February 2010 Archives

A spine and a pair - UK leader Nigel Farage

Absolutely wonderful. The 'President' of the European Union is a petty diplomat from Brussels; Herman van Rompuy. Here he gets schooled by MEP and UKIP leader Nigel Farage:
You have got to love a speech that leads off with: You have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk. And van Rompuy just lays back and takes it... Hat tip to Gerard Nigel has quite the collection of videos on YouTube

I WON! I WON! Om nom nom nom

What a maroon -- from the UK Express:
A furious plane passenger who won an �8,930 scratch- card jackpot on board a flight ate his ticket when told he could not claim the cash immediately.

The unnamed man was flying with Ryanair from Krakow, Poland, to East Midlands Airport when he scooped the e10,000 prize.

Crew confirmed he had won but told the passenger he would have to collect the money directly from the company that runs the competition as it was such a large sum.

Ryanair said the man then became frustrated and started to eat his ticket after his Thursday win, ruling out any chance of claiming the prize. The money will now be donated to charity.

Ryanair spokesman, Stephen McNamara, said: �Passengers have always been delighted to claim their large cash prizes after returning home.

�Unfortunately our latest winner felt that we should have his e10,000 prize kicking around on the aircraft.�
The mind boggles -- if there was a mind involved in the first place. Talk about being unclear on the concept...

How not to rob a jewelry store

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Thieves take jewelry, leave child at Phila. store
A couple of thieves made off with expensive jewelry during a heist on South Street yesterday afternoon, but had a loss police said was priceless. As the duo fled, they left a 4-year-old boy behind, said Sgt. Ray Evers, a Philadelphia police spokesman.

The three entered Platinum & Ice Jewelry in the 600 block of South Street about 3:30 p.m. and the man and woman asked to see rings, police said. When the clerk turned his back, the couple grabbed thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and dashed out the door. The clerk gave chase and the male robber slashed at him with a knife. The boy was left behind. Police put the boy in the custody of the Department of Human Services.
The child is probably a lot better off without these two...

Warren Buffet nails it!

From Express Buzz:
Buffett: Bailouts not just for CEOs
dollars of taxpayer-funded bailouts of corporate America will eventually pay off.

But he thinks they shouldn't pay off for the wealthy people whose carelessness or ignorance made them necessary.

In his annual letter to shareholders of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc, Buffett offered acerbic criticism of financial industry chiefs and directors whose poor risk control nearly ran their companies into the ground.

He said that while these often-wealthy individuals "still live in grand style," it is the ordinary shareholders who have borne most of the burden of such failures, sometimes seeing more than 90 percent of their holdings wiped out.
We need more people like him...

Down down down

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Dropped a whole 1% usage. Now at 73% at WildBlue and just three more percent before the switch is thrown and the magic happens... For as long as it takes to get the bonded T-1 pair installed and I start becoming an ISP for the immediate neighborhood. There is running a business and then, there is screwing over the customer (your source of revenue) with draconian rules and regulations.

Going down - WildBlue style

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Only four more points and then the magic happens!!! Wooo Hoooo!!! Calling Speakeasy Monday or Tuesday to get the Bonded T1 pair installed and then start knocking on neighbors doors. These people (Deliberant) make a nice range of Access Points (AP) and customer premises equipment (CPE) for a reasonable price. I have some older servers and will then be able to host my own web pages instead of relying on a commercial hosting service. Fun fun fun...


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So true:
From Michael Ramirez. Hat tip to Theo.

Good news from the United Nations for a change

Some good news from an otherwise corrupt and self-serving agency. From the New York Times:
Independent Board to Review Work of Top Climate Panel
An independent board of scientists will be appointed to review the workings of the world�s top climate science panel, which has faced recriminations over inaccuracies in a 2007 report, a United Nations environmental spokesman said Friday.

The board�s work will be part of a broader review of the body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program, who spoke on the sidelines of an international meeting of environment ministers here.
It will be interesting to see who they appoint to the panel. Will this be a much-needed house cleaning or will this just be a public slap on the wrist. The Luv Guru certainly needs to go...

An Ikea Kitchen

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From CBS News/Associated Press:
Couple Sued over "Ugly" IKEA Kitchen
A wealthy Icelandic couple is being sued for installing a cheap IKEA kitchen into an apartment they rented out at a swank hotel in New York City.

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan Wednesday alleges that Jon Asgeir Johannesson and his wife installed an "ugly" kitchen from the low-cost household furnishings store into the 16th-floor apartment at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the Paramount Realty Group of America Corp. claims the couple rented the apartment out for about $300,000, then failed to make promised renovations on time.

When they did, the lawsuit claims the kitchen was unsuitable for such a luxurious home.
Playing the worlds smallest violin for the poor disadvantaged landlord. Sheesh -- I like Ikea furniture -- looks good to me. I like the clean Scandinavian look.

Autism in the news

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From Time Magazine:
The Autism Debate: Who's Afraid of Jenny McCarthy?
In person, surprisingly, Jenny McCarthy comes across as corn-fed cute rather than overwhelmingly beautiful. She has a common touch, and a woman even slightly more beautiful would struggle to connect as she does. When McCarthy meets a mom, when she spits forth a stream of profanity and common sense � the foulmouthed comedian from Chicago never far from the surface � she is there as a mother, not as a celebrity or starlet. That's what got her there, but that's not who she is once she's there. She speaks to so many frustrated, despairing mothers of autistic children because she is plausible, authentic. If you needed a woman to bring hope to these mothers, you couldn't ask for better casting than Jenny McCarthy.

We are sitting around a sushi-laden coffee table in the Sherman Oaks, Calif., headquarters of Generation Rescue, the autism advocacy group she heads. It's a gray, one-story house with white trim and a picket-fence-enclosed yard, across the street from the home she lived in for four years with her son Evan, 7, and John Asher, who is her ex-husband and Evan's father. She has converted the house into a state-of-the-art school for very young autistic kids, an intensive early-intervention program called the Teach2Talk Academy. The school is a model in many ways, not least because of its 1-to-1 teacher-student ratio and sparkling facilities. It's the kind of place she was desperate to get Evan into when he was first diagnosed with autism in 2005.
A bit more:
McCarthy claims Evan was healed through a range of experimental and unproved biomedical treatments; even more controversially, she blames the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine for giving her son autism. And yet research conclusively shows that vaccines are safe for children; just last month, the U.K. scientist who had published a study linking the MMR shot to autism was found by a British medical panel to have acted unethically.
Cured... Hmmmm...
In 2005, McCarthy's son Evan, then 2, began having seizures so severe he required repeated emergency hospitalization. McCarthy had noticed that Evan had some developmental delays, compared with his peers in a playgroup they attended, and he exhibited some atypical behaviors: arm flapping, repetitive actions and fixation on strange objects.
Seizures? Autism? And some of the "treatments"
Evan went through conventional, intensive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy as well as a host of alternative approaches, including a gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) diet, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, chelation, aromatherapies, electromagnetics, spoons rubbed on his body, multivitamin therapy, B-12 shots and a range of prescription drugs.
Poor child. More:
Evan's symptoms � heavy seizures, followed by marked improvement once the seizures were brought under control � are similar to those of Landau-Kleffner syndrome, a rare childhood neurological disorder that can also result in speech impairment and possible long-term neurological damage. Or, as other pediatricians have suggested, perhaps the miracle I have beheld is the quotidian miracle of childhood development: a delayed 2-year-old catching up by the time he is 7, a commonplace, routine occurrence, nothing more surprising than a short boy growing tall.
More on LKS here and here Let us hope that she takes the time to get Evan properly diagnosed and to get down off her high-horse regarding vaccination. The diseases are starting to show again because not enough children are getting immunized.

Photos from Chile

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Some chilling photographs from the Boston Globe's Big Picture
Buncha asshats -- from Bloomberg:
Fannie Taps Treasury for $15.3 Billion More After a 10th Loss
Fannie Mae will seek $15.3 billion in U.S. aid, bringing the total owed under a government lifeline to $76.2 billion, after its 10th consecutive quarterly loss.

The mortgage-finance company posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $16.3 billion, or $2.87 a share, Washington-based Fannie Mae said in a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fannie Mae, which owns or guarantees about 28 percent of the $11.8 trillion U.S. home-loan market, has been hobbled by a three-year housing slump that wiped 28 percent from home values nationwide and led to record foreclosures. The company, which posted $120.5 billion in losses over the previous nine quarters, and rival Freddie Mac were seized by regulators in September 2008.

�Our financial results for 2009 reflected the continued adverse impact of the weak economy and housing market, which has resulted in record mortgage delinquencies and contributed to our recording significant credit-related expenses and net losses during each quarter of the year,� Fannie Mae said in the filing.

For the full year, Fannie Mae�s loss widened to $74.4 billion from $59.8 billion in 2008.

The company�s shares, which peaked at $87.81 in December 2000, closed at 99 cents yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The Treasury owns 79.9 percent of the company�s outstanding common stock.
So not only is Fannie getting the Fed to bail them out, the Fed is saddled with stock that is tanking in value. Time to let it fail, suffer the five years of chaos that will ensue and rebuild from there. As it stands now, we will be getting five years of chaos regardless of what we do -- letting Fannie file will limit that chaos to the administrators and to those people who voluntarily went into a sub-prime loan. If we continue to prop up institutions like Fannie, the chaos will be shared by all taxpayers.

Our prayers to the poor souls in Chile

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8.8 Quake struck last night. No reports coming from Chile as yet. Tsunami warnings for most of the Pacific Basin - Hawaii should have waves up to eight feet (expected to have already hit). Team Rubicon is on their way.

Back from town - light posting

Got back in from town an hour ago and our manager and van were back from the Friday shopping run so I helped unload and priced and stocked the bread. The people we get the seeds from also showed up to deliver our order so it was a wonderful chaos in the store. What with El Ni�o and the PDO, it has been a significantly warmer winter than usual and the plants are about a month ahead of schedule and even though El Ni�o is growing cooler, the PDO is just starting to warm up after a five year cold cycle. The Cherry trees in Bellingham have blossoms on them... Anyway, I am down to 76% capacity at WildBlue -- I have to get down below 70% before the PFM happens and the switch gets thrown and I get back to the spotty service with huge packet loss that I have come to know and love over the last four years.
Just for the hell of it, I Googled T1 and up came an add for service from Speakeasy for a full T-1 line for $279/month including free hardware (about $600). I dug in a bit and they also offer this service:
About three times the bandwidth of a T-1 for $380/month. I used Speakeasy for my own broadband in Seattle for a long time and was very happy with them. There are about 20 neighbors within line of sight -- possibly more. Time to see if the service is available and to start knocking on doors... The access points are a bit pricey ($200 each) but if I keep the monthly rate at a decent value ($40/month), I can get enough subscribers to float the whole thing. WildBlue, you pushed me too far and I am going to document this and release it to the public domain...

Light posting today

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WildBlue is down to 79% usage -- I have to wait until it gets below 70% before I get usable service at home. Heading into town to do some banking and then have a couple projects tonight (transferring some files and getting a printer running).

Like this was unexpected

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Buncha tone-deaf idiots -- from FOX News:
Obama Threatens to Advance Health Care Reform Without GOP Support
President Obama ended Thursday's daylong White House summit with a bang, threatening to push for passage of health care reform without Republican support if a bipartisan agreement remained out of reach.

"If we're unable to resolve differences over health care, we will need to move ahead on decisions," he said, alluding to using reconciliation, a controversial maneuver that prevents a GOP filibuster by requiring only 51 votes to pass legislation.

Obama added that if voters are unhappy with results, then "that's what elections are for."
Indeed -- that is what elections are for... This November should be interesting and I hope Obama's presidential aspirations do not extend beyond 2012.

Anthropogenic Global Warming - a Cult?

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Read on - from Climategate:
100 reasons why Anthropogenic Global Warming is a cult
Is belief in Anthropogenic Global Warming a cult? Apply this 100 point Cult Test and you tell us. Read each one, adding one point for each statement that rings as true. Total up the score and tell us, on a scale of 0 to 100, what you come up with. Well, it really should be a score between 1 to 100, as there can be no person alive, even if a member of the cult, that could not agree with point #1.

Cult leader Al Gore, is so �always right� that his devotees don�t even question the fact that he will debate no one. Ever. Anywhere. They laugh at this absurd notion, for He is The One. Others are unworthy to even stand in his presence.

In a comment here on our site, Gord alerted us to the test when he posted the first 10 points of �The Cult Test.�

It describes the Cult of Anthropogenic Climate Change near perfectly. Following are the first ten points, with a bit of description from the extensively documented list.

1. The Guru is always right.
�The Guru, his church, and his teachings are always right, and above criticism, and beyond reproach.�

2. You are always wrong.
�Cult members are also told that they are in no way qualified to judge the Guru or his church. Should you disagree with the leader or his cult about anything, see Cult Rule Number One. Having negative emotions about the cult or its leader is a �defect� that needs to be fixed.�

3. No Exit.
�There is simply no proper or honorable way to leave the cult. Period. To leave is to fail, to die, to be defeated by evil. To leave is to invite divine retribution.�

4. No Graduates.
�No one ever learns as much as the Guru knows; no one ever rises to the level of the Guru�s wisdom, so no one ever finishes his or her training, and nobody ever graduates.�

5. Cult-speak.
�The cult has its own language. The cult invents new terminology or euphemisms for many things. The cult may also redefine many common words to mean something quite different. Cult-speak is also called �bombastic redefinition of the familiar�, or �loading the language�.�
Five more with explanations and ninety more line items at the post. Something to print out on a card to show people...

Dodged another one

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From the Bellingham Herald:
Whatcom County votes emergency moratorium on wind power
Responding to concerns of Squalicum Mountain property owners, the Whatcom County Council has approved a temporary moratorium blocking new permit applications for construction of large wind power turbines.

The 6-1 vote, taken late Tuesday, Feb. 23, with little public notice, is meant to give the council some time to review and perhaps stiffen the county's 2008 ordinance regulating wind power systems. If the council had not taken quick action by declaring an emergency, anyone who submitted a permit for a wind power project would have acquired the right to have that project evaluated under the 2008 land use rules.

The council now has 60 days to hold a formal public hearing on the moratorium.
Our state needs to stop hemorrhaging money and here is a perfect place to start. If we need more electricity, we need to build nukes or more coal plants -- nothing else is commercially viable and for every single green job, the economy is so impacted that we loose the equivalent of two regular jobs...

Light posting today

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Doing some paperwork - fun fun fun Access at home is still suxord so blogging will be minimal today...

Whoops - quality control in Dubai

Looks like quality construction to me -- from the Dubai Gulf News:

Dubai Mall aquarium cracked and leaking
The Dubai Mall aquarium was closed on Thursday, due to reports of a leak, Gulf News has learned from eye witnesses.

Civil Defence confirmed that the aquarium has a minor crack and that water is leaking.

A number of teams from Civil Defence and the Mall maintenance attended the scene and were still working on the problem at 2pm on Thursday, according to Mahmoud Hamad, Media Spokesperson, Dubai Civil Defence.

A bit more about the tank:

The Dubai Mall aquarium advertises that 33,000 sea creatures live inside. It has the capacity to hold 10 million litres of water.

It is one of the of the largest tanks in the world at 51m by 20m by 11m and features the world's largest viewing panel at 32.8m wide and 8.3m high.

For a small crack to develop, this points to the whole tank being under-engineered and with 11K Cubic Meters of water, this is not a minor concern...

More of the same - WildBlue one week later

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WildBlue SUXRS

Well crap -- it seems that the goal-posts are moving on me and they are being moving in an arbitrary fashion that is only beneficial to WildBlue. It has been a bit more than a week since I posted this. The internet was out at home. I called their tech support and was informed that I had exceeded my rolling 30-day download limit. I was told that if I shut off the system for two days, everything would reset and be fine. I did this and no joy. I called again and was told that I needed to get my download down to under 90% and then things would be back to normal. I got down to 86% and no joy. I called today and asked to escalate -- talked to someone who said that I had to keep it under 70% for full service. I asked them if this meant that I was tossing the other 30% of my fees to them into the crapper and they said that they understood my position. Looking at it this way -- I am paying them $960/year for broadband and they are telling me that I only have access to 70% of the service they are selling me. I am only receiving $672 of my $960. Can I get a refund of the $288/year that I cannot access? I am pissed off enough that this project is really tempting (thanks Spork!) If you are looking for rural broadband, I would seriously look around for other options before going with WildBlue. This is one hell of a way to run a company -- I can totally agree with bandwidth limits but do not enforce them in an arbitrary and capricious fashion. Inform your tech support people. This is not fscking rocket science...
Before he died, Townes Van Zandt handed Israeli musician David Broza a bunch of unfinished lyrics and poetry. An album is now out.

Heh - fun times for Hamas

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Some fun news from Yahoo/Associated Press:
Son of Hamas founder was top Israeli agent
The son of one of Hamas' founders says in a new book that he served as a top informant for Israel for more than a decade, providing top-secret intelligence that helped prevent dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.

Mosab Yousef's memoir, "Son of Hamas," is being published next week in the United States, and highlights of the book and an interview with the author appeared Wednesday in Israel's Haaretz daily. Yousef declined comment, but his Facebook page plugs the book as "a gripping account of terror, betrayal, political intrigue, and unthinkable choices."

The revelation of such a high-level informant would deal another blow to Hamas, which suffered a key setback last month when one of its top commanders was assassinated in Dubai last month. Dubai authorities have accused Israel of carrying out the hit, and there have been reports that a Hamas insider assisted the killers.
Converted to Christianity and is now living in the USA. Glad to see that people can survive brainwashing and propaganda.

Wooo Hoo!!! Usage down to 87%

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And the performance is still s....l.....o......w........ I can open a browser window and it comes up just fine but I like to open ten windows in the background and when I am done reading one, the others will have successfully loaded and I can read them. A good workaround for the slower-than-usual speed of the Satellite service. Now, if I open more than one or two windows, the first one will snap into place nice and quickly but the later ones will take so long to load that they either do not load completely or the service will just time out completely. I will be calling their tech support today as it has been one week. What a way to run a company.
We are not out of the woods quite yet -- true unemployment figures are around 20% and banks are having a hard time. From ABC News:
FDIC Says 702 Banks Now in Danger of Collapse
In the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the government agency that insures bank deposits announced today that 702 banks are on the brink of failure, the most in the last 17 years.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, in its report for the fourth quarter of 2009, said 702 banks are on their so-called "Problem List" as of the end of last year, a 27 percent increase from the end of the third quarter. Both the 702 banks and their combined $402 billion in assets are the highest since the second quarter of 1993.

In the first two months of this year, 20 institutions have already collapsed. In 2009, 140 banks were taken over by federal regulators as the economic downturn took its toll on banks nationwide.
The writing on the wall was there back in 2006. We have moved our accounts over to a local Credit Union and are very happy. Bubbles in markets will always happen but Banks should operate under a different set of rules that disallow risk.

Heh -- a bit of a hard time for Homeopathy


About time -- from the UK Guardian:

MPs deliver their damning verdict: Homeopathy is useless and unethical
Today the Science and Technology Select Committee delivered its verdict on homeopathy and it was devastating. The committee has called for the complete withdrawal of NHS funding and official licensing of homeopathy.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who witnessed the almost farcical nature of the proceedings, with the elite of homeopathy mocked by their own testimony. Peter Fisher, director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, spewed forth the sort of dialogue that wouldn't look out of place in a Terry Pratchett novel. As the report drily observes:
"Dr Fisher stated that the process of 'shaking is important' but was unable to say how much shaking was required. He said 'that has not been fully investigated' but did tell us that 'You have to shake it vigorously [...] if you just stir it gently, it does not work'.
Quite. It's hard to say which is more ridiculous: the sight of a grown man speaking this nonsense, or the fact that after 200 years homeopaths apparenly haven't bothered to "fully investigate" how much shaking is required for their remedies to work. And yet, bizarrely, these people expect to be taken seriously.

In this they have failed spectacularly. The select committee report has brutally inflicted the 21st, 20th and 19th centuries on this 18th century magic ritual, and under inspection it has fallen apart.

The belief system that homeopaths operate under is bizarre -- the idea that it would have its group of followers now is unreal when you examine the basic tenants.

WTF - Van Jones back in the news again

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From Benjamin Todd Jealous writing at CNN/Opinion:
NAACP president: Van Jones a misunderstood treasure
Van Jones is an American treasure.

He is quite simply one of the few Americans in recent years to have generated powerful new ideas that are creating more jobs here.

He penned the national bestseller, "The Green Collar Economy," which provided the definitive blueprint for retooling American industry to create pathways out of poverty and generate a national economic recovery. He was a driving force behind passage of the 2007 Green Jobs Act. In fact, Van's ideas have helped lead to the creation of tens of thousands of jobs across the industrial Midwest and throughout the nation's decaying urban and rural areas.

Van Jones also may be the most misunderstood man in America.

He resigned from the White House last year after some sought to discredit him for missteps, such as political statements made years ago. However, we can never afford to forget that a defining trait of our country is our collective capacity to practice forgiveness and celebrate redemption. This is a nation built on second chances.
Political statements made years ago? More like last year where he said that he was an American Communist. From the link above:
This is somebody who was involved in radical politics out in San Francisco, California. He was arrested during a demonstration/riot following the Rodney King verdict. And he said himself that he was radicalized in jail, that he found communism and anarchism. And then he started a pretty radical, kind of communist, socialist, utopian group that was supposed to end all racism though central planning. And then he decided that the real path the sort of progressive nirvana, was the this green jobs idea.
Back to the CNN tongue bath:
The real Van Jones story is about how a young leader became the father of the green jobs movement. In response to a longstanding jobs crisis in Oakland, California, he helped initiate the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, one of the nation's first job training programs targeting low-income people for work in the solar and green industries. This program has become a renowned model for numerous initiatives that are now up and running across America.

Today, Van's vision for seizing the opportunity created by the global shift to solar power and other forms of renewable energy is becoming a reality. Policies he has promoted are bringing change to downsized economies across America. In Ginsburg, Pennsylvania, workers have gotten new jobs from a county wind turbine plant and from other wind energy projects generated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Long before joining the administration, Van was America's champion for green jobs. He helped found three national organizations, including "Green for All" in 2007, that are pushing for green energy jobs for Americans who urgently need work.
Jones is all about creating make-work union jobs funded through government subsidies. All alternative energy projects are Federally Subsidized for one very specific reason -- they would not be financially able to compete otherwise. There is no technology shift "around the corner" that can be jumpstarted and although the commercial power companies pay lip service to the alt.energy people, they consider it to be a very very expensive joke on the American public. Less than three percent of the power in the USA is sourced from wind, solar, geothermal, etc...

A good thing to know

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How to order a beer -- in fifty different languages

Getting back into the groove again...

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WildBlue is now showing a usage of 91% Starting to slowly creep down from 102.5% Still slower than mole asses -- I guess the new owners are trying to make an impression. They certainly have and it looks like I will be implementing this (and sharing with the neighbors) in the next couple of months. Sometimes, flexing your corporate muscles is not a good idea. For everything that you base your business on, someone, somewhere, has the better mousetrap...

Light at the end of the tunnel - WildBlue

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Logged in today and saw that my usage was down to 94% Wooo Hoooo!!! I am going to keep quiet at home for a few days more to get that number down to well below 90%. There is a WildBlue forum and the company (very good thing) doesn't censor user comments -- I am not the only one in this boat. Commenter Spork posted a link to a file with information on setting up a private DSL link which really caught my eye as it eliminates a major hurdle in getting true broadband to my house. More as it happens... Posting will still be light today as I am heading into Bellingham to get started on adding a new electrical panel for the store and then there is a water board meeting tonight.

The other shoe - Israel and Iran

Over the last week, Iran announced that it was pushing its nuclear power generation program beyond what was needed to refine fuel and in fact, it was making weapons-grade material. They also launched their first destroyer. Well, the other shoe dropped today -- from Yahoo/Associated Press:
Israel unveils new drone fleet that can reach Iran
Israel's air force on Sunday introduced a fleet of huge pilotless planes that can remain in the air for a full day and could fly as far as the Persian Gulf, putting rival Iran within its range.

The Heron TP drones have a wingspan of 86 feet (26 meters), making them the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets and the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel's military. The planes can fly at least 20 consecutive hours and are primarily used for surveillance and carrying diverse payloads.
"diverse payloads" indeed :) read on:
At the fleet's inauguration ceremony at a sprawling air base in central Israel, the drone dwarfed an F-15 fighter jet parked beside it. The unmanned plane resembles its predecessor, the Heron, but can fly higher, reaching an altitude of more than 40,000 feet (12,000 meters), and remain in the air longer.

"With the inauguration of the Heron TP, we are realizing the air force's dream," said Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin, commander of the base that will operate the drones. "The Heron TP is a technological and operational breakthrough."

The commander of Israel's air force, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, said the aircraft "has the potential to be able to conduct new missions down the line as they become relevant."

Israel's military refused to say how large the new fleet is or whether the planes were designed for use against Iran, but stressed it was versatile and could adapt to new missions. The plane's maker, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, has said it is capable of reaching the Persian Gulf, which would put Iran within its range.

Israeli defense officials said the Heron TP could be a useful tool against Iran. It could provide surveillance, jam enemy communications and connect ground control and manned air force planes.
Flying at 40,000 feet puts it well beyond most conventional anti-aircraft fire and even if a couple are blown up, the pilots are still fine and sitting in their bunkers somewhere... An interesting metric is the number of Nobel Prizes won by country. Israel has nine. The Jordanians calling themselves Palestinian have one (Arafat - peace) and the only other Arab nation to have any is Egypt with four (one Chemistry, two peace and one Literature). It gets really interesting when you look at the worldwide number of Jewish Laureates (165 out of a population of 12 Million) versus the number of Arab/Islamic Laureates (six out of a population of 1.4 Billion). The next couple years are going to be interesting to say the least. Glad that I am where I am...

The great power grab

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Really tired of these people in office -- from Reuters:
Governors want "into the game" on healthcare
State governors want Congress and President Barack Obama to pay more attention to their concerns as they renew efforts to reform healthcare.
"concerns" = pork More:
The governors, who have been meeting in the U.S. capital this weekend, will make their case to Obama on Monday that some reform proposals could deepen the budget woes that many states face.

On the other hand, they also fear that doing nothing will also worsen their financial situations.

The meeting with Obama comes on the same day that the president is expected to unveil new proposals to advance legislation to change the country's $2.5 trillion healthcare system. On Thursday, he will hold a televised summit with Republicans to discuss ways to break the logjam.
That meeting has every indication of being nothing but a public relations move designed to concentrate the Democrats power. Their minds are already set on what they want to do and nothing that the Republicans can suggest (tort reform, being able to shop for insurance across state lines, health savings accounts, limiting use of emergency rooms, etc...) will ever be good enough.

Back to work...

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Enough internet frivolity -- back to the house to work on a couple projects and get some hay out to the critters...
Indian Love Guru and Anthropogenic Global Warming promoter is coming under scrutiny and what is revealed is not good... From Watts Up With That:
Pachauri�s TERI institute golf course � water hog in a city desperate for fresh water
Richard North of the EU Referendum reports on this bizarre twist with IPCC Chairman Rajenda Pachauri�s use of land that was designated for public use, now runs afoul of the grant terms under which the land was given. Plus a lot of water in a city that has water shortages. So much for sustainability.

Pachauri, famous for telling other how to live sustainable lives has a private chauffeur, spurns his electric cars provided for him, and once said in a newspaper interview:
�Unfortunately, �social and environmental issues are often left without effective support when economic growth takes precedence,� he added.�
So, that�s why you charge memberships to your golf course and keep out the public from land given to you designated for public use?

It�s time for Pachauri to go. He�s dirty, deceitful, and dim witted. His personal life is hypocritical of what he preaches to the rest of the world via his IPCC position and is a public relations disaster.
Read on to learn about the nine hole golf course. It is not science, it is a political and financial power grab...

RIP - Ronald Howes Sr

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Who he? From BoingBoing:
The 100 Watt Lightbulb Goes Out: Ronald Howes, Easy Bake Oven Inventor, Dies at 83
The original EASY-BAKE used a 100 watt bulb as it's heat source. (I always loved the fact that you could bake brownies with a lightbulb.) In its first year, over 500,000 pre-pubescent Duncan Hines wanna-be's talked their folks into spending $15.95. By its fifth birthday, the EASY-BAKE Oven was a household name.The toy was invented by Ronald Howes Sr, who died yesterday at age 83. According to his obituary, Howes sounds like my sort of guy.
He always had the coolest stuff on earth that I could mess around with," such as phosphorescent powder he was testing for various glow-in-the-dark applications, his son said.

But Mr. Howes always realized that the Easy-Bake Oven was, in his son's words, "the big one" in his career. About 20 million Easy-Bake Ovens have been sold since they went on the market in 1963.

Over the years, Mr. Howes' constant tinkering with possible new products was never confined to office hours. "We no longer have a garage in our house - it's a physics lab," his wife said. "You can hardly walk around in it."
Had one of those as a kid -- still love to cook.
Yeah really... From the UK Telegraph:
Lockerbie bomber Megrahi living in luxury villa six months after being at 'death's door'
The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is living with his family in a luxury villa in Libya six months after he was released from jail on compassionate grounds because he had less than three months to live.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who is suffering from terminal prostate cancer, no longer receives hospital treatment after ending the course of chemotherapy that he had been given after returning to his homeland last August.

Professor Karol Sikora, the London-based doctor who examined Megrahi and predicted he would be dead by last October, admitted this weekend that the fact the bomber is still alive might be "difficult" for the families of the 270 victims of the attack.
And the medical diagnosis:
The Sunday Telegraph revealed last September that the Libyan government had paid for the medical evidence which helped Megrahi, 57, to be released. The Libyans had encouraged doctors to say he had only three months to live.
And the scum that released him:
Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, ruled last August that Megrahi should be freed. Megrahi's release came after Libyan leaders warned that lucrative oil and trade deals with Britain would be cancelled if the bomber died in jail.

Still no joy with WildBlue

When I spoke with them on Wednesday, they said that if I curtailed my usage for two days, my account would be reset to nominal performance and the performance would improve over the next 30 days as long as I stayed below the minimum download amount. They also said that their system was more fussy about use during prime time (6PM to 10PM) Fair enough -- I shut down my complete satellite dish setup during evenings and kept it on overnight to download email (a business requirement). At late nights, I would be able to open one sluggish browser window but nothing more. Today, I log in to their account maintenance webpage and see the following:
Arrrgghhhh... How long do I have to wait until my bandwidth is restored to a usable level? I can go with a business plan and get the same horrible packet loss and latency issues but a bigger download capacity but that is almost $200/month and I can get a full T-1 for under $500 and have fifty times the performance and no packet loss or latency. There is no financial incentive for WildBlue to improve the quality of their service as they are one of three Satellite ISPs and they are all uniformly horrid to deal with.

Unintended consequences and a clever hack

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From radio station WTOP:
Australian study uses cat food in war on cane toad
Forget cricket bats, golf clubs and carbon dioxide. Australia has found a new weapon in its war on the dreaded cane toad: cat food.

Researchers with the University of Sydney found that a few tablespoons of cat food left next to ponds in the Northern Territory attracts fierce Australian meat ants, which then attack baby cane toads as they emerge from the water. The results of the study were published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology this week.

It is the latest weapon in Australia's seemingly endless battle against the cane toad, which was introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in an unsuccessful attempt to control beetles on sugarcane plantations. The toads bred rapidly, and their millions-strong population now threatens many species across Australia.

Early cane toad killing methods included whacking the creatures with golf clubs or cricket bats. In recent years, most groups dedicated to fighting the pests have turned to freezing or gassing them with carbon dioxide. Still, the toads' population continues to explode.

Cane toads emit a poison that attacks the heart of would-be predators. But the University of Sydney researchers found that meat ants are impervious to the toads' poison, said Rick Shine, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Sydney who supervised the research.

"A single toad can have 30,000 eggs in a clutch, so there's a heck of a lot of tadpoles turning into toads along the edge of a billabong," he said. "You can literally have tens of thousands of toads emerging at pretty much the same time. They are vulnerable to meat ants if the colony discovers there is a source of free food."

Between July and September 2008, researchers studied tens of thousands of cane toads emerging from cat food-lined ponds and found that 98 percent of them were attacked by meat ants within two minutes. Of the toads that escaped, 80 percent died within a day from ant-inflicted injuries.
Clever hack!

A nice climate letter to the editor

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Richard Lindzen had this letter to the editor published in the Boston Globe today:
The sound of alarm
Kerry Emanuel's Feb. 15 op-ed "Climate changes are proven fact" is more advocacy than assessment. Vague terms such as "consistent with," "probably," and "potentially" hardly change this. Certainly climate change is real; it occurs all the time. To claim that the little we�ve seen is larger than any change we "have been able to discern" for a thousand years is disingenuous. Panels of the National Academy of Sciences and Congress have concluded that the methods used to claim this cannot be used for more than 400 years, if at all. Even the head of the deservedly maligned Climatic Research Unit acknowledges that the medieval period may well have been warmer than the present.

The claim that everything other than models represents "mere opinion and speculation" is also peculiar. Despite their faults, models show that projections of significant warming depend critically on clouds and water vapor, and the physics of these processes can be observationally tested (the normal scientific approach); at this point, the models seem to be failing.

Finally, given a generation of environmental propaganda, a presidential science adviser (John Holdren) who has promoted alarm since the 1970s, and a government that proposes funding levels for climate research about 20 times the levels in 1991, courage seems hardly the appropriate description - at least for scientists supporting such alarm.
Dr. Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan professor of atmospheric sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology so he knows about what he writes. The 30+ comments are a fun mix of ad hominem attacks and rebuttals.

Financial fun and games in California

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From Sacramento, CA TV station CBS13:
Tracy Residents Now Have To Pay For 911 Calls
TRACY, Calif. -- Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency.

But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year which allows them to call 9-1-1 as many times as necessary.

Or, there's the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead, they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.

"A $300 fee and you don't even want to be thinking about that when somebody is in need of assistance," said Tracy resident Greg Bidlack.

Residents will soon receive the form in the mail where they'll be able to make their selection. No date has been set for when the charges will go into effect.
The 50+ comments are uniformly against this. Part of our property taxes go to cover these services; 911 as well as fire and police -- I wonder what the Tracy budget looks like...

Quiet day today

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Internet is still unusably sluggish at home -- writing this from the store. Gorgeous day -- temps in the low 50's and cloudless. Heading home to work on some outside projects. Will try the satellite later this evening...

Back online somewhat...

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I tried earlier (during their prime-time of 5PM to 10PM) and wasn't able to get a browser window open without its timing out. Seems to work now... I should be back online fulltime tomorrow or Saturday. They did send me a warning but they sent it to an address that I had specifically requested that they not use. I will check in a few days to see if the new email address "took" as I had to request the change twice during a phone call the other night. The people I talked with were nice but WildBlue is not being run well. They do not have to, they have a lock on the market and their competition is just as bad.

The truth is out there

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The United Kingdom just released all of its UFO files. Check it out here: The National Archives - Newly released UFO files from the UK government Some fun reading as it has letters from true believers...

Another evening offline

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Spending another evening offline as I try to lower my download minimum. The day that broadband comes to my valley will be a very happy one. There is a microwave ISP and also a 3G feed but not within reach of my house...

Our tax dollars at work

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Cities and States getting bailed out -- here is one reason. From PBS:
The $366 billion outrage
Let's just call it what it is: Gaming the system. And it's a game that has already resulted in skyrocketing tax increases and the loss of public services across the country -- from the shutdown of libraries and community centers to the gutting of many local police and fire departments. It is also a game that is played in the nether regions of public finance, in the fine print of lengthy contracts that hardly anybody sees. As with so many other recent scandals -- from Dick Grasso's $140 million pay package to CEOs of bankrupt airlines padding their own retirement accounts to big corporations manufacturing "earnings" that don't really exist -- this one has to do with the generally ignored realm of pensions. But here the beneficiaries of the shell game may come as a surprise: school superintendents, librarians, sanitation workers, county clerks, and a host of other public servants. By now you can probably guess who's paying for it. That's right: you.

If you've read the metro section of your local newspaper -- or seen recent reports in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, or the New York Times -- you may have heard about some state and municipal employees receiving outsized pension payouts, far above what they ever made while working. But chances are you have a sense that the excesses are isolated incidents.

As shocking as it may be, though, the public pension morass is bigger, more wide ranging, and ultimately more costly than anything you've seen in the corporate world. The practices, quietly approved by elected officials, allow workers to dramatically spike their pre-retirement compensation, to retire on more than 100 percent of their pay, and to draw both their salaries and pensions, with guaranteed market returns, simultaneously.

That's what you'll find in San Diego, for instance, where a city worker qualifying for retirement can instead remain on the job and receive both his salary and an early-activated pension through a so-called deferred retirement option plan, or DROP. That pension, deposited into a special account, earns a guaranteed 8 percent annual rate of interest, plus a 2 percent annual cost-of-living adjustment. When the employee actually decides to retire -- for real, that is -- he can either collect the amount that has accumulated in his special pension account or let it keep compounding at that generous rate of return indefinitely. Add it all up, says Diann Shipione, a trustee of the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System, and the average city worker participating in the plan, earning about $50,000 a year, is eligible to collect a lump sum of about $305,000 at retirement. A fire battalion chief will receive $780,000; a senior librarian will haul in $765,000. But don't be confused: That isn't instead of an annual pension payout; it is on top of it. The post-retirement annual pension payout is equal to 75 percent of their salary for workers with 30 years' service, a payout that increases 2 percent a year.
Just wonderful -- when an organization like PBS starts reporting this kind of story, you know it's bad...

A fun story about the food we eat

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From The Atlantic:
The Great Grocery Smackdown
Buy my food at Walmart? No thanks. Until recently, I had been to exactly one Walmart in my life, at the insistence of a friend I was visiting in Natchez, Mississippi, about 10 years ago. It was one of the sights, she said. Up and down the aisles we went, properly impressed by the endless rows and endless abundance. Not the produce section. I saw rows of prepackaged, plastic-trapped fruits and vegetables. I would never think of shopping there.

Not even if I could get environmentally correct food. Walmart�s move into organics was then getting under way, but it just seemed cynical�a way to grab market share while driving small stores and farmers out of business. Then, last year, the market for organic milk started to go down along with the economy, and dairy farmers in Vermont and other states, who had made big investments in organic certification, began losing contracts and selling their farms. A guaranteed large buyer of organic milk began to look more attractive. And friends started telling me I needed to look seriously at Walmart�s efforts to sell sustainably raised food.

Really? Wasn�t this greenwashing? I called Charles Fishman, the author of The Wal-Mart Effect, which entertainingly documents the market-changing (and company-destroying) effects of Walmart's decisions. He reiterated that whatever Walmart decides to do has large repercussions�and told me that what it had decided to do since my Natchez foray was to compete with high-end supermarkets. �You won�t recognize the grocery section of a supercenter,� he said. He ordered me to get in my car and find one.

He was right. In the grocery section of the Raynham supercenter, 45 minutes south of Boston, I had trouble believing I was in a Walmart. The very reasonable-looking produce, most of it loose and nicely organized, was in black plastic bins (as in British supermarkets, where the look is common; the idea is to make the colors pop). The first thing I saw, McIntosh apples, came from the same local orchard whose apples I�d just seen in the same bags at Whole Foods. The bunched beets were from Muranaka Farm, whose beets I often buy at other markets�but these looked much fresher. The service people I could find (it wasn�t hard) were unfailingly enthusiastic, though I did wonder whether they got let out at night.

During a few days of tasting, the results were mixed. Those beets handily beat (sorry) ones I�d just bought at Whole Foods, and compared nicely with beets I�d recently bought at the farmers� market. But packaged carrots and celery, both organic, were flavorless. Organic bananas and �tree ripened� California peaches, already out of season, were better than the ones in most supermarkets, and most of the Walmart food was cheaper�though when I went to my usual Whole Foods to compare prices for local produce, they were surprisingly similar (dry goods and dairy products were considerably less expensive at Walmart).
WalMart stays in business because it delivers products that people want. For all the people that argue about the big box stores, it is hard to compete with this fact.

Limping along in the digital world

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Called the WildBlue technical support last night and was informed that I was over my 30-day download limit.


From their website:
Ahhh... Hmmm -- www.hughes.net anyone?

Well crap...

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The internet is down at home again. Writing this from the store office and just found out. It worked OK this morning but was v...e....r.....y...... slow. Maybe time to ditch WildBlue and give Hughes a call. Needless to say, unless this rectifies itself, blogging will resume tomorrow.

Psssst - wanna buy a major cultural icon?

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Shows what bad management can do -- from Click Liverpool:
Troubled EMI put Abbey Road Studios up for sale.
Abbey Road, the most famous recording studios in the world were The Beatles recorded most of their music, has been put up for sale, by cash strapped EMI. The music company which is owned by buy out firm Terra Firma Capital Partners, has debts of two and a half billion pound.

It is not clear at present if EMI would be selling the Brand name as well, a media lawyer, said that the building is worth tens of millions but the brand is worth even more.

The Abbey Road studios were originally purchased in 1929 and are large enough for a full orchestra to record there, but in recent years to Abbey Road has lost out to cheaper recording facilities overseas and technical advances that allow artists to record using lap top computers.

Over the years many artists have recorded at Abbey Road including Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Cilla Black, Pink Floyd, who recorded �Dark Side of the Moon� there, Michael Jackson. Gerry and the Pacemakers recorded �You�ll never walk alone� and �Ferry cross the Mersey� at the studios and Oasis recorded their 1997 album �Be Here Now� there also.

Abbey Road was the title of the final Beatles album to be released and it features the iconic cover photograph, taken by Iain Macmillan, of the four Beatles walking across the zebra crossing outside the studios.

The photograph, which was taken during a 10-minute photo shot, has become one of the most copied album covers in history. There have been calls for the crossing to be moved as many fans have been involved in accidents as they step out on the crossing in an effort to re-create the famous cover.

Paul McCartney is holding a cigarette, which has now been removed from the American edition of the album. Abbey Road was the first Beatles album to achieve worldwide sales of 10 million and has recently been re-released, along with all the other Beatle albums, in digitally re-mastered form.

Abbey Road is the only Beatles album that does not feature the name of the album or the group�s name.

London Beatle Guide Richard Porter said �I hope that who ever buys the building keeps it as a studio� Beatle fans are calling on Sir Paul McCartney to buy Abbey Road.
Sad. It is almost a death knell when a business gets bought out by (generic name) Group or (generic name) Partners. These are "investors" who have no stake in the actual business and are just looking to strip all the available cash out of a resource before selling the salvage at a loss. There is still a lot of value in the studio -- vintage microphones and electronics plus having a venue that can record a large orchestra or group. I hope it finds a good owner and not another fscking "investment group"

Heh - old school v/s new school

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The new Senator from Massachusetts has a few words with the Vice President. From Jammie Wearing Fool:
Scott Brown Schools Joey Plugs
The next time the Obama folks decide to trot out Joe Biden, they might want to at least make sure he's got the talking points in order. Not only did Dick Cheney hand him his lunch yesterday, today Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown unloaded on the Vice Moron.
Sen. Scott Brown thinks Vice President Joe Biden was �off base� when he suggested Sunday that the Massachusetts Republican get his facts straight on the legal procedures for military tribunals.

�It was insulting,� said Brown, who frequently jabbed the administration during his Senate campaign for giving suspected terrorists legal representation.

On CBS's �Face the Nation� last weekend, Biden shot back that he doesn�t �know whether the new senator from Massachusetts understands: When you get tried in a military tribunal, you get a lawyer, too.�

�He�s trying to give me a lesson on military law, and I didn�t think it was appropriate,� Brown told POLITICO. �And I thought he was off base when it comes to explaining to the American people that somehow I need a lesson on whether people get attorneys � of course they get attorneys. There�s a difference as to what type of attorney they�re going to get and when they�re going to get that attorney, and how are they treated, and what rights do they, in fact, get.�

Brown said he is particularly incensed by Biden�s remarks because he�s served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard for more than 30 years and is currently the Guard's top defense attorney in New England.

I know the military rules and regulations and procedures from A to Z,� Brown said.
Biden has been in DC nearly his entire adult life, while Brown has been there less than two weeks. Yet Brown has a better understanding of what's going on that this career hack.
More. Faster. Please. This is the new blood of the United States of America. We have been moribund and self-serving for too long -- time to get back on track.

Aarrgghhhh... WildBlue suxxrs

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WildBlue is the third Satellite ISP I have subscribed to. I do not know what it is about the Satellite business model but they all seem to put a lot more effort into the sizzle and hype rather than quality service which is strange as in a small town in a remote county, word gets around... I am guessing that someone made an offer for some sweet broadband (Olympics anyone?) and they chose to violate their published terms of service to make a couple extra bucks. I was fully able to PING any website that I wanted, was able to PING some fixed IP addresses of servers that I know about. Try to open a browser window though... mumblemumblemumble(#98hpLIUi7t*TYpiuh:OH.... NO CARRIER fscking little putzes..

Urban Decay in Dubai

French Photographer C�dric Delsaux traveled around the underbelly of Dubai photographing the urban decay. He proceeded to add a little something extra and... It works... It works really well... From Fubiz:



A tip of the hat to Miss Cellania at Neatorama for the link. There is also a magazine article on Delsaux (in French) with some more photographs.

And another one bites the dust

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Backlash sucks big-time. Another Democratic Senator reads the writing on the wall and decides to step down. From Breitbart/Associated Press:
Source: Indiana's Evan Bayh to retire from Senate
Sen. Evan Bayh, a prominent Democrat who has been mentioned prominently in connection with White House sweepstakes in recent years, is ready to announce he will not seek re-election, senior Democratic officials said Monday.

Bayh's departure continues a recent exodus from Congress among both Democrats and Republicans, including veteran Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, amid polls showing a rising anti-incumbent fervor in an electorate angry over high unemployment, mounting federal deficits and lucrative banking industry bonuses.

The official, who said the 54-year-old Bayh was ready to announce his plans at an Indianapolis news conference later Monday, divulged the senator's decision only on grounds of anonymity because the announcement was still pending.

Bayh informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., of his plans in a telephone conversation Monday morning, according to a Democrat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Democrats will have to scramble to find a replacement candidate for Bayh's seat. Friday is the filing deadline for the May primary, although the party would have until June 30 to select a replacement candidate.
Geeez -- and Bayh is a pretty strong centrist; not a "progressive" like Reid or Pelosi. Things are getting interesting -- time to cook up a bowl of popcorn and watch the fun...

Foundry and Sculpture

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Some gorgeous photos from Victor Borisov The place is a Russian foundry and sculpture company called Lit Art but Google doesn't turn up a website for them. The photos are at English Russia and are worth looking at -- they are doing gorgeous work. Here are three of them:


Looks like an incredibly creative place to work but OSHA and NIOSH would have conniption fits if they walked in the door...

Climategate - Monckton takes a victory lap

From Pajamas Media:
Climategate: Viscount Monckton Takes a Victory Lap
For several months, the �Monthly CO2 Reports,� compiled by me at www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org, have been pointing out that there has been no statistically significant �global warming� for 15 years. Regular attacks on my calculations and graphs have appeared on blogs by the usual suspects � Gavin Schmidt of NASA being, as usual, the most venomously ad hominem and the least scientifically plausible.

Then came Climategate. Kevin Trenberth, one of the many scientists whose activities I had been following with suspicion for some years, had privately been saying to his colleagues that there had been �no global warming for a decade� and that it was �a travesty� that they could not explain why. Publicly, of course, the Climategate conspirators had been saying that the last ten years were the warmest decade on the instrumental record � true, but not surprising given that there has been 300 years of global warming.

Now, Professor Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia has admitted publicly, and � as far as I know � for the first time, that there has been no statistically significant �global warming� for 15 years. He has also admitted that his Climatic Research Unit has lost much of the data behind the �hockey-stick� graph, via which Michael Mann and other Climategate conspirators had falsely attempted to demonstrate that the Medieval Warm Period was not warmer than the present.

Jones has admitted that he is not very good at keeping data tidily. And that, in a scientist, is a startling omission. Seekers after truth in the natural world, from Leonardo da Vinci to Isaac Newton, were famous for keeping notebooks. There they carefully recorded all of their observations. Newton, who went to the same grammar school as Margaret Thatcher (one of the few grammar schools not to have been abolished by politicians intent on destroying the last vestiges of sound education in Britain), had been taught to keep these notebooks from an early age.

Yet Phil Jones had not managed the most basic task of anyone compiling a temperature record. He had not kept, in good order, the data on which the record was based. Anyone who reads the �Harry Read-Me.txt� file � which contains 15,000 lines of commentary by a programmer about the numerous appalling defects in data handling and processing at the Climate Research Unit � cannot help but be struck by the sheer ineptitude of the whole proceeding.

In effect, the temperature record of the CRU is little better than a fabrication � much like the four assessment reports of the IPCC. Taxpayers should clamor for the abolition of the CRU and of the IPCC. Their findings are not just lies � they are expensive lies.
Expensive lies indeed -- re: Al Gore's and Rajendra Pachuri's billions. Not bad for a failed Minister and a Railroad Engineer with a PHD in Economics.

Goodbye Patrick Kennedy

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Washington without a Kennedy -- what a wonderful thing to behold. From the UK Telegraph:
An overdue farewell to the Kennedy dynasty
There will soon be no Kennedy holding political office in Washington for the first time since 1947. That's a good thing, argues Toby Harnden in Washington.

In the end, the burden was too much for Patrick Kennedy. After spending half his life in elected office, the 42-year-old announced that he would not seek re-election for a ninth term in the House of Representatives in November.

The unmarried congressman was left utterly bereft by the death in August of his father and Capitol Hill compatriot, Senator Ted Kennedy.

Last year was the annus horribilis of the Kennedy dynasty. It also saw the death of Ted's sister Eunice and the political humiliation of Caroline Kennedy, his niece and President John F Kennedy's daughter, as she abandoned her unconvincing bid to be appointed Senator from New York in Hillary Clinton's place.

Like Caroline and the diffident Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a daughter of Bobby Kennedy who lost what should have been a relatively straightforward gubernatorial race in Maryland in 2002, Patrick was deeply uncomfortable as a politician.

The Rhode Island congressman is painfully awkward, a poor public speaker and has suffered from alcoholism, bipolar disorder and addiction to prescription drugs. Apart from his surname, he is best known for crashing his Mustang into a barrier outside the Capitol at 2.45am in May 2006 and then promptly booking himself into rehab at a Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

He was in rehab again last year. Various commentators have made sterling attempts to portray the congressman as a canny inside player who toiled away on behalf of humble constituents. But the truth is perhaps closer to what the man known as "Patches" to his detractors told Young Democrats in 2003: "I don't need Bush's tax cut. I have never worked a f---ing day in my life." The congressman tried to strike a statesmanlike pose in his retirement announcement � a two-minute video replete with plaintive references to his father and family, accompanied by maudlin piano music as he talked.
At least he sees the sea-change that is happening and is stepping down gracefully. Boxer, Reid and Pelosi should have the same grace...
A two-fer from Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism First from Kyle-Anne Shiver:
Why Does the MSM Ignore Al Gore�s �Global Warming� Million$?
In yet another case of willful blindness, our formerly august mainstream media all but ignores Al Gore�s global warming millions. Their secular saint, Prophet Al, has become a very rich man off his global warming �science.� Yet, whenever he is interviewed by those virtuous paragons among the media elite, you�ll hear nary a peep on the fact that Prophet Al stands to become the �World�s First Carbon Billionaire,� if and when governments � especially ours � enact the cap and trade legislation, of which Mr. Gore is the most vociferous proponent.

The lying hypocrisy of it is just too much for an honest person to bear.

Mr. Gore has, in effect, declared economic war on the middle-class American family through his global warming faux science. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the cap and trade legislation, which passed the House last year, will cost the average American family $890 per year. But the conservative Heritage Foundation immediately challenged this figure. Using a more inclusive analysis, Heritage raised the estimate to at least $1,870 per year.
Next, we have Michael Walsh:
Al Gore, Call Your Agent: It Really May Be Time to Give Back That Oscar
Oops! The wheels may have just come off Al Gore�s Oscar-winning, eco-friendly tricycle/global-warming scam. From the U.K. Times on Line today (Sunday):
World may not be warming, say scientists
The United Nations climate panel faces a new challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably because of human pollution.

�The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,� said John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former lead author on the IPCC.
More to read at the website links. The comments section is a lot of fun!

Where's Al

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Al Gore has been suspicously quiet during this amazingly cold and stormy winter. We have snow on the ground in 49 states (nothing in Hawaii) Chip Bok may have found him:

Power Corrupts

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Absolute Power is... pretty cool actually From the New York Times:
Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power
With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities.

Mr. Obama has not given up hope of progress on Capitol Hill, aides said, and has scheduled a session with Republican leaders on health care later this month. But in the aftermath of a special election in Massachusetts that cost Democrats unilateral control of the Senate, the White House is getting ready to act on its own in the face of partisan gridlock heading into the midterm campaign.

�We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,� said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.
Hey Pres... Your stuff is "stalled in Congress" because We The People do not think that your plans are good for this nation, we are communicating this to our Congressmen and they are listening to their constituents. How out of touch is this man. He has never run a business, he has never held a real job in his life.
From ABC News:
President Obama Signs Law Raising Public Debt Limit from $12.4 Trillion to $14.3 Trillion
Behind closed doors and with no cameras present, President Obama signed into law Friday afternoon the bill raising the public debt limit from $12.394 trillion to $14.294 trillion.

The current national debt is $12.3 trillion. Check out the National Debt Clock, which tells you your share of that -- roughly $40,000 per citizen, $113,000 per taxpayer.

The bill also establishes a statutory Pay-As-You-Go procedure requiring that new non-emergency legislation affecting tax revenue or mandatory spending not increase the Federal deficit � in other words, that any new spending or tax cuts be paid for with new taxes or spending cuts.
The only Hope I am feeling right now is that he doesn't bankrupt this Nation before he has his royal Kenyan ass handed to him in 2012.

The moral high-ground

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Heh... From Breitbart/Associated Press:
Abbas aide sex tape scandal shakes Palestinians
Palestinian officials on Friday rallied around a top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a video surfaced showing him in the nude in an alleged attempt to trade his influence for sex.

The footage of Rafiq Husseini, shot by a former Palestinian intelligence officer, has raised an uproar in conservative Palestinian society.
A bit more:
The former Palestinian intelligence officer, Fahmi Shabaneh, said he secretly took the footage in collusion with the unidentified woman. He said the woman had complained to him that Husseini was making suggestive remarks when she went to his office to ask for help with a family problem. Shabaneh said he then installed cameras in the woman's bedroom and filmed Husseini's next encounter with the woman.
And it gets better worse -- from Brad Thor writing at Breitbart's Big Journalism:
Taliban Rape Tapes: A �Muslim Abu Ghraib�
With breaking news out of Palestine today that a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas has been literally caught with his pants down, rape tapes seem to be popping up all over the pious Muslim world. And some are horrifically worse than others.

Last month on the FOX Business Network, Colonel Oliver North revealed a startling piece of information. Conservative mullahs and elements within the Haqqani terror network � known as the backbone of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the Af/Pak theater � are working to take the Haqqanis down from the inside. Their key weapon is a disturbing video that shows the serial sexual assault of several young girls.

When I travelled to Afghanistan to research my novel, The Apostle, contacts of mine introduced me to a mid-level Taliban commander in the Haqqani network. Over tea and considerable time talking together, he provided me with some very good, inside-baseball information on the Haqqanis and how their network operates.
The video is available at the Big Journalism link. Horrible people doing horrible things. Show it to a leftie and they will drone on about cultural relativism. This is the face of pure evil and it must be stopped. Mohammad is a false prophet -- Mohammad is the prophet of Satan, not Allah.

Obama the musical

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Major hat tip to Neanderpundit for the link.

Media Bias - another example

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I posted one example of the obvious bias inherent in the Mainstream Media back a few days ago here. Rush Limbaugh has a wonderful example -- some audio clips of Wolf Blitzer reporting on President Bush's approval ratings and Sarah Palin's jotting a few notes on her palm.
Nose on your face.
A cautionary tale as states like California, Massachusetts and Illinois are circling the drain. From the London Daily Mail:
Collapse of the euro is 'inevitable': Bailing out the Greek economy futile, says FRENCH banking chief
The European single currency is facing an 'inevitable break-up' a leading French bank claimed yesterday.

Strategists at Paris-based Soci�t� G�n�rale said that any bailout of the stricken Greek economy would only provide 'sticking plasters' to cover the deep- seated flaws in the eurozone bloc.

The stark warning came as the euro slipped further on the currency markets and dire growth figures raised the prospect of a 'double-dip' recession in the embattled zone.

Claims that the euro could be headed for total collapse are particularly striking when they come from one of the oldest and largest banks in France - a core founder-member.

In a note to investors, SocGen strategist Albert Edwards said: 'My own view is that there is little "help" that can be offered by the other eurozone nations other than temporary, confidence-giving "sticking plasters" before the ultimate denouement: the break-up of the eurozone.'

He added: 'Any "help" given to Greece merely delays the inevitable break-up of the eurozone.'

The alarming claim came a day after European Union leaders promised 'determined and co-ordinated' action to shore up Greece's tattered public finances, but disappointed traders by failing to provide specifics.

Further details are expected early next week, but markets were in high anxiety yesterday amid fears political divisions among rich eurozone members could derail any rescue.

The euro slid almost 1 per cent to $1.357 yesterday, meaning it has lost 10 per cent of its value since November. The pound rose to 1.14 euros.

Earlier this week Business Secretary Lord Mandelson's claimed that the single currency had been a 'remarkable success' and that it remained in Britain's interests to join.

David Cameron ridiculed that claim yesterday.
Cautionary in that the USA is a Republic of States which is much like the European Union. We need to see that the various states keep their houses in order and not become dependent on infusions of money from a large Federal government. That government is funded by the people and the smaller the better. Perhaps an EU collapse will serve pour encourager les autres... (reference)

Very cool - Olympic Medals

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The Nation hosting the Olympics is responsible for providing the medals awarded. Canada is doing something very cool -- from the Scientific American:
Winter Olympic medals made from recycled e-waste
When Olympic champions are crowned at this year's winter games in Vancouver, these elite athletes will be taking home more than just gold, silver or bronze medals�they will be playing a role in Canada's efforts to reduce electronic waste. That's because each medal was made with a tiny bit of the more than 140,000 tons of e-waste that otherwise would have been sent to Canadian landfills.

The more than 1,000 medals to be awarded at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which kick off today, amount to 2.05 kilograms of gold, 1,950 kilograms of silver (Olympic gold medals are about 92.5 per cent silver, plated with six grams of gold) and 903 kilograms of copper. A little more than 1.5 percent of each gold medal was made with metals harvested from cathode ray tube glass, computer parts, circuit boards and other trashed tech. Each copper medal contains just over one percent e-waste, while the silver medals contain only small traces of recycled electronics.

This is the first time that recycled materials have been added to Olympic medals, which historically have been made from mined mineral deposits refined for commercial use. Each Olympic medal is 100 millimeters in diameter, about six millimeters thick and weighs between 500 and 576 grams, depending upon the medal.

Very cool - quantum computing

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Recursion in computing -- from Science News:
Quantum on Quantum
Almost three decades ago, Richard Feynman � known popularly as much for his bongo drumming and pranks as for his brilliant insights into physics � told an electrified audience at MIT how to build a computer so powerful that its simulations �will do exactly the same as nature.�

Not approximately, as digital computers tend to do when faced with complex physical problems that must be addressed via mathematical shortcuts � such as forecasting orbits of many moons whose gravity constantly readjusts their trajectories. Computer models of climate and other processes come close to nature but hardly replicate it. Feynman meant exactly, as in down to the last jot.

Now, finally, groups at Harvard University and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, have designed and built a computer that hews closely to these specs. It is a quantum computer, as Feynman forecast. And it is the first quantum computer to simulate and calculate the behavior of a molecular quantum system.

Much has been written about how such quantum computers would be paragons of calculating power should anybody learn to build one that is much more than a toy. This latest one is at the toy stage, too. But it could become just the thing for solving some of the most vexing problems in science, the ones Feynman had in mind when he said �nature� � those problems involving quantum mechanics itself, the system of physical laws governing the atomic scale. Inherent to quantum mechanics are seeming paradoxes that blur the distinctions between particles and waves, portray all events as matters of probability rather than deterministic destiny and place a particle in a state of ambiguity that makes it potentially two or more things, or in two or more places, at once.
The article goes into a good bit of detail on what is being done and then closes with this wonderful observation:
Whatever shade of Richard Feynman flickers still in the entanglements of the universe, were it made to collapse into something corporeal, perhaps it would be smiling.
Nobel prize in Physics anyone?

Now this is downright cool

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Off the charts geekdom -- from the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University:
Iceland aims to become an offshore haven for journalists and leakers
On Tuesday, the Icelandic parliament is expected to introduce a measure aimed at making the country an international center for investigative journalism publishing, by passing the strongest combination of source protection, freedom of speech, and libel-tourism prevention laws in the world.

Supporters of the proposal say the move would make Iceland an �offshore publishing center� for free speech, analogous to the offshore financial havens that allow corporations to hide capital from authorities. Could global news organizations with a home office in Reykjav�k soon be as common as Delaware corporations or Cayman Islands assets?

�This is a legislative package to create a haven for freedom of expression,� Icelandic member of parliament Birgitta J�nsd�ttir confirmed to me, saying that a proposal for comprehensive media law reform will be filed in parliament on Tuesday, and that whistle-blowing specialists Wikileaks has been involved in drafting it. There have been persistent hints of an Icelandic media move in recent weeks, including tweets from Wikileaks and a cryptic message from the newly created @icelandmedia Twitter account.
This will stir things up a bit... Very cool -- had a wonderful time over there for two months backpacking around back in the 1970's. Wonderful people, very literate (loads of bookstores), gorgeous country.

A big shout-out to Medium Large

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Today is their 1,000th strip. Check out Medium Large One of my daily reads. The guy is seriously sick and twisted -- I like that in a cartoonist...
From English Russia comes this story of a group of people who are raising bears from newborns and reintroducing them to the wild:
Bear Growers
This guys do a good thing. They grow bears, treat them as pets (who didn�t dream about having a bear as a pet, at least in Russia?), and then release them to the wild nature. They treat them in such a way that small bears learn to get the food by themselves and don�t trust other humans so that not to get in trouble in their future wild life.
Some really cute photos and video. Here are three of them:


You just know that these last two are trouble on four paws. I want a bear cub...

RIP - Walter Fredrick Morrison

Passed away at 90 -- from the Muncie Indiana Star Press:
Frisbee inventor dies at 90
SALT LAKE CITY - Walter Fredrick Morrison, the man credited with inventing the Frisbee, has died. He was 90.

Utah House Rep. Kay McIff, an attorney who represented Morrison in a royalties case, says Morrison died at his home in Monroe, Utah, on Tuesday. McIff is from Richfield, Morrison's original hometown.

"That simple little toy has permeated every continent in every country, as many homes have Frisbees as any other device ever invented," McIff said. "How would you get through your youth without learning to throw a Frisbee?"

Morrison's son, Walt, told The Associated Press Thursday that "old age caught up" with his father and that he also had cancer.

"He was a nice guy. He helped a lot of people," Walt Morrison said. "He was an entrepreneur. He was always looking for something to do."
And his soul is now in Frisbee heaven -- stuck up on a roof...

Bucks First Credit Union

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Great home-grown commercial:
We pulled all of our accounts out of Bank of America and put them into a local C.U. here -- our bucks are a lot happier.

Don't be evil

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Don't be evil is Google's informal corporate motto They just blew it today -- from the UK Guardian:
Google shuts down music blogs without warning
In what critics are calling "musicblogocide 2010", Google has deleted at least six popular music blogs that it claims violated copyright law. These sites, hosted by Google's Blogger and Blogspot services, received notices only after their sites � and years of archives � were wiped from the internet.

"We'd like to inform you that we've received another complaint regarding your blog," begins the cheerful letter received by each of the owners of Pop Tarts, Masala, I Rock Cleveland, To Die By Your Side, It's a Rap and Living Ears. All of these are music-blogs � sites that write about music and post MP3s of what they are discussing. "Upon review of your account, we've noted that your blog has repeatedly violated Blogger's Terms of Service ... [and] we've been forced to remove your blog. Thank you for your understanding."

Jolly as Google may be, none of the bloggers who received these notices are "understanding" in the least. Although such sites once operated on the internet's fringes, almost exclusively posting songs without permission, many blogs are now wined, dined and even paid (via advertising) by record labels. After the success of blog-buzzy acts such as Arcade Fire, Lily Allen and Vampire Weekend, entire PR firms are dedicated to courting armchair DJs and amateur critics.
I realize that there are a lot of illegal MP3s and a lot of Legal ones and sorting them out would take a lot of time. Still, the way to go would be to simply firewall the blogs and set up an arbitration panel to review each one with the blog author and the person complaining about Copyright Violation. To delete the entire blog without the recourse of downloading a backup is downright evil personified. I back up this blog on a weekly basis but if it was taken down without my knowledge or consultation, I would be quite pissed...

The New World Order

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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown needs to go. The idea of instituting a world government has never ever worked out and it leads to corruption and waste. Here is the latest drivel -- from the UK Financial Times:
Global bank tax near, says Brown
Gordon Brown said on Wednesday the world�s leading economies were close to agreeing a global bank tax, amid hopes in Downing Street that a deal can be concluded at the G20 summit in Canada in June.

Mr Brown believes that opinion has shifted decisively in favour of a globally co-ordinated tax after President Barack Obama�s move last month to raise $90bn (�57.7bn) from a US bank levy.

The tax could cost the financial services sector tens of billions of pounds a year.

The prime minister has strongly advocated some kind of charge on banks. �I�m interested in the way support is building up for international action,� he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
These drooling morons are completely tone deaf to the workings of economics. Small government and low taxes equals prosperity. There is no other way.

The Big Earth Shattering Ka-Boom

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Today was the 31st anniversary of the Iranian "revolution" that deposed the Shah and instituted a theocratic dictatorship with a figurehead 'elected' president. I posted about it here. Today, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran is now a nuclear state. From the Daily Mail:
Iran is now a 'nuclear state' says Ahmadinejad as thousands take to the streets
Iran is now a 'nuclear state', President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced this morning.

As Gordon Brown warned that the world's patience is wearing thin, Ahmadinejad told scores of cheering Iranians that the Islamic Republic is capable of producing weapons-grade uranium.

He spoke as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Tehran to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

Despite fears of violence, opposition supporters found themselves largely overwhelmed by the clerical regime and pro-government demonstrators. The massive security clampdown appeared to succeed in preventing protesters from converging into a cohesive demonstrations.

Large numbers of riot police, members of the Revolutionary Guard and Basij militiamen, some on motorcycles, deployed in back streets near key squares and major avenues in the capital to move against protesters.
Tell us something we do not know. He had said from the outset that it wasn't for nukes, it was just for electricity. He lied. Electricity requires a much lower grade of enrichment -- you want to release the energy over a five or ten year period, not in a few milliseconds. You can use a higher level of enrichment but it makes control a lot trickier. Israel has nukes but no other Middle Eastern state has them. Iran will destabilize the entire area. Somewhere a clock is ticking... Of course, Israel is the logical choice for taking out the enrichment facilities but Ahmadinejad is warning them. From Yahoo/Reuters:
Ahmadinejad warns Israel against any military move
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel should be resisted and finished off if it launched military action in the region, state broadcaster IRIB reported on Thursday.

Ahmadeinjad's comments were made when the president spoke over the telephone with his Syrian counterpart late on Wednesday.

Last week, Syria -- a key regional ally of Iran -- accused Israel of pushing the Middle East toward a new war.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, in an interview broadcast on Wednesday, said Israeli aircraft were making daily incursions into Lebanese air space, creating a very dangerous situation.

"We have reliable information ... that the Zionist regime is after finding a way to compensate for its ridiculous defeats from the people of Gaza and Lebanon's Hezbollah," Ahmadinejad told Syria's Bashar al-Assad, referring to conflicts in 2006 and 2009.

"If the Zionist regime should repeat its mistakes and initiate a military operation, then it must be resisted with full force to put an end to it once and for all."
Here's betting that Ahm-a-dinner-jacket will have his ass handed to him if he tries anything. The Israeli military is not to be trifled with...

Snow removal problems in D.C.

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Like they aren't doing anything? From FOX News:
Too Dangerous to Plow, D.C., Area Governments Halt Snow Removal
Washington, D.C., and neighboring Montgomery County, Md., may have just lived up to its reputation as "wimpy" weather warriors -- suspending snow plow operations as a blizzard bears down on the region.

Or maybe not.

The National Weather Service on Wednesday used the phrases "extremely dangerous" and "life-threatening blizzard" to describe conditions in Baltimore and Washington, which have both set records this week for the snowiest seasons ever. Wind gusts have reached as high as 60 miles per hour as the blizzard passed through the region.
And of course, it isn't the snowfall that will really wreak havoc. From CNN/US:
Fact Check: Eastern U.S. earthquake risk
A magnitude-3.8 earthquake struck northern Illinois early Wednesday, shaking homes and buildings and rattling plenty of nerves.

Doug Dupont of Belvidere, Illinois, about 70 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, said it shook him out of bed and left a crack in his kitchen wall.

"It was really scary. It felt like a train was going by our house," Dupont said. "This is not California. This is northern Illinois. We are not supposed to get earthquakes."

The CNN Fact Check Desk wondered: Are earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains unlikely, or was Tuesday's predawn quake in Illinois a wake-up call for Easterners?
� The U.S. Geological Survey says earthquakes pose "a significant risk to 75 million Americans in 39 states."

� Of the 26 U.S. urban areas deemed at risk for significant seismic activity, nearly one-third are east of the Rockies, including New York; Boston, Massachusetts; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee; and Charleston, South Carolina.

� One of the most active eastern quake zones is the New Madrid seismic zone, winding southward from Illinois and Missouri down through west Tennessee and Arkansas. It unleashed a series of magnitude-8.0 quakes in 1811-12.
Seismologists say we can expect one that big every 200 to 300 years. And quakes in the 6.0 range come every 80 years or so. The last one in the area was in 1895, 115 years ago.
Yeah -- New Madrid is seriously overdue. the 1811 quake was enough to make the Mississippi River flow backwards for a couple hours. And of course, my house is 25 miles away from the summit of an active volcano...

IRS Shotgun update

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Back on February 3rd, I posted about the IRS issuing a call for bids on sixty shotguns for their own use. The Firearms Blog has the detailed specs and analysis:
The IRS Shotgun
By now you have probably heard about the news that the IRS is buying Remington 870 shotguns. Why? Who knows. I have never heard of a government tax collection agency arming themselves. Regardless of the social issues associated with arming tax collectors, you must give those accountants some credit: they know how to choose a decent gun. The IRS Shotgun (as it shall know be known on TFB) is pimped-out 14" short barreled Remington 870. It is similar to the Remington MCS Tactical Entry/CQB Shotgun.
One of the comments was classic:
Two things that strike fear into people: an IRS audit and the click-click of a pump action shotgun cycling. Now you can get them both at the same time!

Rough day

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Had the usual stuff to do this afternoon -- taking two cars in for repair and maintenance and then our new fire and security alarm was placed online today so the alarm people had to go around and trip each of the 30+ sensors and pull-boxes in the building and then, the County fire marshall came out and went around to each of the sensors and pull boxes and tripped them again. When one of these trips, it sets off all of the buzzers, strobe lights and sirens throughout the building and they are loud -- very very very loud. Finally, one of our beer distributors was hosting the launch of a new beer from New Belgium Brewing Company -- their Ranger IPA. They hosted it at the Copper Hog -- a bar in Bellingham that we had never visited before. Our bad. Our very seriously bad... The place is in an old Greyhound station and has been wonderfully restored -- lots of architectural delights tucked around and the bathrooms are all tiled with that tiny white tile that was popular back in the 40's and 50's. They have an excellent beer selection and the food is drop-dead wonderful. So basically, we had to sit there, eating excellent food and drinking a wonderful new IPA. We will be going back there again...

Someone gets it

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From the London Times:
Amnesty International is �damaged� by Taliban link
A senior official at Amnesty International has accused the charity of putting the human rights of Al-Qaeda terror suspects above those of their victims.

Gita Sahgal, head of the gender unit at Amnesty�s international secretariat, believes that collaborating with Moazzam Begg, a former British inmate at Guantanamo Bay, �fundamentally damages� the organisation�s reputation.

In an email sent to Amnesty�s top bosses, she suggests the charity has mistakenly allied itself with Begg and his �jihadi� group, Cageprisoners, out of fear of being branded racist and Islamophobic.

Sahgal describes Begg as �Britain�s most famous supporter of the Taliban�. He has championed the rights of jailed Al-Qaeda members and hate preachers, including Anwar al-Awlaki, the alleged spiritual mentor of the Christmas Day Detroit plane bomber.

Amnesty�s work with Cageprisoners took it to Downing Street last month to demand the closure of Guantanamo Bay. Begg has also embarked on a European tour, hosted by Amnesty, urging countries to offer safe haven to Guantanamo detainees. This is despite concerns about former inmates returning to terrorism.

Sahgal, who has researched religious fundamentalism for 20 years, has decided to go public because she feels Amnesty has ignored her warnings for the past two years about the involvement of Begg in the charity�s Counter Terror With Justice campaign.
Thank you Gita Sahgal! Terrorist scum like Begg need to be locked up forever if not shot and buried with pig offal. We need to realize that there is a war being waged against us -- the Islamists declared it thirty years ago and we are only now beginning to stir. They need to be wiped off the face of this planet.
Cause and effect -- Obama has dissed Las Vegas many times in speeches; holding it up as an example of poor spending choices. Stuff like this has consequences and now, 350 people are out of work. From CNN/Money:
Ritz-Carlton to close 5-diamond Las Vegas hotel in May
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co will close its five-diamond property in Las Vegas this May, after the hotel struggled with a slide in demand and revenue.

"It's nothing the hotel did. It's a simple lack of business and a decline in the tourism industry," said Ritz-Carlton spokeswoman Vivian Deuschl.

The owners of the 348-room property, Village Hospitality LLC, an arm of Deutsche Bank, will stop funding the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas day-to-day operations on May 2.

"That was the owner's decision and we reluctantly agreed to go along with it," Deuschl said.

Luxury properties have been hit hard in the past year and a half. Corporate travel and business from associations accounts for the bulk revenue of these hotels, but companies and groups have cut back on travel spending in the past year.

Fact checking the IPCC

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Wonderful idea -- Bishop Hill chose a paragraph at random from an IPCC report and is proceeding to fact-check it to great amusement. From Bishop Hill:
Pick a paragraph
This was a little experiment that turned up some interesting results. The idea was to pick a paragraph from the IPCC reports and look at its provenance, just to see if anything interesting turned up. It did.

Unfortunately it turned up so much, that I've decided only to analyse the first sentence of the paragraph. I've got a life you know.

Here's the paragraph. It's from WG2, Chapter 10, and its the start of section which is about the effects of climate change on food production. Agriculture and food production
Production of rice, maize and wheat in the past few decades has declined in many parts of Asia due to increasing water stress arising partly from increasing temperature, increasing frequency of El Ni�o and reduction in the number of rainy days (Wijeratne, 1996;Aggarwal et al., 2000; Jin et al., 2001; Fischer et al., 2002; Tao et al., 2003a; Tao et al., 2004). In a study at the International Rice Research Institute, the yield of rice was observed to decrease by 10% for every 1�C increase in growing-season minimum temperature (Peng et al., 2004). A decline in potentially good agricultural land in East Asia and substantial increases in suitable areas and production potentials in currently cultivated land in Central Asia have also been reported (Fischer et al., 2002). Climate change could make it more difficult than it is already to step up the agricultural production to meet the growing demands in Russia (Izrael and Sirotenko, 2003) and other developing countries in Asia.
First step was to look at the citations. I've linked PDFs where I have them.
■Surprisingly for a sentence about rice, maize and wheat Wijeratne 1996 turns out to be about tea production in Sri Lanka.
■I haven't been able to lay my hands on Aggarwal or Jin (I think Aggarwal should actually be Agarwal).
Fischer et al is a study published by an NGO, the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). This body seems to do research into environmental issues. THe study in question appears to be a special report paid for by the UN and as far as I can tell, non-peer reviewed.
■Tao 2003a I can't find
Tao 2004 is a paper on variability in Chinese climate and how various oscillations (ENSO< EASM) affect crops.

So by the end of the first sentence, none of the cited papers that I can lay my hands on support the text as written, namely that "Production of rice, maize and wheat in the past few decades has declined in many parts of Asia".

Some of the reasons for this change became clear when I looked at the Second Order Draft. Here's the equivalent paragraph.
But the science is settled. This is not a sceintific report, this is an agenda-driven text written by a committee that has zero idea of what they are talking about. And our tax dollars are being used to pay for this crap...

The heart of Redness

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Iowahawk is channeling his inner Conrad and it is amazing:
Heart of Redness

Mission: bring back Von Drehle.

The words echo in my mind as I peer out the frost-framed window of 'Pretense,' a moderately priced new-American bistro on the edge of campus. My eyes follow clusters of students, shoulders hunched against the cold, criss-crossing the snowy Pentacrest like the exasperating strokes of a de Koonig canvas.

We all have a mission, I thought. For those faceless students: diversity seminars, Nam Jun Paik film retrospectives at the Union, maybe Dollar Pitcher Nite at the Airliner. For me: Von Drehle.

It - or rather, he - is the mission that has brought me to this dismal and lonely outpost on the edge of reason. Tomorrow I will make the dangerous trek north on Dubuque Street to Exit 242, merge into the river of semi-trailers on Interstate 80, and head west into the great red unknown between here and Boulder.

It is the same route Von Drehle followed before he went missing: I-80 to Nebraska, then south on highway 77 through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Ironically the Post had sent Von Drehle on his own mysterious mission - to learn why the natives were suddenly agitating against Post subscription offers. He went missing on January 11, emailing his final story draft with a cryptic personal note: "the horror... the horror."

My entree fork toyed with the competently-prepared lamb shank in merlot reduction, as I pondered the even more ironic irony that this ironic mission would take me to regions that were reportedly unfamiliar with irony.

"Is it true what they say?" asked Fleming, the young photographer whom the Post has assigned to accompany me on the journey up-asphalt. "I mean, about the religion, and the cannibalism?"

"No," I reponded, managing a half smile. Fleming was visibly nervous, unable to eat his Portobello duck gnocchi. The truth is I had heard the stories too, and didn't really know the answer. I thought it best to reassure Fleming, a green staffer fresh from Columbia Journalism School. He might ultimately prove to be a liability on this mission, but if I was going to be in the middle of Kansas I needed a companion familiar with Maureen Dowd just to stave off the madness.

At least Fleming had an excuse for volunteering, I thought; he had that false bravado of youth. But what was it that drove me here? Was it Von Drehle, or was I actually looking for something missing inside myself? I didn't have time to answer, because the third member of our party arrived at the table.

"You Dionne?" said the hulking man in the Carhartt jacket. "I'm Epstein, from the Sociology Department."

Epstein was the legendary University of Iowa sociologist who knew the west Red Country better than any man in civilization. He knew their language, their mores, their favorite NASCAR drivers. It was rumored that he had even lived among them for a time, but my editors at the Post warned me not to speak to him of it.

We poured over maps and discussed logistics until 7:45, when Epstein called for us to adjourn.

"There's a faculty panel symposium on Cuban health care at Schaffer Auditorium," he said. "I suggest we attend. There won't be any more where we're headed."
Pitch perfect -- I hope there is more, it ends partway through day three.

Fun times in Washington DC - more snow

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That second line of snowstorms is due in a day or so and the Washington, DC snow removal people are having a bit of a problem. From DC FM station WTOP:
25 percent of D.C. plows out of commission
As the region braces for another major storm, one local government is having trouble keeping their plows on the roads, WTOP has learned.

As many as 60 of the District's snow plows are not working -- bad news for thousands of residents still waiting for their streets to be cleared.

According to an internal email obtained by WTOP, 25 percent of the District's snow plow fleet is down and they're having trouble getting replacement parts.

D.C. is also now rationing their salt supply.

The email states they'll have enough to get through the upcoming storm. DDOT has 9,000 tons of salt on hand, with another 32,000 tons coming in soon. The city normally has 40-50,000 tons of salt onhand.

The email also raises concerns about staffing issues. Crews have been working non-stop since the blizzard on Friday.

Plows will continue to salt streets to prevent re-freezing overnight.
Blogger Megan McCardle lives in D.C. and has the following to say:
Blogging the Snowpocalypse
You will probably have noticed that I did not post this morning. That's because sometime before 8 am, I decided that I should get to the grocery store and pick up my lung medicine in the hiatus between snows.

Four hours later, I returned with a trunk full of whatever could be scavenged from the grocery store shelves. You have never seen a city as completely incompetent at dealing with snow as Washington DC.

I mean, two feet of snow is inconvenient anywhere. But in DC, only the main streets have been plowed. And by "plowed", I mean that one meager lane has been cleared, so that even major arteries like New York Avenue frequently narrow to one lane. The side streets have been turned into defacto one-way streets--except that no one knows which way. The result is a lot like driving on a country road in Ireland, where you are apt to come upon someone going the other way, and then spend precious moments staring at each other until one party reluctantly backs up to a wider spot.

The difference is that Irish drivers are somewhat familiar with the conditions. DC today is the province of taxi drivers and SUV owners who seem simultaneously confused and overconfident. As I eased down the street in our little Japanese sedan, I quickly surmised that none of the drivers in the bite-sized tanks surrounding me had ever seen snow before. Three blocks later I revised that opinion: I don't think any of them had ever seen cars before. Certainly not the ones they were operating.

Apparently, if you buy an SUV in the Greater Washington DC area, this gives you license to drive much faster than the rest of traffic on a road that only has one open lane. Unfortunately, it does not give you any basic information about the function of four wheel drive--such as the fact that while 4WD does allow you to accelerate better in snowy conditions, it does not improve your braking ability. Nor, as one of my twitter mates pointed out, does it enhance your turning power. And of course, four wheel drive will not stop you from fishtailing on the slick layer of slush covering a solid base of hard-packed snow. I witnessed one minor fender bender and three near accidents in the perhaps three miles that I covered this morning.
I went to school at Boston University and bummed around New England for a number of years after that so I am familiar with how to drive in snow. It is funny both in Seattle and up here, how many people are thrown for a loop by even a light dusting. They are completely unaware of the laws of physics...

Fall Guy

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The citizens are unhappy with the government; Obama's ratings are tanking; a lot of Democratic Congressmen are looking at loosing their jobs this year.. So what do they do? From The Hill:
Congressional Democrats point finger of blame at Rahm Emanuel
Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform.

The emerging consensus among critics in both chambers is that Emanuel�s lack of Senate experience slowed President Barack Obama�s top domestic priority.

The share of the blame comes as cracks are beginning to show in Emanuel�s once-impregnable political armor. Last week he had to apologize after a report surfaced that he called liberal groups �retarded� in a private meeting.

While Emanuel has quelled that controversy by meeting with advocates for people with disabilities, on Capitol Hill he�s under fire for poor execution of the president�s healthcare agenda in the Senate.

"I think Rahm ran the play his boss called; once Obama called the play, Rahm did everything he could to pass it, scorched-earth and all that,� said a senior lawmaker, who added that Emanuel didn�t seek a broader base of Senate Republicans. �I think he did miscalculate the Senate. He did what he thought he had to do to win."
Throw Rahm under the bus. Chicago politics old-school. The healthcare plan is failing because some Congressmen and Senators are actually listening to their constituents and not just playing the progressive line. The US Citizenry is telling them that they do not want a 2,000+ page pork-laden bill, they want tort reform and the option to shop around for insurance policies. As for hospital costs, The Angry Pharmacist had the best solution I have heard:
  • No trade name drugs are covered. No exceptions. Prilosec/Protonix doesn�t work for you? Tough shit. Cough with ARB? Too bad. None of the trade name medications would be covered. The government needs to eat its own dogfood (or practice what it preaches) and only does business with companies that drive down the cost of medication (ie: generic companies). That expensive chemo drug not covered? Then let the government use taxpayer dollars to buy out Amgen so they can give it out for free (why not, everyone else got bailed out).
  • The plan is voluntary. If you wish to be a part of Obamacare, then you get the premiums deducted out of your gross-pay. If you wish to have private health care, then you won�t be dinged a dime for Obamacare. I�m not paying for all of your PacifiCare and Blue Cross plans (and your insurance premium dollars dont pay for my private insurance) so why should I have to pay for someones Obamacare? The chances of this happening are as likely as you buying the nice bridge I have for sale.
  • You get 4 doctors visits a year with no/low copay (say, $10). Every doctors visit after that has a $25-50 copay. Yeah, it sucks for the people with chronic conditions like diabetes and stuff, but its better than nothing. Don�t get the unlimited text messaging plan and you can afford your doctors visits. Don�t order a large pizza and you can afford another doctors visit. Wait, actually becoming an active part in my health? What is this witchcraft you speak of!
  • You get 1 $0 copay ER room a year. Every ER visit after that is $100 minimum. I�d like to see this figure raised to $250 or higher since ER is for��. EMERGENCIES! You know why the ER rooms are so packed? People view them as �Free�.
  • Since all Rx�s will be billed to the government, if you are on a maintenance medication and you are non-compliant, guess what, your premiums just went up unless YOU (not your doctor, not your pharmacy) can submit documentation showing that you were taken off of that drug, or switched to another one due to intolerance. Whats the point of the government dumping all this cash into your doctors visits and medications if YOU are TOO LAZY to do anything about YOUR CONDITION. Not taking your medication is just pissing away money. No matter how many times I bitch, your doctor bitches if you don�t want to take your medicine then you can get dinged in the pocketbook. True this can be thwarted by people just picking up their regular drugs and not taking them, but it might make a few people think twice before asking for medication they have no intention of taking. Cue the �Waah, we don�t want the government poking its nose into our lives� as they happily promote Obamacare. Wait, are you confused?
  • If your doctor kept up to the standard of care, then unless his peers can show an act of negligence, you cannot sue him/her for 1.4 zillion dollars in a huge malpractice suit. Lets face it, without your doctors care, you would have died a long time ago. We don�t need your doctor running up the bill with 400 lab tests every damn office visit out of fear of getting sued if he/she happened to miss something weird.
Works for me...

Burj Dubai update

Posted about the worlds tallest building being closed yesterday.

Now some more information comes to light -- from Yahoo/Associated Press:

World's tallest tower closed a month after opening
The world's tallest skyscraper has unexpectedly closed to the public a month after its lavish opening, disappointing tourists headed for the observation deck and casting doubt over plans to welcome its first permanent occupants in the coming weeks.

Electrical problems are at least partly to blame for the closure of the Burj Khalifa's viewing platform -- the only part of the half-mile high tower open yet. But a lack of information from the spire's owner left it unclear whether the rest of the largely empty building -- including dozens of elevators meant to whisk visitors to the tower's more than 160 floors -- was affected by the shutdown.

Electrical problems? Yikes. A bit more about Dubai in general:

The shutdown comes at a sensitive time for Dubai. The city-state is facing a slump in tourism -- which accounts for nearly a fifth of the local economy -- while fending off negative publicity caused by more than $80 billion in debt it is struggling to repay.

Can you say financial bubble? The stories of abandoned cars at the Dubai airport have been posted for over a year.

Talking about the weather

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Dr. Jim Kosek from AccuWeather covering the Baltimore, MD / Washington, D.C. area. He has quite the following Hat tip Vanderleun

Only in San Francisco


I appreciate the thought but I could think of a few things that the Haitians need more than someone's used Yoga Mat.

All the money spent shipping them could be put to direct use with groups like Team Rubicon and Doctors without Borders

Hat tip to James Fallows at The Atlantic for the link...

Something wicked this way comes

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A big day for Iran is approaching -- February 11th is the 31st anniversary of the overthrow of the Shah and the institution of the present theocratic dictatorship with an 'elected' figurehead president. From Breitbart/AFP:
Iran anniversary 'punch' will stun West: Khamenei
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that Iran is set to deliver a "punch" that will stun world powers during this week's 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

"The Iranian nation, with its unity and God's grace, will punch the arrogance (Western powers) on the 22nd of Bahman (February 11) in a way that will leave them stunned," Khamenei, who is also Iran's commander-in-chief, told a gathering of air force personnel.
And all is not sweetness and light in country:
This year's anniversary is expected to become a flashpoint between security forces and supporters of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who charge that the June re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was rigged.
Complete speculation on my part but if their surprise has anything to do with with the sovereign nation of Israel, my bets on Tehran turning into a flat plain of glass are pretty strong.


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Wonder what is going on here -- from Breitbart/AFP:
Dubai closes top deck at world's tallest tower
The observation deck of Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest high-rise, has been closed for repairs only a month after the iconic tower was inaugurated, the developers said on Monday.

"Due to unexpected high traffic, the observation deck experience at the Burj Khalifa... has been temporarily closed for maintenance and upgrade," Emaar Properties said in a statement.

"Technical issues with the power supply are being worked on," it added, without specifying when visitors could expect once more to be able to ascend for a panoramic view of Dubai.

The glistening concrete, glass and steel pinnacle rising 828 metres (2,717 feet) out of the desert sands was inaugurated just over a month ago in a lavish ceremony.

The observation deck on the 124th floor, called "At the Top," was the only part of the Dubai icon that was open to the public.

Visitors pay 400 dirhams (109 dollars) for immediate entry, and 100 dirhams (27 dollars) for entry after a two-day wait.

Ticket holders could rebook or receive an immediate refund, the statement added.

The tower was known as Burj Dubai during construction, but Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum last month renamed it after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi came to Dubai's rescue late last year to the tune of 10 billion dollars after Dubai's economy went into a nose-dive, together with financial markets around the world.

Dubai's debts are estimated to total over 100 billion dollars.
This will be interesting to follow...
One hour of political awesomeness:
Link to CSPAN full size video here: Sarah Palin Keynote Speech at National Tea Party Convention

Northwest Geology

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The geology up here is a fascinating mix. Dave Tucker is at Western Washington University and has set up a very nice website. From the about section:
About this website
The blog is written by Dave Tucker. I am a research associate at Western Washington University�s geology department. While my research focuses primarily on volcanic rocks and events at Mount Baker and the nearby Hannegan caldera, this website is not limited to volcanic geology.

This is intended to be a cooperative effort. Please use a comment to contact me about submitting field trips you want to write, or places you�d like to know more about.

This website will post illustrated geology field trips to sites where you can lay hands on cool geology, or get good overviews of the geology of northwest Washington and southwestern British Columbia. At least through the winter of 2009-2010, posted trips will be restricted to the region of the Salish Sea. Some field trips will be along roads, some will require hiking, and there will be trips for demented folks like me who don�t mind a little, or a lot, of cross country travel- bushwhacking, scrambling, stream crossing, glacier crossing, and the like.
It's off to a good start and will be fun to check in every few weeks especially now that Winter is coming to a close and going on an interesting new hike will be a fun way to spend a day.

Islam's connections with the Nazis

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An interesting bit of detective work by Pamella Geller at Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism:
The Mufti of Jerusalem: Architect of the Holocaust
The original blueprints for the Auschwitz death camp went on display in late January after being discovered in November 2008. They were found by chance behind a wall in a Berlin apartment during renovation work, yet the exact location of their discovery is being kept secret. No one will say whose apartment it was.

There are numerous bits of evidence, however, that point to a possible location where Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, lived during World War II. And in the course of investigating this, I have found that the Mufti was involved in and may even have created the Final Solution for European Jews � and yet his central participation in the Holocaust has been covered up and forgotten.

The Mufti, whom his nephew Yasser Arafat called �our hero,� is famous for his fanatical Jew-hatred. During World War II, the Mufti lived in Berlin, where he met Hitler and traveled in top Nazi circles (he even stayed in Hitler�s bunker toward the end of the war). Among his close friends was Adolf Eichmann, who is commonly thought to be the architect of the Holocaust. Journalist Maurice Pearlman, author of the 1947 book The Mufti of Jerusalem, said that the Mufti advised Eichmann on the best ways to persecute Jews.
Pamella goes into a lot more detail including some texts of the Mufti's radio messages exhorting Muslims to, well, read for yourself:
According to the Muslim religion, the defense of your life is a duty which can only be fulfilled by annihilating the Jews. This is your best opportunity to get rid of this dirty race, which has usurped your rights and brought misfortune and destruction on your countries. Kill the Jews, burn their property, destroy their stores, annihilate these base supporters of British imperialism. Your sole hope of salvation lies in annihilating the Jews before they annihilate you.
Not much different from today. The comments are chilling as there are some anti-Semites who weigh in. Pamela's own blog site is Atlas Shrugs and she has a lot more on the subject. Worth reading to learn what is happening -- Iran is planning something big on the 11th. The US Government needs to wake up and realize who its enemies and friends are...

The upcoming East Coast snowstorm

Uh Oh. There is a wonderful word: BOHICA -- kind of has a Caribbean sound to it. It is actually an acronym for Bend Over, Here It Comes Again From Bloomberg:
U.S. Mid-Atlantic Cleans Up From Snow; More Coming
Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia began digging out today from a blizzard that dumped as much as three feet of snow on parts of the mid-Atlantic region and left thousands without power.

Elkridge, Maryland, just south of Baltimore, recorded the region�s most snowfall with 38.3 inches (97 centimeters), the National Weather Service said. Baltimore�s airport had 24.8 inches, while Washington�s Reagan National had 17.8 inches, its second-biggest snowfall total. Philadelphia registered 28.5 inches, its second-biggest snowfall also. In the Virginia town of Howellsville, west of Washington, 37 inches fell.

�This was an epic storm,� said Andrew Ulrich, a meteorologist for AccuWeather.com Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. �The sheer amount of snow was amazing.�

And there is more in store.

AccuWeather said another storm will arrive in the Northeast during the night of Feb. 9 into the morning of Feb. 10. Possible blizzard conditions are forecast for northeastern Pennsylvania to New England and as much as 12 inches of snow may fall. Baltimore and Washington may see as much as six inches of new snow, Ulrich said.
The new storm is starting in central states:
Another Major Cross-Country Snowstorm Taking Shape
A storm moving into the southern Plains tonight will turn into the next major cross-country snowstorm over the next few days. Substantial snow will develop across the Plains through Monday and spread into the Northeast and mid-Atlantic Tuesday into Wednesday. The storm is expected to strengthen as it reaches the mid-Atlantic coast, bringing more substantial snow to areas pummeled by the powerhouse storm this weekend and to areas farther north that were missed. Major disruptions to travel will result with delays and cancellations of flights, school and other activities.
Combine the overall (Europe is colder than normal too) cold weather with the implosion at the IPCC and CRU and maybe this Anthropogenic Global Warming shite will be dead and buried. I wonder what the progressives will set their sights on next. Communism failed when the Berlin Wall came down. They then infiltrated the environmental movement and took it over. Now that this is dead, where will they go next...

Now this will be interesting

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From the Seattle Times:
Don Benton, veteran state senator, seeks to take on Patty Murray in November
State Sen. Don Benton has become the latest, and possibly the strongest, candidate to announce he's running for Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray's seat this fall.

Benton, R-Vancouver, has been a state senator since 1996 and also served a term in the state House of Representatives. He said Sunday he was inspired in part by Republican Sen. Scott Brown's upset victory in Massachusetts, and he's retained the same consulting team behind Brown's candidacy.

State Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz called Benton's legislative record "unimpressive." He said Benton "may be the strongest candidate in the race so far," but only because the other six candidates have no political experience.

Benton said he believes in "common-sense conservatism" and criticized Murray as "moving in lock-step" with President Obama on an agenda to nationalize banks, medicine and the auto industry.

A critic of big government and an opponent of tax increases, he says he's in alignment with members of the Tea Party movement and their call for smaller government and lower taxes. Benton said he has never voted to increase taxes in his 16-year tenure in the Legislature.
I love that comment: State Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz called Benton's legislative record "unimpressive." Benton has run a business for many years, has served successfully in office for 16 years and is a fiscal conservative. Murray has done nothing but follow the tax and spend lockstep that is making Washington a very difficult place to run a small business.
From Breitbart/AFP:
Olympic Organisers desperate for climate change
Winter Olympics chiefs will not sanction a desperate last-minute venue switch despite unseasonably warm temperatures continuing to curse Cypress Mountain, the host of the freestyle events at the Games which begin on Friday.

The host city enjoyed highs of 11 degrees again on Saturday while meteorological officials said that the warm weather, which has led to 300 dumper trucks and even helicopters being used to transport snow from higher elevations, will continue right up to the opening ceremony on February 12.

The imported snow has been piled high on wood and hay which have been laid to form the bumps which test the freestyle skiiers at Cypress Mountain.

"We are not relocating any events," said Tim Gayda, the vice-president of organising committee VANOC, responding to the problems caused by the warmest January on record, a legacy of El Nino, a periodic warming feature over the Pacific Ocean.

"We had a bunch of contingency plans about too much snow or too little snow and we are largely knee-deep in the contingency plan for the too-little snow.
Ouch! When were the games scheduled -- didn't the Olympic committee know that the three to five year cycle of El Nino greatly affects the Pacific Northwest's weather?

The great seer - Robert F. Kennedy

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Oh great prognosticator -- tell us what the weather will be. From the September 24, 2008 LA Times:
Palin's Big Oil infatuation
Los Angeles Times
September 24, 2008

I was water-skiing with my children in a light drizzle off Hyannis, Mass., last month when a sudden, fierce storm plunged us into a melee of towering waves, raking rain, painful hail and midday darkness broken by blinding flashes of lightning. As I hurried to get my children out of the water and back to the dock, I shouted over the roaring wind, "This is some kind of tornado."
And some more:
In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today's anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don't own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.

In those days, I recall my uncle, President Kennedy, standing erect as he rode a toboggan in his top coat, never faltering until he slid into the boxwood at the bottom of the hill. Once, my father, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, brought a delegation of visiting Eskimos home from the Justice Department for lunch at our house. They spent the afternoon building a great igloo in the deep snow in our backyard. My brothers and sisters played in the structure for several weeks before it began to melt. On weekend afternoons, we commonly joined hundreds of Georgetown residents for ice skating on Washington's C&O Canal, which these days rarely freezes enough to safely skate.
A bit more:
Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil and its carbon cronies continue to pour money into think tanks whose purpose is to deceive the American public into believing that global warming is a fantasy. In 1998, these companies plotted to deceive American citizens about climate science. Their goal, according to a meeting memo, was to orchestrate information so that "recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom" and that "those promoting the Kyoto treaty ... appear to be out of touch with reality."
And more:
Corporate America's media toadies continue to amplify Exxon's deceptive message. The company can count on its hand puppets -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, John Stossel and Glenn Beck -- to shamelessly mouth skepticism about man-made climate change and give political cover to the oil industry's indentured servants on Capitol Hill. Oklahoma's Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe calls global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public."
What an odious little man. And that line about President Kennedy standing in a toboggan? With his back injuries? Hey Robert -- how is that warming working out for you? Finding it easy to fly your personal Gulfstream in and out of Washington DC these days?

Media Bias - a perfect example

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Here is MS/NBCs report:
Guy with an AR-15, pistol and a white shirt - check. Black president - check. Oooooooo - racial 'overtones' Only problem is that they did some very selective editing. Here is ABC's report -- same city, same date, same guy:
Spot the bias? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Old meet New - Media department

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Wonderful one-liner from Andrew Breitbart to the Mainstream Media:
�It�s not your business model that sucks, it�s you that sucks.�

More on the East Coast snowstorm

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Is Al Gore in Washington or something? Power out to 90,000 people in New Jersey At least four roof collapses in Washington, D.C. Washington had 217,000 people without power this morning. Maybe this will shake people up a bit and make them realize that the global warming bogeyman is made of straw.

How not to right a truck

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From Neatorama comes this short YouTube video:
Probably some wonderful swear-words if I understood the language.
Yikes -- from the Australian News.com site:
Anthrax contaminated heroin spreads
BRITISH authorities today warned drug users that heroin in London was highly likely to be contaminated with anthrax, after a first confirmed case there and following nine deaths in Scotland.

"While public health investigations are ongoing, it must be assumed that all heroin in London carries the risk of anthrax contamination," said Dr. Brian McCloskey, who is director of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in London.

"Heroin users are advised to cease taking heroin by any route, if at all possible, and to seek help from their local drug treatment services."

McCloskey added that the risk to the general population was "negligible."

Anthrax has been found in 19 heroin users in Scotland since December and nine of those people died, six of them in the Glasgow area, officials said.

The first case in London was confirmed yesterday, and the user was in hospital receiving treatment.

"Similarities to the cases in Scotland suggest that the heroin, or a contaminated cutting agent mixed with the heroin, is the likely source of infection," a spokesman for the HPA said.

Last month, the French health ministry issued a warning about contaminated heroin, noting the Scottish cases and one other case in Germany, and saying the drug could also be circulating in other European countries.
That is one way to get rid of an addiction problem...

Lines of code

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Program sizes are sometimes measured in the number of lines of source code, usually expressed as Thousands of Lines Of Code or KLOC (pronounced KAY-lock). An interesting article about this at Discovery News:
This Car Runs on Code
The Toyota recall may be a harbinger of things to come in the auto industry, where vehicle electronics are getting more and more complex.

The avionics system in the F-22 Raptor, the current U.S. Air Force frontline jet fighter, consists of about 1.7 million lines of software code. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, scheduled to become operational in 2010, will require about 5.7 million lines of code to operate its onboard systems. And Boeing�s new 787 Dreamliner, scheduled to be delivered to customers in 2010, requires about 6.5 million lines of software code to operate its avionics and onboard support systems.

These are impressive amounts of software, yet if you bought a premium-class automobile recently, �it probably contains close to 100 million lines of software code,� says Manfred Broy, a professor of informatics at Technical University, Munich, and a leading expert on software in cars. All that software executes on 70 to 100 microprocessor-based electronic control units (ECUs) networked throughout the body of your car.
The article goes on to cite examples of bad software, the fact that the parts cannot be repaired -- only replaced and that the quantity of computing makes the car difficult to diagnose. A bad trend in my book -- OK if you want a luxury vehicle and live near a dealership but not something for ruggedness and utility in the country. If a sensor goes out, I want to still be able to drive. This is, in part, why the mission-critical vehicles like passenger planes have so little actual computing power.
People are hunkering down for the big snowfall. Gabriel Snyder took some photos of a local supermarket and posted them at Gawker Here are three of them:


It is unseasonably cold throughout the whole planet. Just when was this global warming supposed to kick in...

Strange (but good) day

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Went to the memorial for the guy in this story. It was strange to go as he murdered a dear friend's 14 year old daughter in front of her, shot and wounded the friend and then shot and killed himself. About 30 close friends attended and it was a very good thing -- we cast aside the personal demons that drove this monstrous tragedy and celebrated the life of the man we knew and loved -- a life cut way to short...

Back in September 2009, a major disaster hit the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station in Russia.

Basically a giant case of water hammer physically lifting several of the turbines off their mountings. Seventy four deaths.

A few days ago, the fascinating website English-Russia posted some more photos of the plant now that it is winter. Here are four of them -- lots more at the site.





The website said that they were expecting repairs to take ten years if it was able to be repaired at all.

The spring floods are coming in a few months and if they are not able to regulate the flow of water, things will get interesting very fast...

Photographs of Lava

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Gorgeous and awe inspiring set of 100 photos from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. They are from a series of lava flows and eruptions that happened on Big Island from 1983 through 1997. Here are two:

Powerful stuff -- needless to say, the land prices in that area are very cheap and insurance is impossible to obtain. The volcano is still quite active. Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.

Food Stamp use on the rise

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We have noticed a marked uptick in the use of food stamps at our store. It's nationwide -- from the UK Guardian:
US food stamps set ever-higher record-32.8 million
A record 38.2 million Americans were enrolled in the food stamp program at latest count, up 246,000 from the previous month and the latest in record-high monthly tallies that began in December 2008.

Food stamps are the primary federal anti-hunger program, helping poor people buy groceries. The Agriculture Department updated enrollment data on Friday with a preliminary figure for November.
And of course we have to go to an English source for the news -- it is almost as though the US Media doesn't want to offer anything that would make Obama look bad. An increase of over 1/4 million from November to December -- that is not a minor bump...

Heh - Federal Courts on a roll

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Back on February 2nd, I posted this: Now this is interesting... It is basically a tale of how when the US government bailed out AIG, it asked for and recieved 77.9% of its shares and voting rights. Something patently illegal. This information and a lot more were uncovered during the discovery phase of a trial. Today, a bit more gets uncovered. From Frank Gaffney writing at Breitbart's Big Government:
Federal Court: No, the Government May Not Prevent Further Discovery of the Takeover of AIG
This week we broke the story of possible criminal wrongdoing in the government takeover of insurance giant AIG. In the last several months, the US government has tried, unsuccessfully, to throw out plaintiff Kevin Murray�s case, alleging that the government�s takeover of AIG puts it in the position of supporting and promoting Islam and Shariah finance.

In the discovery process attorneys for Murray, David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise (of the Thomas More Law Center), discovered that the takeover itself may have been illegal, and have attempted to get Treasury Secretary under oath to try and untangle this mess. Again, the Fed and the Treasury Department tried to stonewall.

This past Tuesday, Federal district court judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff rejected the Treasury Department�s and the Fed�s effort to prevent any further discovery while the government attempts to convince the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule Judge Zatkoff�s earlier ruling rejecting the government�s motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit challenging the government�s takeover of AIG on First Amendment-Establishment Clause grounds.

The lawsuit, captioned Murray v. Geithner et al., was brought by attorneys David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise, representing the plaintiff, Kevin Murray, a tax payer and former combat Marine who served in Iraq. The federal lawsuit alleges that the U.S. government�s takeover and financial bailout of AIG was in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Specifically, at the time of the government bailout (September-December 2008), AIG was (and still is) the world leader in promoting Shariah-compliant insurance products. Shariah is Islamic law, and it is the identical legal doctrine that demands capital punishment for apostasy and blasphemy and provides the legal and political mandates for global jihad followed religiously by the world�s Muslim terrorists. By propping up AIG with tax payer funds, the U.S. government is directly and indirectly promoting Islam and, more troubling, Shariah.

After the court rejected the government�s motion to dismiss the case and granted Plaintiff�s attorneys until May 2010 to conduct discovery into the AIG takeover, the government filed a motion asking Judge Zatkoff to certify the case for immediate appeal of his denial of the motion and to stay all further discovery. Today the government got its answer: No and no.

In what is an extremely well-written opinion, Judge Zatkoff scolded the government lawyers for filing the wrong motion at the wrong time and then proceeded to tell them they would have lost in any event because his earlier denial of the motion to dismiss was proper and well-considered.

The Court�s recent decision is especially timely and critical for Plaintiff Kevin Murray because his attorneys had previously filed a motion to compel Secretary Timothy Geithner to sit for a three-hour deposition. The basis for the �extraordinary move to depose a sitting Treasury Secretary� arose because Plaintiff�s counsel had earlier deposed the witnesses provided by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board and the government witnesses either testified inaccurately or feigned ignorance. The only one with all the answers turns out to be Secretary Geithner.
Emphasis from the original. This is going to get real interesting real fast in the classic what do you know and when did you know it...
Two excerpts of Lord Monckton's speech -- wonderful stuff:
Hat tip to Anthony for the link.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock

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The Luuuuuuuv Guru may well be on his way out. From the Hindustan Times:
Pachauri has highest level support from government: Ramesh
Days after turning the heat on the IPCC chief over the Himalayan glaciers melting issue, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday said the government supports R K Pachauri as the UN climate change panel's head at the highest level.

"The government backs Pachauri as the chief of the Intergovernmental Penal on Climate Change (IPCC) at the highest level. Past is past," Ramesh said referring to his recent criticism of the UN body chief on the goof up that glaciers will melt by 2035, a claim later found to be false.

His support to Pachauri comes a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurates a global event here organised by The Energy and Resources Institutes (TERI), which is headed by the IPCC chief.

"The government supports him (Pachauri) to the hilt," maintained Ramesh, who had slammed the processes of the UN body over the glaciers melting issue, saying "due diligence was not followed".

Ramesh's comments backing Pachauri comes a few hours after head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat Yvo de Boer supported the IPCC chief, saying that holding him responsible for the goof up in the report on Himalayan glaciers would be "senseless".

Talking to reporters here, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said, "he (Pachauri) is a very respected international scientist and is leading the IPCC in a very dedicated way."
Heh... This is exactly the sort of moist tongue bath that people get about two weeks before they voluntarily step down for undisclosed reasons. The organization mentioned (TERI) is run by Pachauri and he is making a lot of money through it -- part of the scandal.

Tangible proof

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From Doug Heye at US News & World Report:
Forget Polls, Here�s Tangible Proof the Obama Honeymoon is Over
One sign that Washington, D.C., had been home to Obama Mania was the number of independent retailers selling all sorts of Obama merchandise. Every street corner, it seemed, had Obama wares (or Obama wear) for sale. Now, however, most of the winter caps for sale are not emblazoned with the Obama logo. T-shirts depicting our president as a dunking Michael Jordan, a victorious Muhammad Ali, or saber-baring Luke Skywalker (yes, these shirts all existed) are nowhere to be found.

This time last year, the Obama Store was teeming with customers. Ideally situated in the basement of Washington�s Union Station, the store was filled with consumers eager to buy anything with Obama�s likeness while others took pictures of the life-size cut-outs of the president and first lady. Now, the Obama Store is boarded up.

How quickly things change in a year.
They do their own work instead of relying on the IPCC numbers. From the UK Telegraph:
India forms new climate change body
The Indian government's move is a significant snub to both the IPCC and Dr Pachauri as he battles to defend his reputation following the revelation his most recent climate change report included false claims that most of the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035. Scientists believe it could take more than 300 years for the glaciers to disappear.

The body and its chairman have faced growing criticism ever since as questions have been raised on the credibility of their work and the rigour with which climate change claims are assessed.

In India the false claims have heightened tensions between Dr Pachauri and the government, which had earlier questioned his glacial melting claims. In Autumn, its environment minister Mr Jairam Ramesh said while glacial melting in the Himalayas was a real concern, there was evidence that some were actually advancing in the face of global warming.

Dr Pachauri had dismissed challenges like these as based on �voodoo science�, but last night Mr Ramesh effectively marginalised the IPC chairman even further.

He announced the Indian government will established a separate National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology to monitor the effects of climate change on the world�s �third ice cap�, and an �Indian IPCC� to use �climate science� to assess the impact of global warming throughout the country.

�There is a fine line between climate science and climate evangelism. I am for climate science. I think people misused [the] IPCC report, [the] IPCC doesn�t do the original research which is one of the weaknesses � they just take published literature and then they derive assessments, so we had goof-ups on Amazon forest, glaciers, snow peaks.
Good for them -- good that they realize that data does need to be collected and that the quality of data coming from the IPCC is horrid. A big nation with a wide range of climates.

I am not as think as you drunk I am

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Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration

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Wonderful! Hat tip to Vanderleun

A curious line item - barrels of fun

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Here is a screen-cap of the header
Here is a screen-cap of the shotgun specifications:
Why? I can see working with the FBI or the local police force. Why do they need their own ordnance? Under 18" brings these into quite the special catagory...
Even Greenpeace wants to toss him under the bus. From Anthony comes this collection of links:
UK Greenpeace director calls for new IPCC chairman � meanwhile Pachy comments on the use of makeup
In an interview with the Times, John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK suggests that the IPCC needs a new chairman other than The Love Guru. But, in a recent press release, it looks like the IPCC is digging in their collective Nobel Laureate heels. Meanwhile, news of newspaper clippings in IPCC AR4 peer reviewed research.

With quotes like these coming from Pachy, he�s quickly running out of supporters who have been looking past his blown credibility. Here�s a quote from the Love Guru himself in a Financial Times interview today:
They are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder � and I hope they put it on their faces every day�
Off the rails. Personally, I hope he stays around for a while just to really rub it in...

Long day today

Just got back from town. Went in for the Wednesday acupuncture session but also returned some items, bought a very nice tripod from a retired guy who used to own a great little camera store and did a couple other shopping things (some prosciutto and coppa from an amazing deli (but they were out of Lardo dammit!)) and a couple other things -- Costco, Wal-Mart, etc...

A neighbor wanted to use my metal detector as she was salvaging some barn lumber and needed to scope out any hidden nails that would otherwise wreck the bandsaw blade. She was able to pull out several handfuls that went visually undetected.

Had dinner in town and am now enjoying a nice glass of cheap wine and surfing.

Like I said, long day...

Also, found a fun video to a fun song:

Been listening to a lot of Country Music the last couple of years. One of the things I love is the self-referential sense of humor -- the artists poking fun at themselves and their genre. This is something that you do not see in most other forms of music with the exception of outliers like Joe Walsh, Frank Zappa and the like.

Here is another one: Brad Paisley - Online

This one is hilarious but it is wrapped in a VEVO shell (some fscking marketing turd from Sony -- Music Evolution Revolution! my sweet aunt fanny) and cannot be embedded. Visit the link for a perfect skewering of the online community with some fun guest stars.

Now this is interesting...

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From Frank Gaffney at Breitbart's Big Government:
Geithner and Bernanke: Laundering Money Through an Illegal Trust?
This afternoon on Secure Freedom Radio we announced a breaking news story concerning the Administration�s ongoing cover-up of AIG financial wrong-doing. In an interview with David Yerushalmi, senior litigator on the Murray v. Geithner et al lawsuit, we expose possible fraud, money-laundering and criminal activity.

As Yerushalmi says in the interview, �So here�s what we find out in the midst of discovery when we depose the Treasury Department�s deponent and the Fed and get documents, here�s what we�ve learned: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the time that it structured the debt that it was going to give AIG insisted that not only did it get the debt, not only would it get principal and interest payments and collateral for that, it wanted 80% of AIG, precisely 77.9% of the shares and the voting rights. But the Federal Reserve Bank and Geithner knew that it was illegal for the Fed system whether there�s a Fed or the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to own that, so what did they do�.�
Discovery can either be a wonderful process or a backbiting bitch depending on what side of right you happen to be on. This is my key reason for being so hacked off that the islamofascist terrorists are now being Mirandized and being given civil trials even though they are very much enemy combatants -- their lawyers initiate discovery and all of our intelligence assets are blown. This will be big, regardless of how much spin the mainstream media apply. Corruption of a Congressman is a given, corruption at this level of the Fed is not to be taken lightly. Rope. Tree. Some assembly required...

Vitamin D

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Vitamin D crept over my horizon about six months ago -- there is a growing body of information that considers it to be one of the more important nutrients for good health and living in an area that has a long and dark winter, I started taking supplements (6,000 units/day tapering off to 2,000 units/day after a month). During winter, I noticed a marked downturn in my sense of well-being and was on chemical anti-depressants the winter that my Mom passed away. Taking Vitamin D has completely reversed this seasonal disorder. Today, I ran into this website: Vitamin D Council From the About Us page:
Our Mission
Our goal is to educate the public and professionals about Vitamin D Deficiency and its numerous associated diseases. Our free Vitamin D Newsletter has a circulation of over 35,000 and growing by over 50 subscribers per day. We maintain a website with around 5,000 unique visitors per day. The Vitamin D Council would like to sponsor a series of educational conferences aimed at the general public, physicians, and the press to alert them about the extent and consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency and the simple steps that can be taken to avoid it.
My only concern is that I was initially skeptical of the SAD link, I started reading a lot of different sources and had my own experiences so I was no longer skeptical. Now, Vitamin D literature is coming out of the woodwork -- it is right up there with the Second Coming of Christ in that it cures Autism, Asthma, Cancer, Heart Disease, yadda, yadda, yadda. The skepticism is coming back. I am sticking with the sense of well being and anything else that happens along the way will be just pure gravy.

Very cool stop-motion music video

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The subtitles are distracting but the concept and execution are genius.

Six more months weeks

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Saw his shadow. From Anthony:
Still better than the Met Office

Punxsutawney Phil is held by Ben Hughes after emerging this morning from his burrow on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney. Phil saw his shadow and forecast six more weeks of winter weather.

Don�t put those cold weather clothes in storage just yet.

Punxsutawney Phil, the internationally known weather prognosticating groundhog, saw his shadow this morning and predicted six more weeks of winter.

Thousands gathered on Gobbler�s Knob in Jefferson County to await the groundhog�s annual prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club said Phil has seen his shadow 98 times since 1887, hasn�t seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years.
Original story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Could have told anyone that -- El Nino is declining but it will be months before the effects manifest. Arctic oscillation is picking up as well. Not cold here but everywhere else is and will stay freezing for the near future...
Back in January, I posted about the 80 Scientology volunteers who flew into Haiti to heal the quake victims. They made the claim that they could heal by touch. Today, Ravi Somaiya writes an account of his experiences. From Gawker:
Scientologists in Haiti: A Firsthand Account
We've spoken to someone who traveled to Haiti on a Scientology plane � and witnessed firsthand the ineptitude, quackery and irresponsibility of the church's minions in a disaster zone. Here's his account
I arrived at JFK last week, ready to go.

I knew we were traveling with doctors and EMTs, but I didn't expect to see 50 scientologists, in their yellow shirts with Volunteer Minister on them. They were completely unprepared for going to a third world country, let alone a disaster zone. One girl was in designer cowboy boots. I asked her if she'd brought any sturdier footwear.

"Oh no, these'll be fine."

I asked another guy what he'd packed and he said he hadn't bothered to bring soap or toilet paper or food, but that he'd just "buy whatever I need at Port-au-Prince airport." I couldn't break it to him.

They had no place to stay, and no supplies � their idea was to use the ton of money they had to buy food to distribute when they got there. But there was no food and no water. That was the point.

By the time we arrived in Haiti, after a stopover in Miami, we had missed three landing slots at the airport. Aid agencies � genuine aid agencies � from other countries were being turned away, refused permission to land. But we still got a slot straight away. The guy who ran our charter seemed to think that the Scientologists had some real influence with the US Government, who were assigning the slots.

The doctors and EMTs in our party headed straight downtown to start working. The Scientologists had nowhere to go, and nowhere to put up the big yellow tent they'd brought for touch healing people in. They went to the UN, and managed to get on to their list of approved NGOs somehow. That meant they could set up in the UN grounds.

But they had no-one who spoke Creole, and they brought the weirdness of touch healing into a very superstitious society. They'd leave the tent and come into the general hospital downtown, and try healing people. One of the doctors and one of the nurses told me that the wounded started coming to them to tell them they didn't want to be treated by the people in the yellow shirts.

One nurse told me that the Scientologists actually caused harm � they gave food to people who were scheduled to go into surgery. That then led to complications in the operating theater.

On the way back, the plane stopped in Miami and did not go on to New York, stranding all the doctors and EMTs and journalists who expected to get back. After much fighting, the Scientologist representative agreed to fly any of the EMTs that "absolutely couldn't afford the ticket" on Jet Blue from Fort Lauderdale. I heard there were complications but had bought my own ticket because I was fed up with their weirdness.
Talk about willful stupidity. And these idiots think they are superior. No wonder the Hollywood types go for it -- all it takes is money...

Only the Japanese - extreme paper recycling

From DigInfo:

Office Paper to Toilet Paper - White Goat Paper Recycler
Uploaded: 29 January 2010

Oriental / White Goat Paper
At Eco-Products 2009, Oriental Co., Ltd. exhibited a revolutionary recycling machine called White Goat, which makes toilet paper from shredded paper.

White Goat also has a shredding machine in it. The shredded paper first goes into a hopper, where it is untangled in small batches, and it's then dissolved in a pulper. Any foreign matter is removed in a tank, and the pulp consistency is adjusted. Next, the wet paper is thinned out and dried. The dry paper is wound into finished toilet rolls, which emerge from the outlet one at a time. All of these tasks are done automatically.

White Goat won a top prize at the Monozukuri Nippon awards. It has patents pending, and Oriental is getting ready to release it in summer 2010.

There is a video at the DigInfo website as well as some links to the company (Japanese only)

On January 31 I posted about Lech Walesa's visit to Chicago and his campaigning for Republican gubernatorial candidate, Adam Andrzejewski. We all heard about it but it seems that people in Chicago did not. From Founding Bloggers:
Eye (Don�t) Witness News � The Lech Walesa Story
Last week, Nobel Laureate, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, and former president of Poland, Lech Walesa, traveled to Chicago to endorse a political candidate for governor of Illinois.

Who he endorsed doesn�t matter. The fact that he is here endorsing anyone at all should be considered newsworthy.

Unfortunately for Chicago residents, and the Polish community specifically, if you get your news from the city�s local television stations, you might not have even known that he was in town, let alone that he attended a Tea Party, and endorsed Adam Andrzejewski for governor.

Could this media blackout have anything to do with a political bias in the news room?
Does not surprise me...
From the Canadian Broadcasting Company:
Danny Williams going to U.S. for heart surgery
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is set to undergo heart surgery this week in the United States.

CBC News confirmed Monday that Williams, 59, left the province earlier in the day and will have surgery later in the week.
Nice vote of confidence there -- he could have had his pick of hospitals and surgeons and as Premier, could have stepped around the lines that the common riff-raff have to wait in. We know a number of people who live in Canada and in a lot of cases, the medical care is excellent but for non life-threatening cases, the wait can be very long and there have been a number of cases where something wasn't caught and the MRI six months later showed a terminal cancer or some such. The US system does need to be reformed but not in a pork-laden 2,000+ page legislative gut-bomb...

Looking like a retard

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16th Birthday. Looks like a nice house and there are some new cars parked outside. Birthday boy walks out blindfolded to see his present. Is expecting a car. Blindfold removed -- turns out to be a serviceable truck that Dad spent a couple hundred on with the intent that Steven can get a job and earn enough money to buy the car he wants. Steven goes into the garage, comes back with a baseball bat and proceeds to beat the snot out of the truck (but not the windows or lights), all the while yelling that his friends will think him a retard for driving something like this. Family member posts video on YouTube and the whole world thinks he is a retard.
Hey Steven, you have 12:42 minutes of fame left, use them a bit more wisely...

Die Antwoord - Enter The Ninja

I am not generally a rap fan but this is really good.

They are a husband and wife team -- their DJ is an artist in his own right. Leon Botha is also, at 24, the oldest surviving sufferer of Progeria. His face is straight out of Hieronymus Bosch.

Fifty Years ago today

From FOX News:

Woolworth Protest 50th Anniversary
Today is the 50th anniversary of a sit-in that changed America.

It was February 1, 1960, that four black college freshmen walked up to the "whites only" lunch counter at an F.W. Woolworth in Greensboro, N.C., sat down and demanded service.

Five days after that protest, the demonstration reached at least 1,000 people.

Within two months, sit-ins were happening in 54 cities in nine states. And within six months, the Greensboro Woolworth lunch counter was desegregated.

Today, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum will opened on the site of the Greensboro Woolworth store.

Part of the original counter is now at the Smithsonian, but the original stools where the four students sat are still there.

One of those students, Franklin McCain, now says "sitting on that dumb stool" was "the best feeling of my life."

The building remains because it was bought in 1993 from a bank that had planned to turn it into a parking lot.

I was eight when this happened. I remember it being talked about as a major event.

It is wonderful how few people play the race card these days. There still is a vestige of white v/s black and black v/s white baiting but it is more for political gain than actual hostility.

There are always those 0.01% outliers but you will find these for any topic; race, religion, politics, diet, environment, etc...

Dinner tonight

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This Minestrone recipe looked good so things are simmering on the stovetop... Had to work with an alarm company putting in a fire alarm at the store and then ran into town for a few things. More later. UPDATE: The soup was really good but it was not Minestrone as I think of it. Not tomato-ey enough and kind of glutenous. I used canned beans and the recipe called for including the canning juices. Next time, I will double the tomatoes, rinse the beans and add another quart of stock.

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