January 2012 Archives

Long day

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Took the trailer to the dump today - 1,100 pounds worth of old furniture (nothing salvageable), dead vacuum cleaners and assorted rubbish and that was just the garage and a few pieces from the house. The place is drying out really well and the valuable stuff that was on the floor feels bone dry but I will be giving it a lot more time to dry out though. Dealing with insurance people -- tired and off to bed.

Loooong day

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Got to my Mom and Dad's condo at 8AM today to meet up with the remediators. Spent the day moving stuff out of the various rooms and into the garage and doing triage. Filled a 6X10 trailer with stuff for the dump. Got done around 5:30PM. The good news is that although a lot of the cartons with photographs and valuable items had been sitting on the living room floor, the water wicked up the walls of the cartons but didn't penetrate the contents. I have those sitting out -- ServPro has some industrial dehumidifiers running so that should be the ticket. Dear God, if you are listening; I appreciate your testing me as it only makes me stronger in your name but could you please lay off for a little bit :) And BTW, thank you ever so much for Lulu and Grace!
From the London Daily Mail:
Forget global warming - it's Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again)
The supposed �consensus� on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.
S . I . G . H . Variable star, variable climate. The impact that we have on this gorgeous little blue marble is a lot less than we give ourselves credit for. The idea that we can cause a major change in the climate is pure fscking hubris.

Cool story - Fat Smitty's cafe

From the Peninsula Daily News:

How much was stuck to Fat Smitty's walls? $10,316!
One of the questions baffling the western world - OK, to patrons of the iconic Fat Smitty's cafe at the junction of U.S. Highway 101 and state Highway 20 in Discover Bay - was how much money was affixed to the eatery's walls and ceiling.

Customers had been doing that with dollar bills - after decorating many of them - for years.

Carl 'Fat Smitty' Schmidt decided that it was time for the loot to come down from the walls for donation to charity.

He enlisted Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts to bring down the money.

And the question was answered: $10,316.

Schmidt said all but $3,000 will be donated to the Scouts' Camp Parsons kitchen project in Brinnon.

The rest will go to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

And starting this week, Fat Smitty's begins a new round of the tradition of affixing money to the walls and ceiling.

Very cool -- Scouting rocks and St. Judes has a pretty low administrative overhead (10% admin and 17% fundraising -- well within the norm for my books) and they do good work.

Light posting today

Was at home taking care of the critters -- got another load of hay out.

Heading into town with the trailer to clean out my Mom and Dad's condo before the remediation people start tomorrow. Got a Rug Doctor so I'll hoover up as much water as I can.

Meeting with the real estate people Tuesday to see about selling the store and the rental units. Ch ch ch changes...

Bill Whittle on the Vote Pump

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Excellent as always. And, if you didn't remember this one -- here is why taxing the rich will not work will work -- for one year:

An interesting shift in tactics

From FOX News:

Navy converting ship into floating commando base in Middle East
The U.S. Navy is working to place a 'mothership' for Special Operations Forces in the Middle East, Fox News confirms.

The USS Ponce, which was most recently being used as a dock in the Mediterranean Sea for the Libyan operation, was scheduled to be decommissioned in December. Navy officials now tell Fox News that the ship will be transformed into a flotilla to be used by Navy SEALs.

The move comes in response to a standing request from the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, to the Pentagon for the base. The commando teams will be able to to use it for high speed boats and helicopters.

A market survey posted by the Military Sealift Command in December asked that ship be able to support mine counter measures.

Sea mines are a concern in the Strait of Hormuz should Iran make good on its threats to close the vital oil passage way, an official told Fox News.

Shifting from force majeure to stealth. Makes a lot of sense...

Met up with the remediator today to see about getting the water out of my Mom and Dad's condo. Looking at $6 to $12K with the insurance picking up the tab. Still, a lot of papers got wet -- I had cartons stacked on the living room floor ready to sort and the water wicked up into them. Papers, photos, books. Most of them can be saved but some of them are soaked. As though I needed something else on my plate...

Ron Paul's newsletters

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From the Washington Post comes this story of Ron Paul's controversial newsletters. Presidential candidate Paul has claimed that he never read or contributed to the content but if that is true, he has to be one of the most incompetent and negligent business owners around.
Ron Paul signed off on racist newsletters in the 1990s, associates say
Ron Paul, well known as a physician, congressman and libertarian , has also been a businessman who pursued a marketing strategy that included publishing provocative, racially charged newsletters to make money and spread his ideas, according to three people with direct knowledge of Paul�s businesses.

The Republican presidential candidate has denied writing inflammatory passages in the pamphlets from the 1990s and said recently that he did not read them at the time or for years afterward. Numerous colleagues said he does not hold racist views.

But people close to Paul�s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.

�It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it," said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul�s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman.
A bit more:
In the past, Paul has taken responsibility for the passages because they were published under his name. But last month, he told CNN that he was unaware at the time of the controversial passages. �I�ve never read that stuff. I�ve never read � I came � was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written." Paul said.
The articles included racial, anti-Semitic and anti-gay content. They claimed, for example, that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. �seduced underage girls and boys"; they ridiculed black activists by suggesting that New York be named �Zooville� or �Lazyopolis�; and they said the 1992 Los Angeles riots ended �when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks." The June 1990 edition of the Ron Paul Political Report included the statement: �Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.�
Needless to say, this article has garnered 2,000+ comments. All of the newsletters have been scanned and are available here: RP Newsletter

Global Warming hits the Wall Street Journal

From Anthony at Watts Up With That:

Sixteen prominent scientists publish a letter in WSJ saying there's "No Need to Panic About Global Warming"
This is quite something. Sixteen scientists, including such names as Richard Lindzen, William Kininmonth, Wil Happer, and Nir Shaviv, plus engineer Burt Rutan, and Apollo 17 astronaut Dr. Harrison Schmidt, among others, write what amounts to a heretical treatise to the Wall Street Journal, expressing their view that the global warming is oversold, has stalled in the last decade, and that the search for meaningful warming has led to co-opting weather patterns in the blame game. Oh, and a history lesson on Lysenkoism as it relates to today's warming-science-funding-complex. I can hear Joe Romm's head exploding all the way out here in California.

The letter is here: Wall Street Journal An excerpt:

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"

In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 "Climategate" email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade - indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections - suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

800+ comments at the WSJ and 130+ at WUWT -- good reading...

Stupid criminal

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From Bakersfield, CA station KERO:
Man Accused Of Stealing Camera Caught On Camera
The Bakersfield Police Department is asking for the community�s assistance identifying a man accused of theft.

Sgt. Mary DeGeare said that on Dec. 10, a man removed security cameras from a business on San Dimas Street.

Anyone with information regarding the identity of this suspect is encouraged to call Detective Scott Miller at 326-3947.
Took the camera but not the recording equipment. The article has a nice clear picture including a classic case of meth mouth. This quantity of stupid should be painful...


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Had my first meeting with the real estate people for putting the store and the building up for sale. Talked with two agents and both seemed to really know the market and were competent. They had been referred to me by the agent I used in Seattle -- Barbara was incredible and I had emailed her asking if she knew of anyone in Bellingham. We are meeting again at the property to sign papers next Tuesday, the 31st. End of one era, beginning of a new one.

Laser pointer hack

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A little known hack:

But you see if it wasn't for bad luck

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In the last six months chronologically, I had to have surgery on my foot, the bakery I was managing got shut down by the owner of the property, my wife filed for divorce, my well pump went out, I lost 300+ pounds of grass-fed beef and organic pork through a freezer failure, my furnace motor burned out. Two days ago, I got a call from the manager of the condos where my Mom and Dad used to live (they passed a few years ago -- I am keeping the property to use for sorting through their estate and will sell it once the economy improves). A meter reader noticed that water was coming out of the kitchen sink. It seems that the heat had failed and the sink valve froze and broke. Looking at replacing all of the carpets and there is a lot of damage as I had a lot of stuff in cartons sitting on the carpet. Water wicked up into them. That being said, Lulu and I celebrated our six-month anniversary a few days ago and the dog that she bought for my birthday (Grace) is probably the best puppy I have ever had -- turning into a wonderful dear dog. Title of the post? Ray Charles

Holy shit - two guitars do this?

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Just got turned on to Rodrigo y Gabriela:

More videos here. Amazing stuff...

Hot time

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Furnace guy finally left -- the motor had burned out and needed to be replaced. He got his van stuck in the driveway -- all of the warm rain has turned the snow into a thick sheet of wet ice. Towed him out with the tractor. The guy was a recent immigrant from China and I don't think he had spent much time in the countryside. He took photos of my tractor and the Llamas and was having a great time as I hauled him up along the driveway. Heading into town for a few days but bringing my laptop so the spew will continue.


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Should have been a prime night for aurora but it was socked in with heavy clouds and rain... People in Scandinavia had awesome displays.

Newt and Nancy

From Real Clear Politics:

John King, CNN: "You make your case there passionately for President Obama. But also understand that this is a tough reelection climate for any president, Democrat or Republican in this economy. Because of your history with Speaker Gingrich, what goes through your mind when you think of the possibility, which is more real today than it was a week or a month ago, that he would be the Republican nominee and that you could come back here next January or next February with a President Gingrich?"

Rep. Nancy Pelosi: "Let me just say this. That will never happen."

King: "Why?"

Pelosi: "He's not going to be President of the United States. That's not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it, it isn't going to happen."

King: "Why are you so sure?"

Pelosi: "There is something I know. The Republicans, if they choose to nominate him that's their prerogative. I don't even think that's going to happen."

From The Washington Times: Gingrich: Pelosi comments "hysterical"

Newt Gingrich, responding Wednesday to comments from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that he has no shot at winning the presidency, said his campaign makes his former House colleague and other Democrats "hysterical."

A bit more:

Mr Gingrich challenged Mrs. Pelosi to "put up or shut up."

"I have no idea what she's talking about, I don't think she has any idea what she's talking about. But bring it on," the GOP presidential front-runner told hosts John McCaslin and Dana Mills. "When you're a left-wing Democrat, the prospect of a Gingrich presidency is really sort of like a nightmare. And they're right. My goal is to go to Washington to change it, not just to get along with the old order."

Heh -- I am voting for this man. I like his style.

Fact checking the SOTU address

Obama's State of the Union was just a re-hash of his 2011 and 2010 SOTU speeches and a number of his 'ideas' had been tried before and failed. From Associated Press/My Way:
FACT CHECK: Obama pushes plans that flopped before
It was a wish list, not a to-do list.

President Barack Obama laid out an array of plans in his State of the Union speech as if his hands weren't so tied by political realities. There can be little more than wishful thinking behind his call to end oil industry subsidies - something he could not get through a Democratic Congress, much less today's divided Congress, much less in this election year.

And there was more recycling, in an even more forbidding climate than when the ideas were new: He pushed for an immigration overhaul that he couldn't get past Democrats, permanent college tuition tax credits that he asked for a year ago, and familiar discouragements for companies that move overseas.

A look at Obama's rhetoric Tuesday night and how it fits with the facts and political circumstances:
OBAMA: "We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising."

THE FACTS: This is at least Obama's third run at stripping subsidies from the oil industry. Back when fellow Democrats formed the House and Senate majorities, he sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request. He called again to end such tax breaks in last year's State of the Union speech. And he's now doing it again, despite facing a wall of opposition from Republicans who want to spur domestic oil and gas production and oppose tax increases generally.
Much more at the site.

Just wow - the Dewanatron Hymnotron Synthesizer

Look up

A bit CME hit the Earth this morning -- we should be seeing some auroras tonight. More at SpaceWeather and Watts Up With That

Drill baby drill

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Like they will drill here any time soon -- from Next Big Future:
EIA estimates California Monterey to have four times the technically recoverable oil of the North Dakota Bakken oil field
EIA US Review of Emerging Resources: US Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays, July 2011 (105 pages)

The Monterey/Santos oil field in California is estimated to four times the technically recoverable oil as the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota.

The Monterey field is also estimated to have 500 billion barrels of oil in place. The Bakken oil field oil in place estimates range from 271 billion to 503 billion barrels (average estimate of 413 billion barrels).

Harold Hamm (billionaire owner of Continental oil) estimates the Bakken oil field will produce six times (24 billion barrels) the oil of the EIA estimate. Harold Hamm also believes that the San Joaquin Monterey California fields are the next big horizontal drilling play.

There is new technology for drilling which will further reduce the costs (by two thirds or more) and increase the speed of horizontal oil drilling.

UPDATE - The United States could have 6 to 8 trillion barrels of oil in place and 1.2 trillion to 2.4 trillion barrels could be recoverable.
This could be a wild ride depending on who gets into the Oval Office next year and how strongly they can cut the EPA.

Just wonderful - Europe

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From the Beeb:
IMF: Global economy 'in danger zone' over euro crisis
The world's economy is "deeply into the danger zone" because of risks from the eurozone, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

The IMF predicts the global economy will grow by 3.25% in 2012, down from an earlier forecast of 4%.

The growth forecast for the UK economy has been cut to 0.6% from 1.6%.

But the eurozone is set for a "mild recession" in 2012, with GDP expected to shrink by 0.5%, compared with a previous forecast of 1.1% growth.
And this little bit of cheer:
In its update to its September report, the IMF warned that the "United States and other advanced economies are susceptible to spillovers from a potential intensification of the eurozone crisis".
Fun times ahead -- was in town today picking up my zombie killah -- more information and photos in a day or two.

Follow the money - Keystone pipeline

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From Bloomberg:
Buffett�s Burlington Northern Among Winners From Keystone Denial
Warren Buffett�s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration�s decision to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)�s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit.

With modest expansion, railroads can handle all new oil produced in western Canada through 2030, according to an analysis of the Keystone proposal by the U.S. State Department.

�Whatever people bring to us, we�re ready to haul,� Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett�s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL �doesn�t happen, we�re here to haul.�

The State Department denied TransCanada a permit on Jan. 18, saying there was not enough time to study the proposal by Feb. 21, a deadline Congress imposed on President Barack Obama. Calgary-based TransCanada has said it intends to re-apply with a route that avoids an environmentally sensitive region of Nebraska, something the Obama administration encouraged.

The rail option, though costlier, would lessen the environmental impact, such as a loss of wetlands and agricultural productivity, compared to the pipeline, according to the State Department analysis. Greenhouse gas emissions, however, would be worse.
Crony capitalism. Buffet is Obama's BFF and Obama is returning the favor.

Feeling the heat - not yet

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Furnace guy is here -- main fan motor is burned out. No word on ETA for its replacement. Building the fire back up from last night's coals. 37� out and raining...

Just wonnerful

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Staring down the barrel again:
201 PM PST MON JAN 23 2012

A bit more:


I love to make fun of the snow newbies who do not know how to drive in the stuff but this is seriously crimping my style and I know how to drive in it. Great for Mt. Baker but if the snow level stayed at 2K feet I would be very happy and Baker would be just as blessed...

Days getting longer

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After the Solstice, the days get longer. My favorite metric is 5:00PM At Solstice, it is pitch dark here, I noticed enough light to walk around on January 6th Tonight, I was using Buttercup to plow some snow and I finished at 5:45PM with enough light to work. It has been a long long winter... Furnace people are coming out tomorrow morning to get heat back to the house -- been burning wood which is fine but it is nice to turn the dial and hear the furnace go 'click' - - - 'woof' Internet is up and down like a cheap yoyo so don't know how much I will be posting tonight...

Home, home on the range

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Spent the last few days at Lulu's house in Bellingham (our six month anniversary!) and took an amazing class in Glass Fusing -- looking for something to add to the shades of the wall sconces and table lamps I am working on. The furnace had died the day before I headed into Bellingham (Friday) so will be waiting for the repair people tomorrow. Everything is fine, have a nice big fire banked and keeping us warm. More spew tomorrow...

Obama and the Unions

Looks like the relationship might be cooling a bit -- from the Labor Union Report:
Obama Kills 20,000 Keystone XL Jobs, Laborers� Union Vows Not To Forget Betrayal
After months of playing political ping-pong with 20,000 potential (mostly union) jobs, the Obama administration decided on Wednesday to kill the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

According to a State Department release [emphasis added]:
Today, the Department of State recommended to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department�s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.

Since 2008, the Department has been conducting a transparent, thorough, and rigorous review of TransCanada�s permit application for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project�
For more than three years, the State Department has conducted its �transparent, thorough, and rigorous review.� However, apparently, the Obama Administration believed that three years wasn�t enough to be transparent, thorough, or rigorous enough.

As Forbes� Christopher Helman noted in November:
In the process of selecting the proposed route, TransCanada plotted and studied 14 different pipeline paths and submitted 10,000 pages of environmental studies. They�ve already studied this thing to death.
What�s worse is the fact that Obama�s purely ideological decision does not serve the national interest at all. In fact, since China will be the likely recipient of the Canadian oil, in addition to the destruction of possible jobs, Obama�s decision harm�not help�the nation�s interests.
More at the site including a wonderful rant from Laborers� union president, Terry O�Sullivan, this quote from Samuel Gompers:
Socialism has no place in the hearts of those who would secure the fight for freedom and preserve democracy.
-Samuel Gompers, American Federation of Labor, 1918
And this comment:
Obama and his Administration caved in to the Eco-Greenies & CREDO; these groups are ecstatic that Canada�s Keystone XL Pipeline product will now be sold to and burned by China and India, where these countries have such a sterling environmental track record and environmental controls�. Oh wait� Did the Eco-Greens and Enviro-Nazis NOT take this into consideration!? Do they seriously expect Canada will just sit on this natural resource?! So Obama and his Administration, bowing to these enviro-idiots, managed to be dumb three times over: stop creation of American jobs; prevent potential hard-industrial growth in the US; AND lose any control over emissions/pollutants when these fuels are burned outside our shores.
Does the President, let alone the eco-wackies � ever think these things through? I swear, you have to work hard to be this stoopid.
Obama's big base is the labor unions -- he bailed out a bunch of them and they returned the favor with campaign contributions. It is not like pipelines are anything new or scary -- your home has water coming to it through a pipeline, your sewage leaves through a pipeline. Just as computer technology gets way better and cooler, all technology follows the same growth pattern so a new pipeline will be way better and cooler than a 20 year old one. Less prone to problems, having a gentler footprint on the earth and better management and monitoring. Why are we stabbing ourselves in the back here. What really gets me is that if we buy Canada's oil, we will burn it with modern engines with decent pollution controls. If we do not buy Canada's oil, they will sell it to the Chinese who have zero pollution controls and their air drifts over the Pacific Ocean and hits us. Like the commenter said:
I swear, you have to work hard to be this stoopid

Country living

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Went out for a light dinner and came home to a house at 50 degrees and a furnace making an odd sound. Crap. Sounds like a bearing going out but I cannot get any heat. Got a nice fire going and the house is warming up -- the fireplace insert is big enough that I can stuff it, damp it down and have a good 10 hours of heat. Supposed to warm up this weekend and heading in to Lulu's house for a few days tomorrow anyway -- schedule the heating people to come out next Tuesday or Wednesday. And I just got done with all of the water well problems as well as having the chest freezer fail and losing over 300 pounds of organic pork and grass-fed beef. Throw in the divorce and 2011 has been a hell of a year. That being said, I have not felt this happy or content in a long long time.


Almost done with reading Mark Levin's new book Ameritopia. Excellent stuff -- hard to put into a nutshell but well worth your reading if you have any concerns about where this republic is headed and what we need to do to stem the course. It is in the #1 position at Amazon for a very good reason.

Crap - RIP Sarah Burke

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Mt. Baker is a hotbed of snowboarding with some big names coming here to race and ride. The community just lost one of its luminaries -- from the Bellingham Herald:
Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke dead at 29
Sarah Burke was an X Games star with a grass-roots mentality - a daredevil superpipe skier who understood the risks inherent to her sport and the debt she owed to it.

The pioneering Canadian freestyler, who helped get superpipe accepted into the Olympics, died Thursday after a Jan. 10 crash during a training run in Park City, Utah.

Burke, who lived near Whistler, in British Columbia, was 29.
A dangerous sport but some amazing people.

Warming up a bit

Got down to nine degrees at the farm last night -- critters are huddled in the barn and I have been running hot water out to their water trough.

The more stressful the weather, the more important hydration is. Weather is due to warm up and heavy rain is expected through the weekend.

Of course, with the ground being frozen like it is, that means lots of runoff as the snowpack melts and combines with the rain. Flood warnings have been issued to accompany the Winter Storm Watches and the Avalanche Warnings.

Spending tonight doing some more locksmithing (replacing all the outside locks in the house and re-keying them to all use the same keys. The locks presently there are 30 years old and starting to be not reliable.

Falling from Grace

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My new puppy Grace is entering into a phase of competition teething. I found a couple CD-ROM disks and a pair of safety glasses on the living-room floor this morning and just a few minutes ago, as I was working on some stuff, my Sirius Satellite radio cut out. OK I figured, the accumulation of snow had gotten enough to block the signal. I went out to the porch to unbury the antenna and found a loose wire where the antenna should have been. I had let the two of them out (Grace and Finnegan) for a last run before bedtime and Grace chose to have a late night snack. Got to run into Bellingham to get another antenna. I do love her to bits but I really hope this phase ends soon...

Another slow day

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Received my copy of Mark Levin's new book: Ameritopia so plowing through it. Really well written and thoughtful. Snowed in today - got another six inches of powder. Mt. Baker is rockin'

Winter wonderland

Woke up to 14" of white stuff on the back deck with more coming down. Spent some quality time with Buttercup the tractor knocking a hole from the garage to the front gate and heading out in a few minutes to get some coffee and check the mail. National Weather Service has issued an Avalanche warning as well as a Winter Storm Warning with this little bundle of joy:
Mt. Baker is ecstatic:
Mt. Baker is the place to be right now for deep, light powder snow! Our storm total is now over 44 inches of new snow since Friday night! If you love powder, this is your week; forecasts are calling for continued cold temperatures and more snowfall off and on throughout the week. And the Department of Transportation continues to put their experience and expertise to use in doing a great job of clearing and maintaining the entire Mt. Baker Highway -- Thanks guys!

We currently have the 3rd deepest snowpack in North America and have received over 250 inches of snowfall so far this season. Reports from our visitors are calling Mt. Baker the best for conditions in the continental USA!
Sitting pretty here -- got a full propane tank and four cords of firewood stacked under shelter. Tested the generator a couple weeks ago (every month) and have at least a month's worth of food (bird, dog and human) in the pantry. Come back from coffee, fix some lunch, surf a little bit and maybe take a nap. Life is rough...

Happy belated birthday little guy

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The AAA Battery cell was first introduced one hundred years ago last year -- 1911 The D Battery was earlier -- first introduced in 1898. Introduction dates and lots (I mean LOTS) more here: List of battery sizes

Eagles redux

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Last Saturday we went down to look at some Eagles and were a bit disappointed by the turnout -- only four. This morning, Lulu pointed up and overhead the house was a big one soaring. He was overhead for a good five minutes before moving off. If the weather is good tomorrow, I'll spend some time along the Nooksack river and see what I can see...


I live near Maple Falls, WA, a small hamlet about 30 miles due East of Bellingham, WA. Love it out here but sometimes things can get a bit too exciting. From the Bellingham Herald (#1):
Man tries to steal beer from Bellingham store, pulls out brass knuckles
A Maple Falls man allegedly tried to steal beer from a Meridian Street grocery store and assaulted a store employee Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 11, according to Bellingham police.
The two began fighting and, at one point, Xxxxx pulled out a set of brass knuckles, Young said.
And the real shocker -- from the Bellingham Herald (#2):
Man dead after gang confrontation in Maple Falls
A 20-year-old Maple Falls man is dead after a Saturday, Jan. 14, gang confrontation in Maple Falls, according to Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.

"The deceased party was a member of the Insane Clown Possee street gang and was accompanied by six other members of this gang when he confronted the individual who stabbed him. The person who stabbed the deceased party was not arrested and our investigation continues to determine if his actions were justified in self-defense," Elfo said.

According to the sheriff's press report: At about 11 p.m., deputies responded to a report of a stabbing in the Maple Falls area of Whatcom County. An adult male was taken by friends to the District 14 Fire Hall suffering from apparent knife wounds. Medical treatment was initiated, but the man died of his injuries.

The name of the dead man was not released by 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, as the family had not yet been notified.
There is another development called Peaceful Valley one valley over (five miles by road) from Maple Falls and there is a lot of crime there - 2,448 people, 787 households 45% with someone under 18. Per capita income is $12,733. A lot of people conflate Peaceful and Maple Falls.

Pot meet Kettle

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From the Salt Lake Tribune:
In fighting online piracy, Mark Shurtleff accused of plagiarism
Internet giants are clashing with Hollywood celebrities and major retailers over legislation that would make it easier to shut down sites for online piracy. And Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has picked sides.

He argued in a Salt Lake Tribune opinion piece last weekend http://bit.ly/ynecnK that a tough enforcement bill is needed to protect consumers, entertainers and businesses.

"It will take a strong, sustained effort to stop Internet thieves and profiteers," Shurtleff wrote.

Actually, Shurtleff didn�t write that. And other lines in his op-ed didn�t come from him either. They were plagiarized from a news release and columns written by supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.

Opponents of the legislation first identified the lifted passages and noted the irony of a law enforcement officer fighting the misappropriation of others� work by misappropriating others� words.

But Shurtleff denies he plagiarized anyone, arguing it is common practice for public officials to get help writing speeches and opinion pieces, though he doesn�t deny that some sentences were lifted word for word from other sources.

"Could some quotes be put around those certain issues? Yeah. Is it plagiarism? No," Shurtleff said. "People are reciting words all the time."

And he said the accusations of plagiarism are a "disingenuous" attempt to undercut his political point by "people interested in piracy."
What gets me is the level of disconnect shared by our elite ruling class. They are fscking clueless. And it gets better:
This is not the first time Shurtleff has received attention for relying on others� work and calling it his own. In 2010, he appeared before a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington to testify in support of legislation that would cede control of liquor sales to states.

Part of his testimony was written by Paul Pisano of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.
Shurtleff's WikiPedia page details 22 'scandals' complete with links. Quite the civil servent...

The Job Ahead

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We are so focused on the Federal government and getting rid of its problems that we fail to appreciate that the same problems lurk at a local level. From The Czar of Muscovy writing at The Gormogons:
Ominous Clouds
Let us imagine that everything goes swimmingly well this November, and that we receive a GOP Senate, the Republicans maintain control over the House, and we get a President, say Mitt Romney, who in fact delivers on conservative, limited government properties.

And so he retools our military, eradicates Obamacare, begins shutting down hundreds of government programs, and begins a serious study of plausible entitlement reform. The debt issue crawls to a stop, and even with considerable tax reform, we begin producing enough revenue to pay off that galaxy of debt.

We can go further. With lower taxes and significant regulation reform, employment kicks into high gear, and people get back to work and business start paying off outstanding debts. And, while we are imagining things no candidate will likely deliver on, the return to prosperity means that mortgages, credit card debts, and other personal finance problems start to get solved.

So that�s it? We�re done?

Hardly. One of the big catchphrases we keep hearing from conservatives is �that should be a state issue.� In nearly all cases, this reflexive gainsay against any federal spending issue is dumping more responsibility on states that are way deep in debt. We can save the country, but we need the states solvent, too.

Sure, some states have that figured out. Some are doing it on little or no income tax. Solutions clearly exist, but until the rest of the states fix their ruined financial houses, the problems will remain.

But let us imagine that all the states find a way to pay for no end of stuff that libertarians and far-right conservatives want them to take care of. Let us say they eliminate their obscene pensions, pull back on massive interference programs, and get themselves back in the black even with new roads, bridges, and wetland preservation.

We still have the issue of the municipalities�some of our largest cities (indeed, the bulk of American population) is stuck in cities and towns that also suffer out of control spending. Municipality after municipality is doubling or tripling fines, licenses, permits, fees, and administrative costs. They, too, have a terrible problem with pensions and over-spending on social programs. You can solve the federal and state problems, but the average person will see little personal relief until the municipalities fix their mess.
More at the site. Local activism works but it takes an effort on your part. You deserve the government that you allow to happen...

Say goodbye to that career

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From Sky News:
Captain Held After Cruise Ship Capsizes
The captain and first officer of a cruise liner that ran aground off the coast of Italy are being held on suspicion of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship while passengers were still in danger.

Three people are known to have died and around 40 others are still unaccounted for after the ship, which was carrying thousands of passengers, including British holidaymakers, apparently struck a rock.
A bit more:
A major rescue operation was launched after the liner, which was carrying 4,234 people, began sinking near the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast, late on Friday - just two hours after it started its voyage.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, then gave the order to abandon the 290m-long ship with seven short whistles.

Maritime officials were questioning Capt. Schettino about the incident as it emerged he was at least four miles off course.

Local prosecutor Francesco Verusio confirmed the captain and the ship's first officer Ciro Ambrosio had both been detained in custody.

Mr Verusio added that the Costa Concordia had approached Giglio "the wrong way" and had struck a reef on its left hand side causing it to take in an "enormous amount of water in a matter of minutes".

Sources in the prosecutor's office said the 52-year-old captain from Naples had abandoned the ship at "around 23.30" while the last passengers were not taken to safety until 3am the following morning.
Being the Captain gives you ultimate control. It also gives you ultimate responsibility. I do not care how the accident happened, it happened on Capt. Schettino's watch and he should have stayed on board until it was evident that the ship was doomed to sink and that there was absolutely nothing more he could do. Bailing out three and a half hours before the last passengers were evaced was unconscionable. From the reports in the article, it seems that conditions on board were chaotic with no overall communication from the bridge to the crew and passengers and no apparent emergency training for the crew. Hell of a way to run a ship...

Three cheers for the United Nations

From Yahoo/ABC News:
UN Soldiers Brought Deadly Superbug to Americas
Compelling new scientific evidence suggests United Nations peacekeepers have carried a virulent strain of cholera -- a super bug -- into the Western Hemisphere for the first time.

The vicious form of cholera has already killed 7,000 people in Haiti, where it surfaced in a remote village in October 2010. Leading researchers from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere told ABC News that, despite UN denials, there is now a mountain of evidence suggesting the strain originated in Nepal, and was carried to Haiti by Nepalese soldiers who came to Haiti to serve as UN peacekeepers after the earthquake that ravaged the country on Jan. 12, 2010 -- two years ago today. Haiti had never seen a case of cholera until the arrival of the peacekeepers, who allegedly failed to maintain sanitary conditions at their base.

"What scares me is that the strain from South Asia has been recognized as more virulent, more capable of causing severe disease, and more transmissible," said John Mekalanos, who chairs the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. "These strains are nasty. So far there has been no secondary outbreak. But Haiti now represents a foothold for a particularly dangerous variety of this deadly disease."

More than 500,000 Haitians have been infected, and Mekalanos said a handful of victims who contracted cholera in Haiti have now turned up in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and in Boston, Miami and New York, but only in isolated cases.
Emphasis mine -- those idiots murdered 7,000 people and made sick 500,000 more. It is fortunate that Cholera is water borne but what if the next 'superbug' has an airborne vector -- one sneeze in a crowded airplane during a holiday season and we could have a multi-focal outbreak that would take weeks to unravel all while people were falling sick.

Let it snow

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Got about six inches on the ground last night. Warmed up a bit but we are expected to get hit tonight -- from the Winter Storm Warning:
238 PM PST SAT JAN 14 2012

First big system of the season -- the people that work for Mt. Baker are stoked. This is very much a tourist economy and this is our second biggest season (Summer Vacation being by far the biggest with Spring being a dead zone and fall not that much better).


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We drove down to the towns of Concrete and Marblemount to view the Eagles today. Saw four but that was it. Saw two near the Nooksack while driving home so there may be more up here than down there -- will do some exploring tomorrow or Monday.

Workers Paradise

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Interesting and not surprising numbers from Investors Business Daily:
Nearly 1 Million Workers Vanished Under Obama
Initial jobless claims unexpectedly jumped by 24,000 last week to 399,000 as more workers lost their jobs, the Labor Department said Thursday. At the same time, the economy continues to lose workers.

In the 30 months since the recession officially ended, nearly 1 million people have dropped out of the labor force � they aren't working, and they aren't looking � according to data from Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past two months, the labor force shrank by 170,000.

This is virtually unprecedented in past economic recoveries, at least since the BLS has kept detailed records. In the past nine recoveries, the labor force had climbed an average 3.5 million by this point, according to an IBD analysis of the BLS data.

"Given weak job prospects, many would-be workers dropped out of (or never entered) the labor force," noted Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute in her analysis of the BLS jobs report issued last Friday. "That reduces the measured unemployment rate but does not represent real improvement."
A bit more:
The smaller labor force is just one of the problems with the current unemployment number. The other is that the jobs being created aren't keeping pace with population growth. Since June 2009, the economy has added 1.4 million jobs, which is below the more than 2 million needed to keep up with population growth and far below the gains experienced at the same point in the previous 10 recoveries � which saw job gains average more than 4 million.

Payrolls are still 6.1 million below their January 2008 peak. After January, the current jobs recession will be the longest since the Great Depression.
Hope. Change. Yeah...

Just wonderful

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From The Scientist:
Anti-Open Access Rises Again
US Representatives Darrel Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bill into the House of Representatives in mid-December that would roll back the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, which mandates that any published research that was funded by the federal science agency be submitted to the publically accessible digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication in journals. The bill, H.R. 3699, would also make it illegal for other federal agencies to adopt similar open-access policies.
And who is pushing for this odious bit of legislation:
The legislation, referred to as the Research Works Act, is being applauded by the Association of American Publishers, a book publishing industry trade organization that claims the NIH policy and others like it undercut the scientific publishing business, which seldom receives federal funds. �At a time when job retention, US exports, scholarly excellence, scientific integrity, and digital copyright protection are all priorities, the Research Works Act ensures the sustainability of this industry,� said Tom Allen, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers in a statement.
All people who stand to profit from it -- they want to sell us a $120 book with the data instead of us just downloading it. This is work that we, as taxpayers, paid for and we deserve to be able to get the results.

Nugent on Diversity

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Wonderful rant from Ted Nugent at the Washington Times:
Diversity perversity
Diversity is America�s greatest strength, according to the left and its socialist, Marxist, commie cohorts and co-conspirators running rampant across the country.

If you listen carefully to these America-hating, social-engineering liberals, virtually all behavior, conduct, morals and beliefs make America stronger.

This, of course, is toxic, brain-dead logic that leaves ordinary Americans shaking and scratching their heads in confusion and disgust. We recognize bull dung when we hear, see and smell it, and we have no desire whatsoever to embrace it.

The left�s definition of diversity does not make America stronger. It is weakening and destroying America. Let�s be bold and honest: The left�s version of diversity is repugnant.

Hey, I�m your biggest supporter if you want to swan-dive naked into a pool of goat urine. What I will never support is trying to make it mandatory for everyone to do it.

Those Americans who stand up to the left�s diversity mantra are pilloried and labeled as pernicious, vile, intolerant, racist, backward Bubbas.

The left is forcing its version of diversity throughout our society and culture. According to the left and its acolytes, we are supposed to respect people who refuse to respect Old Glory or learn English, look for a job or put forth the effort to do an honest day�s work. We are supposed to respect all cultures, values, laws and religions - even when they have proved throughout history to be dangerous and diametrically opposed to our American way of life, customs, laws and traditions.
Talk about speaking truth to power. A fine rant.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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From Reuters:
Homeland Security watches Twitter, social media
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.

A "privacy compliance review" issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a "Social Networking/Media Capability" which involves regular monitoring of "publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards."

The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture."
Emphasis mine -- yeah... Riiiight... Title: here

Cresting the edge of the abyss

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It starts -- from CNBC:
Five European Nations to Be Downgraded by S&P
Standard & Poor's will cut the credit ratings of Italy, Spain and Portugal by two notches and downgrade France and Austria by one notch, a French newspaper said Friday, without citing its sources.

The newspaper, Les Echos, said that S&P would spare Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg in its long-awaited adjustment of euro zone sovereign ratings.

It said the announcement would come at around 4:30 pm ET, after the US stock market has closed.
Fun times ahead globally...


Excellent essay/rant from Harry Frankfurt:
Harry Frankfurt on "Bullshit"
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry. In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, we have no theory. I propose to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit, mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory philosophical analysis. I shall not consider the rhetorical uses and misuses of bullshit. My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not, or (putting it somewhat differently) to articulate, more or less sketchily, the structure of its concept. Any suggestion about what conditions are logically both necessary and sufficient for the constitution of bullshit is bound to be somewhat arbitrary. For one thing, the expression bullshit is often employed quite loosely -- simply as a generic term of abuse, with no very specific literal meaning. For another, the phenomenon itself is so vast and amorphous that no crisp and perspicuous analysis of its concept can avoid being procrustean. Nonetheless it should be possible to say something helpful, even though it is not likely to be decisive. Even the most basic and preliminary questions about bullshit remain, after all, not only unanswered but unasked. So far as I am aware, very little work has been done on this subject. I have not undertaken a survey of the literature, partly because I do not know how to go about it. To be sure, there is one quite obvious place to look -- the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED has an entry for bullshit in the supplementary volumes, and it also has entries for various pertinent uses of the word bull and for some related terms. I shall consider some of these entries in due course. I have not consulted dictionaries in languages other than English, because I do not know the words for bullshit or bull in any other language.
And he is just warming up -- more at the site. An oldie but a goodie...

Interesting numbers

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From Autoblog:
U.S. diesel auto sales up 27% in 2011 while hybrid share shrinks
A plethora of new diesel offerings is driving sales, according to a new report from the Diesel Technology Forum. Sales of diesels rose 27.4 percent in 2011, according to numbers from HybridCars.com and market researchers Baum and Associates.

The Diesel Technology Forum pegs the overall market growth in 2011 at 10.2 percent, putting diesels' increase considerably ahead of the curve. Interestingly enough, the group says hybrid sales were down 2.2 percent. The non-profit coalition of diesel engine and technology companies includes such auto industry heavyweights as Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda and Volkswagen.

Diesel sales are expected to grow to over six percent of the U.S. market by 2015, according to the report, and could reach as high as 7.4 percent by 2017, as more diesel models hit the market. Diesel-powered versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Cadillac ATS, Porsche Cayenne, Chevrolet Cruze and Mercedes-Benz S-Class are slated for near-term U.S. release, according to the group.
I love that the hybrid sales are down so much -- diesel; specifically turbo-charged diesel is the way to go. Better mileage and simpler engines.

Local crime news

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Got to love the place name -- from the Blaine, WA Northern Light:
Three arrested after Blaine cocaine bust
Three Canadian citizens are being held in Seattle after being arrested while allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine across the U.S./Canadian border in east Blaine.

Homeland security agents arrested two men and one woman near the Smuggler�s Inn Bed and Breakfast after a plan to smuggle approximately 23 pounds of cocaine into Canada was interrupted. If convicted, all three face a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Compare and Contrast

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An interesting pair of statistics. From the Bellingham Herald:
Homicide drops off US list of top causes of death
For the first time in almost half a century, homicide has fallen off the list of the nation's top 15 causes of death, bumped by a lung illness that often develops in elderly people who have choked on their food.

The 2010 list, released by the government Wednesday, reflects at least two major trends: Murders are down, and deaths from certain diseases are on the rise as the population ages, health authorities said.

Homicide was overtaken at No. 15 by pneumonitis, seen mainly in people 75 and older. It happens when food or vomit goes down the windpipe and causes deadly damage to the lungs.

This is the first time since 1965 that homicide failed to make the list, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC link (PDF document) is here And, from Lew Rockwell:
Gun Ownership Rises to All-Time High, Violent Crime Falls to 35-Year Low
Coinciding with a surge in gun purchases that began shortly before the 2008 elections, violent crime decreased six percent between 2008 and 2009, including an eight percent decrease in murder and a nine percent decrease in robbery. Since 1991, when violent crime peaked, it has decreased 43 percent to a 35-year low. Murder has fallen 49 percent to a 45-year low. At the same time, the number of guns that Americans own has risen by about 90 million. Predictions by gun control supporters, that increasing the number of guns, particularly handguns and so-called �assault weapons,� would cause crime to increase, have been proven profoundly lacking in clairvoyance.
With (of course) lots of links to the facts. As Robert Anson Heinlein said so wonderfully:
An armed society is a polite society.
Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

It's a fee / no it's a TAX!

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Local bullshit from our spending governor -- from Bellingham station KGMI:
Gregoire Calls For Oil Production Fee To Fund Transportation
Governor Christine Gregoire is calling for a fee of a $1.50 per barrel of oil produced in Washington state to help fund a $3.6 billion transportation package over the next decade.

In her final "State of the State" address before the Legislature, Gregoire says the fee would raise nearly $2.75 billion over ten years to help fund vital transportation infrastructure projects.

As a "fee," the plan would need a simple majority of the House and Senate for approval.

But Republicans say the proposed fee is actually a tax and as such would need approval by a full two-thirds majority of the Legislature to pass.
She needs to trim the fat before embarking on new projects. This state hemorrhages money.

Cool news from NASA

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They are open-sourcing their software. From opensource.com:
NASA launches code.nasa.gov to share and collaborate further with the open source community
Following the release of its Open Government Plan and the Open Source Summit last year, NASA has now launched code.nasa.gov to "continue, unify, and expand NASA�s open source activities."

The site is still in "early alpha," but you can browse NASA's open source projects, learn more about how the agency contributes to open source, and start making contributions yourself. A long list of projects is posted, but only four have links available now, and they're all on Github:
OpenMDAO, a Multidisciplinary Design Analysis and Optimization framework written in Python
World Wind, a 3D interactive world viewer created by NASA's Learning Technologies project
Vision Workbench, an image processing and computer vision library
Research Center StereoPipeline, automated tools for processing images captured from robotic explorers on other planets
As Rikki Endsley points out in NetworkWorld, there's also a lot more to explore at open.nasa.gov while you're waiting for what's to come at code.nasa.gov. This is the site for wider community participation--even if you're not a developer, you can still get involved. NASA has been working hard to be more broadly open to citizen participation, based on it 1958 charter, which guides the agency to ��provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information.�
Very cool -- being able to automate image processing is a very nice tool to have. Photoshop has some abilities to do this but only very shallow.

Back home again

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Was in Bellingham for a few days -- fixing dinner and will go out for a beer or two. Blogging will resume later.
Antonio Perez -- the incompetent CEO who ran this company into the grave need to be lynched. That high-pitched hum you are hearing is George Eastman spinning in his grave. From the Wall Street Journal:
Kodak Teeters on the Brink
Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would cap a stunning comedown for a company that once ranked among America's corporate titans.

The 131-year-old company is still making last-ditch efforts to sell off some of its patent portfolio and could avoid Chapter 11 if it succeeds, one of the people said. But the company has started making preparations for a filing in case those efforts fail, including talking to banks about some $1 billion in financing to keep it afloat during bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

A Kodak spokesman said the company "does not comment on market rumor or speculation."
Emphasis mine -- that statement: "does not comment on market rumor or speculation" just says it all. Too big to fail? Meet the Market. Kodak used to be a powerhouse for laboratory chemicals -- they sold that division when they needed some money. Kodak used to be a powerhouse for specialty films and emulsions -- they sold that division to raise some quick bucks. Kodak used to be a powerhouse for specialty ink-jet photo paper -- they sold that division when they needed to buy some more crack. Now they are reduced to selling off their patents? Talk about eating your own seed corn. I have done photography for a long long time (45+ years) and Kodachrome 25 was my film of choice. Used to own stock in Kodak back when they were innovative. They fucking invented the Digital Camera back in 1975!!! Kodak closed today at 37� -- thirty seven cents and I made a buttload of money off them when the went from around $20 to over $80 back in the 1980's and that was back in 1980's dollars. Piss Poor Management. Nothing more. Nothing less. Sad...

Neatsfoot Oil

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Part of knifemaking is making leather sheaths. When I went to get the hay today, I asked if they had any leather products -- specifically Neatsfoot Oil. They did and I brought home two quarts. I was joking with the clerk about what kind of animal a "Neat" was and why it's feet were oily. A few minutes with Google and we find that "Neat" is an archaic term for a horned Ox and that Neatsfoot Oil is refined from the shin bones and the feet (but not the hooves) of cattle. From the Wiki entry:
Fat from warm-blooded animals normally has a high melting point, becoming hard when cool � but neatsfoot oil remains liquid at room temperature. This is because the relatively slender legs and feet of animals such as cattle are adapted to tolerate and maintain much lower temperatures than those of the body core, using countercurrent heat exchange in the legs between warm arterial and cooler venous blood � other body fat would become stiff at these temperatures. This characteristic of neatsfoot oil allows it to soak easily into leather.
Who-da thunk it?

Fan? Meet sh*t.

I knew it was not long but a week? From CNBC/Reuters:

Global Economy Could Endure Disaster For a Week
The global economy could withstand widespread disruption from a natural disaster or attack by militants for only a week as governments and businesses are not sufficiently prepared to deal with unexpected events, a report by a respected think-tank said.

Events such as the 2010 volcanic ash cloud, which grounded flights in Europe, Japan's earthquake and tsunami and Thailand's floods last year, have showed that key sectors and businesses can be severely affected if disruption to production or transport goes on for more than a week.

"One week seems to be the maximum tolerance of the 'just-in-time' global economy," said the report by Chatham House, the London-based policy institute for international affairs.

The current fragile state of the world's economy leaves it particularly vulnerable to unforeseen shocks. Up to 30 percent of developed countries' gross domestic product could be directly threatened by crises, especially in the manufacturing and tourism sectors, according to the think-tank.

Everything is so tightly coupled together that one major disturbance has a ripple effect. They cite this example:

After the Japanese tsunami and nuclear crisis in March last year, global industrial production declined by 1.1 percent the following month, according to the World Bank.

I know that the floods in Thailand have hammered the hard drive industry. For the last six years or so, I have always maintained a months food in the pantry. Rotate through it and keep buying fresh. I will be pretty bored with the selection by the third week but this is much better than the alternative...

Life in the great state of Illinois

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From CBS/Chicago:
Illinois Lottery Winners Get Stiffed When State Checks Don�t Cash
Eighty-five Illinois Lottery winners last week probably thought they were lucky � until they tried to cash in their winnings, that is.

Their checks, totaling $159,000 in lottery winnings, were no good.

Two days after Christmas, Maureen Furio of Lake Zurich bought an instant scratch-off ticket and won $1000. The next day, she got a check from the lottery.

�I deposited it the same day and went ahead and paid some extra Christmas bills,� Furio says. �And Jan. 3, it bounced.�
The Lottery people are saying that it was a technical glitch and that they would refund any bank fees. Still...

A death in Texas

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Law Enforcement Officer Matt G. offers his view on the police shooting of a 15-year old boy in Brownsville, Texas:
Shooting the kid.
The other day, Brownsville cops shot and killed a 15 year old boy who was brandishing a gun in a school with over 700 kids in it.

The family is upset, saying it was unnecessary use of force. The boy was just an 8th grader. He was a Good Student. He was a Good Boy. Active in his church. Not affiliated with gangs. It was only a pellet gun. They shouldn't have shot a minor and certainly not more than once, and DEFINITELY not in the back of the head. Tragic over-reaction, says the family.

Really? Let's listen to the 911 call. Huh. People were bunkered down. The kid was roaming the halls of a school full of kids. He'd been told repeatedly to put the gun down. He was not in Taser range. He'd said that he was not afraid to die.
Matt concludes:
In Brownsville:
The boy threatened people with the gun, which looked very realistic.
The boy talked about not being afraid to die.
The boy was mobile in a school full of potential victims and hostages.
The boy had been challenged, and refused to put the apparent weapon down.
Bullets from the gun of a juvenile kill people just as dead as those from the gun of an adult.
This was sadly a suicide by cop, performed by an unstable kid.
He also observes the following:
Nothing like getting it right the third time. My 8th grader is only 13, and actually started 8th grade when she was only 12. By age 15, I was about 6'4", 200+ lbs, and wore my first beard as a sophomore in high school. Physically, I was indistinguishable from a grown man.
What was the kid thinking?
The Dollar is currently the worlds reserve currency. Everyone has faith in its stability so it is the medium of exchange when two nations are trading. Not so much any more -- from the Fars News Agency:
Iran, Russia Replace Dollar with National Currencies in Trade Exchanges
Speaking to FNA, Tehran's Ambassador to Moscow Seyed Reza Sajjadi said that the proposal for replacing US Dollar with Ruble and Rial was raised by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Astana on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting.

"Since then, we have acted on this basis and a part of our interactions is done in Ruble now," Sajjadi stated, adding that many Iranian traders are using Ruble for their trade deals.

"There is a similar interest in the Russian side," the envoy stated, adding that that Moscow is against unilateral sanctions on Iran outside the UN Security Council, specially the recent sanctions against Iran's Central Bank (CBI).

"The move (imposing sanction on the CBI) is unacceptable. Russians have clearly announced that they will not accept these sanctions and Iran's nuclear issue is resolvable just through negotiations."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hit back at the US after Washington introduced new sanctions against Iran's central bank.
This move has been triggered more from the UN Sanctions than from the state of the Dollar but still, a disturbing trend. And why is Russia in such a hurry to trade with Iran after all -- that is not exactly a stable nation...

Quiet day today

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Working on a friends computer and sighting in a new rifle scope. The zombie killah hadn't come in yet -- the gun shop is expecting it middle of this coming week. UPDATE: doing a bit of locksmithing, running out for some more hay for the critters, portioning out and freezing some meat I got at Costco yesterday and laundry -- always laundry... Turning into a full day.
Greece does what it can do to bail itself out of 40 years of Socialism. It hocks its treasures. From Breitbart/AFP:
Greece to 'sell bonds backed by state property'
Crisis-hit Greece plans to sell bonds with state property as collateral to buy back sovereign debt and postpone a privatization drive under unfavourable market conditions, a report said on Saturday.

To Vima weekly said the Hellenic state asset development fund, an agency set up last year to manage Greece's asset sales, plans to create a privatization bond to buy back part of the country's enormous debt on the secondary market.

For every one billion euros earned by the planned bond, the state will be able to buy back older debt worth 2.5 billion euros given the currently depressed value of Greek debt, unnamed agency officials told the newspaper.

Greek state debt, which has exploded to over 350 billion euros ($447 billion), is currently trading up to 35 percent below its face value, To Vima said.

Athens last year pledged a sweeping privatization drive in return for bailout loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The process originally aimed to raise 5.5 billion euros by the end of the year, and 50 billion overall by 2015.

But targets have been revised owing to procedural delays and fears that a hurried sale in the present economic downturn will only bring limited revenue.

In December, Greece sold four disused Airbus A340 jets for 40.4 million dollars, a sum which aviation unionists dismissed as scrap value.

The privatization list includes ports, regional airports, utilities and motorways, a leading casino, public-owned defence, train and mining companies, and a key stake in Greece's monopoly gaming operator.
The island of Santorini owned by the Chinese? Walking up to the Acropolis and hearing the owners speak Russian? The promise of better times is an uncertain promise and building a national economy on this promise is treason. Sure, your old uncle Xenos gets a great pension -- where does this money come from? Is this the legacy you want to hand down to your children? A nation owned by outsiders because it did not have the stones to say no? Title? here. Great song...

And he's off - N. Korea's Kim Jong Eun

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Young dictator Kim Jong Eun has quite the history. From the Washington Post:
For Kim Jong Eun, a choreographed rise
Kim Jong Eun, according to propaganda described in a recent Chinese magazine article, learned to drive at age 3. By 8, he could safely maneuver dirt roads at 75 mph. As a teenager, he mastered four foreign languages. He is now learning three more.

The emerging biography of North Korea�s new leader, considered fictitious in nearly every country but his own, portrays him as the ultimate quick study, a poet and a marksman, an economics whiz and a military strategist.

The mythmaking is particularly important because Kim Jong Eun, handed power in one of the world�s most secretive nations three weeks ago, has yet to publicly prove his acumen. His life has been turned into a hyper-choreographed showcase for his credibility, and Korea-watchers are scrutinizing his every move: He wears a black double-breasted coat much like his grandfather did. He tours military sites that were his father�s favorites. Even his birthday, on Sunday, will be closely watched.

Analysts aren�t certain which birthday it is � maybe his 28th or 29th; perhaps his 30th � but they think the date could provide new clues about the pace of the succession and the extent to which North Korea is willing to toast its young heir while mourning his father, leader Kim Jong Il, who died Dec. 17. North Korea celebrates the birthdays of Kim Jong Il and founder Kim Il Sung as national holidays. But Jan. 8 hasn�t yet been declared as such.
And his citizens are eating grass to survive. NORK is going to collapse -- information is flowing too freely despite the onerous censorship. It will be a horrible paroxysm but the end result will be good if they embrace capitalism. How could any leader treat their subjects like this...
What with President Obama using Recess Appointments to appoint five new bureaucrats last weekend (despite the fact that Congress was still technically in session). It is interesting to look back a few years to an earlier administration. From the Rochester, Mn. Post-Bulletin:
As senator, Obama blasted Bush on recess appointments
President Barack Obama�s compliant media support sustains his popularity. Obama�s �contempt of Congress� has galvanized his intention to circumvent lawmakers and do more �signing statements� and �recess appointments,� which Senators Obama and Harry Reid chastised President Bush for doing. Obama is doing recess appointments while Congress is in pro forma session, a likely court challenge.
A bit more:
In 2005, Senator Obama said Bush�s recess appointments were �the wrong thing to do,� to appoint people who �couldn�t get through a Senate nomination.�

And Democrat Senator Harry Reid (2005): �I will keep the Senate in pro forma session to block (President Bush) from doing an end run around the Senate and Constitution with his controversial nominations.� The Democrat leadership declared that Bush�s recess appointments were �an abuse of presidential power� that �ignored the will of the Senate.�
From The Examiner:
Nancy Pelosi opposed recess appointments before she supported them
It seems that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) opposed recess appointments before she supported them.

On Thursday, she said that she was "very glad" and "proud" that Barack Obama usurped the Constitution by making recess appointments while the Senate was technically still in session.

But Pelosi, one of the most partisan liberal Democrats in the House, opposed the same type of appointments in 2005, according to an article at the Daily Caller.
In 2005, Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California said President George W. Bush�s decision to �circumvent the Senate� and appoint John Bolton as U.N. Ambassador during a congressional recess was a �mistake� that would �harm the United States� reputation.� But Pelosi said on Thursday that she is �glad� President Barack Obama made �bold� recess appointments while the Senate was technically still in session.

�The President�s decision to circumvent the Senate and use a recess appointment naming John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations is a mistake,� Pelosi said in an August 2005 statement.
WABAC machine? Here. All right for me but not for thee. Time to clean house or as Woody Harrelson playing the part of Tallahassee in the 2009 movie Zombieland said: Time to nut up or shut up!.

Congratulations are in order

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Hats off to Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That -- hands down my favorite climate website. His sitemeter just turned 100,000,000 last night. Yes, 108

Days are getting longer

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I know that the Winter Solstice was in December but for me, the middle of January is a key metric. At 5PM this evening, there was enough twilight to walk around. There was not a few days ago...

Light posting today

Heading into town to run some errands -- need to get another spool of barbed wire to finish the fencing. Also checking to see if my new zombie killah is in. The Llamas have been hanging out where their escape route used to be and this morning, they were walking along the new fence line checking it out. They are pissed -- normally, they will come up to greet me (they stand nose to nose about an inch or two apart), now they will come up but stand off a few feet -- out of petting range. I stole their little game...

Go and Read now

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Excellent essay/rant from Van der Leun:
The Boomers� Buffet: Diet for a Smaller Nation
Lately Americans seem to be slimming on a daily drip-feed of despair for our future and estrangement from our past. It's not a new diet in this country, but it is starting to assume the proportions of a runaway fad diet, a political Pritikins. This thin gruel is what's being poured into us from Seattle, Washington to Washington, D.C.

If you look closely at this diet for a diminished America you see a familiar list of "ingredients." The list is composed of the ideological stock and trade of a significant segment of Americans to whom this nation, as conceived by our founders, and struggled for for more than 200 years is merely one long, large joke; the Baby Boomers.

And I should know. After all, that boy in the picture up there -- that boy that thought Communism was "something we could live with" -- that young boy was me.

In my small way, I took part in the crafting of The Boomers� Big Joke on America. For years I thought there was nothing funnier. Conceived during the waning months of World War II, I had no idea I was a Baby Boomer, but that, in the end, was what I was. And being a member of this large and fortunate generation gave me the leisure to develop quite a sense of humor when it came to basic human values. It even gave one woman of my cohort, Stanley Ann Dunham, the opportunity to actually conceive the punch line to our joke, her emasculate conception, the current clone passing as �President.�

When I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1960s, we were the Brave New World's social engineers driving our little red choo-choo round the bend. We were the innovators, and we were busy innovating the brave new world wherein everything about the old world of our parents seemed either hilarious or evil.

Our program was quite clear early on and it hasn't changed a jot since those years, it has simply gotten more pervasive and elaborate. After all, we're older now and we're in control. We can finally fund these things. With your money.
Just read the whole thing.

No posting tonight

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Reading a bunch of the blacksmithing websites and remembering an awesome person who passed way before his time. Spew will resume tomorrow...

RIP - Grant Sarver

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Grant Sarver passed away this morning due to a aortic aneurism. He was one of the pillars of the Pacific Northwest Blacksmith community and will be sorely missed. Prayers to his family left behind... More here and here One of his businesses was importing and manufacturing blacksmithing tools. I have a lot of his stuff and will be feeling very sad when I use them next.

Well crap - UPDATE

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My office computer is just fine. An odd one: I was using a Brother PT-2430P label printer. It connects to the 'puter over a USB port and has the printer interface and also a virtual drive with the printer driver and software (pretty cool actually). With the printer turned on, the computer gets stuck during the enumeration of the hardware stage of boot. With it turned off, it boots just fine and will work perfectly when the printer is turned on again. This is for 64-bit Vista (I know). DOH!

And it just keeps getting better

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Obama is pushing to get as much of his agenda through as he can. From Bloomberg:
Obama Chooses Politics Over Principle in Naming Cordray
President Barack Obama bypassed the U.S. Senate and summarily installed Richard Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general, as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau yesterday.

Hours later, Obama filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board, possibly the only agency Republicans dislike more than the consumer bureau.

The White House called these �recess appointments,� even though Congress technically wasn�t in recess. In doing so, the president is playing with fire. He risks an election-year legal challenge that could hamstring the consumer bureau and several other financial regulators whose pending confirmations will probably now stall. The president�s authority -- and that of future executives -- to fill administration posts without Senate approval may be limited by the courts. We think Obama risks too much to make what is largely a political point -- that he, more than the Republican Party, stands by American workers and consumers.

Senate Republicans have blocked Cordray, not because they think he�s unqualified but because they want to revamp the agency. Its financing, for example, comes from the Federal Reserve, making it harder for lawmakers to bend the agency to their will than if they controlled the purse strings. As for the NLRB, Republicans say the board is advancing an anti-business, pro-labor agenda, especially after it filed a complaint against Boeing Co. (BA) for trying to build planes in South Carolina while workers were on strike in Washington state.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a product of the Dodd-Frank bill -- the 2,300 page behemoth that was supposed to replace the seven page Glass�Steagall Act of 1933 that was repealed by Prez. Clinton. We already have tons of Consumer Protection laws on the books -- we do not need another bureaucracy and the fact that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gets its funding from the Federal Reserve is just another potential for stupidity. No oversight -- bubbles here we come. And this little bit of joy from Reuters:
Fed says expand Fannie, Freddie role to aid housing
The U.S. government-run mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could play a bigger role in turning around the battered U.S. housing market, the Federal Reserve told Congress, a call that looks set to run into stiff political opposition.

The Fed, in a paper sent to lawmakers on Wednesday, outlined an array of steps that could be taken to help the housing sector, including allowing Fannie and Freddie to provide cheaper mortgages to a broader pool of homeowners.

The two companies, the biggest sources of U.S. mortgage funding, were seized by the government in 2008 when they were on the brink of collapse. They have been propped up by $169 billion in taxpayer aid since then, making them a target of many on Capitol Hill.

Even the Obama administration, in a trio of alternatives laid out early last year to reform the U.S. mortgage finance system, supported reducing the government's role in housing finance.
I do not know about you but it certainly makes me feel warm and fuzzy knowing that the growth of the federal government is accelerating at such a nosebleed pace. The 2012 election is crucial if we are going to have anything left.

Well crap

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Got my workhorse computer set up at the new desk working just fine -- rebooted it and it crashed. Hung up on the opening Dell Inspiron screen for 15 minutes. Got backups so this is not an issue. Pull the hard drive tomorrow and see what happened. Blogging from my laptop...

Light posting today

Spent the day doing paperwork -- there is a nice small desk in the kitchen that Jen was using so I cleaned it off and set up a big filing cabinet in the pantry (a few feet away). I had been using a desk in the DaveCave(tm) but the heat for that building is from a wood stove and takes two hours to get comfortable. This is a lot nicer. Lulu is out for a few days -- doing another tri-tip with some rice and steamed fingerling potatoes for dinner...

Fidel Castro pining for the fjords?

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Nothing concrete but a strong rumor blowing through the tumbleweeds of the internet... I would love to see the people of his island rejoin the capitalist world and be friends with the USA. Spent a bunch of time in the Caribbean and love it and the people -- Cuba should be no different. Time for a lot of people to just fscking man-up and admit that their social experiment simply did not work and has never worked. Top-down control is the best way to wreck a vibrant economy. "Central Planning" should be a phrase of opprobrium.

Awwwwww - Scooby Doo

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Sad little robot story -- from Gizmodo:
The Sad Story of a Real Life R2-D2 Who Saved Countless Human Lives and Died
Robots can't have feelings. But humans develop feelings for them. You know, like R2-D2 in Star Wars. Or like Scooby Doo, a real life small robot that saved the day 19 times. This is his single-tear story.

Scooby Doo was an iRobot PackBot. PackBots are 60-pound, treaded robots that are used for reconnaissance, surveillance, and bomb disposal. They have four cameras, an articulated arm with gripper, and flippers that allow them to go over obstacles such as stairs. They're tough, they're easy to control, and while they are used for domestic bomb disposal, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are where they've really come into their own. IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are the number one killer of soldiers there, and PackBots have become one of the best tools EOD (Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal) units in the Middle East have.

Scooby Doo was a damn good robot. During his deployment in Iraq he assisted in the disposal of 17 IEDs, 1 carbomb, and 1 unexploded bomb (which is always a major get for an EOD unit because of the intel they can gather about the bomb's maker). For every successful mission, the soldiers would draw a hashmark on Scooby Doo's head unit, similar to how fighter jet pilots mark the number of enemies they've shot down on the hull of their planes. Scooby became a member of a team with soldiers that relied on each other.

The death of Scooby Doo
But one day Scooby met his match. Maybe he'd gotten cocky, turned maverick. His ego writing checks his body couldn't cash. We'll never know. But Scooby Doo was killed in Iraq when an IED he was trying to defuse exploded.

Like Luke after R2-D2 saved the day on the Death Star's trench run, the veteran EOD unit member brought Scooby's body into the repair depot at Camp Victory and said "you've got to fix Scooby." The repair tech said that Scooby was beyond repair, but he could have a brand new robot. No, you don't under stand, this soldier insisted, Scooby Doo had be fixed. He did not want some damn new robot�he wanted Scooby Doo back. Scooby Doo was part of the team. He'd saved their lives. It was reported that this veteran soldier was visibly upset.

And this is not uncommon. EOD units have been known to promote their bots to titles such as Staff Sergeant, award them Purple Hearts, and even hold funerals for their fallen brothers in robotic arms. They assign them personalities, dispositions. Some have even taken their robots fishing with them and let them hold the pole. Regardless of whether you call that camaraderie or laziness, I would argue that it's bonding. It's not hard to see where Scooby Doo's team was coming from. If your dog had been critically injured, and you took him to the vet, and the vet said, "Sorry, can't fix him, but how's about a new dog?" you'd tell him to go procreate with himself, your friend is not so easily replaced.
There is a photo of the little guy at the Gizmodo website. Brings to mind the old saying about how you should not anthropomorphize robots -- they do not like it. I can not imagine what it must be like to be an EOD -- to lose one of your comrades -- even a titanium and silicon one -- must be heartrending. Live on in our hearts and prayers Scooby Doo!!! Hat tip to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.


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What happens when crucial maintenance is deferred. From the Washington Post:
Billions needed to upgrade America�s leaky water infrastructure
At first glance, the pizza-size hole that popped open when a heavy truck passed over a freshly paved District street seemed fairly minor.

Then city inspectors got on their bellies with a flashlight to peer into it. What they discovered has become far too common. A massive 19th-century brick sewer had silently eroded away, leaving a cavern beneath a street in Adams Morgan that could have swallowed most of a Metro bus.

It took three weeks and about a million dollars to repair the sewer, which was built in 1889.
A bit more:
Rapidly deteriorating roads and bridges may stifle America�s economy and turn transportation headaches into nightmares, but if the nation�s water and sewer systems begin to fail, life as we know it will too. Without an ample supply of water, people don�t drink, toilets don�t flush, factories don�t operate, offices shut down and fires go unchecked. When sewage systems fail, cities can�t function and epidemics break out.
Some more:
The average D.C. water pipe is 77 years old, but a great many were laid in the 19th century. Sewers are even older. Most should have been replaced decades ago.

Emergency crews rush from site to site to tackle an average of 450 breaks a year.

Raw sewage flows into the Potomac, the Anacostia and Rock Creek whenever it rains hard � hundreds of times a year � an annual flush of about 3 billion gallons, according to D.C. Water.
And of course it's all about the Benjamin's:
The price of water, always far below commodities like electricity and gasoline, can be expected to rise dramatically as the demand taxes the systems that deliver it, analysts agree.
This is a perfect example of why politicians should never poke their noses into the real world. When these systems were installed, there were probably some fantastic guidelines for preventative maintenance and scheduled replacement. The monies to do this were probably earmarked but they got "borrowed" to pay for something else -- some pet project of whomever was in power at that time. Now that the maintenance is way overdue, it is the present generation that has to scramble to make repairs. Where I live, there is a small water cooperative that services a couple hundred households. The water quality is excellent and we are very proactive about repairs and maintenance. One of the requirements from WA State is that we maintain enough cash reserves to replace the biggest part of the system (our 80,000 gallon water tank). The idea that the government should force this requirement on us but not larger cities shows where the political power lies. I have no problem with this requirement but the larger municipalities should be able to manage their own burden without interference. Be sure to check out the 400+ comments -- a wonderful exhibition of clueless moonbattery for the most part...


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Happiness is 500 feet of new two-strand barbed wire fence, 800 feet of existing wire fence topped with a line of barbed wire, a blisteringly hot shower, a spud baking in the toaster oven and a tri-tip steak warming to room temperature crusted with salt and pepper and waiting for the grill to get hot. It was raining all afternoon but I have one of these Australian coats and stayed dry. I would love to see the expressions on the Llama's faces when they discover that their new escape route has been blocked off. This is a game for them -- the graze is the same over here as it is on the other side of the fence and they have as much hay, minerals and water as they want. Maybe I should buy a television for their barn -- wonder if there is a LlamaTV channel...


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The back is finally healed enough to where I can pick up an 80 pound roll of barbed wire without wincing too much. Time to make life a little more interesting for the Llamas. Spending today beefing up the fences...

Well that was a wasted day (almost)

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I drove about 160 miles to find that the full-size console organ I was promised was, in fact, a very small OSO (Organ Shaped Object) commonly known as a Granny Organ. In my initial emails, I had specifically pointed out the difference between the two -- what I was looking for would have had 27 or 32 foot pedals running along the entire bottom of the console and they would extend several feet out. What I was not looking for was 12 or 13 little stick pedals on the left side of the console extending out about one foot. In the return email, I was assured that it was the full pedalboard and when I met up with the guy, this was not the case. These OSOs are called Granny Organs because this is what the oleaginous piano store sales people (Think used car salesmen are bad? Check out a piano store sometime -- not a general music store, a piano store) will sell to grandkids for grandma to have some fun in her life. They are seriously overpriced, loaded with musically useless "features" and let Granny get her crunk wigger groove on while she rocks out to ice ice baby. No word if it works or not -- if it does, I will clean it up a bit and see if any of the local churches or our local town hall wants it. Otherwise, I will part it out -- Wurlitzer used good quality components so the reverb tank is probably worth nicking and there are a lot of DIY synthesizer builders who could use the keyboards. The roll-top case is really nice and will make a good computer desk or bar... Did some other shopping -- buying five or six LED flood lamps from Costco each month and gradually retrofitting the house. The light is really nice -- much better than even modern CFLs.

On the road again

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There is a local freecycle email list and someone was offering a "Wurlitzer Organ" It sounds like a full-size console. I have always been interested in the idea of using something like MIDIworks to interface a full organ console to my synthesizers. Have the trailer hooked up, finishing off some lunch and will see what it is...

Not quite rite

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From the Winston-Salem Journal:
Lexington man charged with making a fake $1 million bill and trying to spend it
Talk about leaving the store with a big chunk of change.

A Lexington man is accused trying to use a fake $1 million bill to pay for his purchases at a Walmart.

Michael Anthony Fuller, 53, of 3 Parker St., walked into the Walmart on Lowes Boulevard in Lexington on Nov. 17. He shopped for a while, picking up a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other merchandise, totaling $476, an arrest warrant says.

When he got to the register, Fuller gave the cashier the phony bill, saying that it was real.

Store staff called police.

Fuller was later charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument, both felonies, court records show.

A warrant says of the fake million-dollar bill: "There is no such thing."

The largest bill in circulation is a $100 bill. In 1969, federal officials discontinued the use of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills because of lack of public use.

The largest note ever printed was the $100,000 bill, which featured President Woodrow Wilson. The bills, which were not available to the public, were printed from Dec. 18, 1934, through Jan. 9, 1935, and were used for transactions between Federal Reserve banks.
Stupidity so strong it's painful. What was going through his mind (obviously not much)...

Gun ownership in the USA

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Some interesting numbers. I had posted at the beginning of December how "Black Friday" had record numbers of firearm purchases. Now it's Christmas as well -- from the UK Telegraph:
Americans buy record numbers of guns for Christmas
According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in December. Nearly 500,000 of those were in the six days before Christmas.

It was the highest number ever in a single month, surpassing the previous record set in November.

On Dec 23 alone there were 102,222 background checks, making it the second busiest single day for buying guns in history.

The actual number of guns bought may have been even higher if individual customers took home more than one each.

Explanations for America's surge in gun buying include that it is a response to the stalled economy with people fearing crime waves. Another theory is that buyers are rushing to gun shops because they believe tighter firearms laws will be introduced in the future.
Heh -- I purchased a pistol a few weeks ago and have a shotgun on order. Planning to get a few more as time and cash permits.

Back home again

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Had a wonderful New Years celebration. Lulu's son had a bunch of friends come over to play D&D and we cooked up a bunch of pulled pork and ordered a plate of sushi -- good times were had but we faded around 10PM -- did wake up for midnight though so we rang in the new years (more like wished each other same and rolled back over to sleep). Came home to find that the Llamas had resumed their walkabouts. Having a problem with a neighbors dogs -- they had one of my sheep on her back with puncture wounds and a strip of fur torn off last Tuesday night. This is a guy who works for the store so there may be some issues if he cannot get better control. The primary dog is a northern breed -- do not know if it is a Malamute or Wolf hybrid -- but these can be trouble. I had a pure-bred Siberian Husky and she was the sweetest dog but could not be trusted with chickens -- long story there. Fun in the country. Back is feeling better so I will start work on some plumbing repairs tonight -- all of the sediment in the water messed up the frequently used valves -- bathroom sinks, kitchen sink, etc... Going back to simple (non unitized cartridge) valves. Wishing everyone a wonderful new year!

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