December 06, 2013
Vaccines in the news - measles epidemic
Still Not Vaccinated? US Measles Cases in 2013 Spike to Three Times Normal
The CDC just announced that measles cases in the United States in 2013 tripled over the annual average. There were 175 cases (so far), when usually there are about 60.
Well, let’s see. In March, there were 58 cases alone in Brooklyn, N.Y., tied to a Jewish community that refused or delayed vaccinations. In Texas, a megachurch that preached anti-vaccination views had an outbreak with at least 20 cases. In North Carolina, 23 cases were reported in one outbreak; most of them in a religious (Hare Krishna) community that was largely unvaccinated.
In all three of these outbreaks, someone who had not been vaccinated traveled overseas and brought the disease back with them, which then spread due to low vaccination rates in their communities. It's unclear how much religious beliefs themselves were behind the outbreaks in Brooklyn and North Carolina; it may have been due to widespread secular anti-vax beliefs in those tight-knit groups. But either way, a large proportion of the people in those areas were unvaccinated.
A bit more about measles:
Listen: Measles is not a disease we should be screwing around with. 30 percent of cases develop complications like pneumonia, diarrhea, or ear infections. One in five children who contract it are hospitalized. One in a thousand will get encephalitis. One or two out of a thousand will die from it.
Yes, die. From a disease that is essentially wholly preventable with a vaccine. Worldwide, measles kills well over a hundred thousand people every year. That’s 18 deaths per hour.
The purported link between vaccines and autism is bogus. The Doctor who first promoted it was being paid by trial lawyers to show this evidence. The sample size was twelve hand-picked individuals. Dr. Wakefields paper was retracted from publication and Dr. Wakefield now goes by Andy — his license to practice Medicine was stripped because of his fraud.
Global Warming Deniers - just go away
Great short video shows the real temperature history of our planet.
From Anthony. Major drink alert…
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
TEDx in Bellingham
Crap — missed it. I have been a big fan of the TED talks since their inception in 1984. There has been a spin-off called TEDx - the x are independently organized TED events.
There was a series in Bellingham last month.
Here is a page with the speakers and videos. Click on the pictures for their bios and videos.
About those job numbers
From CNS News:
41% of Net New Jobs in November Were in Government
Federal, state and local governments hired a net additional 338,000 workers in November, equaling 41 percent of the total of 818,000 net additional jobs created in the United States during the month.
At the same time, the unemployment rate for government workers fell from 4.4 percent in October to 3.2 percent in November. (The overall national unemployment rate fell from 7.3 percent to 7.0 percent.)
In October, governments around the country employed 19,726,000 people, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In November, that rose to 20,064,000—a net increase of 338,000 people employed by government.
That is a startling number — 19,726,000 employed by some entity of government. Our 2010 census counted 308,745,538 people which means that one out of fifteen people are employed by the government. That is way to high a number for efficient operation. That is 6.3% of the total population working or not.
The cost of traveling - Joe Biden
Three days in Singapore. A $538K hotel bill.
From the Weekly Standard:
Vice President Biden's $583K Shangri-la Hotel Bill in Singapore
Vice President Joe Biden's $585,000 hotel bill for a Paris visit early in 2013 focused a lot of attention on the issue of the high cost of VIP travel. Even as Biden is currently on a swing through the Far East, the State Department has posted a $583,000 contract with the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore for the vice president's three-day/two-night stay this past July, his most recent Far East visit.
I can not imagine what it would be to blow a half-million dollars for a few nights of lodging. A perfect example of how out of touch these people are from reality.
A nip in the air - more cold coming
Got down to 12°F last night — currently a balmy 18°F with wind gusting to 20MPH for a wind chill of 1.6°F.
Getting some more firewood in today from the barn — load up the bin on the porch. It holds about four days worth.
I pitty the rest of the UNited States — the jet stream is not just hitting us, it's all over. From Accuweather:
More at Accuweather:
One of the Worst Ice Storms in Years Continues From Texas to Kentucky
An ice storm will continue to affect millions of people into Friday and threaten to cut power for hundreds of thousands from northern Texas to western Kentucky.
Travel by vehicle or foot will be dangerous during and after the storm, due to icy roads and falling trees and power lines. The power could be out for days in hard-hit areas. In some locations hit by ice, temperatures will dip into the single digits and teens in the storm's wake, causing wet and slushy areas to freeze solid and adding to the hardship for those without heat.
At least we just have the cold — the jet stream has not had the chance to pick up any moisture…
A fun project - EME
Amateur radio operators have been bouncing signals off the moon for decades but the equipment required to do so has always been beyond the reach of the casual ham. This is abbreviated as Earth-Moon-Earth or EME.
Now, a group in Sweden have set up a powerful beacon that can be received with minimal equipment on the receive end.
Check out station ON0EME.
Lots of engineering details and construction techniques at the site.
December 05, 2013
Received a personally threatening email today.
Stupid is as stupid does…
More developments on the private Space horizon
First it was launching a satellite into geosynchronous orbit. Now it's mining the moon.
From FOX News:
Private company plans US's first controlled moon landing in 40 years
A U.S. spacecraft hasn’t made a controlled landing on the moon since Apollo 17 left the lunar surface on Dec. 14, 1972. That’s about to change.
Moon Express will unveil the MX-1 spacecraft at the Autodesk University show in Las Vegas on Thursday evening — a micro-spacecraft that will in 2015 mark the first U.S. “soft” landing since the days of the Apollo program, FoxNews.com has learned.
The craft looks for all the world like a pair of donuts wearing an ice cream cone, and the tiny vehicle clearly isn’t big enough for a human being. But it is big enough to scoop up some rocks and dirt, store them in an internal compartment, and return it to Earth. After all, the moondirt Gene Cernan, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin once trod holds a king’s ransom of titanium, platinum, and other rare elements.
Moon Express plans to mine it.
Website is here: Moon Express
Kerry addicted to Botox
Has to be real — I read it on the internet.
From The Daily Rash:
John Kerry Enters Rehab After White House Stages Botox Intervention
This morning the White House acknowledged that President Obama invited John Kerry to Thanksgiving dinner last week in order to stage an intervention. Earlier in the week Obama met with several members of his administration to discuss Secretary Kerry’s Botox usage. After a lengthy discussion, the decision to stage an intervention was unanimous. Jay Carney credited the vice president for using Thanksgiving dinner as a decoy.
“Vice President Biden said a White House invitation would be the perfect excuse for Secretary Kerry to avoid spending the holiday with members of his wife’s family. Secretary Kerry accepted the invitation enthusiastically, even offering to stay late and help clean up.”
During his 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry regularly scheduled photo-ops of himself wind sailing the rocky seas or dominating treacherous ski slopes to demonstrate his youthful vigor. As the years passed, collegiate-style hairpieces helped the senator maintain the facade of turning back time, but the inevitable aging process began to betray the youthful bounty of his track-star coif. It was in 2009 that Kerry resorted to using Botox in an effort to forestall the insidious ramifications of aging.
Sources inside Kerry’s inner circle say he was so excited after his first Botox injection that he immediately demanded more. “His instantaneous excitement for Botox was startling,” a former staff member quipped. “He was like Michael Moore discovering head cheese.”
A former housekeeper claims John Kerry began hiding bottles of Botox in the nooks and crannies of his five multimillion-dollar estates.
“Senator John would wander around his houses in the middle of the night injecting Botox into his face. He kept bottles hidden so Senator Lady would not find out. One night he became enraged when he couldn’t remember where he’d hidden his stash. He threw dishes and food against the walls until Mrs. Senator came down and threatened to withhold his weekly allowance.”
Quote of the day
“As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron.”
—H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, 26 July 1920
Bias - Los Angeles Times
Rush Limbaugh is moving to a different radio station.
Here is the LA Times reporting this:
Clear Channel moving Rush Limbaugh from KFI to revamped KTLK
Rush Limbaugh's radio tirades will have a new home on Los Angeles airwaves next year.
KFI-AM (640) is losing the conservative host's three-hour show, long a fixture on the station, to KTLK-AM (1150), which owner Clear Channel is hoping to pump up as an outlet exclusively dedicated to right-leaning chatter.
Emphases mine — this seems a little over the top to me. Clear Channel is doing this to gain wider coverage because Limbaugh's show is popular and he sells advertising. This is a business decision. Conservative talk radio is a huge market despite what the masterminds at the LA Times think.
A big fan of XP
Turns out that China is a huge user of Windows XP
From Network World:
Windows 8 Update: China prefers to stick with dying Windows XP rather than upgrade
China says it wants Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP because that will help it in its fight to stop proliferation of pirated Microsoft software.
A report from TechWeb written in Chinese says the release of Windows 8 means a substantial increase in the selling price of a Windows operating system, especially in light of the upcoming end-of-life of Windows XP, which is still used by a large percentage of Chinese.
And some numbers:
Microsoft has been doing its best to promote Windows 8, but the latest monthly report on operating systems in use on the Internet shows that combined use of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 has declined over the past month compared to the month before.
In October the combined use represented 10.25%, but in November that dropped to 9.3%, according to NetMarketshare, which tracks use of key Internet technology.
Goes back to that every-other version of Windows. XP rocked, Vista sucked, Windows 7 rocks 8 and 8.1 sucks.
In the process of building a Windows NT machine — I have an older piece of equipment that requires it. It will be off the internet so security is not an issue.
A bit of pencil history
There is a brand of pencil called Faber-Castell.
Turns out that this company is managed by Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell. From the New York Times:
Hands-On Bavarian Count Presides Over a Pencil-Making Empire
Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell has been known to hurl wooden pencils from the tower of his castle to the stone courtyard below.
The Faber-Castell family has been making wooden pencils by the hundreds of millions here in a storybook setting, bisected by the swift Rednitz River, which was once the main source of power here. A torrent of brightly colored pencils flows from clattering machines in a century-old factory with a tile roof and windows framed in pastel hues.
Faber-Castell is the largest maker of wood-encased pencils in the world and also makes a broad range of pens, crayons and art and drawing supplies as well as accessories like erasers and sharpeners. About half the company’s German production is exported, mostly to other countries in the euro zone. That means that Faber-Castell contributes, at least in a small way, to Germany’s large and controversial trade surplus — which now rivals China’s for the world’s largest.
Faber-Castell illustrates how midsize companies — which account for about 60 percent of the country’s jobs — are able to stay competitive in the global marketplace. It has focused on design and engineering, developed a knack for turning everyday products into luxury goods, and stuck to a conviction that it still makes sense to keep some production in Germany.
“Why do we manufacture in Germany?” the count asked during an interview at the family castle near the factory. “Two reasons: One, to really make the best here in Germany and to keep the know-how in Germany. I don’t like to give the know-how for my best pencils away to China, for example.
“Second, ‘Made in Germany’ still is important.”
Good Lord - our Senators live here?
From CNN — this is the house that Chuck (the schmuck) Schumer, Dick Durban and George Miller live in. All Democrat.
Talk about infantile behavior/zero standards of cleanliness.
December 04, 2013
Cool Tool for Photography
I think I just stumbled on my Christmas gift to myself.
If you are into Photography, check out CamRanger
This puppy is deep! I do time lapse, HDR and Macro. Win, win and win…
A nip in the air
Outside air temp is 15°F and it is going down. Ground surface temp is 10°F due to radiation cooling.
Got a space heater going in the bathroom in the DaveCave™ and a faucet running here.
Yes, it is Winter. Gorgeous crescent moon tonight — clear skies.
About those drowning Polar Bears
Remember this animated scene from An Inconvenient Truth:
Turned out to be 100% fabrication and the “scientist' who came up with the 'data' has been fired.
From Anthony Watts:
Al Gore’s ‘polarbeargate’ scientist forced to retire
WUWT readers may recall our coverage of Charles Monnett, whose antics with polar bear sitings and attribution led Al Gore to put this famous animated video clip into An Inconvenient Truth and make wild claims about polar bears drowning for lack of sea ice.
Monnett’s legal case is over, and he has been forced to resign.
Heh - more at the site including links to the investigation and the settlement agreement. He gets to keep his cushy Federal retirement package.
About those people clamoring for a $15 minimum wage
Want to get paid $15/hour to flip hamburgers?
Check these people out: Momentum Machines
Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.
Our alpha machine frees up all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.
It does everything employees can do except better:
The labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.
- it slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.
- our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem.
- Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.
- it’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.
The $15/hour minimum wage is not about getting entry-level people to be paid more, it's all about union contracts, most of which are based on a multiple of the minimum wage. Minimum wage goes up, union employees get a bigger chunk of money and benefits. Unfortunately, without the benefits of increased productivity and lessened downtime.
Looks like the veneer has worn thin — from National Journal:
Millennials Abandon Obama and Obamacare
Young Americans are turning against Barack Obama and Obamacare, according to a new survey of millennials, people between the ages of 18 and 29 who are vital to the fortunes of the president and his signature health care law.
The most startling finding of Harvard University's Institute of Politics: A majority of Americans under age 25—the youngest millennials—would favor throwing Obama out of office.
The survey, part of a unique 13-year study of the attitudes of young adults, finds that America's rising generation is worried about its future, disillusioned with the U.S. political system, strongly opposed to the government's domestic surveillance apparatus, and drifting away from both major parties. “Young Americans hold the president, Congress and the federal government in less esteem almost by the day, and the level of engagement they are having in politics are also on the decline,” reads the IOP's analysis of its poll. “Millennials are losing touch with government and its programs because they believe government is losing touch with them.”
Time to educate them about conservative values and basic economics. They are being setup to pay for all of Barry's social programs and they are just waking up to the reality of this…
Kanye West's fifteen are up?
From the Kansas City Star:
Despite a meager crowd, Kanye West inspires awe at the Sprint Center
The most shocking aspect of Kanye West's spectacular concert Tuesday night at the Sprint Center wasn't another suspect remark from the brash rapper. The meager attendance of less than 4,500 seemed inconceivably small for one of the most vital artists in popular music.
West almost certainly could have filled the Sprint Center five years ago. Tuesday's poor attendance indicates how his scandalous love life, frequent impolite pronouncements and his gradual shift away from conventional hip-hop have alienated many of his fans.
fifteen? From Andy.
December 03, 2013
Some interesting technology
I love the breed but do not have them — prefer shepherds (old school - not modern) and spaniels.
That being said, this video is hilarious. No slo-mo was used — this is realtime and really showcases their nature:
Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.
The best gun salesman in the world
From The Washington Times:
Black Friday 2013 gun sales sixth-highest in history but lower than 2012
President Obama’s determination to pass gun-control laws in his second term continues to drive people to the gun dealers.
The number of National Instant Background Checks (NICS) run on Black Friday 2013 was the sixth-most in history at 144,758, according to the FBI.
Another interesting data point:
About one quarter of all gun sales are to first-time owners, according to a poll of retailers by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
An armed society is a polite society.
Kudos to SpaceX
First geosync satellite launched successfully. From Space.com:
SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Rocket On High-Stakes Commercial Satellite Mission
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lit up the night sky over Florida Tuesday (Dec. 3) in a landmark communications satellite mission that catapulted the private spaceflight company into the commercial launch business.
The upgraded Falcon 9 rocket launched into space from SpaceX's pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a mission to deliver the 3.2-ton SES-8 communications satellite into orbit. The liftoff at 5:41 p.m. EST (2241 GMT) marked SpaceX's first entry into the large commercial satellite market and its first launch into a geostationary transfer orbit needed for such a mission.
Low Earth orbit — trips to the space station, etc… are easy. Geosync is a lot harder — this is a milestone for private space exploration.
December 02, 2013
A bit of nostalgia for Pittsburgh, PA
I was born there in 1950 and grew up until I left in 1969.
The Post-Gazette has been going through its photograph archives and posting them on Tumblr along with the background story. Absolutely wonderful stuff.
Here is the entry for today:
Dec. 1, 1913: Nation’s first drive-in gas station
Here at the Digs we remember a time when gas stations were manned by young men in grease-stained uniforms who filled your tank for about $7, checked your oil and battery and cleaned your windshield. Then you gave him a tip.
Attached to each of these gas station was a garage bay, where a cigarette-smoking mechanic with scarred knuckles scooted under rusty heaps in search of oil leaks and faulty starters. Ah, we fondly remember his curses.
OK, we realize this memory dates us, and perhaps even betrays the fact that a member of the Digs staff was, years ago, one of those grease-stained young men.
But we resurrect this memory for a reason: Yesterday we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the nation’s first drive-in gas station. It was located, of course, in Pittsburgh, at Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street.
In the Post-Gazette files, we found two pictures of the pagoda-style building. A canopy covered workers and customers as autos were fueled. Signs atop the building announced “Good Gulf Gasoline” and “Superior Auto Oil.” Men in the pictures (yes, they’re all men) wear sporting caps or bowlers.
Before the advent of the drive-in filling station, gasoline was sold at grocery stores, livery stables, hardware stores, even pharmacies. Vehicles pulled next to a curb or sidewalk, where fuel was hand-pumped into a container, then poured into the vehicle’s tank.
Some drive-in filling stations did exist before 1913, but they occupied buildings and structures that had been modified to sell gas. Pittsburgh’s was the first structure designed and built as a drive-in filling station.
On its first day, the Gulf station sold 30 gallons of gasoline at 27 cents per gallon (we found one report that says this amounts to $6.39 in today’s dollars).
Later, Gulf introduced the first free road map and the first restroom opened to customers.
A fun bit of history.
A bit of fun in Seattle
Bail Set for Seattle High-Speed Ferry Thief
A man accused of leaping a fence at the Seattle waterfront and briefly commandeering a high-speed ferry used to shuttle passengers between Washington state and Canada was in jail on Monday with bail set at $200,000.
U.S. authorities say Samuel Kenneth McDonough was able to set the high-speed catamaran adrift into the region’s Elliott Bay on Sunday with no one else on board before authorities intervened to stop him and found he had locked himself in the ferry’s wheelhouse.
“It first appeared the clipper ship was adrift,” Seattle police said in a statement. “However, when a tugboat went to retrieve the boat they discovered there was a man on board.”
McDonough, 33, told police he had been trying to take the ferry to West Seattle, the statement said. He was arrested on suspicion of burglary, malicious mischief and reckless endangerment, a spokesman for the Port of Seattle said.
The ferry McDonough is accused of commandeering, a 330-passenger catamaran, is normally used to take foot passengers between Seattle and Victoria, in nearby British Columbia.
Sure… The captain left the keys in the ignition so you can just start it and drive it where you want to go. The ship is 132 feet long. Parking? No problem.
I would like to know what that guy was on so I can avoid it like the plague — talk about industrial strength stupid…
Obamacare - the surge to fix the website
Great long article at The New York Times:
Inside the Race to Rescue a Health Care Site, and Obama
As a small coterie of grim-faced advisers shuffled into the Oval Office on the evening of Oct. 15, President Obama’s chief domestic accomplishment was falling apart 24 miles away, at a bustling high-tech data center in suburban Virginia.
HealthCare.gov, the $630 million online insurance marketplace, was a disaster after it went live on Oct. 1, with a roster of engineering repairs that would eventually swell to more than 600 items. The private contractors who built it were pointing fingers at one another. And inside the White House, after initially saying too much traffic was to blame, Mr. Obama’s closest confidants had few good answers.
The political dangers were clear to everyone in the room: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Kathleen Sebelius, the health secretary; Marilyn Tavenner, the Medicare chief; Denis McDonough, the chief of staff; Todd Park, the chief technology officer; and others. For 90 excruciating minutes, a furious and frustrated president peppered his team with questions, drilling into the arcane minutiae of web design as he struggled to understand the scope of a crisis that suddenly threatened his presidency.
“We created this problem we didn’t need to create,” Mr. Obama said, according to one adviser who, like several interviewed, insisted on anonymity to share details of the private session. “And it’s of our own doing, and it’s our most important initiative.”
Got that right Barry — you could have hired some professionals — SAP, Google or Amazon — at the outset and could have come in for about a million and the website would have been ready in about a year.
The website had barely been tested before it went live, so a large number of software and hardware defects had not been uncovered. Fixing the account creation software simply exposed other problems; people still could not register to buy insurance. A system intended to handle 50,000 simultaneous users was fundamentally unstable, unable to handle even a tiny fraction of that. As few as 500 users crippled it, according to people involved.
Bad move — they could have hired out the testing. The last lab I worked for at MSFT did just this — we could simulate huge loads against a server. We had over 2,500 client machines, each of which could simulate several hundred random users. Had a lot of fun figuring out how to 'push' a disk drive image out to any number of machines. Got pretty good at it. Just for fun I dug up a photo — here is one row of 420 machines. There were five more rows.
Back to the story — the number of people working to fix the website is amazing:
But while the contractors were grateful to Mr. Zients for helping to create order, they saw the administration’s “tech surge” — announced by Mr. Obama in the Rose Garden a few days before QSSI took over — as mostly an exercise in public relations.
The announcement conjured images of an army of software engineers descending on the project. In fact, the surge centered on about a half-dozen people who had taken leave from various technology companies to join the effort. They included Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer at Google who had also worked on Mr. Obama’s campaign and now draws praise from contractors as someone who is “actually making a difference,” one said.
Even so, one person working on the project said, “Surge was probably an overstatement.”
Six people? A good team would need about fifteen. Manager, manager's admin, a person to keep track of the design specs, integrate change orders and distribute work to the individual programmers, two people to do the compiling and distribution of the new code and maintain the version control system and ten programmers. Have daily short meetings of top-level people (client included if they wish) and weekly thrash-it-out meetings with all hands (but no clients ever). You would have a large website up and running in no time.
It is a long article (seven pages) but worth reading just for an insight in how not to build an enterprise-level website.
And this great quote:
“There’s so much wrong, you just don’t know what’s broken until you get a lot more of it fixed,” Mark Bertolini, the chief executive of Aetna
Lulu and my insurance premiums went up $100 each and our co-pay is now $40.
The sooner this thing gets repealed and free-market capitalism is allowed to work, the better for everyone.