December 2015 Archives

Fireworks fun

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The display was a lot of fun - they held it at 8:30PM so the local kids could attend.

Everyone had a blast - arrr, arrrr, arrr...

Each year is a bit different depending on what the guy could find for cheap - this time it was a lot of high-altitude boomers with all sorts of stars and crackles. The finale was this huge fountain of smaller launches along with some more of the high-altitude stuff. The display lasted about 45 minutes and had about 150 people watching.

Back home now - got the water running in the sink as it is already 18°F and dropping - this is the threshold for frozen pipes.

Another chance at an aurora tonight

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Kp index is rising - I will be checking the skies as we watch the fireworks tonight.

Heading out for dinner in a few minutes - got to get the truck warmed up first...

Back from town

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Unpacking the truck and getting ready for tonight's celebration.

Town was busy - both the bank and Costco were more crowded than the day before Christmas.

Heading down to Mt. Vernon Saturday - spending tomorrow sleeping in and doing chores around the farm.


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Interesting news item in the Toronto, CA Sun:

No s---! People who swear have bigger vocabularies, study finds
Good news, potty mouths: you're smarter than those who don't swear.

People who curse have a better vocabulary, according to a new study that looked at the theory that people swear only because they don't have the words to express themselves otherwise.

Not true, as it turns out, say U.S. psychologists Kristin Jay and Timothy Jay in the Language Sciences journal.

Cursers tend to understand "nuanced distinctions" in their language, which indicates increased vocabulary overall, the study concluded.

Their conclusion?

"The ability to generate taboo language is not an index of overall language poverty," the researchers concluded

This comes as no fscking surprise to me. Swearing may not be acceptable for 'polite society' but that is just a construct. It is about expressing oneself - eloquence and all that good stuff...

Another day in paradise

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Got the critters taken care of, truck is warming up (got down to 12.0°F last night!) - out for coffee and then a quick run into town to do some banking.

Lulu is coming out this afternoon and then we will head up to Glacier for the fireworks this evening.

Microsoft Windows - an infogram

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Great infogram on the various versions of Microsoft Windows:


Last check for Northern Lights

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Nada. Lots of stars out but the moon is scheduled to rise in 30 minutes or so - calling it a night...

Planning to head out tomorrow to try a different place to shoot some eagles. Leaving the camera stuff prepped.

Seed pron

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Spelling it 'pron' to bypass any web filters.

In the cold still heart of winter, our thoughts turn to gardening. Seed catalogs are starting to trickle in.

Just ran into this place - Wild Garden Seed

The specialty here is lettuce - 100 varieties of it. They also have a scattering of other seeds - greens, mustards, peppers, etc... Check out their website - it is an education.

A two-fer - this guy has shredded the Constitution.

First - from Breitbart:

New Year’s Surprise: Obama Regulation To Give Work-Permits To Foreign College-Graduates
President Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security wants to give white-collar work-permits to a huge new group of foreign college-graduates, despite the large number of American graduates now stuck in lower-wage jobs, and struggling to pay off college debts.

The proposed new regulation, due to be published Dec. 31, will dramatically up the annual inflow of foreign college-grads allowed to take jobs in the United States — and will also make each foreign graduate much cheaper for U.S. employers to hire than many U.S.-born college grads.

“Obama has gone the Full Monty to bust the immigration system,” says immigration lawyer John Miano. “What is going on is he is effectively giving Green Cards to people on H-1B visas who are unable to get Green Cards due to the [annual] quotas… it could be over 100,000.”

The new rules to aid foreign college-graduates are an extension of his earlier efforts to bypass popular laws against illegal immigration, said Miano, the co-author of a new book about the painful impact of the white-collar guest-worker programs, titled “Sold Out.”

I have been reading Sold Out and it is worth anyone's time - this goes far beyond just H-1B foolishness. There are multiple scandals that have never seen the light of day in the mainstream media. Several of them include Hillary's brother. Yes, the whole family is rotten.

Second - and this is not something that is just happening now - the supporting ID cards were put out for bid on October 03, 2014

Solicitation Number:

USCIS Contracting will be posting a solicitation for the requirement of Card Stock used by the USCIS Document Management Division. The objective of this procurement is to provide card consumables for the Document Management Division (DMD) that will be used to produce Permanent Resident Cards (PRC) and Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD) cards. The requirement is for an estimated 4 million cards annually with the potential to buy as many as 34 million cards total. The ordering periods for this requirement shall be for a total of five (5) years. This is a Firm Fixed Price (FFP) supply purchase for commercial items, utilizing North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 325211 and Product / Service Code (PSC) 9330. This requirement is for the acquisition of 100% polycarbonate solid body card stock with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and holographic images embedded within the card construction substrate layers, card design service, and storage.

And I love the sample card shown in the package:20151230-utopia.jpg

Notice the Country of Birth: Utopia

Have to say that Ms. TEST V. SPECIMEN is looking pretty good for being 95 years old...

What a sham - but hey - as many as 34 million new Democrat voters every five years.

Ideas so good they have to be mandatory...

No joy in aurora-ville

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Nothing in the skies tonight - it is drop-dead clear, air temp is 18.7°F and the moon is two hours away from rising (10:30PM)

Oh well...

Nailed it - the 2016 political campaign

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Norora so far

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The Aurora has turned into a Norora - it is night and nothing showing in the skies.  There is still a hint of twilight and I'll check every hour or so.

I have only seen the Aurora here once and it was overcast - lots of blinky clouds. It would be nice to see it tonight since the sky is dead clear.

Time for dinner - leftover ham and bean soup and a salad.


From Joe Huffman who has the following to say:

As has been said by others, if they don’t want you to have a gun it’s probably because they want to do something to you and you would use the gun to resist..

I am reminded of this quote from Mohandas Gandhi's autobiography:

"Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest."
--Mohandas Gandhi, an Autobiography, page 446.

No eagles today

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They were just too far away to get anything decent.

Back home for the day - we have a decent chance of getting Northern Lights tonight so keeping the camera stuff out and ready...

Also had a visit from the earthquake faeries last night - definite thump and rumble. It was felt strongly in Port Angeles and Sequim:


Off for the day

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Coffee, check in at the store and then go hunting some eagles.

Their doors are still open for business but their quality has left the building...

Earlier this month, I had attempted to visit a favorite restaurant in Lynden, WA and found that their hours had been greatly reduced. They dropped their dinner service and were only open until 4:00PM.

Part of my errands today were to Lynden so I figured, great, I will stop in at Dutch Mother's and get a late lunch/early dinner. I was there around 3:00PM.

I ordered my favorite - the Turkey Dinner - and was horribly disappointed. They used to serve real turkey breast meat with homemade gravy, dressing and some baby red spuds and green beans.

The only thing unchanged were the green beans, spuds and dressing. Everything else was franken-food.

The gravy was most definitely out of a Number 10 can - they probably spiked it up a bit with some seasoning or base but it was not made from scratch. The turkey meat was uniform thin slices - a bit thicker than commercially sliced deli meat but still, very uniform. The meat was piled up over the dressing and 'broken' up a bit but when I pieced some of it together, its original form was a circle about six inches in diameter.

This was not any natural kind of breast meat that I know of - this was a mechanically separated meat product (here and here) that had been extruded into a loaf. I could tell because there was no real grain or pattern of muscle fibers in the meat - it would pull apart along any axis. There were fibers present but none of them were longer than a half-inch or so. The taste was horrible.

When I went to the cashier to pay, they asked me how my meal was. I said that it was O.K. and they picked up on that immediately. She assured me that the turkey was roasted in their kitchen and the slices were uniform in size because they had a mechanical slicer and didn't carve by hand any more. I would hate to think that she was lying to my face so I will consider that the kitchen and the management was lying to her and she was only repeating what she was being told.

What really bakes my noodle is that they had the fscking gall to charge $18 for the meal...

Shooting some eagles

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Heading out tomorrow to shoot some eagles. The weather is lightening up a lot and it is supposed to be clear and cold tomorrow.

Got batteries charging and lenses cleaned.

Back home again

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Had some more things to take care of in town.

Got stuff to post but not for an hour or so.

Well crap - R.I.P. two major musicians

Sad news tonight.

A lot of people are mourning the unexpected death of Lemmy from Motörhead - an aggressive cancer discovered only a few days ago.

Also passing today is Andy Stewart of Scottish Folk band Silly Wizard - from Glasgow, Scotland's The Herald:

Tributes paid to Silly Wizard folk legend Andy M Stewart
Andy M Stewart, the singer and songwriter whose deep understanding of the Scottish tradition played a huge part in the success of trail-blazing folk group Silly Wizard, has died after a long illness.

Born in Alyth, near Blairgowrie in Perthshire, Stewart emerged as a passionate singer and upholder of traditional songs as a teenager when he formed the group Puddock’s Well with singer, songwriter and fiddle Dougie Maclean and bassist Martin Hadden.

Invited in the mid-1970s to join Silly Wizard, who needed a Scottish singer to lend weight to their fiery instrumental sound, Stewart became known across Europe and particularly in the US with the band as an authoritative singer and an entertaining raconteur.

Here is Andy and Silly Wizard (audio and album cover):


 Lemmy - full video:

Back home and disappointing news

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Back home from town - didn't finish all that I needed to do so heading in tomorrow as well.

Found out that the vendor we use for Seafood is shutting their doors - from their Facebook page:

Vis Seafoods
I need to announce that our last day will be Dec 31st. We will continue taking orders for your NYE celebrations.
Our online store will continue operating after our doors close. If you have any unused gift cards, please use them this week - they will be accepted for purchases online in the new year. Thank you all for supporting us the last 20 years.

They do have a website with a store but it doesn't look that current. Twenty years is a nice run but still, this is sad news. They were the best place in town for top-quality seafood.

Off to town - milk run

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Heading out for coffee and to pick up our order of pastries from the bakery.

The store had a run on milk this week so next stop will be to our dairy for 30 gallons or so.

Into town for banking, errands and to return the abysmal drone

Back later this evening - more posting then...

An oldie but goodie

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Was going back through some older posts (spam hunting) and saw this:

Off for coffee

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On the agenda for today:

#1) - get coffee
#2) - pay bills (heading into town tomorrow to run errands, return the awful drone and do some banking),
#3) - check in at the store
#4) - shovel out the barn a bit, get more hay out to the critters - they need skritches and treats...
#5) - check the bird feeders
#6) - Ham radio network at 1900

And not much else. Dinner will be a choice of re-heated leftovers.

Report from Colorado

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I knew it - we found two empty bags of Doritos by the chimney:


An interesting omission

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Pope Francis delivered his URBI ET ORBI (to the City (Rome) and to the World) Message on Christmas Day.

Lots of good things especially the complete absence of one subject.

For someone who was so heated up on Global Warming a few months ago, the fact that G.W. does not get a single mention in this message speaks volumes. Glad to see that he is now listening to real scientists and not politicians.

Another perfect example of self-manufactured hate crimes - from the D.C. Clothesline:

More Faked Hate Caught on Camera: Muslim Responsible for Christmas Day California Mosque Attack
More faked hate. And still no media mea culpa.

As I pointed out yet again last week when the latest FBI released the latest hate crime stats, claims about “Islamophobia” are false. Most religiously motivated hate crimes were anti-Jewish, and Muslims suffered fewer total incidents than many groups and fewer per capita than gays or Jews.

The myth of islamophobia is an industry, the big lie, to silence critics of jihad and Islam. And every time another mosque is “attacked,” media heads explode with cries of racism (Islam  is not a race) and hate. They never report the follow-up story — the kicker — that the perp is Muslim. More often than not, the attacker is Muslim — so as to give proof to the lie of islamofauxbia.

The mosque attack in California this week is not any different from what we have come to expect. It was done by a Muslim. And this is the second time this week that an attack on a mosque was discovered to be committed by a Muslim or Muslims.

More at the site and the links go to corroborating sources for what actually happened. The mokes were all caught on mosque security cameras. Most of them are really not that bright - centuries of inbreeding...

It is all about the narrative and not about the actual facts. This is the way the progressive mind works because the actual facts do not support their story line. The narrative is all they have to hold on to. Do not want to upset the mental apple-cart - that way leads to cognitive dissonance and madness. 

But if we all try a little harder it just might work this time...

Now this will be fun to follow - ACES

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ACES? Atomic Clocks with Enhanced Stability

DARPA? Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Reducing Tics in the Tocks of Atomic Clocks
If GPS goes down, more stable atomic clocks could save the day
One of the greatest episodes in the history of clockmaking unfolded over three decades during the 18th century in response to a government challenge to overcome a daunting and often deadly problem: Find a way to reliably determine a ship’s east-west position, or longitude, on the high seas. British clockmaker John Harrison won the prize, equivalent to millions of today’s dollars, for his invention of a chronometer that remained stable enough for navigators to make accurate longitude calculations even during long-distance sea voyages.

Until Harrison’s advance, the inaccuracies of clocks at sea meant that ships, crews and cargoes routinely ended up far from their intended destinations, or worse, lost at sea. Now, with an ambitious new DARPA effort, program manager Robert Lutwak is seeking a modern-day breakthrough in atomic clocks analogous to Harrison’s centuries-old achievement in mechanical clocks—one that will give warfighters and others enormous advantages related to position, navigation and timing for extended periods after they last synchronized with a reference clock.

“All of our modern communications, navigation and electronic warfare systems, as well as our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, depend on accurate time-keeping,” said Lutwak, who will oversee the new program, called Atomic Clocks with Enhanced Stability (ACES). “If ACES is successful, virtually every Defense Department system will benefit.”

DARPA will convene a Proposers Day on February 1, 2016, to provide information and promote additional discussion on the ACES program, address questions from potential proposers, and provide an opportunity for potential proposers to share their capabilities and ideas for teaming arrangements. Details can be found in Special Notice DARPA-SN-16-13.

I am a time-nut and have several clocks that are synchronized to the GPS time signals - people know that GPS does navigation very well, many people do not know that GPS also serves as an atomic time standard and that special GPS receivers can be synchronized to our national timekeeping clocks . This serves as not only a timekeeping function but a stable and accurate frequency reference for my radio equipment.

I wrote a few days ago about how the LORAN system is being decommissioned. Our GPS network is vulnerable to government intervention as well as local and global jamming. It would be good to have some of the old standards still available. especially given the current instability of world politics...

Automation in the news - literally

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From India's English language The Economic Times:

Chinese TV employs robot as weather reporter; anchors worried
For the first time, a Chinese news channel has employed an artificial intelligence robot as a weather reporter on its live breakfast show, raising concerns among the country's journalists as it could threaten their jobs.

"I'm happy to start my new work on the winter solstice," robot XiaoIce said during her debut on Tuesday morning.

XiaoIce is actually a piece of software developed by Microsoft using smart cloud and big data.

In the first two days of her work, XiaoIce impressed many with her cute voice. She also comments on big news events on Shanghai Dragon TV.

According to Microsoft, breakthroughs in text-to-speech artificial intelligence (AI) have helped XiaoIce score high points for linguistic naturalness, and hers is closer to the human voice than other speech synthesizers.

Through unique emotional technology, she can make comments instantly based on weather data.

Paging Ron Burgundy, Mr. Ron Burgundy to the white courtesy phone please...

I find it odd that people would want to have an AI read them the news when they could read it just as easily themselves and skip over segments that do not interest them. It would be fun to play with an English language version of this software.

When I worked for MSFT back in 2000, I wanted to take a couple months off and just wander the halls asking what people were doing...

Object of desire - the XM42 Flamethrower

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Oh the fun I could have with this puppy:


 Retails for $999 so not getting it anytime soon but still, one can dream. Website is here: XM42 Flamethrower

Sensible legislation - NOT!

Billlls Idle Mind writes about a proposed ammunition law - since it is coming from New York State it is a doozy!

New York Ammo Law Proposal
A lawmaker from Brooklyn has proposed a completely unworkable amendment to New York's SAFE act which would no doubt stop the "senseless gun violence" by severely restricting the ammo supply. Details at the link but the gist so far is that there would be a complete ban on the sale of .223 and 5.56 caliber ammo coupled with a limit to the number of rounds any one customer could buy set to twice the capacity of the gun it's intended for. They don't say, but all mag-fed guns in NY are currently officially limited to 10 rounds so you presumably couldn't buy more than 20 rounds of anything every 90 days tops. Revolver shooters would be limited to 10-12 rounds every 3 months and some shotgunners might be limited to 2.

The bill fails on logistical grounds as the only way to insure that no one is stocking up is to have an exhaustive and microscopically complete registration of every gun owned in the state. This database would need to be available to every ammo seller in the state as well which is equivalent to saying that it's a public record. At the same time, all the neighboring states have no restrictions on ammo sales so driving across the border for ammo would become as popular as driving across the border for cigarettes or whatever other commodity has been taxed excessively. Additionally the law would make all ammo sellers dispense their wares as "onesies" as most people would be restricted to buying less than a standard box of ammo.

As this would limit Joe Biden with his over/under shotgun to 4 rounds every 3 months I suppose it's not ALL bad but still... I note that the law also outright bans the sale of .223 and 5.56 calibers. I have not heard of a ban on 7.62 in any length possibly because that is also a popular hunting caliber so while your .308 is protected, there's a Kalashnikov loophole built in.

And Billlls suggestion?

Counter proposal: Lets limit everyone not currently in detention to 2000 rounds/month in each caliber with no caliber off the list and no records of any sort kept. Since the buyers are not in detention, we presume their honesty and will accept a verbal statement that they're not buying extra bricks of .22 over the allowed limit.

But wait! Here's more! I propose that the gun bit be scrapped and this proposal be turned to the much more significant issue of Global Warming. Why don't we simply limit automobile owners to 2 tanks of gasoline every 3 months? Think of the carbon we'd eliminate. I bet we could prevent the inundation of Manhattan by the rising seas just by doing this in New York alone. All in favor, raise your glasses and shout Huzza! All opposed, have another drink and reconsider your position.

 I bet the automobile proposal would be well received by the limousine liberals of New York City - although ignored by them because they are our betters and are working tirelessly to help us in our need.

Our government at work

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From Paul Driessen writing at Watts Up With That:

Double standards in the Government’s Gold King mine disaster whitewash
When a private citizen or company violates rules, misrepresents facts or pollutes a river, government penalties are swift and severe. It’s different when the government lies or screws up.

Two weeks ago, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell testified before Congress on a toxic spill that federal and state agencies unleashed into western state rivers last August. Supervised by officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS), an Environmental Restoration (ER) company crew excavated tons of rock and debris that had blocked the portal (entrance or adit) to the Gold King Mine above Silverton, Colorado.

The crew kept digging until the remaining blockage burst open, spilling 3,000,000 gallons of acidic water laden with iron, lead, cadmium, mercury and other heavy metals. The toxic flood contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers, all the way to Lake Powell in Utah. EPA then waited an entire day before notifying downstream mayors, health officials, families, kayakers, fishermen, farmers and ranchers that the water they were drinking, paddling in, or using for crops and livestock was contaminated.

Ms. Jewell told Congress she was unaware of anyone being fired, fined or even demoted. In fact, federal investigations and reports didn’t hold anyone responsible for the disaster. (Maybe they even got bonuses.) Considering the spill’s severity, the gross incompetence of government officials, their advance knowledge of the dangers, and the way they downplayed and whitewashed their actions, this is intolerable.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy did say she was “absolutely, deeply sorry.” But then FEMA denied disaster relief to the Navajos, and EPA sent them emergency water tanks contaminated with oil!

Much more at the site.

This is what central planning by a bunch of self-appointed elites will get you. Time to seriously clean house...

Darwin award - from the San Diego, CA NBC affiliate:

Man, Distracted by Electronic Device, Falls to Death at Sunset Cliffs: Lifeguards
A man distracted by his electronic device fell 60 feet to his death at San Diego's Sunset Cliffs on Christmas Day, San Diego Lifeguards confirmed to NBC 7 San Diego.

The incident happened at 4:50 p.m. Friday on the 900 block of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard when the man, in his 30s, tumbled off the side of a cliff.

"Witnesses stated seeing someone distracted by an electronic device and he just fell over the edge," said San Diego Lifeguard Bill Bender. "(He) wasn't watching where he was walking, he was looking down at the device in his hands."

Sheesh - the idea that someone can be so unaware of their surroundings as to do something like this is amazing. Probably - and unfortunately - not that uncommon.

Yes, I love my electronic gadgets but I have a place for them on a shelf when I am done using them. I do not let them interfere with my normal life.

Dueling Jingle Bells

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From the United States Navy Band:

Dueling Jingle Bells

Here's one of our favorites from this year's holiday concerts, with a bit of a surprise twist near the beginning. Enjoy!

Posted by United States Navy Band on Wednesday, December 23, 2015

No. I have not been in Florida recently

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From the Pensacola News-Journal:

'Time traveler' crashes car into Pensacola business
A man who told police he wanted to "time travel" crashed his Dodge Challenger into a a strip mall on North Davis Highway Sunday morning.

The vehicle sped through the traffic light at the intersection of North Davis Highway and West Fairfield Drive at approximately 10:50 a.m., and traveled through the front entrance of Advance Tax Services. The car barreled through the center of the building, coming to a stop outside the double doors at the building's rear entrance.

The driver, who has not been identified, was uninjured, but was taken to a local facility for evaluation. Charges have not yet been filed, according to a press release from the Pensacola Police Department.

That was not me. I know nothing about this incident and besides, everyone knows that you have to get the DeLorian up past 88MPH to activate the flux capacitor. Dodge Challenger? Not bloody likely...

Dr. Charles Krauthammer delivers the word on gluten free foods - the latest dietary fad.

Yes, I know that there are some people out there - one in one hundred - that have a real sensitivity and are now enjoying a wide range of culinary options but for every one of these people, there are thirty food faddists proclaiming their 'gluten sensitivity' to the world.

From National Review:

Food Fads: Make Mine Gluten-Full
When the federal government’s 1980 “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” warned about the baleful effects of saturated fats, public-interest activists joined the fight and managed to persuade major food companies to switch to the shiny new alternative: trans fats. Thirty-five years later, the Food and Drug Administration finally determined that trans fats are not just useless but unsafe, and ordered them removed from all foods. Oops.

So much for settled science. To tell the truth, I never paid much attention to the fat fights in the first place. From my days as a medical student (and prodigious consumer of junk food), I’ve seen so many solemnly proclaimed “findings” come and go that I decided long ago to ignore — and outlive — them all.

So far, I’m ahead. Never had an egg substitute in my life. I figured trans fats were just another fad waiting to be revoked and renounced. Moreover, if I was wrong, the green eggs and ham would take so long to kill me anyway that I was more likely to be hit by a bus first. Either way, win-win.

And the good Doctor cites a few more examples and then weighs in on gluten:

Now, if you suffer from celiac disease, you need a gluten-free diet. How many of us is that? Less than 1 percent. And yet supermarket shelves are groaning with products proclaiming their gluten-freedom. Sales are going through the roof. Another crock. Turns out, according to a massive Australian study of 3,200 products, gluten-free is useless. “The foods can be significantly more expensive and are very trendy to eat,” says Jason Wu, the principal investigator. “But we discovered a negligible difference when looking at their overall nutrition.”

Why then am I not agitating to have this junk taken off the shelves? Because of my other obsession: placebos. For which I have an undying respect, acquired during my early years as a general-hospital psychiatrist. If you believe in the curative powers of something — often encouraged by the authority of your physician — a sugar pill or a glass of plain water can produce remarkable symptom relief. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it.

So I’d never mess with it. If a placebo can alleviate your pain, that’s better than opioids. If going gluten-free gives a spring to your step, why not? But please, let the civility go both ways. Let the virtuous Fitbit foodie, all omega-3’d and gluten-free, drop the self-congratulatory smugness. And I promise not to say it’s all in his head.

Yeah - whatever gets you through the day...

Star Wars commercial

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Really sweet commercial for a German retail store:

The days of Christmas

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A day of sloth

Spent the entire day bingeing on another tv show - White Collar - a lot of fun and mindless entertainment.

Breakfast was good (scrambled eggs, bacon and hashbrown spuds) and heating up some homemade chicken soup for dinner.

Surf a bit later this evening. Full moon tonight but it is overcast so don't know if it will be visible...

A white Christmas

Don't know if I will be shooting any eagles today - it has started snowing.

The morning forecast shows clear but such is not the case here.

Putting some bacon in the oven - maybe even do some hashbrown potatoes and some eggs for breakfast...

A quiet Christmas morning

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Nothing much happening today - clean out the barn and get some hay to the critters. Check in at the store for a little bit.

There is a large population of Eagles that over-winter here - they spend their summers in Alaska. If the light is good, I might go out and try to find some. Do some shooting.

We had our official Christmas a few days ago as Lulu's son and nephew have to work today.

And goodnight to all

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I will leave you with this - one of my favorite hymns:

Automobile engineering

From an email:

My take on how different nationalities engineer cars. In all cases, let’s assume we have two parts that rub together.
1) Americans – Make one part out of very good (and expensive) steel, the other out of lesser (and cheaper) steel. Make cheaper part easy to replace, so every 25K miles you have a couple-hundred dollar repair, but more expensive part never wears out.

2) Japanese – Make both parts out of good steel. They last 100K miles, but then you have a $3,000 repair.

3) German – Same function done with 17 parts made of steel, plastic, aluminum, and unobtainium. None of which are available separately. The unobtainium part is back-ordered.

4) Italian – Paint it red and put a beautiful woman in the driver’s seat.

5) English – Doesn’t matter, car won’t start when it’s raining, and it’s ALWAYS raining. So parts never wear out, keep them oiled so they don’t rust.

Spot on. I have owned American, Japanese and Italian cars. I will not buy a German (although they are a lot of fun) or English if it has any parts from the Prince of Darkness (Joseph Lucas).

Lucas is the reason that Brits drink warm beer - they also make refrigerators. When an electrical component fails, it frequently emits a bit of smoke. Lucas has a smoke replacement kit to repair their components

For Bellingham, WA

December 22nd
Sunrise - 8:01AM
Sunset - 4:16PM
Length - 8:15:44

December 29th (one week later)
Sunrise - 8:03AM
Sunset - 4:21PM
Length - 8:18:30

From the excellent

A class act - President Bush

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It is in the little details that we see just how classy this guy was - from The Blaze:

Why George W. Bush Never Left D.C. Until the Day After Christmas
Like many Americans, U.S. presidents often take time off around the holidays.

However, according to journalist Joseph Curl, who previously covered the White House, former President George W. Bush went on Christmas vacation in a way that stands in direct contrast to President Barack Obama.

“[H]ere’s the thing: In December, we never left Washington, D.C., until the day after Christmas. Never. Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, would always depart the White House a few days before the holiday and hunker down at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland,” Curl wrote in a 2013 column that was republished Thursday.

After a few years, curiosity finally got to the former Washington Times reporter and he asked a low-level administration official why.

“I still remember what she said,” Curl wrote. “’So all of us can be with our families on Christmas.’”

“Who was ‘us’? Hundreds and hundreds of people, that’s who. Sure, the reporters who covered the president, but also dozens and dozens on his staff, 100 Secret Service agents, maybe more, and all of those city cops required whenever the president’s on the move in D.C.,” Curl added in his column.

However, things seemingly changed when Obama took office.

“[T]his president would never delay his trip to his island getaway. He’s off every year well before Christmas. Hundreds and hundreds head off with him, leaving family behind,” Curl wrote.

“No Christmas at home,” he added. “Instead, the Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Nice, but not exactly home.”

This does not surprise me one bit - narcissist-in-chief after all... Reminds me of President Bush's comments regarding Golf - from this May 2008 interview at Politico::

Q Mr. President, you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.

Q Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf -- I think I was in central Texas -- and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it anymore to do.

 A class act all the way...

Not exactly clear on the subject

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More like apples and oranges - from PJ Media:

The NBA Joins Team Gun Control
The National Basketball Association has teamed up with Everytown for Gun Safety and will lend its name and its athletes for a PR campaign against the Second Amendment.

In a move with little precedent in professional sports, the N.B.A. is putting the weight of its multibillion-dollar brand and the prestige of its star athletes behind a series of television commercials calling for an end to gun violence.

The first ads, timed to reach millions of basketball fans during a series of marquee games on Christmas Day, focus on shooting victims and contain no policy recommendations. The words “gun control” are never mentioned.

Yeah, we know. It's never about "gun control" and always about "sensible gun legislation."

There are a lot of Basketball enthusiasts out there who support the Second Amendment 100% and who will be pissed at finding their favorite sport politicized.

It is about restriction and control, not about preventing violence. The shootings are just used to gin up a public crisis so they can drive their agenda of control and disarmament.

White Christmas

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Snowing lightly with more forecast. Supposed to be clear on Christmas day - might drive up the hill and take some photos. One of the major East/-West routes - Interstate 90 - is closed all day today because of excessive snow accumulation and avvy potential.

Got a fridge full of left-overs so don't have to cook for a few days (although I love to).

Got two bales of hay out for the critters - the Llamas saw what I was up to and came into the barn right away. I do not see the horses so I suspect they figured it out too. Setting out some more bird food in a few minutes - using suet cakes as the horses will empty a seed feeder in no time.

The eco-disaster you do not hear about

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A California gas well - from Sarah Zhang writing at Wired:

California Has a Huge Gas Leak, and Crews Can’t Stop It Yet
WHILE THE WORLD was hammering out a historic agreement to curb carbon emissions—urged along by California, no less—the state was dealing with an embarrassing belch of its own. Methane, a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide, has been leaking out of a natural gas storage site in southern California for nearly two months, and a fix won’t arrive until spring.

The site is leaking up to 145,000 pounds per hour, according to the California Air Resources Board. In just the first month, that’s added up to 80,000 tons, or about a quarter of the state’s ordinary methane emissions over the same period. The Federal Aviation Administration recently banned low-flying planes from flying over the site, since engines plus combustible gas equals kaboom.

Steve Bohlen, who until recently was state oil and gas supervisor, can’t remember the last time California had to deal with a gas leak this big. “I asked this question of our staff of 30 years,” says Bohlen. “This is unique in the last three or four decades. This is an unusual event, period.”

And the core of the problem:

Given both the local and global effects of the gas leak, why is it taking so long to stop? The answer has to do with the site at Aliso Canyon, an abandoned oil field. Yes, that’s right, natural gas is stored underground in old oil fields. It’s common practice in the US, but largely unique to this country. The idea goes that geological sites that were good at keeping in oil for millions of years would also be good at keeping in gas.

Across the US, over 300 depleted oil fields, of which a dozen are in California, are now natural gas storage sites. “We have the largest natural gas storage system in the world,” says Chris McGill, a vice president of the American Gas Association. And the site at Aliso Canyon is one of the largest in the country, with a capacity of 86 billion cubic feet. Aliso became a natural gas storage site in the 1970s. Each summer, SoCalGas pumps natural gas into the field, and each winter, it pumps it out. The sites are basically giant underground reserves for winter heating.

On October 23, workers noticed the leak at a 40-year-old well in Aliso Canyon. Small leaks are routine, says Bohlen, and SoCalGas did what it routinely does: put fluid down the well to stop the leak and tinker with the well head. It didn’t work. The company tried it five more times, and the gas kept leaking. At this point, it was clear the leak was far from routine, and the problem was deeper underground.

They cannot light the gas and flare it off as the volume coming from the well is so large that the flame would hamper the work to kill the well. I would just drop a small nuke down the original well - seal it up forever.

Food coma

The ham came out perfectly and the rest of the side dishes were a big hit.

Lulu is upstairs asleep, the kids left about 20 minutes ago, stuff is loaded into the dishwasher and I am sitting here surfing for a while.

Got a gorgeous sweater (Irish wool), a  very cool Steampunk wall clock (going onto the wall in the music room) and a bunch of other stuff.

Sitting here at 8:00PM feeling like it is more like 11:00PM...

And to all, a good night!

Going to get some tacos

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Las Vegas restaurant Frijoles & Frescas Grilled Tacos had three mokes break and enter.

Security cameras caught the whole thing and the restaurant turned it into a funny commercial:

The three wise men

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That would be a delight - Michael Ramirez nails it:


Let it snow - champagne powder

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Skiing conditions on Mt. Baker are some of the best in the last five years. It has been raining down here for a little bit every day - that translates to a couple inches of fresh champagne powder. People out here are happy.

The store is doing really well - this is not generally our best business season (summer, when people are up here for a couple days camping or hiking is the best)  - people head up the mountain and when they are done, they just want to get home. That being said, we are doing really well every day of the week.

Just shut the oven off for the ham and am prepping the glaze. Will be dicing some bacon for the vegetables - brocolinni and green beans steamed and then stir-fried with bits of bacon and bacon fat.

How not to do it - BFRC

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I will tell you that the last two of those four letters stands for Red Cloud.

A truck hauling two tons of red fuming nitric acid springs a leak. From Russia Today:

Chemical tanker truck bursts, spews nauseous orange fumes near playground
A tanker truck carrying chemicals burst open in a peaceful neighborhood in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, covering the area with nauseous orange fumes. An estimated two tons of what appears to be nitric acid spilled out and evaporated.

The spectacular leak happened last week in a residential area just meters from a children's playground. A video filmed by a local resident showed the tanker, its driver nowhere to be seen, producing clouds of orange-brown fumes, which were blown towards nearby houses. The smell of the chemical fumes was reportedly felt kilometers away.

A fire brigade arrived on the scene and washed out the chemicals remaining in the tank. Local authorities assured the population the leak did not pose any danger to public health or the environment, but couldn't immediately confirm the extent of the damage. No evacuation was ordered.

And the video:

I would not be driving so close to something like that, if only to preserve the finish on my car's paint. Tip of the hat to Derek Lowe for the link.

RFNA is a primary constituent of a two-part hypergolic rocket fuel N2O4/UDMH - here is a link to some wonderful footage of a Russian Proton-M rocket having a bad day in 2013. Watch full-screen.

Waiting on the kids

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We were expecting them sometime around Noonish but they called and will be here at 3:00PM. Oh well...

Well crap - drone being returned

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Was at Costco yesterday and saw a stack of hobby drones for sale for $199. The box said 720p resolution (1,280 X 720)  video and it seemed to have a nice feature set. In the cart it went. Merry Christmas to me!!!

Unboxed it tonight and saw that where, on the box, there was a larger video camera with a glass lens, the camera on the unit was a pinhole camera and the actual resolution was 640 X 480. Saw also that the same drone was on sale at Amazon for $100 and that the reviews were generally pretty poor. Boxed it back up and will be returning it to Costco later this week. Someone there royally screwed up.

Back to "Plan A" which is to build a larger hexacopter this summer...

I would eat there if I lived closer

From ABC News:

Texas Restaurant Chain Touts 'Politically Incorrect' Holiday Policy
One restaurant chain in Texas is warning customers that it may offend them by being too "politically incorrect" this holiday season.

"I just got tired of all the news of everybody having to be politically correct," Berryhill Baja Grill CEO Jeff Anon told ABC News.

The chain restaurant posted signs outside its nine Texas locations about two weeks ago that read, "Notice: This store is politically incorrect. We say 'Merry Christmas,' 'God bless America.' We salute our flag and give thanks to our troops, police officers and firefighters. If this offends you, you are welcome to leave. In God we trust.

Anon said the last straw for him was the criticism that erupted in social media last month over Starbucks' red holiday-themed Christmas cups.

"There’s nothing wrong with saying 'Merry Christmas' in lieu of 'Happy Holidays.' When people say 'Merry Christmas,' they’re being nice," Anon said, adding that he's Jewish. "They’re not trying to be politically incorrect or have religious beliefs."

The restaurants have been decorated with festive holiday decor, including Hanukkah decorations. Anon said that for every negative response to the signs, there are "hundreds" of positive ones.

Emphasis mine - I hope and pray that America is waking up from our 60 year slumber. We need to get some things changed around here and start heading back towards our core values...

An early Christmas

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We are celebrating on the 23rd (tomorrow) and not on the 24th as I had thought earlier. The two guys have to work those days so they are heading out here for dinner and what few presents we have been able to cobble together. Lumps of coal and all that.

Fixing spaghetti for dinner tonight and make a big batch so we have a couple more meals of leftovers. Spent the day wrapping stuff, hanging out at the store, getting a haircut, getting coffee, etc...

More dam probing

In the light of yesterday's Iranian entry into our Western power grid, here is a cheery little piece of news from New York State.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Iranian Hackers Infiltrated New York Dam in 2013
Iranian hackers infiltrated the control system of a small dam less than 20 miles from New York City two years ago, sparking concerns that reached to the White House, according to former and current U.S. officials and experts familiar with the previously undisclosed incident.

The breach came amid attacks by hackers linked to Iran’s government against the websites of U.S. banks, and just a few years after American spies had damaged an Iranian nuclear facility with a sophisticated computer worm called Stuxnet. In October 2012, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called out Iran’s hacking, prompting fears of cyberwar.

The still-classified dam intrusion illustrates a top concern for U.S. officials as they enter an age of digital state-on-state conflict. America’s power grid, factories, pipelines, bridges and dams—all prime targets for digital armies—are sitting largely unprotected on the Internet. And, unlike in a traditional war, it is sometimes difficult to know whether or where an opponent has struck. In the case of the dam hack, federal investigators initially thought the target might have been a much larger dam in Oregon.

And our nation is in the best of hands - a bit more:

The 2013 dam hack highlighted another challenge for America’s digital defenses: the fog of cyberwar. Amid a mix of three-letter agencies, unclear Internet addresses and rules governing domestic surveillance, U.S. officials at first weren’t able to determine where the hackers had infiltrated, three of the people familiar with the incident said.

Hackers are believed to have gained access to the dam through a cellular modem, according to an unclassified Homeland Security summary of the case that doesn’t specify the type of infrastructure by name. Two people familiar with the incident said the summary refers to the Bowman Avenue Dam, a small structure used for flood control near Rye, N.Y.

Yeah - small dam but it took us many months to find which dam was the one being targeted. They can hit a big one just as easily - next time. And give me a fscking break - they used a cellular modem to hack? Talk about two tin cans and a string. If they can penetrate with that, imagine what they can do at a starbucks with a laptop...

Drone technology

Got to love them - we are certainly having a field day with robotics and drones.

More from this press release from Rutgers University:

Navy Funds Rutgers to Develop Drone Equally Adept at Flying and Swimming
The Office of Naval Research has awarded Rutgers University a grant to develop a drone – equally adept at flying through the air and navigating underwater – that could speed search-and-rescue operations, monitor the spread of oil spills and even help the Navy rapidly defuse threats from underwater mines.

Javier Diez, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, had been dabbling with the concept for years with the help of his graduate and undergraduate students. But when he demonstrated it to Navy research officials earlier this year, they almost immediately funded his work on new versions of the air-and-water craft.

“They told me they’d never seen anything like it,” said Diez, who at first compared the vehicle to what nature does.

Very cool! A long way to go for something that can carry a practical payload but all the pieces are there.

Drone registration - a potential issue

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Sometimes it can be a wonderful case of schadenfreude when two pieces of legislation act to cancel each other out.

Case in point, the recent 211 page FCC document: 14 CFR Parts 1, 45, 47, 48, 91, and 375 - Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft specifically tailored to address the registration of privately owned drone aircraft of 250 grams or more in weight (a bit over a half pound)

I wrote about this earlier here when I found that the person's name and address would be made public.

OK - segue back to February of 2012 and this 300 page document: FAA MODERNIZATION AND REFORM ACT OF 2012

Specifically Page 72:

Subtitle B—Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Sec. 336. Special rule for model aircraft.

To whit:

(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if
(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
(5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).

Italic emphasis mine. This 2012 Act specifically addressed model aircraft under 55 pounds and told the FAA to keep their grubby little mitts off as long as some basic and simple rules and self-policing were being followed.

The enemy is always probing, probing. This time it is the power grids - from the Las Vegas Sun:

AP Investigation: U.S. power grid vulnerable to foreign hacks
Security researcher Brian Wallace was on the trail of hackers who had snatched a California university's housing files when he stumbled into a larger nightmare: Cyberattackers had opened a pathway into the networks running the United States power grid.

Digital clues pointed to Iranian hackers. And Wallace found that they had already taken passwords, as well as engineering drawings of dozens of power plants, at least one with the title "Mission Critical." The drawings were so detailed that experts say skilled attackers could have used them, along with other tools and malicious code, to knock out electricity flowing to millions of homes.

Wallace was astonished. But this breach, The Associated Press has found, was not unique.

About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operations networks that keep the lights on, according to top experts who spoke only on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter.

The public almost never learns the details about these types of attacks — they're rarer but also more intricate and potentially dangerous than data theft. Information about the government's response to these hacks is often protected and sometimes classified; many are never even reported to the government.

Both sides of the political spectrum are equally at fault here - nobody wants to rock the boat enough to suggest that people in the middle east declared war on us back in 1800 and although they have signed truces with us, we have never defeated them and driven them into the river. What happened on 9/11, what happened in San Bernardino and Paris are just the tip of the iceberg for what these barbarians (literally - read your history) have planned. There is a lot happening in the rest of the world that our complicit media have failed to tell us - again, do not want to rock the boat, the proles might start asking inconvenient questions. We have become a Nation of Eloi...

Time to clean house and start over fresh with some people who will have the stones to call a spade a spade and deal with it...

Cool news on early Earthquake detection

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From the Triple-A-S - American Association for the Advancement of Science:

Can electric signals in Earth’s atmosphere predict earthquakes?
Ask seismologists when they’ll be able to predict earthquakes, and the answer is generally: sometime between the distant future and never. Although there have been some promising leads over the years, the history of earthquake forecasting is littered with false starts and pseudoscience. However, some scientists think that Earth’s crust may give hints before it ruptures, in the form of electromagnetic anomalies in the ground and atmosphere that occur minutes to days before an earthquake. Last week, here at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, researchers shared their evolving understanding of these phenomena—and how they might be used to predict deadly quakes.

Kosuke Heki, a geophysicist at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, first got interested in the subject when he spotted an increase in the total electron content of the ionosphere—the charged outermost layer of the atmosphere—above Tohoku about 40 minutes before the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck in 2011. Heki had long used GPS data to study ionospheric responses to earthquakes, which occur when the sudden movement of Earth’s crust reverberates through the atmosphere. Ionospheric disturbances interfere with the communication between GPS satellites and receivers, leaving a fingerprint at specific radio frequencies that researchers can tease out.

In 2011, Heki was skeptical of electromagnetic precursors. But since then, he has used the world’s growing array of GPS stations to identify similar signals before nine other major earthquakes, he explained at the meeting. In addition, Heki has found that earlier anomalies precede stronger earthquakes, potentially reflecting the longer time needed to initiate rupture along larger segments of a fault. Now, he says he’s convinced there’s really something going on: “Seeing is believing.”

I love the serendipitous nature of his work - a completely different network built for a completely different task and this guy is able to find valid data embedded in the noise.

Some kinds of rocks exhibit piezoelectricity when mechanically deformed (your clicky butane lighter is a perfect example), some others triboelectricity (scuffing your feet on the carpet and touching someone). Both of these can develop a very high voltage which can be picked up with sensitive instrumentation. Our atmosphere is a fascinating conductor of electricity as any radio operator will well know...

Nothing much tonight

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The quick trip into town wound up taking five hours - everyone else had the brilliant idea of doing their Christmas shopping today as well. Left over chicken soup and watched two episodes of Hawaii Five-0. Locking Grace in our bedroom so hopefully, she will not go out the dog door and bark all night.

Lulu's son and nephew are coming out on the 24th - they have to work on Christmas day so we are bumping things up a day.

Surf for a bit

Another busy Monday

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Pastry run, coffee too and then into town for some last minute Christmas shopping. Grace just went into heat so she is barking to all the coyotes and wolves in our neighborhood.

Doing a big ham for Christmas dinner. Tomorrow is the winter solstice (Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT) - the days are finally getting longer.

Truck should be warmed up so I am out the door...

I knew it was coming - eventually going to get a drone (waiting for battery life and a couple software issues to be resolved first) but not planning to register it. Will build it as a kit so there is no real way that they can track me either.

From John Goglia writing at Forbes:

FAA Finally Admits Names And Home Addresses In Drone Registry Will Be Publicly Available
The FAA finally confirmed this afternoon that model aircraft registrants’ names and home addresses will be public. In an email message, the FAA stated: “Until the drone registry system is modified, the FAA will not release names and address. When the drone registry system is modified to permit public searches of registration numbers, names and addresses will be revealed through those searches.”

I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of whether names and home addresses of model aircraft or hobby drone owners – including children as young as 13 – will be made available by the FAA to the public once the FAA’s new unmanned aircraft registry goes live on Monday. It seems a simple enough question. But it took a while to get a straight answer.

A bit more - John is Forbes' Aviation writer

So, I emailed DOT’s public affairs office to ask if they could clarify what information from the newly announced UAS registry will be made publicly available. Specifically I asked: “Will a hobby registrant’s name and home address be publicly releasable? Will the public be able to search the hobby registry for owner names and addresses by registration number?” I thought these were easy questions requiring simple yes or no answers. But apparently they weren’t that simple so my questions were referred to the FAA. An FAA spokesman wrote back: “Initially the Registration system will not have a public search function. The FAA plans to incorporate a search by registration number in the future. Names and addresses are protected by the Privacy Act. The FAA will handle disclosure of such information in accordance with the December 15, 2015 Federal Register notice.”

Some good news though:

Fortunately for hobby flyers, the Academy of Model Aeronautics announced to its members yesterday that it’s exploring all legal and political means to stop the registry. In the meanwhile, it’s asking its members to hold off registering. If you’re concerned about what data will be made publicly available, you might consider holding off registering to give the AMA a chance.

There are enough window-licking morons out there flying their drones close to airplanes and in established flight-paths that some form of registration is not a bad idea. Still, that ruins the sport for the rest of us...

100% nails it!

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From Stephan Pastis - Pearls before Swine:


Click to embiggen. Hat tip to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

Earth movement in the news

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Because of all the slides and movement we are having in my neck of the woods, I look for other news stories.

This one from the Beeb:

China landslide: Many missing after buildings collapse in Shenzhen
Dozens of people are missing after a landslide engulfed 22 buildings at an industrial park in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

About 900 people were evacuated, and four were pulled from rubble with minor or no injuries, the local government said. No fatalities have been reported.

Shenzhen's fire brigade said it was working to free other trapped people - state media say 59 remain missing.

One photo:


Shenzhen is an interesting city - it was created from scratch to serve as a 'Special Economic Zone' for electronics manufacture. My last trip to China was in 1986 and it was about half-way through being built. It is referred to as the City without a History. No word if this will impact electronics prices at all - Foxconn's (most Apple products, XBox, PlayStation, Kindle, Intel motherboards, Blackberry and many others) largest factory is here.

I was noticing that an older form of radio navigation - LORAN - was being shut down over the last five years. LORAN is not as precise as GPS or any other nation's equivalent (specifically the Russian GLOSNAS) but it is downright difficult to jam and you are not beholden to one nation or one administration for navigation. This is an important thing given that WW-III is raging around us without the USA seeming to be aware of it.

LORAN (LOng RAnge Navigation) was developed in the 1930's and 1940's by several groups of people and was able to provide accuracy within a couple miles over the surface of the globe.

Here is the lights-out notice from Scotland's Northern Lighthouse Board:

Mariners are advised, with effect from 1100 UTC on 31 DECEMBER 2015, the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLA) will discontinue the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) prototype/trials of Enhanced LORAN (eLORAN) in the UK and Ireland.

One of the primary developers was Dr. Jack Pierce who led a very interesting life and while looking through several websites for LORAN, I stumbled across his biography.

It is a text website and poorly formatted (ie: not at all) but the writing is excellent and the story is rollicking. His time growing up provides a portrait of life in America in the early 1900's and his adventures in Russia in the 1930's and through World War Two make for compelling reading.

Jack also did a lot of work with acoustics and audio recording technology and development of the stereophonic disk.

A long read but a fun one - this is where I have been for the last couple hours...

Check out Memoirs of J. A. Pierce

Cool new technology - ski goggles

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From Oakley - the Airwave 1.5 for $650. Features a heads-up display:

What makes this really cool is the new Airwave GoPro Connect which allows you to monitor and control your GoPro from your goggles.

From the website:

Turn your Oakley® Airwave 1.5 or Recon Snow2 into a powerful remote and viewfinder for your GoPro® HERO4 camera. With Airwave GoPro® Connect, capturing your day on the slopes is easy and fun.

Get a real-time GoPro® viewfinder on the Oakley® Airwave 1.5 or Recon Snow2 display that sits just below your right eye. Now, you can always know if the camera is positioned right—and if the lens is free of snow or dirt.

Start and stop capture—and change camera modes—with the glove-friendly Oakley® Airwave 1.5 or Recon Snow2 remote on your wrist. No more taking off your gloves (or wondering if you pressed “record” properly).

I ♥ Craigslist

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I got some more space in my garage and two people from about 20 miles away got something they were looking for.

Sweet deal both ways...

Jumping on the bandwagon

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And the state of California screws you over. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Customers of clean energy programs hit with fee increase
The California Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to allow a nearly 100 percent price increase on exit fees for customers leaving Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for green energy programs like CleanPowerSF and Marin Clean Energy, which will make those and similar programs more expensive.

Many of the programs — where local governments buy green electricity for their residents, while private utilities own and operate the electrical grid — will be undermined financially by the uptick in the charge, called the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment, their officials say.

“We are not surprised that the increase was approved,” said Marin Clean Energy spokeswoman Alexandra McCroskey. “We are disappointed. Our primary frustrations come from the fact that we are becoming almost liable for the market fluctuations for both ourselves and PG&E. If PG&E isn’t planning appropriately for people leaving for community choice aggregation programs, the PCIA will continue to increase. It’s poor planning.”

So the poor customer deiced to go all-in and spend $45K on a full-house solar system with the intent of selling excess energy back to the utility and they get their rates jacked up.

And, of course, PG&E is a public utility - a state regulated monopoly - so no accountability there.

A bit more:

In San Francisco, the proposed exit fee for residents moving to CleanPowerSF would jump by 100.26 percent. Because the city energy program is designed to absorb costs for its customers, it would decrease the program’s revenue by $8.4 million.

CleanPowerSF (which is not scheduled to become an entity until this coming Spring - they could shut it down right now without having to build any bureaucracy) is another utopian fever-dream so no accountability there either.

People need to learn that the chimera is very elusive. There are cases (rural homes, emergency backup power, etc...) where it is a great alternative but for baseload generation, forget it. The only way that it will ever work is for it to enjoy massive government subsidies (ie: taxpayer revenue redistribution) and those are starting to go away now.

Waiting on some people

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Selling something on Craigslist - waiting for them to come and pick up.

About that global warming

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From the Reykjavik Grapevine:

Akureyri In The Midst Of Super-Winter
The north Iceland town is experiencing subzero temperatures in the double digits, and the most snow in a decade.

Vísir reports that temperatures in Akureyri and Mývatn dropped to -20°C today, with temperatures to hover around -2°C to -15°C tomorrow. Temperatures on the lower end of the scale will be felt by people living further inland than Akureyri, which rests on the shores of Eyjafjörður fjord.

At the same time, RÚV reports that the town is contending with the most snowfall they have had in ten years. About a metre of snow has dropped on Akureyri over the past week alone.

These conditions have made clearing roads and sidewalks an arduous task. Town councilperson Logi Már Einarsson estimates it could take three or four days to clear everything, provided more snow does not dump on the town again. This has made life difficult, both in terms of the physical movement of the townspeople and the coffers of town council.

Akureyri is a gorgeous small town in the North of Iceland. Backpacked through there in the 1970's - Akureyri is the gateway to the thermal springs at Lake Myvatn.

Curious - an attack on the core of the internet

DNS is one of the fundamental building blocks of the internet. It is what translates a domain name ( into the physical internet protocol address where can be found. Without it, we would not be able to navigate using domain names.

From root-servers:

Events of 2015-11-30
On November 30, 2015 and December 1, 2015, over two separate intervals, several of the Internet Domain Name System's root name servers received a high rate of queries. This report explains the nature and impact of the incident.

While it's common for the root name servers to see anomalous traffic, including high query loads for varying periods of time, this event was large, noticeable via external monitoring systems, and fairly unique in nature, so this report is offered in the interests of transparency.

Probing - always probing. More at the link (prettty geeky stuff).

One horse and one mule and three llamas to be specific. Gentle creatures and I love the clean smell and the warmth of them.

I did enjoy living in Boston and Seattle but you will not get me back there for anything more than the occasional visit - Bellingham is just the right size.

Out for coffee, birthday cake and then back home working on stuff...

I love it

Ted Cruz' latest video advertisement. I like him and think that he would be a great President.

Actually got a good sleeep last night

Hope that my schedule is reset to whatever passes for normal these days...

Feed the critters, out for coffee, birthday celebration at the store and then back home to work on some stuff.

Our nation is in the best of hands

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From FOX News:

Feds can't say whereabouts of those whose visas were revoked over terror threat
The Obama administration cannot be sure of the whereabouts of thousands of foreigners in the U.S. who had their visas revoked over terror concerns and other reasons, a State Department official acknowledged Thursday.

The admission, made at a House oversight hearing examining immigrant vetting in the wake of major terror attacks, drew a sharp rebuke from the committee chairman.

“You don’t have a clue do you?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Michele Thoren Bond, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Bond initially said the U.S. has revoked more than 122,000 visas since 2001, including 9,500 because of the threat of terrorism.

But Chaffetz quickly pried at that stat, pressing the witness about the present location of those individuals.

"I don't know," she said.

The startling admission came as members of the committee pressed administration officials on what safeguards are in place to reduce the risk from would-be extremists.

9,500 ticking time bombs aimed at you and me. Nice job guys...

New keyboard - not so much

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I get that these are second-hand keyboards - I bought it from a recycler.

Should have paid closer attention - previous owner was a smoker. Yuck! Take it back on Monday...

New battery technology

The one thing holding stuff back is battery life - this sounds interesting.

From Hot Hardware:

Sony Developing Sulfur Smartphone Batteries With 40 Percent Higher Energy Density
Since the original iPhone was released in 2007, we have seen some incredible advances in smartphone processing and GPU power along with a wealth of features improvement (faster Wi-Fi and cellular speeds, larger and higher resolution displays). However, battery technology, for the most part, hasn’t kept up with the advances made in miniaturizing and producing higher-performing silicon.

Over the years, we’ve listened to plenty of promises about the next battery breakthrough just over the horizon, and today, Sony is the latest to string us along. Sony is currently an underdog as a battery supplier, commanding just 8 percent of the market for compact lithium-ion batteries. Its three largest competitors — Samsung (SDI), Panasonic and LG Chem — each command around 20 percent of the market. In order to help eat into the share of its competitors, Sony is developing a new type of battery chemistry that can boost runtimes by 40 percent compared to lithium-ion batteries of the same capacity.

As always, I will believe it when I see it but still, 40% increase and smaller size is a good thing! There had been some other Sulfur technologies for batteries but they operate at high temperatures.

Mountain goats in the air

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Great little video - I love goats. If they were not so harmful to landscaping I would still have a couple of them.

Back from town - major snowfall

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Picked up a bunch of stuff including a new keyboard - not exactly what I want but it will do for now and at least has a space bar that give me one space per stroke and not fifteen of them.

Sam and Rocky got their hooves trimmed today - both of them are looking really good according to the farrier. Acclimating well to retirement.

Salon has hot water now - plumber was able to come out on short notice.

Feeling a bit tired so surf for a bit and then an early bedtime - sleep schedule has been wacky the last couple of days.

Wanna buy a building?

Got a call from one of my tenants that their hot water was only running at around 290°...

wait for it

wait for it

Degrees Kelvin (62°F)

This is a hair salon so water is crucial - call came in around 7:40AM

The joys of small business ownership.

Yes, Obama, actually I did build that and I am also responsible for it and its upkeep and maintenance and nobody else.

Paul Ryan's Budget Deal

He is just as bad and as corrupt as the worst of the progressives. I am pissed as Hell because I thought he would have the fscking grace to show a little backbone.

There is a joke going around the intarwebs:

How do you circumcise an Islamist terrorist?
Kick a Democrat in the chin.

The punchline will now read:

Kick a Politician in the chin.

I do like Ted Cruz and if he can pull anything out of this unmitigated disaster, Kudos to him.

Trump? Makes a lot of sense - time to disband both parties, drain the swamp and start over...

Let it slush

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Had to run into town today - just got back after dinner in town and a beer at my local.

32°F and slush city - skiing should be fantastic but not in the lowlands. Farrier coming out tomorrow and heading into town again after he is done giving Rocky and Sam their mani-pedis.

Let it snow

Started snowing around 10:00AM this morning - a few flakes at first but really coming down now.

Forecast is for a real dump but the snow level was supposed to be quite a bit higher - 1,000 to 2,000 feet and I am at 680.

National Weather Service has this to say:

Winter storm warning remains in effect until 7 am PST Friday...
Timing...snow will increase from the south today. The heaviest snow will likely fall this afternoon through tonight. Heavy snow will continue through Friday morning.

Snow accumulations...18 to 22 inches.

Snow levels...around 1000 feet...rising to 2500 to 3500 feet this evening. Snow levels will fall back to around 2500 feet Friday morning.

Winter wonderland...

Great old logging photo

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There is a Facebook channel for old logging photos and found this one today:


With gas and bar oil, that's about 40 pounds not counting the bar and chain. Quite the workout!

Now this is curious

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From Dr. Helen Smith writing at PJ Media:

New Study Links Antidepressants Used in Pregnancy to Autism
Children are more likely to be diagnosed with autism if their mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy, a new study shows.

In the new study, women who took antidepressants in the last six months of pregnancy were 87% more likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism. Doctors saw no increase in autism rates in women who took medication for depression in the first three months of pregnancy, according to the study, published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

Rates of autism in the study were lower than in the U.S. population. In the study, the overall rate of autism was 0.7%; that rate rose to 1.2% among women who took antidepressants in the second or third trimester.

This it would explain a lot about the sudden rise of cases.

Site for the survey is here at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Abstract for the specific paper at JAMA is here: Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children

Sample size is 145K so they aren't playing fast and loose with p values like Dr. Wakefield's MMA/Autism discredited study...

Heading out for coffee

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The farrier called and bailed - he will be out Friday morning instead.

Got a pot of chicken noodle soup simmering on the stove - have that tomorrow and doing the last of the chinese food this evening with some fresh rice and stir-fried bok choy with oyster sauce..

The take-away from tonight's debate

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Bush: "You are not going to insult your way to the presidency."

Trump: "I'm at 42 and you're at 3, Jeb!"

And Jeb!, your point is?


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From the Puppy Blender

Tree time

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We got our Christmas tree today - the house smells wonderful!

I trimmed the high parts and Lulu is at work on the rest of it - pics in an hour or so.

This makes our fifth Christmas together!

Politically incorrect but true

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Offending two cultures with this one:


Talk about right place, right time

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From Seattle station KCPQ:

Pasco man gets Amber Alert on his phone just as he’s parking next to car in question
A Pasco man was pulling into a Wendy’s parking lot Monday night when he got an Amber Alert on his phone.

The car he was parking next to at that very moment was the Honda Civic police were looking for.

Police said the man found the 2002 Honda Civic that had been stolen an hour-and-a-half earlier with two little girls inside.

The suspect was gone.

The car was running.

And the children were inside in the car seats – safe and sound.

Just wow! Talk about great luck and perfect operation of the system.

Fun times

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Had a long day today - went into Bellingham to take care of some stuff, checking on a special order and some banking. Bought a bunch of Chinese food so we have leftovers for a couple of days.

The store runs payroll on the first and the fifteenth of each month - tomorrow is the last paycheck before Christmas so I stuffed some cash into people's pay envelopes for a bonus this evening. I love playing Santa - got a really awesome crew and like to reward people for a good job well done.

Sleeping in tomorrow and two items on the agenda: Get Coffee, Get Christmas Tree. Usually get it the day after Thanksgiving but things conspired to get busy. Being retarded retired is not as simple as they said it would be...

Spot the recording engineer

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Hawaii Five-0 - a little too good...

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We were watching it while eating dinner as we usually do and our second show of the evening (Episode 6) had a very poignant Hawaiian funeral at the end of the show. Both Lulu and I were in tears - the memorial service for our friend from Hawaii was only yesterday.

Moved us a little too much...

Quote of the week

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"The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
--Will Rogers

Aaaaand that is it for the evening

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My keyboard is starting to act up - false keystrokes and sometimes the spacebar inserts two or three spaces.

Long day tomorrow so early start.

The ersatz beef stroganov was delicious - boiled some beef base (Better than Bouillon) and some meat trimmings. Sautéed some mirepoix, let it boil for two hours and then blended it. Made a roux and gravy from that.

Steamed the rest of the tri-tip and had everything over some thick noodles. Wonderful comfort food - we both ate like pigs. There was a lot of gravy left over so the dogs will be in culinary heaven for a day or two...

A memo to Santa

From the intarwebs:


Hawaii Five-0

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Lulu turned me on to the remake this evening as Daredevil was not really floating our boats.

Ho. Li. Crap!  Much better then the original - a lot of fun and there are five seasons to watch.

Been about a year since my last payment to DirecTV and when I got Hulu - do not miss it one bit, expecially the 300 home shopping channels...

 Check out Hawaii Five-0

Great news on the Nuke front

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From Neutron Bytes:

Competition heats up for SMR Manufacturing
The UK seeks to become the world’s center for export of factory built small modular nuclear reactors, but first customers have the place orders for them. The US needs to catch up if it wants to be competitive.

How many orders for new SMRs does a nuclear reactor vendor need to go the financial markets to get funding to build a factory to make lots of them?

The answer, according to David Orr, head of nuclear business development for Rolls-Royce in the UK, which has been making small reactors for the UK’s Royal Navy submarine fleet for decades, is a minimum of about four dozen units and six dozen would be better.

This estimate means that turning out the first 50 or so SMRs for any firm in the business is going to be a high wire act. Costs will come down per unit from the first-of-a-kind to the 10th unit and so on.

Former US Energy Secretary Steven Chu thinks the 10th unit of the same design is the tipping point where real cost savings start to appear. It will be getting to having orders for five times that number that will convince investors to open their checkbooks to fund a factory.

I would love to see one of these installed out here - basically, they are sealed units that run unattended for about 30 years. They are buried in a pit and the old unit is dug up and returned to the factory for servicing and refueling.

The cost is very competitive with coal and gas electricity and will be cheaper once the manufacturing process is ramped up.

Zero CO2 emissions, inherent safety. What's not to love?

Slow day

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Slept in, took care of the critters, out for coffee and an hour hanging out at the store.

Home now - the tri-tip yesterday was amazing - seared the outside and covered it with a mustard -horseradish sauce and cooked it Sous-Vide for 24 hours. Perfect rare and melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

Making a batch of gravy from some of the trimmings and will serve the remaining tri-tip over noodles - sort of a beef stroganov without the mushrooms or sour cream (not a fan of either).

True dat!

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The truth is sometimes the two-ton elephant in the room - a perfect example:



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We watched the final episode of Season One of Gotham tonight. No more for a while - excellent show from all aspects - casting, story arc, shooting.

We saw the pilot of Marvel's Daredevil - good, very good but not Gotham.

An inside look at the manufacture of Valve's   Steam controller - 2:12 minutes of awesome industrial pron:

Ho. Li. Crap. New underware department

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From the San Francisco Gate:

San Jose driver narrowly avoids death when beam hits BMW
A San Jose driver narrowly escaped a potentially fatal injury on Interstate 280 Friday afternoon, impressing even San Jose firefighters, who tweeted out a photo of a long metal tray sticking out from the front of the man’s car.

Shortly after 2 p.m., the driver of a black BMW was going southbound on I-280 when the metal beam fell off of the back of a nearby truck and went through the windshield, said Cpt. Christopher Salcido, a San Jose Fire spokesman.

The driver pulled over to the right of the road, and escaped with only a slight scratch.

“Had the person been a little more to the right, it would have impaled him,” Salcido said. “It looks like he not so much dodged a bullet, but dodged a large beam of metal.”

There is being lucky and BEING LUCKY!

Let it snow!

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Looks like we are going to get some great weather for skiing over Christmas and New Year.

From Cliff Mass:

One Last Storm and Snow Fest In the Mountains
Even native Northwesterners are getting a bit storm weary, but there is one more storm to deal with before the weather cools and calms down. A sea level pressure forecast (solid lines are isobars, lines of constant pressure) show a deep (975 hPa central pressure) low center off northern Vancouver Island at 4 PM. Temperature is shown by the colored shading. Not super warm. That is good for snow.

And the money quote:

The freezing level is relatively low right now (about 3000 ft) and with plenty of precipitation from this system, there will be substantial snow today, certainly above 3500 ft. Then the temperatures cool behind the low (northwesterly flow follows) and we will move into a cool, showery regime with moderate snow in the mountains.

Here is the forecast 72-hr snow total for the next three days. We are talking of several feet of snow in the Cascades and Olympics. Very good for skiers. This period will guarantee skiing over the holiday break. And really good in increasing the snowpack for water resources next year.

Wonderful news - last year was a bust with some of the poorest conditions I had seen in my 12 years up here. Nice to get some decent pow for a change...

A fun fifteen minutes

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From Ace of Spades

Dinesh D'Souza handles a young man as he should be handled: With a big fat bat-of-truth and mocking and, I hope, in doing so, sent the young man off to do a bit of introspective thinking.

Dinesh D'Souza is one of my favorite authors. He was the one who found President Obama's half-brother living in squalor in Africa. Barry has met with George Obama but has offered no aid to his family.

D'Souza has a couple of documentary films out that are worth looking at.

A fun morning

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Rendezvoused with a couple people at the fire hall and figured out a good location for the ham radio station. There is already a communications room but it is pretty crowded so we will be taking over one corner of the commons room. There is a counter with cabinets and we will have a cabinet for storing the radio and computer and it can be lifted onto a tabletop when needed.

We had advertised a demo of the equipment but nobody showed up for that - it is a cold and rainy day  with a major holiday approaching so people had other things to do. The Fire Chief seems to be really enthusiastic about this project. Great addition to the commuiity...

A Christmas Buck

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From the intarwebs:


After a minute or two of staring through my scope, I dropped my rifle in the grass, fell to my knees, and thanked God for this amazing creature!”

“I just couldn't pull the trigger!”

That buck is going to live a long and happy life; quite safe from any gun-owning American

On the air

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Heading out to our local Fire Hall - our Preparedness group got permission to install a Ham Radio station in their communications room.

Looking at siting the antenna and figuring out the route for the wiring today. Also doing a demonstration for some of the members as well as having two other local hams testing the coverage - there are a few valleys were line-of-sight is not optimal. See what we are dealing with...

Back home this afternoon - got a tri-tip roast cooking Sous Vide for dinner - mashed spuds and garden peas for dinner.

Now this will be interesting

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Time to make a bowl of popcorn and sit back and watch the show. From Yahoo/Reuters:

Heirs of Meyer Lansky want compensation for Cuban casino
The heirs of American organized crime legend Meyer Lansky want compensation for his nationalized hotel, the Riviera, the seaside home to one of the last casinos built in swinging Havana of the 1950s.

U.S. and Cuban officials on Tuesday opened talks about honoring legal claims against the respective governments that were dormant for half a century and are now under review since the former Cold War foes have restored diplomatic ties.

Although Lansky's heirs have yet to file a claim, they have been looking into their rights ever since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced a year ago that they would normalize relations, said Gary Rapoport, Lansky's grandson.

No word on what the Bacardi family is planning - this could be fun!

Communism is absolutely dead - time to grind its pathetic little face into the pavement and make an example for the rest of the socialist dimwits in the world.

Happy 100th Birthday - Frank Sinatra

Great tribute from Robert Davi:

A bit of the history at Breitbart. Davi is the real deal. (here, here and here)

Now this is interesting...

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From Breitbart:

Exclusive–DHS Whistleblower Philip Haney: P.C. Killed Investigation That Might Have Stopped San Bernardino Attack
Department of Homeland Security whistleblower Philip Haney gave an extensive interview to Breitbart News Daily on Friday morning, in which he discussed an investigation that might have stopped the San Bernardino jihad attack… but was scuttled by Homeland Security brass for politically-correct reasons.

“Civil Rights and Civil Liberties shut the case down because we were focusing on individuals who belong to Tablighi Jamaat,” Haney says, well-aware of how explosive this charge is.

Haney was a founding member of the Passenger Analysis Unit, or PAU, under Customs and Border Protection. Established as a stand-alone agency in 2003, the PAU is charged with “vetting, investigating, finding addresses, making connections, and putting the dots together” on persons entering the United States who might be security threats.

“We cross-checked all kinds of information. You name it. Visas, passports, travel patterns, family connections… anything to do within the universe of individuals coming in,” said Haney. Any information suggesting possible terrorist activity was entered into a sophisticated database, for real-time reference by DHS personnel across the country.

Long article but here is the money quote and of course, this Deobandi network had a branch in San Bernardino:

“Tablighi Jamaat members under the organization structure of the Deoband movement – a Salafi Islamic group – were coming to America, going to mosques all over the country, at the invitation of imams and leaders who where already known to be linked to terrorism,” said Haney, succinctly stating the situation that led to the investigation he believes might have picked up on Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik before they opened fire in San Bernardino.

He was pulled off the case because - in his words:

“this Administration is more concerned about the civil rights and civil liberties of foreign Islamic groups and foreign nationals than securing the freedom and security of the American public.”

What is nots is that the people who took over from him actually erased a lot of his data because (quote): they insisted the initiative had “gone in a different direction” and he was no longer authorized to add his data. Long article but a  lot of the backstory and a couple of interviews. Worth reading just to show how fscked this government is today. In the best of hands...

We need to fire about 80% of the people sucking on the Federal tit.

Our tax dollars at work - GIPSY-OASIS

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Actually a very interesting program and one I am signing up to participate in. Check out GIPSY-OASIS:

It is used for precise location and surveying - normally we use the network of GPS satellites but there are errors and orbital perturbations which limit accuracy to a couple of yards for consumer receivers and a couple feet for survey grade receivers.

With GIPSY-OASIS, the errors are determined and a back-correction is calculated so that the accuracy is a lot better. I am interested in this as I have been noticing a lot of land movement in the last couple of years. Our own main highway (SR-542) has three places where it has been reduced to a single lane because of movement in this year alone. There are other rural roads that are closed. A logging road across from my street has had a large measure of land movement. This way I can get quantitative measurement with some consumer-grade GPS receivers.

Looks like this will be an interesting experiment - from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics

The first plasma: the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device is now in operation
Following nine years of construction work and more than a million assembly hours, the main assembly of the Wendelstein 7-X was completed in April 2014. The operational preparations have been under way ever since. Each technical system was tested in turn, the vacuum in the vessels, the cooling system, the superconducting coils and the magnetic field they produce, the control system, as well as the heating devices and measuring instruments. On 10th December, the day had arrived: the operating team in the control room started up the magnetic field and initiated the computer-operated experiment control system. It fed around one milligram of helium gas into the evacuated plasma vessel, switched on the microwave heating for a short 1,3 megawatt pulse – and the first plasma could be observed by the installed cameras and measuring devices. “We’re starting with a plasma produced from the noble gas helium. We’re not changing over to the actual investigation object, a hydrogen plasma, until next year,” explains project leader Professor Thomas Klinger: “This is because it’s easier to achieve the plasma state with helium. In addition, we can clean the surface of the plasma vessel with helium plasmas.”

The first plasma in the machine had a duration of one tenth of a second and achieved a temperature of around one million degrees. “We’re very satisfied”, concludes Dr. Hans-Stephan Bosch, whose division is responsible for the operation of the Wendelstein 7-X, at the end of the first day of experimentation. “Everything went according to plan.” The next task will be to extend the duration of the plasma discharges and to investigate the best method of producing and heating helium plasmas using microwaves. After a break for New Year, confinement studies will continue in January, which will prepare the way for producing the first plasma from hydrogen.

Sustainable commercial fusion power has been about five years away for the last fifty years. It will be interesting to see if this one advances the technology.

The big international ITER project is a design that is known to have confinement issues and its  construction is not even completed yet. The Farnsworth fusor is a good design and Robert Bussard's group at EMC2 is doing really good work (here, here and here).

Trey Gowdy for Attorney General

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The guy was a federal prosecutor for six years. I would hate to be on the receiving end of his wrath:

Got to love the deer-in-the-headlights look on Homeland Security Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelli Ann Burriesci.

More here and here - our country is in the best of hands...

I love his cartoons - here he is talking about the Obama Administration:

Update: Something brewing out there

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I had posted two days ago about an unusually large number of pre-paid cell phones being purchased with cash in Missouri.

Now this - from Russia Today:

Theft of dozens of propane tanks, purchase of 150 prepaid cell phones in Missouri puts FBI on alert
The FBI has launched an investigation after 150 prepaid mobile phones were bought from local Walmarts in Missouri. This comes after the theft of dozens of propane tanks in the area.

A bit more:

Further to the mobile phone scare, agents are now drawing a connection to the disappearance of dozens of tanks of highly flammable propane gas around locations in Missouri. This elevates the possible connection to a potential terrorist plot, as the local mood seems to indicate.

And it's a good number of tanks too:

The first theft was reported at the end of November by a BP gas station in Lee’s Summit. At least 18 propane tanks were stolen from the cages situated outside. Later that night, another gas station in the area reported the same story. Two weeks after that, 28 tanks were stolen from a gas station in Independence.

Sixty four tanks? That would make a big ka-boom... Cell phones for both communications and to remotely detonate any explosion. They like to use TATP - dangerous stuff but pretty easy to make with common chemicals.

Local casino closes

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This had been a long time coming - a local tribe - the Nooksack - had a casino and proceeded to run it into the ground.

The potential for closing first surfaced publically in June of 2015:

A bit of an economic meltdown in our community

From The Bellingham Herald:

Nooksack tribal chairman tells members its Deming casino could close
This week, Nooksack Indian Tribal Chairman Bob Kelly called the first public meeting in roughly three years to inform members of the possible closing of the Nooksack River Casino.

The casino was renovated using about $15 million in loans that the Nooksack Business Corporation, an entity owned by the tribe, made payments on for only a year before going into default.

My comment was this:

They spent a lot of money on remodels that never really did anything. The did a major overhaul on their market centre, restaurant and bar but the quality of food did not keep pace (stopped eating there years ago - used to be good). They did a big promotion featuring Robbie Knievel. They built (and expanded) a brand new casino in an out-of-the-way location close to the Canadian border. There are a lot of Canadians that come to gamble but the casino is far from any border crossing.

From today's Bellingham Herald:

Nooksack River Casino shuts down
The Nooksack River Casino was closed Thursday night, Dec. 10, and won’t reopen.

It appeared little warning was given to the community or to the employees before the casino in Deming was shuttered.

The tribe had been in court with lenders for years over unpaid debts that were used to renovate the casino, making the building’s future unclear.

Some of the comments to the Herald article are from Casino workers - this one summed it up: Right before Christmas! Jerks.

Indeed - another perfect example of piss-poor management.

There was also a bit of a scandal ten years ago involving the son of Seattle's Mayor - from The Seattle Times, May 24, 2007:

Nickels’ son indicted with dozens in scheme to cheat casinos
Jacob Dyson Nickels, the son of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, has been indicted as part of an investigation into a multi-state casino-cheating ring that allegedly stole millions of dollars by bribing casino employees to falsely shuffle decks.

Nickels, 25, was a pit boss at the Nooksack Indian Tribe’s Nooksack River Casino in Whatcom County in the summer of 2005 when he accepted $5,000 to introduce one of the ring’s alleged conspirators to crooked dealers, according to an indictment unsealed today at U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Two of the defendants, George Lee and Tien Duc Vu, won more than $90,000 on mini-baccarat that October with the help of Nickels and two dealers, Levi Seth Mayfield and Kasey James McKillip, the indictment said.

Poorly managed -and- poor security. Not a way to manage a business.

Christmas came a few days early

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I have an electronic music synthesizer made by these people -

A few months ago, Roger announced that he was thinking of going into production with a new design for a low-frequency oscillator with extensive waveshaping and FM capabilities. Needless to say, a bunch of people said Hell Yeah! so he went into full-scale production on the Q167 LFO++

I ordered a couple of them and they just arrived today - at the store right now but heading home soon to install them in my system. There goes my productivity for the next couple of days...


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From The Argyle Sweater - one of my favorite cartoon sites:


Alton Brown reviews strange kitchen gadgets

Fun stuff:

This is getting out of hand - from ABC News:

US Intel: ISIS May Have Passport Printing Machine, Blank Passports
With the U.S. and other countries on high alert for ISIS attacks, American authorities are warning the terror group’s followers may have infiltrated American borders with authentic-looking passports ISIS has printed itself with its own machines, according to an intelligence report obtained by ABC News.

The 17-page Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Intelligence Report, issued to law enforcement last week, says ISIS likely has been able to print legitimate-looking Syrian passports since taking over the city of Deir ez-Zour last summer, home to a passport office with “boxes of blank passports” and a passport printing machine. Another passport office was located in Raqqa, Syria, which has long been ISIS’s de facto capital.

“Since more than 17 months [have] passed since Raqqa and Deir ez-Zour fell to ISIS, it is possible that individuals from Syria with passports ‘issued’ in these ISIS controlled cities or who had passport blanks, may have traveled to the U.S.,” the report says.

Seventeen months and we are just hearing about it now? Time to slam the doors closed and not let anyone in. The wife in the San Bernardino terror attack gave a non-existent city in Pakistan as her place of birth. We let crap like this fly by without so much as a simple fact-check. Don't want to be accused of profiling now...

Done for the day

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Whew - long one. Alarm was set for 8:00AM, got up, showered and fed the critters and then out to coffee.

Car dealership at 10:00AM to 3:00PM - finished the newest Tom Clancy series. Tom may be dead but they have some excellent writers continuing his universe.

Grocery shopping and parts for the new antenna (some crimp fittings and some emery paper for cleaning off some corrosion on an electrical connection)

Disappointing dinner at a local restaurant (Boundary Bay - the cook used WAAAAY to much seasoning in the beef stew - totally out of balance)

Meeting of my local Emergency Communications group (WECG)

A one hour drive and I am home again. Time for a glass or two of wine and sleep in tomorrow...

Off to town - truck and meeting

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Getting new shoes for Thunderbunny (tires for the truck) and meeting later this evening.

No posting until much later...

Talk about a dream job

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Being the next Ansel Adams for the National Park Service - from USA Jobs:

Job Title:  Photographer, GS-1060-11/12 (1564575)
Department:  Department Of The Interior
Agency:  National Park Service
Job Announcement Number:  HRCSS-WASO-16-1564575

Produces large-format photographic documentation to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the HABS/HAER/HALS permanent collection at the Library of Congress. Develops photographic guidelines and standards for traditional and born-digital photographic processes and products.  Produces exhibition quality prints for exhibition, publication, or other visual purposes.  Evaluates submissions and provides advice and assistance concerning production of photographic documentation for donations to the collection or for mitigation purposes.  Makes presentations about the collection or the programs to various public and private groups.

Pay is up to $99,296/year - application deadline is December 15th so get busy!

Praxis - five useful traps

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Clever designs and very simple construction:


What? You don't already have a couple hundred feet of 550 laying around?

Be sure to get the good stuff ($9/100ft) - the cheap stuff ($6/100ft) is crap and the dollar or two savings is just not worth it.

Something brewing out there?

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From Columbia, Missouri station ABC17 News:

More suspicious phone purchases reported in Mid-Missouri
ABC 17 News learned Wednesday night that the Macon County Sheriff's Department is investigating a suspicious purchase of multiple cell phones at the Macon Walmart. The FBI in St. Louis and Springfield have been contacted and are investigating.

ABC 17 News reported early Wednesday that 100 prepaid cell phones were purchased at two Missouri Walmarts over the weekend, which caused concerned employees to report the incidents to authorities.

The Columbia Police Department was notified Monday of a suspicious purchase at the Walmart on Conley Road.

According to the police report, several men bought dozens of phones around 9:30 Friday night.

A witness, who didn't want to be identified, said the men paid with cash only.

A bit more:

A similar situation happened hours later at a Walmart in Lebanon, Missouri. Police said two men bought about 60 phones.

I do hope that WalMart can pass on the serial numbers of the phones in question. Make it a lot easier to listen in on the planned festivities - after all, these are being purchased for Christmas Gifts right?

Fun meeting

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Had about 15 people show up for the potluck. There are some really good cooks out here!

We got permission from the local Fire Chief to install a ham radio in their comms room and an antenna on the roof.

Keeping everything centralized will make for a much more streamlined operation when the fit hits the shan...

A couple of people and I will be meeting there at noon this coming Saturday to figure out the best place for the antenna and I will be doing a small demonstration of communications using my portable setup.

This does not sound good...

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From NBC News:

Two Afghan Trainees Missing From Air Force Base in Georgia
The U.S. Air Force and Georgia police on Tuesday were searching for two Afghan trainees who failed to show up for their training at Moody Air Force Base in southern Georgia on Monday.

The two trainees have been at Moody AFB since February and were screened and vetted before arriving in the U.S. more than a year ago, the Air Force base said in a statement.

"The students have trained alongside American counterparts for the entirety of 2015 and do not pose any apparent threat," the statement said. "There is a well-coordinated process among federal agencies to locate the individuals as quickly as possible and return them accordingly to the proper authorities to manage their present situation."

We all know that our 'vetting' process is worthless. The woman jihadi that shot up the office in San Bernardino told the immigration people that she was from a specific city in Pakistan - that city did not exist.

Wonder when and where these two goblins will turn up.

Done cooking

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Meeting is in two hours - did the Hummus yesterday and it has set up nicely - I use a lot of lemon juice in it so it's a bit loose when first made. Sets up overnight. Tabbouleh is finished and got the veggie sticks cut up and ready to serve.

This is the first anniversary of our Emergency group - we have come quite a ways in just twelve meetings and it is a nice group of people!

Well crap - RIP Douglas Tompkins

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From Associated Press:

North Face co-founder Tompkins dies in Chile accident
Douglas Tompkins, the co-founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing companies who bought up large swaths of land in South America's Patagonia region to keep them pristine, has died from severe hypothermia in a kayaking accident in Chile.

The well-known conservationist was 72.

The Aysen health service said the wealthy businessman and lifelong outdoorsman was boating with five other foreigners on Tuesday when their kayaks capsized in a lake in near freezing waters in the Patagonia region of southern Chile. Tompkins died later in the intensive care unit of the hospital in Coyhaique, a town 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles) south of Santiago.

A bit more:

"Tompkins had been an outdoorsman all his life: a daring white-water kayaker; a skier with aspirations to compete in the Olympics; a serious mountain climber who once spent four weeks holed up in an ice cave with four buddies, waiting out an epic storm until they could finally blaze a new trail to the summit," Edward Humes wrote in "Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet."

North Face:

In the mid-1960's, he became one of the founders of The North Face, a small ski and backpacking retail operation in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood under the mantra to "Never Stop Exploring."

The brand has been ubiquitous in recent years in the U.S., as likely to be seen on the New York City subways as it was on ski slopes or in office building elevators. North Face made outdoor gear cool for teenagers, hipsters, suburbanites and celebrities. The activewear company is now owned by VF Corp. of Greensboro, North Carolina. He also founded the Esprit clothing company with his first wife, Susie Tompkins Buell.


After retiring in 1989, Tompkins was active in conservation and environmentalism. He used much of his fortune to buy hundreds of thousands of hectares (acres) in Patagonia, a sparsely populated region of untamed rivers and other natural beauty that straddles southern Chile and Argentina. On his Chilean land, he created Pumalin Park, 290,000 hectares (716,606 acres) of forest, lakes and fjords stretching from the Andes to the Pacific.

Tompkins was one of those rare people who actually put his money where is mouth is. We need more people like him...

From the UK Independent:

Putin raises possibility of using nuclear weapons against terrorists - but hopes they ‘will never need’ them
Vladimir Putin has said he hopes nuclear warheads will not be needed to deal with terrorists, after Russia launched cruise missiles from its submarine at Syria.

During a meeting in the Kremlin, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the President that Kalibr cruise missiles had been fired by the submerged Rostov-on-Don submarine from the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.

He said TU-22 bombers also took part in the latest raids and that "significant damage" had been done to a munitions depot, a factory manufacturing mortar rounds and oil facilities. Two major targets in Raqqa, the defacto capital of Isis, had been hit, said Mr Shoigu.

President Putin said the new cruise missiles could also be equipped with nuclear warheads - but that he hoped they would never need them.

I have to say that this would certainly get their attention. The only thing they recognize is force and nuclear is the ultimate battlefield force.

We are so not kidding around. Next one hits Mecca...

Busy day today

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Got the critters taken care of and heading out for coffee.

Our local Emergency Preparedness group is having its first anniversary meeting tonight - doing a pot luck. I am making Hummus and Tabbouleh and bringing some crackers and veges. Should be fun - got a good core group of people.

Amateur Radio group meets tomorrow night so it will be thin posting for the next couple of days.

Rain rain

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Getting some substantial rainfall - more scheduled for the next day or two.

I redid the roof eight years ago and went with steel (the old one was cedar shake). I love the sound of the rain.

Greenpeace under RICO investigation

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Busted by their co-founder. From Dr. Patrick Moore writing at WUWT:

BREAKING: Greenpeace co-founder reports Greenpeace to the FBI under RICO and wire-fraud statutes
Greenpeace, in furtherance of what is in effect its war against every species on the planet, has now turned to what, on the face of things, looks to me like outright breach of the RICO, wire-fraud, witness-tampering and obstruction-of-committee statutes. I have called in the FBI.

Greenpeace appears to have subjected Dr Will Happer, Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University, to a maladroit attempt at entrapment that has badly backfired on it.

The organization I co-founded has become a monster. When I was a member of its central committee in the early days, we campaigned – usually with success – on genuine environmental issues such as atmospheric nuclear tests, whaling and seal-clubbing.

When Greenpeace turned anti-science by campaigning against chlorine (imagine the sheer stupidity of campaigning against one of the elements in the periodic table), I decided that it had lost its purpose and that, having achieved its original objectives, had turned to extremism to try to justify its continued existence.

What follows is an in-detail report of how Greenpeace was trying to discredit a leading scientist just before he was scheduled to deliver testimony before Congress.

Patrick quotes from emails and gives a lot of background detail. Greenpeace is soooo busted on this one.

Good - of course, our FBI will be responding in 3... 2... 1...

          - - -

- - - crickets - - -

Nothing much today

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Ran a couple of errands and generally pissed away the afternoon.

Had a bad dinner in Lynden (a chain BBQ restaurant - very dry meat and the sides were mushy and flavorless) and two very nice beers at the new local (Crave 'N Burgers & Brew).

I was hoping to go to a favorite restaurant and remembered a couple weeks ago that they closed at 6:00PM. Came there today at 4:45 to find a sign announcing that they now close at 4:00PM.

Home now and prepping for tomorrow's pot luck. More posting in a bit...

The Religion of Peace

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And I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn, N.Y.C. that you may be interested in. From the UK Express:

Three mosques shut down in anti-terror raids as officers seize 330 war weapons
Police in France also arrested the owner of a revolver found during Wednesday's raid, France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

Security officials found jihadist documents at the mosque where yesterday's raids took place.

They have placed nine people under house arrest. Another 22 have been banned from leaving the country Mr Cazeneuve said.

France has been under a state of emergency since 130 people were killed in a series of terror attacks in Paris on November 13. Since then, some 2,235 homes and buildings have been raided, 232 people taken into custody, and 334 weapons confiscated.

Cazeneuve said the number of weapons apprehended so far is staggering.

He said: "In 15 days we have seized one-third of the quantity of war-grade weapons that are normally seized in a year."

Great to see that they are finally getting serious  - this should have been done after the Charlie Hebdo murders.

For each and every instance of islamist terrorism, ten mosques should be raided and if there is any evidence of radicalism, shut down - converted to synagogues or Christian churches.

Homes of the imams and community leaders too as they will get smart and move the crap out of the mosques and schools in short order...

First - the darling of the cruise ships just struck a large Seattle office building. Norovirus:

As many as 200 sickened in Seattle tower norovirus outbreak
As many as 200 people have gotten sick in a norovirus outbreak at a downtown Seattle office building, health officials reported Monday.

And next:

Chipotle closes restaurant in Boston after students sickened
Chipotle said Monday that it temporarily closed a restaurant in Boston after several students at Boston College, including members of the men's basketball team, reported "gastrointestinal symptoms" after eating at the chain.

The school said it was working with local health officials to determine whether the illnesses were tied to an outbreak of E. coli that has been linked to Chipotle. A company spokesman noted that there have been no confirmed cases in Massachusetts, but that it was closing its restaurant in Boston's Cleveland Circle as officials investigate.

A bit more:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the outbreak has sickened 52 people in nine states. It has not yet identified the ingredient that made people sick. The most recent of the illness reported by the CDC started on Nov. 13.

Emphasis mine. Remember that we are heading into the real cold and flu season.



Tell us what you really think...

Back home again

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Ran some errands in Bellingham.

There is a wonderful place called Hardware Sales that has everything. Literally.

It is very rare that I find something that they do not stock and today, out of my list of four items, they did not stock two of them. I was looking for a specific kind of electrical wire - BZZT! I can buy it online but was hoping to get a couple yards cut to length and not have to buy a full 100' roll online. I was also looking for a specific electrical contact cleaner - Caig DeoxIT in the pen applicator and although they had some winners (Boeshield and Kroil - the Oil that Creeps (and I love and use both products a lot)), they did not carry anything from Caig Labs.

Got a pot-luck on Wednesday so did some shopping for that.

Lulu is in town for a few days so I picked up a Costco Roti chicken and tore into that when I got home.

A run into town

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Heading out for coffee, picking up the pastries for the store and into town to run a few errands. Back early evening.

Finally on a decent schedule

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Getting back to a normal sleep schedule. The flu I had in November really wiped me out. During the worst of it, I was sleeping up to 18 hours/day. For the last few weeks, I had been unable to get to sleep until around 6:00AM and was sleeping until 1:00PM or so - a normal amount but the wrong time-zone. Woke up unaided at 8:00AM today, dosed for a bit and woke up again at 9:00AM.

I do not know what that was but I hope I do not get it again - it had a similar effect for a lot of people in our community.

Well crap - RIP Dave Brubeck

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From the New York Times:

Dave Brubeck, Whose Distinctive Sound Gave Jazz New Pop, Dies at 91
Dave Brubeck, the pianist and composer who helped make jazz popular again in the 1950s and ’60s with recordings like “Time Out,” the first jazz album to sell a million copies, and “Take Five,” the still instantly recognizable hit single that was that album’s centerpiece, died on Wednesday in Norwalk, Conn. He would have turned 92 on Thursday.

He died while on his way to a cardiology appointment, Russell Gloyd, his producer, conductor and manager for 36 years, said. Mr. Brubeck lived in Wilton, Conn.

In a long and successful career, Mr. Brubeck brought a distinctive mixture of experimentation and accessibility that won over listeners who had been trained to the sonic dimensions of the three-minute pop single.

Mr. Brubeck experimented with time signatures and polytonality and explored musical theater and the oratorio, baroque compositional devices and foreign modes. He did not always please the critics, who often described his music as schematic, bombastic and — a word he particularly disliked — stolid. But his very stubbornness and strangeness — the blockiness of his playing, the oppositional push-and-pull between his piano and Paul Desmond’s alto saxophone — make the Brubeck quartet’s best work still sound original.

A global treasure - he will be missed. 91 is a decent run these days.

A word on gun ownership

Great piece by Jon Wiener at The Nation:

Syed Farook’s Arsenal Is As American as Apple Pie
How unusual is it for a gun owner to have two AR-15 assault rifles and 2,500 rounds of rifle ammunition—the “arsenal” police found in the possession of Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik? Many in the media say it suggests a level of planning typical of terrorists. But, in fact, millions of Americans have that kind of “arsenal” at home. The AR-15 is the most popular gun in America—around 8 million have been sold. Two thousand five hundred rounds of ammo for the AR-15 seems horrifying to an anti-gun, middle-class liberal like me—that’s enough bullets to kill 2,500 people!—but, in fact, ammo is sold in 1,000-round boxes, and it’s not unusual for gun owners to buy several boxes when the price is low.

I asked Marc Cooper about it—he’s an award-winning journalist and a friend who’s also a gun person. Two thousand five hundred rounds? “Believe it or not, these are modest amounts of ammo,” he told me. “A gun hobbyist, a target shooter, can easily go through 500 rounds in one two-hour visit to the range. The amount found in this guy’s apartment in no way by itself indicates anything strange.”

Another friend said, “It’s like buying 48 rolls of toilet paper when you go to Costco.”

If possessing two AR-15s and 2,500 rounds of ammo makes you a terror suspect, then we need to investigate several million Americans, most of whom are older white men — and Republicans.

Pipe bombs, of course, are different; most Americans do not make pipe bombs at home.

Ownership is a matter of personal preference - I tend more towards shotguns and unusual stuff. Still, 2,500 rounds is not unusual. They last pretty much forever and common sizes are great for barter as well as use.

PLEASE NOTE - The following was not American as Apple Pie: Modifying a gun to allow for full automatic operation (machine gun) is very much illegal and adding the several high-capacity magazine options is illegal in California so the terrorist's armory was an unusual one. The Pipe Bombs and IEDs violated both State and Federal Laws and are a crime against humanity - these devices murder and maim innocent civilians. People need to focus on those facts rather than the other 99.999% of us peaceful gun owners...

Crap - Let it rain

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It looked like we were supposed to get a nice blast of snow but the front moving in is a warm one.

From Cliff Mass:

Flooding Ahead
With the grounds saturated from prolific precipitation during the past week, we are about to be hit hard by several wet systems, including a potent atmospheric river.

Let's start with the predicted precipitation over the next 72 hr from the UW WRF model. Virtually all the mountains get 5-10 inches, with some hit by 10-20 inches. Oregon gets hit particularly hard (in sharp contrast to last year). Even northern CA gets a piece of it.

The heaviest precipitation over Washington State will occur on Tuesday as a strong atmospheric river heads right into us. To illustrate, here is a map of the forecast column-integrated wave vapor content (adding all the water vapor in a vertical column of air) at 10 AM on Tuesday. Red and white are high values. You can see the plume of moisture coming from north of Hawaii, straight for us.


An animation representing 84 hours of the forecast model can be found here.

Cliff goes on to deliver some bad news:

Unfortunately for those interested in skiing, the air mass will be warm, and rain will fall over most of the high terrain. Sorry.

Such heavy rain on saturated ground suggests the potential for flooding, and the NW River Forecast Center is predicting widespread flooding over most of the regional rivers west of the Cascade crest (red dots). So be ready.

Well, the season is just beginning...

Reverse dictionary

Very clever online search tool - type in a phrase and it will try to come back with the appropriate word.

Try it out yourself at OneLook Reverse Dictionary

The parent page is very cool as they index 1,061 different dictionaries and you can search for definitions through all of them.

Now, Dasher now, Dancer now Prancer and Vixen

Curious bit of evolutionary adaptation at work here - from Slate / Wild Things:

Arctic Reindeer Change the Color of their Eyes for the Long, Dark Winter
There, at the corner of your yard, where the woods creep up and night obscures the seeming safety of suburbia—a pair of glowing eyes hovers … watching … waiting. The hair on the back of your neck stands at attention, your muscles tense, and deep within your brain a thought emerges clear as day. Those eyes are obviously attached to the business end of a ravenous beast—and your life will be over within the minute.

These iridescent orbs are caused by “eyeshine,” light reflected off a thin layer of tissue in the backs of some creatures’ eyes to let them see better at night. Humans lack this tissue, called the tapetum lucidum, and the night vision that comes with it, which is probably why our adrenaline gland is always trying to warn us those eyes belong to a direwolf instead of more likely creatures—like wolf spiders in the grass. Luckily, we’ve invented flashlights and crossbows to compensate. But many animals cannot afford such luxuries—like the Arctic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), an animal that lives in lands bathed in darkness for months on end. And unlike you and me, wolves are a very real threat to a reindeer.

In summer, Arctic reindeer eyes are a golden hue. In winter, they turn deep blue. So far as researchers know, this seasonal shift is unique. Neither horses, nor house cats, nor any other mammals with tapetum lucidum are known to do this.

And a possible explanation:

The eyes of an Arctic reindeer also do this, but because of the seasonal physical changes to the tapetum lucidum, the wintry blue eyes reflect 50 percent less light than the golden eyes of summer. Now, you might think less reflected light would mean worse night vision. But here’s the kicker: Scientists think the blue eye’s compressed structure actually scatters some of the light toward other photoreceptors on the sides of the eye. In essence, the blue eye may be an evolutionary adaptation to more effectively recycle light for an animal that has to survive several months of the year in inescapable darkness.

These findings were published in the Oct. 30 issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The scientists stress that they “have not proved functional relationships” among the pressure change, the eye color change, the light reflection, and the visual benefits. But scientists are cautious as all get-out. Moreover, they write that the link is likely. They also found that blue-eyed winter reindeer had “significantly elevated visual responses compared with summer animals.” In other words, all the pieces of the puzzle are on the table—someone just needs to commission a study to put them together.

Delightful adaptation - just when we think we know it all...

Let it snow

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Mt. Baker is getting a lot of snow in the next couple of days - it is a bit wet but much better than what we had last year...

Off for coffee and then to work - ham radio net tonight.

The PhotoArc

National Geographic hired photographer Joel Sartore to do portraits of 12,000 of the world's captive species. Here is a brief time-lapse of what he had to go through:

Hat tip to DIY Photography which has some of the gorgeous stills of his work. Excellent stuff!!!

Mass shootings in the news

The mainstream media wants you to believe that there have been 355 mass shootings this year alone.

When you lose a major progressive outlet like Mother Jones, your argument is about as bogus as it can be. From the New York Times:

How Many Mass Shootings Are There, Really?
On Wednesday, a Washington Post article announced that “The San Bernardino shooting is the second mass shooting today and the 355th this year.” Vox, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, this newspaper and others reported similar statistics. Grim details from the church in Charleston, a college classroom in Oregon and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado are still fresh, but you could be forgiven for wondering how you missed more than 300 other such attacks in 2015.

At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for “mass shooting.” Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others. Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.

Mark Follman is the author and a big Thank You going out to him for some rational reporting of actual facts - speaking Truth to Power as it were...

Not mentioned is that the 351 non-mass murders are 98% black on black gang or drug related killings - the type that the mainstream media will not report because it makes the narrative of the war on poverty and the narrative of the welfare state look bad.

Finally, something to remember is that the San Bernardino shooters did obtain their rifles legally. They then proceeded to violate State and Federal Law by converting one of them to full-automatic  operation. They also added extended capacity magazines, the ability to swap magazines on the fly - both in direct violation of California State Law. They also built IEDs and pipe bombs in direct violation of Federal and State Laws. This was not a case of someone getting angry, going home and returning with their grampa's pistol - this was planned well in advance -- premeditated.

Brilliant idea - Honey fences

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From Edible Geography:

Honey Fences
Edible Geography readers have perhaps heard of “pollinator pathways,” an initiative to thread together isolated pockets of green space into nectar-filled corridors, in order to give butterflies and bees easier passage across otherwise unfriendly urban expanses of concrete and asphalt. A recent article in British Airways’ High Life magazine about efforts to save Kenya’s last remaining elephants introduced me to an interesting twist on the concept of bee-based landscape design: “honey fences.”

Although the main threat to the elephants’ survival is ivory-market driven poaching, a significant number are also killed each year following altercations with local villagers. As Angela Carr-Hartley, director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, politely put it, “These communities have mixed feelings about an elephant coming into their smallholdings overnight, as they can wreak havoc eating the crops.”

Zoologist Lucy King came up with the honey fence solution, which takes advantage of the fact that elephants are terrified by the sound of bees. (The delicate skin inside their trunks is apparently particularly vulnerable to being stung.) King had read that elephants tend to avoid acacia trees, usually a favorite food, if bees have built a hive in the branches. Based on that initial insight, and after several years of behavioral experiments, including playing elephants the sound of disturbed bees from a hidden loudspeaker and filming their reaction, King developed the honey fence system: a series of hives, suspended at ten-metre intervals from a single wire threaded around wooden fence posts. If an elephant touches either a hive or the wire, all the bees along the fence line feel the disturbance and swarm out of their hives in an angry, buzzing cloud.

A pilot honey fence in 2009 proved successful, deterring all but one bull elephant, and The Elephants and Bees Project has since spread to sites across Africa. Neville Sheldrick of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust told Africa Geographic that nearby farmers are sure the fence is working: “When I visit they proudly walk me around showing me the footprints of elephants that have walked up to and along the fence in several locations before turning back towards the park.”

Very clever and major kudos to Dr. King for observing the interaction and coming up with a perfect solution. Talk about win / win...

Heading out for coffee

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Got a full plate today - radio room, checking on some plumbing stuff and cleaning the garage a bit.

Time to get some liquid motivation...

Memo to self

When pulled over for a traffic stop, do not try to snort a line of cocaine in front of the officer or the dash-cam.


Hat tip to Seattle station KOMO for the link. The perp was 73 years old - should have known better...

Welcome to

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Very clever idea - from

From their about page:

What is what3words?
The world is poorly addressed. This is frustrating and costly in developed nations; and in developing nations this is life-threatening and growth limiting.

what3words is a unique combination of just 3 words that identifies a 3m x 3m square, anywhere on the planet.

It’s far more accurate than a postal address and it’s much easier to remember, use and share than a set of coordinates.

Better addressing improves customer experience, delivers business efficiencies, drives growth and helps the social & economic development of countries.

Here is my little slice of heaven on the left: and on the right is the store - nations.hippy.arrange
20151204-frm.jpg 20151204-nha.jpg


I love it - in Amateur Radio we use the Maidenhead Grid but these are only good for a few Km estimation of location - this is a lot more precise and easier to communicate.

Our responsible news media

This is just sickening. From Breitbart:

Landlord: Media Forced Their Way Into San Bernardino Terrorists’ Apartment
One of the most bizarre and possibly irresponsible and craven scenes in media history just unfurled on MSNBC and CNN as reporters from both networks (and a handful of others), during a live broadcast, toured the apartment of the San Bernardino Islamic terrorists. While a MSNBC reporter rummaged through the deceased terrorists’ closets and boxes and photo albums, Andrea Mitchell reassured viewers that the disturbing scene was okay. “The landlord told us authorities were done with the crime scene,” she said.

According to the landlord, though, this was not the case. When he opened the door, reporters rushed into the apartment, possibly contaminating one of the most important crime scenes in years.

Anything for a little more titillation. Got to get those sinking ratings back up again.

Great essay on gun violence

From Larry Correia:

Guns and Vultures
So last night my feed was filled with posts about ban all guns, damn the NRA, hateful Christians, Republican murderers, evil Tea Party, white men are the real killers.

We’re used to that.

Any time there’s another mass murder, almost always somewhere with strict gun control, usually in a Gun Free Zone, the buzzards swoop in. The events were still in play and the president and the leading democrat candidates had already called for more gun control. People who don’t know much about the topic demand that something be done, even though all the usual proposals would actually make the problem worse, rather than better. But it doesn’t matter. They want what they want, and they’ll latch onto any tragedy as fast as possible.

The majority of people who fall for the siren song of gun control mean well. They really do want to see an end to violent crime. They want to do something. For them, I wrote this back in 2012 and it still applies: I go into great depth about mass shootings, and the issues with all the various proposed gun laws. It is one of the most widely read articles on the subject ever written.

Most people just want to fix problems. However, the buzzards? They don’t care. There’s a crisis, they want to get something out of it. Stimulus, response. Strike while emotions are high. Some want control. Others just want to posture. Since their proposals would actually make things worse, they’re scum.

Every member of the gun culture watches these things unfold and thinks, hell, here we go again. Want to know something sad? I promise at most of the gun stores around America the news was on, and everybody in there was listening, thinking some variation of please don’t be somebody the news can somehow make out to be like me… Even though the vast majority of the time the shooter isn’t one of us, has nothing to do with us, and in fact, people like us are the last line of defense against them, it doesn’t matter. We know we’re going to get blamed.

Then they’ll attack us, hound us, insult us, legislate against us, and if they can, disarm us in more ways and places… So we can be even more incapable of defending ourselves the next time somebody who isn’t us does something evil. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Then they revealed who the shooters were.

Immediately the same exact people who’d just been screeching about evil Tea Party, racist, hate monger, right wing, ciswhitehetero male phantoms, began urging calm, saying don’t jump to conclusions. It isn’t fair to tar the big group because of the actions of a few. Watch out for that hateful rhetoric, because you might inflame people.

This is just the first 30% or so of an excellent well-thought-out rant editorial on gun control and what is actually happening. Well worth reading regardless of what side of the debate you are most comfortable.

The Log Driver's Waltz

Song: The Log Driver's Waltz by Wade Hemsworth, performed by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. National Film Board of Canada. Animation by John Weldon.

Excellent article by James Pinkerton writing at Breitbart:

Woodrow Wilson Obama: Every Hundred Years an Ivy League Democrat’s Presidential Obsession Costs His Party Big
Karl Marx, building on an observation of the German philosopher G.F.W. Hegel, once wrote, “All great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice…The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

So, in the annals of world-historic personages, we might consider our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson; his tenure in office, replete with epic consequences and controversies, was, ultimately, a tragedy.

And then we can consider our 44th President, Barack Obama; he might be a perfectly earnest fellow, but even so, his time in the Oval Office has been a farce—a fandango of flummoxed expectations. To be sure, it’s been a farce tinged with tragedy inflicted on the innocent, as we saw on Tuesday in San Bernardino, CA. Yet the bloodshed, carnage, and grave risk to national security notwithstanding, yes, Obama’s has been a farcical presidency.

The similarities:

Both men were Ivy League-educated politicians, better noted for soaring oratory than actual accomplishment.

Both men were two-term Democratic presidents whose time in office marked a major shrinkage of their party, such that by the sixth year of their presidencies, the opposition Republicans had gained control of both houses of Congress.

Both men then compounded their difficulties in their seventh year by undertaking difficult diplomatic efforts—undertakings dubbed “dubious,” even “dangerous,” by most Americans. Yes, in both presidencies, their late-term efforts were at first regarded with suspicion by Congress and the American people, and then their efforts blossomed into fleurs de mal of outright unpopularity.

The main difference was Wilson's resolve during World War I

Although he dithered for a time, and although he was not a strong war leader, Wilson undeniably was our commander-in-chief during the US victory in World War One, and he thereby thwarted German military domination over the European continent. So for that achievement alone, Wilson deserves our gratitude.


Yet Wilson was much more than just a president who won a war. His vision of a better post-war world, summed up in his Fourteen Points, presented to Congress during the war, in January 1918, helped burnish his legacy—or, if one prefers, stoked still more controversy. Point One, for example, was a strong rejection of secret alliance-making, seen as one of the underlying causes of the “Great War.” As Wilson put it, he wanted “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at … diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

Much more at the site - Wilson tried to get us involved in the New World Order - the League of Nations but failed.

This is a long article but well worth reading - the parallels are spooky - history is repeating itself and these two men represent two of the worst presidents we have ever had.

And he finally has to say the 'T' word

Barry can no longer get away with all of these "workplace violence" excuses (even though the goblin at that incident was shouting allahu-snackbar or something).

From our local fishwrap:

Obama: San Bernardino shooting may involve terrorism
President Barack Obama said Thursday that the FBI has taken over the investigation into the shooting in San Bernardino, California, which he said may involve terrorism.

“It was possible this was terrorist related but we don’t know,” Obama told reporters gathered in the Oval Office.

Police say Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, killed 14 people and seriously wounded more than a dozen others in an attack Wednesday at a social service center for the disabled. Both were gunned down in an SUV a few miles away in a shootout with police.

Come on - everyone knows that Mr. Farook was just an excitable boy. This is not Islamic Terrorism. Oh. Wait.

From the London Daily Mail:

IED-making tools, Boston Bomber-style explosives and 4,500 bullets: What is known about the San Bernadino terror couple's weapons cache and how they made more than a dozen pipe bombs in their family home
The radicalized Muslim and his Pakistani wife who killed 14 people in San Bernardino used the same designs as the Boston Bombers to put together 12 pipe bombs, reports suggest.

Police raided the home of US-born Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, and found a chilling cache of 4,500 bullets they didn't use for the attack, and tools used to make explosives such as IEDS.

The pair seemed to be using blueprints found in many issues of Inspire, Al Qaeda's extremist online publication in the Arabian Peninsula.

And of course, Barry will be using his pen and his phone - from the Los Angeles Times:

White House plans executive action to expand background checks for gun sales
White House officials are seeking a way to use executive authority to close the so-called gun show loophole that allows thousands of people to buy guns each year without a background check, but complicated legal issues have slowed the process.

Almost three years ago, President Obama asked Congress to change the law to require background checks for weapons sold at gun shows, but a bill to do so died in the Senate – dashing administration hopes for legislative action to address the loophole.

Let's hope this dies in the Senate as well. If there had been three or four well-trained people carrying concealed weapons, this would never have escalated the way it did. It could have been stopped in a heartbeat. The push to ban guns is not for our safety.

Samurai and Smartphones

Delightful public service announcement...

Well - it happened

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That San Bernardino shooting? One of the suspects is named - from the Los Angeles Times:

San Bernardino shooting live updates: Syed Farook named as a suspect in attack that killed 14

Nothing more mentioned except that he was a US Citizen. Just another disgruntled employee. A case of workplace violence - that is all. Those Baptists...

Nothing to see here folks - keep moving.

Automatic Rifles (AKA Machine Guns)

Fun stuff - a look at how 'uncontrolable' they are:

A tip of the hat to Oleg Volk for the link.

Progress in the San Bernadino shooting

From an email:

Live footage shows SWAT teams converging on a stationary, shot-up black SUV in San Bernadino. According to police, it is the escape vehicle from the earlier mass shooting. One person within the vehicle "rolled out" and surrendered to authorities, they report. Two men in the vehicle opened fire, one was reportedly shot and killed, and the other taken into custody.


 Good that they got at least one of them in custody.

Yet another mass shooting in the news

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Seventeen victims with multiple shooters. Read about that in the media? Thought not.

From Bob Owens at Bearing Arms:

BLACK LIVES DON’T MATTER: Obsessed With Planned Parenthood, Media Ignores Larger Mass Shooting
Despite a complete media blackout by law enforcement officers investigating the case, the mainstream media remains obsessed with the idea of selling the public on the idea that a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs was the focus of a mass murder’s rage on Friday.

The known facts that have leaked out, however, don’t support this narrative.

Bob proceeds to dismantle the killer's connection to Planned Parenthood - it was just an unfortunate choice of buildings. He continues with this:

As the media obsesses over the dozen shot in Colorado Springs, they’ve given scant attention to another mass shooting, once with both more victims (17) and more suspects, some of whom remain on the loose.

Because it doesn’t suit their political needs, the Bunny Friend Park Shooting has been effectively memory-holed.

Police say Joseph “Moe” Allen is one of an unknown number of shooters who opened fire in Bunny Friend Park on Nov. 22, wounding 17 people in an attack that made international headlines. But Allen’s mother says he was in Texas at the time, shopping with his pregnant wife for baby clothes.


Her comments came hours after Allen, 32, appeared in Orleans Parish magistrate court, where public records show a judge set his bond at $1.7 million on 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. He also is being held without bond on an unspecified out-of-state warrant.

Bob continues:

It’s all about narratives, folks.

Far more people are murdered in an average weekend in Chicago in petty gang-related violence (8 dead, 20 wounded is this last weekend’s butcher’s bill), or in a bad weekend in any one of a half-dozen other cities, but the taking of minority lives by other minority suspects truly doesn’t matter to those in the mainstream media.

They only seem to care if the fatalities can be used to advance an agenda of gun bans and gun control. Focusing on the more routine slaughters that make up the vast majorities of murders in America would support increased police presence and lower tolerance of gang-related crime, which would point out the inept leadership in most of the high-crime cities dominated by decades of mismanagement by anti-gun Democrats.

We can’t have that now, can we?

Meanwhile, the last Black Friday saw the highest number of FBI checks for people buying firearms:

Record for U.S. gun background checks set on Black Friday
More U.S. residents applied to purchase handguns, rifles and other firearms from licensed dealers on Black Friday than any other day on record, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data released this week.

Black Friday, the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, is the traditional start of the U.S. holiday shopping season, with sharp retail discounts on merchandise.

On Nov. 27, a total of 185,345 applicants were processed through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which determines whether a person is eligible to purchase guns from a licensed dealership, the FBI said in a statement.

Say what you might but Barry is the best gun salesman that the USA has ever had...

Winning the war

Great news from Watts Up With That and Michigan State University:

Study: climate skeptics are winning the public opinion war
As world leaders meet this week and next at a historic climate change summit in Paris, a new study by Michigan State University environmental scientists suggests opponents of climate change appear to be winning the war of words.

The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, finds that climate-change advocates are largely failing to influence public opinion. Climate-change foes, on the other hand, are successfully changing people’s minds — Republicans and Democrats alike — with messages denying the existence of global warming.

“This is the first experiment of its kind to examine the influence of the denial messages on American adults,” said Aaron M. McCright, a sociologist and lead investigator on the study. “Until now, most people just assumed climate change deniers were having an influence on public opinion. Our experiment confirms this.”

About time that people woke up and started looking around them instead of just buying into the narrative the Global Warmers have been promoting. There has been an 18+ year pause in the warming, the sun shows every indication of entering a major cooling period and the promises of no snow and greatly increased storm activity have simply not borne fruit.

Anthropogenic Global Warming is over - time to stick a fork in it and call it done. Wish we could get a refund on all the tens of trillions of our tax dollars that were wasted on this bit of scientific idiocy.

Is being built in New York State no less. From their website: The Museum of Political Corruption

The Museum of Political Corruption will explore New York State's history of political corruption and those mechanisms that have allowed corruption to flourish. Featuring interactive exhibits and guest lectures the Museum of Political Corruption will fulfill its primary mission to educate, entertain, and empower the public. The Museum will also serve the good of the community by promoting honest civil service.

About time!

Shooting in San Bernardino

No real data yet but it looks like there is another mass shooting. From the Los Angeles CBS affiliate:

14 Dead, 14 More Wounded In San Bernardino; As Many As 3 Gunmen Believed To Have Fled Scene
Fourteen people were confirmed killed and 14 more wounded in a mass shooting at a San Bernardino community social services building.

“We do have some preliminary numbers of upwards of 14 people that are dead and upwards of 14 people that are injured,” said Chief Jarrod Burguan of San Bernardino Police.

A bit more:

San Bernardino police Sgt. Vicki Cervantes said that there are believed to be multiple shooters wearing military-style gear. The suspects reportedly fled the scene in a black GMC Yukon northbound on Waterman Avenue.

It will be a good 48 hours before we know anything substantive - our hearts go out to those poor people.

This was someone who played tennis several times/week.

Had some bruises, required a blood transfusion and was gone.


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Was in town doing some banking and errands and came home to find that a dear friend of Lulu's and mine had died unexpectedly and way to early (in her 40's).

Needless to say, I do not feel much like reading the internet tonight.

January 2021

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