March 2011 Archives

From USA Today:
Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon expects inflation
U.S. consumers face "serious" inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations warned Wednesday.

The world's largest retailer is working with suppliers to minimize the effect of cost increases and believes its low-cost business model will position it better than its competitors.

Still, inflation is "going to be serious," Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said during a meeting with USA TODAY's editorial board. "We're seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate."

Along with steep increases in raw material costs, John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, says labor costs in China and fuel costs for transportation are weighing heavily on retailers. He predicts prices will start increasing at all retailers in June.

"Every single retailer has and is paying more for the items they sell, and retailers will be passing some of these costs along," Long says. "Except for fuel costs, U.S. consumers haven't seen much in the way of inflation for almost a decade, so a broad-based increase in prices will be unprecedented in recent memory."
All Carter Obama has to do is deliver a "malaise speech" and it's all over...
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Food prices jump most in 36 years, from beef to eggs to butter
If you�re feeling sticker shock from higher grocery prices, it�s not your imagination, and no relief is in sight.

Wholesale food prices spiked 3.9 percent in February from January, the biggest jump in 36 years, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

Most of the increase was because of a sharp rise in vegetable costs, but meat and dairy prices also jumped. Harsh winter freezes in Florida, Texas and other Southern states damaged crops, driving up vegetable prices. Meanwhile global prices for corn, wheat and soybeans have risen sharply in the past year. That has raised the price of animal feed, pushing up the cost of eggs, beef and milk at the wholesale and consumer level.

Corn prices are up 59.4 percent from last year. Wheat is up 81 percent, and soybeans are up 29 percent, said Ephraim Leibtag, deputy director for research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture�s Economic Research Service.

The USDA forecast says consumer food prices will rise 3 to 4 percent this year.

The wholesale price report comes ahead of a Labor Department report on consumer prices, due out today, forecast to show overall prices rising 0.4 percent in February. The January report showed sharply higher year-over-year price increases for several foods, including citrus fruit, up 10.6 percent; pork, up 9.9 percent; ground beef, up 9.9 percent; coffee, up 4.9 percent and potatoes, up 5.9 percent. Those increases preceded the recent run-up in oil prices that drove gasoline prices higher amid unrest in Egypt and Libya. The higher energy costs will also affect grocery prices, Leibtag said.

�We have seen higher oil prices. Not all of that has come through yet. There�s still more to come,� Leibtag said of grocery price increases.
Three major factors are at play. For dry commodities like corn, there is speculation in the market. There are also Federal subsidies to prop up the stupid ethanol program. Next up is the increased fuel costs from the tractors to the delivery vans. At our store, we are being hit with increased freight surcharges above and beyond our food costs. Finally, this is another effect of Quantitative Easing. Much of our produce comes from Mexico and the Peso is a lot stronger against the Dollar. Not because the Peso is strong but because the Dollar is very weak. We are printing money like it's going out of style and this is showing up loud and strong in the international marketplace.

Minimal posting today (and maybe tomorrow)

Working on some things.

Budget explained

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From CNS News:
Going Broke: Treasury Down to $58.6B in Cash, $130.5B Borrowing Authority
Imagine that you had an average monthly income of about $170 balanced against average monthly expenses of about $940--and that you were more than $14,000 in debt.

Then imagine that as of today, you had only $58.60 in cash left in your bank account and $130.50 left on your line of credit.

Now multiply these numbers by 1 billion and you will have the up-to-date financial situation of the U.S. government.
A good way of bringing it home -- and the damn fools still keep spending like there is no tomorrow. The days of cheap money are over as bond sales have slacked off -- people are unwilling to trust this government so they are demanding higher returns for their money with the end result of hyperinflation. Welcome back Carter...

A monster of a surprise

From Spokane, WA station KREM:

Man sues energy drink maker after mouse found in can
A Federal Way man has filed a lawsuit against the maker of Monster Energy Drinks. He claims he found a dead mouse at the bottom of his can, and he has the lab work to prove it.

"Anytime anyone talks about monster, I just get that sick feeling in my stomach," says Vitaliy Sulzhik.

It happened March 20, 2010. Sulzhik remembers it like it was yesterday. He went into the Fred Meyer in Des Moines, and bought himself a Monster Energy Drink. When he finished drinking it, he didn't realize another monster would be at the bottom.

"I put it down and I felt it was still heavy. So I backwashed it and all this debris went into my mouth," says the 19 year old. "Then I looked in the can and I saw the tip of the tail and I vomited everywhere."

The caps are crimped on after the can is filled with liquid. The mouse probably fell into the can, was unable to climb out and then drowned in the liquid (they chill it almost to freezing to keep the carbonation from foaming up). As one commenter posted:

you pick the right can, you win the lawsuit lottery

Now this is going to be interesting

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From the FInancial Times:
Gaddafi foreign minister flees to UK
Colonel Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, suffered a major blow to his authority on Wednesday night when his foreign minister, Musa Koussa, defected from the regime and flew to Britain.

In the most high-profile desertion from Col Gaddafi�s entourage since the start of the Libyan crisis, Mr Koussa flew to Britain from Tunisia where he had been staying since Monday.

Mr Koussa arrived at Farnborough airport in Hampshire on Wednesday afternoon where he was debriefed by UK officials. �He travelled here under his own free will,� the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement. �He has told us that he is resigning his post. We are discussing this with him and we will release further detail in due course.�

The FCO described Musa Koussa as one of the most senior figures in Col Gaddafi�s government. �His role was to represent the regime internationally, something that he is no longer willing to do. We encourage those around Gaddafi to abandon him and embrace a better future for Libya that allows political transition and real reform that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people�.

A Libyan government spokesman in Tripoli denied Britain�s claim that Mr Koussa had defected. �He is on a diplomatic mission,� said spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, without giving further details.
Wonder if he knows where Gaddafi's hidey holes are. Hmmm???

Third on the Moon

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Very high geekdom -- from Forbes Magazine:
Israel, The Third Nation on the Moon?
If all goes according to plan, by December 2012 a team of three young Israeli scientists will have landed a tiny spacecraft on the moon, explored the lunar surface, and transmitted live video back to earth, thereby scooping up a $20 million prize (the Google Lunar X Prize), revolutionizing space exploration, and making the Jewish State the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to land a probe on the moon. And they�re doing it in their spare time.

The three engineers � Yariv Bash (electronics and computers), Kfir Damari (communication systems), and Yonatan Winetraub (satellite systems) all have high-level day jobs in the Israeli science and technology world, and also both teach and study. They all had heard of the Google Lunar X Prize independently, before being introduced by mutual friends who, as Yonatan puts it �thought we were all crazy enough to do it, so we should meet each other.�

By the end of November 2010 they had sketched together a novel plan to win the prize and submitted it to organizers. Only on December 21 (10 days before the December 31 deadline) did they set about raising the $50,000 entry fee. �Like good Israelis we left it to the last minute,� Yonatan laughs.

Since then they�ve recruited around 50 volunteers from across the Israeli science and technology community and have gained support from academic institutions, including the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science (founded in 1933 by Chaim Weizmann, himself a successful chemist who went on to become Israel�s first president). They�re operating as a non-profit (�we�re looking for stakeholders,� says Project Coordinator Ronna Rubinstein), and any winnings will be invested in promoting science among Israeli youth.

The X Prize�s organizers say their competition is intended to attract �mavericks� who �take new approaches and think creatively about difficult problems, resulting in truly innovative breakthroughs.� They see the moon as a largely untapped resource, and believe that �inexpensive, regular access to the Moon is a critical stepping stone for further exploration.�
I love it. Quite the finger in the eye of the Muslim world as they worship the Moon and to have a Jewish presence there will cause no small measure of consternation.

A collection of advertising

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Very cool stuff -- from AdViews:
AdViews is a digital archive of thousands of vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. These commercials were created or collected by the ad agency Benton & Bowles or its successor, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B). Founded in 1929, Benton & Bowles was a New York advertising agency that merged with D'Arcy Masius McManus in 1985 to form DMB&B. Major clients included are Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Schick, Vicks, and Post, among others. The commercials are a part of the D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Archives found at the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in Duke University's Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.
Some fun ones available for online viewing or downloadable in several formats. Should be some good mashups in a couple weeks...

Holy Shit - Pixar turns 25

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Wonderful five minute compilation of clips from Pixar:
They still have the magic.
From FOX News:
Eritrea to U.N.: Take This Aid And Shove It
In a stinging rebuff to the United Nations and its anti-poverty efforts, Eritrea, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has told the world body that it wants out of its long-term development agreement because the U.N. makes the problem worse, not better.

The reason, given in a January 26 notification letter from the country�s powerful Finance Minister, obtained by Fox News, is that �aid only postpones the basic solutions to crucial development problems by tentatively ameliorating their manifestations without tackling their root causes. The structural, political, economic, etc. damage that it inflicts upon recipient countries is also enormous.� In other words, the government argues, U.N. aid does more harm than good.
I can only imagine the layers of corruption that would drive them to refuse all help. The United Nations is a mockery of governance. Some small offices of the UN do good work but in large, the place should be burned down and the land salted...

One Hundred Years ago today

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On this day 100 years ago, the War Department accepted John Moses Browning's design for the Caliber .45, Colt Model 1911 automatic pistol. From Only Guns and Money:
Thank You, John Moses Browning
Today is the centennial of the War Department's adoption of the Caliber .45, Colt Model 1911 automatic pistol. It replaced the Colt, Model 1901, Caliber .38 Revolver and the Colt, Model 1909, Caliber .45 Revolver shown below.

The semi-automatic pistol submitted by Colt and designed by John M. Browning bested the design submitted by Savage Arms and was adopted on March 29, 1911. The rest, as they say, is history.
Hard to improve on perfection. I plan to pick up one of these sometime... Hat tip to Irons in the Fire for the link.

Education is boring

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Wonderful words from our dear President -- from Yahoo News/Associated Press:
Obama says too much testing makes education boring
President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.

"Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students," the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.

Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation's education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that "everybody agrees makes sense" and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.
Good God... First we gut the school curriculum and now this moron proposes that we lower our standards even further. A bit more:
Obama, who has been pushing his education agenda all month, has expressed concern that too many schools will be unable to meet annual proficiency standards under the No Child Left Behind law this year. The standards are aimed at getting 100 percent of students proficient in math, reading and science by 2014, a goal now widely seen as unrealistic.
Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. The NCLB Act was signed into law in 2002. They are saying that it is impossible to raise academic standards by 2014? Twelve Years Later? It took me twelve years to get from first grade, through high-school and to start my first year of college. They consider improving the schools to be unrealistic? They should not be dropping the testing requirements, they should be doing a top-to-bottom reform of the public school system. But of course, the teachers unions would never stand for that -- they grade on seniority rather than ability...

Well crap - RIP Harold 'Dynamite' Payson

Although I am not involved with them these days, I am very much into boats and have owned several sailboats including one of these for five years:
Harold 'Dynamite' Payson was well known in the wooden boat community for his writing -- he authored several books on boats and boatbuilding as well as sets of plans and many articles in WoodenBoat magazine. From the Bangor (Maine) Daily News:
Boatbuilder, teacher Harold "Dynamite" Payson dies
Harold H. "Dynamite" Payson, a mentor to a generation of backyard boat builders, has died.

Payson died Wednesday at Maine Medical Center in Portland after suffering an aneurysm at his home in South Thomaston earlier that day. He was 82.

Payson is best known in the world of wooden boats as a builder, writer and teacher. In collaboration with the late Gloucester, Mass., designer Phil Bolger, he developed a line of small boats that could be easily built by novice builders using everyday tools and easily obtainable materials.

Payson called them 'instant boats' and wrote a series of books explaining his methods for building. He broke down the barriers to boat ownership for a lot of people who might have been intimidated by traditional boat building methods, according to Carl Cramer, publisher of WoodenBoat magazine.

"There are a lot of dreamers who will see a boat and say, "I wish I could build that,"" Cramer said. "But building a boat can be a daunting prospect. Dynamite took the 'daunt' out of the process."

His boats are scattered along coastlines all around the world, Cramer said.

Payson was born in Rockland in 1928 and got the moniker 'Dynamite' at an early age from his older sister's boyfriend who said he was pesky and kept "popping up like a stick of dynamite," according to a 2009 interview.

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, but returned to the Maine coast where he lived the rest of his life. He fished and later built boats at a shop he and his father built in 1952. That also was where he did all of his writing, he once told a reporter.

"When I write, I come out here to the shop, because everything I'm associated with is here," he said.

While building boats, he began a long relationship with WoodenBoat magazine, where he frequently wrote commentaries and articles on various aspects of wooden boat building. Over the years, WoodenBoat published several of his books, covering topics that included building a dory, a dory model and sharpening tools.

In those books, and others, he had the ability to explain the designs and his methods in layman�s terms so that the 'average Joe' could understand them, according to Rich Hilsinger, the director at WoodenBoat School, where Payson taught each summer. The books laid out a straightforward method that encouraged novices to 'just do it,' which was often the way he inscribed the books that he signed for fans.

His beautiful boats, his 'real Mainer' demeanor and his wealth of stories endeared him to the students at the school, young and old alike.
An American classic -- he will be missed.

Quite the feat

From the United Arab Emirates The National:

Spider-Man's Burj Khalifa climb lands Guinness world record
A man dubbed the 'French Spider-Man' today described reaching the top of the world's tallest building as "an amazing sight and an amazing feeling".

Alain Robert took six hours, 14 minutes and 55 seconds to scramble to the top of the Burj Khalifa, completing the feat at the top of the antenna at 12.07am today.

"It was a very big moment in my life," said Mr Robert, 48.

Early this afternoon Mr Robert was presented with a certificate from Guinness World Records to recognise the climb, which marks a new world record: the fastest person to climb the Burj Khalifa.

Mr Robert easily achieved the record, which was created for Mr Robert's attempt. The organisation had required only that he complete the climb within nine hours.

The attempt was originally scheduled to start at 4.30pm. But, as Mr Robert explained, he held off until 6pm due to a deluge of media interviews earlier in the day.

"I wasn't sure how long it would take, I initially thought it would take between six to nine hours," he said. "It took me by surprise that I could make it quite fast."

Mr Robert is famous for climbing the world's tallest buildings - among them the 508-metre Taipei 101 and the 450-metre Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur - without the aid of the safety harness and rope normally used by climbers.

"It was a requirement from the government and the head of the Burj Khalifa," he said. "I would have loved to do it differently, but of course I knew it was not possible, so I was having to play the game."

Very cool!

Heating up in Libya

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From Eurasia Review:
Libya Ground Operation May Start In April � Russian Intelligence
The international coalition force is planning a ground operation in Libya that could start in late April, a high-ranking Russian intelligence service source said on Friday.

�Information coming via different channels shows that NATO countries, with the active participation of Britain and the United States, are developing a plan for a ground operation on Libyan territory,� he said.

�From all indications, a ground operation will be launched if the alliance fails to force the Gaddafi regime to capitulate with air strikes and missile attacks.�

If the events in Libya follow this scenario, the ground operation could start �in late April-early May,� he added.
BUT... From The Washington Examiner:
Admiral: U.S. studying Libyan rebels -- after going to war on their behalf
Admiral James Stavridis, commander of NATO and overall chief of U.S. and coalition forces in the Libyan war, says American intelligence agents are "examining very closely" the rebel forces for whom U.S. forces have gone to war. So far, Stavridis says, the U.S. has discovered "flickers" of the presence of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, although Stavridis calls the opposition leadership "responsible."
Flickers? A hella lot more than flickers unfortunately. If these are people who are rebelling against an oppressive regime, where are their speakers, where is their declaration of independence, what is their platform? We do not know these people and yet, we are blindly putting them into power...

Nothing tonight

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Had to go into town for some banking and shopping for the bakery. Came back and had a water board meeting. I stupidly volunteered to be President so I called the meeting to order and then, 90 minutes later, called it to dis-order. Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and off to bed...

From the New York Times:

G.E.'s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether
General Electric, the nation's largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.'s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world's best tax law firm. Indeed, the company's slogan "Imagination at Work" fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

There is nothing patently illegal about this but for GE's president to be bestest buddies with Obama makes it sure-as-hell unethical. Hat tip to The Blogmocracy for the link.

Willie's day in court

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From the Houston Chronicle:
Willie may have to sing in court for pot charge
A West Texas prosecutor says that singer Willie Nelson can resolve marijuana possession charges if he agrees to plead guilty, pay a fine and sing "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" for the court.

County Attorney Kit Bramblett told The Associated Press Friday that he recommended those penalties to Hudspeth County's judge Becky Dean-Walker. Bramblett says the judge specifically demanded that Nelson appear in court instead of pleading by mail, a common procedure in these cases.

Bramblett says, "She wants to meet Willie."

Dean-Walker did not immediately return a call Friday.

Nelson was arrested for possession of marijuana on Nov. 26 at a Border Patrol checkpoint after an agent smelled an odor coming from the vehicle and decided to search it.

Nelson's spokeswoman declined to comment.
Now that would be a fun video...

A downright cheery little scenario

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From Gonzalo Lira:
How Likely is QE-Three?
So back in September 2008�in the throes of the Global Financial Crisis�the Federal Reserve under its chairman, Ben Bernanke, unleashed what was then known as �Quantitative Easing�.

They basically printed money out of thin air�about $1.25 trillion�and used it to purchase the so-called �toxic assets� from all the banks up and down Wall Street which were about to keel over dead. The reason they were about to keel over dead was because the �toxic assets��mortgage backed securities and so on�were worth fractions of their nominal value. Very small fractions. All these banks were broke, because of their bad bets on these toxic assets. So in order to keep them from going broke�and thereby wrecking the world economy�the Fed payed 100 cents on the dollar for this crap.

In other words, the Fed saved Wall Street by printing money, and then giving it to them in exchange for bad paper.

Time passes, we move on.
Gonzalo goes on to talk about QE-2 where the Fed buys up the US Debt in the form of Treasury Bills. The money to pay for this? Being printed as we speak with nothing to back it up. No worries, just a little adjustment that will not effect the consumer -- here is just one sample of the effect:
Gonzalo then proposes that the Fed will probably proceed with either QE-3 or something else very dire. A good and sobering read -- we are in for a period of hyperinflation. The world would be a much better place had John Maynard Keynes not been born...

In Part One I noticed that Nissan's sales of the Leaf were abysmal. 87 in January 2011 and 67 in February.

Now, we see that the used market will essentially disappear because the $20,000 battery pack only lasts six to eight years.

From The Hockey Schtick:

Another reason not to buy a Nissan Leaf: Resale value zip because batteries die within 6-8 years
If the unpredictable limited range, lack of charging stations, and painfully long (minimum 8 hours) recharging time wasn't enough to convince you not to buy the all-electric Nissan Leaf, the Wall Street Journal reveals today another blow that resale values will be hard to come by since the $20,000 battery pack dies within 6-8 years.
Pull the Plug on Electric Car Subsides [paywalled]
Consumer Reports doesn't have good early reviews for Chevrolet's flagship entry into electric vehicles. A top editor from the publication said the Chevy Volt, which has both a plug-in battery and a gasoline engine "isn't particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and it's not particularly good as a gas vehicle either in terms of fuel economy." He concluded that it just "doesn't make an awful lot of sense."

He's right when you consider the cost and performance of PEVs, starting with the batteries, which require major breakthroughs before they will be ready for prime time. A battery for a small vehicle like the Nissan Leaf can cost about $20,000 and still only put out a range of 80 miles on a good day (range is affected by hot and cold weather) before requiring a recharge that takes eight to 10 hours. Even then, those batteries may only last six to eight years, leaving consumers with a vehicle that has little resale value.

Talk about leaving the consumer with a warm and fuzzy feeling...

Nice post by Willis Eschenbach at Watts Up With That:
Farmers versus Famine
Bill McKibben, the skeptics best friend, can always be depended on to provide interesting claims. Never one to let a good crisis go to waste, he opines on the tsunami and our �shrinking margins� over at the Guardian. A number of people have highlighted various of his ideas, not all of them favorably. One claim of his that I have not seen discussed is the following:
We�re seeing record temperatures that depress harvests � the amount of grain per capita on the planet has been falling for years.
What follows are two graphs made with data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that show quite the opposite. A bit more -- Willis offers this post script to his post:
The continued ability of the world to feed itself, despite adding a total of four billion people to the planet in the last fifty years, is an unparalleled and largely unrecognized success for humanity. I am so tired of people like McKibben not only not acknowledging that, but going so far as to claim that the trend has reversed and that things are getting worse. That�s nonsense. In terms of world nutrition, things are better than they have ever been, even for the poorest countries. Not only that, but they continue to improve. That�s a huge success.
Indeed. Can anyone point me to a Malthusian prediction that happened as predicted? Me neither...

First hoop

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Here is a photo of the first (of ten) hoop going up this morning.
That's me on the left and Buttercup the Tractor in the background...

Minimal posting today too

Spent the morning until now working at the community garden. Put up about 80% of a 16X36 hoop house -- the climate is trending towards the cool here (La Ni�a, PDO and Solar Cycle 24) so it will be nice to get some tomatoes and basil... Heading into town for dinner at a really nice Vietnamese restaurant and then back home.

Oh Yeah - Earth Hour

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I celebrated Earth Hour by running a large diesel tractor for several hours today, driving an F-350 truck into town to pick up eight pieces of lumber (chemically treated too!!!) and ate a nice Chinese takeout dinner and threw away the packaging in the garbage. Sitting here in the DaveCave(tm) with a large (20 Amp at 220 Volts) electric heater keeping me warm. We know that we have the potential to keep living like this for several thousands of years (thorium and abiogenic oil) and yet, our cultural elite seem to be content to keep us in the dark and cold. Another Brick in the Wall

Nothing tonight

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Busy day -- work party for the community garden, trip into town and did the evening books for the bakery (new evening person's first day).

Fun times in Canada

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From CTV:
Opposition parties topple Harper government
Stephen Harper accused the opposition of forcing an unwanted election at a time of economic uncertainty Friday, while his Liberal rival framed himself as the only alternative to the Conservatives in the upcoming election.

The speeches from the major party leaders came less than an hour after Harper's minority government was toppled by a non-confidence motion in Parliament.

"If you vote for the NDP, if you vote for the Bloc and if you vote for the Greens, you'll get more of this: more contempt for democracy, more neglect of the priorities of Canadian families," said Ignatieff, speaking in the foyer of the House of Commons.

"The only alternative to a Conservative government is a compassionate, responsible Liberal government."
Wonder how long it will take for a Canadian TEA Party to start up...
Talk about fulfilling your corporate obligation to your employer. From California's Newport Beach-Costa Mesa Daily Pilot:
Newport may close Balboa branch, open 'electronic' library
The Newport Beach Public Library is considering closing one of its four branches and outfitting a planned community center with everything that it offered � except the books.

At a meeting about the Balboa Peninsula's Marina Park development Wednesday, city officials unveiled plans to close the Balboa Branch � which houses 35,000 items, including books, DVD and other materials � and to dedicate a portion of the Marina Park Community Center to an "electronic library."

By eliminating books and librarians at the building, they hope to adapt to modern times and save money while providing residents services they'll actually use. In the process, they would replace the library's most iconic features with Internet connections.
And the sheep will remain innocent of those 'books' that make them 'think' all the while their masters indulge them with their every wishes so they remain docile and manipulable. Memo from Turner writ large -- working the soft machine...

Thank God!

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From the ever wonderful MIX Magazine:
The Loudness War is Over
I was at the AES show in San Francisco last November and I came back with renewed hope for the future of the music industry�not just from a business perspective, but from a recording-quality perspective as well. Besides the usual discussions about gear and recording techniques, there was a lot of talk about high resolution digital downloads surpassing CDs as the dominant delivery format within the next few years. Optimism is growing as more and more engineers are seeing a way to finally get past the loudness war.

Wait, the loudness war is over? Well, there are still plenty of soldiers who still haven�t gotten the message but the wheels are in motion. It�s just a matter of time now.

Consider this: The current loudness war is a product of the CD format and the ability to play a song from CD �A� next to a song from CD �B�. Since the music industry has never adopted loudness standards (like the long established standards in film and broadcast) we�ve been left to fight it out for ourselves. No artist wants his or her music to sound quiet next to other music. It�s human nature. So just to make sure, we�ve made �em loud�louder every year.

But here�s the thing: The future of music delivery is not the CD. Sure, the CD will be around for selling offstage and at gift shops, but the CD is on its way out as the dominant delivery format. How many young music buyers actually buy CDs? How many artists� primary delivery format will be CDs when the recording school graduates of 2011 are in the prime of their careers 10 years from now?

File based delivery is the future. Whether it�s iTunes, Pandora, iPods or whatever, file based playback is how most people listen today and it will completely replace the CD in the very near future.
A lot of selections at ITunes or Amazon downloads are available for MP3 at one price and a lossless file format for a little bit more. This is not the text of the article -- the article is about dynamic range and compression and the effect this has on the long-term listenability (and market value) of the music being offered for sale. Some artists 'get it' but a lot of artists do not bother (or cannot tell the difference -- this scares me). A lot more at the article -- worth reading about if you love music...
From New Orleans, LA radio station WWL:
Murderer tells jury he'd like to kill them
A man convicted of first-degree murder told Jefferson Parish jurors deliberating his fate, "If I had an AK-47, I'd kill every last one of ya'all with no remorse."

Isaiah Doyle made the comments today after taking the stand during the penalty phase of his murder trial.

The same jury that is weighing Doyle's fate yesterday convicted him of first-degree murder in the 2005 shooting death of a Marrero convenience store clerk.

If the jury hands Doyle the death penalty, it would be the first capital murder case in six years.

Attorneys for Doyle are trying to convince the jury that his life deserves to be spared because they say he is mentally retarded.

However, prosecutors told the jury that Doyle was not mentally incapacitated at the time of the crime.

"Isaiah Doyle is not insane," prosecutor Vince Paciera told the jury during closing arguments of the murder trail. "Isaiah Doyle knew right from wrong. Isaiah Doyle is exactly where he is supposed to be -- on trial for first degree murder."
Not insane, a sociopath and sociopaths can be quite clever. They just have no sense of right or wrong and are incapable of learning. They can mimic well when it suits them. Doyle needs another turn on the wheel of life -- sooner than later -- something didn't come out quite right this time around...
I normally like the Congressional Budget Office -- they are amazingly non-partisan for an organization linked so closely with Congress but... This little bit of lunacy is over the top. From CNS News: CBO Sees Benefits in Taxing Motorists Based on Miles Driven
A new Congressional Budget Office study says taxing motorists based on the number of miles they drive would be a fair and "efficient" way to charge motorists for the real cost of using the nation's highways. "Vehicle-miles traveled" taxes (or VMT taxes) also would provide a strong incentive for people to drive less.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood floated the idea of a VMT tax one month after President Obama took office, but Obama�s spokesman immediately shot it down. "It is not and will not be the policy of the Obama administration," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in February 2009.

But that was then.

The CBO study, released this week, says the federal government pays in part for about 25 percent of the nation's highways, which carry about 85 percent of all road traffic. Right now, federal spending on those highways is funded mainly by taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, but those taxes do not raise enough money to support either the current federal spending on highways -- or the higher spending levels that some transportation planners advocate.

The CBO said most of the costs of using a highway, including pavement damage, congestion, accidents, and noise, are tied more closely to the number of miles traveled than to the amount of fuel consumed. WTF? More:
While raising fuel taxes would bring in more money, the CBO notes that a "fundamental" problem would remain: "By themselves, fuel taxes cannot provide a strong incentive for people to avoid overusing highways," the report said.

On the other hand, VMT taxes would have most motorists paying "substantially more than they do now -- perhaps several times more," the report said. "Such a system would maximize the efficiency of highway use by discouraging trips for which costs exceed benefits."
Tell me what drugs they are taking so that I can avoid this kind of stupid... Parts of the government are talking about forcing automobile manufacturers to produce cars that are more fuel efficient. Parts of the government are talking about forcing car buyers to purchase cars that are more fuel efficient. Parts of the government are talking about forcing people to drive less. This idiotic proposal removes the market incentive for people to desire more fuel efficient vehicles. I own a big Ford F350 truck. Modern diesel engine, great ride and it gets about 15-20 in the city and 25-30 on the highway. If I fill my tank, I know that I will get about a 500 mile range. I use the truck for work and there is no way I could work with a Prius or other small car. If the feds decide to meddle in my day to day life and make me report mileage or attach a 'black box' to my truck (HELL NO!), it will not change my driving habits one bit. I do what I need to do for work and we generally drive when we visit family -- giving up on flying with all the hassles. If the feds want more highway money, they should increase their 18.4 cents/gallon tax to something that would temporarily sustain their greed. The states have their fingers in the pie as well with WA State taking 28�/gallon. And of course, the reason why is that they want so much money -- "On the other hand, VMT taxes would have most motorists paying "substantially more than they do now -- perhaps several times more," the report said. "Such a system would maximize the efficiency of highway use by discouraging trips for which costs exceed benefits."" -- that every driver would howl and de-elect anyone who voted for this turd if it was put into service as a tax at the pump. We live in a time of soft tyranny and we need to get politically active. I vote and I talk with people about ideas.
From The Czar of Muscovy writing at The Gormogons:
Homework Assignment
And the girl turned when she heard her father enter the room. �Doing your homework, honey?�

�Yes, Dad,� she said, resignedly. �I have to do a biography.�

The father perked up, curious. �Who�s the subject?� he asked, secretly hoping as all fathers do that it might just be him.

�Barack Obama,� she replied.

�Who?� asked the father.

�Barack Obama,� she repeated. �He was a president or something.�

The father laughed. �Oh, sure,� he said. �He was President of the United States, a very long time ago. Long before I was born,� he said, carefully. �Actually, before your grandfather was born. I remember learning a little bit about him. He was a great man.�

�Really,� asked the girl, thinking at once that her dad could readily be a shortcut to doing her own research. �What was he famous for?�

The father leaned against the doorway and frowned. �Well, let�s see. He ended racism.�

�What�s that?� she asked with a giggle.

�It was this crazy belief from a long time ago that certain people were better than others simply because of their race. A person who believed he was better than someone else was called a �racist.� It wasn�t terribly widespread at all, but there were a couple of people�mostly on his side�who believed it. Anyway, he had this very clever plan to get rid of it. His side called everyone on the other side racists, for pretty much everything, no matter what. If you disagreed with him, you were a racist. If you wanted to keep more of your money, you were a racist. If you believed that the government should represent the will of the governed, you were a racist. Anyway, after a while, people caught on that the whole thing was a big joke, and that by calling everyone a racist, nobody was, and the whole country realized racism was over. I think.�

�Oh, I get it,� she said. �What else did he do?�
Heh... Read the rest at the site -- it also covers the Unions, the Middle East and Hope and Change(tm). The post concludes with:
�Oh, yeah!� she exclaimed. �I�m surprised we don�t get his birthday off.�

The dad frowned. �They do in Kenya, I think.�

Ho Li Crap! - Russian Avalanche team

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A team of Russian soldiers are using artillery to defuse any avalanche dangers near either a Hydro plant or a large substation (betting on Hydro). Their last shot did not have the desired results.
Gotta love the two or three electrical explosions around the 1:20 mark. Hat tip to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

Well crap - a 6.8 quake in Myanmar

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Shallow one too -- 10km depth. More at USGS website: Magnitude 6.8 - MYANMAR For those following the recent activity, here is the page for all quakes over 5.0 Magnitude. That plate is ringing like a bell...

Another look at energy costs

Seth Godin takes a look at the human cost of energy from an interesting viewpoint:
The triumph of coal marketing
Do you have an opinion about nuclear power? About the relative safety of one form of power over another? How did you come to this opinion?

Here are the stats, and here's the image. A non-exaggerated but simple version of his data:
For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced... You might very well have excellent reasons to argue for one form over another. Not the point of this post. The question is: did you know about this chart? How does it resonate with you?

Vivid is not the same as true. It's far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That's just human nature. Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.

This chart unsettles a lot of people, because there must be something wrong with it. Further proof of how easy it is to fear the unknown and accept what we've got.

I think that any time reality doesn't match your expectations, it means that marketing was involved. Perhaps it was advertising, or perhaps deliberate story telling by an industry. Or perhaps it was just the stories we tell one another in our daily lives. It's sort of amazing, even to me, how much marketing colors the way we see the world--our reaction (either way) to this chart is proof of it.

Texas gets it right

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From FOX/Associated Press:
Texas House Passes Bill Requiring Voters to Show Photo ID
The Texas House has approved a bill requiring residents to show photo identification before voting amid complaints from Democrats who say it's designed to erect hurdles for poor and minority voters.

The legislation cleared the House 101-48 Wednesday night after more than 11 hours of debate in which Democrats repeatedly tried to derail it.

The measure has sparked anger and partisan bickering ever since Republican Gov. Rick Perry put it on the fast track at the beginning of the legislative session in January. GOP lawmakers say it's necessary to prevent voter fraud. Democrats contend the bill is aimed at poor and minority voters who are less likely to have state-issued identification cards.

Republican lawmakers in several other states are pushing similar legislation this year.
It is sad how far the Democratic party has fallen from the days of John F. Kennedy. Back then, you were expected to work and contribute to society.
"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
Now the Dems have cast their lot in with the zero-liability voters and the untermenschen and as long as the Dems keep handing out entitlement programs, they keep getting the votes of these people.

About that green biofuel?

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A two-fer from Bishop Hill -- two links: From the Independent:
Biofuel policy is causing starvation, says Nestl� boss
Soaring food inflation is the result of "immoral" policies in the US which divert crops for use in the production of biofuels instead of food, according to the chairman of one of the world's largest food companies.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chairman of Nestl�, lashed out at the Obama administration for promoting the use of ethanol made from corn, at the expense of hundreds of millions of people struggling to afford everyday basics made from the crop.

Mr Brabeck-Letmathe weighed in to the increasingly acrimonious debate over food price inflation to condemn politicians around the world who seem determined to blame financial speculators instead of tackling underlying imbalances in supply and demand. And he reserved especially pointed remarks for US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, who he said was making "absolutely flabbergasting" claims for the country's ability to cope with rising domestic and global demand for corn.

"Today, 35 per cent of US corn goes into biofuel," the Nestl� chairman told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York yesterday. "From an environmental point of view this is a nonsense, but more so when we are running out of food in the rest of the world.

"It is absolutely immoral to push hundreds of millions of people into hunger and into extreme poverty because of such a policy, so I think � I insist � no food for fuel."

Corn prices almost doubled in the year to February, though they have fallen from their peak in the pastfew weeks. Anger at rising food prices contributed to protests across the Middle East, and rising commodities costs were among the factors pushing UK inflation to 4.4 per cent in February, according to figures out yesterday.

US exports account for about 60 per cent of the world's corn supply. Demand has surged as more people join the middle classes in emerging economies such as China and India, not just because these new consumers demand more food made from corn, but also because demand for meat has increased and livestock farmers need to buy more feed.
Next, a commenter to that post offered this link to Der Spiegel:
Is Environmentalism Really Working?
Germany is among the world leaders when it comes to taking steps to save the environment. But many of the measures are not delivering the promised results. Biofuels have led to the clear-cutting of rainforests, plastics are being burned rather than recycled and new generation lightbulbs have led to a resurgence of mercury production.

As usual, ordinary Germans were to blame. Everything had been prepared for the green revolution: fresh supplies and new signs at the gas stations, and the refinery depots were full to the brim with the new wonderfuel. But then drivers turned their backs on the new era. They didn't want to buy E10, a blend of ethanol and gasoline, even through it cost almost 10 cents less per liter than conventional gas.

"It's annoying but there's no question of stopping the sale of E10," said Environment Minister Norbert R�ttgen. E10, R�ttgen said with a hint of threat in his voice, was a milestone of German climate control policy.

When it comes to the environment these days, all other interests must take a back seat, including possible engine damage from E10. After all, the United Nations has proclaimed that ensuring environmental sustainability is one of its "millennium goals," and greater importance is assigned to climate negotiations among the big industrial nations than to economic summits these days.

All the serious political parties devote large parts of their policy programs to environmental policy. In the coalition deal between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the pro-business Free Democrats, protecting the climate comes ahead of education and internal security in the list of policy priorities. The government is as committed to promoting the development of electric cars as it is to expanding renewable energies and protecting fish stocks in German rivers.

There is no issue that produces such unanimity among the parties. A proposal to increase tax credits for employees led to weeks of political debate, while the 2009 European Union ban on conventional light bulbs was approved without a single debate in parliament. As soon as the word environment is mentioned in any policy initiatives, all discussion becomes redundant.
A long seven-part read but really worth the 30 minutes or so. Planning to print this out at work and circulate it as it pulls no punches. Green is not good and the tragedy is that there are hundreds more political hacks with agendas than there are true scientists in the green movement. The ones like Patrick Moore who co-founded Greenpeace and subsequently dropped out over their burgeoning lack of science are in the minority. UPDATE: Thanks to reader FGW who spotted a very wrong name...

Massive Protests!!!

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Yeah right... The Great and Terrible Czar of Muscovy has it nailed:
Massive Protests Coming! Dozens Expected.

Well, that�s better than a sigh, right? Anyway, apparently, there will be massive liberal protests across the entire nation on April 4th, to teach the bastards in Wisconsin a lesson not to mess with them!

Or so say a collection of liberal groups including the Communist Party USA, SEIU, AFL-CIO, and other parties of little surprise.

The Czar predicts that in Portland, Madison, Berkeley, and maybe one or two other places you can think of, they might see between 2,000-4,000 people. In New York, Chicago, and Seattle, maybe several hundred to 1,000 each. In a few other places such as DC, Boston, and Philly, maybe 200 - 500 people each, including the quads of major universities. And that�ll be about it.

Meanwhile, the enormity percentage of the American public will want nothing to do with this crap. Seems that everytime there�s going to be a massive liberal protest, the total amount of people participating nationwide would not even fill a single NFL stadium.

Because the Liberals That Matter are not bearded counter-culturists, comic book artists, or ill-smelling alternative book shop employees; they are either truck-drivin� haulers or carpenters or auto workers or turtlenecked college grads with slightly used copies of Jane Austen books on cedar bookshelves. The large majority of liberals are not actually into radical leftist politics, and many are put off by the thugs and slugs who defaced the Wisconsin Capitol building for weeks.
More at the site. And these people still think they have a relevant place in this world. And of course, they do all of this crap from the sanctity of the United States of America. Do they even consider moving to one of the workers paradises scattered around this great planet? North Korea? Cuba? Myanmar? Iran? Nope... Hypocrites all of them.

The Christchurch Earthquake

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The New Zealand Civil Defense released 15 minutes of hand-held video shot in the aftermath of the Earthquake. Sobering.

University "studies" programs

For the longest time, I have believed that the best way to improve teaching at Colleges and Universities is to immediately drop any curriculum that has the word "Studies" in its name.

Mike Adams writing at Town Hall goes into some detail:

Rigor Please
For some time, I have made a habit of asking students their major (and minor) immediately after they ask me a silly question. This is necessary because I teach two basic studies courses per semester - both populated by students from across the spectrum of academic disciplines. I have found (consistently) that nearly all inane questions and comments come from students in just a handful of academic majors.

In the past, I've gotten myself in hot water for suggesting that the African American Center, LGBTQIA Center, Women's Center, and El Centro Hispano be shut down in order to ease our current state budget crisis. But, today, I propose that we go further by eliminating all academic majors and minors ending with the word "studies."

This is not meant to be prejudicial - although, having little else to do, the Arrogant American Centers will try to make it so. Let it be known that I propose eliminating more than just Arrogant American and Hyphenated American Studies. I also want to do away with Communication Studies, Environmental Studies, Liberal Studies, Women's Studies, and Gay and Lesbian Studies. And I want the cuts to be implemented across our sixteen-campus system.

The data I plan to use to support my proposal is not scientific. If it were, the proponents of the various "studies" programs would not understand it. So I rely principally on an unscientifically gathered collection of stupid questions I have recently heard from students in the Fill-in-the-Blank Studies era of higher education. These student comments demonstrate that their "studies" professors are truly making a difference in their lives and in the dominant "society":
At a local grill, the waitress, a UNCW "studies" major, asked "Would you like a sweet tea or a beer?" to which I responded "The latter." She then asked, "Which one is that?" I responded by asking her "Well, why don't you just guess? You have a fifty-fifty shot at getting it right." She responded by saying "I'm not in the mood to think."

Just two days before an exam I gave my students a review session. I told them they could ask any question as long as they did not ask me what to "focus on." I explained that asking what to "focus on" was the same as asking "What is going to be on the test?"

First question: "What should we focus on in chapter three?"

When I refused to answer, the response was "There's just so much to read. Where is our study guide?" (For the record, study guides are most often found in classes ending with the word "studies." That is why "studies" students so often demand them. It's an addiction).

Another student wrote to tell me she was going to be missing the next class. Her question was:
"Will we be talking about anything important?" It's a fair question. Few of the professors in her major talk about anything important.
My response: No response. I simply deleted the email.

I walked into class the other day and told students to stop emailing me with questions that were already answered in the course syllabus - noting that since it was over one month into the class it was simply embarrassing for them to have not read the syllabus. I argued that taking a class without reading the course syllabus was like taking a job without reading the employment contract.

Later in the class a "studies" major asked "How many tests will we have this semester?"

My response: "Read your syllabus." (Note: She asked the same question during the next class meeting apparently having forgotten that she already asked the question).

I recently asked this simple question of a product of one of our fine and academically rigorous "studies" programs: "Did you re-take the GRE?"

The answer: "No. I haven't re-took it yet."

*Here's another brilliant question from someone who should be majoring in Inappropriate Communication Studies: "We only have two minutes before class begins. Do I have enough time to go to the restroom?"

My response: "I don't know. I guess that depends on whether you plan to go #1 or #2."

Student: Can we have a study guide for the next test?

Me: What is your major?

Student: Communication Studies.

Me: Is this a Communication Studies class?

Student: No.

Me: Well, there's your answer.

This question came from a student who ought to be majoring in Entitlement Studies: "Can I take the test earlier in the day - like around ten o'clock?"

My response: "Yes, I plan to offer thirty different administrations of the test - one for each of my students according to his or her personal needs."

Student: "Are you serious?"

Me: "No."

A new Entitlement Studies major would be fitting for the �studies� student who asked this question: "Could you spell that guy's name - the one who came up with the theory you just mentioned?"

My response: "Sure. R-O-B-E-R-T."

Her response: "Could you spell his last name, too?"

My response: "Sure. R-E-A-D Y-O-U-R B-O-O-K."

Her response: "Is his name going to be on the test?"

And, finally, here's a great question from a student who has been trained by the finest minds on the Fill-in-the-Blank Studies faculty: "What is a propensity?"

My response: "It is a habit, predisposition, or inclination. For example, people who choose majors or minors ending with the word 'studies' have a propensity to ask idiotic questions. But they do not have a propensity to use the dictionary." (OK, I didn't actually say that but I thought of it later and I can pretend I said it because it's my column).

Of course, not all of the stupid questions I get are from students majoring or minoring in Something-or-Another Studies. But they do dominate the field of stupidity in a way that reflects poorly on their respective majors and the university. That is the reason why we need to take a Darwinian approach by getting rid of these departments and forcing these students to attempt to survive in a real academic discipline.

The university will have a better student body after the Fill-in-the-Blank Studies students have all flunked out. The patrons of the local grill will also have more dedicated waitresses. Freed from the rigors of college life the latter might eventually be moved to think. That is, if the mood should suddenly strike them.

Nicked in full because the stories are just too good to excerpt.

Thorium in the news

I am a big fan of Thorium Fluoride reactors - inherently safe and we have bucketloads of Thorium fuel in the Earth's crust. It is a very common element.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has a nice column at the UK Telegraph:

Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium
A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima's uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium.

That was on January 30th, I noticed it and posted here:"Thorium reactors are coming soon"


This passed unnoticed -- except by a small of band of thorium enthusiasts -- but it may mark the passage of strategic leadership in energy policy from an inert and status-quo West to a rising technological power willing to break the mould.

If China's dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia's industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West's entrenched consumption.

China's Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a "thorium-based molten salt reactor system". The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball. Further evidence of Barack Obama's "Sputnik moment", you could say.

Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster.

And the lead scientist on this program is Dr. Jiang Mianheng -- a graduate of Drexel University. We are training people in this technology but not using our homegrown talent... The reason the reactor is "less prone to disaster" is a clever one.


"The reactor has an amazing safety feature," said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert.

"If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself," he said.

"They operate at atmospheric pressure so you don't have the sort of hydrogen explosions we've seen in Japan. One of these reactors would have come through the tsunami just fine. There would have been no radiation release."

The quantities in question:

The earth's crust holds 80 years of uranium at expected usage rates, he said. Thorium is as common as lead. America has buried tons as a by-product of rare earth metals mining. Norway has so much that Oslo is planning a post-oil era where thorium might drive the country's next great phase of wealth. Even Britain has seams in Wales and in the granite cliffs of Cornwall. Almost all the mineral is usable as fuel, compared to 0.7pc of uranium. There is enough to power civilization for thousands of years.

And the reason we have not done more work with Thorium:

US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation.

The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner

No Earth Shattering Ka-Boom!

In a wonderful alternate universe, the Greens would embrace Thorium and everyone would have the power they needed at dirt cheap prices...

RIP - Elizabeth Taylor

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They don't make them like her anymore -- sad to say. The London Daily Mail has a nice obit.

New York Times digital subscription

I knew they were asking way to much money for it but this chart from The Understatement really drives it home:

Click to embiggen...

Especially when it can be defeated with a few lines of Java code...

Now this is wonderful - SEIU caught on tape

From Business Insider (with a big tip of the hat to Breitbart's Big Government):

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Former SEIU Official Reveals Secret Plan To Destroy JP Morgan, Crash The Stock Market, And Redistribute Wealth In America
A former official of one of the country's most-powerful unions, SEIU, has a secret plan to "destabilize" the country.

The plan is designed to destroy JP Morgan, nuke the stock market, and weaken Wall Street's grip on power, thus creating the conditions necessary for a redistribution of wealth and a change in government.

The former SEIU official, Stephen Lerner, spoke in a closed session at a Pace University forum last weekend.

The Blaze procured what appears to be a tape of Lerner's remarks. Many Americans will undoubtely sympathize with and support them. Still, the "destabilization" plan is startling in its specificity, especially coming so close on the heels of the financial crisis.

Lerner said that unions and community organizations are, for all intents and purposes, dead. The only way to achieve their goals, therefore--the redistribution of wealth and the return of "$17 trillion" stolen from the middle class by Wall Street--is to "destabilize the country."

Lerner's plan is to organize a mass, coordinated "strike" on mortgage, student loan, and local government debt payments--thus bringing the banks to the edge of insolvency and forcing them to renegotiate the terms of the loans. This destabilization and turmoil, Lerner hopes, will also crash the stock market, isolating the banking class and allowing for a transfer of power.

Lerner's plan starts by attacking JP Morgan Chase in early May, with demonstrations on Wall Street, protests at the annual shareholder meeting, and then calls for a coordinated mortgage strike.

Lerner also says explicitly that, although the attack will benefit labor unions, it cannot be seen as being organized by them. It must therefore be run by community organizations.

Lerner was ousted from SEIU last November, reportedly for spending millions of the union's dollars trying to pursue a plan like the one he details here. It is not clear what, if any, power and influence he currently wields. His main message--that Wall Street won the financial crisis, that inequality in this country is hitting record levels, and that there appears to be no other way to stop the trend--will almost certainly resonate.

Actually inequality is at record low levels. Anyone can become modestly wealthy if they have the will to study and work hard for it. Even the so-called poor are still way better off than the poor in other nations. Cell phones, televisions, automobiles, food? Gimme a break...

From Wired Magazine:
Primordial Soup�s Missing Ingredient May Be Sulfur
A fresh look at forgotten vials from Stanley Miller�s primordial-soup-in-a-bottle experiments implies that volcanoes seeping hydrogen sulfide helped form some of life�s earliest ingredients.

Sulfur�s presence makes it possible to synthesize a greater variety of amino acids � the molecules that link to form protein chains � and gives nascent life a larger palette of chemicals from which to select.

�When you are analyzing old samples, you always hope in the back of your mind that you are going to find something really cool,� says primary author Eric Parker, a graduate student now at Georgia Tech. �It was a pleasant surprise to see such a large array of different amino acids and amines.�

In Miller�s classic experiments, dating from the early 1950s, electricity � standing in for lightning � zaps a few basic chemicals, water, methane, hydrogen and ammonia, to simulate the atmospheric conditions on Earth before life began. Miller became famous for showing that simple chemicals could be combined with relative ease to form some of the building blocks of life.

This 1958 experiment, originally unpublished and revisited March 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, marked Miller�s first inclusion of hydrogen sulfide, the chemical that makes rotten eggs smell and a prime component of volcanic gas emissions, in the primordial mix.

Using modern chemical analysis techniques, Parker�s team found 23 amino acids, seven other compounds and four amines, a breakdown product of amino acids. This was far more than typical analysis of past samples, which yielded five to 10 amino acids. Several of the amino acids were synthesized for the first time, including methionine, a required building block for many proteins in animals, plants and fungi.

The newly identified collection of amino acids is also similar to those found in meteorites, meaning sulfur may have help assemble life�s ingredients off this planet, as well as on.

Sandra Pizzarello, an Arizona State University chemist who was not involved with the study, agreed with Parker�s chemical detective work. She noted, however, that all experiments seeking to synthesize prebiotic chemicals are limited.

Earth�s early atmospheric conditions aren�t known, and the reactions in this experiment could only have happened near a source of sulfur. On a primordial Earth, that would have meant volcanoes. Whereas Miller originally focused on chemical reactions in the atmosphere, the primordial soup may have gathered in a volcanic bowl.
The most brilliant experiments are often the most simple. This is right up there with E=MC2 and to be revisiting it now that we have better lab techniques is a brand new look at an elegant idea.

Nothing tonight

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Tired and busy -- heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email.

Minimal posting today

A run into town and working on some other stuff. I may post a bit later in the evening if something catches my eye. What is wonderful is the silence in the media regarding the Japanese reactors. They were dealt a heavy blow with the tsunami and they coped and tried Plan A and then Plan B and then... The reactors are toast but we must not forget that they were scheduled for decommission in a few months anyway; this just makes cleanup a bit more interesting...

Got the tee shirt...

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This email exchange came in from another list (DIY-CNC) but if the foo shits:
>>Is there 10,000 geeks in the world ?

Way more...

Plus you need to include geeks in training, retired geeks, and geeks in denial.

I'm doing some work for a company right now that has the highest geek/employee ratio than I have ever experienced.

I bet they would all be wearing sandals if they made sandals with steel toes. Hair cuts are optional. They think that the "dress code" means that they just need to wear clothes; and that is close to correct.

Even the president of the company (the head geek) programs in multiple languages..

Some of them can barely speak ..... It's a shame. I'm pretty sure that the guy that sits behind me can't speak at all.

Flex time is rampant. Some of them program from 9am to 3am the next morning if they get the urge.. Coffee flows freely.. Some even carry pots of it around with them..(seriously)Headphones and Ipods are almost required.. If you are serious geek, then ear buds, a music headphone set and a Skype headphone are always at hand. If you don't have at least 2 -24" LCDs.. your not fully equipped. 3-4 is sometimes used..I think the company has a site subscription to Pandora.. One guy recently left to go to work for another company and he ceremoniously donated one of his large LCD monitors to a less fortunate one.

It is tough working in such an environment...

Fortunately I'm perfectly normal... :-)

Been there, done that, and yes, I actually have the tee shirts...

Finally spring...

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Saw the skunk cabbage blossoming a week ago and then tonight, went out to pee and heard the frogs chirping in the stream. Last couple of winters have been "interesting" to say the least. Hoping that we revert back to "normal" sometime soon...
From Zombie writing at the PJ Tattler:
Left wheel of Obama bandwagon falls off
Ooops. The far left supported Obama primarily because he advertised himself as the anti-war candidate. Now that he�s launched us into a third simultaneous war (Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya), former supporters have thrown in the towel:

Dennis Kucinich: Time to impeach Obama over Libya action.

Michael Moore: Obama no better than Bush.

Louis Farrakhan: �Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?�

Andrew Sullivan: Obama now the exact opposite of what I voted for.

This random DailyKos diarist sums up today�s zeigeist on the left:
Barack Obama do you believe in anything or you just want to be in power at the expense of everybody? Shame on you, I cannot believe these words will ever come from my mouth. But you should be shame of yourself.

Barack Obama has finally betrayed the last people that believed in him. . . . Africans�

And all those Kossacks who are cheering you are nothing but Hypocrites because invasion is an Invasion being it Iraq or Afghanistan. When has the US ever followed the French?

My God you are the President of the United States. Why do you let your own employees push you around? Libya is in a state of Civil war. It is unlike the even in Egypt or Tunisia.

I was one those who headed your campaign here in Harris County, Texas. I supported you when you betrayed me on Health Care Public Option, Guantanamo Bay, Tax Cut for the Rich, as pragmatic but this, you have zero justification.
The honeymoon is now but a distant hazy memory.

From Business Insider:

Even Japan's Infamous Mafia Groups Are Helping With The Relief Effort
The worst of times sometimes brings out the best in people, even in Japan's "losers" a.k.a. the Japanese mafia, the yakuza.

Hours after the first shock waves hit, two of the largest crime groups went into action, opening their offices to those stranded in Tokyo, and shipping food, water, and blankets to the devastated areas in two-ton trucks and whatever vehicles they could get moving.

The day after the earthquake the Inagawa-kai (the third largest organized crime group in Japan which was founded in 1948) sent twenty-five four-ton trucks filled with paper diapers, instant ramen, batteries, flashlights, drinks, and the essentials of daily life to the Tohoku region.

An executive in Sumiyoshi-kai, the second-largest crime group, even offered refuge to members of the foreign community -- something unheard of in a still slightly xenophobic nation, especially amongst the right-wing yakuza.

The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest crime group, under the leadership of Tadashi Irie, has also opened its offices across the country to the public and been sending truckloads of supplies, but very quietly and without any fanfare.

The Inagawa-kai has been the most active because it has strong roots in the areas hit. It has several "blocks" or regional groups. Between midnight on March 12th and the early morning of March 13th, the Inagawa-kai Tokyo block carried 50 tons of supplies to Hitachinaka City Hall (Hitachinaka City, Ibaraki Prefecture) and dropped them off, careful not to mention their yakuza affiliation so that the donations weren't rejected. This was the beginning of their humanitarian efforts. Supplies included cup ramen, bean sprouts, paper diapers, tea and drinking water. The drive from Tokyo took them twelve hours. They went through back roads to get there. The Kanagawa Block of the Inagawa-kai, has sent 70 trucks to the Ibaraki and Fukushima areas to drop off supplies in areas with high radiations levels. They didn't keep track of how many tons of supplies they moved. The Inagawa-kai as a whole has moved over 100 tons of supplies to the Tohoku region. They have been going into radiated areas without any protection or potassium iodide.

The Yamaguchi-gumi member I spoke with said simply, "Please don't say any more than we are doing our best to help. Right now, no one wants to be associated with us and we'd hate to have our donations rejected out of hand."

That is about 50,000,000 kinds of awesome. Honor runs deep...

Some more Quantitative Easing

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Was driving near Lynwood, WA (a bit north of Seattle) on Highway 99 near I-5 and took this quick snapshot of diesel prices these days...
Fortunately, our small town station is still charging $3.99 This is not the price of gasoline rising, this is the value of the US Dollar sinking because they are flying off the printing presses. Here is our local bank's exchange rates for US Dollars v/s Canadian Dollars:
Batten down the hatches people -- it's the late '70s all over again...


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From the Auto Blog:
Mercedes-Benz: U.S. fuel too dirty for next-gen efficient engines
The newest gasoline engines from Mercedes-Benz feature cutting-edge lean-burn technology that leads to fewer harmful emissions and a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy. Well, the new engine tech, which requires a much leaner fuel-to-air ratio, is making its way into many mills, but apparently not the ones destined for these United States.

Ward's Automotive quotes Daimler powertrain development vice president Bernhard Heil as saying that the gasoline in the U.S. contains sulfur at the rate of 95 parts-per-million; about twice as much as can be tolerated by the new engines. The problem? Excess sulfur apparently clogs the nitrogen oxide-capturing traps.

So, is the U.S. the only country lagging behind Europe in removing sulfur from its gasoline supply? Far from it. Heil points out that the gasoline in Africa and many areas of Asia also contain too much sulfur for the lean engines. The first engine to feature the technology is the direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 destined for the C350 sport sedan and the SLK roadster seen above. The 302-horsepower mill will not (obviously) utilize lean-burn tech here in the U.S.
Surprised they were not able to work around it -- should be a simple thing to trap...

Radiation doses

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Randall Munroe of xkcd fame has created the best explanation of radiation doses that I have seen. Click to open the chart full-size in a new window...
Click to embiggen.

Energy in New York

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It will be interesting to see if Gov. Cuomo will do it. From the New York Post:
Frack, baby, frack!
In three months, a statewide ban on all natural gas drilling comes to an end.

But will Gov. Cuomo allow developers to begin tapping the rich Marcellus Shale � and thus not only help allay New York�s energy woes but also boost the upstate region�s ailing economy?

Then-Gov. David Paterson issued the moratorium last December after vetoing a bill that would have extended an existing ban on hydraulic fracturing, aka hydrofracking, in which water and chemicals are injected into rock formations to release natural gas.

Hard-core lefties and environmental groups say the process � which is banned only in New York � contaminates groundwater.

But those claims are refuted by the official state geologist, who calls them �exaggerated� and says he�s found no evidence of such contamination in three years of study.

�This could really help us fight climate change,� said Dr. Langhorne �Taury� Smith, who works for the State Museum, in an interview with an upstate newspaper. �This is a huge gift, this shale.�

On the other hand, the controversy over the shale, he said, has been a gold mine for environmental groups � which have raised funds by alarming folks about the alleged dangers of hydrofracking.

The legislative ban, which was passed after lobbying by the Working Families Party and MoveOn, would�ve not only prohibited the horizontal drilling method, but also the vertical one, which has been used for decades without opposition.
Working Families Party and MoveOn are two political groups, not scientific. They should not be dictating energy policy. Especially since George Soros (MoveOn) profits from our fuel imports -- conflict of interests anyone? There have been a few documented cases of shallow fracking causing contaminated water but in the case of the Marcellus shale -- from the Marcellus Wiki:
The Process
Marcellus shale fracing normally takes place 7,000 to 10,000 feet underground, more than a mile of solid rock below the water table. Fracing is a time tested procedure for stimulating a well�s productivity that has been in use in oil and gas drilling since the late 1940's.
Sounds safe to me...

C'est ne pas une post

Long long day today. Bakery in the morning, drove south 70 miles to do some bakery shopping and then 20 miles back north for a social event. Came back to our neck of the woods, unlocked the bakery and did the day's books plus some checkbook reconciliation and other crap. Went out to a local restaurant to decompress and have two beers. Stagger out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to bed and to sleep in.

Great product disclaimer

I was at my local builders store (Builders Alliance in Bellingham -- excellent place!)

This display of Wet & Forget cleaner caught my eye:


Particularly this warning label:


I love a business that is not afraid to poke fun at itself...

Caveat Emptor

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From Not Always Right:
You Say Communist, I Say Consumerist
Customer: �Do you have any clothes that aren�t made in China?�

Me: �Well, we can��

Customer: (whispers conspiratorially) �Don�t you know that they�re all communists there?�

(She grabs a shirt off of the rack, and looks at the tag.)

Customer: �Ah. Made in Vietnam. Much better.�

(She walks off triumphantly.)

Back to the future

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From Newsmax:
Harvard�s Ferguson: Obama Leading Us Back to Carter '70s
In a scenario reminiscent of the �Back to the Future� movie franchise, a Harvard professor says that we�re close to being mired in the economic disaster of the 1970s, except that Barack Obama instead of Jimmy Carter is at the wheel as the country roars toward inflation.

Fueled by the oil crisis, government overspending, money printing at the world�s central banks, and chaos in the Middle East, inflation is poised to take off, says Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson.

The world faces a �pretty inflationary scenario" not seen since the 1970s, he said. How bad did inflation make the �70s? Those who bought houses, or tried to, faced mortgage rates of 17, 18, and 19 percent.

Demand from China and fighting in places such as Libya and perhaps Saudi Arabia will pressure oil prices higher, creating a bearish environment, Ferguson told CNBC.

Add the huge deficits and easy money in the developed world and the result is inescapably �a pretty inflationary scenario," he said.

"Best case, we're about to rerun the 1970s, only with Barack Obama instead of Jimmy Carter in the White House," Ferguson said.

China is now the world�s major manufacturer, raising the ultimate question of when the dollar will lose its role as the reserve currency, Ferguson said. It takes a long time for reserve currencies to lose their status, since holders cannot all liquidate at once.

However, investors who hold dollar-denominated assets, such as foreign central banks, are likely to reconsider their position, he suggested, saying that there is "a sense around the world that exposure to the dollar has higher risk in it.�
Put Democrats in "progressive" Congress for a couple years and this is what happens. Put a "progressive" President in the White House for two years and it all falls apart. If we are going to stay Democratic, at least let it be someone of John F. Kennedy's caliber...

Nuclear deaths = 0; Wind deaths = 67

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From here: Caithness Windfarm Information Forum 2010 Specifically:
Total number of accidents: 966

Number of fatal accidents: 67
Plus, 201 cases of blade failure with this goodie:
Pieces of blade are documented as travelling over 1300 metres
32 instances include deaths of protected species of bird
Meanwhile -- Nuclear? . . . . . . . . . crickets . . . . . . . . .

Except for this post - lucky man

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From Australian ABC News:
Man 'survives Aceh and Japan tsunamis'
Doctoral student Zahrul Fuadi, 39, who is from the Indonesian province, was at a seminar at a university campus in Sendai when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck, triggering a tsunami that devastated Japan's north-eastern coast.

Seven years ago, the engineer had to flee from the tsunami that killed 168,000 people in his own country.

"I have survived two monumental disasters. I'm very grateful, not many people have experienced two big disasters and survived," Mr Fuadi said.

His house in Simpang Mesra village, Banda Aceh, was destroyed in the 2004 disaster, which followed a 9.3-magnitude quake.

"We were at my house when the quake happened. Me, my wife and my two children escaped from the tsunami by riding a motorcycle. We went very far from my house because we were so afraid," he said.

"Actually I'm more scared of tsunamis than earthquakes. I was running away from the Aceh tsunami back then and thinking that was the end of the world."

Mr Fuadi is a faculty member at Syah Kuala University in Banda Aceh. His family moved to Sendai after he received a scholarship to complete his doctorate at Tohoku University in the town.

He has been living in Japan for the past six years, but he and his family were spared by last week's tsunami because the campus is 20 kilometres from the coast.

Mr Fuadi returned to Indonesia on Tuesday and has flown back to Aceh.

"I plan to return to Sendai as I have to finish some work. But now it's the nuclear radiation that I'm afraid of," he said.

That is it for tonight

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Was at the bakery around 6:30AM to cook the corned beef and cabbage. Picked up about 15 pounds of beef brisket, trimmed some of the fat off and brined it myself. Served it with Colcannon, Soda Bread and Boiled Cabbage. I had not advertised this but spread it by word of mouth -- in a small town, this works as we nearly sold out... Planning to make this a once/month event. Tired, heading out to the DaveCave(tm) and then to bed.

An EPA two-fer

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The EPA is seriously overstepping its original charter and needs to have its funding curtailed. First up -- from Watts Up With That:
Waxman, Markey, and Inslee�s argument
Last week the House Energy & Power Subcommittee marked up H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act. Today, the full House Energy & Commerce Committee will mark up the bill.

Opponents, especially Reps. Waxman, Markey, and Inslee, viciously attacked the bill last Thursday. Their arguments are reviewed in detail at the blog GlobalWarming.Org.

The post concludes with this summary of the Waxman-Markey-Inslee argument as follows:
We know what is good for America and the world. It�s a future without fossil fuels. We can�t persuade the people�s representatives to support our agenda and turn it into law. Therefore, it is necessary for EPA to implement our agenda regardless of the defeat of cap-and-trade, the November 2011 elections, and the separation of powers. Our agenda is more important than any constitutional principle that might interfere with it.
The question on limiting of the breadth of power of the EPA to have control over the future of the United States energy policy is one of the most important debates of our time.
Emphasis mine -- talk about hubris... Second -- from Breitbart/Associated Press:
EPA proposes regulating mercury from coal plants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules on Wednesday that would for the first time regulate toxic air emissions from coal-fired power plants, including limiting mercury, lead, arsenic and acid gas pollution.

Environmental and medical groups praised the move, which came in response to a court-ordered deadline, saying the new regulations will remove toxins from the air that contribute to respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children.

Some industry groups slammed the measure, however, accusing the EPA of inflating the benefits and arguing it would cost billions of dollars annually to comply.

Currently, there are no limits on how much mercury or other toxic pollutants can be released from a power plant's smoke stacks�which emit some 386,000 tons of toxic air pollution annually, by far the largest industrial source of such pollution in the United States. The new rules would require power plants to install technologies that would limit the emissions.
Well golly gee -- if we just promoted Nuclear, the coal plants would no longer be cost effective and the coal would be used for feedstock for chemical processes instead of being burned for fuel. The EPA has been in business for only 41 years and it has cost this nation billions. Yet another thing to thank President Nixon for...

Getting an education - Canadian University

From the McGill Tribune:
Student investigated for hateful tweets
The McGill administration is currently investigating Haaris Khan, a McGill student who, using Twitter, threatened to shoot a roomful of other students last week at a campus film screening.

Khan made the threats at a screening of "Indoctrinate U," a documentary, on March 8 hosted by Conservative McGill and Libertarian McGill. "I want to shoot everyone in this room," he tweeted at one point during the film, adding, "I should have brought an M16."
A bit more:
The event's organizers found out about the tweets on Thursday, said Kevin Pidgeon, a Conservative McGill member who attended the event. A friend of Brendan Steven, another Conservative McGill member, contacted Steven about the posts, Pidgeon said. After reviewing them, Steven and the event's other organizers decided to call McGill Security.

Though Khan has since deactivated his Twitter account, Conservative McGill members, at the suggestion of the Montreal Police Department, took screenshots of his tweets for evidence. Over the span of about an hour and half, during the screening Khan railed against Jews and Zionists in 10 separate tweets.

"I've infiltrated a Zionist meeting," Khan wrote in his first tweet, at 6:04 p.m., shortly after the event began. "I feel like I'm at a Satanist ritual."

"Oh man, a Muslim girl just appeared," he wrote in his next post. "I thought, like me, she's a freedom fighter. Unfortunately, she's a co-conspirator. Traitor."

About half an hour into the screening, Khan's tweets turned violent.

"My blood is boiling," he wrote at 6:38 p.m. "I want to shoot everyone in this room. I'm frightened, alarmed, and downright pissed. Never been this angry."

"This experience has hardened me into a soldier for freedom and truth," Khan wrote about an hour later. He posted his last tweet, about bringing an M16, minutes later.

Khan continued tweeting angrily for much of the next day, though not always about Zionism or Conservative McGill. (He called the Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara a "giant penis" after Chara delivered a brutal hit to Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty that night.)

But at 1:14 p.m. the next day, Khan tweeted, "The jihad begins today."
Of course the University is keeping quiet and the police just said that Kahn doesn't have any registered firearms. If this were a conservative student, the media would be all over the case. The strange thing is that Indoctrinate U is not about religion or culture at all. From the IMDB page:
Documentary filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney investigates political censorship at colleges and universities in the United States.
So this moron wants to impose his views on everyone at McGill. Isn't that a form of censorship?

Submitted without comment

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Is the UN ever going to do anything useful.

Oil for Food, sex crimes of the peacekeepers, corruption at all levels, they just do not get it -- they are a bunch of six year old Kleptocrats only interested in consolidating their own power and not in securing world peace.

Here is the latest from the New York Times:

Scientists Project Path of Radiation Plume
A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across the Pacific and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting Southern California late Friday.

Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, even if hints of it are ultimately detectable. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule.

What a load of codswallop. Local climate scientist and University of Washington Professor (Climate Sciences) Cliff Mass had this to say on Monday:

The U.S. West Coast is NOT at Risk from Radiation
Today I got calls and emails from all sorts of folks, worrying about the Japanese radiation reaching the Northwest in dangerous quantities. Potassium iodide pills, used for thyroid protection from radioactive iodine have been stripped from the shelves in Seattle.

I think the reality is clear...there is no serious radiation threat to us here in the Northwest.

First, I should note that the weather pattern is shifting and the latest trajectories show that the low-level trajectories don't reach us.(see below) The low-level trajectories circle around in the Pacific and the upper one heads south of us. (Yes, there is uncertainty with this and it is only as good as the National Weather Service GFS model)

More at the link. And what is the organization that issued this dire warning?

The projection, by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, an arm of the United Nations in Vienna, gives no information about actual radiation levels but only shows how a radioactive plume would probably move and disperse.

Emphasis mine.

First of all, it is a projection and not an analysis. Big difference.

Second, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization is a fscking political organization and not a scientific one. They have an ax to grind and the worse light they can use to paint Nuclear Power, the more they are going to do so. Shame on these morons for spreading fear at a time when the truth is needed.

Shame on the New York Times for not having a scientist check out this article before running with it.

Heh - unintended consequences

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From Richard Pollock at PJ Tattler:
Japan�s Nuclear Crisis May Doom Global Warming Activists� Dreams
Anti-nuclear critics may be celebrating the possible death of commercial nuclear power. But as U.K. energy expert Benny Peiser notes this morning, less nuclear power will mean most industrialized countries will increase their dependency on fossil fuels for electricity, not reduce them. This means global warming activists� goal may be dying a quick death.

Japan�s rebuilding alone will require a new surge in electricity � not less � as it will need high energy aluminum, steel and concrete for reconstruction. The country will probably turn to old coal and oil plants, to liquefied natural gas and to natural gas to power their high tech economic base and to aid reconstruction.

The turn away from nuclear will be felt throughout Europe. Germany itself will see a 4% increase in carbon emissions alone as a result of its new imposition of a nuclear moratorium for their seven plants, which emit zero carbon emissions. The European Union is set to call for a continent-wide moratorium to test all atomic plants for earthquake protection. Some older plants will not return on line out of fear. Even in Washington, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has called for closure of older nukes.

The loss of relatively cheap nuclear energy will put new pressure on governments to turn to the only ready-made energy answer, fossil fuels. It will mean public pressure to drill for more oil, extract more coal and explore shale gas reserves. And as gas prices spike worldwide, pressure will increase for renewed domestic oil drilling, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.

While the environmental community might be gleeful in saying �Hail, Hail Nuclear is Dead!,� what really may have died this week is the environmentalists� dream of the imposition by fiat of a worldwide climate change pact.
Quite the observation -- this will be a good thing(tm) either way...
One of the best accounts of what actually happened. From Charlie Martin at Pajamas Media:
Fear the Media Meltdown, Not the Nuclear One (UPDATED)
The March 11 earthquake off the coast of Japan has been an unprecedented disaster. Now estimated to have been a magnitude 9 earthquake � one of the top five earthquakes measured since reporting started in 1900 � it was the result of a �megathrust� in which an area of sea floor bigger than the state of Connecticut broke free and moved under the force of colliding tectonic plates. It was so strong that it literally moved the entire island of Honshu eight feet to the east. The earthquake was then followed by a tsunami comparable to the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 � but since the epicenter of the quake was only a few miles off the coast of Japan, the tsunami struck the heavily populated coast of Honshu with almost no warning, basically washing many coastal villages off the face of the earth.

The earthquake and tsunami seriously damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi (�number one�) and Daini (�number two�) in Okuma, in Fukushima Prefecture, and also damaged the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture. In total, of the 55 nuclear power generation plants in Japan, 11 have been forced to shut down, cutting power generation capacity in Japan dramatically and forcing the country to adopt a series of rolling blackouts. It would seem impossible to overstate the severity of the crisis.

The media, however, has risen to the challenge, with a combination of poor information, ignorance, and alarmism, along with antinuclear activists passing themselves off as unbiased experts.

Let�s try to make some sense of it all.
He starts with an introduction to the basic design and operation and then tells what happened:
What happened at Fukushima Daiichi
The original earthquake hit. Three of the six reactors were in operation, the other three were shut down for scheduled maintenance. The reactors were designed to sustain an earthquake of magnitude 8.2; at magnitude 9, the Honshu quake was 16 times more powerful. This caused the plant to automatically shut down; this was apparently successful, but �

About an hour later, the tsunami hit. The tsunami did two significant things: it destroyed the backup generators that kept the pumps running, and it apparently so contaminated the reserve coolant that it was not only no longer pure, but was so mucked up with the scourings of the tsunami that it couldn�t be safely pumped. At this point, the reactor was in some trouble.

As the reactor heated up, water began to react with the zirconium fuel-rod containers, liberating hydrogen, which started to build up in the boiler. The operators began to vent gases from the reactor to reduce the pressure, liberating the hydrogen into the outer fa�ade building. These gases are mildly radioactive, mainly with nitrogen-16 and several isotopes of xenon, all products of the fission reaction that powers the reactor; apparently they were vented into the outer building in order to slow their dispersion and give them a chance to lose radioactivity.

Hydrogen in combination with the oxygen in the air can be explosive, and at some time after the venting started in reactor 3, the hydrogen in the outer fa�ade exploded, blowing off the walls of upper half of the building and leaving the steel structure exposed. This explosion put six workers in hospital, with various injuries and one apparent heart attack. This was the first spectacular explosion that raised great clouds of white smoke.

This was reported in the New York Times as �radiation poisoning.� No other source has reported this, including the IAEA. Apparently, according to the Times, radiation poisoning breaks arms.

The second explosion was another hydrogen explosion; as before, apparently what was destroyed was the outer building that surrounds the containment, not the containment itself.
Charlie then talks about the basics of radioactivity, the units of measurement and what was actually released at the plant and he compares this to other exposures. The worst exposure recorded was the equivalent of 20 CT Scans, well below the danger level. The fact that we are measuring elevated levels of radiation does not mean that we are measuring dangerous levels of radiation. It is a long article but well written and worth reading for a clear view of what is happening. There is an brief update this morning (15th) about the fuel-rod fire:
Fuel rod fire?
While I was asleep, there was a new and unhappy event at Fukushima Daiichi: stored spent fuel rods apparently caught fire. At least right now, this is considerably more exciting than the actual reactor problems. Here�s what the IAEA says:
As reported earlier, a 400 millisieverts (mSv) per hour radiation dose observed at Fukushima Daiichi occurred between units 3 and 4. This is a high dose-level value, but it is a local value at a single location and at a certain point in time. The IAEA continues to confirm the evolution and value of this dose rate. It should be noted that because of this detected value, non-indispensible staff was evacuated from the plant, in line with the Emergency Response Plan, and that the population around the plant is already evacuated.
As they say, that�s in one nasty spot in the plant, and unlike most of the radiation panic, this really is a kind of nasty dose. In the US, we more commonly do dose rates in �rem� � Roentgen Equivalent Man � and one rem is roughly 1/100 Sievert. So this is 40 rem/hr, and that�s not a neighborhood you want to be in a long time. 50 rem is about where you start seeing observable radiation changes, 100 rem in a short time will actually make you sick.

That being said, the dose rate at the gate they report is this:
At 00:00 UTC on 15 March a dose rate of 11.9 millisieverts (mSv) per hour was observed. Six hours later, at 06:00 UTC on 15 March a dose rate of 0.6 millisieverts (mSv) per hour was observed.
That�s 1.2 rem/hr, going down to 0.06 rem/hr.

The frustrating part about writing on this stuff is that people don�t seem to have any middle setting between �everything is fine� and �run in circles scream and shout�. So saying �no, it�s not Chernobyl� is interpreted as �it�s nothing.�

So let�s go ahead and make this clear: no, it�s still not Chernobyl. But no, it�s not nothing.
Well written and lots of links to original data. A nice anodyne to the fear-mongering from the 'activists'...

I want one of these shirts

Swiped from Denny:


An inconvenient question

Wonderful essay from a survivor of the Soviet Regime on having to deal with Progressives in this country. A few months old but well worth reading. From Oleg Atbashian:
Question Insanity: What to Ask Progressives
The two women who showed up early for my book signing at a small bookstore in Houston, TX, never even bothered to open my book. Wearing knowing smiles, they engaged me in a bizarre discussion that wound up leaping all around the known and unknown universe. They hadn�t the slightest curiosity about my ideas as an ex-Soviet immigrant in America, or what I had to say about my experience working inside the two ideologically opposed systems. As it turned out, they had spotted my flyer in the store window the day before, and the book�s title � Shakedown Socialism � had enraged them so much that they decided to return the following day and give me a piece of their collective mind.

Their act almost made me feel as if I were back in the USSR, where the harassment of people with my opinions was the norm. The shorter, pudgier woman was the soloist bully, while her skinnier, older comrade provided backup vocals and noise effects. The duo�s repertoire was an eclectic collection of unoriginal talking points, each branded with an almost legible label: NPR, Air America, MSNBC, and so on. Not only were those mental fragments mismatched in key and rhythm; the very existence of harmony seemed an unfamiliar concept to them. But compared to the hard-core screaming I used to hear from card-carrying Soviet bullies, this was almost elevator music. If I had survived the original cast, I could certainly handle a watered-down remake.

Framed on their terms, the debate zigzagged from the evils of unbridled capitalism to global warming to Bush�s wars for oil to Sarah Palin�s stupidity. Since my opponents wouldn�t give me a chance to respond, I soon became bored and tried to entertain myself by redirecting the flow of mental detritus against itself in a way that would cause its own annihilation. I did that by asking questions.

I remembered an old trick invented in the fifth century B.C. by Socrates. Instead of telling people what he thought was true, Socrates asked seemingly simple questions that put his opponents on the path of finding the truth for themselves. Seeking genuine knowledge rather than mere victory in an argument, Socrates used his questions to cross-examine the hypotheses, assumptions, and axioms that subconsciously shaped the opinions of his opponents, drawing out the contradictions and inconsistencies they relied on.

As the two women faced my questions, their knowing smiles turned to scowls. Sometimes they would backtrack and correct their previous statements; sometimes, they would angrily storm out of the room in the manner of Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg on The View with Bill O�Reilly. After a while they would return with more talking points, and then they had to answer another logical question. My friends who witnessed the scene told me later they saw the shorter bully beginning to foam at the mouth.
And the questions you ask -- he gives a treasure trove. Here are ten:
  • If a politician gets elected by the poor on a promise to eliminate poverty, wouldn�t fulfilling his promise destroy his voting base? Wouldn�t he rather benefit from the growing numbers of poor people? Isn�t this an obvious conflict of interests?
  • How did the �war on poverty� end? Has there been a peace treaty or a ceasefire? Who is the occupying force and who are the insurgents?
  • If the poor in America have things that people in other countries can only dream about, why is there a movement to make America more like those other countries?
  • If cutting out the middleman lowers the price, why are we paying the government to stand between us and the markets?
  • How come Hollywood can always find a good side in thugs, but never in businesspeople? What was the last movie that pictured a self-reliant, industrious man as a role model?
  • Why is bioengineering bad, but social engineering good?
  • How come those who hate humanity for its faults are called �humanists� but those who love humanity for its virtues are called �hate-mongers�?
  • Ever noticed that those who demand �power to the people� also believe that people can�t do anything right without government supervision?
  • Why is there never a headline that says �Government program ends as its intended goal has been achieved�?
  • Why are windfall profits a problem when they enrich U.S. companies that pay billions in taxes � but when Hugo Chavez uses the same windfall profits to fund Marxist guerillas in Colombia, it�s not a big deal?
Lots more at the site -- his book looks good...


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Swiped from Mostly Cajun who swiped it from I Can Haz Cheezburger:

Still more aftershocks

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Those poor people -- just today there have been nineteen quakes over 5 Mag and some up to 6.2. Those are substantial quakes by themselves -- sufficient to cause damage.
Click to embiggen...
Something I have not seen anywhere else is this statistic:
Aging of Japan -- The aging of Japan outweighs all other nations with the highest proportion of elderly citizens, 21% over the age of 65.
With 20% of the population unable to contribute to the rebuilding, this may have an effect on the speed with which Japan can rebuild. Another 20% are under 14 and about 60% are child to adult. Maybe they should just all of them move to Kansas -- someplace far away from any seismic activity. Sure be a boost for this nations economy... Those wanting to live by the sea could probably find enough spare change in their futons to purchase Dubai -- that place is going bust fast...
From the Denver Post:
Denver City Council endorses pay raise for elected officials
After spirited debate Monday, Denver's City Council voted 10-3 to tentatively approve a 6.6 percent raise for the next sitting council and every other elected official � an increase to be delayed for half of their four-year terms.

The city is facing a $100 million budget shortfall for the 2012 budget and has a structural budget problem that, if not addressed, could balloon into a $500 million deficit by 2030.
The raises in question:
The raise would give the council members an annual salary of $83,332 by July 2014. The council president makes about $10,000 more.

The mayor's salary will grow to $155,211 from its current $145,601. The salaries of both the clerk and recorder and the auditor would be $134,235, up from their current $125,924.
The silver lining:
All 13 council positions, along with the mayor, auditor and clerk and recorder, are up for election May 3.
Jeezzz -- I have some investment income and Jen and I each take $1K/month from the store. We live very comfortably on that -- the idea that people NEED $80K plus $30K in benefits is absurd -- that is upper class money. They need to look at their spending habits if they are out of funds...

Light posting today too

Working on some stuff today both at the bakery and at home.

Well crap

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There goes the fate of Nuclear Power for the next twenty years or so:
From the Wikipedia page -- a good source of non-hysterical information. Of course, nuclear power is horrible stuff -- throughout the entire world, we have had three major accidents which killed tens of thousands less than 100 people. Not like nasty old Coal which kills about 200 people per year just in the United States alone through plant, mining and transport accidents. Where is the outrage over that? Where is the demand for safe clean nuclear power?

Light posting today

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Had to run into town and have a Chamber of Commerce meeting tonight. Maybe some posting later but not likely...
I had posted before about how Julius Genachowski at the Federal Communications Commission wants to bring the Internet under its wing -- as obviously the present cabal of Anarchists, Libertarians and (shudder) Capitalists have done nothing to protect or promote it. Mr. Genachowski needs to keep his dick out of places it does not belong and he would do well to study this story from Computerworld:
Japan's Internet largely intact after earthquake, tsunami
Japan's Internet infrastructure has remained surprisingly unaffected by last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami, according to an analysis by Internet monitoring firm Renesys.

Most Web sites are operational and the Internet remains available to support critical communication functions, Renesys CTO James Cowie wrote in a blog over the weekend.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake off the Japanese coast, about 100 of Japan's 6,000 network prefixes -- or segments -- were withdrawn from service. But they started reappearing on global routing tables just a few hours later. Similarly, traffic to and from Japan dropped by about 25 gigabits per second right after the Friday quake, but returned to normal levels a few hours later. And traffic at Japan's JPNAP Layer 2 Internet exchange service appears to have slowed by just 10% since Friday, according to Renesys.

"Why have we not seen more impact on international Internet traffic from this incredibly devastating quake? We don't know yet," Cowie wrote.
What is being demonstrated here is that, at its very heart, the Internet was designed to operate in a hostile environment. Thirty years ago, equipment was a lot less reliable and if a node went down, there was no "voice from above" to tell the data where to go to bypass the dead node. The Internet Protocols were designed to discover other active nodes and to route around the bad node, all the while keeping track of what had been sent and what needed to be sent (you get your email but no duplicate copies, etc...). Two points for Mr. Genachowski #1) - the Internet routes around damage, and #2) - the Internet considers 'management' and censorship as damage.

Zomblog in the Senate

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Barbara Boxer gets PWNED big-time. Zombietime's main website is here and they publish photos of some of the more interesting demonstrations in the Berkeley/San Francisco area. Zombie also has a blog here and the post from March 3rd is a delightful read:
Zomblog post read aloud in the Senate
How often do blog posts make it into the Senate record?

I�m not sure, but we now know at least one has made it that far:

Part of a post I wrote back in 2009 was read verbatim today in the United States Senate by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) during a debate about the �global cooling� fad among scientists in the early 1970s.

As detailed succinctly by Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air, the argument started when Senator John Barrasso cited several media reports from the �70s warning that scientists now think the planet is threatened by a looming �ice age.� Senators Barbara Boxer and Tom Udall then reply by entering into the Senate record a recent USA Today article which claims that the global cooling thesis in the �70s never quite reached the level of complete scientific consensus.

It was at this point that Senator Inhofe shoots back a zinger, taking a page printed out from my zomblog post of September 16, 2009 entitled John Holdren in 1971: �New ice age� likely, and reading the words written by the man who is now Obama�s top �science czar,� John Holdren, warning of the perils of the coming ice age.

The reason I�m 100% positive that Inhofe was reading a page printed from zomblog is that he read not just the Holdren essay I dug up, but actually a short passage of my own introductory words before he gets to the Holdren part.

As you can see at my original post linked to above, I wrote in 2009,
Below is a direct scan from pages 76-77 in the book Global Ecology��
�followed by a transcription of Holdren�s essay.

Reading from a printout, here�s what Inhofe said (starting at 3:15 into the video):
�What he had written was, �Below is a direct scan from his pages 76-77 of his book, he said��
�followed by the same transcription.

Now, even without this telltale recitation of my own words, I would have known that the testimony would have been at least based on my post, since I was the first person to dig deep and recover Holdren�s old writing from the memory hole, and that my posts were the first expos�s on the topic. But the fact that Inhofe actually read my introductory sentence confirms it conclusively: zomblog is now part of the Senate record!

Here�s the video showing the whole exchange:
Heh. That AGW is Politics and not Science rears its ugly little head again...

The Japanese Nuclear Reactors

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I am keeping quiet on this subject as there is so much abject crapola flying around. The big explosion videotaped was an electrical distribution transformer exploding -- nothing nuclear about that. The reports of high radiation are suspect and the doom and gloom forecasts of 750 Rads expected to reach the United States is undocumented bullshit. When I hear something from a credible source, I will post it here but for now, I am on to other things...

Diesel Prices these days

Ten days ago, I posted about Diesel fuel hitting $3.99 I was driving along a major thoroughfare in Bellingham yesterday and saw this:


They are pricing it this high because they can. This is one of the main roads that goes into Canada and the big malls and shopping areas are located on this road.

Fortunately, the little gas station in my community is back down to a -- for the moment -- reasonable $3.99 after flirting with $4.09 for a few days.

How far they have fallen

From the Wall Street Journal:

Green Movement's New Mascot: the Slimy Snot Otter
For decades, wildlife conservation groups and environmental advocates have embraced certain animals as "save-the-planet" symbols: whales, pandas and polar bears, for example.

So it made sense when the organizers of a North Carolina festival suggested that the state zoo here adopt a mascot to promote clean rivers.

Except that the creature in question is the snot otter.

Formally known as hellbenders, which is not much better from a public-relations standpoint, snot otters are giant, slimy salamanders that lurk under big rocks at the bottoms of pristine streams in the Ozark and Appalachian mountains. The nocturnal, mud-colored, prehistoric amphibians look a bit like eels with stubby legs and can grow to be two feet long.

Geeezzz -- to be demoted from the once proud and mighty Hellbender to Snot Otter?

These poor critters are now the laughingstock of the animal kingdom...

Passing the time

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Those 33 Chilean miners that were trapped underground last fall. It seems they had some unconventional ways to pass the time. From New York Magazine:
The Chilean Miners Smoked Weed Underground
The 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days last fall and survived, then ran marathons and made peace between their wives and mistresses, are heroes. But a new book about the ordeal by the New York Times' Jonathan Franklin reminds us that even heroes have their vices: Marijuana and porn were sent down a communications shaft and smuggled to the trapped miners in letters. This was initially great, but a few of the miners got jealous after not being offered any of the drugs. And according to the book, camaraderie was key in the mine:
One Chilean doctor monitoring the miners' physical condition while they were trapped said a donor offered ten inflatable dolls for the miners, but was turned down. "I said 33 or none. Otherwise they would be fighting for inflatable dolls: Whose turn is it? Who was seen with whose fiancee? You are flirting with my inflatable doll," the medic explained.
"You are flirting with my inflatable doll"? They really were smoking weed down there.

Ohhhh - the Humanity

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News item from here Low Flying Aircraft Crashes Into Four Buildings At Airshow Because of the sensitive nature, I have put the image below the fold:

Talk about wasted efforts

From local station KGMI:

Environmental Group to Sue State Refineries
Five oil refineries, including two in Whatcom County, and three agencies that regulate them are being forced to defend themselves in court.

The Sierra Club and Washington Environmental Council are hoping to force the State Department of Ecology and the Northwest and Puget Sound Clean Air Agencies to enforce greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act.

Northwest Clean Air Agency Executive Director Mark Asmundson says he hopes the suit can be settled in a way that results in real environmental benefit.

The refineries are BP Cherry Point and ConocoPhillips in Whatcom County, Shell and Tesoro in Anacortes, and U.S. Oil in Tacoma.

The key statement is: "enforce greenhouse gas regulations"

Excerpted from the Sierra Club website:

"The oil refineries pose a clear threat to the health and welfare of Washington's residents," said Aaron Robins of the Sierra Club. "These polluters need to clean up their act.  Right now Washington families are the ones getting stuck with the bill as climate change devastates traditional Washington industries like shellfish growing, reduces our snowpack and water supply, and harms our forests and ecosystems.

What climate change? The snowpack is at anywhere from 80% to 144% of average.

As for shellfish growing, from this 2009 report, the key problems are bacterial infestation caused by excessive rainfall overflowing rural septic systems.

More from the Puget Sound Partnership:

What's the problem?
Puget Sound provides an estimated 165,000 acres of shoreline for shellfish harvest, according to the Washington Department of Health. Of that total, Health has classified about 28,000 acres - approximately 17 percent - as restricted or prohibited for commercial and recreational harvest.

Pollution from a variety of sources, mainly sewage pollution, threatens the shoreline areas where oysters, clams and other bivalve shellfish grow.

Resource managers are focusing significant attention on controlling the sources of pollution to keep the region's shellfish growing areas clean and open for recreational, commercial and tribal harvesting.

What are the key threats to shellfish habitat?
The region's large and fast-growing population poses a significant challenge to keeping our shoreline waters clean and preserving shellfish-harvest opportunities across the region.

In addition to and partly as a result of population growth, the following are the primary sources of pollution threatening shellfish growing areas:
Fecal pollution from municipal and septic systems.
Stormwater runoff.
Animal waste from agricultural operations.

Notice any mention of refineries? Neither did I...

Now, looking at the Washington Environmental Council's web page:

Reducing Climate Pollution from Oil Companies
WEC and our partners at the Sierra Club have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle to require five oil refineries in Washington to improve energy efficiency and take other steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

A bit more:

Oil refineries are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions nationally, and Washington's five oil refineries contribute significantly to statewide greenhouse gas emissions. Together Washington refineries account for an estimated 8% of the state's global warming pollution output, making the sector one of the largest single contributors of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington.

And do they show the source for these numbers? No. And is CO2 a useful gas? Yes -- it is at the heart of photosynthesis which is how plants grow. Without CO2, we would have no food.

These people are on the fringes of society, they are lobbying for policy decisions based on stunningly bad science and they do not care about the lives of the other 95% of us who also share the planet. They are spoiled little six year olds who are going to keep crying until Mommy lets them have their way.

They need a good spanking and to be sent to their room without dinner...

RIP - Owsley Stanley

Damn good chemist and the person who got the Grateful Dead into building their incredible PA system. From Australia's The National Post:

Psychedelic icon Owsley Stanley dies in Australia
Owsley 'Bear' Stanley, a 1960s counterculture figure who flooded the flower power scene with LSD and was an early benefactor of the Grateful Dead, died in a car crash in his adopted home country of Australia on Sunday, his family said. He was believed to be 76.

The renegade grandson of a former governor of Kentucky, Stanley helped lay the foundation for the psychedelic era by producing more than a million doses of LSD at his labs in San Francisco's Bay Area.

"He made acid so pure and wonderful that people like Jimi Hendrix wrote hit songs about it and others named their band in its honor," former rock 'n' roll tour manager Sam Cutler wrote in his 2008 memoirs "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

Hendrix's song Purple Haze was reputedly inspired by a batch of Stanley's product, though the guitarist denied any drug link. The ear-splitting blues-psychedelic combo Blue Cheer took its named from another batch.

Stanley briefly managed the Grateful Dead, and oversaw every aspect of their live sound at a time when little thought was given to amplification in public venues. His tape recordings of Dead concerts were turned into live albums.

The Dead wrote about him in their song Alice D. Millionaire after a 1967 arrest prompted a newspaper to describe Stanley as an LSD millionaire. Steely Dan's 1976 single Kid Charlemagne was loosely inspired by Stanley's exploits.

According to a 2007 profile in the San Francisco Chronicle, Stanley started cooking LSD after discovering the recipe in a chemistry journal at the University of California, Berkeley.

The police raided his first lab in 1966, but Stanley successfully sued for the return of his equipment. After a marijuana bust in 1970, he went to prison for two years.

"I wound up doing time for something I should have been rewarded for," he told the Chronicle's Joel Selvin. "What I did was a community service, the way I look at it. I was punished for political reasons. Absolutely meaningless. Was I a criminal? No. I was a good member of society. Only my society and the one making the laws are different."

He emigrated to the tropical Australian state of Queensland in the early 1980s, apparently fearful of a new ice age, and sold enamel sculptures on the Internet. He lost one of his vocal cords to cancer.

Stanley was born Augustus Owsley Stanley III in Kentucky, a state governed by his namesake grandfather from 1915 to 1919. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 18 months, studied ballet in Los Angeles, and then enrolled at UC Berkeley. In addition to being an LSD advocate, he adhered to an all-meat diet.

A statement released by Cutler on behalf of Stanley's family said the car crash occurred near his home in far north Queensland. He is survived by his wife Sheila, four children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Well crap. He seems to have lived a full life and the coming ice age is something that is still on the table these days despite the politicians...

From The Oregonian:
Man in Crescent City swept away by high tsunami surf
A 25-year-old man taking photos at the mouth of the Klamath River south of Crescent City, Calif., was swept away by high tsunami surf at 11 a.m. Friday and is still missing.

The man has been identified as Dustin Weber, 25. Cmdr. Bill Steven, of the Del Norte Sheriff's Department, said Weber was with two other men who jumped in to rescue him were unable to save him. They swam to safety.

The Coast Guard is still searching for the missing man.

"The waters are pretty rough (in the harbor)," said Wendy Malone of the Del Norte County Sheriff's Office. "I can't imagine what it looked like at the mouth. People don't know the force of the ocean."

Stevens said people should listen to warnings from law enforcement. "The reason we do evacuations is to avoid what happened."
One of the commentors linked to a few sites -- Mr. Weber was known to the authorities and was in jail as late as 2011.

Watching the reactors

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Turns out that the Japanese Reactors were only designed for a much smaller quake. Crap... The Hydrogen gas comes from when the core is exposed to air and the explosions are a given. Cesium gas will be a problem but in each case, it seems the containment vessel has held so overall damage will be minimal. Cesium has an affinity for the thyroid so prophylactic doses of Iodine are called for. Japan has almost no coal or oil -- it has been suggested that our embargo of fuel in the 1940's triggered Japan's attack on Perl Harbor. Their only economic option was to invest heavily in Nuclear.
Bill Clinton gets it. From Politico:
Bill Clinton: Drilling delays 'ridiculous'
Former President Bill Clinton said Friday that delays in offshore oil and gas drilling permits are �ridiculous� at a time when the economy is still rebuilding, according to attendees at the IHS CERAWeek conference.

Clinton spoke on a panel with former President George W. Bush that was closed to the media. Video of their moderated talk with IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin was also prohibited.

But according to multiple people in the room, Clinton, surprisingly, agreed with Bush on many oil and gas issues, including criticism of delays in permitting offshore since last year�s Gulf of Mexico spill.

�Bush said all the things you�d expect him to say� on oil and gas issues, said Jim Noe, senior vice president at Hercules Offshore and executive director of the pro-drilling Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition. But Clinton added, �You�d be surprised to know that I agree with all that,� according to Noe and others in the room.

Clinton said there are �ridiculous delays in permitting when our economy doesn�t need it,� according to Noe and others.

�That was the most surprising thing they said,� Noe said.

The two former presidents both generally agreed on the need to get offshore drilling workers back on the job.

Clinton and Bush also agreed on the need for more domestic shale gas production, with Clinton noting that it has been done safely for years in his home state of Arkansas.
And these people are acting surprised that Clinton would say such a thing. Where do they think our oil comes from? Unicorn farts?


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I have subscribed to the U.S. Geological Survey quake alert for the last five years or so. Last night's quake was -- thankfully -- a once in a lifetime event. What brings this home is the number of aftershocks:
And these are in the 5.5 to 6.9 range. By themselves, able to cause damage. Coming as an aftershock, insult to injury. And this is just a fraction -- I have 102 emails in this directory and about eighty quake announcements. Starting to see some in Papua and Tonga as well -- "only" 5.5 - 5.7 thank God...

Two images from the Japanese Tsunami

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Just wow...

Tsunami hits Santa Cruz, CA

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From the Associated Press:
California surfers waited in water for tsunami
Some California surfers rode high water from a tsunami caused by the Japanese earthquake, while other beaches were closed.

In Santa Cruz, it was a typical good day for surfing before the water pulled out of Monterey Bay toward the Pacific Ocean when the tsunami hit.

Around 8:10 a.m., within seconds, the water dropped by about 9 feet as the harbor turned into a river as water was sucked out to sea.

Surfers who had been paddling on their boards were able to walk with them on the wet sand. Others stayed in water, despite warnings from lifeguards to come in.

A couple of boats broke loose and part of a dock was also pulled away during one of several surges, each of which took about 10 minutes.
That is about 5,100 miles to travel. Reports are also coming in from Hawai'i

A bit more on the Japanese reactors

Here is a reporter who gets it. From Natalie Wolchover at FOX News:

Earthquakes Put Japan's Nuclear Reactors on Red Alert
The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that shook Japan early March 11 blew out the cooling systems of two nuclear reactors there. An inability to cool the reactors could cause radiation leaks, and both power plants are "bracing for the worst," according to government officials.

"At present we have no reports of any radioactive materials or otherwise affecting the surrounding areas," Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told the press. The malfunctions are occuring at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi power plant near Tokyo and the Tohoku Electric Power Co. facility in Onagawa. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said that all the necessary precautions are being taken to prepare for radiation leaks, including evacuating thousands of residents within a 3-mile radius of the Fukushima facility.

Eleven reactors nearest the quake's epicenter automatically shut down upon sensing vibrations in the early hours of March 11. "Reactors shut themselves down automatically when something called 'ground acceleration' is registered at a certain point, which is usually quite small. It will instantly drop control rods into the [nuclear] core," Professor Tim Albram, a nuclear fuel engineer at the University of Manchester in the U.K., explained to the press.

Those control rods block neutrons from entering the core and inducing the fission reactions that produce nuclear energy. When the rods drop into the core, the heat put out by the nuclear fuel rods they surround plummets instantly, reducing the core's temperature to less than 5 percent of normal in a matter of seconds.

You have a contingency plan. The reactors self-monitor and if there is any kind of excursion outside their operating boundary, they scram the control rods and shut down.

The heat inside the core drops to 5% within a few seconds.

Just. In. Case. you evacuate people within a one kilometer radius and tell people within a five kilometer radius to stay indoors. This is a serious event -- not trying to sugar-coat it but the possibilities are known and engineered for...

Nuclear Engineering

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If you are looking for a good website to learn the ins and outs of reactor design and operation, Bill Garland's is an excellent place to go...

Quote of the day

When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession - as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life - will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease � But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.
--John Maynard Keynes (1931)
What an out of touch moron. A closet Marxist.

News trickling in from Japan

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People are coming to grips with the earthquake. Fortunately, Japan is a quake-prone nation so building standards are a lot higher than other places. About 40% of Japan's nuclear generation is offline and of course, the anti-nuke hand-wringers are having a field day -- from ABC News:
Pressure at Damaged Japanese Nuclear Reactor Rising With Fears
Earthquake damage at a Japanese nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo has stoked fears of radioactive fallout unless the reactor's core can be cooled and renewed concerns about the security of other nuclear facilities in the tsunami's path.

Officials declared a state of emergency today at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant when its cooling system failed to function properly and pressure rose after the nuclear reactor lost power and automatically shut down.
"automatically shut down" -- so the reactor performed flawlessly. More:
"You have to continue to supply water. If you don't, the fuel will start to overheat and could melt," said Edwin Lyman, a senior staff scientist in the Global Security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C.

A meltdown could lead to a breach of the reactor's steel containment vessel and allow radiation to escape into an outer, concrete containment building, or even into the environment.
"Union of Concerned Scientists" - one of the biggest anti-nuke advocacy groups out there. You do not have to continue to supply water. The reactor was scrammed -- it was shut down. There is no more power being generated so there is minimal need for cooling. The residual heat can be taken care of by the water already in the reactor vessel. As for the containment vessel, that is what it is designed to do. It was designed for use in Japan so it is earthquake-proof and the normal engineering for a containment vessel is to make it be able to withstand the worst possible shit-hits-fan scenario -- a dry core melt-down. More:
"Up to 100 percent of the volatile radioactive Cesium-137 content of the pools could go up in flames and smoke, to blow downwind over large distances," said Kevin Kamps, a nuclear waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, which is an advocacy group that opposes nuclear weapons and power.

"Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago."
Another advocacy group -- there is no comparison to Chernobyl. Chernobyl operated without a containment vessel, it was running an unauthorized "test" designed by someone who had no reactor training and didn't know what they were doing. More:
"We have to take this very seriously," author and physicist Dr. Michio Kaku said. "Every nuclear power plant has two layers of defense, first the brakes; second, you dump cold water on it. And that apparently has malfunctioned. That's what causing concern.
Kaku is a string theorist and popular science author -- there is a big gulf between this and understanding the mechanics of a nuclear reactor. You have several options for shutting down the reactor -- you can scram the control rods, in a worst-case scenario a controlled poison is inserted which stops fission cold. There are even scenarios where you want the water to boil -- the bubbles create non-damaging voids in the reactor core and help to slow down the reactor. Most modern reactors are designed around this and are therefore self-regulating. I could go on and on -- for ABC News to pander to these anti-nuke morons without the ghost of a reply from the pro-nuke people is agenda and bias writ large. Compare and contrast to this article from the Christian Science Monitor

Japanese earthquakes

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Crap... There had been clusters of tremors starting a few days ago. Things are heating up with quakes up to 8.9 Mag off the coast of Honshu Island near Tokyo. Tsunamis.
Click here Yeah - that Gene Simmons...

Like hell we will - HR 607

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UPDATE: Thanks to the sharp eye of reader Brennan, it should be American Radio Relay League, not Amateur. My bad... Not a good thing -- from the Amateur American Radio Relay League:
HR 607
On February 10, 2011, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced H.R. 607, the �Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011,� which has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which handles telecommunications legislation). The bill addresses certain spectrum management issues including the creation and maintenance of a nationwide Public Safety broadband network.

As part of that network, the Bill provides for the allocation of the so-called �D-Block� of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for Public Safety use. HR 607 uniquely, provides for the reallocation of other spectrum for auction to commercial users, in order to offset the loss of revenue that would occur as the result of the allocation of the D-Block to Public Safety instead of commercial auction. H.R. 607 lists, among the bands to be reallocated for commercial auction within ten years of the passage of the Bill, the paired bands 420-440 MHz and 450-470 MHz.

The inclusion of most of the Amateur 70-cm spectrum as one of the replacement bands is a major problem. The 420-440 MHz band is not Public Safety spectrum and should not be included in any spectrum swap of Public Safety allocations.

While the ARRL and all Amateurs support the work of Public Safety and recognize their need for dedicated spectrum which would promote interoperability, the ARRL vigorously opposes HR 607 in its present form. HR 607 is a direct threat to our limited spectrum and the ARRL encourages all amateurs to appropriately voice their opposition to this bill.
Not the most populous of the ham bands but one in constant use throughout the USA. To arbitrarily give it away for commercial purposes is not good -- how about everyone bites the bullet and we do away with broadcast television. That is a huge chunk of bandwidth and nobody uses it anymore -- hello satellite???

Wisconsin Republican Senators were emailed a direct death threat and the mainstream media snoozes. From Milwaukee, WI radio station WTMJ:

Capitol Chaos: Lawmakers Get Death Threats
The State Department of Justice confirms that it is investigating several death threats against a number of lawmakers in response to the legislature's move to strip employees of many collective bargaining rights.

Among the threats the Justice Department is investigating is one that was emailed to Republican Senators Wednesday night. Newsradio 620 WTMJ has obtained that email.

The following is the unedited email:
Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.

WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we've had enough. We feel that you and the people that support the dictator have to die. We have tried many other ways of dealing with your corruption but you have taken things too far and we will not stand for it any longer. So, this is how it's going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it's a matter of public records. We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn't leave it there. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the message to you since you are so "high" on Koch and have decided that you are now going to single handedly make this a dictatorship instead of a demorcratic process. So we have also built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent. This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won't tell you all of them because that's just no fun. Since we know that you are not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it's necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families and themselves then We Will "get rid of" (in which I mean kill) you. Please understand that this does not include the heroic Rep. Senator that risked everything to go aganist what you and your goonies wanted him to do. We feel that it's worth our lives to do this, because we would be saving the lives of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and say goodbye to your loved ones we will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!

And where are the arrests? The reporting? It is trivial to get the IP address from an email header and unless this was sent from a public computer (ie: school or library), tracking down the person would be a matter of a phone call to the ISP. As for: "in response to the legislature's move to strip employees of many collective bargaining rights" I forget the actual number but it's something like only 27 states have collective bargaining for public unions. Federal union employees do not have collective bargaining at all. Why is this such a sore spot for the unions -- because they do not like giving up power. That is all it is -- a power grab...

135 years ago today

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From Wired:
March 10, 1876: �Mr. Watson, Come Here � �
1876: Alexander Graham Bell makes the first telephone call in his Boston laboratory, summoning his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, from the next room.

The Scottish-born Bell had a lifelong interest in the nature of sound. He was born into a family of speech instructors, and his mother and his wife both had hearing impairments. While ostensibly working in 1875 on a device to send multiple telegraph signals over the same wire by using harmonics, he heard a twang.

That led him to investigate whether his electrical apparatus could be used to transmit the sound of a human voice. Bell�s journal, now at the Library of Congress, contains the following entry for March 10, 1876:
I then shouted into M [the mouthpiece] the following sentence: �Mr. Watson, come here � I want to see you.� To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said.

I asked him to repeat the words. He answered, �You said �Mr. Watson � come here � I want to see you.�� We then changed places and I listened at S [the speaker] while Mr. Watson read a few passages from a book into the mouthpiece M. It was certainly the case that articulate sounds proceeded from S. The effect was loud but indistinct and muffled.
Watson�s journal, however, says the famous quote was: �Mr. Watson come here I want you.�
When I was working for New England Aquarium back in the 1970's, Bell's lab was nearby -- the building was torn down but bits of the foundation were still there and a plaque was placed at the site. Bell's lab was removed and set up in the phone building (now Verizon) but is now in storage and not on display at the Museum of Science. A lot of innovation in only 135 years...

A modest proposal

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From John Hinderaker writing at Power Line:
Let's Make Obama King
Last night Col. Ralph Peters was on Bill O'Reilly's show, talking about Libya. Peters thinks we should act on behalf of the rebels there, but he expressed skepticism that President Obama will ever do anything. "Obama loves the idea of being President," Peters said, "but he can't make a decision."

I think there is a lot of truth to that, even in domestic policy, where Obama has passively deferred to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi on all legislative matters. One can debate whether action is appropriate in Libya or not, but Peters is certainly right when it comes to foreign policy--it is a safe bet that Obama will do nothing, because doing something would require a decision.

That got me thinking: Obama enjoys being president, and he especially treasures the symbolic significance of being the first African-American president. That's how his supporters feel, too. I haven't heard anyone defend his actual performance in a long time, but there is still widespread satisfaction with the symbolic value of his presidency. So why don't we make him king? If being the first African-American president has symbolic value, just think what it would mean for the first King of the United States to be African-American! Plus, Michelle would be a queen and Malia and Sasha would be princesses. How cool would that be?

I realize that there are constitutional issues with establishing a new office of kingship, but they are nothing that couldn't be cured with a hastily-called constitutional convention. The king would have no duties beyond golf, so Obama would be perfect for the job. Our king would need a place to live, of course--we need to coax Obama out of the White House--so I'm thinking one of those big houses in Newport, Rhode Island would be ideal. Safely out of the way.
Works for me -- all hail King Obama! Now back to work the rest of you...

The other shoe - heh...

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From Talking Points Memo:
Does James O'Keefe Have a PBS Video Too?
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting might still not have hit bottom in the James O'Keefe hidden camera scandal as evidence emerges that PBS might have fallen prey to the same prank.

A spokeswoman for PBS told the New York Times' Media Decoder blog that their senior vice president for development, Brian Reddington, had met with the same phony Muslim group that lured NPR executives into a trap with talk of a $5 million donation. Given the impact of the NPR tape, which forced resignations from both CEO Vivian Schiller and the executive captured on camera, Ron Schiller (no relation to Vivian), the prospect of another video featuring PBS execs could be a giant shoe waiting to drop.
Given the timing of the releases on the ACORN tapes, I would not be surprised. When the first ACORN video was released, ACORN went into damage control mode and said that this was just that one corrupt office and that training would commence. Then the second video was released, and the third, and the fourth and the fifth. The next few weeks should be interesting...

Hat tip to Little Miss Attila for the link. A few years old but still worth watching.

Fun times over at NPR

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James O'Keefe is the guy who secretly filmed himself and a friend posing as a pimp and prostitute. The pair went into multiple ACORN offices up and down the East Cost to apply for housing for him and his 'girls' and he was open about them coming into the country illegally and being underage. This led to ACORN's defunding although most of the people just did a lateral and are now doing the same good 'community organizing' under the aegis of a different organization. Jame's latest target was National Public Radio. Here they are on the TEA Party and Radical Islam:
Here they are on Climate "Change" and Obama's birth:
From FOX News:
Schiller Forced Out as NPR President Following Hidden-Camera Sting
Embattled NPR CEO Vivian Schiller resigned Wednesday at the request of the board after a hidden-camera video was released showing a fellow executive criticizing Republicans as "anti-intellectual" and calling the Tea Party "racist."

The resignation caps a tumultuous period for Schiller and comes just two days after she delivered a major speech in Washington outlining her vision for NPR's future. NPR Board of Directors Chairman Dave Edwards, in a statement on NPR's website, said the board accepted Schiller's resignation, which is "effective immediately," with regret. According to The Associated Press, the board asked Schiller to step down, and she complied.
A bit more:
During the meeting, Ron Schiller talked about how the Republican Party had been "hijacked" by the Tea Party.

"The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved with people's personal lives," he said.

Schiller described that movement as "white, middle America, gun-toting," and added: "They're seriously racist people."

Ron Schiller went on to lament what he called an "anti-intellectual" component of the Republican Party.

"Liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives," he said.

Schiller also suggested NPR would be better off if it did not accept federal funding, fueling the argument of GOP lawmakers who for months have been pushing to halt taxpayer support for NPR.
And from Capitol Hill - CNS News:
Cantor: 'We Are Going to Proceed' With Defunding NPR
When asked today whether he thought the resignation of National Public Radio CEO Vivian Schiller was a good move, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said that House Republicans will �proceed� with defunding NPR.

�The statements were that NPR realizes it doesn�t need taxpayer funding. That's what the statement was about," Cantor said at a news availability following a meeting of the House Republican Conference. "So perhaps the truth finally came out and we are going to proceed along those lines because that�s what was said and indicated by that organization."

Stupid spammer

A lot of the people who attempt to post comment spam try to seem friendly and conversational. Got this one in an hour ago:


And here was the payload:


The spam linked to a website that promoted Serch Enjun Optimisation (misspelled on purpose) with the idea that someone looking for this ten year old "feature" could find the spam and click their way to paradise... Needless to say, the spam was kept in purgatory until I could review it. I clicked my mouse and it was deleted, the IP address (Australia) was put into the killfile and the message in question had the comment feature turned off as it was older than three months. Moron...

Mt. Kilauea up to its old tricks

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Quite the fissure -- check out the helicopter in the upper right for a sense of scale:
From the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory:
Activity Summary for past 24 hours: There have been significant changes as Kilauea volcano continued to erupt at two locations: On the east rift zone, a fissure eruption that started March 5 continued intermittently at locations approximately 2-3.5 km WSW of Pu`u `O`o. At the summit, the lava lake level remained deep below the rim of the vent inset within the east wall of Halema`uma`u Crater; several rim collapses produced dust plumes. Summit and east rift zone seismicity remained significantly elevated.
Lots more (data and imagery) at the site...

A bit of a haul

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Local police made a bit of a haul today -- from local station KGMI:
Deputies Seize 72 Pounds of Cocaine During Traffic Stop
A big drug bust occurred as the Whatcom County Sheriff and Prosecutor were talking to the national drug czar about crime at the northern border.

Sheriff Bill Elfo and prosecutor Dave McEachran met Friday with Gil Kerlikowske, director of Office of National Drug Control Policy, and told him that Whatcom County is impacted by criminal organizations engaged in weapons and drug trafficking.

�For the past three years, the federal government has provided nearly $3-million to the Sheriff�s Office and local police departments through Operation Stonegarden to help prevent and respond to border-related crime,� said Sheriff Elfo, �and we�re very, very concerned that that funding is now in jeopardy of being wholly diverted to crime at the southern border.�

Elfo says, ironically, while the meeting was taking place, deputies stopped a car on I-5 near Old Fairhaven Parkway.

�And after the driver acted suspiciously, the detective summoned our K-9 detection dog to the scene,� he said.

He says they found more than 72-pounds of cocaine worth about $1-million.

A Surrey, British Columbia man was arrested.
Surprised this wasn't found at the border -- they certainly ream me a new one whenever I cross through. 72 pounds would be a sizable volume to conceal - guessing a cubic foot or two.

Light posting today too

Had to deal with a troublesome customer at the bakery and then heading into town to take care of a few things. For a slow week, things sure have been busy lately...

That's it for the night

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Long day today -- had some lumber delivered for repairing the decks (two) and then went into town to shop for the bakery. Traffic heading back was abysmal -- several idiots driving 40MPH on a road that is posted for 55MPH. Gasoline and diesel continue to spike in price -- stations near the freeways are offering Diesel at $4.19 -- still $4.09 at home. The Canadian dollar slipped a bit so the diesel prices are just speculation and not a true reflection (unless the $CDN is also slipping -- a distinct possibility) Three ravens have taken up residence in the trees lining our pasture land. There has been a pair for the last couple years but this time it's three. I love Ravens but they are a portent of change and the less change I have right now, the better... A new toy arrived today finally. I had ordered a Kel-Tec PMR-30 pistol a bit over a year ago and my local gun shop finally got their first one in. Filled out my 4473 and should be able to pick it up in a few days. I also have a beer and wine retail license so this generally takes more time than the usual 24 hours. Should be fun - George Kellgren has done some interesting designs before and he is one of the first small manufacturers to embrace CNC machining and fiber-filled plastic components. It feels right in the hand -- very comfortable. The gun shop has a guy who does training and as this is my first pistol, I will be signing up for lessons.

A sad story

The bond between a dog and a human can be incredibly close.

A sad story out of Afghanistan -- from Sky News:

Handler And Dog To Be Flown Home Together
A dog handler and his springer spaniel, who died within hours of each other in Afghanistan, are to be flown home to Britain together.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was shot dead on Tuesday while the pair were on patrol in southern Helmand province. His spaniel Theo died of a seizure shortly afterwards.

The Ministry of Defence said on Friday the 22-month-old dog's ashes would be brought back to Britain on the same flight as L/Cpl Tasker.

"A dog can not be repatriated, but they will be returned to the UK on the same day, in the same plane," a defence department spokesman said.

They will be flown into RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire next week.

Three weeks ago, Theo had been praised by the Ministry of Defence for finding 14 hidden bombs and weapons caches in just five months - a record for a dog and handler.

The spaniel, on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, had uncovered so many improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that his time in the country was extended by a month.

The idea that anyone could consider a dog to be a mindless brute speaks volumes for that person's own spiritual awareness. Keeping one as a family pet is a joy but developing a working bond with one is heaven on earth. You will have a true helper and friend.

A cheery post

A dystopian post from Bellingham blogger Karl Uppiano over at Rage Against the Kakistocracy :
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste" ~ Rahm Emanuel
And if you don't have a serious crisis, by all means, create one. If you want to assume total political power, you create anarchy and chaos. Before long, the populace will beg for order, any order. A New World Order, if you've got one.

Barack Obama has been President for a little over two years, and now the entire world is on fire. If you think the Obama administration hasn't caused this, think again. Obama has brazenly and systematically alienated US allies, emboldened US enemies, and essentially taken the lid off all of the world's hot spots. The middle east is nearing total political melt-down. If that happens, the price of oil will skyrocket (worse than it already has, that is). That will make the prices of everything else skyrocket, including food and medical care.

People will start demanding that the government provide food and medical care, and thereby lock in the recently passed big government programs -- and with it, the 'progressive' big government elites. It will be the end of the middle class, of capitalism and the system of government envisioned by our founders, that provided the highest standard of living that mankind has ever known. Goodbye Enlightenment. Welcome to the New Dark Ages. I hope we can learn to like serfdom.
Very glad to not be living in the city these days -- urban civilization is but a thin veneer. A hiccup or two and the civility disintegrates. We have seen that in the various urban riots -- Rodney King happening ten years ago (when he, being out on parole, was drinking and driving and did not pull over for a traffic stop as his driving was erratic). And hey, here is another little parcel of joy -- this from House of Eratosthenes:
Let�s not pretend that liberals want to stop with just preventing their neighbors from dying bleeding in the street. They also insist on legislation to prevent their neighbors from being hungry, fat, underpaid, overpaid, jobless, overworked, pensionless, discontent, demoralized, bored, underutilized, untrained, unskilled, feckless, useless, or otherwise pitiable for whatever reason. When the haplessness of man has become the universal incitement to political action, there can be no end to the work of an energetic and meddlesome state.
And with this, I will retire to the DaveCave(tm) and then to bed. Got a load of lumber being delivered tomorrow -- a friend of ours is replacing two of our decks that have gotten a bit punky.

Painting yourself in a good light

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Hawaii is a very liberal and pro-Union state (it has a few flaws after all). The members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 did not endear themselves to the citizens of Hawaii recently. From the Honolulu Star Advertiser:
HECO strike: 1,300 workers walk off the job amid outages
Hawaiian Electric Co. used managers and outside contractors to repair storm-damaged power lines yesterday after its unionized work force walked off the job over a contract dispute.

HECO executives said the strike would slow efforts to restore service to about 8,000 Oahu homes and businesses, mostly in the Ewa Beach area, that were without power last night.

"We do have management crews out there to see what we can do about the Ewa Beach situation in particular this evening, and we will do our best to restore as much of that service as possible," said Robbie Alm, HECO executive vice president. "I don't want to guarantee that, obviously, we don't have our normal full crews out there."

About 1,300 HECO workers who are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 went on strike at 3:30 p.m. yesterday and began walking picket lines on Oahu, the Big Island and in Maui County.

The workers rejected last month a tentative contract agreement reached between union leaders and management, setting the stage for the strike.
Fortunately, my favorite island is not affected as they have a co-op and not a Union. What the management is asking for doesn't seem to be extreme at all -- cost cutting and getting out from under the unsustainable entitlements while keeping the legacy staff receiving those benefit. New hires will be under a different (and more modest) plan. I am thinking that with Unions in the spotlight as they are these days, the upper management might want to dial things back a little bit...
From Strategy Page:
Egypt Quietly Invades Libya
The rebellion against the Kadaffi dictatorship in Libya has not produced any official outside help, but Egypt has apparently sent some of its commandos in to help out the largely amateur rebel force. Wearing civilian clothes, the hundred or so Egyptian commandos are officially not there, but are providing crucial skills and experience to help the rebels cope with the largely irregular, and mercenary, force still controlled by the Kadaffi clan. There are also some commandos from Britain (SAS) and American (Special Forces) operators are also believed wandering around, mainly to escort diplomats or perform reconnaissance (and find out who is in charge among the rebels).
But a note of caution:
Any Egyptian involvement in Libya has to be handled very carefully. While the two countries fought a three day war in 1977, the real cause of tension is the fact that for thousands of years, most of Libya was considered part of Egypt. Given the fact that Libya has all that oil, and less than a tenth of the population of Egypt, well, then, you can figure out the rest. But for the moment, everyone is a revolutionary brother. At least for as long as the moment lasts, then history takes over.
Boundaries in the Middle East are not geographical, they are familial first and tribal second.
For a Nobel Prize winner, Krugman is not very bright. He cherry-picks his data to meet his agenda. Iowahawk noticed a particularly egregious example and did a little digging:
Longhorns 17, Badgers 1
Please pardon this brief departure from my normal folderol, but every so often a member of the chattering class issues a nugget of stupidity so egregious that no amount of mockery will suffice. Particularly when the issuer of said stupidity holds a Nobel Prize.

Case in point: Paul Krugman. The Times' staff economics blowhard recently typed, re the state of education in Texas:
And in low-tax, low-spending Texas, the kids are not all right. The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average.
Similarly, The Economist passes on what appears to be the cut-'n'-paste lefty factoid du jour:
Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:

South Carolina � 50th
North Carolina � 49th
Georgia � 48th
Texas � 47th
Virginia � 44th

If you are wondering, Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country.
The point being, I suppose, is that unionized teachers stand as a thin chalk-stained line keeping Wisconsin from descending into the dystopian non-union educational hellscape of Texas. Interesting, if it wasn't complete bullshit.

As a son of Iowa, I'm no stranger to bragging about my home state's ranking on various standardized test. Like Wisconsin we Iowans usually rank near the top of the heap on average ACT/SAT scores. We are usually joined there by Minnesota, Nebraska, and the various Dakotas; Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire...

... beginning to see a pattern? Perhaps because a state's "average ACT/SAT" is, for all intents and purposes, a proxy for the percent of white people who live there. In fact, the lion's share of state-to-state variance in test scores is accounted for by differences in ethnic composition. Minority students - regardless of state residence - tend to score lower than white students on standardized test, and the higher the proportion of minority students in a state the lower its overall test scores tend to be.

Please note: this has nothing to do with innate ability or aptitude. Quite to the contrary, I believe the test gap between minority students and white students can be attributed to differences in socioeconomic status. And poverty. And yes, racism. And yes, family structure. Whatever combination of reasons, the gap exists, and it's mathematical sophistry to compare the combined average test scores in a state like Wisconsin (4% black, 4% Hispanic) with a state like Texas (12% black, 30% Hispanic).

So how to compare educational achievement between two states with such dissimilar populations? In data analysis this is usually done by treating ethnicity as a "covariate." A very simple way to do this is by comparing educational achievement between states within the same ethnic group. In other words, do black students perform better in Wisconsin than Texas? Do Hispanic students perform better in Wisconsin or Texas? White students? If Wisconsin's kids consistently beat their Texas counterparts, after controlling for ethnicity, then there's a strong case that maybe Texas schools ought to become a union shop.

Luckily, there is data to answer this question via the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP is an annual standardized test given to 4th and 8th graders around the country to measure proficiency in math, science, and reading. Participation is fairly universal; if you've had a 4th or 8th grader in the last few years, you're probably familiar with it. Results are compiled on the NAEP website, broken down by grade, state, subject and ethnicity.

So how does brokeass, dumbass, redneck Texas stack up against progressive unionized Wisconsin?

2009 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

2009 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)

2009 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

2009 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

2009 4th Grade Science
White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

2009 8th Grade Science
White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

To recap: white students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin. In 18 separate ethnicity-controlled comparisons, the only one where Wisconsin students performed better than their peers in Texas was 4th grade science for Hispanic students (statistically insignificant), and this was reversed by 8th grade. Further, Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohort in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8, above average in 8.
There is more at the post and the post generated enough interest that David added a second post going into more detail. The penultimate paragraph:
Hey, it's been a fun two days based on a simple 30-minute study of educational statistics. As regards the effect of teacher collective bargaining on student learning, I wouldn't call what I did conclusive; just pointing out the fallacy of aggregate statistical comparisons. For a definitive study of the effect, I would point to Caroline Hoxby's (Harvard/ MIT /Stanford, lah tee dah) 1996 QJE paper, which statistically controls for additional variables. Her main conclusions: collective bargaining increases the input provided to schools (spending, construction and the like), but actual decreases school output (test scores and the like). If you don't like Greek letters, here's Hoxby discussing the effect on YouTube.

Little Mikey Moore

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Roger L. Simon notices Michael Moore pontificating as to how the Unions are the saviour of America and how Governor Walker is the scum of the earth. From the Wisconsin State Journal:
Moore: Protesters have 'aroused a sleeping giant'
Protesters in Madison have "aroused a sleeping giant" in the national fight for workers' rights, filmmaker Michael Moore told thousands at the Capitol Square on Saturday, as rallies opposing Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposals wrapped up their third week.

"Right now the Earth is shaking and the ground is shifting under the feet of those who are in charge," said Moore, the Oscar-winning maker of "Bowling for Columbine," whose documentaries also include "Fahrenheit 911" and "Capitalism: A Love Story."

"America is not broke ... Wisconsin is not broke," Moore said. "The only thing that's broke is the moral compass of the rulers."

Police estimated the crowd at 30,000 to 40,000, less than the past two Saturdays. Moore urged those gathered not to retreat. "You are not alone," he said. "America is with you."
Roger then links to this article at Salon Magazine:
Moore is less
He's loudmouthed, self-serving and not funny.
So why does the left need Michael Moore?


What does Michael Moore have in common with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern? The answer -- I mean the other answer, the one that doesn't include the words blubber or bigmouth -- is Judith Regan. The feisty celebritor's HarperCollins imprint, Regan Books, recently announced a six-figure deal with Moore for a January 1998 follow-up to the director-cum-author's bestselling "Downsize This!" Meanwhile, Moore is trying to arrange overseas financing for a third incarnation of his satirical newsmagazine, "TV Nation."

For most people on the left, Moore is welcome news. Some of us, however, have had enough.

Eight years ago we forgave Moore when he distorted facts in "Roger & Me," his documentary about General Motors and Flint, Mich. After all, it was in the service of a larger Truth, and as progressives (or liberals, as we called ourselves then) we wanted to support a distinctive populist voice. Most importantly, "Roger & Me" was a clever and very funny film.

Three years later came "Pets or Meat," a shoddy rehash of "Roger & Me." We let it slide because it was good just to have Moore back. When he followed up with "Canadian Bacon," we politely pretended that embarrassing flop was an irrelevant aberration. By 1994 we were kvelling over "TV Nation," which a typical critic hailed as "the best TV show in the past 30 years." Demonstrably not a fact, but in the service of a larger truth: that a wildly uneven left-wing TV show was better than no left-wing TV show at all. "TV Nation" was canceled (twice), but Moore returned last year with a book, "Downsize This!" and, well, you know the pattern. It was mediocre at best, but progressives championed it and propelled it onto the bestseller lists.

Stop the bandwagon, I want to get off.
A little bit more:
It was Miriam Fried who said, "The ultimate measure of a company's social responsibility is the way it treats its employees." It was a "TV Nation" producer who said, "If you had ... a reunion of people for whom working for Michael was the least pleasant professional experience of their lives, it might be necessary to rent a large stadium."

From articles in New York magazine and the New York Observer, and from my own conversations with Moore's former employees, I have learned that Moore's office is not, as he insists in his book, "a nonstop rock-'n'-roll party for the proletariat."

"TV Nation" writers say he tried to dissuade them from joining the Writer's Guild (though he spends a chapter of his book on his efforts to unionize his researchers). Once they did join, writers relied on the Guild repeatedly to secure them payments, credits and residuals Moore was trying to screw them out of.

On another Moore project, one senior staffer regularly responded to Moore's abuse by presenting the boss with a big box of doughnuts. He assured co-workers he was not trying to placate Moore. Rather, he figured Mike's intemperate scarfing would hasten the fat man's death.
OK for thee but not for me. Hat tip to the PJ Tattler for the links.
Not a new item -- this dates back to February of 2009 but it is curious how such a smart man could fall for a jive-ass huckster. From Steve Sailer:
Bill Gates admits he's blown $2 billion on Ayers Brothers small schools boondoggle
Bill Gates's 2009 annual letter on what the Gates Foundation is up to says:
Nine years ago, the foundation decided to invest in helping to create better high schools, and we have made over $2 billion in grants. The goal was to give schools extra money for a period of time to make changes in the way they were organized (including reducing their size), in how the teachers worked, and in the curriculum. The hope was that after a few years they would operate at the same cost per student as before, but they would have become much more effective.
I don't know the full history of the "small learning communities" fad, but one important proponent was Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist and extremely distant acquaintance of President Obama, who set up the Small Schools Workshop in Chicago in 1991 with his sidekick, Mike Klonsky.

Ayers, with others, then put together a proposal that got $50 million (plus matching contributions) for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge out of Old Man Annenberg, a famous GOP donor. Barack Obama was recruited in 1995 to become Chairman of the Board of Ayers's baby, which gave handouts to "community organizations" to help them relate to the Chicago public schools. Years later, a quantitative study found that the Obama-Ayers plan had done nothing for test scores (but it had done a lot for the Obama brand name among the activists who got the moolah).

Indeed, Ayers' Small Schools Workshop and Obama's Chicago Annenberg Challenge had the same mailing address from 1995 to 1999: 115 S. Sangamon St., Third Floor. Whether Ayers's Small Schools Workshop and Obama's Chicago Annenberg Challenger operated out of the same office or whether they had separate offices across the hall from each other is unknown. Obama's outfit gave over $1 million dollars to Ayer's outfit, which presumably made things matey on the elevator each day.

What's the relationship between Bill Ayers and the Gates Foundation? The first Google entry I came up with was a 2001 article entitled "Can 'Small Schools' Save Berkeley High?' In it, a school administrator named Rick Ayers was quoted as saying:
"In the transition, we're gonna have a half-million dollars from the feds and close to a million from the [Bill and Melinda] Gates Foundation--that's what we're asking for," Ayers says. "But a million and a half isn't a hell of a lot of money , and you don't want to prop up a program on just that. But that money will put teachers into a position to lead these changes. We have to demonstrate that we can do the Small Learning Communities with the budget that we have. It isn't just small schools; I wish it were."
I said to myself, "I betcha Rick Ayers is Bill Ayers's brother."

Sure enough. Rick spent seven years on the lam from his days in the Weather Underground with his brother Bill and Bill's fork-loving wife Bernardine Dohrn before serving ten days in jail. (Here's a downright amorous 2001 profile of Rick Ayers and his small schools plan in the San Francisco Chronicle.)

It's not totally clear whether Rick got in on the small schools racket from his brother's example or vice-versa, but I would guess that Bill is the dominant personality among the Ayers siblings.
It is amazing that these people are allowed to walk around for all that they did. Even if we let bygones be bygones, they are still toxic as hell and are promoting and implementing stupid educational ideas which when measured, fail. And they continue to promote the same ideas again and again...

President Obama has proposed some draconian budget cuts. Doug Ross takes a look at them:

In pictures: Obama's devastating cuts to the federal budget
According to the Washington Post, President Obama has offered $6.5 billion in cuts on a total budget of $3.73 trillion, $1.6 trillion of which must be borrowed from foreign investors and the Federal Reserve.

Let's illustrate the magnitude of these devastating cuts.

Doug also offers a close up view if you are having problems seeing the slice in this reduced-size thumbnail view.

Finally some sense in Washington

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From Politico:
Interior appeals oil drilling ruling
The Obama administration late Friday appealed a judge's orders directing the Interior Department to act on several Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling permits.

The appeal is the latest salvo in the ongoing fight over the speed with which Interior is � or isn't � letting oil drillers get back to work after last year's BP oil spill.

Gulf state lawmakers and the oil industry have accused the department of enacting a "de facto" moratorium against new drilling, while Interior says it needs to ensure safety and environmental protections are in place.
Do not forget that these people in the Interior Department are the same ones who back in May of 2010 (from the New York Times):
Interior Probe Finds Fraternizing, Porn and Drugs at MMS Office in La.
Federal officials who oversaw drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accepted gifts from oil companies, viewed pornography at work and even considered themselves part of industry, the Interior Department inspector general says in a new report(pdf).

Those revelations, sure to intensify criticism of federal oversight of offshore drilling as the massive Gulf leak continues, will take a starring role at a congressional hearing tomorrow.

The investigation uncovered violations of federal regulations and ethics rules by employees of the Lake Charles, La., office of the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling.
A few of the details:
The IG found numerous instances of pornography and other inappropriate material on the e-mail accounts of 13 employees, six of whom have resigned. There were 314 instances in which the seven remaining employees received or forwarded pornographic images and links from their government e-mail.

An MMS clerical employee told investigators that she began using cocaine and methamphetamine with an inspector when she started working at the agency about two years ago. The MMS inspector admitted that while he did not use the drug at work, he might have been under the influence of crystal methamphetamine at work after using it the night before.
Color me surprised (NOT) Drill here, drill now.
From International Business Times, November 17, 2010:
Nissan aims to sell 500,000 electric vehicles annually by 2013
Automaker Nissan Motor will sell 500,000 electric vehicles annually by the end of 2013, Renault Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told reporters on eve of the market debut of the Nissan Leaf.

Nissan is launching its all-electric Leaf, which has a 100 mile range, in December. It plans to sell 20,000 Leafs in the United States over the next year.

Ghosn predicts that because of strong consumer demand, Nissan will be "capacity constrained" for the Leaf for the next three years.
And the reality -- here is a screencap from this report:
87 sales in January and 67 sales in February. Good for them that they were able to manufacture and sell another 64,355 vehicles in January and 83,159 in February... It's not even not ready for prime time, it will never be. I can see small utility vehicles -- licensed golf carts and the like but never a replacement for internal combustion.

Lloving llamas

Llamas are delightful critters but trouble. The ringleader was watching as we set up the fence panels. Studying. Planning. We are planning to just have a fence company come in and do five-strand barbed wire around the whole perimeter. There is old cattle fencing in place but the critters have learned to push it down and make their getaway -- they wind up in the neighbors yard and stand there and stare at us...

Light posting today too

Had a local water co-op anual board meeting this morning and having to work on some fencing this afternoon. Our llamas found a weak spot in the fence line yesterday and took themselves for a little adventure -- need to find the spot and fix it. Working on a couple projects at home too so this weekend will be a busy one...

Nice Charity work

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From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Wishing Well Foundation in Metairie among worst nonprofits in nation, station reports
The Metairie-based Wishing Well Foundation USA has received a zero rating from a charity watchdog group for six years in a row, according to a report by WWL-TV.

According to the most recent IRS report the station could find for the group, in 2008, the charity only spent five cents out of every dollar helping terminally ill children, the stated mission of the organization.

Of the $1.3 million raised that year, only $36,000 went toward granting wishes. Over $1 million went to telemarketing firms in Illinois, Missouri and New York. The charity's president, Elwin Lebeau, received $63,600.

Lebeau did not return the reporters' requests for information.

Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group, rated the foundation at zero out of five stars for six years running. The head of another group, the Louisiana Association of Nonprofits, said a well-run charity gives 75 percent or more of its proceeds toward its cause.
Pournelle's Iron Law again:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Light posting tonight

Working on some stuff in the DaveCave(tm) -- eating dinner at a local restaurant and then heading home. I'll probably take a break or two and surf some but nothing promised...
The effects of Bernanke's Quantitative Easing (ie: printing money willy nilly without regard for the consequences) are being shown. We are about six miles from the Canadian border as the crow flies. We get a lot of Canadian visitors and we take the currency at par. For the first time in about ten years, the Canadian dollar is trading higher than the US Dollar.
And the price of Diesel has hit the $4.00 mark -- it was $3.49 just a few months ago.
This price rise is not because of the middle east unrest -- we do not purchase oil from Libya.
From here This is the beginning of an inflationary spiral. The more gas prices rise, the more it costs to manufacture goods and provide services and those prices are going to rise as well. Because the businesses are having to spend that much more on energy and fuel costs, they will not be as inclined to give raises to their employees so the purchasing power will go down. Because this comes at a time of high taxation for small businesses and when large (GE -- I'm talkin' to you!) businesses get political sweetheart deals (and don't contribute their fair share of tax revenue), the overall economy falls moribund. There is a word for this -- Stagflation. Excerpted from the WikiPedia article:
Both stagnation and inflation can result from inappropriate macroeconomic policies. For example, central banks can cause inflation by permitting excessive growth of the money supply, and the government can cause stagnation by excessive regulation of goods markets and labor markets, Either of these factors can cause stagflation. Excessive growth of the money supply taken to such an extreme that it must be reversed abruptly can clearly be a cause. Both types of explanations are offered in analyses of the global stagflation of the 1970s: it began with a huge rise in oil prices, but then continued as central banks used excessively stimulative monetary policy to counteract the resulting recession, causing a runaway wage-price spiral.
Welcome back Carter...
From Not Always Right:
Banking Error
Me: �Here�s your new bank card. You will be able to change your PIN number at the ATM.�

Customer: �PIN number is a redundant phrase. It�s like �personal identification number�, number. You work in a bank. You ought to know that by now.�

Me: �You�re right, sir.�

Customer: (smirks) �I�m always right. So where�s the ATM machine?�

Be careful what you ask for

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Swiped in full from the ever wonderful Miss Cellania:
The D�butante Ball
A US Navy cruiser anchored in Mississippi for a week's shore leave. The first evening, the ship's Captain received the following note from the wife of a wealthy plantation owner:

"Dear Captain, Thursday will be my daughter Melinda's D�butante Ball. I would like you to send four well-mannered, handsome, unmarried officers in their formal dress uniforms to attend the dance. They should arrive promptly at 8:00 PM prepared for an evening of polite Southern conversation. They should be excellent dancers, as they will be the escorts of lovely refined young ladies. One last point: No Jews please."

Sending a written message by his own yeoman, the captain replied: Madam, thank you for your invitation. In order to present the widest possible knowledge base for polite conversation, I am sending four of my best and most prized officers. One is a lieutenant commander, and a graduate of Annapolis with an additional Masters degree from MIT in fluid technologies and ship design. The second is a Lieutenant, one of our helicopter pilots, and a graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago , with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering. His Masters Degree and PhD. In Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering are from Texas Tech University and he is also an astronaut candidate. The third officer is also a lieutenant, with degrees in both computer systems and information technology from SMU and he is awaiting notification on his Doctoral Dissertation from Cal Tech. Finally, the fourth officer, also a lieutenant commander, is our ship�s doctor, with an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and his medical degree is from the University of North Carolina . We are very proud of him, as he is also a senior fellow in Trauma Surgery at Bethesda.

Upon receiving this letter, Melinda�s mother was quite excited and looked forward to Thursday with pleasure. Her daughter would be escorted by four handsome naval officers without peer (and the other women in her social circle would be insanely jealous).

At precisely 8:00 PM on Thursday, Melinda's mother heard a polite rap at the door which she opened to find, in full dress uniform, four handsome, smiling Black officers. Her mouth fell open, but pulling herself together, she stammered, "There must be some mistake."

"No, Madam," said the first officer. "Captain Goldberg never makes mistakes."

Veeeeery interesting - but schtupid

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Hat tip to Instapundit for this link -- from Classical Values:
The Loan Arranger
I was looking for some information for my post Bussing In Outside Agitators and came across this bit: Deadbeat Union's $90 Million Debt from 21 May 2010. Interesting.
In 2007, the SEIU owed Bank of America nearly $95 Million.

By the end of 2008, SEIU owed more than $156 Million in total outstanding liabilities. Only six years prior, its liabilities were $8 Million. And we're not even addressing their debts to other banks, like $15 Million with Amalgamated Bank.
Go to the article for links.

No wonder this is do or die for the public sector unions. It is another f*n economic bubble. I guess we can add "public sector union union bubble" to its corollary "the lower education bubble".

No wonder the lefties have been on about "sustainable" for years. Nothing they have been doing is sustainable.

Think about what it means for the unions if they can no longer service their debt or get shares of the company handed to them to collateralize their debt? Kaput. That's what.

State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (The Rise and Fall of American Labor Unions)
Could not happen to a nicer bunch of people. The title? here

Meanwhile, next door to the west...

And why the Western nations are not clamping down on this moron, I do not know.

From Reuters:

Libya prisoner release stokes fears of tribal strife
Gutted and looted, the vandalism of some Libyan prisons and the release of inmates has sparked unrest and fear in parts of the country that have risen up against Muammar Gaddafi's rule.

Officials in Libya's rebel-held east told Reuters government forces set prisoners free when anti-Gaddafi protests took hold two weeks ago, a move certain to cause strife in a tribal society where revenge is a right.

"I'm not happy about this. There were murderers in there. The government forces opened the doors, and gathered outside were people who wanted the prisoners' blood," said Saeed Jumah, 28, as he looted a Benghazi prison.

Prisoner identification papers blew around the prison in Libya's second city of Benghazi, and rows of cells were charred black after fires. Chains in the execution chamber swung in the breeze, the trap door below the gallows open.

Libyans say the prisoners were released by government forces deliberately to undermine anti-Gaddafi protests, a move they say is similar to that used in recent anti-government protests in Egypt, when for a period of time police melted away and criminal gangs were allowed to roam free.

Reuters could only independently verify that one prison in Benghazi's Kweifieh district had been abandoned, but a revolutionary council administering regions not under Gaddafi control said other prisons in the region were also defunct. "Government forces opened most Libyan prisons allowing the criminals out in order to create chaos," said Najla al-Mangoush, a spokeswoman for the rebel revolution coalition.

With no organized police force or judicial system in the east, justice and law and order are currently in the hands of the public.

If you are strong, they respect that and will yield to the strongest person. This is an ingrained part of the Arab culture.

Look back to President Bush. He was sworn in on January 2001.

Three years later, January 6th, 2004:

Libya seeks peace with Israel
Here is the original article which says:
The head of the Foreign Ministry's diplomatic team, Ron Prosor, met in Paris some two weeks ago with Libyan diplomats, in order to establish a channel of communications with Tripoli. The meeting was coordinated with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

A high-ranking Israeli delegation is expected to visit Libya with the aim of reaching a mutual understanding on the signing of a peace agreement, Kuwaiti newspaper A-Siyasa, quoted on the Al Bawaba website, reported Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in comments published Tuesday, Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was quoted as saying he is ready to compensate Libyan Jews whose properties were confiscated. He also said he is prepared to allow Libyans to travel to Israel, according to Arab press reports.

And a few days later on January 24th, 2004:

Libya Nuclear Components Said Headed for U.S.
Hat tip to Little Green Footballs for this link to a Yahoo/Reuters story:
Acting swiftly to ensure Libya's pledge to give up nuclear weapons is implemented, the Bush administration may bring to the United States as early as next week centrifuges and nuclear material at the heart of Tripoli's program, senior U.S. officials say.

Documents and drawings from the Libyan program arrived in Washington on Friday. Centrifuges, uranium hexafluoride and other nuclear-related equipment "are in the next round, probably next week," one official told Reuters.
This is excellent news - if this transaction were being handled by the UN or the IAEA, they would still be having meetings well into 2005 with the stuff just sitting there.
Most, if not all, of the nuclear components will go to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Energy (news - web sites)'s largest science and energy laboratory.
This is good - not only is it a secure site, it also has some excellent labs. We will be taking each piece apart down to the atomic level so we can identify countries of origin, their level of technologies and who else might be trying to assemble a bomb.

And more:
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi pledged on Dec. 19 to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in a surprise deal with old adversaries Washington and London.

That is how you do it -- you do not appease, you do not negotiate, you do not try to open a dialog. You stand strong and the weak will see your strength and yield.

This president has undone 30 years of foreign policy in just two years. The damage he has done with his stupidity and mulish 'thought experiments' will take ten years to repair at least. The whole situation would have never come to a head if we had strong leadership in the White House...

Good news from Egypt

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Seems like things are settling down to a dull roar and that the military is staying classy. From The Houston Chronicle/Associated Press:
Egypt's military appoints first post-Mubarak PM
Egypt's military rulers appointed the first post-Hosni Mubarak prime minister Thursday, replacing an air force pilot close to the ousted leader in a bid to appease thousands of protesters who had threatened to renew the occupation of a central Cairo square.

The opposition hailed the decision as another victory for "people power" but many warned pressure must be maintained on the military to implement other democratic reforms, including an accountable police agency and a new constitution.

Leaders of the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to resign had been pressing the military to fire Ahmed Shafiq, arguing that a prime minister sworn in by the ousted leader should not stay in office. They also were angry that his Cabinet was filled with figures from the old regime.

The military's official Facebook page said former Transport Minister Essam Sharaf had been chosen as prime minister and asked to form a caretaker Cabinet during the transition to civilian rule.

Activists say they had recommended the choice of Sharaf.

"First we ousted Mubarak. Second, we got rid of Shafiq. We have become again the owners of this country," said Bassem Kamel, a member of the Youth Coalition, an umbrella group of activists who launched the protests Jan. 25.

Sharaf, who served in the Cabinet for 18 months between 2004 and the end of 2005, has endeared himself to the youth groups by visiting them in Cairo's central Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, the uprising's epicenter. An engineer, Sharaf also appeared to fit the image of a professional civil servant who after leaving office founded a group of like-minded scientists called "the age of science."

"He is a reformer and was a vocal critic" of the old system, said Shady Ghazali, another protest leader.
Do not know anything about the guy but that he is an Engineer makes me feel really good about this appointment. Engineers are by their very nature complex problem solvers -- dealing with a multi-variant problem is beyond the scope of a political hack but mothers milk to an engineer. If Mr. (or most likely Dr.) Sharaf doesn't get sucked into the creeping meatball of politics, Egypt will be in very good hands. That is one part of the world I would love to visit sometime...

Now this could be interesting...

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From MyNorthwest (part of station KIRO):
Bothell church hosts porn debate with Ron Jeremy
You might squirm a bit when hearing the words 'pornography' and 'church' in the same sentence and that's exactly why a local pastor is hosting a weekend long discussion about porn.

Porn star Ron Jeremy will represent his industry in a debate with a pastor at the Eastlake Community Church in Bothell.

"I do believe that if we're going to talk about something like pornography and really try to engage the culture and the community in a dialogue, I don't think it's fair to hear one side of the issue," the church's pastor, Ryan Meeks, told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson Show on Wednesday.
Don't know anything about that particular church but the times I have seen Mr. Jeremy (clothed: interviews, etc...) he is articulate and has quite the sharp mind. I hope these show up on YouTube at some point.
From The Smoking Gun comes this story of Aaron Castro and his comic book collection:
Accused Meth Dealer Faces Loss Of His Beloved 18,753 Comic Books
A large-scale methamphetamine dealer who allegedly laundered drug profits by purchasing valuable comic books is in danger of forfeiting his 18,753-volume collection to Uncle Sam, according to a new court filing.

Federal prosecutors yesterday filed a U.S. District Court complaint seeking ownership of the comic book holdings of Aaron Castro, 30, who is facing a May trial in Colorado on narcotics distribution and weapons charges. The comics are valued in excess of $500,000.

The forfeiture complaint recounts a government interview with Lonna Gwinn, who said she sold meth for Castro, who is pictured above. �Gwinn said that Aaron began to struggle with money because he would spend his drug money on comic books.� Gwinn added that she would meet Castro �at comic book stores to give him the drug money and had seen Aaron buy a box of comic books.�

A second admitted dealer told investigators that he helped Castro organize his comic books, �which he confirmed were purchased by Aaron with drug proceeds.�
TSG has the mugshot -- classic mouth-breather.

Government efficiency

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And we expected the government to do better? From Politico:
GAO: Medicare losing $48 billion
Nearly 10 percent of all Medicare payments are fraudulent or otherwise improper, and the government isn�t doing enough to stop them.

That�s the conclusion of a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday. The report, issued at the request of a House subcommittee investigating Medicare and Medicaid fraud, estimates that the federal government is losing $48 billion on the improper payments � a significant amount for a program that �is fiscally unsustainable in the long term� unless action is taken.
And making the health-care program bigger will make it better? How about streamlining what is already in place and cutting down the barriers to competition (tort reform, being able to buy insurance across state lines, medical savings plans, etc. etc. etc.)

We have a comment

Last night, I posted a 15-minute YouTube of 'Screwy' Louis Farrakhan bloviating about Gaddafi, UFOs and the basic bat-shit crazy that he does so well. He seems to have attracted quite the following since I first ran into him at a Sufi conference 20 years ago. His rhetoric hasn't changed one bit though. A couple hours ago, james left this comment:
The Honorable Minister Farrakhan is white people's last chance to clean themselves up!
So james, I take it by your blanket use of "white people's" that you are a racist? Could you please elucidate on your "last chance to clean themselves up" comment? In case you have not noticed, we are all in this cesspit together and the more we divide, the more the cultural elites at the top will keep us down and powerless -- and I place Obama firmly in this camp -- he is not one of us, he is one of them...

A delightful bit of writing

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Spend about ten minutes reading this incredible story. From Willis Eschenbach writing at Watts Up With That but no, it is not about climate change or anything like that. Just go and read:
In Which I Talk to the Thunderstorms
Thunderstorms are great majestic beasts. If you had never seen one or heard of one in your life, imagine your surprise if a lovely peaceful day suddenly clouded up. Then it started to rain. Then it was pelting down hail. Then a blinding bolt of lightning blew your ears off � you�d think the world had gone mad.

We accept them without thinking because we know them. But truly, what an unpredictable and magnificent thing for nature to manufacture out of a clear, beautiful sky and a pinch of sun and water. As you may know, I think that thunderstorms and other emergent phenomena (tornadoes, hurricanes, El Ni�o, East Pacific fair-weather gale) along with other phenomena act as a homeostatic regulator of the global temperature.

So I thought I�d tell a story that start and ends with thunderstorms. This was in � mmm � maybe 2007, in the Solomon Islands (near the Equator above Australia.) This is the story of the tropical wedding of my friend Mike�s son. It begins in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, on the island of Guadalcanal.
Just go and read -- a wonderful story.

Oscar Levant

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I had to look up an Oscar Levant quote I wanted to use for the previous post and found this one I had forgotten about:
The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
--Oscar Levant

Screwy Louis

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Twenty years ago, 'Screwy' Louis Farrakhan was a joke -- spouting off mindless drivel and surrounded by a bunch of thug bodyguards and showing up at otherwise fairly important meetings. It seems he has followers who take him seriously and has morphed into some semblance of an elder statesman for wackos.
No need to watch the entire 15 minutes -- just a taste is enough. Brings to mind this quote:
There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.
--Oscar Levant

Light posting today

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Working on some other stuff this evening. Maybe no ice cream at all -- who knows...
And yes, there is a big 'D' beside her name. From The Daily Caller:
Congressional bosses from Hell: Sheila Jackson Lee
A lot of politicians give nicknames to their aides. George W. Bush famously referred to his attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, as �Fredo.� Mitch Daniels, then head of the Office of Management and Budget, was known as �The Blade.� Barack Obama reportedly called Larry Summers, his chief economic advisor, �Dr. Kevorkian.�

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas also hands out nicknames to the people who work for her. The Houston Democrat addressed one of her employees as �you stupid motherfucker.� And not just once, but �constantly,� recalls the staffer, �like, all the time.�

Another Jackson Lee aide recounts the time her parents came to Washington to visit: �They were really excited to come to the congressional office. They�re small town people, so for them it was a huge deal. They were actually sitting in the main lobby waiting area�.[Jackson Lee] came out screaming at me over a scheduling change. Called me a �stupid idiot. Don�t be a moron, you foolish girl� and actually did this in front of my parents, of all things.�

Yet another staffer remembers requesting a meeting early on in her tenure to ask how best to serve the congresswoman. Jackson Lee�s response: �What? What did you say to me? Who are you, the Congresswoman? You haven�t been elected. You don�t set up meetings with me! I tell you! You know what? You are the most unprofessional person I have ever met in my life.� With that, Jackson Lee hung up the phone.
These people are good at getting elected and little else...

Some bad news from Germany

I was listening to the radio on my way in a few hours ago and heard about the four Airmen who were shot -- two murdered -- by a gunman. The only information given was that he was a Kosovar. A few minutes ago, I am sitting down to a late lunch and surfing the news and I see this from the New York Times:
Shooting at Germany Airport Kills 2 U.S. Airmen
Two United States airmen were killed and two injured on Wednesday when a gunman opened fire on an American military bus at the Frankfurt airport, according to American military officials in Europe.

In Washington, President Obama said he was �saddened and outraged� by the attack. �We will spare no effort in learning how this outrageous act took place,� he said, �and in working with German authorities to ensure that all of the perpetrators are brought to justice.�

The suspected gunman, who is in custody, is 21-year-old Kosovar who lives in Frankfurt, according to a city police spokesman, Manfred F�llhardt. The names of the dead were being withheld pending notification of the families, the officials said.

The attack occurred outside Terminal 2 at the airport, one of Europe�s busiest, which has been under increased security in recent months following warnings that Germany would be the target of terrorist attacks. In the aftermath of the shooting, the area was rapidly cordoned off, but the terminal continued operations.
Burried down in paragraph ten of twelve is this:
A man whose office is near the site of the shooting said it was an area where buses load arriving passengers. Speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his business, he said witnesses told him that the gunman first talked to the military personnel to find out who they were and then opened fire, shouting �God is great� in Arabic.
In Arabic, this is Allahu Akbar and is known as the Takbir -- an excerpt:
The phrase is well known in the west for its ubiquitous use in Islamist protests, and in Islamic extremism, and has become iconic of Islamic terrorism.

After 9/11, the FBI released a letter reportedly handwritten by the hijackers and found in three separate copies on 9/11�at Dulles, at the Pennsylvania crash site, and in Mohamed Atta's suitcase. It included a checklist of final reminders for the 9/11 hijackers. An excerpt reads: "When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, 'Allahu Akbar,' because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers." Also, in the cockpit voice recorders found at the crash site of Flight 93, the hijackers are heard to be reciting the Takbir as the plane plummeted toward the ground.
But no mention in the media...

Green Hornet

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Went to see the Green Hornet on the medium size screen tonight. A lot of fun -- lots of throw-away references to other movies and the character of Britt Reid is very annoyingly played by the very annoying Seth Rogan. Some continuity errors but nothing as bad as to detract from the film.

Obama and Walker - point, counterpoint

From Obama:
Pres. Obama Dives Back Into Wisconsin, Says Public Employees Being 'Vilified'
Public servants will agree with that. Democrats and republicans agree with that. In fact many public employees in your respective states have already agreed to cuts. But let me also say this, I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified, or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service. These times demand it. We're not gonna attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. We're not gonna convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don't properly reward that bravery. So yes we need a conversation about pensions and Medicare and Medicaid and other promises that we've made as a nation and those will be tough conversations but necessary conversations. As we make these decisions about our budget, going forward though, I believe that everyone should be at the table and that the concept of shared sacrifice should prevail. If all the pain's borne by only one group, whether its workers or seniors or the poor, while the wealthiest among us get to keep or get more tax breaks, we're not doing the right thing. I think that's something the democrats and the republicans should be able to agree on.
From Walker:
Obama Gets a Smackdown from Gov. Walker
Gov. Scott Walker on Monday afternoon responded to comments President Barack Obama made earlier in the day about the protests in Madison:

Walker's office issued this statement:

"I'm sure the President knows that most federal employees do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits while our plan allows it for base pay. And I'm sure the President knows that the average federal worker pays twice as much for health insurance as what we are asking for in Wisconsin. At least I would hope he knows these facts.

"Furthermore, I'm sure the President knows that we have repeatedly praised the more than 300,000 government workers who come to work every day in Wisconsin.

"I'm sure that President Obama simply misunderstands the issues in Wisconsin, and isn't acting like the union bosses in saying one thing and doing another."
From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Missing senators rely heavily on union campaign dollars
The 14 Wisconsin Democratic senators who fled to Illinois share more than just political sympathy with the public employees and unions targeted by Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.

The Senate Democrats count on those in the public sector as a key funding source for their campaigns.

In fact, nearly one out of every five dollars raised by those Democratic senators in the past two election cycles came from public employees, such as teachers and firefighters, and their unions, a Journal Sentinel analysis of campaign records shows.
And it seems that they cannot get a moments peace -- from The Daily Caller:
Cornstalked: As the 14 Wisconsin Democrats run, meet the numerous Illinois Tea Party activists giving chase
To say that 14 Wisconsin Democrats are �on the lam� in Illinois is an understatement. Relentlessly hounded by Illinois Tea Party members, they are, truly, on the run.

No matter which podunk border town the senators try to hide in, they are running all the time thanks to highly effective efforts of conservative activists who have streamlined their �search party� by utilizing Facebook, email blasts and quick video posts. Who knew the Tea Party would be so good at bounty hunting 2.0?

On Thursday, The Missing 14 unsubtly crashed the Clock Tower Resort�s Chocoholic Frolic in Rockford, Ill. David Hale, coordinator of the Rockford Tea Party, and his camera began stalking the resort pestering the senators. By Saturday, some of the Missing 14 had skipped over to the city�s Holiday Inn � and were reportedly seen at Hooters having a last supper of sorts � when Hale waltzed into the hotel�s lobby and confronted them with his camera and questions like, �Senators! Why won�t you go home and do your job?�

Probably aware that a posse of 14 pasty bureaucrats will stick out in a crowd, the senators did what any fugitive chain gang would do: They cut the links and went in separate directions. One did the smart thing and disappeared into the polished back alleys of the Windy City, where only the New York Times could find him.

By the following Monday, eight of the 14 had gone 30 miles northeast to the two-hotel town of Harvard (pop. 9,000ish) thinking it might be a good place to �hide.� It took just one tip from a �concerned citizen,� however, before a few amateur Illinois activists descended upon the hotel, causing enough commotion for the senators to quickly pack it up.

Mary Alger, the coordinator of the Crystal Lake Tea Party was grocery shopping when she got the tip. Dropping off her produce, making a quick sign and skirting 15 minutes northwest to Harvard, she met up with �Doc,� a member of the Northern Illinois Tea Party who holds down a full-time job when he�s not hunting Democrats. Lori White, a Spring Grove resident, showed up after responding to a Facebook post on the Rockford Tea Party page asking if anyone near Harvard was willing to drop by the hotel, preferably with a video camera.

The hotel called the cops on Doc and Mary because they were trespassing, so Doc skedaddled and at a nearby McDonald�s, Mary waited for White to arrive. Unfortunately, White got there just in time to see four senators piled into a tiny Mazda behind her � the make, model and license plate matching a response to a Facebook post. As she fumbled for her video camera, the senators sped off, up Highway 23. Though she tried to follow, White lost them. Though that won�t stop her helping out the other bounty hunters.
Just can't get no respect...

Lance Burton - close-up magic

I love close-up magic. Do not have the manual dexterity that is needed but I really appreciate the artform. Lance Burton is a master:

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