May 2013 Archives

For such a quiet season, they seem to be hitting major metropolitan areas. From the Associated Press:
Tornado hits Oklahoma City area in Plains outbreak
A violent storm formed over the prairie west of Oklahoma City late Friday afternoon, dropped a tornado in a suburb and rolled into the state capital as viewers brave enough to remain above ground watched on statewide television. State troopers reported a number of injuries.

Storm chasers with cameras in their car transmitted video showing a number of funnels dropping from the supercell thunderstorm as it passed south of El Reno and into Oklahoma City just south of downtown. Police urged motorists to leave the crosstown Interstate 40 and seek a safe place.

The scene was eerily like that from last week, when blackened skies generated a top-of-the-scale EF5 storm with 210 mph winds, killing 24 people at Moore, on Oklahoma City's south side. Friday's storms were moving just to the north of Moore and appeared not to be as strong as last week's storm.
The storm-chasers got a little too close - from The Weather Channel:
Tornado Hunt Team Takes Direct Hit by Tornado
Meteorologist Mike Bettes was chasing the monster rain-wrapped tornado near El Reno, Okla. when he says the storm picked up the heavy chase SUV and threw it an estimated 200 yards.

"We were ahead of the storm. We stopped to broadcast and I saw a large violent wedge tornado," Bettes said in a live phone interview after he established phone connection after the incident.

"What we were trying to do was just get away from it and get to the south side of it," Bettes said. "But what ended up happening was all three of our vehicles that we chase with were all hit by it."

He remembers being thrown into the air.

"It was like we were floating. We were tumbling. We were airborne at least one point and we were floating. Then we weren't tumbling anymore and we came down hard."

He says the airbags deployed and everyone had their seat belts on.

Bettes and his team members are alive, but they do have minor injuries. They planned to head to a hospital to get team members stitches.

"My life flashed before my eyes."
Talk about a close encounter. Be sure to go here and donate: American Red Cross
Going to be an interesting lawsuit for sure -- from the New York Times:
Modified Wheat Is Discovered in Oregon
Unapproved genetically engineered wheat has been found growing on a farm in Oregon, federal officials said Wednesday, a development that could disrupt American exports of the grain.

The Agriculture Department said the wheat was of the type developed by Monsanto to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup, also known as glyphosate. Such wheat was field-tested in 16 states, including Oregon, from 1998 through 2005, but Monsanto dropped the project before the wheat was ever approved for commercial planting.
A bit more:
Still, the mere presence of the genetically modified plant could cause some countries to turn away exports of American wheat, especially if any traces of the unapproved grain were found in shipments. About $8.1 billion in American wheat was exported in 2012, representing nearly half the total $17.9 billion crop, according to U.S. Wheat Associates, which promotes American wheat abroad. About 90 percent of Oregon�s wheat crop is exported.
Ouch! The wheat was discovered by a farmer when the plants were growing wild:
In the case of the wheat, the genetically modified plants were growing where they were not wanted, like a weed.

When the farmer tried to kill them with glyphosate, �a small percentage of them didn�t die,� Mr. Firko said. The farmer had them tested at Oregon State University, which found the Roundup-resistant gene in them. That finding has since been confirmed by the Agriculture Department.
As for the "potential" impact on grain exports -- from another article at the New York Times:
Japan Suspends Some Imports of U.S. Wheat
Japan has suspended some imports of wheat from the United States after genetically engineered wheat was found on an Oregon farm.

The Agriculture Department announced the discovery on Wednesday. No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for American farming.

Japan is one of the largest export markets for American wheat growers. Katsuhiro Saka, a counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, said Thursday that Japan had canceled orders of western white wheat from the Pacific Northwest and also of some feed-grade wheat.
Monsanto is going to be paying a lot of money for this -- how a GM crop could be allowed to drift like this is unconcionable...

Our EPA at work

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This organization needs to be defunded now -- from the Washington D.C. FOX News affiliate:
DC ambulance breaks down while transporting shooting victim to hospital
The D.C. fire department is trying to determine why one of its newer diesel ambulances broke down as crews were transporting a patient in cardiac arrest.

It happened on I-295 Wednesday afternoon as Ambulance 19 was taking a shooting victim to the hospital. Then it took several minutes for a second ambulance to arrive.

The driver of Ambulance 19 is telling investigators the indicator lights on the emission control system suddenly and unexpectedly jumped from a warning to shut down in a matter of seconds, and as the engine died, she was able to pull the rig to the side of the road.

The question now is why? And can these newer rigs be trusted to be there in an emergency?

When the D.C. fire department began buying these diesel engine ambulances a few years ago, officials knew they would have to manage them with a new emission control system that would automatically shut the engine down if it wasn't allowed to what's called "regenerate.�

It was a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency.
So your engine might be spewing a little bit of pollution -- shut it down. Which moron at the EPA issued that -- for a critical care vehicle. And oh yeah -- the patient died:
When Ambulance 19 broke down, it was transporting 34-year-old Nathaniel McRae, who had just been in a shootout with D.C. police.

A medic continued to administer CPR while the crew waited for a second ambulance but McRae was pronounced dead at Howard University Hospital.
The EPA was founded for good reasons -- rivers were catching fire and the smog in Los Angeles was legendary. Guess what? These have been fixed and the air now is the cleanest it has been since most people no longer use coal or wood for heating their homes. What did the EPA do -- did it dissolve itself because its work was done? No - it grew into a Federal Leviathan and began grabbing as much power as it could. It needs to have its budget cut by 90% and we need to keep records of the soon-to-be ex-employees and make sure that they never ever work in any government position again. They have shown themselves to be untrustworthy.
I joke about the hummingbirds eating me out of house and home. This evening, when I came back, it got serious... I maintain two 48oz (three pint) feeders. I have a third and rotate them to make sure they stay clean and sanitary. The hummingbirds feed mostly at dawn and disk. I filled the two this morning around 11AM before leaving for town -- well after the dawn feeding. I came home tonight to find one with a few ounces of nectar and one completely empty. I have gone through over fifteen pounds of sugar this season and it hasn't started yet. Bought a 50 pound sack at Costco last week -- wonder how long that will last and seriously thinking about ordering another couple feeders. Got a gallon of nectar simmering on the stove as I type. I really like the Perky Pet brand -- assembling them after filling them is a little fussy but you get the hang of it quickly and with a 48 ounce capacity, you don't have to maintain them as often. The other big plus is that the "flowers" come off the body of the feeder. This is where the mold can grow so it is nice to be able to wash the feeder body and soak the flowers in dilute bleach to really sanitize them. Went to interview the kitty this afternoon -- all black, a little pudgy (she used to live on a farm and now lives in a condo) and a real sweetheart. Still really uncertain about me and the other critters but she should shape up in a week at most. Swung by the Guitar Center grand opening. The line as out the door with about 300+ people -- didn't even bother parking the truck. I have to go in tomorrow for some other stuff so I'll cruise through there then. Finally, I had been thinking about getting some archery equipment for the last couple of months. I used to shoot back in high school and loved it. I really like shooting firearms and my pellet gun so figured this would be a fun addition to the farm. Ran the idea past Lulu a week ago and she was very enthusiastic -- she likes shooting (and is damn good at it) but is a little put off by the noise. Stopped in at my favorite sporting goods store and the clerk was a bit rueful as to the dearth of archery equipment but he recommended a nearby store and they are the archery emporium of this area. Spent about $100 more than I was hoping ($250 instead of $150) but came away with a really nice setup and 24 arrows. The guy (Bill Stinson) at the store took some measurements and set it up for me and also took the time to show me how to change the setups for larger and smaller people -- couple turns of an allen wrench. A busy day...

Off to town - picking up a cat

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Meeting with someone about adopting a cat -- I really miss Demeter and it would be good for Luna to have a playmate. The Bellingham Guitar Center is having their grand opening today too so will swing by there and see if they are offering anything interesting as a loss-leader. My music setup is pretty optimal for what I do but I am always on the lookout for small toys and generic stuff like cables, hardware, etc...
From Business Insider comes this really nice photo-essay on PTR Industries. They are located in Connecticut and because of new legislation, are moving.
Step Inside The Connecticut Gun Factory That Is Leaving The State In Protest
CEO Josh Fiorini and his gun manufacturing company PTR Industries, are right in the center of the national gun control debate.

PTR makes clones of the HK-91 semi-automatic rifle and is located in Bristol, CT. Bristol is about 45 minutes north of Newtown, where 20 children and six of their teachers were shot to death last December.

The debate grew more heated recently, when Connecticut passed the strictest gun control law in the nation on April 4th. As a response to that law, on April 9th, PTR announced its plan to leave Connecticut in an open letter to the state.

When we asked Fiorini how he felt after learning about the shootings in Newtown, he told us, while the tragedy left him and his employees devastated, he ultimately feels manufacturers are not the problem.

"I probably feel the same way an engineer at GM feels when he drives by a car accident," he said.
Connecticut is losing 42 full-time jobs and a large chunk of tax revenues. All this over a really poorly thought out law. All they are doing is disarming legal gun owners. Can't the Ct. legislators look at the numbers from Chicago to see the end-game of their actions? Oh yeah:
PTR currently has 56,000 orders. The wait is a few years.
Talk about a free-market growth industry -- make a good product, charge an honest price and stand back...

My secret life

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I actually spend a lot of time as a superhero. Who?
Doctor Synapse
A close encounter with a meteor transformed you in unexpected ways! Now, you have gained superpowers that grow with power every day, and which help you fight back against the evils of the human world!

Empathic - You have the ability to both sense and control the emotions of anyone around you!

Now, you protect Electric City from drunken Norse gods, while also battling the evil plans of Nowhere Man!
From here: The Superhero Name Generator Hat tip to The Quantum Leopard writing over at SnarkyBytes

RIP - Jack Vance

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One of my favorite writers. From his website:
Jack (John Holbrook) Vance passed away Sunday, May 26 at the age of 96. Jack died peacefully in his sleep in his home in Oakland, California.

Jack Vance was an American mystery, fantasy and science fiction author. Vance's oeuvre spans more 50 novels and 100 short stories. Most of his work has been published under the name Jack Vance. He published 11 mysteries as John Holbrook Vance and 3 as Ellery Queen. Other pen names (each used only once) included Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse.

Among his awards are: Hugo Awards, in 1963 for The Dragon Masters, in 1967 for The Last Castle, and in 2010 for his memoir This is Me, Jack Vance!; a Nebula Award in 1966, also for The Last Castle; the Jupiter Award in 1975; the World Fantasy Award in 1984 for life achievement and in 1990 for Lyonesse: Madouc; an Edgar (the mystery equivalent of the Nebula) for the best first mystery novel in 1961 for The Man in the Cage; in 1992, he was Guest of Honor at the WorldCon in Orlando, Florida; and in 1997 he was named a SFWA Grand Master. A 2009 profile in the New York Times Magazine described Vance as "one of American literature�s most distinctive and undervalued voices."

Quote of the day

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The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
--Niccolo Machiavelli
Apropos the current administration...

Pandemics in the news

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I have a morbid fascination with pandemics -- we have had them before and there are more lurking on the fringes of society. The biological evolution is also fascinating to me -- too effective and you kill the host before it has a chance to infect other potential hosts. Too weak and it is more difficult to infect. Meet House Finch eye disease - from
Diseases can rapidly evolve to become more�or less�virulent, according to songbird study
A novel disease in songbirds has rapidly evolved to become more harmful to its host on at least two separate occasions in just two decades, according to a new study. The research provides a real-life model to help understand how diseases that threaten humans can be expected to change in virulence as they emerge.

"Everybody who's had the flu has probably wondered at some point, 'Why do I feel so bad?'" said Dana Hawley of Virginia Tech, the lead author of the study to be published in PLOS Biology on May 28, 2013. "That's what we're studying: Why do pathogens cause harm to the very hosts they depend on? And why are some life-threatening, while others only give you the sniffles?"

Disease virulence is something of a paradox. In order to spread, viruses and bacteria have to reproduce in great numbers. But as their numbers increase inside a host's body, the host gets more and more ill. So a highly virulent disease runs the risk of killing or debilitating its hosts before they get a chance to pass the bug along. It finds the right balance through evolution, and the new study shows it can happen in just a few years.

Hawley and her coauthors studied House Finch eye disease, a form of conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma gallisepticum. It first appeared around Washington, D.C., in the 1990s. The House Finch is native to the Southwest but has spread to towns and backyards across North America. The bacteria is not harmful to humans, which makes it a good model for studying the evolution of dangerous diseases such as SARS, Ebola, and avian flu.

"There's an expectation that a very virulent disease like this one will become milder over time, to improve its ability to spread. Otherwise, it just kills the host and that's the end of it for the organism," said Andr� Dhondt, director of Bird Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and a coauthor of the study. "House Finch eye disease gave us an opportunity to test this�and we were surprised to see it actually become worse rather than milder."
Interesting stuff...
From The Siberian Times:
Exclusive: The first pictures of blood from a 10,000 year old Siberian woolly mammoth
Scientists say they have found both blood and muscle tissue - perfectly preserved in the ice - from a Siberian mammoth.

The blood had dripped out of the giant animal into a natural ice capsule and it represents a dream discovery for researchers.

It comes amid a hotly contested debate on whether scientists should try to recreate the extinct species using DNA, though there now seems little doubt that this WILL happen, and the Russian team from Yakutsk that made the find is working in a partnership with South Korean scientists who are actively seeking to bring the mammoth back to life.
A bit more:
Last year a deal was signed giving South Korean scientists exclusive rights on cloning the woolly mammoth from certain tissue samples found in the Siberian permafrost. Stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk's private bioengineering laboratory confirmed he is poised to make a bid to return the extinct Siberian mammoth to the planet.

Once the tissues have been treated to a nuclear transfer process, the eggs will be implanted into the womb of a live elephant for a 22-month pregnancy.
It will be very cool if they pull this off. Torn between wondering what a Mammoth-burger tastes like and remembering John Carpenter's The Thing...

Things you find on Wikipedia

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It seems that there is a Wiki page for everything. Like this one:
Crystal oscillator frequencies
Crystal oscillators can be manufactured for oscillation over a wide range of frequencies, from a few kilohertz up to several hundred megahertz. Many applications call for a crystal oscillator frequency conveniently related to some other desired frequency, so hundreds of standard crystal frequencies are made in large quantities and stocked by electronics distributors. Using frequency dividers, frequency multipliers and phase locked loop circuits, it is practical to derive a wide range of frequencies from one reference frequency.
From Investors Business Daily:
Now The Gibson Guitar Raids Make Sense
IRS Scandal: The inexplicable raid nearly two years ago on a guitar maker for using allegedly illegal wood that its competitors also used was another targeting by this administration of its political enemies.

On Aug. 24, 2011, federal agents executed four search warrants on Gibson Guitar Corp. facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. One of the top makers of acoustic and electric guitars, including the iconic Les Paul introduced in 1952, Gibson was accused of using wood illegally obtained in violation of the century-old Lacey Act, which outlaws trafficking in flora and fauna the harvesting of which had broken foreign laws.

In one raid, the feds hauled away ebony fingerboards, alleging they violated Madagascar law. Gibson responded by obtaining the sworn word of the African island's government that no law had been broken.

In another raid, the feds found materials imported from India, claiming they too moved across the globe in violation of Indian law. Gibson's response was that the feds had simply misinterpreted Indian law.

Interestingly, one of Gibson's leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin's catalog, several of their guitars contain "East Indian Rosewood," which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson's guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson's chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.
Sad. Less than $35K political contribution from a manufacturer bought a royal smack-down ($350,000 penalties and "community service payments") on their competition -- more at the article. I know who I will NOT buy from now. Christian Frederick Martin -- you used to make an incredible product.
Sorry -- from America's Finest News Source -- The Onion:
Historians Admit To Inventing Ancient Greeks
WASHINGTON�A group of leading historians held a press conference Monday at the National Geographic Society to announce they had "entirely fabricated" ancient Greece, a culture long thought to be the intellectual basis of Western civilization.

The group acknowledged that the idea of a sophisticated, flourishing society existing in Greece more than two millennia ago was a complete fiction created by a team of some two dozen historians, anthropologists, and classicists who worked nonstop between 1971 and 1974 to forge "Greek" documents and artifacts.

"Honestly, we never meant for things to go this far," said Professor Gene Haddlebury, who has offered to resign his position as chair of Hellenic Studies at Georgetown University. "We were young and trying to advance our careers, so we just started making things up: Homer, Aristotle, Socrates, Hippocrates, the lever and fulcrum, rhetoric, ethics, all the different kinds of columns�everything."

"Way more stuff than any one civilization could have come up with, obviously," he added.

According to Haddlebury, the idea of inventing a wholly fraudulent ancient culture came about when he and other scholars realized they had no idea what had actually happened in Europe during the 800-year period before the Christian era.

Frustrated by the gap in the record, and finding archaeologists to be "not much help at all," they took the problem to colleagues who were then scrambling to find a way to explain where things such as astronomy, cartography, and democracy had come from.

Within hours the greatest and most influential civilization of all time was born.

"One night someone made a joke about just taking all these ideas, lumping them together, and saying the Greeks had done it all 2,000 years ago," Haddlebury said. "One thing led to another, and before you know it, we're coming up with everything from the golden ratio to the Iliad."
More at the site. Probably Bush's fault...

Some numbers for Ohio

Ohio is a pivotal state for national elections. In 2012, Obama won by 3%. There are some interesting numbers behind this story -- from Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:
Report: 20% of Ohio�s Registered Voters are Bogus
Barack Obama defeated* Mitt Romney by 166,214 votes in Ohio in 2012. That�s out of 5,489,028 votes cast. So Obama�s victory margin was just 3 percent, 50 to 47 over Romney.

But 20% of Ohio�s voters should not be on the rolls at all, according to a story in the Columbus Dispatch.
More than one out of every five registered Ohio voters is probably ineligible to vote.

In two counties, the number of registered voters actually exceeds the voting-age population: Northwestern Ohio�s Wood County shows 109 registered voters for every 100 eligible, while in Lawrence County along the Ohio River it�s a mere 104 registered per 100 eligible.
And, while we are on the subject, there is also this little tid-bit:
Ohio�s elections chief, Secretary of State Jon Husted, sought help from Attorney General Eric Holder to clean up the state�s roles. You may have guessed how that went, as Husted is a Republican.
In a Feb. 10 letter, he asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a personal meeting to discuss how to balance seemingly conflicting federal laws so he could pare Ohio�s dirty voter list without removing truly eligible voters.

�Common sense says that the odds of voter fraud increase the longer these ineligible voters are allowed to populate our rolls,� Husted said. �I simply cannot accept that.�

Holder�s office has never replied.
We need to focus on the Office of the Secretary of State in 2014 and 2016 as this is the Office that controls the operation of voting in the individual states. I know I plan to be volunteering some time here...

The Laffer Curve at work

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Now this will be interesting to see. From CNBC News:
Texas Passes Business Tax Cuts Worth More Than $1 Billion
Texas lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Perry more than $1 billion in proposed business tax cuts shortly before the end of the biennial legislative session, and the governor called a special session to address redistricting.
Laffer Curve? A very simple concept which today's masterminds in the other Washington seem to fail to grasp. Whenever it has been tried, it works. Period. Read all about it: Laffer Curve An excellent three-part YouTube talk can be found here: Part I, Part II, and Part III
All of Obama's scandals keep getting bigger. Now this from The Washington Post:
Confidential report lists U.S. weapons system designs compromised by Chinese cyberspies
Designs for many of the nation�s most sensitive advanced weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, according to a report prepared for the Pentagon and to officials from government and the defense industry.

Among more than two dozen major weapons systems whose designs were breached were programs critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships, according to a previously undisclosed section of a confidential report prepared for Pentagon leaders by the Defense Science Board.

Experts warn that the electronic intrusions gave China access to advanced technology that could accelerate the development of its weapons systems and weaken the U.S. military advantage in a future conflict.
It all boils down to #1) - what did our government know and #2) - when did they learn it. A bit more:
In January, the advisory panel warned in the public version of its report that the Pentagon is unprepared to counter a full-scale cyber-conflict. The list of compromised weapons designs is contained in a confidential version, and it was provided to The Washington Post.
The public version in January of this year. This means that the Obama government had been sitting on this for at least six months prior or just before the 2012 elections. Another thing to stuff down the memory-hole until after elections -- would not be prudent to hurt the chances of The Lightbringer...

From the New York Post:

Labor big a real heavy sleeper
Union fat cat Mark Rosenthal spends more time sleeping at his desk than organizing labor, a series of damning photos reveals.

The 400-pound president of Local 983 of District Council 37 - the city's largest blue-collar municipal-workers union - often downs a huge meal, then drops into dreamland in the early afternoon, members of the union's executive board told The Post.

"He eats lunch when he arrives at work at 2 p.m. Then, like clockwork, he goes to sleep with a cup of soda on the table and the straw in it," said Marvin Robbins, a union vice president.

"Then he wakes up, looks at his watch and says, "I have to get out before the traffic gets bad." He's usually out by 4 p.m. after being at the office two hours."

Rosenthal is a former Parks Department employee who rose to power campaigning to rid the union of corruption in the late 1990s.

Base salary of $156,000 and perks up the yin-yang. The photos are disgusting -- the guy is not ill, he just seriously overeats and doesn't do anything physical except walk to his chauffeured car.

A simple list

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It has come a long way from President Reagan's famous ten words:
The ten most dangerous words in the English language are "Hi,I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."
--Remarks to Future Farmers of America (28 July 1988)
Here is a canonical list of phrases compiled by the wonderful The Woodpile Report:
You're about to be lied to when they say--

a hand up
a new study shows
a poll by the highly respected
a positive step
are speaking out
at-risk communities
best practices
broader implications
climate change
commonsense solutions
comprehensive reform
cycle of poverty
cycle of violence
demand action
disparate impact
diverse backgrounds
economically disadvantaged
emerging consensus
experts agree
fair share
fiscal stimulus
fully funded
give back
And that is about half of the list -- more at the site. In the geek world, there is the game of buzzword bingo. You are called to a long boring administrative (but I repeat myself) meeting where some REMF is going to talk about the Corporate Vision or some other idiocy. A set of bingo cards is prepared and handed out. The first person to complete their card will call attention to it by spilling their drink on the table or dropping something onto the floor loudly. You get the picture... What does it say about a Nation that its citizens can play a similar game with its elected officials. These officials are so out of touch that they do not even realize that they are being gamed. They are so wrapped up into their own identities as a "leader" that they fail to see what is really happening.

It's about time

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I subscribe to an email list for precise timekeeping. It is possible to spend about $200 and wind up with a clock that is accurate to one second every hundred years or so. Surplus cellular equipment is a wonderful resource... This cri de coeur came in from one of the members working on a project:
That was worth about four hours research and going to bed with a head-ache. Learned all about "Julian Day" and "Modified Julian Day", which it turns out has nothing to do with the Julian Calendar. (Did you know that time started at high noon on January 1, 4713 BC. ?) Finally discovered a code snippet in Tom Van Baak's "C" code repository that will do the conversion. (Thanks, Tom.)

A pox upon leap years, un-leap centuries, re-leap 4th centuries, Roman Numerals, modulus 7 weeks that do not align with the year boundary, months with no regular modulus structure, and no year 0.

Who sold us this?

Makes you appreciate the decimal time "Star Date" system used on Startrek.
And do not get me started on Unix timekeeping. Heh... The more precise we try to get, the fuzzier things turns out to be.

Memorial Day

President Harry Truman expressed it well:
Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.

Heh - don't mess with mountain rescue

From the ever wonderful Not Always Right comes this story:
Trapped On Mount Karma
(We are having one of the coldest Easters in record. I work in an outdoors equipment shop, where we sell everything for use in outdoor activities, from hiking boots and tents to climbing gear and ice picks. I also volunteer for the UK�s mountain rescue. My manager and colleagues all know this, and are happy for me to go on calls.)

Customer: �I�m looking for some hiking boots so I can go out in the snow.�

Me: �Okay, sir, they are just over here.�

(We walk over to where we display our boots. As he is looking, I get paged that my team is going out on a rescue.)

Me: �Sorry, sir, I am afraid I have to go. I volunteer for mountain rescue, but one of my colleagues will assist you.�

Customer: �What! How dare you! You shouldn�t trouble me just because some random people managed to get themselves hurt.�

(The customer grabs onto my sleeve. My manager comes over, as he is aware of my needing to leave.)

Manager: �Sir, please let my employee leave. I will help you personally, and we will give you some free walking socks for your inconvenience.�

(I eventually leave, and my team performs our rescue. The casualty had hypothermia and a broken leg, but other than that was fine. A couple of days later, my team get another call-out. I bet you can�t guess who it was�)
Would have been fun to see the moke's face when he was rescued...

Clueless Kerry

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This child is barely able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Has the requisite Great Hair and really looks the part but is a total ninny. From the UK Guardian:
John Kerry unveils plan to boost Palestinian economy
John Kerry revealed his long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East on Sunday, hinging on a $4bn (�2.6bn) investment in the Palestinian private sector.
We do not, as a nation, have $4 Billion dollars to spare. All this is going to do is make about 30 people in the disputed 'palestine' territories very very wealthy and it will not do squat for the common man living there. There never was a palestinian nation. These people are Hashamite Jordanians who were radicalized by Yasser Arafat, the son of an Egyptian dentist. Arafat was discovered (a honeypot) by the Russians who groomed him for nine years (off and on) in Moscow. Arafat was funded by the Russians to destabilize the area to prevent Israel from taking over. All of this is history that can be Googled from many different sources. When Israel yielded the Gaza strip to the ersatz-palestinians, this was the result -- from NBC News:
Looters strip Gaza greenhouses
Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.
Mitt had it right and was pilloried -- from The Washington Examiner:
Yes, Palestinian culture is a problem
Speaking at a fundraiser on Monday, Mitt Romney stated the obvious � that cultural differences were a big reason why Israelis have been more economically successful than Palestinians. Predictably, Palestinians criticized the remarks as �racist� and tried to blame Israel for their economic circumstances. The media dutifully portrayed this as a foreign policy gaffe by Romney. Today, in the wake of the controversy over his non-controversial remarks, Romney told Fox News that he �did not speak about the Palestinian culture.� But if we are going to have an honest discussion about the Middle East, it would only be fair to highlight the self-destructive culture of Palestinians.
Yeah -- they deserve a state. Plasma is a state...
Different kind of homesteading -- from Buffalo Rising:
Homestead Eligible Properties: Buy a House in Buffalo for a Single Dollar
The Urban Homestead Program that is offered by the City of Buffalo enables qualified buyers to purchase a home that has been deemed "homestead eligible" for $1.00 and there are plenty of properties left. There are three main requirements when purchasing a homestead property; the owner must fix all code violations within 18 months, have immediate access to at least $5000, and live there for at least three years. You also have to cover the closing costs of the purchase.
A great idea -- some of the houses pictured have 'good bones' and would be really nice places after getting a new roof and getting their interiors brought back to snuff. The down side, you are still in the economic paradise that is Buffalo. Still, the potential is there and it used to be a beautiful city -- a lot of old industrial money there, just fallen on hard times as the industry was moved overseas to escape the onerous taxes and Union suckage...
Wrote a post about this possibility over a year ago and now it has come home to roost. The post linked to this article at USA Today:
Report warns of weather satellites' 'rapid decline'
Predicting the weather is tricky enough. Now a new government-sponsored report warns that the USA's ability to track tornadoes, forecast hurricanes and study climate change is about to diminish.
I also looked and found out that in 2012, the US Government allocated 0.3% of their budgets (2012 figures) on Space flight, research, and supporting activities. The feds also spend 16.2% on Pensions, 17.2% on Health Care, 15% on Education, 10.8% on Welfare and 14.4% on the Military. Our tax dollars at work. Well, the chicken has come home to roost -- from the UK Independent:
Hurricane season fears as warning satellite fails
A satellite designed to track severe weather in the US, has failed on the eve of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.

Experts fear it could not have happened at a worse time. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the satellite, which provides coverage for the entire US eastern seaboard, is relied upon to track hurricanes threatening cities along the coast. The NOAA gave a warning that this year's hurricane season � the first since hurricane Sandy devastated the New York and New Jersey shorelines last October � is likely to be "extremely active".

The Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season begins this week and lasts for six months. The NOAA has predicted as many as 13 to 20 tropical storms could threaten homes, with half of those likely to strengthen.

The NOAA announced that a spare satellite had been activated while attempts are made to fix the failed one, but added there was currently "no estimate on its return to operations".
As for the 2013 Hurricane Season being more active than usual, people like Joe Bastardi were predicting this back in April of this year. Weather channel agrees.

Great move for Texas

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From Houston Texas station KHOU:
Drug tests for unemployment benefits approved
Workers who lose their jobs would have to clear a drug screening to qualify for unemployment compensation under a proposal approved by the Texas Legislature.

Under current law, employers take out insurance policies to help laid-off workers survive on weekly payments of $62 to $440. Those who are fired for cause, including failing an employer-sponsored drug test, do not qualify.

The changes approved Saturday would require laid-off workers to fill out state questionnaires. Answers considered suspicious would lead to drug tests. Workers who fail would lose their benefits.

Republican Sen. Tommy Williams said the program will help maintain a competent workforce.
Emphasis mine - competent workforce is the name of the game. If you want to spend your time stoned out of your gourd or tweaking, expect to do it on your own dime. Unemployment is a safety net to carry you over until you can find work. It is not a free ride.

Back home again

It was a wet and raining morning but we had a tent and managed to stay dry and somewhat warm. Over 400 racers competing --towards the end of the afternoon, they decided to let the canoes go into the water to give everyone else the chance to complete their legs (there were still the mountain-biking and sea kayak legs) The race results are posted here: Team Results It is a good day for some beef stew so have the pressure cooker ticking away on the countertop.

Rain rain go away

Woke up to the sound of rain. Yesterday's forecast was for sunny with occasional showers. Today is Rain before 11am. High near 59. Calm wind becoming south southwest around 6 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 80%. I'll be standing in a tent for the next couple hours running ham radio gear for this race: Ski to Sea. Dressing warmly...

Early morning tomorrow

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Heading off to sleep -- got an early alarm clock waiting for me. I am part of the ham radio team for the Ski to Sea race tomorrow. Minimal posting tomorrow as there is some music in our little town.

A science two-fer

Some interesting developments. First, from the UK Guardian:
Roll over Einstein: meet Weinstein
There are a lot of open questions in modern physics.

Most of the universe is missing, for example. The atoms we know about account for less than 5% of the mass of the observable universe - the rest is dark matter (around 25% of the mass of the universe) and dark energy (a whopping 70%). No one knows what either of these things actually is.

At the subatomic scale, we know there are three families of fundamental particles - called "generations" - and each one contains two quarks, a neutrino and a negatively charged particle (the lightest being the electron). But why are there three generations in the first place?

And the big one: why do the two pillars of 20th century physics, quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, not agree with each other?

Solving these problems, the last one in particular, has been the goal of many generations of scientists. A final theory of nature would have to explain all of the outstanding questions and, though many (including Albert Einstein himself) have tried, no one has come close to an answer.

At 4pm on Thursday at the University of Oxford, the latest attempt to fill the biggest holes in physics will be presented in a lecture at the prestigious Clarendon Laboratory. The man behind the ideas, Eric Weinstein, is not someone you might normally expect to be probing the very edge of theoretical physics. After a PhD in mathematical physics at Harvard University, he left academia more than two decades ago (via stints at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and is now an economist and consultant at the Natron Group, a New York hedge fund.
Weinstein's wiki page has some interesting links as well. Second, from the Simons Foundation:
Unheralded Mathematician Bridges the Prime Gap
On April 17, a paper arrived in the inbox of Annals of Mathematics, one of the discipline�s preeminent journals. Written by a mathematician virtually unknown to the experts in his field � a 50-something lecturer at the University of New Hampshire named Yitang Zhang � the paper claimed to have taken a huge step forward in understanding one of mathematics� oldest problems, the twin primes conjecture.

Editors of prominent mathematics journals are used to fielding grandiose claims from obscure authors, but this paper was different. Written with crystalline clarity and a total command of the topic�s current state of the art, it was evidently a serious piece of work, and the Annals editors decided to put it on the fast track.

Just three weeks later � a blink of an eye compared to the usual pace of mathematics journals � Zhang received the referee report on his paper.

�The main results are of the first rank,� one of the referees wrote. The author had proved �a landmark theorem in the distribution of prime numbers.�

Rumors swept through the mathematics community that a great advance had been made by a researcher no one seemed to know � someone whose talents had been so overlooked after he earned his doctorate in 1991 that he had found it difficult to get an academic job, working for several years as an accountant and even in a Subway sandwich shop.

�Basically, no one knows him,� said Andrew Granville, a number theorist at the Universit� de Montr�al. �Now, suddenly, he has proved one of the great results in the history of number theory.�
A lot more at the site -- fascinating stuff. Interesting too because most of the great mathematicians do their best work very early and are 'burnt out' by their 40's.

Talk about eating ones seed corn

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If the 'leaders' of Detroit are seriously considering this, the city is gone with zero hope of recovery. From the Detroit Free Press:
DIA's art collection could face sell-off to satisfy Detroit's creditors
The once unthinkable is suddenly thinkable.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is considering whether the multibillion-dollar collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts should be considered city assets that potentially could be sold to cover about $15 billion in debt.

How much is the art at the DIA worth? Nobody knows exactly, but several billion dollars might well be a low estimate.

Even the possibility has set off a sharp reaction. The DIA hired a bankruptcy lawyer to advise it, and philanthropist and DIA patron A. Alfred Taubman said this evening that �it would be a crime� to sell any of the DIA�s collection to satisfy city creditors.

�I�m sure Mr. Orr, once he thinks about it, will certainly not choose that as one of the assets,� Taubman said. �It�s not just an asset of Detroit. It�s an asset of the country.�
Want to know what the final stages of a socialist state looks like? You have your own microcosm in Detroit -- a perfect workers utopia. Ideas so good they have to be mandetory...

Light posting today

Did a bunch of stuff today and then Lulu came out from Bellingham and we went to dinner at the new restaurant. Excellent food and great people. Lulu is from Hawai'i and their prep guy is from Molokai so they talked story for a few minutes -- the kitchen was really busy -- first full night of operation. Doing a bunch of gardening -- some Russian Sage I had ordered came in so picked that up and will be working in the garden tomorrow. Also picked up two grape plants. I have one area in front of a south-facing wall that gets hammered with the sun. This is where the tobacco starts will be planted and this is where the hops and grapes are going. Still marveling over how minute the tobacco seedlings are compared to how huge they will be when grown -- some serious plant efficiency...
Was at the soft opening of a local cafe (incredible food -- no website yet but will post a link when it goes active) and someone started talking about a bridge collapse. They had photos on their cell-phone. A couple of Seattle stations are covering this. From KING-5:
I-5 bridge over Skagit River collapses, cars with people in water
An Interstate 5 bridge over a river north of Seattle collapsed Thursday evening, dumping vehicles and people into the water, the Washington State Patrol said.

The four-lane bridge over the Skagit River collapsed about 7 p.m., Trooper Mark Francis said. There was no confirmation how many people were in the water, but Skagit County Sheriff's Department said three people have been rescued from the water and were being transported to hospitals.

It also was not known what caused the collapse of the bridge about 60 miles north of Seattle in Skagit County, which stretches from the North Cascades National Park to a cluster of islands off the Washington coast.
A bit more:
The bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.
Going to see if any of the 759 are ones I frequent... Stations KIRO-TV and KOMO also had stories but there is not much concrete news and all three sources are saying about the same thing. There are a couple of drive-arounds but they are old and low capacity. I think that I am going to avoid driving south for a few months. Washington State is no stranger to bridge problems. The 1990 I-90 bridge sinking The 1979 Hood Canal Bridge sinking. The 1978 West Seattle Bridge allision And of course, Galloping Gertie - the 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse. In 2007, our own Senator Patty Murray originated this pork legislation:
Murray Adds $1 Billion to Repair Deficient Bridges Across the Nation
Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee added a $1 billion amendment that would fund the replacement and rehabilitation of structurally deficient bridges across the country. Senator Murray offered the amendment to the Senate THUD Appropriations bill. It was agreed to by a vote of 60-33.

"Increasing traffic has put added stress on a system that simply wasn't designed for it and, as a result, our bridges are deteriorating far faster than we can finance their replacement," Murray said in a speech today on the Senate floor. "My amendment will allow for a historic increase in Federal bridge funding � a boost of nearly 20 percent."

Senator Murray's amendment provides an additional $1 billion for activities authorized under the Federal Highway Administration�s (FHWA) Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation program. This program provides grants to each State for bridge replacement, bridge rehabilitation, preventative maintenance, seismic retrofitting; bridge inspections, and activities designed to protect bridges and extend their life spans.

Under the Murray amendment, the THUD bill would remain within its budget allocations. The Full Appropriations Committee re-allocated unused funding from other areas in order to cover the spending.
WA State's take was $34,839,647 -- not too shabby. The highlighted part is important -- this was not a one-shot Billion allocation, this was adding an additional One Billion Dollars to each and every annual budget from then on and the money is allocated whether it is spent or not. Where is the bridge repair? Where is all of our money? Is it quietly being pocketed by construction companies who turn around and recycle 10% of it into campaign contributions? Something does not smell right. Stinks to be precice... Here is the website for the National Bridge Inventory (NBI)

Object of desire - ARP 2600

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Odd that I should hear about this on Bob Moog's birthday. Of course, he had competition -- there is nothing patentable about a voltage controlled oscillator or filter and if the actual circuitry is different, there is nothing actionable. There were other companies making music synthesizers and one of the biggies was ARP Instruments (named for founder Alan Robert Pearlman). If you saw the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind you saw a large ARP 2500 system at the top of Devil's Mountain. Their first really affordable instrument was the ARP 2600. (voice of R2D2? ARP 2600!) ARP stopped manufacturing this in 1981 and because some of the key components are no longer made, there are fewer and fewer of these machines in playable condition. Until now -- welcome to the Two Thousand Six Hundred Some folks in Sweden have reverse engineered the 2600 and are making it available again in kit form. More information here. Cost for the full kit is said to be around $1K -- considering that used 2600's in great shape sell for $3K on up, this is a bargain... I doubt that I will get one -- have a decent analog system already and enough digital synths to keep me happy for a long long time. No shelf space. Still -- damn -- a brand new 2600...
Bill Nye is no stranger to stunningly bad science and outright manipulation and falsehood. There he goes again -- bloviating about the horrific EF-5 tornado in Oklahoma. From Anthony - the transcript of a video available at The Blaze:
During CNN�s live coverage of the deadly Oklahoma tornado on Monday night, host Piers Morgan and Bill Nye speculated on the possible role of climate change in the disaster.

�As a scientist, when you hear about the size, scale, power, devastation of this tornado, what does it tell you about the ongoing debate about climate change?� Morgan asked his guest.

Nye said climate change has to be considered after a catastrophic weather event like the devastating tornado in Oklahoma. He also claimed 10 of the last 12 years are the �warmest years recorded.�

�Thunderstorms are driven by heat and a tornado is a super thunderstorm � result of a super thunderstorm. So you�ve got to figure that if there�s more heat driving the storm then there�s going to be more tornadoes. Now this is the kind of thing that is worth investigating,� he added.
There is then a link to a page at the National Weather Service which lists the known F-5 and EF-5 tornadoes since 1950. From 1953 to 1982 (30 years), there were 38 tornadoes. From 1983 to 2013 (30+ years), there were 20. Typical progressive -- it is all about the narrative. The story line. They do not do facts -- facts just get in the way of the narrative. Ideas so good they have to be mandatory...
Seems that he wants to be the Mayor of New York City. From the New York Daily News:
Gov. Cuomo: 'Shame On Us' If Anthony Weiner Is Elected NY Mayor
Cuomo, during an appearance before the Syracuse Post-Standard's editoral board Wednesday, was asked his thoughts on Weiner entering the race.

"He runs? He runs," the paper quotes him as saying in a transcript.

But asked how he would feel if Weiner were to be elected, Cuomo was blunt.
"Shame on us," he replied.

Cuomo, a Democrat, has said he has no plans to get involved in the mayor's race.

He gave a less definitive answer hours before he spoke to the Syracuse paper when asked by reporters in Buffalo for his reaction to Weiner entering the race.

�None,� Cuomo said.

"No reaction. Look, my face didn�t move. No reaction."

The last thing Cuomo probably wants to discuss is the race of a candidate who resigned his congressional seat amid a sexting scandal.
Little Anthony goes to law school, graduates, works for Senator Schumer for a few years, runs for office and wins. That is the whole sum of his life. He has never worked outside of politics, he has never run a business, never had to make a payroll. He is clueless. A perfect example of what is wrong with politicians these days...

Happy Birthday Bob Moog

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Born May 23, 1934 and unfortunately, died in August 21, 2005. If the name Moog Synthesizer rings a bell, he is the man behind it all. He took analog synthesis out of the university laboratories and turned it into an affordable tool that musicians could use to create their wildest dreams. I have a couple of his instruments and love them.

Oh now this is just wonderful

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Another Obama appointee in over his head. From the Minneapolis, MN Star Tribune:
US Treasury secretary says he has begun tapping federal retiree pension fund to avoid default
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said late Monday he will begin tapping into two government employee retirement funds to buy more time before the U.S. Treasury is faced with the prospect of defaulting on the national debt.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Lew said that he would tap the civil service retirement and disability fund and a similar fund that covers retired postal workers. The law allows him to remove investments from these funds to clear room for more borrowing until Congress votes to raise the debt limit.

Under the law, any investments diverted from the pension funds must be replaced with interest once Congress approves raising the debt limit.
Hey -- don't bother paying it back. Worked great for the Social Security lockbox didn't it? Congress must not approve a debt limit increase -- we are overspending and need to cut back. A bit more:
A standoff over budget issues in August 2011 pushed the country close to its first-ever default before President Barack Obama and Republicans reached a last-minute compromise. That battle prompted Standard & Poor's to issue the first-ever downgrade on long-term Treasury debt. The administration has vowed to prevent Republicans from using the need to raise the borrowing limit as leverage in the current budget battle.
Budget? We haven't had a budget for over four years. We are required by law to pass one every two but every budget Obama has submitted to Congress has been voted down unanimously. As for "preventing Republicans" -- these members of Congress are listening to their constituents and acting on their behalf. We the People and all that stuff...

Watching the IRS meltdown

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Look up Sunday night

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From NASA Science News:
Planets Aligning in the Sunset Sky
Sunset is a special time of day. Low-hanging clouds glow vivid red and orange as the background sky turns cobalt blue. The first stars pop out in the heavenly dome overhead, eliciting wishes from backyard sky watchers.

The sunset of May 26th will be extra special. On that date, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury will gather in the fading twilight to form a bright triangle only three degrees wide.

Triple conjunctions of planets are fairly rare. The last time it happened was in May 2011, and it won't happen again until October 2015. This triple is especially good because it involves the three brightest planets in May's night sky: #1, Venus; #2, Jupiter; and #3, Mercury. The triangle will be visible even in places with heavy urban light pollution.

The best time to look is about 30 to 60 minutes after sunset. The three planets will be hugging the horizon, so a clear view of the western sky is essential.
Should be spectacular. The alignment happens for a few days before and after the 26th, just not as close.

Playing with CHDK today

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Waiting for someone to come to the house so spending the time playing with CHDK. CHDK you ask? I had written about it before here and here CHDK stands for Canon Hack Development Kit. If you own a Canon point-and-shoot you need to give this a closer look. The main website is here: CHDK Wiki I am getting so many hummingbirds at my feeders that I want to set a camera outside to take a photo every five seconds. Not possible with the built-in camera functions but very easy with CHDK.
From the White House Dossier:
Michelle Said to be Considering an Extended Vacation
With scandal swirling about the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama may be considering an extended exit from Washington this summer, fleeing for weeks to the Obamas� traditional summer haven, Martha�s Vineyard.

According to the Boston Globe, �Michelle Obama and the children may be on the island for an extended period.� But the president would hardly be suffering by comparison. He may come up on weekends and then stay for two weeks at the end of the summer, the Globe reports.

The White House has not commented on the Obamas� vacation plans.

The Obamas are said to be eying a house in Farm Neck on the Vineyard. If they land there, the president will have easy access to the lovely Farm Neck Golf Club and Cafe.
Must be nice -- luxury ocean-front house in Honolulu and now this. We the People are funding this lifestyle to the tune of many millions of dollars. Makes me long for the era of clearing brush at the Presidential ranch in Crawford...

That looks cool -- can I borrow it for a couple decades? From the Chicago Tribune:

Huge magnet set for delicate voyage to Fermilab
A 50-foot-wide circular electromagnet - so delicate that tilting it just a few degrees would destroy it - must make a four-week journey this summer off the U.S. coast and up a river, before inching its way by road to a new home at Fermilab in Batavia.

The Muon g-2 ring, an electromagnet made of steel and aluminum, begins its 3,200-mile trek from New York in early June. From there, it will sail by barge down the East Coast, around Florida's tip into the Gulf of Mexico, then up the Mississippi River until it arrives in Illinois.

Once on land, the electromagnet will be driven at night in a specially designed truck at no more than 10 mph until it reaches Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The high-tech transport is all in service of a plan to use Fermilab's powerful beam to send muons, a rare kind of particle that lasts just 2.2 millionths of a second, into the circular electromagnet, according to experiment spokesman Lee Roberts, who works at Fermilab. Once in the ring, muons "wobble," or tilt like a top.

What scientists find could open up a whole new world of particle physics, said Roberts, a Boston University physicist.

Very cool -- the need for the move is not engineering stupidity. The magnet has been in use at Brookhaven since the 1990's but they were not getting clear data -- the beam of muons wasn't strong enough. Fermilab has an accelerator that is better for muons and the cost to ship ($3M) is an order of magnitude less than building a replacement magnet ($30M). Looking at first light around 2016.

Move along lil' doggie

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Sunspot AR1748 seems to have lost its mojo which - considering its history - is a very good thing. It crept around the solar limb and proceeded to launch off a couple X and M class flares. We did catch a little of the CME from the last flare but the majority of its activities were directed away from our Earth. It moved along the suns surface, stared us in the face for three days and is now moving along; it is now heading toward the far limb. We dodged a big one there...

Back home

The turnout was good for today's IRS protest -- about 100 people at the peak. Very good considering the weather. Easier day tomorrow and then it gets busier culminating in my participation in the Ski to Sea race early Sunday morning and the usual store shopping run the next day on Monday. I am a ham radio operator and will be part of the team that coordinates one node of the relay race. We post two people a couple miles up the road and they radio race team numbers which we announce over the PA system. This gives the next leg of the relay ten minutes to get their shit together. If they were listening. Which a lot of times they are not. Fun times are had by all... I also checked my tobacco seeds this evening and some of them have germinated. Some are just a thread but some have an upright stalk with a pair of leaves. This is a lot of fun because the seeds are so tiny (grain of sand) and the resultant plants are so huge.

Heading out for the day

Sent in some money to the Red Cross for tornado relief. Got the truck loaded up for a dump run then it's off to the Bellingham IRS Office for the noon demonstration. It is raining pretty heavily here and 46�F outside so every person counts. Doing some shopping in town and then picking up some large planters. Lulu has been feeling poorly for the last week so she went into town for a doctor's appointment and will hang out with her son for a few days. Back home this evening -- probably grab dinner on the road.

The Gun Feed

Very similar to a well-known website in terms of layout and user interface. Different subject matter though -- kinda self-explanatory. Check out The Gun Feed
Did the store shopping run today (six hours) and then heading out to the Bellingham Federal Building to protest in front of the IRS office at Noon tomorrow. This is a Bellingham TEA Party sanctioned event in solidarity with several hundred other demonstrations nationwide at this time tomorrow. Send a message... Also doing some additional shopping (sewing machine oil, some hardware, a post-hole digger (cannot find the one I have but sure that it will turn up three days after I buy the new one) and some more concrete bolts -- the ones I have are a little too short. Finally, I will be picking up a bunch of free one-gallon planting pots on my way home -- a big thanks to our local Freecycle...
From SooperMexican:
Liberals Blaming Oklahoma Tornado on Global Warming Ignore Record Low Tornado Activity
Liberals rush to capitalize on Oklahoma tornado tragedy, but in a report from NOAA just this month, tornado activity is at an all time record low, despite the supposed disastrous effects of anthropogenic global warming.

While reports come in from Oklahoma of the families devastated by a terrible tornado strike, those filthy liberals just can�t wait to wag their fingers at conservatives while dancing on victims� graves.
Some downright disgusting Tweets have been recorded for your viewing pleasure. From Publius Forum:
Liberal Laughing that �Conservatives� Were Targeted by Oklahoma Tornado Today
Lizz Winstead is a producer and co-creator of the Daily Show, the left-wing comedy show hosted by Jon Stewart on Comedy Network. After this destructive and tragic tornado whipped through Moore, Oklahoma today, she thought it was hilarious that �conservatives� were killed there.

In typical scumbag, liberal manner Lizz Winstead took to Twitter to say: �This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target.�
A perfect example of how out of touch these people are -- this level of emotional disconnect borders on sociopathy.
Despite the fact that tornado occurrences are at an all-time low, the occasional Finger of God does happen. A compilation of stories can be found at Oklahoma City's station KFOR. The London Daily Mail has a selection of pictures. Words fail. They are saying it could well be an Enhanced F-5 -- this is the largest it gets on the scale of tornado strength.

RIP - Ray Manzarek

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From The New York Times:
Ray Manzarek, Doors Keyboardist, Dies at 74
Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist and a founding member of the Doors whose sinuous and melodic organ riffs defined the band�s sound, died on Monday afternoon at a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany, after a bout with cancer. He was 74.

Mr. Manzarek had been sick for several months with cancer of the bile ducts, his publicist, Heidi Ellen Robinson Fitzgerald, said in a statement. He died at about 3:31 p.m. at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim. His wife, Dorothy, and his brothers, Rick and James, were at his bedside.

Mr. Manzarek formed the Doors in 1965 with Jim Morrison, a poet and film student and singer, after the two of them had a chance encounter on Venice Beach in California. The band went on to become one of the most successful and at times polarizing acts of the 1960s, selling more than 100 million albums worldwide and producing bits like �L.A. Woman,� �Break on Through,� �Hello, I Love You,� and �Light My Fire.�
74 is too early to go but he lived a full life. Quite the talent. Had the pleasure of hearing him play a number of times in Boston when I was living there. Always a good show.

Winter is not done with us yet

From the National Weather Service for our area:
Special Weather Statement


Winter always has the last laugh. We are around 600' so this should not impact us very much.

Look up tonight

Sunspot AR1748 kicked out an M3 flare on the 17th and the resulting CME grazed us around 4PM this afternoon. Possible aurora displays tonight. It is now facing us directly so any activity in the next day or two will be fun to watch...
Just damn! Was turned on to Antiquity Music earlier today. They have some amazing instruments for sale. Prices are high but you need to make a living...

Nancy Pelosi - eleven quotes

Allan Erickson over at ClashDaily has compiled eleven examples of the wisdom of Nancy Pelosi:
Nancy Pelosi�s Greatest Hits
Actual quotations or paraphrases from former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
  • Unemployment benefits are the best form of economic development.
  • The IRS admission it illegally targeted conservative groups is the fault of the Supreme Court.
  • ObamaCare is responsible for bringing down the deficit.
  • We have to pass the bill (ObamaCare) to see what�s in it.
  • The Tea Party is astroturf.
That was five of them -- six more at the site. The woman is a political hack, unresponsive to her constituents and just not that bright.

The worm turns - Chevron

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Now this would be fun to watch -- from Hot Air:
DC firm shaking down Chevron learns lesson about poking the bear
There�s been a new, and some might say long overdue twist in the ongoing saga of Ecuador�s Chevron shakedown. We�ve been covering this story here since January of 2011 and it�s been a wild roller coaster ride. From the time the environmental groups involved were initially awarded a huge payday in a kangaroo court, we�ve seen blatant fraud uncovered on the part of the plaintiffs, �investors� in the lawsuit claiming they were defrauded, and the judge in the case admitting that he was bribed.

Through it all, one law firm in DC, Patton Boggs, has been nipping at Chevron�s heels on their own behalf, as well as supporting the people trying to pick Chevron�s pockets. But as CNN reports, you can only push somebody so many times before they push back:
Since late 2010, Washington, D.C. law firm Patton Boggs has been poking a sleeping tiger. It has filed three peculiar federal lawsuits � in its own name, not on behalf of any client � against Chevron, the third-largest corporation in the United States. These cases have fared poorly; two were quickly dismissed, and a federal magistrate judge recommended tossing the third in March.

On Friday, the tiger awoke. Chevron (CVX) sought a federal judge�s permission to bring counterclaims against the 455-lawyer firm for alleged fraud and deceit for its conduct in representing the Amazon Defense Front, which obtained a $19 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in February 2011. Chevron also seeks to charge the firm with �malicious prosecution� for having pursued its three lawsuits in bad faith. Chevron seeks to hold the law firm liable for any damages Chevron suffers from the Front�s allegedly fraud-infested litigation, plus punitive and treble damages.
Heh -- I hope that Patton Boggs gets taken to the cleaners and that this serves as a heads-up to other 'enviro' groups. Thirty years ago, most of them did decent science. Now, it's just Eco-Socialism, a bunch of watermelon environmentalists. They need to get their pee-pees whacked good and hard.

Cool discovery/discoverer

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From the Los Angeles Times:
Navy dolphins discover rare old torpedo off Coronado
In the ocean off Coronado, a Navy team has discovered a relic worthy of display in a military museum: a torpedo of the kind deployed in the late 19th century, considered a technological marvel in its day.

But don't look for the primary discoverers to get a promotion or an invitation to meet the admirals at the Pentagon � although they might get an extra fish for dinner or maybe a pat on the snout.

The so-called Howell torpedo was discovered by bottlenose dolphins being trained by the Navy to find undersea objects, including mines, that not even billion-dollar technology can detect.

"Dolphins naturally possess the most sophisticated sonar known to man," Braden Duryee, an official at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific said after the surprising discovery.

While not as well known as the Gatling gun and the Sherman tank, the Howell torpedo was hailed as a breakthrough when the U.S. was in heavy competition for dominance on the high seas. It was the first torpedo that could truly follow a track without leaving a wake and then smash a target, according to Navy officials.

Only 50 were made between 1870 and 1889 by a Rhode Island company before a rival copied and surpassed the Howell's capability.

Until recently only one Howell torpedo was known to exist, on display at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Wash. Now a second has been discovered, not far from the Hotel del Coronado.

Meant to be launched from above the water or submerged torpedo tubes, the Howell torpedo was made of brass, 11 feet long, driven by a 132-pound flywheel spun to 10,000 rpm before launch. It had a range of 400 yards and a speed of 25 knots.

Its specifications seem primitive today, but in the late 1800s, it was a leap forward in military armament.
Very cool! 132 pounds spinning at 10K RPM is a lot of energy! The Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Washington is an amazing place -- a real national treasure. I have been out there a couple times (it's about a two hour drive+ferry ride from here) and always learn something with each visit.

Lazy Sunday afternoon

Got a Costco rotisserie chicken boiling for chicken noodle soup (dinner). Moving the safe to its permanent location in an hour or so. Raining lightly -- Lulu and I are just hanging out...

And he's SAFE!

Spent an hour moving the safe from my truck to the garage. I love rigging and moving big things -- patience, walking around and looking a lot, scratching my head, looking some more and then it's showtime. I used Buttercup the tractor. The safe was laying on its back in my truck -- 470 pounds -- took a bunch of Costo people to get it loaded. As one person commented, it was a hernia in a box. Have some heavy ramps so slid it out and down to the ground leaning backward on the ramps. Tilted it until it was standing upright on some 2X4 blocking with about 4" of the safe's front edge hanging out in the air. Came in with Buttercup's loader bucket just under that front lip, lifted a little bit and levered the safe another 10" onto the bottom of the bucket. Drove it into the garage enough that it was over the cement floor. Set out a couple lengths of iron pipe for rollers, lowered the bucket, nudged it forward and set it down on the pipes. That is where it sits for tonight -- had to get dinner and take a break. Having a dedicated safe will make me feel a lot more secure -- it will be good to have a place for vital papers as well as some of the guns and ammo. I will still have a gun or two stashed around the house but I will feel a lot better in the event of a robbery. I have lost some tools from the equipment barn and there are some shady people who know where I live. Enhanced security is a good thing...

Being eaten out of house and home

Last year I put out one hummingbird feeder and was surprised by the response. A month ago, I purchased two more of the same kind and we are swamped. I filled two of the feeders two days ago and they are now both only about one quarter full. I have another gallon of syrup cooking on the stove and the ten pound bag of sugar I bought last month at Costco is almost empty -- a few ounces at best. These feeders hold 48 ounces -- three pints! I really like the Perky-Pet 220 The Grand Master 48-Ounce Hummingbird Feeder Very easy to keep clean and they hold three pints of syrup so you don't have to keep fussing with them. I have used other large feeders but the colors on the Perky-Pet attract the birds a lot better. The syrup is simply one part sugar to four parts water. Bring to a low boil for ten minutes, put the lid on and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if you aren't going to use it in a day or two. Toss after ten days in the fridge. These birds really need their sugar -- their metabolism is so hot that they need a constant source of carbs to just maintain. They also eat a lot of bugs and flower pollen so they do get quite a balanced diet even with all the sugar. Despite having two feeders constantly available (I rotate between the three so one is always indoors, completely taken apart and being cleaned and sanitized), they are also visiting the flowers in the garden.

Jay Leno's monologue

Transcript from Newsbusters:
JAY LENO: Got a lot of people in shorts. It is very hot. The heat wave just continuing here in California. They�re warning this could be a long, hot summer. They�re telling everyone to cover up, and believe me, you don�t have to tell the Obama White House twice. They know about covering up. Not a problem.

Well today, today the White House unveiled its latest high-tech weapon: the IRS audit. Yes. Did you hear about this? The IRS has admitted they were targeting conservative groups. President Obama called the IRS targeting conservative groups, he called it �outrageous,� and said he would immediately have his Benghazi investigators look into it. So we will, we will find out, we will get to the bottom of this.

I love this. I love what IRS Commissioner Steve Miller said today about this whole targeting conservative groups thing. He said, "Mistakes were made, but they were no way made with a political or partisan motivation." "Mistakes were made." Try that during your next IRS audit. �Look, I admit mistakes were made. Can we move on?� That works so well.

Well, first it was Benghazi, then the IRS scandal, now this phone records scandal. Remember in the old days when President Obama's biggest embarrassment was Joe Biden? What happened to those days? What happened to those days?
Remember in the old days when President Obama's biggest embarrassment was Joe Biden? -- now that is going to leave a mark.
Heh -- from the About page for Yuck - A 4th Grader's Short Documentary About School Lunch:
In the fall of 2011, fourth grader Zachary Maxwell began asking his parents if he could start packing and bringing his own lunch to school. Unfortunately, they kept insisting that he take advantage of the hot lunch being served at the school. After all, the online menu sounded delicious and the NYC Department of Education (DOE) website assured parents that the meals were nutritious. Zachary wanted to convince his parents that the online menu did not accurately represent what was really being served at his school.

In an effort to prove his point, Zachary started sneaking a small HD camera into the lunchroom to show his parents the truth. Over the next six months, Zachary would continue to gather "inside" footage and research the claims being made by the DOE and the media about the City's public school lunch program.
The New York Times did a nice write-up:
The Michael Moore of the Grade-School Lunchroom
Guerrilla filmmakers often face crackdowns by the powers that be, and Zachary Maxwell is no exception.

His hidden-camera documentary was almost derailed last year when he was caught filming without permission by a fearsome enforcer � the lunchroom monitor in his school cafeteria.

�She sent me to my teacher, and my teacher told me to delete everything,� said Zachary, who is now 11.

Zachary pretended to delete the day�s shots. After that lapse in production security, he said, �I fired my lookouts.�

What his teacher didn�t know, though, was that Zachary had six months of footage shot surreptitiously in the cafeteria, forming the spine of his 20-minute movie �Yuck: A 4th Grader�s Short Documentary About School Lunch.�
The kid has a career in film ahead of him. I wonder where the school lunch money went to - such a disconnect between what is listed and what is served...
From the Houston Chronicle:
Crazy ants are invading parts of the U.S., including Houston
According to researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, invasive "crazy ants" are slowly displacing fire ants in the southeastern United States. These "Tawny Crazy Ants" have a peculiar predilection toward electronics as well.

"They nest in electronics and create short circuits, as they create a contact bridge between two points when they get electrocuted they release an alarm pheromone," says UT research assistant Edward LeBrun.

"The other ants are attracted to the chemicals that other ants give off," he adds. At this point, more ants arrive and create a larger nest.
And talk about achieving fame:
The tiny invaders have become quite common in the Houston area, first discovered in 2002 by pest control worker Tom Rasberry. He alerted Texas A&M scientists of his discovery.

At one point they were called "Raspberry Crazy Ants" after the pest fighter. The scientific name is Nylanderia fulva, which doesn't quite have the ring of "crazy ants."

The ants should be contained where you find them and then exterminated. They thrive on human movement.

"You shouldn't move them around. They nest in anything, boxes, potted plants," says LeBrun. As the ants travel, they disrupt other ant populations. Their colonies survive, unlike fire ants.
There is more at the Los Angeles Times:
Alien 'crazy ants' invading southern U.S
An invasion of alien "crazy ants" is making many residents of the U.S. Gulf Coast long for the old days of pesky, biting fire ants.
Native to northern Argentina and southern Brazil, tawny crazy ants, or Nylanderia fulva, were discovered in a Houston suburb by a pest control worker in 2002. Populations since have fanned out through Texas and the Gulf Coast region as far as Florida, where 20 counties have active colonies, according to LeBrun, who published a study of the invasion in the aptly named journal Biological Invasions.

LeBrun believes the ants came to the U.S. through the Port of New Orleans. That�s how the Argentine ant got here in 1891; the black fire ant was first found near the port of Mobile, Ala., in 1918, and in the 1930s, the well-known and despised red fire ant showed up, pushing out the black fire and Argentine ants.
And of course, some moron somewhere will import the ant's natural predator from South America and it will find something else to be much more tasty -- a valuable insect -- and will leave these ants alone. Hat tip to Slashdot for the link...
Looks like some governments are finding out that money spent to support climate change doesn't yield any tangible results. From Australia's The Sydney Morning Herald:
Anger as green projects slashed, funds diverted to help cattle exports
Australia has all but dumped $75 million worth of projects regrowing forests in the developing world and shelved a $100 million forest carbon partnership with Indonesia.

Simultaneously, millions of dollars in foreign aid will be channelled into the live cattle export trade, sparking claims by the Greens that aid money is being misused to help the embattled industry.

Australia's contribution to global environment programs will drop from $74.1 million in 2012-13 to just $1.5 million next year, the budget papers reveal.
Come back when you have something concrete to show me. As for partnerships in Indonesia, if these are anything like the other 99% of the 'partnerships', the majority of the funds disappear into off-shore bank accounts while a small tranche of the funds are used to set up a Potemkin Village somewhere for visiting dignitaries to ohhh and ahhh over. Next, from The Wall Street Journal:
Vote Leaves EU Emissions Trading in Tatters
The European Union's flagship program to fight global warming�a regional carbon-emissions trading system�suffered a major blow Tuesday when legislators rejected a proposal aimed at saving the market from collapse.

After the European Parliament's rejection, spooked investors drove the already depressed price of carbon emission permits down by nearly half. Benchmark electricity prices also fell.

The legislature derailed�at least temporarily�a plan to revive prices by postponing the issuance of any new permits for between five and seven years. Electricity generators and some other industries must buy the permits to cover their carbon dioxide emissions.

Europe's Emissions Trading System, launched in 2008, was intended to protect the environment by raising the cost of polluting and encouraging businesses to invest in cleaner technologies.
Emphasis mine -- no, the intention was to make some oligarchs more wealthy, the effect of climate on the common man was never even on the table. That is just how it was sold -- as a sop to account for the increase in cost of electricity, gasoline, heating fuels, etc... Nice to see this house of cards collapsing -- wonder what the next watermelon environmentalist claim will be.

James Oliver Deckard v/s James Hanson

Wonderful account from The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG:
An Evening with James Hansen
The famous climate �scientist,� James Hansen, spoke at the London School of Economics on the 16th May 2013. Here is an account of his talk and its attendant circumstances.

Last night he gave the usual bilge, truly putting the frighteners on and informing everyone (for about the 10,000th time since 1988) that immediate action is required otherwise thermageddon is guaranteed. Though he has changed his tune a little � the threat is now no longer imminent but (conveniently), �in the pipeline�. That it is going to be catastrophic though, he is in no doubt at all.
A bit more:
The place was absolutely packed � hundreds of people were there and I have to admit, as I listened to one questioner after another identify whichever hack activist group or pleading green lobbying special interest they were from, I truly felt like I was alone in enemy territory. I almost backed out and let my fear get the better of me. But I kept putting my hand up regardless � Hansen�s scaremongering could not go unanswered and if it wasn�t by way of putting points and questions to him then it was going to have to be heckles.

Shortly before the mike came to me, one of the activists in the audience pointed out that he [Hansen] was only preaching to the choir, saying that it was important to get people from �outside the choir� to attend such events and asking how.
And the meat of the exchange:
I stood up and laid into him. I said that he was high on the hyperbole and hysteria and low on the facts. Most of the people there would unfortunately take him at his word and not look any further so I said I felt obliged to point out that most of his claims were highly controversial and some were flat out wrong and that I�d be happy to go through them with him there and then and debate him.

The crowd then turned on me, exploding in incredulity.

I said that my question to him was that if he truly wanted people from �outside the choir� to get involved then what on earth did he expect to happen when he (and he did) ridiculously claim that there was an �enormous well funded denial conspiracy, funded by big oil and gas�, thereby immediately dismissing anyone who dared to air a single sceptical thought.

After several hostile exchanges with the crowd immediately around me and a bit of back and forth between myself and Hansen, he finally got around to (not) answering my question. His response was bizarre. He came out with the hackneyed bollocks that the basis of science was scepticism blah blah blah. He then said that he had debated Richard Lindzen previously (Lindzen is one of the world�s most famous climate sceptics and most highly published atmospheric physicist). He said (referring to Lindzen) that it was �hard to win against an articulate guy�). He also � bizarrely � claimed that Lindzen had been shown to be wrong again and again and that he [Hansen] would no longer have any kind of debates, public or otherwise, with Lindzen or others because � apparently � �even when he has been shown to be wrong on so many occasions, he just shifts to another point to pick on�.
Much more at the site. Hansen is just plain off his rocker. He 'retired' from his post at NASA and is now doing the speech circuit. He needs to do a careful self-evaluation as his claims are coming apart at the seams. He has not done honest science in forty years...

Not much tonight

Kinda tired -- I will be surfing for another hour or so and may find something that catches me eye. Right now, the unraveling of the IRS scandal is delicious especially since Timothy (tax-cheat) Geithner was head of Treasury when it was in its heyday. Things are so bad that Obama had to release some more Benghazi emails to distract the media from the IRS. I thought that these people were supposed to represent us?

Now that is a stop sign

From Jalopnik:
Australia's Water Curtain Stop Signs Are A Great Idea
Sydney has been having a big problem with oversized trucks driving into tunnels that are too low. So Sydney needed a stop sign that is absolutely impossible to miss. Here it is and it's amazing.

It's a curtain of water with a stop sign projected onto it. You can have as many overhead stop signs as you want, but as this 10 News video report shows, truck drivers still crash their trucks into these low-overhead tunnels. Sydney was tired of the delays, the costs of the damages, and the threat that a truck crash would get someone killed.

That's why in 2007 they put in this water curtain sign on its harbor tunnel, designed by light show company Laservision. They work brilliantly.
And Laservision just got a whole new revenue stream. Looks kinda hard to avoid... Hat tip Neatorama for the link.

A fun day

The Welding Rodeo was fun but it was raining pretty heavily so there were only the participants, the students and teachers at the college and a few die-hard crazies like myself. They had three blacksmiths demonstrating and I came away with a couple of ideas for my own portable forge -- tool holders, etc... Went to a couple of Sewing shops in Bellingham but none of them had any parts for my new puppy -- I wasn't really expecting much but would have liked Singer Oil Type 'A' and needles and bobbins. Looks like I need to go on line. One store recommended three places in Seattle -- two for industrial sewing machines and one for leather. Google them after dinner. Costco and I finally reached a nexus where they had gun safes in stock and I was able to take the time to pick one up and install it. Doing that tomorrow. There is a corner in the garage that is poured concrete on three sides so I am going to rotohammer that puppy into the next dimension -- it will not move until I want it to...

Long day today and tomorrow

Long day today and tomorrow is going to be just as busy. Got a bunch of stuff planted in the hoop-houses as well as repotted into larger pots. Planted seven different cultivars of tobacco -- see what happens there. I have a south-facing wall that these are going up against to get maximum heat and light. Same wall is going to get several varieties of grapes (pick these up next week) and hops plants (already in and growing like a weed). Spent some time surfing the web for "Singer Industrial Sewing Machines" and it is amazing the breadth of parts that are available for this 70 year old machine. I know that some things like needles and bobbins do not change much but most of the innards for this unit are available (albeit sometimes pricey!). Nice to know that this can be handed down to the next couple of generations. Lulu and I will be spending much of tomorrow at the Welding Rodeo. This is a really fun event with lots of artistry involved -- I try to make it each year. Lulu's son was invited but he is going with some friends to the Star trek premiere tonight and will be out late. Oh to be 21 again... NOT! There is nice weather forecast for tomorrow so whatever time not spent at the Rodeo will be spent in the garden.

Working outside this afternoon

Got a gorgeous sun break and taking full advantage of it. Re-potting some squash, dill and the last of the 'maters. I start in 2" containers or flats and move to larger ones as they develop. Tomatoes and Squash plants can form additional roots from the fuzzy hairs on their stem so when I re-pot, I clip off the lower branches and sink the stem deeper and deeper into the dirt. Gives them a nice running start when they finally get in the soil. Got some tobacco seed in the mail a few days ago and going to be germinating that now that the inside potting shelves are free. Also setting the new sewing machine up in the DaveCave(tm). Lulu has been using it for art projects and her son sleeps there when he comes out to visit. Just in for a bio-break and to check email -- back to work for this kid...

Two from Nature

Was reading Nature this morning and found these two articles: First - an interesting find:
Reservoir deep under Ontario holds billion-year-old water
Scientists working 2.4 kilometres below Earth's surface in a Canadian mine have tapped a source of water that has remained isolated for at least a billion years. The researchers say they do not yet know whether anything has been living in it all this time, but the water contains high levels of methane and hydrogen � the right stuff to support life.

Micrometre-scale pockets in minerals billions of years old can hold water that was trapped during the minerals� formation. But no source of free-flowing water passing through interconnected cracks or pores in Earth�s crust has previously been shown to have stayed isolated for more than tens of millions of years.

�We were expecting these fluids to be possibly tens, perhaps even hundreds of millions of years of age,� says Chris Ballentine, a geochemist at the University of Manchester, UK. He and his team carefully captured water flowing through fractures in the 2.7-billion-year-old sulphide deposits in a copper and zinc mine near Timmins, Ontario, ensuring that the water did not come into contact with mine air.
Second - quantum computing:
Google and NASA snap up quantum computer
D-Wave, the small company that sells the world�s only commercial quantum computer, has just bagged an impressive new customer: a collaboration between Google, NASA and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association.

The three organizations have joined forces to install a D-Wave Two, the computer company's latest model, in a facility launched by the collaboration � the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The lab will explore areas such as machine learning � making computers sort and analyse data on the basis of previous experience. This is useful for functions such as language translation, image searches and voice-command recognition. �We actually think quantum machine learning may provide the most creative problem-solving process under the known laws of physics,� says a blog post from Google describing the deal.
The D-Wave website is here. Their Wikipedia entry is here. Their software developers page is here -- there is a simulator written in Python for you to play with. As a hardware geek -- I wonder who fabs their CPUs? They are just a few miles to my North in Burnaby, BC -- might see if I can visit sometime...

Sunspot AR1748 coming towards us

Sunspot AR1748 is still on the limb - another day or two and it will be facing directly at us. Spaceweather is keeping track of it:
Sunspot AR1748 has already unleashed four X-class solar flares, but it might not be finished. The active region continues to grow beneath a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful eruptions. NOAA puts the odds of another X-flare today at 60%.
And this:
A coronal mass ejection (CME) hurled into space by the X1-flare of May 15th might deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on May 17th. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the cloud arrives. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

Obama scandals - a list of twenty more

From Yid with Lid comes this little list:
Since The Media Is Now Paying Attention-Will They Investigate These 20 OTHER OBAMA SCANDALS?
It warms my heart to see the mainstream media doing its job (well somewhat and only with Benghazi, IRS and the AP). Now its time for them to prove their meddle. Since they are awake, alert and paying attention, perhaps they could investigate the twenty scandals ignored since Obama became President in January 2009.

According to the information about the Justice Dept. investigation of the Associated Press, Holder's troops got the phone information of 100 reporters Hey AP this is a great way to get back at the administration assign each of the stories below to a reporter, you still would have 80 others to cover other news.

What about the other news organizations--I am not asking they investigate all twenty, perhaps they could split them up one or two per liberal media organization.

Here's my twenty--I am sure there are others but with these twenty plus the three new ones the mainstream media has enough--they have five years to catch up on:
That was the first five -- fifteen more at the site, all with links to corroborating data. Some big, some not so big but all deserving of an explanation...
From the Boston, MA CBS affiliate:
7 Caught Trespassing At Quabbin Reservoir; Patrols Stepped Up Across State
Shortly after midnight Tuesday, seven people were caught trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir.

State Police say the five men and two women are from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore, and �cited their education and career interests� for being in the area. The men told police they were chemical engineers and recent college graduates.

The Quabbin, in Belchertown, is one of the country�s largest man-made public water supplies. Boston�s drinking water comes from the Quabbin and the Wachusett Reservoirs.

State Police say there were no warrants or advisories on any of the individuals and �there was no evidence that the seven were committing any crime beyond the trespassing.�

All seven were allowed to leave and will be summonsed to court for trespassing. The FBI is investigating and routine checks of public water supplies have been increased following the incident.

The seven individuals currently live in Amherst, Cambridge, Sunderland, Northampton and New York City. Police have not released their names because a court date has not been set.
I know where the Quabbin is -- spent some time walking, biking and boating. For these mokes to be visiting there 30 minutes after midnight is a wee bit suspicious especially given their points of residence and nationalities. Probing, always probing.
From Politico:
Charlie Rangel: Obama answers not enough
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that he believes President Barack Obama owes the American public explanations for both the seizure of Associated Press phone records by the Department of Justice and the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

�I don�t think anyone truly believes that the president has given us a sufficient answer for America, much less the press,� Rangel said on MSNBC�s �Morning Joe.� �I think this is just the beginning and the whole idea of comparing this with Nixon, I really think is just, it doesn�t make much sense. But the president has to come forward and share why he did not alert the press they were going to do this. He has to tell the Americans, including me: What was this national security question? You just can�t raise the flag and expect to salute it every time without any reason and the same thing applies to the IRS.�

Say hello to AR1748

From Spaceweather:
When the week began, the sun hadn't unleashed an X-flare all year long. In only two days, sunspot AR1748 has produced four. The latest X-flare from this active sunspot occurred on May 15th at 0152 UT.
First it was quiet, now it's crackling. And AR1748 has just come around the limb -- it is not even pointed at Earth yet. Are you prepared for the next Carrington Event? Don't forget to watch the movie.
Up through the late 1970's, Abercrombie and Fitch was the place to go when you wanted real outdoors stuff -- major expeditions, elephant guns, fly rods, etc. L.L.Bean and Eddie Bauer were Johny-come-latelys to Abercrombie and Fitch. They were founded in 1892 (New York City) by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra H. Fitch. That high-pitched squeal you are hearing is those two people spinning in their graves. The current management is focusing their sales efforts on crap clothing to people young enough to not know the difference. And they are very careful to defend their brand. Which brings us to this wonderful post at BoingBoing:
Help make Abercrombie and Fitch synonymous with homelessness
As you know, Abercrombie and Fitch is a horrible shitshow of a company whose owner refuses to make large sized clothes so that "unattractive people" can't wear them, and who burns surplus clothing rather than donating it to charity to keep their clothes off poor peoples' backs. So Gkarber has set out to make the brand synonymous with homelessness, by clearing out thrift shops' supply of A&F and bringing it to skid row and giving it to homeless people. He'd like you to participate by clearing out your closets and donating any A&F to your local homeless charity...
Video here I love it -- and if their legal council tries to do a take-down, A&F will experience the powerful effulgence of The Streisand Effect in all of its radiant glory...

Quote of the day

This came from a forum I read:
He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands, and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands, and his head, and his heart, is An Artist.
Attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi but actually from Louis Nizer.

A wonderful sew-sew kind of day today

Along with knife making also comes sheath making. Been getting a bit more into leather working and want to be able to do other things besides knife sheaths (got some ideas for some art crap). Saw an ad in Craigslist for: 1940's Industrial Singer Sewing Machine - $250, emailed, drove out and got it. And yes, it is Industrial! It was Singer 281-x (there are several variations and I will need to physically take a ruler to it to find which one it is) and it was in great shape. I brought along a couple pieces of leather and it sewed right through them like butter. I will need to adjust the stitch length and do a little fine-tuning but this puppy is built like a tank and will serve our needs for years and years to come. Singer had the complete service and operations manual available for PDF download (great company!). When I returned home, Lulu started salivating over it -- she likes to sew but her machine cannot do the heavier fabrics. This thing can power through canvas, nylon webbing, leather. I unloaded it, fixed dinner (grilled Costco frozen Mahi� fillets marinated in Lemon, Ginger and Shoiu along with microwaved frozen corn and some from-scratch smashed baby reds with garlic) and am now sitting down to surf -- was working in the garden repotting 'maters this morning. They are now ready to put in the ground.

One year and nine months

It has been one year and nine months since Lulu and I first met. Things are still wonderful -- Lulu is my best friend, my partner, my muse and my love. Looking forward to spending the rest of my life with her. The fact that her son is very much into (and good at) music and blacksmithing is pure gravy.

Pants on Fire - Obama and Terrorism

From The Washington Post's Fact Checker:
Obama�s claim he called Benghazi an �act of terrorism�
The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.�
-�President Obama, remarks at a news conference, May 13, 2013
Once again, it appears that we must parse a few presidential words. We went through this question at length during the 2012 election, but perhaps a refresher course is in order.

Notably, during a debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, President Obama said that he immediately told the American people that the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya �was an act of terror.� But now he says he called it �an act of terrorism.�

Some readers may object to this continuing focus on words, but presidential aides spend a lot of time on words. Words have consequences. Is there a difference between �act of terror� and �act of terrorism�?
Emphasis mine -- actually, there is and it is quite a big one. The Washington Post points out the lies and gives Obama Four Pinocchios. I would expect no less from this President.

Quote of the Day

If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed.
--Mark Twain
It seems that this is now more than ever...

The IRS Scandal

Delicious -- this has every indication of being a biggie going right to the top -- Eric Holder if not higher. It is not just the IRS targeting conservative and Tea Party groups and delaying their applications for 501c3 status. Oh noooo.... From Breitbart's Big Government:
Progressive Group: IRS Gave Us Conservative Groups' Confidential Docs
The progressive-leaning investigative journalism group ProPublica says the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office that targeted and harassed conservative tax-exempt groups during the 2012 election cycle gave the progressive group nine confidential applications of conservative groups whose tax-exempt status was pending.

The commendable admission lends further evidence to the lengths the IRS went during an election cycle to silence tea party and limited government voices.

ProPublica says the documents the IRS gave them were �not supposed to be made public�:
The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year... In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved�meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)
Some lower functionairy will take the fall and get a cushy appointment somewhere else a year from now. Business as usual. And it's not just the conservatives -- from Politico:
Israel-related groups also pointed to IRS scrutiny
The same Internal Revenue Service office that singled out Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny also challenged Israel-related organizations, at least one of which filed suit over the agency�s handling of its application for tax-exempt status.

The trouble for the Israel-focused groups seems to have had different origins than that experienced by conservative groups, but at times the effort seems to have been equally ham-handed.
Wonder what else is lurking in the IRS's closet?
So how is Governor Christie working out for you people? From station WNYC:
How New Jersey Transit Failed Sandy's Test
On the weekend before Sandy thundered into New Jersey, transit officials studied a map showing bright green and orange blocks. On the map, the area where most New Jersey Transit trains were being stored showed up as orange � or dry. So keeping the trains in its centrally-located Meadows Maintenance Complex and the nearby Hoboken yards seemed prudent.

And it might have been a good plan. Except the numbers New Jersey Transit used to create the map were wrong.

If officials had entered the right numbers, they would have predicted what actually happened: a storm surge that engulfed hundreds of rail cars, some of them brand new, costing over $120 million in damage and thrusting the system�s passengers into months of frustrating delays.

But the fate of NJ Transit�s trains � over a quarter of the agency�s fleet - didn�t just hang on one set of wrong inputs. It followed years of missed warnings, failures to plan, and lack of coordination under Governor Chris Christie, who has expressed ambivalence about preparing for climate change while repeatedly warning New Jerseyans not to underestimate the dangers of severe storms.
This is a long article outlining the differences in New York City's handling of Tropical Storm Sandy and the efforts of New Jersey. The kicker -- WNYC and another newspaper asked to see a copy of the New Jersey Operations Plan (the NYC transit system is known as the MTA):
�For the general public, looking at the numbers and looking at the forecasts, they might not have believed it because they had never lived through something like that,� says MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg. �But for those of us involved in planning and operating and preparing the system, the numbers are the numbers. Nobody�s going to sit here and look at a scary forecast and say, that�s never happened, we don�t have to worry about that. We worry -- that�s our job.�

The MTA plan for severe storms is detailed in five binders, each three inches thick. The agency also provided its timeline and plans for moving its trains.

NJ Transit�s Weinstein testified that his agency put together its storm plan long before Sandy.

�There was a very detailed plan complied by the railroad -- not the Friday before the storm, but in the wake of Irene on where to store the equipment,� he said. �There were lengthy calls on where the equipment is going and it�s all documented and detailed.�

WNYC and The Record asked, separately, for documentation of NJ Transit�s hurricane preparedness plans. Both news organizations received the same reply: a three-and-a-half page document with the words �New Jersey Rail Operations Hurricane Plan� atop the first page.

Everything else was blacked out.
A good read and a perfect example of how (and how not) to plan for future events. I do have a major nit: Storms the size and scope of Sandy are not rare and not unusual. We have had frequent hurricane and tropical storm landfalls on the East Coast (New England, New York, New Jersey). Sandy was larger in diameter than most but not out of the ordinary. Global Warming is not the cause.

Why am I not surprised

I didn't post about the heinous Ariel Castro -- the Cleveland, OH man who kidnapped three local women and kept them captive for over ten years. Enough other people were wallowing in that cess-pit. Something not mentioned in the news just broke today. From Oleg Atbashian at American Thinker:
Ariel Castro, Cleveland Kidnapper, Is a Registered Democrat
According to voter registration records, Ariel Castro, the Cleveland kidnapper, is a registered Democrat. He was also the alleged leader among the three Castro brothers, who were arrested this week, and the owner of the house at 2207 Seymour Ave., where the three abducted local women had been kept in captivity for over a decade.

Why is this important? Whenever a crime or a scandal captures national attention, the pattern in the mainstream media is to either identify the culprit as a Republican or hold silence -- in which case we can rest assured that the culprit is a Democrat.

When the identity or the party affiliation is yet unknown, the pattern is to speculate publicly about the possibility of the criminal being a conservative, Christian, white, Republican, and a Tea Party member -- and never that he could be a Hispanic Democrat voter playing bass in a meringue band.
I never cease to be amazed by people like this -- there is no graceful exit strategy to their crimes. They should be the first to see this but yet they continue.

Our government at work

It is not just this president -- the whole thing needs to be rebooted. From Associated Press:
Gov't obtains wide AP phone records in probe
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
A lot more at the story -- this is just the briefest clip to whet your appetite. Also, this story went live at May. 13 7:50 PM EDT which is about two and a half hours ago my time. It has already garnered 2,300+ comments and 6,500+ tweets. Also in the not-so-news category. The Internet Tax bill that was just voted into law was heavily funded by a number of corporations. These corporations spent 40X to 1X for the passage of this law. This vote was bought. Raw numbers from MapLight: For Washington State, our two Senators had the following "campaign contributions". Maria Cantwell - pro $384,481, con $3,738 Patty Murray - pro $616,623, con $19,808 This is not chump change -- in Senator Murray's case, she got over a half-million dollars in "campaign contributions" to vote yes on S. 743 - Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013. All this to spike smaller internet businesses from growing to where they could threaten the established cronies. It is also curious (NOT) to look at the list of entities that supported this bill and to see just how many Unions are represented -- Teachers, Police and Firefighters, State and Local Government employee, Automotive, Labor Unions -- this is a huge number for something that will not really affect the outcome of their businesses. How does an internet sales tax affect a Teacher or a Firefighter or an Automotive worker except making personal sales a bit more expensive. This is buying votes. This is a large captive block of people whose involuntary dues are being spent on crass political manipulations.

Heavy weather

Just got a front move through here -- raining cats and dogs and the power bumped twice. Checked the big generator two weeks ago and it is good to go. Hope the internet holds up for a while longer...

Heh - a liberal just got mugged

There is this old saying:
A Liberal is a Conservative who hasn't been mugged yet.
A perfect example over at Stormbringer:
�The View� co-host Sherri Shepherd revealed that she experienced a frightening home invasion scare that terrified her son Jeffrey and husband Lamar Sally and vowed: �We�re going to get a gun!�

The 46-year-old former stand-up comic had a scary wake-up call at 1 a.m. when her New York City home�s alarm system went off declaring, �Warning! Intruder, get out of the house!�

Here's what Sherri tweeted @SherriEShepherd:
Protecting my family is my priority. I never want to stand in my son's room again and not have something to defend he & I. That was scary - 1:50 PM - 25 Apr 2013

Our home alarm went off. @SalfromtheD went thru the house but as I stood over my crying & scared son, I realized I had nothing to defend us - 1:52 PM - 25 Apr 2013

All I had was a wicker trash basket. A baseball bat can be wrestled from you AND the person has to get close enough for you to swing it - 1:53 PM - 25 Apr 2013

I held Jeffrey and prayed for protection, but it also would've been nice to be holding somethng in my hand in case there was an intruder - 1:54 PM - 25 Apr 2013
Welcome to the real world Sherri. Go to a range, get some good training and advice and practice regularly. This is what the Second Amendment is all about.

Carne Bellingham

I am sitting here drooling with delight - Bellingham is getting an honest-to-God butcher shop. Chad Johnson ran a kickstarter campaign earlier this year, raised over double what he was asking, has secured a space and plans to open this year. We still have a good part of our half-cow from Del-Fox meats but the idea of being able to pick up a specific cut on one of my trips into town is very very nice. And they plan to offer Charcuterie too. Yummmmmmm!!!

The stupid - it burns. Literally

From the Pittsburgh, PA CBS affiliate:
W. Va. Man Electrocuted After Shooting Down Power Line To Steal Copper
Police in Fayette County say a man was electrocuted when he picked up a live power line that he had shot down in order to steal copper from it.

Fayette County Sheriff Steve Kessler says the man�s body was found Wednesday in Thurmond.

Kessler says the man and an accomplice planned to strip the line of its copper wiring to later sell as scrap metal.

Kessler says the man was killed instantly when he picked up the power line. His name wasn�t released pending notification of relatives.

Media outlets report the accomplice was charged with an attempt to commit a felony, conspiracy to commit a felony and disruption of a public utility.
Being electrocuted hurts like hell -- probably one of the more painful ways to die. The joke is that power lines do not have copper in them any more -- they are all either aluminum or aluminum with a steel core (for tensile strength).

A goat-free household

I do love them but they killed a number of my trees, stripping off the phloem and cambium during springtime when the sweet sap is flowing. They are now headed off to a large cattle and sheep farm south of here. Just have the three llamas and not planning on getting any more critters for a while. Unless I find a good riding mule or two. I would like that.

800+ new Saints today

I am liking this new Pope. From My Way/Associated Press:
Pope Francis gives church hundreds of new saints
Pope Francis on Sunday gave the Catholic church new saints, including hundreds of 15th-century martyrs who were beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, as he led his first canonization ceremony Sunday in a packed St. Peter's Square.

The "Martyrs of Otranto" were 813 Italians who were slain in the southern Italian city in 1480 for defying demands by Turkish invaders who overran the citadel to renounce Christianity.
And he did not overlook Latin America:
The first pontiff from South America also gave Colombia its first saint: a nun who toiled as a teacher and spiritual guide to indigenous people in the 20th century.

With Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos among the VIPS, the Argentine pope held out Laura of St. Catherine of Siena Montoya y Upegui as a potential source of inspiration to the country's peace process, attempted after decades-long conflict between rebels and government forces.

Francis prayed that "Colombia's beloved children continue to work for peace and just development of the country."

He also canonized another Latin American woman. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, a Mexican who dedicated herself to nursing the sick, helped Catholics avoid persecution during a government crackdown of the faith in the 1920s.
Good. I love his stance on Islam. The Christian Church has certainly had its share of violence but we have reformed. The Islamic leaders need to call for this as well.

Our invasive government - a two-fer

First, from Wired:
Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform
The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.

Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf) is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named �photo tool,� a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver�s license or other state-issued photo ID.
Second, from Americans for Tax Reform:
Obamacare: Taxpayers Must Report Personal Health ID Info to IRS
When Obamacare�s individual mandate takes effect in 2014, all Americans who file income tax returns must complete an additional IRS tax form.

The new form will require disclosure of a taxpayer�s personal identifying health information in order to determine compliance with the Affordable Care Act�s individual mandate.

As confirmed by IRS testimony to the tax-writing House Committee on Ways and Means, �taxpayers will file their tax returns reporting their health insurance coverage, and/or making a payment�.
This post has over 1,100 comments along the lines of:

To ALL of it.

Good luck putting about 70 - 80 million of us in jail.
2014 is not that far away...

A bit of fun in the Pacific Northwest

Port Angeles is a medium-sized city on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula. I got my Shiloh Shepherd from a breeder there. Went out there for an auction last year and it is the gateway to Hurricane Ridge -- gorgeous photography. Port Angeles is also home to a Mr. Barry Alan Swegle From the Peninsula News:
Bulldozer rampage near Port Angeles destroys homes, cars
Neighbors, family members and friends Saturday were picking up the pieces of homes and other property strewn across a Gales Addition neighborhood after a nearly lifelong resident of the area allegedly cut a swath of destruction through the area with a logging bulldozer Friday.

The estimated 10-minute rampage, allegedly induced by a long-simmering property-line dispute, damaged four homes, a pickup truck, a boat and multiple sheds and other outbuildings, in addition to toppling a Clallam County Public Utility District power pole, knocking out power to an estimated thousands at about noon Friday.

�It's just unbelievable,� said 74-year-old Dan Davis, whose two houses were torn up.

Authorities said Davis' neighbor, Barry Alan Swegle � who lived on North Davis Street � did the damage because he was angry with his neighbors, especially Davis.
Swegle didn't rack up quite the damage that Marvin John Heemeyer did but it was enough to put him away for a while.

Photography is Not a Crime

Public officials are tending to be a lot more 'protective' of their territories and do not want people photographing otherwise public buildings. Here is one such example from Photography is Not a Crime:
Arizona Man Winds Up Jailed, Unemployed and Homeless After Photographing Courthouse
Raymond Michael Rodden was bored this week, so he drove to downtown Phoenix and began walking around, snapping photos of the federal courthouse and the state capitol with his iPhone.

The 33-year-old man ended up jailed, unemployed and homeless; his iPhone, iPad and Macintosh laptop confiscated as �evidence.�

All because they found it odd he was taking photos at 3 a.m.

�They told me they�re going to keep my computer because they want to see my search history,� he said Saturday evening in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.

�They wanted to know if I belonged to any extremist groups like the national socialist movement or sovereign citizens. They wanted to know what kind of books I checked out of the library.�
A lot more at the site -- major case of over-reaction. Raymond was using his boss's car and the Police tore it apart looking for explosives. I hope that Raymond gets a couple million from the City of Phoenix for this.

Good little drone

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We have all the bad publicity about drones in the media but here is a wonderful story. From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
Single Vehicle Rollover � Saskatoon RCMP Search for Injured Driver with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
On 2013-05-09 at 00:20 hours, Saskatoon RCMP received a call of a single vehicle rollover on Highway # 5 about 5 km east of St. Denis, Saskatchewan.

RCMP, along with St Denis and Vonda Fire Rescue and EMS from MD Ambulance, responded to the scene. Upon arriving at the scene, emergency responders could not locate the vehicle�s occupants. The examination of the scene indicated that at least one person had been in the vehicle and was injured. A ground search was conducted within 200 meters of the scene, but searchers were unable to locate anyone.
At 03:00, Cpl. Green launched the Dragan Flyer X4-ES (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle � UAV) equipped with a FLIR. Once the UAV was in the air a search was initiated in the area of the last known location of the driver. Three heat signatures showed up on the screen of the FLIR. Cpl. Green directed Vonda Fire Department members towards the first heat signature located in the trees 200 meters from the last known GPS location. Fire /Rescue members located the driver at this first location, curled up in a ball at the base of a tree next to snow bank. He was unresponsive and was quickly brought out to the road by Fire/Rescue and placed in an ambulance and was transported to hospital in Saskatoon. Without the UAV and FLIR, searchers would not have been able to locate the driver until daylight.
Saved his life! Good little drone! Here is an interesting comment and video from the drone's manufacturer - Draganfly:
To our knowledge, this is the first time that a life may have been saved due to the help of a sUAS helicopter.
Glad that the Saskatoon police had that technology...
From Bj�rn Lomborg writing at Anthony's:
Lomborg: Californians are paying ridiculous subsidies for electric cars
I�ve said electric cars get subsidized too much. Turns out I was wrong.

In California, they are subsidized ridiculously too much.

Tesla gets $45,000 for each car it sells in state and federal subsidies. The Tesla S starts at $69,000, so about 40% of its total cost is subsidies (Tesla isn�t making any big profits).

This is because the California Air Resources Board has mandated that zero emission vehicles should comprise 15% of new-car sales by 2025 � up from less than 1% now. This forces other car companies that can�t comply to pay for credits from Tesla.

�At the end of the day, other carmakers are subsidizing Tesla,� says one analyst.

Remember, the Tesla avoids perhaps 10 tons of CO2 (more likely, with its large battery pack it avoids nothing or even *increases* total CO2 emissions). That means Americans pay at least $5,000 per ton of CO2 avoided � about a thousand times more than the price in the European Trading System.

It also avoids local air pollution (which is presumably the Air Resources Board�s objective), but over the entire lifetime of the car, this is worth around $500.
More at the site including links to corroborating data. The CARB is a perfect example of a bureaucracy that has overstepped it's original charter. The L.A. smog is no more, cars run a lot cleaner. You did an excellent job but now it is time to close up shop and go home.


Rain today and forecast for the next five days. The temp is 55�F outside and I have the furnace running. I had ordered some tobacco seeds from a vendor so I will be planting those today -- got some artificial potting medium yesterday and have a heat pad and some growing lights so will start them indoors. Nice to see that the hoop houses are making a big difference in the temperature -- have not measured it but it feels noticeably warmer inside than out. Waiting for some people to show up (finding a new home for my sheep and goats).
The Bernankester said so -- from Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest:
Fed Chief Warns Homebuyers: Time To Lock In Those Low Rates
Central bankers make it their business to be Delphic most of the time, but Ben Bernanke�s recent remarks drive us toward two conclusions. �In light of the current low interest rate environment, we are watching particularly closely for instances of �reaching for yield� and other forms of excessive risk-taking, which may affect asset prices and their relationships with fundamentals,� he said, according to the FT.

Now, first, with many US stock indices at all time highs despite slow economic growth, this is something of a yellow flag. If the Fed gets out of the business of inflating the stock market, equity investing is not going to be quite as much fun.

Second, if you�ve been toying with the idea of refinancing your home or taking out a mortgage, it�s time to get in gear. US interest rates seem headed up after their long, sedated nap. Locking in a nice long term mortgage at some of the lowest rates since time began seems like a good idea, and if Bernanke is right, these rates won�t last.
So the low-interest bubble is about to crash and they are marketing it as yet another 'easing'. Only problem is that the interest we pay on our debt to China is pegged in part to our internal interest rates -- if this raises, we will be further in debt to our Asian enablers. Interesting times indeed...

Stephen Hawking veering into politics

Stephen Hawking is right up there in my pantheon but he is being quite the asshat these days. From Shmuley Boteach writing at The New York Sun:
How Stephen Hawking Abandoned Einstein and Turned on Israel
Has Stephen Hawking really left the company of Albert Einstein, an avowed Zionist who worked to create the State of Israel, and replaced him with the august company of Elvis Costello and other Israel boycotters?

In 1998, I hosted Hawking for a lecture at Oxford, where I introduced him to 1,000 students. He could not have been more humble and approachable. Aside from his lecture, delivered through his voice synthesizer, on string theory � little of which I understood but which my students assured me was �brilliant� � I remember his love of babies and practical jokes.

Our daughter Rochel Leah had just been born and Hawking and his wife asked us if he could hold her. I can still picture in my mind how his wife took the baby, placed her on his lap, and then wrapped his enfeebled arms around the baby, at whom he stared with a huge grin for minutes. He was enraptured.

After the lecture was over and as we walked Hawking to his car, he suddenly raced off in his wheelchair to Haagen-Dazs where we consumed in ice cream. His wife chuckled that he loved giving his hosts the slip as he indulged his childlike spirit. All who heard and met him were deeply impressed with his humility and accessibility.

And now this, digging a knife publicly into Israel�s back.

Why would one of the world�s leading academic minds condemn the only democracy in the Middle East? Why would he attack a country, situated in a region of such deep misogyny, that celebrates women succeeding in every area of academic, professional, and political life? Why would Hawking pounce on a nation who, with neighbors like Hamas that routinely murder gays on false accusations of collaboration, grants homosexuals every equal right? And why would he condemn a country whose Arab citizens are the freest and least afraid in the entire Middle East?
I would take a look at his minders -- he requires 24/7 custodial maintenance and I would bet that a bunch of progressives have inveigled their way into his inner circle and are feeding him crap. Sad. Let us not forget the dichotomy between the Jewish and Muslim culture -- Muslims have been awarded ten Nobel Prizes, the Jews have been awarded around 200 (I have had a long day and am too lazy to count). Quite the difference between the two cultures especially when you consider the sheer number of Muslims and the scarcity of Jewish people. For anyone to speak bad of Israel speaks loudly for the poverty of their own souls...

Fun photos

From Wired:
Computer Guts Become Eerie Landscapes in Ghosts in the Machine
Mark Crummett thinks modern technology is beautiful. To him the devices we�ve built, such as computers, are not only functional, they�re aesthetically appealing. Especially on the inside.

�I like the idea that [technology] looks the way it does because it has to look that way,� he says. �A hard drive is made out of round and shiny material because of what it has to do and how it has to do it.�

Crummett says he�s tried to highlight that beauty in a series of photographs he calls Ghosts in the Machine. He�s placed model railroad figurines inside the guts of old computers and other contraptions, making the processors and transistors form a kind of otherworldly cityscape. Computer fan vents become postmodern architecture. Motherboards become strange new ecosystems.

�These people are surrounded by technology, technology has become their environment,� he says. �And that�s where we are too. Technology has become so integrated that it�s second nature to us.�

Crummett says he uses model railroad figurines because they�re the right size (.75 inches tall) but also because they�re dressed like they came out of the 1940s. Placed in the middle of a computer they become time travelers.

Many of the figures have their arms raised because they�re supposed to be working on locomotives. Crummett says he likes that posture because it gives them a sort of spiritual quality.

Sprinkled into the photos are some odd characters, like a bunny or a man in a hazmat suit. The bunny is a metaphor for a glitch, or a virus, he says. Something that might destroy your computer.
Really whimsical and sweet stuff. Thanks to BoingBoing for the link.

Long day

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The ham radio show was fun -- met some people from my area and looked at a lot of cool equipment. Came home without anything though -- the items I was looking for were either trashed or overpriced. Swung through Bellingham and got the pressure canner -- it was an especially nice deal as the store was running a Mother's Day 20% off on all kitchenware. Picked up the canner and a bunch of boxes of Ball jars. I was a bit concerned about the price but checked Amazon and the local store was only $40 above the Amazon price and with the 20% off, I saved money. The hops rhizomes were a bust but did get some fresh yeast. Had dinner in town and then stopped for two pints at my favorite brewpub. Also picked up the last of the plants for the garden -- some cukes, peppers, squash and a few more 'maters (some Romas and a couple more heirlooms).

Lurch as Sec. State

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Not having himself a fun time -- from Michael Ledeen at PJ Media:
The Humiliation of John Kerry
The secretary of state was back in Washington on Thursday, begging the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to take it easy on the poor Iranians. Enough with the sanctions, he said. Secretary Kerry has joined decades of his predecessors, buying into the latest version of the 30-year old illusion that we can make a deal with the Tehran regime if only we deal properly and humbly with them. He said there was a �window of opportunity� for a couple of months. It doesn�t much matter if he really believes this legend, or is following instructions from President Obama, who is still pursuing this unholy grail despite five years of swift kicks in his behind. The one he so loves to lead with. Either way, it�s an embarrassment.

But then our new secretary of state has great flair for embarrassing us. In Obama�s community of narcissists, Kerry is a bit different. He excels at self-humiliation, as he showed in his recent sortie to Moscow, where Czar Putin kept him waiting for many hours before sparing some time to �discuss� Syria and related topics, no doubt including Iran. As per the British Daily Mail, �Russian President Vladimir Putin kept Kerry waiting three hours before their meeting at the Kremlin on Tuesday and continuously fiddled with his pen as the top American diplomat spoke about the ongoing crisis in Syria.�

I�m told that when Kerry landed in Russia, he was told a) that his hotel rooms weren�t ready, and b) that a military parade made it impossible for the Americans to drive to the Kremlin anyway, so he�d just have to wait. Add two hours (check-in delay at the hotel) to the Mail version.

Many years ago, I traveled abroad on behalf of Henry Kissinger, by then a simple citizen, and I spoke with some important people. I was instructed never to wait more than twenty minutes, and on two occasions I informed the important person�s assistant that I had waited fifteen minutes, and would have to leave in five more. Nothing personal, just a condition of my employment. Both times the important person appeared almost immediately. And I was not a cabinet member, I was a messenger boy of a famous�but former�high U.S. official. But the American secretary of state couldn�t bear the thought of returning to Washington without even talking to Putin, and Kerry waited.
Pooty-poot is not by any stretch of the imagination an idiot. He saw Kerry during Kerry's run for POTUS and he sees him now as Secretary of State. All hat, no cattle. The guy has great hair but he is a feckless moron. Out of touch with reality. Some good comments to read too...

Oh this sounds like fun!!!

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From The Slaughterhouse:
It�s the end of the world as we know it�Are you ready?
Join your friends for an intense adventure as you clear the SlaughterHouse Boiler Room of Real Live Zombies. You will be equipped with top of the line Paintball Gear and weapons to eliminate all Zombie threats. Protect your group by taking out as many Zombies as you can. Complete your mission with your life pack intact, you win. Lose your life pack, you lose.

You will go through safety, weapon instruction and mission ops training with your team before your mission starts. Once it does, game on! Clear the zone of all threats and complete your groups �Target Acquisition� tasks to move on. But watch your back, the Zombies are everywhere.

Don�t just play a video game, LIVE IT!
Some investors purchased an old slaughterhouse in Tuscon, Arizona and have changed it over to an entertainment venue. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Justice is served

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From Blur-Brain:
Justice Served: Malcolm Shabazz Murdered In Mexico
Malcolm Lateef Shabazz, 28, the grandson of Malcolm X who murdered his grandmother Betty Shabazz back 1997 by setting her on fire was killed in Tijuana, Mexico yesterday.

Reports are unclear how he died, either the result of a gunshot wound or from being thrown off a building. Likewise, reports of what lead to the killing remain unclear, the current truth is that he was the victim of a robbery and beating.
His rap sheet is a lot longer than just murdering granny. Good riddance to bad trash. Malcom X was a great man, his grandson is just entitled trash.

A big day tomorrow

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Driving about an hour south of here to visit this Amateur Radio Show: SCARC 2013 22nd ANNUAL Electronic Flea Market and Hamfest Gone down there the last couple of years off and on. Not looking for anything special -- some antenna stuff, maybe a meter or two. See what is available and network with other local hams and CERT types. Swinging by a local homebrew store to pick up some hops rhizomes -- I have three growing here but I want a few more types. Then off to a local outdoors store -- I want to start canning a lot more this year and the garden is taking off like gangbusters so there will be a lot of produce. Looking at getting a pressure canner and have not found a good used one locally.
First - from The Associated Press:
IRS apologizes for targeting tea party groups
The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.

The agency � led at the time by a Bush administration appointee � blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware. But that wasn't good enough for Republicans in Congress, who are conducting several investigations and asked for more.
That is a bald-faced lie. If it was limited to a few low-level people, the complaints would center around the locale of that offices jurisdiction. This discrimination is nation-wide - about 300 groups with 75 being given the royal treatment (deep audits, etc...) Second - from Stephen F. Hayes writing at The Weekly Standard:
The Benghazi Scandal Grows
CIA director David Petraeus was surprised when he read the freshly rewritten talking points an aide had emailed him in the early afternoon of Saturday, September 15. One day earlier, analysts with the CIA�s Office of Terrorism Analysis had drafted a set of unclassified talking points policymakers could use to discuss the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. But this new version​ �- ​produced with input from senior Obama administration policymakers​ -� ​was a shadow of the original.
A three-page article -- people like Stephen are just digging into the scandal of Benghazi. When it happened, I knew that it was no good and this is being proven.

Off to town today

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Spent a couple wonderful days in the garden but having to sub for an employee today (her daughters graduation) so doing the Friday shopping run to town. Posting will resume later tonight.

And another liberal wakes up

A wonderful read from the London Daily Mail:
Why the Left hates families: MELANIE PHIILLIPS reveals how the selfish sneers of Guardianistas made her see how the Left actively fosters � and revels in � family breakdown...
For the Left, I am the target of deepest hatred.

For my trenchant views, expressed in this newspaper, they call me �insane�, �reactionary�, �racist�, a �Nazi�, a �shroudwaver�, a �witch� and a �warmonger�.

I have been accused of �unmatched depths of ignorance and bigotry� and being the �queen of mean�.

It was even suggested (in a particularly extreme spasm of hyperbole) that I eat broken bottles and kill rats with my teeth.

This resort to crude insult against anyone who dares to challenge their shibboleths is typical of the Left.

It doesn�t argue its case. It simply tries to shut down debate by bullying its targets and labelling them as extremists and enemies of humanity in order to frighten people away from listening to them.

But they reserve a special loathing for me. This is not just because I refuse to be cowed.

It�s because I was once one of them, one of the elect, a believer.

I come from the kind of family in which it was simply unthinkable to vote Conservative. For my parents, the Tory Party represented the boss class, while Labour supported the little man � people like us.
And then...
To my colleagues, there was virtually no question that the poor were the victims of circumstances rather than being accountable for their own behaviour and that the state was a wholly benign actor in the lives of individuals.

It never occurred to us that there could be another way of looking at the world.

Above all, we knew we were on the side of the angels, while across the barricades hatchet-faced Right-wingers represented the dark forces of human nature and society that we were all so proud to be against.

But then Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979; and although at The Guardian it was a given that she was a heartless, narrow-minded, suburban nightmare, I found myself listening, despite myself, to a point of view I had not heard before.
A good example of the dichotomy between the left and right can be found with these two entries for Melanie Phillips. First, from Wikipedia:
Melanie Phillips (born 4 June 1951) is a British journalist, author, publisher and co-founder of EM: Melanie Phillips Electric Media. She started on the left of the political spectrum, writing for The Guardian and New Statesman. During the 1990s she moved to the right, and currently writes for the Daily Mail, covering political and social issues from a social conservative perspective. Phillips defines herself as a liberal who has "been mugged by reality".
Second, from RationalWiki:
Melanie Phillips, also known as "Mad Mel," is an ex-communist cum-right-wing battle-axe batshit insane British journalist. And that's putting it nicely. A former writer for The Guardian, she now predominantly writes for The Daily Mail and describes herself as "a liberal who has been mugged by reality."
A tip of the hat to The Barrister at Maggie's Farm who also mentions David Horowitz' excellent Radical Son and David Gelernter's Drawing Life. I would also add David Mamet's The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture -- an expansion of his epic 2008 post at the Village Voice (posted here).

NAMM Oddities 2013

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Every January, the National Association of Music Merchants holds their trade show in Anaheim, California. This is one of the two large trade shows where new musical instruments and gadgets are shown for the first time. A couple of months later, NAMM attendee Barry Wood publishes some of the odd items that he runs across. His 2013 edition of NAMM Oddities is up. Check it out...
From The Hill:
McCain working on bill to allow for 'a la carte' cable TV packages
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is working on legislation that would pressure cable and satellite TV providers to allow their customers to pick and choose the channels they pay for, his office confirmed on Wednesday.

Consumers have long complained about the rising costs of cable TV packages and having to pay for dozens or even hundreds of channels just to gain access to the few that they watch.

But McCain's legislation, which he is expected to introduce in the coming days, will likely face furious opposition from both the TV broadcasters and cable providers.

McCain, the former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, pushed a similar "a la carte" cable TV bill in 2006, but the legislation found little traction at the time.
I would love this. My broadband is not sufficient to support streaming media and there is zero television reception. I only watch ten channels or so -- I still have to pay for the other 290 that I never watch. Emailing my representatives on this...

CO2 - the Gas of Life

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Great piece in the Wall Street Journal:
Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer: In Defense of Carbon Dioxide
Of all of the world's chemical compounds, none has a worse reputation than carbon dioxide. Thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control of energy production, the conventional wisdom about carbon dioxide is that it is a dangerous pollutant. That's simply not the case. Contrary to what some would have us believe, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit the increasing population on the planet by increasing agricultural productivity.

The cessation of observed global warming for the past decade or so has shown how exaggerated NASA's and most other computer predictions of human-caused warming have been�and how little correlation warming has with concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. As many scientists have pointed out, variations in global temperature correlate much better with solar activity and with complicated cycles of the oceans and atmosphere. There isn't the slightest evidence that more carbon dioxide has caused more extreme weather.

The current levels of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, approaching 400 parts per million, are low by the standards of geological and plant evolutionary history. Levels were 3,000 ppm, or more, until the Paleogene period (beginning about 65 million years ago). For most plants, and for the animals and humans that use them, more carbon dioxide, far from being a "pollutant" in need of reduction, would be a benefit. This is already widely recognized by operators of commercial greenhouses, who artificially increase the carbon dioxide levels to 1,000 ppm or more to improve the growth and quality of their plants.
A nice description of photosynthesys and the role of CO2 follows. Schmitt and Happer?
Mr. Schmitt, an adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was an Apollo 17 astronaut and a former U.S. senator from New Mexico. Mr. Happer is a professor of physics at Princeton University and a former director of the office of energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Why yes, these two people actually do know what they are talking about. Tip of the hat to Anthony for the link.

Senate Bill 744 - immigration

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Looks like a really well thought out piece of legislation. NOT From CNS News:
Bill Gives DHS Sec. 'Virtually Unlimited Discretion to Waive Any Manner of Crimes,' ICE Council Warns Congress
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) entered a letter from law enforcement officials nationwide warning of the dangers of the immigration bill S.744 into the judiciary committee record today.

The letter To Congress from the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council of the American Federation of Government Employees Affiliated with AFL-CIO warns of the discretionary power the bill gives to �political appointees� and takes away from law enforcers.
Disgusting. DHS now gets law enforcement powers to go along with their billions of bullets. Talk about empire building with no benefit to the citizens of the United States.

A bit of labwork

From August 2008 comes this gem of labwork from Org Prep Daily:

This phosphine will get you fired
Beautiful asymmetric transition metal-catalysed chemistry with phosphine ligands chiral on phosphorus dates back to Knowles and Mislow. But these P-stereogenic homochiral phosphines are usualy harder to make, so they were eventually supplanted by ligands with chirality on carbon. As a freshman I used to work for a young assistant prof in Prague - and since I was very interested in asymmetric synthesis, he suggested that I could do a thesis work with him on these ligands; We would put some chiral but racemic phosphine building block onto optically active binaphtyl piece derived from BINOL, and we would get BINAP-like ligands with both axial chirality and chirality on phosphorus. We would then try to separate the stereoisomers and see which one worked better in Rh and Ru-catalysed asym hydrogenations, and we would try to interconvert the stereoisomers to see how the kinetic vs thermodynamic induction control looks like, etc. (Chiral phosphines are conformationally labile on phosphorus above 100C whereas the 2,2′-disubst binaphtyl pieces are fairly stable and should not racemize).

The author describes the synthesys and then makes mention of the odor:

But I never encountered anything as nauseating or alien like PhePHMe: The memory is stil with me - the most sickly and sweetish smell of rancid gasoline combined with rotten water melons, with undertones of stale sweat, pig carcass, a hint of garlic, moldy oranges, russian-made aftershave and a cheap household air freshener - its a whole package, and rather sweet one - like isonitriles or cyclopentadiene but magnified thousand times. A whiff of that thing and you feel that your nose just suffered a stroke and will hopefully die and peal off so that you never smell that thing again. Inconceivable - and it does not get any better when wearing off; quite opposite in fact - just like with butyric or isovaleric acid, the reek is developing a more alarming depth and complexity with the dilution.

I had a run-in with Butyric Acid and that memory is still very much with me. Cannot imagine something worse...

A good start

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Wisconsin Assembly approves junk food stamps bill
A bill aimed at encouraging food stamp recipients in Wisconsin to eat healthier by limiting the amount of benefits that could be spent on junk food won approval from the state Assembly on Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Dean Kaufert of Neenah, would require people enrolled in Wisconsin's food stamps program, or FoodShare, to spend at least two-thirds of their monthly benefits on designated items such as milk, bread and vegetables. They could spend their remaining benefits on any authorized food. The measure, which does not define junk food, cleared the Assembly on a 68-26 vote and now heads to the Senate.

Kaufert said recipients should use food stamps responsibly.

"I am not banning anything or changing the eligibility," Kaufert told lawmakers. "But we should provide some guidelines when it's paid by taxpayer dollars."
I see this all the time at the store -- most of the people buy well but there are those that get abject crap. A testament to how resilient the human body really is...

Doing business

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From The Washington Examiner:
Top 10 states for business all led by Republican governors
Chief Executive magazine releases its ninth annual survey of CEO's opinions about the best and worst states for business � and Republicans are governing in all of the top 10.

�In the minds of most leaders, a state�s friendliness is closely aligned with its tax and regulatory regime. Similarly, workforce quality also measures the perceived cooperativeness of workers with management, as well as the people�s general work ethic and education attainment,� the report write-up states.

Only three Republicans govern in the bottom 10 states � Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey (ranked 46th), Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan (ranked 44th), and Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania (ranked 42nd).

California is ranked at 50, the worst state for business in America.
Not surprised -- if I were 40 years younger, I would be moving to Texas or Florida.
Talk about bias -- from the Campus Reform website:
�Serious intellectual & mental problems�: Another USC prof caught on video slamming Bush, berating conservatives
A second professor at the University of Southern California (USC) has been caught on video using his political science class as a platform for bashing conservatives.

In the video, Political Science Professor Richard Dekmejian claims former President George W. Bush suffered from mental instability and stupidity during his time in office.

Bush was bound by �serious intellectual and mental problems,� he said before going on to claim Bush must have been �stupid or lying� to initiate Operation Iraqi Freedom for the reason of promoting democracy.

Dekmejian also alleges Bush dodged the draft when he was a young man because he was busy �getting drunk and high� and was �lazy for the first several months when he came into the presidency until 9/11.�

In the 20-minute secret recording, captured by student Tyler Talgo, during the Fall 2012 semester, Dekmejian also leveled a number of derogatory comments against members of the Bush administration, alleging both Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice �lied� to the American people during their service.

�You have to use that term [lying] people,� he reflected. �Don�t use that term mislead.�
And USCs response?
�The freedom to take unpopular positions and the freedom to express those positions publicly are at the foundation of what it means to be a faculty member of a university,� she added. �One of the most important principles of an academic community has been that academic inquiry and discussion be free from censorship or undue outside control.�

Garrett, however, noted USC�s student code of conduct �expressly prohibits� students from videotaping their professors in the classroom. She declined to say whether Talgo would be disciplined for releasing these videos to the public.
There is a huge difference between academic inquiry and a vitriolic spew like this. These are people who are teaching their students and it is their responsibility to present a balanced vision, not a spittle-flecked list of Progressive talking points. And as for the student being disciplined for videoing this asshat, what is USC afraid of? Don't want their choice of 'professors' to be brought to daylight? I really hope that Dekmejian isn't getting any federal money...

From Politico:

Trumka blasts Obama on Walmart
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka bashed President Obama and Vice President Biden for "valorizing" Walmart pledges to hire returning veterans.

"Walmart's recent announcement of a plan to hire returning honorably discharged veterans is more about public relations than honoring our heroes," Trumka said. "That this effort was valorized by President Obama and Vice President Biden reflects an acceptance of economic failure out of line with America's history or future.

"We owe it to our returning veterans to make sure they are treated as the heroes they are, rather than as symbols used to "greenwash"  Walmart's eroding brand. After facing enemies abroad, is an $8.81 an hour part-time job the best we can offer returning veterans?"

Pants on Fire. Trumka is just a naughty little boy vexed that he cannot unionize WalMart. His precioussssssssssss lies just out of reach. Those nasty capitalist Hobbitsessssss... A couple of things -- WalMart does pay minimum wage at the start for door greeters, etc. but you move up to around $12 pretty quickly. Starting wage in North Dakota is $17. As for hiring Veterans, considering the crappy economy (thanks Barry!!! - how about a big shout-out to our President), this will be a godsend and WalMart will get a fiercely dedicated crew. As for "eroding brand" -- this is complete and utter bullshit. WalMart posted at number one in the 2012 Fortune 500 with $469.2 Billion in revenues (not profit -- revenues) and it's stock price reflects the strength and growth. Hey Trumka -- stuff it. You are a dinosaur whose head doesn't know that its body is dead.

From Pew Research:
Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% Since 1993 Peak; Public Unaware
National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
But, thanks to all of the wonderful 'low information' citizens:
Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, today 56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% think it is lower.
This is the same as the reported increase in tornadoes, large storms (global warming doncha-know) and other catastrophies -- better news reporting. We now hear about homicides in small towns where before, they would not be generally reported (the liberal media beats the drum again and again and again). As Robert Anson Heinlein once said:
An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

Purchasing power

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Karl Denninger at Market-Ticker has a great explanation of why our purchasing power is so far down compared to our wage increases:
How Your Purchasing Power Was And Is Destroyed
Most people fail to understand basic mathematical concepts such as exponents and ratios as they apply to everyday life. We usually "get it" when it comes to the mathematical facts that are taught in school (if we passed through basic Algebra) but nobody in our government schools ever teaches how these functions apply to the real world.

The reason they don't, I assert, is that the educational establishment from the government itself on down knows full well how these functions relate to everyday life, and they also know that if you understood these facts there would be a revolution the next morning as you would understand exactly how you have been systematically and intentionally robbed by the mavens of finance with not only the consent but the active participation of your government.

With that in mind I wish to present two pieces of data today. The first is "average hourly earnings", which is from the St Louis Fed, and the second is the total systemic debt, public and private, taken from the Fed Z1.

Why the second as a point of comparison? Because as I have repeatedly pointed out "credit" (that is, debt on the other side of the balance sheet) spends exactly the same as does currency (emitted money.) Therefore, when one compares earnings power in real terms one must look at the denominator that is in actual use, which is that currency + credit.

Over the last 30 years, from 1980 to today, the average production and non-supervisory employee earnings have gone from $6.61 to $20.09 (not seasonally adjusted.) We will use the September 2012 cut-off for this because that's where our Z1 data ends (for another few weeks), which is $19.83.

This is an almost-perfect triple, which sounds great at first -- you're making three times as much, per hour, today as you were in 1980.

But how far does that money go?
Read the rest for the answer -- a short but very sobering read. We are being purposefully screwed by Bernanke, the banksters and their political cronies.

RIP - Ray Harryhausen

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92 years is a good run! From the family facebook page:
The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, Visual Effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator. He was a multi-award winner which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA. Ray�s influence on today�s film makers was enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the UK�s own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations.

Harryhausen�s fascination with animated models began when he first saw Willis O�Brien�s creations in KING KONG with his boyhood friend, the author Ray Bradbury in 1933, and he made his first foray into filmmaking in 1935 with home-movies that featured his youthful attempts at model animation. Over the period of the next 46 years, he made some of the genres best known movies � MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949), IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955), 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), MYSTERIUOUS ISLAND (1961), ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966), THER VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969), three films based on the adventures of SINBAD and CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981). He is perhaps best remembered for his extraordinary animation of seven skeletons in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) which took him three months to film.

Harryhausen�s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray�s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so.

Fun times ahead - Benghazi

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Looks like we are going to get to the bottom of the Benghazi terrorist attack. From the Washington Free Beacon:
Graham: �I Think the Dam Is About to Break on Benghazi�
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) wrote Tuesday he believes major revelations about the lead up to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, are imminent, in a Facebook message:
�I think the dam is about to break on Benghazi. We�re going to find a system failure before, during, and after the attacks.

�We�re going to find political manipulation seven weeks before an election. We�re going to find people asleep at the switch when it comes to the State Department, including Hillary Clinton.

�The bond that has been broken between those who serve us in harms way and the government they serve is huge � and to me every bit as damaging as Watergate.�
Hopefully this is the beginning of the end. Hillary needs to get out of politics -- the whole crew in D.C. needs to go.
From The Bellingham Herald:
Seattle police ease pot, tattoo rules for recruits
The Seattle Police Department is loosening its rules on marijuana use and tattoos for new officer recruits.

The department used to require that those seeking to join the force not have used pot in the past three years, and not more than 25 times in all. But last fall Washington voters legalized marijuana for personal use by adults, and Mayor Mike McGinn says the department should ease up.

McGinn says the city will be hiring 300 new officers over the next five years, and he wants them to reflect the city's populace. The department will reach out to minority communities in an effort to boost interest in becoming police officers.

The department is also making changes to its personal appearance policy. Before, applicants couldn't have face, neck or hand tattoos. Now, applicants with such tattoos will be considered case-by-case.
All Hail Diversity -- ideas so good they have to be mandatory. As the Overton Window slides along...
Hugo Chavez nationalized Venezuela's oil companies and was using the profits to fund his over the top social programs. It seems he didn't think to put anything back into the oil infrastructure so that cash cow is on its last legs. From ABC News:
Outlook Grim in Venezuela's Essential Oil Industry
Only the filthy water from broken sewer pipes keeps the dust down in front of Ramon Boet's shop, which sells statues of saints and other religious objects.

In the distance, massive tankers pull up to a half-century-old refinery that processes much of the oil that earns Venezuela more than $100 billion a year.

"It doesn't help us at all," Boet, 58, says as a blackout snuffs the lights in his shop in this Caribbean coastal town. He closes before dusk. Too many robbers.

The oil flowing from the El Palito refinery sells for more than five times what it cost when President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999. Yet when Chavez died in March he left Venezuela's cash cow, its state-run oil company, in such dire straits that analysts say $100-a-barrel oil may no longer be enough to keep the country afloat barring a complete overhaul of a deteriorating petroleum industry.

The situation is more urgent than ever, analysts say. The price of crude has slumped in recent weeks and Chavez's heir, Nicolas Maduro, appears to have done little to address declining production, billions in debt and infrastructure deficiencies that have caused major accidents including a blaze that killed at least 42 people at Venezuela's largest refinery last year.
A bit more -- Rafael Ramirez is Venezuela's oil minister and the head of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A.: (isn't that a big conflict of interest? -- just sayin')
"We're in a process of trying to attract investment in dollars other than ours," Ramirez said, assuring reporters that PDVSA would work with private investors to not take on more debt to make new investment.
Like hell I am going to put my money into Venezuela -- Chavez nationalized (ie: stole) the companies that came in there 50 years ago. So Chavez-lite(tm) is expecting the world's oil companies to forget what happened and to spend money to upgrade and develop only to have this stolen again? This is the ugly end-game of socialism. It is like a Ponzi scam -- there is no graceful exit strategy, this only ends in systemic collapse. Had Chavez spent 20% of the money he spent on social programs rebuilding the infrastructure and developing new sites, Maduro would not be having the problems he is having now. And of course, because Maduro is just a Chavez-lite(tm), he cannot reign in the social programs or there will be mass uprisings of the uninformed people wanting their free stuff...
I first ran across Mr. Sirota's "work" in April when he published this piece in Salon:
Let�s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American
The usual yadda, yadda, yadda... I was reading Watts Up With That tonight and see that he is up to his usual journalistic stylings:
Tastes Great, Less Incinerating!
How much stupidity is needed to win a Pulitzer? The competition is fierce, apparently certain writers are piling it on high and deep in the attempt.

For example, there is a sterling example of post-modern post-journalistic brilliance that just popped up at Salon by David Sirota, Would we give up burgers to stop climate change? As will be seen, the heaping begins with the subtitle: �A new report suggests that adjusting our diet can slow global warming. Now let�s see if our politics will let us�

The first paragraph is quite revealing:
In case you missed the news, humanity spent the Earth Day week reaching another sad milestone in the history of catastrophic climate change: For the first time, measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million, aka way above what our current ecosystem can handle.
On the NOAA/ESRL Mauna Loa Observatory CO₂ measurements page, currently the last released monthly atmospheric concentration mean was March 2013, 397.34 ppm. Where the �surpassed 400� came from is quite unknown, not revealed. And overall not that important, as about now is when the annual cycle is peaking. The annual mean is far more scientifically relevant, and was 393.82ppm in 2012. The 2013 mean will not be breaking 400ppm. There may indeed have been a recent daily measurement above 400ppm, which shows why they use monthly means due to the range of daily variations. It will be quite surprising if the final April mean breaks 400ppm.

And how has the ecosystem responded to the �earth-shattering� increase? Crop yields up, the Sahel is greening, etc. Perhaps the ecosystem is having the equivalent of a surge of manic behavior right before a nervous breakdown. Sure, it looks great now, but soon it�ll all come crashing down. Yup, any decade now. No longer away than the next century, certainly.
Yup - CO2 -- the Gas of Life. Without it, there would be zero plants on Earth. The marine environment thrives on it as well. More CO2, more plants, more corals, more plankton. Everybody's happy...
From Breitbart comes this heart-warming bit of news:
NRA Surges to Record 5 Million Members
At the National Rifle Association's convention in Houston, TX, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre announced that the NRA has now grown to an unprecedented 5 million active members. He concluded his speech with the theme of all the NRA officers, vowing, �From liberty�s defense, we will never back down. We will never surrender. We will always stand. We will always fight.�

Well over 70,000 members of the NRA are assembled in Houston, Texas for its 142nd Annual Meeting�projected to break the all-time record for the nation�s oldest and largest Constitutional rights organization. The convention houses over 300,000 square feet of exhibits (mostly firearms and accessories), seminars on various topics including women�s and children�s safety, and formal speeches from national political leaders and the NRA�s leadership. The central focus on the annual convention�as always�is protecting the Constitution�s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
An interesting tid-bit:
...over 58,000 Americans joined the NRA in one day after Obama gave his initial gun-control speech...
May I have another please?
...the NRA�s membership has grown by roughly one million�an astounding 25% increase�since the middle of last year...
Reading the 450+ comments got me to doing some simple fact-checking:
NRA - Organized: 1871 - Membership: 5,000,000
ACLU - Organized: 1920 - Membership: 500,000
NAACP - Organized: 1909 - Membership: 300,000

Hell -- the environmentalists can't even muster a better showing:
Sierra Club - Organized: 1892 - Membership: 1,400,000
I went looking for some of the other 'hot-button' organizations but they don't have memberships Per se: Greenpeace, SPLC, etc. When you have five million members, you kinda own that playing field...
A guy from Seattle sold a restaurant that he owned and is now involved with a restaurant up here that has seen better times. He is also involved in World Music and tonight, he put on the first of a string of concerts at our town hall. The musician was Renaud Garcia-Fons (Wiki entry here) There were about 40 people in attendance and we were enthralled. This was world-class music in our little town hall. Town of 300 people. This is very much a vacation resort area with skiing and summer activities so this concert series will build over the next couple months. A wonderful start. Next Sunday are two pipers from Seattle -- Uilleann pipes and I think I know one of them.
Colorado's new draconian gun laws are a really stupid idea -- more than one firearm company has moved out of state in protest taking hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenue. Governor Hickenlooper has come up with a fantastic idea along the same lines -- something that will actually have an effect on the problem and not just a generalized gun grab. From National Public Radio:
Colorado Weighs Reopening Psychiatric Hospital For Homeless
Last summer's mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., led Gov. John Hickenlooper to call for stricter gun control and big new investments in mental health care.

Several significant gun bills passed, and a package of mental health reforms is moving forward. But there may not be enough support to win funding for 300 new inpatient psychiatric beds.

That proposal by the Democratic governor would bring mentally ill and addicted homeless people to Fort Lyon, at one time a psychiatric hospital for veterans and then a prison. The facility, near the tiny town of Las Animas, has been closed for two years.

Under the plan, people would leave the streets of the cities where they live now and voluntarily come to Fort Lyon. And the town would welcome the jobs that reopening the facility would create.

Jack Simms, who's been homeless in Colorado Springs for a decade, says it's needed.

"I see it, man. They need to open some beds somewhere, at a mental health facility or something," says Simms, who says he struggles with depression and smokes pot to cope. "I can survive out here, [but] these mentally ill people, it's rough. They just walk up and down the paths. They look like zombies. I'd be a guinea pig. I'd try it out."
It would be much cheaper to run than a bunch of de-centralized homeless shelters and although it looks like a prison on the outside, it could be made very inviting inside with all sorts of activities for the inmates to engage in. Colorado already has laws for pot so each inmate could have an allowance and be able to buy pot or booze if they wanted. Books too. A garden and good internet connection? They could set up a business and receive the full profits (unlike businesses in prisons). Hell, I would consider moving in there... A bit more:
But not everyone thinks that this plan is going to do a lot of good.

"Having someone in transitional housing teaches people how to manage living in transitional housing," says Sam Tsemberis of the nonprofit Pathways to Housing. "But then they have this huge hurdle, the re-entry problem."
Hell -- Sam makes his money by processing the mentally ill from hospitalization through getting them back on the streets. If this plan was put into effect, he would lose a large percentage of his 'clients' and he would have to find some other scam to run. Someone like Holmes or Lanza would never be able to be re-integrated. They are just plain nuts and need to be kept away from society for the remainder of their natural born lives. Lanza saved society the expense but Holmes is going to be expensive to the taxpayers of Colorado.

Yikes - typhoid "X"

From the Examiner:

San Francisco threatened by typhoid fever
Customers who ate at a Nordstrom Cafe within the Nordstrom store in the Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco are at risk of contracting typhoid fever. The San Francisco Department of Public Health issued an alert on May 3 that a food handler at the cafe had been diagnosed with the bacterial illness. Customers at the cafe on April 16, 17, 18, 20, or 27, 2013, are at risk. It is unknown how many customers are at risk.

Typhoid fever is uncommon in the United States, with an average of 406 cases reported annually from 2008 to 20012. The symptoms include fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The symptoms usually appear within eight to 14 days but it may take as long as 30 days for the illness to manifest. Some patients may carry the infection without illness.

Antibiotics are used to treat typhoid, which may last up to two weeks even with treatment. If left untreated, up to 20 percent of patients may die and the illness may last for months. It is important to finish the course of treatment because patients remain contagious after symptoms disappear. There is a typhoid vaccine available for travelers to regions where the illness is common.

Just wonderful -- thank God it is not highly contagious -- it needs to be carried by direct fluid from the victim. A food handler with the disease is about the worst case scenario -- Typhoid Mary was a cook. Imagine some mom eating after some shopping, coming home and preparing meals for her family. Not a nice scenario...

I had commented two days ago about Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw securing one million dollars to expand his personal fiefdom set up a "violence prevention unit".

Chris Muir does the wonderful Day by Day online cartoon and today's was over the top.

He posts a link to which shines a light on the stunning level of corruption in that office.

Chris' cartoon was from this post: Van Reeth Family and a Hooker - The Cross-Agency Scandal

This was broken by - Cops and Hookers, yeah! Not to mention, Major Van Reeth brought in his underage son (at the time) to join in the good times. Nothing like teaching your child the value of having a skanky prostitute!

The back story from what I heard: A pimp brought this prostitute to this private golf event. The pimp and the hooker were doing Cocaine out in the open and the hooker took turns giving 'blow jobs' to these cops. I wonder - even the minor? It is unknown if the fellows in the photo were partaking in the Cocaine.

Unreal - Major Van Reeth works for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Internal Affair's Division.

The whole Sheriff Bradshaw website is a perfect example of how not to run a Police Department.

They floated this little questionnaire over at FedBizOps:
Solicitation Number: HSFLGL-RFI-00056
Agency: Department of Homeland Security

The purpose of this sources sought notice is to determine how the Government requirements can be met. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC), Glynco, Georgia is anticipating a purchase of Reduced Hazard Training Ammunition (RHTA) for multiple caliber types for use in the training programs for the FLETC sites. This applies to frangible and non-frangible projectiles and must meet the requirements stated below.

THIS IS A MARKET SURVEY REQUESTING INFORMATION IN SUPPORT OF THE FOLLOWING PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENT. No contract will be awarded from this announcement. This is not a Request for Proposal (RFP) or an Invitation for Bid (IFB), nor is it to be construed as a commitment by the government. Response to this questionnaire is purely voluntary and no reimbursement will be made for any costs associated with providing information in response to this market survey or any follow-on information requests. Data submitted in response to this market survey will not be returned. No solicitation document exists at this time and calls requesting a solicitation will not be answered.
OK -- we got it. A questionnaire, not a solicitation. Questions 15, 16 and 17 raise my eyebrows a bit:
15. Are you capable of producing large quantity orders of any training caliber specified with a short turnaround time of 30-60 days?

16. What would your lead time be for an order of 2 million rounds of a single type listed above?

17. If you were awarded a contract for some of the calibers listed above, submitted a production lot of one million rounds and that lot or portion of the lot was not accepted, would you be able to replace that order with an additional one million rounds within 60 days?
We are not ordering right now mind you --BUT-- if we did place an order, could you have two million rounds of a specific caliber on our loading dock within 30 to 60 days?
Excellent essay from Don Boudreaux:
I Do Not Care About Income or Wealth Inequality
Richard Ammerman, a registered nurse in Rhode Island, challenges me by e-mail to answer �yes or no� to the question: Do I care about income inequality?


I do not in the least care about income (or wealth) inequality.


I suspect that some of my bleeding-heart-libertarian friends will berate me for being insensitive, so it is chiefly to them that I address the following explanation of my one-word answer.

I care � very deeply � whether the process for pursuing one�s life�s goals is fair or not. I want everyone to have as fair a chance in the economy as is humanly possible. I despise special privileges that stack the deck either in favor of Jones or against Smith. (We can have a debate about what the details of �fair process� and �special privileges� look like, but this post is not the place for such a debate.) But I do not care about differences in monetary income or wealth as such.

If (by whatever criteria) the process is fair, then the outcomes are fair. If the process is not fair, then at least some outcomes are lamentable. If those lamentable outcomes involve too little income for Smith and too much for Jones, then this income difference is evidence of the unfair or skewed or crony-fied process. But the object of my concern in such situations isn�t the income difference as such; rather, it�s the unfair or skewed or crony-fied process that gave rise to it.

I�m all for correcting the process, and would be no less in favor of correcting the process if I were told that such a correction will increase income inequality as I would be in favor of correcting the process if I were told that such a correction will decrease income inequality. Again, income differences can at best serve as evidence of a problem; the differences themselves � the income inequalities themselves � are not the core problem.

Worrying about income (or wealth) differences as such has always for me smacked of childishness. It�s envy elevated into public policy.
Emphasis mine -- love it! envy elevated into public policy A bit more -- it's a long essay with some good comments. This is just an excerpt. Don is talking about efforts at the margin -- working on the thin line between success and failure where the odds are higher and the potential rewards that much greater:
Because I know that most people in market-oriented economies who are materially wealthier than I am produced their wealth � they made the valuable contributions at the margin that generated their wealth � their wealth is in no way anything that I or anyone else has an economic or an ethical claim to. I understand that, were it not for the efforts at the margin of those �rich� people, the wealth that they have was not taken from me or from anyone else; it was produced by them and would not exist were it not for their efforts. (That the likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren are led by ignorance of the importance of thinking at the margin to a failure to understand this truth does nothing to make it less true.) So for me to envy their possession of their fine car or luxury mansion or private jet or whatever would be evidence in me of smallness of mind and spirit � a smallness that I hope never marks my character.
Like I have said before, money is fungible. Bear Sterns and MF Global failed. These entities lost billions of dollars but where did the money actually go? Where were the trucks taking it away. Conversely, a single mom in Scotland single-handedly created a multi-billion dollar global business*** inside of ten years. And as a reminder, I am very much against crony capitalism. I am a strong advocate of the free-market. Wealth generated in the free-market helps everyone. When was the last time you were employed by a poor person? *** Harry Potter of course

A milepost for the Mary Rose

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The Mary Rose is a ship that was in service to the Tudor King Henry VIII for 34 years and sank with a crew of 500. 35 survivors. It was raised in 1982 and preservation methods were started. A milepost has been reached. From the Beeb:
Mary Rose protective jets switched off for first time
Jets used to spray the hull of Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose have been switched off for the first time in almost 30 years.

The warship's hull has been constantly sprayed with water and wax chemicals since it was raised from the seabed.

Work to remove 100 tons of water from the hull could take up to five years.

The hull will be kept in a "hot box" chamber but visitors to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will be able to view it through windows from 31 May.
Some more:
The Mary Rose saw 34 years of service before she sank while leading an attack on a French invasion fleet in 1545, and was raised 437 years later on 11 October 1982.

King Henry VIII watched from Southsea Castle as his ship sank killing all but 35 of the 500-strong crew.
The website for the ship and her museum is here: Mary Rose And a big tip of the hat to the excellent History Blog for the link tot he story.
I had posted about the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) yesterday. Writer James Delingpole has some stuff to say -- from the UK Telegraph:
The old order is dying. We are living in the age of Farage
If something can't go on forever it won't. This is the bitter lesson the Coalition has learned today, and will again next year at the European elections. Some of us have been predicting this for some time but I think even the most optimistic among us have been surprised by the suddenness of the change. In the space of half a year, Ukip have gone from being the party of the protest vote to the revolutionary force which threatens to transform the British political scene almost beyond recognition.

As to why it's happening I recommend this brilliant, must-read analysis by Russell Taylor. He concludes:
The current political class is fighting yesterday�s battles: ones that began when we were living with the illusion of unearned wealth and unconditional security. But now the party�s over. The boom busted and all we�re left to show for it is New Labour�s mega-state and its decadent moral code. Those who continue to defend these artefacts offer no hope for the future. They are destined to repeat the same mistakes unto destruction.
James goes on about how the progressives demonize honest business and concludes his piece with this:
The time for apologising for things we haven't done wrong is over. Alinsky, you are so 1970s. We're living in the age of Farage and, dare I say it, the Delingpole brothers. The old political order is dying on its feet. Viva la revolucion!
Saul Alinsky's fifteen minutes of fame are over -- he is done. These people are a joke and it is time to mock them loudly and to their faces. Laugh at them for their stupidity. The idea that a big government is better than a limited one? The idea that central planning will work more efficiently than an open and free market? Like I said -- a joke. They are laughable.

School fire

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As I mentioned, the old elementary school was burned down today. Three fire departments participated -- nothing like training on the real thing... Here are some photos:
The school building. The roof is missing because of asbestos.
School Fire 1
Several hundred people showed up - a big event in a small town.
School Fire 2
Training with a small fire.
School Fire 3
Consolidating the building.
School Fire 4
Fully involved.
School Fire 5
School Fire 6
Five hours later.
School Fire 7
A fun time was had by all...

National Inventors Hall of Fame

Their list of inductees for 2013 have some wonderful people.
Bob Moog - music synthesizer
Alfred Loomis - banker and inventor of LORAN
Grote Reber - radio telescope
These three are in my major geek pantheon right up there with Nikola Tesla and Charles Proteus Steinmetz Loomis is an interesting character -- there is a great biography - Tuxedo Park. The author is the granddaughter of one of Loomis' contemporaries and had access to a lot of personal material. Good writer too. LORAN is not dead yet - it was ostensibly "replaced" by GPS satellites and the many chain transmitting stations were taken off the air but they were not demolished. Every so often, one or more of them will start broadcasting again. Not just the USA, this is all around the world. Also this year:
Samuel Alderson - crash test dummy
Garrett Brown - Steadicam motion smoother
plus a bunch of other people -- a fascinating list.

A hot time in my local community

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The old elementary school is no longer used and is in a sad state. There was a guy who wanted to buy it from the county school district and turn it into a resort Hostel for the people who come here to ski and backpack but he never got his act together enough to attract funding. The last couple of months have been spent doing asbestos remediation and this morning, three fire companies are going to burn it for practice. The local Lions Club is serving a pancake breakfast so it will be a major community event. Heading off in a few minutes with camera -- should be a lot of people there as this was a focal point for our community for a long long time...

The price of Beef

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Beef prices are running a lot higher than normal -- drought last summer is part of the cause. From Reuters:
US beef prices set new high as spring barbecue season heats up
U.S. wholesale beef prices rose to an all-time high on Friday as the delayed spring grilling season is heating up and as supermarkets buy meat for the May 27 U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend, commonly seen as the unofficial start of the summer cookout season, analysts said.
A bit more:
The average retail beef price in March hit a record $5.30 per lb, surpassing the previous record of $5.15 in November, according to the government's Economic Research Service.
Yikes -- and this is the average. 80/20 hamburger as well as tenderloin. Bought a half-cow last spring and eating very well off it -- only have about 20 pounds of ground chuck left but still have a lot of steaks and roasts. Cost us $2.80/lb. Did a steak tonight in the smoker -- smoked it for five hours and then ran the temperature up to 400 and finished it for a few minutes. A five minute rest, slice against the grain and that was dinner for us tonight. Salad and steamed broccoli. Yummy!

Fun happenings in New York State

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I would never live in New York State or Illinois -- I am a serial entrepreneur and the cost of doing business in either state is just to onerous. Plus that whole gun and crime thing... Here's a three-fer for New York -- time to pull up the couch with a big bowl of popcorn. First - from Politicker:
William Boyland Jr. Indicted Yet Again
Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. just can�t catch a break.

Mr. Boyland, who was previously charged with soliciting bribes to pay his legal bills in an unrelated corruption trial, was indicted again last March for wire fraud charges stemming from alleged abuse of per diem requests. And he was just charged yet again today.
Second - from the New York Post:
Crooked former Queens state Sen. Shirley Huntley wore FBI wire, may have snared more senators in sting operation
Crooked former Queens state Sen. Shirley Huntley secretly wore a wire for the feds and may have helped snared a fellow senator and two other elected officials in a corruption sting, new court papers reveal.

Huntley recorded nine people � including seven elected officials, a consultant and a staffer -- after being wired-up by the FBI last summer, according to documents filed today in Brooklyn Federal Court.

"Recordings of meetings [Huntley] held separately with State Senator #1 and two other elected officials did yield evidence useful to law enforcement authorities," wrote Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Daniel Spector.
Lastly, a bit more - from the New York City CBS affiliate:
Ex-Lawmaker Works With Feds To Bust Latest Allegedly Corrupt NYS Politician
CBS 2�s Marcia Kramer has learned another elected official is about to go down in the on-going corruption probe involving New York politicians and it turns out his colleague ratted him out.

The circus is back in Albany.

Fear and loathing were stalking the halls of the state capital on Friday. Bets were being place about the identity of the latest officials to fall from grace on corruption charges.
This last article says that the identity of the Senator will be released sometime next week. The article also notes two other corruption charges, Queens Councilman Daniel Halloran as well as State Senator Malcolm Smith. Seems to be a bit of corruption going around these days... Oh - and buried below the fold on each of these stories is the Party Affiliation -- you guessed it -- Democrat.

Curious use of technology

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From Forbes Magazine:
This Is The World's First Entirely 3D-Printed Gun
Eight months ago, Cody Wilson set out to create the world�s first entirely 3D-printable handgun.

Now he has.

Early next week, Wilson, a 25-year University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls �the Liberator,� pictured in its initial form above. He�s agreed to let me document the process of the gun�s creation, so long as I don�t publish details of its mechanics or its testing until it�s been proven to work reliably and the file has been uploaded to Defense Distributed�s online collection of printable gun blueprints at
I would not want to try and fire it -- polymer is no match for a hundred grains of powder but the concept is fascinating. Great choice of name by the way...

Ice cream madness in Sheffield England

From the Sheffield Telegraph:

Sheffield ice cream van ban 'madness'
Almost all of Sheffield's ice cream vans are set to be banned from the roads - under a move to reduce the city's carbon footprint.
Sheffield Council's licensing board has approved a ban on ice cream vans more than five years old "to reduce emissions and improve vehicle standards".
Angry traders say 90 per cent of ice cream vans would be too old for the new rules - and replacing them could force firms out of business.
Rosita Hunt, of Sheffield's oldest ice cream firm Granelli's, which has been going for 138 years, said: "If a vehicle is roadworthy and up to required standards I see no reason for an age restriction".

A bit more:

Another ice cream seller, who did not want to named, said: "There is a riot going off between ice cream companies and the council.
The council must have brainfreeze to keep coming up with more stupid rules and regulations.
Around 90 per cent of the ice cream vans on the road in Sheffield are over five years old, and it costs thousands of pounds to replace each one.
It will drive firms out - just as the spring and summer season is getting going".
Another restriction brought in by licensing bosses is to force ice cream van owners to ask permission from headteachers to trade within 500 metres of schools - even in the evenings, holidays and at weekends.
Ice cream vans are already banned from trading near schools from one hour before and until one hour after lessons.
Coun Ian Auckland, opposition Liberal Democrat spokesperson for local businesses, said: "We like to joke about Labour councilors taking candy from a baby but here we quite literally have Labour snatching ice cream from Sheffield children".
"This is yet another example of the Labour council sending out an anti-business message. At a time when we need to create jobs, this is the wrong attitude".

Another example of why the UKIP is gaining popularity. Liberal politics plays on the heartstrings but there is zero accountability. We need to be more practical. There is a long tradition of ice cream trucks in England -- Bill Forsyth did a delightful little movie back in 1984 called Comfort and Joy about a 'war' between two rival ice cream companies. Worth tracking down.

Great election news from England

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Looks like they are backpedaling away from the abyss. From The Sun:
Nigel Farage hails UKIP�s 'remarkable' local election wins
Jubilant UKIP leader Nigel Farage has hailed his party�s local election success as �remarkable� after they won nearly 150 council seats.

The beaming politician sank a pint of English ale at a pub in Westminster as his party emerged as the biggest winner.

They also surged to second place behind Labour in the South Shields parliamentary by-election, pushing the Lib Dems into SEVENTH.

Mr Farage hailed an astonishing night of progress and claimed his eurosceptic party are in with a chance of securing a seat at Westminster.
The UKIP is very conservative. For them to push Labour and the Liberal Democrats out is absolutely wonderful. We need more people like this here in the USA.

The butchers bill comes due

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From the Beeb:
Trillion-euro shortfall facing EU energy sector - Lords Committee
Investment totalling a trillion euros (�846bn) is required before the end of this decade if the European Union is to stave off an energy crisis.

That is the conclusion of an eight-month inquiry by the House of Lords into the EU power sector.
A green dollar is a wasted dollar -- had they put their energy into nuclear (LFTR) they would be net energy exporters for the same amount of money. A bit more:
In addition, it says there needs to be greater support for Europe's Emissions Trading System (ETS).
Trading systems that do not work? What is carbon trading at these days? Zero. The Chicago Climate Exchange folded. Nuke. Now.

Pants on fire

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And we also recognize that most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States," he said. "I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms, and as president, I swore an oath to uphold that right and I always will.

But at the same time, as I've said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to [pass] common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people, that can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It�s the right thing to do.
Obama's speech in Mexico today -- does he really believe the lies he speaks? Mexico's military is corrupt -- the guns come from there.

Confusing action with effort

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From The Palm Beach Post:
Palm Beach County sheriff gets $1 million for violence prevention unit amid questions about civil liberties, care for mentally ill
Florida House and Senate budget leaders have awarded Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw $1 million for a new violence prevention unit aimed at preventing tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., from occurring on his turf.

Bradshaw plans to use the extra $1 million to launch �prevention intervention� units featuring specially trained deputies, mental health professionals and caseworkers. The teams will respond to citizen phone calls to a 24-hour hotline with a knock on the door and a referral to services, if needed.

The goal will be avoiding crime � and making sure law enforcement knows about potential powder kegs before tragedies occur, Bradshaw said. But the earmark, which is a one-time-only funding provision, provoked a debate Monday among mental health advocates and providers about the balance between civil liberties, privacy and protecting the public.
Nothing like getting a cushy $1,000,000 and using it to build up your department -- adding staff. And of course, this is a one-time grant so next year, Sheriff Bradshaw will be going around looking for another million to keep his kingdom running. Suck it up taxpayers -- you voted these people into office. How about using the staff you already have -- give them additional training to deal with mental issues. A bit more:
The $1 million Bradshaw won represents a third of what he had sought from the Legislature, but it�s a 10-fold bump from what was originally earmarked before House and Senate budget leaders finalized the state�s $74 billion budget over the weekend.
He wanted three million dollars? Talk about overreach. There are over 680 comments and the majority of them are against this. Terms like Nazi and Thought Police are used liberally...

Sucks to be you - even in death

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From FOX News:
Grave problem: Cemeteries want nothing to do with Boston Marathon bomber
He�s gone from most wanted to least wanted.

Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev�s family in Russia doesn�t want his body, his widow declined to claim it and now cemeteries in Massachusetts have refused to take the body. The corpse has languished in a city morgue since April 19, when he was killed in a shootout with police, but now it is being prepared for burial somewhere in or around Boston. The remains were originally taken to Dyer-Lake Funeral Home in North Attleboro late Thursday, prompting crowds to jeered and jab middle fingers in the air as the hearse passed by.

"They can protest, but what do you do? In this country, we bury the dead," Peter Stefan, owner of Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlor, told Fox News. Stefan has agreed to handle the funeral arrangements.

Stefan said everybody deserves a dignified burial service no matter the circumstances of their death and said he is prepared for protests. But he added that arrangements have yet to be worked out, and finding a final resting plot for the body - which Islamic law says must not be cremated - could prove difficult.
I'm sure that there is a pig farm somewhere that would be more than happy to donate a few square feet of land -- near the slaughterhouse and offal pit...

Transistor Museum

If you are into early electronics, whether the history or refurbishing older equipment, the Transistor Museum is an incredible resource.

Dedicated to Preserving the History of the Greatest Invention of the 20th Century

A lot of interviews, history, data sheets. A treasure trove!

Slow internet

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My internet connection has been up and down like a yoyo today. Nice clear weather but no signal to speak of. Light posting until this resolves itself...

Curious poll results

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From CNS News:
Poll: 29% of Registered Voters Believe Armed Revolution Might Be Necessary in Next Few Years
Twenty-nine percent of registered voters think that an armed revolution might be necessary in the next few years in order to protect liberties, according to a Public Mind poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University.

The poll, which surveyed 863 registered voters and had a margin of error of +/-3.4, focused on both gun control and the possibility of a need for an armed revolution in the United States to protect liberty.

The survey asked whether respondents agreed, disagreed, neither agreed nor disagreed or did not know or refused to respond to the statement: "In the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties"
Twenty-nine percent said they agreed, 47 percent said they disagreed, 18 percent said they neither agreed nor disagreed, 5 percent said they were unsure, and 1 percent refused to respond.
863 is a decent size sample -- no word as to where the people are from. I knew this number was there, did not realize that it was so large...

Cool tech - drone detector

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From IndieGoGo:
DroneShield: A low-cost, easy-to-use device that alerts you to nearby drones
DroneShield is a device that detects the presence of nearby drones (including RC helicopters, quadrotors, etc) and issues alerts via email, sms, and/or a flashing light. The goal is to help preserve your privacy from low-cost remote-control air vehicles with video cameras.

How Does It Work?
DroneShield has a microphone that listens for sounds of drones. Each DroneShield contains a database of common drone acoustic signatures to reduce false alarms (IE ignores lawn mowers and leaf blowers) and in many cases the type of drone is also included in the alert.
44 days left and already past their goal. More here: DroneShield

May Day update from Seattle

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The same Seattle Times article I referenced below is doing frequent updates on the May Day festivities. Now that the adults have left the room, the kiddies are going feral. From the Seattle Times:
UPDATE AT 8:12 P.M.: Police are now herding protesters east on Olive Way. Police using flash-bangs to move the crowd. Objects, including a skateboard, are being thrown at police.
Police continue to use pepper spray to clear the crowd.

UPDATE AT 8:06 P.M.: Seattle police say they plan to give the official order to clear the streets. Things could reach a head soon.

UPDATE AT 7:59 P.M. Police are making more arrests at Olive, between Fourth and Fifth. Police are also using pepper spray for the first time.

UPDATE AT 7:54 P.M.: The two men taken into custody were apparently assaulting a TV cameraman, police say. One was reportedly on a pogo stick (the protester, not the cameraman).

UPDATE AT 7:48 P.M.: Seattle police are making a couple of arrests at Fourth and Pine.

UPDATE AT 7:35 P.M.: The crowd has come full circle. They�re now at Westlake Park, where the �festivities� began this morning.
Still no arrests.

UPDATE AT 7:28 P.M.: Police say some are throwing metal pipes and other objects at windows.

UPDATE AT 7:25 P.M.: Group now at Sixth and Pike and Niketown, epicenter of last year�s violence when self-proclaimed anarchists � some wearing Nikes � broke windows. Heavy police presence there today.
Someone set off a flare.

UPDATE AT 7:20 P.M.: Crowd heading west on Pike over the freeway.
Police say the broken window was at Sun Liquor. A police source says demonstrators may have taken bottles.

UPDATE AT 7:12 P.M.: Even the superheroes got hosed with Silly String. Oh, the humanity.
Crowd continues to march toward downtown, although the marchers don�t seem to know where they�re going.
A window was reportedly broken at East Pike and Belmont. Still no word of arrests.

UPDATE AT 7:01 P.M.: The group has now stopped at Pine and Broadway. Heavy police presence.
Many in the crowd are unhappy with the media. A KING-TV reporter was doused with Silly String.

UPDATE AT 6:56 P.M.: Marchers have left SCCC and are heading west along East Pine toward Broadway, possibly in a route that will take them downtown. Police say some in the crowd appear to be lighting flares or some type of smoke devices.
Someone set off firecrackers.
And of course, the cost of the police presence, the cost of processing the arrested, the cost of cleanup will all be borne by those Seattle citizens who pay property tax -- either directly as land owners or indirectly as renters.

Wind turbines in Ellensburg, WA

From the Ellensburg Daily Record:
Wind topples turbine in Ellensburg; minor flooding of Mercer Creek
A wind turbine at the city of Ellensburg�s Renewable Energy Park toppled over on Monday, buckling under wind speeds of more than 30 mph and gusts as high as 45 mph.

Gary Nystedt, city resource manager, said city staff will start going through the turbine�s wind speed data to figure out exactly when it came down.

He said the city will meet with Bellevue contractor Burke Electric � which installed several of the towers at the park, including the toppled Tangerie Alternative Power 10 kW system � to determine what the city�s next steps will be.
45MPH is not a high wind by any means -- we regularly get gusts to 60MPH here at the farm. For a tower to collapse in a public park is a big failure on someone's part. Ellensburg is one of my favorite small towns in Washington -- college town set in some nice rural farming country. Best of both worlds...

A quiet May Day

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Thank God -- from the Seattle Times:
Rally ends, May Day marchers head toward downtown Seattle
Police line S King St. as the 13th Annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights passes at about 3:45 Wednesday afternoon.

UPDATE AT 3:25 P.M.: In what may be the first sign of potential trouble, Seattle police say they have recovered rocks and bricks possibly placed in advance of today�s May Day events. Police say the objects were recovered in the East and West precincts.

Meanwhile, police are lining the route as marchers may their way to downtown. Still peaceful.
Looks like there were more PoPo and reporters than demonstrators. A lot of the people were hitchhiking onto May Day and touting immigration reform (ie: converting all of the illegal aliens into big-government Democrats on the dole). The anti-capitalist march is later today:
What is likely to be a smaller demonstration, labeled an �anti-capitalist� rally and march, is set to begin at 6 p.m. at Seattle Central Community College. The route of that march was unclear Monday as organizers did not obtain a permit from the city, according to Seattle police.

It was during last year�s anti-capitalist march that dozens of protesters wielding sticks, hammers and rocks went on a noontime rampage.

The Downtown Seattle Association is confident that police have learned lessons, said James Sido, the association�s public-relations manager.�We do feel SPD has a solid road map how proceed in these situations,� Sido said, predicting better communication and organization.
See what happens... Why would anyone be against capitalism -- if they are so passionate in their delusion, they should move to Cuba or Venezuela. It will also be interesting to see what happens tomorrow on May 2nd. That is the second anniversary of Osama bin Laden's assumption of room temperature at the hand of our guys. The mozzies like anniversaries -- just look at Benghazi.

Spring is sprung

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Weather forecast is looking great -- temps in the 70's Friday through the weekend. It is 54�F out right now -- heading out to mend the fences around the garden and shoveling the 3-way that I had delivered a few days ago. Get the spuds planted and the hoop houses finished.
A list of twenty reasons why the S is about to Hit The Fan -- from The Survivalist Blog:
20 Signs That The Next Great Economic Depression Has Already Started In Europe
The next Great Depression is already happening � it just hasn�t reached the United States yet. Things in Europe just continue to get worse and worse, and yet most people in the United States still don�t get it. All the time I have people ask me when the �economic collapse� is going to happen. Well, for ages I have been warning that the next major wave of the ongoing economic collapse would begin in Europe, and that is exactly what is happening. In fact, both Greece and Spain already have levels of unemployment that are greater than anything the U.S. experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Pay close attention to what is happening over there, because it is coming here too. You see, the truth is that Europe is a lot like the United States.
The author draws some more parallels, goes into a bit of history about our 1930's and then enumerates the list -- here are the first five:
#1 The unemployment rate in France has surged to 10.6 percent, and the number of jobless claims in that country recently set a new all-time record.

#2 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole is sitting at an all-time record of 12 percent.

#3 Two years ago, Portugal�s unemployment rate was about 12 percent. Today, it is about 17 percent.

#4 The unemployment rate in Spain has set a new all-time record of 27 percent. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s the United States never had unemployment that high.

#5 The unemployment rate among those under the age of 25 in Spain is an astounding 57.2 percent.
The author also has this quote from Peter Schiff:
�The crisis is imminent,� Schiff said. �I don�t think Obama is going to finish his second term without the bottom dropping out. And stock market investors are oblivious to the problems.�

�We�re broke, Schiff added. �We owe trillions. Look at our budget deficit; look at the debt to GDP ratio, the unfunded liabilities. If we were in the Eurozone, they would kick us out.�

Schiff points out that the market gains experienced recently, with the Dow first topping 14,000 on its way to setting record highs, are giving investors a false sense of security.

�It�s not that the stock market is gaining value� it�s that our money is losing value. And so if you have a debased currency� a devalued currency, the price of everything goes up. Stocks are no exception,� he said.

�The Fed knows that the U.S. economy is not recovering,� he noted. �It simply is being kept from collapse by artificially low interest rates and quantitative easing. As that support goes, the economy will implode.�
I read somewhere that Apple and Microsoft have more "real money" on hand than the Federal Reserve. Even if the system doesn't collapse, it is still prudent to cut back on your lifestyle and to stockpile (and rotate through) enough food for a month or two, water reserves and trade goods. A lot of people around here are doing just that. Be sure to read the 100+ comments -- a lot of good information there as well as a nice comment on Normalcy bias which will be a problem with the non-preppers.

A bauble, a mere bagatelle

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Major geekdom - a cesium pocket watch -- from The Register:
Brit horologist hammers out �first� ATOMIC-POWERED watch
Could this be the chronometrist�s ultimate timepiece, the peak of horological haute couture? British bespoke movement maker Hoptroff today claimed to have produced the world�s first personal chronometer with an on board atomic clock.

The result, says Hoptroff, is a accuracy of 1.5 seconds every 3.15 x 1010 seconds - that�s 1000 years in less mind-boggling numbers.

At the heart of the movement is a Quantum SA.45s �chip scale atomic clock� made by US company Symmetricom, which specialises in high-precision timekeeping gadgetry, particularly for military, aerospace and national utility infrastructure applications. Cruise missiles use the technology to cope with GPS signal jamming. It�s also used underwater, where GPS signals won�t penetrate.

The unit contains a temperature controlled caesium gas chamber. A laser is used to heat the radioactive atoms, and a microwave resonator to detect the emissions from the atoms� electrons as they change energy levels. The frequency of the microwaves is highly stable and provides the clock�s beat.
A bit more:
Unfortunately, the SA.45s is small but not tiny. At 40 x 34.8 x 11.3mm, it�s too big to go into a wristwatch, so Hoptroff�s mechanism has been designed for pocket watches. Full- or half-hunter - or even open case - is presumably up to you.

Inside the case, Hoptroff has crammed a lithium-polymer battery fed through a micro USB port. It has also built in a Bluetooth radio, plus humidity, temperature and pressure sensors, and even a magnetometer - all of which help drive the 28 dials that make up the watch�s face.

Hoptroff�s atomic watch isn�t so much a product as a prototype. It�s only planning to make two dozen of them at first, which is probably wise since the price is an �if you need to ask...� unannounced five-figure sum.
And I bet that even at five figures, they will sell all of them. What an achievement! More from the manufacturer: Hoptroff Title of the post? Paul Laurence Dunbar

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