April 2014 Archives

Nothing else today

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Was up at 6:30AM to head into town and rent three dehumidifiers and get back before 11:00AM. These puppies can extract 1.5 gallons/hour under optimal conditions so the Church should be nice and Sahara-like by this weekend. Good stuff! Off to an early bedtime -- busy day tomorrow.

That is it - we are hooked

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The new show FARGO is incredible and I got Lulu hooked on it as well. Neither of us watch that much television -- we tune in to specific shows but we don't rely on it for background. The trailer for FARGO looked interesting and now, three episodes in, we plant our butts in the chair while having dinner and watch beginning to end. Seven more to go. Also, just found out that Longmire is set for a third season -- starts June 2, 2014. Life is good...

A bit of an oopsie in Texas

From the Houston Chronicle:

$250K police drone crashes into Lake Conroe
Divers scoured the bottom of Lake Conroe in the hope of recovering a controversial $250,000 police drone that crashed into the water Friday.

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office confirmed the remote-controlled helicopter drone, which was bought in 2011 with a federal grant, suffered a malfunction and went down during an exercise over the lake.

The drone is equipped with a camera and an infrared scanning device and is used by MCSO for emergency management, missing-person recovery and operation overwatch, for example filming above SWAT team activities, spokesman Brady Fitzgerald said.

"Divers did go down to look for it. They are still looking. It went down in deep water where there is a rocky bottom. Visibility is also a problem because of sediment at the bottom of the lake," Fitzgerald said.

The mini helicopter, which weighs around 49 pounds, and, in a military setting, could be fitted with a single- or multiple-shot 40mm grenade launcher, 25mm grenade launcher or 12 gauge shotgun, according to Vanguard Defense Industries.

Wince! $250K would buy a lot of donuts. A minor nit - from the Federal Aviation Administration:

Fact Sheet -- Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve diverse purposes. They may have a wingspan as large as a Boeing 737 or smaller than a radio-controlled model airplane. Regardless of size, the responsibility to fly safely applies equally to manned and unmanned aircraft operations.

Because they are inherently different from manned aircraft, introducing UAS into the nation's airspace is challenging for both the FAA and aviation community. UAS must be integrated into a National Airspace System (NAS) that is evolving from ground-based navigation aids to a GPS-based system in NextGen. Safe integration of UAS involves gaining a better understanding of operational issues, such as training requirements, operational specifications and technology considerations.


Prior to the congressional action, the FAA and the Justice Department had been working on an agreement to streamline the COA process for law enforcement - an agreement that also meets the mandate. Initially, law enforcement organizations will receive a COA for training and performance evaluation. When the organization has shown proficiency in flying its UAS, it will receive an operational COA. The agreement expands the allowable UAS weight up to 25 pounds.

Emphases mine -- a little excess baggage there. Here's a photo:


Nice looking MRAP belonging to the SWAT Team - from the above photo's caption:

This Sept. 2011 photo provided by Vanguard Defense Industries, shows a ShadowHawk drone with Montgomery County, Texas, SWAT team members.

Product shrinkage - grocery shopping

Ran into a perfect example of Product  Shrinkage yesterday. Rather than raise prices, manufacturers are incrementally reducing the ammount of food being packaged. Case in point: Post Grape Nuts


Two boxes -- identical size and heft.



Old box on the top. Same price from our wholesaler. Can you spot the difference? 29 is 90.625% of 32 -- about a ten percent difference...

A royal smackdown

A couple people have been making extraordinary claims about mortality caused by the Fukushima meltdown.

From Atomic Insights:

Mangano and Sherman take down
Ian Goddard is an independent investigative journalist who likes to dig deeply into original source material and to follow leads to their logical conclusion. Even though he is not a medical doctor, he has done research of suitable quality to get it published on the National Institutes of Health PubMed site. He produces both written and video documents of his findings.

He recently published his findings of an investigation of the extraordinary claims made by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman about the health effects caused in the United States by radioactive materials released from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdowns.

The video is worth watching if you know someone who is living in fear. The data being used is totally cherrypicked if not outright lies. Ian's videos are quiet, well researched and absolutely devastating to those whose understanding of science comes from the talking points of a very small echo chamber.


When John Forbes Kerry was running for President, everyone was talking about how nuanced he was. Here is a perfect example -- from Ben Shapiro writing at Breitbart:
The Anti-Semitism of the Obama Administration
On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the Trilateral Commission that Israel would turn into "an apartheid state" unless it made concessions to the Palestinians -- the same Palestinians who just signed a peace deal between the Palestinian Authority and internationally recognized terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The same Palestinians who have stated time and again that they will not accept the existence of a Jewish state.
Ben had this comment:
This is pure anti-Semitism. Blaming Israel for its incapacity to make peace with people whose stated goal is to murder Jews cannot be construed as anything other than Jew-hatred. Likening the Jewish state to South Africa, despite the fact that there are well over a million Arab citizens with full voting rights, and despite the fact that the Palestinian territories are completely Judenrein, is more of the same.
And he said this in front of the Trilateral Commission. Had anyone from the Bush administration talked with these people, the progressives would have mounted a large protest outside. One of Obama's boys? - crickets - I can not believe that this evil is being allowed to surface again. Have people no memory of what happened 70 years ago? Kerry is not nuanced. He is a someone's lap-dog and totally out of touch with reality. I am beginning to wonder why his wife hasn't filed for divorce -- without her millions, he would be less than nothing...

The Canadian Deficit

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Canada is having its share of socialism -- from the Toronto, CA Northumberland News:
PCs say Liberals used 'fake' deficit numbers
Ontario's Progressive Conservatives released cabinet documents Monday that they said show the Liberals misled the public for years with "fake" figures on the size of the province's deficit, a statement Finance Minister Charles Sousa dismissed as false.

The documents, prepared by Finance Ministry officials and given to a legislative committee, show the Liberals knew the $24.7-billion deficit figure they announced in 2009-10 "was never a real expectation" and was a deliberate move to provide a "worst case" outcome, said PC Leader Tim Hudak.
Hey, fudging the numbers works in the USA, why not export a good thing...

Back to work

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Got three dehumidifiers running as well as two big-ass fans keeping the air in circulation. Rental cost is $190/day. Fun times...

Heading into town

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Picking up a couple dehumidifiers to dry out the Church and the store. Fun times...

Fun fun fun...

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Went for the usual Monday shopping run this morning. This is our slowest time of the year (ski area closes but school is still in session so no Summer vacationers). The staff kept the store closed until 2:00PM today and they stripped down all of the coolers and cleaned everything to a spit-shine. (I have the most awesome and amazing people working for me!!!)

Was in town at my next to last stop and got a phone call. There was water gushing in through the wall of the beer cave.

Turns out one of the apartments upstairs had their water heater thermostat turned up so high that the relief valve tripped. The guy who lives in the apartment fancies himself a handyman and when their water heater went out four years ago, he offered to install the replacement.

The plumber today found that this guy had the hot and cold lines reversed, the thermostat turned all the way to the top and the relief valve that would have fixed everything had been left unconnected. The previous water heater had a flex hose from the relief valve into a pipe that attached into the drain. This person had failed to reconnect that hose.

Directly underneath is a Church and I spent this afternoon taking about 30 gallons of water out of the carpet (I own a Rug Doctor and they are great for that). I also have water inside the walls soaking into the insulation plus between the wall of the beer cave and the structural wall. I will be heading back into Bellingham tomorrow morning to rent a couple of dehumidifiers and large fans.

What makes me really angry is that the guy called me 30 minutes ago claiming that people had ransacked their apartment and opened their safe and that he had installed the heater correctly and that he didn't know what I was talking about.

I do not mind someone being incompetent but when they lie to me, that is a different story entirely... I hope for this guy's sake that he stays out of my face for a few days. I don't get angry that often but when I do, I am a full-blood Scorpio.

I had written before about a local gun shop and their closing and incredible auction (first, second and third) I never knew the backstory and it is a doozy -- from the Seattle Times:
Skagit County gun shop may have been worst in U.S.
For more than 65 years, Kesselring Gun Shop has been a firearms fixture in the Northwest, arming hunters, target shooters and police from one of the largest inventories on the West Coast.

Until surrendering its federal firearms license last October, the family-owned gun store also may have been the worst gun retailer in America.

It was nearly a decade ago when inspectors with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) first visited the sprawling gun store -- three flat-roofed white buildings clustered on a gravel lot along Old Highway 99 some 70 miles north of Seattle. There they discovered that 2,396 guns -- including hundreds of assault-style rifles and handguns -- were either stolen, lost or unaccounted for.
A bit more:
Kesselring Gun Shop opened in 1947 after Clarence Kesselring, a machinist and self-taught gunsmith, invented and later patented a revolutionary removable scope mount for hunting rifles. In doing so, he made his tiny shop a destination for big-game hunters from around the world. Kesselring mounts are still highly prized and sought after today.

For the past 60 years, the store has sold guns and shooting supplies only. Its aisles bristled with racks of assault-style rifles, shotguns and hunting firearms, and its counter cases displayed hundreds of handguns. Cases of ammunition were stacked thigh-high in every available space in between.
A tightly run ship:
Don Kesselring, the company's 59-year-old president -- who had worked there behind the counter since he was a teen -- said until that day he�d never seen an ATF inspector at the store. Bishop, the ATF spokeswoman, said no history of inspections before 2005 could be found.

What the inspectors discovered was a jumble of paperwork and a slipshod accounting system.

According to court records, the shop ran on a system of cash-stuffed envelopes kept by Frances Kesselring, the boys' mother. When receipts came up short, cash would come out of an envelope to make up the difference. When there was an overage, money was tucked into an envelope for a rainy day.

The Kesselrings routinely took cash from the till, buying everything from guns to cars and property, according to documents.

Gun dealers are required by the ATF to keep a master "acquisitions and dispositions" ledger, commonly called an "A & D book", to track each gun the store acquired and sold. Inspectors should be able to look at it, whether online or in hard copy, to quickly get a count of the inventory, then match it against what's on the shelves.

Not so at Kesselring. ATF had to bring in a cadre of inspectors who spent nearly four months untangling the mess. When the inspection was complete, ATF found violations in virtually every aspect of the shop's operation.
Lots more at the site -- quite the story. Evidence once again for the saying: "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.

The Oso landslide before and after

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This just came in - from ArcGIS (GIS = geographic information system) Hit the Open / View Application button. You need to have Internet Explorer 11 (10 and earlier will not work), Google Chrome or Firefox. IE-11 will squawk about your WebGL, just hit continue but your image quality will suffer. When the image shows up, move your mouse over to the upper right of your screen in the blue area and look for a symbol with two arrows. Sort of like this: <-||-> Click on this and you get a slider-bar that lets you sequence between the pre-slide and post slide images. The post-slide is from a Lidar scan so don't expect photographic quality. Pretty amazing and horrific stuff...

CD Ripping software

Ran into these two utilities earlier today - handy for digitizing a collection of CD music disks.

Both will match up the data with the song titles, album and artist name as well as album artwork (not always).

The commercial option is dBpoweramp Music Converter. Supports multiple CPU cores, built-in file conversion to mp3, m4a, WMA, WAV, AIFF, AAC, FLAC and support for multiple input drives. $58 for single use full package (lots of other utilities included) and $84 for up to five installed PCs.

The free one is Exact Audio Copy. The features include an emphasis on error correction for jitter-free copies. Supports external plug-in converters for most file formats. Support for multiple drives. Will be looking into both of these in the next week or so for a project.

Spring is shaping up to be quite busy...

From the website:

Project Naptha
Project Naptha automatically applies state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms on every image you see while browsing the web. The result is a seamless and intuitive experience, where you can highlight as well as copy and paste and even edit and translate the text formerly trapped within an image.

Doesn't work with Internet Explorer -- Google Chrome is the browser of choice.

It takes a screen-cap or a photograph with embedded text, performs Optical Character Recognition and allows you to copy and paste the text.

It also allows you to re-write the text back into the image and there is the option to pipe the results through Google Translate.

To install, you visit the website while using Google Chrome. There will be a big button for adding it. As simple as can be. A few rough edges but an incredible solution to a long-standing problem...

Short meeting tonight

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Not too much to talk about. A new business owner (a Canadian citizen originally from Korea) had some issues about an easement across their property. The other stuff was routine so we clocked out in about 30 minutes. I like efficient meetings...


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I have another water board meeting tonight so fixing dinner a bit early. Our water co-op is really healthy and mechanically sound so the meetings usually take less than an hour. Call the meeting to order, approve last months minutes, current maintenance and financial reports, talk about upcoming trends and additions and then call the meeting to disorder. We are lucky to have a good group of people serving so there is no contention. Surf (and post) some more when I get back home...

Running Internet Explorer?

Be careful where you surf -- there is a new exploit out there. From the Microsoft Security TechCenter:
Microsoft Security Advisory 2963983
Vulnerability in Internet Explorer Could Allow Remote Code Execution

Microsoft is aware of limited, targeted attacks that attempt to exploit a vulnerability in Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, and Internet Explorer 11.

The vulnerability is a remote code execution vulnerability. The vulnerability exists in the way that Internet Explorer accesses an object in memory that has been deleted or has not been properly allocated. The vulnerability may corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer. An attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit this vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website.

On completion of this investigation, Microsoft will take the appropriate action to protect our customers, which may include providing a solution through our monthly security update release process, or an out-of-cycle security update, depending on customer needs.
This is the classic sort of thing that those people still using XP on the net will find themselves vulnerable to. An anti-virus program will simply not prevent your system from being taken over. The classic example is when you receive an email from someone you know and there is minimal text in the content, just a URL to an unfamiliar site. Do not click on that link as it probably points to an infected site. Email the sender asking them if they sent that email and let them know that they have been infected. Here is a list of things to do that I wrote two weeks ago:
#1 - disconnect your system from the internet... NOW...
#2 - find a second system to use to download some files
#3 - get these downloads (all are free):



copy them onto a memory card or CD ROM or something.
#4 - Boot into Windows Safe Mode / no networking (reboot the machine and hit [F8] as the system is restarting).
#5 - install and run the apps in the order I listed them. Some of them will ask to download the latest databases - do not do this, just go for the complete scans first.
These apps should find what has infected your system. Jot down the names and then go and Google them after this is all over -- you can learn how you got infected in the first place.
#6 - if these apps have __not__ found anything, consider reinstalling Win7 and starting over again. If there are files you want to copy before wiping the disk, use the excellent SystemRescueCD to do this -- copy your user files onto a stand-alone hard drive:
Burn a copy of this file onto a CD-ROM and boot your system from it -- it will run a very simple version of Linux and it has a lot of file copy functions. To get the graphical user interface when it is done booting, just type " startx " at the command prompt. The little icon at the bottom left of the screen is your start menu.
#7 - when you are done running the apps, reboot your system normally (no [F8]) and run them again. This time, let them get the updated databases.

Malthusians in the news - a good perspective

You may not know the works of Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus but you have certainly heard them from other mouths.

From the Wikipedia entryfor the Reverend:

Malthus became widely known for his theories about change in population. His An Essay on the Principle of Population observed that sooner or later population will be checked by famine and disease, leading to what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe. He wrote in opposition to the popular view in 18th-century Europe that saw society as improving and in principle as perfectible. He thought that the dangers of population growth precluded progress towards a utopian society: "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man".

It is telling that Rev. Malthus saw society as progressing towards a utopian society. The utopian state is also a communist state. It is controlled by central planers, administrated by a huge central government and the general population has little or no representation. They are too stupid to operate independently and must be managed by their betters -- the elite masterminds in government. Needless to say, there has not been one instance of a Malthusian prediction being correct. Matt Ridley at the Wall Street Journal has this to say:

The World's Resources Aren't Running Out
How many times have you heard that we humans are "using up" the world's resources, "running out" of oil, "reaching the limits" of the atmosphere's capacity to cope with pollution or "approaching the carrying capacity" of the land's ability to support a greater population? The assumption behind all such statements is that there is a fixed amount of stuff - metals, oil, clean air, land - and that we risk exhausting it through our consumption.

"We are using 50% more resources than the Earth can sustainably produce, and unless we change course, that number will grow fast - by 2030, even two planets will not be enough," says Jim Leape, director general of the World Wide Fund for Nature International (formerly the World Wildlife Fund).

But here's a peculiar feature of human history: We burst through such limits again and again. After all, as a Saudi oil minister once said, the Stone Age didn't end for lack of stone. Ecologists call this "niche construction" - that people (and indeed some other animals) can create new opportunities for themselves by making their habitats more productive in some way. Agriculture is the classic example of niche construction: We stopped relying on nature's bounty and substituted an artificial and much larger bounty.
Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter's tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can't seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.
That frustration is heartily reciprocated. Ecologists think that economists espouse a sort of superstitious magic called "markets" or "prices" to avoid confronting the reality of limits to growth. The easiest way to raise a cheer in a conference of ecologists is to make a rude joke about economists.

Matt goes on to establish his bonafides and cites numerous examples of his thesis. He then brings up the infamous Club of Rome 1972 book "Limits to Growth" and says this:

The best-selling book "Limits to Growth," published in 1972 by the Club of Rome (an influential global think tank), argued that we would have bumped our heads against all sorts of ceilings by now, running short of various metals, fuels, minerals and space. Why did it not happen? In a word, technology: better mining techniques, more frugal use of materials, and if scarcity causes price increases, substitution by cheaper material. We use 100 times thinner gold plating on computer connectors than we did 40 years ago. The steel content of cars and buildings keeps on falling.

A long and well-thought out article by someone who knows what he is talking about. Matt's website is here: Rational Optimist
Here is his 2010 TED talk Near the end of this 16 minute video, Matt references this essay by Leonard E. Read: I, Pencil -- well worth reading.

Barry visits us - the Oso Landslide

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Las week on his way to Asia, Obama stopped at the site of the horrific landslide in Oso (41 known dead, two missing) about 90 miles due South of here. It is telling who Obama chose to be with him on his visit. From Sound Politics:
President Obama Visits Democrats in Oso
President Obama is currently en route to Paine Field in Air Force One, where he will go up to Oso to visit with locals, including Snohomish County Councilman Dave Somers. Oh, but Somers isn't a local: he's from South Snohomish County. The Councilman who actually represents the district, Ken Klein, who lives just a few miles from Oso, wasn't invited. Somers is a Democrat, and Klein is a Republican. Maybe it's not directly partisan: maybe Somers just has connections (which are probably partisan, to a large degree). But if the President is going to spend a ton of money coming out here and tying up traffic, shouldn't he at least invite the only local representative that the Oso residents have?

The don't have any municipal representation, and while they have three fine state legislators in the 39th Legislative District -- Senator Kirk Pearson, Representative and Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, and Representative Elizabeth Scott, all Republicans, none of whom were invited -- who have been up there almost every day since the slide, Klein is the one guy who is most important to the residents in representing their interests to the government. After Klein, though, it's those three who matter most.

He has also invited other Democrats, all of who make sense: Representatives Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Snohomish County Executive John Lovick, and, of course, Governor Jay Inslee. They are all important to Oso's residents. But the four closest representatives who matter the most aren't there, and it just so happens all of them are Republicans.

This looks to me like nothing more than a convenient Earth Day photo op (and how much are we betting that he blames the slide on global warming?). It isn't going to help anyone or accomplish anything. I've never been a big fan of presidential visits to disaster sites. While Bush at Ground Zero was an important event, generally, he just gets in the way. I never understood why it mattered that Bush didn't visit New Orleans: I figured it was best for recovery efforts that he stayed away. Obama has put enough time between the event that he won't significantly impact recovery efforts, but it's still not helpful for him to be here, and the fact that he is not even meeting with any of the state or local representatives for Oso just highlights that this is about himself, not Oso.
Emphasis mine - exactly...

Webs and wires

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It was a bit cold and wet outside so neither of us spent any time in the garden. I spent an hour dealing with a dead cash register at the store. It had lost its programming -- suspecting a bad battery backup. Fortunately, I had an identical unit from another business so swapped that one in and reprogrammed it and we are back up again. Came home and built 32 MIDI cables. As I had said, I am moving my music stuff into a spare room in the house and getting everything wired up nice and neatly. The setup in the DaveCave(tm) was a rats-nest. Bundling and labeling the individual cables into groups that will attach to each of the synthesizers plus four more for equipment I don't use that often but want to rotate through. If you are looking for an 8X8 MIDI interface for your computer, the MOTU MIDI Express 128 is fantastic. A bit pricey at $240 but bulletproof and none of the timing or latency problems that plague cheaper units. The driver is well written allowing you to hot-swap different devices in and out. It tracks what is installed and reports this to your workstation software (I am using Abledon and Sonar). Also working on updating the website for the Grocery Store as well as my new business venture. Busy weekend but a lot of fun and creative juices are flowing...
An interesting essay by Jack Kerwick at Town Hall:
Why the Left will Never Abandon "Global Warming"
It won�t surprise readers of this column to learn that the United Nations� Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCG) insists that unless �global warming� is addressed, the planet promises to suffer all manner of evil. Courtesy of �coastal flooding� and �storm surges,� �urban populations� especially are susceptible to �the risk of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods [.]�

To a far greater extent than any other issue, that of Global Warming reveals what makes the leftist mind tick.

That the leftist aches from the very marrow of his being for the consolidation of power and authority in a central government is a no-brainer. While there are ways in which governments use their power to which he objects, the leftist has never known a limit on the amount of power at a government�s disposal with which he could rest comfortably.

So, the leftist has always wanted Big Government. And this insatiable lust for unlimited government is inseparable from his disdain for the nation-state and its concomitant, �nationalism�: national boundaries impose a limit on the extent to which government can expand. The logic of Big Government has a life all of its own, pointing beyond the nations in which it takes root toward the rest of the planet. It is self-perpetuating, much like a disease that can�t desist from moving from host to host until it dies.

There is no issue short of a conflict with an extraterrestrial race that better serves the global aspirations of Big Government than that of Global Warming.
Interesting observation. The Left decries the independent Nation State but lusts after an even larger Global Government as though that would magically be immune to the corruption and mulish stupidity of most national governments.


Was just turned on to the Chad Carpenter's Tundra cartoon. Added to the blogroll. Here are a few from the Gallery:




And a tip of the hat to Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man

Putting lipstick on a pig - Taco Bell

From Slate:
Live Mas Expensively: Taco Bell Is Launching a Fancy New Chain
Taco Bell seems to have resigned itself to life as Chipotle's middle-aged, junk-food-loving cousin, so the company is starting fresh in the battle for Mexican-ish food supremacy by launching a new, upscale fast-casual concept called U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom. According to Nation's Restaurant News, the first location will be in Huntington Beach, California, with a menu of Americanized tacos using higher-quality ingredients than what you'd find in a Crunchwrap Supreme.

Sample tacos, as reported by Restaurant News: There's the "Winner Winner," which involves fried chicken breast topped with gravy, roasted corn pico de gallo with fresh jalapenos, and fresh cilantro. Then there's the "One Percenter," with "fresh lobster in garlic butter" red cabbage slaw, and pico de gallo. The menu will also include steak fries with habanero chili dust, milkshakes, and craft beer. You know, stuff upwardly mobile millennials like.
This was written by Jordan Weissmann who closed with this wonderful little bit of snark:
I think this illustrates a very simple lesson about marketing. It can be incredibly profitable for upscale brands to slum it by releasing a line of mass-market merchandise. Just think about every time a famous designer does a line for Target, or when superstar chefs start churning out cookbooks and frozen food. However, it is much, much harder for a downscale brand to suddenly act posh and reach out to wealthier clientele, which is pretty much what Taco Bell tried to do when it launched its Cantina menu in the face of Chipotle�s competition. There was no way that a chain whose single greatest recent innovation was turning Doritos into taco shells was ever going to successfully pick off somewhat more discerning customers who are into goodies like sustainably raised pork. Once you're stuck in the public's consciousness as the Bell Labs of stoner food, it's tough to shake the reputation.
Emphasis mine - I love that phrase:
the Bell Labs of stoner food
Nails it...

A quiet day

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Was planning to head into the 15th annual Linux Fest today but don't feel like driving in. Got some projects at home that are calling for my attention -- setting up my recording studio in a spare room in the house. It was in the DaveCave(tm) since I moved out here and time to get it set up right. One of the cash registers at the store took a brain-dump the other day so heading in with a laptop and a spare register in 20 minutes or so. Today is opening day for the fishing season so it will be busy...
Still working on the web page. Looking pretty decent and should be going "live" sometime next week. It is fun in this rapidly evolving technological world that some standards have persisted for 20 years or more. HTML is 21 years old. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is 31 years old!

Just damn - the new Moog Synthesizer

Talk about a trip down memory lane. One of the biggest touring (as opposed to Hans Zimmer's studio system) synthesizers belonged to Keith Emerson. Moog Music is re-creating a couple copies of this synthesizer for sale:

Moog Music Announces The New Emerson Moog Modular System
Moog Music unveils one of its largest engineering undertakings, the new Emerson Moog Modular System.

On the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Moog Modular, the first voltage controlled synthesizer, Moog Music is proud to honor Keith Emerson and his seminal collaboration with Bob Moog. Today, for the first time at Moogfest 2014, Moog Music reveals its three year effort faithfully recreating the iconic Emerson Moog Modular.

In the intervening 50 years since the advent of the first Moog synthesizer, people have steadily come to appreciate the power and flexibility of the early Moog modular systems. Now in 2014, 60 years after Bob Moog started his electronic musical instrument company, with great respect for the tradition, design, and craftsmanship of the original Moog modular systems, Moog Music proudly announces the recreation of arguably the most famous synthesizer in history--Keith Emerson's Moog Modular System.

Over the last 3 years Moog Music has set out to research and build a faithful recreation of this highly complex, custom instrument. Using the original documentation as well as circuit board and art files for nearly every original Moog module, Moog Engineers have painstakingly recreated the original Emerson Modular System. The new Emerson Moog Modular System is comprised of handcrafted Moog modules built from the original circuit designs and are true recreations of the originals, utilizing the same hand assembly methods used in the Moog Music factory in Trumansburg, NY in 1969. The modules in the new Emerson Moog Modular System are built just as the originals were, by hand-stuffing and hand-soldering components to circuit boards, and using traditional wiring methods. Even the front panels are photo-etched aluminum (a rare process now), which is the classic and durable, look of vintage Moog modules.

Moog Music is proud to partner with Keith Emerson and salute his pioneering artistry with the announcement that Moog will build a handful of these incredible, custom handcrafted Emerson Moog Modular Systems.

Price (of course) is available upon request. With all the labor and engineering and with the small production run, it will have to be in the $30K range but these are monster synthesizers and worth every single penny. There is something about a large analog synthesizer that digital simply can not touch. Resale value will only increase as Moog builds really really well.

For those unfamiliar with analog synthesizers, each of the panels in the photograph has a specific function -- introducing outside sounds (microphone preamp), producing native sounds (oscillators) changing the sounds (various filters) changing the volume and location (controlled amplifiers and panning circuits).

These modules all accept voltage inputs for controlling the pitch and intensity so other modules are used just for generation and processing of these control voltages.

Finally, the interconnections between the various modules are made by the performer with various "patch cords" going out of one module and into another. Some of these patch cords carry the audio, some carry the control voltages and some carry trigger signals to start sequences of events. The flexibility of even a small system is amazing.

From The Daily Caller:
Sierra Club top officials promote fuel efficiency, but drive gas-guzzling Jaguars
Members of the Sierra Club�s board of directors are driving around in gas-guzzling vehicles, despite the group�s support for the Obama administration�s increased fuel efficiency standards.

The Sierra Club strongly supported the Obama administration�s increase in minimum fuel economy standards to 54.4 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025, but it seems the Club�s top officials don�t practice what they preach.

The Sierra Club�s 15-member board of directors own a combined 32 vehicles, less than one-fifth of which are hybrids or electric vehicles. Seven of the 32 vehicles are sports utility vehicles while only six are hybrids and electric cars, according to data gathered by the Environmental Policy Alliance.

�Many celebrities have been called out in the past for their hypocritical positions on �saving the environment,� but for Sierra Club�s own board of directors to open themselves to such criticism is truly remarkable,� Anastasia Swearingen, senior research analyst at the Environmental Policy Alliance, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Why am I not surprised...

This is serious

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Bill Whittle is a national treasure. His videos are a call to arms on various aspects of our civilization. Today's video brings to light the addiction that children have with video games and tablets (iPad, etc...) and the measurable neurological damage that overexpsoure to these devices causes.
This is the post he cites at the UK Telegraph:
Infants 'unable to use toy building blocks' due to iPad addiction
Rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an �addiction� to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers.

Many children aged just three or four can �swipe a screen� but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.
Lulu's son is adicted to video games and demonstrates a lot of the symptoms. I am trying to wean him off but it is an uphill battle.

Obama's legacy

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Busy day today - more paperwork

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The down side of owning a small business. Paperwork... Working on the web page as well so that is fun.

Life in the People's Republic of Chicago

How's that gun control working out for you over there? From the New York Daily News:

Chicago Subway shop uses bulletproof case to protect sandwich makers
Just how dangerous is Chicago looking these days?

A South Side Subway sandwich shop appears to be going the extra protective mile by installing a bulletproof case around their sandwich station and cash register � and they�re not exactly alone.

A jarring photo showing the potentially life-saving shield was allegedly taken inside a West Pullman shop by a CBS Chicago reporter while out fetching a bite to eat.

A manager at the store on 116th St. and South Halsted wasn't available for comment, but neighboring employees had a few things to say.

"We are in a pretty dangerous area," an employee of the next door Shrimp House Fish & Chicken restaurant told the Daily News Thursday while confirming the Subway encasing's existence.

That whole: "More guns -- less crime" thing just doesn't penetrate their world view. Liberals deal with the narrative, conservatives deal with the facts -- it is just that simple.

From CNN:

A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list
At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care. But the new revelations about the Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far.

Internal e-mails obtained by CNN show that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it.

The list:

The VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days, Foote said.

According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor's appointments for veterans within the computer system.

Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, "they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there's no record that you were ever here," he said.


"So the only record that you have ever been there requesting care was on that secret list," he said. "And they wouldn't take you off that secret list until you had an appointment time that was less than 14 days so it would give the appearance that they were improving greatly the waiting times, when in fact they were not."

Foote estimates right now the number of veterans waiting on the "secret list" to see a primary care physician is somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600.

The administration:

CNN has obtained e-mails from July 2013 showing that top management, including Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman, was well-aware about the actual wait times, knew about the electronic off-the-books list and even defended its use to her staff.

In one internal Phoenix VA e-mail dated July 3, 2013, one staffer raised concerns about the secret electronic list and raised alarms that Phoenix VA officials were praising its use.

"I have to say, I think it's unfair to call any of this a success when Veterans are waiting 6 weeks on an electronic waiting list before they're called to schedule their first PCP (primary care physician) appointment," the e-mail states. "Sure, when their appointment is created, it can be 14 days out, but we're making them wait 6-20 weeks to create that appointment."

The e-mail adds pointedly: "That is unethical and a disservice to our Veterans."

Ms. Helman needs to spend the next 40 years rotting in some jail somewhere -- one year for each of the Veterans that she murdered. She is beneath contempt.

A bit of gun humor

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From Western Free Press:
Man with 100,000 rounds of ammo put under psychiatric evaluation
You may have heard on the news about a Southern California man who was put under 72-hour psychiatric observation when it was found he owned 100 guns and allegedly had 100,000 rounds of ammunition stored in his home. The house also featured a secret escape tunnel.

By Southern California standards, someone owning 100,000 rounds is considered �mentally unstable.�

In Michigan, he�d be called �The last white guy still living in Detroit.�

In Arizona, he�d be called �an avid gun collector.�

In Arkansas, he�d be called �a novice gun collector.�

In Utah, he�d be called �moderately well prepared,� but they�d probably reserve judgment until they made sure that he had a corresponding quantity of stored food.�

In Kansas, he�d be �A guy down the road you would want to have for a friend.�

In Montana, he�d be called �The neighborhood �Go-To� guy.�

In Idaho, he�d be called �a likely gubernatorial candidate.�

In Georgia, he�d be called �an eligible bachelor.�

In North Carolina, Virginia , Mississippi , Tennessee , Kentucky and South Carolina he would be called �a deer hunting buddy.�

And in Texas he�d just be �Bubba, who�s a little short on ammo.�
Hey -- I resemble that remark!

Robot musicians

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Cute stuff - definitely play in full-screen mode. Hat tip to Bayou Renaissance Man

Starting a business?

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Check out this site PakWired:
Resources for Startups
Do you want to start a small business? Whether you�re an experienced entrepreneur looking to pursue a new venture or a first-timer who has always dreamed of owning their own small business, the startup phase can be exciting, but also exhausting.

To help you launch your business, we�ve assembled some of the best tools and resources for startups from around the world. Let them help you give your new company the head start it deserves.

Recovering floppy disks

There is a cool story about recovering some Andy Warhol artwork from some 1985 Commodore Amiga floppy disks.

The system they used to recover the data is also very cool - check out KryoFlux:

KryoFlux is a USB-based floppy controller designed specifically for reliability, precision, and getting low-level reads suitable for software preservation. It's here, it's there and it's working - today. This is the original developed by The Software Preservation Society, the authority in authentic disk imaging and floppy disk preservation. SPS experts are industry veterans with more than 25 years of experience in computers and media archival, also including film restoration, transfer and archival. Chances are good you've used one of their applications (e.g. X-Copy and Cyclone) or played one of their games (e.g. Abandoned Places) in the past. Code designed by our engineers is being used in millions of industrial and consumer products, and if you've ever used a next-gen game console, chances are again good you've also already used it without ever noticing.

Looks like a great resource if you are having to recover data from older systems.

Very cool medical technology

From MedGaget:

Custom 3D Printed Kidneys Help Surgeons Remove Tumors
Removing a tumor from an organ can be a challenge when it's located in a hard to reach spot surrounded by fragile tissue, such as in the retroperitoneal space. Surgeons typically review CT scans prior to the operation, planning what approach they'll take in their minds. Now researchers at Kobe University in Japan are offering surgeons 3D-printed recreations of their patients' own kidneys, including the tumor and surrounding vasculature, to analyze and practice on.

The team uses pre-op CT scans to create 3D models of the kidneys, which are then transferred to the printer. The kidney is then printed out of two different materials so that the tumor and vasculature stand out from the rest of the organ. This allows the surgeons to initially see the tumor and vessels that will be much harder to spot during actual surgery.

What a wonderful idea -- you can 3D print with a huge range of materials so picking something that looks right and has the right consistency is a no-brainer.

Go and read this

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From Taxicab Depressions:
The Pig Trap
I had a very memorable and thought-provoking passenger a while back that I never wrote about because while I found him fascinating, he seemed a little too political for what was always intended to be a fun blog to read and some cheap therapy for your humble driver and writer. But in light of all the scandals that have erupted lately and the EpicClusterSharknadoFuck that is ObamaCare, I have been thinking about a few things he said to me, so I�m going to commit them to paper (or pixels), if only for my own reading. So if you just want to read about moron drunks and belligerent whores, skip this post�

But if you are interested in catching up on current events that just might personally affect you soon, please read on�
A long post but an incredibly well-written and thoughtful one. Spend the fifteen minutes to read it if you are concerned about our governments overreach.

That's it for the night - tired...

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Went out for dinner and came home feeling really tired. Surf for a bit and then an early bedtime -- busy day tomorrow (paperwork mostly)

Betcha can't name one

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Heh... From The Blaze:
Watch What Happens When Reporter Relentlessly Presses State Dept. Official to Name One Accomplishment From Hillary-Led Initiative
When pressed by Associated Press reporter Matt Lee at a Tuesday press conference, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was unable to name a single �tangible achievement� from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton�s 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.

In 2009, Clinton announced the State Department would begin conducting routine performance reviews in the QDDR. The Pentagon reportedly uses a similar review process.

�Off the top of your head, can you just identify one tangible achievement that the last QDDR resulted in?� Lee asked the spokeswoman.

�Well, Matt, obviously it�s an extensive, expansive topic�� Psaki began before getting cut off.

�So, no,� Lee interrupted.
One minute of perfect schadenfreude...
An excellent analysis of the ongoing standoff at the Bundy Ranch. From Natural News:
Bundy Ranch and the new rules of engagement
In the aftermath of round one of the Bundy Ranch armed siege by the U.S. government, I have decided to offer the federal government an intelligent analysis of the new rules of engagement. People like Daniel P. Love, Special Agent in Charge of BLM Region 3, desperately need to review and learn these rules. Other federal agents also need to understand the tectonic shift of power that has just taken place and how it will impact their operations from here forward.

Why am I doing this? Because the BLM, through its astounding incompetence and arrogance, very nearly initiated a massacre at Bundy Ranch which would have been disastrous for the BLM agents actively engaged there. The incident very nearly came to a shooting war, and it is the outdated, ill-informed government playbook that inflamed the situation and brought it to a flashpoint of violence. At every step, BLM escalated the situation beyond reason: who brings snipers to a tortoise dispute? Who unleashes attack dogs on unarmed pregnant women and cancer survivors? The BLM, that's who!

I know there remain many good agents in many different departments of the federal government. But there are also many incompetent agents who are still living in the 1990's and think they can run an armed ranch siege in 2014 the same way the ATF ran the Waco, Texas siege in 1993. But the rules have changed. As proof of that, consider the now-historical fact that BLM agents publicly surrendered and retreated from hundreds of armed citizens near Bunkerville, Nevada. How did this happen, exactly? To understand that, you must understand the new rules of engagement between the feds, the media and the citizens.
The rules?
Rule #1) You no longer control the narrative
Rule #2) Your mainstream media blackouts will backfire and make alternative media more popular than ever
Rule #3) You can't stop the alternative media by stopping its leaders
Rule #4) Escalations of coercion only encourage greater resistance
Rule #5) You will only have the cooperation of the People by their choice, not by coercion
A very good analysis - this is a tectonic shift and one where the alternative media gains a lot of traction.

Salesman of the year award

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From CNN News:
Gun silencer sales are booming
The civilian market for silencers soared 37% in 2013, when the total number shot up to nearly a half a million, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives registry. That's compared to 360,000 in 2012 and 285,000 in 2011.

Silencers are so popular that there's a nine-month wait to have a registration approved by the ATF, according to Ben Shim, a certified firearms instructor and gun industry analyst with CRT Capital Group in Stamford, Conn.

"People have gone crazy buying guns, but they're done buying them for the time being, so they're buying accessories," Shim said.
That is some serious activity as the license fee for a suppressor is $200 plus a couple-month waiting period.

The state of science

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The signal to noise ratio keeps trending away from where it should be... From Tom Spears writing at the Ottawa Citizen:
Bad chemistry: How fake research journals are scamming the science community
I have just written the world�s worst science research paper: More than incompetent, it�s a mess of plagiarism and meaningless garble.

Now science publishers around the world are clamouring to publish it.

They will distribute it globally and pretend it is real research, for a fee.

It�s untrue? And parts are plagiarized? They�re fine with that.

Welcome to the world of science scams, a fast-growing business that sucks money out of research, undermines genuine scientific knowledge, and provides fake credentials for the desperate.

And even veteran scientists and universities are unaware of how deep the problem runs.
And 'Dr.' Tom's paper:
To uncover bottom-feeding publishers, the simplest way was to submit something that absolutely shouldn�t be published by anyone, anywhere.

First I had to write it.

My short research paper may look normal to outsiders: A lot of big, scientific words with some graphs. Let�s start with the title: �Acidity and aridity: Soil inorganic carbon storage exhibits complex relationship with low-pH soils and myeloablation followed by autologous PBSC infusion.�

Look more closely. The first half is about soil science. Then halfway through it switches to medical terms, myeloablation and PBSC infusion, which relate to treatment of cancer using stem cells.

The reason: I copied and pasted one phrase from a geology paper online, and the rest from a medical one, on hematology.

I wrote the whole paper that way, copying and pasting from soil, then blood, then soil again, and so on. There are a couple of graphs from a paper about Mars. They had squiggly lines and looked cool, so I threw them in.

Footnotes came largely from a paper on wine chemistry. The finished product is completely meaningless.

The university where I claim to work doesn�t exist. Nor do the Nepean Desert or my co-author. Software that catches plagiarism identified 67 per cent of my paper as stolen (and that�s missing some). And geology and blood work don�t mix, even with my invention of seismic platelets.

I submitted the faux science to 18 journals, and waited.

Predators moved in fast. Acceptances started rolling in within 24 hours of my submission, from journals wishing to publish the work of this young geologist at the University of Ottawa-Carleton.
Paging Doctor Sokal, Doctor Alan Sokal to the white courtesy phone please...

Got better things to do with my time

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From the New York Times:
Amid Politics, Obama Drifted Away From Kin
After Zeituni Onyango, the woman President Obama once called Auntie, died in a South Boston nursing home this month, her closest relatives gathered her belongings at her nearby apartment. There, framed photographs of her with the president covered the wall.

Weeping before a polished wood coffin at her wake this past Saturday, they described Ms. Onyango, the half sister of the president�s father, as �the spirit of the Obama family� and talked about raising money to send her body back to Kenya. Mr. Obama helped pay funeral expenses and sent a condolence note, Ms. Onyango�s family members said, but the president did not attend, as he was golfing.
Emphasis mine -- that really sums up his presidency.

The consequences of policy making

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Push something and you will get a reaction. Maybe not immediate but the reaction potential is there and it will manifest. From The Daily Caller:
America�s power grid at the limit: The road to electrical blackouts
Americans take electricity for granted. It powers our lights, our computers, our offices, and our industries. But misguided environmental policies are eroding the reliability of our power system.

Last winter, bitterly cold weather placed massive stress on the US electrical system ― and the system almost broke. On January 7 in the midst of the polar vortex, PJM Interconnection, the Regional Transmission Organization serving the heart of America from New Jersey to Illinois, experienced a new all-time peak winter load of almost 142,000 megawatts.

Eight of the top ten of PJM�s all-time winter peaks occurred in January 2014. Heroic efforts by grid operators saved large parts of the nation�s heartland from blackouts during record-cold temperature days. Nicholas Akins, CEO of American Electric Power, stated in Congressional testimony, �This country did not just dodge a bullet ― we dodged a cannon ball.�

Environmental policies established by Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are moving us toward electrical grid failure. The capacity reserve margin for hot or cold weather events is shrinking in many regions. According to Philip Moeller, Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, �the experience of this past winter indicates that the power grid is now already at the limit.�
Federal agencies like the EPA are doing serious damage to our energy infrastructure and these chickens are coming home to roost. The article outlines some specifics and goes on to say that the MidWest utilities are projecting a deficit in electricity by the summer of 2016.

Alright now - I am officially hooked.

The new series on FOX's FX network sucks you right in.

If you liked the original Coen Bros movie, do yourself a favor and watch FARGO on FX on Tuesday nights.

The writing and the casting is spot on. Billy Bob Thornton is having way too much fun being really really bad. FARGO website: FARGO

Jon Gabriel has a nice Earth Day post plus 13 predictions from the 1970's. From Ricochet:
13 Most Ridiculous Predictions Made on Earth Day, 1970
Today is Earth Day � an annual event first launched on April 22, 1970. The inaugural festivities (organized in part by then hippie and now convicted murderer Ira Einhorn) predicted death, destruction and disease unless we did exactly as progressives commanded. Sound familiar? Behold the coming apocalypse, as predicted on and around Earth Day, 1970:
And here are the first five -- eight more at the site:
  1. �Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.� � Harvard biologist George Wald
  2. �We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.� � Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
  3. �Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.� � New York Times editorial
  4. �Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.� � Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
  5. �Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born� [By 1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.� � Paul Ehrlich
More at the site...

Amelymeloptical illusion

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AmelymeloaaaWhat? Just watch:
By Lindzee Poi. Hat tip to BoingBoing for the link.

A earth-shattering THUD!

The Showtime network spent $20 Million to film a nine-part Global Warming Climate Change disaster flick. It was produced by James Cameron and features walk-ons by such scientific luminaries as Harrison Ford, Don Cheadle, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessica Alba, Matt Damon, Thomas (idiot) Friedman and others.

The first episode aired last night and the ratings were abysmal -- not even in the top 100. So much for the Anthropogenic Global Warming bandwagon...

The delicious irony was that they had Harrison Ford talking about the Indonesian Palm Oil industry. Farmers are plowing the rainforests to plant palm trees. The soil is actually not that good so after a few seasons, the trees will have depleted the nutrients in the soil and the land is destroyed. It was the enviros pushing for bio-fuels that caused the palm plantations to be planted in the first place. The basic law of supply and demand. The enviros created an artificial demand through government subsidies and the Indonesian farmers were more than happy to cash in. Idiots...

Advertising on web sites


So true. If you want to eliminate the advertising, installing this file really works.

Sorcerer is being re-released

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Amazing movie - Sorcerer. Bad timing. Nice interview at Vanity Fair:

Why William Friedkin Turned Down Star Wars, Only To See It Torpedo His Masterwork
In 1977, there was no director hotter in Hollywood than William Friedkin. His last two films, The French Connection and The Exorcist, were instant classics and now he was about to release what he considered his masterwork, Sorcerer. What he didn't foresee, however, was that a modestly budgeted science-fiction epic called Star Wars would destroy his beloved film and change the Hollywood landscape forever.

A reimagining of Henri-Georges Clouzot's classic The Wages of Fear, Sorcerer stars Roy Scheider as one of four outcasts who take on a lucrative but dangerous job of transporting unstable dynamite through a South American jungle in dingy trucks. Though the film boasts solid acting and a thrilling sequence where the trucks must cross an ancient bridge -- not to mention an incredible score from Tangerine Dream  -- production on the film was marred in delays and on-set conflict. Things didn't get any better when Paramount released the film a month after Star Wars, quickly becoming a casualty of the craze over George Lucas's intergalactic opera. Outside of the occasional repertory screening over the decades, Sorcerer was forgotten. Then in 2012, Friedkin sued both Paramount and Universal (which had international rights) to find who owned the film. Through that, Warner Bros. bought it and on Tuesday will release a remastered Blu-ray of the film; a select theatrical release is planned as well.

Here is the trailer for the original release:

And it's up for sale at Amazon.

The Salmon are back!

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But the enviros are not happy. From National Review:
The Pacific's Salmon Are Back -- Thank Human Ingenuity
In 2012, the British Columbia-based Native American Haida tribe launched an effort to restore the salmon fishery that has provided much of their livelihood for centuries. Acting collectively, the Haida voted to form the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, financed it with $2.5 million of their own savings, and used it to support the efforts of American scientist-entrepreneur Russ George to demonstrate the feasibility of open-sea mariculture -- in this case, the distribution of 120 tons of iron sulfate into the northeast Pacific to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom which in turn would provide ample food for baby salmon.

The verdict is now in on this highly controversial experiment: It worked.

In fact it has been a stunningly over-the-top success. This year, the number of salmon caught in the northeast Pacific more than quadrupled, going from 50 million to 226 million. In the Fraser River, which only once before in history had a salmon run greater than 25 million fish (about 45 million in 2010), the number of salmon increased to 72 million.
And a bit more:
In addition to producing salmon, this extraordinary experiment has yielded a huge amount of data. Within a few months after the ocean-fertilizing operation, NASA satellite images taken from orbit showed a powerful growth of phytoplankton in the waters that received the Haida's iron. It is now clear that, as hoped, these did indeed serve as a food source for zooplankton, which in turn provided nourishment for multitudes of young salmon, thereby restoring the depleted fishery and providing abundant food for larger fish and sea mammals. In addition, since those diatoms that were not eaten went to the bottom, a large amount of carbon dioxide was sequestered in their calcium carbonate shells.
But the enviros are unhappy that someone didn't play by the rules:
Native Americans bringing back the salmon and preserving their way of life, while combating global warming: One would think that environmentalists would be very pleased.

One would be very wrong. Far from receiving applause for their initiative, the Haida and Mr. George have become the target of rage aimed from every corner of the community seeking to use global warming as a pretext for curtailing human freedom.

"It appears to be a blatant violation of two international resolutions," Kristina Gjerde, a senior high-seas adviser for the International Union for Conservation of Nature told the Guardian. "Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation. This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific research."

Silvia Ribeiro, of the international anti-technology watchdog ETC Group, also voiced her horror at any development that might allow humanity to escape from the need for carbon rationing. "It is now more urgent than ever that governments unequivocally ban such open-air geoengineering experiments," she said. "They are a dangerous distraction providing governments and industry with an excuse to avoid reducing fossil-fuel emissions."
I would invite these in-duh-viduals to take a long walk on a short pier. This work was sponsored by an independent Native American nation and the results are verifiable and very positive. That these fools and their ilk can find something to protest speaks volumes for how out of touch with reality they are. This passage really displays their agenda:
Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation.
That it was done for commercial reasons is bad. Can't have anyone making a profit. After all, what would Karl Marx say. And their desire to have it assessed and studied -- guaranteed to be found wanting and they would just say no. Technology like this is simple, cheap, easy to implement and has direct results -- a huge fish run. The Malthusian doom and gloom sayers will loose their traction if stuff like this is allowed to bloom. As I have said before, I have never, ever run into a Malthusian prediction that ever came to pass... Russ George's website is here: Russ George

Cool imaging technology

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Using a different technology than standard digital cameras, Lytro is able to record a scene and then you can adjust the plane of focus at a later time. They just announced a new camera -- the Illum -- here is a clip showing what it can do:
I am more into focus stacking than this but it is still a fascinating technology.

Plastic surgery

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It seems that people from China and Japan are heading to South Korea for plastic surgery. The Doctors are so good that there is often a problem getting back home. From Neatorama:
South Korean Plastic Surgeons Are Too Good At Their Job
People who get plastic surgery claim they do it to better themselves, making themselves look and feel better, but plastic surgery can also complicate your life and make it hard to re-enter your home country when your new face doesn't match the one in your passport photo.

Women heading from China and Japan to South Korea in order to undergo extensive plastic surgery are finding the operations so successful that customs agents don't believe they're the same person.

It has become such a problem that some Korean hospitals are now issuing "plastic surgery certificates" to their patients so they can go home again.
Looking at the picture I can see why. Maybe some kind of biometric scanner - fingerprint or retinal scan.

Heh - unions in the news

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From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom
After early complaints that out-of-state firms got the most jobs, some local construction trade workers and union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia say they're now benefiting in a big way from the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas boom.

That vocal support from blue-collar workers complicates efforts by environmentalists to limit the drilling process known as fracking.

"The shale became a lifesaver and a lifeline for a lot of working families," said Dennis Martire, the mid-Atlantic regional manager for the Laborers' International Union, or LIUNA, which represents workers in numerous construction trades.
What happens when economic realities run into political agenda. Fracking is a mature technology and is releasing huge amounts of petroleum products that would otherwise sit fallow. More faster please!

A day of rest

Nothing tonight. Got a busy day tomorrow. More free ice-cream on Tuesday if not before.

A quiet day and an amazing essay

Before I started the new business, I would putter around the house on a minimal but constant basis. Now it is condensed into Saturday and Sunday.

Getting a lot done though -- too rainy to work on the tree but there are a lot of indoor projects that need my attention.

Dinner and then surfing...

Regulars will know that I visit Anthony Watt's site: Watts Up With That on a regular basis.

Some of his co-authors are incredible writers and one of my favorites is Willis Eschenbach. He is a detailed observer of climate, science and life and every so often, he posts an essay on life. These are worth reading as he is an excellent writer -- here, here, here, here, here, here, here -- you get the picture.

Yesterday, Willis posted this:

My Friend Billy
I've been thinking a lot about death lately. The gorgeous ex-fiancee is a Family Nurse Practitioner, and she and I have been taking care of her 86-year-old father in his final illness. 'Billy', that's what the rest of the guys in the band always called him, so that's what I called him when I came to be friends and play music with him over the past four years. He was a jazz drummer his whole life, and a very good one. Having had the honor of playing music with him myself, I can testify that he was a very skillful, fun, and inventive percussionist. But when he came out of the hospital back in February, he hung up his sticks and said that was it. His time with music was over. I knew then that his days were short. So we've been giving him all the love and support possible in the face of his approaching death.

Here in the developed world, we tend to distance ourselves from death. But in the third world, it is ever-present. The first dead man I ever saw who wasn't rouged, perfumed, and embalmed was on a side street in Trench Town, a dirt-poor, less than fragrant, and more than turbulent suburb of Kingston, Jamaica. It was a strange scene.

Trench Town is not a good place to be at night. Even in the middle of a hot afternoon, it's a place where you feel a need to take an occasional look over your shoulder. I was walking down the street, the only melanin-deficient guy in sight. (I hear that the new PC term is 'melanin-challenged', by the way, to avoid hurting people's feelings by making them feel deficient - but then I've never been politically correct.)

In any case, halfway down the block, a man was lying in the gutter. At first I thought he was just drunk and sleeping it off, until I got nearer, and I saw he was lying in the proverbial pool of blood. I remember particularly the sound of the flies. I was reminded of when I used to kill and butcher cows and sheep and other animals out in the farmers' fields for a living, and how fast the flies would appear. Seeing that man lying dead in a cloud of flies, in the middle of just another average city afternoon, was a shock to me. The cities I was accustomed to back then didn't feature much in the way of dead bodies in the gutter. I was beyond surprise.

But the bigger shock was the reaction of the people in the street. By and large it was ho, hum, another day in the life, step over his corpse and keep going, Many people looked once and didn't give him a second glance. The public level of concern seemed to be on the order of "It's the tropics, mon, cover him up 'fore he stinks".

I realized then that in such places down at the bottom of the economic ladder, the death of a stranger is no big deal. Oh, I don't mean that people don't mourn or grieve their loved ones the way it happens in the industrialized countries. That's the same everywhere. But in countries where death is more common, countries where most families have lost a child, countries where malaria or some other tropical fever takes away the young and otherwise healthy, everyone lives in much closer proximity and familiarity with death and the dead.

The essay is about death and the recent death of his Father-in-Law and so is not for everyone but this is some powerful and wonderful writing. Willis is at the top of his form.

Lulu and I spent a quiet Easter Sunday morning and just had a nice breakfast (Whole grain pancakes and bacon). We will be working on repairing a tree that split and doing some pruning and yard work this afternoon. I have been volunteering for the annual Ski-to-Sea race, doing the announcing for one of the legs while a friend of mine ran the radios. I emailed him last night to coordinate for this years race and it turns out that he is going to be out of town for the event so it will be me running the radios. I kind of have a handle on what is needed and I do have a portable rig that will work just fine but it will be an out of frying pan into fire experience for me. We all have to start somewhere...
An excellent TED talk:
So many people have so many ideas about how to "save" this planet. How about going back to what we did before we started "scientific management". I am posting this because what Cliven Bundy and his family are trying to do in Nevada is exactly what Dr. Savory is advocating and the results are demonstrable and vivid. Get the cattle off the land and the land becomes a desert - restore the herds and things will greatly improve.

A bit of pushback

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Wonderful news - from The Salt Lake Tribune:
Western lawmakers gather in Utah to talk federal land takeover
It�s time for Western states to take control of federal lands within their borders, lawmakers and county commissioners from Western states said at Utah�s Capitol on Friday.

More than 50 political leaders from nine states convened for the first time to talk about their joint goal: wresting control of oil, timber and mineral-rich lands away from the feds.

"It�s simply time," said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, who organized the Legislative Summit on the Transfer for Public Lands along with Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder. "The urgency is now."

Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, was flanked by a dozen participants, including her counterparts from Idaho and Montana, during a press conference after the daylong closed-door summit. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee addressed the group over lunch, Ivory said. New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington also were represented.

The summit was in the works before this month�s tense standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing, Lockhart said.

"What�s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem," Lockhart said.
Hell yeah! I am reminded of the 10th Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
And if FedGov wants to change this, there is a due process in place. Ratification by three-quarters of the states? Easy-peasy.

Clay Aiken gets political

The word "goon" comes to mind. Clay is fundraising in a public venue and two security goons ask a conservative reporter to leave.

From Jazz Shaw at Hot Air:

Video: How to get kicked out of a Clay Aiken fundraiser
In case you hadn't heard the news, American Idol star, singer and actor Clay Aiken is running for Congress in North Carolina's second congressional district. He's hoping to take on (and take down) current GOP Representative Renee Ellmers. While Aiken's success could allow him to largely self-fund the effort, politics still requires you to get out there and do some fundraising, pressing the flesh with the local donors and power brokers. But as the following video shows, don't bother stopping by if you're a Republican. You're likely to get an icy - and expletive laden - welcome. You can just see Aiken in the background as the clip begins, though he's quickly blocked from view by some looming thugs with a lot to say.

I'll preface this with the necessary warnings. NC-17 language ahead, and so much of it packed into a barely more than 30 second clip that I can't even put up a transcript on the pages of Hot Air. So it's not for the easily offended and put your headphones on if the kids are around.

If this is the kind of people he surrounds himself with, you can only imagine what kind of a Congressman he will be - listening to his constituents and all that good stuff.

Aesop had this to say (from The Ass and His Purchaser):

A man is known by the company he keeps.

And who can forget Proverbs 13:20:

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

It is good that Clay has a singing career to fall back on...


Just ran into this incredible Ballistics Calculator for iOS and Android.

$9.99 from your favorite app store.

Check out Shooter App: To say that this is a comprehensive piece of software is to severely understate its abilities.

This puppy will use the GPS on your device to get your latitude and from that, calculate the effective Coriolis force.

Playing with fire

A couple Danish physicists travel around demonstrating physics experiments to kids schools.

One of which is this 2D Reubens' Tube -- very cool!

Their YouTube Channel: Fysikshow Here is another one -- no interviewer, just basic setup and some music:

I could see a fire-pit made this way. I also think that they could improve the design a lot -- not just stick a loudspeaker in the side of the box. I bet I could get a more dramatic display although this is pretty awesome...

Well Crap - RIP Jesse Winchester

Passed away last Friday, April 11, 2014.

His website: Jesse Winchester's Studio

Fan site: The Rhumba Man

One of the great singer/songwriters. First became aware of his work in 1970 and have followed his career since. He will be missed.

Here he is with Jimmy Buffet performing Rhumba Man at the Gulf Shores Benefit Concert for rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina:

Jimmy Carter in the news again

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Being schooled by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. From the Winnipeg Free Press:
Canadian government scolds Jimmy Carter over position on Keystone XL pipeline
The Keystone XL pipeline issue has created a tiff between a former U.S. president and the Canadian government.

The Prime Minister's Office reacted swiftly Wednesday to a letter signed by Nobel laureates, including Jimmy Carter, urging President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline.

Carter is the first former president to come out against Keystone XL.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office responded with a warning: Remember 1979.

It was a reference to the dip in oil supply which followed the Iranian revolution and touched off a global panic. Prices spiked and long lines formed at gas stations, helping destabilize Carter's one-term presidency.

"Mr. Carter knows from his time as president during the 1979 energy crisis there are benefits to having access to oil from stable, secure partners like Canada," the PMO said.

The statement also cited multiple reviews by the U.S. State Department, which said the project would create thousands of construction jobs without an impact on the environment.
And this little nugget -- talking about Carter's 1979 Malaise speech:
In his famous speech, Carter also stressed the need to become more energy self-reliant � by building pipelines when possible and tapping the nation's abundant shale resources.
Yup - an out of touch hypocrite. A member of the elite ruling class that sincerely believes that we are unable to manage our lives.

A perfect case for Homeopathy

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We recently had a Homeopathy Awareness Week and I had a discussion with a demonstrator outside our local food co-op. I have little truck with pseudoscience and I consider it amoral and criminal that these asshats will hold out the hope of a cure when their treatments show no difference from a placebo. People have a right to choose their own medical care but they should not be deceived. That being said, there is now a huge quantity of an amazing Homeopathic remedy available in Portland Oregon. Unfortunately, it is being destroyed. Imagine drinking a nice warm glass of someone elses urine. Makes you feel sick to your stomach and a bit nauseous. From Reuters:
Portland, Oregon flushes water reservoir after man urinates in it
Portland, Oregon is flushing 38 million gallons (143 million liters) of drinking water down the drain because a 19-year-old man urinated in an open reservoir early on Wednesday morning, city water officials said.
"That water goes directly into people's homes," David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau administrator said. "There is no way to re-treat it."
Assuming the volume of the guys pee was one pint, that would be a dilution of 304,000,000 to one -- right up there with the standard standard Homeopathic dilutions. Just imagine, a city reservoir full of a potent medicine to cure gagging and nausea...

The business of Yahoo

Two days ago I wrote about how Yahoo was handling its email business. Now, Matt Levine writes this at Bloomberg:

How Can Yahoo Be Worth Less Than Zero?
Yahoo Inc. is a public company consisting of a portfolio of
  1. whatever you think Yahoo is,
  2. a 35 percent stake in a separate but similar publicly traded company called Yahoo Japan, and
  3. a 24 percent stake in a separate, different, soon-to-be-publicly traded company called Alibaba.
My Bloomberg View colleague Matt Klein ran the numbers in March, and non-Bloomberg-affiliated Matt Yglesias ran them again today, and the numbers tell you that 2+3 > 1+2+3, as it were: Yahoo's Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stakes add up to be worth more than Yahoo is worth. Meaning that Yahoo's actual business -- Yglesias calls it "Tumblr and Flickr and the iOS weather app that I love and all the news sites and the mail and the fantasy sports stuff" -- is worth a negative amount of money, something like negative $13 billion today.

And also this with a link:

Of course, profits that theoretically belong to shareholders aren't necessarily paid out to shareholders: Yahoo pays no dividend and has a ... checkered management history, so you could easily take the cynical view that Yahoo will plow those profits back into a declining business, be completely mismanaged, run the business into the ground and leave shareholders with nothing.

That link goes to this November 2013 piece by William D. Cohan at Bloomberg:

While Loeb and Mayer have done well, Yahoo's users, especially the estimated 275 million Yahoo Mail users, have suffered mightily. Last month, Mayer announced a revamp of the Yahoo Mail user interface. Many people think, not coincidentally, that it looks like a clone of Google Inc.'s Gmail.

According to the New York Times, there have been tens of thousands of user complaints: everything from "The new Yahoo is so bad it's tragic" to "IF IT AIN'T BROKEN DON'T FIX IT" and "It just feels like Yahoo doesn't care about users like me: Longtime, loyal, paying customers who were happily using the Yahoo service."

A Yahoo forum contained additional complaints, such as "new page layout sucks! Have to scroll through two screens to find send button. Hate it" to "left navigation column does not show photo folder any longer. Bam...gone. just like that. Who knows where all my photos went? Please don't tell me they are all stuck within all of the thousands of email message now."

Much more at the site. Perfect example of out of touch management only concerned with maximizing the amount of money they can take from the company. Not concerned at all with the companies long-term health. Asshats!

The First Amendment

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Randall nails it:
The mouse-over comment is spot on:
I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.
Got an early run into town tomorrow and then back home to open the store at 10:00AM Heading upstairs to sleep...
Auction on May 16th. Looked interesting at the outset -- Weyerhaeuser is one of the world's largest private owners of timberlands (six million acres). Founded in 1900. Murphy Auctions is selling machine tools from their R&D Machine Shop. Looking at the auction listing, the tools look pretty well picked over and a lot of the larger machines show signs of heavy rusting. Murphy will post more information closer to the sale date so I'll keep an eye on this listing but I don't think it is worth the drive down at the moment.

J.D. Winteregg for Congress

J.D. Winteregg is running for Ohio Representative John Boehner's seat in Congress. I love the commercial:

J.D.'s campaign site is here: J.D. Winteregg for US Congress

If he wins, that would send a wonderfully strong message to the entrenched Republican machine.

About that murderer

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From American Power:
Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., Kansas Jewish Murder Suspect, Made Democrat Congressional Bid in 2006
The suspect ran for office numerous times, but he started as a Democrat in 1984, running in the North Carolina gubernatorial primary. After a number of other attempts at elected office, he returned home to the Democrat/Ku Klux Klan/Party in 2006, running in the Democrat primary for Missouri's 7th congressional district in 2006. His candidacy had the far-left hate site Daily Kos freaking out, "Racist felon running for the Dem nomination in MO-7."

Frazier Glenn Miller is a Democrat to the core.
The KKK was always Democrat to the core. Dr. Martin Luther King was a Republican.

Reaching the tipping point

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From CNS News:
86M Full-Time Private-Sector Workers Sustain 148M Benefit Takers
Buried deep on the website of the U.S. Census Bureau is a number every American citizen, and especially those entrusted with public office, should know. It is 86,429,000.

That is the number of Americans who in 2012 got up every morning and went to work � in the private sector � and did it week after week after week.

These are the people who built America, and these are the people who can sustain it as a free country. The liberal media have not made them famous like the polar bear, but they are truly a threatened species.

It is not a rancher with a few hundred head of cattle that is attacking their habitat, nor an energy company developing a fossil fuel. It is big government and its primary weapon � an ever-expanding welfare state.
Details on the number of makers:
In 2012, according to the Census Bureau, approximately 103,087,000 people worked full-time, year-round in the United States. "A full-time, year-round worker is a person who worked 35 or more hours per week (full time) and 50 or more weeks during the previous calendar year (year round)," said the Census Bureau. "For school personnel, summer vacation is counted as weeks worked if they are scheduled to return to their job in the fall."

Of the 103,087,000 full-time, year-round workers, 16,606,000 worked for the government. That included 12,597,000 who worked for state and local government and 4,009,000 who worked for the federal government.

The 86,429,000 Americans who worked full-time, year-round in the private sector, included 77,392,000 employed as wage and salary workers for private-sector enterprises and 9,037,000 who worked for themselves. (There were also approximately 52,000 who worked full-time, year-round without pay in a family enterprise.)

At first glance, 86,429,000 might seem like a healthy population of full-time private-sector workers. But then you need to look at what they are up against.
And the number of takers:
All told, including both the welfare recipients and the non-welfare beneficiaries, there were 151,014,000 who "received benefits from one or more programs" in the fourth quarter of 2011. Subtract the 3,212,000 veterans, who served their country in the most profound way possible, and that leaves 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers.

The 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers outnumbered the 86,429,000 full-time private sector workers 1.7 to 1.
A lot more at the site -- the author breaks down the numbers in detail and the overall picture is not sustainable. We are a few years behind Greece with zero attempt to reverse.

Another Open Source project - seeds

Great idea -- from the University of Wisconsin at Madison:
Novel Open Source Seed Pledge aims to keep new vegetable and grain varieties free for all
This week, scientists, farmers and sustainable food systems advocates will gather on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to celebrate an unusual group of honored guests: 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains that are being publicly released using a novel form of ownership agreement known as the Open Source Seed Pledge.

The pledge, which was developed through a UW-Madison-led effort known as the Open Source Seed Initiative, is designed to keep the new seeds free for all people to grow, breed and share for perpetuity, with the goal of protecting the plants from patents and other restrictions down the line.

"These vegetables are part of our common cultural heritage, and our goal is to make sure these seeds remain in the public domain for people to use in the future," says UW-Madison horticulture professor and plant breeder Irwin Goldman, who helped write the pledge.

Goldman will release two carrot varieties he developed-named Sovereign and Oranje in the spirit of the event-at a public ceremony Thursday's public ceremony, which is set for 11 a.m. on the front lawn of the UW-Madison's Microbial Sciences Building, 1550 Linden Drive.
Great idea but there is no real one-size-fits-all variety. Too many different climates in the USA. I get my seeds from a grower about 20 miles away and they grow like gangbusters.

Kermit Gosnell - the movie

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Kermit who? Kermit Gosnell was America's most prolific serial killer until his capture and trial. A great group of people are making a movie about him and raising funds through indiegogo. This is the same team that filmed Not Evil Just Wrong and FrackNation. The trailer:

A nice milestone for open source software

From The Apache Software Foundation:

The Apache Software Foundation Announces 100 Million Downloads of Apache OpenOffice
The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 170 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today that Apache OpenOffice has been downloaded 100 million times.

Apache OpenOffice is the leading Open Source office document productivity suite, available in 32 languages on Windows, OS X, and Linux. OpenOffice includes a word processor ("Writer"), a spreadsheet ("Calc"), a presentation editor ("Impress"), a vector graphics editor ("Draw"), a mathematical formula editor ("Math"), and a database management program ("Base"). As Open Source software, Apache OpenOffice is available to all users free of charge; the C++ source code is readily available for anyone who wishes to enhance the applications.

OpenOffice works with Microsoft Office files so it is a nice alternative to the $$$ that MSFT charges.

Download here: OpenOffice

From the Beeb:

Japan extracts gas from methane hydrate in world first
Japan says it has successfully extracted natural gas from frozen methane hydrate off its central coast, in a world first.

Methane hydrates, or clathrates, are a type of frozen "cage" of molecules of methane and water.

The gas field is about 50km away from Japan's main island, in the Nankai Trough.

Researchers say it could provide an alternative energy source for Japan which imports all its energy needs.

Other countries including Canada, the US and China have been looking into ways of exploiting methane hydrate deposits as well.

Pilot experiments in recent years, using methane hydrates found under land ice, have shown that methane can be extracted from the deposits.
And this:

A Japanese study estimated that at least 1.1tn cubic metres of methane hydrate exist in offshore deposits.

This is the equivalent of more than a decade of Japan's gas consumption.
Very cool!

Peak Oil - not so much

Great verification from Forbes Magazine:

Peak Oil, Entirely Nonsense: As is Peak Gas
One of the things that really rather annoys me about the peak oil (and in the UK, there�s a similar one about peak gas) argument is that it entirely ignores the impact of changing technology. The point is indirectly made here at The Guardian:
The Earth's crust is riddled with fossil fuels. The issue is not whether there is a shortage of the stuff, but the costs of getting it out. Until recently, the sheer abundance of low-cost conventional oil in places like the Middle East has limited the incentives to find more, and in particular to go after unconventional sources. But technical change has been driven by necessity - and the revolution in shale gas (and now shale oil, too) has already been transformational in the US, one of the world's biggest energy markets.
And to make the point more directly. Once we invent a new technology to extract oil or gas (or indeed any other mineral you might like to think of) this does not mean that we've just found that one new field that we've developed the new technology to extract oil or gas from. It means that we've just created a whole new Earth, an entire new planet that we can prospect for similar deposits that can be exploited with the new technology.

And of course, there is the whole abiogenic petroleum origin theory. Drill here, drill now. We could shut down Russia and the Saudis in a heartbeat if we started using our own resources...

This is My Money

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From Indianapolis, IN station WIBC -- Chicks on the Right They have their own website too: Chicks on the Right

British Pathè online

British Pathè is an English film company. From their About page:
About Us
British Pathè is one of the oldest media companies in the world.

Their roots lie in 1890s Paris where their founder, Charles Pathè, pioneered the development of the moving image.

They were established in London in 1902, and by 1910 were producing their famous bi-weekly newsreel the Pathè Gazette. After the First World War they started producing various Cinemagazines as well. By 1930 they were producing the Gazette, the Pathètone Weekly, the Pathè Pictorial and Eve's Film Review, covering entertainment, culture and womens' issues.

By the time Pathè finally stopped producing the cinema newsreel in 1970 they had accumulated 3500 hours of filmed history amounting to over 90,000 individual items.
Those 90,000 clips are now completely online and free for non-commercial use. Check out British Pathè There is also a YouTube page here.
There are email lists for an amazing number of topics ranging from accurate time keeping to My Little Pony to collecting Edison cylinders to Civil War re-enactment to... You get the picture. Many of these are hosted on the Yahoo Groups website. Yahoo makes money by selling targeted advertising to those people reading the groups through a web browser. You can also have new emails sent directly to your own email account to be read by your email app (Outlook, etc.). The Yahoo system had a clean interface and worked really well -- fast message handling. Unfortunately, a couple months ago, Yahoo made a major change to their email software and screwed up the user interface. This not only hurt web based email readers, this also hurt group administrators as they can only do their administrative functions through the Yahoo web interface. Rather than retract the new UI (like Slashdot did a month ago THANK YOU!!!), Yahoo is forging ahead to the extent that -- from The Register:
'Yahoo! Breaks! Every! Mailing! List! In! The! World!' says email guru
Email luminary John Levine has accused Yahoo! of sabotaging email lists for everyone, everywhere.

In a post titled �Yahoo! Breaks! Every! Mailing! List! In! The! World! Including! The! IETF's!'�, Levin explains �an emerging e-mail security scheme� called DMARC that �lets a domain owner make assertions about the From: address, in particular that mail with their domain on the From: line will have a DKIM signature with the same domain, or a bounce address in the same domain that will pass SPF [sender policy framework.�

Levine explains that DMARC has weaknesses, notably because �Lists invariably [sic] use their own bounce address in their own domain, so the SPF doesn't match. Lists generally modify messages via subject tags, body footers, attachment stripping, and other useful features that break the DKIM signature. So on even the most legitimate list mail like, say, the IETF's, most of the mail fails the DMARC assertions, not due to the lists doing anything 'wrong'.�

Most of the time that's not a big problem for the world at large. But Levine says �over the weekend Yahoo published a DMARC record with a policy saying to reject all yahoo.com mail that fails DMARC.�

Aside from lots of bounced emails that should go through, here's what Levine says will result from Yahoo!'s change:
�Since Yahoo mail provokes bounces from lots of other mail systems, innocent subscribers at Gmail, Hotmail, etc. not only won't get Yahoo subscribers' messages, but all those bounces are likely to bounce them off the lists.�
In other words lots of email not getting through, lots of automatic unsubscribes and lots of angry users and sysadmins.
Of the 33 lists I subscribe to, 24 are running through Yahoo Groups. Performance over the last two months has sucked. I can send 30 emails and they each show up in a few minutes but then I send one to the same group and it takes forever. Someone needs to get their collective crap together or Yahoo Group's client base will start moving somewhere else and they lose their advertising revenue and goodwill...

Heh - data mining for fun and profit

From The Atlantic:

The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs
One day, some drug dealer bought a particular digital scale -- the AWS-100 -- on the retail site, Amazon.com. And then another drug dealer bought the same scale. Then another. Then another.

Amazon's data-tracking software watched what else these people purchased, and now, if you buy the AWS-100 scale, Amazon serves up a quickstart kit for selling drugs.

Along with various scale-related paraphernalia, we find:
  • Many "spice" grinders
  • Pipe screens
  • A rolling paper and tray bundle
  • Bulk pure caffeine powder (perhaps to cut heroin?)
  • Baggies
  • More baggies
  • Skull baggies
  • Pot-leaf baggies
  • An encapsulation machine and gelatin capsules
  • A scientific spatula
  • A diamond tester (?!)
  • "Air Tight Odorless Medical Jar Herb Stash Medicine Container"
  • Digital caliper
  • Tweezer and snifter set for "miners and prospectors"
  • A tool for cleaning a gun part
  • A safe in the form of a Dr. Pepper can
  • Potassium Metabisulfite (for decontamination?)
  • A drug testing kit ("this kit contains the same reagent chemicals as found in Justice Department test kits")
  • A really powerful magnet
  • "TAP DAT ASH" ashtray
  • Beta alanine powder (maybe for bodybuilders?)
  • An actual drug called kratom (big in Thailand, apparently)
This is classic data mining at work. Even if each scale purchaser only made one other drug-related purchase, when you look at the clusters, the pattern becomes obvious.

The original article had links to each of the items listed above. Didn't feel like doing a large cut and paste session. Also, the Kratom link is suddenly 404'd for some strange reason. Unintended consequences -- never know when you need some skull baggies or an encapsulation machine...

Talk about overstepping their scope. From Gary Baise writing at Farm Futures: First - EPA's Water Police, Part One: Coming to Your Farm?
I just returned from Germany and Poland and was startled to discover the regulatory control the European Union exercises over its farmers and agriculture.

This should not be a surprise, however, when a farmer has the EU paying one-half the cost of his tractor and/or farm equipment.

In eastern Germany, we were also regaled with stories about the old communist government ordering planting on days it was raining.

Unfortunately we are headed in the same direction here.
Second - Water Police, Part Two: EPA Proposal Won't Help Ag Third - Water Police, Part Three: EPA's Definition of 'Tributary' This must be stopped in its tracks. It may not directly affect a city-dweller but it will most certainly show up in their food prices. A I have said before, this agency needs to have its budget cut by 90%. They initially did good work -- our rivers and air were dirty and now they are clean. Unfortunately, they fell victim to Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

Spooky action at a distance

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Just when you think you have a handle on something. Hat tip to NASA Science News

Putin's Girls



Have fun spending that money Nanny Bloomberg

From the New York Times:
Bloomberg Plans a $50 Million Challenge to the N.R.A.
Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda --- even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.

"They say, We don't care. We're going to go after you," he said of the N.R.A. "If you don't vote with us we're going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we're never going to stop."

He added: "We've got to make them afraid of us."
Emphasis mine - from the Wikipedia definition for Grassroots:
The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.
Fscking hypocrite. Nanny Bloomberg has a bit of an ego issue too:
But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: "I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I'm not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It's not even close."
What a maroon...
Hat tip Neatorama

A little test

From the Reaganite Republican(lightly edited):

TEST: Are you a Democrat, a Republican... or a Texan?
You are walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, a terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, raises the knife, and charges at you...

You are carrying a SIG Sauer 9mm, and you're an expert shot.

You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family.

What do you do?

Democrat's Answer:
  • Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!
  • Does the man look poor or oppressed?
  • Is he really a terrorist? Am I guilty of profiling?
  • Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
  • Could we run away?
  • Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?
  • What does the law say about this situation?
  • Does the pistol have appropriate safety built into it?
  • Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?
  • Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?
  • Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?
  • If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?
  • Should I call 9-1-1?
  • We need to raise taxes.
  • Can we make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior.
  • I need to debate this with some friends for a few days and try to come to a consensus.
  • This is all so confusing!
Republican's Answer: BANG!

(sounds of reloading)

Daughter: 'Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips or hollow-points?!

Son: 'Can I shoot the next one?!'

Wife: 'You ain't taking that thing to the taxidermist!

Heh - I grew up among academic liberals (9/11 was my Epiphany) and this is just pitch perfect...

It is not announced directly but from all appearances, it seems that Kraftwerk member Henning Schmitz is selling equipment from his recording studio in Dusseldorf. A lot of mundane signal and control processing equipment but some amazing nuggets there too. Pieces of music history.

Dodged that catastrophe

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From Miss Cellania at Neatorama:

Yikes! Bacteria in the attack

From Ars Technica:

Scientists pinpoint when harmless bacteria became flesh-eating monsters
Bacterial diseases cause millions of deaths every year. Most of these bacteria were benign at some point in their evolutionary past, and we don't always understand what turned them into disease-causing pathogens. In a new study, researchers have tracked down when this switch happened in one flesh-eating bacteria. They think the knowledge might help predict future epidemics.

The flesh-eating culprit in question is called GAS, or Group A β-hemolytic streptococcus, a highly infective bacteria. Apart from causing the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis, GAS is also responsible for a range of less harmful infections. It affects more than 600 million people every year, and it causes an estimated 500,000 deaths.

These bacteria appeared to have affected humans since the 1980s. Scientists think that GAS must have evolved from a less harmful streptococcus strain. The new study, published in PNAS, reconstructs that evolutionary history.

Lead researcher James Musser of the Methodist Hospital Research Institute said, "This is the first time we have been able to pull back the curtain to reveal the mysterious processes that gives rise to a virulent pathogen."

Some more:

Musser could also accurately date the genetic changes in GAS by using statistical models to turn back the clock on evolution. They say the last genetic change, which made GAS a highly virulent bacteria, must have occurred in 1983.

That timing makes a lot of sense. "The date we deduced coincided with numerous mentions of streptococcus epidemics in the literature," Musser said. Since 1983, there have been several outbreaks of streptococcus infections across the world. For example, in the UK, streptococcus infections increased in number and severity between 1983 and 1985.

Biology is a strange science -- something can go along for years and then, a flip happens and the story is re-written. We see this a lot in the evolutionary record.

Busy day today

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Had a couple new customers and two repeats -- it was actually busy for a while! Processed my first Western Union funds transfer.

DashCam - cheap insurance

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These puppies are about $150 for a decent one -- they store an hour or two of video and overwrite the oldest. It also has a GPS receiver so it records your position, velocity and direction. A good reason for having one comes from Oliver Darcy at The Blaze:
Federal Agent Tried to Blame Him for an Accident � Little Did He Know This Key Piece of Evidence Existed
A video circulating on the Internet appears to show a member of the U.S. Border Patrol crash into a civilians car � then wrongly blame the accident on the other driver, probably not knowing his dash-camera recorded the entire incident.
Heh -- video and police report at the site. The dashcam shows that the light was a solid green for the driver and that the Border Patrol officer was turning left at an intersection that was clearly marked for no left turns. You can get cheaper dashcams but you will want decent resolution for detail and you want the ability to plug in a memory card for extra recording time. Very handy if you are parked and something happens while you have been away for a few hours.

Great news - John Bolton

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I would love to see Ambassador Bolton get more involved in the 2016 election cycle. It seems that he is going gangbusters! From the National Review:
Bolton PACs Raise Big Money
John Bolton�s political-action committees are pulling in big bucks. Together, the former United Nations ambassador�s groups, a PAC and a super PAC that will back candidates who share Bolton�s belief in a muscular foreign policy, raised nearly $2 million since their launch in November, sources say. They will file a report with the Federal Election Commission later today.

The haul includes an impressive $1.1 million raised in the first quarter of 2014. As of Tuesday, the PAC had $318,000 cash on hand and the super PAC had over $1.1 million cash on hand. Though a good portion of the money came from top-dollar donors � Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus and conservative philanthropist Roger Hertog among them � over 7,000 small-dollar donors also contributed online and via direct mail. The group also boasts backers in all 50 states.

�We are very pleased with our results both in the first quarter and since we started,� Bolton tells National Review Online. �The grassroots support and the number of contributors in the early days prove two things: First, Americans care strongly about our country�s national security and second, they are deeply concerned about the harm caused to that security over the last five years. Our results demonstrate that candidates supporting a strong America will have the people behind them.�
His short tenure at the UN was stellar. The fact that he upset so many of the entrenched 'progressives' shows that he was doing good work.

Our Virtual President

Bill Whittle on taxes.

Heh - April 15th

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Two aspects of April 15th:

Well that was a bust - April Eclipse

Stayed up through the eclipse hoping for a break in the cover.
We had a bright fuzzy ball in the sky and then it faded out.
But it came back again so all is good!

Forecast is for rain through Saturday...

Eclipse just starting

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Got some camera gear set up -- not doing a time-lapse, just some telephoto closeups. The sky is a bit overcast so if it doesn't look decent by 11:45 or so, I will bag it and catch the next one on October 8th...

Lonely Chairs at CERN

CERN is of course, the huge European Organization for Nuclear Research, home to the Large Hadron Collider.

It is also home to many lonely chairs. Check out the photos at Lonely Chairs at CERN.

Here are three:




Awww, you just want to take the lil' guys home...

The joys of inbreeding - MERS

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Not MRSA, this is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. From the Wall Street Journal:
Deadly Virus's Spread Raises Alarms in Mideast
Saudi Arabia on Sunday confirmed a surge of cases of a deadly virus in the kingdom over the past two weeks, even as it tried to counter criticism that it wasn't doing enough to contain the outbreak.

The United Arab Emirates over the weekend separately announced six confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, among paramedics there, one of whom died of the illness. The high number of cases among medical workers raised questions about how effective Arab Gulf governments have been in controlling the 1�-year-old outbreak.
This is a very specific and unique disease. It was first identified in September 2012 and there have been 228 infections and 92 deaths. The middle-east culture has a long history of inbreeding in general. The high instance of hemophilia bears witness to this. Who is to say that this is not some new plague waiting to really blossom. Thank God that it is difficult to spread to healthy people.

Doing a disservice to one's congregation

Rule number one as a minister should be to never conflate science with prophesy.

From the New York Daily News:

Popular televangelist claims four blood moons are sign of 'world-shaking event'
The heavens are putting on a celestial show next week - and one Christian pastor is convinced it's a sign from God.

Bestselling author and televangelist Pastor John Hagee claims the four blood moons that will soon appear in the skies over America are evidence of a future "world-shaking event."

The blood moons are part of a tetrad, a set of complete and consecutive lunar eclipses that will begin on April 15 and continue in roughly six-month intervals until October 2015.

According to NASA, seeing four complete lunar eclipses in a row is very rare. The skies were tetrad-free from 1600 to 1900. But in the 21st century, there will be many.
What's even stranger is that Americans have a front row seat.

"The most unique thing about the 2014-2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA," NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak told CNN.

Hagee, founder of Texas' Cornerstone Church, thinks this is no coincidence. For him, it's a sign of the end times.

And a bit more:

He points to Acts 2:19-20, which reads, "And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord."

First of all, this first eclipse will be more straw color than the darker blood moon. Our atmosphere is more clean than usual so the light hitting the moon will not be as dark.

Next, this is just a cosmic coincidence -- there is no "Hand of God" in play here -- you can follow the orbits of the bodies for 1,000 years leading up to this event and you can calculate the orbits of the bodies for the 1,000 years that follow. God is not flipping a switch somewhere up in Heaven. The Spirit does not work that way...

Finally, cherry-picking two verses out of Acts 2 to represent your case is not a good move. Reading the whole thing it is talking about the Pentecost -- the conversion of other cultures to Christianity by delivering major 'visions' to them. I can only think that Pastor Hagee is shilling for his church and using a natural occurrence to raise money. It is always about the money with these false prophets...

From the Washingtonian comes this puff-piece on White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's wife and kids:

Balancing Act
ABC News contributor Claire Shipman is gently trying to coax her eight-year-old daughter, Della Claire Carney, to appear in a Washingtonian MOM photo shoot, in which Della might have to wear pink and comb her tangled mane.

Della is not easily swayed. She hates pink. Nor does she like to brush her hair. The daughter of Shipman and Jay Carney, President Obama's press secretary, isn't the kind of young girl interested in pleasing her Washington-power-couple parents, or any of the adults around her on the photo shoot for that matter. She is funny, sweet, and obviously smart, but she's not going to budge for braids and patterned shirts.

To Shipman, 51, this is great, though it can be trying. She'd love it if every once in a while Della would run a comb through her locks. Shipman and Carney's son, Hugo James Carney, on the other hand, spends a lot more time styling his red hair. "He's 12 going on 16," says Shipman. During the shoot, Hugo walked up to everyone on the production crew, held out his hand for a firm shake, and said, "Hello, I'm Hugo, nice to meet you"; to say he is a well-mannered tween is an understatement. Hugo and Della both attend Sidwell Friends School. The busy Carney-Shipman household also 'parents' one-year-old Flash, a Portuguese water dog who is a cousin to the Obamas' dog Sunny.

Sidwell Friends is where Obama's daughters go to school so this is a very politically connected family. Having one's dog be related to the President's dog is also a bit strange. What is the strangest is that their kitchen wall art (the two that we can see in the photo) are two Soviet Union Propaganda Posters:


From Business Insider:

Here Are The Two Soviet Propaganda Posters Hanging In The White House Press Secretary's Home
Washingtonian MOM magazine's spring issue has a profile of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's wife, ABC News contributor Claire Shipman, that features a picture taken inside their home. In the background of the photo, you can see two framed Soviet-era propaganda posters.

One of Carney's posters is a version of this iconic design by artist Dmitry Moor with a soldier pointing his finger alongside text that says "Have YOU Enlisted?" in Russian:
The other poster features a female factory worker. According to this eBay seller, who is offering one for $1,660, the poster was printed on June 26, 1941, days after Russia began fighting the Axis powers in World War II. It encourages women take jobs vacated by men who have gone to fight. The woman in the poster is switching out a tag with a man's name to one with hers and the text says: "Women! Learn production, replace workers who went to the front! The stronger the hinterland - the stronger the front!"

Not only is our president a socialist and communist sympathizer, he has surrounded himself with like-minded people. Press Secretary of all people. I wonder how long that article is going to remain posted. The old U.S.S.R. used to disappear incriminating images on a regular basis.

No day by the river for us...

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Was planning a picnic by the river (Racehorse Falls) but Lulu felt more like staying home. She is still having some side-effects from her fall a month ago. Staying close to home sounds like a good idea and I have a pile of stuff on my honey-do list anyway.

French aviation

For all the jokes about them, the French do aviation really really well. First helicopter to land on the summit of Mt. Everest-- that kind of thing... (video at the bottom of this post) Here is a flyby of three of their current products -- Business Jet, Military Jet and an Autonomous Drone:

And the Everest summiting in 2005:

View full-screen on each. These people have the Right Stuff... And a tip of the hat to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link to the latest video.

Gorgeous day today

Lulu and I spent it puttering around outside -- she in the garden, me in the equipment barn organizing and cleaning up a bit. The majority of it is unheated so during the winter, stuff gets jammed in there instead of put away neatly and it's a couple of days setting things right. Brought my PA system down to a community event and then went back to the house to do some more work - built a meatloaf which is in the oven now. Heading out to do some more yardwork and unload the truck. The hummingbirds are now eating about three pints of nectar per day. Setting out some more feeders in a day or two as more move into the area. Common house-flies have always been an issue here and just got turned onto Arbico Organics. They sell a parasitic wasp that feeds on the developing fly pupae. See if this works. Also setting up some bat houses and Mason Bee nests this year. Planning a day by the river tomorrow -- supposed to be nice and warm so pack a picnic lunch and bring the dogs... Meatloaf comes out of the oven in 40 minutes or so -- doing a salad and some left-over pasta with broccoli. More surfing after dinner.

Laws for thee but not for me

When the Volstead act was signed and brought about Prohibition, members of congress weren't affected. Wonderful historical article at The Atlantic:
How Congress Stayed Wet in the Dry Years of Prohibition
In a yet-to-be-gentrified area of Northeast D.C., a nondescript warehouse was unusually lively last Saturday afternoon. Inside? A spirited bottling party.

The Ivy City warehouse is home to New Columbia Distillers. Started in 2012 by Michael Lowe, New Columbia is unique in that it's the first distillery in Washington since before Prohibition.

But that isn't the company's only link to the country's teetotaling days. New Columbia's signature product, Green Hat Gin, is an homage to Congress's personal bootlegger.

While members of Congress may have championed Prohibition laws on the House floor, many of them happily broke the rules in any of the 3,000 speakeasies scattered throughout downtown Washington. And when members needed to restock their personal hooch supply, they turned to one man: George Cassiday.

During his time as a booze distributor on the Hill, Cassiday estimated that four out of five members of Congress drank�and many of them availed themselves of Cassiday's services. Congress even gave Cassiday his own storeroom in the basement of the Cannon office building.
A bit more:
Before the 1930 midterm elections, Cassiday wrote a series of five front-page articles for The Washington Post about his former clientele. Though he didn't name names, he gave plenty of colorful detail. One senator Cassiday supplied would hide his liquor on top of a bookshelf, next to the Congressional Record.

"He never mentioned liquor to me, but occasionally he would say he could use some 'new reading matter,'" Cassiday wrote. "This customer always referred to me as his 'librarian.' "
And a great loss of blackmail historical material:
After Cassiday died in 1967, his wife burned an important piece of D.C. history�Cassiday's ledger book. Today, it may have looked like a who's who in Congress from Prohibition days.
The article also references this 2011 book: Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren't Looks like it would be a fun read.

Celebrating Homeopathy Awareness Week

Let us celebrate this scam. From the website:
Homeopathy Awareness Week
Homeopathy Awareness Week takes place internationally from April 10th-16th and is aimed at raising awareness of homeopathic remedies. Each year, homeopaths from around the world use this week to promote their practice and gain publicity � yet public awareness of the realities of homeopathy remains low.

For example, many people mistakenly believe homeopathic products are a form of herbal product � not realising that homeopathic products typically contain no active ingredients at all. Over two centuries ago, the first homeopaths perversely decided that diluting an active medicinal ingredient makes it more potent, with the vast majority of remedies containing nothing at all! Modern homeopathic tablets are generally 100% sugar, containing no active ingredient whatsoever.

As part of World Homeopathy Awareness Week, we would like to raise awareness of twelve key points about homeopathy:
#1) In 2010, the UK Government Science and Technology Committee analysed the research into homeopathy and concluded that �homeopathic products perform no better than placebos.� This conclusion was backed up this week in a review by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. With many homeopaths claiming their pills can treat serious illnesses, homeopathy is a dangerous placebo.

#2) When Penelope Dingle chose to take the advice of her homeopath husband and treat her rectal cancer with homeopathic remedies, the results were tragic � her death was, according to the coroner, the result of being �influenced by misinformation and bad science�. There are real dangers in using homeopathy in place of real medicine.

#3) Homeopathy is big business. The homeopathic industry is highly-profitable for companies like Boiron, Weleda and Nelson�s. The UK homeopathic market is estimated at �213m per year � comparable to the US ($300m), France and Germany (�400m each). All this for treatments which have not been proven to be any more effective than placebo.

#4) In 2010, the NHS spent around �4 million on homeopathy � this money could instead be spent providing effective treatments, vital surgery and additional nursing staff. With NHS budgets under increasing pressure, wasting money by giving sugar pills to the sick is unjustifiable. According to the 2010 UK Government Science and Technology Committee: �The Government should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS.�

#5) In 2012, Boiron settled a class action law suit over their popular �Oscillococcinum� homeopathic remedy for colds and flu. Boiron claim the remedy is made from the heart and liver of a single duck - given that the �ultra-dilute� remedy contains nothing at all of the original duck and generates over $20 million of revenue, it has to be the ultimate �quack� remedy.

#6) Even now, groups such as Homeopaths Without Borders are currently offering ineffective homeopathic treatments in the developing world. Other homeopathy charities are known to dispense sugar pills to treat AIDS and the Ebola virus. Some of these groups are even promoted on the website of the World Homeopathy Awareness Organisation.
Six more points plus a lot more at the site. I have zero problems with alternative medicines -- I have profited by acupuncture and Chinese medicine and am experimenting with herbal medicines. That being said, homeopathy is just plain junk. It has zero bearing in medicine and promoting its use should be considered a criminal activity.

A case of over-reach by Senator Harry Reid

Dingy Harry needs to go now. There is a rancher - Cliven Bundy - who has been paying money to the State of Nevada for use of grazing lands. His family has been using this land since the 1890's. His family has improved the land, built fencing and developed water management. The Federal Bureau of Land Management is trying to bully its way into this state-owned property and there is a standoff happening now with about 200 armed Federal agents and a bunch of protesters. Received an email that links to Harry Reid's son Rory. There is a Chinese alt.energy development (ENN Energy Group)that was scheduled two years ago for this piece of property. A $5 Billion dollar project... I will post more when I get corroboration. This administration has no limit. Looking forward to November -- time to clean house...

Resistant starch

Lulu and I like to eat good food and this is starting to show in my gut. I was at 160 for a long long time but I have grown and am now at 185. I used to be over 200 about 20 years ago so this is not age related. I have no desire to go on a crash diet so I have been looking at 'hacking' my metabolism. Some people have been researching resistant starches -- these are starches that the human body will not digest but are readily consumed by the flora in your large intestine. Potato Starch from your grocery store is a perfect example and two heaping tablespoons stirred into a small glass of water is a proper dose. There is no taste and the only bad thing is that it leaves the mouth feeling 'sticky'. A simple rinse and that is taken care of. Here is an excellent presentation from some Australian researchers:
Richard Nikoley has been working on this subject and recording the results.

Huge auction coming up

I love going to auctions and one is coming up next week that will be fantastic. Unfortunately, my schedule prohibits me from attending. There was an amazing gun store 45 miles South of here. From their About Page:
About Kesselring's Gun Shop
Kesselring Gun Shop Inc was started in 1947 by Clarence Kesselring who began as a machinist and self taught gunsmith. Clarence became frustrated in the late 1930's that he could not find a good set of scope mounts. He began manufacturing his own design of scope mounts in the early 1940's until opening Kesselring Gun Shop in 1947. Clarence's son Ron Kesselring, worked alongside his Dad since he was a small boy. Ron began working full time in the business at the age of 18. Ron is world renowned for his vast knowledge of optics and competition shooting, winning the Canadian national Championship in .22 Silhouette two times, and tied for first in the U.S. Nationals once. Ron has also participated in the Washington State .22 Silhouette and .22 Gallery competitions placing as state champ twelve times!

On September 30th 2013 Kesselring Gun Shop Inc stopped selling firearms. Today Don Kesselring operates Kesselring's (still in it original location) with five other committed employees. Kesselring's always tries to offer you competitive pricing, and fast service. We can usually get our internet orders shipped the same day if the item is in stock.

Kesselring's primarily sells muzzleloaders, air rifles, ammunition, optics and reloading supplies. We stock more items than listed on this website so please email or call if you do not find what you are looking for.
So they lost their FFL (Federal Firearms License) for some reason. The upshot is that all of the guns and accessories are being sold in a massive two-day auction next week. From the Murphy Auction website: Day One and Day Two Well over 2,500 lots coming up for auction. Brand new guns, sights, laser rangefinders, gunsmithing tools, etc... If I was going to attend, I would book a hotel room down there and be there every day. Got too much other stuff on my plate though.

The War on Women - gender pay gap

From Jim Miller at Sound Politics:
What would you think of an employer who paid their female employees 66 percent of what they paid their male employees?
Different people would, I suppose, have different answers to that question. I, for one, would want to know whether the men and women were doing the same jobs, worked the same hours, and other such boring details.

President Obama and our senior senator, Patty Murray, would not be bothered by such details; they would be certain that the difference was due to bias, and might even say that the employer was waging a "war on women".

Which makes this ironic, to say the least.
It's time for Republicans to give women a fair shot at equal pay, Patty Murray said. So we did a little research. I was curious - how do the female Patty Murray staffers do compared to the male Patty Murray staffers?

It turns out, one of the worst offenders in the entire United States Senate on gender pay is Senator Patty Murray from Washington.

According to a 2012 report, female members of Patty Murray's staff on average made about $21,000 less per year than her male staffers. That is a difference of 34 percent. In other words, the female Patty Murray staffers make 66 cents for every dollar that the male Patty Murray staffers make.
The very worst senator in that 2012 article was Socialist Bernie Sanders � who caucuses with the Democrats.

No doubt, our ace local reporters are, even now, trying to find out whether that 2012 pay gap in Murray's office has shrunk, stayed the same, or grown.
Rules for thee, not me...

Disarming the Warriers

Bill Whittle is a national treasure:
From the Associated Press:
California city declares Sriracha maker a nuisance
A Southern California city has declared the factory that produces the popular Sriracha hot sauce a public nuisance.

The Irwindale City Council's action Wednesday night gives the factory 90 days to make changes to stop the spicy odors that prompted complaints from some residents last fall. Declaring a public nuisance will allow city officials to enter the factory and make changes if the odors persist after the deadline.

The decision came despite testimony by air-quality experts that progress was being made toward a resolution. The South Coast Air Quality Management District said its inspectors have taken air samples inside the plant, and believed the information gathered should allow the factory and the city to resolve their differences.

Attorney John Tate, who represents Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods, Inc., said the company had been working with the AQMD on its filtration system since the complaints first arose and was committed to finding long-term solutions by June 1.

He called the public nuisance declaration a demonstration of "the city flexing its muscle and thumbing Huy Fong in the eye."
This is absurd - they spent $40 million on a new plant, grossed $85 million last year (and pay taxes on this) and employ 200 people. This "council" is weighing this against the complaints of a few people. From the article:
Data provided by the AQMD showed the majority of complaints came from four households.
Sounds like a couple people need to find something else to do...

Scapegoat in 3.. 2.. 1..

From Jonathan S. Tobin writing at Commentary:
Sebelius�s Dangerous Legacy of Incompetence and Deception
President Obama�s cheerleaders like to compare him to Abraham Lincoln. In most respects, this is a travesty that both inflates the meager accomplishments of our 44th president and demeans the heroic achievements of our 16th. But in seeking the right moment to dump Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after her shocking failures during the ObamaCare rollout, the president did take a page out of Lincoln�s handbook.

When Lincoln was thinking about the right moment to unveil the Emancipation Proclamation he told his Cabinet that it had to wait until after the Union won a victory over heretofore-ascendant rebel armies. Though the victory he seized upon for the announcement�the battle of Antietam�was really a bloody draw from which the Confederate army was allowed to escape, it was enough to provide cover for a great and historic act that was intensely controversial at the time. Similarly, President Obama knew that the necessary transition at HHS would have to wait until after the storm of criticism that had come down on Sebelius during the ObamaCare rollout had subsided. But after the administration was able to pump up the number of those enrolled in the program to the 7 million figure by the April 1 deadline, the president declared a victory in the battle over the unpopular program that was far shakier than even the Union�s claims after Antietam.
A bit more at the site:
In fairness to Sebelius, it must be noted that she was not the architect of ObamaCare. The president and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi deserve principle credit for the monstrosity that emerged from Congress in 2010. But her hands-off management led to disaster as she failed to alert the president to the fact that her department was simply nowhere near ready to launch the law in October. The result was the infamous Healthcare.gov website that made a laughingstock of Sebelius but also called into question the basic competence of the administration.

Of course, the real problem with ObamaCare was never the �glitchy� website but the entire concept of a government takeover of health care that would hurt as many, if not more, people than it helped. Yet Sebelius�s foolish confidence and stonewalling of Congress about the disaster will forever stick in the public consciousness as a symbolic of what can go wrong when a career politician is asked to do the job only a technocrat can deal with.
Much more at the site.

Interesting technology from Land Rover

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Put a camera on the front and feed it to a heads-up display on the windshield:

An interesting statistic

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From Science 2.0:
Vegetarians Found To Have More Cancer, Allergies And Mental Health Disorders
Population-based studies have consistently shown that our diet has an influence on health - a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended.

But some people go overboard and just eat meat. Or just eat vegetables. Evidence for health benefits of exclusive diets is scant. Vegetarians are considered healthier, they are wealthier, they are more liberal, they drink less alcohol and they smoke less - but those are a lot of variables in health that don't necessarily result from being a vegetarian.

A cross-sectional study taken from the Austrian Health Interview Survey AT-HIS 2006/07 found that vegetarians are actually less healthy than normal eaters. Subjects were matched according to their age, sex, and socioeconomic status leaving 1320 people - 330 vegetarians, 330 that ate meat but still a lot of fruits and vegetables, 300 normal eaters but that ate less meat, and 330 on a more carnivorous diet.

After controlling for variables, they found that vegetarians did have lower BMI and alcohol consumption but had poorer overall health. Vegetarians had higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders, a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life.
You are what you eat after all...

Moving to Stockholm?

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This video certainly promotes it -- the magician is Charlie Caper:
I love close-up magic. Do not have the dexterity to do it myself but I love it when it is done well... And, for a trip down memory lane, we cannot forget this classic: Bill Malone presents "Sam the Bellhop"

Busy day

Played hooky from the business today. Had to go into town to pick up a Craigslist freebie, Doctors appointment (nothing major), lawyer meetup, pay for some carpet, return a borrowed item and a couple shopping stops. Had dinner in town and just got back -- tired. Halfway tempted to crawl into bed now but I would be bolt awake at 5:00AM unable to get back to sleep. Had a schedule like that when I used to work for MSFT and do not feel like resuming it now... Lulu and Curtis are coming out tomorrow -- he had a welding class yesterday and she has a doctors appointment (again, nothing major) of her own tomorrow. The hummingbirds are here in full force. I filled the two feeders this morning and there is only an inch or two of nectar left. These are large feeders - 48 fluid ounces - three pints! Got a gallon of nectar in the fridge for tomorrow and Saturday and bought 25 pounds of cane sugar today at Costco. Heading out to unpack the truck, surf for a bit, glass or two of vino and then crawl up to bed.

Happy ending

From Seattle, WA station KOMO:

Deputies: Lynnwood homeowner shoots 2 burglars
Two men were shot and injured as they attempted to burglarize a Lynnwood home Thursday night, according to the Snohomish County sheriff's Office.

Shari Ireton with the sheriff's office said two men tried to break into a home in the 15800 block of Highway 99 at about 10 p.m.

A 54-year-old woman and her 21-year-old son were inside the house, and Ireton said the son grabbed a gun and opened fire on the two burglars. One of the men was hit in the back and the other was hit in the arm, Ireton said.

The burglars, both 20 years old, took off on foot and were captured a short time later.

A neighbor, Lorie Brown, says she watched as the two suspects in black hoodies ran up the driveway away from the residence.

"They ran really fast up the driveway. They left a shoe behind - it's a Nike Air Jordan. ... They ran really fast, and you can tell something went down."

An armed society is a polite society. Hope those two mokes reconsider their choices in life...

Music for video

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I have been playing a lot with time-lapse photography of all sorts. Some of the stuff is almost ready for prime time (uploading to YouTube anyway). Finding a suitable soundtrack that doesn't require a royalty payment can be difficult. Enter Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com All of the works on his website is licensed under Licensed under Creative Commons. All that is needed is to give him credit on your credits roll. Don't want to do this? You can buy the rights for $30. Some really nice stuff there!

Redneck Jedi

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You might be a redneck Jedi if...
  1. You ever heard the phrase, "May the force be with y'all."
  2. Your Jedi robe is a camouflage color.
  3. You have ever used your light saber to open a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill.
  4. At least one wing of your X-Wings is primer colored.
  5. You have bantha horns on the front of your land speeder.
  6. You can easily describe the taste of an Ewok.
  7. You have ever had an X-wing up on blocks in your yard.
  8. You ever lost a hand during a light saber fight because you had to spit.
  9. The worst part of spending time on Dagobah is the dadgum skeeters.
  10. Wookies are offended by your B.O.
  11. You have ever used the force to get yourself another beer so you didn't have to wait for a commercial.
  12. You have ever used the force in conjunction with fishing/bowling.
  13. Your father has ever said to you, "Shoot, son come on over to the dark side...it'll be a hoot."
  14. You have ever had your R-2 unit use its self-defense electro-shock thingy to get the barbecue grill to light.
  15. You have a confederate flag painted on the hood of your landspeeder.
  16. Although you had to kill him, you kinda thought that Jabba the Hutt had a pretty good handle on how to treat his women.
  17. You have ever accidentally referred to Darth Vader's evil empire as "them damn Yankees."
  18. You have a cousin who bears a strong resemblance to Chewbacca.
  19. You suggested that they outfit the Millennium Falcon with red wood deck.
  20. You were the only person drinking Jack Daniels on the rocks during the cantina scene.
Hey -- I resemble some of those...

So true

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From The Washington Times:
Report: EPA accused of overkill in �raid� on Alaska gold-mine
Last year�s Environmental Protection Agency raid on the small gold-mining town of Chicken, Alaska, constituted a clear case of overkill by federal authorities seeking violations of environmental regulations, according to an official review of the controversial incident released Thursday.

The review also concluded that EPA officials have been uncooperative in some cases in releasing information on how the raid was conceived and carried out.

The federal agency caused an uproar in the tiny community and across the state when about 10 armed agents, accompanied by helicopters, raided the mining operations on Aug. 19 in order to investigate whether they were violating the Clean Water Act, or, as Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican, described it, �to see if the family-run mining businesses were making the water too muddy.�
They need to have their budget cut by 90%. Talk about scope creep...

Handy utility for Win8 users

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Get your start menu back again. Download Start Menu 8

Ranching in Nevada

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From The Blaze:
Armed Fed Agents and Snipers? Nevada Rancher Is Taking on the Gov�t in a Battle That�s Reaching a Breaking Point
Armed federal agents deployed last week to northeast Clark County, Nev., for what can only be described as a major escalation in a decades-long standoff between a local cattle rancher and the U.S. government.

Cliven Bundy, the last remaining rancher in the southern Nevada county, stands in defiance of a 2013 court order demanding that he remove his cattle from public land managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior�s Bureau of Land Management.

The 67-year-old veteran rancher, who has compared the situation to similar confrontations with government officials in Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas, told TheBlaze that his family has used land in the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area since the late 1800s.

�I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,� he said, explaining that among them is the right to forage.
�Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land? Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Or is it Cliven Bundy who is trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Who�s the trespasser?�
Claiming that all other options have been exhausted, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. National Park Service responded to Bundy�s inflexibility on the issue by calling on federal agents and contract cowboys to restrict access to the public land and to confiscate Bundy�s �trespass cattle.�
My money would be on Bundy -- his use has been grandfathered in since the 1800's. Why does the federal government think it can come in and just take the land?

Interesting development

I already take it regularly -- nice side effect!

From the London Daily Mail:

Could a popular arthritis supplement be the key to a longer life? Glucosamine could extend life 'by 8 years'
A food supplement made from crab shells could hold the key to a long life, according to scientists.

Tests on mice found glucosamine extended lifespan by almost 10 per cent - equivalent to an extra eight years in human terms.

It is thought the sugar-like supplement, which has long been used to keep joints healthy and ease the pain of arthritis, extends life by altering the metabolism.

I get an adverse reaction to the marine derived glucosamine but there is a vegetarian variety available and that works fine.

Charles O'Rear

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You may not know the name but you have seen his photograph. Arguably the most seen photograph in the world.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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From the Los Angeles Times:
LAPD officers tampered with in-car recording equipment, records show
Los Angeles police officers tampered with voice recording equipment in dozens of patrol cars in an effort to avoid being monitored while on duty, according to records and interviews.

An inspection by Los Angeles Police Department investigators found about half of the estimated 80 cars in one South L.A. patrol division were missing antennas, which help capture what officers say in the field. The antennas in at least 10 more cars in nearby divisions had also been removed.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and other top officials learned of the problem last summer but chose not to investigate which officers were responsible. Rather, the officials issued warnings against continued meddling and put checks in place to account for antennas at the start and end of each patrol shift.

Members of the Police Commission, which oversees the department, were not briefed about the problem until months later. In interviews with The Times, some commissioners said they were alarmed by the officers' attempts to conceal what occurred in the field, as well as the failure of department officials to come forward when the problem first came to light.
This is a serious breach of public trust. These people work for us, they are not an autonomous entity. Post title? Here.

The Argyle Sweater

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Today's was cute:

Carbon Dioxide - an illustration

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Find the red 'x'
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
There are 2,500 x's here with one being red and 2,499 being black. This is the same ratio as 400 / 1,000,000 which is approximately the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere (400 parts per Million). Of the rest of the x's, 1,950 are Nitrogen, 525 are Oxygen and 24 are Argon and trace gasses. Much more here: THE ALARMING CONCENTRATION OF CO2 and WHY ENGINEERS (SPECIFICALLY) SHOULD BE VERY SKEPTICAL OF CLAIMS OF DANGEROUS MAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING

A trip down memory lane - Windows XP

Finished installing it on my Dad's computer.

I verified it via phone call so I now have a valid serial number/activation code pair.

The computer is fairly modest by today's standards (I built it about ten years ago) but XP is downright zippy. Some fun nostalgia...

Riot act - the reading thereof

Major props to Rep. Louie Gohmert.

And Attorney General Holder -- you are beneath contempt. You disgust me for your partisan Chicago-style machinations. You are not representing the United States of America and you sure as Hell are not representing its citizens. The sooner you are impeached, the better.

You would literally get more energy by taking the funding for this "research", converting it to paper dollar bills and burning it in a furnace. From the London Daily Mail:
Could you soon be filling up with SEAWATER? US Navy reveals 'game changing' fuel created from water
The US Navy has developed a radical new fuel made from seawater.

They say it could change the way we produce fuel - and allow warships to stay at sea for years at a time.

Navy scientists have spent several years developing the process to take seawater and use it as fuel, and have now used the 'game changing' fuel to power a radio controlled plane in the first test.
Sounds interesting right? I also have a new invention. I have this process that takes the ashes from your fireplace, processes them and the end result is new firewood. Are you calling bullshit on this? Good. Now consider this -- Water is an ash. Water is the end result of the chemical combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Trying to use it as a fuel is like trading US Dollars for Mexican Pesos on a one-to-one basis. Futile. Stupid to even consider. To quote Robert Anson Heinlein: TANSTAAFL I will be digging into this some more.

Poseidon Rex Trailer

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Looks like fun!

Windows XP day

Spending some time today installing Windows XP on my Dad's old computer.

I am saving his hard drive and using another -- this will become the controller unit for a digital printer (RISO) I have at the business.

The control software will only run with XP or Windows NT 4.

NT 4 was another example of MSFT's even-numbered sucky Operating Systems (Vista or Win8 anyone?) so XP it is...

Three years ago today

Ann Barnhardt delivered this epic rant:

From her website:

Happy Bacon & Satanic Political Manifesto Conflagration Day to Me!
Memories, like the corners of my mind. Misty watercolored memories.

Yes, it was three years ago today that I forever made myself into the crazy-eyed chick who does unladylike things involving korans, cured pork products, and fire. Oh, and I also handed Lindsey Graham his own ass, too. "The only way it ends is with you sobbing in the men's room." Heh. Indeed.

There are a couple of words that I would change, just to tighten things up a bit, and I would correct the Mapplethorpe-Serrano misattribution, but this really is aging quite well - like a bold-yet-velvety Cru Beaujolais of righteous, two-fisted wrath.

Job interview tips from The Onion

Dang, I wish I had known some of these when I was still in the workforce...

Al Sharpton - CI-7

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I'm sure everyone knows about his by now - from The Smoking Gun:
Al Sharpton's Secret Work As FBI Informant
When friends and family members gathered recently at the White House for a private celebration of Michelle Obama�s 50th birthday, one of the invited partygoers was a former paid FBI Mafia informant.

That same man attended February�s state dinner in honor of French President Francois Hollande. He was seated with his girlfriend at a table adjacent to President Barack Obama, who is likely unaware that, according to federal agents, his guest once interacted with members of four of New York City�s five organized crime families. He even secretly taped some of those wiseguys using a briefcase that FBI technicians outfitted with a recording device.
I am less curious about Sharpton's past. I am more curious about who leaked this and why (and why now)? Who stands to benefit? Where is the money going?

First HiFi and now, Violins

For years, there has been a fringe arena for high fidelity audio reproduction where the cost of entry is obscene.

Speaker cable for $3,000/foot when simple 10-gage Romex or THHN works just as well.

The magazines that promote this kind of tomfoolery have steadfastly refused to base their product reviews on a simple double-blind A/B test and when A/B tests have been performed, the supposed enhanced clarity was a statistical dead heat -- purely random.

The same bleeding-edge has applied to violins for a long long time -- a Strad or Guarneri completely trumps a modern instrument. No comparison. I can pick out the difference in a subway station at rush hour with one ear pinned behind my back. That obvious. Turns out not so much -- from the AAAS Science Magazine (AAAS being the American Association for the Advancement of Science):

Elite Violinists Fail to Distinguish Legendary Violins From Modern Fiddles
If you know only one thing about violins, it is probably this: A 300-year-old Stradivarius supposedly possesses mysterious tonal qualities unmatched by modern instruments. However, even elite violinists cannot tell a Stradivarius from a top-quality modern violin, a new double-blind study suggests. Like the sound of coughing during the delicate second movement of Beethoven's violin concerto, the finding seems sure to annoy some people, especially dealers who broker the million-dollar sales of rare old Italian fiddles. But it may come as a relief to the many violinists who cannot afford such prices.

The first test had a small sample size and was performed in a hotel room - not optimal acoustic conditions. A second test was performed with more players, more instruments and two rooms -- a small rehearsal room and a 300-seat auditorium. The result?

The consistency of results from session to session showed that soloists could definitely distinguish one violin from another. However, the soloists seemed to prefer the new violins, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In their lists of favorites, new violins outnumber old ones roughly 3-to-2, and the most popular violin by far was a new one, denoted N5. Musicians rated qualities of new instruments higher, too. And when it came to telling old violins from new, the soloists did no better than if they had simply guessed.

About that global warming - a three-fer

First -- from the Pittsburgh, PA Tribune-Review:

'Catastrophic' winter puts Western Pennsylvania winemakers in sour mood
Winemaker Bob Mazza doesn't mince words about how this winter's deep freeze affected his grape harvest.

"It's been pretty catastrophic for the more tender European varieties," said Mazza, president and owner of Mazza Vineyards near Erie, about the grapes producing popular wines including Riesling, Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

"Damage could be as high as 90 percent," Mazza said. The family-owned winery has operated for more than 40 years, helped by cool Great Lakes breezes and sandy soil that usually mean perfect conditions for growing grapes.

Second -- from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Gary Works steel mill closed due to Great Lakes ice
U.S. Steel has temporarily halted steelmaking at its massive northwestern Indiana mill because the ice-covered Great Lakes have cut off the mill's access to vital iron ore.

The Gary works are the nations largest mill - the facility is seven miles long. Third -- the snows of Kilimanjaro. From Anthony at Watts Up With That:

Kilimanjaro glaciers just won't die - 'nowhere near extinction'
From the we told you so, time and time again department comes this story about Gore's buddy, Dr. Lonnie Thompson and his Kilimanjaro glacier that just won't die like they want it to, even though they don't believe their own hype.

From ETN Global Travel Industry News:
Mount Kilimanjaro Glaciers nowhere near extinction

Lots more at each of the three stories. It's not Science folks, it is politics.

Cool tool - Calendar Labs

Need a custom calendar - go to Calendar Labs.

From their website:

Free Calendar Service
CalendarLabs is the one stop destination for all the needs of calendars. We provide different kind of printable yearly and monthly calendar for any year between 1800 and 3000. Here you can easily find and customize calendars. Calendars with holidays are also available in different format for more than 20 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States. You can create a photo calendar by using your own photo or with a photo available here. We also provide calendar content widget for blogs and websites. Some people call calendar as calender or calenders. In languages other than English calendar is called as calendrier, kalendaryo, Kalender, calendario or calend�rio. Whatever you call it, we have all this for you.

We keep on adding numbers of Calendar templates with 2014 holidays. We provide 2014 calendar with holidays of 25 different countries which can help you in your travel plan. Brief descriptions of many holidays are provided here so that it will help us to know the history and culture of different countries. We also provide 2014 astrology calendar to fulfil your astrological needs.

Windows XP - a two-in-one story

Yesterday, I had posted about how England is paying Microsoft £5.5m to keep the security patches for Windows XP up to date for one more year.

As a reminder, the NHS is their National Health Service -- what Obamacare wants to be when it grows up.

This story was picked up today at Slashdot and one of the commenters had this to say:

Re:... really 13 years to update? (Score:5, Insightful)
Okay, smartarse.
You have a lab microscope that costs £100,000. It's been working for 10 years and does exactly what you need. Attached to it is a PC to do image processing. That PC is supplied as part of the machine and includes one-off software to operate the microscope.

Now you say, of course, just ask how much it costs to get the equivalent software for 7, eh? Simple. But the microscope manufacturer hasn't sold anything to you in ten years. So they'll sell you a Windows 7 version. They'll charge you £90,000 for it. Or for £95,000 they'll sell you it attached to a new microscope worth £90,000 on it's own.

What do you do?

Well, actually you work for the NHS. Which had fuck-all money as it pisses it away on management consultants. So instead of either option, you get fuck-all. Now when the attached PC dies, you need to hope your IT guys have an image. When your IT guys move to Windows 7 for the central system, you better hope it can connect to it to store the images. You can't virtualise it because the DRM on the interface cost the manufacturer at least £10,000 to implement to stop you doing precisely that.

Now you're screwed. You can't put your lab slides into the national health system without a lot of manual pissing about. You can't justify buying just the Windows 7 version of the software / drivers (because you might as well just buy a new microscope, and that would come under buildings budget or medical equipment, not IT upgrades). You can't negotiate them down anywhere near sense. You can't replace the machine and - eventually - it's going to die.

And every year the microscope manufacturer puts up their prices by £10,000.

Now multiply by every hospital in the country.

Now multiply by every piece of large equipment (genetics machines, blood samplers, X-Ray machines, ECG's, MRI's, etc.).

Soon, it just becomes better to leave it the fuck alone and wait until you NEED to do something. Then you can justify it, now that it's broken and you need it. And then you can get the government to step in and negotiate a deal. That's what's happened. And the government have said "For fuck's sake!" and gone to MICROSOFT rather than the multitude of equipment manufacturers.

Think I'm exaggerating? My girlfriend is a geneticist in an NHS hospital. The machine she works on is 15 years old, dog-slow compared to the state of the art, and runs off Windows XP embedded. When it dies, the IT team has to track down an old IDE hard drive to fit into it and image it back. And she has to manually transfer images to the "real" integrated system to put them on patient records.

And the NHS haven't even BEGUN to get off Windows XP on the desktop where she works. Precisely because of, and a contributing factor to, this shit.

This is a two-in-one story.

First -- this is exactly the case. Many other fields are having the same problem. Some of the computer controlled machining tools are running XP as an embedded system -- you never see email or a browser but it is Windows XP controlling your machine and their proprietary software. Are you going to junk a ten year old $300,000 Haas vertical mill that is about half-way paid off so you can do an operating system upgrade? There are ways to isolate these machines from the internet so there is no security risk but the machinist who is sitting at his desk surfing pron emailing clients will also want to log into their machine to see how the job is going or to upload a new job.

I play keyboards and there are some applications that require XP or earlier for operation and there was never any good replacement for them - specifically Sound Diver which was published in 2001, developed a strong fan base. The parent company (EMagic) was purchased by Apple around 2005 and Sound Diver was promptly dropped. I can name a couple others off the top of my head.

Second -- the author makes a telling statement:

Well, actually you work for the NHS. Which had fuck-all money as it pisses it away on management consultants.

I have not been able to find hard numbers (what a surprise) but this 26 Dec 2009 article in the UK Telegraph paints a dismal general picture:

Spending on NHS bureaucracy up 50 per cent
The increases include a 43 per cent rise in the costs of managers, while spending on clerical staff rose by 78 per cent at Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), which decide how NHS funds should be used. Meanwhile, their expenditure on management consultants and temporary staff more than doubled.

Patients' groups accused the Government of wasting "ludicrous and heartbreaking" sums expanding an army of administrators while starving the frontline of resources.

In 2006, ministers promised to cut NHS administration costs by halving the total number of PCTs - the organisations which decide which treatments and medications are funded - from 303 to 150.

In fact, Department of Health figures show that in the four years ending last year, the total amount spent on administration went from £1.43 billion to £2.14 billion - a rise of 49.5 per cent.

This does need to be taken with a grain of salt as the hard numbers are not being given. If there was a budget of 1,000 Quatloos and the administrative costs went from 10 Quatloos to 20 Quatloos, you would be looking at a 200% increase -- from 1% to 2%.
The story goes on:

As the total number of organisations shrunk, the new larger bodies spent more hiring temporary staff and consultants, according to an analysis of the DoH figures by the Conservatives. In total, PCT spending on outside agencies rose from £53 million to £139 million - an increase of 162 per cent.

And more:

"This Labour Government has said an awful lot about putting the patient at the centre of services, but what we find is that the current system puts more and more layers between the patient and their doctor and nurse, and leaves vulnerable people fighting against a system of targets."

This is what we are facing with Obamacare. There is no money to pay for this new law. Sure, they are saying that 7,000,000 people signed up. They do not say that 6,000,000 lost their medical insurance and there is no mention of how many people had their rates increased. The policy I have for Lulu and me is because I worked at MSFT. It is a good policy but it has gone up by $200/month over the last year and co-pays have gone from $15 to $40. Thanks Barry!

RIP Peter Matthiessen

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Peter Matthiessen was someone whose books I devoured back in the late 60's and 70's when I was a Marine Biology/Physical Oceanography student at Boston University. He had an outward exploration of places and cultures but also an inward exploration of self. He passed away yesterday -- the New York Times has an excellent obituary. Going to have to get some of his books from the library and read them again.

Seasons at the farm

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A week ago, both Lulu and I were outside doing stuff and we remarked later that we each thought we had heard a hummingbird. Didn't see any but they have a very distinctive sound. I put out a feeder and now, one week later, the word is out! There are a good fifteen birds jockeying for positions at our two feeders. Last year, we started in mid-March and started to get birds early April so we are right on schedule. By July 12th, I had gone through 50 pounds of cane sugar! Got a gallon of nectar boiling on the stove and my first batch is almost gone.

An fluffy animal story

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The Mozilla kerfuffle

The news has spread around the web by now. The Chief Executive Officer of Mozilla was ushered out because, in 2008, he had contributed $1,000 to California's Proposition Eight -- defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Prop. 8 passed with a 52% majority. What is interesting is the overwhelming commentary on the Mozilla website. A few entries:

  • I am posting this from Chrome. Firefox is gone, and shortly, Thunderbird will be gone as well. A commitment to diversity and openness that means firing someone for contributing to a campaign that was no extremist that a majority of even Californians voted for it? Firefox Fascism: diverse and tolerant, except if you don't bad the Gaystapo point of view.
  • Just one more former customer/user of firefox expressing my extreme disappointment in the "resignation" of Mr. Eich. You people make me sick. While you're at it, may as well just re-code your browser to block all websites you don't approve of.
  • I have used Firefox exclusively for as long as I can remember. I tell everyone about it, and help them download it. Now I found out that if you are like most of the country, and do not believe the definition of marriage should be changed, that firefox doesn't want us around. Strange that a company that professes to champion free speech would work so hard to silence those of us, the majority of the country in fact, who choose not to change our ideology to conform with those who would...
  • I am gay and I am not offended by what Mr. Eich did. I don't like where this company is going with this-this country. It's a damn shame and I will no longer use Mozilla products. Thank you.
  • I just wanted to let you know that I have removed Mozilla Firefox from my computer. I have always been very happy with your service, but when I heard about the choice to force out Brendan Ike for supporting an organization that supported his personal views on gay marriage I had to make my own stand. I believe that he, and everyone else, has the right to express their views on such matters. That right was given to us in the 1st amendment. I am aware that many other people will and have made...
  • I strongly disagree with your former CEO's views, but to see someone pilloried for their personal beliefs is disturbing. Firefox is gone from all my machines, replaced with Chrome. I won't be back, and will encourage others to do the same.
  • The company forced a person out because of personal beliefs - so much for be open and inclusive.
  • You should have followed the Corporate example of Chick-fil-A, instead of knuckling to a dating site that I've never heard of. Dan Cathy was attacked WAY harder & with more intensity than You were, and he stood up for his Freedom of Speech, and AMERICA stood up for him. The Gay Gestapo tried so hard to punish Chick-fil-A for their CEO's beliefs, and it backfired in a huge way. They went on to set sales records during that time, and have recently taken over as the #1 Fast Food Chicken Outlet...

From Ars Technica:

Experian in hot seat after exposing millions of social security numbers
Regulators from several states are investigating a data breach from a subsidiary of the credit-tracking behemoth Experian.

The investigation by attorneys general in these states concerns whether the subsidiary adequately secured some 200 million social security numbers and whether victims were properly notified. The investigation, first disclosed by Reuters, comes as the Obama administration is pressing for legislation requiring companies to better secure customer data.

A Vietnamese man who operated a website, called findget.me, offering social security numbers has pleaded guilty to charges that he obtained the data from the Experian subsidiary, Court Ventures. The firm, a court document retrieval service, also jointly maintains a database of some 200 million social security numbers with another firm.

Hieu Ngo, who is to be sentenced in New Hampshire federal court in June, posed as a foreign investigator and conducted more than 3 million queries on the database during a nine-month period ending in 2012 before being cut off, according to court documents.

I had blogged about that initial breach October of last year and I had a little bit of fun with their recordkeeping last February.

SCADA in the news again

I find these stories about SCADA to be fascinating. The people who develop these systems have no real clue about security and yet, they expect their boxes to be connected to the internet. SCADA stands for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition. These are the systems you find in factories and plants controlling all of the hardware. A perfect example of a SCADA exploit is the Stuxnet worm that gave the Iranian's such hardship with their nuclear bomb making activities. Now it seems that a new problem has been discovered -- from the Beeb:

Power plants put at risk by security bugs
The discovery of bugs in software used to run oil rigs, refineries and power plants has prompted a global push to patch the widely used control system.

The bugs were found by security researchers and, if exploited, could give attackers remote access to control systems for the installations.

The US Department of Homeland Security said an attacker with "low skill" would be able to exploit the bugs.

About 7,600 plants around the world are using the vulnerable software.

"We went from zero to total compromise," said Juan Vazquez, a researcher at security firm Rapid7 who, with colleague Julian Diaz, found several holes in Yokogawa's Centum CS 3000 software.

Don't start panicking quite yet:

The Rapid7 researchers alerted Yokogawa about their findings before publicising their work to give the company time to produce a patch that can close the loopholes.

"Not all Centum CS 3000 users need to apply this patch immediately," said Yokogawa in a statement. "This depends on how their systems are connected to external networks and on the security measures that are in place."

Yokogawa said it was in the process of contacting customers who might be vulnerable and urging those who were at risk to apply its patch.

Still, if they found and publicized one vulnerability, how many more are still there? Glad I don't do IT for a large plant or factory...

Windows XP gets a minor reprieve

Microsoft's support for Windows XP ends this coming Tuesday. I still have a some copies and have downloaded all the service packs for future use. When you are not planning to connect to the internet, XP is an excellent platform for machine control and some music applications. From the UK IT publication Computer Weekly:

Government signs £5.5m Microsoft deal to extend Windows XP support
The government has signed a deal with Microsoft to provide Windows XP support and security updates across the whole UK public sector for 12 months after regular support for the operating system ends on 8 April.

The agreement is worth £5.548m, and covers critical and important security updates for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003, all of which have reached end of life in Microsoft's normal product cycles.

Where are these systems:

However, 85% of the approximately 800,000 PCs in the NHS still ran XP as of September last year, according to research from EHI Intelligence.

NHS is National Health Service -- their version of what Obamacare wants to be. I am personally concerned about their dropping support for Office 2003. I still think that it was the real sweet-spot for all of Microsoft's Office applications. The newer ones are just cluttered and get in the way of someone who knows how to write and has decent typing skills. I was running Open Office for a while with another system -- might be time to go take another look at it. Or switch to Q10.

Crime in Chicago - recent events

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From The Blaze:
Here�s What Happened to Crime in Chicago After Illinois Finally Passed Concealed Carry Law
On July 9, 2013, a bill to recognize Illinois gun owners� right to carry concealed firearms was passed by both chambers of the state Legislature. Illinois became the last state in the nation to allow public possession of concealed guns.

Gun control advocates warned that high-crime areas, like Chicago, would only see more violence if residents were allowed to carry guns in public.

In reality, the opposite may be happening.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department announced that the city experienced its lowest murder rate since 1958 in the first quarter of 2014. There were 6 fewer murders than the same timeframe in 2013 � a 9 percent drop � and 55 fewer murders than 2012, police said.

Further, there were reportedly 90 fewer shootings and 119 fewer shooting victims compared to last year. There have also been 222 fewer shootings and 292 fewer shooting victims compared to the first quarter in 2012.

All crime is down 25 percent from 2013 and police say they have confiscated over 1,300 illegal guns in the last three months.
Proven time and time again: more guns equals less crime

Off to town today

Renting a tool (a large roto-hammer drill) today to do some wiring. Need to run conduit through a concrete retaining wall and my own roto-hammer punks out at .75" -- I need 1.5" Hoping that the weather will stay good as I have a couple outside projects to knock out this weekend. More later...

The bird is the word

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Some pretty amazing stop-motion from 1930 From the website:
It's A Bird (1930)
Excerpt from a bizarre early stop-motion animation piece featuring Charley Bowers and a metal-eating bird. The creature devours junk from an auto scrapyard, then lays an egg that hatches and grows into a brand new car! Very impressive FX and way before CGI. Directed by Harold L. Muller.
More here: IMDb

Kelvin waves in the news

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Kelvin waves? Here: Wikipedia From Anthony at Watts Up With That:
Elements of the 1997 Super El Ni�o seem to be repeating now in the Western Pacific
Dr. Ryan Maue is seeing hints of a beginning in ocean heat content satellite visualizations.

Maue writes on Twitter:
Quick look at 1997 TC Ocean Heat content anomaly for April 4 shows equatorial extreme + anoms � compare to 2014
More at the site. Warmer and wetter -- we can certainly use this. A good report on what happened can be found here: The El Nino Winter of �97 - �98 Published by the National Climatic Data Center.

Some Hillary humor

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This came in over the transom:
A plane was going down and everyone had jumped out except for three people: a little schoolgirl, George W Bush, and Hillary Clinton.

But there was only two parachutes left- Hillary promptly grabs one and says, "I'm a Rhoades scholar, and quite possibly the most intelligent woman on Earth. I may be the very first woman President... I have to live!" and she jumps.

Dubya puts his hand on the shoulder of the little girl, looks her in the eye, and says "I've lived a long, fruitful life. You go ahead and take the last parachute."

The little girl looks up and said, "it's OK Mr. President, we can both jump... the 'smartest woman on Earth' just grabbed my backpack..."
- rimshot -

Total Eclipse of the Moon

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Starting very late April 14th (11:00PM Pacific time) through the early morning of the 15th. Visible throughout most of the USA. I'll be setting up a timelapse camera to do some shooting. Link to more data from NASA The next total solar eclipse is in 2017. Road trip to Oregon for that one...

What's hip - Spam

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From the New York City Gothamist:
Spam Is Making A Comeback At Hip NYC Restaurants
On a recent Monday night at New York Sushi Ko, between courses of braised pork belly with dollops of yuzu foam and aged, wild caught blue fin sushi, chef John Daley reached over the bar to present a bowl of Spam fried rice. Topped with seared ahi and flourishes of fresh pineapple, the dish was a far cry from the hangover breakfasts of leaner times�and an unexpected lowbrow pop on the restaurant's $135 special one-night tasting menu.

"Is it just regular Spam? Like from the can?" asked LauRenn Reed, one of five diners seated at the 7-seat sushi bar. All were partaking in an offbeat, Hawaiian-inflected night of Daley's omakase, which loosely translates to "chef's choice."

"Fresh from the can!" joked Daley, a former chef at 15 East who spent a couple of years living on Maui. "And sourced locally from the nearest bodega."
All washed down with a nice bottle of PBR. Lulu makes a couple of Spam dishes -- good stuff!

A minor bug in the Xbox1

From Gamespot:

5-year-old cracks Xbox One security by discovering simple flaw
A 5-year-old boy managed to circumvent the Xbox One's security and log in to his father's account without entering the correct password.

San Diego child Kristoffer Von Hassel has now been credited as a security researcher by Microsoft. In an alternate universe, the kid probably turned to the dark side, logged into your account, and pumped your life savings into FIFA Ultimate Team card packs.

The exploit, which has already been fixed, was discovered by Kristoffer after entering the wrong password when trying to access his dad's Xbox Live account. By first attempting to log in with an incorrect password, users are taken to a second verification screen, where the child found out that by simply filling up the password field with spaces he would be able to access the account.

MSFT was cool about it:

For reporting the major security loophole, Microsoft gave the kid four free games, $50, and a 12-month subscription to Xbox Live.

That was a major security hole -- pretty amazed that it took a kid to discover it. I would hate to be that developer...

What happens when you get a goat in with some fertile ewes - a Geep:
More at the Irish Farmers Journal

Obama spent one night in a hotel and we the people are on the hook for $1,500,000. From The Weekly Standard:

$1.5M Hotel Bill for President Obama's One-Day Visit to Brussels
In late March, President Obama took a week-long trip through Europe which included a stop of less than 24 hours in Brussels, Belgium for meetings with the European Union and NATO. The president stayed at The Hotel, a twenty-seven story hotel in the center of the city. The estimated cost for the president's stay, including about two weeks for an advance team, was $1,522,646.36.

The contract is here (PDF file). Yeah, he is the President but this sort of spending needs to be toned down a little bit. He is not our King as much as he thinks he is...

From National Geographic:
The Worst Places To Get Stung By A Bee: Nostril, Lip, Penis
It started when a honeybee flew up Michael Smith�s shorts and stung him in the testicles.

Smith is a graduate student at Cornell University, who studies the behaviour and evolution of honeybees. In this line of work, stings are a common and inevitable hazard. �If you�re wearing shorts and doing bee work, a bee can get up there easily,� he says. �But I was really surprised that it didn�t hurt as much as I thought it would.�

That got him thinking: Where�s the worst place on the body to get stung?

Everyone who works with stinging insects has their own answers, but Smith couldn�t find any hard data. Even Justin Schmidt was no help. Schmidt is the famous creator of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index � a scale that measures the painfulness of insect stings using wonderful synaesthetic descriptions that almost read like wine-tasting notes. Wine-tasting notes of agony.
Makes me cringe just thinking about it. Tried to find a copy of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index and was not able to -- there are a lot of sites that talk about it but I cannot find the original list. Curious...
We have our GPS system. The Russians have their Glonass system -- similar technologies, similar frequencies. Seems like they had a bit of a PEBKAC error yesterday - from GPS World:
GLONASS Gone . . . Then Back
In an unprecedented total disruption of a fully operational GNSS constellation, all satellites in the Russian GLONASS broadcast corrupt information for 11 hours, from just past midnight until noon Russian time (UTC+4), on April 2 (or 5 p.m. on April 1 to 4 a.m. April 2, U.S. Eastern time). This rendered the system completely unusable to all worldwide GLONASS receivers. Full and correct service has now been restored.

�Bad ephemerides were uploaded to satellites. Those bad ephemerides became active at 1:00 am Moscow time,� reported one knowledgeable source. For every GNSS in orbit, the navigation messages include ephemeris data, used to calculate the position of each satellite in orbit, and information about the time and status of the entire satellite constellation (almanac); this data is processed by user receivers on the ground to compute their precise position.

According to another source, a GLONASS fix could not take effect until each satellite in turn passed back over control stations in the Northern Hemisphere to be reset, thus taking nearly 12 hours.
These satellites are in relatively low earth orbit and the physics of their task changes with the changes in gravitational pull, atmospheric tides, gravitational pull from the moon and another five or six factors. The correction data is calculated and uploaded to each satellite as it passes over a control station. Classic case of GIGO - Garbage In / Garbage Out. Happens to the best...


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Nice explanation of the latest and greatest atomic clock. More here: NIST Launches a New U.S. Time Standard: NIST-F2 Atomic Clock Accurate timekeeping is at the heart of so many of todays technologies from GPS to Cell Phones, music and video production, data encryption and a lot lot more. The clock I have at home is from 15-year-old cell phone technology and is accurate to one second in a couple hundred-thousand years. Bought it for $80 on eBay.

Hacking an air conditioner

Interesting technology - take a standard air conditioner and make it drive a walk-in cold room. From CoolBot:

Looking for an alternative to an expensive walk-in cooler compressor?
The CoolBot turns almost any brand of off-the-shelf, window-type air conditioning unit (purchased separately) into a turbo-charged cooling machine. Transform an insulated room into a walk-in cooler to keep your vegetables, meat, flowers and other products fresh and thermostatically controlled cool down to 35F!

CoolBot will not only save you on installation and repair costs, it will also help you save electricity, reducing your operating costs when combined with new Energy Star air conditioning units engineered to much stricter environmental standards than standard walk-in cooler compressors. CoolBot uses new (patent-pending) technology that just became available in 2006.

Performance varies based on the size of your room and the size of the A/C unit you have. As a guide: Here in Southern New York, a $400 Home Depot 18,000 BTU window A/C unit keeps produce in a 7' x 12' insulated room at the 38 F we set it to during the summer with plenty of cooling power to spare.

They hack the circuitry of a standard air conditioner allowing it to be run as a walk-in cooler. Very clever!

Just wow!

From Norwegian website NRK:

Norwegian skydiver nearly struck by meteorite
One summer day in 2012, Anders Helstrup and several other members of Oslo Parachute Club jumped from a small plane that had taken off from Astre ara Airport in Hedmark.

Helstrup, wearing a wing suit and with two cameras fixed to his helmet, released his parachute. On the way down he realised something was happening.

Immediately after landing, he looked through the film from the jump, which clearly showed that something did happen.

Something that looks like a stone hurtles past Helstrup - clearing him by only a few metres.

Talk about a close call. More at the site.

Because - SCIENCE!

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Now this is cute

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Great little stop-motion film:

A whole lotta shaking going on

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There has been a spate of earthquakes recently. Some people have said that the ring of fire is waking up. I dismissed this because the area covered is huge. The Pacific Ocean covers 30.5% of the entire Earth's surface and more than the Earth's surface area covered by land (29.2%). And then, we had Tuesday's 8.2 quake in Chile. Now we just had a 5.8 near Panama, a 5.6 in Honshu (home of the March 2011 9.0 disaster), a 6.4 in Chile and a 7.8 follow-up in Chile. Here is a map that shows the magnitude and location. There has also been quite the storm of 2.5 to 3.5 temblors in Alaska.

End of life for XP - a consequence

Not all XP users want to "upgrade" to Win8.

From the English site V3:

Barking and Dagenham switches from Windows XP to Google Chromebooks, saves around £400,000
Google has scored a major win on the back of Microsoft's Windows XP support cut-off, as the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has started a major migration project to Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ahead of the 8 April deadline.

The council was previously running 3,500 Windows XP desktops and 800 XP laptops, and is currently in the process of retiring these in favour of around 2,000 Samsung 303Cs Chromebooks and 300 Chromeboxes, mainly for meeting rooms, reception areas and libraries across the borough.

Barking and Dagenham has already rolled out around 350 of these Chromebooks to its staff, and expects to deploy the remaining machines by early June, partly driven by the XP support cut-off date.

It expects to make savings of around £400,000 compared with the cost of upgrading to newer Windows machines, from a combination of the lower hardware costs, lower support costs and more energy-efficient devices.

Rupert Hay-Campbell, ICT and information governance officer at the council, explained that Barking and Dagenham is paying around £200 per Chrome device, compared with £500 to £600 for a Windows laptop and £340 to £350 for a standard Windows desktop. V3 estimates this at a cost of around £460,000 for the new Chrome devices.

£460,000 equals about $760,000 USD -- a nice chunk of change being saved there. The lower power requirements will translate directly into longer battery life.

Voter fraud in North Carolina

We need strict voter ID laws now. From Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:

Massive Voter Fraud Discovered in North Carolina's 2012 Election
The North Carolina State Board of Elections has found thousands of instances of voter fraud in the state, thanks to a 28-state crosscheck of voter rolls. Initial findings suggest widespread election fraud.
  • 765 voters with an exact match of first and last name, DOB and last four digits of SSN were registered in N.C. and another state and voted in N.C. and the other state in the 2012 general election.
  • 35,750 voters with the same first and last name and DOB were registered in N.C. and another state and voted in both states in the 2012 general election.
  • 155,692 voters with the same first and last name, DOB and last four digits of SSN were registered in N.C. and another state -- and the latest date of registration or voter activity did not take place within N.C.
The second point is key, as double voting is election fraud under state and federal statutes. Punishment for double voting in federal elections can include jail time.

In October 2012, Project Veritas produced video showing a Barack Obama campaign worker helping a voter register to vote in both Texas and Florida.

And this little nugget:

In addition to the above, the crosscheck found that more than 13,000 deceased voters remain on North Carolina's rolls, and that 81 of them showed voter activity in their records after death.

Crap - another shooting at Ft. Hood

From Texas station KCEN:

Reports of a Shooting on Fort Hood
We have reports of an active shooter on Fort Hood.

We have reports that there are several injuries from this shooting. There is at least one patient being transported to the hospital.

We are also getting reports of victims in the Battle Simulation Center on 65th and Warehouse.

The suspect is still at large. The shooter was said to be in building 33026 which is the Medical Brigade Building.

Reports have said that he was driving a gray Toyota, described as a white male in an Army Combat Uniform, and carrying a .45 handgun.

Fort Hood has been put on lockdown.

Central Texas College has been evacuated only as a precaution.

These are all preliminary reports.

And of course, the gun grabbers will use this as another reason why our guns should be taken away. It will be interesting to learn the identity of the shooter -- the last dozen or so have been progressive.

Doing it my way

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The best and brightest:
Nine minutes of abject lunacy -- I pity the poor mayor when he tries to get re-elected. Total fool. Hat tip to Irons in the Fire for the link. The text of the bill being discussed is here: Senate Bill No. 317 It is an omnibus bill covering a lot more than firearms. It is also very short (three pages) and concise and very easy to read. If the good Mayor fails to understand it, he is not playing with a full deck. Mayor Danny Jones needs lawyers to tell him what to think? He was going on about how the Senator was in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. I wonder whose pocket Mayor Jones is in...

Windows XP - an alternative

Excellent idea from Trevor Pott at The Register:

Mathematics of trust: How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive - and WHY
What if Microsoft announced it's not ending support for Windows XP next Tuesday after all, and instead will offer perpetual updates (for a reasonable fee, of course).

Something inside me, somewhere between my sense of humor and soul-crushing cynicism, drove me to turn that dream into an April Fool for this year. But all cruel joking aside, there's a very real discussion to be had about this.

How Microsoft chose to handle the Windows XP end-of-life is a great starting point for a discussion about the ethics and obligations of high-tech companies.

Almost a decade ago, I would have counted myself as one of Microsoft's biggest champions. Server 2003 R2 and Windows XP SP2 were fantastic upgrades to their predecessors. Microsoft was innovating again in the browser market, and the results of a massive internal refocusing on security were becoming visible to plebeians like me.

Amazing new technologies were pouring out of Microsoft, and Redmond appeared to be listening to its customers. Partners were (mostly) happy with how Microsoft was doing things and developers were jumping into the exciting world of .Net. The promise of upcoming releases gave us hope that the hits would keep on coming.

Vista and the 2007 range of server software, Office and other applications arrived, and they were pretty awful. Hope turned to ashes, but it was hard to dispel the absolute and unshakable faith I had in Microsoft. I was confident they'd turn it around... even if Vista and RibbonOffice were going nowhere near my PC. (Boycotting an app suite is hardly a protest, mind. Microsoft is rather hard to kill.)

Three years later, Microsoft managed to crank out Windows 7 and the 2010 line of server software, Office and so forth. Life was good, but it didn't last. Windows 8, the "all stick, no carrot" push to get us subscribed to the Office 365 cloud, the SPLA licensing redux, VDI licensing and a thousand more terrible decisions mounted. A former loyal champion, I had become one of Microsoft's loudest critics. Why?

And Trevor's idea?

I have been told by people I trust to know such things that it should take no more than 25 full-time programmers to provide ongoing patching support for Windows XP. Let's double that number to 50 just to be on the safe side. Let's also assume that doing Windows XP support at Microsoft is so awful that we need to strongly incentivize these developers, so we'll offer them $500K per year. We'll double that figure to make sure the developers get good benefits and that we factor in administrative overhead.

Based on the above we get 50 x $500,000 x 2 = $50m as the cost of ongoing yearly Windows XP support for Microsoft.

Trevor took the number of installed XP systems, weeded out the people who are running XP because they are cheap or those not connected to the internet and figured out that MSFT could charge $65/year for ongoing XP support and make a lot of money. A great idea and I am surprised that they aren't working with this model. There are a lot of ATMs running XP out there.

Suck it up hippies :)

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From the Atlanta, GA CBS affiliate:
Study: Vegetarians Less Healthy, Lower Quality Of Life Than Meat-Eaters
Vegetarians may have a lower BMI and drink alcohol sparingly, but vegetarian diets are tied to generally poorer health, poorer quality of life and a higher need for health care than their meat-eating counterparts.

A new study from the Medical University of Graz in Austria finds that vegetarians are more physically active, drink less alcohol and smoke less tobacco than those who consume meat in their diets. Vegetarians also have a higher socioeconomic status and a lower body mass index. But the vegetarian diet � characterized by a low consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol that includes increased intake of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products � carries elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health disorders.
Explains a lot. I was vegetarian for about seven years and the initial year was OK but I started catching colds and was not running on all cylinders. That first bite of the tuna sandwich left me feeling euphoric...

An interesting analysis of Russia

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From Maureen Orth writing at Vanity Fair:

The Numbers Vladimir Putin Doesn't Want You to See
Russians prefer alternative reality.

In the days since Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea, the Russian people are once again feeling good about their country. A robust 63 percent of them say they consider Russia a "great power," according to a survey released this week by the Levada Center, a respected Russian polling firm. The survey also found that Putin's approval rating is now at 80 percent, a 17-point rebound from his all-time low, just one year ago.

In 2000, when Putin had just been elected the first time, I wrote a profile of him for this magazine. The reality I discovered in the numbers then was shocking. They represented the greatest challenge Putin faced: the dire demographics of Russia.

I found that two out of three Russian men who died, died drunk. The country's death rate far exceeded its birth rate: in 2000, life expectancy for men was only 58, and for women 71. The syphilis rate among girls 10 to 14 - a statistical category that boggles the mind - had gone up 40 times the previous decade, and only 30 percent of boys between the ages of 15 and 17 were considered healthy. Cheap heroin from Afghanistan was rolling in, and an H.I.V. epidemic spread by dirty needles was taking hold. Predictions then were that Russia, with a population of 146 million, could become a nation of fewer than 100 million people by 2025, and hardly a superpower: The country was aging and the birth rate was plummeting. Putin himself in his first State of the Nation address in July 2000 warned the Russian people, "We are in danger of becoming a senile nation." When Putin annexed Crimea, I only half facetiously wondered whether this was his way of tackling the population deficit.

And today?

I decided to revisit Russia's numbers. They do not make a pretty picture.

From Socialism to Fascisim -- the slide to the bottom continues with the USA about 10 years behind. A lot more at the article. We could reign in Putin in six months but noooooo... Our minders think that we need to be diplomatic.

The new brew from Samuel Adams

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A good shot

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From the UK Telegraph:
British sniper in Afghanistan kills six Taliban with one bullet
A British sniper in Afghanistan killed six insurgents with a single bullet after hitting the trigger switch of a suicide bomber whose device then exploded, The Telegraph has learnt.

The 20-year-old marksman, a Lance Corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit his target from 930 yards (850 metres) away, killing the suicide bomber and five others around him caught in the blast.
Talk about a reactive target. Hope the muzzies are enjoying their 72 white raisins of exceptional purity...

Good news re: lasers

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From Ars Technica:
California man who lasered two helicopters to face 14 years behind bars
Earlier this month, a Fresno man received what is believed to be the strongest sentence issued anywhere in the United States for firing a laser pointer at an aircraft�14 years in prison. His girlfriend was also convicted on similar charges, but she will not be sentenced until May 2014.

�To our knowledge, it is the largest sentence imposed in this type of case,� Karen Escobar, the assistant US attorney for the Eastern District of California, told Ars.

According to the criminal complaint, on a warm summer evening in late August 2012, Sergio Rodriguez took his green laser pointer and fired it at a passing helicopter from outside of his apartment. His apartment complex sat just about a half mile north of the west end of the Fresno Yosemite International Airport in one of the Central Valley�s largest cities.

Unknowingly, the then-24-year-old struck not just any helicopter, but �Air George,� an emergency transport ambulance helicopter of Children�s Hospital of Central California. The helicopter was flying from Bakersfield to Fresno with a young patient, two crew members, and a pilot on board.

The pilot informed the airport�s air traffic control, which then relayed it to a nearby police helicopter that was on routine patrol. As the helicopter, called Air-1, moved to the reported location north of the airport, it was struck seven times as it circled overhead.
Some more:
Rodriguez� unusually harsh sentence appears to have been influenced by a litany of previous incidents, including a prior arrest in April 2011 for trying to open a box of tokens to play video games, possibly while intoxicated. The following year he was convicted of burglary and a DUI.
Stupidity at that level should be punished at that level. Lasers are being marketed as toys and they are not. Landing a helicopter in the daytime is hard enough. At night when you have limited depth perception is even harder. Add a laser burn and you are in for trouble.

An early version of Google Street-View

From Shorpy comes this fascinating look at very early Google Street-View technology:


This early prototype "Go-Ogle Auto-Rig" was operated by a
driver and a lensman who fed motion picture film into the
360-degree camera at the rate of 90 feet per minute.
After being conveyed through the mobile developing tank,
footage was viewed using a stereopticon indexed to a telephone directory.

Learn to speak Klingon

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Exclusively from ThinkGeek

From King's College Chapel

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The price of food

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The price of Limes has skyrocketed in the last two weeks. We used to pay about $30/case and cases are now selling for over $100. The mexican crop blossoms in late fall and they had lots of rain which knocked the blossoms off the trees. No blossoms, no fruit. Wheat is supposed to go up this summer and of course, because of the enviros, the price of Corn has risen by four times in the last ten years. Now these words from Remus at Yer ol' Woodpile Report:
Food prices
Chase van der Rhoer at Bloomberg has noted the CRB spot price for the Foodstuff Index has risen 19% since the first of the year. Given the drought in California and southwestern states, the PED viral infection killing off piglets by the millions, the diversion of corn into fuel extender duty, the smallest cattle herd in more than sixty years, the decline in the bee population, et alia; it all adds up to a sound bet: food prices will continue to rise.

Since the first of the year pork is up 45%, corn and wheat are up 14%, coffee is up 42%, and cheese is up 21%. All grain-fed livestock, chicken included, are up and so are eggs and dairy products. Vegetables are taking out all time highs. Even the determinedly inattentive have to notice the weekly increase in their grocery bill. It's easy to miss while shopping, granted, the rise in prices is well disguised, commonly like this:
  1. Smaller quantity but in the same size package and same price as before
  2. Smaller quantity yet, in a smaller package, at same price
  3. Same small quantity and package, but of lower quality, at same price
  4. Same small quantity and package, same low quality, but higher price
  5. Even smaller quantity and package, same or lower quality and same price
  6. Repeat 4 and 5
Coffee is a one example. The standard three-pound can became a more or less two-pound can in small steps. Quality is being lowered by replacing Arabica with Robusta�the swill of coffeedom, but cheap and hardy. Less quantity is the only way out for some items, those where quality isn't a useful variable. The twelve-ounce package of bacon for example, which is gradually replacing the standard one-pound package. Perhaps there'll come a day when it's sold by the strip.
Remus then goes on to talk about today's Food Stamp program, its genesis in the Depression and eating during wartime. Time to plan your garden. The next couple of days are supposed to be nice. As I left this morning, Lulu said that she was looking forward to spending some of the day in the garden getting the beds ready. I got the germination benches ready two days ago and will start some seedlings this week.

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