May 2010 Archives

T -0 Heading out

| 1 Comment
Packing up and heading out. Once I am on the road, my next stop will be somewhere around Salt Lake City. A very late breakfast in Ellensburg if I feel like stopping. Dinner somewhere around Boise. Memphis by Tuesday. Sometime.

T -1 and counting

| No Comments
The Hoedown only had about 30% of the people we had last year -- the weather was cold and drizzly. Still, the band was wonderful. If you are in the Pacific Northwest and need a wonderful band, check out James Higgins and the Muddy Boots Band. They played one set and the number of people coming by was just dwindling to a trickle so I talked with the manager of the bar about 100 feet from the event (the same person owns the field and the bar) and they said "Hell Yeah!" so after the band played their first set, we closed the kitchen and everyone moved indoors. Plan B was a lot better -- the chemistry inside was palpable. A great time was had by all and I overheard the bars music manager mention that they will be back again. Planning on getting up around 7AM and being on the road by 10AM. First night in Salt Lake City and then, to infinity and beyooooooonnnnndddddd Really looking forward to this trip -- I'll be bringing the laptop and will post from time to time.
There is an event I am participating in today. This is a fundraiser for our local Chamber of Commerce and it linked to the Ski to Sea Race. Harvey Haggard? From the Ski to Sea Race website talking about the first race in 1911:
There were fourteen participants in the first race. The complete route was 116 miles long. Joe Galbraith, driven by Hugh Diehl, won the first event in 12 hours and 28 minutes.

However, Harvey Haggard was the first competitor off the mountain (about 40 minutes ahead of Joe Galbraith) and aboard the special train back to town - the other racers would need to find another way down. Exhausted, Haggard stripped naked for a soothing rubdown. Then, as the train rumbled around a corner in Maple Falls, a mammoth red bull exploded from the underbrush and stood right in front of the oncoming train. The collision was a dandy; the train derailed and the coach car flipped up and over - yet no one was hurt. Haggard was pulled from the wreck, a bit shaken and decidedly naked. Standing up, the resilient 20-year-old announced, "I am all right, but I am afraid I've lost the race."

Nonetheless, he donned his clothes and hitched a ride with a passing horse and buggy. By the time Haggard reached Maple Falls, he had to be lifted out of the buggy and onto the back of a waiting horse, which galloped at breakneck speed to a waiting car at Kendall.

Unfortunately, the horse took one look at the automobile and froze with fright. Haggard flew over the pony's head, landing in a heap. Haggard's driver picked him up, put him in the car and roared back to Bellingham, with Haggard fainting twice along the way.

Haggard arrived back at the Chamber of Commerce at 11 a.m. to the cheers of an astounded crowd, who passed the hat and raised $50 for the persevering racer. The chamber added another $30, and Glacier and Maple Falls thew in a whopping $100. Next thing Haggard knew, he'd been crowned King of Glacier.
There is a raffle for 18 river rafting trips, some local crafters will set up booths and at 5PM, I will be firing up the kitchen and cooking the hot dogs, serving a chili dog with chips and soda for $5.42. (The main highway is State Route 542) This is the third year we have run the event and it has been fun. The weather is not cooperating (threatening rain) but we will see what happens. And then tomorrow morning, I pack the truck up and head west stopping near Salt Lake City. Monday night is spent near St. Louis arriving in Memphis, TN on Tuesday afternoon for the Blacksmithing conference. A busy couple of weeks...

The Sestak case

| No Comments
Interesting news coming out of this one -- from FOX News:
Something Stinks At the White House
When it comes to the continuing Sestak scandal, the White House is up to their eyeballs in a cover-up. Major Garrett, Fox News' chief White House correspondent flat-out asked the president to come clean at his press conference yesterday. He asked what did the White House know, when did they know it and who participated in conversations with regard to Congressman Sestak being offered a job in exchange for him agreeing not to challenge Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's primary.

The president refused to answer Major�s question and instead promised that the White House would have a response soon.

The president knew full well that the strategy was to release the shocking revelation that former President Clinton spoke with Congressman Sestak on the Friday of the long Memorial Day weekend and at a time he knew that the media would be focused almost exclusively on his trip to the Gulf for the BP oil spill disaster. The president himself is now participating in a cover up. It has long been the practice of presidential administrations to release damaging news on a weekend or better yet a holiday weekend when the public's attention is elsewhere, hoping that the bad news would pass without major exposure.

The Sestak story -- like most scandals -- gets worse everyday with the dribs and drabs of information. The bombshell that a former president, who himself was steeped in scandal and was impeached for lying, would be called upon to strong arm a Democratic Congressman into not running in a primary is outrageous. President Clinton is also a lawyer and should have known better.
In a few weeks, the timeline will be well known. White House telephone and visitor logs are a matter of public record. The nut of the issue is that it violates Title 18, Chapter 11, Section 211 of the United States Code to whit:
Acceptance or solicitation to obtain appointive public office
Whoever solicits or receives, either as a political contribution, or for personal emolument, any money or thing of value, in consideration of the promise of support or use of influence in obtaining for any person any appointive office or place under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Whoever solicits or receives any thing of value in consideration of aiding a person to obtain employment under the United States either by referring his name to an executive department or agency of the United States or by requiring the payment of a fee because such person has secured such employment shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. This section shall not apply to such services rendered by an employment agency pursuant to the written request of an executive department or agency of the United States.
Pretty straightforward and well said. Sestak said that someone from the White House offered him a job if he would drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate race running against Spector. The spin that is flying out of the White House is a delight to watch -- if they had just come clean and admitted that they goofed up, this would have blown over and everything would be back to normal. Now that they are trying to alter the facts, this little boil is going to fester and rot and provide hours of public entertainment when it finally bursts. Could not have happened to a nicer regieme...

Another (you guessed it) long day

| No Comments
Have 300 hot dogs sitting in the back of my truck resting comfortably nestled in 15...14...13... pounds of dry ice. All the buns, sweet relish, dill relish, sauerkraut, chili, jalape�o pepper slices, ketchup, deli mustard and yellow mustard. 2oz. bags of assorted chips and a couple hundred cans of sodas. Heading out to the garage to load up the kitchen and pull out two bottles of propane. But first, a little bit of surfing.

That's it for the evening

| No Comments
Printing out some signs for Saturday's event and need to put in another long day tomorrow so no more posting tonight.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Big Spat on Rig Preceded Explosion
More details emerged Wednesday about a disagreement between employees of rig operator Transocean Ltd. and oil giant BP PLC over how to begin shutting down the well just hours before it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico last month.

Testimony on Wednesday about the disagreement, in a hearing held by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service, which jointly regulate offshore drilling, was likely to bring increased scrutiny to the decisions BP made aboard the rig the day of the explosion, April 20.

There was also likely to be more focus on whether Transocean should have done more to ensure proper procedures were carried out.

Douglas H. Brown, Transocean's chief mechanic on the Deepwater Horizon rig, said key representatives from both companies had a "skirmish" during an 11 a.m. meeting on April 20. Less than 11 hours later, the well had a blowout, an uncontrolled release of oil and gas, killing 11 workers.

Mr. Brown said Transocean's crew leaders�including the rig operator's top manager, Jimmy W. Harrell�strongly objected to a decision by BP's top representative, or "company man," over how to start removing heavy drilling fluid and replacing it with lighter seawater from a riser pipe connected to the well head. Such pipes act as conduits between the rig and the wellhead at the ocean floor, and carry drilling fluid in and out of the well.
Probably be another six months at least until we know just what happened. I hope that Obama is not serious about shutting down all off-shore drilling. There are some incredible untapped deposits out there and we really need to be producing as much of our own oil as possible. I love the blatant spin he is putting on this -- Obama was on it since Day One when this is absolute bullshit as his administration did not start to react until about nine days after the explosion. This well was on Federal land so it was the US Government's responsibility to initiate the procedures for containment and control.

Going into business

| No Comments
From California's East Bay Express:
Huge, Legal Cannabis Farm Study Surprises Industry, Officials
The groundbreaking study showing how the City of Oakland could make $2 million per year licensing a medical cannabis growing warehouse caught many locals by surprise this week. Even though city officials and the cannabis industry are looking toward licensing large-scale grows allowed under state law SB 420, the hard numbers appear to be the first of their kind. Economist Joanne Brion of Brion and Associates, who did the six-month, $16,000 report said she was surprised at how potent an economic force cannabis is.

�My gut instinct said that this would be a great revenue and job generator for the city,� she said. "But after running the numbers, �I went, �Wow, that�s really a job generator.'"

Brion�s report found that licensing a seven-acre cannabis growing facility near I-880 at the Embarcadero would create up to 371 union jobs, paying an average salary of $53,700 a year. The site could produce an average of 58 pounds of cannabis per day, and generate gross revenues of around $59 million per year. The site would grow an estimated quarter of one percent of the estimated 8.6 million pounds of cannabis cultivated annually in California.

Jeff Wilcox, founder of AgraMed � a non-profit mutual benefit company set up in Oakland specifically to cultivate medical cannabis � commissioned the study. Wilcox, a retired construction company owner, wants to redevelop a seven-acre parcel he owns near I-880 and the Embarcadero. His four-building parcel abuts the Harborside Health Center, which is the West Coast�s most prestigious medical cannabis dispensary.
Absolutely -- produce a standardized product and tax it. Win/Win The amount of tax revenues to be had always makes me wonder who is being paid off to keep it illegal...

Odd bit of information

| No Comments
Googling "client from hell" brought up over 11 million hits:
Did not realize that there was that much pain out there...

That is it for the night

| No Comments
Heading into town tomorrow early to get stuff for a weekend event and to get some last minute details worked out. Really looking forward to this conference and to taking the new truck out for a roadtrip. DaveCave(tm) and then bed...

Hitting Thirteen Trillion

| No Comments
National Debt just hit $13,000,000,000,000 yesterday and is still spiraling up and out of control.
From the U.S. National Debt Clock. The Debt per Citizen is $180K -- that is for every man, woman and child so it is our kids that will have the majority of the burden if this keeps going.
From PhysOrg:
Second Iceland volcano could erupt in near future: experts
An Icelandic volcano neighbouring Eyjafjoell, whose eruptions paralysed Europe's skies last month, could come to life in the near future, experts warned Thursday.

"An eruption in the short term is a strong possibility," experts said, referring to Katla, which is larger and fiercer than Eyjafjoell, in a report from the University College London (UCL) institute for risk and disaster reduction.

The researchers also cautioned that Europe's skies were likely to be hit by further ash cloud shutdowns, following April's widespread closures and several smaller scale shutdowns since.

The report warned that "future moderately to highly explosive Icelandic eruptions combined with appropriate weather conditions are highly likely to cause a repeat of the recent air transport disruption."
There is quite the history of Eyjafjallajokull popping off and then Katla following some time later. More as always from the excellent Icelandic Met Office as well as the University of Iceland ● Institute of Earth Sciences Fun stuff when you aren't encumbered by the fallout.

The Welding Rodeo

I had attended the annual Welding Rodeo last weekend and have now had time to post some photos:
Bellingham Technical College has quite the automotive program as well as welding. One issue with the Prius is that when it is idle, the gas engine is not running -- it runs solely on the battery. As the battery runs down, the gas engine will start up to recharge it. The issue is that when you get an oil change at a quick-lube place, a lot of times the grease-monkey doesn't remember this, considers the car to be turned off, they drain the oil, the engine starts and that is an expensive oil change. Not a good thing...
Here is a Prius motor/generator. A lot of copper here...
The four blacksmiths brought examples of their artwork -- gorgeous stuff.
She is buffing a leaf that she forged a few minutes ago.
This is the guy that was forging aluminum. Got a bunch at the shop from some auctions so I'll have to try some of the techniques out. The results looked really nice.
A lot of times, a welder will be called to work on a ship. Here is a full-size mock up of some kinds of conditions that a welder will be working in.
This is the Virtual Reality welding trainer that was shown -- very cool! The photo does not begin to convey the reality of the experience. The only thing missing is the sense of heat on your hands. It is that good...
The Wood Stone crew hard at work. Their project was DNA
Friday's winner by both judges and popular vote. The high-school welding class did a sculpture of their teacher. All in all, a fun day.
Just got home from another 12-hour day. The electrical inspection passed with flying colors. Whenever a piece of conduit leaves an electrical panel or box, there needs to be a supporting strap within three feet. I had two runs of conduit that violated this rule -- each run (they are about six inches apart) had their three-foot mark behind two of our temporary freezers. I told the guy that the freezers were moving when we do the expansion and that I would install the straps then. Zero problem. The only other issue was when you have a piece of conduit going from a beer cave out to a normal room, there is chance for air-flow and condensation. I need to plug it with some duct seal putty. Never knew that but it makes perfect sense. I'll be going into town tomorrow anyway so a trip to Stoneway Electric has been added to the list...
Another case of a TSA officer ripping off something nice and shiny. From The Consumerist who also offers an excellent idea:
Lady Enters Security With $24,000 Rolex, Leaves Without, Suit Alleges
A woman is suing the TSA after she says she was forced to take off her $24,000 Rolex to pass through security, and when she went to retrieve it, it had mysteriously vanished.

The Florida Times-Union reports:
...[she] said she was preparing to board a return flight to Jacksonville last February when she was ordered by security officers to put her watch in a bin and place it on a conveyor belt. She said she objected several times but was told she had no choice if she wanted to board her flight, so eventually she complied.

...[she] said she became hysterical after realizing the watch was gone. She called Shirk for advice. She asked for police to be called, but security officers told her she was disrupting the area and had to leave.
�In denying her claim, the TSA said there were �no legally sustainable grounds� for finding the TSA liable. Security cameras in the airport apparently weren't working at the time.

While a tragic story, it shows the dangers of traveling with valuables. Next time, you could just pack your nice watch in with your starter pistol and it will never get lost.
Security cameras in the airport apparently weren't working at the time. Bull. Fscking. Shit. they are protecting their own -- they are harboring a thief. This is not the first incident either -- Jen had problems at SFO and there is always the case of Pythias Brown. (and yes, that is the same Pythias Brown as is on Facebook, etc... And the starting pistol works really well as I have read on various gun websites -- about $120 to get the pistol and the large lockable ATA case to hold your other goodies but well worth it. If I ever had to pack my camera stuff, I would spend the money in a heartbeat.

Reminiscing about Navy life

I was born in 1950 and was in the first year that they had the draft lottery. #348. My roommate at the time was #2. Needless to say, living in New England, I put some of my knowledge of back-roads Vermont to good use. Had I been called up, I would have gone into the Navy -- always had an affinity for the ocean and the ships that sail on her, large and small. Denny over at Grouchy Old Cripple was also a squid and writes about just how to recreate some of those tender feelings at home:
For The Squids
Do you ever feel nostalgic for your Navy service? Do you want to recapture those wonderful years? I don't. I started counting down the days from the time I enlisted. I am not a military type. But for those of you who do want to relive those memories, Ron came up with a way to do it.
How to Simulate Being in the Navy
1. Buy a dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it for six months.

1a. Submarines - Black outside; Pea Green inside

2. Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls. Paint them gray.

3. Repaint your entire house every month.

4. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of the bathtub and move the shower head to chest level. When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.
Navy showers. And let's not forget water hours. I remember them well. You could only take showers at designated times.
5. Put lube oil in your humidifier and set it on high.

6. Once a week, blow air up your chimney with a leaf blower and let the wind carry the soot onto your neighbor's house. Ignore his complaints.
Known as blowing the tubes or blowing the stacks. If you were on a ship with diesel engines, like an LST, you did not have this wonderful experience. The snipes (what we called the engineering rates) were notorious for blowing the tubes right after you have swept and swabbed the decks. Assholes.
7. Once a month, take all major appliances apart and reassemble them.
Known as Preventative Maintenance. They had written maintenance measures that you had to follow. You had to sign this off with the PM petty officer. On the Iredell County, I was the PM petty officer for Operations Division. We gundecked a lot of this. I did tear down the power amp of my AN/WRT-2 transmitter and soak the tuning coil in trichloroethane every other month. The radiomen loved the performance of that transmitter. One night, off the coast of Viet Nam, I was able to hit the skips and send traffic to NavCommSta San Francisco. Yeah, I could have sent it to Cam Ranh Bay, the PI, or Guam, but what fun was that. Anyway, Cam Ranh Bay was staffed with assholes. They wouldn't respond to my callups. I would send bells (Teletypes had bells attached to get an operator's attention. I found out later that the operators at the NavCommSta's disconnected them. So what I did was send line feeds. You send enough of them and teletype paper would be all over the deck. Really pissed the operators off. This is what I had to do when sending traffic to Cam Ranh Bay. Of course I wouldn't send my call sign. Then I would wait about five minutes and call them up again. This time they would answer. Assholes.)
8. Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through them.
Navigating through compartments was really fun in heavy weather. There were usually bruises on my forehead.
9. Disassemble and inspect your lawnmower every week.
See number 7 above.
10. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn your water heater temperature up to 200 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the water heater off. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they use too much water so no bathing will be allowed.
Another fun thing your shipmates would do to you was wait until you have the water for your shower at just the right temperature. Then they would flush three or for toilets. Your screams could be heard three compartments away. This procedure also worked in barracks. Doesn't shipboard life sound fun so far? But wait. There's more.
Thirty-nine more over at Denny's. I know a lot of squids and this is exactly what it is like and they would not have given it up for the world. Navy life is an on-going game of one-upmanship.
A stirring speech at Arlington, the rest of the day spent in quiet reflection with his family. Right? Not so much. From Rightpundits:
President Obama�s Memorial Day Plans, Skip Arlington, Vacation In Chicago
President Obama�s Memorial Day Weekend plans include skipping Arlington,vacation in Chicago, you know, because he hasn�t been there in a while. The mainstream media sure has a nifty way of spinning the fact that Obama�s skipping Arlington services on Memorial Day in a time of war no less to vacation in Chicago.

The Washington Post says Obama�s skipping Arlington on Memorial Day to keep a �campaign promise.� One of his many promises during the campaign of 2008 was that he would visit Chicago every six weeks or so. He hasn�t been there for a stay since February of 2009.

Once again Obama�s lack of good decision making shines through. He�s the Commander in Chief whether he or we like it or not. Memorial Day comes but once a year, Arlington is where the President of the United States needs to spend his time. But Obama�s Memorial Day plans, skipping Arlington, vactioning in Chicago.

It�s only Memorial Day. The day when we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. It�s only Arlington National Cemetery. Quite possibly the most hallowed and sacred piece of real-estate in the country. He�s only the Commander in Chief. The leader of our armed forces who commands their respect.

But hey. If you need a break take it when you can get it, right? Obama hasn�t had many opportunities to fly home to Chicago. There was that one time he took Michelle out dancing and to the theater. Oh wait that was New York. Well how about a couple weeks ago when he took the time to spend the weekend there when he should have been attending to the oil spill? Did I miss that one too? You�re right, that was a weekend getaway to a spa in North Carolina.

What about his numerous golf outings, or what about the Obama�s vacation last year to the beach? He couldn�t have taken one of those �opportunities?� Nope. Obama�s Memorial day plans, skipping Arlington , vacationing in Chicago. Priorities Mr. President, priorities.
I do not begrudge anyone the right to take a well earned vacation -- hell, I'm leaving in a few days for a two week roadtrip. Still... There is a time and a place and he needs to be at Arlington.
Spent about 12 hours at the store today cleaning out the room and finishing the wiring -- the inspector comes tomorrow to bless my work and sign off on it. Meeting later that evening with a local guy to take over my work when I am out of town for the roadtrip to Memphis. Really looking forward to the conference. The last one I attended was held in Seattle and that was the summer before my Mom's health crashed and then my Dad passed away. Time to get back to my own life again... Running the store is a lot of fun but it is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. Planning on selling it (and the building) in a couple of years when we are out of the woods economically and businesses are stronger. I'll be posting a bit tonight but I need to get an early bedtime as tomorrow starts off at 7:00AM and I am very much a night person.

Spamming idiots

| No Comments
Been getting a bunch of the usual multiple-instances of domain names. Here is one with a funky twist:
First off -- it is all coming from one top level domain -- you notice the .xx.xx TLD right away (the x's are replaced with three c's and one 'o') Spam pointing to websites in this domain started coming in about three weeks ago. They tripped up a few other things in my script and never went live but I did choose to add the .xx.xx domain to my "put into immediate moderation" file. Since then, I have had the great pleasure of examining and squashing about 20 of the odious little turds from this "free domain name registrar and web hosting service" located at 864-2,502, Janghang-Dong, Ilsan-Gu, Goyang, Gyeonggi-Do, 410380 Korea (a bit north of Seoul) The other thing that really caught my eye was the malformed HTTP. The way you do it is
Obama is using our money to pay back his political debts. Meet Senator Bob Casey -- another person who needs to be voted out of office in 2012. From FOX News:
The Next Bailout: $165B for Unions
A Democratic senator is introducing legislation for a bailout of troubled union pension funds. If passed, the bill could put another $165 billion in liabilities on the shoulders of American taxpayers.

The bill, which would put the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation behind struggling pensions for union workers, is being introduced by Senator Bob Casey, (D-Pa.), who says it will save jobs and help people.

As FOX Business Network�s Gerri Willis reported Monday, these pensions are in bad shape; as of 2006, well before the market dropped and recession began, only 6% of these funds were doing well.

Although right now taxpayers could possibly be on the hook for $165 billion, the liability could essentially be unlimited because these pensions have to be paid out until the workers die.

It�s hard to say at the moment what the chances are that the bill will pass. A hearing is scheduled Thursday, which will give the public a sense of where political leaders sit on the topic, said Willis.

Just last week President Obama said there would be no more bailouts.
No more bailouts -- yeah and my farts are rainbow hued and smell like raspberries. Power and control -- not their constituents.
Big news in England. From Anthony at Watts Up With That:
Lord Monckton wins global warming debate at Oxford Union
I�m waiting for actual photos of the event from the official photographer, but for now I�ll make do with what can be found on the Internet. For those who don�t know, the Oxford Union is the top of the food chain for scholarly debate. This is a significant win.

Founded in 1823 at the University of Oxford, but maintaining a separate charter from the University, The Oxford Union is host to some of the most skillful debates in the world. Many eminent scholars and personalities have come and either debated or delivered speeches in the chamber. Monckton was invited as part of the formal Thursday debate.

It is described as follows:
The Union is the world�s most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 182 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.
From the SPPI Blog, an account of the debate:

Oxford Union Debate on Climate Catastrophe
Source: SPPI
Army of Light and Truth 135, Forces of Darkness 110

For what is believed to be the first time ever in England, an audience of university undergraduates has decisively rejected the notion that �global warming� is or could become a global crisis. The only previous defeat for climate extremism among an undergraduate audience was at St. Andrew�s University, Scotland, in the spring of 2009, when the climate extremists were defeated by three votes.

Last week, members of the historic Oxford Union Society, the world�s premier debating society, carried the motion �That this House would put economic growth before combating climate change� by 135 votes to 110. The debate was sponsored by the Science and Public Policy Institute, Washington DC.
Finally, the word is getting out there...
From the Wall Street Journal:
U.K. Bans Doctor Who Linked Autism to Vaccine
A U.K. medical regulator revoked the license of the doctor who first suggested a link between vaccines and autism and spurred a long-running, heated debate over the safety of vaccines.

Ending a nearly three-year hearing, Britain's General Medical Council found Andrew Wakefield guilty of "serious professional misconduct" in the way he carried out his research in the late 1990s. The council struck his name from the U.K.'s medical register.

The same body in January concluded that Dr. Wakefield's research was flawed, saying that he had presented his work in an "irresponsible and dishonest" way and shown "callous disregard" for the children in his study.

Shortly after that January ruling, the British medical journal that first published Dr. Wakefield's study, the Lancet, retracted it. His central claim�that there could be a link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine�has largely been discredited.

Dr. Wakefield couldn't immediately be reached to comment Monday. In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. on Monday, he said he would appeal the GMC's decision. "Efforts to discredit and silence me through the GMC process have provided a screen to shield the government from exposure on the MMR vaccine scandal," Dr. Wakefield said, according to the BBC.
The guy had an ax to grind, did a stunningly shoddy analysis of a sample of 12 (way to small) and the Journal later retracted the paper but this didn't stop the publicity and parents unknowing actions placing their children at risk. The article mentions that in 1995, the non-vaccination rate was 0.77% while in 2000, that had risen to 2.1% - one in every fifty. Glad to see that he will not be practicing Medicine anymore... Of course, now the moke will be a martyr to the Big Pharma companies that are trying to ram these vaccines down our throats and yet another child will die.

Big Oil meet Big Picture

The Boston Globe's wonderful Big Picture section looks at the effects of the BP spill on the Louisiana coastline. Some gorgeous (and tragic) photography. As bad as the Exxon Valdez was, that was rocky coastline -- this is marshland and is teeming with life. Many of the fish we find in the oceans started their life in a marshland nursery. Here are three to whet your appetite:




Considering that big accidents like this have only happened about every twenty years, I would say that the industry is doing pretty well for its safety record. The technology keeps advancing too. For all that the greens promote alternative forms of energy, these are all falsely priced -- high government subsidies mask the true costs and the energy density is a lot less -- by at least one order of magnitude if not more.

I was driving home tonight (another long day -- have a large list to deal with in six days) and listening to the radio (a Canadian station). The vocalist sounded a lot like Brad Roberts from Crash Test Dummies. A lot like him but, everyone knows they aren't playing anymore. Came home, Googled and it turns out they are now playing. Brad's blog is here. I missed them -- good to have them back again.

More fun in the workers paradise

| No Comments
I am thinking that Chavez is just simply in well over his head and is flailing around without a clue. From Reuters:
Venezuela's Chavez vows more financial crackdown
President Hugo Chavez vowed on Thursday to deepen a financial crackdown after raids on 15 brokerages and the arrest of four directors in the wake of the state's takeover of foreign exchange trading.

The socialist leader said this week's move to exclude private money-changers and transfer the so-called "parallel" currency business to the Central Bank, had brought a typically ferocious reaction from Venezuela's traditional elite.

"We're going to keep hitting them hard," Chavez said in a speech on state TV. "We will become more radical, the more imperialism and its allies attack us."

With Venezuela's "parallel" market paralyzed, until the central bank sets up its new system, economists and business leaders have accused Chavez of bringing chaos to the OPEC member nation's already recession-hit economy.

Given restricted access to dollars at the official rates of 2.6 and 4.3 bolivars, more than half of imports had been depending on the "parallel" market, where the local currency had dived this year to more than 8.0 to the dollar.

By taking over that "parallel" market, South America's biggest oil exporter is now effectively setting up a third controlled exchange rate, albeit within a band. Chavez said the band would be near the 4.3 rate, though analysts and traders had forecast around 5.0-7.0 bolivars.

Angrily waving the front page of local business daily El Mundo and quoting business leaders' criticism of him, Chavez said the "savage Venezuelan bourgeoise" had launched a concerted attack since Tuesday's currency announcements.

Analysts say a new black market will inevitably spring up, creating a fourth and much higher rate for the dollar, and another devaluation may come next year.

Since Tuesday's measures were announced, financial officials have searched 15 institutions in Caracas, studying documents, examining computers and quizzing staff.

Four brokerage directors have been arrested.

Chavez said the government was bringing down an old system of "fraud houses" run by a "mafia". "Nothing and nobody is going to stop me, I guarantee you, Mr. Oligarchs," he said.
The glitterati keep fawning over this guy as though his shit doesn't stink so he thinks he is doing good. With inflation of 30%, the 'parallel market' was the only thing keeping goods coming into Venezuela -- nobody will accept the Bolivar for anything more than toilet paper as it continues to devalue, you cannot convert it into anything stable. What gets me is that there is no real exit strategy for Chavez -- a military takeover? A political coup? These just install another thug into the presidential palace and do nothing to reverse the problems that are hurting the citizens. The citizens aren't going to do much either as they would lose their entitlement programs that are funded from oil revenues.
From The Independent:
After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all
Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain's dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.

The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.

That milestone has now been reached, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist.
Bits and pieces had been published before as family members needed funds but this will be the entire thing. Reserving my copy as soon as I can -- this will be a fascinating read. UPDATE: Amazon
A mere shade of its former self. Not so fast from Willis Eschenbach writing at Watts Up With That:
On Being the Wrong Size
This topic is a particular peeve of mine, so I hope I will be forgiven if I wax wroth.

There is a most marvelous piece of technology called the GRACE satellites, which stands for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. It is composed of two satellites flying in formation. Measuring the distance between the two satellites to the nearest micron (a hundredth of the width of a hair) allows us to calculate the weight of things on the earth very accurately.

One of the things that the GRACE satellites have allowed us to calculate is the ice loss from the Greenland Ice Cap. There is a new article about the Greenland results called Weighing Greenland.

So, what�s not to like about the article?

Well, the article opens by saying:
Scott Luthcke weighs Greenland � every 10 days. And the island has been losing weight, an average of 183 gigatons (or 200 cubic kilometers) � in ice � annually during the past six years. That�s one third the volume of water in Lake Erie every year. Greenland�s shrinking ice sheet offers some of the most powerful evidence of global warming.
Now, that sounds pretty scary, it�s losing a third of the volume of Lake Erie every year. Can�t have that.

But what does that volume, a third of Lake Erie, really mean? We could also say that it�s 80 million Olympic swimming pools, or 400 times the volume of Sydney Harbor, or about the same volume as the known world oil reserves. Or we could say the ice loss is 550 times the weight of all humans on the Earth, or the weight of 31,000 Great Pyramids � but we�re getting no closer to understanding what that ice loss means.
Willis goes on to check a couple of sources for the size of the Greenland Ice Sheet and comes to this conclusion:
So now we have something to which we can compare our one-third of Lake Erie or 400 Sidney Harbors or 550 times the weight of the global population. And when we do so, we find that the annual loss is around 200 km^3 lost annually out of some 3,000,000 km^3 total. This means that Greenland is losing about 0.007% of its total mass every year � seven thousandths of one percent lost annually, be still, my beating heart �

And if that terrifying rate of loss continues unabated, of course, it will all be gone in a mere 15,000 years.

That�s my pet peeve, that numbers are being presented in the most frightening way possible. The loss of 200 km^3 of ice per year is not �some of the most powerful evidence of global warming�, that�s hyperbole. It is a trivial change in a huge block of ice.
And of course, the 0.007% fact is nowhere in the Grist article. Talk about cherry-picking your data...

Minimal posting tonight

| No Comments
Spent ten hours at the store slinging conduit and screwing 4X4 boxes to the wall for outlets, switches, etc... Got the beer cave completely wired up and should be ready for the electrical inspector on Tuesday -- ran out of 4X4 boxes and a couple other things so a quick trip into town is called for tomorrow. Had dinner at the Sumas branch of this local chain -- it was about 8:30 and I wanted a burger! A quick surf -- maybe a post or two if something catches my eye and then off to the DaveCave(tm) for email and then to bed.

A response to Calderon

| No Comments
You probably saw or heard about Calderon's hypocritical address to Congress and that the Democrats gave him a standing ovation. Here is the response from the Republican Representative from California, Tom McClintock:
What he said...

Some new dog breeds

As compiled by the ever wonderful Miss Cellania:
New Dog Breeds
The following breeds are now recognized by the AKC:

Collie + Lhasa Apso
Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport.

Spitz + Chow Chow
Spitz-Chow, a dog that throws up a lot.

Pointer + Setter
Poinsetter, the traditional Christmas pet.

Great Pyrenees + Dachshund
Pyradachs, a puzzling breed.

Pekingese + Lhasa Apso
Peekasso, an abstract dog.

Irish Water Spaniel + English Springer Spaniel
Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean as mountain air.

Labrador Retriever + Curly Coated Retriever
Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of research scientists.

Terrier + Bulldog
Terribull, not a good dog.

Bloodhound + Labrador
Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly.

Malamute + Pointer
Moot Point, owned by�oh, well, it doesn�t matter anyway.

Collie + Malamute
Commute, a dog that travels to work.

Deerhound + Terrier
Derriere, a dog that�s true to the end.

Bull Terrier + Shitzu
You figure this one out.

A work related accident

| No Comments
Too bad, so sad. FOX News:
Key Al Qaeda Figure Accidentally Blows Himself Up, U.S. Officials Say
A man whom the U.S. described as a key figure in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula accidentally blew himself up, U.S. military officials told Fox News.

The officials say Nayif Al-Qahtani was "messing with a bomb" when it went off. U.S. officials had been watching him, but Fox News' sources insist the U.S. had nothing to do with his death.

Al-Qahtani was "a vibrant guy linked to ongoing operations planning, and his death will have an impact," one official told Fox News.
The explosive they are fond of using is very easy to synthesize and about as stable as a liberal. The joy of this stuff is that the more impurities you have, the more unstable it is and it is sensitive to heat, friction and shock -- a boomers trifecta. They don't call it "The Mother of Satan" for nothing...
A very nice introduction to Whittaker Chambers from Alan Snyder over at Breitbart's Big Government:
Whittaker Chambers: The New Deal as Revolution
Whittaker Chambers had a secret. He had worked in the American Communist underground for most of the 1930s. His break from that underground had been hazardous; he hid his family for quite some time before surfacing. When he did, his unique writing talent earned him a place at Time magazine, where he eventually rose to be one of its senior editors.

In 1939, with the outbreak of WWII, Chambers decided he needed to inform the FDR administration of what he knew about those currently working in the underground. Through an intermediary, he obtained an interview with Adolf Berle, the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of security. During his evening with Berle, Chambers disclosed a long list of individuals who could be threats to the country during a war that he sensed the U.S. would eventually have to enter.

Berle seemed alarmed by the revelations. Chambers was relieved that now the truth would come out. Yet when Berle took this information to FDR, he was rudely dismissed�FDR didn�t care.

When Chambers finally realized the administration was apathetic to the traitors in its midst, he had to reassess what he knew of FDR and his policies. In his classic autobiography, Witness, he describes how this rebuff affected him:
And with astonishment I took my first hard look at the New Deal. . . . All the New Dealers I had known were Communists or near-Communists. None of them took the New Deal seriously as an end in itself. They regarded it as an instrument for gaining their own revolutionary ends. I myself thought of the New Deal as a reform movement that, in social and labor legislation, was belatedly bringing the United States abreast of Britain or Scandinavia.
What shocked Chambers was that he recognized for the first time that the New Deal was far more than a reform movement. It was �a genuine revolution, whose deepest purpose was not simply reform within existing traditions, but a basic change in the social, and, above all, the power relationships within the nation.�

This �revolution� was not taking the same form as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, but its effect was just as sinister:
It was not a revolution by violence. It was a revolution by bookkeeping and lawmaking. In so far as it was successful, the power of politics had replaced the power of business. This is the basic power shift of all the revolutions of our time. This shift was the revolution.
Chambers was quite prescient in this analysis. American historians have long noted that in the last half of the nineteenth century, presidents played second fiddle to business leaders. This never sat well with progressives. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson made strides in the shift to power politics, but they suffered a setback in the 1920s under Harding and Coolidge, who were ingrained with the principles of self-government and sanctity of private property.
Read the rest of Alan's article -- the parallels with today are chilling to say the least. Going to have to dig up a copy of Witness. In the 200+ comments, someone also recommended Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "Warning to the West".

Holy Crap - meet Jordan Romero

What is so special about Jordan Romero? From Yahoo/Associated Press:
13-year-old American climbs Everest, calls his mom
The youngest climber to reach the peak of Mount Everest hugged his tearful companions and told them he loved them. Then 13-year-old Jordan Romero took the satellite phone and called his mom.

"He says, 'Mom, I'm calling you from the top of the world,'" a giddy Leigh Anne Drake told The Associated Press from California, where she had been watching her son's progress minute by minute on a GPS tracker online.

"There were lots of tears and 'I love you! I love you!'" Drake said. "I just told him to get his butt back home."

With Saturday's success on the world's highest mountain, at 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) above sea level, Jordan is just one climb from his quest to reach the highest peaks on all seven continents.
Not only summiting Everest but to do the seven. And there is a bit more to the story - Nepal is the route that most people use but Nepal has an age limit:
Unlike neighboring Nepal, the other approach to Everest, China has no age limit for climbers. Jordan registered with Chinese officials in April, said Zhang Mingxing, secretary general of China Tibet Mountaineering Association.
The only mountain he has left is the Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

A fun day was had

| No Comments
Went to the Welding Rodeo -- today was the professional day with teams from local Wood Stone, a team from Denmark and about 12 overall teams competing in the event. Friday's session is the non-professionals with teams from various vocational schools and private groups. Last year they didn't have any blacksmiths show up but this year they had four so I came away with a couple cool things -- one guy was forging Aluminum which doesn't change color with heat the way that steel does. He used a cedar stick which when dragged on the face of the metal left a track that changed with the temperature -- you read the color of the track. Also picked up some good tips on forging animal heads. I'll be posting some pictures in a day or two. Lincoln had their spiffy brand new Virtual Reality Arc Welding system. It was an immersive VR system that simulated the sound and image of welding and gave you immediate feedback on how your weld was going -- if you were entraining a lot of gas or slag in the bead or wandering off course or moving too fast or too slow. The only thing missing was the heat on your hands. The image was also displayed on a big-screen monitor so everyone else could watch you goof up. Unnnn -- I did that on purpose! Came back, put a couple hours in at the store running conduit (almost done) and sitting down to a late dinner...

Spin cycle - Pelosi

| No Comments
From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Washington will take care of you
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a new defense of her party's unpopular health care reforms: They guarantee coverage for the next generation of dropout hippies and starving artists.

Speaking at a Washington event, Rep. Pelosi, D-Calif., gushed that the government will take care of anyone tired of grinding through this recession.

"We see it as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care," Rep. Pelosi said. "You don't have to be job-locked."

Entrepreneurs are people who pour their energies and resources into starting and running businesses -- and assume all the risk. Entrepreneurs are part of the productive, taxpaying class. You know, the people who eventually foot the bill for all of Rep. Pelosi's progressive pipe dreams.

However, in Rep Pelosi's statist mind, an entrepreneur is not someone who creates jobs, but someone who quits his job, starts a garage band and lets his struggling, employed neighbors pay for his health insurance.

It was bad enough that Rep. Pelosi, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saw fit to raise taxes on businesses and increase medical costs on families as part of their health care takeover. Now we get confirmation that it's an entitlement for slackers, too.

Which raises an important question: If everyone decides to quit their jobs and "focus on their passions," who'll pay for their health care then?
What they said -- Pelosi and Reed are so out of touch it is unreal.

Fun times - the 2010 election cycle

| No Comments
Looks like the Unions are moving in -- from The Hill:
Unions to spend $100M in 2010 campaign to save Dem majorities
At least two influential unions will spend close to $100 million on the 2010 election, with most of those funds going to protect incumbents.

Union officials told The Hill they plan to help endangered members � particularly freshmen � who made politically difficult votes in a year during which an anti-incumbent mood has filled the country.

And the number will be even higher since the AFL-CIO declined to give its figures.
Just wonderful -- and the unions in question:
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) plans to spend in excess of $50 million during the 2010 campaign, part of which will fund �a massive incumbent protection program,� according to Gerry McEntee, president of the union.
A new one to me -- great - something else to keep track of. Plus, our old friend Andy Stern and his bunch of goons:
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) plans to spend $44 million in total on its 2010 election program. The union spent $85 million on its 2008 campaign, according to union officials.
If the Unions actually did something to protect the workers, I might see them in a different light. The 11 people who died on the Gulf Oil disaster, the refinery workers in WA State, the coal miners. All of these job sites had been known to be unsafe but the unions did nothing. All that the unions do is collect money from the workers and use it to lobby for unsustainable gain. Time for them to sunset. Another example of Pournelle's Iron Law.

Awwww - a bear in Bellevue

| No Comments
From the Seattle Times:
Krispy Kremes being used to lure bear in Bellevue
Using maple syrup and dayold Krispy Kreme doughnuts as bait, state wildlife officials are trying to trap a young bear that's been roaming a Bellevue neighborhood, getting into garbage and just generally causing trouble.

The bear is about 70 to 80 pounds, and has been knocking over garbage and getting into birdfeeders in the neighborhood around 145th Avenue Southeast in south Bellevue, said Jason Capelli, a game warden with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"His comfort level with people is not good," said Capelli, who said that if he's trapped, wildlife officials will move him to the mountains, using Karelian bear dogs and loud noise to persuade the young bruin to keep away from people. That's known as a "hard release" by wildlife officials.
Good that they are doing the hard release -- the lil' guy needs to learn that humans aren't your primary source of food. I would love to get a bear cub and raise it but you need to get them almost at birth to have them imprint successfully otherwise they will never be truly under your control.

That;s it for the evening

| No Comments
Satellite is bouncing up and down -- I am still waiting for Verizon to get the T1 to my house (they actually are doing a lot of work on it -- there have been boom-trucks parked at the local switch for the last two weeks). Going to check the DaveCave(tm) for email and clean up some stuff. The people who were going to come and pick up the mixer haven't been in touch yet -- this is a restaurant that they are building literally from the dirt up so they have a few things on their mind. Still thinking that the Westboro Baptist and the Ronnie Dio altercation would be a fun one to attend. Dio was an amazing singer -- I was never "into" heavy metal but it used to be very much on my regular playlist -- there are a lot of classical and baroque influences that make it wonderful to listen to -- sort of like opera brought into this century.
A wonderful little bit of information -- from The Economic Policy Journal:
32 States Have Borrowed from the Federal Government to Make Unemployment Payments; California Has Borrowed $7 Billion has learned that 32 states have run out funds to make unemployment benefit payments and that the federal government has been supplying these states with funds so that they can make their payments to the unemployed. In some cases, states have borrowed billions. As of May 20, the total balance outstanding by 32 states (and the Virgin Islands) is $37.8 billion.

The state of California has borrowed $6.9 billion. Michigan has borrowed $3.9 billion, Illinois $2.2 billion.
There are probably laws in place that allow for this sort of venture but if I was a commercial lending business and the state of California came to me, I sure as hell would not lend them money that they should have had in the first place. They are collecting taxes from the employers and employees to cover this event and these taxes should have been kept in a separate account and not touched for other projects. I know that unemployment is a problem (it is a huge problem out where we live!) but this is nothing sudden -- if the state wanted to assume responsibility for providing this service, that agency should have done a better job of monitoring and adjusting the revenue stream.
A great editorial by Barbara Hollingsworth at The Washington Examiner:
U.Va.'s dishonorable double standard
University of Virginia students pledge not to lie, cheat or steal under the nation's oldest student-run honor system -- and to report any of their peers who do.

But U.Va. administrators apparently don't think they have an obligation to do the same. On April 23, university officials received a subpoena from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli requesting the e-mails of former U.Va. climatologist Michael Mann in an investigation into whether Mann fraudulently used manipulated climate data to apply for $500,000 worth of taxpayer-funded research grants.

At first, they indicated their intention to comply. However, angry protests from academics around the country accusing Cuccinelli of a "witch hunt" convinced them to take a second look at their "options." But those options boil down to two: Turn over the documents subpoenaed under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act by the July 26 deadline, or ignore Cuccinelli's request for any "correspondence, messages or e-mails" between Mann and 39 other prominent scientists between 1999 and 2005.
And a bit more:
On Dec. 17, Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Carolyn Wood told Marshall: "The University does not have any e-mail data for Mr. Mann. When Mr. Mann moved to Penn State his U.Va. account was terminated and all data was later deleted."

Wait a minute. If Mann's e-mails were all deleted, why did U.Va. ask for-- and receive -- an extension to comply with Cuccinelli's subpoena? By happenstance, university officials also received another FOIA request on Dec. 17 regarding another former U.Va. climatologist -- Patrick Michaels, now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

But Michaels' correspondence was apparently not deleted after he left; Greenpeace is reportedly currently waiting for word on how much it will cost to duplicate his e-mail cache. So even though Mann and Michaels worked in the same department on the same floor and used the same computer server, U.Va. supposedly preserved one scientist's electronic trail -- and destroyed the other's.
A real question of ethics -- even if the files were deleted from the server, any competent backup system will have them on tape in a vault somewhere. For one person to have the archives (and with a cost being talked about, it sounds like the tape-in-vault scenario) and not the other, this is seriously fishy. That work was funded by our tax dollars and is, by Federal law, in the public domain. We have a right to access this and for it to be withheld by some administrator and policy wonk is not cool. For them to lie to us is even less cool.
Here is the plan from Al Gore's blog:
Cash for Caulkers May 13, 2010 : 2:35 PM
Another important piece of legislation passes the House of Representatives:

�Homeowners could collect thousands of dollars in Cash for Caulkers rebates for renovating their homes with better insulation and energy-saving windows and doors under a new economic stimulus bill the House passed Thursday.�

�The Home Star bill, passed 246-161, would authorize $5.7 billion over two years for a program that supporters � mostly Democrats � said would have the added benefits of invigorating the slumping construction industry and making the earth a little cleaner.�

"Home Star is that solid investment that's going to achieve that hat trick of energy savings for the homeowner, of moving toward a cleaner environment and of creating jobs here at home," said bill sponsor Peter Welch, D-VT.�
Here is how it gets implemented in the real world -- from the Texas Watchdog:
47 homes retrofitted, $3.7M spent in Texas through Dec. under program to improve low-income homes
Texas has spent $3.7 million to weatherize just 47 homes through December under a program set up by Congress a year ago in economic stimulus legislation.

This amounts to a taxpayer cost of $78,000 per home.

A little more than $200,000 paid for materials and labor to retrofit the homes, an official said. The remaining $3.5 million was used to grow the state's housing agency so it can attempt to make as many as 56,000 low-income homes more energy-efficient by March 2012.
Emphasis mine -- it is obvious that these are two separate programs but the end effect is the same. A few 'showcase' projects and a large bureaucratic growth. This is what happens when you get big government involved in daily life. Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy writ large.
In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.
The second quote -- the Texas Watchdog story -- is a much longer read and really worth looking at for a clear picture of how fscked this government is -- nothing but special interests looking out for each other. 2010 is shaping up to be an interesting year -- interesting in the old Chinese curse kind of way...
I would love to be here for this event. Black Sabbath lead singer Ronnie James Dio passed away recently. Bigot and spiritual leader Fred Phelps (God Hates Fags, etc...) is planning to picket the memorial service. From Blabbermouth:
WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH To Picket RONNIE JAMES DIO's Public Memorial Service? - May 20, 2010
According to the official web site of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) � an independent Baptist church and hate group known for its hatred of homosexuals and its protest activities (which include picketing funerals) � WBC is planning on picketing Ronnie James Dio's public memorial service on Sunday, May 30 at 2:00 p.m. at The Hall Of Liberty located at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, California. What will presumably one of WBC's standard "peaceful sidewalk demonstrations" is meant to "remind you who worship that old Serpent, Satan, that your time is very short," according to a post on the "Upcoming Picket Schedule" page of the web site. The post continues, "You know 67 year old, Satan-worshiping (or at least one of their enablers) Ronnie James Dio (of showing his devil horns to the world each time he goes in public) BLACK SABBATH fame is dead, right? We'll be there! Just because the chances of any of God's elect being amongst this group of heavy metal sycophants is slim to none does not mean they should not get some good words."
I can just see two groups of middle-age geezers pounding the crap out of each other.

Just Damn - we have an anthem

| No Comments
Check this out:
Like me, ex liberal. My wakeup call was 09/12 when I started asking questions and did not like the answers that I was getting. Hat tip to the puppy blender who found it on Political Byline

A Story

| No Comments
Swiped from Miss Celania:
Married in Heaven
On their way to getting married, a young couple is involved in a fatal car accident. They find themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates, waiting for St. Peter to process them into Heaven. While waiting, they begin to wonder: Could they possibly get married in Heaven? When St. Peter shows up, they ask him. St. Peter says, 'I don't know. This is the first time anyone has asked that. Let me go and find out,' and he leaves.

The couple sit and wait, and wait. Two months pass and the couple is still waiting. As they wait, they discuss that if they were allowed to get married in Heaven, what was the eternal aspect of it all. 'What if it doesn't work?' they wondered. 'Are we stuck together forever?'

After yet another month, St. Peter finally returns, looking somewhat bedraggled. 'Yes,' he informs the couple, 'you can get married in Heaven.'

'Great!' says the couple, 'But we were just wondering, what if things don't work out? Can we also get a divorce in Heaven?'

St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slams his clipboard onto the ground.

'What's wrong?' ask the frightened couple.

'OH, COME ON!' St. Peter shouts, 'It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have any idea how long it'll take me to find a lawyer?'
The Usenet servers at Duke University are being shut down today, May 20th. From Duke Today:
A Piece of Internet History
This week marks the end of an era for one of the earliest pieces of Internet history, which got its start at Duke more than 30 years ago.

On May 20, Duke will shut down its Usenet server, which provides access to a worldwide electronic discussion network of newsgroups started in 1979 by two Duke graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis.

Working with a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, they came up with a simple program to exchange messages and files between computers at Duke and UNC using telephone modems.

The �Users Network,� Usenet for short, grew into an international electronic discussion forum with more than 120,000 newsgroups dedicated to various topics, from local dining to computer programming languages. Each group had a distinctive name such as soc.history or sci.math.

Usenet also played an integral role in the growth of the popularity of the Internet, said Dietolf Ramm, professor emeritus of computer science. At the time, a connection to the Internet was not only expensive but required a research contract with the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency.

�ARPA had funded a few schools to begin the early stages of Internet, but most schools didn�t have that,� said Ramm, who worked with the students who developed Usenet. �Usenet was a pioneering effort because it allowed anybody to connect and participate in communications.�

Many social aspects of online communication � from emoticons and slang acronyms such as LOL to flame wars � originated or were popularized on Usenet.

Although e-mail and other forms of online communication have largely supplanted Usenet, it is still in use, with tens of thousands of discussion groups.
A lot of activity has moved over to Google Groups (Thank you Google!!!) A while ago (talking pre-personal Internet connections) I ran a large multi-line telephone BBS and was able to attach to the Usenet groups -- a lot of fun conversations and rants were had...

Malthusians in the news

I always like to poke fun at Malthusians as #1) - they have such silly ideas and #2) - they are always wrong. Snork, writing over at The Blogmocracy has this to offer:
Malthusians -- Doing What They Do
Really good article here, about the cranium-in-posterior Chicken Little syndrome known as Malthusianism, after the mad professor Thomas Malthus.

Much has been written about the crisis de jour that seems to show up every generation; this time being global warming climate change. What this author shows goes beyond that observation of the obvious, and shows another pattern:
The projection of statistical trends into disaster scenarios is as old as the modern science of statistics. People once worried that England's nascent industrial economy would come to a sputtering halt because forests were disappearing at increasing rates, driven by the need for charcoal. The Peak Charcoal scenario yielded in time to Peak Coal worries before morphing into today's Peak Oil and Peak Gas scenarios. My favorite Malthusian crisis scenario is the horse manure problem. Nineteenth century statisticians calculated how much cargo a horse could carry, and then looked at the daily needs of London's population for food and other material goods. From there it was a short step to calculate the amount of manure produced by each cart horse, the number of horses required to operate the manure removal carts, and basically to calculate a choke point: the point where cart horse manure would pile up so high in London's streets that urban life would come to a crashing halt.
Heh -- the link is great and yes, I stand by my thought that not one Malthusian prediction has ever come true. If anyone can link to proof that one did, I would love to hear about it How otherwise serious people can spend so much of their time and effort on thinking about something that will never happen is beyond me. You only need to look at history to see this spectre never manifests...
This guy is a clueless ninny -- from his blatant public misrepresentation of the Arizona illegal bill to this little bundle of joy from the New York Times:
Obama to Mandate Rules to Raise Fuel Standards
President Obama has decided to use his executive power to order tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, accelerating the fight against climate change without waiting for Congress, administration officials said Thursday.

Mr. Obama plans to announce on Friday that he is ordering the creation of a new national policy that will result in less pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks for the first time and will further reduce exhaust from cars and light-duty trucks beyond the requirements he has already put in place.

Under rules that were eventually formalized last month, new cars have to meet a combined city and highway fuel economy average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The administration said the new rules would cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases by about 30 percent from 2012 to 2016.

The plan Mr. Obama will announce on Friday will order further improvements in fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks made in 2017 and beyond, and in medium and heavy trucks made in 2014 through 2018.
This will be impossible to accomplish and still have a safe vehicle with decent performance. There is only so much energy in a gallon of gasoline and the laws of Physics were still very much in operation last time I checked. Streamlining will do a lot but most vehicles are already well streamlined. Lightening the vehicle will do a lot but you either need to go to exotic materials (re: very expensive body and frame repairs) or decreased collision safety. The Turbo Diesels are great -- the older TDI engines routinely get 40+ MPG and are very hard to find on the used market and this is a C.O.T.S. technology used in other places in the world. Also, I call bullshit on that 30% reduction number -- not counting the fact that CO2 is a major plant food and is beneficial to coral reefs and other marine ecosystems (just ask any salt-water aquarist to show you their CO2 tanks). DC has become filled with idiots and mendacious thieves -- time to drain the swamp...

Guitarist Pat Matheny speaks out on Kenny G:

Kenny G is not a musician I really had much of an opinion about at all until recently. There was not much about the way he played that interested me one way or the other either live or on records.

I first heard him a number of years ago playing as a sideman with Jeff Lorber when they opened a concert for my band. My impression was that he was someone who had spent a fair amount of time listening to the more pop oriented sax players of that time, like Grover Washington or David Sanborn, but was not really an advanced player, even in that style. He had major rhythmic problems and his harmonic and melodic vocabulary was extremely limited, mostly to pentatonic based and blues-lick derived patterns, and he basically exhibited only a rudimentary understanding of how to function as a professional soloist in an ensemble - Lorber was basically playing him off the bandstand in terms of actual music.

But he did show a knack for connecting to the basest impulses of the large crowd by deploying his two or three most effective licks (holding long notes and playing fast runs - never mind that there were lots of harmonic clams in them) at the key moments to elicit a powerful crowd reaction (over and over again). The other main thing I noticed was that he also, as he does to this day, played horribly out of tune - consistently sharp.

A few paragraphs later, he hits his stride:

Not long ago, Kenny G put out a recording where he overdubbed himself on top of a 30+ year old Louis Armstrong record, the track "What a Wonderful World". With this single move, Kenny G became one of the few people on earth I can say that I really can't use at all - as a man, for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician, for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music.

This type of musical necrophilia - the technique of overdubbing on the preexisting tracks of already dead performers - was weird when Natalie Cole did it with her dad on "Unforgettable" a few years ago, but it was her dad. When Tony Bennett did it with Billie Holiday it was bizarre, but we are talking about two of the greatest singers of the 20th century who were on roughly the same level of artistic accomplishment. When Larry Coryell presumed to overdub himself on top of a Wes Montgomery track, I lost a lot of the respect that I ever had for him - and I have to seriously question the fact that I did have respect for someone who could turn out to have such unbelievably bad taste and be that disrespectful to one of my personal heroes.

But when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great Louis's tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that I would not have imagined possible. He, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician. By disrespecting Louis, his legacy and by default, everyone who has ever tried to do something positive with improvised music and what it can be, Kenny G has created a new low point in modern culture - something that we all should be totally embarrassed about - and afraid of. We ignore this, "let it slide", at our own peril.

Kenny G does have his uses -- if I find that someone really likes his music, I know to start distancing myself as regardless of what pre-conceived notions I might have about this person, this shows that they have no taste in music -- something that is important to me.

He is an amazing songwriter but he sure doesn't grasp the facts very well. From his blog -- Yellow Press:
It Is After Considerable Contemplation....
It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.

One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament.

Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.

I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.
Mr. Costello -- I sincerely doubt that you would visit this little corner of the blogosphere but you might want to expand your horizons a little bit. Check out this guy:
Biography of Walid Shoebat
Born in Bethlehem of Judea, Walid's grandfather was the Muslim Mukhtar (chieftain) of Beit Sahour-Bethlehem (The Shepherd's Fields) and a friend of Haj-Ameen Al-Husseni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and notorious friend of Adolf Hitler.

Walid's great grandfather, Abdullah Ali Awad-Allah, was also a fighter and close associate of both Abdul Qader and Haj Amin Al-Husseini, who led the Palestinians against Israel. Walid lived through and witnessed Israel�s Six Day War while living in Jericho.

As a young man, he became a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and participated in acts of terror and violence against Israel, and was later imprisoned in the Russian Compound, Jerusalem's central prison for incitement and violence against Israel.

After his release, he continued his life of violence and rioting in Bethlehem and the Temple Mount. After entering the U.S, he worked as a counselor for the Arab Student Organization at Loop College in Chicago and continued his anti-Israel activities.

In 1993, Walid studied the Tanach (Jewish Bible) in a challenge to convert his wife to Islam. Six months later, after intense study, Walid realized that everything he had been taught about Jews was a lie. Convinced he was on the side of evil, he became an advocate for his former enemy.

Driven by a deep passion to heal his own soul, and to bring the truth about the Jews and Israel to the world, Walid shed his former life and his work as a software engineer and set out to tirelessly bring the cause of Israel to tens of thousands of people throughout the world: churches and synagogues, civic groups, government leaders and media.
There is a standing body of evidence that Yasser Arafat was a Communist plant (well beyond his three years spent living in Moscow and frequent trips back there) and that his role in the middle-east was to destabilize Israel whom Russia regarded as a threat. All that we are dealing with now is just the residue of that deception. The so-called 'Palestinians' are Hashemite Jordanians and there is no other nation that will give them a home. It is illegal for a 'Palestinian' to own land in Jordan. The 'Palestinians' are living in a culture of fear, shame and hate. They do not desire to advance themselves, only to tear down the accomplishments of others. 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). Again, a crude metric but a telling one. Why we vilify these wonderful people for protecting themselves and loving and educating their children is beyond me...

Looking forward to this weekend

| No Comments
Two Words: Welding Rodeo With all the stuff happening at the store I'll only be going in for part of Saturday but these are always a lot of fun. The College's Culinary Arts program caters these events so lunch always seriously rocks.

No Dam Tour this year

A couple years ago, a group of people and I went on the Skagit River Hydroelectric Tour and we had a wonderful time. The tour started off with a short film outlining a bit of the history and then we were bundled off onto a boat for several hours, exploring Ross Lake and Diablo Dam. We came back to Newhalem (the town owned by Seattle City Light) and were fed an all-you-can-eat Chicken and Spaghetti dinner. We were then free to wander around -- there is a grove of old-growth Cedar trees and the power houses have observation rooms open to the public.

A lot of fun. Unfortunately, with WA State's budget management problems, the tours are not being run this year. From the Bellingham Herald:

Tight budget halts utility's Skagit tour
Seattle City Light is canceling the popular Skagit tours of its North Cascades hydroelectric project because of a tight budget.

Also canceled this summer are the chicken dinners the utility offers visitors to the town of Diablo.

The tour includes a boat trip up Diablo Lake, formed by a City Light dam in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area.

This is only the third time in their 82-year history that the tours have been canceled. The last time was in 2002 because of the energy crisis and the heightened security after the 9-11 terrorist attack.

City Light officials tell The Seattle Times that they hope to reinstate the tours next year.

Let's hope they can get their spending under control in time for next year...

Three assholes that need to be replaced -- the original story flew completely under my radar and am only now coming to it from Breitbart's Big Government:
Thanks To 3 Senators, China Entrenched In Iraqi Oil For 20 Years
This story might slip right past you. It�s understandable, considering most Americans have no idea of the context or how it happened that the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is now set for 20 years in Iraq, thanks to a deal just inked between the Iraqi government and Communist China. The Iraqis originally selected America�s Exxon-Mobil. I�ll wager you probably didn�t know that. You�ll want to read on. But brace yourself.

It�s the classic American political tale of self-loathing crafted by the usual suspects. With its government firm and its security at its post-surge best, the Iraqi government needed to quickly bring its oilfields online. It desperately needed the revenues. The summer of 2008 saw oil prices above $100 per barrel and Americans were paying $4 per gallon at the pump.

The best in the business � the best in the world � is Exxon-Mobil. And the government of Iraq turned to America�s Exxon-Mobil to bring undeveloped and underdeveloped fields online to rejuvenate its own revenue sources and ween itself and its people off of American aid.

But three American Senators would have none of it. Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) sent a public letter to the Bush administration�s Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, imploring her to derail the Iraqi deal. (See: �In China We Trust�: Senators Closed Door to US Oil Investment In Iraq.) As the Senate troika stated, �It is our fear that this action by the Iraqi government could further deepen political tensions in Iraq and put our service members in even great danger.�
Read the rest of the article and the comments -- these Senators are not acting in our own interests or in the interests of this Nation as a whole. If I were King, Congress would operate six months out of the year and for the other six months, the congressmen would have to go out and get a blue-collar job. No lawyering, they would have to flip burgers, mow lawns, wire houses, that kind of thing...

Huff and Puff

| No Comments
A bit of a storm moving through this area. From the Bellingham Herald:
Power out in Everson, Sumas; more than 1,000 homes affected
High winds knocked out power to more than 1,200 homes in Whatcom County Wednesday afternoon, May 19.

About 1,000 homes in the Everson area and about 250 homes in the Sumas area are without power, said Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman MacKenzie McDowell.

More scattered outages are likely as stormy weather continues in the county, McDowell said, though she didn't anticipate any widespread problems. McDowell said repairs should be relatively quick for the outages in Everson and Sumas. Crews are patrolling the area and responding to calls as they come in.
November is normally the time that we get stiff windstorms -- then, the trees are bare. Getting a storm now means that there will be more branches coming down and more power outages. Meteorologist Cliff Mass has this to say:
Even Stronger
The latest satellite pictures shows a profound enhancement of the high clouds around this system (see above). The latest forecast models are even more threatening that last night...this is going to be a major coastal wind event, with damage and power outages. NW Washington will be hit harder than expected last night. And another issue...when the low is offshore, winds will accelerate to the west in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The National Weather Service has now put storm warnings for the entire coast and the western Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Here is the latest forecast for 5 PM tonight...pretty amazing. 989 mb low and a huge pressure gradient to its south and southeast. The simulation indicates even stronger winds than last night, with areas immediately offshore experiencing 60 kt sustained winds and hurricane-force gusts.
The WA State ferry system has a good online chart with wind speeds.

The kingdom of Spamalot

| No Comments
The level of spam has been tapering off a bit -- now it is just four to ten attempts/day and they are all of the multiple URL attempts which downright guarantees that they will match up against one of the URLs in my flat-file database. I have been keeping track of not only the IP addresses but also the date they came in and the number of attempts per address. Again, the majority of IP addresses are single use -- I now have 461 IP addresses from known spam attempts and only 52 of them were used more than once and the majority of these are three or under.
A lot of people are hyperventilating about the current Gulf Oil Spill but we need to remember that things were much worse not that long ago. From Corky Boyd writing at Island Turtle:
The BP oil spill is not our worst offshore environmental disaster
I don't want to diminish the problems with the oil spill, but we have lived through far worse and our waters and shoreline recovered.

During World War II, Nazi U-boats sank scores of oil tankers off the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico campaign began precisely 68 years ago today, May 4, 1942. In a little over a month they had sunk oil cargoes of over 600,000 barrels (one barrel equals 42 gallons), and by December 1943 when they sank their last ship in the Gulf, nearly 900,000 barrels of oil and oil products had been left in Gulf waters.

For comparison, if it takes BP 3 months to get the well under control, at the current estimated leakage rate of 5,000 barrels a day, 450,000 will have seeped into the Gulf. While a lot, it is just half of what was spilled during the war.

The difference between then and now is we were focused not on the environment, but on fighting a war that had reached our shores. For those of us who lived on the coast, we did step in "tar" on the beach. But it was more of a nuisance and nothing compared to the agony of those with silver or gold star flags on the front of their homes.

The tar releases continued after the war, no doubt from seepage from the sunken ships and from the collapse of tank walls that had rusted out. Yet as we look back on the late 1940s and early 50s, we consider them the pristine years. They really weren't.

We recovered without a lot of fuss, as we will from the BP mess.
A bit of historical perspective is a good thing and all too often lacking in today's 'gotta--have--it--now' society...


| No Comments
An amazing story from Russia -- from the Austrian Times:
The bridge and groom
A broken-hearted fianc� planning to throw himself off a bridge found love again - with a girl who was about to jump to her death from the same spot.

Devastated Andriej Ivanov, 26, wanted to end it all when his fianc�e died in a car crash the day before their wedding by jumping from the bridge in Ufa, central Russia.

But when he got there he found tragic Maria Petrova, 21, climbing the railings after being thrown out by her parents for falling pregnant.

She was seconds away from plunging more than 100 ft into the icy Belaya River when Andriej pulled her back from the brink.

"Something in my heart snapped and I couldn't let her do it no matter how broken my own heart was.

"I shouted, 'Stop' and ran over to her. She fell into my arms sobbing and I began crying too. We held each other and talked, and talked and talked. That night saved my life - and hers," said Andriej.

The couple talked into the night and agreed to help each other mend their broken hearts.

Now they plan to get married after telling their families of their amazing escapes from death.

"He is my knight and my saviour," said Maria.

"All that pain was worthwhile because it led me to my Andriej," she added.
What a sweet story - hat tip to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.
From The Sun:
Toilet brush 'blunder' death
A YOUNG mum died after a series of blunders by doctors who failed to spot a six-inch long TOILET BRUSH HANDLE embedded in her buttock, an inquest was told today.

Cindy Corton, 35, was left with the bizarre injury after a drunken fall in a friend's bathroom in 2005 but "serious errors" by doctors then led to her death.

It was two years before Cindy, who was in constant pain, was able to convince doctors that the thin serrated plastic handle was stuck in the flesh of her bottom.

By then what should have been a routine procedure to remove it had become much more dangerous because the handle had become embedded in her pelvis.

After two unsuccessful operations in 2007 the mother-of-one was in such agony that she agreed to undergo further surgery in June last year despite being told it could prove fatal.

Cindy of Sleaford, Lincs, spent more than ten hours in surgery at Nottingham's Queens Medical Centre but died from massive blood loss.

Husband Peter, 61, said that when his wife first attended A&E at Lincoln County Hospital she was sent home with painkillers, despite showing them the wound on her bottom.

Four days later she was in such pain she went to Grantham Hospital and, although x-rays were taken, nothing was found.

He told the inquest in Grantham: "She wasn't properly examined by the doctor at Lincoln.

"At Grantham she wasn't examined properly again.

"This was unsatisfactory. The failures to investigate sufficiently in the first place at Lincoln and Grantham were a major factor in Cindy suffering.

"This could have been prevented by early location and removal of the foreign body which would have been a simple procedure at the time."

Recording a narrative verdict West Lincolnshire coroner Stuart Fisher criticised Dr Killian Mbewe who first examined Mrs Corton at Grantham Hospital.

Despite being told what had happened he simply had an x-ray taken which revealed nothing.

"It appears Dr Mbewe did not seek a second opinion, " said Mr Fisher.

"My view is that this failure to pursue further medical inquiries at this stage was a very serious error on his part.

"Had he done so and surgery had taken place I have no doubt Mrs Corton would be alive today.
A couple of things come to mind -- Cindy was probably pretty explicit in describing the plastic thing that embedded -- something that doesn't show up on X-Ray but shows up magnificently on MRI or CAT -- why Dr. Mbewe didn't order further scans (but these machines are expensive) speaks volumes to the kind if care we can expect to receive in the future. The very fact that she initially showed them the entry wound and the fact that the doctor did nothing gives me a chill...
And rent-free in public housing no less. From the London Times (and not the American mainstream media for some very strange reason):
Obama�s �illegal� Kenyan Auntie wins the right to stay in America
President Obama�s �Auntie Zeituni�, who was discovered by The Times living illegally in Boston, was granted asylum in America yesterday in a controversial decision that will fuel the already charged debate on illegal immigrants.

A judge ruled that Zeituni Onyango, 57, the Kenyan half-sister of President Obama�s late father, would be allowed to stay in the country despite ignoring a 2004 deportation order.
A bit more:
She made a previous unsuccessful application for asylum, based on violence in her native Kenya, after which she was ordered out of the US.
A bit more:
She was an important character in Mr Obama�s best-selling memoir Dreams from My Father. At the time of Mr Obama�s celebrated voyage of self-discovery to his ancestral home, in 1988, she was a computer programmer at Kenya Breweries in Nairobi.

However, just days before Mr Obama�s election victory in 2008, The Times discovered that Ms Onyango was living in a disabled-access flat on a housing estate in Boston � just miles from where Mr Obama studied at Harvard Law School.

Ms Onyango sought to avoid The Times�s inquiries. In a first telephone call, a woman believed to be her said that Ms Onyango had gone to California. In a second call, she said that Ms Onyango was dead. In a third call, she spoke French. When The Times finally caught up with her, walking outside her flat, she said that she had been going back and forth between Kenya and the US since 1975.

It quickly emerged that Ms Onyango was in the US illegally. She arrived in America on a temporary visa in 2000 to join a son who had been accepted at a college in Boston, her lawyer said. Her first request for asylum was rejected, but she did not comply with the 2004 deportation order.

After she was discovered, Ms Onyango hired a lawyer and filed a new asylum request � turning up to one hearing in a bizarre disguise that included a curly red wig, sunglasses, and an ankle-length coat of black and white fake fur.

Although Ms Onyango attended Mr Obama�s swearing-in as a US senator in 2004, Mr Obama insisted that he had not known she was living in America illegally. She also attended his inauguration as President.
I am sorry but if you have a legitimate job as a programmer (the Kenyan Brewery), you should not feel the need to seek political asylum unless there are some mental issues that need to be addressed. It is sad that a lot of the brilliant mathematicians and programmers that I have known have been batshit crazy. For B.H.O. to basically ignore her is batshit too -- maybe she voted for McCain and Palin -- now that IS batshit crazy. (set SNARK=OFF)

Long day and minimal blogging

| No Comments
Finished with the Beer Cave wiring and now hanging lights in the new store area. Should have everything buttoned up by the end of the week -- time to start making floorplans and scheduling the refrigeration people to move the coolers. We had a new employee close the store tonight so I volunteered to stay and help her close -- I was in the back room doing wiring anyway. It will be interesting to see the results of the elections once everything is counted. It is a bit disappointing to see a Democrat get John Murtha's old seat especially as the polls had Republican Tim Burns ahead by a few points. Considering how heavily gerrymandered District 12 is, it is no wonder:
I mean really -- this follows no geographical or geological path. It is an artificial construct designed to include as many liberal democrats and poor people as possible. Attila the Hun could win there if he promised pork for all. Off to the DaveCave(tm) and then to bed. Lots to do tomorrow as well...

Talk about a big exit wound

| No Comments
Politics in England is just as bad as it is on this side of the pond. The liberals were tossed out in a narrow vote and the new conservative government is moving into office. One of the party members found a note. From the London Daily Mail:
Labour Minister's parting shot: Dear Chief Secretary, I'm sorry to tell you there is no money... kind regards and good luck
Labour delivered a final two-fingered salute to Britain by boasting 'there's no money left' on leaving office, it emerged yesterday as it became clear that the true size of the national debt is more than �2trillion.

The new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liberal Democrat David Laws, revealed that he arrived at his office to discover a handover note from his Labour predecessor Liam Byrne.

It read: 'Dear Chief Secretary, I'm afraid to tell you there is no money. Kind regards and good luck!' Traditionally, departing ministers leave detailed and constructive private advice for their successors, whatever their party.
And if Labour had won the election, how would they have sustained operations? These people simply do not think about the consequences of their actions.

Big Sis on Arizona

| No Comments
How long does it take to read sixteen pages plus a page of amendments -- especially when it is such a political hot-button. From Real Clear Politics:
Napolitano Admits She Hasn't Read Arizona Law But Says She Wouldn't Sign It
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano admits she hasn't read the Arizona immigration law, but passed judgment on it anyway. "That's not the kind of law I would have signed," she declared.

"I believe it's a bad law enforcement law. I believe it mandates and requires local enforcement and puts them in a position many do not want to be placed in," Napolitano said.
Do not forget that Napolitano was once governor of Arizona and in 2006, she called on the National Guard to help secure the border. She and Holder need to resign gracefully -- these two people are perfect examples of the Peter Principle.

Another light night

Had a very long day -- as well as taking the time to find the circuit breaker, I spent about 90 minutes on the phone with QuickBooks tech support.

They had pushed an update for QuickBooks out to customers and some systems hung when the update failed to completely install. The store's system was one of these. Payroll should have been done on Sunday the 16th (I pay bi-monthly). The tech support guy was awesome -- I let him know that I had worked for MSFT for five years and that I had a computer store for 12 years before that and he switched from the usual: "Now look at the top of the screen for the little xyzzy thing and double click it with your left mouse button" to OK -- bring up task manager and let me know what's running. Bring up explorer and let me know the file properties of these files -- a lot faster and more efficient. It was 90 minutes as we finally just nuked the install and reinstalled from a sooper-seekret QuickBooks site that had all of the patches already installed.

QuickBooks is an awesome product and their tech support simply rocks... Besides hanging the system, the flaw also corrupted the company files but I have Acronis backing up crucial files every night and Jen is anal about putting a company backup on a thumb drive after every checkbook reconciliation so we did not loose any data.

To add insult to injury, our just-out-of-warranty HP Printer decided to stop recognizing fresh full brand-new black ink cartridges, saying that we needed to install a new cartridge. Shipping the unit back for repair would cost more than a new printer so fuck them -- I bought a new Kodak printer today. I also got a Brother laser printer from Costco as most of our printing is B&W and a laser is that much cheaper to operate so fuck HP's pricey ink yet again. Voting with my dollars... Spent about three hours tonight uninstalling HP drivers and installing the Brother drivers and about 20 minutes running payroll.

Off to the DaveCave(tm)

Our cultural betters

| No Comments
Fun read from Brian Garst at Breitbart's Big Government:
Elites Hate When The People Speak
Much of the animosity we�ve witnessed directed at the Tea Party over the last year has come from political and cultural elites who find regular people disturbing, if not downright disgusting. The peasants, according to elites, are prone to temper tantrums and just don�t get how things work in the sophisticated political world. That same attitude was on display this weekend following the primary defeat of Sen. Bob Bennett.
On Sunday�s Meet the Press, David Brooks described Bennett�s defeat as a �damn outrage.� Liberal E.J. Dionne went a step further and called it �a nonviolent coup� because the Utah voters dared �deny the sitting Republican senator even a chance of getting on the primary ballot.� Why, it�s almost like these voters think they�re allowed to choose their own representatives or something!

Brooks insists that Bennett is a �good senator� just �trying to get things done.� Unfortunately, what he was trying to get done was not what his electorate wanted him to get done. While he was busy supporting TARP and advocating an individual mandate for health care, the people of Utah wanted spending restraint and less intrusive government. On the most important votes regarding these issues, Bennett was too often on the wrong side for their taste.

It�s no damn outrage that voters would send a senator packing after serving three terms when he promised to serve only two. It�s no damn outrage that a Washington insider be sent on his following the mess Washington has created. The real damn outrage is the disdain with which elitists like David Brooks treat voters who don�t share their sophisticated policy preferences.
The next couple of years will be interesting. The election for Murtha's old seat is tomorrow and a conservative is favored in the polls. The 260+ comments are fun -- here is one:
It's great good fun watching these clowns bang their sippy cups on their desks as they begin to realize that, whether they like it or not, they'll have to start sucking up to a lot of new players starting next January if they want their "gets." Worst of all for them, said power brokers might be � *shudder* � Republicans!

Grab your favorite beverages and snacks, sit back and get ready to enjoy the show. "Fear and Loathing in Washington, D.C." starts in 2011 � and with any luck, it will still be a hit long after its initial two-year run.
Don't wait until the last moment -- thank heaven for Stoneway Electrical... Normally, when you are putting in a three-phase circuit, it is going to be something fairly large so your breaker will be in the order of 40 amps on up. I am wiring the compressor for the new beer cave and it needs to be fed by a 20 amp circuit. I was in town today so I went to my favorite local distributor -- they had everything down to 30 amp but nothing lower. They could get it in two days but nothing in stock. Tried another place and they did not stock Square D equipment (I prefer Square D for all power panels -- I have dealt with enough Zinsco, Murray and like crap to know the difference). Finally, one place said that the new Stoneway branch was open and gave me directions there. My first house in Seattle was just four blocks from Stoneway Electric at 3665 Stone Way North. This house was originally built in the 1900's and the previous owner had botched a remodel. I gutted it (I also owned a small cottage on the same property and lived there) and rewired it and brought it up to code. Sold it at the height of the Wallingford housing bubble but that is another story. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time at Stoneway asking questions and buying cool stuff. I followed the directions and found a large warehouse off the beaten track. They had the exact breaker I wanted so I know where to go when I need any more electrical stuff... Very cool to know that there is a well-stocked vendor in town.

That's all folks

| No Comments
Short blogging day today -- got a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow and need to check emails out in the DaveCave(tm). Have someone coming over on Tuesday to look at a mixer I have for sale so will need to dig that out of the pile.

Hugo Chavez's mad management skillz

From Reuters:

Chavez orders money changer raids for FX crash
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on Friday authorities were set to raid money changers and close websites listing exchange rates, his latest bid to stop the crashing bolivar currency.

Venezuela's foreign exchange market is already paralyzed after the government moved to end speculation and stem the fall of the bolivar with new rules some economists fear will cause economic turmoil.

Under a reform passed by legislators on Thursday, the central bank will oversee all transactions in the market where the bolivar is traded freely via securities.

Fitch Ratings said on Friday that Venezuela's new laws governing foreign exchange trading could hurt growth prospects and stoke inflation, compromising the government's ability to service its debt.

Chavez's comments:

"The first raids should be starting, money changing houses, illegal dollar sales where they say they sell gold," Chavez said in a meeting with governors. "We are battling a mafia...I said before, we are going to give them the mother of all blows."

Venezuela's economy is heading toward a free-fall. The Reuters article said that inflation there is 5% but this report puts it at a bit over 30%. With inflation hitting the exchange rate, imported items will be higher priced making it hard for the cash-strapped citizens of this workers paradise. He is nationalizing foreign-owned businesses, making noises about nationalizing banks and are treating the oil companies with the utmost of kindness. When will he wake up to the fact that he is incompetent and is squandering Venezuela's wealth on Marxist policies that have never and will never ever work.

Sending several messages

| No Comments
A bunch of silly people who do not really understand the situation have called for a boycott of Arizona companies. I propose that people send those ninnies a message and purchase some products from this fine Prescott, Arizona company. Check out J&G Sales:
J&G Sales has been a family owned guns and ammo business since 1946. We are constantly striving to provide our customers with high quality firearms related products at very low prices, all with courteous, friendly customer service. Why shop at J&G Sales instead of elsewhere? Because the price will be one of the best around, the service will be done right, and we have been doing this for about 60 years and know the industry.
The prices look good compared to the online places I usually shop.
I am doing some wiring at the store and although the majority of it is new work, I am also having to clean up after someone else's idea of what can and cannot be done under NFPA 70 otherwise known as the NEC. Here are two examples in one photo:
Note the transition from the spiral flex tubing to the metal conduit. Note the bountiful use of electrical tape to secure the transition. Note the complete absence of any bushings or hardware to secure the transition. The problem here is that this is about a foot away from the back of our walk-in cooler and there is a big evaporator mounted on the ceiling. The black shape on the bottom left of the picture is the refrigeration line coming in from the compressor. Vibration from the motors will cause the metal to gradually erode the insulation leading to sparks, a fire or at minimum, a short circuit in a very uncomfortable place to reach. The other example is not as egregious -- it is the transition from the PVC conduit to the blue plastic flex pipe. Just stuffed in the end there with so secure fastening. With the plastic, you are not going to have the physical problems as with the last example but it still offends my sense of what is right. These are only two of the things that I will be correcting -- I am pushing to get the expansion done before I leave for the Blacksmithing conference but these items will be on my plate when I return...

Heinz ketchup -- the new New Coke

| 1 Comment
There are some culinary classics that you simply do not fuck with. A dry martini. A shrimp cocktail. Biscuits and Sausage Gravy. Miso Soup. Coca Cola. Heinz Ketchup. We can all remember when the buying public handed Coca Cola's collective ass to them when the New Coke was rolled out back in 1985. From the New York Post:
Big shakeup for ketchup
Heinz changing its recipe to slash salt

Your fries may never taste the same again!

For the first time in 40 years, Heinz ketchup is changing its famous recipe -- by lowering the salt content in an effort to appeal to more health-conscious consumers, the company said yesterday.

Company officials have taste tested the new blend and believe it will be as popular as their old recipe, which has a 60 percent share of the ketchup market.

But Heinz fans fear that the company may be messing with perfection and that the switch could wind up a flavor debacle equal to the infamous rollout of New Coke.
Should be interesting to see if any head roll in a couple months. You simply do not eat enough ketchup to really matter when looking at a persons overall sodium intake. Idiots...

Light posting tonight - big day

| No Comments
Went into the store to work on the wiring project and had to run into town to meet up with someone. I am starting to work on cleaning out my mom and dads house and a person on the local Potlatch email list needed a file cabinet. There were a few empties there so I arranged to meet. While waiting for him I discovered a cache of my dad's photographs including his brother (and a very favorite Uncle of mine) who was a British Merchant Marine Sea Captain. Also one of Astronaut Dianne Prinz with the following inscription:
To Dr. Halliday, who started me on the path to 'space' --
Best Wishes,
Posting will be light tonight...
There is a term in engineering called "scope creep". You have a basic design for a nice project and then, people start asking for things to be added. Just a little change, it won't make that much difference... After a short time, the project is now unmanageable and never ships. Same thing happened when the European Union formed and now they are suffering for it. From Bloomberg:
Euro Breakup Talk Increases as Germany Loses Proxy
Romano Prodi recalls how he persuaded Germany to allow debt-swamped Italy into the euro: support our membership and we�ll buy your milk, he said.

When Prodi toured Germany�s agricultural heartland after becoming Italian leader in 1996, he pitched �a big milk pipeline from Bavaria,� pointing to a three-year, 40 percent plunge in the Italian lira that was hurting dairy sales. �To have Italy outside the euro, a huge quantity of exports from Germany would have been endangered,� Prodi, now 70, said.

Germany got the message, allowing entry rules to be bent to create a 16-nation market for its exporters. Now, German taxpayers are footing the bill for that permissiveness as Europe bails out divergent economies lashed to a single currency with little control over national taxes and spending.

The consequences are an 860 billion-euro ($1 trillion) bill for a debt binge led by Greece, sagging confidence in the European Central Bank�s independence and mounting speculation that a currency designed to last forever might break apart.

�You have the great problem of a potential disintegration of the euro,� former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, 82, said yesterday in London. �The essential element of discipline in economic policy and in fiscal policy that was hoped for� has �so far not been rewarded in some countries.�
The money quote (literally):
What was conceived as a club for Europe�s strongest economies was expanded for political reasons, leaving the currency union with minimal powers to police deficit spending and no safety net for dealing with countries, like Greece, that veer toward default.

�There was no discussion of that at all, of a crisis mechanism,� said Niels Thygesen, a retired Copenhagen University economics professor who served on the 1989 group led by European Commission President Jacques Delors that mapped out the path to the euro. �It was believed that if countries adhered more or less to prudent budgetary policies, that would not or could not happen.�
The original project -- simplifying trade between Europe's primary nations by creating a common marketplace and a common currency. The scope creep -- a number of nations whose fiscal policies were unsound wanted to ride the coattails of the EU thinking somehow that the EU's stability would somehow magically transfer to them. Now, instead, it is these nations that are dragging the economies of the EU down and bringing them into an unstable condition. Greece is in the news, Spain and Portugal aren't far away and France's clock is ticking. Like an addict, any money given to them is wasted -- they may preach reform but they will not practice it. Serious reformation needs to happen before anything will change -- conservative fiscal policies, lower taxes, smaller government. These have worked very well in the past and will continue to work if they are implemented.

A Holder two-fer

| No Comments
Attorney General Eric Holder is in so far over his head and has such a strong political agenda that he is trying to conceal that it is not funny. Especially so given his position of power in the Obama Regime. Two from YouTube:

Time to gracefully resign -- pressing family issues and all that...
What the General Government Motors CEO Ed Whitacre Jr. was really saying:
Swiped from Denny

Department of Irony - energy drinks

| No Comments
From FOX9:
Sleep-Deprived Truck Driver Was Hauling Energy Drinks
Wisconsin state troopers needed to lay down tire spikes to stop a seemingly sleep-deprived truck driver who was ironically hauling energy drinks.

When the truck was finally stopped near Sparta, Wisconsin, a bomb squad was called in after a police dog searching the semi detected explosives. A search turned up no explosives, only a shipment of energy drinks.
I would like a follow-up story on the dogs response -- they are trained to be very specific on what they alert to.

Our political betters

| No Comments
An interesting and chilling look at The Club of Rome and its true agenda:
Always wondered why the political environmentalists were such Malthusians when Malthusianism has never ever been proven correct. When you want to manufacture a crisis, this makes a lot of sense...

Work - a trifecta

Item number one -- some people went around and analyzed people's work and the overall benefits to society that that work produced. The results are interesting to say the least.

From the BBC News:

Cleaners 'worth more to society' than bankers - study
Hospital cleaners are worth more to society than bankers, a study suggests.

The research, carried out by think tank the New Economics Foundation, says hospital cleaners create £10 of value for every £1 they are paid.

It claims bankers are a drain on the country because of the damage they caused to the global economy.

They reportedly destroy £7 of value for every £1 they earn. Meanwhile, senior advertising executives are said to "create stress".

The study says they are responsible for campaigns which create dissatisfaction and misery, and encourage over-consumption.

Item number two -- Obama gets pissy with the Republicans.

From Yahoo/Reuters: (hat tip Drudge Report)

Obama counters Republican critics on jobs agenda
President Barack Obama defended his administration's economic recovery efforts on Thursday and accused Republicans of trying to block Democratic policies for political gain.

With public anxiety over the fragile economy threatening Obama's Democrats in November's congressional elections, he tried to turn the tables on Republican critics, accusing them of sitting on the sidelines last year when he was tackling the financial crisis.

And a bit more:

Obama said Republicans have "done their best to gum up the works" and said they generated much of the country's fiscal deficit that they now complain about.

"Their basic attitude has been, if Democrats lose, we win. After they drove the car in the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No. They can't drive. We don't want to have to go back in the ditch," he said.

Debit was heading down, jobless rates were stable. Sure, the RINOs were not following their constituents requests and Congress was an open feeding trough for kickbacks and pork but for Obama to point his finger while he, in one year tripled the national debt and while, in some sectors, unemployment is over 20%. Pot meet kettle...

Finally, Item number three -- that sector with over 20% unemployment? They are getting vocal.

From I Need A Fricking Job

Youth unemployment is around 27% -- some of this is from studying useless but fun things in college and other lack of qualifications but a lot of this is outsourcing of work to foreign nations. Time to restart the economy and get things moving again and get us away from the Europen progressive model. People want to work...

Got a biggie - Taliban #2

| No Comments
This has been rattling around the blogosphere starting with a report from Andrew Breitbart last Monday the 10th. I didn't post because a number of these reports have been posted before and turn out to be false alarms and wishful thinking. It has now been confirmed -- from Brad Thor at Breitbart's Big Government:
BREAKING: Oliver North Confirms Mullah Omar Capture
Late this afternoon Lt. Colonel Oliver North confirmed that Taliban leader and Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Mohammed Omar has been captured. The exclusive news of Omar�s capture was broken by Big Government Monday evening.

According to Colonel North, Omar was picked up in Karachi on March 27th by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) who placed him under house arrest in what they call �community care.�

Per North�s sources, �[Omar] has since been transferred to a secret ISI lock-up under the Pakistani euphemism: �institutional care.�

North goes on to state, �According to several reports, all of this information was confirmed to U.S. officials by a senior Pakistani military officer �several weeks ago.�� A fact also broken in Monday�s Big Government exclusive.

Last weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton created a �diplomatic firestorm� when she indicted Pakistani cooperation with the U.S. in the hunt for Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. Said Clinton, �I believe somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda is (sic), where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is (sic)��

North hopes the Secretary was �dissembling,� because intelligence sources here in the U.S. and Afghanistan have informed him that Pakistani officials �know exactly where Mullah Omar is: in the hands of the ISI.� Driving the point home, North added, �This should not be news to the U.S. Secretary of State.�

So what�s at stake and why did the Pakistanis grab Omar? As I reported earlier today, and as Colonel North confirms, everything is revolving around the so-called peace jirga between the Karzai government and the Taliban. �The ISI intends to be in the driver�s seat when the �Peace Talks� get underway in Afghanistan later this month,� says North. �And the ISI officers calling the shots know Mullah Omar is the best bargaining chip they have.�
Captured by the Pakistanis so you know he will not be mirandized and Holder is not trying to get the venue moved to New York City. Should be some fascinating Intel coming out of this and Hillary's tirade shows just how 'in the loop' she is being kept... And lest you not forget, this is the cultureless asshole who directly ordered the 1,700 year old Buddhist statues at Bamyan be destroyed. Still mad about that.

The Gulf Oil Spill

Mostly Cajun points to an excellent website for ongoing updates to the Gulf Spill:
The Macondo/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, With Running Updates
UPDATE NO. 45, 5/13/10, 11:10 a.m.: We�ve said before that the reaction to the spill by the media and idiot politicians was likely to make things worse than the spill actually is.

Two easy examples to offer with respect to our assertion:

(1) the damage to the market for Louisiana seafood when that seafood is NOT tainted by the spill. The vast majority of Louisiana�s fisheries are still unaffected by the spill, but a picture of total environmental devastation from Corpus Christi to Key West like the legacy media is pushing will wipe out the ability to market the best seafood in the world regardless of what the truth is.

(2) the pictures of destruction of beaches with oil, which hasn�t happened anywhere yet and can be cleaned without an enormous amount of difficulty (it�s been done again and again), will kill beach tourism on the Gulf Coast for no good reason � particularly in places like Florida, where there is less and less reason to believe the spill will be a factor.

And while BP says it will pay �all legitimate claims,� it is virtually assured that when aggrieved parties make an effort to collect in those two cases, BP is going to fight. And they�ve got a case, because the $450 million the company has already spent in an effort to fight the spill and mitigate its damage is expressly intended to alleviate the harm. If oil doesn�t come to a beach in Florida, BP will argue with good reason that BP shouldn�t pay for folks not wanting to come to that beach. And if BP (or folks BP writes a check to) stops the oil from destroying Louisiana shrimp beds somewhere and that shrimp is plenty good to eat, BP is going to fight a claim of loss from the spill based on what Katie Couric said.

Enter Charlie Crist to crystallize our second example.

The strangely orange Florida governor, of dubious sexuality and even more dubious Senatorial candidacy, declared emergencies in coastal counties all over the state at the outset of the oil spill�s spread and made a big show of �never� allowing offshore drilling in waters off the Sunshine State. Crist used the spill to promote his independent run for the U.S. Senate � shamelessly so � and made national headlines in doing so.

Now Crist wants to shake down BP, even as there is no oil near Florida beaches.
A great mix of technology and political reporting.

Math Nerd website

The standard handbook for math functions has always been Abramowitz and Stegun Handbook of Mathematical Functions Now its companion reference has been placed online: NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions Nicely put together and will be a bookmarked reference on my computer in the DaveCave(tm)

Space is the place

| No Comments
President Obama has a plan to get us back into space. The only problem is that he didn't consult engineers when formulating it, only bureaucrats and people with a political agenda. Neil Armstrong is pissed. From The Register:
Neil Armstrong renews attack on Obama space vision
Neil Armstrong has renewed his criticism of Barack Obama's space vision, insisting that the president's decision to scrap Constellation and head off to Mars was "poorly advised".

Speaking yesterday to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Armstrong said: "I have yet to find a person in NASA, the Defense Department, the Air Force, the National Academies, industry, or academia that had any knowledge of the plan prior to its announcement.

"A plan that was invisible to so many was likely contrived by a very small group in secret who persuaded the president that this was a unique opportunity to put his stamp on a new and innovative program. I believe the President was poorly advised."

Armstrong went on to insist that the US was effectively throwing away half a century of work which had allowed it to "acquire a position of leadership in space". He lamented: "If the leadership we have acquired through our investment is allowed simply to fade away, other nations will surely step in where we have faltered. I do not believe that this would be in our best interests."
Neil is not one to mince words and it's not just him:
It's evident that space vets will take some convincing. Apollo 17 commander Cernan was also on hand to weigh in with: "We (Armstrong, Lovell and myself) have come to the unanimous conclusion that this budget proposal presents no challenges, has no focus, and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to nowhere."
2010 and 2012 are not that far away -- it is time to rebuild this country... Hat tip to Slashdot for the link.

Caution - multiple drink alert

Yeah -- like really... From the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC):
N Korea claims nuclear 'holy grail'
North Korea says it has carried out a nuclear fusion reaction - a process that could produce a limitless supply of clean energy.

A newspaper published by North Korea's ruling communist party is reporting that its scientists have successfully carried out nuclear fusion to produce a new form of energy, a process experts around the world have so far failed to achieve.

But scientists in South Korea doubt the North has the technology to create such a reaction.

Nuclear fusion promises limitless clean energy but it could also be employed to make hydrogen bombs.

The United States estimates that Pyongyang has as many as six atomic weapons.
Last first -- they have the infrastructure to have manufactured as many as six weaponised nuclear devices. Considering that their one and only (publicly known) test was a fizzle, I would question the effectiveness of their program. The only problem here would be the use of these devices as a man-carried dirty bomb. Next (penultimate), having a working nuclear fusion reactor doesn't give you the ability to make Hydrogen bombs. Apples and Oranges. Bad fact-checking -- no donut! As for the claims at the beginning of the article, I will believe that when I see a change to this satellite image:
The New York Times GETS IT! From an Editorial by David Leonhardt:
In Greek Debt Crisis, Some See Parallels to U.S.
It�s easy to look at the protesters and the politicians in Greece � and at the other European countries with huge debts � and wonder why they don�t get it. They have been enjoying more generous government benefits than they can afford. No mass rally and no bailout fund will change that. Only benefit cuts or tax increases can.

Yet in the back of your mind comes a nagging question: how different, really, is the United States?

The numbers on our federal debt are becoming frighteningly familiar. The debt is projected to equal 140 percent of gross domestic product within two decades. Add in the budget troubles of state governments, and the true shortfall grows even larger. Greece�s debt, by comparison, equals about 115 percent of its G.D.P. today.

The United States will probably not face the same kind of crisis as Greece, for all sorts of reasons. But the basic problem is the same. Both countries have a bigger government than they�re paying for. And politicians, spendthrift as some may be, are not the main source of the problem.

We, the people, are.
There are a few cognitive disconnects like this one:
Just last weekend, Tea Party members helped deny Senator Robert Bennett, the Utah Republican, his party�s nomination for his re-election campaign, in part because he had co-sponsored a health reform plan with a Democratic senator.
The Tea Party members did not "deny" anything. Remember the phrase: Silent Majority Just no longer silent...
You know that the Democratic Governor is not well thought of when the liberal Seattle Times has issues with the new budget:
State budget is officially signed � and utterly unsustainable
Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed the supplemental budget for the year to end June 30, 2011. It is not sustainable.

The budget pays for current programs by diverting money from long-term investments like water treatment and contributions to state employee pension funds. It relies on one-time federal money and on college tuition increases too large to be repeated indefinitely. It is a budget that keeps most programs alive and most state workers employed, while taking the least possible responsibility for the long term.

Budgeting this way is a failure of leadership � of the governor and of House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle; Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane; Senate Ways & Means Chair Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, and others. In the Senate majority caucus, Rodney Tom, D-Medina and vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, opposed this budget. Other Senate Democrats who voted against the budget include Mary Margaret Haugen, Camano Island; Steve Hobbs, Lake Stevens; Derek Kilmer, Spokane; and Tim Sheldon, Potlatch.

The budget is carried on the backs of the people, who are in the same recession the state is. We had our own burdens to carry. We have had to adjust, to reset our plans. The state, for the most part, has not. Officials talked about abolishing boards and commissions, and legislators zapped a few ones you've never heard of. But they didn't have the courage even to get rid of the state liquor stores.

State agencies could have rid themselves of staff people � planners, office assistants and redundant managers. For the most part, they have not.

The governor could have forced the reopening of state employee contracts, so that state employees would pay more than 12 percent of their health-insurance premiums � a share more like what private employees pay. There was a way to do this.

The Legislature has just saddled the private sector with a tax increase of $800 million a year. This is more than enough. From now on, the people and their legislators need to put further tax increases out of their minds. They need to reset state government so that its appetites match its revenue. The state must live with the revenue it has.

If this sounds like a Republican program, remember that Democratic Gov. Gary Locke did a version of it seven years ago. He called it Priorities of Government, and it worked. Something like it could be used again.

This is the issue that should inform voters in the midterm elections in November.
Hat tip to Ron Hebron writing at Sound Politics for the link. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation put together a 61 page PDF report listing a 105-day line item by line item way to significantly cut the budget. I have only read about ten pages so far but everything looks very reasonable and do-able. I will read the rest later tonight but I doubt that I will find any real stinkers. And in our little neck of the woods, dealing with one of the tax increases will mean a reprogramming of our cash register. Candy will be subject to sales tax at the beginning of June. Some Candy, not all Candy. From the Washington State Department of Revenue:
Candy is a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners combined with chocolate, fruits, nuts, or other ingredients or flavorings and formed into bars, drops or pieces. Candy does not include any preparation containing flour and does not require refrigeration.
So when someone comes up with a Hershey Baking Bar - Unsweetened, that is taxable but when someone comes up with some Hershey Powered Cocoa for Baking, that is not taxable. JORDAN ALMONDS � GOLD and SILVER are taxed while the WHITE are not. If you are looking to buy Brach's candy, Butter Mints are not taxed while Cinnamon Mints are taxed. You can find the whole 3,270 item list here as an XLS spreadsheet. Granted, if we had a barcode scanner and were fully automated, this would be just a minor issue but we do not have the $20K to implement even a minimal system nor do we have the time (or staff) to maintain the database. This tax program may be just "the cost of doing business" to a large grocery chain but it is a serious roadblock to smaller Mom and Pop stores. Our option will be to program a Grocery-Taxed department on our register and to put big neon stickers on each candybar that is exempt. Out of the 3K+ on the spreadsheet, it is only 263 items that are non-taxed -- this is less than 1%. What blue-blind paralytic bureaucratic imbecile had the brilliant idea to consider that Candy containing Flour was not Candy and was, instead Food. I know that the government does some good things now and then but this is not one of them. And don't get me started on the recent tax hike on tobacco...

I ♥ Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

| No Comments
I have long held that you could substantially improve the quality of schools by simply eliminating any class that had the word "studies" in its description. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is doing just that -- from Yahoo/Associated Press:
Arizona gov. signs bill targeting ethnic studies
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill targeting a school district's ethnic studies program, hours after a report by United Nations human rights experts condemned the measure.

State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the bill for years, said he believes the Tucson school district's Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people.

Public schools should not be encouraging students to resent a particular race, he said.

"It's just like the old South, and it's long past time that we prohibited it," Horne said.
Very cool -- teaching history is good, teaching separatism and racial chauvinism is not. There are over 11,000 comments to the Yahoo post -- the usual polarization...
Michael Milken has reinvented himself and come out smelling like roses. He was one of the inventors of the Junk Bond, he was busted for multiple counts of of racketeering and securities fraud, spent a couple years in prison. Now, he presides over the Milken Foundation and organizes presentations like this one: Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens on America's Energy Future
Ted Turner didn't mince words: "We've gotta get off the Titanic before it sails." He and T. Boone Pickens argued passionately that America has to start weaning itself off foreign oil imports � and do it now.

Their session began with a recap of how president after president has pledged to achieve energy independence, while the percentage of U.S. oil imported from foreign sources in volatile regions has continued to climb. Today the nation imports some two-thirds of its oil.

"We're paying for both sides of the war," said Pickens, insisting that oil money sent to the Middle East is paying for terrorists and the Taliban. He expressed optimism that President Obama has pledged to end oil imports from the Middle East within 10 years, but was quick to add: "We have to remind him." Pickens pointed out that the U.S. represents about 4 percent of world's population but consumes 25 percent of the world's oil, an equation that's just not sustainable. He called for transitioning the nation's fleet of 18-wheelers to natural gas immediately.
Regarding this line: He expressed optimism that President Obama has pledged to end oil imports from the Middle East within 10 years The Christian Science Monitor has Michael's opening comments on this subject:
* In 1974 with 36.1% of oil from foreign sources, President Richard Nixon said, �At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need.�

* In 1975 with 36.1% of oil from foreign sources, President Gerald Ford said, �We must reduce oil imports by one million barrels per day by the end of this year and by two million barrels per day by the end of 1977.�

* In 1979 with 40.5% of oil from foreign sources, President Jimmy Carter said, �Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 � never.�

* In 1981 with 43.6% of oil from foreign sources, President Ronald Reagan said, �While conservation is worthy in itself, the best answer is to try to make us independent of outside sources to the greatest extent possible for our energy.�

* In 1992 with 47.2% of oil from foreign sources, President George Bush said, �When our administration developed our national energy strategy, three principles guided our policy: reducing our dependence on foreign oil��

* In 1995 with 49.8% of oil from foreign sources, President Bill Clinton said, �The nation�s growing reliance on imports of oil�threatens the nation�s security�[we] will continue efforts to�enhance domestic energy production.�

* In 2006 with 65.5% of oil from foreign sources, President George W. Bush said, �Breakthroughs�will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.�
Time will tell if Obama's promises are just lip service or whether he will actually do something. Getting commercial trucking switched over to Natural Gas (Methane) would be an incredible start as we have a lot of it and it is cheap and a good clean burning fuel. Nuclear Power is something that needs to be jumpstarted as well. I would also toss a couple hundred million over to these folks -- I think they are seriously on to something big...
From the Chicago Tribune:
U.S. cable TV threatened by drifting satellite
A TV communications satellite is drifting out of control miles above the Earth, threatening to wander into another satellite's orbit and interfere with cable programming across the United States, the satellites' owners said Tuesday.

Communications company Intelsat said it lost control of the Galaxy 15 satellite on April 8, possibly because the satellite's systems were knocked out by a solar storm. Intelsat cannot remotely steer the satellite to remain in its orbit, so Galaxy 15 is creeping toward the adjacent path of another TV communications satellite that serves U.S. cable companies.

Galaxy 15 continues to receive and transmit satellite signals, and they will probably interfere with the second satellite, known as AMC 11, if Galaxy 15 drifts into its orbit as expected around May 23, according to AMC 11's owner, SES World Skies.

AMC 11 receives digital programming from cable television channels and transmits it to all U.S. cable networks from its orbit 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the equator, SES World Skies said. It operates on the same frequencies as Galaxy 15.

"That fact means that there is likely to be some kind of interference," SES World Skies spokesman Yves Feltes told The Associated Press. "Our aim is to bring any interference down to zero."

He would not name any of the cable television channels or providers that could be affected or say how long the interference could last.
Celestial bumper cars... To think that people might have to go outside and play or, heaven forbid, actually read a book. And of course, it's all President Bush's fault.

A dish best served cold

| No Comments
Want to get back at someone? Go here and spend some money. I would like to see these people describe their business model...

Methane Hydrates in the news

Under some conditions, methane and water can combine as a Clathrate Compound where the atoms of Methane are trapped within the ice crystals of the water. Needless to say, this compound does not win any awards for stability... Now, people are thinking that this is what caused the initial blowout in the Gulf. From Science Insider:
Gulf Spill: Did Pesky Hydrates Trigger the Blowout?
Methane-trapping ice of the kind that has frustrated the first attempt to contain oil gushing offshore of Louisiana may have been a root cause of the blowout that started the spill in the first place, according to University of California, Berkeley, professor Robert Bea, who has extensive access to BP p.l.c. documents on the incident. If methane hydrates are eventually implicated, the U.S. oil and gas industry would have to tread even more lightly as it pushes farther and farther offshore in search of energy.

Drillers have long been wary of methane hydrates because they can pack a powerful punch. One liter of water ice that has trapped individual methane molecules in the "cages" of its crystal structure can release 168 liters of methane gas when the ice decomposes. Bea, who has 55 years of experience assessing risks in and around offshore operations, says "there was concern at this location for gas hydrates. We're out to the [water depth] where it ought to be there." The deeper the water, the greater the pressure, which when high enough can keep hydrates stable well below the sea floor.

And there were signs that drillers did encounter hydrates. About a month before the blowout, a "kick" of gas pressure hit the well hard enough that the platform was shut down. "Something under high pressure was being encountered," says Bea�apparently both hydrates and gas on different occasions.

Workers from Halliburton who had just pumped cement into the well to temporarily seal it off were well aware of the potential hydrate hazards, says Bea. Halliburton just last year had developed strategies to avoid having the heat of curing cement decompose any nearby hydrates and trigger a kick, he says. A special foamy cement was used to seal the well this time. It was just after the seal was tested that natural gas drove through it, a malfunctioning blowout preventer, and a drill pipe full of seawater to ignite on the platform, killing 11 and eventually sinking it. "There are so many operations like this around the world," says Bea. "My hope is we'll use this disaster as an opportunity to take a step forward" in risk reduction.
And considering that the Methane Clathrate was at a depth of about 5,000 feet -- that works out to about 2,225 PSI at the surface; more than enough to cause some serious damage. It will be interesting to see if we can harvest this stuff as there is a lot of it and Methane is just the scientific word for Natural Gas.

Too big to fail - Fannie Mae

| No Comments
From the Wall Street Journal:
Fannie Mae Needs $8.4 Billion More
Fannie Mae asked the U.S. government for an additional $8.4 billion in aid after posting an $11.5 billion net loss for the first quarter, the latest sign that the bailout of the mortgage investor and its main rival, Freddie Mac, is likely to be the most expensive legacy of the U.S. housing-market bust.

Fannie's losses reflected continuing weakness in the housing market and would have been worse without accounting changes that reduced its deficit. The quarterly loss was an improvement from the $23.5 billion loss for the year-ago quarter and marked the 11th consecutive quarterly loss for the Washington-based firm.

The company has now racked up losses of nearly $145 billion, or nearly double its profits for the previous 35 years. While many of the nation's biggest banks have repaid their government loans and some are back to racking up big profits, Fannie and Freddie are still suffering from the housing-market crisis.
I am amazed that these companies are still in business. If you are too big to fail, you need to get broken up into smaller pieces and the individual piece that fails, goes bankrupt, liquidates and starts over. Leaner and cleaner. If I worked for a business and if I pissed money away on repeated bad business deals, I would have my ass handed to me on a platter if not being out and out fired.
A boots on the ground story from Breitbart's Big Journalism:
Media Take Note: In Arizona County, Of 64 Highway Chases Last Month, Not One Perp a U.S. Citizen
As media elites in their Sixth Avenue towers look down and tut-tut about those racist reactionaries in Arizona, the real people who have to deal with the real-world problems and ramifications of leftist open border political correctness are not backing down.

This weekend on Phoenix� KFYI, radio host Terry Gilberg interviewed Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. The Sheriff�s message to Contessa, Katie and all the rest? Come ride along side me in the patrol car. You�ll see the real story.

During the interview, he conveyed a remarkable statistic:
Last month alone, just in one patrol region, we had sixty-four pursuits. That means people who were driving a vehicle, failed to yield, took off like a bat out of hell, running red lights, creating traffic wrecks, numerous people were killed in these wrecks over the last several months, and who are these people? Not one of them was a U.S. citizen.
And meanwhile, scum like Speaker Nancy Pelosi are pulling every angle to get entitlements to these people and get them voting Democratic:
Pelosi Urges Catholic Church to Play 'Major Role' in Immigration Overhaul
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday urged Catholic leaders to "instruct" their parishioners to support immigration reforms, saying clerics should "play a very major role" in supporting Democratic policies.

"The cardinals, the archbishops, the bishops that come to me and say, 'We want you to pass immigration reform,' and I said, 'I want you to speak about it from the pulpit. I want you to instruct your' -- whatever the communication is," said Pelosi, who is Catholic, speaking at the Nation's Catholic Community conference sponsored by Trinity Washington University and the National Catholic Reporter.

"The people, some (who) oppose immigration reform, are sitting in those pews, and you have to tell them that this is a manifestation of our living the gospels," she said.

While it's not unusual for clergy to speak about politics from the pulpit, it is uncommon for a lawmaker to openly encourage them to preach a specific policy.
Emphasis mine -- no shit Sherlock. And this is not an isolated incident.

Crap - RIP Frank Frazetta

| No Comments
Noted Fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta passed away due to complications from a stroke.
Obituaries at The Comics Beat, a history at BPIB, a good collection (114 pieces) of Frank's artwork at Museum Syndicate and the WikiPedia entry. He was a major force and the influence for a lot of today's artists.


| No Comments
Just Wonderful:
Hat tip to Victor Navone whose own animation skills are not shabby:

The Loneliest Lighthouse

| No Comments
Sweet story from the Austrian Times:
Lonely lighthouse gets protected status
A lighthouse left stranded in the middle of a German industrial estate hundreds of miles from the sea after the island it was destined for was captured by the British in 1890 has been given listed building status.

The Helios lighthouse has stood among factory chimneys, warehouses and wasteland since 1890 after it had been ordered from the manufacturer Helios-Elektrizit�ts AG by the German government to be situated on the island of Zanzibar. But shortly before it was due to be delivered Zanzibar was handed over to the British - who announced they did not want a German-made lighthouse on their island.

The lighthouse maker located at the heart of the Ehrenfeld industrial estate since 1881 then decided to use the unwanted building as a way of advertising their products - but so far from the sea they attracted few buyers and by 1904 the firm was bust despite a buyout by AEG and Siemens.

But although Cologne is landlocked and the lighthouse factory bankrupt, the tower has been a good advert for the maritime business. Carpenter Max Dietrich Bahr, 74, a former sailor, makes ship's steering wheels in his small workshop located in the car park below the lighthouse. And there is even a shipyard nearby - even though the city and even the nearest river and lake is miles away.

Now the former lighthouse factory is a furniture warehouse, and the factory chimneys that once dominated the skyline have vanished and been replaced by modern buildings. But the Helios lighthouse - the only genuine functioning lighthouse that never saw the sea - has remained.

Local councillors are now considering what to do with the building including the possibility of allowing tours and exhibition inside, and are even considering a plan to put a small beach bar with imported sand in the area.

Carpenter Bahr said: "I miss the sea, but Cologne is my home. This was the best I was going to get. With the lighthouse in the background it's not hard to imagine that the sea is not far away."

But most locals in the landlocked German city admit they had no idea what the 44-meter-high building was.

Lucas Weber, 34, said: "I always thought it was a chimney that they had converted." And Katja Baumgartner, 28, added: "I never realised it was a real genuine lighthouse - they should definitely clean it up and make sure people are aware of its history."

And a German graphic designer even designed a set of local postcards adding in a beach and sea to sell in the local area. Andre Schmitz said: "Who knows, with global warming it might still end up by the sea."
A great story and a fascinating bit of history. I love the idea of a beach bar with trucked in sand... Hat tip to the Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.
An interesting set of numbers from Ronald Bailey at Reason Magazine:
Costing Cape Wind: Was Teddy Right for the Wrong Reasons?
Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light for the Cape Wind wind farm project off Cape Cod. In a May 16, 2006 article in the Boston Herald, then-Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose family famously owns a "compound" overlooking the site of the future wind farm, denounced the project as a "special interest giveaway."

At his press conference yesterday Salazar said, "I don�t know the cost of the project, but I know it will be subsidized, but not sure by how much." In fact, Cape Wind Associates, the developer of the project is treating the cost estimates as a trade secret. The 130 wind turbines each have a maximum capacity of 3.6 megawatts, which sums to a total maximum capacity of 468 megawatt for the project. However, the wind doesn't always blow, so a generous estimate of a 40 percent capacity factor suggests that Cape Wind's generating capacity would average of about 184 megawatts.

Cost estimates for the Cape Wind project run from $1 to $2 billion. Let's assume the lower capital cost estimate and compare it to the capital costs for other types of electric power generation. Using cost estimates from the Electric Power Research Institute, I roughly calculated last year that building a 1,000 megawatt combined-cycle gas turbine power plant would cost about $1 billion, and a modern 1,000 megawatt coal-fired plant would cost about $2.8 billion. Now let's assume that they run at 90 percent capacity.

Crunching through the numbers, it appears that Cape Wind's capital costs are roughly 5 times greater than those of a comparable natural gas plant, and nearly double that of a modern coal-fired facility. Speaking of "giveaways," the sting of Cape Wind's high capital costs will be offset by federal subsidies amounting to $300 to $600 million.
And remember, that $300 to $600 million is dollars that we gave to the US Government on tax day. And remember that because this wind is a variable source, the power companies still need to have backup power generating capacity available online to fill in on a moment's notice should the wind die down during a time of increased need. Projects like this do not take coal or gas power plants offline, they just make things a lot more complicated and expensive while generating nothing but a feel-good thrill up the leg of the environmentalists. If people wanted to be effective, the government should take this $300 to $600 million and use it to super-insulate the houses of the people who will be served by this fiasco. Amory Lovins coined the term: 'nega-watts' and it fits the bill perfectly. Reduce our need, don't cripple our source. A major hat tip to The Daily Bayonet who also found this link to the actual cost of the electricity from the New York Times:
Selling Cape Wind�s Future Wares
Cape Wind, the huge offshore wind farm that recently won federal permission to build near Cape Cod, Mass., announced on Friday that it had signed a deal to sell half the project�s output to National Grid, a New England utility, for a price beginning at 20.7 cents a kilowatt-hour.

The next hurdle, which may be tough, is to persuade Massachusetts regulators to approve the deal. Retail rates for electricity in Massachusetts are now around 9 cents. And the 20.7 cents is just a beginning: The price is supposed to rise by 3.5 percent a year for the 15-year life of the contract.
So, we spend all this money, dink the taxpayers a couple hundred million dollars and more than double the electrical rates. And, considering this is #1) Massachusetts and #2) Federally Subsidized, I guarantee there will be cost overruns and that the $300 to $600 million in federal subsidies will just be a convenient starting point...

A bit of history in space

| No Comments
Very cool -- from the UK Guardian:
Isaac Newton's apple tree to experience zero gravity � in space
A British astronaut is planning a unique test of Sir Isaac Newton's theory of gravity � by taking an original piece of the scientist's famous apple tree on a 5m-mile journey into space.

Sussex-born Piers Sellers plans to release the 10cm fragment in zero gravity during his 12-day mission at the international space station, as a tribute to Newton's discovery in 1666, when he watched an apple fall to the ground in his garden.

"I'll take it up and let it float around for a bit, which will confuse Isaac," said the 55-year-old Nasa astronaut, a veteran of two previous shuttle missions and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh.

"While it's up there, it will be experiencing no gravity, so if it had an apple on it, the apple wouldn't fall � Sir Isaac would have loved to see this, assuming he wasn't spacesick, as it would have proved his first law of motion to be correct."

The tree fragment, engraved with the scientist's name, is stowed aboard the shuttle Atlantis at Cape Canaveral, Florida, awaiting Friday's blast-off.
This is a fragment cut from the original tree. A very cool thing is that Apples do not breed true from the seed -- if you have a Cameo apple and plant the seeds, you will get something entirely different. In order to make new Cameo apple trees, you need to get a bit of the branch and graft it onto some suitable rootstock. The rootstock determines the size and climate tolerance the tree will have and the Scion (fancy name for the bit of branch) will determine the kind of fruit. This leads up to the bit of info that you can buy apple trees that are grafted from Newton's original tree -- a bit of fun history to own...

Like Father, like Son

Talk about following in your fathers footsteps -- or rocket cycle. From the Billings Gazette:
Robbie Knievel hopes to jump Snake River Canyon
The son of daredevil Evel Knievel wants to follow in his late father's footsteps and attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in southern Idaho, a spokesman for Robbie Knievel says.

Jeff Lowe said motorcycle jumper Robbie Knievel will be in Twin Falls on Monday to discuss the plan with local officials. The jump is tentatively set for the Fourth of July weekend in 2011, almost four decades after Evel Knievel's try, Lowe said.

Evel Knievel, who died in 2007, failed to clear the chasm in 1974 in a rocket-powered "Skycycle" when the parachute malfunctioned and deployed after takeoff. Strong winds blew the cycle into the canyon, landing him close to the swirling river below.

Shawn Barigar, president of the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, told The Times-News that local government officials and business leaders have been invited to attend the private meeting with Knievel.

Julie Pence, spokeswoman for the city of Twin Falls, said officials are waiting to hear Knievel's proposal before commenting.

Robbie Knievel, a native of Butte, Mont., has been considering the jump for several decades, visiting the region in the 1990s to seek permission. But in 1993, he told the newspaper he wanted to "make sure everybody is happy about it first."

Local officials and businesses have been trying to use the site of Evel Knievel's jump to draw in tourists.

Last year the Twin Falls City Council agreed to make a change to a land trade agreement so the public could have access to the area.
And in the intervening 37 years, technology and the understanding of the physics involved have come a long long way. Robbie Knievel had a brush with fame in our neck of the woods back in 2004 when he jumped a row of slot machines to promote the local Indian Casino.


| No Comments
From BoingBoing
Another sterling example of Hugo Chavez' spot-on management skills. From My Way/Associated Press:
Venezuela annual inflation rate hits 30 percent
Venezuela's annual inflation rate has surpassed 30 percent after consumer prices surged in April.

The Central Bank and National Statistics Institute on Friday reported a 5.2 percent increase in consumer prices during April, driving up the annual rate to 30.4 percent.

President Hugo Chavez's government has been struggling against the highest inflation rate in Latin America and a weakening economy in general.
And Chavez' reaction:
The country imports most of its food, and Chavez on Friday announced the government will create an import-export corporation aiming to break with the private sector's "hegemony." It wasn't immediately clear how the new state entity would operate.
Straight out of the Marxist playbook and absolutely dead wrong. The opposite of what he should be doing to ensure a swift recovery. If he was doing this to himself, it would be funny to point and say Ha. Ha. but he is doing this to the 26 Million citizens under his care. I bet he lives really really well -- high on the hog. If he shows himself being frugal, it will be a Potemkin display.

There were a good 300-400 people at the event. Gorgeous weather with temps in the 60's and clear skies with puffball clouds. Took a few photos:

The entrance to the event -- held at the local High School.

Some gorgeous pieces of vintage equipment from Radio's beginnings.

Some non-Radio stuff - a Van de Graaf Generator
and an old Wire Recorder in the foreground.
Wire recorders pre-dated Tape recorders by twenty years.

Microphones, we got microphones...

I came, I saw, I got the Tee Shirt

The town of Stanwood has a modern commercial core but
I like the original main-street the best.
A nice architectural ornament on the old Bank building -- now, private offices.

The old town tavern and hotel.

Since I was so close (30 miles) I ran down to Harbor Freight and picked up a set of metal punches that will be handy. On the trip back, I stopped at the wonderful BBQ place that I visited a couple weeks ago on the blacksmithing conference in Mt. Vernon. Got a tub of Pork and a tub of Beef with a bunch of sides so we have dinner for a couple of nights... One thing that I didn't realize until today -- I knew they were Christian from the background music and the quote from Matthew 25:35 on the back of their business cards. They were busy today so I had the chance to read some of the newspaper articles framed on their walls. The owners are using the proceeds of the restaurant to give the homeless and hungry people of Skagit County free meals on the last five days of the month (people's resources run pretty thin by then). They have won a Humanitarian award for their work in the community. The Skagit Valley Herald had this story:

Tough times mean longer lines at Reverie BBQ
A few months ago, Jamayshaw Merculief had a steady office job and a roof over her head. Now she spends her days homeless, without a job and with kids to feed.

Merculief, 21, of Mount Vernon, said she made good money, and budgeted her finances well, but her rent spiked from $800 to $1,100 in one month.

She had enough money to get by, but not with an additional $300 on her rent. With kids and no roof over their head, she had to quit her job and start looking into alternatives.

But she�s not without a few resources. At the end of every month she joins hundreds of others at the Reverie BBQ on South Second Street in Mount Vernon for a free hot meal among friends.

The restaurant, run by Matt and Cheryl Kaufman, welcomes more and more people like Merculief lining up at its door. The couple operates the restaurant so they can offer a free hot meal each night for the last five days of the month.

When the Kaufmans started the program three years ago, they would feed 170 people in a week. But in the last three months they�ve watched the lines grow longer. Monday night alone they fed 270, and as of Thursday afternoon they expected to reach 1,000 for the month.

Matt and Cheryl Kaufman are walking the walk. Good people (and awesome 'Q')

A geek shopping spree

| No Comments
Heading off to the annual Stanwood - Camano Amateur Radio Club's 19th Annual Electronic Flea Market and Hamfest Back in a couple of hours...

Just makes you go Hmmmmm...

| No Comments
Found over at The Daily WTF:
"I saw this while walking past an AT&T store," Chris Clennon, "at least it's not a blue screen!"
A bit closer and rotated:
I would be curious to know why they didn't set the power and screen saver settings properly. It is not rocket science...
When I suggested that he have his citizenship revoked and that he be tried in a military court, I was referring to this section of the United States Code: Title Eight, Chapter 12, Subchapter III, Part III:
� 1481. Loss of nationality by native-born or naturalized citizen; voluntary action; burden of proof; presumptions
(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality--
(3) entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if
(A) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States
A bit farther down the page:
(7) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Emphasis mine on the court martial. I am not a lawyer but this is set down in terms that are very black and white with no ambiguity as I can see -- why isn't the prosecution acting on this?
Faisal Shahzad is now being called the Idiot Bomber of Times Square. From the London Times:
Taleban disown Times Square �Idiot Bomber�
The alleged would-be Times Square terrorist was disowned by the Pakistani Taleban yesterday as American politicians called for him to be stripped of his US citizenship so he can be tried by a military tribunal.

Faisal Shahzad � nicknamed the �Idiot Bomber� for a series of blunders leading to his arrest � was praised by a spokesman for the Pakistani Taleban but disowned in the same breath. �We don�t even know him,� a spokesman said.
Sucks to be you... Since he got his US Citizenship through marriage, I would suggest that it be stripped and he be tried in a military court. Never happen in this regime but it would be a good start to defeating the problem.
From the UK Telegraph:
British explorer Rockhopper hits oil in Falklands
Rockhopper Exploration said yesterday that it its Sea Lion prospect had been drilled to a depth of almost 3,000 metres and initial data shows that the well is an oil discovery.

The presence of oil in the Falklands could dramatically improve the UK's tax income from drilling, which is falling as less oil is recovered from the North Sea.

Rockhopper's share price shot up 56�, or 150pc, to 94p following the announcement. Its value had plummeted from 87p earlier this year, as a rival company, Desire Petroleum, indicated that its well in the area was not a commercial prospect. Yesterday, Desire rose 23�, or 63pc, to 61�p.

Sea Lion is one of two blocs where Rockhopper has permission to explore and early reports estimate it contains 170m barrels of oil � with the maximum forecast more like 470m barrels. Later this year, the company will drill its Ernest prospect, which is about the same size.
Considering that ownership of the Falkland Islands has been disputed by Argentina this should make things interesting. Back when Desire Petroleum was drilling their dry well, Argentina went to the United Nations to complain and to ask for a ruling. As if... It is one thing to claim ownership of some property. It is another thing entirely to support the population on that property, to provide for them, to give them governance under rule of law, to include them in Government programs for infrastructure, to provide education and medical care. All of these are being done by England for the people of the Falkland Islands. Argentina never did this, even back in the late 1800's when the Islands were essentially up for grabs. Now that it is convenient and there might be some value to the islands, Argentina is all of a sudden very protective of 'their territory'.
An interesting look at what passes for a news story. What if, a major US city suffered over One Billion Dollars in damage, what if 30 people died and what if nobody ever heard about it. From Newsweek:
Why the Media Ignored the Nashville Flood
As you may have heard, torrential downpours in the southeast flooded the Tennessee capital of Nashville over the weekend, lifting the Cumberland River 13 feet above flood stage, causing an estimated $1 billion in damage, and killing more than 30 people. It could wind up being one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history (PDF).

Or, on second thought, maybe you didn't hear. With two other "disasters" dominating the headlines�the Times Square bombing attempt and the Gulf oil spill�the national media seems to largely to have ignored the plight of Music City since the flood waters began inundating its streets on Sunday. A cursory Google News search shows 8,390 hits for "Times Square bomb" and 13,800 for "BP oil spill." "Nashville flood," on the other hand, returns only 2,430 results�many of them local. As Betsy Phillips of the Nashville Scene writes, "it was mind-boggling to flip by CNN, MSNBC, and FOX on Sunday afternoon and see not one station even occasionally bringing their viewers footage of the flood, news of our people dying."
I have been following the story as I am driving to Tennessee in three weeks (Memphis is just fine -- wet but fine). it was odd to notice its absence in the local newspapers. Don't watch much television.

Now this is how you do it

| No Comments
From the New York Times:
Mumbai Gunman Sentenced to Death
The lone surviving gunman from a 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai that killed more than 160 people was sentenced Thursday to death by hanging.

A judge ruled that the crimes of Ajmal Kasab, the convicted Pakistani man who was one of 10 attackers, were so reprehensible that �the court has no option except going with the death penalty.�

Mr. Kasab, 22, who looked ill and spent most of the hearing with his head lowered and his right hand covering his face, cried a little but did not say anything after the sentence was read. When asked if he would like to say anything before the sentence was read, Mr. Kasab shook his head and flicked his hand downward.

The terrorists, who arrived in Mumbai by boat on Nov. 26, 2008, spent three days attacking a train station, two hotels, a Jewish center and a popular bar. Mr. Kasab and one accomplice were responsible for about 60 deaths, most of them at the city�s busiest train station, where pictures and video showed him shooting indiscriminately at passengers in a waiting area.
Time to meet God, learn the truth of your delusion and console yourself with your 72 white raisins of exceptional purity...
Just wonderful -- from Jim Hoft at Breitbart's Big Government:
Breaking: Obama Administration Removed Faisal Shahzad From Terror Surveillance List Before Attack
More hope and change�

Faisal Shahzad was removed from the national terrorist surveillance list before the Times Square attack.

Confessed terrorist Faisal Shahzad was removed from the Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list sometime after Barack Obama came into office.

CBS reported:
Sources tell CBS News that would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad appeared on a Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list � Traveler Enforcement Compliance System (TECS) � between 1999 and 2008 because he brought approximately $80,000 cash or cash instruments into the United States.
The New York Times reported that the person who bought Faisal�s apartment back in 2004 was interviewed by federal investigators.
George LaMonica, a 35-year-old computer consultant, said he bought his two-bedroom condominium in Norwalk, Conn., from Mr. Shahzad for $261,000 in May 2004. A few weeks after he moved in, Mr. LaMonica said, investigators from the national Joint Terrorism Task Force [JTTF] interviewed him, asking for details of the transaction and for information about Mr. Shahzad. It struck Mr. LaMonica as unusual, but he said detectives told him they were simply �checking everything out.�
The Strata Sphere is all over this story.

Barack Obama began shutting down Bush-era terrorist investigations last year including the investigation of Faisal Shahzad.

We all know what happened next.

Last week Faisal almost blew a hole in the middle of Times Square.

The only thing that saved the people of New York was Faisal�s incompetence.
He came sooo close to making an effective bomb. If he had used Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil instead of garden fertilizer and if he had rigged things a little differently, this would have been another story entirely.

Odd bit of spam

Got eleven attempts all of which were for names specific to an online war game.

What caught my eye is that five of these were the first reuse of an IP Address already logged as a spammer.

A lot of the spam attempts are just single-use drivebys -- odd to see that many being reused and for such an old and trivial spam.

None of the spam attempts were successful and now I have six shiny new IP Addresses to watch over...

Bad bad news -- from the Wall Street Journal:

New U.S. Push to Regulate Internet Access
In a move that will stoke a battle over the future of the Internet, the federal government plans to propose regulating broadband lines under decades-old rules designed for traditional phone networks.

The decision, by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, is likely to trigger a vigorous lobbying battle, arraying big phone and cable companies and their allies on Capitol Hill against Silicon Valley giants and consumer advocates.

Breaking a deadlock within his agency, Mr. Genachowski is expected Thursday to outline his plan for regulating broadband lines. He wants to adopt "net neutrality" rules that require Internet providers like Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. to treat all traffic equally, and not to slow or block access to websites.

The decision has been eagerly awaited since a federal appeals court ruling last month cast doubt on the FCC's authority over broadband lines, throwing into question Mr. Genachowski's proposal to set new rules for how Internet traffic is managed. The court ruled the FCC had overstepped when it cited Comcast in 2008 for slowing some customers' Internet traffic.

In a nod to such concerns, the FCC said in a statement that Mr. Genachowski wouldn't apply the full brunt of existing phone regulations to Internet lines and that he would set "meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach."

Some senior Democratic lawmakers provided Mr. Genachowski with political cover for his decision Wednesday, suggesting they wouldn't be opposed to the FCC taking the re-regulation route towards net neutrality protections.

There are a few cases where Government regulation is a good thing. It is nice to be able to travel this Nation and be assured that everywhere I go, the electricity available will be 110/220 Volts at 60 Hertz.

Regulating the Internet will be a big mistake -- Net Neutrality is the camel's nose under the tent-flap.

Light posting tonight as well

Nothing on the internet is really catching my eye. Plus, today's acupuncture session was a really deep one and I am feeling a bit wiped. Finally, I smashed the tip of my right index finger two days ago while using a sawsall -- got it in behind the blade guard and it was pummeled quite soundly. Trying to touch-type and mouse-click with this has me sorely peeved at myself. Heading off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then off to an early bedtime. Got the beercave lights almost wired up -- hooking up the compressor tomorrow...

A few curious spam statistics

| No Comments
In the last two months, I have been tracking not only spam attempts but also IP address usage. Much to my surprise, most spam attempts are just a one-shot 'hit' from any given IP address. I am looking at a total of 359 spam attempts in the last 45 days with only 26 of these being repeats. Out of those repeats, only five of them hit more than five times with the majority of the repeats just being a single repeat. What is also interesting is that there has been an uptick in the use of multiple domain names in spams -- since I filter against a flatfile of words (pharma, casino games, pr0n terms), the more of these terms you use will guarantee: #1) - the more new terms I can add to my flatfile and #2) - the more likely it is that you will trip my moderate script Talk about an all around lose/lose scenario -- but then again, I never ever figured these mokes to be winners by any stretch of the imigination...

Pots of Gold

Two photos from driving home this evening:



Horse and cow pastures so I will debate the pot of gold but still, a nice view driving home after a long day in town (shopping for a few esoteric items for the remodel).

Light posting tonight and a roadtrip

Feeling a bit tired -- check email and then off to bed. Planning an interesting roadtrip at the end of this month. The National Blacksmith's guild is having their annual convention in Memphis, TN at the first of June (2-5) and I wanted to attend. Considering that my new truck needs to be carefully broken in and that I have not been on a road-trip for longer than I care to think about; I will be driving down instead of flying. Heading down will be a three-day slog as I have a local event to be at Saturday, May 29th -- I will leave Sunday morning, spend the night in Salt Lake City (15 hours) and spend Monday night in St. Louis (15 hours) and get into Memphis Tuesday afternoon (8 hours). After the conference I will take about ten days driving back. My Mom and Dad and I used to vacation every other year in Colorado and Wyoming so I will retrace a few of those routes including the stretch of highway where I was first given the opportunity to drive a car (I was 12 at the time). We are doing the remodeling at the store over the next three weeks so it will be a nice deadline to work for and a nice vacation after.

The Gulf oil disaster

| No Comments
The Boston Globe's Big Picture has the story -- some amazing photographs. Here are two:
A screen-cap from the ROV that is trying to shut off the oil flow 4900 feet down.

Satellite view of the spill.

From Coyote Blog -- an excerpt from an email he received:

A little noticed provision in the recently passed health care reform bill will require every payment to corporations over $600 to be reported on a Form 1099 to the IRS, including payments for the purchase of merchandise and services. This provision takes effect in 2012.
The current law requires a Form 1099 to be submitted to the IRS when your business pays more than $600 for rent, interest, dividends, and non-employee services if the payments are made to entities other than corporations. Currently, payments made to a corporation and payments for merchandise are not required to be reported.

To file the required 1099, a business will have to obtain and keep track of a Taxpayer Information Number (TIN) from every vendor before submitting the 1099 to that business and the IRS. Under current tax law, one copy of the form is sent to the IRS, and another copy is sent to the person to whom the business made the payments.

Rep. Dan Lungren (CA-3) introduced "The Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act" (H.R. 5141). The legislation would repeal the expanded 1099 reporting requirement. Lungren correctly asserts that the burdens placed on small businesses by this reporting requirement would be overwhelming.

Call your U.S. Representative today and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 5141. The House switchboard number is 202-225-3121. Ask to be connected to your Representative's office.

Chris Edwards at Cato Institute corroborates this with some additional information:

Costly IRS Mandate Slipped into Health Bill
Most people know about the individual mandate in the new health care bill, but the bill contained another mandate that could be far more costly.

A few wording changes to the tax code's section 6041 regarding 1099 reporting were slipped into the 2000-page health legislation. The changes will force millions of businesses to issue hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of additional IRS Form 1099s every year. It appears to be a costly, anti-business nightmare.

Under current law, businesses are required to issue 1099s in a limited set of situations, such as when paying outside consultants. The health care bill includes a vast expansion in this information reporting requirement in an attempt to raise revenue for an increasingly rapacious Congress.

In a recent summary, tax information firm RIAnotes the types of transactions covered by the new 1099 rules:
The 2010 Health Care Act adds "amounts in consideration for property" (Code Sec. 6041(a) as amended by 2010 Health Care Act 9006(b)(1)) and gross proceeds (Code Sec. 6041(a) as amended by 2010 Health Care Act 9006(b)(2)) to the pre-2010 Health Care Act categories of payments for which an information return to IRS will be required if the $600 aggregate payment threshold is met in a tax year for any one payee. Thus, Congress says that for payments made after 2011, the term "payments" includes gross proceeds paid in consideration for property or services.
Basically, businesses will have to issue 1099s whenever they do more than $600 of business with another entity in a year. For the $14 trillion U.S. economy, that's a hell of a lot of 1099s. When a business buys a $1,000 used car, it will have to gather information on the seller and mail 1099s to the seller and the IRS. When a small shop owner pays her rent, she will have to send a 1099 to the landlord and IRS. Recipients of the vast flood of these forms will have to match them with existing accounting records. There will be huge numbers of errors and mismatches, which will probably generate many costly battles with the IRS.

This is fscking stupid. At the store we probably have over one hundred vendors with whom we do more than $600/year business. To sit down, collect the vendor information from them, run the reports on QuickBooks to generate the numbers and print the 1099's would take several weeks all the while regular business needed to be done -- payroll, ordering, stocking, paying bills, etc... These congressmen are all lawyers -- they have never run a business before and have zero practical real-world experience. No wonder congressional approval is in the terlit. 2010 and 2012 - counting the days...

A very clever hack

From Eureka Alert:

Nude-colored hospital gowns could help doctors better detect hard-to-see symptoms
Troy, N.Y. Changing the hue of hospital gowns and bed sheets to match a patient's skin color could greatly enhance a physician's ability to detect cyanosis and other health-related skin color changes, according to a new study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

"If a doctor sees a patient, and then sees the patient again later, the doctor will have little or no idea whether the patient's skin has changed color," said neurobiologist and study leader Mark Changizi, assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer. "Small shifts in skin color can have tremendous medical implications, and we have proposed a few simple tools - skin-colored gowns, sheets, and adhesive tabs - that could better arm physicians to make more accurate diagnoses."

Human eyes evolved to see in color largely for the purpose of detecting skin color changes such as when other people blush, Changizi said. These emotive skin color changes are extremely apparent because humans are hard-wired to notice them, and because the background skin color remains unchanged. The contrast against the nearby "baseline" skin color is what makes blushes so noticeable, he said.

Human skin also changes color as a result of hundreds of different medical conditions. Pale skin, yellow skin, and cyanosis - a potentially serious condition of bluish discoloration of the skin, lips, nails, and mucous membranes due to lack of oxygen in the blood - are common symptoms. These color changes often go unnoticed, however, because they often involve a fairly universal shift in skin color, Changizi said. The observer in most instances will just assume the patient's current skin color is the baseline color. The challenge is that there is no color contrast against the baseline for the observer to pick up on, as the baseline skin color has changed altogether.

Very very clever!

Hat tip to Neatorama for the link...

What neighbors are for

| No Comments
Very cool -- from the New York Daily News:
Midtown pub O'Casey's converted into unemployment center to dish out job advice to Irish newcomers
A midtown Irish pub is pouring pints while serving up career advice for immigrants from the Emerald Isle hungry for a job.

O'Casey's Restaurant and Irish Pub on E. 41st St. is converting its second floor into an unemployment center Monday in what may be the city's first back-to-work program run out of a bar.

"We are not guaranteeing work, but we will place them in the right direction," said Paul Hurley, who owns O'Casey's and the PD O'Hurley's bar chain.

He named his center F�ilte 32. (F�ilte is Gaelic for welcome, and 32 represents the number of counties on the island.)

Hurley aims to help Irish newcomers find work - legally.

"We are trying to help our community," he said. "Unemployment is through the roof in Ireland."

Hurley hopes to use his connections as head of the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association to place job-seekers in a paying gig. The association, civic groups and the Irish consulate are working with F�ilte 32, which will have free Wi-Fi and three computers at the bar.

"Sounds like an Irish craic [Gaelic for fun]," said job-hunter Michelle Flahive, 23, who lives in Queens after leaving Ireland in February. "Bars are a part of our culture, which makes it an ideal place to make new contacts," added Flahive, who hopes to be a legal aide.

Hurley said he was inspired to launch his program after reading a 2009 Daily News article chronicling a spike in Irish immigrants needing jobs.
This is how it should be done -- Paul Hurley sounds like just the kind of person whose "wealth" Obama want's to redistribute. He is a successful businessman and well connected in the community (the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association gig) and here he is, taking a room in his business and making space to help people who are looking for honest work. One person like Paul is worth five thousand soulless government bureaucrats.

People unclear on the concept - taxes

Buncha clueless people in Oregon. From the Associated Press/Oregon Live:

Cannon Beach expected to boost lodging tax
The Cannon Beach City Council is expected to approve an additional 1 percent lodging tax that will be directed toward promoting the town to tourists.

The city has long relied on the ocean and Haystack Rock to attract visitors, but the Great Recession left many Cannon Beach businesses lacking for customers.

City officials decided they needed to boost efforts to lure people to the North Coast, especially in the months following summer.

City Manager Rich Mays says the move could bring in an extra $300,000 a year. At least 70 percent must be used to promote tourism and for tourism-related activities.

Let's see -- the hotel turns around and raises its rates to cover their cost of the new tax. This, in turn, causes fewer people to come to Canon Beach -- instead they do stay-cations or visit places closer/cheaper. Overall net effect -- a decline in revenue. Only winner, those people engaged in the publicity effort. The loser -- all of the business in Canon Beach. And besides, as the first commenter said:

And yet another reason to stay clear of this tourist trap! Over priced, over saturated and overblown... head for Lincoln City, Newport or Coos Bay for a much better time and significantly lower expense.

Yeah -- I used to visit there from time to time about 20 years ago and it was gorgeous. Last time it was too touristy for my tastes and that was over ten years ago -- I shudder to think of what it is like now. Seaside lite anyone?

News from the Petroleum Front

| No Comments
There has been a lot of mis-information regarding the Deepwater Horizon disaster. I just ran into a site run by Dave Summers who (in his own words):
I have spent the last four decades teaching and leading research teams at the Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
So he knows mining and engineering... Check out Bit Tooth Energy. His posts on the Deepwater disaster can be found here:
The Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster
I am still travelling in the UK, and thus have not been able to follow, in any detail, the environmental disaster that is unfolding along the Louisiana coast, as the oil from the Transocean Deepwater Horizon fire and sinking spreads across the Gulf of Mexico.

However I thought that it might be useful to explain where part of the problem might lie, and so am going to repost one of the technical posts from the past, where I explain what a blow-out preventer is. Then I will add a couple of comments on why it might be that they did not stop the leak in this case.
The first update here:
Further comments on the Gulf of Mexico oil well disaster
The oil spill in the Gulf is continuing to get worse, and there are some questions that have been raised on what could have gone wrong, and how it can be fixed. I am in the same position as most, in regard to getting information � it comes from news reports, in the main. But there are some points that can be picked out as the focus of those reports switch to the impact that the oil is going to have on the coast and businesses that are going to be severely damaged. But there is enough information now available to draw some conclusions.
And today's post here:
Progress on the Gulf oil leak and comments on cementing pipes
BP held a press conference yesterday in which they reported on progress in trying to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, following the blow-out and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon. The well was in the final stages of being closed down, after having been completed, so that the initial drilling rig could leave the site. This meant that the pipe that would ultimately carry the oil and gas to the surface, the production casing string, had been put into place. To hold that pipe in place, and to make sure that it is sealed so that no fluid can flow into the gaps between this tube and the rock walls left by the initial drilling of the hole, the casing had been cemented in place. I am going to repeat part of the post where I talked about that, to explain what this involves. I begin as the hole is still being drilled.
Dave mainly writes about Oil Shale but he is able to make deepwater drilling operations a lot clearer to me -- a good writer who knows his subject and is well connected enough to get the real data and not the media "talking points"

Licensing and rights - video

| No Comments
A big fat Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on this one - from OS News:
Why Our Civilization's Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA
We've all heard how the h.264 is rolled over on patents and royalties. Even with these facts, I kept supporting the best-performing "delivery" codec in the market, which is h.264. "Let the best win", I kept thinking. But it wasn't until very recently when I was made aware that the problem is way deeper. No, my friends. It's not just a matter of just "picking Theora" to export a video to Youtube and be clear of any litigation. MPEG-LA's trick runs way deeper! The [street-smart] people at MPEG-LA have made sure that from the moment we use a camera or camcorder to shoot an mpeg2 (e.g. HDV cams) or h.264 video (e.g. digicams, HD dSLRs, AVCHD cams), we owe them royalties, even if the final video distributed was not encoded using their codecs! Let me show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

You see, there is something very important, that the vast majority of both consumers and video professionals don't know: ALL modern video cameras and camcorders that shoot in h.264 or mpeg2, come with a license agreement that says that you can only use that camera to shoot video for "personal use and non-commercial" purposes (go on, read your manuals). I was first made aware of such a restriction when someone mentioned that in a forum, about the Canon 7D dSLR. I thought it didn't apply to me, since I had bought the double-the-price, professional (or at least prosumer), Canon 5D Mark II. But looking at its license agreement last night (page 241), I found out that even my $3000 camera comes with such a basic license. So, I downloaded the manual for the Canon 1D Mark IV, which costs $5000, and where Canon consistently used the word "professional" and "video" on the same sentence on their press release for that camera. Nope! Same restriction: you can only use your professional video dSLR camera (professional, according to Canon's press release), for non-professional reasons. And going even further, I found that even their truly professional video camcorder, the $8000 Canon XL-H1A that uses mpeg2, also comes with a similar restriction. You can only use your professional camera for non-commercial purposes. For any other purpose, you must get a license from MPEG-LA and pay them royalties for each copy sold. I personally find this utterly unacceptable.
And a bit more:
They have created such broad license agreements, with such a stronghold around the whole chain of production (from shooting to delivering), that they could make liable the whole EU/US population, and beyond. This is major. This is one of these things where the DoJ should get involved. This is one of the situations that can destroy art. I'm a video producer myself (I direct rock music videos for local bands without compensation, and I also shoot Creative Commons nature videos), and I much prefer to never hold a camera in my hands ever again than to pay these leeches a dime. If MPEG-LA enforces all that they CAN enforce via their various EULAs, then fewer and fewer people will want to record anything of note to share with others.

And that's how an artistic culture can ROT. By creating the circumstances where making art, in a way that doesn't get in your way, is illegal. Only big corporations would be able to even grab a camera and shoot. And if only big corporations can shoot video that they can share (for free or for money), then we end up with what Creative Commons' founder, Larry Lessig, keeps saying: a READ-ONLY CULTURE.
The fallout from this should be interesting. I have no problems with people being compensated for their work and I strongly support people's rights to preserve their intellectual property but, this is sneaking draconian licensing under the radar...

The Youth are Revolting

| No Comments
In Greece, the lefties are having their Government handouts cut and they do not like it. From the Los Angeles Times:
Violent May Day protests in Athens
Wielding red flags and hurling crude gas bombs, dozens of militant youths clashed with riot police Saturday in central Athens, signaling swelling social unrest as the cash-strapped Greek government prepares to announce additional austerity measures required to win rescue loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The clashes came during massive May Day protests called by Greece's powerful trade unions and left-wing political parties in a desperate bid to block the plans for additional wage cuts, tax increases and pension reductions.

"The bill should go to those who looted this country for decades, not to the workers," said Spiros Papaspirou, head of Greece's powerful Adedy civil servants union. "This is the most savage, unjust and unprovoked attack workers have ever faced."
Emphasis mine -- not so fast Spiro. Sure, the Greek government was corrupt and weak but... Your labor unions are directly responsible for this. There was no grand theft of the Greek money by a handful of corrupt politicians and plutocrats, it was instead promised away bit by bit with your over-unity pensions and all of your "social justice" programs. Robert D. Kaplan wrote these words at The Atlantic in December of 2008 and gives a bit of background:
Those Greek Riots
Greece has been torn apart by the worst riots in decades, now entering their third week. Bands of self-declared anarchist youths have rampaged through the streets of Athens and other major cities causing hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, setting off a spiral of unrest in which the nation�s unions, among other groups, have taken part. Both shops and hotel lobbies have been ransacked, and hospitals, airports, and transport have been brought to a standstill. What sparked the riots was the accidental police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos. But as usual in such cases, there was much more in the way of causes lying beneath the surface.

Youth unemployment is high throughout the European Union, but it is particularly high in Greece, hovering between 25 and 30 percent. With few job prospects, rampant poverty in the face of nouveau riche prosperity, a public university system in shambles, a bloated government sector in desperate need of an overhaul, and a weak, defensive conservative government with only a one-seat majority in parliament, it is a ripe period for protests, which have had as their aim the fall of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
No wonder the whole world is watching. If Greece fails, the Euro is weakened which impacts the rest of Europe. Portugal and Spain are next up with their socialist history and plethora of over-unity pensions. I am using the term over-unity to describe a situation where a worker contributes maybe $200,000 toward their pension plan but upon retirement, will be eligible for much more in terms of payment and benefits -- not sustainable. Margaret Thatcher had this thought:
"The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."

The origin of Honey

| No Comments
An interesting article -- I am into home-brewing and make Mead. The purity and quality of the honey used is paramount. A few years ago, the Chinese started dumping large quantities of inferior honey on the market; selling it for below the cost of US production. The USA responded with a 500% tariff. Now we are seeing Honey coming in from other nations that never exported to the USA before. From ScienceBlog comes this story:
Texas A&M scientist tracks origins of bootleg honey from China
A Texas A&M University scientist spends hours at a time peering at slides of pollen samples, comparing them to track down the origins of honey with questionable heritage. Some of the samples contain labels from other countries when in fact they originated in China but were re-routed to avoid tariffs of up to 500 percent, says Vaughn Bryant, a palynologist and an anthropology professor at Texas A&M University.

The tariffs were attached to the import of Chinese honey about two years ago because exporters there were "dumping" it in the U.S. � selling it at a much lower price than its cost, which is about one-half what it costs U.S. honey producers. The practice has almost ruined the market for domestic honey, says Bryant, who is also director of the palynology laboratory at Texas A&M.

China is the largest honey producer in the world.

Bryant, who examines more than 100 honey samples a year for importers, exporters, beekeepers and producers, says he believes he is the only person in the United States doing melissopalynology � the study of pollen in honey � on a routine basis. For the last five years, he has analyzed the pollen in honey samples from all over the world to determine the nectar sources and origin of the honey.

He examines imported samples purported to come from Viet Nam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos, and usually discovers that the samples are blends "with a little honey from those countries and a majority of the blend coming from Chinese sources."

"Now there are lots of shenanigans going on to avoid having to pay those tariffs, and the investigators are way behind in following them," Bryant says. "The beekeepers of the U.S. have been pleading with the FDA to enact stricter guidelines about accurate labeling for honey, but that is a long, slow process. Meanwhile, I'm trying to help out here and there, but it's almost impossible to keep up."

Some foreign exporters get around the tariff by mixing honey from different sources, while others infuse up to 50 percent high fructose corn syrup into the honey, he says.
Very cool technology -- wish more labs were doing this sort of analysis. Maybe at some point, the image matching will be automated similar to AFIS.
An interesting technology but it doesn't seem to be being used on the Deepwater Horizon spill. Check out MOP Environmental Solutions, Inc.: Here is a video of the technology in operation:
Looks pretty clean to me... My only gripe is that development on their website seems to have ground to a halt in 2008. Makes you wonder just how viable a company this is. They need to have someone upgrade their site -- even just on a monthly basis would be fine.

Do not forget that the month of May is Zombie Awareness Month. From the Zombie Research Society:

May is the official Zombie Awareness Month of the Zombie Research Society
Many films important to the evolution of the modern Zombie are set in the month of May, from the original Night of the Living Dead, 1968, to the well received Dawn of The Dead remake of 2004.

Also, because Spring naturally brings with it a sense of renewal and hopefulness, May is the perfect month to emphasize continued vigilance in the face of the coming Zombie Pandemic.

Fortunately, the few Zombies that have made it to our neck of the woods were rapidly detected and dispatched. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to take an hour out to get some dinner -- we have a nice left-over brain in the fridge, saute with a couple slices of Fennel and some black pepper and serve with some habanero aioli and some steamed brocolini. Mmmmm -- them's good braaaiiiiiinnnsssss...

Arizona's new immigration law

The Federal government was doing piss-all to enforce the standing immigration laws so the state of Arizona got fed up and instituted its own law. Over 60% of Arizona citizens are very happy with the law and the law specifically prohibits profiling and stopping people to check their immigration status. The persons in question must already be in "lawful contact" (ie: traffic stop, criminal arrest, etc...) before the status check can be made. The text of the bill is here (amendments are in blue capitals) and some notes on changes can be found here. The entire thing is just a couple pages and very clearly written. Looks like a lot of people haven't read the law - from Byron York at The Washington Examiner:
Top 10 dumbest things said about the Arizona immigration law
The last few days have seen an extraordinary outburst of criticism of Arizona�s new immigration law. In the nation�s elite media outlets, its most respected commentators are portraying the law as an act of police-state repression. Many, if not all, of the specific criticisms can be refuted simply by reading the law itself, but others are more generalized criticisms of immigration enforcement. In any event, it�s hard to choose the most over-the-top and wrongheaded commentary on the law, but here are ten choices, in no particular order. (If you don�t know why a particular statement is wrong, you can check here, and here, and here, and here.)

1. �The statute requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.�
New York Times editorial

2. �As the Arizona abomination makes clear, there is a desperate need for federal immigration action to stop the country from turning into a nation of vigilantes suspicious of anybody with dark skin.�
Dana Milbank, Washington Post
And two more:
9. �You can imagine, if you are a Hispanic American in Arizona�suddenly, if you don�t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you�re going to be harassed.�
President Barack Obama

10. �This week, Arizona signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country which will allow police to demand identification papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. I know there�s some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but could we all agree that there�s nothing more Nazi than saying �Show me your papers?� There�s never been a World War II movie that didn�t include the line �show me your papers.� It�s their catchphrase. Every time someone says �show me your papers,� Hitler�s family gets a residual check. So heads up, Arizona; that�s fascism. I know, I know, it�s a dry fascism, but it�s still fascism.�
Seth Myers, �Saturday Night Live
A big hat tip to The Blogmocracy for the link...

Here we go again

| No Comments
Just breaking -- from ABC News:
NYC's Times Square Evacuated in Bomb Scare
The incident in New York City's Times Square that began with a suspicious vehicle appears to have developed into a real threat from a fire bomb, according to one official account.

All reports indicate the vehicle contained gasoline, propane and possibly gun powder. Incindiary devices are not explosive devices, but are lethal.

The incident began around 6:35 p.m., when the Fire Department of New York responded to a car fire in the vicinity of 45th Street and 7th Avenue, and because of suspicious characteristics of the vehicle, the police department ESU was notified.

The car was identified as a Land Rover with a Connecticut or unmatched license plate. The car is still unsafe to perform appropriate diagnostics on. It is being confirmed as an actual incendiary device.
This has the earmarks of a domestic nut-case. The mix of explosives and propane. The use of a traceable vehicle -- even if the license plates have been swapped and the VIN tag removed, there are several other locations for the VIN that most people do not know about. This is a high profile incident so the police and feds will be putting all of their toys to use...
This is a perfect example of the dreck, the utter cluelessness and muddled thinking of what is called academia these days. From the UK Guardian:
Wildlife documentaries infringe animals' privacy, says report
Wildlife documentary makers are infringing animals' rights to privacy by filming their most private and intimate moments, according to a new study.

Footage of animals giving birth in their burrows or mating crosses an ethical line that film-makers should respect, according to Brett Mills, a lecturer in film studies at the University of East Anglia.
I sincerely believe that the overall quality of a College education can be markedly improved by shutting down any class that has the word "studies" in its name. They are all useless and a waste of the student's time. They may be fun to take and good for an easy grade but they contribute nothing to the overall education.

Beer Cave - work in progress

Here are a couple photos of the beer cave going up:

The cave arrives...
It is just like Ikea furnature on a large scale.
Everything is keyed and locks together.

The future home of Beer.
Mmmm Beer...

George and Dave hard at work.

Some of what I did today - still need to cut the short tiles.
Do that tomorrow on my bandsaw.
The rest of the future expansion.
Being used for storage right now.

My other job -- to fill this puppy up.
First they broke the Edwards/Hunter story. Now this:
Reports out of Washington, DC: PRESIDENT OBAMA in a shocking cheating scandal after being caught in a Washington, DC Hotel with a former campaign aide.

A confidential investigation has learned that Obama first became close to gorgeous 35 year-old VERA BAKER in 2004 when she worked tirelessly to get him elected to the US Senate, raising millions in campaign contributions.

Now, the investigators are searching for a hotel surveillance videotape.
At least he had better taste than Bill C. Also, was looking for more info on Ms. Baker and found that she has changed careers and is now based out of Martinique in the Caribbean and that her personal website has been shut down. Imagine if this had broken prior to the election...

Just wonderful - more defaults

| No Comments
Nouriel Roubini predicted the current financial meltdown a few years ago. He is someone I monitor on a reasonably regular basis as what he says is very much worth listening to. From Bloomberg:
Roubini Says Rising Sovereign Debt Leads to Defaults
Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who forecast the U.S. recession more than a year before it began, said sovereign debt from the U.S. to Japan and Greece will lead to higher inflation or government defaults.

Almost $1 trillion of worldwide equity value was erased April 27 on concern that debt will spur defaults, derailing the global economy, data compiled by Bloomberg show. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the International Monetary Fund pledged to step up efforts to overcome the Greek fiscal crisis, after bonds and stocks fell across Europe in the past week.
Sovereign Debt?
�The thing I worry about is the buildup of sovereign debt,� said Roubini, a former adviser to the U.S. Treasury and IMF consultant, who in August 2006 predicted a �painful� U.S. recession that came to fruition in December 2007. If the problem isn�t addressed, he said, nations will either fail to meet obligations or see faster inflation as officials �monetize� their debts, or print money to tackle the shortfalls.

Roubini, who teaches at NYU�s Stern School of Business, told attendees at the Beverly Hilton hotel that �Greece is just the tip of the iceberg, or the canary in the coal mine for a much broader range of fiscal problems.�

European bonds have plunged on concern that Greece�s won�t be able to pay its debt, with Harvard University Professor Martin Feldstein and Templeton Asset Management Ltd.�s Mark Mobius saying a default may be needed. The yield on the Greek two-year bond rose as high as 26 percent after being downgraded to below-investment grade by Standard & Poor�s on April 27, before falling to 17.35 percent today. The euro, which dropped to the lowest in a year yesterday, rose 0.1 percent to $1.3235 at 4:05 p.m. in New York.
The old: "we need more money - start the presses" stupidity. Down that road leads madness as we can see in Zimbabwe. The Euro experiment is an interesting one to watch. You have a group of nations tied together to one currency. If one fails, it drags the whole mass down. Not the way I would run things if I were king...
I get to lay a tile floor and play at being a flying cable monkey for the next few days. Wiring up the new beer cave and pulling up the rest of the old carpet (only used by Southern Baptists on Sunday) and replacing it with vinyl floor tile (much easier to keep clean). Also running wire and outlets for the store expansion -- after that, drop ceiling and can lights for the room. Photos will follow...

January 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Environment and Climate
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
Climate Depot
Ice Age Now
Jennifer Marohasy
Solar Cycle 24
Space Weather
Watts Up With That?

Science and Medicine
Junk Science
Life in the Fast Lane
Luboš Motl
Next Big Future

Geek Stuff
Ars Technica
Boing Boing
Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
Hack a Day
Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF

The Argyle Sweater
Chip Bok
Broadside Cartoons
Day by Day
Medium Large
Michael Ramirez
Prickly City
User Friendly
What The Duck

Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
Sober in a Nightclub
You Drive What?

Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
Coyote Blog

Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
James Gurney
Joe McNally's Blog
The Online Photographer

A Western Heart
American Digest
The AnarchAngel
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Babalu Blog
Belmont Club
Bayou Renaissance Man
Classical Values
Cold Fury
David Limbaugh
Defense Technology
Doug Ross @ Journal
Grouchy Old Cripple
Irons in the Fire
James Lileks
Lowering the Bar
Maggie's Farm
Marginal Revolution
Michael J. Totten
Mostly Cajun
Power Line
Questions and Observations
Rachel Lucas
Roger L. Simon
Sense of Events
Sound Politics
The Strata-Sphere
The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Weasel Zippers

Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
Neptunus Lex
Other Side of Kim
Ramblings' Journal
Sgt. Stryker
shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2010 is the previous archive.

June 2010 is the next archive.

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

Monthly Archives


OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 5.2.9