And still no real work is being done. From Paul L. Caron writing at TaxProf Blog:

The IRS Scandal, Day 500
Wall Street Journal: Stonewall Koskinen: The IRS Commissioner Was Supposed to Clean Up the Mess. Instead, He's Running Interference, by Kimberley A. Strassel:

Nine months have passed since President Obama installed John Koskinen as IRS Commissioner, charged with unearthing the agency's targeting scandal and restoring its credibility. It's about nine months past time to acknowledge that Mr. Koskinen is the problem, not the answer.

The 75-year-old former Fannie Mae executive on Wednesday put in another superficial appearance before House investigators, spent another two hours dodging questions, jabbing at investigators, and excusing the misdeeds of the least-trusted organization in America. This from the guy brought in to clean up the mess—a man presented in confirmation as a "turnaround artist" and "reformer."

The Koskinen fail is now becoming a central political focus, as Republicans and even some Democrats question his tenure. Mr. Obama had declared him someone who "knows how to lead in difficult times, whether that means ensuring new management or implementing new checks and balances." Where are the sweeping changes? Where's the accountability? When the best the IRS commissioner can promise America is that "whenever we can, we follow the law"—we're in worse shape than nine months ago.

The only thing Mr. Koskinen has seemed remotely interested in turning around is his agency's ugly story-line. He has yet to even accept his agency did anything wrong, spending a March hearing arguing that the IRS didn't engage in "targeting" and claiming the Treasury inspector general agreed. This was so misleading the Washington Post gave Mr. Koskinen "three Pinocchios, " noting the IG had testified to the exact opposite.

 Dr. Caron has been faithfully reporting on this since it first became known:

 And our government?

 

. . . crickets . . .

Wonderful story

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From Australian Magazine:

The secret ingredient in Geoff Beattie’s rich dark fruit cake
He shuffles away from the living room table and for a moment it seems his secret ingredient must be in the ­pantry by the old farmhouse pots and pans that he uses to make his prize-winning jams, pickles and cakes. But his secret isn’t there.

He passes the kitchen and for a moment it seems the secret behind the slow-walking, crook-backed 68-year-old dairy farmer’s peculiar culinary genius must be locked away in the sky-blue 1960s trunk resting on his dining table, holding the 3082 blue and purple ribbons and gold medals awarded to him throughout 24 years of show cooking. But his secret isn’t there.

He moves to an antique dark brown hardwood chest of drawers, left to him in his late mother Lily’s will. There are pictures and ­messages and keepsakes adorning it: a black and white photograph of his dad, Robert, in his World War II uniform; a framed daily reminder to himself that reads, “Anyone can be a father but it takes a special person to be a dad.” But his secret isn’t there.

Then he looks up at the wall above the chest of drawers to a framed portrait of a woman in a wedding gown, clutching a bouquet of flowers. “My wife,” he says. It’s her. It’s always been her.

“E …” the farmer says. “El …”

His heart and his memory won’t let him voice her name. His lips tremble and he puts a fist to his mouth as tears fill his eyes, fixed on that beautiful face in the frame. Elaine.

Read the rest - a wonderful story.  It's getting a bit dusty here - got something in my eye...

More wiring

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In for a bite to eat - Lulu is in town for an art meeting.

Getting the shop wired up - about 50% done...

Light posting tonight

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Probably nothing more tonight - received a piece of test equipment from Amazon today and will be checking it out.

When testing audio gear, it is useful to be able to feed it with a controlled and reproducible signal. Normally, you would use an oscillator of some sort.

About 20 years ago, waveform generators started appearing where you could use not only the usual sine, square or pulse waveforms but also arbitrary ones that you could load into the unit. These were a lot better but priced accordingly in the $4K range ($4K in 1990 = $7K today).

Flash forward to today and sitting on my bench in the Radio Room is a Siglent SDG800 Function/Arbitrary Waveform Generator. Under $300 at Amazon. There is a USB port on the back that connects to a computer for control and data storage. There is another USB port on the front and you can use a thumb drive to store the waveforms you want to use for testing. The functions available are huge - all sorts of pulse and gating options, remote triggering - this puppy blows the 1990's technology out of the water for 1/20th the cost (and it only weighs six pounds).

Checking this puppy out...

A matter of self-defence

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Memo to self - when running an anti-gun group, check the victim out before holding a vigil.

From An NC Gun Blog:

Is North Carolinians Against Gun Violence holding a vigil for a convicted felon?
Check out this Facebook post on NCGV’s Facebook page.

FelonVigilNCGV

Seems pretty normal, until you do a search for the victim’s name in the Department of Corrections database.

Victim 1

Oh, dear.

It’s not like the victim’s name is a common one which would lead to some chance of mistaken identity. He’s been convicted of Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury. But wait, there’s more.

A fight nearly broke out between two families Thursday in Durham County Superior Court when a defense attorney claimed that her client killed a man and permanently wounded another in self defense.

Much more at the site. All of the people involved had records - it is downright stupid that the Bloomberg funded "North Carolinians Against Gun Violence" organization did not do their homework beforehand... 

Hat tip to Peter Grant at Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

Signs of weakness

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Our nation is being gutted from within and other nations are smelling the blood. From The Washington Free Beacon:

Russian Nuclear Bombers Buzz Alaska, N. Europe
Russian strategic nuclear bombers carried out air defense zone incursions near Alaska and across Northern Europe this week in the latest nuclear saber rattling by Moscow.

Six Russian aircraft, including two Bear H nuclear bombers, two MiG-31 fighter jets and two IL-78 refueling tankers were intercepted by F-22 fighters on Wednesday west and north of Alaska in air defense identification zones, said Navy Capt. Jeff A. Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. Two other Bears were intercepted by Canadian jets on Thursday.

“The group of Russian aircraft flew a loop south, returning westward toward Russia,” Davis told the Free Beacon.

A day later two more Bear bombers were intercepted by Canadian CF-18 jets in the western area of the Canadian air defense identification zone near the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, he said.

The Russian bombers did not enter U.S. airspace but flew within 63 miles of the Alaskan coast and 46 miles of the Canadian coastline, Davis said.

Seriously W.T.F. A real president would have been on the phone immediately. We should have sent long-range spy drones over some Russian military sites.

This should be front-page news, instead, the media is blathering on about the football scandals. These are bad but they pale in comparison to all the others - Benghazi, the IRS, Veterans Administration, etc...

There's a new boss in town

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Say hello to The Open Atmospheric Society:

From their About page:

Welcome to The Open Atmospheric Society, known as “The OAS”
The OAS is an international membership society for the purpose of studying, discussing, and publishing about topics in atmospheric related earth sciences, including but not limited to meteorology, hydrology, oceanography, and climatology. The OAS wss designed to be an alternative to organizations like the AGU, AMS, AIP, and ACS, NAS, and AAAS that have become more political than scientific in the publication of climate position statements, publication gatekeeping, and media editorializing .

    • Our motto: verum in luce means“truth in the light”.
    • Open science— a transparent online peer review process. Publishing peer reviewer comments (not names), will illuminate the process.
    • Open membership— Associate members, anyone who has an interest in atmospheric science, can join at a basic rate, providing interdisciplinary membership. Professional full voting members, will require a degree in atmospheric sciences or related earth disciplines, or three published papers in these subjects. Student members get a reduced rate, similar to associate members with option to full member elevation.
    • Open journal— The Journal of the OAS will be free to read by the public.
    • Author account—each author and co-author will have accounts for collaboration, submitting papers , making edits, and responding to reviewers.
    • No other journal asks this upfront: strict OAS Journal submission requirements—technical submissions to the Journal by members must include all source data, software/code, procedures, and documentation to ensure reproducibility of the paper’s experiment or analysis by external reviewers.
    • Emphasis on reasonable publication turnaround, 3 months or less.
    • Press releases will be sent with each publication.
    • Video production assistance for authors to explain papers and post to the journal page with your paper.
    • Organizational activity will be conducted entirely online – This means no costly brick and mortar infrastructure, no costly postal mailings journals, and no need for warehousing paper files and publications.
    • Online meetings conducted via Skype for organizational purposes.
    • Nomination/Voting for officers and other issues conducted online.
    • Monthly email newsletters and special online webcasts.

Signing up today - don't have a degree or published papers but I have a strong interest. 

Now this will be interesting to follow

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From The American Interest:

Pay Attention to this Gas Deal
Israel is fast becoming a serious regional energy player. If it wasn’t clear before, it became clear earlier this month with the announcement of a $15 billion gas deal with Jordan. According to the Times of Israel, the deal is the largest energy collaboration with Jordan to date, and it makes Israel Jordan’s chief supplier.

Over the past five years, Israel’s energy fortunes have transformed dramatically, a development that has the potential to shift the region’s geopolitical and geo-economic landscape. Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir once only half-joked that Moses led the Children of Israel to the one spot in the Middle East that had no oil. This turns out not to have been true: over the last decade, Israel has found major oil and gas reserves just off its coast.

The entire global landscape for energy is changing, and the Middle East is a key part of this change. Traditional producers in the Gulf are becoming consumers as their populations demand a lifestyle that is more energy intensive, and traditional consumers like Israel are emerging as new producers through scientific and technological innovation. Discovered offshore in deep water near Haifa in 2009, Israel’s Tamar field holds an estimated 8-9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas. Israel began commercial production in 2013. The Leviathan deep-water gas field could hold as much 19 Tcf and is expected to begin producing in early 2017. Oil & Gas Journal estimated that, as of January 2014, Israel’s proven oil reserves are 11.5 million barrels, a fivefold increase from what was thought just a few years ago. The country’s potential reserves are likely substantially higher. In the last couple of years, Israel’s natural gas production more than doubled, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Although these numbers don’t put Israel into the top quartile of the world’s energy producing states, Prime Minister Netanyahu has estimated that $60 billion will accrue to Israeli coffers as a result and the new finds will dramatically improve Israel’s energy security for the next forty years, at least.

Israel is already the intellectual powerhouse of the middle-east. Now, it could become the financial powerhouse as well. The arabian fields are pretty much played out.

One of my employees is taking care of a family member so I took over their buying run today. Just got back in from town.

Do not forget that today is international talk like a pirate day.

 

What kind of beer do pirates drink?  P.B.Rrrrrrrrrrr

Tractor time

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Came home from work (busy day) and needed to move some things around. I used Buttercup the tractor for lifting and dragging some old wire fencing as well as moving a furnace from the back of my truck to the shop.

There is something so profoundly relaxing about rigging and driving a tractor. I could charge people to come out here and de-stress.

There is an old saying that you never see a Harley parked outside a Psychiatrists office - same goes for a tractor.

The furnace is for heat treating knives - I had been using a commercial toaster oven but it had its limitations so sprung the $$$ for a unit with an automated control.

Lulu is in town tonight so heating up some leftovers for dinner. I have a half-gallon of Sauerkraut bubbling away in the pantry and it is time (day four) to take it out and try it.

More later...

Bill Whittle talks about the tie-dyed tyrrany in our own Washington State:

 

Heh...

I am trying to get rid of 30 pounds (down 10 already) and am doing so by cutting carbohydrates - a difficult task as I love pasta and rice and beans - these are a staple of my diet.

I have also been following research in gut flora with great delight - proactivley maintaining a good culture and have seen marked improvements in my health and well-being. I used to suffer from Acid Reflux and that has gone away completely. I am also sleeping a lot better. What drove this point home is that I recently had to take a course of antibiotics for a wound on my foot and the reflux came right back.

Also, switched to diet sodas (Aspartame) and now it turns out that these can cause problems. From Ars Technica comes word of this new paper at Nature (paywalled):

Artificial sweeteners may leave their users glucose intolerant
People who are watching their weight will often opt for a diet soda, reasoning that the fewer calories, the better. But the availability of drinks and foods made with artificial sweeteners like saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame hasn't seemed to help much with our booming obesity levels. Now, some researchers might have identified a reason for this: the sweeteners leave their users with elevated blood glucose levels. But they don't seem to act directly on human metabolism. Instead, the effects come through alterations in the bacterial populations that live inside us.

The paper that describes this work, which was performed by a large collaboration of researchers from Israel, is being released by Nature today. The researchers note that epidemiological studies about the effects of artificial sweeteners have produced mixed results; some show a benefit, while others indicate that they're associated with weight gain and diabetes risk. Given that human populations haven't given us a clear answer, the researchers turned to mice, where they could do a carefully controlled study.

And the experiment and findings:

The authors wondered whether the gut bacteria might be acting as intermediaries between the artificial sweeteners and the glucose response. Their first test of this idea was simply to wipe out the bacteria with a heavy dose of antibiotics. When they did so, the difference between the animals getting glucose and the animals getting artificial sweeteners vanished. To really nail down the case, the authors obtained fecal material from the mice given artificial sweeteners and transferred it to mice that had been treated with antibiotics. The mice receiving the transplants showed reduced tolerance to glucose.

Could this really be relevant to human health? To get a hint, the team got seven healthy volunteers to start consuming high levels of saccharin (the FDA's recommended maximum daily dose). At the end of a week, four of them ended up with a reduced insulin response. Again, the researchers took stool samples and gave them to germ-free mice. Fecal transplants from those who had a poor insulin response transferred this response to the mice; fecal transplants from the ones who were unaffected by the saccharine had no effect.

There is a nice discussion in the 190+ comments - seems a lot of people are checking out this pathway.

Backpedaling

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Obama is not the magic negro anymore - from the Chicago Tribune:

Mayor: New high school won't be named after President Obama
Chicago's newest selective enrollment high school will not be named after President Barack Obama, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel had announced with much fanfare when unveiling the high profile school project.

In a statement this morning, Emanuel said he would look for other possible names.

“Over the last few months, my team has listened to questions and concerns from the community, ranging from location of the building to the naming of the school. We take that community input seriously, which is why – as we continue to look for a thoughtful way to honor President Obama – we will look for other possible names for this future school," Emanuel said in a statement.

There are schools named after Obama in other parts of the country, and when Emanuel announced the new school near Goose Island on the near North Side in April, he said the president was aware it would bear his name. "I'm not going to put words in his mouth, but he knows about it, and he's excited about it," Emanuel said then.

Geezzz - when Obama loses Chicago. Someone pointed out in a comment that it should be named for George W. Bush - that way, when it fails...

A day in history

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Today, the people of Scotland are voting whether to remain under United Kingdom rule or to become an independent Nation.

Polls are close - I can see a lot of economic reasons to stay linked with England but the Scott in me treasures independence far more.

My prayers to them!

Nature's Poisons

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Just stumbled across this wonderful medical/chemistry blog regarding the various toxic brews that Mother Nature serves up.

Check out Nature's Poisons - from the About page:

About
My name is Justin Brower, and I’m a Forensic Toxicologist. It’s not quite like CSI – we’re not all beautiful people wearing sunglasses. But it’s still pretty cool.

I earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry.  Organic chemistry for those that care, so I have a fondness for chemical structures. I started out in Big Pharma . . . OK, it was more like Micro Pharma. I then transitioned to a career in postmortem forensic toxicology. It is fascinating to see how people kill themselves and others. No two cases are the same. I started this blog for several reasons, one of which was to push myself to learn more. So I took my love of chemical structures and things that kill people and morphed them into this.

So why Nature’s Poisons? Methadone and Oxycodone have been done to death. To death, get it? What I’m not likely to see in my job is someone dead from Taipoxin. There’s just not too many Australian Inland Taipan snakes in my neck of the woods. Thank goodness, I hate snakes. So I can at least write about it. I also like plants and gardening, and seeing how there are thousands of plant based poisons, there’s no shortage of material.

Justin will be a weekly read for me. Need to update the blogroll and add this site.

Lots of Knots

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Great list of knots and bends at Wikipedia

A knot involves one line, a bend involves two or more.

ISIS - a two-fer

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First - from Jammie Wearing Fools:

As Part of Sharia Crackdown in Syria, ISIS Now Covering Up Goat Genitalia
The temptation must be too much for some jihadis.

Next - I present for your consideration: 

 

 Heh...

Power plant destroyed in Lughansk, Ukraine

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A few hours ago - over one million people without power.

More as I get it - this from an email.

The EPA on carbon dioxide

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What with the EPA's war on coal, power generation capacities in the US are being strongly impacted by closing coal generation plants and blackouts could be a common thing of the future.

Case in point - from Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:

EPA Official Explains Agency’s Plan to Curb Carbon Emissions…and Then This Happened
The US energy industry has been warning for years that the Obama EPA’s caps on carbon emissions will lead to several bad outcomes for Americans, including skyrocketing energy prices and even brownouts and blackouts.

The EPA’s Janet McCabe was testifying in the House today on the agency’s plan to cap carbon emissions. And then the power went out.

 

Heh - could not have scripted this any better. Same as Hansen and Wirth's presentation to Congress in 1988

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