From Gizmodo:

Why Mathematicians Are Hoarding This Special Type of Japanese Chalk
This spring, an 80-year-old Japanese chalk company went out of business. Nobody, perhaps, was as sad to see the company go as mathematicians who had become obsessed with Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk, the so-called “Rolls Royce of chalk.”

With whiteboards and now computers taking over classrooms, the company’s demise seemed to mark the end of an era.

Being neither a mathematician nor a chalk artist, I heard about Hagoromo through my friend Dan, a mathematician finishing up his Ph.D. at Stanford. He recently appeared on a Japanese TV special about the demise of Hagoromo Bungu Co., where a TV crew came out to Stanford to interview mathematicians about the legendary chalk. One professor described hoarding enough of the stuff to keep him in chalk for the next 15 years. Dan is in the special too, calling the end of Hagoromo “a tragedy for mathematics.”

Okay, he was obviously joking. But it is true that mathematicians are fanatics for this obscure Japanese chalk. Here you can see a long discussion online where mathematicians are hunting for Hagoromo chalk suppliers in the U.S. Satyan Devadoss, a Williams College math professor, even wrote a blog post calling it “dream chalk.” He explained:

There have been rumors about a dream chalk, a chalk so powerful that mathematics practically writes itself; a chalk so amazing that no incorrect proof can be written using this chalk. I can finally say, after months of pursuit, that such a chalk indeed exists.

How could mere chalk inspire such hyperbole?

Kyung Lee is importing the last of the stock from Japan and it is available at Amazon (for $99/box of 72).

Fascinating story from the Everett Herald:

In 1915, as war raged in Europe, the Liberty Bell came to Everett
The Liberty Bell no longer rang and it wasn't on time, but 100 years ago this month the bronze symbol of American freedom rolled into Everett on a train.

It was 4 a.m. July 14, 1915, when the bell, mounted on an open-top train car, arrived here on its way to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The Panama Canal had opened in 1914.

It wasn't the bell's first train trip — there had been six others, but none to the West. The 1915 journey that included Everett and Seattle would be its last absence from Philadelphia, where historians believe the bell was rung July 8, 1776, to mark the reading of the Declaration of Independence.

According to Everett Daily Herald archives, a 21-gun salute by local Spanish-American War veterans greeted the Liberty Bell train. It had been scheduled to arrive in Everett just before midnight July 13, 1915, but a delay tested the crowd's patience.

By sunup, people were pressing toward a platform to get a close look or even touch the bell. The train was stopped at a rail siding near a freight depot at the east end of Everett's Wall Street, which was festooned with banners. Before heading south to Seattle and Tacoma, it could also be seen at the Great Northern depot along Everett's Bayside waterfront.

Very cool - never knew that the bell traveled anywhere, let alone to Everett and Seattle.

Every year, a neighboring town takes up a collection at the local businesses and, on the Fourth, goes around to the various tribal fireworks stands and bargains for the remaining stock. They aren't going to be selling that many more packages and this way, they get 30¢ on the dollar and break even. This results in a huge pile of stuff which gets taken back to a field in the center of town and is then light off over a 45 minute period. It is pretty spectacular and given that we can sit as close as we want to, some of these displays (especially the defective ones that launch sideways) can be up close and personal.

I was there getting coffee this morning and saw a sign that the fireworks were going to be postponed until New Years Eve.

Fantastic call - the field is OK but the neighboring trees and grass is bone dry and there is serious potential for a large fire.

I was talking to our local Fire Chief a week ago and he was very worried about some of the neighboring communities.

Cooking up a pot of spaghetti sauce (using Spicy Italian chicken sausage for the protein) so we will have a quiet evening at home.

With Finnegan's disappearance, neither of us feels like celebrating very much - had that guy for close to ten years and he was fully mature when I got him. Old friend.

CO2 and our oceans

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A lot of the warmistas are saying that increased CO2 levels will harm the oceans - make them acidic. They do not know about buffering (here and here)

And now this - from The Register:

Will rising CO2 damage the world's oceans?
NOT SO MUCH – new boffinry
Those who fear that the oceans and their ability to support life on Earth may be doomed by rising CO2 – take heart!

A recent scientific study shows that one of the basic engines of the ocean, namely the life cycle of phytoplankton, will probably not be disrupted by the rising levels of carbon dioxide to be expected later this century.

This is important stuff, as the tiny life-forms are the basis of all ocean food chains and life cycles in turn, as well as being critical to the process of turning CO2 into life-giving oxygen while absorbing solar energy (and thus removing heat from the sea).

We are told:

The study grew phytoplankton at the high carbon dioxide levels predicted for the year 2100 and beyond.

The samples were allowed to evolve through 400 generations, with some exposed to varying levels of CO2 and some kept at constant CO2 levels.

Researchers found that samples exposed to fluctuating CO2 levels was better able to cope with further changes in conditions, compared with those grown in stable CO2 levels.

The finding suggests that populations ... will adapt more to the varied conditions expected in future than was previously thought based on experiments at stable conditions.

All this should mean that the oceans of the world will still be able to perform their traditional miracles of sequestering carbon away into the ocean depths, absorbing heat, generating oxygen for us to breathe and so on.

The new science is published here.

Swiped in full as it is impossible to excerpt - the original paper at Nature is behind a paywall.

CO2 is not our enemy - it is the gas of life. Without it, there would be no plant or animal life on this planet.

Just as a heads up - people who maintain salt-water aquariums and who grow coral will set up a calcium reactor to promote the growth of their coral polyps. The chief input to these is gaseous carbon dioxide.

We need to fire the incompetent teachers and cut the administrative overhead by 70% - from the Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ:

School district charges mom $77,000 for Freedom of Information Act request about her son
Nineteen-year-old Mitchell Smith has special needs, but while mainstreamed at Goodrich High School he fit right in.

“Did you have a lot of friends at school?” I asked him.

“I have a lot of them,” he replied smiling.

While surrounded by classmates of different abilities, Mitchell made goals. He beat many in cross country, running a twenty-two minute 5k. He passed a test to qualify as a basketball referee.

“I think that would be a great job,” said Mitchell. 

As his classmates researched what to do after high school, he did too. He learned about Ready for Life, a program that teaches life skills while mainstreaming special needs students on a college campus.

But the school district and the state didn't let Mitchell enter that program, instead:

“I decided last year I wanted to go there,” said Mitchell. “We visited a couple times and I liked it a lot.”

Then Mitchell and his mom met with school leaders to talk about his continuing education after high school, something state funded because of his special needs.

The decision?

Mitchell should spend hours commuting everyday to a non-mainstreamed district  program in Flint. Mitchell’s mom says it offers vocational training in positions Mitchell isn’t interested in.

“I wanted to know how they reached that determination,” said Sherry Smith, Mitchell’s mom.

She filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for emails sent by school staff about her son. The  school said okay, but first you’ll have to pay.

The price?  $77,718.75.

To Sherry, it is suspicious.

“Why don’t you want us to have access to the emails?” she asks.

 The school superintendent said:

The current estimate is that it would require up to 4,687.5 hours at the current clerical hourly employee rate of $16.58 per hour.

The school is taxpayer funded so the information is in the public domain and should be available at zero cost. This will be an interesting lawsuit. Once again, this graph comes to mind:


A bit of a sad note at the farm

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My beloved old Brittany Spaniel Finnegan wandered off last Thursday afternoon and may not be with us any more.

I do not know how old he was - I got him full-grown from the shelter. He was an excellent dog - great in the field and loved to go riding in the truck with me - always curled up on the passenger seat.

In the last four years, he had gone completely blind and deaf - his eyes were milky from the cataracts. We started calling him pinball and he adapted very well - he already knew the layout of the farm and would go from building to building without problem. His nose still worked great and he would be a pest at dinner always snuffling up for treats - our other dogs would have the grace to wait patiently for their table scraps.

Lulu and I looked pretty thoroughly yesterday and Thursday and there was no sign of him at the farm, he was not lying in a ditch after being struck by a car and there is no word from our neighbors.

There is a cougar active in the area and some recent logging efforts have dislodged at least one bear.

My only hope is that if the lil' bastard is really gone that it was swift and painless.

A plumbing story

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Major drink alert - go here and read: 15 Minute Lunch:

Grease me up, woman!
You know what's bad? When you're washing machine drains and all the water floods backward in the pipes and starts coming up in your kitchen sink drain.   You know what's worse? When this water contains black hunks of rancid food and grease that smells like a dead rhinoceros and quite probably dates back to the early 1990's.  I swear to god, one chunk of grease had a mullet and was wearing a Member's Only jacket.

So that's what I walked into when I agreed to take a look at my wife's grandfather's plumbing issue.  His major complaints were:  (1) His sink took ten minutes to drain.  (2) He couldn't do a load of wash on anything but the lowest water setting.   Anything else would cause the sink to overflow.  Even on low, it still came up to the point where the only thing keeping it in the sink was surface tension and stink.

Go and read the entire story - I am tearing up from chuckling.

Today's word is Schadenfreude.


And yes, that is Dr. Rice on Piano - our former Secretary of State. Back when we had real adults running things.

Cooking at Syracuse University

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Tomorrow is the Fourth of July - time for a barbecue - from the Lava Project:

Looks like a lot of fun. One thing in Blacksmithing that I want to do is to make my own steel - I have the iron ore, just need to build a furnace.

So true - evolution

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Meet Francisco Sanchez. Illegal immegrant from Mexico. He was captured and deported five times but still made it back into the United States. He has seven prior felony convictions, four involving narcoticcs.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement had him in custody last March but they turned him over to the San Francisco police for an outstanding drug warrant.

From FOX News:

Man arrested in connection with San Francisco killing had been deported several times, officials say
The man arrested in connection with the seemingly random killing of a woman who was out for a stroll with her father along the San Francisco waterfront is an illegal immigrant who previously had been deported five times, federal immigration officials say. 

Further, Immigration and Customs Enforcement says San Francisco had him in their custody earlier this year but failed to notify ICE when he was released. 

"DHS records indicate ICE lodged an immigration detainer on the subject at that time, requesting notification prior to his release so ICE officers could make arrangements to take custody. The detainer was not honored," ICE said in a statement Friday afternoon. 

A bit more:

ICE briefly had him in their custody in March after he had served his latest sentence for "felony re-entry," but turned him over to San Francisco police on an outstanding drug warrant. At this time, ICE issued the detainer -- effectively asking that he be turned back over to ICE when San Francisco was finished with him. 

But ICE was not notified. The incident is sure to renew criticism of San Francisco's sanctuary city policies. 

"Here's a jurisdiction that's not even honoring our detainer for someone who clearly is an egregious offender," an ICE official told 

I hope that her family sues the city for all it has. The idea of giving someone like this "sanctuary" is unreal.

From CNS News:

Seattle 6th Graders Can’t Get a Coke at School, But Can Get an IUD
Middle and high school students can’t get a Coca-Cola or a candy bar at 13 Seattle public schools, but they can get a taxpayer-funded intrauterine device (IUD) implanted without their parents’ consent.

School-based health clinics in at least 13 Seattle-area public high schools and middle schools offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), including IUDs and hormonal implants, to students in sixth-grade and above at no cost, according to Washington State officials.

LARCs are associated with serious side effects, such as uterine perforation and infection. IUDs, specifically, can also act as abortifacients by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The state and federally funded contraceptive services are made possible by Take Charge, a Washington State Medicaid program which provides free birth control to adults who are uninsured, lack contraceptive coverage, have an income at or below 260 percent of the Federal Poverty Level -- or, in this case, to teens who don’t want their parents to know they’re on birth control.

In an email exchange with the Washington State Health Care Authority and, a Take Charge spokesperson acknowledged that underage students are eligible for a “full array of covered family planning services” at school-based clinics if their parents meet the program’s requirements.

I am not shocked by 13 year old children being sexually active - go for it!

What gets me is that they will do the implant without the parent's knowledge. These children need education and counseling - there are some nasty diseases that can complicate future childbearing if left untreated.

One solution to two problems

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From Michael Ramirez:



Late last month, I blogged about a new study published by Malthusian Paul Ehrlich who cried out: Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction.

Now, ten days later, Matt Ridley offers this excellent examination of the data and counterblaste:

Invasive species are the greatest cause of extinction
Of 217 mammals and birds that have died out, nearly all were on islands
My Times column on the causes of extinction:

Human beings have been causing other species to go extinct at an unnatural rate over the past five centuries, a new study has confirmed. Whether this constitutes a “sixth mass extinction” comparable to that of the dinosaurs is more debatable, but bringing the surge in extinctions to an end is indeed an urgent priority in conservation.

So it is vital to understand how we cause extinctions. And here the study is dangerously wrong. It says that “habitat loss, overexploitation for economic gain, and climate change” are the main factors and that “all of these are related to human population size and growth, which increases consumption (especially among the rich)”.

Inexplicably, they have left out the main cause of extinctions over the past five centuries: invasive species. The introduction by people of predators, parasites and pests, especially to islands, has been and continues to be far and away the greatest cause of local and global extinction of native fauna. In his green encyclical, Pope Francis likewise never once refers to this problem. It is the Cinderella of the environmental movement.

Over the past 500 years, we know of 77 mammal species (out of about 5,000) and 140 bird species (out of about 10,000) that have gone totally extinct. There may be a handful more we do not know about, and there are plenty more on the brink. Nonetheless, these are the official total species extinctions for the two groups of animal we know best, as compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Of those 217 species of bird and mammal, almost all lived on islands — if you count Australia as an island — and just nine on continents: Bluebuck antelope, Algerian gazelle, Omilteme cottontail rabbit,Labrador duck, Carolina parakeet, slender-billed grackle, passenger pigeon, Colombian grebe and Atitlan grebe.

Were it not for the efforts of conservationists there would be more, of course. And this is not counting subspecies, or those in extinction’s waiting room — ones that have not been seen for years, but have yet to be officially declared extinct, like the slender-billed curlew. Nonetheless, the extinction rate of bird and mammal species on continents is a few hundredths of a per cent per century.

This is far short of the apocalyptic predictions being made in the 1970s. Paul Ehrlich, one of the authors of the new paper, himself forecast in 1975 that half of all the species in tropical rainforests would be gone by 2005. Yet not a single bird or mammal that we know of has gone extinct in a tropical rainforest.

My point is not to say extinction does not matter, but to try to get at the real cause of the extinction surge, and it is clearly not the growth of human population and consumption, which has mostly happened on continents. Europe has lost just one breeding bird in 500 years, for example — the island-breeding great auk in 1844.

More - the actual cause:

So what is? By far the greatest cause is invasive species, especially on islands. Hawaii has lost about 70 species of bird since contact with Captain Cook: ten times as many as all the world’s continents combined. The cause is man-made, all right, but it’s not because we killed them or destroyed their habitat.

It’s the rats, cats, goats, pigs, mosquitoes and avian malaria we brought with us that did the damage on Hawaii and throughout the Caribbean, the south Atlantic, the Indian ocean and the rest of the Pacific. The dodo disappeared from Mauritius not because sailors ate them (though they did) but because of predation by monkeys, pigs, rats and the like. The Tristan albatross is in trouble on Gough Island because its chicks are eaten alive by introduced mice.

Closer to home, it’s invasive species that are the main cause of conservation problems and local extinctions: grey squirrels, mink and signal crayfish have recently all but extinguished red squirrels, water voles and native crayfish respectively near where I live. Ash dieback, zebra mussels, harlequin ladybirds, Chinese mitten crabs, New Zealand flatworms and muntjac are all causing declines in native British animals.

Misdiagnosing the cause of extinction leads to mistaken policies. Here’s an example. Two decades ago, scientists began to notice alarming declines and disappearances among frogs and toads all over the world but especially in central America. At the time, the hole in the ozone layer was topical, so environmentalists blamed the amphibian declines on ultraviolet rays getting through the supposedly thinner ozone layer.

When sceptics pointed out that the ozone was not thinning over the tropics, many environmentalists fell back on blaming climate change, and for a while the extinction of the golden toad in Costa Rica’s cloud forest was confidently blamed on a changing climate: the first of many extinctions brought about by climate change.

This too proved wrong, and scientists are now agreed that the golden toad’s demise, and that of up to 30 other amphibians in central America, was caused by a chytrid fungus, originating in Africa, to which frogs on other continents are especially vulnerable. How did the fungus reach the Americas? Through the use by scientists of the African clawed toad as a popular laboratory animal. The clawed toad carries the fungus but does not die from it, and has escaped into the wild in many places. Conservation efforts had been misdirected.

Junk science like this is why there needs to be a wide gulf between science and politics - between theory and policy. Ehrlich should have become a universal laughingstock when his initial theories failed so spectacularly. He is useful to the political class so they keep him around - never let a serious crisis go to waste or just the vague potential for one...

I much prefer actual boots on the ground observation, measurement and analysis.

Now that didn't take long at all

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From the Phillidelphia, PA CBS affiliate:

Country’s First Gay Divorce Firm Opens In Philadelphia
A Philadelphia attorney has opened what he says is the first LGBTQ divorce firm.

Philadelphia lawyer Conor Corcoran, who bills himself as the nation’s first gay divorce attorney, says he is ready to serve gays and lesbians that will need divorces following the Supreme Court’s ruling last week legalizing same-sex marriage across the country.

Corcoran says he celebrated the Supreme Court decision to have marriage equality throughout the United States, but he quickly realized it was unlikely all of the new marriages would end in bliss.

He says that is why he launched a new division entirely devoted to LGBT divorce.

“The genesis of this idea began about a year ago when Judge Jones, out in Harrisburg, legalized marriage for all in Pennsylvania. I was out that night with a couple of friends and I came up with that idea. We were talking about the fact that, at some point down the line, there’s going to be a need for gays to get divorced, and I thought wouldn’t be funny if that website was called Then the year went by and I thought more and more about it, I realized that there really is a certain kind of empowerment and benevolence in taking what was formerly a derogatory term or a denigration and turning it into some matter of empowerment. And it’s for a good service. These people are entitled to equal rights just like the rest of us.”

I am reminded of Gerard's excellent rant from 2006.

Fun times to the North

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Looks like there are financial issues all over - this time, it's Canada.

From The Vancouver Sun:

Canada is already in a recession, says Bank of America, and the loonie is set to get hammered
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has become the first bank to call for a Canadian recession this year.

Economist Emanuella Enenajor and her team now say that Canada’s economy will shrink by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter, following a 0.6 per cent contraction in the first. The definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of contraction.

A recession sets up the Bank of Canada for another rate cut this year, said Enenajor, and she expects that the downturn will hammer the Canadian dollar — knocking it down to 70 cents U.S. by the end of the year, the lowest level in more than a decade.

That is going to be bad for us as a lot of our customers are Canadian tourists. Land prices are so high up there that they come down here to buy vacation property.

It's the beetle's fault

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Our neighbors to the north are having a bit of a CO2 problem.

From The Vancouver Sun:

Greenhouse gas emissions from B.C. forests on dramatic rise
B.C.’s forests experienced heavy carbon losses between 2003-2012, a dramatic change from the previous decade whey they were absorbing carbon, an analysis by the Sierra Club of B.C. shows.

The province’s forests emitted an estimated 256 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere between 2003 and 2012. In the previous 10-year period, they absorbed 441 million tonnes from the atmosphere, according to a report released this month by the environmental group.

The key factor was the loss of the forests to absorb carbon because of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. The beetle epidemic killed vast tracts of lodgepole pine trees in B.C.’s Interior, peaking in 2005.

Net emissions from B.C.’s forests are estimated by accounting for logging minus the amount of carbon stored in wood products, wild fires, slash-burning of logging waste and the reduced carbon sequestration capacity.

 And of course, the agenda comes out:

Sierra Club forest and climate campaigner Jens Wieting said the dramatic change in carbon dioxide emissions should be a wake-up call to the provincial government to make changes to forest management, focusing on preserving carbon sequestration rather than on logging.


Wieting said there’s an opportunity to preserve more carbon by reducing clearcut logging and preserving old-growth forests, saying B.C. forest management is making climate change worse.

The Sierra Club said the B.C. Liberal government should implement a five-year, $1-billion plan to restore the health of the province’s forests.

Fortunately, there are some adults in the room:

The Ministry of Forests did not dispute that the province’s forests had turned into a carbon source from a carbon sink.

But in an emailed response, forestry ministry spokesman Greig Bethel said that was a result mainly of the pine beetle epidemic and increased emissions from wildfires. The province’s forest management strategy was not responsible for increased carbon emissions, he said.

In response to the Sierra Club’s call for a $1-billion program, he said the province already has in place forestry health programs, including a program to restore forests hit by wildfire and the pine beetle. Since 2005, $348 million has been spent on the program.

Good news - CO2 is the environmental boogey-man. It is actually the gas of life as without it, we would have no plants anywhere. More CO2 in the atmosphere is better for the environment.

Some great stuff here:

From the National Weather Service forecast for Sunday:

Sunday Sunny and hot, with a high near 98.


We are routinely five degrees hotter than their forecast so it is going to be brutal. We had a similar hot spell six years ago so this is nothing new but still, that doesn't mitigate the impact.

Already 88°F and climbing - not even 1:00PM

Serious fire danger



From Seattle station KING.


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No idea where or when this was filmed - talk about a perfect landing:


Supposed to be a Cobra 6 firecracker - hat tip to BoingBoing for the link.

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