April 2012 Archives

Say hello to KF7VNY

Just got my call sign. I am now known worldwide as Dave KF7VNY Woo Hoo!!! Now it's time to spend a couple hundred bucks and get a rig...
From their web page:
Welcome to the New York City Municipal Archives Online Gallery. This ever-expanding gallery is your entry point into the vast visual holdings of the Archives. The Online Gallery provides free and open research access to over 800,000 items digitized from the Municipal Archives� collections, including photographs, maps, motion-pictures and audio recordings. The holdings are arranged by collection; or you may search �All Collections� by keyword or any of the advanced search criteria.
Just wow! Hat tip to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

A word to the wise

I really feel sorry for this guy -- from the Chicago Herald-News:

Coin purchases don't live up to claims
Dear Mr. Berko:
During the past 25 years, I purchased more than $47,000 in collectible silver coins and beautiful non-silver coins from the Franklin Mint for my retirement because I thought the scarcity and limited-edition minting of these coins would drive up their value over the years and because I believed the silver content in the silver coins would also increase in value.
Now I'm 64 and decided to sell these coins to a coin dealer who offered me $2,500 for the whole lot. He told me most of the coins were worthless, and the only coins that had any value were those with silver in them. I was devastated because when I was buying all those coins, the people at the Franklin Mint told me these coins were minted in limited production and would be more valuable to collectors in the future. I called two coin dealers in Detroit (these coins are too bulky to carry around) and both said they had no interest in Franklin Mint coins and said they don't know any dealers who would buy them from me.
My son told me to write you because he said you might know of buyers for them, and at this point I'd be very happy to get at least half of what I paid for them if possible. Please help me if you can. And if you cannot help me, do you think I can sue the Franklin Mint and recover my cost? And could you recommend a lawyer for me to sue them?

Ouch! The reply is fairly gentle. I feel sorry for this poor fool.

68 years ago - Operation Tiger

The rehearsal for D-Day cost more lives than the D-Day invasion itself. From Giles Milton writing at Surviving History
It was three minutes past two in the morning: 28 April, 1944.

A flotilla of American ships was approaching Slapton Sands on the Devon coast, a crucial practice exercise in advance of the D-Day landings.

Exercise Tiger was a 300-vessel, 30,000 men dress rehearsal for the biggest amphibious landing in history. It would enable Allied commanders to fine-tune their Normandy battle plan.

Angelo Crapanzano one of those involved in the operation. He was in the engine room of his vessel, named LST 507, when it was unexpectedly rocked by a tremendous explosion.

�I got this sensation of flying up, back, and when I came down I must have bumped my head someplace and must have been out for a few seconds, because I felt cold on my legs,� he later recalled.

As he recovered consciousness, he realised the ship had been hit by a torpedo. A German naval squadron had encountered the fleet by chance and immediately opened fire.

�The ship was burning,� said Crapanzano. �[It] was split in half � fire went from the bow all the way back to the wheelhouse.�
The ships were massed preparing for the mock 'invasion' and a nine German ships happened to be there when they arrived. It gets worse:
The beach landings were to prove the setting for the day�s second tragedy. The Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower, had ordered that real ammunition be used, so that men would experience actual battlefield conditions. It was a disastrous decision, for the entire exercise was miss-timed. The British cruiser, HMS Hawkins, was shelling the beach as the soldiers stormed ashore, killing a further 308 men.
Tragic and for this to be kept secret for 40 years is unconscionable. The families deserved some measure of closure.

Nothing much to write about

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Spent the morning working at the community garden. Home to do some stuff and make dinner and then, off to a water board meeting tonight.

Offline for a day

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Working on some stuff at home and at the community garden. Nothing today.
From Physics World:
Germany sends optical-clock signal over nearly 1000 km
Physicists in Germany have sent a burst of light over a distance of 920 km down an optical fibre � with its frequency remaining stable to the 19th decimal place. As well as supporting the development of highly accurate "optical clocks", the breakthrough could also be used in a range of commercial and scientific applications including precision spectroscopy, geodesy and very-long-baseline astronomy.
Much more at the site. This is very big -- astronomy just got a huge boost in resolution. Set up a network of these puppies and you have a gravitational wave detector.

Whoops - due process can be a bitch

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From the Bellingham Herald:
Wash. high court: Warrant in pot bust no good
The Washington Supreme Court says evidence of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms found on a Yakima man's property can't be used to prosecute him.

The justices ruled unanimously Thursday that the search warrant police used to raid his property was invalid. The reason? The officer who obtained the warrant wrote that within the previous 48 hours, he received a tip from an informant aware of a marijuana grow on the property of Patrick Jimi Lyons - but the officer's affidavit didn't say when the informant observed the marijuana.

Justice Charles Wiggins wrote for the court that warrants must give a timely reason for police to conduct a search, and details of when the officer received the tip didn't meet that standard.

Police who searched Lyons' property found more than 200 mature marijuana plants as well as hallucinogenic mushrooms.
That's gotta hurt...

Quote of the Day

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I spoke with Rep. Todd Akin on Thursday night and here is his response to this smear by President Obama.
�He�s good at personal attacks but bad at attacking problems. He uses the same solution on every problem � that is more government and more and more and more debt. Obamacare has taken over one-sixth of the economy and the government has pushed private lenders out of student loans. Now they�re creating the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac of student loans. And as the government takes it over, more and more debt is created. The reason Obama is upset about use of the word socialism is because his administration is asserting the government into what was once private sector areas. The reason Obama is attacking me is that I don�t have the same faith in big government as he does.�
From Maggie's Farm who got it from Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit. Jim has the back-story.

Cool technology for time-keeping

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Timekeeping just gets better and better. A joint project by Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (Physical and Technical Institute of Germany) and the National Physical Laboratory has resulted in a brand new timekeeping technology. From the National Physical Laboratory:
The tick-tock of the optical clock
NPL time scientists have made an accurate measurement of the highly forbidden octupole transition frequency in an ytterbium ion, which could be used as the basis for the next generation of optical atomic clocks.

Ytterbium (Yb) is a metallic element that could be used in ultra-high accuracy optical clocks. Atomic clocks that use the microwave frequency of caesium atoms are currently the gold standard when it comes to timekeeping, with NPL's caesium fountain clock being the UK's primary standard and currently the most accurate system of its kind in the world. But clocks that rely on optical frequencies, such as those based on that of ytterbium, have the potential to surpass microwave atomic clocks, with up to 100 times better stability and accuracy.

In research at NPL, published in the New Journal of Physics [1], a measurement of the frequency of a transition of an ytterbium ion, known as an octupole transition, is presented with a level of uncertainty of one part in 1015. This represents an improvement by a factor of 20 on the previous measurement and agrees with a similar measurement [2] made by the German National Measurement Institute, PTB, and published soon after the NPL paper, with an uncertainty of 0.8 parts in 1015. In fact, the results demonstrate the best international agreement between trapped ion optical frequency standards to date.
From the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt:
New "pendulum" for the ytterbium clock
The faster a clock ticks, the more precise it can be. Due to the fact that lightwaves vibrate faster than microwaves, optical clocks can be more precise than the caesium atomic clocks which presently determine time. The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) is even working on several of such optical clocks simultaneously. The model with one single ytterbium ion caught in an ion trap is now experiencing another increase in accuracy. At PTB, scientists have succeeded in exciting a quantum-mechanically strongly "forbidden" transition of this ion and - in particular - in measuring it with extreme accuracy. The optical clock based on it is exact to 17 digits after the decimal point. The results are published in the current edition of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
To grasp the enormity of this advance here is one line from the PTB article:
This corresponds to an uncertainty of the atomic clock of only approx. 30 seconds over the age of the universe.
Just wow!


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Looks like I will be going both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday has some sessions that I plan to attend (Jomla and Drupal) but George Dyson is giving a talk on Sunday:
Alan Turing: The First 100 years, by author George Dyson
A talk by author and science historian George Dyson entitled "Alan Turing, the First 100 yrs". "The history of digital computing can be divided into an Old Testament whose prophets, led by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, supplied the logic, and a New Testament whose prophets, led by John von Neumann, built the machines. Alan Turing, born on June 23, 1912, arrived in between. Turing's one-dimensional model of universal computation led directly to von Neumann's two-dimensional implementation, and the world has never been the same since."

George Dyson is the son of the theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson and mathematician Verena Huber-Dyson. (born 1953) He is an author and historian of technology whose publications cover the evolution of technology in relation to the physical environment and the direction of society. He has written on wide topics that include the history of computing, the development of algorithms and intelligence, communication systems, space exploration, and the design of water craft. He is the author of Project Orion: The Atomic Spaceship 1957-1965 and Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence, in which he expanded upon the premise of Samuel Butler's 1863 article of the same name. His forthcoming book, "Alan Turing, the 1st 100 years" is scheduled for publication in early 2012 and has been described as "a creation myth of the digital universe." He is the subject of Kenneth Brower's 1978 book The Starship and the Canoe.
I have seen him speak two other times and he is a lot of fun. He lives in Bellingham and our paths cross from time to time.

Back home at the farm

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The party was a lot of fun -- got back an hour ago. Grace is still very much a puppy (eight months old) and finds the oddest things to gnaw on. I was heading out to the shop and noticed an odd piece of plastic on the ground. It looked a lot like the electrical plug for my new trailer. It was... Fortunately, this is a replaceable part and I am heading back into Bellingham tomorrow for the annual Linuxfest. Sigh...

Blow that theory out of the water

From Psychology Today:

Religion and Reason
Your answer to the following riddle can predict whether you are a believer in religion or a disbeliever:
Q: If a baseball and bat cost $110, and the bat costs $100 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?

A: If you answered $10 you are inclined to believe in religion. If you answered $5 you are inclined to disbelieve.
Why? Because, according to new research reported in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science, the $10 answer indicates that you are an intuitive thinker, and the $5 answer indicates that you solve problems analytically, rather than following your gut instinct.

Psychologists William Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, predicted that people who were more analytic in thinking would tend not to believe in religion, whereas people who approach problems more intuitively would tend to be believers. Their study confirmed the hypothesis and the findings illuminate the mysterious cognitive process by which we reach decisions about our beliefs.

Bzzzzzzzt!!! Wrong. I got the answer right and I am also deeply religious (but not a Church-goer -- do not get me going on the current state of the Episcopal Church). Maybe if I was mooning over chakras or advocating "tolerance for everything" I might also suffer an impairment of cognitive function but keeping a moral backbone and worshiping God and Jesus is not a sign of a deficient brain. Some people's brains are not wired to do arithmetic quickly -- this has no bearing on their spirituality. A bit more:

Cognitive theory of decision making supports the hypothesis that there are two independent processes involved in decision making. The first process is based on gut instinct, and this process is shared by other animals. The second cognitive process is an evolutionarily recent development, exclusive to humans, which utilizes logical reasoning to make decisions. Their study of 179 Canadian undergraduate students showed that people who tend to solve problems more analytically also tended to be religious disbelievers.

That is a pitifully small sample size and limiting yourself to one age group and one population is piss-poor statistics. When you ask 1K people ages 12 through 80 through a large city then and only then will you get decent results. Oh yeah:

Q: If a baseball and bat cost $110, and the bat costs $100 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?

Total cost is $110 Bat is $100 more than Ball. If Ball is $5, Bat will be $5+$100 = $110 If Ball is $10, Bat will be $10+$100 = $120 Pop Psychology at its worst...

Bill Whittle hits it out of the park

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He found this quote from William M. Briggs (Statistician to the Stars):
The love of theory is the root of all evil

Presents delivered

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Got Lulu's son a computer setup loaded with sound recording software, a couple mics and a computer interface. He is good and needs to get some CDs put together. This way, he can lay down tracks at home and then mix them at the studio at the farm. Had a couple-year-old Gateway, loaded it with a fresh copy of Win7 and Audacity software -- toss in a Focusrite USB interface and we are good to go. He and his friends are in his music/gaming room rocking their little hearts out while Lulu and I fix dinner.

Off to town

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Birthday party tonight -- minimal (if any) posting...
A few days ago, I had posted No Regrets (y), a story about Ecologica Malibu, a wholesaler of furniture masquerading as a crafter on Etsy. A fun story and it gets better -- much much better. The husband is a member of the California Bar and wrote a letter of Cease and Desist complete with tortured grammar and spelling errors. Mr. Schechter's office is a virtual rental unit. The link above provides the entire story. But it gets better -- much much better. From Regretsy:
You may recall I posted the world�s most unintelligible Cease and Desist letter yesterday, as drafted by Howard Schechter of Ecologica Malibu/Bali Ha�i Imports.

The letter was not directed to me, but to a woman who started a thread in the Etsy Forums the other day. She posted a polite and reasonable request, asking Etsy to make a formal statement on the issue as soon as possible.

It is important to note that she did not level accusations at the Schechters, nor did she hurl invective at them. She did not call them, say, �liars� or �cheaters,� or �thieving lying cheating resellers,� for example. She did not use words like �sham� or �con� or even �douchenozzle.�

Even so, Mr. Schechter, or possibly Mrs. Schechter, or possibly one of their four carpenters, felt this constituted �liable� against the company, which has now been proven to be a reseller, or as Etsy calls them, �a collective.�

Enter Ken at Popehat.com. Ken, an attorney who occasionally offers pro-bono help to bloggers, thought this particular Cease and Desist merited a reply.
What follows is three pages of legal perfection. A wonderful slapdown. Ken is one of the senior partners at a large law firm. The link to the post has a screen-cap of the letter in its radiant glory.

Ho Li Crap - sciencemadness.org

Geekdom off the chain (Markov of course) This looks like a simple site but it is deep and links to a lot lot more. I was planning on accomplishing something this summer but I may just take a year or two off for reading. Check out the glory of sciencemadness.org From their online library page:
The Sciencemadness library currently holds 66867 pages of reading and reference material in 130 volumes.
They also have the complete The Los Alamos Technical Reports Collection here. And if that was not gravy enough, they link to this site: Hathi Trust Digital Library This is an alternative to Google Books but often provides complete documents where GB will only have excerpts. These are entirely public domain but the website will only allow downloads at ten pages per session (this varies). Fortunately, sciencemadness offers the HathiHelper which is a stand-alone script that automates the downloading of the entire document. Lots of screen-caps and instructions -- looks really well thought out. I tried entering "blacksmith" into the search screen and was rewarded with 288 entries. From the Hathi Trust website, they are saying that they have 28% of all of the Public Domain works available online (10+ million volumes). This is a staggering number. Just as a heads up, I found this wonderful site while reading Bayou Renaissance Man's entry on Rocket scientists at work - and play. Some great stories, from a PDF 233 page book; found of course, at sciencemadness.org. Go there and read...

Ted Nugent on Poverty

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Excellent rant and spot-on -- from The Washington Times:
NUGENT: War on poverty is over - we lost
Here�s a painful yet inescapable statement of the obvious to people with common sense and a lick of reality: Poor people are poor because they make poor decisions. That�s the root cause of poverty.

Now, with the Obama money-burning orgy in full swing, America herself is financially poor because, according to the Cato Institute, American taxpayers have been conned into spending $15 trillion since 1965 on President Lyndon Johnson�s brownie-point �war to eliminate poverty.�

The results have been pathetically poor. The percentage of poor people in 1965 was roughly the same percentage of poor people in America today, but a staggering $15 trillion has been wasted.

Since 1965, we have fought the war on poverty with all the wrong generals, all the wrong tactics and all the wrong weapons. And it�s costing us $1 trillion a year to continue to lose this war.

What our $15 trillion has bought us is institutional and generational poverty. Reward bad decisions and bad decisions increase. Ya think?

Like all conservatives, I want to and I do help poor Americans. I don�t wish to condemn them to a life of poverty, which is one of the driving political platforms of the Democratic Party.

If our goal is to win the war on poverty, it�s time we changed tactics. Instead of setting another trillion dollars on fire this year, I recommend we slam the financial door shut on pouring more hard-earned money after more bad money with guaranteed despicable results.
Oh the cries will resound to the rafters but this just needs to be done. The War on Poverty is not working and we are living on credit. America's yearly spending is greater than her Gross Domestic Product. We are sliding behind every minute of every day and 43% of government spending is entitlements.

Very very ronrey

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Looks like North Korea has advanced far beyond our puny attempts at militarization. From the London Daily Mail:
North Korea can defeat U.S. with a 'single blow', military chief warns amid threat of new nuclear missile test
North Korea is armed with �powerful modern weapons� capable of defeating the United States with a �single blow�, a military chief warned today.

Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho emphasised the importance of strengthening the military to defend the Communist state against threats it sees from the U.S. and South Korea.

He called his nation a nuclear and military power and praised new leader Kim Jong Un, believed to be in his late 20s, as a �military strategist� who has been giving the army guidance for years.

�The Korean People's Army is armed with powerful modern weapons ... that can defeat the (U.S.) imperialists at a single blow,� he told party and military officials, using familiar descriptions of the country's rivals.

The meeting, attended by Kim Jong Un, was held to mark the 80th anniversary of the army's founding.
And guys like this are supposed to be the NorK elite, their masterminds. I am worried about a high-altitude nuke -- the EMP would set us back a couple years and this can be launched by a balloon but that being said, even with our Obama-sized military, we out-gun these psychopaths 1,000 to one.

Busy day

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Got back from town this afternoon. Load of dishes and laundry being processed by their respective machines. Picked up some plants for the garden -- a couple kinds of lettuce, some broccoli, chard, blueberries, lavender, mint and some other fun stuff. Pre-ordered some hops rhizomes and will plant them alongside the two grape plants -- they are on the south side of the animal barn and get the most sun on the property. Energy treatment in 20 minutes. Lulu's son is celebrating his 21st B-Day tomorrow so heading back into town. I think he will be happy with my present to him. He probably reads this so no mention of what it is. :) Got some paperwork to do tomorrow for the store and also meeting with someone about the local car show. Still waiting for my Amateur Radio call sign -- I know, what part of 7 to 10 business days do I fail to grasp...

Two years later - Gulf Oil Spill

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Lots of hype surrounding this and one person finally arrested for deleting a bunch of texts. I think that Holder and Obama are going to milk this for a diversion as Obama has nothing to run on this November (less than 200 days!!!). From Deepsea News comes this good roundup of links:
BP oil spill 2-year anniversary: link roundup
Last Friday was the 2 year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The ramifications of the vast amount of oil and dispersant polluting the Gulf are still becoming clear, but the problem hasn�t gone away, nor is it likely to.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune rounded up official statements from politicians, scientists, and environmental groups.
There is a report from Al Jazeera citing deformities in Gulf seafood but there are no hard numbers and nothing about the deformities found before the spill. Deformities happen in any population. NY Times sputtered and fumed. My favorite is this piece written by Hannah Waters at the Smithsonian Institution:
The Oil Spill, Two Years Later
Two years ago last week, on April 20, 2010, an explosion on the oil-drilling rig Deepwater Horizon caused the largest marine oil spill in history, gushing nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil over the course of three months.

And, since then, researchers have been hard at work to understand how the oil spill impacted life in the Gulf of Mexico. It�s too soon to say whether the ecosystem is out of the red � it�s only been two years, after all! � but many researchers have been shocked at the ecosystem�s recovery.

�Like everybody else, I had visions of just gobs and gobs of oil smothering thousands of acres of salt marsh,� says James Morris, who studies marshland plants at the University of South Carolina. �But that didn�t really happen.�

As you can see in this slideshow, the marsh grasses are growing back despite being killed off two years ago by the oil. �The plants out there are really tough as nails,� says Morris. �Animals will probably be more susceptible than the plants are, but plants, after all, are the foundation of the ecosystem. If the plants are there, the animals will come back.�

While the Gulf is not oil-free, far less of the oil stuck around than scientists expected � thanks, in part, to oil-eating microbes. Because there are many natural oil seeps on the Gulf�s seafloor, these microbes already called the Gulf home and were more than happy to feed on the new source of food introduced by the spill. The water in the Gulf is also very warm � especially compared to Alaskan waters, where the last major US oil spill occurred in 1989 � boosting the microbes� metabolisms and enabling them to gobble up the oil faster.
There is a nice slideshow accompanying the post. I had written at the time about the comparative lightness of the pollution, mentioned how this is not getting traction in the US media (quoted an article from the London Daily Mail) and offered this observation:
Like I said before, if the Gulf Coast had voted strongly Democrat, this would have been handled in a completely different manner.
From Citizens United Productions comes this trailer for Occupy Unmasked:
Hat tip Breitbart Looks good! I love it that the Conservatives are just bypassing the liberal media and film industry and getting the truth out.

Quite the journey

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Quite a journey and reuniting. From ABC News:
Soccer Ball Swept Away by Japanese Tsunami Reaches US Shores
The Japanese owner of a soccer ball that washed ashore on a remote island of Alaska has come forward, laying claim to one of the first pieces of debris to arrive in the U.S., from last year�s catastrophic tsunami in Japan.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, 16-year-old Misaki Murakami said he was �shocked� to hear his prized possession had floated more than 3,100 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

He received the ball from friends when he was in the third grade, as a good luck gift before he transferred from Osabe Elementary school in Rikuzentakata, one of the cities hardest hit by the tsunami last March.

On the ball, classmates signed their names in Japanese, along with the date March 2005, and the words �Misaki Murakami. Work hard!�

The keepsake was washed away, with the rest of his home.
The odds are staggering. Considering that this is the leading edge of the debris field, it will be interesting to see what else is found in the coming few months. Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.

Another Earth Shattering Ka-Boom

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Looks like North Korea is up to it again. First a couple of atomic bombs, next a failed missile launch and now this. From Reuters:
Exclusive: North Korea's nuclear test ready "soon"
North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test, a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters, which will draw further international condemnation following a failed rocket launch if it goes ahead.

The isolated and impoverished state sacrificed the chance of closer ties with the United States when it launched the long-range rocket on April 13 and was censured by the U.N. Security Council, including the North's sole major ally, China.

Critics say the rocket launch was aimed at honing the North's ability to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States, a move that would dramatically increase its military and diplomatic heft.

Now the North appears to be about to carry out a third nuclear test after two in 2006 and 2009.
I find it hard to understand why China still supports this nation. A more perfect example of the end result of Communism and large-government central planning cannot be found. The 1% live very well while the other 99% are eating grass to survive. The braying ninnys in the OWS 'movement' have not a clue what they are talking about...

When Liberals wake up

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From The Daily Caller:
SNL alum on Obama: �What a f**king asshole� [AUDIO]
Jon Lovitz, an early �Saturday Night Live� cast member, had some harsh words for President Barack Obama over the weekend.

In an interview with �Clerks� director Kevin Smith, Lovitz, a registered Democrat who voted for Obama in 2008, bashed the president for his class warfare rhetoric and the notion that the wealthy don�t pay their fair share in taxes.

�This whole thing with Obama saying the rich don�t pay their taxes is fucking bullshit, and I voted for the guy and I�m a Democrat. What a fucking asshole,� Lovitz said.

�First they say � �You can do anything you want. Go for it.� So then you go for it, and then you make it, and everyone�s like, �Fuck you,�� Lovitz said. �[Obama] is the perfect example. He�s amazing. He had nothing � and the guy ends up being at Harvard. He�s the president of the United States. And now he�s like, �Fuck me and everybody who made it like me.��
Classic case of Cognitive dissonance -- how can The One be so completely incompetent.

Off to town

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More posting later

Finding my happy place

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Swiped from V the K:
Just in case you are having a rough day, here's a stress management technique recommended in all the latest psychological journals. The funny thing is that it really does work and will make you smile.

1. Picture yourself lying on your belly on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal clear stream.

2. Picture yourself with both your hands dangling in the cool running water.

3. Birds are sweetly singing in the cool mountain air.

4. No one knows your secret place.

5. You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called the world.

6. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.

7. The water is so clear that you can easily make out the face of the Democrat you're holding underwater.
Works for me...

Got quite the fleet going here

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I had mentioned that I was going to look at an equipment trailer today. Guess what followed me home -- a sweet 14' flatbed with integrated ramp. Dual axle (two ton capacity) with electric brake. Planning to do a steel scrap run later this week. I now have this open trailer, the 10' closed box trailer and the small horse trailer. Good for anything now... Fixing some sweet corn and some bruschetta for dinner. Local deli is now carrying a cold-smoked Prosciutto called Speck. Yummy stuff. That with some olive tappanade, and Balsamic marinated tomatoes on toasted baguette slices topped with some fresh basil and that is a great dinner. Warm enough that I will be eating outside first time this season. Off for a couple of pints after...

James Lovelock recants

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Hippie heads are going to assplode when they hear this. From Anthony Watts:
BREAKING: James Lovelock backs down on climate alarm
MSNBC reports that the lack of temperature rise in the last 12 years has convinced environmentalist James Lovelock ( The Gaia Hypothesis) that the climate alarmism wasn�t warranted.

From his Wikipedia entry: Writing in the British newspaper The Independent in January 2006, Lovelock argues that, as a result of global warming, �billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable� by the end of the 21st century.

He has been quoted in The Guardian that 80% of humans will perish by 2100 AD, and this climate change will last 100,000 years. According to James Lovelock, by 2040, the world population of more than six billion will have been culled by floods, drought and famine. Indeed �[t]he people of Southern Europe, as well as South-East Asia, will be fighting their way into countries such as Canada, Australia and Britain�.

What he has said to MSNBC is a major climb down. MSNBC reports in this story:
James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his �Gaia� theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being �alarmist� about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.

Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared.

He previously painted some of the direst visions of the effects of climate change. In 2006, in an article in the U.K.�s Independent newspaper, he wrote that �before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.�

However, the professor admitted in a telephone interview with msnbc.com that he now thinks he had been �extrapolating too far��
Of course, the enviros will claim senility in 3... 2... 1... Big difference between spending all of your time with computer models and actually going out and looking at the (non cherry-picked) data.

No Regrets (y)

Online web store Etsy is supposed to be for home craftsmen and the art that they make. Looks like Ecologica Malibu doesn't exactly fit the model. From regretsy:

The Etsy Featured Reseller: Ecologica Malibu
From time to time, Etsy chooses some armpit hair enthusiast or hipster weenie from their legion of unemployed, and elevates them to the lofty position of Etsy Featured Seller. Etsy then publishes a feature on the newly-minted Hot Glue Czar, and everyone in Cupcaketown turns out to slobber over their wet-felted overlord.

I love the Featured Seller pieces, mostly for the the interview. Honestly, I'd be happy just to read about their dreams of living with bears in an ice cream castle, or seeing how long it takes them to mention Catcher in the Rye.

But every once in a while you get a little something extra.

This is Esty's most recent featured seller, Ecologica Malibu.

Ecologica Malibu is run by Mariana Schechter. She's super conscious about the environment, and makes all her furniture out of old boats and other reclaimed wood from places like Bali.

While all of Mariana's pieces are different due to the unique nature of the reclaimed wood, the style is very distinct, and hard to mistake for anyone else's.

What follows is an interesting story complete with screen-caps proving that Ecologica Malibu shares a physical street address with a wholesale company called All From Boats / Bali Ha'i Imports. AFB sells identical pieces as Mariana. When someone asked her about this, she said that she and four carpenters make all the furniture (also screen-capped). Busted!

Just damn!

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Watch it, share it. Hat tip Vanderleun

Monarch Butterfly Migration

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Cool Google Map of Monarch Butterfly observations as they wing their way North from Mexico. Check out Spring 2012 Monarch Butterfly Migration You can select First Monarch, First Egg, First Milkweed or OTHER Observations.

Earthday Update

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Also burned the dead weeds in the garden and fenceline and ran the mower for a couple of hours. Doing my part for a nice big carbon footprint. All that yummy plant food into the atmosphere. Weather looks good for the next two days so going to spend some time spraying Round Up on the garden beds before taking the second nice long hot shower of the day.

Celebrating Earth Day

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Going to take my big truck out to get some coffee and then come home and fire up a welder or two. Maybe even leave some lights on. Grill some steak for dinner tonight.

Long day again

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Woke up at 7AM to get into town for the final day of class and the test at 2PM. I needed to get better than 70% and I scored 93% so I think I had the material pretty well covered. I'll be getting my spiffy new Technician license in a week or so. There is another round of testing in a couple of months so I'll be spending some time going for the Extra license. Heading south Monday to look at an equipment trailer -- the father of a friend has one for sale. Had a bit of fun this evening after the exam. I frequently shop at a nice grocery store in Bellingham and there is one part of their parking lot that has space for larger vehicles like mine so I always park there. The North entrance to this space is fine but the South drive is too narrow for two vehicles to pass and so is marked with two very large Do Not Enter signs. I was heading out and some punk was trying to get their vehicle in. I was in the middle of the road (truck has a large turning radius and was coming out of a slot). I stop and point to the two signs. The bozo motions me to swing to the right. He is not moving. I point again and finally back up and shift to the far right. I have my window down anyway (today was a gorgeous day) so I yell out to him as we pass that it is one way. I get cussed out as though it is my problem. And then it hit me... I grinned at him and said in a low voice: You know, I bet you voted for Obama. The stream of invective out of that a**holes mouth was incredible. His face went red -- I must have hit a nerve or something. Sure made my day!!!

Rogue Wave

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There is a butt-load of anecdotal evidence for Rogue Waves but until recently, they have not been made under controlled conditions. Here is a small wavetank generating a Rogue Wave and its unwitting victim. That poor minifig gave its life for Science...

Monitor Update

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Returned the two Vizio sets today. I did see a few 1080p TV sets with PC inputs but they were big units. I like a large screen but 40" to 60" is just too big (and so is the price tag)... I'll start on Plan "C" and make some wood clamps to hold the Samsung monitors up off the workstation table; that way, if there is an issue, I can replace them. Other plan would be to use some kind of adhesive to attach them but I like solutions that are reversible. Early bedtime tonight -- alarm set for 7:00AM for the Ham Radio exam

Bank of America in the news again

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From Bob Owens writing at PJ Media:
BREAKING: Bank of America Reportedly Drops Gun Company for Political Reasons
Bailout recipient Bank of America has severed relations with an American company because of a reported bias against their industry. McMillan Group International released an extraordinary statement on Facebook regarding the incident:
McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, McMillan Firearms Manufacturing, McMillan Group International have been collectively banking with Bank of America for 12 years. Today Mr. Ray Fox, Senior Vice President, Market Manager, Business Banking, Global Commercial Banking came to my office. He scheduled the meeting as an �account analysis� meeting in order to evaluate the two lines of credit we have with them. He spent five minutes talking about how McMillan has changed in the last five years and have become more of a firearms manufacturer than a supplier of accessories.

At this point I interrupted him and asked �Can I possible save you some time so that you don�t waste your breath? What you are going to tell me is that because we are in the firearms manufacturing business you no longer what my business.�

�That is correct� he says.

I replied �That is okay, we will move our accounts as soon as possible. We can find a Second Amendment friendly bank that will be glad to have our business. You won�t mind if I tell the NRA, SCI and everyone one I know that BofA is not firearms industry friendly?�
A bit more about McMillan:
McMillan is heavily involved with U.S. national security. McMillan rifle stocks are the standard for the Marine Corps� favored M40A3 sniper rifle. McMillan products, from stocks and other accessories to complete rifles, are used by U.S. regular and special forces and by American military allies around the globe.
A bit more about Bank of America:
Per McMillan�s statement, a politically partisan bank has severed the lines of credit to a company important to our national security. This act has likely added difficulty to the company�s ability to operate, to research product improvements, and to deliver products on time. Bank of America�s stance � especially if this signals a new policy regarding dealing with all arms manufacturers � could potentially effect the readiness of American soldiers in combat zones and the operational efficiency of some of America�s most highly trained and effective units.

Bank of America was the recipient of well over 100 billion dollars in federal money. They are also one of just two vendors processing payments for Barack Obama�s 2012 presidential campaign, employing a system that disables safeguards against illegal foreign donations. Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the site of the Democratic Nation Convention in September.

This is at least the third time Bank of America has implemented a discriminatory policy against gun manufacturers. In early 2001, a scandal erupted over the bank�s attempt to discriminate against another Arizona-based company. The resulting public outrage forced a reversal of the policy.

In 2010, Bank of America attempted a similar action, and was again forced to �clarify� their position:
Bank of America does not have a corporate-wide policy to deny banking services solely on the applicant�s involvement in the firearms industry.
No other gun manufacturer or gun rights group has reacted to the McMillan Facebook post at this time.
Back when the whole house of cards started to fall apart, we switched every one of our accounts from BofA over to a local Credit Union -- that was one personal account and four business accounts. We were perfectly happy with the Bellingham branch we worked with -- very nice people. This was specifically because of the rot and crony capitalism at the top.

Whole lotta shaking going on

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From local radio station KGMI:
Scientists Note Sudden Mini-Quake Swarm In Western WA
Scientists aren't sure what to make of a sudden swarm of mini-earthquakes all over Washington.

KING 5 News says there were eight quakes yesterday, 14 on Wednesday and six on Tuesday.

The largest of the quakes measured two-point-six.

Seismologists say these might or might not be a prelude to a big quake.
There is a major fault line near where I live. Plus, Mt. Baker is an active volcano. Keeps things interesting...
Hard to say what will happen given the stunning level of corruption but this is potentially great news. From Environmental Research Letters:
Quantitative maps of groundwater resources in Africa
In Africa, groundwater is the major source of drinking water and its use for irrigation is forecast to increase substantially to combat growing food insecurity. Despite this, there is little quantitative information on groundwater resources in Africa, and groundwater storage is consequently omitted from assessments of freshwater availability. Here we present the first quantitative continent-wide maps of aquifer storage and potential borehole yields in Africa based on an extensive review of available maps, publications and data. We estimate total groundwater storage in Africa to be 0.66 million km3 (0.36�1.75 million km3). Not all of this groundwater storage is available for abstraction, but the estimated volume is more than 100 times estimates of annual renewable freshwater resources on Africa. Groundwater resources are unevenly distributed: the largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan. Nevertheless, for many African countries appropriately sited and constructed boreholes can support handpump abstraction (yields of 0.1�0.3 l s−1), and contain sufficient storage to sustain abstraction through inter-annual variations in recharge. The maps show further that the potential for higher yielding boreholes ( > 5 l s−1) is much more limited. Therefore, strategies for increasing irrigation or supplying water to rapidly urbanizing cities that are predicated on the widespread drilling of high yielding boreholes are likely to be unsuccessful. As groundwater is the largest and most widely distributed store of freshwater in Africa, the quantitative maps are intended to lead to more realistic assessments of water security and water stress, and to promote a more quantitative approach to mapping of groundwater resources at national and regional level.
Emphasis mine -- the Sahara used to be a forest, maybe it can become one again. My bet is with Kim DuToit though...

Blinded me with Science

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From NASA Science News:
Rubber Chicken Flies into Solar Radiation Storm
April 19, 2012: Last month, when the sun unleashed the most intense radiation storm since 2003, peppering satellites with charged particles and igniting strong auroras around both poles, a group of high school students in Bishop, California, knew just what to do.

They launched a rubber chicken.

The students inflated a helium balloon and used it to send the fowl, named "Camilla," to an altitude of 120,000 ft where she was exposed to high-energy solar protons at point blank range.
Actually a very cool experiment -- there is a lot more going on than just Camilla.

No posting tonight

Busy day today so nothing on the web. Did a quick trip into town -- I had upgraded the monitors on my music system to a pair of nice big Samsung 27" units. $270 each from Costco. Tack sharp and at 1920*1080, I can actually see the data in each track I am working on instead of having to zoom and close the individual tracks. Woo Hoo!!! Big upgrade from the Princeton VL1916's (1280 x 1024) that I had originally been using (and both units found great homes!) I do not like the pedestals they sit on -- takes up too much room on an already crowded workstation so I figure -- Hey! -- I can weld up a framework that fastens to the back of the workstation and attach the new monitors through their VESA Mounting Interface Standard holes (Flat Display Mounting Interface). I look at the back of the monitors and no holes! Nothing. There is a sticky label on the back but the label is small enough that I know it is not covering my VESA holes. I Want My VESA Holes!!! So I go back to Costco and they have a 32" Vizio with a PC Interface. Schweet! It has VESA Holes! It is $30 cheaper than the Samsung monitors! Life is good! I get back home, unpack one unit and life is not that good. With the VGA input, the best resolution I get is 1366*768 which looks like crap. There are two HDMI inputs and I will try that tomorrow but considering that the unit is only rated for 720p, it looks like I got blindsided. The Samsung unit is full-on 1080p so it looks like I am on to plan "C" -- fabricate a couple of clamps to hold each monitor and screw into the steel frame that I will be welding up tomorrow and return the Vizio units the next time I am in town. I have some nice Oak and Koa wood so these should look pretty nice and I'll just deal with the fugly pedestals for a few days...
The state of California is also trying to tax its way out of the hole. With expected results -- from the Orange County Register:
Editorial: No-tax, low-tax states booming
We wish it weren't so. But the evidence keeps coming in that other states, such as Texas and its Sun Belt neighbors, are doing something right in promoting business and jobs creation, and California is doing something terribly wrong. The U.S. Census Bureau just released estimates of the top 10 fastest-growing metropolitan areas, by population, from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2011. Not one was in California.

The fastest-growing was Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash., which grew 4.3 percent during the 15-month period. It enjoys a diverse economy and Washington's lack of a state income tax. Second-fastest growing was Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas, at 3.9 percent. It has become an educational and high-tech powerhouse and � notice a trend? � Texas has no state income tax.
More at the site -- they quote some numbers that really explain the depth of the problem and why states with smaller governments are doing so much better including this little tid-bit:
In the California Legislature, just 18 percent of the majority Democrats held jobs in business, farming or medicine before being elected; the rest came from backgrounds in government or community organizing, or were lawyers. By contrast, for Texas' majority Republicans in their legislature, 75 percent had been in medicine, business or farming. And in the Lone Star State, he added, even Democrats are more than twice as likely to have private-sector backgrounds than are their Democratic legislative counterparts in the Golden State.
Kind of explains a lot doesn't it...

A tale of two states

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Talk about two stunningly clear examples -- from City Journal:
Illinois Shows What Not to Do
In January 2011, facing a forbidding budget deficit and a backlog of unpaid bills, Illinois officials decided that a massive tax increase would lay the groundwork for the state�s recovery. As Barbara Flynn Currie, the majority leader in the state house of representatives, said at the time, the nearly $7 billion in new revenues would allow Illinois to �pay our old bills and deal with the structural deficit.� The taxes passed with little controversy. Several weeks later, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker proposed fixing state and local fiscal problems by narrowing public-sector workers� collective bargaining rights and requiring them to contribute more to their pension and health-care benefits. His reforms, which took months to become law, provoked an occupation of the capitol and set off a national debate.

Little more than a year has passed, and Illinois is right back where it started: the state�s unpaid bills now top $9 billion. Meantime, Wisconsin�s state and local governments have made substantial strides toward long-term budget stability. The different fiscal outlooks of the neighboring states illustrate a crucial fact in today�s budget wars: you can�t tax your way to a better future. That�s because the promises made by previous generations of politicians to public employees and special interests have become, as one northeastern mayor colorfully put it, the �Pac-Man� of budgets, gobbling up revenues faster than governments can raise them.
As Obama tries to move ahead with the Buffett rule (tax increase on wealthy) which would at best, cover Federal spending for six or seven days. We are getting plenty of tax revenue, the problem is our spending.

Our immigration problem - solved!

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Heh - swiped from Denny

Quote of the day month year

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In politics, few talents are as richly rewarded as the ability to convince parasites that they are victims. Welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic have discovered that largesse to losers does not reduce their hostility to society, but only increases it. Far from producing gratitude, generosity is seen as an admission of guilt, and the reparations as inadequate compensation for injustices � leading to worsening behavior by the recipients.
--Thomas Sowell
Hat tip Maggie's Farm.

Not much posting today

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Working at the house and running out for some hay for the critters. Energy treatment tonight -- missed last week so I am looking forward to this.

Food Stamped - the movie

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Check out Food Stamped Saw this tonight -- ran the sound system for our local library at the event. It is a good look at commercial food in the US and what people who apply for food stamps can expect when trying to live on them. The film has the husband and wife living on the exact dollar amount for one week which is a bit mis-representational as food stamp customers at my grocery store frequently buy with both their own cash and with the SNAP debit cards -- the SNAP program serving its function as a help-up and not a direct replacement for the cost of food buying. That being said, it is still well worth watching as it highlights the reason why nutritious food is much more expensive than cheap crap. (Hint -- Federal subsidies for crop production.) It also gives some great starting points for doing grass-roots work at the community level. This is where our food system needs to be reformed, not at the Federal level. The Federales do not Constitutionally have that authority.

From Boston's Television station FOX25:

Sen. Brown: Bill targets tax scofflaws in Congress
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is pushing a new bill that he said would make it easier to collect back taxes from federal workers and members of Congress.

The Massachusetts Republican said that a recent report by the Internal Revenue Service showed that in 2010, 98,000 federal employees owed a combined $1 billion in back taxes.

Brown said members and employees of the U.S. Senate alone owed over $2 million.

The bill would require members and employees of Congress and federal employees who file financial disclosures forms to report any delinquent tax liability to the appropriate ethics office and come up with a plan to pay off the taxes.

Those who fail to arrange a payment plan with the IRS within a year could have those back taxes taken directly out of their wages.

Taxes? Those are for the little man -- we don't pay no steenkin' taxes.

I mean One Billion Dollars? Time to get to work auditing these people. Don't bother with Obama's hiring $500 million new people to check for Obamacare IRS compliance, get the government employees first.

From Mark Levin -- heard it today while driving into town and my jaw dropped. Go here and listen: Mark Levin Show One of the best twelve minutes you will spend -- Mark defines the problems and leads the way for Willard Mittens to follow.

Where there is smoke

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James O'Keefe does not just stop at one. When he released his first ACORN tape, people rushed to say that this was an isolated incident. When he proceeded to release the rest of the series (five I think), it broke the back of ACORN and caused them to be defunded (although the usual suspects are back under different rocks.) His first video showed a white guy being offered Eric Holder's ballot in DC. He has since released videos shot in New Hampshire, Minnesota and Vermont. More news here: The Project Veritas Some Democrats are going to do everything in their power to right he election and we need to stand vigilant to insure that the election is honest.
Not so fast there -- from The Daily Caller:
China slows solar, wind expansion undermining White House green PR strategy
The Chinese government dealt the public relations strategy of green technology advocates in the Obama administration a blow last month when Premier Wen Jiabao announced that the state-run economy would stop expanding its wind and solar industries, choosing instead to focus on nuclear, hydroelectric and shale � or fracking � as the energies of the future.

�It is getting tougher and tougher for the Obama administration to argue that somehow we�re in this big race for green power worldwide when the rest of the world seems to have decided that the race isn�t worth winning,� Daniel Kish, the senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller.

President Barack Obama, whose administration has held up solar and wind energy while stunting shale and snubbing hydroelectric, has deployed nationalist lingo, holding the specter of global Chinese green technology dominance as a driving motivation behind the administration�s expensive and embattled green energy subsidy programs. In his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama said, �I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.�

By halting wind and solar industry expansion, Kish told TheDC, �China�s just doing what every other country in the world other than the United States is doing. Years back, the president used Spain as an example [of green energy competition] � then Germany, then China.�

Spain�s green energy subsidies were found to have a cost of 2.2 jobs for every one created; and in Germany, the government announced this year that it is scaling back its subsidies. �It�s too damn expensive,� Kish explained, �and someone�s got to pay for it.�
Too expensive and the energy is simply not there. Thorium Reactors are the way to go -- save our petroleum for chemical feedstock and use the energy from the abundant Thorium to power conversion of our abundant coal resources into fuel for our automobiles. Tip of the hat to The Blogmocracy for the link.

Dumb criminal in Canada

From Halifax Metro:

Man found unconcious after robbery at Halifax drug store
Police say a man who robbed a Halifax drug store of prescription drugs was later found unconscious after consuming most of the pills.

Halifax Regional Police say at 10 p.m. on Sunday, they were called to the Shoppers Drug Mart at 6139 Quinpool Rd. after the suspect entered the store with a knife and demanded pills from the pharmacist.

After swallowing most of them, he fled the scene, but was later located unconscious when police searched the area for him.

The 33-year-old was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries and is charged with robbery and possession of a weapon.

Heh -- I do not know what the legality would be but just like banks use dye-packs in their money, I wonder if the pharmacy could have a "special" bottle with a combination of Ipecac and some laxative. Follow the trail back to the robbers lair...

Slow day

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Got to sleep in -- this was good! Heading into town for the day and then back tomorrow. Running the PA system for a library event tomorrow evening. More later today.

A question

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From Lab Rat at Atomic Nerds:
Suddenly Burning Question
If the population of Neverland consisted entirely of feral boys, Indians, fairies, mermaids, and pirates�

Whose shipping was Captain Hook and his fleet preying on?
Come to think of it...

Oh to be at Harvard

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I am sitting here reading this course description and drooling over the keyboard. From Harvard University:
Science & Cooking
The past two decades have seen a steady stream of culinary creativity from chefs like Ferran Adria in Spain and Heston Blumenthal in England. These chefs have been inspired by a wide range of sources, especially new technological advances.

The field of soft matter science has also flourished over the past several decades, as physicists seek to explain many of the common materials in our everyday lives.

Recently, a dialogue between these two groups has led to a new wave of innovation. Some examples include Ferran Adria and the Alicia Foundation, Jos� Andres and the ThinkFoodGroup, Nathan Myhrvold and the team at Modernist Cuisine, Wylie Dufresne and Dave Arnold, and David Chang with Harvard microbiologist Rachel Dutton.

The Science and Cooking class is a General Education course at Harvard that presents an overview of soft matter physics, paired with chefs to demonstrate recipes that highlight each concept.

At the end of the course students conduct culinary experiments, which they present in a fair at the end of the semester. In tandem with the class lectures, the visiting chefs give public lectures about their cooking technique and philosophy.
The Public Lectures will be posted to YouTube -- I am so downloading these. Picked up a copy of Modernist Cuisine when it first came out and it is worth every penny...

The Imaginary Toolstore

From the twisted mind of Dave Wylie comes The Imaginary Toolstore

You can buy Tools, Consumables, Safety Equipment and Miscellaneous.

Items available include Entropy (free with every order), Metal Sparks (Sparks suitable for bench grinders, angle grinders, cutting torches and other violent metal cutting tools. Sold in 100g packets.), Left Handed Screwdriver (A screwdriver suitable for sinister craftsmen, or for screws with left hand threads.) and the ever popular Pocket Multi-Tool (A universal folding pocket utility tool with everything you'll ever need in one unit -- Includes: 14 screwdrivers; 3 pliers; 18 knife blades; Full set of AF and metric spanners; Allen key set; Torx wrench set; File and rasp set; Sharpening stone; Feeler gauges; Scissors; Scalpel; Tweezers; Toothpick; Lock-Pick; Power drill; Wire cutters; Wire stripper; Bottle opener; Bottle closer; Corkscrew; Angle grinder; Hammer; Sail making tool; Spike for extracting horses from Boy Scouts hooves; Can opener; TIG/MIG welder; Metal saw; Short prong of unidentifiable purpose; Wood saw; Soldering iron; Torque wrench; Multimeter; Spirit level; Set square; Ruler; Etc., etc., etc.
NB: requires very large pocket.)

Much more at the site...

No ice cream today either

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Looong day -- got up at 7:00AM and headed into town for the Ham Radio class. Typical geek population distribution, 30 guys and three women and a good range of ages. The teachers were really good and energized in what they were doing. Although we were all in there to get an Amateur Radio license, there was a lot of fascinating electronics background. Some more class next Saturday and then the exam that afternoon. There is another class -- Ham 101 being taught the following Saturday and I will attend that too as it goes over the local repeaters and their operation. Came to the realization this afternoon that getting my license means that I will have to initiate conversations with strange people. Not exactly outgoing so this should be interesting. Like the joke goes, how can you tell the extroverted engineer. He is the guy staring at YOUR shoes when he is talking... There is a big work party for the community garden tomorrow morning so another early day. I am also committed to running my PA system for a library event Tuesday evening. I'll sleep late on Monday and Wednesday. Off to bed...

No ice cream today

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Busy day at the farm and getting up early tomorrow for the Ham Radio class. Long day tomorrow too so probably not much then either. Took delivery of a bunch of MIDI cables to fit the new music space so will be wiring the studio next couple of days.

Stormy Weather

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Just got home from Bellingham -- was sitting at the kitchen desk downloading some 500+ emails (subscribe to a couple of high-volume email lists) and noticed that the room was getting quite dark. It is now pitching down hail and rain -- quite the little storm cell passing through. Weekend looks good though...

Fools - absolute fools

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From Montana's Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
MSU graduate students vote to unionize
Graduate students at Montana State University have won a historic election to organize an employee union, the first of its kind in the state.

After more than two years of organizing by the Graduate Employee Organization and MEA-MFT, graduate students voted overwhelmingly Monday in favor of forming a union.

One student reported the unofficial tally as 195 to 67. The Montana Department of Labor official in charge of the election was traveling and could not be reached to confirm the figures.

MSU opposed the union, arguing that graduate assistants, who teach and do research for professors, cannot legally form a union to bargain with the university because they are �primarily students and not employees.�
Being a Graduate Student is supposed to be rigorous -- it is never supposed to be easy. When you get your Graduate Degree, this says to the world that I can put in the required work and not shirk. These widdle snowflakes want everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Bleagh... More:
Leslie Taylor, MSU�s counsel, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Taylor wrote in a brief last fall to the Montana Board of Personnel Appeals contending that its hearing officer had exceeded his authority, acted as an advocate for the students and incorrectly recommended the board rule that graduate assistants are public employees.

Graduate teaching assistants and research assistants are paid stipends, not wages, Taylor wrote. They sign an agreement that explicitly states they aren�t employees, she added. They are, she wrote, �first and foremost students primarily engaged in an education program and in pursuit of a graduate degree.�
Emphasis mine -- seems pretty cut and dried. More (Eric Feaver is the president of the MEA-MFT Union):
Asked whether MEA-MFT would now seek to organize graduate students at the University of Montana, Feaver laughed and said, �You know, there�s a heck of a lot of organizing to be done in this country.�
And the little putz laughs -- he would be out on the street if his union did not keep expanding and growing. They are just another Ponzi scam that has to keep growing to feed the ever growing entitlements it demands for its members. Unions had their day but they are completely out of touch with today's economics. MSU is a state school -- where is the money going to come for the increased health benefits and salary? This will cause MSU to get the money from somewhere else like cutting back on school programs or not hiring as many teachers. Or maybe a tuition increase? Talk about unintended consequences...

A Grande Damme - RIP Janet Roberts

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Who she? The 110 year old matriarch of the Grant whisky family (Glenfiddich). From The Scotsman:
Scotland�s oldest woman Janet Roberts passes away at 110
Tributes have been paid to Janet Roberts, Scotland�s oldest person and the matriarch of one of the country�s foremost whisky dynasties, who has died at the age of 110.

Mrs Roberts, who was born in the year that Queen Victoria died, passed away at home after a long life she once attributed to �hard work and plenty of laughter�.

The First Minister, Alex Salmond, joined members of the Grant whisky family in paying tribute on Wednesday. Mrs Roberts � who had a special limited- edition bottle of whisky produced in her honour for her 110th birthday � was the last surviving grand-daughter of William Grant, the founder of the Dufftown-based distillery company, William Grant and Sons, and the man who created Glenfiddich, one of the world�s best-selling single malts.

Known as �Wee Janie� to members of the Grant family, Mrs Roberts died on 6 April at Hazelhead House in Speyside, a short distance from the Glenfiddich distillery.

At her birthday celebrations last August, Mrs Roberts said: �I�ve learned much from my grandfather, William Grant, who taught me the value of self-belief, hard work and determination.�

Peter Gordon, her great nephew and current chairman of the family business, said: �We have lost an incredible woman. My great aunt�s contributions to the business, and support for the family members who did so much to make the company the success it is today, were immeasurable.�

He added: �She lived a remarkable life and witnessed great change at the Glenfiddich distillery and she will be sadly missed by all of us.�

Mr Salmond said: �She had a very long life, and my condolences go to all her family and friends at this sad time. Her secret to a long life are wise words indeed.�

Mrs Roberts was born on 13 August, 1901 � seven months after the death of Queen Victoria � in the schoolhouse in the Cabrach, the scattered community on the rugged stretch of moorland to the south of Dufftown. Her father, Charles, had been the local schoolmaster before becoming a director of the family firm, William Grant and Sons.

Mrs Roberts studied law at Glasgow University. Following her graduation, she practised for a number of years with McGrigor Donald, where she met her future husband Eric Roberts. Mr Roberts, who was chairman of William Grant and Sons from 1963 to 1977, died in 1980.

A spokesman for the company said: �Janet Roberts was never directly involved in the running of William Grant and Sons, but contributed greatly to the company�s development through her unwavering support of those close family members who did so much to make the company the success it is today. In her youth she and her family helped support her grandfather William Grant, founder of the company.�

�When married, she travelled the world with her husband Eric, attending functions and award ceremonies. As an older woman, taking care of both her elderly mother and sister, she became a central figure of the family, and was always been present to commemorate important moments in the company�s development, such as the award to the Glenfiddich, in 1974, of the Queen�s Award to Industry for Export Achievement.�
A good woman. I will be at the farm tomorrow and will raise a toast (and run a few rounds through the Zombie Killah) as a salute to this wonderful person and this wonderful life.
Afghanistan has a very minimal on-the-books economy. It's farmers raise the majority of the world's Opium crop but none of that shows up in the GDP. Seems to be a problem these days -- from Wired:
Broke Afghans Will Cut Their Military � And Obama�s War Plan
First the U.S. and its allies super-sized Afghanistan�s Army and police to fight the Taliban. Then they decided that those Afghan troops were their exit strategy. Now they�ve got sticker shock for how much the huge Afghan security sector will cost after they turn over combat duties in 2014 � so the Afghans announced that they�ll cut their own forces, even while they�ll be the only ones fighting the insurgency.

This is nothing short of removing a cornerstone of the Obama administration�s entire Afghanistan strategy. It�s an unforced error, costing over $10 billion, and completely foreseeable. In fact, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld foresaw it.

Here�s the problem. Afghanistan is an economic ward of the international community: the World Bank estimated that before the explosion in U.S. financing during the surge, fully 47 percent of Afghanistan�s GDP came from foreign aid. The annual price tag for the Afghan National Army and Police, according to a former top officer in charge of training them, is $6 billion. You foot most of that bill.

That�s for 352,000 soldiers and cops � an �end-strength� that U.S. military officials have laboriously worked to reach. They will reach it, the Pentagon expects, by the summer. And soon afterward, the Afghans will start� downsizing. According to Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afghan defense minister who�s visiting Washington, as a �conceptual model for planning purposes,� the Afghans will cut the force to 230,000 soldiers and cops after 2014. One-third of the Afghan forces � many of whom can�t read and kill Americans � will be gone.

Consider: the Afghans are waiting until after the U.S. and its NATO allies draw down their troops and end their combat mission to cut their force. Not only will the U.S.-led coalition spend money on Afghan forces who will soon be let go, those troops will leave the rolls precisely when their chains of command will have the vast majority of responsibility for fighting the Taliban.

But this move isn�t about security. It�s about cash. A NATO official admitted as much to the New York Times: �If something is unsustainable, either you have to find the resources to sustain it or you have to reduce the size of the project.�
Please correct me if I am wrong but the global pharma community could purchase the entire Opium crop of Afghanistan for double the going Taliban market rate. The pig-lovers would be S.O.L. for their operational funding for that year and whatever the global pharma community did not need for pain medicines, they could just burn and still come out way ahead financially. The sons-of-monkeys would lose their hold over the indigenous population and would have to find some other stone in the swamp to hide under. Like the article said, Rumsfeld foresaw it. It should not be that hard for our current regime to see that big-government fails every time it is implemented and what they are trying to do here is just big-government in a colorful clown suit. Time to get back on the message here...
Didn't know they were so invested -- from Eurasia Review:
Iran�s Submarine Force: The Undersea World Of Ali Khamenei � Analysis
In the middle of all the discussion of the possibility of attacks on Iran and a war in the Persian Gulf region, one factor in particular has been largely overlooked. The Iranians have evidently fallen in love with submarines. Brief news stories about the launch of new submarines have appeared repeatedly in the past few years, and yet this phenomenon receives only a passing mention in most articles and reports. No other country in the area (unless one counts Pakistan) operates any submarines. By contrast, the Iranians now could potentially have more than 20.

Obviously the Iranian naval establishment thinks it�s on to something, and that their near-term future lies beneath the waves. What do they have in mind?
Veeeery Interesting. I had not heard of the Eurasia Review before (and remember, Oceania Has Always Been At War with Eurasia) but the report seems credible -- lots of linkey love posted back to the corroborating sources. Three Kilo-Class diesel electrics from the Russians and a couple home-brew minis. Considering that the Strait of Hormuz is about 40Km wide and about 90 meters deep, these subs could cause a bit of trouble.

Could have guessed - Kofi Annan

Annan is a delusional moron. I apologize to all the wonderful morons out there but Annan is in a case all by himself.

Just look at his "legacy" as El Supremo at the United Nations (and talking about delusional morons).

I'm not even getting into his son (Kojo) and his own corruption (here, here and here)

Kofi got tied up with Jimmy (spit) Carter in a group called The Elders (their website here) and one of their recent triumphs is:

The Elders call for an immediate halt to violence in Syria
As violence in Syria continues to threaten the safety of thousands of people, The Elders call on the Syrian government to halt its military assault and enable a "humanitarian pause"
to allow medical assistance and basic supplies to reach those in need.

Kofi was their point man flying over there for some "dialogue"

From the UK Telegraph:

Syria's nightmare is reaching its bloody nadir, despite Kofi Annan's ineffectual efforts
Even the most incurable pessimist might have been surprised by how quickly and completely the Kofi Annan peace plan for Syria has unravelled. Just as a ceasefire was supposed to come into effect, the killing has dramatically escalated. Today was planned to be the day when Syrian troops and tanks would leave major cities, in preparation for a total ceasefire from 0600 Thursday onwards.

What has happened? The army is reported to have bombarded Homs and Hama, killing some 11 people in the last few hours. And yesterday saw one of the most serious incidents of the entire conflict, when Syrian troops fired across the border into Turkey for the first time, wounding refugees inside a camp located near the frontier.

All this carries an unmistakable message: President Bashar al-Assad's word is clearly worth nothing. He officially accepted the Annan plan a fortnight ago, but the idea of actually keeping his promise does not seem to have occurred to him. Instead, Syria's regime scents a decisive victory against its armed opponents and the army wants to press home its attack. Any claims about a willingness to accept a ceasefire or negotiations are clearly just gambits to avoid international pressure for another day.

A month of promises with zero capitulation. This is what a dictator's word is worth and the very idea that an idiot like Kofi Annan would accept al-Assad's word at face value shows the simple portrait of a brain that does not operate in the real world. Annan has been delusional and still is delusional. A moron. A useful idiot.

Glad to see that there is some shred of brain function operating at The Elders:

Kofi Annan temporarily withdraws from The Elders following his appointment as Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis
In respect of the requirement that Elders are free to speak and act independently, and to allow him to devote his full energies to his critical new assignment, Kofi Annan has decided to recuse himself as a member of The Elders.

I was talking about the Peter Principle a few days ago in this post

Looks like The Elders just laid down a case of "Lateral arabesque" on Annan's ass. At least someone there has the good sense to keep fools like Annan and Carter in a small playpen and away from the press.

Back in town

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The Gauguin exhibit was amazing -- if you are in the Seattle area, it is well worth checking out. Only here for April though. Had a lot of fun showing Lulu my haunts and playing tourist (Space Needle, Monorail, etc...) Time for a nap -- more later tonight.
That may not be his intent but it sure does it for me. From The Hill:
Obama administration diverts $500M to IRS to implement healthcare reform law
The Obama administration is quietly diverting roughly $500 million to the IRS to help implement the president�s healthcare law.

The money is only part of the IRS�s total implementation spending, and it is being provided outside the normal appropriations process. The tax agency is responsible for several key provisions of the new law, including the unpopular individual mandate.
A bit more:
The Obama administration has plowed ahead despite the legal and political challenges.

It has moved aggressively to get important policies in place. And, according to a review of budget documents and figures provided by congressional staff, the administration is also burning through implementation funding provided in the healthcare law.

The law contains dozens of targeted appropriations to implement specific provisions. It also gave the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a $1 billion implementation fund, to use as it sees fit. Republicans have called it a �slush fund.�

HHS plans to drain the entire fund by September � before the presidential election, and more than a year before most of the healthcare law takes effect. Roughly half of that money will ultimately go to the IRS.

HHS has transferred almost $200 million to the IRS over the past two years and plans to transfer more than $300 million this year, according to figures provided by a congressional aide.

The Government Accountability Office has said the transfers are perfectly legal and consistent with how agencies have used general implementation funds in the past. The $1 billion fund was set aside for �federal� implementation activities, the GAO said, and can therefore be used by any agency � not just HHS, where the money is housed.
The Federal Government does not make any money -- all of what monies it has have come from either loans or through our taxes. There is a small revenue stream from oil and gas leases on Federal lands but that is a drop in the bucket. We are talking a half-billion of our tax dollars. Looking forward to hearing the Supreme Court's decision in June. 5-4 is almost a given. 6-3 would be nuclear. Be sure to look at some of the 1,340+ comments -- some excellent thoughts.

Arthur C. Clarke on computers

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In 1974 Arthur C. Clarke told the ABC that every household in 2001 will have a computer and be connected all over the world. Courtesy of Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Nails it. He is one person who should have gotten a Nobel Prize.

Remember James O'Keefe?

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He was the guy who caused such an uproar over ACORN that they got their funding pulled and the people had to scurry under a new rock. Well, he is at it again -- from Breitbart:
O'Keefe Voter Fraud Investigation: Young Man Offered Holder's Ballot
In a new video (below) provided to Breitbart.com, James O�Keefe�s Project Veritas demonstrates why Holder should stop attacking voter ID laws--by walking into Holder�s voting precinct and showing the world that anyone can obtain Eric Holder�s primary ballot. Literally.

The video shows a young man entering a Washington, DC polling place at 3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW, on primary day of this year--April 3, 2012--and giving Holder�s name and address. The poll worker promptly offers the young man Holder�s ballot to vote.

The young man then suggests that he should show his ID; the poll worker, in compliance with DC law, states: �You don�t need it. It�s all right. As long as you�re in here, you�re on our list, and that�s who you say you are, you�re okay.�

The young man replies: �I would feel more comfortable if I just had my ID. Is it alright if I go get it?" The poll worker agrees.

"I�ll be back Faster than you can say Furious,� the young man jokes on his way out, in a reference to the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal that has plagued Holder�s Department of Justice.
A bit more:
Project Veritas has already shown how dead people can vote in New Hampshire, prompting the state senate to pass a voter ID law; they�ve also shown people can use celebrity names like Tim Tebow and Tom Brady to vote in Minnesota, prompting the state legislature to put voter ID on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.
Vote early and vote often. Here is the website for Project Veritas -- they are doing some really great investigative work.

Heading into town

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More posting tonight Down to Seattle tomorrow morning for art and shopping. I will be leaving the laptop in Bellingham so nothing for a day or two -- back to the farm on Wednesday.
Food prices are spiking. From Reuters:
Food inflation seen back on the table as prices rise
World food prices are likely to rise for a third successive month in March, and could gain further beyond that, with expensive oil and chronically low stocks of some key grains putting food inflation firmly back on the economic agenda.

Food prices grabbed world policy makers' attention after hitting record highs in February 2011 and stoking protests connected to the Arab Spring wave of civil unrest in some north Africa and middle eastern countries.

Prices later receded, but an upturn which began in January, initally seen as a pause in the overall downtrend, has persisted.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will update its monthly Food Price Index on Thursday and the organisation says prices could rise more in the short and medium term as grain supply tightens and energy prices stay high.
And it's the usual suspects -- not much that can be done except drill drill and more drilling:
"The food price index has an extremely high correlation to oil prices and with oil prices up it's going to be difficult for food prices not to follow suit," said Nick Higgins, commodity analyst at Rabobank International.

Energy prices affect the production of fertilizers as well as costs related to food distribution and farm machinery use.

"We really saw the (food index) declines in Q4 2011 as being anomalous and related more to sell offs from the threats posed by the European macroeconomic situation rather than agricultural fundamentals," he added.
Some agricultural chemicals use petroleum as a feedstock so it is not just fuel costs, it hits us everywhere.

What almost happened in Las Vegas

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Great story -- I have seen the Fremont light show and believe me, this would have been a lot better. From designer Gary Goddard:
In 1992 downtown Las Vegas had become a distant second to the Las Vegas Strip. Where at one time, downtown Las Vegas was the center of the action, the increasing magnitude of the Las Vegas Strip, with the expansion of Caesar�s Palace, the Mirage having opened, and with more and more mega resorts on the way, 80% of the Las Vegas market was now on the Strip, leaving only 20% for the downtown casinos and hotels. The loss of business was turning the downtown area into a �ghost town� and something needed to be done quickly. The city needed an attraction � something of enough size and power to bring the people back to the downtown area.

They put the word out and a number of ideas were considered, with only two of the concepts getting down to the finals. One was �THE FREMONT EXPERIENCE�; and the other was �THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE�. THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE was created and designed by Gary Goddard and his team of designers at Landmark � Designer: Chuck Canciller; Illustrator: Greg Pro; Planner: Mac MacElrevey.

The competition called for something that would �become an attraction of such magnitude that it would draw people from the strip,� and ideally it was to also provide �a destination attraction� that would �re-establish the downtown core as the center of the action in Las Vegas.� A major task � one that would be almost impossible to achieve. The other catch was it could not be a hotel or a casino because the other hotels and casinos in the area were going to be paying for this attraction to bring people to THEIR places of business, not to have another competitor down the street.

My concept was to do something so large and so epic, it would fire the imaginations of people around the world. After looking at how difficult it would be to bring people to the downtown core (from the Strip), I knew we had to have something really exciting, dynamic, and without equal. We kicked around a few ideas, and then I came up with something really unique. I went to Chuck Canciller, my lead designer then � and a genius as well � and said, �What if we built the STARSHIP ENTERPRISE � FULL SCALE � on the land at the end of the street. Imagine that�� Chuck looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but by that time he also knew I was serious about big ideas like this. He immediately started working on some ideas.
And it fell to one man:
The Las Vegas downtown redevelopment committee had made its decision, along with Mayor Jan Jones. I was called to a meeting and told, privately, that THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE was the choice of the committee, but they wanted confirmation that Paramount would indeed approve the deal. While Paramount Licensing loved it, and Sherry Lansing (then President of the Studio) loved it, it was made clear to us that a decision of this magnitude would need to have the approval of the Studio CEO who, at that time was Stanley Jaffe.

To make a long story short, Paramount (Licensing) and the redevelopment committee negotiated a basic deal, subject to the approval of the Studio Chairman. The Mayor of Las Vegas was involved and had also approved the basic deal. So everything came down to a major presentation at Paramount Studios on one weekday afternoon.

The Mayor flew in on a private jet along with the representatives from the downtown redevelopment committee. Sherry Lansing was there, the Paramount Studios licensing group executives were there, several key executives at Paramount were there, and of course, Stanley Jaffe, the decision maker. To be clear, EVERYONE loved the project up to this point � the entire Vegas downtown redevelopment committee loved the concept, the Mayor loved it, the Paramount Studios Vice President of Licensing and the entire licensing department loved it, as did Sherry Lansing. Everyone loved it � but now it was up to one man. Stanley Jaffe.

And I will never forget this meeting.
Needless to say, Jaffe waffled and said no. Now just who is Stanley R. Jaffe? From the Wikipedia article (in italics), he is connected (He is the son of Leo Jaffe, film executive and "Hollywood Deal Maker.) He produced a couple good movies (Goodbye Columbus), he was in 1970 appointed executive vice president and chief operations officer of Paramount Pictures. He worked independently for a bunch of years, went over to Columbia for a while and then: In 1991, he was named president and chief operating officer of Paramount Communications. When Viacom purchased Paramount in 1994, Jaffe was forced out and filed a lawsuit against Paramount for $20 million in a stock option dispute. The case was dismissed by the court in 1995. So the guy was CEO for three years and he blew off this incredible idea. In business, there is the Peter Principle:
In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. Members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent, and there they remain. In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties. Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.
Mr. Stanley R. Jaffe is a perfect example of the Peter Principle...
We are heading down to Seattle Tuesday morning to go to the Paul Gauguin exhibition at Seattle Art Museum. Spend the night down there and then do a bit of shopping for art supplies -- Daniel Smiths and Seattle Pottery Supply. Cruise through the Skagit Valley on our way back home. The Tulip Festival is running. Back Wednesday evening. A nice little get-away...

Another gorgeous day

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Looks like we are scheduled for a couple of really nice days with some rain coming Wednesday. After the long winter, this does not suck. Spending the day working outside in the sun loading up the truck for a dump run.

RIP - Thomas Kinkade

It was always easy to poke fun at him -- he was not a "fine artist", rather an excellent illustrator and an even better self-promoter. From the San Jose Mercury News:
Thomas Kinkade, one of America's most popular painters, dies suddenly in Los Gatos, California at 54
Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter of Light" and one of the most popular artists in America, died suddenly Friday at his Los Gatos home. He was 54.

His family said in a statement that his death appeared to be from natural causes.

"Thom provided a wonderful life for his family," his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. "We are shocked and saddened by his death."

His paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of art, while it has become fashionable for art critics to dismiss his pieces as tacky. In any event, his prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand -- famed for their painted highlights -- not commonly seen in the art world.

"I'm a warrior for light," Kinkade told the Mercury News in 2002, alluding not just to his technical skill at creating light on canvas but to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."
54 is waay too young. A bit more which reveals that he was someone I would love to have a beer with:
but also enjoyed shooting and blowing up things on his ranch
A true kindred spirit. He was also a devout Christian and also quite the Philanthropist. Sad that it takes someone's passing for me to get a better handle on the content of their character. Easy targets are just that; true and real people are a lot more complex and we treasure them for that...

Gorgeous day today

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Nice little puffy clouds in the sky, temps around 57 and light warm breeze. Got the doors and windows open airing out the house and working in the garden. Plan to do a dump run tomorrow.


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You do anything with audio or music and you will immediately recognize that number. I was exchanging emails with someone who commented on the Jim Marshall obit and the subject of these delightful bottles of magic came up. Turns out that there is a nice post on Wikipedia:
6L6 is the designator for a vacuum tube introduced by Radio Corporation of America in July 1936. At the time Philips had already developed and patented power pentode designs, which were fast replacing power triodes due to their greater efficiency. The beam tetrode design of the 6L6 allowed RCA to circumvent Philips' pentode patent.
These tubes are still being manufactured today (five factories located in Russia, China and Slovakia) and are still are very actively used in new designs. This is not a bad track record for an electronic device that has been manufactured for 76 years.

A product comparison

The fine folks at Crisislab compare the Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D mkIII Not entirely safe for work...

Crocodile tears - poor Al

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From Reuters:
Exclusive: Low ratings could end cable deal for Gore's Current TV
Al Gore's Current TV has bigger problems to deal with than a potential lawsuit from fired news anchor Keith Olbermann - namely not getting kicked off Time Warner Cable for low ratings.

According to three sources with knowledge of the situation, Time Warner Cable Inc's carriage agreement with Current TV stipulates that, if the left-leaning political news network fails to meet a minimum threshold for overall viewers in a given quarter, financial penalties such as Current TV being required to increase marketing and promotion spending on the cable operator's systems are triggered.

If Current TV misses the audience benchmark in two consecutive quarters, another clause is triggered that would allow Time Warner Cable to drop the channel. The condition was built into the most recent distribution pact between the two parties, which was signed in 2010.

"Time Warner Cable has been flirting with the idea of pulling Current off its systems for some time now," said one of the sources, who all spoke on condition of anonymity.
Makes perfect sense -- if the show isn't paying its way, it is time to free up the bandwidth for something that will. Shades of today's earlier post about Planet Green being replaced with programming that focused on:
�Destination America will tackle subjects including American cuisine � from Tex-Mex to barbeque � and American mysteries from Jesse James� lost fortune to Area 51. Other shows will visit amusement park thrill rides and Western ghost towns.
Another example of the progressives being massively out of touch with the American Zeitgeist.

What drug and immigration problem?

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From the Bellingham Herald:
Two arrested, 81 pounds of cocaine seized after chase near Lynden
A car and foot chase south of Lynden ended with the arrest of two men and the seizure of a large quantity of cocaine hidden in the car, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office.

The incident Tuesday, April 3, began when federal agents informed local law officers that a vehicle from California that was suspected of being used in drug crimes was in Whatcom County.

Sheriff deputies saw the vehicle, described by eyewitnesses as a black SUV, and tried to stop it in the 300 block of West Pole Road, but the driver continued and a short chase ensued. The SUV struck a tree in the 200 block of Pollman Circle and the driver and his passenger fled on foot.

Deputies caught one of the men after a short chase, and a Bellingham police dog was brought in to find the other man, who was located in the 6000 block of Braker Way.

One of the men allegedly had a small amount of methamphetamine on him; both were found to be in the United States illegally.

Damien Hernandez-Martinez, 22, was booked into Whatcom County Jail Tuesday evening for attempting to elude and on an Immigration detainer. Jaime Hernandez-Hernandez, 29, was booked for methamphetamine possession and on an Immigration detainer.

The SUV was turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration and a search uncovered 81.5 pounds of cocaine hidden inside, with an estimated street value of more than $500,000. An investigation is ongoing.
Heh -- stupid, your SUV gets taken away and you get sent back home. My life is going great -- how about yours?

Country pleasures

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It is a wonderfully satisfying thing to be standing at the edge of my deck taking a nice long pee into the dark while listening to the sounds of the nearby creek and the spring frogs. The full moon peeking through the clouds is just gravy. About fifteen days ago, there was a beautiful conjunction of Venus and Neptune. Now Venus is the eighth sister -- she is visiting the constellation Pleiades. The best viewing was two days ago but it is still close and spectacular.

Oopsie - a little legal matter

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Looks like Australia just made out like a bandit. From Ars Technica:
How the Aussie government "invented WiFi" and sued its way to $430 million
US consumers will be making a multimillion dollar donation to an Australian government agency in the near future, whether they like it or not. The great majority won't even know about it�the fee will be hidden within the cost of a huge array of tech products. After the resolution of a recent lawsuit, practically every wireless-enabled device sold in the US will now involve a payment to an Australian research organization called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO.

In the culmination of a nearly decade-long patent campaign, CSIRO has now scored a $229 million settlement from a group of nine companies that make a variety of wireless devices and chips, including Broadcom, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Lenovo. The settlement was reached last week just before the companies were scheduled to face a jury in Tyler, Texas�a location with a growing reputation for patent lawsuits.

CSIRO (commonly pronounced �si-roh�) adds this lump sum to the $205 million it received in 2009, when a settlement with 14 companies was struck midway through another East Texas trial. Soon after that, CSIRO began boasting to the Australian press that WiFi was a homegrown invention. By suing over its patents, it anticipated an additional "lazy billion" out of tech products sold in the US. Ultimately, this didn't quite happen�but CSIRO is about halfway there.
Good on them -- they invented the technology, they should stand to reap the benefits...

Crap - RIP Jim Marshall

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From Guitar World:
Legendary Amp Maker Jim Marshall Dead at 88
Jim Marshall, the founder of Marshall Amplification and the true "Father of Loud," has died at age 88.

An official statement on Marshall's website reads:
"It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved founder and leader for the past 50 years, Jim Marshall. While mourning the Guv�nor though, we also salute a legendary man who led a full and truly remarkable life.

"Jim�s ascent into the history books as �the Father of Loud� and the man responsible for �the Sound of Rock� is a true rags-to-riches tale. Cruelly robbed of his youth by tubercular bones, Jim rose to become one of the four forefathers responsible for creating the tools that allowed rock guitar as we know and love it today to be born. The ground breaking quartet also includes the late, great trio of Leo Fender, Les Paul and Seth Lover � together with Jim, they truly are the cornerstones of all things rock.

"In addition to the creation of the amps chosen by countless guitar heroes and game changing bands, Jim was also an incredibly humble and generous man who, over the past several decades, has quietly donated many millions of pounds to worthy causes.

"While the entire Marshall Amplification family mourns Jim�s passing and will miss him tremendously, we all feel richer for having known him and are happy in the knowledge that he is now in a much better place which has just got a whole lot louder!

"Rest in Peace & thank you Jim.
So the Heavenly Choir now goes to eleven...

It ain't easy being Green

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And another one bites the dust -- from Anthony at Watts Up With That:
TV green dream hits the road
Oh what a relief! No more Living With Ed on Planet Green. I can take it off the �blocked� channel list now.

Cable�s Planet Green to change name, program focus � CBS News
NEW YORK � Planet Green is changing course.

Its corporate parent, Discovery Communications, announced Wednesday that the cable channel will change its emphasis on nature and ecology and focus instead on the country�s spirit and culture under the new name of Destination America.

�Destination America will tackle subjects including American cuisine � from Tex-Mex to barbeque � and American mysteries from Jesse James� lost fortune to Area 51. Other shows will visit amusement park thrill rides and Western ghost towns.
From the blurb about Living With Ed:
The show follows actor Ed Begley, Jr. in his quest to live his life with a small carbon footprint. The series records the conflicts between him and his less zealous wife Rachelle Carson who many times suffers due to her husband's uncompromising beliefs. One of the most frequent capers Begley engages in is making his home more environmentally friendly, which he competes with his best friend Bill Nye
Don't forget that Mr. Nye was involved in a bit of scientific shenanigans not too long ago. Main article with proof of photoshop here -- from Watts Up With That. Busted doing shoddy science. Shame on you Mr. Nye -- especially considering that your shows target the younger and more impressionable audience.

High geekdom - Software-defined radio

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From this Wikipedia entry:
Software-defined radio
A software-defined radio system, or SDR, is a radio communication system where components that have been typically implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, modulators/demodulators, detectors, etc.) are instead implemented by means of software on a personal computer or embedded computing devices. While the concept of SDR is not new, the rapidly evolving capabilities of digital electronics render practical many processes which used to be only theoretically possible.
Although there had been a few proposals and sample systems earlier, the first big push was with the military in their SPEAKeasy project.The idea of this system is that you could have a single unit that would interoperate with over ten different legacy radio systems. There are now commercial units available but they are fairly expensive -- several thousand dollars for units like the WiNRADiO or the Flex. Well... It seems that a bunch of radio geeks have developed an open-source platform that blows these commercial units out of the water, is completely modular, runs on any computer platform and is about 1/3rd of the cost. Check this out:
High Performance Software Defined Radio
The HPSDR is an open source (GNU type) hardware and software project intended as a "next generation" Software Defined Radio (SDR) for use by Radio Amateurs ("hams") and Short Wave Listeners (SWLs). It is being designed and developed by a group of SDR enthusiasts with representation from interested experimenters worldwide.

The rationale behind the project is to break the overall design up into a number of modules. Each module is designed by an individual or group and connects to other modules using a pre-defined and common bus -- rather like plugging boards into a PC motherboard.

This modular approach enables prospective users to incorporate just the modules that interest them as well as designing their own variants if desired. The approach also enables new ideas and circuits to be tested by replacing an existing module. Since the majority of modules will be retained, such experimentation can be done with minimum disruption to an existing working system.

The modules vary in complexity from simple bandpass filters and input/output interfaces, to full blown DSP functions. Such variety enables experimenters with varying degrees of experience to contribute.

Thus far, the modules have each been named for easier identification when talking or writing about them. On this website, each module has its own web page, as noted by the tab selections near the top of the page. Some of the modules are being designed so that they can be either used in conjunction with others or stand-alone. Each module board size (except the backplane) will be 100 mm. by 120 to 220 mm. and use either a 96 pin or 64 pin DIN41612 type connector.
Some well-thought out design constraints. Power is supplied by a garden-variety ATX PC power supply. Cheap and available worldwide. The spacing of the modules on the bus is the same as the spacing for the plug-in cards for a PC so you can recycle an old computer case. The neat thing is that you can start off with a very simple receiver and add features (different reception modes, filters for improving your signal, a transmitter, etc...) as you continue to explore. Module prices are in the $30 to $300 range so you can develop quite the nice receiver for around $500.
From the UK Guardian:
Spain's debts to hit 20-year high
Spain has set off further alarm bells among bond investors and its crisis-hit eurozone neighbours by conceding that its debts will balloon this year to their highest level for two decades.

The admission fanned fears that the recession-bound country will lose its battle to stay on top of its debts without reaching for outside bailout funds and knocked Spanish government bond prices.

Despite announcing its most austere budget for more than 30 years last week, Spain's government admitted on Tuesday that the debt-to-GDP ratio will jump to 79.8% in 2012 from 68.5% last year.
Emphasis mine -- we must not forget that the US debt-to-GDP ratio is over 100%. We owe more money than the entire economic engine of the US makes. From Tyler Durden writing at Zero Hedge on December 21st, 2011:
It's Official: US Debt-To-GDP Passes 100%
With precisely one year left for the world and all of its inhabitants, at least according to the Mayans, not to mention on the day of the Winter Solstice, it is only fitting that US debt, net of all settlements for all already completed bond auctions, is now at precisely $15,182,756,264,288.80. Why is this relevant? Because the latest annualized US GDP, according to the BEA, was $15,180,900,000.00. Which means that, as of today, total US debt to GDP is 100.012%. Congratulations America: you are now in the triple digit "debt to GDP" club!

(naturally, this is using purely "on the books" data. If one adds the NPV of all US liabilities, and adjusts GDP for such things as today's housing contraction, then the magical triple digit threshold was breached long, long ago).
Back to the Guardian article:
Nerves around Spain's creditworthiness � whose economy is twice the size of that of Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined � had settled somewhat since the depths of the eurozone debt crisis last year. But recent days have brought renewed fears in financial markets and among fellow eurozone members that Spain could be the biggest threat to their future.

The latest downbeat news from the government sent shares falling and bond yields climbing. Spain's main IBEX share index ended 2.7% lower while the spread between Spanish bonds and their German equivalents widened as investor confidence slipped.
The stupidity of tying everyone to a single currency is now becoming all to clear. The weakest denominator will always... ALWAYS drag the strongest down to their level -- it will never go the other way. The unelected masterminds in Brussels have zero clue as to what goes on in the real world -- they are educated at the "best" universities, enter "public service" on graduation and they have never run a business or had to make a payroll. I feel sorry for the Spanish people who are having to tighten their belts after such a long free ride -- this has got to be a major change for them. Spain also dumped billions of Euros down the green energy rathole starting about fifteen years ago and ending about five years ago. Some good lessons to be learned there but will the masterminds ever listen? Nahhhhhh...

Our neighbors to the North

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From the Vancouver Sun:
Naked Abbotsford drunks in hot water over car wash spin
Chalk up this cleansing experience - for a trio of young men in Abbotsford - to booze and bubbles.

And perhaps too much TV, a la Jackass, an American reality series that features dangerous, crude and ludicrous stunts and pranks.

After the three intoxicated twenty year olds went to a car wash with a shopping buggy about midnight last night, Abbotsford police posted a tweet warning that pressure washing yourself will not increase "intelligence or sobriety."

The trio had stripped down - loaded themselves into the cart - and selected either "typhoon" or "super typhoon" and tried to wash themselves and the buggy.

The Abbotsford police were alerted when neighbours heard screaming.

"We arrived to find intoxicated men putting their clothes back on, and realizing that the best decisions aren't made while drunk and at a car wash without a car in the middle of the night," observed Abbotsford police Const. Ian MacDonald.

The trio were warned and sent home.
Reminds me of the great quote from Animal House:
Dean Vernon Wormer: Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

The wheels of justice

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They may turn slowly but they do turn. From the New York Times:
5 Ex-Officers Sentenced in Post-Katrina Shootings
Five former police officers were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in federal court on Wednesday for the shootings of six unarmed civilians, two of whom died, in the days after Hurricane Katrina, and for orchestrating a wide-ranging cover-up afterward.
A bit more - details about what happened and the cover-up:
On Sept. 4, 2005, as much of New Orleans still lay submerged in floodwaters, Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius, then sergeants, and Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon, then officers, jumped in a Budget rental truck and raced with other officers to the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans, responding to a distress call on the police radio.

As soon as they arrived, witnesses at the trial said, they began firing on members of the Bartholomew family, who were trying to find a grocery store. A 17-year-old family friend named James Brisette was killed, and four others were severely wounded.

The police then began to chase two brothers, Lance and Ronald Madison, who was 40 years old and mentally disabled, who were trying to get to the other side of the bridge. Ronald Madison was shot in the back by Officer Faulcon and then stomped on by Sergeant Bowen as he lay dying.

The four who were involved in the actual shooting came into the sentencing hearing on Wednesday facing a minimum of 35 years because of mandatory sentencing guidelines. Former Officer Faulcon was facing at least 65 years.

A cover-up began immediately and eventually grew to include made-up witnesses and a planted handgun. Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, a veteran investigator, was charged with overseeing much of the cover-up. He came into court on Wednesday without a mandatory minimum.
Hate to think of the reception these people are going to receive in prison. Justice is served. I am really annoyed that so many people are jumping on the "social justice" bandwagon with the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin case -- the publicity ignores some damning facts about Trayvon and people like Sharpton and Jackson are using the tragedy of the Martin family to regain some measure of their 1960's glory. Have they no shame. Justice will be served here too -- it just takes time...


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Sure brings back memories -- ran a multi-line BBS system and know the modem sounds quite well. Ran the DOS version of Wildcat! under DESQview and QEMM. Switched over to the Wildcat Version five (AKA: WinServer) which ran native under Windows NT. Kept it up for ten years -- couple years hiatus and started this blog back in October of 2003... From Squirrel-Monkey

Talk about grasping at straws

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From Israel National News:
Report: Obama Blaming Israel for Rising Fuel Prices
The Obama administration is blaming Israel for the recent rise in global crude oil prices, according to a Sunday report in The World Tribune. The rise in fuel prices is deemed as harming the U.S. economy and has also hurt Obama in the polls as he seeks re-election in November.

The report cited a leading U.S. analyst, Robert Satloff, who returned from talks with Israeli officials.

Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, according to The World Tribune, that the Israeli leadership saw Washington as attributing the higher gas prices to �Israel�s posturing� on Iran.

�They think the Iranians should be held responsible for the higher gasoline prices,� Satloff was quoted as having said.

He added that the officials told him the Obama administration was staging a campaign to undermine Israel.
This comes on the heels of the US Government leaking very sensitive information that Israel had been negotiating with Azerbaijan to use an airport as a launch site for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Now Iran knows to look in that direction and the cost of the attack has greatly escalated. From Foreign Policy magazine:
Israel's Secret Staging Ground
In 2009, the deputy chief of mission of the U.S. embassy in Baku, Donald Lu, sent a cable to the State Department's headquarters in Foggy Bottom titled "Azerbaijan's discreet symbiosis with Israel." The memo, later released by WikiLeaks, quotes Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev as describing his country's relationship with the Jewish state as an iceberg: "nine-tenths of it is below the surface."

Why does it matter? Because Azerbaijan is strategically located on Iran's northern border and, according to several high-level sources I've spoken with inside the U.S. government, Obama administration officials now believe that the "submerged" aspect of the Israeli-Azerbaijani alliance -- the security cooperation between the two countries -- is heightening the risks of an Israeli strike on Iran.

In particular, four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official told me in early February, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."
Israel is out staunch ally and is the only democracy in the area. We need to stand by them.

Ham on wry

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Someone in Bellingham is offering a two-day class in Amateur Radio Licensing and I am planning to take it. Learned Morse at 5 WPM 45 years ago and had a Novice ticket but was never really active. Know a bunch of locals who are Ham Radio Operators and I know what a Wouff-Hong is. We are addicted to the internet these days but it is interesting that a box a cubic foot or so in size, connected to a long wire and powered by a few solar panels can reach a similar system pretty much anywhere else on the face of this planet. And these magic boxes have digital options -- a fun time to be alive!!!

Back from the dead

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Holy crap -- this is very very cool: Heathkit
HEATHKIT IS BACK In The Kit Business!
In late August, Heathkit will debut their new line of Do-it-Yourself kits for common around-the-house items. The first kit will be a Garage Parking Assistant (GPA). The Garage Parking assistant kit lets you build your own system that uses ultrasonic sound waves to locate your car as it enters the garage. The system signals to the driver using LED lights mounted on the wall when the car is detected and in the perfect spot for parking.

The GPA-100 kit consists of two primary assemblies - The LED Display in kit form and the pre-assembled ultrasonic range module. The kit will include everything you need to complete the project except a soldering iron and hand tools.

Next on the market will be a Wireless Swimming Pool Monitor kit followed by many more. Heathkit wants to continue to bring to its customers interesting, unique Heathkit products. Heathkit is interested in learning what types of products kit builders would like to build. Kit builders can submit their suggestions through this website using the Contact Us email.
I have put together more than my share of Heathkits and still have their transistor checker and curve tracer as well as their oscilloscope and use both on a regular basis. Can't wait!

Gary Jones nails it

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I was raised by academic liberals and counted myself a member of that tribe until the weeks after 9/11 and the answers to my questions simply did. not. compute. Gary Jones over at Muck and Mystery opens a post on the tactics of those trying to perpetuate the veneer of "science" over the discredited theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming with this wonderful observation:
Climate Thugs
One of the disappointments of my life has been the degeneration of leftist thinking. The basic principle of relieving injustice imposed by force on the majority by a powerful minority - aristocracies, robber barons, etc. - became an equal and opposite larceny, and so lost all moral justification. In truth, after historical investigation, it became clear that the left always had larceny in its heart - greedy and envious rather than just. It was only the rhetoric that was initially, partially, about justice. But it is also true that the left got worse over time.
Indeed. If we had a Democrat like John Fitzgerald Kennedy running for President, he would get my vote in a heartbeat considering that it is likely that the Republicans are going to have to bite their tongue and vote for the Obama-lite -- Willard "Mittens" Romney.
Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country
You want truth to power -- those words are truth to power. You want to break that argument, μολὼν λαβέ...






And for me, I am very much opposed to crony capitalism. Capitalism has been hijacked much like Liberalism and Environmentalism. Obama rails against large corporations yet General Electric moves entire divisions overseas (Medical Imaging to China) and pays no income tax while their CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, is Obama's BFF in the White House. The engine of growth has been and will always be the middle class entrepreneur -- these are the people who hire 10-20-50 people and make a business that grows, flourishes, pays its taxes and builds a local economic base (State not Federal). We used to have anti-trust legislation with teeth -- look at the 1974 forced breakup of the Bell Telephone network. The crony capitalists got lobbyists and went back to business as usual with us, the taxpayer, paying for everything. We need to get back to State's Rights, the Tenth Amendment and a significantly smaller Federal government.

April 1st at ThinkGeek

Woke up this morning and my first thought was: What does ThinkGeek have for sale today. First was this little item:
Keurig K-cup� 5-Star Meals
It's no secret that the monkeys of ThinkGeek worship our Keurig coffee machine. There are a few coffee snobs who refuse to use it, but most of us are more interested in getting caffeinated quickly and easily. While watching a code monkey using the brewer to heat up water for her morning oatmeal, one of our genius monkeys had an idea. Why couldn't we brew meals through a K-Cup?

Many, many disgusting interesting trials later, we finally perfected the recipes you see here. Choose your meal from the variety pack, which includes our favorite foods: hot wings, corn dogs, donuts, tacos, and because we felt guilty, salad.

Hot Wings: Now you can have all the intense flavor of your favorite hot wings but none of the mess. These Wings are a solid Medium on the heat scale, so if you like it hot, we recommend topping it with a sprinkle of Ghost Pepper Chili Flakes.

Corn Dogs: Whoever thought up the idea of skewering a hot dog, coating it in cornmeal batter, and frying it in hot oil is our hero. Our corn dogs are made from 100% all-beef dogs and only the sweetest corn. We didn't want to weigh in on the ketchup vs. mustard battle, so we'll let you garnish as you wish.

Donuts: This has been the runaway hit at the ThinkGeek office. Now most employees keep two mugs on their desks; one mug is for coffee, the other mug is for donuts. (Hint: Getting one big mug and mixing your coffee with the Donuts K-Cup is so good, it's sacrilegious.)

Tacos: Yo quiero K-Cup Tacos! We start with ground beef perfectly seasoned with chili powder, garlic, onion, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano, and cocoa powder. Then we add a dash of fresh lettuce and tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, taco sauce, and crispy corn tortillas. Delicioso!

Salad: For those days we restart our diets, there's the Salad K-Cup. Romaine lettuce, baby spinach, red cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and heirloom tomatoes. No dressing because that's up to you! Add 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite dressing and mix thoroughly.

To brew your K-Cup meal, simply place your selected meal cup into your Keurig brewer, place your mug under the spout, and press the 8 ounce (medium) button. In just a few moments, you'll have a 5 star meal at a Top Ramen price.
And I bet that this item will be called for enough that they will actually start making it:
A couple years ago, they offered this: Tauntaun Sleeping Bag and the demand was so strong that it is now part of their product line. That has got to be a fun place to work!

New beginnings

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Jen left my town today to begin her new life in California. We had some great times in our eight years together but it is good that we are no longer husband and wife -- some fond memories but the last couple years were a bit too intense. Spent the morning at the community garden working -- I have a large propane burner so I cleaned up the grass around the raised beds and (hopefully) knocked back the Scotch Broom infestation to a dull roar. I will be spending a couple hours paying bills and getting taxes ready and then have dinner and a few pints at my local. Minimal posting today...

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