look at labor unions

A good article over at the Washington, DC The Examiner:
Irwin Stelzer: Unions need growth to save unfunded pensions
"We've lost touch with a whole generation.... The problem is that they [under-30s] don't think we have much to offer them," Richard Trumka, the incoming head of the 11-million-member AFL-CIO told the Wall Street Journal.

He plans to rectify that by making union membership more attractive to the 30-and-under set by upping the benefits of union membership. And, of course, by eliminating the secret ballot that unions think reduces their ability to, er, persuade potential recruits of the virtues of membership.

One tool in the kit of the 1,000 organizers Trumka plans to field in support of his 56 unions is the promise of great retirement benefits.

Anyone finding that promise a lure to membership would do well to read a just-released study by my Hudson Institute colleague Diana Furchtgott-Roth and economist Andrew Brown -- "Comparing Union-Sponsored and Private Pension Plans."

It seems that "collectively bargained pension plans perform poorly when compared to plans sponsored unilaterally by single employers for non-union employees."

Among plans covering more than 100 workers, only 17 percent of union plans were fully funded, compared with twice that figure for non-union plans. Perhaps more significant is the comparison of union and non-union plans' ability to meet the test laid out in the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

That Act defines pension funds that have less than 80% of assets they will need to meet their obligations as "endangered." Only 14% of non-union funds are in the endangered category, while 41% of union funds have been so tagged.

By contrast, plans that cover staff and officers of unions are probably much better funded. Sauce for the union-official goose is just too good to be sauce for the rank-and-file gander.
Unions very much had their place 100 years ago. People were not mobile then -- the idea of picking up and moving to a different part of the country was something you only did under great duress. The corporate bosses knew this and could be heavy-handed when it came to setting salaries and benefits as they were, literally, the only game in town. The rise of unions helped re-educate these people and established better working conditions and remunerations. Now, they have faded into a top-heavy oligarchy -- a prime example of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.
This is not lost on the general public either -- from The Union Label Blog:
Unions Take Beating in Public Opinion Poll
The Gallup polling organization recently revealed a poll that shows employee unions are at an all time low in popular opinion. Gallup found �organized labor taking a significant image hit in the past year.�
While 66% of Americans continue to believe unions are beneficial to their own members, a slight majority now say unions hurt the nation�s economy. More broadly, fewer than half of Americans � 48%, an all-time low � approve of labor unions, down from 59% a year ago.
That is a pretty hard fall in just one year. Almost 10% of Americans have changed their opinions toward the negative on unions in just a year. Worse, the once high of 75% approval as it stood in 1957 is now down to 48%. That is also a pretty hard fall. According to Gallup, it has never been that low.
Jumped the shark and the leaders never planned for this -- they planned as though there would be a steady stream of new recruits. Guess what guys -- the ride is over and the rank and file members of unions like SEIU are being used as political pawns and at the end of the day, they will be used up and thrown away...
Van Jones is out. From MyWay/Associated Press:
Obama 'green jobs' adviser quits amid controversy
President Barack Obama's adviser Van Jones has resigned amid controversy over past inflammatory statements, the White House said early Sunday.

Jones, an administration official specializing in environmentally friendly "green jobs" with the White House Council on Environmental Quality was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the 2001 terror attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans.

The resignation comes as Obama is working to regain his footing in the contentious health care debate.

Jones issued an apology on Thursday for his past statements. When asked the next day whether Obama still had confidence in him, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said only that Jones "continues to work in the administration."

The matter surfaced after news reports of a derogatory comment Jones made in the past about Republicans, and separately, of Jones' name appearing on a petition connected to the events surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. That 2004 petition had asked for congressional hearings and other investigations into whether high-level government officials had allowed the attacks to occur.

"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me," Jones said in his resignation statement. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."
Emphasis mine -- what a huge vainglorious steaming load of crap. He is on record as calling Republicans Assholes He is on record as being a 9/11 truther The list goes on. This is one person who was very much not ready for prime time. The idea that he is still working in the administration makes my spidey senses tingle -- not a thrill-up-the-leg tingle, more a noise-in-the-night tingle that has me reaching for the shotgun...

What is it with British City Councils

From the Beeb:
Blur Banksy is ruined by mistake
A mural by graffiti artist Banksy, which once featured on the cover of a single by rock band Blur, has been painted over by Hackney Council.

The spoof image of the Royal Family, painted on the side of a building in Stoke Newington, east London, was partially covered with black paint.

The building's owner was in tears as she begged workmen to stop. By the time she persuaded them it was almost gone.

Hackney Council said the image was painted over in error.

Property owner Sofie Attrill gave consent for the mural to be painted on the building so it could be photographed for the launch of Blur's 2003 single Crazy Beat.

Since then it has attracted tourists from all over the world and become a local landmark.

Ms Attrill, 50, a property manager who lives in the building, said workmen used rollers to cover it in black paint.

She said: "The workmen were smiling as they did it - they thought it was funny.

"I just burst into tears. But a crowd gathered and we managed to get them to stop before destroying it completely."

Hackney Council needed permission to remove the mural because it was on private property.

But its letters were sent to an address Ms Attrill lived at 25 years ago.

After receiving no response the council served an enforcement notice.
I like Banksy's work -- it is art to me. What gets me riled up is that these "councils" have power but zero wisdom. Just like the story earlier today: The nanny-state that was England They are the nattering class. What in a large business would be classified as ineffectual middle-management suck-ups. We have County councils here and the elections garner a lot of active participation and observation. Politics is alive and afoot in the Pacific Northwest...

Ronald and Teddy

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A wonderful story about being outmaneuvered without realizing what happened. From Cato at Liberty:
Method to the Meandering
For Calvin Coolidge, one of our greatest presidents, reticence was both a personality trait and a political strategy. As Coolidge told his Commerce secretary and successor, Herbert Hoover, �Nine-tenths of [visitors to the White House] want something they ought not to have. If you keep dead still, they will run down in three or four minutes.�

It seems that Ronald Reagan,�an admirer of Coolidge�s who hung Silent Cal�s portrait in the Cabinet Room�adopted a similar strategy, though one more in keeping with Reagan�s gregarious persona. Alas, Ted Kennedy, who recounted the story in his upcoming memoir, wasn�t sharp enough to figure out what was going on. From an article on the Kennedy book in today�s New York Times:
[Senator Kennedy] said it had been difficult to get Reagan to focus on policy matters. He described a meeting with him that he and other senators had sought to press for shoe and textile import limits.

The senators were told that they would have just 30 minutes with the president. Reagan began the meeting, the book said, commenting on Mr. Kennedy�s shoes � asking if they were Bostonians � and then talking for 20 minutes about shoes and his experience selling shoes for his father. �Several of us began conspicuously to glance at our watches.� But to no avail. �And it was over!� Mr. Kennedy said. �No one got a word in about shoe or textile quota legislation.�
Huh. Go figure.
A big hat tip to Pejman Yousefzadeh at Checquer Board of Nights and Days who had this to say:
Reagan Coolidged Kennedy
Quite so. See also my earlier post. More story-telling, small-government Presidents who charmingly run out the clock on rent-seeking politicians, please.

Local asshats topple tower

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Talk about anti-environmentalism writ large... Earth Liberation Front is a domestic terrorist group whose actions purport to save the environment but they don't ever really think about the consequences of their actions and they generally have a significantly negative overall effect.

One that hit close to home was the 2001 fire at the Center for Urban Horticulture which destroyed a delightful library, 25% of the worlds population of an endangered plant and the work of a Professor who was hybridizing Poplar Trees.

It was the last item they were protesting saying that Bradshaw was releasing genetically modified trees back into the wild. Bradshaw was not doing GM, he was doing plain old hybridization -- breeding plants that had the characteristics he wanted and cultivating the offspring. Compare the corn we now enjoy to the corn of 100 years ago and you can see how successful this is... Well, ELF is at it again.

From CNN:

Activists topple towers, claim dangers of AM radio waves
A group cited by U.S. officials as a domestic terrorism threat claimed responsibility Friday for knocking down two radio station towers in Snohomish County, Washington.

The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) issued a statement saying opponents of the towers argue that "AM radio waves cause adverse health effects including a higher rate of cancer, harm to wildlife, and that the signals have been interfering with home phone and intercom lines."

"When all legal channels of opposition have been exhausted, concerned citizens have to take action into their own hands to protect life and the planet," Jason Crawford, a spokesman for the group, said in a news release.

Emphasis mine -- what a crock of abject hooey. There has been a long-standing unnatural fear over the effects of high voltage transmission lines popularized by books like Paul Brodeur's Currents of Death and The Great Power Line Cover-Up. Unfortunately, these all stem from a failed epidemiological study by Nancy Wertheimer and Ed Leeper published in 1979. For more information (and links) read: Power Lines and Cancer: Nothing to Fear

Radio waves cause zero harm -- if they did, we would all be dead from the normal leakage from our microwave ovens, from the powerful radars at airports, from our cell phones and television sets... Radio waves are all around us and to have an irrational fear of them is just that -- irrational. I am willing to bet that none of the mokes who toppled the tower have taken any hard science classes in high-school let alone college level.

Fscking morons...

Another story from England

This one is from the London Daily Mail:
Teacher who handed his terminally ill father a Walther PPK pistol to kill himself on busy hospital ward is jailed
The son of a terminally ill patient who shot himself dead on a busy ward was jailed yesterday for three years after admitting smuggling the weapon into hospital.

A court heard that Ian Button, 63, had left his doting son Guy with a 'burden that is the stuff of tragedies' after asking him to bring in the Walther PPK handgun to the hospital.

Mr Button senior, a car rental manager, had decided to end his life days after being diagnosed with terminal lung disease. His wife Christine, also 63, was in a care home suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

Their only child, a music teacher and talented tuba player, smuggled the Second World War-era pistol into the ward hidden in a leather bag during a morning visit last October.
Hell -- I would do the same thing on either side of the equation. To be lingering in a hospital bed is not the way to go. To have a loved one in that condition is just as horrid. The idea that the son is facing three years in prison is insane...

The nanny-state that was England

From the UK Mirror:

Gardeners banned from using barbed wire in case they hurt vandals
Gardeners have been banned from using barbed wire to stop allotment vandals - in case the yobs hurt themselves.

The council blocked the allotment holders' bid to increase security because it was afraid the criminals would sue.

Property has been damaged up to three times a week at the Muddy Bottom East Allotment in Southampton. In one attack 15 sheds were smashed, water butts overturned and taps left running.

But when plot holders asked the council to put up the wire, it said no for fear of legal action.

Grandfather Mervyn Hobden, 67, who rents several plots there, blasted the decision as "crazy".

He said: "The fences are easy to climb. We asked for four lines of barbed wire to put on the top, but the council said they have a liability towards the trespasser.

Council needs to grow a pair and the gardners need to take turns at night with a pump-action shotgun filled with rocksalt...

Waking up in America

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Glen Beck interviews ex-radical and son of Communists David Horowitz:

One of the better fifteen minutes you will spend... Hat tip to Theo Spark

Henry Rollins on Mary Jo Kopechne

One of the more interesting performers out there, Henry Rollins, front man for Black Flag and prolific author. He had these words to say in Vanity Fair:
Where's Mary Jo Kopechne's Eulogy?
Not Far Under The Surface. Let�s say I am driving myself and a passenger in my car at night. I accidentally drive off a bridge into the water below. I am able to get out of the submerged vehicle but for some reason, I am unable to free the passenger. I gather two friends, a relative and my lawyer and return to the scene. We are unable to rescue the person trapped in the car. Several hours later, myself nor the two others I took to the site have called the authorities. In fact, it�s two fishermen who find the car the next morning as even then, no one has been called to the scene. The car is removed from the water and it is determined that its occupant is dead. This tragic incident is made international news by my circumstances. I am very well known, a United States senator. My family is incredibly powerful. There are allegations that I had been drinking heavily hours up to the time I got into the vehicle with the passenger. I deny this for the rest of my life. That at no point did I make an attempt to call for rescue would probably be considered by many people to be outrageous and horrible, perhaps a crime that would carry a prison sentence. Can you imagine what the parents of the deceased would be going through when they found out that their 28-year-old daughter died alone in total darkness? I serve no time. Not inconvenienced by the burdensome obstacle of incarceration, I seek to maintain my elected position. I am successful and remain a senator for the next four decades. Would any deed I performed in that time, besides going to prison for the negligent homicide I committed all those years ago, be enough to wipe the slate clean? After my passing, would you fail to mention the incident and the death of this innocent person in reviewing the events of my long and lauded life? You wouldn't forget about her, would you? That would be negligent.
What he said. Kennedy has a new autobiography coming out and out of nine hundred pages, five of them address Chappaquiddick...

That is it for the night

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Stuff to do in the DaveCave(tm) and not much happening on the intarwebs. Read the entire Internet twice and didn't see much new of interest.

Wooly Bears

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David St.Lawrence writes at Ripples:
Have you noticed the all-black wooly bears this year?
We may be in for a very severe winter if you believe the Farmer's Almanac.

Here in Floyd, VA, we are seeing an all-black version of the common wooly bear caterpillar without the traditional wooly bear stripes. It is completely black from end to end and has a soft fuzzy coat like a normal wooly bear.

At left is the winter severity legend in pictorial form. Image from the Wooly Bear Festival in Vermillion, OH

According to legend, the severity of the upcoming winter can be judged by examining the pattern of brown and black stripes on woolly bear caterpillars--the larvae of Isabella tiger moths.

If the brown stripe between the two black stripes is thick, the winter will be a mild one. A narrow brown stripe portends a long, cold winter. So, what will happen when there is no brown stripe at all?

This is what a normal Isabella tiger moth wooly bear looks like:

Our black wooly bear was identical to this, but was all black.
All of the indicators are pointing to a cold winter. It is already getting chilly at night. Got two cords of firewood from last year and getting two more from a neighbor.

Do not get interviewed by Jan Helfeld:

Barney Frank on Interns and Minimum Wage

Nancy Pelosi on Minimum Wage and her interns

Harry Reid on taxation being voluntary

Crosswalk sign hacking

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From Urban Prankster via BoingBoing My favorite:
Time to measure out some crosswalk signs in Bellingham and fire up the laminating machine...

Sunspot cycle 24 - will it ever show?

An interesting argument that sunspots may be going away entirely.

From Watts Up With That:

NASA: Are Sunspots Disappearing?
From NASA News: Are Sunspots Disappearing?

September 3, 2009: The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing?

"Personally, I'm betting that sunspots are coming back," says researcher Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. But, he allows, "there is some evidence that they won't."

Penn's colleague Bill Livingston of the NSO has been measuring the magnetic fields of sunspots for the past 17 years, and he has found a remarkable trend. Sunspot magnetism is on the decline.

I had blogged about it on August 21st. The thing to look at is this -- the magnetic strength of the sunspots:


Last winter was brutal, this coming winter should be interesting...

The Coffer Illusion

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Count the circles:
Hat tip to TYWKIWDBI Source here: Illusion of the Year Contest

Business as usual in Chicago

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From the Chicago Sun Times comes yet another example of Chicago Politics:
Daley's press secretary owns reputed drug house
Mayor Daley�s most trusted aide � press secretary Jacquelyn Heard � and her husband own a West Side building that was targeted earlier this year by the Chicago Police as a drug and gang house, officials confirmed Thursday.

Narcotics officers had raided the house at 5319 W. Adams on May 7, making two arrests and seizing 10 plastic baggies containing marijuana and heroin, police records show.

Police referred the property to the city�s Law Department for possible prosecution of Heard and her husband under the Drug and Gang House Enforcement program. The Law Department has not filed any action against the couple, but the case remains under review, Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said.
Granted, it is an investment property that was rented out but if you don't vet your tennants, you need to use a Property Management service to do that for you.

Let's all celebrate National Bacon Day

The Saturday before Labor Day US (the first Monday of Sep.)

From the International Bacon Day website:

Welcome to International Bacon Day
Bacon Day is open to everyone. Vegetarians can have fake-con (soy bacon) and religious objectors non-pork bacon (I suggest turkey bacon).

Bacon Day is a day of Bacon... think Iron Chef but all day and the secret ingredient is Bacon. Breakfast traditionally consists of bacon waffles, with a side of bacon, and any other concoctions thought up. Throughout the day there are showings of Kevin Bacon movies and any other movies with leading roles given to pigs, e.g. Babe, Piglet's Big Adventure. Lunch must have BLTs and there are snacks around and slices of bacon everywhere. Dinner is a fight for your food quite literally. It is more a tasting of all things bacon and everyone wants a taste. Due to the vast quantities of bacon cooked, the grill outside is the best bet. If you are invited to a Bacon Day celebration, it is traditional to bring something to eat (of course containing bacon) which can be made there if the host allows, and drink (which may or may not include bacon).

The creator of Bacon Day is Seth. His friends helped put together the logistics (a BIG thanks to Evan and Brandon and possibly me Alexa:) ) and as we are starting to all move on from our grad student days, we plan to bring bacon day with us. This blog is to help spread, coordinate future bacon days, and share. The first Annual Bacon Day was held in 2005.

If you have any questions or want to hear the full story about Bacon Day and how it was created, feel free to email us at at gmail dot com.


Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm Bacon!

Obamacare - who enforces it

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Nasty little bit of information from the Washington, D.C. The Examiner:
Health care reform means more power for the IRS
There's been a lot of discussion about the new and powerful federal agencies that would be created by the passage of a national health care bill. The Health Choices Administration, the Health Benefits Advisory Committee, the Health Insurance Exchange � there are dozens in all.

But if the plan envisioned by President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats is enacted, the primary federal bureaucracy responsible for implementing and enforcing national health care will be an old and familiar one: the Internal Revenue Service. Under the Democrats' health care proposals, the already powerful � and already feared � IRS would wield even more power and extend its reach even farther into the lives of ordinary Americans, and the presidentially-appointed head of the new health care bureaucracy would have access to confidential IRS information about millions of individual taxpayers.

In short, health care reform, as currently envisioned by Democratic leaders, would be built on the foundation of an expanded and more intrusive IRS.

Under the various proposals now on the table, the IRS would become the main agency for determining who has an "acceptable" health insurance plan; for finding and punishing those who don't have such a plan; for subsidizing individual health insurance costs through the issuance of a tax credits; and for enforcing the rules on those who attempt to opt out, abuse, or game the system. A substantial portion of H.R. 3200, the House health care bill, is devoted to amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in order to give the IRS the authority to perform these new duties.

The Democrats' plan would require all Americans to have "acceptable" insurance coverage (the legislation includes long and complex definitions of "acceptable") and would designate the IRS as the agency charged with enforcing that requirement. On your yearly 1040 tax return, you would be required to attest that you have "acceptable" coverage. Of course, you might be lying, or simply confused about whether or not you are covered, so the IRS would need a way to check your claim for accuracy. Under current plans, insurers would be required to submit to the IRS something like the 1099 form in which taxpayers report outside income. The IRS would then check the information it receives from the insurers against what you have submitted on your tax form.

If it all matches up, you're fine. If it doesn't, you will hear from the IRS. And if you don't have "acceptable" coverage, you will be subject to substantial fines � fines that will be administered by the IRS.
I want my Republic back again dammit! This is downright unreal that they think this is what is best for us...

DNA testing - a novel approach

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From Albuquerque, NM station KOAT:
Authorities Use Feces To Find Suspected Thief
Detectives are interested in what a thief left behind in a string of burglaries in Valencia County.

A Belen home is one of hundreds targeted by thieves in Valencia County, but deputies said this burglary was different.

The county sheriff said the bandit stole guns that were more like heirlooms to the homeowner.

The guns were passed down through the generations and the homeowner, who was afraid to show his face, said he is still coming to grips with the loss.

"It's like they ripped my heart out," the homeowner said.

It's what the bandit did next that's baffling. He smoked the cigarettes in the home.

"He ate their food and drank the drinks they had," said Valencia County Sheriff Rene Rivera.

The thief used the bathroom and left his solid waste on display for the homeowner.

"It's more of an insult right there. It was a big slap in the face," the homeowner said.

That same type of evidence was found at several different burglary scenes.

The detectives on the case said they used the thief's calling card against him. The feces went into evidence and the state crime lab extracted DNA from it.

"We ended up getting a hit," Rivera said.

The hit came from the state's DNA database and deputies said they now have a possible suspect.

The man turned out to be a convicted burglar who is on parole.
Heh... Not the brightest tool in the box. Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.
Some amazing photography. Check out the Boston Globe's Big Picture: Wildfires in Southern California Also, this interesting bit of information -- from Google/Associated Press:
Feds didn't clear brush in wildfire area
Federal authorities failed to follow through on plans earlier this year to burn away highly flammable brush in a forest on the edge of Los Angeles to avoid the very kind of wildfire now raging there, The Associated Press has learned.

Months before the huge blaze erupted, the U.S. Forest Service obtained permits to burn away the undergrowth and brush on more than 1,700 acres of the Angeles National Forest. But just 193 acres had been cleared by the time the fire broke out, Forest Service resource officer Steve Bear said.

The agency defended its efforts, saying weather, wind and environmental rules tightly limit how often these "prescribed burns" can be conducted.

Bear said crews using machinery and hand tools managed to trim 5,000 acres in the forest this year before the money ran out. Ideally, "at least a couple thousand more acres" would have been cleared.

Could more have been done to clear tinder-dry hillsides and canyons?

"We don't necessarily disagree with that," Bear said. "We weren't able to complete what we wanted to do."

Some critics suggested that protests from environmentalists over prescribed burns contributed to the disaster, which came after the brush was allowed to build up for as much as 40 years.

"This brush was ready to explode," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district overlaps the forest. "The environmentalists have gone to the extreme to prevent controlled burns, and as a result we have this catastrophe today."

Prescribed burns are intended to protect homes and lives by eliminating fuel that can cause explosive wildfires. The wildfire that has blackened 140,000 acres � or nearly 219 square miles � in the forest over the past week has been fed by the kind of tinder-dry vegetation that prescribed burns are designed to safely devour.
Emphases mine -- the unintended consequences of the enviros actions are far greater than the "environmental catastrophe" they succeeded in preventing -- ie: the controlled burns. In Nature, fires like these happen every couple of years; the underbrush gets cleared out and life goes on. If you actively suppress the fires when they start, the underbrush is going to grow more and more and during times of dry weather it becomes an incredibly rich fuel source. A bit more:
Figures from the California's South Coast Air Quality Management District suggested even less was protectively burned.

The agency said it granted six permits sought by the Forest Service to conduct prescribed burns on 1,748 acres in the forest this year. The agency reviews such requests to ensure air quality in the often-smoggy Los Angeles area will not be worsened by smoke from intentional fires.
And one more:
Steve Brink, a vice president with the California Forestry Association, an industry group, said as many as 8 million acres of national forest in California are overgrown and at risk of wildfire. He said that too few days provide the conditions necessary for larger, prescribed burns and that the Forest Service needs to speed up programs to thin forests, largely by machine.

"Special interest groups that don't want them to do it have appeals and litigation through the courts to stall or stop any project they wish. Consequently, the Forest Service is not able to put a dent in the problem," Brink said.

Mt Wilson fire update

They changed the links for the fire and Observatory websites. Here is the main Mt. Wilson Observatory website. Here is the website with the fire updates. The primary website and the tower-cam are both down as they used fiberglass junction boxes for the wiring for the T-1 line. They melted and the wiring broke. Latest fire update:
Wednesday, 2 Sep 09, 5:25 PDT - These comments will likely not be updated for perhaps as long as this coming Sunday evening. My wife Susan and I are flying out to LA tomorrow to spend some time on the mountain. Deputy Chief Powers has arranged for a fire department escort from La Canada to Red Box through all the road blocks, and we plan on staying on the mountain - in the Kapteyn Cottage - if we can. I'll be reporting back here with my impressions of this remarkable event and hope to have photographs and mpegs of our Observatory for you.

The situation remains as it has been all day. The Observatory grounds are in the best possible shape, the fire fighters remain determined and in position, and we expect to survive this unless the approaching fire obtains far more aggressiveness and complexity than it now presents. But, the fire to the north, against which all the back fires and preparation of last night were mounted, still lurks. I remain optimistic, but we cannot declare the end to any danger until the fire is declared contained by authorities. That date, as of the latest Inciweb report, has been set back to September 15. So, there's still much watchful waiting ahead.
The InciWeb website mentioned is fascinating and can be found here: InciWeb

Long day today

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Worked at the farm this morning, went into the store around Noon to get some coffee and check on things. The evening shift person was in a lot of pain (she has back problems and is having fusion surgery in a few weeks) so Jen took over her shift. I went into town for my weekly Acupuncture, grabbed a bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant, got some Chili Verde to go for Jen and headed back out. We closed the store and just got home (it's 10:30PM) The Acupuncture sessions generally wipe me out (very good practitioner) so my butt is dragging... Out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to bed.

Time for a few heads to roll

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From Bloomberg:
SEC Never Did �Competent� Madoff Probe, Report Finds
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission never undertook a �thorough and competent� probe of Bernard Madoff amid at least six complaints that he was running a Ponzi scheme, the agency�s internal watchdog said.

�The SEC received more than ample information in the form of detailed and substantive complaints over the years to warrant a thorough and comprehensive examination� of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, Inspector General H. David Kotz wrote in a summary of a report released today. Tips from a money manager, a �respected hedge-fund manager,� a firm that studied Madoff�s business and two anonymous informants failed to spur a complete probe, Kotz wrote.

The inspector general�s investigation didn�t find that senior SEC officials tried to improperly influence or interfere with inquiries.

The report is the most exhaustive look yet into the SEC�s failure to detect the world�s biggest Ponzi scheme, a $65 billion fraud that spanned decades and burned thousands of investors, including universities, charities and affluent clients. Lawmakers crafting a regulatory overhaul have awaited Kotz�s findings since agency officials rebuffed questions at hearings in January and February, citing the continuing Madoff inquiry.
I wonder if any of the SEC investigators had their money with Bernie. Conflict of interest anyone?

Now this is going to be really interesting

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The Saudi royal family have long been exporting a particularly nasty form of Islam called Wahhabism. They have sent money to build Mosques and have provided literature that, when translated, is hateful and directly incites violence against other faiths. Looks like some of their work has come home to roost. From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Al-Qaida claims attack that injured Saudi prince
Al-Qaida claimed responsibility Sunday for a suicide attack that injured a Saudi prince and said the bomber � a wanted militant who had fled to Yemen � arrived on a royal jet after convincing the ruling family he wanted to surrender.

Despite the attack on Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, his father, Interior Minister Prince Nayef, said the kingdom would not change its offer for militants to repent. Saudi Arabia has been praised for having one of the world's best terrorist rehabilitation programs in the world.

Saudi officials have said the prince was lightly wounded in the bombing at his home in Jiddah Thursday night while he was receiving well-wishers for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. If al-Qaida's claim proves to be true, it would be an embarrassment for the prince and his father, two of the kingdom's top anti-terrorism officials. Prince Nayef is a half brother of Saudi King Abdullah and one of the most powerful members of the royal family.

"You tyrants ... your bastions and fortifications will not prevent us from reaching you. We will come to you soon," al-Qaida warned in an Internet statement. The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified, but it was posted on militant Web sites often used by al-Qaida.

In one version of the events, Al-Arabiya, a Saudi-owned television network, said the attacker concealed the explosives in his anus, allowing him to evade detection. The network also quoted an expert as saying that the method of concealment aimed the blast away from the target, while blowing the bomber to bits.
It will be interesting to see the fallout from this. The animal biting the hand that fed it...

Hey Peak Oil people - stick it!

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We seem to keep finding huge oil deposits deep down in the earth. British Petroleum just found one off our coast. From Bloomberg:
BP Makes �Giant� Oil Discovery in Gulf of Mexico
BP Plc, Europe�s second-largest oil company, reported a �giant� discovery at the Tiber Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico that may contain more than 3 billion barrels, after drilling the world�s deepest exploration well.

The well is located about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Houston, the London-based company said today in a statement. It was drilled to approximately 35,055 feet (10,685 meters), greater than the height of Mount Everest.

The latest discovery will help BP, already the biggest producer in the Gulf of Mexico, boost output in the region by 50 percent to 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day after 2020. It�s equal to about a year�s output from Saudi Arabia, the biggest exporter in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, as well as coming close to matching the U.K.�s entire proven reserves.
Cool but isn't that our milkshake? We need to be drilling offshore right now...

The Kopp-Etchells Effect

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An amazing story with some amazing photographs. When a metal helicopter blade passes through bone-dry air with suspended particles, luminescence happens. There was never a name for this effect until now. Check out Michael Yon's Online Magazine for the images and the story. Here is one to whet your appetite:
Some good news - from the CHARA website (the Mountain's internet connection is gone):
Tuesday, 1 Sep 09, 7:21 pm PDT - Much to report! I just got off the phone calling Larry Webster's office on the mountain hoping to confirm his arrival. Instead of Larry, the phone was answered by LA County Deputy Fire Chief Jim Powers who is in charge of protection for structures at the Observatory. Wow, do I feel much better. First, Larry, Dave Jurasevich and John Harrigan arrived safely on site. When I identified myself, Chief Powers asked if I would like a briefing. You can imagine my answer. Here's what I know.

Fire fighters arrived earlier than I previously reported and by 8:00 am they had started their prep work. They began at the northeast corner of the Observatory using drip torches all along a line from that point traversing the northern perimeter to the boundary of the antenna areas. They are currently applying the same treatment to the east and southern boundaries of the site and expect to complete that this evening. These fires will clear ground debris and burn down slope with the intention of meeting any approaching fire with depleted fuel. Many of you watched the Super Scooper drop a major load of water, which was deposited downslope from the backfires and not on the Observatory grounds. That has been supplemented by other aerial tankers and helitankers for more precision dropping at crucial locations. The goal is to slow down encroaching fire, disperse it and make it more manageable.

Chief Powers expressed his absolute confidence that they will save the Observatory. He said that while it may have appeared over the last day or so that the Observatory was being neglected, that they never lost sight of the importance of Mount Wilson's preservation and it is now their highest priority. He flew up to the mountain yesterday, was delighted with what he found and knew they could achieve success here. There are now 150 fire fighters on Mount Wilson. Not only are the crews from Calaveras County (Cal Fire) back up there, but there are Los Angeles County fire fighters and even a crew from Helena, Montana. They have eight engines equipped to spray fire retardant on structures in addition to the crew engines. Chief Powers told me this army of fire fighters is "not going anywhere. They are very hard working and talented people who will get the job done."

After this uplifting briefing from Chief Powers, Dave called me from the CHARA conference room where he will be bunking down for the night. He filled in with some other information he'd learnd from the Chief prior to my own briefing.

The fire is slowly coming up to the mountaintop through the canyon containing the remnants of the old Strain's Camp. Mountain water wells are located above the old tourist camping site. They are also anticipated as coming up the steep eastern canyon located between the Berkeley ISI facility and the CHARA machine shop - due east of the 100-inch telescope. The back fires will burn all the way down this canyon to disable this approach. Dave reported seeing fire on the way up at Eaton Saddle down towards Camp High Hill.

There is no structural damage on the mountain. A short in a pull box produce by old flimsy splicing was compromised by the back fires and power lost to the high pressure fire pump system. (We have also obviously lost our internet connection to the mountain.) John Harrigan and Larry Webster were shopping at "Mount Wilson Depot" - the electrical storage area in the 100-inch telescope building - for materials to construct a new power line to the fire pump building. This should present no difficulties at all for those guys.

Our facility is in great shape for defensibility and in the hands of a group of enthusiastic, highly experienced and absolutely devoted fire fighters. I want to acknowledge my predecessor Bob Jastrow for initiating a brush clearing program that we have continued, and I thank folks like the W. M. Keck Foundation for helping us a few years ago with funding for that activity. Chief Powers assured me that there is never a need to fully evacuate our site and it is essential that we leave knowledgeable personnel on site to assist them and ensure that our fire fighting and support infrastructure is functional. "They are as essential to your protection as smoke alarms," Chief Powers said. That makes me feel so much better about letting Dave, Larry and John go back on site.

Hearing the absolute confidence and expertise in Chief Powers' voice has given me great optimism for, what the Chief said himself, would be "another hundred years for Mount Wilson Observatory."
I hope and pray that their optimism is founded -- fire can be tricky. The Los Angeles Times is doing a "Big Picture" style photo section of the fire -- some amazing images.

The outcome of the Cash for Clunkers program

An interesting look at the numbers from Google/Associated Press:
Clunkers aid Ford, Toyota sales; GM, Chrysler fall
The Cash for Clunkers program boosted sales at Ford, Toyota and Honda in August as consumers snapped up their fuel-efficient offerings, but rivals Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. withstood another month of falling sales.

The program, which ended on Aug. 24, drew hordes of buyers into quiet showrooms by offering up to $4,500 toward new, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. The hefty rebates gave automakers and dealers a much-needed lift, spurring 690,114 new sales, many of them during August, at a taxpayer cost of $2.88 billion.
Let's see - GM and Chrysler get Government bailouts. Ford refuses it. The Asian companies keep doing what they do best -- listening to their customers and making a quality product. The invisible hand of the marketplace reveals itself again...

Following your bliss - to the Thunderdome

Talk about human interest story -- from the London Times:
Mad Max fan moves from Yorkshire to the Outback
A British man�s 27-year obsession with the post-apocalyptic biker movie Mad Max has led to him moving his family from Yorkshire to a tiny town in the middle of the Australian Outback.

Adrian Bennett first saw the iconic Australian film Mad Max and its sequel The Road Warrior, which starred Mel Gibson as a revengeful drifter who wanders the Outback with his police �Interceptor� car and his devoted dog, as a double bill at the cinema when he was a teenager in England in 1982.

Now 45, Mr Bennett has decided to fulfill his dream of living in the same town where the first two movies were made and has moved his wife Linda and two of his sons from their home in Bradford, Yorkshire, to Silverton near Broken Hill on the border of New South Wales and South Australia.

He says he moved to the tiny and remote Outback town, which is located over 800 miles west of Sydney and has a population of just 51 (including the Bennetts), so he can set up a Mad Max museum in his backyard where he can park his custom-made made replica black Interceptor.
A bit more -- the idea is not as daft as it initially seems:
Silverton is often described as a �ghost town� because of its remote location and small population, but is a popular tourist destination with approximately 140,000 visitors each year.

�We have taken a really big risk but I�ve followed my dream, so for me it�s all fallen into place,� said Mr Bennett, adding that his family have been captivated by the arid landscape and local wildlife.

�The other day I woke up and there were a dozen emus passing the back fence ... you wouldn�t get that in Yorkshire,� he said. �It�s just such a big and beautiful place. It doesn�t matter what direction you look in, you still feel like you�re on a film set.�

That's probably because it is a film set. Silverton has been used as the location for dozens of features including Mission: Impossible II and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and is regularly featured in international commercials.

Locals, many of whom were extras or stuntmen in the Mad Max movies and are accustomed to film enthusiasts breezing into town, have welcomed their new British neighbours with open arms.

Publican Chris Fraser, who runs the Silverton Hotel and also has a replica Interceptor car, describes Mr Bennett as a �fair dinkum, wonderful bloke� who lives and breathes Mad Max.

�He�s going to be an asset to the community and to the region bringing his Mad Max museum to town its going to create more tourism for us, the phenomenon of the Mad Max movies just grows every day,� Mr Fraser said.
140,000 visitors per year and he is opening a museum for one of the principal movies? Brilliant! I would love to visit Australia one day and Silverton is certainly now on my itinerary.

A fine school

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Talk about having the wrong person in charge. From the Florida St. Petersburg Times:
St. Petersburg educator gets 69 months for theft from scholarship fund
St. Petersburg educator and activist Marva Dennard was sentenced Monday to 69 months in prison, the maximum under her plea agreement, for stealing more than $150,000 from state scholarship programs. She also was ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution.

Dennard, 69, was accused of stealing from the John M. McKay Scholarship for students with disabilities program and the Corporate Tax Credit scholarship program for children from low-income families. Charged with grand theft and aggravated white-collar crime, she could have received up to 30 years on each first-degree felony.

"You entered into a scheme and took a ton of public money," Judge R. Timothy Peters told Dennard.

Peters noted that many Dennard supporters had asked for leniency on her behalf, but none had "any direct knowledge" of what had happened at her school. Dennard had misrepresented that she was providing professional services to the students, Peters said. Additionally, he said, her school lacked books, teachers and decent classrooms. Though Dennard pleaded guilty, Peters said, she had shown no remorse. "You accepted responsibility for nothing," he said.

As it became clear Peters would sentence Dennard to prison, several family members ran crying from the courtroom. Dennard seemed on the verge of collapse after hearing her sentence. A bailiff gave her a chair.

Dennard, who operated Bishop Academy II, was accused of inflating student numbers and submitting scholarship applications that indicated tuition was $3,500 or $7,500. The actual tuition was $2,600. She also was accused of receiving money for students who were no longer at the school or had never attended, and of failing to provide the specialized professional services prescribed by and paid for by the Department of Education.

Theodore R. Dudley Jr., a supervisor with the Florida Department of Financial Services, testified that more than $243,000 from the school's account had gone to Dennard and members of her family. Some money was used to pay personal utility, electric and cable bills and property taxes, he said.

Assistant state attorney Rene Bauer said the total amount of Dennard's theft was more than $340,000.
Activist -- she had to list herself as an activist. I am beginning to develop a hatred for activists -- that blanket bit of NewSpeak that covers such a range of theft, political power grabbing and corruption. To do such a huge disservice to those children under her care is heinous. The fact that it was a program for disabled kids makes it even worse. My question is why there wasn't a better level of oversight -- shouldn't there have been a board and shouldn't the school have been audited every couple years or so?

What with all of the publicity and hype surrounding the death of that minor Senator from Massachusetts, we must not forget Norman Snitker.

From Iowahawk:

"Lion of Leinenkugel" Norm Snitker, 62, Laid to Rest
La Crosse WI -- Slowly filing past a green-and-gold casket festooned with cheese curds, lottery tickets, and bouquets of 6-pack rings, the city of La Crosse bid a tearful farewell this morning to Norman V. "Norm" Snitker, 62. Long heralded as the "Lion of Leinenkugel" for his relentless fight for free beer and shots at local taverns and supper clubs, Snitker succumbed to an exploding liver Tuesday evening during a late model modified heat at La Crosse Speedway's $1 Jagermeister night.

"Norm left an amazing legacy, and an amazing bar tab," said mourner Les Schreindl, 59. "La Crosse won't see his likes again soon."

Like hundreds of other who came to pay their respects at First Presbyterian -- some traveling from as far as Menomonie, Pewaukee, Ashwebenon, and Waunawacamapepee -- Schreindl wiped a tear in remembrance of the fallen champion of universal alcohol rights. Many vowed to carry on his fight, but along with the heartfelt, staggering eulogies, there was a melancholy sense that the death of Norm Snitker marked the end of the Snitker welding supply dynasty that has for so long dominated public life in La Crosse County.

A Storied Life
Born on July 9, 1947 as the 7th child of legendary La Crosse welding supply impresario and kingmaker Elmer Snitker, Norman Snitker grew up amid the stately opulence afforded by his father's reported $15,000 fortune, bass boat, and palatial storage shed. By all accounts a precocious drinker, he took early advantage of his birthright and fully stocked basement liquor cabinet, earning the first of his 138 lifetime DUIs at age 11.

Although he grew up in privilege, Snitker insiders say that even at a young age Norm showed a deep empathy for those who were less fortunate.

"Norm would look at the other kids at school, and say, 'why don't they have access to the same fake IDs as me? Why must they remain sober?'" said classmate Glenn Hunsaker. "It became a crusade for him, and he became an activist. Every Friday night you'd see him at the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, making sure that every kid in La Crosse got the Pabst and Old Style that they so desperately needed."

Despite those early accomplishments, young Norm Snitker was often overshadowed by his glamorous and dashing older brothers, Stu, Larry and Wayne, whose tragic deaths transfixed southwest Wisconsin. He was only seven when eldest brother Stu was felled by a salmonella-infected bratwurst. By the time he was was an 18-year old GED student, eldest surviving brother Larry M. Snitker had already taken the helm of the family's Tri-County Welding Supply dynasty. The brief golden age of Weldalot came to a tragic end at the 1967 'Ice Bowl' game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, when a celebrating LMS was slain by a goalpost icicle. He was succeeded by Wayne, whose life abruptly ended in 1981 after his mullet became ensnared in the rollers of a QuikTrip weenie heater.

After the death of Wayne, a grief-stricken La Crosse awaited the appointment of Norm Snitker to the presidency of Tri-County Welding Supply, but some on its board questioned whether he was ready for the responsibilities of the office. After 6 cheating expulsions from La Crosse Vo-Tech Community College and a growing list of DUI, shoplifting, and public indecency arrests, some worried whether the 34-year old should be entrusted with the oxyacetylene "button." But Norm pointed out that, mediocrity or not, he was still a Snitker and entitled to his genetic turn at the helm.

The argument won over most of the La Crosse media, and it appeared he was a shoe-in for the job until the evening of December 20, 1981, a night which remains shrouded in mystery and controversy. At a private "no wives" Christmas party attended by Snitker and five stockroom girls from Tri-County, Snitker and Rhonda Lee Reinke, 24, left on his Arctic Cat for what witnesses say was a moonlight cow-tipping tryst. 45 minutes later Snitker arrived at Duegger's Taproom without Reinke. On Christmas morning, Snitker phoned the La Crosse sheriff's department to report that, "oh yeah, I think Rhonda fell in the curd tank at the old dairy plant on Highway KR. Hurry please, help help."

When deputies arrived on the scene with emergency graters, they discovered Reinke's lifeless body, entombed in a 2000-pound cheese wheel.

Norm Snitker continued to profess innocence in the tragedy, blaming his reporting delay on "confusion and stress," but even after 5 beer-free days he still tested 0.23 on the sherriff's breathalizer. He was never charged in the incident, but Cheddarquidick would bring a sudden end to his dreams of carrying on the family legacy at Tri-County.

"After a tragic disappointment like that, most people would probably move far away, to Tomah or Boscobel or Viroqua," said Linda Gompersdorf, resident scholar of Snitker Studies at La Crosse Vo-Tech. "But not Norman Snitker. Somewhere inside he found the courage to move on, and he rededicated his life to fighting to make sure everyone had access to free universal alcohol."

By all accounts he approached the fight for alcohol with all the fierceness and determination that marked his previous fights for alcohol. He traveled tirelessly to local bars, taverns, bowling lounges, supper clubs, exotic dance establishments, tractor pulls and drag strips, using his glamor and cachet as a Snitker to order countless free rounds for everyone. At first, local barkeepers were quick to oblige his request, but he soon found mounting corporate opposition to his mounting bar tabs.

"Norm was ferocious in his battles with Big Tavern," said Gompersdorf, citing his 2003 leveling of an Onalaska taproom with an unguarded front loader. "He was always about the little guy."

While Gompersdorf and other admirers praised his work for free alcohol across La Crosse County, they point to other aspects of his legacy.

"Let's not forget him standing up for free hot wings and pickled eggs," said Jerry Kohler, 46. Snitker was also deeply involved in foreign charities, raising hundreds of dollars for Northern Iowa Presbyterian separatist movements.

Snitker received some criticism after sources leaked his secret 1996 letter to Chicago Bears head coach Dave Wannstadt, offering to sabotage Packer QB Brett Favre's jock strap for "two kegs of Point." Supporters say the criticism was unfounded.

"You have to remember that was in the darkest days of the Bears-Packers cold war," said La Crosse Thrifty Nickel sports editor Lloyd Schneidlerke. "Norm has always been a Packer patriot. He truly felt his Cramergesic plan was the best way to improve the punt team."

Saying Goodbye
As tears and Jager shots flowed in the pews of First Presbyterian, there was a sense that Norman Snitker's death brought to an end the long legacy of Snitker rule in La Crosse. Many La Crossians hold out hope that an heir apparent will emerge from the next generation of Snitkers, but the once white-hot inert gas flame of Snitker welding celebrity has seemingly flickered. LMS daughter Tiffani Snitker-Pflugelhoefer, the presumptive next-in-line to the family bar stool, has resisted pressure to take the office, citing career obligations at a Prairie du Chien Farm and Fleet. Other Snitker cousins cite obligations at local halfway houses and work-release programs.

"No matter how hard times were, me and my family have always had a Snitker to call on," said grieving Clifford Albrechtson. "Now I'm worried where my next boilermaker is going to come from."

Others vowed to carry on the fight, and said they would push the La Crosse city council to fund the planned $1.2 billion Norman V. Snitker memorial public Shnapps fountain.

At the packed memorial service, Pastor Ed Vos urged mourners to remember the full measure of their fallen friend.

"Whatever his endless shortcomings were as a human being, we cannot let a few DUIs, cheese entombments and arson episodes overshadow the many good things that Norm thought he did," said Vos. "Let us all recognize that Norm stood up for what he thought was right. No matter whether it was really right or not, and no matter how blotto he was. I suppose we all have to respect a man who can maintain that kind of fierce moral clarity. And can hold his liquor like that."

Sniff... I'll be back in a bit.

Some fun times - redux

That email flood has slowed to a trickle. Only about 30 of them this morning. I'll be monitoring throughout the next day or so. The ones that really piss me off are the ones with the forged headers that make it look as though the spam originated from one of my sites. This is patently obvious if you take the time to look at the source of the email but who bothers to do that these days. I have enough information from the log files to trace these little skidmarks back to the apartments in the mommy's basements...

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