February 28, 2005

Nuclear Energy -- a viable option?

This was written over ten years ago but it's a good entry-level intro to what is available now for Nuclear Energy and why we might want to consider moving more to it than more expensive options.

The earlier plants (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, etc…) all suffered from the major design problem that each reactor was unique.

The US Navy, France and Japan have opted for standardized plants, if you need twice the energy, use two cores… The advantage here is that if there is a problem with a specific pump, all the pumps for that design get replaced — no quibbles — problem solved.

Take a look - absolutely zero CO2 emissions, the waste needs to be cared for for a while but it is minimal in volume compared with coal fly ash which remains toxic forever and occupies huge landfills near power plants.

The earlier plant problems have been minimized with new designs that simple go out of criticality when the core heats up too much. Tried and true.

Did I mention Zero CO2 emissions yet?

Here is one excerpt talking about Nuclear Waste versus Coal Plant Waste:

A FIRST PERSPECTIVE
What is this material that is so controversial? As we know from elementary physical science courses, matter can be neither created nor destroyed. When fuel is burned to liberate energy, the fuel doesn't simply disappear. It is converted into another form, which we refer to as “waste.” This is true whether we burn uranium or coal or anything else. For nuclear fuels, this residue, called “high-level waste,” has been the principal source of concern to the public.

As an initial perspective, it is interesting to compare nuclear waste with the analogous waste from a single large coal-burning power plant. The largest component of the coal-burning waste is carbon dioxide gas, produced at a rate of 500 pounds every second, 15 tons every minute. It is not a particularly dangerous gas, but it is the principal contributor to the “greenhouse effect” discussed at some length in Chapter 3. The other wastes from coal burning were also discussed in Chapter 3, but let's review them briefly. First and probably foremost is sulfur dioxide, the principal cause of acid rain and perhaps the main source of air pollution's health effects, released at a rate of a ton every 5 minutes. Then there are nitrogen oxides, the second leading cause of acid rain and perhaps also of air pollution. Nitrogen oxides are best known as the principal pollutant from automobiles and are the reason why cars need expensive pollution control equipment which requires them to use lead-free gasoline; a single large coal-burning plant emits as much nitrogen oxide as 200,000 automobiles. The third major coal burning waste is particulates including smoke, another important culprit in the negative health effects of air pollution. Particulates are released at a rate of several pounds per second. And next comes the ash, the solid material produced at a rate of 1,000 pounds per minute, which is left behind to cause serious environmental problems and long-term damage to our health. Coal-burning plants also emit thousands of different organic compounds, many of which are known carcinogens. Each plant releases enough of these compounds to cause two or three cancer deaths per year. And then there are heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and many others that are known or suspected of causing cancer, plus a myriad of other health impacts. Finally there is uranium, thorium, and radium, radioactive wastes released from coal burning that serve as a source of radon gas. The impact of this radioactive radon gas from coal burning on the public's health far exceeds the effects of all the radioactive waste released from nuclear plants (see Chapter 12).

The waste produced from a nuclear plant is different from coal-burning wastes in two very spectacular ways. The first is in the quantities involved: the nuclear waste is 5 million times smaller by weight and billions of times smaller by volume. The nuclear waste from 1 year of operation weighs about 1½ tons and would occupy a volume of half a cubic yard, which means that it would fit under an ordinary card table with room to spare. Since the quantity is so small, it can be handled with a care and sophistication that is completely out of the question for the millions of tons of waste spewed out annually from our analogous coal-burning plant.

The second pronounced difference is that the nuclear wastes are radioactive, providing a health threat by the radiation they emit, whereas the principal dangers to health from coal wastes arise from their chemical activity. This does not mean that the nuclear wastes are more hazardous; on nearly any comparison basis the opposite is true…

Lots of nice footnotes and appendices to go through and read.

Posted by DaveH at 11:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Geico Insurance

Shamelessly stolen from Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple who just returned from what sounds like a wonderful diving trip

Geico.jpg
Click for full-size Image

Posted by DaveH at 11:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Liberal Arts Education -- a rant from a master

Steve H. at Hog on Ice has an excellent rant on what it means to be a Liberal Arts Major in these days. Not much it seems…

The other day I was talking to someone—Mox, I think—when I went off on a rant about the uselessness of a liberal arts education. I think I'll repeat myself here, to see how many people I annoy. I believe that if you went to college and majored in something like English or Art History, you received absolutely nothing of value, and your parents should be allowed to sue you for the tuition.

I know the English majors will start whining now, from their computers at the companies where they work as cab dispatchers and office managers. And I suppose some smart ass will remind me that “liberal arts” is supposed to include math and music and some sciences, even though no one uses the term to include those things now.

Put a sock in it. As usual, I have made up my mind.

Columbia University solicited an application from me because I did real well on the verbal SAT. Sorry, I mean “I done real well.” Once I got there, I thought for a while that I might be an English major, but then I got distracted by architecture and biology and also beer. The English degree never panned out. But I did take a few literature courses.

What a laugh. You read five books—or the Cliff's Notes for five books—you take an easy exam in which you remind the professor how right his opinions about Dickens are, and you get either an A or a B+. Meanwhile, what are REAL students doing? Learning calculus. Working on Rachmaninov preludes. Building circuits. Developing the ability to read and write foreign languages. But don't feel bad. At a party, when you're fifty, you'll be able to tell people what your professor thought of Chaucer and pretend you came up with it all by yourself.

A bit more:

Look, any person of substance reads. In the ten years following college, you should end up reading more fiction than you would have in school, had you become an English major. And unless you're in a coma, you'll form your own opinions. Total cost? Maybe five hundred bucks. Compare that with paying a hundred thousand to have some pathetic old hipster doofus reward you for regurgitating his opinions. If you really want to know what educated people think of the books you read, buy the Cliff's Notes and read literary criticism. It's insane to pay someone an amount that would make a great down payment on a house, just so he can tell you things you could easily learn on your own.

And what got Steve onto this train of thought?

I was thinking about this in connection with Ward Churchill. This boob knows absolutely nothing you can't learn on your own in a month of reading, yet he gets a hundred grand or so per year to “teach” kids. And universities are packed full of people just like him. People who teach courses on TV shows and comic books. Film professors. Gay studies. Women's studies. I think these people are all parasites. And the more of them we hire and support, the more liberal B.S. goes into our kids' heads. One thing I loved about studying math and physics was that when you were right, you were right, and it didn't matter whether you kissed the teacher's ass or baked him cookies or went to see him in his office and pretended to be his friend. And I actually learned. I got value for the money I paid.

There's more — check it out… Hog on Ice is one of the blogs I check out every day — with good reason…

Posted by DaveH at 11:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Star Wars Fans -- here's one for you:

R2D2-Dog.jpg
Click for full-sized Image

From here — hat tip: BoingBoing

Posted by DaveH at 11:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wikipedia and FUD

If you click on some of my links, you will find that I really like the online encyclopedia: Wikipedia

The premise is interesting, anyone can edit an entry, anyone can change it and there is a tracking database so if someone hijacks an entry and makes it invalid, this entry can be rolled back to a previous form. This may seem to invite chaos but the quality of the information is excellent and if there is an interesting tid-bit that you know about the subject, you can add it.

Mr. Robert McHenry is the Former Editor in Chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica and he wrote a scathing article at Tech Central Station (link to TCS home page: here) called The Faith-Based Encyclopedia

In January (just found out about it), Free Software Magazine published a rebuttal: The FUD-based Encyclopedia

Dismantling fear, uncertainty, and doubt, aimed at Wikipedia and other free knowledge resources
In this article, I respond to Robert McHenry’s anti-Wikipedia piece entitled “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia.” I argue that McHenry’s points are contradictory and incoherent and that his rhetoric is selective, dishonest and misleading. I also consider McHenry’s points in the context of all Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP), showing how they are part of a Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) campaign against CBPP. Further, I introduce some principles, which will help to explain why and how CBPP projects can succeed, and I discuss alternative ways they may be organized, which will address certain concerns.

The author (Aaron Krowne) sets up his thesis, lets people know what Wikipedia is about and then starts delivering a well-placed Clue-Bat to Mr. McHenry's cranial regions:

McHenry’s central thesis is that, quite contrary to general observation, Wikipedia is a poor-quality resource, that it is in a constant state of chaos, and that these problems will tend to get worse over time. Of course, he doesn’t explain how one is to reconcile this claim with the increasing popularity of Wikipedia, other than a veiled suggestion that people are simply stupid.

McHenry begins his article with a proof-by-denigration. He takes the entire proposition, that a commons-based collaborative encyclopedia could even be successful, as ridiculously out-of-hand. He recounts Wikipedia’s failed first start as “Interpedia,” which I presume is done to poke fun at the concept, the people, and the community process behind Wikipedia. Then, in heavily loaded terms, he characterizes the claim of increasing quality as (emphasis added):

Some unspecified quasi-Darwinian process will assure that those writings and editings by contributors of greatest expertise will survive; articles will eventually reach a steady state that corresponds to the highest degree of accuracy.

He then goes on to say:

Does someone actually believe this? Evidently so. Why? It’s very hard to say.
Actually, I don’t believe it is so hard to say, and will go into detail on the matter shortly.

McHenry then goes on to theorize that the currently-vogue educational technique of “journaling” is responsible for corrupting the thinking of today’s youth, consequently leading them to believe in something as ridiculous as the success of collaborative commons-based projects. I can only surmise that this bizarre tangent is due to a pet peeve of his, and believe it can be safely discarded.

Our friendly author then takes a stab at empirics. His method is to sample a number of Wikipedia entries, inspecting their previous versions and revision history to ascertain whether the quality has increased or decreased. The size of McHenry’s sample set is: 1.

At this point, it is worth noting that Wikipedia recently reached the 1 million article mark.

The article is a bit on the longish side but there is a lot of territory to cover. Needless to say, Aaron — as someone with their feet on the ground and working with open source and Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP), knows his stuff and delivers the goods to Mr. McHenry who obviously comes from the MSM equivalent of publishing. (MSP anyone?)

On a personal note, my Dad wrote a great series of Physics books (Halliday and Resnick). I remember him struggling through the typesetting problems (the galley proofs coming back with the formulae wrong, graphs not done properly, etc…). At that time I was using TeX for desktop publishing and design on a PC. I showed him a bit of what I could do and he talked with his publisher and they didn't have a clue what this was. They were still locked into the old photo-mechanical machines from 20 years previous…

Posted by DaveH at 10:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Color Photography History

We think of Color as Kodachrome and starting in the 1950's.

It was actually invented much earlier — in 1903 by the Lumière brothers.

Here is an amazing collection of images from WW-1 taken by the French Army.

One sample:

french-color-ww1.jpg
Click for full-size Image

Posted by DaveH at 09:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Crunch time

Oops… From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

7-foot-tall 'B' crash-lands on Downtown sidewalk
A 300-pound, 7-foot tall aluminum letter “B” — part of the new Ariba sign going atop One FreeMarkets Center Downtown — fell 500 feet to the ground yesterday morning when a cable broke as workers tried to move it from a window washing platform onto the building for installation. The sign crashed at the Wood Street end of PNC Plaza near Oliver Avenue about 10:30 a.m. but no one was injured.

Ariba-sign.jpg

Those poor workers must have felt sick watching it fall.
Good that nobody was hurt…

Posted by DaveH at 09:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Whole lotta shakin' going on

There has been a string of small temblors recently about 250 miles off the coast of Victoria, BC.

Map here: USGS Recent Earthquake Activity in the USA

quake-02-28-05.gif
Click for full-size Image

These are small — in the 4.5 to 4.9 range and in fairly deep water (no slides to worry about) but still, that many makes you wonder what's up down there. If these had all let go at once, that would have been a bit bigger event with all that energy being released in one swell foop…

UPDATE: Another one tonight at 4:32 local time.

Posted by DaveH at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The new fad in Florida

Sheesh… The Duluth News Tribune is reporting the following new fad:

Train horns latest fad, irritant on Florida streets
On a February afternoon, five high school students lounged patiently on a bus-stop bench in Westchester, Fla.

Lino Alvarado Jr. slowed his truck to a crawl, smiled, and unleashed more than 150 decibels of sound from a dozen train horns attached to his truck's undercarriage.

“Did you see those kids flinch?” Alvarado, 20, said as he breezed through a stop sign. “But old people are even better.”

The students were blasted by one of the area's hottest vehicle customization trends.

A good set of train horns cost about $1,000 and packs an audio punch that can reach hundreds of feet - to the delight of people who buy them, and to the dismay of residents, who are complaining to police.

And the technology involved — talking about Frank Carralero, co-owner of Red's Auto and Truck Customization Shop in Miami:

Red's installs two horn setups. A five-horn set of genuine train horns from the Nathan Manufacturing Co., maker of horn sets for locomotives since at least 1940, costs $2,500. A chromed three-horn set made in Asia, about half as loud as Nathan's, costs $950.

And

“Now, in nine out of 10 trucks we do, we put in at least two sets of train horns,” said Steven Menendez, 27, who works at Red's. Szuster once installed three of the five-horn sets - 15 trumpets - in one truck.

And one example of their use:

Or the time Menendez blew his horns at the railroad crossing next to the shop: “All these cars slammed on their brakes because they thought a train was coming. Their wheels were locking up and everything.”

It is now not illegal to own them, only to sound them but catching the offender only results in a $70 fine. I wonder when the fatal accident or heart-attack will happen and what will be done then. I don't mind a glass-pack muffler on a decent car or motorcycle but this is a bit over the top. Hearing damage is the other concern.

Posted by DaveH at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

Proof once again that anyone can put up a web page

Ran into this one earlier today: Pure Energy Systems

Their article on Earth's Magnetic Field Reversal brings to mind Niels Bohr's great quote:

We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that it is not crazy enough.
Posted by DaveH at 11:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Arabian Superheros

From NorthJersey who got this from the Washington Post.

Arab superheroes leap pyramids in a single bound
He's a mild-mannered philosophy professor who wears button-down shirts, lives in a drab, anonymous apartment and pronounces maxims such as “There is no glory without virtue” and “Free will pushes toward creativity.” But beneath the meek and pedantic exterior lies a buff, masked fighter in tights who is endowed with supernatural strength and a mission to “fight evil until the end of time.”

Holy banality! Not another self-effacing Everyman who is actually a powerhouse, the stuff of comic book creations ranging from Batman to Spider-Man through Superman to Zorro! No, this is new - at least for the Middle East.

The professor is Zein, a.k.a. the Last Pharaoh, billed as the first Arab superhero in a year-old line of comics. It's time, his creators say, to move beyond Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, those Westerners laboring in Metropolis and Gotham City. Bring on Amgad Darweesh, Zein's alter ego, who is 14,000 years old and lives in Origin City, which, with its pyramids, museums, traffic and random chaos, looks a lot like Cairo.

And the Mullahs will probably excoriate this as an influence from the Great Satan. (western culture) Are they that out of touch? Kids need heroes and these are far and few between over there…

Posted by DaveH at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 27, 2005

A fine rant on the Music Business

I subscribe to a few music related email lists and this fine rant showed up on one of them tonight. It is a wee bit long but it is worth reading if you think about the quality of music coming out these days.

I don't want to get off on a rant here but……….

Originally I wouldn't pick on these little turd heads, I assumed they would eventually get better on their instruments and maybe grow up a little and just shut their little cake holes. No such luck…. Just the other day a friend of mine from Washington DC moved to LA. He proceeded to try to join a band. The little fascist, elite, snob, douche bag members of the first band that he auditioned for, told him he couldn't join their band. He was playing a Hamer Californian. They said he was a great player and easily good enough but he would have to cut his hair and play a Les Paul if he wanted to join their faggy little gaggle of idiots band.

My friend happened to also own a white Les Paul custom that he had for close to 20 years. He never played it much because it was too heavy and he couldn't reach the higher notes easily. In fact it was short 5 Frets from his Hamer Californian which is a 27 fret guitar.

Imagine the size of the balls of these people. It's unbelievable. My friend told them to pound sand up their asses and promptly sold his Les Paul.

A similar story happened to a friend of mine from Toronto last year in LA, Only he had a BC Rich Bich.

Here's Ed Roman's theory.

The Record Companies… Yep that's what I think is to blame for this type of ignorant attitude.

In Los Angeles there used to be a great music scene, This scene happened coincidentally in the 80's, Baby Boomers were in their late 20's and early 30's. Great bands played everywhere every night and life was good and music was good. This eventually ended just like the Disco craze of the 70's did. When the 80's ended there was nothing there to take it's place.

The 50's had excellent Rhythm & Blues, Instrumental Bands and Doo Wop, The 60's started with the Surf Music and ended with Zeppelin, Hendrix, Cream the Doors Mountain Jeff Beck & Woodstock and somewhere in the middle came The Stones, The Moody Blues The Who and oh yeah the Beatles. The 70's were a bit weaker but you still had Southern Rock, Grand Funk, the Eagles, KISS and The Stones, Moody Blues and the Who, the 80's came and all Hell broke loose, There were so many great guitar players you couldn't keep track of them all, Van Halen, Lynch, Schenker, Rhoads, Vai, etc etc and of course you still had the Stones the Moody Blues and the Who, When the 90's arrived Rap had started taking hold of the younger kids, there was a short time there when playing guitar wasn't even cool anymore……. s#!t!

Why am I blaming the record companies?

OK read this carefully and maybe you will understand what I am trying to say.

Prepare to be slightly deprogrammed………

The record companies exist solely to make money, they are cruel heartless people who if they didn't work for a record company they probably might work for the tobacco companies as a spokesman or something.

It is my firm belief that the record companies do not want the musicians to make it, They do not want to create any more super groups or superstars. Understand that once an entertainer reaches superstar status he can write his own ticket. Just like a professional athlete can command 80 million a year to run around a field knocking someone down and/or get knocked down himself. An entertainer the likes Mick Jagger or Elton John doesn't need a record company they can snap their fingers and start their own record company.

Record companies don't want any more Mick Jaggers or Frank Sinatras or Elvis Presleys or Jim Morrisons or Jimi Hendrix, They want bands like Hootie and the Blow Fish. They want bands that will never make it past their third album which usually doesn't even get released.

If a band has a great first album they usually don't make squat, All the money goes to the record company. After all they paid for the original promotion, the actual recording and, oh yes those magic advances that they waved in front of your face to get you to sign the contract. The only trouble is no one in the band is keeping track of where the record company is really spending the money. For all the band knows the record company could be recouping promotion costs from 5 other bands that didn't show a large profit.

Remember the day the band went down to that Great Big Music Store in Hollywood or NYC and bought all that vintage incredibly expensive garbage that the record company paid for. It's payback time! Your guitar player says he doesn't remember that 59 Les Paul costing $45,000.00 in fact he thought it was much less.

That's right……. there are all kinds of kickback sweetheart deals with many of the bigger music store chains and the record companies. In fact one chain of music stores actually has an artist relations department. These people are paid to go out and pitch record companies for their business… I wonder what they say to them to get them to buy…. Can you say, Kickback? How do I know about this stuff, Because I have been in this business for 30 years. My first taste of it came when some guy walked into my store and bought an Eventide Instant Phaser. I was selling it for approximately $500.00 or so dollars, He told me he needed it for a recording session, the producer wanted one and they had been looking for one for a long time. He told me he wanted to insure it for a real lot of money because it was discontinued and almost irreplaceable. He needed a larger receipt so I obliged him, I think it was for $2,000.00 or something like that. Curious, I asked him who the producer was he told me, Phil Ramone who was currently producing the Eagles new album called Hotel California. Cool……. Several months later I heard “Life in the Fast Lane” for the first time… s#!t that Eventide Instant Phaser was so incredibly predominant in that song. I will always wonder what the Eagles paid for that strange new effect they were using (I think Eventide made the very first Phaser ever).

Ok, I didn't mean to segue into that story. Let's get back to how and why the recording companies are trying to hold you back.

Start thinking about it, there are no more super groups, there are no more Eddie Van Halens No Jimi Hendrixes. Because the record companies are purposefully spewing out bland garbage to sell CD's and next month they want to sell you something totally new, forget that other band… listen to this great new band…. In this way the poor mindless lemming consumers never really get to be staunch fans of any band. No more Grateful Deadheads, well maybe, there are some benefits after all… Just kidding.

So here we are in the 90's and Country and Western is Kickin Butt…. My theory is because, it's all about the pickin' The rock bands today are usually flash in the pan barely memorable carbon blobs. Who remembers Hootie and the Blowfish. Lets face it dudes. If ya' wanna make it for real ya' gotta practice the damn guitar, If'n you don't learn how to play it…. no matter how retro cool you think you look with your baggy shorts and dirty messed up hair you ain't gonna make it.

This is SHOW BUSINESS that's two words, SHOW and BUSINESS….

It's about the SHOW If you want to be remembered you better learn how to play and put on a good show and oh yeah, look the part.

It's about the BUSINESS, If you have limited talent, and you can't play real well, Keep pluggin' you'll get better, look at KISS they barely could play when they started. But they got better and they gave their fans the shows of their life and even though Gene Simmons is a hard guy to like, He has my vote as one of the best businessmen in rock. Gene discovered a lot of bands and is responsible for a lot more than most people know.

So what can we do about this s#!t……

Hey don't look at me, I don't have all the answers, just the questions….

One of my favorite sayings is “resistance is futile” (I also like to use the word “cromulent” but that's a different show).

Fender has recently assimilated Jackson, I hear they are talking to PRS also…..

Maybe if we started to think for ourselves, maybe if we ignored all the media hype, maybe if we didn't blindly believe everything we read in a magazine that accepts advertisers. Maybe just maybe…………..

Naaaahhhhh, Resistance is Futile

Locutus of Borg
Posted by DaveH at 09:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Oscars Night

is tonight and Professor Steven Bainbridge remids us of some spiffy new billboards that have been erected in sight of the Kodak Theater where the event is talking place. He has photographs:

billboard.jpg

This is a small copy of one from his site — visit for the full-sized versions. A thumb in the eye that could not be more deserved…

Posted by DaveH at 08:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Deal Aggregator

Ran into this place: Ben's Bargain Center

It's an aggregation of various coupon deals, rebates, outright low prices and the occasional freebie.
Just ran into it tonight — looks good.

Posted by DaveH at 07:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RIP: Jef Raskin

From ZD Net

Jef Raskin, Mac pioneer, dies at 61
Jef Raskin, the human-computer interface expert largely credited with beginning the Macintosh project for Apple Computer, died Saturday at age 61.

Raskin, the author of The Humane Interface, died of cancer, according to a man who answered the telephone Sunday at Raskin's Pacifica, Calif., home.

Raskin, who named the Macintosh after his favorite fruit, joined Apple in January 1978 as employee No. 31. The Macintosh was launched in 1984, but Raskin left Apple in 1982 amid a well-documented dispute with Steve Jobs.

Raskin was an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, and a visiting scholar at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the 1970s when he first visited Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). (Apple is often accused of copying Xerox's graphical user interface—GUI—into the Macintosh operating system).

“When PARC was in its first few years I was often a visiting academic there, taking part in discussions and viewing with delight some of the developments going on there; I trust that people there also took pleasure in finding in me someone who was already on much the same user-interface wavelength,” Raskin later wrote. “I didn't have to be sold on the idea that UI and graphics were of primary importance to the future of computing.”

Raskin said he told Jobs and Steve Wozniak about what he had seen at Xerox the first time he met them in their garage in 1976, and that he stopped visiting Xerox when he went to work for Apple “to avoid any possible conflicts of interest.”

Another project that Raskin worked on was the Canon Cat — this one was pure genius. A very simple to operate office machine that could handle word processing and spreadsheets and with a very innovative use of a text display with sprites (non alphanumeric characters) to draw rulers and boxes. When you were done, you shut the power switch off — this triggered the computer to save all open files, save where you were and then shut down. When you powered up, you would resume where you were. Very intuitive system and it's a shame that they never took off — Canon never marketed them that well because their management was stuck in the Office Business Machines mind-set instead of the Computers can do evertyhing…

UPDATE: WikiPedia has a nice if short artcle on Jef along with a good picture of him. They also link to other articles, interviews, etc…

They also have an article on the Canon Cat

Canon_cat.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 06:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A minor change in your Job Description

Unbelievable… From The Times Online comes this story of a mandatory change in careers:

This executive has won £70,000 because for 30 years he had to weed the office car park
A SENIOR Japanese executive forced to pluck weeds from a car park for more than 30 years has won a landmark case against his employers.

The judgment and £70,000 payout will bring about a cultural shift for Japanese corporations that prize loyalty above all: salarymen who speak up against their bosses have finally won the protection of the law.

But it will probably not change the life of Hiroaki Kushioka. On Monday he will dress for work in suit and tie, and again report to the office for unnecessary weeding duties.

In 1974, three years after joining Tonami Transportation, a large haulage company in Toyama, as an administrator, Mr Kushioka spoke out against his company’s involvement in illegal cartels. Every day since then he has suffered a bizarre series of psychological tortures at the hands of his bosses.

The day after blowing the whistle, Mr Kushioka, 58, was moved to the company’s training centre on the outskirts of town and shown to his new desk — a table in the corner of a small hut with nothing on it.

As a university graduate who had previously managed office accounts, his new duties were more straightforward: he was to inspect the car park and remove any plants that made their way through the cracks in the concrete.

“Sometimes, the pattern of my day would change and I would perform some other completely meaningless task,” Mr Kushioka said. “I might be told to wash the dishes in the canteen or raise and lower the company flag outside the car park. For the rest of the time, I was forced to kill time at a completely empty desk.”

The only human contact he has had during his 30 years of employment is a daily visit from his boss. For about an hour before home-time, Mr Kushioka is relentlessly harangued and urged to resign.

After a period, Mr Kushioka brought a computer to his hut to work on a book describing how whistle-blowing changed his life. He was given a tongue-lashing from his boss for pursuing private activities during company time.

Despite his strange treatment, Mr Kushioka does not regret his actions and has never considered leaving Tonami Transport. “I knew that as a person who blew the whistle and exposed my name in the public as a whistle-blower, my future road was set in thorns,” he said. “I couldn’t leave the company because now I was for ever branded as a whistle- blower, I would never find a job in another Japanese company and I have a family to support.”

I know that business is run differently in Japan — I remember that when the Japanese first opened up manufacturing facilities in the USA, the managers were flabbergasted that one of their employers might consider quiting. When you are hired over there, you are hired for life, unless your manager convinces you to resign. I think that 70K UKP is a bit small for the 30 years of harassment that Mr. Kushioka endured. I support tort law reform but he should have gotten a good bit more. I would have launched the lawsuit earlier too…

Posted by DaveH at 06:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pooty-Poot's perceptions

President Bush is over in Russia meeting with Vladimir Putin (Bush always gives people a nickname and Putin's is Pooty-Poot - this was bestowed when Putin visited Bush at Crawford)

According to this article in Time, it seems that Putin has been listening to the Main Stream Media a bit too much:

Vladimir Putin, CBS News Loyalist
George Bush knew Vladimir Putin would be defensive when Bush brought up the pace of democratic reform in Russia in their private meeting at the end of Bush's four-day, three-city tour of Europe. But when Bush talked about the Kremlin's crackdown on the media and explained that democracies require a free press, the Russian leader gave a rebuttal that left the President nonplussed. If the press was so free in the U.S., Putin asked, then why had those reporters at CBS lost their jobs? Bush was openmouthed. “Putin thought we'd fired Dan Rather,” says a senior Administration official. “It was like something out of 1984.” The Russians did not let the matter drop. Later, during the leaders' joint press conference, one of the questioners Putin called on asked Bush about the very same firings, a coincidence the White House assumed had been orchestrated. The odd episode reinforced the Administration's view that Putin's impressions of America are often based on urban myths fed to him by ill-informed aides. (At a past summit, according to Administration aides, Putin asked Bush whether it was true that chicken producers split their production into plants that serve the U.S. and lower-quality ones that process substandard chicken for Russia.) U.S. aides say that to help fight against this kind of misinformation, they are struggling to build relationships that go beyond Putin. “We need to go deeper into the well into other levels of government,” explains an aide.

Putin needs to clean house a little bit. Bush is very open about what he is trying to do and there are a lot of other news sources besides the MSM.

Here is a list of some of Bush's nicknames. My favorite is the one for Karl Rove: Turdblossem (because something always is popping up).

Posted by DaveH at 06:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bill Gates - High Schools are obsolete

From Yahoo/LA Times:

High Schools Are 1.0 in a 5.0 World, Gates Says
Addressing the nation's governors, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates delivered a scathing critique of U.S. high schools Saturday, calling them obsolete and saying that elected officials should be ashamed of a system that leaves millions of students unprepared for college and for technical jobs.

Gates was speaking as the invited guest of some of the nation's most powerful elected officials, at a National Governors Assn. meeting devoted to improving high school education across the country.

“Training the workforce of tomorrow with today's high schools is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year-old mainframe,” said Gates, whose $27-billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has made education one of its priorities.

“Everyone who understands the importance of education, everyone who believes in equal opportunity, everyone who has been elected to uphold the obligations of public office should be ashamed that we are breaking our promises of a free education for millions of students,” added Gates, to strong applause.

Telling it like it is… I am 54 years old — when I went to high-school, we studied a lot of stuff. Chemistry, Math, Music, and I mean Organic and Inorganic Chemistry actually running reactions and syntheses, Calculus and Trigonometry, picking up an instrument and learning how to play it. Actually doing this stuff. We also took wood, metal and electric shop — learned how to operate wood and metal working machinery, repair house wiring, solder a connection.

I run into people these days who are amazed that someone can do one of these things. High School has gotten very very soft in the last twenty years. My first wife is a substitute teacher in the Seattle (liberal city) system and most of her work is acting as security guard.

Students going on to college often have to take remedial English and Math. WTF???

Bill should know these things, he has over 50,000 employees and knows full well what people applying for work with a high-school education know — Microsoft does not hire uneducated people…

Posted by DaveH at 06:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 26, 2005

Nikon D2X

Glen at Instapundit noticed that Nikon is finally shipping their flagship camera, the D2X. I have had the D1X for two years and love it.

Glen also points to an excellent in-depth review at Hardware Zone

Looks really tasty but I think I'll wait a couple years. The D1X has what I need and I'm getting excellent results from it. I shot with Nikon equipment for a long time so have a bunch of lenses and accessories (which fit the D1X too). Having a larger CCD sensor gives better image quality than the non-DSLR units (less noise, better color) There are also Photoshop tricks you can do with shooting multiple images and stacking them to achieve amazing resolution. Shift the camera slightly between exposures. Same for stacking an image exposed for shadow on top of one exposed for the highlights. Get some amazing tonal range that way.

Posted by DaveH at 10:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ikea now sells a place to put the stuff you buy at Ikea

Ikea is a Swedish furniture and housewares manufacturer. They have stores throughout the world — USA and Canada and they do very nicely designed stuff for a reasonable price. Jen and I love the place.

It seems that they also sell houses — the site is in Swedish but it looks like these are pre-fabbed buildings that are shipped “flat” ready to be assembled by the home owner. The highest price quoted on the site is 500,000 Swedish Kroner which works out to about $73K USD. Not bad at all for a multi-story building…
(I like this currency converter: Universal Currency Converter)

ikea-house.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 10:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Modern Music

Scott Campbell has some interesting observations on Modern Music at A Western Heart:

Whistle Schoenberg while you work
The Sydney Morning Herald publish a response from “publisher and social commentator” Richard Walsh to an article they published last week (originally from The Guardian), in which the standard claim that modernism had killed modern classical music was made. Even by the Herald's standards, it's a bad piece.
When did serious concert music die, asked Martin Kettle in his jeremiad against modernism… his considered answer seems to be 1948… Apparently modern music isn't very popular and, he hints, not very good. Not surprisingly, this is an argument that can also be leveled at modern literature and art - they aren't all that popular and there is more than the odd iconoclast who reckons they aren't much good.
Oh come now. That sort of accusation is often made against modern art, but not very often against modern literature - and when it is, it's to nowhere near the same degree. Martin Amis may be sometimes accused of not turning out rattling good yarns, but no-one says he can't turn out an entertaining, well-crafted sentence.

He then goes on to posit two ideas and derive a third from them:

And why does the fact that serious music fans are older and therefore more conservative mean that modern music struggles to survive? It can't be a hip pocket problem - older people and their high disposable incomes are supposed to be the reason why fossilized rock bands like the Rolling Stones still rake in hundreds of millions a year.

Is the idea supposed to be that because serious music fans are older and thus more conservative they're less likely to enjoy experimental modern music? But then the argument would make no sense. It would amount to this:

(1) The only people who are remotely interested in serious music are older people. The great majority of young people aren't interested in serious music (let alone modernist music).

(2) But because the great majority of these older people are conservative (precisely because they are older), they aren't interested in modernist music either.

The obvious conclusion to draw from (1) and (2) is this:

(3) Almost everyone has no interest in modernist music.

There is some good stuff out there — I studied Piano and Organ while growing up and am sitting about 15 feet from a fairly large synthesizer setup (both analog and digital). I would say that this is a perfect example of Sturgeon's Law. For every Gorecki or Part or Tavener out there there are an endless stream of “modern composers” who couldn't score their way out of a paper bag. I do like some of Philip Glass' works but the majority of his music is boring. The early modernists (Schoenberg a perfect example) were staking out new ground in musical expression and once staked out, these territories are better off not visited again. I do not know anyone who listens to this second group (Sturgeon's 90%) for enjoyment…

Posted by DaveH at 09:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cool Coatrack

Designboom offers this idea from Jens Offersen (Iceland):

A big collection of old joystick became useless after my Commodore 64's inner parts burned up after almost 20 years of loyal service (you will be missed) so i decided to make something useful out of them.

coat-rack.jpg
Click for full-size Image

Posted by DaveH at 09:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Ward Churchill Artwork discovered

EtherPundit at Ether House has discovered some heretofore unknown works of art by Famous American Indian Ward Churchill:

Regular readers may be surprised, but I think it's time some of us on the right stepped up to defend Ward Churchill. I can't applaud his defense of terrorists and their right — indeed, obligation — to murder “little Eichmanns” (defined as: everyone who died on Sept. 11). I can't condone his instructing his audiences on the most effective ways to carry out terrorism. And, of course, I can't stifle a laugh when I see photos of him in his office, Capitalism Condemnation Central, unironically surrounded by a shiny new iMac and assorted technological trappings. But let's give credit where credit is due, shall we? Ward Churchill turns out to be a truly important visual artist, with a lot to say about the plight of Native Americans. Michelle Malkin, Myopic Zeal, Brainster, Ace, Say Anything, Speed of Thought, Protein Wisdom, and Confederate Yankee have all had their snarky say about this alleged plagiarism.

EtherPundit goes on to establish that yes, there are similarities between Churchill's “Winter Attack” and Thomas E. Mails “The Mystic Warriors of the Plains” but Churchill did not copy the work. EtherPundit then goes on to cite some other examples of Churchill's oeuvre and offers these words:

Churchill is no plagiarist! Perhaps coincidentally, the pieces above looked similar. But when you look at the works I'm showing, these EtherHouse exclusives, you'll realize that his vision is wholly original. I defy you to show me any “source” that can remotely claim to have inspired these pieces. You've never seen anything like them, I guarantee! Now forget politics for a moment, and feel yourself transported to the Great Plains, to a time before the European brought pestilence, theft, and “ethnic cleansing” to the land. Open your mind to Churchill's sensitive explorations of Native American couture. Let the raw emotion of these blazingly original, inventive images affect you.

Here are two samples of the artwork:

church-10jpg.jpg
“Warrior: Creek Nation of Georgia.”
Early mosaic work (c. 1967),
from the “Creek Nation” series.

church-11jpg.jpg
“Creek Tomahawk and Stitched Bull Hide”
Gouache on board 1993,
from the “Creek Nation” series.

Posted by DaveH at 08:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A couple more items about Ward Churchill

Charles at LGF is covering his possible buyout and offers these trenchant words:

Hey! Sounds like a great deal. Libel 9/11 victims, lie about your ancestry, forge artwork, teach anarchists how to commit terrorism, assault reporters—and end up with 10 million bucks and a quick easy retirement! Who knew the halls of academe could be so lucrative?

Commenters on his site have been having a field-day too…

His art work — The Denver CBS affiliate has a goods on that fraud and Churchill's attack on a reporter who tried to interview him:

Churchill made the serigraph in question in 1981 and called it “Winter Attack.” He printed 150 copies and sold one of them to Duke Prentup for about $100.

“I have enjoyed them ever since, immensely,” Prentup said. “They're, obviously, up in my house.”

But last month came a stunning revelation. As Prentup flipped through a book of illustrations by renowned artist Thomas E. Mails, he found an artwork of striking similarity.

“And I opened it up and, wham! There it was,” Prentup said. “It's the exact same thing, only mirror image, virtually to every detail.”

The pen and ink sketch by Thomas Mails first appeared in his 1972 masterpiece, “The Mystic Warriors of the Plains.”

Compare it side-by-side to the serigraph by Churchill, created some 20 years later: the composition, the images, the placement are nearly identical.

Intellectual property attorney Jim Hubbell said it's clearly no accident.

“It's very obvious that the Churchill piece was taken directly from the Mails piece,” Hubbell said. “There's just too many similarities between the two for it to have been coincidence.”

church-01.jpg
Thomas Mails

church-02.jpg
Ward Churchill

Jackson's Junction has a video of Churchill's assault

Posted by DaveH at 06:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Redefining the Kilogram

Interesting news item at Slashdot today.

Experts Suggest Replacing Definition of Kilogram
“The kilogram is the only one of the seven basic units of the international measurement system defined by a physical artifact rather than a natural phenomenon. International team of scientists suggest replacing the kilogram artifact — a cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy about the size of a plum —with a definition based on one of two unchanging natural phenomena, either a quantity of light or the mass of a fixed number of atoms. They propose to adopt either one of two definitions for the kilogram by selecting a specific value for either the Planck constant or the Avogadro number.”

Makes a lot of sense. It's hard to calibrate something when the only standard is locked away in a vault. The Planck's Constant is very elegant and simple — something that any competent lab person could whip up…

Here's an image of the Kilogram Standard:

kilogram-standard.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 05:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ward Churchill and the University - Price of Freedom

Wretchard at The Belmont Club has a few words about Mr. Churchill's employment future and the price of free speech.

A Teaching Moment
University of Colorado officials are considering offering Ward Churchill an early retirement package that could end an increasingly uncomfortable standoff with the controversial professor. … David Lane, Churchill's attorney, said he has not been contacted about a buyout offer. But, he said, while his primary focus is on protecting Churchill's constitutional right to speak out, he would be willing to listen to a university proposal. “If they offer $10 million, I would think about it. If they offer him $10, I wouldn't,” Lane said.

Freedom of speech is not priceless. It's worth ten million dollars and not a penny less. This, according to the Denver Post, is preferred way to get Professor Churchill off the campus. The alternative, it sources suggest, is far worse.

Typically such dismissals - even if done by the book - result in years of expensive lawsuits that Hoffman told legislators last week the university would like to avoid. Sources involved in the talks said if an arrangement could be made, it could get everyone off the hook, including Churchill, the subject of daily press revelations. The latest controversy is whether an artwork by Churchill titled “Winter Attack” was copied from a 1972 piece by Thomas Mails, “The Mystic Warriors of the Plains.”
The Rocky Mountain News depicts the CU administration as practically paralyzed with fear at the possible retaliation Churchill could visit on them should they attempt to chastise him.

Wretchard then warns:

This fear, whether real or pretended, is an impressive demonstration of the power of Political Correctness, a compound of legal menace, the threat of extralegal action and of retaliatory vilification that is not some figure of speech but an actual, material force. Even if Churchill is 'bought out' at $10 million — should he stoop to accept such a beggarly sum — he will have unambiguously demonstrated the value of leftist protection. That he could have survived repeated exposure as an ethnic identity thief, academic fraud and art forger; that he could have assaulted a newsman on television and withstood the personal opprobrium of the Colorado Governor, only to receive a fortune in compensation, can only add to his fame.

Our tax dollars at work. CU needs to get this guy out and not reward his lies.

Posted by DaveH at 05:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wal-Mart and local economies

Professor Steven Bainbridge has written before about the economic impact that Wal-Mart has on a community. Today, he writes:

More on Wal-Mart: Employee Involvement
My post on the conservative case against Wal-Mart generated a lot of email and blog responses, several of which I plan to discuss in the next couple of days. One of the most interesting came from Max Sawicky, who makes a number of good points. I want to particularly note his invocation of employee involvement in corporate decision making:
The most interesting point in the post goes to the democratic implications of easy entry of markets by small, entrepreneurial firms. Such entry is thwarted by the dominance of Walmart-scale retail firms. The left can be a bit scrambled on this count. The left has a thing about business, while the right has a thing about labor. The left can talk about the merits of industrial democracy — workers having more say in how their workplaces are run, the merits of flexible assignment of tasks in a workplace, flexible arrangements in work schedules, and representation on boards of directors. These are all of course privileges of working for yourself, the logical escape from wage slavery.
Max thus seemingly raises the interesting question of whether industrial democracy is a substitute good for individual ownership of a small business. I would argue that it is not - or, perhaps more precisely, that it in practice employee involvement has not proven to be a useful substitute for ownership of one's own business.

Professor Bainbridge then talks about Employee Involvement and how it doesn't really change anything. In his opinion:

In other words, I view employee involvement - at least as actually used in US corporations - as not an escape from what Max calls “wage slavery,” but rather a top-down phenomenon intended to redress certain problems associated with the growth of bureaucratic hierarchies within US corporations. In my article Employee Involvement in Workplace Governance Post-Collective Bargaining, I elaborated the analysis, using transactional economics to argue that employees are better served by traditional collective bargaining than by the various forms of industrial democracy. Finally, in my article Corporate Decisionmaking and the Moral Rights of Employees: Participatory Management and Natural Law, I rejected arguments that employees have a moral right to participate in corporate decision making (as contrasted to a moral right to act collectively through unions).

I had previously written about Wal-Mart here, here, here, here and here

Posted by DaveH at 05:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A message to the left

Dr. Demarche at The Daily Demarche writes about the left and what seems to be missing from their politics and views:

If you are not part of the solution…
The anti-war left of the 1960s produced the ubiquitous phrase from which today's title is drawn, and made very effective use of it. It seems, however, that many of the current liberal elite have no desire to look in the mirror and ask what, exactly, they are doing to make the world a better, safer, place. The constant anti-Bush rhetoric and America blaming by the likes of Noam Chomsky produces great sound-bites and catch phrases, but as far as I can tell offers little in the way of useful problem solving. They want America out of Iraq, NOW! OK. Then what? I keep expecting someone, anyone, on the left to make a well reasoned, thoughtful suggestion. I am repeatedly disappointed.

To this end I try to keep up with the writings of the faithful opposition, which lead me to Common Dreams today, a site which bills itself as “Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.” I found a piece there by Juan Cole (professor of modern Middle Eastern and North African studies at the University of Michigan) that was originally published in the L.A. Times, titled “The Downside of Democracy: What if the U.S. doesn't like what the voters like in the Mideast and beyond?” An excellent question, one with which I have struggled myself. The Iraqis could very well elect a mullahcrocy, if not now then in the near future. As Mr. Cole asks:

…What if the newly elected regimes are friendly to states and groups that Washington considers enemies? What if the spread of democracy through the region empowers elements that don't share American values and goals?
As I read the beginning of this article I thought that today was the day, at last, where I would find what I have long yearned for- a legitimate contribution from the left, no whining, no brow-beating, but a useful piece of thinking that might help America, Iraq and our allies move forward. Of course, I was let down once again. Mr. Cole abandoned his opportunity to be part of the solution with the rest of the article between that beginning and the conclusion:

Excellent writing — people sometimes need to step back and think things through. The left seems to favor quick sound-bites these days. Knee-jerk talking points that people can react to but that do not hold up to a studied observation. OK — War is bad. Well then, what is the alternative when you have people like Saddam and his sons in power.
(Hint: Diplomacy never has worked, doesn't work and will not work)

Posted by DaveH at 04:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Things to do while your cow-orker is on vacation

From Physics Geek

vacation-01.jpg

vacation-02.jpg

vacation-03.jpg

vacation-04.jpg

I shrunk these pictures a bit to help download speeds — visit The Physics Geek for the full-sized originals.

Posted by DaveH at 03:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A summer vacation

Sounds like fun - from the Guardian:

Underwater bike ride to launch students' eight-week crime spree
As US coast-to-coast crimewaves go, it is not in the league of Bonnie and Clyde. It lacks both violence and avarice and is further hindered by an overabundance of pre-publicity. Undeterred, a couple of students from Cornwall are intent on making American criminal history by spending their summer breaking as many US laws as possible.

Starting in the liberal state of California, they hope to evade the attention of local police officers when they ride a bike in a swimming pool and curse on a crazy-golf course.

In the far more conservative - and landlocked - state of Utah, they will risk the penitentiary when they hire a boat and attempt to go whale-hunting.

If they manage to outwit state troopers in Utah, and perhaps federal agents on their trail, they will be able to take a deserved, but nevertheless illegal, rest when they have a nap in a cheese factory in South Dakota.

“There are thousands of stupid laws in the United States, but we are limiting ourselves to breaking about 45 of them,” said Richard Smith, from Portreath, Cornwall.

That would be a fun journey to tag along and film…

They got the inspiration from this website: Dumb Laws

Hat tip to BoingBoing

Posted by DaveH at 02:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2005

A discussion on Compiling

There was a brief entry at Slashdot about Optimizing Compilers:

I have been coding in C for a while (10 yrs or so) and tend to use short code snippets. As a simple example, take 'if (!ptr)' instead of 'if (ptr==NULL)'. The reason someone might use the former code snippet is because they believe it would result in smaller machine code if the compiler does not do optimizations or is not smart enough to optimize the particular code snippet. IMHO the latter code snippet is clearer than the former, and I would use it in my code if I know for sure that the compiler will optimize it and produce machine code equivalent to the former code snippet. The previous example was easy. What about code that is more complex? Now that compilers have matured over years and have had many improvements, I ask the Slashdot crowd, what they believe the compiler can be trusted to optimize and what must be hand optimized?

The comments to this are flowing fast and thick and wonderful.

I can bash out C if needed but I know that I am not a good programmer.
I have had the wonderful pleasure to know some great programmers and I stand totally in awe of them. (They have shown respect for my hardware mojo so this is not entirely a one-sided relationship…)

That said; a good program can be “read” and the question being talked about is what target audience do you write for: the person who will have to maintain your code after you are no longer with responsible for it or the compiler that will take your code and turn it into the Application that your employer sells to its customers.
Do you write for slower user performance and greater maintainability or…

Posted by DaveH at 11:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

He died in front of a typewriter with a blank piece of paper in it.

Steve at Hog On Ice has written the perfect Hunter S. Thompson obituary.

A few sample paragraphs — I am cherry picking — read the entire thing if you are interested, it is good!

First quote is from Anita Thompson, 35 years younger than HST, the rest is from Steve:

She also said, “This is a triumph of his, not a desperate, tragic failure.”

Lady, trust me, “desperate, tragic failure” is EXACTLY what this was. People with satisfying lives don't shoot themselves in the mouth.

Why is it that when a foolish person with rabid fans dies in a foolish, disgraceful way, the fans try to turn it into some sort of triumph?

Fat women in stretch pants say, “God needed a new tenor in the heavenly choir, so he called Elvis home.” Elvis was grotesquely obese and full of drugs when he rolled off the toilet and died naked on the bathroom floor without getting a chance to wipe himself. And his tongue was bitten nearly through. And he died from straining because he was constipated. I doubt God was involved in that.

Steve closes with these comments:

In the liberal world, up is down and left is right. Dope is good; the Bible is bad. VD sufferers are heroes; soldiers are baby-killers. And now suicide is a personal victory, to be celebrated with glasses of Chivas while blood is still clotting on the ceiling above you. If winners kill themselves, I am content to be a failure.

Read the entire thing here

Posted by DaveH at 11:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Giving candy to liberals...

Hat tip to BoingBoing on this one:

The company that makes Gummi candy was planning to come out with a new line:

gummi-roadkill.jpg

Trolli Road Kill Gummi Candy

But… Like frikin' rain on a parade, the “sensitive people” have to engage in collective nanny-ism and consider the feelings of these poor candy animals:

Kraft Draws Ire for Road Kill Candy
Animal rights activists are disgusted by a new candy from Kraft Foods Inc. that's shaped like critters run over by cars — complete with tire treads. The fruity-flavored Trolli Road Kill Gummi Candy — in shapes of partly flattened snakes, chickens and squirrels — fosters cruelty toward animals, according to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Oooooo - Ire — real unbridled Ire walks the streets at night, petitions are being circulated, focus groups are convening, meetings are being held, people are talking to their therapists, the left spins itself into further irrelevancy.

C'mon people — it's C A N D Y

Get over yourselves…

Posted by DaveH at 11:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Network fun and games

This household was off-line for a few hours today because our ISP Starband Systems needed to switch us from one Satellite to another. They had “oversubscribed” the first bird and people were complaining about sluggish traffic so they bought space on another.

This was a planned outage and I am very happy with their service especially that of their local installer Saberis Satellite. David also handles several other satellite services including DishNetwork. If you live in the Northwest Washington and are thinking about satellite Internet or Television, give them a call at 360-303-0174 or visit their website for email info.

An unsolicited plug for some very good people…

Posted by DaveH at 10:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2005

A portable, battery operated and hand-held X-Ray unit

Very cool!

From the always excellent Medgadget website comes news of this cool device — definitely not vaporware, it's being used to identify Thai tsunami bodies.

nomad_xray.jpg

Nomad hand-held X-ray Unlike other “portable” x-ray instruments, the battery powered NOMAD offers true portability with cordless operation and freedom from line voltage fluctuation. More than 100 exposures on one battery charge. Optimal for remote use and confined spaces as well as operatory functions. The external backscatter shield and internal radiation shielding protect the operator from radiation exposure.

The company is here: ARIBA X-ray

You still need to deal with film and developing but the days of having an X-Ray suite in the office is drawing to a close. This would be awesome for trauma work as well — they have solid-state “digital X-Ray film” that works really well so one of these puppies with that and a laptop and you are all set.

I would imagine that there is a limit to the penetration — running on batteries doesn't allow for a lot of beam current but for basic work, this would be perfect and remember, this is version 1.0. The battery compartment looks like something from my DeWalt 18 volt rechargeable drill — good beefy technology but not the most advanced.

Posted by DaveH at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2005

Ward Churchill finally comes clean

I had written about Ward Churchill before here, here and here.

He finally came clean in a speech in Hawai'i — Charles at LGF reports:

In his appearance at the University of Hawaii, Colorado University professor Ward “Little Eichmanns” Churchill admitted he is not a native American: Churchill attacks essay’s critics.
Churchill did address the issue of his ethnicity, admitting that he is not Native American.

“Is he an Indian? Do we really care?” he said, quoting those he called his “white Republican” critics.

“Let’s cut to the chase; I am not,” he said.

His pedigree is “not important,” Churchill said: “The issue is the substance of what is said.”

He went on to explain that the issue of whether he is Native American has been blown up by sloppy reporting and reporters quoting other reporters.

UPDATE at 2/23/05 4:54:56 pm:

Churchill has been lying about his ancestry for years.

And he has tenure?
He is director of Indian Studies at Colorado State University?
And Academia is relevant?

Steve H. at Hog on Ice has some more to say and a nice image:

Big Chief Buffalo Nickel Drops Dime on Self
Oh, Ward. What Will we Tell the Beaver?

Yes, Ward Churchill just admitted he's not even part Indian. I don't actually have much to say about it. I just wanted an excuse to use the title “Big Chief Buffalo Nickel Drops Dime on Self.”

wardchurchillfakeindiankit.jpg
“Fire me, and I'll Sioux!”

Ward made his admission before a high-suction, low-sales-resistance crowd of apparent cretins at the University of Hawaii. According to a Honolulu Star-Bulletin account, a student named Kirsten Chong said “that because she is native Hawaiian, she agrees with much of what he said.” Do they sell iodized salt in Hawaii?

A Chinese girl who claims to be a native Hawaiian says she can relate to a white man who lied about being an Indian. I guess I see the logic.

She also says her dimwit professors forced her to go see Ward's speech. Well, when I was a kid, a fat Sixties holdout named Jim Thomas made me and the rest of his history students subscribe to Time and watch 60 Minutes, so I guess academics haven't changed much.

Remember when “education” meant the search for truth? No, neither do I. Stupid question.
Posted by DaveH at 11:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dealing with Credit Card Companies

Found this one via a link at Gut Rumbles as well.

What to do when you are maxed out on a high-interest Credit Card:

Credit Card Rape
No longer enjoying the double digit screw courtesy my credit card company, I decided shave a little interest rate girth today.

If you are likewise suffering, here is your way out:

Call the 1-800 numbah on your bill. Punch in the necessary coded array of buttons that gets you to a live person, then say this: “Hi I need to speak with an account supervisor to discuss closing my account.”

No, you can't pay off your card. Yes, this is a bluff. The people who answer the phone cannot authorize an interest rate reduction, and they will only hand you over to a supervisor if you threaten to close your account.

Supervisor gets on the phone, and after giving your name and account number, you will embellish the bluff, “Yes, I need to get a ten day payoff amount and close my account. I'll be switching to a card with a lower, fixed rate.”

This is when they get friendly.

Read the rest — Key then outlines how she got lowered from 27.9% APR to 7.996% Fixed. Nice to know if you are in that position…

Posted by DaveH at 11:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On the Human Condition

Shocking fact — 50% of people are below average.

Rob at Gut Rumbles lays down a fine rant on this little known fact:

stupid people do stupid things
I'm going to call that Acidman's First Rule For Smelling the Coffee. Face it—- we have a lot of downright, purely STUPID people in this world. You can love your fellow man and call him your brother all you want to, but don't deny the fact that a lot of them are STUPID. Because they ARE.

Just ride with me down highway 21 from Garden City to Rincon, Georgia. I GUARANTEE YOU that we'll see at least a dozen stupid people doing stupid things on that 10-mile trip. Asshole with cell phone pressed to his ear as he zig-zags all over the road. Too busy to STOP and make that call, but too stupid to get off the road before he kills somebody.

Little old lady driving a 10,000 pound road-boat in the left lane at 35 MPH while traffic is whizzing by at 70 MPH. She also has her right-turn signal blinking the entire time.

The scraggly-bearded young skank who thinks he's in a NASCAR race as he whips in and out of both lanes, damn near scraping paint with every move, tailgating from 2” behind and either accellerating madly or riding his brakes as he risks his life and everybody else's on the road to get to Rincon 30 seconds ahead of us, if he isn't killed first.

The dipstick moonbat who pulls out in front of you going 10 MPH when you had NO TRAFFIC behind you, and the bastard takes a mile to work his way up to that terrifying speed of 40 MPH, at which time he moves over to the left lane just because he likes it there.

Dang — it's that widespread. I ran some errands into town last Tuesday and saw about half of the ones on his list.

Posted by DaveH at 11:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Price of Gas -- a different look

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution looks at Gas prices in different countries:

Gas prices around the world
The price of gas varies around the world, due to the vagaries of exchange rates but mostly because of taxes and subsidies. Assuming your car gets 35 miles per gallon, here is how far $20 of gas will take you in various countries around the world:
  • Germany: 127 miles
  • Japan: 147 miles
  • United States: 342 miles
  • China: 385 miles
  • Saudi Arabia: 771 miles
  • Venezuela: 4,624 miles
The data are from Foreign Policy, March/April 2005, p.18. Here is a related data set.

Fascinating… According to that second data set, the UK has it the worst with prices over $5USD per gallon. OUCH! They have a lot of off-shore oil deposits, why is the price so high? Environmental taxes? And what are these doing to directly benefit the UK Citizen…

Posted by DaveH at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

French teachers singing the blues...

Interesting article over at Pave France about the decline of French speaking in other countries:

From Damian:

What results when a language is made into a museum piece and is imbued with snobbism? Hhmmm. A language of limited utility and no broad appeal.

Damian then quotes from this article: WHY FRENCH TEACHERS HAVE THE BLUES

A teacher from Portugal, Teresa Santos, said in her country 70 percent of Portuguese students preferred to take English courses, compared to just 10 percent for French.

“English is magnifique!” a teacher of Ancient Greek at the Aristotle University in Thessalonika, Thalia Stephanidou, said. “Even in poorer neighbourhoods, that language - which replaced French right after the second world war - is taught, even to old people,” she said.

Even in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, English has crowded French out of the classroom, despite French being one of the country's official languages.

In Russia, where speaking French was once a prized talent among the tsars, French is trailing “far behind English” in Moscow and Saint Petersburg schools, Mascha Sveshnikova, of the Russian Cultural Centre, said.

It must suck to be so irelavent…

Posted by DaveH at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

Online Calvin and Hobbes

Don't know if this is an homage or legitimate and how long it will be up but, here is a collection of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons from 1985 through 1995.

Wonderful stuff.

The first:

ch851118.gif

Click for full-size Image

The Last:

ch951231.gif

Click for full-size Image

Gone but definitely not forgotten — they are missed.

Posted by DaveH at 09:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Busy today

Working on the farm and dinner with my parents who are visiting.

I'll post later tonight.

Posted by DaveH at 04:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

A meat-free diet and kids

Richard Bennett at Mossback Culture links to an interesting item in The Independent regarding parents who subject their young children to the same dietary frivolities they enjoy:

From Richard:

Mentally-impaired children
If you want your children to be impaired, feed them a strict vegetarian diet.

From The Independent:

Children on meat-free diets 'suffer impaired growth'
Strict vegetarians who insist their children live by the same principles were criticized today by a leading nutrition expert.

Denying growing children animal products in their diet during the critical first few years of life was “unethical” and could do permanent damage, said Professor Lindsay Allen, from the University of California at Davis.

She conducted a study which showed that adding just two spoonfuls of meat to the diet of poverty-stricken children in Africa transformed them both physically and mentally.

Over a period of two years the children almost doubled their muscle development, and showed dramatic improvements in mental skills. They also became more active, talkative and playful at school.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC, Prof Allen said: “Animal source foods have some nutrients which are not found anywhere else. If you're talking about feeding young children and pregnant women and lactating women I would go as far as to say it is unethical to withhold these foods during that period of life.

“There's a lot of empirical research that will show the very adverse effects on child development of doing that.”

She was especially critical of parents who imposed a vegan lifestyle on their children which denied them milk, cheese and butter as well as meat.

“There's absolutely no question that it's unethical for parents to bring up their children as strict vegans,” she said.

The Human Animal is an Omnivore — we are not Carnivores or Ruminants or Herbivores, we are Omnivores. (Omni = All / vore = eat (think: Voracious appetite))

I was Vegan for a while but fell out of it because I was catching every cold that came along and never felt energetic or happy. And I was careful to take vitamin suppliments…

To force this on a kid is inhumane and classic Hubris - I wrote about this here and here before.

Posted by DaveH at 11:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

From 1898 - A safe and non-addictive substitute for morphine

As marketed by Bayer. I had forgotten about this — heard it about ten years ago but it slipped my mind until Michael King at Ramblings' Journal wrote about it.

From Mike:

1898: Bayer mass markets heroin as cough suppressant
Stranger and stranger these things might be.

Bayer trademarked “heroin” in 1898 as a non-addictive substitute for morphine, and marketed it alongside it's other trademarked product, “aspirin,” as a remedy to be used in the home by consumers. Heroin was actually accepted as a safe remedy for children as a cough suppressant.

Bayer quit making heroin (as you can imagine, in a very pure form for public consumption) in 1910, after they determined the addictive properties of the narcotic were more than they had originally determined.

The US government outlawed the production of heroin in 1924.

Here are a couple of pictures:

BayerHeroin-01.png
BayerHeroin-02.jpg

Searching Google for Bayer Heroin turns up 35,000 hits.

I read a 1993 book called The Aspirin Wars which chronicled Bayer's loss of the Aspirin Monopoly during the two World Wars.

One of the things they tried to do was to promote Aspirin as a real medicine and not a “patent” medicine — they went to great lengths to distance themselves from these. Funny to see that they were doing the very same thing by selling a powerful opiate as a non-addictive alternative to Morphene… All the same poppy juice…

Posted by DaveH at 10:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Quick heads up on Comments -- part deux redux

Now featuring not ONE PEBKAC error but TWO!!!

TWO for the PRICE OF ONE!!!

What other BLOG would give you TWO PEBKAC ERRORS for the price of ONE

Unnnhhh — the comment system is fixed.

Posted by DaveH at 09:40 PM | Comments (2)

February 21, 2005

Quick heads up on Comments -- part deux

re: our previous entry; the comments should be fixed and working OK now.

It was a PEBKAC error…

Posted by DaveH at 09:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Quick heads up on Comments

Some people have been having problems posting legitimate comments.

I found the problem and it should be fixed by this evening.

Thanks for your patience.
Dave

Posted by DaveH at 05:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bounty Hunter gets busted

Interesting short news item from San Antonio KSAT.COM:

Officials: Texas Man Seeking Bin Laden Bounty Arrested
Authorities say a Texas man told agents at Detroit Metropolitan Airport he was headed to Syria to try to claim the $25 million bounty on Osama bin Laden.

Matt Mihsen of Fort Worth was arrested on charges of making false statements to federal investigators.

A federal complaint said he boarded a Northwest Airlines flight Tuesday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, headed to the Netherlands and Syria by way of Detroit.

Customs agents at the Detroit airport questioned the naturalized U.S. citizen from Syria. The Detroit Free Press reports they agents found almost $14,000 in cash in Mihsen's luggage — along with a stun gun, 40 rounds of ammunition, pepper spray, a bulletproof vest and three Geiger counters.

He's charged with making false statements to federal investigators and trying to smuggle bulk cash out of the country. He's also charged with trying to export money and goods to Syria in violation of a presidential executive order. That's punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

I can see stopping him and letting him fly home but to claim that he was going over there to fund terror just does not read correctly. Matt is probably more of a true patriot than any of Minetta's Morons at the airport. Security indeed…

Posted by DaveH at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 20, 2005

The Main Stream Media and Oiiilllllll

When The Diplomad shut their doors, one of the two sites they suggested we follow was this one: New Sisyphus (the other was The Daily Demarche)

Not a bad call at all — today, New Sisyphus treats us with a wonderful long post about the Main Stream Media and their treatment of several topics. It is a long post so I am only going to post a short excerpt or two — go there and read the whole thing, you will not be dissapointed…

The Sickness of the MSM: It's All About the Oiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllll! President Bush is thought to have ordered the invasion and occupation of Iraq in order to secure control of that country's vast oil fields for his friends and contributors in the oil industry, especially Vice President Cheney's former company Halliburton. This is taken as an article of faith among many, especially for many in our universities, our cultural industries, and in our press. Hundreds, if not thousands, of essays, articles and reports have been circulated in the past 3 years about the motivations of President Bush when it comes to Iraq. Typical examples of the genre can be found daily at The New York Times, Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times, but the real genesis of such reports can be found in the left-wing of the Blogosphere and, significantly, in the reports of the “human rights” or “peace and justice” NGOs. (NGOs as a rule seem blissfully, and wonderingly, unaware of the damage to those sound concepts they do when they advance a partisan political position under their banners.)

New Sisyphus cites some examples of this reporting and remarks:

Except on the lunatic Chomsky-Cockburn-Nader fringe, such reports are always careful to harp only on the “appearance” of ethical impropriety and conflicts of interest mostly because hard evidence has been much harder to come by. It appears obvious to most Americans that the mere fact that both the President and the Vice President were active in private business in the energy sector cannot, by itself, cause the executive to take a pass and recuse itself from foreign policy decisions touching upon oil. The Presidency is not a District Court judgeship; he was elected to take those decisions, with the full knowledge of the American people that Bush was, and to a certain extent remains, an oil man.

But this theme, this meme, was picked up by the opposition, both domestically and in other countries, and, since it was an objective fact that many had these concerns, the MSM picked them up and amplified them. It no longer was sufficient to prove such improprieties or conflicts of interest, the story was that millions believed they existed. The result has been, for just about every day since Iraq became an issue, a relentless pounding of the President and Vice President, not on the basis of fact, but on the basis of allegation and innuendo.

After all, it’s news when the NGOs and foreign political parties think that the war is an oil grab; it’s news when thousands shout “No Blood for Oil!,” it’s news when a new report from the Soros group of NGOs charge shoddy contracting practices with regard to Halliburton, it’s news when the Pentagon finds over-charging in Halliburton contracts.

So, no problem, right? No bias here. Nothing to see here. Please move along.

There is a lot more to read — links to sources, quotes and other damnable FACTS.

We just hatesssses these factssesss
(sorry — channeling an earlier incarnation)

Posted by DaveH at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The software I use on this site and the people who wrote it.

I use Moveable Type which is written by a company called Six Apart.

CNN has done a very nice article on Ben and Mena — the two people who started Six Apart:

The darlings of the blogosphere Husband-and-wife team build a startup into a trailblazer

Like so many other 20-somethings hoping to mine the Internet gold rush of the late 1990s, Mena Trott was thrown for a humbling loop by the dot-com bust, yet still craved stardom. Her unassuming husband, Ben, just wanted another computer programming gig in Silicon Valley's depressed job market.

The couple's odd chemistry cooked up Six Apart Ltd., a startup that has helped popularize the “blogging” craze, with millions of people worldwide maintaining online personal journals that dissect everything from politics to poultry.

The Trotts, both 27, have amplified the buzz about Web logs, or blogs, by making them easier to set up and write.

San Francisco-based Six Apart provides two widely used blogging tools — a software publishing program, Movable Type, and a hosted service, TypePad, for people who don't want to do the technological grunt work themselves.
ben-and-mena.jpg
Ben and Mena Trott were born six days apart in 1977 — hence their company name, Six Apart.

If you are looking to start a Blog, you cannot do wrong by using these products. Lots of third-party support. They keep the code open so you can write you own code or modify theirs.

They have a free (no tech support) option (One Author with Three Blogs)
Non-commercial licenses (with tech support) start at $70 for Five Authors and Unlimited Blogs.
If you bought into an earlier version, they credit that purchase.
Tech support is very very good…

Hat tip to J Bowen at No Watermellons

Posted by DaveH at 10:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Strangeness in Salem

The Oregon State Hospital, an Asylum for the Insane, (a “State Run Psychiatric Facility” in today's language) in Salem, Oregon had a disused building that was being cleaned out. The workers discovered human remains. Cremains actually, 5,000 cans filled with the cremated remains of past patients. The facility opened in 1883 so it has quite a history.

oregon-state-cremains.jpg
Glenn Peterson, assistant director of support services at the Oregon State Hospital, says that the more than 4,000 cans of cremated remains from previous patients date back as far as 1883.

More on the story here: Statesman Journal and The Oregonian (which writes about current problems too.)

Hat tip to BoingBoing

Posted by DaveH at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Novell/SuSE Linux gets EAL4 Certification

Very cool - from Slashdot comes this story:

Following in the wake of its previous certifications, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 has achieved EAL4 certification on 'an IBM eServer.' This puts SLES9 in the same league as Windows 2000 for sales in the government sector and is the first Linux distro to achieve an EAL4 certification.”

Read the comments at Slashdot for a bit more depth to the issue — Red Hat also has this certification and there are a couple other hoops to jump through before it can be used by the Department of Defense and a few other Federal agencies but still, this is an excellent start!

I had looked at several distributions of Linux and was running Mandrake for a long long time because I liked their tools and the overall feel of the package fit me better than Red Hat or SuSE. There are some other distributions out there too — Gentoo, BSD, didn't like them that much — to be honest, I like a bit of hand-holding while setting up applications.

Novell purchased SuSE a few years ago and have been dumping money into their R&D so this is now the Linux distribution of choice for me. A very sweet product. Nice to see them get the certification.

A note: It is interesting that MSFT Windows 2000 has the certification but not Windows XP. I still think that Windows 2000 is the best OS that MSFT have come out with so far — we use it on all of our systems here.

Posted by DaveH at 09:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crap - Hunter S. Thompson dead by his own hand

I didn't always agree with his political views but that man could write.

From the Denver Post

Hunter Thompson commits suicide
“Fear and Loathing” author dead at 67

Hunter S. Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Woody Creek on Sunday night. He was 67.

Regarded as one of the most legendary writers of the 20th century, Thompson is best known for the 1972 classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” He is also credited with pioneering gonzo journalism - a style of writing that breaks tradition rules of news reporting and is purposefully slanted.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, who is a close personal friend of Thompson, confirmed the death. His son, Juan, found him Sunday evening.

His buddy Spalding Gray killed himself last March. Obituary here, article on his disappearance here.

Both men are missed — both intelligent prolific writers and people who gave themselves to their public…

Mike King at Ramblings Journal is carrying the news as well.
A very belated and apologetic Hat Tip to him — I read about this first there and was swept up in finding other references that I forgot to credit him the first time around.

Posted by DaveH at 08:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cajun Martial Arts

Great post at Mostly Cajun regarding the various countries-of-origin of martial arts and their effectiveness:

One day Boudreaux, him, he was sittin in his coffee shop, drinkin a pop, wen dis grate big fella come in and knocks him off da stool.

The big fella say, “Dat was a karate chop frum Korea.”

Boudreaux, him, he don’t say nuttin, he jus get back on his stool an take anudder drink frum his pop.

WHAM!, da big fella knock Boudreaux down agin an say, “Dat was a judo chop frum Japan.”

Boudreaux still don’t say nuttin, he jus get up an walk out of dat coffee shop. Bout a hour later, Boudreaux come back in an witout sayin nuttin, he walk up to dat big fella an WHACK! he knock dat big fella off his stool an knock him out cold. Den Boudreaux tell da manager,

“Mais, wen he wake tell him dat was a crowbar from da Thibodeaux’s Hardware.”

Heh…

Posted by DaveH at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Someone's phone got hacked...

According to Drudge Report:

PARIS HILTON PHONE HACKED; PRIVATE NUMBERS OF STARS FLOOD INTERNET
Sun Feb 20 2005 09:39:20 ET

Private telephone numbers of celebrities have been unleashed on the Internet after an apparent hacking into Paris Hilton's T-MOBILE SIDEKICK Address Book, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The FBI has opened an investigation into the hack, a government source said.

The DRUDGE REPORT has confirmed the authenticity of many of the unlisted and super-secret numbers: Private phone numbers and email addresses of Eminem, Lindsay Lohan, Christina Aguilera, Andy Roddick, Ashlee Simpson, Victoria Gotti, Vin Diesel, Anna Kournikova and many others!

One top star reached Sunday morning expressed total outrage at Paris.

Whoops.

Posted by DaveH at 07:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Apple Product Cycle

This is hilarious but so sooo true… The Apple Product Cycle
  • An obscure component manufacturer somewhere in the Pacific Rim announces a major order for some bleeding-edge piece of technology that could conceivably become part of an expensive, digital-lifestyle-enhancing nerd toy.
  • Some hardware geek, the sort who actually reads press releases from obscure Pacific Rim component manufacturers, posts a link to the press release in a Mac Internet forum.
  • The Mac rumor sites spring into action. Liberally quoting “reliable” sources inside Cupertino, irrelevant “experts,” and each other, they quickly transform baseless speculation into widely accepted fact.
  • Eager Mac-heads fan the flames by flooding the Mac discussion forums with more groundless conjecture. Threads pop up around feature wish lists, favorite colors, and likely retail price points. In a matter of days, a third-hand, unsubstantiated rumor blossoms into a hand-held device that can do everything except find a girlfriend for a fat, smelly nerd.
  • Apple issues it customary “we don’t comment on possible future products” statement in response to inquiries about the hypothetical new product. Mac fanatics are convinced that they're onto something.
  • The haters enter the fray to introduce fear, uncertainty and doubt. How expensive will the product be? Will it support Windows file formats? Will it work with my ten-year-old Quadra 840AV running Mac OS 8.1?
  • As Macworld or the Worldwide Developer’s Conference draws near, the chatter builds to a fever pitch. Rumor sites jockey for position, posting a new unverifiable, contradictory rumor every hour or so. eBay is flooded with six-month-old, slightly used gadgets as college students, underemployed web designers and independent musicians struggle to clear credit card space.

There is more at the website complete with pictures.
Great stuff and so true… The do self-parody themselves sometimes.

Posted by DaveH at 07:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A quick word on comments and trackbacks

There is a push from spammers to use Comments and Trackback Pings to get publicity for their PPC businesses. (Pills, Porn, Casino)

The more web pages that reference a specific URL, the higher it will be displayed when searching for Te#as H*ldem P@ker on Google or Yahoo.

There have been a few fairly successful techniques for dealing with this but this new version of MovableType — and action from Google — nips it in the bud entirely.

When you post a comment here, it will not appear until I verify it.
It will not be trackable by Google, it will not be visible to any search engine until I say that it is OK. This is a bit more work for me but the administrators panel for this is very nicely designed and with the ones I have gotten so far, it is a matter of a few mouseclicks to dump them into the bitbucket like the trash they are.

The only thing the end user needs to know is that if you post a comment, it will not appear until I verify it. It did get into the system, you just can't see it until I say so.

Posted by DaveH at 07:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No posting this afternoon

It is a gorgeous day today so Jen and I are going hiking with two of our friends.

I'll post some this evening.

Posted by DaveH at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2005

On being a south-paw

The Misanthropyst links to a disparaging article at ABC news regarding people who favour their left hand:

My wife is left-handed, and she is a 'tard. But then, they all are:
“It's not easy being a lefty. Statistics show left-handed people are more likely to be schizophrenic, alcoholic, delinquent, dyslexic, and have Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as mental disabilities. They're also more likely to die young and get into accidents. So if evolutionary theory dictates survival of the fittest, why do lefties still exist?…”
…yes, why do they? The dummies…

Ummm… 'Scuse me?
(take some deep breaths and try to relax here Dave — you know that getting excited exacerbates your schizophrenia, alcoholism, lesdyxia and Crohn's… —ed.)
OK — let's visit the source — excerpting from the ABC News article:

Researchers in France recently took an interest in the disproportionately high number of left-handed athletes who thrive in sports involving direct one-on-one contact, such as baseball (think Babe Ruth), tennis (think John McEnroe) and boxing (think Oscar de la Hoya or the fictional Rocky Balboa). Charlotte Faurie and Michel Raymond of the University of Montpellier in France figured the same reason so many left-handed people are successful in such sports could also explain a possible higher success rate among lefties in primitive combat.

Cool - the researchers are French — that explains a lot. Here is one aspect of their research:

For example, when they singled out the Dioula of Burkina Faso in West Africa, where the murder rate was only 0.013 murders per 1,000 residents each year, they found only 3.4 percent of the population were left-handers. Data from the Eipo of Indonesia, meanwhile, where there are three murders per 1,000 people each year, show 27 percent of the population is left-handed.

OK — What is the population density? poverty levels? I would bet that in the Savannah grassland culture of Africa things are a lot more mellow than in Indonesia. And why did they cherry-pick these two specific cultures?

Finally, on page three of the article, a researcher from the U.S.A. gives some data that seems to differ from the French researchers mind-set:

Then again, as many lefties might point out, being left-handed can also offer intellectual prowess. Tests conducted by Alan Searleman from St Lawrence University in New York found there were more left-handed people with IQs over 140 than right-handed people. Famous left-handed thinkers in history from Albert Einstein to Isaac Newton to Benjamin Franklin seem to underline the point.

Indeed…

Posted by DaveH at 09:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Life in a hospital

From Dean Esmay comes this link to a post at Random Fate about a California woman who entered the hospital a year ago and is still there — she refuses to leave.

Something to think about… …as the Baby Boomers age:
Woman refuses to leave the hospital 82-year-old was discharged a year ago, officials say
More than a year after Sarah Nome was deemed healthy and given her discharge papers, the 82-year-old woman stubbornly refuses to leave her hospital bed.

And of course, there is the back-story:

“The thing is, I have no medical problem. I've been here more than a year, never had any medication, never had any treatment, never had a fever, have a perfect heart, blood pressure is like a teenager,” Nome said in a telephone interview from the hospital north of San Francisco. “It isn't that I'm not ready to go. I just have nowhere to go.”

Nome's troubles began, her daughter Jane Sands says, in 2002 when she broke both her legs while living alone. After several operations, Nome could no longer care for herself and was admitted to the first of several nursing homes.

The most recent one, Nome claims, sent her to the hospital against her will. Hospital officials say she was admitted for a weeklong psychiatric evaluation, was deemed to be in good mental health, was then ordered released.

But because she is suing the nursing homes where she lived before she was hospitalized, Nome and her daughter claim she has no choice but to stay put. Nome is suing the last home she lived in, Greenbrae Care Center, for sending her to the hospital.

One of the comments posted on Dean Esmay's board said that there might be cause to set up some care facilities in countries like Costa Rica or Mexico where the dollar goes a lot further. That does not sound like a bad idea. Dr. Arthur C. Clarke retired to Sri Lanka. With the internet, you are not removed from civilization as you would have been twenty years ago. Rob at Gut Rumbles reports that the Costa Rican people are friendly. Very very friendly…

Posted by DaveH at 09:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Schools and Parenting

Where to draw the line… From Zero Intelligence:

>School suspends 14 over explicit rap CD
14 students at Johnston High School made a rap CD. The lyrics were typical of modern gangsta rap and included topics like binge drinking, drug use and sex. Although they did this on their own and used no school resources the school has decided it has governing power over their private lives and has suspended all of them.
>[Johnston Public] Schools Supt. Margaret Iacovelli said a four-day investigation into who made the CD ended yesterday, when the students involved were given five-day suspensions, and ordered to perform 10 hours of community service and receive some in-school sensitivity training.
“We had to address the disruption at the school that the CD caused,” Iacovelli said. “We looked at it in a different light because it also disrupted the community. So we gave them 10 hours of community service to help repair that damage.”
Iacovelli apparently believes she is in charge of community health as well.
Iacovelli said the lack of respect toward women was a major reason for the administration to push the students into sensitivity training.
“In light of the CD, I think the kids need some additional education to be more tolerant,” Iacovelli said. “I think this really brings to light that parents are always telling their kids to turn the music down — maybe they need to listen to the lyrics.”
In other words she will decide what mores and attitudes the students have and what their actions and activities will be inside and outside of school. Legality and parental rights be damned.

Jeezzz - this particular school administrator is taking over the role of the parents. How did they get hired and what are the parents thinking. The kids did this on their own time and without use of school resources so why should the school step in like this…

Posted by DaveH at 09:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Iwo Jima -- 60 years ago

A wonderful set of photographs of the battle for Iwo Jima and the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. The Marines landed Feb. 19 making today the anniversary of the beginning of this major turning point in World War Two.

Keep scrolling — these are in a forum and some of the other readers posted photos and commentary too.

Here is one:

carrying-flag.jpg
Click for full-size Image

Hat tip Charles at LGF

Posted by DaveH at 08:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Upgrade of Blog software

Just upgraded this sites software to the latest version (Movable Type 3.15)

So far so good — there may be some formatting changes and weirdness for a day or two…

Posted by DaveH at 03:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

R.I.P. Samuel W. Alderson

From CNN/AP comes this story:

Crash test dummies inventor dies
Samuel W. Alderson, the inventor of crash test dummies that are used to make cars, parachutes and other devices safer, has died. He was 90.

Alderson died February 11 at home of complications from myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder, his son Jeremy said.

He grew up tinkering in his father's custom sheet-metal shop, worked on various military technology and by 1952 had formed Alderson Research Labs.

The company made anthropomorphic dummies for use by the military and NASA in testing ejection seats and parachutes. The dummies were built to approximate the weight and density of humans and hold data-gathering instruments.

One type of dummy he developed measured radiation doses.

There was little interest in his first automobile test dummy, he once said, until publication of Ralph Nader's consumer protection book “Unsafe at Any Speed” in 1965. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed a year later.

One of America's unsung geniuses… He did a lot more than just the dummies.

Posted by DaveH at 12:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intercourse with the left...

I had written about this earlier here and here. The gist of the story is that a group — Citizens United — rented some billboard space in Hollywood.

From the second of the two posts:

where will these Billboards be posted?
Billboard creator Citizens United, a group that advocates a return to traditional American values, has purchased the use of three billboards near the Kodak Theatre (home of the Academy Awards) for the month of February, which includes Oscar Night, Sunday, February 27.
Well… They are up and Professor Stephen Bainbridge has the goods:

We are amused
I spotted this billboard on the west end of the Sunset Strip…

bush-hollywood.jpg
… and I like it

So do I — a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

It didn't take long for one of them to be defaced:

hollywood_billboard.jpg
Click for full-size Image

There is nothing like a deep resonant dialog between people. Those people on the left have so many interesting viewpoints to offer and talking with them is always a fascinating exchange of ideas…

Besides, the swastika is an ancient symbol — we must respect our roots…

Hat tip to Human Events Online

Posted by DaveH at 12:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 18, 2005

A bubble

The Guardian has a story on White Nile — a stock that is doing very very well. A little too well…

Week the City caught White Nile fever
A speculative Sudanese mining stock has bowled investors over

Phil Edmonds' Test match bowling average of 34 was hardly distinguished, but the former England cricketer is now producing mind-boggling numbers.
His £15,000 investment in White Nile, a company looking for oil in Sudan, has been transformed in a fortnight into a stake worth £20m.

It's a theoretical price, because trading in the shares was suspended on Wednesday. But, given that one of his other African mining companies also invested, Mr Edmonds can claim to have boosted his net worth by an average of about £1.5m a day this month.

After just four days trading on the Alternative Investment Market, White Nile is already a legend. The surge in the shares from 10p to 137p took the company's valuation to £212m, despite its sole asset being £9m of cash. It was an absurd over-valuation and proved White Nile fever is as dangerous and inexplicable as the speculative madness of the dotcom years.

The problem?

Yesterday was meant to be the day that White Nile revealed all. On Wednesday, the company said it had agreed to buy a 60% interest in a 67,500 sq km block in part of the Mugland basin in south Sudan and would elaborate further. It waited until 5.10pm yesterday to announce that it had “not yet been able to prepare such information”. Wait until next week, it said.

White Nile may have something interesting. The problem is its £200m valuation. The political risks look real. The autonomous government of south Sudan was established only last month after 20 years of civil war. Even if the seismic results from the field are promising, more cash will be needed to build roads and other infrastructure in the area, notably a pipeline to carry the oil.

Yeah - they are a company with no physical assets except the ability to secure a parcel of land which may or may not contain oil. Could be a great find — the Sudanese could be sitting on a pool of oil that makes the Saudi resources look like a puddle. Then again, they might come up with dry well after dry well.

Posted by DaveH at 10:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Space Pen

came up in conversation on an email list and someone pointed out a link to Snopes:

Claim: NASA spent millions of dollars developing an “astronaut pen” which would work in outer space while the Soviets solved the same problem by simply using pencils.

Status: False.

Examples:

During the space race back in the 1960's, NASA was faced with a major problem. The astronaut needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA went to work. At a cost of $1.5 million they developed the “Astronaut Pen”. Some of you may remember. It enjoyed minor success on the commercial market.

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a pencil.

Here is the straight story from Fisher:

NASA never asked Paul C. Fisher to produce a pen. When the astronauts began to fly, like the Russians, they used pencils, but the leads sometimes broke and became a hazard by floating in the [capsule's] atmosphere where there was no gravity. They could float into an eye or nose or cause a short in an electrical device. In addition, both the lead and the wood of the pencil could burn rapidly in the pure oxygen atmosphere. Paul Fisher realized the astronauts needed a safer and more dependable writing instrument, so in July 1965 he developed the pressurized ball pen, with its ink enclosed in a sealed, pressurized ink cartridge. Fisher sent the first samples to Dr. Robert Gilruth, Director of the Houston Space Center. The pens were all metal except for the ink, which had a flash point above 200°C. The sample Space Pens were thoroughly tested by NASA. They passed all the tests and have been used ever since on all manned space flights, American and Russian. All research and developement costs were paid by Paul Fisher. No development costs have ever been charged to the government.

One more myth busted…

Posted by DaveH at 09:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Hipster PDA

One of the blogs listed on the Blogroll (under Business) is 43 Folders.

Here is an entry from them discussing the Hipster PDA:

Introducing the Hipster PDA Recently, I got sick of lugging my Palm V around, so I developed a vastly superior, greatly simplified device for capturing and sharing information. I call it “The Hipster PDA.”

Beauty & Simplicity
The Hipster PDA (Parietal Disgorgement Aid) is a fully extensible system for coordinating incoming and outgoing data for any aspect of your life and work. It scales brilliantly, degrades gracefully, supports optional categories and “beaming,” and is configurable to an unlimited number of options. Best of all, the Hipster PDA fits into your hip pocket and costs practically nothing to purchase and maintain. Let’s make one together.

Building your first Hipster PDA
#1) - get a bunch of 3”×5” file cards (here’s 500 for less than 3 bucks)
#2) - clip them together with a binder clip
#3) - there is no step 3

Brilliant. The entire site is worth a visit.

Posted by DaveH at 09:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Panic Button

Interesting use of current technology. Extreme Tech has a report on a panic button for older people:

ZigBee “Panic Button” Calls For Help
Lusora has developed a nifty new twist on solving the “I've fallen and I can't get up” problem. The company rolled out its LISA pendant, and a series of monitors, which use the new Zigbee low-speed mesh network to provide security to elderly people who want to live at home, and their family.

The LISA system – which stands for Lusora Intelligent Sensory Architecture – includes a wearable pendant, an in-light switch video camera, sensors and receivers create a low-power home monitoring system that will help an aging population stay in their homes.

The pendant, which is worn around the neck, includes an array of accelerometers, buttons on the front and back, and a low-power Zigbee radio. If a rapid acceleration is detected (such as when someone falls over), or the two buttons are pressed in tandem, the pendant connects to an intelligent controller – which then contacts one of four alerting and monitoring companies, or contacts a family member directly.

The wireless monitoring system also includes a tiny digital camera embedded in a light switch. It's not a video camera – the low-power zigbee wireless mesh network doesn't have the bandwidth for that. Instead, it delivers a still image of a room to the controller. But it can only be activated when an alert occurs, either via the pendant or one of the other sensors the company is developing.

Very cool - I like the accelerometer idea. Under $300 to buy into the system with additional modules in the $50 to $100 range. Sounds like good stuff.

pendant.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 06:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Corruption in Kenya

From the BBC/World comes this story about Corruption in Kenya and the German government doing something about it:

Germany cuts Kenya anti-graft aid
Germany has joined the US in suspending funding for Kenya's increasingly discredited anti-corruption programme.

German ambassador Bernd Braun said changes made to Kenya's cabinet had not gone far enough to prove President Mwai Kibaki's resolve to deal with graft.

He said the $6.5m (500m shillings) aid would not be released until Mr Kibaki sacked ministers found to be corrupt.

Kenya's presidential press service said the cabinet's war against corruption would “continue relentlessly”.

Right — probably with your hand deep in the till just like everyone else.
Germany and the US are doing the right thing. Here is a bit about the Kenyan Anti-Corruption committee:

The committee's director, Jane Kiragu, stepped down on Friday because she was frustrated by lack of funding from the government, a spokesman said.

Committee member Tom Mshindi, who is chief executive of Kenya's Standard newspaper group, also resigned.

Mr Kibaki's chief anti-graft adviser, John Githongo, had already stepped down earlier this month - reportedly because he felt the government and the president were no longer committed to stopping corruption.

What is it about tropical nations that foster such corruption?

Posted by DaveH at 06:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Baby Name Wizard

This is an interesting website that allows you to track the popularity over the years of first names. The chart ranges from the 1900 through 2003.

Baby Name Wizard

Fascinating to surf or you can type in a specific name and see the rise and fall of its use.

Posted by DaveH at 06:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Giant Robots to destroy Madrid Tower

I wrote about the fire at the Madrid office building the other day.

Now, from Reuters comes the story of how the construction company is planning to demolish it:

Hanging Robots to Help Demolish Gutted Tower
Robots suspended from cranes will help demolish the skeleton of one of Madrid's tallest buildings destroyed by a weekend fire because the ruin is too dangerous to be handled by workers, city authorities said Friday.

Demolition of the 32-storey skyscraper in the heart of Madrid, which is poised above four underground train lines, a major road and a vast department store, still presents unknown difficulties.

An alternative proposal to blow up the building in a controlled demolition, after first filling the network of subterranean road tunnels below it with sand, had been rejected as too risky, the city hall said.

That is an interesting engineering task. There was no picture with the news item but it will be interesting to see what the robots capabilities are.

Posted by DaveH at 05:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A nice surprise...

From this Yahoo/AP story

Ind. Woman Finds $100,000 Lottery Ticket
Karrie Jeremiah pulled a discarded lottery ticket from a restaurant trash can and hit the jackpot.

Two other people had purchased the $5 Hoosier Lottery scratch-off ticket last week at the Chaperral Cafe. When a clerk at the downtown cafe told them it wasn't the $40 winner they were hoping for, they threw it away, lottery officials said.

It wasn't a $40 winner — it was a $100,000 winner.

And why it was tossed in the first place:

Lottery security director Ellen Corcella said the cafe clerk had not checked for any winning combinations other than for $40.

Ouch!!! I bet at least one person is going to go public…

Posted by DaveH at 05:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Star Wars Episode III To Open Cannes

From Slashdot comes this story about the new Star Wars:

Star Wars Episode III To Open Cannes

bonch wrote in to mention an article on the IGN site. “The Cannes Film Festival is going to the dark side. After months of negotiations between George Lucas and festival officials, Star Wars: Episode III - The Revenge Of The Sith will open the festival in the South of France in May.”

Posted by DaveH at 05:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Top 100 gagets of all time

From Gizmodo comes this link to Mobile PC's article on the Top 100:

Examples include Pong, the Walkman, the 300-Baud acoustic modem and the Maglite. Very fun article!

100-Pong.jpg100-walkman.jpg
100-AcousticDataCoupler.jpg100-maglite.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 02:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting job description

Hat tip to BoingBoing for this story and link.
From the SFGate website:

Gorilla Foundation rocked by breast display lawsuit
Former employees say they were told to expose chests

Two former employees of the Gorilla Foundation, home to Koko the “talking” ape, have filed a lawsuit contending that they were ordered to bond with the 33-year-old female simian by displaying their breasts.

Nancy Alperin and Kendra Keller, both of San Francisco, are taking on the Woodside nonprofit and its president, Francine “Penny” Patterson.

Their lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court, alleges sexual discrimination, wrongful termination in retaliation for reporting health and safety violations, and failure to pay overtime or provide rest breaks.

It seeks more than $1 million total in damages for the two women.

Get a frickin' grip here — you could have walked off the job when asked to do this, you didn't have to comply and then try to milk this organization for a cool Million…

A sample of their claims (Patterson is the Foundation president):

One example: “On at least two incidents in mid-to-late June 2004, Patterson intensely pressured Keller to expose herself to Koko while they were working outside where other employees could potentially view Keller's naked body. … On one such occasion, Patterson said, 'Koko, you see my nipples all the time. You are probably bored with my nipples. You need to see new nipples. I will turn my back so Kendra can show you her nipples.' ”

And a bit of history of Koko and the Foundation:

The foundation, which has existed since 1976 to promote the preservation and protection of gorillas, is best known for Koko, who was born at the San Francisco Zoo on July 4, 1971, and began working with Patterson the following year.

Koko — older sister of Kubi, who presided over the zoo's Gorilla World exhibit until he died last year — now has a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words in American Sign Language, according to foundation claims that are much debated among scientists.

The subject of books, videos and documentary films, the hairy linguist participated in what was called the first interspecies chat on the Internet in 1998, attracting more than 8,000 AOL users.

And the work history of the two women bringing suit:

Three-month employee Alperin, 47, has returned to social work and is seeking $719,830 in damages. Four-month employee Keller, 48, a longtime sign language interpreter, is asking for $366,192.

And:

The two women were fired Aug. 6.

Three and four months employment history and you feel justified bringing a lawsuit? You didn't even quit, you were canned.

I hope this gets dropped in court — having to expose yourself might not be on a normal job description but this was not a “normal” job by any means. They both refused and should have quit then and there, not staying on until they were fired.

koko-kitten.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2005

The Elections in Iraq

Other bloggers are covering the Iraqi Elections but I ran into this item which deserves a bit of a wider audience:

I am posting the entire thing because I don't know how long New York Metro keeps articles online and this is worth keeping around for a while. If they contact me to request a removal, I will do a fair-use excerpt and move the text somewhere offline.

From the New York Metro comes an article that illuminates the disjunct from reality in today's “modern” left and shows that there are columnists (Kurt Andersen anyway) in NYC that are starting to “get it”.

When Good News Feels Bad
After Iraq’s vote, New York liberals are in a serious moral-ideological-emotional bind. And the only way out is to root for Bush’s victory.

After the blizzard and before the fashion shows, you may have heard, the elections in Iraq went off extremely well. Remember? Or, like most New Yorkers, perhaps you let that fact slide from your consciousness as quickly as possible . . . Hey, speaking of Fashion Week, what is it with this renaissance in corseting?

Seriously: The success of the elections poses a major intellectual-moral-political problem for people in this city. The cognitive dissonance is palpable.

New Yorkers think we are smarter than other Americans, that the richness and difficulty of life here give our intelligence a kind of hard-won depth and nuance and sensitivity to contradictions and ambiguity. We feel we are practically French. Most New Yorkers are also liberals. And most liberals, wherever they live, believe that they are smarter than most conservatives (particularly George W. Bush).

And finally, most liberals and New Yorkers suspect that we may be too smart for our own good. It is a form of self-flattery as self-criticism. During these past few years, I have heard it said again and again that liberals’ ineffectiveness derives from their inability to see the world in the simple blacks and whites of the Limbaughs and Hannitys and Bushes. (Why else, the argument goes, did John Kerry lose?)

Maybe. But now our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness is facing its sharpest test since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Back then, most of us were forced, against our wills, to give Ronald Reagan a large share of credit for winning the Cold War. Now the people of this Bush-hating city are being forced to grant the merest possibility that Bush, despite his annoying manner and his administration’s awful hubris and dissembling and incompetence concerning Iraq, just might—might, possibly—have been correct to invade, to occupy, and to try to enable a democratically elected government in Iraq.

At a media-oligarchy dinner party on Fifth Avenue 72 hours after the elections, the emotions were highly mixed. The wife of a Democratic Party figure was (like me) unabashedly hopeful about what had happened in Iraq. Across the table, though, the wife of a well-known liberal actor was having none of it; instead, she complained about Fahrenheit 9/11’s being denied an Oscar nomination. And a newspaper éminence grise seemed more inclined to discuss Condoleezza Rice’s unfortunate hairstyle than the vicissitudes of Wolfowitzism. It was the night of the State of the Union speech, but as far as I know, no one (including me) ducked out of the dining room to find a TV. Who really wanted to watch Bush take his victory lap?

Like most New Yorkers, I disagree with the Bush administration politically, temperamentally, and ontologically most of the time. Two years ago, however, unlike most New Yorkers (but probably like most Americans), concerning Iraq I went from 50-50 fence-sitting to fretful 53 percent support of an invasion. So the ups and downs of the war and occupation since have conformed, more or less, to my own deep ambivalence.

But for our local antiwar supermajority, the Iraq elections were simply the most vertiginous moment of a two-year-long roller-coaster ride. By last November, they’d hoped the U.S. would see things their way—and it was some solace that by January, a solid majority of the country apparently agreed with New York that Iraq was a mess and a misadventure.

Until the Iraqi vote: surprisingly smooth and inarguably inspiring and, in some local camps, unexpectedly unsettling. Of course, for all but a nutty fringe, it is not a matter of actually wishing for an insurgent victory, but rather of hating the idea of a victory presided over by the Bush team. (I may prefer the Yankees to beat the Red Sox, but I cannot bear the spectacle of Steinbrenner’s gloating.) Three months after failing to defeat Bush in our election, plenty of New Yorkers privately, half-consciously hoped for his comeuppance in Iraq’s. You know who you are. Last week, you found yourselves secretly . . . heartened—and appalled—by the stories of the Marine general who said it was “a hell of a hoot [and] fun to shoot some people” in Afghanistan, and about the possible Islamist drift of the Shiites who will now govern Iraq. When military officers show themselves to be callous warmongers, and neocon military adventurism looks untenable, certain comfortable assumptions are reaffirmed.

Like “radical chic,” a related New York specialty, “liberal guilt” once meant feeling discomfort over one’s good fortune in an unjust world. As this last U.S. election cycle began, however, a new subspecies of liberal guilt arose—over the pleasure liberals took in bad news from Iraq, which seemed sure to hurt the administration. But with Bush reelected, any shred of tacit moral rationale is gone. In other words, feel the guilt, and let it be a pang that leads to moral clarity.

Each of us has a Hobbesian choice concerning Iraq; either we hope for the vindication of Bush’s risky, very possibly reckless policy, or we are in a de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. We can be angry with Bush for bringing us to this nasty ethical crossroads, but here we are nonetheless.

I don’t mean to suggest, in the right-wing, proto-fascist rhetorical fashion, that every good American is obliged to support all American wars. But at this moment in this war, that binary choice of who you want to win is inescapable and needs to be faced squarely—just as being pro-war obliges one to admit that thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed or maimed or orphaned.

At a certain point during the Vietnam War, a majority of Americans—those of us who were in favor of unilateral U.S. withdrawal—were in a de facto alliance with the North Vietnamese, the Vietcong, and the Soviets. Unpleasant but true. People say that Bush was hell-bent on invading Iraq because his father muffed it during the Gulf War in ’91. But I think a bigger motive for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Desert Storm was a longing, unconscious or not, to refight Vietnam victoriously.

With liberals, Vietnam redux is all too conscious: It is irresistible to them (and to almost anyone over 40) to fit the war in Iraq into the template of Indochina, even if the parallels are only superficial. This Groundhog Day, as we all looked forward to watching a Beatle perform on TV (and on a Sunday evening in early February, just like in 1964), a fiftyish antiwar friend of mine in Park Slope dismissed the election in Iraq as “just like the election in Vietnam in 1967.”

I didn’t know what she meant, because I had not yet read the posting by Kos, the lefty star Markos Moulitsas’s nom de blog, of a certain Times clip from 1967—about how “United States officials were surprised and heartened . . . at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.” Kos commented, “January was the third bloodiest month for U.S. and allied troops. Will that cease now that Iraqis have voted? Nope . . . The war will continue unabated.” One senses a wish for further war. One of Kos’s regulars then wrote, “I hope I’m wrong on this,” and my disingenuousness alarm went off. When people are deeply invested in any set of analyses and predictions, do they ever sincerely hope they’re wrong?

There may be only one important sense, finally, in which the American experience of Vietnam applies to this war: What is the number and rate of U.S. casualties we can bear, and will the new Iraqi government be able to take care of itself before we reach that unbearable number? In Iraq, 1,446 U.S. troops have died, and 10,871 have been wounded. During the worst months, the average daily casualties have been four killed and more than 40 wounded, out of a total U.S. force of around 150,000. Those are roughly the same numbers as at the end of 1965—when the war in Vietnam still had Americans’ overwhelming support. But during 1966, U.S. casualties tripled, then almost doubled in 1967, and went up by half again during 1968.

In Iraq, American patience and stubbornness will not extend nearly that far. The prospects of a freer, better Iraq and the longer shot of a freer, better Middle East are worth some considerable American sacrifice. But we will not pay any price or bear any burden, as JFK rashly promised.

And now the terrible business of judging the correct price requires as much empirical rigor and moral clarity as we can muster, the sort of careful, “reality-based” judgments that liberals pride themselves on being able to make better than loony Evangelicals and cunning neocon dreamers. It won’t do simply to default to our easy predispositions—against Bush, even against war. If partisanship makes us abandon intellectual honesty, if we oppose what our opponents say or do simply because they are the ones saying or doing it, we become mere political short-sellers, hoping for bad news because it’s good for our ideological investment.

One day during the U.S. election campaign, President Bush accidentally uttered a plain truth about the war on terror. “I don’t think you can ‘win’ it,” he said, which immediately provoked attacks from the Democrats. A month later, John Kerry inadvertently told the same truth—“We have to get back to the place . . . where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance”—whereupon Bush pounced, saying he “couldn’t disagree more.” Later the same month, the president slipped and retold the same truth—“Whether or not we can be ever fully safe . . . is up in the air”—and Kerry, inevitably, replied: “You make me president [and] it’s not going to be up in the air.”

It was that kind of dishonest, automatic attack and counterattack that made me relieved, on November 3, when I was once again free to read and watch the news from Iraq without considering whether it was good or bad for Kerry’s chances.

And it was the same sort of brain-dead back-and-forth that led Jon Stewart to tell Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson, live on CNN’s Crossfire last fall, that their entirely predictable pseudo-debates amounted to nothing but useless “partisan hackery.” In that instance, the new president of CNN promptly said he agreed and canceled the show. Is it too much to hope that the end of Crossfire could mark the beginning of the end of the age of Ann Coulter and Michael Moore? Probably.

Posted by DaveH at 11:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fusion

From BBC News comes the story of a guy who invents a device that does Nuclear Fusion but he can't get no respect. The BEEB misses the point and ignores an American inventor who did the same thing a while ago.

Nuclear fusion 'put to the test'
It is three years since Professor Rusi Taleyarkhan made the controversial claim that he had achieved one of the holy grails of science - nuclear fusion.

Since then, he has grown tired of the scepticism of his fellow scientists.

“My lab has been audited, my instruments have been audited, my books have been audited, the data speaks for itself.

Professor Taleyarkhan (Oak Ridge National Laboratory — no slouch there) is using the technique of Sonoluminescence and is generating Neutrons from his reactions — proof positive of Nuclear Fusion.

The problem(s) (two actually) are:

#1) - the BEEB is missing out on the fact that the Prof is not getting excess energy out of this reaction. He has to pump in more energy than he will extract. What people are looking for (and spending the big bucks for) is a process where more energy is recovered than is put into the system. This is theoretically possible and is a very major holy-grail for physicists everywhere. Can you say Instant Nobel Prize?

If you want to try your hand at Sonoluminescence, kits are available here for a bit more than $3K. Here is a description of the phenomenon (actually very cool!)

#2) - is that an American — Philo Farnsworth — invented a device that uses different principles but performs Nuclear Fusion on demand. Flip a switch and poof — Fusion (and Neutrons.)

First patented in 1953 and refined and demonstrated in 1959, the fusor worked then, still works fine now and people are building them commercially as Neutron sources. Hobbyists are building them to play with. Again, the problem of more energy in than out limits their use to Neutron production and not an energy source… You can read about Philo's work on this at the Farnovision Chronicles. A good resource for hobby Fusor experiments is Fusor.net

Philo was also the inventor of another technology.
You may have heard of it — television.

philo-fisor.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 11:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A parent's guide to the m4d sk1llz of 133t5p33k - you are sooo pwn3d...

Microsoft has a web page to help clueless n00bs figure out what their h4xor kids are doing online…

Jumping the shark anyone?

Posted by DaveH at 10:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That whirring sound...

Awww crap… This article in The New York Post says:

LOONEY TUNE-UPS
Has Warner Bros. gone daffy?
That's what fans of the studio's classic cartoon characters might be asking after they get a look at the new, futuristic versions of some of their favorite animated heroes, which Warner unveiled yesterday.

The Looney Tunes characters — six in all — have been “reimagined” (in studio parlance) for a new series called “Loonatics,” which is set to air next fall on WPIX/Channel 11 as part of the Saturday morning Kids' WB program lineup.

The show features new versions of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, the Tasmanian Devil, Road Runner and Lola Bunny (the newest of the characters, who was introduced in the 1996 Michael Jordan movie “Space Jam”).

For “Loonatics,” the six characters are being projected 700 years into the future, given superpowers, and outfitted in tight-fitting, slenderizing space gear.

bugs-bunny.jpg

And that whirring sound? Mel Blanc spinning in his grave…

Sheesh - what are the studio owners thinking.

Posted by DaveH at 07:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A guide to Blogs

IMAO has written an excellent guide for the Main Stream Media

Know Thy Enemy: Blogs
There are these things called blogs out there run by salivating morons who work in lynch mobs to bring people down regardless of the facts. This seems like a dangerous new phenomenon, so I had my crack research staff find out all they could about blogs.

FUN FACTS ABOUT BLOGS

  • The blog was invented by Edgar K. Blog in the 80's in attempt to spread lies for the sole purposes of evil. At the time, only two other people were reading the internet, but most experts say he was responsible for Black Friday.
  • Blogs can simply turn on you at anytime for any reason. They attack without thought or provocation. Thus, make sure to always stay away from them and to disparage them in the media.
  • A blog will use a dark art called the “hyperlink” to “link” to what you say in an attempt to slander you. If you see any blog using a hyperlink against you, immediately contact law enforcement to get them to stop.
  • If you see a geeky looking male or a slutty looking female in front of a laptop, he or she could be a blogger. Don't make eye contact or say anything in front of them or they will destroy you.
  • On September 11th, bloggers spread rumors about some sort of terrorist attack leading to a war with Iraq so bloggers could get more oil - a raw material essential for blogging.
  • Bloggers are particularly depraved individuals. One infamous blogger was caught putting puppies in blenders to make smoothies. He now has to do community service as punishment which he fulfills by murdering hobos.

This is only a few of them — it's so true it's scary! Heh…

Posted by DaveH at 07:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Terri Schiavo

A number of months ago, I had heard a story about a Florida woman who was a mental vegetable being taken off life-support. Jen and I talked about it a bit and let the subject drop. Today, Sherri from Straight Up with Sherri left a comment here directing my attention to this woman's plight.

It seems that Terri Schiavo is actually able to respond to people and changes in her environment. She laughs at some music, her eyes track objects in her room. This can be seen in several video clips that Sherri links to.

A blog-burst is being organized by the Hyscience blog to raise people's awareness of what is going on and to persuade them to contact Florida media (which haven't been covering the story much) and government officials.

Sherri has a list of things that people can do (scroll down a bit)

Here is a link to a website run by Terri's parents. It has a lot of documentation and the history.

I'll be writing a few letters — it would be good if you did the same thing. If everyone spent 15 minutes, they could be saving this person's life.

Posted by DaveH at 06:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cool new technology

A cool bit of medical technology is posted at MedGaget

Glucon: noninvasive blood glucose
Israeli company Glucon has been awarded a US patent for “the use of photoacoustic waves originating in the blood vessel to calculate the concentration of glucose in the blood vessel.”

The technology should relieve millions of diabetic patients from suffering a daily routine of self sticking to measure blood sugar. In addition, the continuous display of blood glucose should optimize the diabetic treatment. The company is working to bring its Glucose Monitoring Watch to the market in the future.

They have a picture and it looks just like a wristwatch albeit a little on the thick side. The Glucon company's website is here and the technology is shown here.

Posted by DaveH at 06:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Biting off more than you can chew...

Kim DuToit ran into a story about some Greenpeace protesters who were surprised at the reaction they got.

You have to have a heart of stone not to chortle when you read this report:

Greenpeace had hoped to paralyse oil trading at the exchange in the City near Tower Bridge on the day that the Kyoto Protocol came into force. “The Kyoto Protocol has modest aims to improve the climate and we need huge aims,” a spokesman said.
Protesters conceded that mounting the operation after lunch may not have been the best plan. “The violence was instant,” Jon Beresford, 39, an electrical engineer from Nottingham, said.
“They grabbed us and started kicking and punching. Then when we were on the floor they tried to push huge filing cabinets on top of us to crush us.” When a trader left the building shortly before 2pm, using a security swipe card, a protester dropped some coins on the floor and, as he bent down to pick them up, put his boot in the door to keep it open.

Another item from the story — this one really points out where Greenpeace is coming from:

“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.”

Emphasis mine — they were not there to have a discussion, they were there to disrupt the traders and the traders did not like it. The traders were probably polite at first but when the Greenpeace people started in with the noisemakers, the traders decided to have an “action” of their own.

When I first moved to Seattle I was involved with Greenpeace for a few years — quit after I saw them drifting further and further away from any semblance of science. Their co-founder — Patrick Moore — left the group for the same reason.
I wrote about him here and here.

Posted by DaveH at 06:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The United Nations inspectors in Iraq

Emperor Darth Misha I at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler finds a link which tells the story of how the U.N. Inspectors were spending their time as they were in Saddam's Iraq (hint: they were supposed to be checking to see that the UN sanctions were being followed.):

Emperor Misha writes:

“Just Give the Inspectors Time to Work!”
Thanks to L.S. Mope, we have some details on just how the inspectors were passing their time in Sod'em Insane's Iraq:

UN inspectors in Iraq spent their working hours drinking vodka while ignoring a shadowy nocturnal fleet believed to be smuggling goods for Saddam Hussein, a former senior inspector told the US Senate yesterday.

No wonder Blixie's Pixies wanted 12 more years. They must have figured that that was about all they had before their livers exploded.

But at least they weren't running child prostitution rings or raping toddlers like their fellow UN employees elsewhere.

In a move that provoked fury from officials of the Swiss firm Cotecna, an Australian former inspector detailed a picture of incompetence, indifference and drunkeness among the men acting as the frontline for UN sanctions.

That would be the same Cotecna that got fat on the Oil-for-Fraud Scam, the same Cotecna that Koffing Anus' son Kojo worked for.

Beginning to see a pattern here?

Arthur Ventham, a former Australian army officer and customs officer, joined the operation in 2002 and worked at various sites in Iraq and neighbouring states.
He said that at Iskendurun in eastern Turkey, some officials had refused to work.
When he asked one of his bosses why, he was told: “They were friends or relatives of potential clients, and are only in the mission so the company could secure future contracts in Nigeria, Comoros and another African country.

“Inspecting? Are you crazy? We're here to skim some of the the fat from Koffing Anus' sweet little scheme.”

“When I said that this was unfair on everyone else, I was told that it was general practice in Cotecna.”

Tap, tap

Nope, not as much as a twitch of the needle on our Surprise-O-Meter™.

Emperor Misha has more…

Posted by DaveH at 05:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Anomalous edibles

Hat tip to Robert Hinkley at The Sporadic Chronicle for this link to the Museum of Food Anomalies™

The Museum of Food Anomalies™
Welcome to the first exhibition of the Museum's collection. We've selected a handful of defining works from the archives to supply a proper introduction to the Art of Food Anomalies without overwhelming one's senses. There will be more works posted in the future.

A sample:

spookycomb2.jpg

Do you believe that cereal is innocent? Think again. You never know what you might find in your bowl of Honey Combs®. Beware.
Posted by DaveH at 05:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Firewood blogging

Well - I did Booze Blogging here, now I'm going link to some firewood blogging I did on the other website. Jen and I just got three cords of wood in and stacked.

Read about it over here (with pictures)…

Posted by DaveH at 04:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jimmy and the Rabbit

The US Navy is naming one it its new Attack-class submarines after President Carter.

In all fairness, Carter did serve in the Navy on board a boomer but to put his name on an Attack-class vessel has been causing people to scratch heir heads a bit.

As Chris Muir from Day by Day puts it:

day-by-day-02-16-2005.gif
Click for full-size Image

We should not forget the story of Jimmy and the Rabbit as told here:

President Jimmy Carter and the “killer rabbit”
On a fishing trip in Plains, Georgia, President Carter had an encounter with a “swamp rabbit”. This seemingly trivial event was seized upon by the press and became a sort of Rorschach test of the Carter presidency: reporters and commentators saw in this story whatever they wanted to see in Carter's administration. Jody Powell, Carter's press secretary, described the affair in his 1986 book The Other Side of the Story:

It began late one afternoon in the spring of 1979. The President was sitting with a few of us on the Truman Balcony. He had recently returned from a visit to Plains, and we were talking about homefolks and how the quail were nesting and similar matters of international import.
Suddenly, for no apparent reason — he was drinking lemonade, as I recall — the President volunteered the information that while fishing in a pond on his farm he had sighted a large animal swimming toward him. Upon closer inspection, the animal turned out to be a rabbit. Not one of your cutesy, Easter Bunny-type rabbits, but one of those big splay-footed things that we called swamp rabbits when I was growing up.
The animal was clearly in distress, or perhaps berserk. The President confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. He was unable to reach a definite conclusion about its state of mind. What was obvious, however, was that this large, wet animal, making strange hissing noises and gnashing its teeth, was intent upon climbing into the Presidential boat.

The President then evidently shooed the critter away from his boat with a paddle. The scene was captured on film by a White House photographer.

carter_rabbit_1.jpg

carter_rabbit_2.jpg
Photographs courtesy of the Jimmy Carter Library

Jimmy Carter.==Attack Submarine
Boggles the mind doesn't it…

WHOOPS I was wrong — reader Patrick Lasswell left the following comment:

Minor correction:
Jimmy Carter went through nuclear engineering training as one of Hyman Rickover's first group of officers, but he never served aboard a nuclear submarine. His father died in 1953, and Jimmy resigned his commission to take over the family business. The USS Nautilus was not commissioned until 1954. The US Navy did not have any ballistic missile submarines (boomers) until 1960.

Thank you Patrick - I stand in your debt.

Posted by DaveH at 03:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 16, 2005

Google's Logo

I have always liked the logos that Google uses on their website. The logo changes to reflect holidays, events, anniversaries, etc… I always thought that it was the work of a committee — today I found out that it is the work of one man. The Toronto Star has a nice interview with Dennis Hwang:

Doodling with the Google logo
If you're a young student who gets into trouble for doodling during class, you should probably read this. And after you've read it, you should clip it out, laminate it, punch two holes in the top, loop a string through those holes, and wear it to school like a necklace.

This story is about your new hero, a guy who doodled a lot as a kid then landed one of the sweetest gigs in the world because of it.

At 26, Dennis Hwang is already in his fifth year at Google Inc. As an international webmaster, he spends most of his time programming and managing site content. But Hwang has another, more creative role.

He's the artist behind the illustrated Google logos that seem to pop up magically on holidays and important anniversaries. If you're a regular user of the popular Internet search engine, you've probably seen Hwang's beautifully rendered designs, including one for the Chinese New Year last Wednesday. By incorporating images into the letters that make up Google's corporate logo, he has celebrated everything from Earth Day to the 100th anniversary of flight.

In doing so, Hwang brings a splash of colour to an online institution that's really not much more than an elaborate web-based indexing program.

“It makes things really fun, and our users appreciate it too,” says Hwang from the Google offices in Mountain View, Calif. “It makes people feel that Google is connected to the same world that they live in. It's not some automated machine that's just chugging along, there's actually people working behind the scenes.”

Fun interview — here are two of his logos:

googlelogo-xprize.gif
The X-Prize success

googlelogo-halloween.gif
Halloween 2004

Posted by DaveH at 06:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The History of the Indian Rope Trick

Fascinating story about the history of a legendary bit of street magic.
This is a book review at the NY Times by Teller of Penn and Teller.

Hat tip BoingBoing

'The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick': The Grift of the Magi
When John Elbert Wilkie died in 1934, he was remembered for his 14 years as a controversial director of the Secret Service, during which he acquired a reputation for forgery and skullduggery, and for masterly manipulation of the press. But not a single obituary cited his greatest contribution to the world: Wilkie was the inventor of the legendary Indian Rope Trick. Not the actual feat, of course; it does not and never did exist. In 1890, Wilkie, a young reporter for The Chicago Tribune, fabricated the legend that the world has embraced from that day to this as an ancient feat of Indian street magic.

How did a silly newspaper hoax become a lasting icon of mystery? The answer, Peter Lamont tells us in his wry and thoughtful ''Rise of the Indian Rope Trick,'' is that Wilkie's article appeared at the perfect moment to feed the needs and prejudices of modern Western culture. India was the jewel of the British Empire, and to justify colonial rule, the British had convinced themselves the conquered were superstitious savages who needed white men's guidance in the form of exploitation, conversion and death. The prime symbol of Indian benightedness was the fakir, whose childish tricks — as the British imagined — frightened his ignorant countrymen but could never fool a Westerner.

When you're certain you cannot be fooled, you become easy to fool. Indian street magicians have a repertory of earthy, violent tricks designed for performance outdoors — very different from polite Victorian parlor and stage magic. So when well-fed British conquerors saw a starving fakir do a trick they couldn't fathom, they reasoned thus: We know the natives are too primitive to fool us; therefore, what we are witnessing must be genuine magic.

And the trick itself:

In 1890 The Chicago Tribune was competing in a cutthroat newspaper market by publishing sensational fiction as fact. The Rope Trick — as Lamont's detective work reveals — was one of those fictions. The trick made its debut on Aug. 8, 1890, on the front page of The Tribune's second section. An anonymous, illustrated article told of two Yale graduates, an artist and a photographer, on a visit to India. They saw a street fakir, who took out a ball of gray twine, held the loose end in his teeth and tossed the ball upwards where it unrolled until the other end was out of sight. A small boy, ''about 6 years old,'' then climbed the twine and, when he was 30 or 40 feet in the air, vanished. The artist made a sketch of the event. The photographer took snapshots. When the photos were developed, they showed no twine, no boy, just the fakir sitting on the ground. ''Mr. Fakir had simply hypnotized the entire crowd, but he couldn't hypnotize the camera,'' the writer concluded.

The story's genius is that it allows a reader to wallow in Oriental mystery while maintaining the pose of modernity. Hypnotism was to the Victorians what energy is to the New Age: a catchall explanation for crackpot beliefs. By describing a thrilling, romantic, gravity-defying miracle, then discrediting it as the result of hypnotism — something equally cryptic, but with a Western, scientific ring — The Tribune allowed its readers to have their mystery and debunk it, too. Newspapers all over the United States and Britain picked up the item, and it was translated into nearly every European language.

rope-trick.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 05:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Cubes

A new playset from Think Geek:

Finally, the drudgery of corporate life has been captured in a play set for adults! Bob, Joe, Ted, and Ann spend eight hours a day, five days a week, at tiny desks in tiny cubicles in a giant room packed with countless similar cubicles in a giant building filled with countless similar rooms.

Each set has one 2-3/4” posable plastic figure and all the necessary plastic parts to build a classic corporate cube: four walls, desk, chair, file cabinet, in/out box, phone, and computer. Comes with a sticker sheet of decor for your cube, complete with graphs, charts, screens for the computer and pithy office posters. Also includes a job title sticker sheet so you can create a convoluted and meaningless position for your employee (how about Level C Systems Associate? Or Senior Accounting Coordinator?).

cubical.jpg

Only $14.99 each — collect the whole set!

Posted by DaveH at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Problems for Circuit City

Retailer Circuit City has not been doing too well recently. Sales are off and they are having to close a number of their stores:

From Reuters:

Circuit City to Close 19 Stores
Circuit City Stores Inc. on Wednesday said it would close 19 superstores, five regional offices and a distribution center by the end of the month, a day after the struggling electronics retailer received a $3.25 billion takeover offer.

The company, which on Tuesday said it had received an unsolicited buyout offer from private investment firm Highfields Capital Management LP, has been has losing market share to bigger rival Best Buy Co. for several years and has been trying to improve its distribution system and revamp its stores.

And now this happens today — from Reuters again:

Circuit City Registered Plane Crashes, 7 Dead - FAA
A twin-engine jet registered to retailer Circuit City crashed on Wednesday three miles short of the Pueblo, Colorado, airport, killing seven, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.

No word yet on who was on board. Circuit City did announce that no officers were on the plane but still, taking out seven of your top people is not going to be good for the company.

They are loosing market share to Best Buy which I do not like as Best Buy has really poor customer service and their prices are not good. Some earlier thoughts on Best Buy and their marketing practices here.

Posted by DaveH at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I didn't inhale

Mmmm—kay now… From The Mercury News/AP comes this story of a bit of legislation proposed for Mendocino County, CA:

Mendocino County mulls organic pot
Mendocino County, the rugged California outpost that was first in the nation to ban genetically modified crops, is striding toward a new agriculture frontier with a proposal to certify medical marijuana as organic.

The notion of pesticide-free pot is eliciting a few chuckles. But county officials, who are waiting to hear back from the state agriculture secretary about their proposal, say the issue is quite serious - with no system to regulate cultivation, consumers are at risk.

“We regulate wine grape growers and pear growers and everybody else, so why shouldn't we also regulate pot growers?” said Tony Linegar, assistant agricultural commissioner for Mendocino County. “It's really an agricultural crop. In our estimate it should be subject to a lot of the same laws and regulations as commercial agriculture.”

Mendocino voters passed a first-in-the-nation measure banning the raising of genetically engineered plants and animals last year. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you… A closing comment from Tony:

“When things like this crop up it's almost our county that's on the cutting left edge if you will,” Linegar said. “When I'm discussing these issues with my counterparts in other counties, they really can't relate to the problems that we're facing in Mendocino. They laugh sometimes. But to us it's really a serious issue.”

Could not have said it better myself…

Posted by DaveH at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Pox Tax on Wal-Mart

An excellent idea — I had written about Wall-Mart's impact on communities before:
here, here, here and here

My first link covers this interesting aspect of Wal-Mart's presence in a community:

One of the most telling of all the criticisms of Wal-Mart is to be found in a February 2004 report by the Democratic Staff of the House Education and Workforce Committee. In analyzing Wal-Mart’s success in holding employee compensation at low levels, the report assesses the costs to US taxpayers of employees who are so badly paid that they qualify for government assistance even under the less than generous rules of the federal welfare system. For a two-hundred-employee Wal-Mart store, the government is spending $108,000 a year for children’s health care; $125,000 a year in tax credits and deductions for low-income families; and $42,000 a year in housing assistance. The report estimates that a two-hundred-employee Wal-Mart store costs federal taxpayers $420,000 a year, or about $2,103 per Wal-Mart employee. That translates into a total annual welfare bill of $2.5 billion for Wal-Mart’s 1.2 million US employees.

Wal-Mart is also a burden on state governments. According to a study by the Institute for Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2003 California taxpayers subsidized $20.5 million worth of medical care for Wal-Mart employees. In Georgia ten thousand children of Wal-Mart employees were enrolled in the state’s program for needy children in 2003, with one in four Wal-Mart employees having a child in the program.

Well — people seem to be wising up to this. Hat's off to Montana for this bit of legislation.
The story is from Reuters:

Montana Debates Special Tax on Wal-Mart, Others
Montana's state legislature is targeting the big-box megastores that have taken the place of the old Western general store, weighing a special tax to offset welfare costs for low-paid employees of the retailers.

A bill up for debate on Tuesday calls for taxing retailers like Wal-Mart , Target and Costco for each store with more than $20 million in sales.

State Sen. Ken Toole, D-Helena, the bill's sponsor, says Montana residents are tired of subsidizing big-box stores whose low prices — and high profits — depend on paying workers low wages.

“When you don't pay workers, they get public assistance,” he said. “Guess who pays for that?”

A state Senate tax panel is scheduled to hear the bill, which has irked retailers and prompted Costco to postpone plans to build a larger store in Kalispell, population 13,000, in the northwest corner of the state.

My issue is that they are painting Costco with the same brush - Costco actually treats their employees pretty well and pays them working wages. The tax is a great idea for minimum-wage sweatshop boxes but it should be graduated. If a store has a median wage of $10, it should not have to pay this.

Posted by DaveH at 01:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

City Life

One of the reasons that Jen and I decided to leave Seattle was running into colorful people like these.
Skot at Izzle Pfaff! narrates his personal descent into Purgatory:

Street Hassle
I had a jolly time walking home from work the other day. So many new friends to meet!

First up was the fellow who, at the freeway onramp off of Olive Way, simply sat down in the middle of the street. He wore jeans, a ratty jacket, and carried in his arms an ancient radio that, as far as I could tell, was playing nothing, but this did not prevent the man from feeling rhythm (I would not be surprised if the apparatus was capable of playing old 78s. In fact, that would be cool. “Let's rock out to 'Sixty Minute Man' “!). As he sat on the asphalt (in front of cars, who honked forlornly), he held his arms out horizontally and did kind of a hippie wave with them, bobbing his head ecstatically. He was like the quietest, loneliest Phish concert ever. The cars continued to beep at him peevishly, and after a moment, he incorporated their noise as synocpation; he bopped to his feet and boogied over to the nearest car's driver-side window and gave the occupants a happy double bang-bang set of gestures with his hands . . . you know, like, “Hey, you are rad! I would enjoy having a key party with you and your wife!” Or something. Unmoved by this display of appreciation, the driver frantically scrambled to lock his door. The man held out his decrepit radio to the window in an attempt to share the Music of the Spheres with the car's occupants, but still the radio remained silent. The car veered around him onto the onramp, roughly at the same time I was veering around him, praying he wouldn't notice me. But he did: as I passed, he flashed me a gigantic grin and gave me the finger. I was actually pleased with this encounter, as it did not involve me talking to anyone.

Skot descends into two other levels of purgatory with #2 - “a chirpy little dronelet wearing some yellow polyester jacket with an unfamiliar logo on it” and #3 - an old and familiar friend:

“Got any spare change for foooooood?” he crooned, as he always does. He's a big blond guy, and his schtick is that he's perfected this man-boy persona that suggests that he's mildly retarded and helpless. He's been pulling this shit on Broadway for ten years, and it drives me crazy, to the extent that I have jettisoned my usual “must-be-nice” reactions for pure brutality: “Fuck no, you parasite.” He does not drop his role for a second, and stares at me with a wounded look: but I have seen him about a billion times pulling out wads of bills to buy beer and lottery tickets. Once I walked into a local convenience store to get some smokes, and the bloody bastard was playing a “Mars Attacks” pinball game.

Check it out — life in the City. Reason # 5,237 why we live out here…

Posted by DaveH at 12:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2005

Great printer resource

If you have a printer (ink-jet or laser) go here and see what they have: Fixyourownprinter

I have not personally dealt with them yet but they came highly recommended from someone who has used them and this is someone whose opinion I trust.

Posted by DaveH at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No more words needed

Cox and Forkum say it all:

05.02.15PajamasGates-X.gif

Posted by DaveH at 10:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Booze Blogging

From time to time, a blogger will pick up a certain theme and run with it.
Moxie is doing Booze Blogging and here is my entry (easy enough to do since I have another blog dedicated to our commercial Hard Cider and Mead business.)

Here is a link to one of the posts: Final stages of test brewing

That's 45 gallons of hooch percolating away on the kitchen counter with another 60 in stainless steel tanks in the garage. We are gearing up to do about 2,000 gallons of hard cider at a time so a lot of experimentation is needed…

Posted by DaveH at 09:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Discover the network

Very well done and interesting website that tracks the network of support and who-knows-who of the American Left. Parts are still under construction but this is one place I will be coming back to frequently.

Once again: discoverthenetwork

Their information on Academia
Their information on Funding
Their information on Groups
Their information on Media

Good stuff…

Posted by DaveH at 09:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mark Steyn on United Nations Corruption

Like shooting fish in a barrel but here goes.
Ian at Inoperable Terran links to Mark Steyn's latest OpEd in the Telegraph:

UN forces – just a bunch of thugs?
It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog faeces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the UN. If you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. Thus the Oil-for-Fraud scandal: in the end, Saddam Hussein had a much shrewder understanding of the way the UN works than Bush and Blair did.

And, of course, corrupt organisations rarely stop at just one kind. If you don't want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food programme, don't worry, whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits - in West Africa, it's Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it's drug dealing; in Kenya, it's the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves.

But you get the general picture: on a UN peace mission, everyone gets his piece. Didier Bourguet, a UN staffer in Congo and the Central African Republic, enjoyed the pleasures of 12-year-old girls, and as a result is now on trial in France. His lawyer has said he was part of a UN paedophile network that transcends national boundaries.

Now how about this? The Third Infantry Division are raping nine-year olds in Ramadi. Ready, set, go! That thundering sound outside your window isn't the new IKEA sale, but the great herd of BBC/CNN/Independent/Guardian/New York Times/Le Monde/Sydney Morning Herald/Irish Times/Cork Examiner reporters stampeding to the Sunni Triangle. Whoa, hold up, lads, it's only hypothetical.

But think about it: the merest glimpse of a freaky West Virginia tramp leading an Abu Ghraib inmate around with girlie knickers on his head was enough to prompt calls for Rumsfeld's resignation, and for Ted Kennedy to charge that Saddam's torture chambers were now open “under new management”, and for Robert Fisk to be driven into the kind of orgasmic frenzy unseen since his column on how much he enjoyed being beaten up by an Afghan mob: “Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi,” wrote Fisk. “No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash.”

The entire piece is today's Must Read. Here are a few more excerpts but figuring out what to excerpt is hard, each paragraph is loaded.

The folks that have been under the UN wing the longest - indeed, the only ones with their own permanent UN agency and semi-centenarian “refugee camps” - are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth: the Palestinians. UN territories like Kosovo are the global equivalent of inner-city council estates with the blue helmets as local enforcers for the absentee slum landlord. By contrast, a couple of years after imperialist warmonger Bush showed up, Afghanistan and Iraq have elections, presidents and prime ministers.

When the tsunami hit, hundreds of thousands of people died within minutes. The Australians and Americans arrived within hours. The UN was unable to get to Banda Aceh within weeks.

Instead, the humanitarian fat cats were back in New York and Geneva holding press conferences warning about post-tsunami health consequences - dysentery, cholera, BSE from water-logged cattle, etc - that, they assured us, would kill as many people as the original disaster. But it never happened, any more than did their predictions of disaster for Iraq (“The head of the World Food Programme has warned that Iraq could spiral into a massive humanitarian disaster”) or Afghanistan (“The UN Children's Fund has estimated that as many as 100,000 Afghan children could die of cold, disease and hunger”).

Read it. Here.

Posted by DaveH at 08:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fluffy to Flat

High geekdom here… Some researchers in Spain have directly observed a layer of Lead atoms on a Silicon substrate change their state as a function of temperature. Microscopy has been able to observe single atoms for a decade or two but it has always been a static view. This website has a video.

Here are two frames — they did digital processing but the individual bumps you see are individual Lead atoms.

lead-135K.jpg

Don't move a muscle. Lead atoms on a silicon surface go from a flat arrangement at 135 Kelvin (top) to a corrugated structure at 43 Kelvin. The microscope captured the phase transition by continuously imaging the same set of atoms over the entire temperature range. (See video.)
Posted by DaveH at 08:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CNN confuses N. Korea and Iran

Fine things are happening at CNN - their number two person resigns because of some bloggers and now this — from The Brad Blog:

CNN's Nuke Plant Photos Identical for Both Iran and N. Korea!
Who's the source for the photos?!
And are there any responsible corporate media outlets left in America?!

Two stories posted in the last week on the CNN website, one on nukes in Iran last Wednesday, and another on nukes in North Korea on Saturday, both use the same aerial photograph of the same purported nuclear power plant!

But one is supposed to be in Iran and the other is supposed to be in North Korea!

A story posted Saturday to CNN's website suggesting that North Korea is rallying behind their leader Kim Jong Il in his latest nuclear saber-rattling makes use of a satellite photo described in the caption as “An aerial photo of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear plant outside of Pyongyang”.

Here are the two photographs in question:

CNN_Nukes_NKorea.jpg

CNN_Nukes_Iran.jpg

Brad then goes on to list several updates that CNN made - slipstreaming another image for the N. Korea site, issuing a correction, Brad tries to call CNN but in 15 attempts, gets 15 different answering machines and the last entry so far is that another news service picked up the N. Korea story and is running it with the same image.

As he says — developing…

Posted by DaveH at 06:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Aliens have visited again...

…and this time they left a picture of themselves:

hello-kitty.jpg
Click for full-size Image

More story here.

Posted by DaveH at 05:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fricking Laser Beams

X-Ray laser beams to boot! From the Max Planck Society website comes this press release:

X-rays have become laser-like
Austrian-German research team demonstrates for the first time a source of coherent kiloelectronvolt X-rays, which promises extraordinary applications.

Radiologists and biologists have been dreaming - ever since the discovery of lasers - of a compact laboratory source emitting X-rays in one direction in a laser-like beam. Such a source would permit X-ray images to be recorded with far higher resolution at vastly reduced dose levels, allowing early-stage cancer diagnosis at dramatically reduced risk. Microscopes furnished with this source would make nanometer-sized biomolecules perceivable in their natural surrounding (in vivo). It may take many years before this dream comes true, but the experiment reported by an Austrian-German collaboration led by Ferenc Krausz indicates a promising way of realizing the dream some day. Researchers at Vienna University of Technology, the University of Würzburg, the University of Munich and Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics demonstrated the first source of laser-like X-rays at a wavelength of 1 nanometer with a compact laboratory apparatus [Nature 433, 596 (2005)] in an experiment in Vienna, funded by the Austrian Science Fund.

xray-laser.jpg

The purple light originates from helium atoms excited by intense laser light. The laser pulses propagate along the axis of the purple lobes (horizontally) through the helium gas, and the X-ray beam (not visible) is radiated in a beam several hundred micrometers in diameter in the same direction.

Very cool on a lot of different levels — this will have use in Integrated Circuit manufacture as well as portable diagnostic equipment for forensics and chemical analysis (thinking spectroscopy here). I want one!

Posted by DaveH at 05:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tolerance in Oregon

From Corvallis Oregon comes this story of a mis-placed flag and some friendly citizens:

Rainbow peace flag brings no peace to family
The rainbow has been adopted as a symbol of the gay and lesbian communities, but sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow.

In a case of mistaken identity, a family reportedly was subjected to middle-of-the-night gay-bashing because of a rainbow-colored flag hanging outside their house.

Lisa Wells, 46, said the flag — with the word “pace” written on it, Italian for “peace” — was a reminder of her family's recent travels in Europe. Such flags hang all over Europe, Wells added.

The flag apparently didn't bring Wells' family peace on this side of the pond, though.

Wells said she woke at about 1:30 a.m. Jan. 30 to find her dog growling,
and then yelled at people to get out of her yard, in the 3200 block of Grant Avenue. Four men fled from her property, she said, but one turned and spewed anti-gay rhetoric.

“He threatened me multiple times. He told me I should die. He told me I should read the Bible,”…

That last line is a bit ironic because:

Wells appeared particularly frustrated by one of the suspect's so-called Christian values, since she's a Unitarian Universalist lay minister on campus. As a pluralist, she seeks for truth and God through all religions, including Christianity.

“Jesus preached love, he preached charity, he preached compassion. He said love your enemies. … Intimidation and hate are the antithesis of that,” Wells said.

Nice people…

Posted by DaveH at 05:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rock and Roll fonts

Hat tip to BoingBoing for this link to a collection of fonts used by various rock bands.

Some good stuff there - partial to the Whitesnake font (but not so much their music.)

Posted by DaveH at 04:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New LCD display

From Ars Technica comes this review of the new Dell 24” LCD display. $1,199MSRP

Large screen LCD scene heating up as Dell preps 24 incher
If you standing, sit down. If you're sitting, brace yourself for some harcdcore geek lust. Dell is about to launch a new, luscious 24” widescreen desktop LCD at a very respectable price. Dell's press release has the basic information:

The UltraSharp 2405FPW will be on sale for $1,199 in the Americas and Europe on March 1, 2005. The wide-screen monitor is ideal for graphics professionals, computing enthusiasts and gamers. The native resolution of 1920×1200 helps ensure detailed images are crisp and clear and typical response times of 12ms mean fast-moving content is displayed with minimal distortion.

The review also mentions the price:

In classic Dell fashion, the company sat back and waited for others to get into the 21”+ market, to get cozy, and to get complacent on price. Then. Dell rides in and blasts the market with a top-notch product at a freakishly competitive price.

1000:1 contrast ratio (most cheap LCD screens are around 300-500 - higher is better), built-in card reader too. Looks really good!

Posted by DaveH at 04:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Rule of Five

AN interesting article at Derek Lowe's website regarding a rule used to evaluate potential drugs:

Bigger and Greasier
When I was talking about chemical space the other day, I alluded to the attempts to cut it down to “druglike space” by use of rules of thumb. The most famous of these is Chris Lipinski's “Rule of Five”, a summary of which can be found here. Lipinski and his Pfizer co-workers looked over a data set of drug candidates and noticed that there were some reasonably clear cutoffs for oral absorption and general cell permability. They suggested that you need:

1. Fewer than five hydrogen bond donors (which can be estimated by counting the total number of OH and NH groups in the molecule.)
2. A molecular weight of less than 500.
3. A logP of less than 5
4. And fewer than 10 hydrogen-bond acceptors (estimated by the total of N and O atoms in the molecule.)

The “rule of five” name came from the cutoffs all being multiples of five, in case you're wondering why there are only four rules.

And some more:

There's a recent paper by John Proudfoot at Boehringer Ingleheim (Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letter 15, 1087, for those of you playing along at home) which looks at a more comprehensive list of compounds than the original Lipinski batch. He finds that the cutoffs might be more like 470 for molecular weight and 3 for hydrogen-bond donors, but otherwise his analysis tracks Lipinski's pretty closely. (He notes that only a handful of drugs ever violate both those cutoffs simultaneously.)

His paper also includes a year-by-year analysis from 1937 to 1997. The only clear trend is that molecular weights have been increasing, from under 300 to the point where we're banging up right against that 500 line. Personally, the largest molecule I've ever submitted for testing weighed quite a bit more than that, but I had my reasons. It came in at exactly 747, and I couldn't resist.

A fascinating look at one of the tools of pharmaceutical chemistry…

Posted by DaveH at 03:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 14, 2005

CMYK - printing in color

Wonderful introduction to color printing.

Here is CMYK (for Those Who Do RGB)

From the introduction:

Since web geeks think in pixels and RGB, it’s a daunting new world to head into unequipped. Over the years across quite a few print jobs by now, I’ve had to learn by trial and error. As someone used to thinking in RGB, I’ve looked high and low for a good resource to turn to for help in converting that knowledge to CMYK. This may not be that resource, but I figure I’ve amassed at least the beginnings of a how-to on the subject. Consider it non-authoritative, but hopefully useful. Most of the knowledge contained within applies to Photoshop, mainly because I’ve had the most trouble with it.

Check it out if you do any printing.

Posted by DaveH at 05:09 PM | Comments (1)

An interesting autistic savant

There is an interesting story in The Guardian about Daniel Tammet:

A genius explains
Daniel Tammet is talking. As he talks, he studies my shirt and counts the stitches. Ever since the age of three, when he suffered an epileptic fit, Tammet has been obsessed with counting. Now he is 26, and a mathematical genius who can figure out cube roots quicker than a calculator and recall pi to 22,514 decimal places. He also happens to be autistic, which is why he can't drive a car, wire a plug, or tell right from left. He lives with extraordinary ability and disability.

Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't “calculating”: there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. “When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think.”

Tammet is a “savant”, an individual with an astonishing, extraordinary mental ability. An estimated 10% of the autistic population - and an estimated 1% of the non-autistic population - have savant abilities, but no one knows exactly why. A number of scientists now hope that Tammet might help us to understand better. Professor Allan Snyder, from the Centre for the Mind at the Australian National University in Canberra, explains why Tammet is of particular, and international, scientific interest. “Savants can't usually tell us how they do what they do,” says Snyder. “It just comes to them. Daniel can. He describes what he sees in his head. That's why he's exciting. He could be the Rosetta Stone.”

Emphasis mine — Wow! — talk about a breakthrough…
A bit about his life:

Tammet is softly spoken, and shy about making eye contact, which makes him seem younger than he is. He lives on the Kent coast, but never goes near the beach - there are too many pebbles to count. The thought of a mathematical problem with no solution makes him feel uncomfortable.

A wonderful insight into a particular kind of disability.

Posted by DaveH at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

Rural cellular service

There is an article on the King5 website regarding a neighboring town and their quest for cell service.
King5 uses stupid 'free' registration. Use bugmenot for username and password.

Town desperately looking for cell phone service
It's just a leisurely drive from high-tech Seattle, but the entire town of Glacier does not have cell phone service. Now, the residents are lobbying to get better connected.

Some say it's not only an inconvenience, it's a safety hazard.

With its majestic mountains and sparkling streams, Glacier is the gateway to the North Cascades.

“You see a lot of people walking around holding their phones in the air looking for a signal and there are none to be had,” said Ben Thompson, fire chief.

Folks without a landline have to drive into town to the nearest phone booth.

Nearly 250 full-time residents have long lobbied for cell service.

“We lose a lot of film business from California because we don't have enough phone service,” said Cathy Miron, Glacier Creek Lodge.

Cell service fans say it would speed up emergency help in this area where 500,000 outdoor enthusiasts pass through every year on their way to Mount Baker.

“Cell phones have proven to be life-saving in the valley where reception is available,” said Thompson.

But, so far residents say the big phone companies have had little incentive to build towers to provide cell service.

Now citizens are circulating a petition to show phone companies there are plenty of customers who want and need cell service.

Glacier is among other communities along the Mount Baker Highway where cell phone service is non-existent or spotty at best.

We are about 20 miles away and service is spotty for us at best. Intermittent at the house but OK in town. With all the ski activity at Mt. Baker I'm amazed that some cell company hasn't put up a COW or COLT for the ski season. (Cell On Wheels / Cell On Light Truck)

Posted by DaveH at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

Trauma Surgery

There is a link to an interesting article at Medgaget today.

Cutting-Edge Trauma Surgery — What's Proven, What's Not?
An interesting article coming out of the American College of Surgeons 90th Annual Clinical Congress, has been published on Medscape. The article, titled “Cutting-Edge Trauma Surgery — What's Proven, What's Not?”, discusses some of the latest trends in trauma surgery, from things such as a shrimp-derived dressing called Hemcon that promotes clotting, to QuickClot — a kitty litter carried by individual marines serving in Iraq, to alternative techniques for closing an open abdomen.

The article is for general surgeons and other medical professionals. But we would rate it medium for difficulty for a general audience that is interested to learn more about the latest in trauma surgery .

Fascinating stuff. Trauma surgery is a lot different than a clinical procedure in an OR. You need something that is effective and fast. Some interesting things have been spun off from this field — the super glues (Alpha Cyanoacrilates) were spun off from Vietnam Trauma units. Funny that kitty-litter is now being used.

Posted by DaveH at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

Badonkadonk

You can get your own for a paltry $19K through Amazon

badonkadonk.jpg

Product Description The JL421 Badonkadonk is a completely unique, extremely rare land vehicle and battle tank. Designed with versatility in mind, the Donk can transport cargo or a crew of five internally or on the roof, and can be piloted from within the armored shell or from an exposed standing position through the hatch, thanks to special one-way steel mesh armor windows and a control stick that pivots up and down to allow piloting from the standing or seated positions. The interior is fully carpeted and cozy, with accent lighting and room for up to five people. A 400 watt premium sound system with PA is mounted to project sound both into the cabin and outward from behind the windows. The exterior is a steel shell with a rust patina, and features head and tail lights, turn signal lights, trim lighting, underbody lighting, fixed slats protecting the windows, and a unique industrial-strength rubberized flexible skirt that shields and protects the wheels to within an inch of the ground, while still allowing for enough flex to give clearance over bumpy and uneven terrain. Master power, ignition, all lighting, and stereo features are controlled from a single switchboard to the left of the driver, again accessible from either the seated or standing position. Standard drive is an air-cooled, 6hp Tecumseh gasoline (unleaded only) engine, with centrifugal clutch, giving the Donk a top speed of 40 mph. This vehicle is not licensed for use on public roads, and is intended as a recreational vehicle only. Badonkadonks are produced on an order-by-order basis, with each one having it's own unique set of features. With your order is included unlimited consultations with the designer and manufacturer concerning all relevant options (a representative from NAO will contact you shortly after your order). Price does not include shipping and handling.

Read the customer reviews for some good chuckles…

Posted by DaveH at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

A Chunk of Change

The government of Iraq just deposited some money with the US Federal Reserve. How much? HispanicBusiness has the story:

Iraq Deposits Five Billion Dollars with US Federal Reserve
The Iraqi central bank has built up five billion dollars in reserves in recent months which have been deposited with the US Federal Reserve, a top US treasury official said Tuesday.

The sum will earn the Iraqi government about 100 million dollars of much needed interest each year, John Taylor, US treasury under secretary for international affairs, told a press conference after talks with Iraqi officials.

The money has been placed with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Very cool - looks like their economy is growing very well. Nice to see the money being saved rather than 'invested' in Palaces…

Posted by DaveH at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2005

Today's Iraq

A nice list of things about today's Iraq over at The Braden Files

Cherry-picking a few examples:
  • Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?
  • Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq?
  • Did you know that Iraq¹s higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers?
  • Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2004 for the re-established Fulbright program?
  • Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks?
  • Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities.
  • Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?
  • Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?
  • Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%?
  • Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consist of 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations?

Good stuff… From The Braden Files again:

Of course we didn't know!

Why didn't we know? Because a Bush-hating media and Democratic Party would rather see the world blow up than lose their power.

Instead of shouting these accomplishments from every rooftop, they would rather show photos of what a few perverted malcontent soldiers have done in prisons in many cases never disclosing the circumstances surrounding the events.

Instead of showing our love for our country, we get photos of flag burning incidents at Abu Ghraib and people throwing snowballs at presidential motorcades.

The lack of accentuating the positive in Iraq serves several purposes, none of them good. It undermines the world's perception of the United States and our soldiers' morale. And it continues to give aid and comfort to the enemy. A phrase you'll find in the dictionary, under such headings as “treason” and “sedition.”

If there is anything to be ashamed of about Iraq, it's fellow Americans who would rather see terrorism succeed than a Republican president.

Something to think about as we continue to have incidents like Eason and Rathergate

Posted by DaveH at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

More posts on Brown Snout today

I'm posting some stuff on our other web site Brown Snout

Wine tasting and the weather…

Posted by DaveH at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

The role of Sufism in the Middle East

A very thoughtful article on Sufism and it's possible role in the Middle East:

Sufism and the Future of Islam
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — As the year came to a close, in an elegant residence in the capital city of this Central Asian ex-Soviet republic, Sheikh Muhammad Sadiq Muhammad Yusuf, the 52-year old, former grand mufti, or chief Muslim cleric for Central Asia, spoke in a manner seldom heard from Islamic community leaders inside the United States. He began by declaring that Muslims worldwide need to study and take responsibility for the problem of Islamist extremism. He also spoke appreciatively of visiting Washington.

He then remarked, in a colloquy on how U.S. leaders should formulate global policy and strategy, “Sufism, our Muslim spiritual tradition, enjoys support from the American authorities.”

This belief, which seems naïve at best, is easy to understand, given that certain Washington voices have advocated such an approach. In a recent confidential study, a Defense Department contractor recommended that one of seven major strategic goals for Western success in the Muslim world consist of backing Sufis, adherents to the eponymous movement, as an alternative to radical Islam.

Similarly, in March of last year, a conference at the Nixon Center in the capital heard the West's preeminent academic expert on Islam, Bernard Lewis, answer how the Bush administration might improve dialogue with Muslims: “I would suggest that they should talk to sheikh [Muhammad Hisham] Kabbani.” The leader one of the largest groups of Sufis, Kabbani has been an outspoken supporter of the United States against Islamist radicals.

Clearly, as America refines its leadership in the war on terror, some aspects of Sufism may have increased in relevance. The basic questions are two:
* What is Sufism and where is it geographically distributed?
* What are its relations with Muslim radicalism, and can it indeed be used as an American policy and strategic asset?

The rest of this fascinating article traces the history of Sufism and the various branches of its practice. My first wife was a Mevlevi Sufi and I went to many of the ceremonies and Zikrs (Remembrance of God). A nicer group of people you could not meet.

Posted by DaveH at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

Our Variable Climate

A recent letter to Nature outlines what people have been saying all along — there is a several hundred year cycle of warming and cooling periods.

Hat tip to Envirospin Watch

Here is the first paragraph and contact info (you can get the entire letter for free through most inter-library loans but the Nature website wants you to buy it if you want more than this synopsis)

Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy dataANDERS MOBERG, DMITRY M. SONECHKIN, KARIN HOLMGREN, NINA M. DATSENKO & WIBJÖRN KARLÉN

A number of reconstructions of millennial-scale climate variability have been carried out in order to understand patterns of natural climate variability, on decade to century timescales, and the role of anthropogenic forcing. These reconstructions have mainly used tree-ring data and other data sets of annual to decadal resolution. Lake and ocean sediments have a lower time resolution, but provide climate information at multicentennial timescales that may not be captured by tree-ring data. Here we reconstruct Northern Hemisphere temperatures for the past 2,000 years by combining low-resolution proxies with tree-ring data, using a wavelet transform technique to achieve timescale-dependent processing of the data. Our reconstruction shows larger multicentennial variability than most previous multi-proxy reconstructions, but agrees well with temperatures reconstructed from borehole measurements and with temperatures obtained with a general circulation model. According to our reconstruction, high temperatures—similar to those observed in the twentieth century before 1990—occurred around AD 1000 to 1100, and minimum temperatures that are about 0.7 K below the average of 1961–90 occurred around AD 1600. This large natural variability in the past suggests an important role of natural multicentennial variability that is likely to continue.

To summarize:
high temperatures… …around AD 1000 to 1100,
minimum temperatures… …around AD 1600

Ties right in with the wine grapes growing in Greenland around 900 and people ice skating on the canals of Europe in the 1500's.

bru6.jpg

To read more click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here… well, you get the picture.

Posted by DaveH at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

The McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act

Iain Murray writes at Tech Central Station on this particularly odious bit of legislation that has surfaced in 2003, 2004 and is making a comeback as well as three new ones:

The Bill That Wouldn't Die
You may hear the creak of a coffin-lid today as the alarmists' favorite domestic energy suppression measure rises from the grave. This particularly pungent revenant is the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act 2003, 2004, 2005, an attempt to establish the principle that caps on energy use are the way to combat the threat of global warming. In fact, the CSA would do absolutely nothing to reduce temperatures, its only effect being to put a few hundred thousand Americans out of a job. But, hey, it's in a good cause.

The CSA, or as it has become more widely known, McLieberman, was defeated comfortably on its last outing in October 2003 by 55 votes to 43, with ten Democrats joining the majority of Republicans to reject it. If anything, the Senate elections last year reduced the number likely to vote for it, so the chances of this undead Bill doing anything more than shambling a few steps before disintegrating in the harsh sunlight of political reality are slim at best.

The same cannot be said of three new Bills on climate change announced this week by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R.-NE). He said he would introduce the Bills (one aimed at encouraging international consideration of technological development, one a domestic equivalent, and one making permanent tax breaks for investment in research into the issue) in order to get the White House more 'involved' in the issue. “We have been out of the game for four years,” he told the liberal Brookings Institution, “That's dangerous.”

The idea that the US has been “out of the game” surrounding global warming is somewhat odd. The US remains a signatory to both the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Treaty itself, even if it has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol. It has continued to send large delegations to every contrail-spawning global warming meeting around the globe, proposed a ton of regulations and has directly funded most of the science used to justify alarm on the issue, to the tune of $2 billion in 2004. If anything, the US has been far too involved in the subject.

Senator Hagel's bills stand a very good chance of becoming law, as they actually echo the very same White House policy that has been advanced at those international meetings. At the same time, however, any Congressional involvement in the issue now is intellectually incoherent.

Why? Because the only rationale for getting “back in the game” is if there is recognition that anthropogenic climate change is going to be dangerous. If that is the case, then proposing any action that does not stop that result is going to be futile. We must have a clear idea of what will stop that result, complete with its full costs. Saying that the Climate Stewardship Act or Kyoto or whatever is merely a first step is disingenuous. Nobody sensible starts walking without knowing where they're going to end up. If we are to take the steps down the energy suppression road, we must know what it will cost us to go the whole way. Of course, we might well find up that the cost will be so great that we are unwilling to take the journey. That would be a legitimate choice, but we cannot make that choice if we do not have the full information. The argument for “doing something” is therefore incoherent, gesture politics at its job-destroying worst.

Read the rest and contact your congresscritters…

Posted by DaveH at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2005

The History of the Pocket Protector

The IEEE History website has an article on the History of the Pocket Protector:

There was no such thing as a nerd back in 1947, when Erich Klein opened a small factory on Chicago's North Side and became one of the first manufacturers to make plastic pocket protectors.

“It slipped into a shirt pocket and was useful to anyone who carried a fountain pen or a ballpoint pen, which had ink leakage problems,” said Randy Silton, Mr. Klein's grandson and president of the company, Erell Manufacturing. “We still make hundreds of thousands a year, but most others have dropped them from their lines. I guess pocket protectors aren't so popular anymore.”

That's a polite way to put it. Made possible by the same heat-sealing process used to make World War II flak jackets, the pocket protector was intended as an advertising giveaway, emblazoned with a company logo. But this simple polyvinyl chloride product evolved into something far more culturally symbolic: it became the ultimate emblem of nerdiness.

“My first computer course in college was taught by a guy with so many pocket protectors he seemed to be some son of animatronic device with a bad haircut, said Alan Robbins, an associate professor of design at Kean University in New Jersey. “Pocket protectors organize tools on the wearer's body, turning the user into a kind of rudimentary cyborg - part human, part toolbox.”

For reference, the IEEE (Eye-triple-E) stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. These people are Geeks. Nerds spend all their time in front of computer screens. Geeks blow shit up with electricity. I like both…

Posted by DaveH at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

Skyscraper on fire in Spain

Large fire in Madrid Spain — a skyscraper that was undergoing renovation caught fire and “burned like a candle”. Unoccupied (it's Sunday over there) but three fire-fighters have been injured.

From Reuters:

Fire Ravages Madrid Skyscraper, No Injuries
A raging fire swept through a 32-storey skyscraper in the heart of Madrid's commercial district on Sunday, causing no injuries but sparking fears the office building might collapse.

Bright orange flames ate through the top half of the Windsor building as its metal shell fell away in tangled pieces from the upper floors, exposing a smoldering concrete skeleton.

Giant balls of flame rose into the night as parts of its side collapsed. The smell of smoke spread through the north of the Spanish capital as hundreds of anxious neighbors packed streets around the burning building.

Several onlookers and firemen had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

“The fire is very big and we cannot save the building itself. Our focus is to prevent it from spreading,” said Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, adding that a short-circuit was the likely cause of the blaze.

spanish-skyscraper-fire.jpg

spanish-skyscraper-fire-1.jpg

Thank God the building was being renovated (therefore unoccupied) and
that it was Sunday (no workers)

There have been reports of three injured Firefighters but it has been listed as smoke inhalation and they are being treated.

Posted by DaveH at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

Aircraft that never got built.

A museum of links to images of Aircraft that were never built. Some very strange ones and some beautiful flights of fancy reminiscent of the craft in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

HarryGrantDartBluNorange3.jpg

Hat tip to We Make Money not Art

Posted by DaveH at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

Two more on Ward Churchill fiasco

Ward Churchill (the 9/11 victims = Little Eichmanns guy) can't get no respect anymore…

As I had written about earlier here, the University of Colorado professor and director of their “Indian Studies” program is not Indian as he claims.

Two other people are writing about this:

First Ann Coulter:

SITTING BULL-S***
February 9, 2005

If Ward Churchill loses his job teaching at the University of Colorado, he could end up giving Howard Dean a real run for his money to head the Democratic National Committee.

Churchill already has a phony lineage and phony war record — just like John Kerry! (Someone should also check out Churchill's claim that he spent Christmas 1968 at Wounded Knee.) In 1983, Churchill met with Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and later felt it necessary to announce that his group, the American Indian Movement, “has not requested arms from the Libyan government.” In 1997, he was one of the “witnesses” who spoke at a “Free Mumia” event in Philadelphia on behalf of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Come to think of it, Churchill could give Hillary a run for her money. All that's left for Churchill to do now is meet with Al Sharpton and kiss Suha Arafat.

Churchill's claim that he is an Indian isn't an incidental boast, like John Kerry pretending to be Irish. It is central to his career, his writing, his political activism. Churchill has been the co-director of the American Indian Movement of Colorado, the vice chairperson of the American Indian “Anti-Defamation” Council, and an associate professor and coordinator of American Indian Studies at the University of Colorado.

Ann goes on to tell a bit more of the current story and then go through Churchill's claims and backpeadling when facts are presented.

Please Note: Ann's website does not offer permalinks — this story is right now on the top of her website but it will probably be moved to the archives section when she writes something new.
Here is that link: Ann Coulter Archives

Next up is Bad Eagle — Dr. David Yeagley who has two posts to offer:

Indians Don't Care About Churchill
Of all the things I said on Bill O'Reilly's The Factor last night (February 10), probably the most controversial will be my opening statement: “Indians don't care about Ward Churchill.” Why controversial? Because all the Indians on the Indian websites and newspapers have vociferously denounced Churchill. “Is there a consensus?” O'Reilly had asked. I still say yes. I still say Indian people don't care.

So, who are “the Indians?” That's the underlying issue, for Indians. Is it the common Indian people, or the professional Indians with a voice in media? The professionals are all liberal, Leftist, and hardly represent Indian people. The university Indians are professional Leftists. They have their own careers. None of these people represent Indian people.

No one “represents” Indian people. I don't, either. “The people” are psychologically independent. They laugh at so-called leaders, most of the time. Most people out there in America do not know about real Indian people, in Indian environments.

These Leftists who will criticize what I said are just as ant-American as Ward Churchill! Just because they have an opportunity to denounce him for his fake Indianness, just because they declare their “compassion” for the victims of 9-11, doesn't mean they aren't just as Communist as he is. They share exactly the same sentiments. America is bad. Indians must forever lament.

Anyone who knows anything about Churchill has known he's fake. Indians have known it for 30 years, especially the “professional” Indians. So where have then been? Why have they let him get by with his chicanery for 30 years? This is too little, too late, as far as I'm concerned. Their protest of Churchill is more fake than his Indianness.

Ouch! He is certainly telling a different story than what we hear from the MSM or leftie blogs.

Dr. Yeagley's next post refers to his appearance on Bill O'Reilly's “The Factor

Churchill and Free Speech
David Horowitz says Ward Churchill should not be fired from the faculty of the University of Colorado. Despite Churchill's venomous anti-Americanism, Horowitz says free speech is more important, and that firing Churchill would set “a bad precedent.”

Dr. Yeagley then goes on to say:

Intellectual diversity is an ideal, and far from reality. Private schools offer the only hope of true freedom of thought. I think it is important to be clear on the state university issue, however, and we can thank Mr. Horowitz for his statements, indeed his life labor, to correct the university conditions.

However, if I may be so bold as to assert, I do not believe the kind of rhetoric of Ward Churchill represents intellectual diversity at all. I do not believe the state university should provide opportunity for America's enemies to express themselves, especially to young, impressionable minds. The concept of intellectual diversity should never be understood as an opportunity for destructive influences to foster animosity toward America.

Even if I myself, an American Indian patriot, were given a position juxtaposing Churchill, in the same department, it would not balance the influence. Whenever the state gives tax-supported opportunity for the enemy of the state to express itself, the concept of intellectual diversity is crippled and moot. The public is insulted, and the country is weakened. Mixing poison with truth blurs the whole concept of the country.

Personally, I think public universities should be dismantled completely. The private sector, with a variety of institutions, could better engender the ideal of intellectual diversity. If sectors of the public want communist institutions, let them have them, at their own expense. Let them deal with their own accreditation problems. Let students attend such institutions if they want, and only if they want.

If the idea of teaching American constitutional patriotism is considered imbalanced, then the case is hopeless. The enemy forever holds a place in the development of the culture. The enemy has the advantage in the future. If love of America cannot be taught unless hatred of America is taught along side it, then there is no point in either being taught in the name of intellectual diversity. Such diversity is nothing more than anti-Americanism itself.

Interesting thoughts — I side with Dr. Yeagley on this one although the State Universities do offer a lot of good when you are looking at the agricultural and medical courses. Maybe they should dismantle all programs with the word “Studies” in their title — those are where the moonbattery seems to come from.
Nobody ever enrolled in the “Bovine Studies” program at WSU…

Posted by DaveH at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

Prickly City was on a roll this week

The comic strip Prickly City has been following the Democratic National Committee this week and has some trenchant observations crammed into a few hand-drawn panes…

(These are all thumbnails — click for the full-size Image)

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Posted by DaveH at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

Snakes and Democrats

A great rambling by Mostly Cajun on snakes, childhood and Democrats:

Snake stories
Over at The Boiling Point (he’s on the blogroll over on the sidebar) there’s a story about the horrors precipitated from the incursion of a serpent into a scene of domestic bliss. Swallow your drink, set down the cup, and read. You’ve been warned. Blowing coffee out one’s nostrils is not conducive to decorum…

Down here in southwest Louisiana, we are in close proximity to the habitats of a wide variety of reptilian life. I’ve previously posted a story about how a small snake can perform miracles, like making my Uncle Pete walk on water…

Dad used to always keep a few chickens. He liked the fresh eggs, and occasional yard-raided chicken was a big flavor difference in Mom’s gumbo. In the country, though, keeping chickens meant the occasional run-in with chicken snakes. In reality, they hung around chicken houses for the rodents attracted to the spilled chicken feed, but on the odd occasion, they’d eat eggs, too. I do believe that Dad reaching into a nest in a dark hen-house expecting to find an egg and instead encountering a scaly moving reptilian form resulted in the fastest movement and most colorful language I remember from him.

Chicken snakes were a common enough problem to where remedies were available to stop them from eating eggs. Actually, the most common remedy cured two ills: first, the egg-stealing snake, and second, the fact that some hens won’t lay in an empty nest.

We’d put in a “nest egg”, usually a porcelain or glass replica of a real egg. Chickens not being the brightest things in the world (they generally voted a straight Democratic ticket) , they’d just assume that they’d laid the egg the previous day and lay another beside it. the fact was, chickens could be fooled by a porcelain doorknob. Like Democrats, chickens would be happy if we fed them regularly, provided free housing, faked them into believing they were having a meaningful existence (that “nest egg”) and were generally happy despite the fact that occasionally Dad would show up and haul one off to slaughter.

Read the rest — it's a great story.

Posted by DaveH at 02:58 PM | Comments (1)

The Exam

A great story from The Physics Geek about a student taking an examination:

The setting is Ohio State University about six or seven years ago in a huge lecture hall (approximately 1000 students) for a Calculus final.

Apparently this particular calculus teacher wasn't very well liked. He was one of those guys who would stand at the front of the class and yell out how much time was remaining before the end of a test, a real charmer. Since he was so busy gallivanting around the room making sure that nobody cheated and that everyone was aware of how much time they had left before their failure on the test was complete, he had the students stack the completed tests on the huge podium at the front of the room. This made for quite a mess, remember there were 1000 students in the class.

Anyway, during this particular final, one guy entered the test needing a decent grade to pass the class. His only problem with Calculus was that he did poorly when rushed, and this guy standing in the front of the room barking out how much time was left before the tests had to be handed in didn't help him at all. He figured he wanted to assure himself of a good grade, so he hardly flinched when the professor said “pencils down and submit your scantron sheets and work to piles at the front of the room”.

Five minutes turned into ten, ten into twenty, twenty into forty … almost an hour after the test was “officially over”, our friend finally put down his pencil, gathered up his work, and headed to the front of the hall to submit his final. The whole time, the professor sat at the front of the room, strangely waiting for the student to complete his exam.

Visit The Physics Geek for the rest of the story.

Posted by DaveH at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2005

No posts today (Friday)

Spent this morning/afternoon making about ten gallons of hootch (details on the Brownsnout website) and Jen and I went in to see The Aviator and have a nice dinner.

The Aviator is an awesome piece of film-making. Do yourself the favor and see it on the big screen — I don't care how good your “media center” is — the big screen is the only way to do it justice…

I'll be back online tomorrow…

Posted by DaveH at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

Dogpile on Ward Churchill

I had written about Ward Churchill before because he was already getting a lot of press for his “Little Eichmanns” description of the victims of the 9/11 middle-east attack on US Soil.

What I had written was this: Professor not what he says he is…

Now isn’t that special — from the Rocky Mountain News:
Prof’s Indian roots disputed The United Keetoowah Band Cherokee says University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill is not a member of their tribe.

“He’s not in the database at all and is not a member of the Keetoowah,” said Georgia Mauldin, the tribal clerk in Tahlequah, Okla.

In his books and articles, Churchill has described himself as a member of the Keetoowah Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. In past interviews, he’s claimed to be one-sixteenth Cherokee.

But the Keetoowah say that’s not true.

And here is the delightful story of a student who challenged Churchill’s pedigree:

Many eyes are looking into the life of Mr. Churchill these days and they are not seeing anything authentic or good:

Denver Radio Station 630KHOW has photos of this moke's office:

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PirateBallerina has some links

And Hog on Ice is offering:

NEW, From Ward Churchill and Ron Popeil!
Now You, too, Can be a Boy Named Sioux

Hey, white kids, are you self-hating? Do you wish you had an interesting ethnic background so you could get affirmative action and sweet government handouts? Do you want to be a Native American just like your idol, Ward Churchill, also known as Ward Least Meat Buffoon? Would you enjoy fishing without a license, selling tax-free cigarettes, and running a casino?

Well, THIS IS YOUR LUCKY DAY! Now, you, too, can be an American Indian, with the WARD CHURCHILL INSTANT INDIAN KIT!

Here's what you get:

HOI-lorealblackdye.jpg

A package of L'Oreal “Natural Black” hair coloring!

HOI-Bronzingmist.jpg

A can of St. Tropez Bronzing Mist (recommended by Woman’s Day)!

HOI-tomahawk.jpg

A genuine simulated plastic tomahawk!

There are lots more stories about this character if you want to go through Google.

An authentic product of our academic system…

Oh yeah — he has been given Honoary Priest status by the Raelians…
Maybe they can clone him or something…

Posted by DaveH at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

Look at this picture and form your own opinion

BushHitler-projo.jpg

And the story from here:
(use bugmenot for login)

Jeffrey Eden devised his award-winning project less than 30 minutes after his high school art teacher asked him to express a thought or two in a three-dimensional way.

The award-winning artwork by high school student Jeffrey Eden compares President Bush’s war policies with Adolf Hitler’s pillage of Europe.

So, in the wake of last year’s polarizing election and the war in Iraq, the 17-year-old built an abstract scene comparing President Bush’s war policies with Adolf Hitler’s pillage of Europe.

Hat tip to Charles at LGF who writes:

It can be funny in a rather dark way to mock the historically ignorant types who parrot Bush/Hitler/Chimp comparisons.

But it isn’t so funny to see this kind of sideways Holocaust denial infecting 17-year old high school art students like Jeffrey Eden: Youth defends prize-winning Bush/Hitler art. (Hat tip: Antiprotester Journal.)

Nobody is surprised that a 17-year old has a stupid opinion, of course. But it is disturbing that young Jeffrey was highly rewarded for this work of dumb hatred, receiving an A from his teacher and a “silver key” from the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards.

Posted by DaveH at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

Interesting sale site: WOOT!

I present: w00t

The word itself dates from the archaic era of the early 1990's but a throughly modern website has taken this moniker as its own and is selling remaindered items. One item per day and when it is sold out, you are S.O.L.

Caveat: I have not bought anything from them — there has been no bad press and they have an online forum so this seems to be legit.

Their product descriptions are quite fun — here is the one for today's sale — a seemingly nice little DVD player for $134.99 with $5 shipping:

Unless your mortgage is paid off and you can somehow draw nourishment from little clumps of dust and hair, sometimes you have to pierce the nurturing womb of your home and venture into the terrifying world outside. Did those two teenage girls just snicker at me? Shouldn’t that slobbering Rottweiler be on a leash? What is the guy in the next subway seat doing under his coat? Was that cop trying to stare me down? What did I just step in?

Instead of throwing your fists over your ears and collapsing to the sidewalk, replace the threatening cacophony of the outside world with the gentle balm of the Hollywood dream factory. “What’s that you say, sonny? Give you ten bucks or you’ll cut me? Hang on a minute – the School of Rock kids are just about to get their big break.” This Liquid Video Portable DVD system erects an impenetrable 6.2” LCD wall between you and the scary, hostile Others, in widescreen 16:9 format. Eschew the stereo speakers and use headphones (not included) for up to 5 hours of cord free, total social disengagement - Liquid Video style!

Not into movies? Fed up with the entertainment industry’s unhealthy beauty standards? Blind? It can also play audio CDs or mp3s, so neh. And we didn’t forget the pimply, sociopathic gamer types who have taken over half of our movie store floor space: plug in your favorite game console and BAM! You’ll be murdering scores of pitiful innocents in lifelike color, not to mention freaking out the old lady in the next booth at Denny’s. Yeah, that’s right! Someday you’ll make them all afraid! Someday!

Some copy editor is having too much fun — needs more Pointy-Haired-Boss management.

Posted by DaveH at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

COOL!

When I first heard that SCI FI channel was re-doing Battlestar Galactica my second reaction was to think “WTF?” My first reaction was mopped off the kitchen floor and not spoken of again. Thank you Jen!

We watched it and it is actually very very good — same basic premise as the first series but with decent writing, talent and a good budget.

Today it was announced that it is go for a second season!!!

SCI FI Renews Galactica
SCI FI Channel has ordered a second season of its hit series Battlestar Galactica, which has aired five episodes of its first season of 13 episodes. Details of the renewal—including which cast members will return, how many episodes will be produced and when the second season will commence—were still being worked out at press time.

Battlestar Galactica has been a ratings winner for SCI FI since its Jan. 14 premiere. The latest episode, Feb. 4's “You Can't Go Home Again,” scored the show's best ratings yet, with 3.2 million viewers.

For the show's second season, creator and executive producer Ronald D. Moore previously told SCI FI Wire that he has already been working on as many as six new scripts to resolve the multiple cliffhangers that will end season one. Moore added that he wants to delve deeper into the show's religious themes and open up the Cylon world a bit more in the coming season. Moore continues to post his thoughts on a personal blog on SCIFI.COM. Battlestar Galactica airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET/PT, part of the channel's SCI FI Fridays lineup.

Posted by DaveH at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

IBM v/s SCO

For those following the lawsuit between the Santa Cruz Organization and International Business Machines, the latest shoe to drop came when the Judge in the case noticed that SCO didn't have any evidence…

Hat tip to tech dirt for this wowzer:

Judge Notices SCO Doesn't Actually Have Any Evidence Against IBM
It's only been two years since SCO sued IBM over the Linux source code, and while it's been pointed out repeatedly in a variety of sources, it's only now that a judge has noticed that SCO seems to have no evidence at all, leading to a fairly scathing rebuke: “Viewed against the backdrop of SCO's plethora of public statements concerning IBM's and others' infringement of SCO's purported copyrights to the Unix software, it is astonishing that SCO has not offered any competent evidence to create a disputed fact regarding whether IBM has infringed SCO's alleged copyrights through IBM's Linux activities.” However, the judge still refused to grant a summary judgment to IBM, but you have to wonder how SCO can hope to have much of a chance at this point. Of course, in the intervening two years, SCO has managed to waste an awful lot of peoples' time and money in this wild goose chase.

To get a better picture of what we are dealing with let's look at their five year stock prices:

sco.gif
Click for full-size Image

You are looking at a nice IPO and then the overall realization that their product was pretty mediocre and overpriced (they got some technology from AT&T's Unix program). In 2003 they initiated their lawsuit which did a nice little runup of stock prices with a lot of people buying at that initial bump and then the majority of people selling (look at the traffic graph at the bottom) and… very interestingly… a very short period pf people who transacted (presumable sold) at the very point where the stock prices started to go down again. The stock is basically moribund at around $4 and change.

Posted by DaveH at 09:25 PM | Comments (1)

Tame Foxes

An interesting look into what may have been the precursor to modern-day dogs.

From the U.K. Independent:

A study in evolution: foxes turned into man's best friend
They stare you in the face, wag their tails and whine with joy when anyone approaches. But these are not dogs; they are a domesticated breed of fox that looks and behaves just like man's best friend.

After 45 years of selective breeding, and almost as many fox generations, scientists have produced what nature could not, a tame fox who eagerly follows his master's gaze.

Foxes bred on a farm in Siberia since 1959 not only look like dogs, they act like them in their ability to read someone's face for visual cues on what they are expected to do. Dogs, domesticated from wolves more than 10,000 years ago, are among the few animals with enough “social intelligence” to follow the visual instructions shown in the expression of a face or movements of a hand.

Now a study with the Russian foxes has shown they are just as adept. Scientists from Russia, Germany and America report today on the results of intelligence tests on the Siberian foxes which clearly put them on a par with dogs, and even above chimpanzees in being able to read gestures of human communication, such as pointing to hidden parcels of food with eyes or hands.

Here is the story at Nature:

Friendly foxes are cleverer
For almost half a century, a population of foxes in Siberia has been bred to be unafraid of humans and non-aggressive. Now these foxes seem to have shown that social skills come as a perk of being friendly.

Dogs, domesticated from their wild wolf cousins over millennia, are not only less likely to bite or bolt, but have also gained the ability to communicate with their human companions. For example, if a human points or looks at an object, the dog will also look at it.

Brian Hare, an anthropologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, had previously shown that dogs are more likely than undomesticated animals - even chimps - to be able to communicate in this way with humans. But was this social sophistication something that was specifically bred for during their domestication, or was it a by-product?

An opportunity to find out came from the Siberian foxes, which have been bred for friendliness but have had limited contact with humans. The project was set up in 1959 by Dmitry K. Belyaev of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk to examine the genetics of domestication. Each fox is tested at the age of seven months to see whether they approach humans (and whether they bite). The 'friendlier' foxes are bred, and a separate, control, population is bred randomly.

And the obligatory cute picture:

fox.jpg

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…

The text of the paper is here.

And if breeding for friendliness also confers intelligence, this speaks a lot for the situation in the Middle East. Lots of inbreeding — it is well known that people in Saudi Arabia have problems with hemophilia which is caused by inbreeding. One paper is here and the situation is bad enough that they hosted this conference: 1st Saudi International Symposium on Bleeding Disorders in February 2004. Funny thing - the speakers are all from outside the “kingdom” — they must be running scared to listen to a dhimi…

Posted by DaveH at 09:09 PM | Comments (4)

Tsunami Images

An amazing set of 20 tsunami pictures. These are all satellite images and have been matched up in size and scale — the first one is before and you click to see the after. We have all seen pictures of the horrible devastation from the ground but to see it from the satellite hammers home how wide-spread the damage was.

These are also mirrored here if the server gets overloaded.

tsunami-before.gif

tsunami-after.gif

(I reduced the image size and resolution to conserve server space — the ones on the website are much larger and clearer .)

Posted by DaveH at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

A fine rant on Whole Foods

Dr. Frank lays down a fine rant on the upscale grocery store Whole Foods and why he doesn't shop there:

So I avoid Whole Foods as much as I possibly can, not only because of what they have there, but because of what they don't have. I mean, they don't have normal stuff like mayonnaise or ketchup or regular breakfast cereal. True, you can go in there and spend $200 on a bag containing eight tiny items, among which is a jar full of a funky substance from somewhere in the Andes that is “better than mayonnaise” because the simple, honest, lovely, gentle people of the rainforest have “really good food” and don't need our rapacious Western ways. But it costs more per ounce than aged single malt, tastes kind of weird and smells like ass. Sometimes you just want some regular mayonnaise on your sandwich. Is that so wrong? Plus, I can't stand the self-satisfied expressions on all the Whole Foods shoppers' faces when they're caressing the tiny jar of Andes-mayonnaise and doing their little “yay! yay! it's organic!” dance. I know that's unworthy of me. But they irritate the hell out of me.

Hat tip to Richard Bennett who adds this:

Just between you and me, I’m pretty sure a lettuce doesn’t know whether a particular molecule of nitrogen came out of a bag of ammonium nitrate or from a pile of cow shit. Really.

Heh… Pretty much sums it up. I do prefer organically grown food because that label also sets limits on residual pesticides and the food is generally fresher but it is very easy to go waaay overboard with the small (expensive) jars of carob-hemp-funk…

Posted by DaveH at 12:10 PM | Comments (1)

The King Center

Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple has some harsh words for those people who have inherited the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

What else is going on in Atlanta. What have we here? Cynthia Tucker is going after the King family again. That takes courage in Atlanta.

It seems the King Center has fallen on hard times.

In the years after her husband's assassination, Coretta Scott King tapped into a deep wellspring of guilt, regret and longing to raise funds for a memorial: the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. In 1981, she completed a landmark $8 million building, with her husband's tomb as its centerpiece. The King Center was to be a dynamic institution that would keep the dream alive.
But the center never came close to its potential. Now, it is close to collapse. Nearly 40 years after King's death, the facility is crumbling; educational and advocacy programming is nonexistent; staff layoffs have claimed even the janitor.

How could this be?

The King Center has been ruined by the King family.

WTF? How did this happen?

King's heirs have always been at least as interested in self-aggrandizement and material comfort as they have been in advocating civil rights and social justice. Even as fund-raising has lagged, King's adult sons — Martin III and Dexter — continue to pay themselves six-figure salaries as executives of the institution. They have even mortgaged a nearby landmark, their father's birth home.

Six figure salaries? It seems that the reflecting pool is leaking. The electrical wiring has become a fire hazard. The restrooms have backed up sewers. The place is a mess, but Dexter King makes around $180,000 and Martin III makes about $150,000. Not bad bucks to do nothing.

Cynthia continues.

Now that the center is barely able to meet payroll, its staff cut by nearly three-quarters and repairs desperately needed on the leaking roof and the crumbling reflecting pool, King Center advocates want more government funds to help with the estimated $11 million needed for maintenance. According to former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who was once a close confidant of King's and continues to be a staunch defender of his heirs, “A lot of money needs to go into maintenance, and that can't be the responsibility of the family.”

Yep! Gotta keep paying Dexter and Marty III the big bucks.

Nonsense. Congress should not set aside another dime for the King Center until the family agrees to deed the facility — lock, stock and barrel — over to the National Park Service. That's the only way to ensure that taxpayer funds won't be used to subsidize Dexter's apartment out in Malibu. (While Dexter, who fancies himself an actor, still collects a salary and benefits package of $188,000 a year as board chairman and COO, he spends much of his time in Southern California.)

An actor? I guess so. He's acting like he's running the King Center. Unfortunately, he and his brother are running it into the ground but he did have a vision at one time.

When Dexter took over the center in 1995, he stripped away the last vestiges of civil rights crusading to concentrate on profitmongering. He visited the managers of the Elvis Presley estate to try to figure out how he could market his late father as they had marketed the dead singer. The family even fought the National Park Service's proposal to build a visitors' center near the King Center: the family wanted the site to build a for-profit museum — a sort of “I Have a Dreamland.” (Fortunately, the visitors' center was built.)

I have a Dreamland. I love it. I don't often agree with Cynthia Tucker but she is right on here. She went after the King family a while back when they tried to get $20 million for some of King's papers.

The family will not easily or quickly concede that it ought to turn the King Center over to the National Park Service, which has the managerial expertise to maintain the property. The Kings are notoriously difficult to negotiate with. A few years ago, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) was close to persuading a reluctant Congress to offer the family $20 million for a large stash of King's papers, which would have gone to the Library of Congress. But the family insisted on retaining the copyrights, so Congress backed away.

And she finishes with a final flourish.

Nevertheless, prominent activists ought to open talks with the family on the future of the King Center. If they don't surrender it, the facility will soon be an eyesore — and a huge advertisement for the way in which the King heirs have debased the dream.

But they have made a lot of money off of King's legacy. Ya gotta love the King family. He had a dream. They have a scheme (to make money) and it's working.

Content of Their Character indeed! I quoted the entire post because excerpting it didn't work - this needed to be read in its entirety. Goes right along with what people like Bill Cosby are saying. (here, here and here)

Posted by DaveH at 12:02 PM | Comments (2)

Huygens probe flop turns out sorta OK after all -- good news!

I had written about this earlier here: (item two)

I had linked to a Yahoo/AP news item but this link seems to have rotted — Here is the quote that I had excerpted:

Professor’s Saturn Experiment Forgotten
David Atkinson spent 18 years designing an experiment for the unmanned space mission to Saturn. Now some pieces of it are lost in space. Someone forgot to turn on the instrument Atkinson needed to measure the winds on Saturn’s largest moon.

“The story is actually fairly gruesome,” the University of Idaho scientist said in an e-mail from Germany, the headquarters of the European Space Agency. “It was human error — the command to turn the instrument on was forgotten.”

Dr. Atkinson’s comment:

“In total, the core of our team has invested something like 80 man years on this experiment, 18 of which are mine,” Atkinson wrote. “I think right now the key lesson is this — if you’re looking for a job with instant and guaranteed success, this isn’t it.”

The data did get sent to earth — ONLY — it was sent over a less accurate channel and it seems that using the doppler shift of the signal, people on earth were able to reconstruct the data.

The Misanthropyst is all over it and with a cool graphic too — they quote from an ESA news item:

Preliminary estimates of the wind variations with altitude on Titan have been obtained from measurements of the frequency of radio signals from Huygens, recorded during the probe’s descent on 14 January 2005. These ‘Doppler’ measurements, obtained by a global network of radio telescopes, reflect the relative speed between the transmitter on Huygens and the receiver on the Earth…

…Winds on Titan are found to be flowing in the direction of Titan's rotation [from west to east] at nearly all altitudes. The maximum speed of roughly 120 metres per second [430 km/h] was measured about ten minutes after the start of the descent, at an altitude of about 120 km. The winds are weak near the surface and increase slowly with altitude up to about 60 km…”

huygens-probe.jpg

Very cool!

Posted by DaveH at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2005

Light blogging tonight

Was working all day spraying the fields (see over at the Brownsnout website). I am also working on some web-site development and CSI New York is on in a few minutes… (got my priorities)

Posted by DaveH at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

Just because...

Sometimes I post things just because I can…

mud-face.jpg

Hey — that image is seared seared into my brain — I'm just sharing the love…

Posted by DaveH at 09:38 PM | Comments (2)

Problems with the railroads

From the NY Times comes this not-too-unexpected story:

U.S. Audit Faults Federal Regulators on Rail Safety
America's four biggest railroads suffer from substantial and systemic safety problems, according to a new federal audit that raises questions about how well federal regulators are overseeing the rail industry.

Citing a series of serious accidents in recent months, the Transportation Department's inspector general said he was concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration's approach to regulation, which stresses “partnership” over punishment, might be failing to fix the most persistent safety problems. He asked the agency to prepare a comprehensive plan to improve its inspection of railroads and enforcement of federal safety rules.

The report also criticized the railroad agency's former acting chief, Betty Monro, saying she had failed to recognize the ethical problem of vacationing on four occasions with a Union Pacific lobbyist.

The inspector general, Kenneth M. Mead, said in the report, dated Dec. 10 and obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act, that it was wrong for Ms. Monro to have shared a house on Nantucket, Mass., with the Union Pacific lobbyist “at the same time the agency you represent is, among other things, proposing and settling millions of dollars in fines against that railroad.”

OUCH! I can understand becoming friends with other people you work with — even if they are on the “other side” but the ethical issues here are very plain.

And the railroads themselves?

The report comes at a time of growing concern about railroad safety in Congress and across the nation, spurred by a number of high profile crashes. Regulators have been unable to reduce the overall accident rate among most of the biggest railroads, and after declining for a number of years, grade-crossing accidents were up sharply in 2004.

And not only accidents that happened, accidents that didn't:

In addition to accident rates, the report also examined safety defects uncovered during inspections and found that “defect ratios” at three of the four top railroads rose. In both categories, Union Pacific had the worst record among the four railroads, even though it had paid relatively more money in fines.

The age of rail is over — time that they recognized it and pulled the plug.
The rail industry made a classic business blunder when it “didn't get” what long-distance trucking and air freight could do. The management was hidebound thinking that rail would always be king. It still is king but of a very small decrepit backwater nation — the rest of the word has moved on.

Posted by DaveH at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

Not the best choice for a wine label...

From CBC News:

Manitoba pulls wines with Stalin labels
The Manitoba liquor board's decision to stop selling wine with labels depicting former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin is drawing applause from the Ukrainian community.

The Manitoba Liquor Control Commission this week stopped sales of two Ukrainian wines – a nine-year-old port and a sherry – after receiving complaints about the labels.

“No mass murderer's mug should grace a wine label,” Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association said in a statement.

“This is very good news, and we commend the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission for acting promptly and removing these offensively labelled wines from their shelves.”

stalin_wine.jpg

The labels show a photograph of Stalin, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Yalta Conference during the Second World War.

When the “Big Three” Allied leaders met in February 1945, they signed a pact that agreed, among other things, to repatriate Soviet citizens to the Soviet Union.

The Ukrainian association said the agreement resulted in the execution of many Ukrainians and the internment of millions in the gulag.

This is the 60th anniversary of the pact's signing.

Talk about poor taste — the Yalta conference was a major event and I wouldn't mind a wine with just Churchill or Roosevelt on the label but Stalin of all people…

Posted by DaveH at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

Who I am...

is not Metrosexual:

I am 23% Metrosexual.
Metro-What? Git Off My Lawn!
I need some advice. I need to STOP BUYING MY CLOTHS AT WAL-MART!!!! I will never land a decent woman unless I shave this nasty facial hair, and spend more then $5 on a haircut.

You can take that test (or others) here

Posted by DaveH at 12:16 AM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2005

Life in the upper strata...

Imagine facing these sorts of problems every day — this is a short news item so I'll quote it in full — the whole thing is really remarkable:

From Bloomberg.com

Britney Spears Sues Eight Insurers Over Canceled Tour
Pop music star Britney Spears is seeking more than $9.8 million in a lawsuit against eight insurers that haven't reimbursed her for 30 canceled shows.

The 23-year-old singer canceled the third leg of her 82-city Onyx Hotel Tour last summer when she injured her knee during a video shoot in June, according to the suit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Feb. 4.

Spears, whose chart-topping singles include “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops!…I Did It Again” said several insurers won't pay the claim because she didn't disclose in her “pre-tour medical report” that she had knee surgery in 1999. The prior injury was widely known and her failure to disclose it was an “innocent omission,” the suit said.

Insurers that have denied her claim include Liberty Syndicate Management Ltd., Beazley Furlong Ltd., and Talbot Underwriting Ltd., which sell insurance in the Lloyd's of London market, and Sydney-based QBE Insurance Group Ltd. Swiss Reinsurance Co.'s SR International Business, and Glenn Allen, Virginia-based Markel Corp. also denied it, the suit said.

Two other insurers, units of France's Axa SA and Germany's Munich Re, haven't said whether they will pay her claim, the suit said.

Clara Rodrigo, a spokeswoman for Paris-based Axa, France's biggest insurer, confirmed that Axa Re is one of the insurers and declined to comment further. Munich Re spokesman Rainer Kueppers had no immediate comment.

Spokespeople for Markel and Swiss Re didn't immediately return phone calls, and representatives for Liberty, Beazley, QBE, and Talbot couldn't be reached.

Premiums

Spears said she paid the insurers $1.3 million in premiums. The insurance covered “abandonment, postponement or cancellation” of performances in the average amount of $380,000 per show.

Several of the insurers that denied claims also said she shouldn't have done the video shoot because she had suffered a knee injury a few months earlier that forced her to cancel two shows, the suit said. The policies don't prohibit Spears from shooting a music video during a tour hiatus, Spears said.

Knee injury and then surgery to correct it and you then try to go on the road a few months later? Failing to disclose this to your insurance companies? They have people who can fact-check your ass so it behooves you to be honest with them. What were you thinking? Finally, why so many overseas insurance companies?

At least you have your career: Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics

Posted by DaveH at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

Thank you Hollywood!

I had written about this earlier here and here. The gist of the story is that a group — Citizens United — rented some billboard space in Hollywood.

From the second of the two posts:

where will these Billboards be posted?
Billboard creator Citizens United, a group that advocates a return to traditional American values, has purchased the use of three billboards near the Kodak Theatre (home of the Academy Awards) for the month of February, which includes Oscar Night, Sunday, February 27.
Well… They are up and Professor Stephen Bainbridge has the goods:

We are amused
I spotted this billboard on the west end of the Sunset Strip…

bush-hollywood.jpg
… and I like it

So do I — a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

It didn't take long for the billboard to be defaced:

hollywood_billboard.jpg

There is nothing like a deep intelligent dialog between people. Those people on the left have so many interesting viewpoints to offer and talking with them is always a fascinating exchange of ideas…

Posted by DaveH at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

Restaurant Review

John Kenney writes in the New Yorker about his experiences dining at Masa (a high-end N.Y. Sushi Restaurant)

You do not seize control at Masa. You surrender it. You pay to be putty. And you pay dearly. . . . Lunch or dinner for two can easily exceed $1,000.
From the Times’ review of Masa, a sushi restaurant that was given four stars.

They arrive exactly one minute and twenty-four seconds late for their reservation:

The maître d’ did not look happy. And so we were asked, in Japanese, to remove our clothes, in separate dressing cabins, and don simple white robes with Japanese writing on the back that, we soon found out, translated as “We were late. We didn’t respect the time of others.” Babette’s feet were bound. I was forced to wear shoes that were two sizes too small. The point being, tardiness is not accepted at Masa. (Nor, frankly, should it be.)

The headwaiter then greeted us by slapping me in the face and telling Babette that she looked heavy, also in Japanese. (No English is spoken in the restaurant. Translators are available for hire for three hundred and twenty-five dollars per hour. We opted for one.)

And so it was that Babette, Aki, and I were led to our table, one of only seven in the restaurant, two of which are always reserved—one for former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who died five years ago, and the other for the actress and singer Claudine Longet, who accidentally shot and killed her boyfriend, the skier Spider Sabich, in 1976.

Hilarious stuff - I have been to places (almost) like that…

Posted by DaveH at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

Crazy Radio

Great story at BBC about an unusual radio station in Argentina:

Crazy Radio gives patients voice
Saturday afternoon in Buenos Aires: tucked away behind the towering, prison-like Jose Borda psychiatric hospital, a large group of people is gathering.

Under the shade of a tree, a haphazard radio studio is being put together.

This is Radio La Colifata, which in Buenos Aires slang means Crazy Radio - the first radio show in the world to broadcast live from a mental hospital.

Riiight — this is probably a toy or a cardboard box painted up to look like a transmitter:

More than a therapy, the show has proven popular with an estimated 12 million listeners.

Taxi driver Hector Eduardo Costa listens as he works through the night.

He says: “They aren't so crazy as people often think. They say things that are spot on. Sometimes they write poems, sing songs, and it is very interesting.”

Away from the media limelight, the hospital says the show has had great therapeutic results.

Thirty percent of patients who participate are released, and not one of these patients who continues outpatient therapy at Radio La Colifata has been readmitted.

That compares with two-thirds of patients being readmitted if they do not continue outpatient therapy with the radio, its creator Mr Olivera says.

Very good results for the treatment. The article mentions that they are also working on a television program. Sweet story.

Posted by DaveH at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

A new Google tool - Maps

Very cool new toy from the Google Labs — Google Maps

Just road maps for now, no topo or political but it found where I live and correctly identified most of the restaurants nearby. It missed the two that are right in town though. Beta software and all that…

Still, it will be a nice alternative to other online map services like Yahoo and Mapblast.

Posted by DaveH at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

New website on Blogroll

Just ran into a great website — Medgaget and added it to the Blogroll under the Science and Medicine category. From their website:

Medgadget.com is a weblog of the latest medical gadgets & technologies.

Here is one sample from today:

“The Human Body Revealed” at the National Museum of Health and Medicine

revealed_endocrine.jpg

We have reported earlier about Alexander Tsiaras' book The Architecture and Design of Man and Woman. Mr. Tsiaras has produced stunning images of the human body by rendering them from real imaging studies (MRI, CT, etc.) of corpses. Deservingly, Mr. Tsiaras' art is now displayed at The National Museum of Health and Medicine. Check out the museum's online expo, and it will take your breath away.

Very cool stuff and a website I will be visiting on a regular basis…

Posted by DaveH at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)

New privacy tool from Electronic Frontier Foundation

A lot of times, default installations of Linux will log various activities. Some of these logs are very useful for tracking down system (and user) problems. Some of them keep a little too much data…

From the EFF website:

EFF Announces New Privacy Tool
Logfinder Helps Eliminate Unwanted Logging of Personal Data

Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released logfinder, a software tool to help people reduce the unnecessary collection of personal information about computer users. Often computer network servers automatically log information about who has visited a website and when, or who has sent and received email. Such data tells a lot about a user's browsing and email habits and could be used in privacy-invasive ways. Moreover, log data must be turned over to government entities with court orders and can be subpoenaed by opposing sides in court cases.

By finding unwanted log files, logfinder informs system administrators when their servers are collecting personal data and gives them the opportunity to turn logging off if it isn't gathering information necessary for administering the system.

The download is a 40KB TAR file which has a 10K python script, readme file and the GNU Licensing text. Looks good so far…

A major hat tip to BoingBoing for this one!

Posted by DaveH at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2005

How to lie with Statistics

There is a wonderful book called “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff and Irving Geis.

A very real-world example of this was discovered by Eric at Classical Values:

More murder is less!
Bill Barnes, described as the principal architect (via Jeff Soyer) of the proposed ordinance to ban handguns in San Francisco, is a man destined to go far in politics. Consider this dazzling display of statistical talent in his discussion of the District of Columbia gun ban in the San Francisco Bay Guardian:

Meaningful gun reform is one part of making communities safer. New investments in education, community development, and jobs are also needed to provide real alternatives to violence. Nevertheless, fewer handguns in the flow of commerce will make it more difficult to obtain one. A community conversation about the violence caused by handguns will lift our city up, as neighbors talk to one another about strategies to increase the peace in our neighborhoods.
More than 20 years ago, the District of Columbia enacted a similar handgun ban and is on its way to a 20-year low of homicides. Yet Republicans in Washington are working to repeal the law. (Emphasis supplied.)

Once you get past the “community conversation,” be sure to read and parse what follows very carefully, and keep a close eye on the moving number “20.” Note the clever way “20-year low” (which is not there yet, but is “on its way') follows “more than 20 years ago.” That's the sort of manipulation that experienced store owners (conned one time too many into refunding too much change) would spot, but I'm afraid most Bay Areans — especially those who agree with the gun ban — missed it.

While I'm sure very few of San Francisco's gullible read this blog, I do think it's fair to point out that “more than 20-years ago” means 1976! (That's almost thirty years ago!)

What Mr. Barnes does not tell you is that the murder rate had been dropping before the ban. And in the time period since the ban, the District's murder rate and robbery rate have gone up, and, with the exception of one year, remained consistently higher:

….with a murder rate of 46 per 100,000 people in 2002, the District easily holds the title of the U.S. murder capital among cities with over 500,000 people. This was not even close to being the case prior to the ban.
Crime rose significantly after the gun ban went into effect. In the five years before Washington's ban in 1976, the murder rate fell from 37 to 27 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose back up to 35. During this same time, robberies fell from 1,514 to 1,003 per 100,000 and then rose by over 63 percent, up to 1,635. The five-year trends are not some aberration. In fact, while murder rates have varied over time, during the almost 30 years since the ban, the murder rate has only once fallen below what it was in 1976.

So actually, DC gun ban statistics are a persuasive argument against the San Francisco ordinance; not the other way around. (As recently as 2002, Washington earned the title of “the Nation's Murder Capital.”)

I have to admit, Barnes has balls. Not every political strategist can turn an argument against something into an argument for it.

Of course, as Michael Bellesiles proved, it works better if you simply falsify the data.

Barnes is sooo busted. Fact checking is a wonderful thing to do and Eric displays a masters touch…

In the SF Bay Guardian Op-Ed, Barnes also voices this tired old canard:

According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms are the second leading cause of death for kids 19 and younger.

Yeah — and the majority of those deaths are in the 16 to 19 age group and are inner-city gang related. If you drop the age group of your “children” to a more reasonable 0 to 12, the instance of gun violence drops off the charts.

Banning handguns will not prevent criminals from getting them and being able to get them easily.

Posted by DaveH at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

The Bakers strike back!

The Countertop Chronicles posts a link tot his story about the baking industry and their reply to the current low-carb fad diets:

Bread, Its What's Good For You
The baking industry strikes back! I used to work for the Baking Lobby here in DC so this sort of excites me!

They link to this CNN story:

Bread industry hopes for comeback
New campaign touts benefits of whole-grain bread

The bread industry, hoping for a comeback after last year's low-carb fad, is telling consumers bread is good for them — especially whole-grain bread.

Bread makers learned from the low-carb craze that they need to market themselves better. So, three weeks after new government guidelines calling for three one-ounce servings of whole grains a day, the industry is starting a campaign touting health benefits.

Industry officials say the trend is in their favor.

“There was an all-out assault on our industry, but people are coming back to bread and are realizing why they loved it in the first place,” said Lee Schwebel of Schwebel Baking Co. in Youngstown, Ohio. “Try making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without bread.”

On Tuesday, the industry will launch a low-carb counterattack pointing to benefits of grains as part of an overall diet. The $3.5 million Grains for Life campaign will be announced in New York and Washington with billboards, posters and people dancing in bread costumes.

“The message we're trying to get out is it's the calories, not the carbs,” said Lori Sachau of the Wheat Foods Council in Colorado.

Critics contend it was predictable that fickle Americans would eventually tire of the latest diet, but bread industry officials were surprised at how quickly low-carb seemed to fall out of favor. A survey by NPD Group, an independent marketing information company, found the number of American adults on any low-carb diet peaked at 9.1 percent last February and dropped to 3.6 percent by mid-November.

The path low-carb has taken is not unlike a lot of other stuff except that it burst so fast. It went up very fast. Sometimes when things go up fast, they come down just as fast,” said Stan Osman of Interstate Bakeries Corp., maker of Wonder Bread and Twinkies.

Emphases mine — the low-carb diet only works if you force your body into a state of ketosis. Then, the weight loss is fairly fast and you can transition out of ketosis into a normal metabolism and change your diet to maintain the new weight. As it typical with fad diets, the few people who had the discipline to enter ketosis were held up as examples of the fantastic results of this new diet but they were far and few between. Ketosis (from what I have read) is no joy and it is fairly toxic to your body so staying on it for long periods of time cause other problems.

The other issue is that your body (in or out of ketosis) uses carbs for short-term energy. If you are athletic at all, a low-carb diet will sap your energy. You will hit the wall a lot faster and if you have some carbs for a specific event (big bicycle ride, skiing weekend, etc…) you go off ketosis and have to spend several weeks getting back onto it.

Dieting is simply a matter of calories in versus calories out. If you have more calories coming in than are going out, you will accumulate weight. The other way around, you will gradually loose weight.

And bread is an excellent food if you get the real thing (not Wonder) — full of fiber, grain and nutrition…

An excellent diet program can be found here: The Hackers Diet
Their home page offers several versions — use the Web with frames for browsing or you can download and print a PDF copy for offline reference.

Good stuff and free…

Posted by DaveH at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)

Open Source Biology

A very interesting commentary on this idea can be found at Catallarchy:

I’ve been meaning to link to this article on open-source biology by David Cohn from last month’s Wired. Though some favor intellectual property protection from a consequentialist perspective by arguing that it creates incentives necessary for such work to be performed, the other side of the argument is often overlooked. Intellectual property is artificially created scarcity that gives monopoly privilege to first-movers but also creates disincentives for investment and research for those on the outside looking in.

On the contrary, Jefferson believes patent restrictions have compromised billions of people who should be benefiting from new diagnostic tests or improved genetically modified crops and medicines.
For example, biologists in Kenya might be eager to create a genetically modified sweet potato that could allow farmers to use fewer chemical fertilizers. But if a company owns all or part of the gene sequence, DNA fragment or the mechanism in question, the scientists’ hands are tied unless they can pay a licensing fee. The corporations that own such patents won’t invest in research unless they know a market is waiting for the product. In response, some scientists are turning to the open-source model for future development.

The trend in this country is towards greater and greater regulation of the pharmaceutical industry. Contrary to the beliefs of most left-liberals, this will only make the major pharmaceutical companies relatively more powerful. The system of drug development is headed for stagnation from the overbearning influences of patent privilege, the FDA, the legal system, and political favoritism.

A much better model for drug development, in my opinion, would be the open-source model. For months, I’ve been meaning to write a post on how open-source drug development would work and what advantages it would have over the status quo, but never got around to it. Perhaps one day, I will.

Very interesting observation — it is the ever growing wall of restrictions that is hamstringing the development — to see something interesting happen in a reaction, to spend a few weeks isolating it, you run it up to legal and they tell you that this has already been patented. The owner of the patent may not be using this reaction but they own the rights to it and your company needs to decide whether to license it or to bag it and start with something new. Patenting gene sequences is another example of this being a bad idea.

I remember a few years ago about someone taking a huge number and trying to copyright it so that future music, when in digital format, would certainly include parts of that huge number and therefore be in copyright violation. This attempt was tongue-in-cheek but it highlights this problem wonderfully…

Posted by DaveH at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

People unclear on the concept -- #4,740

From The Toronto Star:

Nuclear siren plan debated
The pressure is on Durham Region politicians to come up with an emergency alerting system for the Pickering nuclear generating station as the licence renewal hearing for its “A” station looms later this month.

Forty-six air-raid-style sirens, purchased for $1.6 million more than a year ago for Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations, are gathering dust in an Ajax warehouse while Pickering politicians try to come up with an alternative that doesn't make as much noise.

“There is some urgency to get this issue resolved quickly,” said Clarington Mayor John Mutton. “The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has asked why we do not have a siren alerting system in place.”

In Pickering, local opposition to the 27 planned sirens has been strong in the Bay Ridges and West Shore communities, where residents feel the sirens would lower property values and possibly create panic if they ever sounded.

(emphasis mine)
Excuse me — if something untoward was happening at a local Nuke plant, I would want the loudest most bad-ass siren available to blast the neighborhood and let people know to get the hell out of there. Something quiet and “polite” might be well and good for the local property values but heaven help the plant if they do need to alert people at 3:00am and 20% of the population doesn't hear their alarm…

Posted by DaveH at 08:01 PM | Comments (1)

UFOs a waste of time

From The Times Online (U.K.) comes this story of Brittan's agency to investigate the reports of UFOs flying over the United Kingdom. The story revolves around a Freedom of Information Act request.

How Britain's X-Files said that UFOs were just a waste of time
Secret committee dismissed reports of flying saucers more than 50 years ago

The truth is out there somewhere . . . but it has taken the Ministry of Defence 54 years to release secret papers ruling out the existence of UFOs.

Minutes of the Government’s Flying Saucer Working Party have finally been made public in answer to the ultimate request under the Freedom of Information Act — do aliens exist?

In the document, marked “Secret” and “Discreet”, officials rejected sightings of UFOs by RAF personnel as well as a series of reports of “luminous bodies” by members of the public.

The working party concluded: “We consider that no progress will be made by attempting further investigation of uncoordinated and subjective evidence and that positive results could only be obtained by organising throughout the country, or the world, continuous observation of the skies by a co-ordinated network of visual observers, equipped with photographic apparatus and supplemented by a network of radar stations and sound locators.

“We should regard this, on the evidence so far available, as a singularly profitless enterprise. We accordingly recommend very strongly that no further investigation of reported mysterious aerial phenomena be undertaken, unless and until some material evidence becomes available.”

With that, the Flying Saucer Working Party dissolved itself in June 1951, never to meet again.

But of course:

…UFO sightings have continued unabated over Britain as shown by the recent release of reams of reports from members of the public. The latest MoD document shows that 91 sightings were recorded last year in places as far afield as Peterborough in Cambridgeshire (“four dull red lights”), Paignton in Devon (“long single black cylinder”) and Honley in West Yorkshire (“looked like a jellyfish flying in the sky ”).

Last September was a busy month for UFOs, with a “silver disc” in Glossop, Derbyshire; a “bright light at first then looked like a box kite” in Barry, South Wales; “two silvery objects pulling apart and moving together” in Holywell, Flintshire; and “a great bright light like a big ball of fire” over Iwerne Minster in Somerset.

The area with the most frequent mysterious activity has been West Kilbride, on the southwest coast of Scotland. The MoD received a dozen reports during the year of increasingly dramatic visitations, from “one sphere” on April 2, “five bright spheres” on May 30 to “at least 25 yellow spheres flying in groups of five” on November 26.

A lot of the UFO reports and records are hoaxes, a lot of them are errors of perception and some of them are military aircraft doing what they do best. Still, some of the reports are very interesting — multiple witnesses with the objects doing things that do not follow the laws of Newtonian Mechanics.

Fun stuff to think about…

Posted by DaveH at 07:27 PM | Comments (7)

A meeting of the Minds - three People, two Minds...

There is a wonderful post at PowerLine today.

Hindrocket (John Hinderaker) had read an op-ed with the text of a speech from Bill Moyers. From the STrib/Moyers:

(use bugmenot to get a user account)

Bill Moyers: There is no tomorrow

(excerpted)

So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer — “The Road to Environmental Apocalypse.” Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed — even hastened — as a sign of the coming apocalypse

As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election — 231 legislators in total and more since the election — are backed by the religious right.

Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: “The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land.” He seemed to be relishing the thought.

And back to John at PowerLine:

In support of his startling claim that the religious right is deliberately trying to despoil the environment, Moyers offered three bits of “evidence.” One was the popularity of the “Left Behind” novels, which use the second coming of Jesus as a plot device. But Moyers offered not a shred of support for the proposition—dubious on its face—that these works of fiction have somehow influenced the Bush administration's environmental policies.

The second bit of “evidence” offered by Moyers was, in a sense, even odder. He harkened back to the early 1980s, when James Watt was President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior. Moyers painted Watt as a harbinger — sort of a John the Baptist, since we're talking theology — of the “let's destroy the environment” movement. Here is what Moyers said about Watt:

Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, “after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.”
Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious.

I read Moyers' piece after several readers pointed out to us how over-the-top it was. I knew that Moyers' claims about Watt couldn't possibly be true, for two reasons. First, the concept of stewardship is so fundamental to Christian theology that the claim is laughable on its face. Second, I remember the Reagan administration. James Watt was a controversial figure; but one thing he was not controversial for was advocating environmental pillaging, on the theory that Jesus would be back any day now. That would have been quite a news story in the early 1980s, had it been true.

I did some quick Google searches without finding anything noteworthy; in particular, I couldn't find Mr. Watt's Congressional testimony online. I put the matter aside, not having time to pursue it further.

Friday morning, I was sitting in my office when my telephone rang. On the phone was a soft-spoken man who said, “I'm calling for Mr. John Hinderaker.”

“Speaking,” I responded, in the brusque tone I use when fielding cold calls.

The man said, “My name is James Watt.”

Go to PowerLine and read the rest of this amazing conversation.

Moyer's quote of Watt is fallacious, Grist retracted it and what Watt was interested in was stewardship, not plunder.

John Hinderaker closes with this wonderful observation:

James Watt has written to Bill Moyers, asking him to apologize for the lies in his Star Tribune article. After quoting Moyers' statements about him, Watt wrote:
I have never thought, believed or said such words. Nor have I ever said anything similar to that thought which could be interpreted by a reasonable person to mean anything similar to the quote attributed to me. Because you are at least average in intelligence and have a basic understanding of Christian beliefs, you know that no Christian would believe what you attributed to me.
Because you have had the privilege of serving in the White House under President Johnson, you know that no person believing such a thing would be qualified for a Presidential appointment, nor would he be confirmed by the United States Senate, and if confirmed and said such a thing would he be allowed to continue in service.
Since you must have known such a statement would not have been made and you refused or failed to do any primary research on this supposed quote, what was your motive in printing such a damnable lie?
Before the advent of the blogosphere, Bill Moyers—arrogant, rich, powerful and well-connected—would merely have thrown Mr. Watt's letter into the trash. Today, he may still do so. But he and his friends in the liberal media no longer have a monopoly on information, and those who have been defamed by them, like James Watt, now have the means to make their voices heard.
Posted by DaveH at 12:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2005

A Clockwork Orange

If you have not seen Stanley Kubrick's screen adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange you are missing out on an amazingly powerful film — it was released in 1971 and is still today among one of the top films of all times.

One of the things that makes the film so good was how Kubrick preserved Burgess' dialog — a polyglot of Victorian English and Russian slang (Russkiy mat). A sample — the protagonist Alex is setting the scene for a viddy of him and his droogs at the local Moloko:

There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie
and Dim and we sat in the Korova milkbar trying to make up our
rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova Milk Bar sold
milkplus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom which is what we
were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit
of the old ultra-violence. Our pockets were full of money so there was
no need on that score, but, as they say, money isn't everything.

Alex and his friends go on to have a night on the town: murder a tramp; rob, rape and brutalize a couple in their house and they then return to the Milk Bar. Alex again:

There was some sophistos from the TV studios around the corner,
laughing an govoreeting. The Devotchka was smecking away, and not
caring about the wicked world one bit. Then the disc on the stereo
twanged off and out, and in the short silence before the next one came
on, she suddenly came with a burst of singing, and it was like for a
moment, O my brothers, some great bird had flown into the milkbar and I
felt all the malenky little hairs on my plott standing endwise, and the
shivers crawling up like slow malenky lizards and then down again.
Because I knew what she sang. It was a bit from the glorious 9th, by
Ludwig van.

This is fiction but it's coming true in one of the worst ways imaginable.
Charles at LGF just linked to a story on Muslim gangs in London
(both Burgess and Kubrick were from the UK):

The rise of the Muslim Boys

They are talking about Winston:

“Guns make a f***ing noise, but knives go in,” he pauses, “ silentlike, easy.” He begins stabbing the wall and hacking the plaster, and then, just as suddenly, stops, seemingly sated, like an addict who has had his fix.
He holds up his blades to inspect them. “F***ing quality,” he says, and deposits them unceremoniously his trousers. Winston, 21, black and from south London, licks his teeth as he paces around the stripped-bare flat on a Peckham estate that serves as one of his gang’s many secret hideouts. He speaks in his gang’s uniquely coded lingo.
“Knives is f***-all. Later, my bruvs will be back from their robberies with our skengelengs [guns] and cream [money]. Later there be MACinside-10s [sub-machine guns] all over the floor, laid wall to wall. And moolah! We count it - 10 grand, 20 grand. Then, after midnight,” he adds, matter-of-factly, “me and my bruvs go to mosque to pray.”
Winston’s casual depiction of a lifestyle of crime tightly bound up with religious observance would normally be regarded as paradoxical, but in his case it is what defines him. For Winston is a member of the Muslim Boys, a gang, the black community says, unlike any that has operated before in south London.

A perfect example of what happens when you ban guns — only criminals like Winston will have them… I have copied the complete text of this article into the Continue reading: “A Clockwork Orange” link at the bottom of this entry. Click to read the whole thing — it pretty well explains where Europe (or Eurabia) is heading these days unless it gets its head out of its arse and wakes up…

Thank God for the Second Amendment.

The rise of the Muslim Boys
By David Cohen, Evening Standard
3 February 2005
Winston emerges menacingly from the kitchen, a meat cleaver in one hand and a kitchen knife with an eight-inch blade in the other. “I love knives,” he says, his eyes gleaming as he begins to slash the air inches from my face.

“Guns make a f***ing noise, but knives go in,” he pauses, ” silentlike, easy.” He begins stabbing the wall and hacking the plaster, and then, just as suddenly, stops, seemingly sated, like an addict who has had his fix.

He holds up his blades to inspect them. “F***ing quality,” he says, and deposits them unceremoniously his trousers. Winston, 21, black and from south London, licks his teeth as he paces around the stripped-bare flat on a Peckham estate that serves as one of his gang's many secret hideouts. He speaks in his gang's uniquely coded lingo.

“Knives is f***-all. Later, my bruvs will be back from their robberies with our skengelengs [guns] and cream [money]. Later there be MACinside-10s [sub-machine guns] all over the floor, laid wall to wall. And moolah! We count it - 10 grand, 20 grand. Then, after midnight,” he adds, matter-of-factly, “me and my bruvs go to mosque to pray.”

Winston's casual depiction of a lifestyle of crime tightly bound up with religious observance would normally be regarded as paradoxical, but in his case it is what defines him. For Winston is a member of the Muslim Boys, a gang, the black community says, unlike any that has operated before in south London.

Until now, the Muslim Boys have never allowed any members to be interviewed. Ex-convicts and youth workers who know some of them personally warned us: “It's too dangerous. They'll shoot you on the spot.”

But an Evening Standard investigation - involving dozens of interviews and finding go-betweens with underworld connections who would agree to take us into one of the many dens of the Muslim Boys - has for the first time thrown light on this street phenomenon.

They number in their hundreds, according to some estimates, with ages ranging from 15 to 30, and their hallmark is extreme violence, with automatic and semi-automatic machine guns their weapons of choice. But what makes them unique is that they are socalled “converts”, whose perverted interpretation of Islam is central to their identity as killers and criminals. Their stamping grounds are the estates of south London, where they hole-up in safe houses, living ascetic lives in stark contrast to the ” blingbling” lifestyle of other gangs.

D e t e c t i v e Chief Superintendent John Coles, in charge of the Met's Operation Trident team, which investigates black-onblack shootings, confirmed that ” the Muslim Boys are responsible for at least two executionstyle murders in the past eight months”, as well as scores of robberies and attempted murders. “We have taken out most of the hardcore,” he says. “We arrested 20 of them. The majority were sentenced for crimes ranging from murder to shootings to possession of firearms and drugs.”

The shooting of PC Liam Morrow, shot in the legs in Bromley in December, has also been linked to the gang. A 19-yearold youth has been charged with attempted murder.

Coles believes, nevertheless, that the Muslim Boys have been “over-hyped”, that there are “less than a hundred”, and that they are nothing more than “nasty, ordinary south London criminals who have adopted the Muslim Boys name to make them sound bigger and more fearsome than they really are”.

But Lee Jasper, the Mayor of London's senior advisor on policing, vehemently disagrees. He says: “The Muslim Boys pose one of the most serious criminal threats the black community has ever faced. The police tell me they have never seen anything like this gang before. They speak in an almost impenetrable code, they use heavy firepower, are forensically aware, unbelievably violent and extraordinarily disciplined. They're as tough to crack as the IRA.

Our investigation reveals that Jasper's concerns are shared by many - including youth workers dealing with vulnerable teenagers in south London.

The Muslim Boys, they say, are notorious for intimidating imams into opening their mosques in the early hours of the morning so that they can pray, often right after committing crimes, and for their “forced conversions”, carried out at gunpoint, of black youths to Islam. At least one local young man, Adrian Marriott, thought to have resisted such a conversion, is believed to have been murdered “as an example to others”.

At greatest risk of being forcibly recruited are “feral kids”, the kind identified by outgoing Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens as being left to fend for themselves without adult supervision, and who already operate on the fringes of criminality.

This is how gang member Winston describes “conversion”. “You got to be Muslim to be in our group,” he tells me. “If you not down [cool] with Muslim, we visit your home, maybe strip you naked in front of your f***ing mother, we put a gun in your mouth. We give you three days [to change your mind], then, if you not down with it, we f* * * ing blow

The existence of the gang is a cause of profound concern within the Muslim community. The precedent set by Richard Reid - the infamous ” shoebomber” who prayed at Brixton mosque, and who was both a black convert and a criminal who became a terrorist - is one they don't want repeated.

Last month, the Brixton and Stockwell mosques moved to publicly distance themselves from the gang, saying - without actually naming the Muslim Boys - that there are “criminals masquerading as Muslims” who threaten the good name of their religion.

Abdul Haqq Baker, chairman of Brixton mosque, said: “What we are seeing is a new phenomenon that I have not seen in my 15 years as a Muslim.” He added that TV scenes of militant uprisings in the Middle East are presenting a distorted view of Islam that appeals to criminals. “Keep away from our mosques,” he pleaded.

Lee Jasper, speaking in his capacity as chair of the Lambeth police consultative group, says that “the story is potentially explosive”, but that he is speaking out because he has become “increasingly frustrated” at the “lack of adequate police action”.

“So far,” he says tersely, meeting me face-to-face in central London, “police arrests have not made a dent in this lot. There is barely a major estate in Lambeth or Southwark - and increasingly in Lewisham - not dominated by the Muslim Boys. The problem is that the police treat them like an ordinary criminal gang, which they are not. I've asked them to increase their level of policing to a level appropriate for serious organised crime. But the Met has refused to raise its game.”

Jasper's deepest worry - that “the leaders of the Muslim Boys could be a criminalised front for terrorist extremists” - is voiced by many with links to the south London underworld.

Trident's John Coles acknowledges these concerns, but says, “we have found no evidence whatsoever of a link to terrorism”. Nevertheless, questions remain: if their crime spree is not funding a lavish lifestyle, what are the Muslim Boys doing with their illgotten gains?

The story of the rise of the Muslim Boys started 15 months ago, when a hardcore of Afro-Caribbean “Muslim converts” began violently “taxing” the south London criminal community. Dressed in long, flowing black leather coats, as in the film The Matrix, and initially dubbed “the Taliban Terrorists”, these were exconvicts who had been turned on to Islam in prison, and who began to use the austere discipline of Islam to fashion a criminal network with a “higher” purpose.

Their first targets were other criminals - especially local drug dealers and pimps - who were ordered to pay “protection money”. If the dealers refused, they were held at gunpoint, often facing the muzzle of a MAC-10.

In the early days, there were about 25 hardcore members, plus 40 ” footsoldiers”. They had come out of a gang called the SMS, the South Man Syndicate, and now began to rope in other crews, such as The Brotherhood and the Stockwell Crew, evolving into an umbrella crew called the PDC, Poverty Driven Children. To this day, gang members refer to themselves as PDC, regarding the Muslim Boys as a term used by outsiders.

By January 2004, the gang had managed the unique feat of uniting the bitterly divided south-east black criminal-fraternity against them. City officials became aware of a war brewing, says Jasper. “The police were warned: either you take them out, or we do. If you don't move on these guys, all hell will break loose.”

Police arrests, it is claimed, have failed to break the gang. Instead, the Muslim Boys are believed to have prospered, recruiting inside Feltham, Brixton and Wandsworth prisons, as well as on the outside, and their numbers have leapfrogged from dozens to hundreds. It has helped that the Yardies, once the most feared gangsters in London, have become marginalised, and the Muslim Boys are said to have stepped into the breach.

Wayne Rowe, 39, an ex-prisoner working as a Brixton community liaison officer, explains their appeal. “For many poverty-stricken kids growing up alienated on estates, often without fathers, the Muslim Boys have become a seductive, alternative family.”

One who was nearly seduced was Michael, 31, a youth worker for a south London charity, who thought of joining the gang after growing up alongside many of their older brothers. He says they have jumped on the al Qaeda bandwagon. “Since 9/11, Muslims have become demonised as the number one enemy and alienated black kids feel a kinship with this. The war in Iraq has taught them that those with the biggest guns rule, and so they have the biggest guns.”

The trend of black youths converting to Islam has gathered pace in the past three years. Omar Urquhart, 34, imam of the Brixton mosque and himself a black convert to Islam, says: “Sixty per cent of their 500-strong community are black converts.”

Unlike religions that have lengthy, formal conversions, the process in Islam can be instant. You neither have to convert in a mosque, nor in front of an imam, says the Muslim Council of Britain. All that is needed is that, in the presence of two other Muslims, you voluntarily make a declaration of faith “that none is worthy of worship except Allah” and that “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”.

But the conversions administered forcibly by the Muslim Boys are, says Imam Omar, totally anti-Islamic, as is their violent, criminal lifestyle.

Last June, the imam had to step in personally after Adrian Marriott - having been hounded by the gang to convert with bullying visits to his home - was found shot several times in the head, in parkland off Barrington Road, Brixton.

“I had to approach the family of the murdered boy and assure them that these criminals have nothing to do with real Islam, or with our mosque,” he says. Three men in their early twenties have been charged with Adrian Marriott's murder.

The Standard's attempts to reach a member of the Muslim Boys initially came to nothing, with warnings that contact was “not possible”. But suddenly, one afternoon, I am told: “A middle-ranking member will see you.” I am driven down the Old Kent Road to a poverty-stricken estate - whose name I am obliged to keep secret - and led upstairs to a dingy-looking flat.

There, lithe and athletic, and fiddling incessantly with his knives, Winston speaks to me, often lapsing into his strange “lingwo”, as he calls it, for over an hour. When the time feels right, I ask him about Adrian Marriott. “Yeah, I went to school with him, grew up with him.” he says, spitting out each word with venom.

Why was he shot? I ask. “His name came up, innit. He was involved in this Muslim Boys t'ing. He did something that doubled back on his people. So they killed him. Shot in his mouth and his throat.”

HAVE you killed anyone? I press him. “I've stabbed people,” he says. “Everyone I know has.” Ever shot anyone? “Not at close range. My other bruvs have, obviously. But I ain ' t, ” he half- smiles, ” 'cos I got a little bit of heart. I don't mind f***ing someone up, but I won't blow them in the mouth. I turn my head when I see them things happen, bruv. It happens.”

Winston, who has done time in Feltham and Bullingdon prisons for burglary, armed robbery, GBH and affray, says his life of crime started when he left home and school at 14.

“My father, f*** him, he was a low-life drug addict. He held up banks and went to prison when I was 12. I never knew the lovely life - you know, nine-to-five, kids, settle down. My life is the grime. Look at this s***-hole. I'm on the run. This year I've lived in 15 places just like this.”

Winston invites me to look around the flat, which he calls “the slumberdrop” and resembles a bolt-hole in a war zone. In the bedroom, there is a bed with a cardboard box stuffed full of clothes; the second bedroom, piled top to bottom with rubbish, cannot even be entered; and the living room has no carpet, just a foam-rubber sofa without upholstery and a small television.

“This is where we do everything - count the money, sell the drugs, hide our guns,” he boasts. The picture Winston paints is of an affiliation of gangs - all “converted Muslims” - holding up banks and post offices, trading guns and “taxing” drug dealers, then returning days later to share the booty with affiliates. According to Winston, gang members fan out beyond London to towns such as Reading and Bristol.

If this is true, then Winston and his fellow Muslim Boys are responsible for a national crime wave whose significance extends way beyond south London.

Aren't you worried about the police catching up with you? “The police are f***-all - they don't bother me,” he shoots back. “The people I worry about is the gangs. This t'ing of being a Muslim is a new t'ing. It used to be that being in a gang was an individual t'ing. You could come in and leave the next day. But this Muslim t'ing is for life. The only way I can get out of this is if I done a certain amount of murders, then I can get out at the last one.”

When I ask Winston whether he believes in Islam, he prevaricates. “Sort of,” he says. “I converted when I was in prison. I found it relaxing, we got better food. Now we all go to mosque together. If I refuse, they blow [shoot] me, innit. I pray twice a day: before I do crime, and after. I ask Allah for a blessing when I'm out on the street. Afterwards, I apologise to Allah for what I done.”

Winston becomes angry when I show him the Brixton mosque's denunciation of his crew as “bogus Muslims”, crushing their statement in his fist. “F***ing cheek!” he says. “Mocking us. There be retribution for this!”

Winston is now agitated again and he begins playing with his knives, laying them in patterns at his feet. “You lucky the other bruvs not here yet,” he says. “They pick you up and throw you straight off the f***ing balcony.”

One final question, I say. Where does your money go? “To the f***ing laundry, innit,” he says, licking his teeth. Is there any connection between your gang and al Qaeda? He glares at me. “That's a deep piece of info. I support Bin Laden. I wouldn't ask that question, bruv - it's rude, it's dangerous, it's …”

Time to leave. There are moments when words do not come easily to Winston, when he prefers to let his hands do the talking, and right now, they are being frighteningly expressive.

Posted by DaveH at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

Grrrr...

The Misanthropyst got to ride his motorcycle today.

misanthropyst-bike.jpg

Here is what was waiting for me outside my door:

sascha-snow.jpg

Five inches of snow and temps in the high 20's — low 30's

I have a weather station online here: Maple Falls Weather

Still, Jen and I spent the day brewing up the last of our cider (we had frozen some of last Fall's pressings), I also made 5 Gallons of Sweet Mead with 15 more Gallons of other Meads planned for the next day or so. Went out to dinner at an awesome Mexican restaurant (Casa 542) two miles from where we live. I'm in my studio (a separate outbuilding), fire in the fireplace, satellite internet connection (about as fast as standard DSL), some good tunes on the radio. Life does not suck here either.

Still, to be riding a Valkyrie today would be nice too…

Posted by DaveH at 10:48 PM | Comments (1)

If The Problem Persists, Reboot The Car

From Slashdot comes a link to this story in the NY Times:

What's Bugging the High-Tech Car?
On a hot summer trip to Cape Cod, the Mills family minivan did a peculiar thing. After an hour on the road, it began to bake the children. Mom and Dad were cool and comfortable up front, but heat was blasting into the rear of the van and it could not be turned off.

Fortunately for the Mills children, their father - W. Nathaniel Mills III, an expert on computer networking at I.B.M. - is persistent. When three dealership visits, days of waiting and the cumbersome replacement of mechanical parts failed to fix the problem, he took the van out and drove it until the oven fired up again. Then he rushed to the mechanic to look for a software error.

“It took two minutes for them to hook up their diagnostic tool and find the fault,” said Mr. Mills, senior technical staff member at I.B.M.'s T. J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, N.Y. “I can almost see the software code; a sensor was bad.”

And more:

Owners across the country and around the globe have posted anguished cries to Internet forums about electronic gremlins that stop windows from rolling all the way up, that unexpectedly dim the interior lights, that drain batteries or that make engines sputter. While most automakers have had problems, quality rankings for some - particularly technology-intensive German luxury brands renowned for engineering - have plunged.

Heh… And the word from an independent researcher:

David E. Cole, president of the Center for Automotive Research, a consulting firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., says electronics may be the cause of a third of warranty claims.

The problem seems to stem from car manufacturers buying “systems” from vendors and there is no guarantee that the systems will work together in the car environment.

When Jen and I bought the tractor for our Farm and Cider business, we made sure to get the one with a 100% mechanical and hydraulic control system. They do have fully computerized ones but we avoided those like the plague. If something breaks, I want to be able to fix it. Same thing with our cars — we have some older cars that run fine and we are keeping them.

I love technology and use it and have fun with it but when high-tech is incorporated into a business with little prior familiarity (automotive fro example), the tech decisions are at that point made by managers who have zero experience with tech issues.
When high-tech has been used in a business for a while (say commercial aviation), tech decisions are made based on information coming from the users and the service personnel — new introductions are more likely to be tested rigorously and not rolled out until it is know that they work on the target platform.

A simple management decision but not one the automotive managers seem to be doing right now.

Posted by DaveH at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

DOH!

Someone was selling cases of Duff Beer on eBay. Only problem — they didn't exist… From SFGate:

Aussie Busted For Bogus Beer Pleads Guilty
D'oh! A woman has pleaded guilty to selling on eBay three nonexistent cases of Duff brand beer — the favorite of cartoon character Homer Simpson.

Tara Edith Woodford, 28, pleaded guilty Wednesday to three charges of dishonestly gaining money by false pretenses.

Prosecutor Gavin Burnett told the court Woodford was paid a total of $1,511 by three separate buyers after advertising the bogus beer on the auction site.

And the beer in question:

Duff is the beer brand of choice for Homer Simpson and his barfly friends in the animated U.S. television series “The Simpsons.” Its creators have a policy of refusing to license “The Simpsons” merchandising for products that would be detrimental to children.

Cool policy — they could make a lot of money licensing the Duff name to a brewer but they do not. Nice to see some honest morals these days (instead of PC posturing).

Posted by DaveH at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

Now at Costco

Finally, what to do after you are done with all the 5-gallon tubs of pickles, the 24-pack of breakfast cereal, when you have shuffled off this mortal coil and are ready to be planted.

Costco now sells coffins: The Lady of Guadalupe Casket

Choosing a casket is a very personal and important decision. Families should choose a casket based on their own preferences and the personality of their loved one. We believe we offer a selection that will allow everyone to find something appropriate.

casket.jpg

Hat tip BoingBoing

Posted by DaveH at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

Big wind turbine

Another interesting news item from the environmental and energy front.
A German company REpower just put a 5 Megawatt wind turbine online.

The RenewableEnergy website has the news article:

Germany Inaugurates 5 MW Wind Turbine Prototype
The world's largest wind turbine, a 120-meter (394-feet) behemoth capable of generating 5 MW at full output, has just been officially inaugurated and connected to the German electrical grid.

So big it has its own helicopter landing pad:

wind-turbine.jpg

You will need to watch out for migratory bird paths when siting this and there is no backup in case the wind stops blowing. There was no mention of the cost on either website — I would be interested in knowing that one… Huge and high-tech usually mean $$$ and you could use alternate generators cheaper. (still thinking small nuke)

Posted by DaveH at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

A new reactor in Alaska

Very cool! From the Seattle Post Intelligencer comes this article:

Alaska town considers small nuclear reactor to cut costs
The tiny town of Galena, Alaska, which pays three times as much for electricity as the national average, is looking into a novel way to cut that cost by two-thirds: a tiny nuclear reactor.

Yesterday, the town manager and a deputy mayor sat down with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to learn how a plant is licensed. They talked about their current logistics to obtain power — shipping diesel fuel in by barge during the brief window when the Yukon River is not frozen over — and their efforts to find an alternative.

There is a coal seam about 10 miles away. But no one builds coal plants that are small and clean enough, said the manager, Marvin Yoder, and the cost of permits to open a new mine might make the whole project impractical.

The town even looked at solar power, Yoder said. But demand in Galena is highest in winter, when it is dark 20 hours a day, and residents need electricity to keep cars and even diesel fuel from freezing.

But then along came Toshiba, which performs maintenance and repair work on conventional nuclear reactors around the world. The company is trying to develop a new reactor that would run almost unattended and put out 10 megawatts of power, about 1 percent as much as a typical U.S. plant.

The PI article also goes into the seeming ignorance of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — they didn't know about this technology and said that the bill to examine it would be about $10 million. The representative from the town of Galena told them that this would be payed by the manufacturer — the NRC then said that the site plan would cost a couple more million bucks…

This story is covered here as well with a bit more technical detail on the design of the reactor:

Alaska Village Moves from Diesel to 'Micro-Nuke'
The small town of Galena, Alaska, is tired to pay 28 cents/kwh for its electricity, three times the national average. Today, Galena “is powered by generators burning diesel that is barged in during the Yukon River's ice-free months,” according to Reuters. But Toshiba, which designs a small nuclear reactor named 4S (for “Super Safe, Small, & Simple”), is offering a free reactor to the 700-person village, reports the New York Times (no reg. needed). Galena will only pay for operating costs, driving down the price of electricity to less than 10 cents/kwh. The 4S is a sodium-cooled fast spectrum reactor — a low-pressure, self-cooling reactor. It will generate power for 30 years before refueling and should be installed before 2010 providing an approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

I had written about a similar technology here: Cool reactor technology

Nuclear technology got off on a very bad foot in this country. For a long time, each power plant was different so maintenance issues were usually a matter of a big surprise rather than engineered and scheduled. If the power industry developed a set of standard cores (as does France, Japan and the US Navy), problems could be isolated and then fixed in all other units of that type.

The waste needs taking care of but it is a much smaller volume than the waste from Coal plants and because it needs to be sequestered because of the radiologic effects, the chemical issues never surface. Coal waste is very toxic, there are severe groundwater problems and the volume is so high that there is no “clever” way to sequester it.
More people have died from operating coal power plants than have died from nuclear.

The climate control and the environmental people have always gone ballistic when anyone mentions nuclear but if they took a closer look at it, it would be the way to go — zero emissions except for heat, no carbon, minimal and easily controlled waste. What is not to love?

Posted by DaveH at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

Incredible Image Library

Parts of it are still under construction but NOAA has about 20,000 images available for download here: NOAA Photo Library

The images are in the public domain and can be used freely although credit must be given to NOAA as the source.

antarctic-signpost.jpg

Very cool stuff!

Posted by DaveH at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2005

Bjorn Lomborg interview in the San Francisco Examiner

Very interesting interview — Bjorn Lomborg is the “bad boy” of the environmental movement and very much one to listen to.

In this interview, Examiner reporter Josh Wein talks with Bjorn about what the problem is and what we should be doing. Since the print media tend to drop links after about 30 days, I will copy the entire interview into the “Continue reading” section at the end.

The interview:

'We can do immense good'
2005: Challenges and Opportunities

In 2001, Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg enraged the environmental community by publishing his book “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” which claims the planet is not in as dire a condition as many would have us believe. With the Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing global warming set to take effect next week, Lomborg spoke with Examiner reporter Josh Wein to discuss his views on the world's problems. His new book, “Global Crises, Global Solutions,” argues there are other, more pressing issues that deserve the world's resources.

EXAMINER: With Kyoto set to take effect next week, we've seen a number of global warming headlines recently that claim the world is headed to certain catastrophe. Where do you think this comes from?

BJORN LOMBORG: I think it's curious because global warming really has become the predominant concern of our time. It has become the thing that you care for if you are a good person.

The positive part about this is it tells you that a lot of people really do care about the world. Bottom line, that's a tremendously positive thing. But, and there is a big but, we are barking up the wrong tree.

The U.N. climate panel head just said that we might all die from global warming; this is just way beyond the pale of what the U.N. climate panel tells us. It tells us, yes, there are going to be problems. By the way, it tells us there will also be advantages of global warming.

Most of the impacts of global warming will be problems, but you need to put it into context. You need to put it into consideration with all the other problems of the world.

Q: There are advantages to global warming?

A: Absolutely. I come from Denmark, and there it's pretty cold. The environmental assessment of the impact of global warming in Denmark is that overall it will be slightly positive. We'll have better agricultural production. We'll probably have better forestry. We will, however, also have more flash rain. That will be a negative.

One of the most typical examples we're told is that people will die from heat waves from global warming. That's true. People will die from heat waves. What you really seem to forget is in most advanced countries, the cold deaths outweigh heat deaths two-to-one.

And of course while you will get more heat deaths, you will also get many fewer cold deaths, and actually a research team looking at the cold and heat deaths around Europe estimated that for Britain global warming will mean 18,000 fewer deaths.

Q: Do you think that global warming, like predicting the weather, is complex and chaotic? Or is there some sort of linear pattern we can take from the data? How do we know which we're dealing with?

A: It makes sense to try and predict it. That's how we've gotten to where we are. We try to use science to understand how things work. But just like we use scientists to be better able, we should also use economists to tell us how much this is going to cost and how much good is it going to do. And that is exactly what the Copenhagen Consensus and my new book is about.

We can do fairly little about global warming at a fairly high cost. Maybe there are other things we'd like to be spending our money on doing first.

Q: Where should we be spending our money then?

Click on the Continue Reading “Bjorn Lomborg interview in the San Francisco Examiner” link to read the full interview — it is good…

Also, Bjorn's website is here Bjorn Lomborg
He is worth checking out only because the “environmentalists” spit so much vitriol at him. He fact-checks them and puts the global experience into perspective and they do not like it (cuts into the grant money 'ya know…)

'We can do immense good'
2005: Challenges and Opportunities

Published: Friday, February 4, 2005 11:26 AM PST

In 2001, Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg enraged the environmental community by publishing his book “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” which claims the planet is not in as dire a condition as many would have us believe. With the Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing global warming set to take effect next week, Lomborg spoke with Examiner reporter Josh Wein to discuss his views on the world's problems. His new book, “Global Crises, Global Solutions,” argues there are other, more pressing issues that deserve the world's resources.

EXAMINER: With Kyoto set to take effect next week, we've seen a number of global warming headlines recently that claim the world is headed to certain catastrophe. Where do you think this comes from?

BJORN LOMBORG: I think it's curious because global warming really has become the predominant concern of our time. It has become the thing that you care for if you are a good person.

The positive part about this is it tells you that a lot of people really do care about the world. Bottom line, that's a tremendously positive thing. But, and there is a big but, we are barking up the wrong tree.

The U.N. climate panel head just said that we might all die from global warming; this is just way beyond the pale of what the U.N. climate panel tells us. It tells us, yes, there are going to be problems. By the way, it tells us there will also be advantages of global warming.

Most of the impacts of global warming will be problems, but you need to put it into context. You need to put it into consideration with all the other problems of the world.

Q: There are advantages to global warming?

A: Absolutely. I come from Denmark, and there it's pretty cold. The environmental assessment of the impact of global warming in Denmark is that overall it will be slightly positive. We'll have better agricultural production. We'll probably have better forestry. We will, however, also have more flash rain. That will be a negative.

One of the most typical examples we're told is that people will die from heat waves from global warming. That's true. People will die from heat waves. What you really seem to forget is in most advanced countries, the cold deaths outweigh heat deaths two-to-one.

And of course while you will get more heat deaths, you will also get many fewer cold deaths, and actually a research team looking at the cold and heat deaths around Europe estimated that for Britain global warming will mean 18,000 fewer deaths.

Q: Do you think that global warming, like predicting the weather, is complex and chaotic? Or is there some sort of linear pattern we can take from the data? How do we know which we're dealing with?

A: It makes sense to try and predict it. That's how we've gotten to where we are. We try to use science to understand how things work. But just like we use scientists to be better able, we should also use economists to tell us how much this is going to cost and how much good is it going to do. And that is exactly what the Copenhagen Consensus and my new book is about.

We can do fairly little about global warming at a fairly high cost. Maybe there are other things we'd like to be spending our money on doing first.

Q: Where should we be spending our money then?

A: The top four priorities we identified are doing something about HIV/AIDS, doing something about malnutrition, doing something about free trade and doing something about malaria.

Those four things are things where for very little investment, we can do immense amounts of good.

Global warming has not actually been a harm to the First World so much. It has mainly been a harm to the Third World, because they have much less infrastructure and because they are in places where it's already pretty damn warm.

The question is, do we want to help them by implementing Kyoto, which will cost a lot of money and will do fairly little good a hundred years from now? Basically, all models agree that Kyoto, if everyone agreed to it, would postpone global warming by about six years, in 2100.

Just to give you a sense of the proportions: Doing Kyoto will probably cost about $150 billion a year, for the rest of the century. That's not a trivial amount of money.

But the United Nations estimates that for half that amount we could solve all major basic problems, we could provide clean drinking water, sanitation, education and basic health care to every single human being on the face of the planet.

Q: Often in the talk about pollution, the U.S. is singled out as being the world's worst polluter. Do you think there is some anti-Americanism in this? Even among finger-wagging scientists?

A: In general, to say that the U.S. is the world's worst polluter really just plays into this idea that wealthy industrialized societies have got to be polluting a lot. That's simply not true. Typically, the countries that are the worst polluted places on earth are developing countries.

It makes sense. If you're rich, you can afford to worry about the environment, but if you're poor, it's very hard to get people to worry about the world fifty or sixty years down the line.

It is true, however, with carbon dioxide. The U.S. is the worst in that respect, and I think that's probably why that gets thrown around so much.

The U.S. is a very energy-inefficient society, compared to other societies. In certain ways it makes for a better quality of living. I only have a bike, I don't have a car. It means that I go grocery shopping with my bags hanging off the handle bars. Here in the United States my friends all go shopping in their cars and they pull right into their garages. It's a different quality of living and it has certain environmental costs.

Q: It's fine to say that large governments should focus on problems such as malaria and malnutrition, but many people in the Bay Area like to “think globally and act locally.” Many people sort their trash, drive hybrid vehicles. What's the best way for individuals to think about these problems?

A: The curious part is that you actually could make the decision to stop spending all that time sorting trash, which is very close to being inefficient. Our whole idea of recycling comes from this worry that we're running out of resources, which we're not. So it really doesn't make much sense.

Of course, we should treat our garbage well. But it's just simply not a huge problem. If you want to get involved and not just show that you care, but actually make an impact, then choose the things you worry about well. The thing I try to point out is that particulate air pollution kills 120,000 people a year in the United States. That's many more people than die in car accidents. That's a huge problem.

Compare this to pesticide residues, which a lot of people worry about. It's sort of a foundation of the environmental movement all the way from Rachel Carson, our worry that we're going to get cancer from this kind of thing.

Pesticide residue probably kills about 20 people a year in the U.S. In an ideal world, we will tackle both problems, but clearly we should deal with the big problem first.

Q: There's almost a born-again evangelical quality to your work, as if you've seen the light and now you're out preaching the good word. Where do you think this comes from, and whom are you trying to convince?

A: I'm hoping that's not true. I don't feel that I'm out there preaching. But I am out there saying there are very simple things that we could do that are very cheap and that will do an immense amount of good.

I'm trying to make people think about priorities. It's not about saying “Everything is important.” We should do very good things before we do good things.

BJORN LOMBORG

Age: 40

Education: One year at the University of Georgia as an undergraduate; master's in political science from Aarhus University in Denmark, 1991; doctorate from University of Copenhagen, 1994.

Professional Experience: The author of several books, including “The Skeptical Environmentalist”; recently stepped down from a teaching position at Aarhus University.

Book he would most liked to have written: “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Society,” by Jared Diamond.

Posted by DaveH at 11:56 PM | Comments (1)

Cookie-gate update

The other day, I wrote about the story of two Colorado teenage girls who decided to avoid a party and stay home and bake cookies for their neighbors. One of the neighbors — Wanita Renea Young — had a panic attack when she discovered the cookies that evening and the next day, she decided that she was having a heart attack and went to the hospital.
She then turned around and sued the two girls for the cost of her medical adventure…

Kevin Aylward at Wizbang has a very nice update to this story:

How Much Do You Think That's Worth?
Good news for the teens girls mention in Paul's post from this afternoon; a local radio station has raised their fine.

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) - Two teenage girls who got in trouble for surprising their neighbors with homemade cookies will not have to pay nearly $1,000 in medical bills for a woman who says she was so startled that she had to go to the hospital. Radio station KOA-AM of Denver raised more than $1,900 from listeners Friday to pay the girls' $930.78 fine. The rest of the money will go to a charity dedicated to victims of the Columbine High School massacre.

The hypochondriac neighbor, Wanita Renea Young, hopes the girls have learned a lesson. If you follow the story link it sure sounds like the lesson to be learned is that the Young family are assholes…

The title of the story refers to something that happened to Kevin on a trip to Las Vegas — fun story, visit the link and check it out, very representative of life these days…

And what Kevin meant by this comment

If you follow the story link it sure sounds like the lesson to be learned is that the Young family are assholes…

Can be found in these last two paragraphs of the story:

Meanwhile, Richard Ostergaard, father of Taylor, got a restraining order against Young's husband, Herb, in county court, claiming he continues to make harassing telephone calls to the Ostergaard residence.

Wanita Young said, “This has turned into quite a fiasco. It's something that never should have happened and it's just devastating. My phone hasn't stopped ringing. My life has been threatened and I'll probably have to move out of town.”

Hey Wanita — right this moment, your neighbors are going door to door taking up a collection for two Greyhound Bus tickets. You are welcome!

Posted by DaveH at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

List of Global Warming links

Stumbled into the canonical list of Global Warming links.

I believe that the earth is entering a period of generalized warming much like it went through in the 900's when wine grapes were being grown in Greenland.

I also believe that we are leaving the general cooling period that began in the 1500's. I have blogged about climate change a number of times.
One example is here: Global Warming - Arctic Ice stability

There was also a little ice age as well a few hundred years later. Check out this Pieter Bruegel (the younger) painting of ice skating.
And when was the last time the rivers in Europe froze solid?
bru6.jpg
Posted by DaveH at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

The Diplomad hangs up their pyjamas

Sad news today — one of the more interesting blogs regarding US Foreign Policy and events overseas has decided to call it quits.

Farewell The Diplomad — you will be missed.

Posted by DaveH at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

A proper diet

From the Florida Sun-Sentinal comes this story of vegetarianism gone horribly wrong:

Parents charged with starving baby to death are expecting another child
The parents of a 5-month-old girl who authorities say died in 2003 of malnutrition caused by a strict vegan diet are expecting another child within three months, their attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney Ellis Rubin said the mother, Lamoy Andressohn, has been receiving care from a medical doctor while continuing to stick to her diet.

Rubin said he advised Andressohn and her husband, Joseph, to seek the medical guidance to avoid any “further grief” from officials. The parents recently learned that the child will be a girl, and have already named her Joyah.

No shit sherlock! The condition of the first child:

The Andressohns are charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. The infant, Woyah, weighed 7 pounds when she died May 15, 2003, about 6 pounds less than she should have at 6 months of age, an autopsy concluded.

Any other kids?

A judge has set a hearing for next week to determine whether the parents can visit their four other children, ages 3 to 8, who remain in foster care.

And the diet:

The Andressohns had Woyah and her siblings on a strict raw food diet that consisted primarily of almond milk and uncooked fruits and vegetables, consistent with the dietary guidelines of their Hebrew Israelite religion.

Moonbattery gone horribly horribly wrong. I don't care if you have eating practices that you would like to follow, don't subject a growing infant to your lunacy and bad choice. Babies have different dietary needs than humans and they have no reserves to fall back on when they fail to get proper nutrition. Their other children are probably suffering or going to suffer poor teeth, bad bones, weakness and a lessened mental acuity from this diet even through they managed to survive. Aggravated manslaughter is to nice for them. The judge should force them to get a degree in nutrition…

Posted by DaveH at 07:19 PM | Comments (1)

Nikola Tesla in the news

A very nice article on Nikola Tesla can be found at RedNova:

In Praise of the Mad Scientist
Inventor Nikola Tesla is beginning to remind me of the Michigan Mushroom-that underground fungus, nearly as large as its native state. He keeps cropping up unexpectedly like a truth suppressed. In 2004 this once forgotten scientist peppered films as motley as the smoky Coffee and Cigarettes, the siliconesleek Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and the shoestring Primer.

Tesla, beside inventing the radio (check with the Supreme Court, Marconi fans), the radar, remote control, and alternating current (AC electricity), also tinkered with a series of dreamy though equally ingenious ideas : plans to light the oceans, photograph thoughts, use insects to create a harnessable power supply, communicate with life in outer space, harvest free energy from the Earth's atmosphere, control the weather with electricity, even build a ring about the equator that, by remaining stationary while the planet rotates, would make it possible to travel around the entire world in one day.

At the start of the last century, Tesla's mind-bending inventions foreshadowed a future in which an enlightened citizenry, wardrobed in silver space suits, would travel about a world where no one was ever hungry and war existed only in memory-where scientific wonders were invented every day in backyards, garages, and small workshops. Tesla, the cult hero of independent invention, is materializing again, a bright-red streak on the gray background of corporatized science, to remind us that something went awry.

Tesla has always been a personal hero to me. It is too bad that so many of his inventions are credited to other people (Radio for example). He was a contemporary of Edison and while Edison was tinkering around with carbon filaments, Tesla was busy with another invention — the fluorescent light. There is credible proof in his Colorado Springs lab notebooks that he was successfully working with Radio Astronomy too — bouncing signals off the moon.

Someday, there should be a good documentary made about him — he is one of t eh cornerstones of modern Science.

Posted by DaveH at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

Another election

From The UK Guardian:

Veiled hopes
Next week, Saudi Arabia is to hold its first elections of any kind for 40 years. Women - who are beginning to make their way in business, journalism and industry - had expected to have the vote: six even put their names forward as candidates. But, in one of the world's most repressive societies, they have been banned from the poll. Can the women who've been struggling for their rights regain lost ground? Natasha Walter finds them in determined mood

Both emphases are mine.

Natasha then goes on to talk about visiting a “women-only” shopping mall:

At the al-Mamlaka shopping mall in Riyadh, women are arriving after the prayer break. Chauffeur-driven cars are drawing up and black-robed figures without faces step out, the only splashes of colour the bags on their arms - Louis Vuitton's pastel logos, Gucci's red and green stripes - and the heeled sandals showing under the hems of their dark wraps. At the entrance a sign, in Arabic and English, states, “Ladies only. No cameras allowed. Please remove your face cover.”

This is the mall where Saudi women can shop without fear of a man's glance, and they wander around La Senza or Giorgio Armani, chatting into their cellphones, or drink mango juice in the Super Model Cafe. “The Corrs, I love the Corrs,” says my companion, Iman al-Kahtani, as the music springs on. Iman is not a typical Saudi woman: at 24, her outspoken journalism, especially on women's rights, has gained her fame. “In our interpretation of Islam, women have no identity,” she wrote angrily in an article for the electronic newspaper Elaph. According to Sulaiman al-Hattlan, a columnist for al-Watan newspaper, “If there were five Imans in the kingdom, then we would see some changes.”.

With Iman's fame has come a furious reaction. “People tell me that I am an infidel - they say I am a shame to my tribe,” she says coldly. “But I say that, in this era of globalisation, the tribe really does not count any more. What counts is the individual.” Only occasionally does Iman laugh a deep, reluctant laugh, and her young face is heavy with a weight of experience. Her politics are the product of pure rage. “Young girls here are so oppressed,” she says. “They receive this education that means you never think about your rights. But I couldn't accept it. I was always angry about it.”

#1) - Where is their Rosa Parks;
#2) - Why is the left still defending this abysmal “culture”;
#3) - We are doing something about this — who else is stepping up to the plate?

The women in Saudi Arabia can not drive a car without permission of a “guardian”
Why do people on the left have such a blind-spot for this kind of practice — if President George W. Bush tried to run legislation like this through congress, he would be pilloried and impeached.
And don't get me started on “female circumscision”…

Posted by DaveH at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2005

Street art in Baghdad

This is cool. We-Make-Money-Not-Art blogged about a BBC article about blast walls and the decorations that are appearing on them.

From the BBC article:

Baghdad's blast wall art
In a dull Baghdad world of concrete and razor-wire, chicanes and blast barriers, a little colour has just re-appeared.

Every official building or media base these days has a frontage of four-metre (13ft) high concrete walls to protect against bombs and mortars, but Iraqis have begun to see the grey expanse as a public canvas.

There is of course graffiti, but mostly great swirling apolitical exuberance - everything from retro-Chagall to prog-rock album-cover teenage fantasies.

Here are four of them:

bagdhad-wall-art-carpet.jpg

bagdhad-wall-art-tractor.jpg

bagdhad-wall-art-tree.jpg

bagdhad-wall-art-port.jpg

I love the last one with the images of the Mosques and the Churches side-by-side.
The dove is the symbol of peace for both cultures.

This was unknown during Saddam's totalitarian regime.

Posted by DaveH at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

bugmenot.com

Now why didn't I think of that…

I link to a lot of news sources that require “free” “registration” in order to read their online content. This is invasive and a bad business model.

What bugmenot.com has done is to compile a database of known-good user names and passwords for over 50K of these sites.

For example:

N.Y. Times
Washington Post

Heh…

Posted by DaveH at 09:52 PM | Comments (2)

California Wine Country foolishness...

From Reuters comes this little bit of moonbattery:

California Wine Country Considers Biotech Ban
A measure to ban genetically modified crops in the heart of California's wine country has qualified for a local ballot, officials said on Friday.

The measure, which would impose a 10-year moratorium on raising genetically engineered crops and livestock, is now eligible for the Sonoma County ballot, said Gregory Conko, director of food safety policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“It's an important symbolic victory for biotech's skeptics,” Conko said. “It certainly is something that should make supporters of biotechnology, including myself, a little bit nervous.”

Activists gathered 9,000 signatures — more than needed to qualify the measure — which county supervisors now may enact or put to voters in a special election as soon as May or June. If the measure is approved, Sonoma would become the fourth California county to ban raising genetically engineered foods.

Genetically modified wine grapes are not grown in Sonoma County but farmers are interested in using genetic engineering to develop products to replace pesticides, said Ben Drake, chairman of the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

And these activists?

Activists claim the value of biotech crops is outweighed by unknown health and environmental effects, a message they expect will resonate in Sonoma County as in neighboring counties.

“We talk about healthy farms and healthy organic foods for our counties, that's our trademark,” said Frank Egger, a northern California environmental activist. “Stopping genetically engineered crops is an enhancement and a protection for today's farmers.”

Emphasis mine - they CLAIM but they offer no concrete proof. They are appealing to the emotions of people who do not farm, who have no knowledge of commercial agriculture — only this fuzzy “Geeee… It would be nice to get back to the land” sort of feeling. These are the 9,000 people who signed the proposal and the problem is that these people outnumber the farmers by quite a few votes.

The article also mentions that the two other CA Counties which banned GM crops are:

Voters in neighboring Marin County, an affluent area north of San Francisco, approved a ban in November. Last March voters in Mendocino County north of Sonoma County passed the nation's first county-level ban on genetically engineered crops.

By contrast, voters in three other California counties rejected similar measures in November, providing some relief to companies and farmers who stand to benefit from the fast-growing business of genetically modified foods.

Emphasis mine again — fast-growing because they work. A farmer is not going to switch to a new crop unless they have a solid understanding of how to grow it and a solid assurance that it will make more money for them than the original crop. GM works — plain and simple. It is only a matter of doing in the laboratory what breeders have been doing in nature for ages. I would like to see that activist try to eat a mouthful of the original corn before those pesky plant hybridizers got their mitts on it — they would loose all their front teeth on the first bite.

Posted by DaveH at 09:39 PM | Comments (2)

Electromagnetism

An online museum of artifacts dealing with Electromagnetic Fields. Photographs of old equipment, of people using electricity, of electronic musical instruments, poetry and songs about electricity. A gorgeous and deep collection.

From their website:

Raising public awareness of electromagnetism in culture and everyday life

em-01.jpg
Photo by Walker Evans

em-02.jpg
Photo by Ansel Adams

If you like this stuff, be sure to check out our local Spark Museum.
John operates the American Museum of Radio and Electricity in Bellingham, WA.

Posted by DaveH at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

CD / DVD Longevity

Hat tip to Slashdot:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a preliminary study of the potential lifespan of CD-Rs and DVD-Rs. The PDF study is here. A good starting point for deciding what type of media to purchase to keep those backups and photos kicking around longer.

I have written about longevity before here and here.

Posted by DaveH at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

$900 Cookies

This is unbelievable. From Yahoo/Reuters

Girls fined for giving neighbour cookies
A Colorado judge ordered two teen-age girls to pay about $900 (480 pounds) for the distress a neighbour said they caused by giving her home-made cookies adorned with paper hearts.

The pair were ordered to pay $871.70 plus $39 in court costs after neighbour Wanita Renea Young, 49, filed a lawsuit complaining that the unsolicited cookies, left at her house after the girls knocked on her door, had triggered an anxiety attack that sent her to the hospital the next day.

And I was just talking about that with this entry:

Welcome to the new Age of Anxiety where Western culture is beset by so much dread that “bad habits have been turned into diseases, foibles are afflictions and sins are syndromes,” says writer Jon Winokur.

Back to the story:

Taylor Ostergaard, then 17, and Lindsey Jo Zellitte, 18, paid the judgment on Thursday after a small claims court ruling by La Plata County Court Judge Doug Walker, a court clerk said on Friday.

The girls baked cookies as a surprise for several of their rural Colorado neighbours on July 31 and dropped off small batches on their porches, accompanied by red or pink paper hearts and the message: “Have a great night”.

The Denver Post newspaper reported on Friday that the girls had decided to stay home and bake the cookies rather than go to a dance where there might be cursing and drinking.

It reported that six neighbours wrote letters entered as evidence in the case thanking the girls for the cookies.

Christ on a corndog — two teenage neighbors leave cookies on your doorstep and you think you have a heart attack? The next morning? Grow some ovaries Wanita. You are 49, you should know better.

Posted by DaveH at 06:31 PM | Comments (1)

Arthur C. Clarke on the Tsunami

Hat tip to BoingBoing for this link to the Wired Magazine letter from Arthur C. Clarke.
I had blogged about an earlier post Clarke had put on his personal website.

Here is some of Dr. Clarke's letter to Wired Magazine:

The New Year dawned with the global family closely following the unfolding tragedy via satellite television and the Web. As the grim images from Banda Aceh, Chennai, Galle, and elsewhere replaced the traditional scenes of celebrations, I realized that it would soon be 60 years since I conceived the communications satellite (in Wireless World, October 1945 — I still think it was a good idea).

I was also reminded of what Bernard Kouchner, former health minister of France and first UN governor of Kosovo, once said: “Where there is no camera, there is no humanitarian intervention.” Indeed, how many of the millions of men and women who donated generously for disaster relief would have done so if they had only read about it in the newspapers?

But cameras and other communications media have to do more than just document the devastation and mobilize emergency relief. We need to move beyond body counts and aid appeals to find lasting, meaningful ways of supporting Asia's recovery.

In that sense, the Asian tsunami becomes a test for information and communications technologies (ICTs) in terms of how they can support humanitarian assistance and human development. Interestingly, two popular ICTs played a key role during the early stages.

Dr. Clarke was the first person to come up with the idea of placing a satellite high enough in Earth Orbit that its orbital period would be 24 hours, rendering it stationary to the earthbound observer. He wrote several articles about this idea and then applied for a patent. He was unable to get one because of the previous articles — missed out on quite the fortune…

The whole letter is very thought-provoking in a very good sense — check it out.
Here is the link again: Letter from Sri Lanka

Posted by DaveH at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)

The boss from hell and other franchise stories...

From today's Seattle Times comes this story of a restaurant with an absent boss:

Fast-food shop owner takes off, employees take over
It was a scene right out of “Home Alone,” but the locale was a Quiznos Sub shop in North Seattle, where the franchise owner was absent for weeks and the skeleton crew made do with a dwindling food supply and a lot of irate customers.

“Due to bad owners we are out of a lot of things, please do not get mad at the employees & manager,” explained the cardboard sign on the door.

Inside, the dessert section was empty, the chip shelves were mostly bare (except for jalapeño chips) and the soda machine was fringed with little white “out of order” signs (except for Vanilla Coke).

“I'll have a large Out of Order,” cracked one customer on Tuesday.

“Is that with ice or without?” Dawna Lentz, the store manager, shot back.

Things had been this way since November, Lentz said, just a month after the sub shop opened in a little strip mall on Holman Road.

The owner had it for one month and then bailed? Way to go — probably thought he just had to sit back and let the $$$ roll in. He hit the big-time. What a Putz!

Lentz, the store manager, kept the store running:

Since food vendors would no longer deliver on credit, Lentz drove to discount grocers to buy lunchmeat, using cash from the previous day's till. She bought the special Quiznos bread from other franchises, rationing part of what was left after the lunch rush, so there would be enough for the crew working the dinner shift.

“Crew” was a generous term, since only three other employees remained from a staff that once topped a dozen. They started quitting around the time their checks started bouncing, Lentz said. James Zambrano, 26, stuck with the restaurant out of loyalty to Lentz, even though his unpaid wages reached about $450.

There is a happy ending though:

After being contacted by reporters, Quiznos representatives inspected the Seattle shop and removed Lentz's handmade signs. Yesterday, the company replenished the food supply and brought in support staff.

Lentz and others were paid the wages they were due, Quiznos spokeswoman Stacie Lange said yesterday. Lange added that the store is being transferred to new owners.

Lentz worried that she'd lose her job over the mess. But so far she's still the store manager, although now she's prohibited from talking to the media.

Lange said the franchise owners decide whom to hire or fire. But, she added, “The employees who were there yesterday are still there today.”

Cool!

Posted by DaveH at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

Professor not what he says he is...

Now isn't that special — from the Rocky Mountain News:

Prof's Indian roots disputed
The United Keetoowah Band Cherokee says University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill is not a member of their tribe.

“He's not in the database at all and is not a member of the Keetoowah,” said Georgia Mauldin, the tribal clerk in Tahlequah, Okla.

In his books and articles, Churchill has described himself as a member of the Keetoowah Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. In past interviews, he's claimed to be one-sixteenth Cherokee.

But the Keetoowah say that's not true.

And here is the delightful story of a student who challenged Churchill's pedigree:

One Montana woman has an especially personal tale of confronting Churchill on his claim to American Indian heritage. She was taking one of Churchill's classes at CU in 1994 when she wrote an article for the Colorado Daily newspaper, saying there was no evidence he had any American Indian background.

“For so long it was whispered on campus that he really isn't an Indian,” said Jodi Rave, who studied journalism at CU. “Here you had the director of the Indian studies program and he's not an Indian.”

Classic — if he was a math professor and claimed to be one sixteenth Indian, that would be bad enough but here the dude is the director of Indian Studies. This is grounds for dismissal — regardless of how good a teacher he is.

The woman who challenged him is who:

Rave is a Mandan-Hidatsa Indian originally from North Dakota. Today, she is a reporter and columnist with the Missoulian newspaper in Missoula, Mont. She was recently a fellow in the prestigious Nieman program for journalists at Harvard University.

Decent creds and a real Indian to boot. And when her article came out:

When her article came out, Rave says Churchill was furious and insisted that he did have American Indian lineage.

“He called me and said, 'Jodi Rave, this is your professor and I need to talk to you right away.' He was surprised I had a story published that called into question his identity.”

He also defended his American Indian background and said her story was unfair.

Rave said she was enrolled in one of Churchill's classes when the article came out, and her grade went from an A to a C-minus.

This guy is a real piece of work. Say bye bye to your career (if there is any justice in this world). Academia at its finest — never own up to anything and play dirty when you are challenged.

And one of Churchill's colleagues had this to say:

“Tracking blood lines is the business of Nazi Germany and South Africa (under apartheid),” said professor George Tinker, who teaches American Indian culture and religious tradition at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. “That's not an Indian issue at all.”

Godwin's Law just got invoked…

Posted by DaveH at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

Rice on the road

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is leaving for a ten stop trip to Europe and the Middle East.

Yahoo/Reuters has this cute story:

Rice tells press “Don't get lost”
With Americans suffering a reputation as geographically challenged, Condoleezza Rice has handed out pocket atlases to the U.S. press corps on her first trip abroad as Secretary of State.

“I would not want anybody to feel lost” the former university provost quipped as she handed out 18 copies of the books on her plane.

And the reason for her trip:

The souvenir for journalists of her inaugural eight-day, 10-stop trip to Europe and the Middle East was also Rice's way of showing she will travel widely to fulfil her pledge that “the time for diplomacy is now.”

Her predecessor Colin Powell was criticised for travelling too little when some more face-to-face diplomacy might have helped win over allies to radical U.S. policies.

Asked by reporters whether the presents were a portent of heavy travel schedules for the new top U.S. diplomat, Rice smiled and replied: “You will see.”

Emphasis mine. And I bet that she will not be dispensing the kind of “diplomacy” that the Middle Easterners are used to getting from the United Nations and Europe either. She rocks! I am very much looking forward to the next four years — things are going to get interesting, really really interesting…

Posted by DaveH at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

Cool Remote technology

Hat tip to Gizmodo for pointing to ShinyShiny (now in the blogroll under Geek Stuff). ShinyShiny was writing about this:

EZPower Universal Remote

Tired of running out of batteries at the worst possible time?
Never worry about changing your remote control's batteries again with the EZPower Universal Remote. Winding the Jog Shuttle will store enough power so you can use all of its functions! A full charge lasts 7 days!

Control up to six devices (TV, VCR, Cable, SAT, AUX, DVD) and help protect the environment by not having to discard discharged batteries again!

remote.gif

Available now for only $25

Posted by DaveH at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

Kofi Annan and Iraq

From Reuters: Iraq Wants Money Back; Annan Promises Action

Iraq said it wanted its money back from the scandal-tainted U.N. oil-for-food program Friday as Secretary-General Kofi Annan vowed to get to the bottom of wrongdoing by U.N. staff.

Like this will happen any time soon… Riighhhttt…

“Huge sums of money which should have served the needs of the Iraqi people who were suffering at that time — a lot of these resources were squandered and misspent,” said Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Samir Sumaidaie.

And who was looking after those sums of money? The United Nations.
I rest my case — what would you expect this gaggle of morally bankrupt idiotarians to be doing? Working?

Iraq, he said, should at minimum not have to pay for the independent probe set up by the United Nations from remaining oil-for-food funds. The inquiry panel has spent $30 million so far, with the approval of the Security Council.

Emphasis mine — and how far along is the inquiry panel with its work? How much more will have to be spent? Who is auditing the cash flow? Is there a public website where I can go to see the accounting information for the funding for this report?
….
….
….
….
(crickets)

A key report by Paul Volcker, the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman appointed by Annan to probe the $67 billion program, found that the director of the plan, Benon Sevan, helped steer oil contracts to a relative of former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

No surprise there — a den of thieves will always select a thief for its leader. Kofi is corrupt as hell and there is no reason to believe that Ghali was not equally as corrupt.

The report does not accuse any U.N. officials of getting bribes. But it says Sevan received $160,000 from an aunt in Cyrus, who has since died and had few resources.

With relatives like these, who needs “friends”

“We are as determined as everyone to get to the bottom of this. We do not want this shadow to hang over the U.N.,” Annan said as he arrived at headquarters.

Like I said, I am not waiting for this to happen anytime soon. They will protect themselves. Sure, there will be a public punishment of some minor functionary but it will be token and the major players will all walk.

UN Delenda Est!

Posted by DaveH at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

Office Slang

Cute list of current office slang — heard some of them, some of them were new:

Beepilepsy - The brief seizure people sometimes suffer when their beepers go off, especially in vibrator mode. Characterized by physical spasms, goofy facial expressions, and stopping speech in mid-sentence.

Chip Jewelry - Old computers destined to be scrapped or turned into decoration. “I paid three grand for that Mac and now it’s nothing but chip jewelry.”

Generica - Fast food joints, strip malls, sub-divisions as in “we were so lost in generica that I couldn’t remember what city it was”

Seagull Manager - A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, shits over everything and then leaves.

Heh… The joys of working in Corporate America.

Posted by DaveH at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

Trading music files online

Interesting story from WFTV.COM

Dead Woman, Who Didn't Have Computer, Sued For Music Trading
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The recording industry sued Gertrude Walton, accusing her of illegally trading music over the Internet as “smittenedkitten.”

But the lawsuit was filed more than a month after the 83-year-old woman died in December, and her daughter says Walton hated computers, anyway.

A group of record companies named Walton as the sole defendant in a federal lawsuit, claiming she made more than 700 songs available for free on the Internet.

Walton's daughter, Robin Chianumba, lived with her mother for the last 17 years and said her mother objected to having a computer in the house.

“My mother wouldn't know how to turn on a computer,” Chianumba said.

She said she faxed a copy of her mother's death certificate to record company officials several days before the lawsuit was filed, in response to a letter from the company regarding the upcoming legal filing.

“I am pretty sure she is not going to leave Greenwood Memorial Park (where she is buried) to attend the hearing,” Chianumba said.

A Recording Industry Association of America spokesman said Thursday that Walton was likely not the smittenedkitten it's searching for.

“Our evidence gathering and our subsequent legal actions all were initiated weeks and even months ago,” said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy. “We will now, of course, obviously dismiss this case.”

Shouldn't someone be taking a closer look at the RIAA and what it is doing with launching all these suits?

Posted by DaveH at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

Love Letters

Chortler brings you: The Alan Greenspan-Paris Hilton Love Letters

Given our strict policy of not keeping any detail of the lives of public figures secret, we present the following romantic email correspondence between Alan Greenspan and Paris Hilton:

A.G. - Paris, my bespangled genus Rosa, how do I commence this electronic missive when my terminal digits flutter with amative excitation?

P.H. - You're hot!!!

A.G. - Like the luminous cosmopolitan centrum of Gallic governance from which your moniker derives, I find my constitution conjuring connotations of consensual concupiscent connections.

P.H. - Far out!!!

A.G. - Thy taciturnity in composition leaves me replete with corporeal yearning.

P.H. - Dude!!!

Posted by DaveH at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

Ford's new vehicle

Meet the Ford Synus:

As the population shifts back to the big cities, you'll need a rolling urban command center. Enter the SYNUS concept vehicle, a mobile techno sanctuary sculpted in urban armor and inspired by the popular B-cars of congested international hotspots. Short and slim for easy city maneuvering, it looks bank-vault tough on the outside - with intimidating and outrageous styling that even features a vault-style spinner handle in back with deadbolt door latching. When parked and placed in secure mode, SYNUS deploys protective shutters over the windshield and side glass. Small windows on the flanks and roof are non-opening and bullet-resistant. The SYNUS concept also signals security through its use of a driver-side dial operated combination lock on the B-pillar. Flat glass in a slightly raked windshield furthers the armored-car look of this concept. Bold wheel arches make a design statement as well as accommodate the vehicle's exceptionally wide track.

synus.jpg
Click for full-size Image

And it will probably sell like hotcakes.

Posted by DaveH at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

R.I.P. Ossie Davis

From ABC News/AP:

Actor and Civil Rights Activist Ossie Davis, 87, Found Dead in His Hotel Room
Ossie Davis, an actor distinguished for roles dealing with racial injustice on stage, screen and in real life and perhaps best known as the husband and partner of actress Ruby Dee has died at the age of 87.

Davis was found dead on Friday in his hotel room in Miami, where he was making a film called “Retirement,” according to Arminda Thomas, who works in his office in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Davis, who wrote, acted, directed and produced for the theater and Hollywood, was a central figure among black performers of the last five decades. He and Dee celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1998 with the publication of a dual autobiography, “In This Life Together.”

The Obituary goes into his life with Ruby Dee and a lot of his early history.
A fine actor — he will be missed…

Posted by DaveH at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

Enron hits bottom -- starts digging

Interesting things happening in Snohomish County (WA State). From CNN News:

Tapes: Enron plotted to shut down power plant
Move came day that rolling blackouts hit California, utility says

A Washington state utility released audiotapes Thursday that it said revealed bankrupt energy trader Enron Corp. plotted to take a power plant off-line in 2001 to jack up electric prices in Western states.

That same day, shortages of power forced rolling blackouts in northern California that affected about 2 million customers.

Snohomish Public Utility District in Everett, Washington, released the tapes as part of its effort to void a $122 million lawsuit Enron has filed against it seeking payment for electricity it was contracted to provide.

The utility says an Enron employee and a worker at a power plant in Las Vegas, Nevada, made up phony repairs, taking the plant off-line January 17, 2001.

“We want you guys to get a little creative … and come up with a reason to go down,” the Enron worker tells the plant employee on one of the tapes.
“Anything you want to do over there? … Cleaning, anything like that?” the Enron employee says.
“Yeah, yeah,” the other replies. “There's some stuff we could be doing.”

And from some other tapes:

Others imply that Enron used similar tactics in Canada and that traders were aware the actions were illegal.

One Enron employee tells a colleague in another recorded conversation, “I'm just trying to be an honest camper so I only go to jail once.”

“Well, there you go. At least in only one country,” the other replies, and laughs.

Nail them and put their asses in jail for a long long time.

Jen's dad is a farmer in the Central Valley of CA. He has to pump water from the local aquifer to irrigate his crops (Almonds and Wine Grapes mostly). When CAs electrical utility deregulated, it became cheaper for him to convert all of his irrigation pumps to diesel engines than it was to continue paying the spiraling electrical rates…

Posted by DaveH at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

The G-CANS Project

Gorgeous engineering and photography at the G-CANS site

From this description:

The G-Cans Project is a massive project to build infrastructure for preventing overflow of the major rivers and waterways spidering the city. The underground waterway is the largest in the world - with five 32m diameter, 65m deep concrete containment silos which are connected by 64 kilometers of tunnel sitting 50 meters beneath the surface…

g-cans-07.jpg
Click for full-size Image

PLEASE NOTE: The website is in Japanese. There are arrows for navigating between pictures but the numbers jump around. Edit the URL to reflect consecutive numbers 00 through 25 — ie:

http://www.g-cans.jp/photo/00.html
http://www.g-cans.jp/photo/01.html
http://www.g-cans.jp/photo/02.html
http://www.g-cans.jp/photo/03.html

Posted by DaveH at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

Punxsutawney Phil's Cousin

Meet Pudding Hill Pete:

Pudding Hill Pete Weighs In On Pressing Issues
“What did ya bring me to warm my belly?” That was how I was greeted after trudging up Pudding Hill in Lyndon for my annual interview with the region's resident curmudgeon, Pudding Hill Pete.

I handed over a bottle of Pomme de Vie Apple Brandy from Flag Hill Farm in Vershire I had chosen as my beverage of choice to loosen up the old critter and get him talking. It worked and what follows is a sanitized version of what was said. This being a family newspaper and all, I took out most of the profanity and crude remarks that punctuate Pete's normal conversations.

As we sat around the woodstove in Pete's cozy burrow far below the snow-covered hill, he peered at me over his half glasses and asked, “Do those folks at The Caledonian actually pay you to write those columns?”

I said yes.

“What is the matter with them? Why, you don't know crap about crap. I could do a better job any day of the week,” he retorted.

And his famous cousin:

“Did you see the picture in the papers last year with my cousin Punxsutawney Phil bein' manhandled by them so-called handlers in top hats? Gobbler's Knob sure has a bunch of weird people.

“Hrumph, Phil thinks he is so much better'n the rest of us cause he gets on television every year.

Heh…

Posted by DaveH at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

Great Quote

“The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant:
It's just that they know so much that isn't so.”
- Ronald Reagan

More to be found here

Posted by DaveH at 12:19 AM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2005

New Age -- rhymes with sewerage

From Reuters comes this excellent screed on the current politically correct / feel-good lifestyle and where it has lead us (some of us…):

Guide to 'Neurotica' Charts New Age of Anxiety
Remember the time when people made stupid mistakes instead of “bad choices,” when anal-retentive personalities were simply tidy and no one needed a “life coach?”

Gone are the days when “closure” was a term used for zippers and when “denial” was only a river in Egypt.

Welcome to the new Age of Anxiety where Western culture is beset by so much dread that “bad habits have been turned into diseases, foibles are afflictions and sins are syndromes,” says writer Jon Winokur.

Direct from California — the state that in 1986 created a task-force to promote self esteem — comes Winokur's “Encyclopedia Neurotica,” an irreverent guide to the world of neuroses, phobias and a slew of other conditions just waiting to be chronicled in the next best-selling “addiction memoir.”

By some estimates one in five Americans suffers from at least one phobia and new ones, like heterophobia or “the fear of straight people,” are being identified all the time.

U.S. therapists have reported a significant increase in patients, especially men, since the 1999 debut of “The Sopranos” — the TV show about a Mafia boss with angst.

Winokur makes a clear distinction in the book between neurosis in the colloquial sense and psychosis that leads to criminal behavior or demands hospitalization and is no laughing matter.

His “issues” are mostly with the “psychobabble” that has turned juvenile delinquents into kids suffering from “conduct disorder” and gluttons into “compulsive over-eaters.”

So true — used to know a lot of people like that in Seattle. These people are willfully disabling themselves in the cause of self examination and fail to get the big picture. Solipsism writ large…

Posted by DaveH at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

Misguided relief efforts for Tsunami

The Wall Street Journal has an article today on some of the “interesting” items donated by well-meaning people as relief:

Sri Lanka Is Grateful, but what to do with the Ski Parkas?
Well-Meaning Donors send heaps of Useless Stuff; Pajama Tops, No Bottoms

The grateful people of Sri Lanka would like to make a humble request to all those who have offered succor to its devastated tsunami victims: Please, no more ski jackets, moisturizing gel or Viagra.

The recent outpouring of tsunami support has brought with it a mountain of unusable stuff from the Western world. That includes cozy winter hats, Arctic-weather tents, cologne and thong underwear. Dubbed “frustrated cargo” by aid workers — because it often has nowhere to go — these misfit items are gathering dust in warehouses and creating major headaches for relief workers in the field.

Mounds of donated clothes litter the coastal highway south of Colombo. Bottled water from European mountain streams is flowing freely, raising concern about empties littering the jungle. Medicines that are no longer needed, such as morphine, are feared to be loose in the country.

Some people are putting items of no apparent local value to creative use. Impakt Aid, a Sri Lankan group, cites two dozen goose-down jackets it recently received from a European relief agency. The group forwarded the coats to a refugee camp. There, they were used to wrap babies without diapers.

“People are just bringing anything and everything,” says Melanie Kanaka, a World Bank administrator who is helping coordinate aid in the battered town of Galle. “We don't have the resources in this country to sort it all out.”

Many vital needs still aren't being met, even as marginal donations pile up. Government figures record the arrival of 30,000 sheets, but only 100 mattresses. Colombo's main airport says it received 5,000 pajama tops from Qantas Airways, but no bottoms to go with them. The airline won't comment beyond saying that it sent a planeload of supplies to Sri Lanka, primarily medical supplies. Many of the country's more than 300 refugee camps face critical shortages of cough syrup and infection-fighting creams — even though there are plenty of skimpy undergarments.

I am surprised that some people are sending these things. Also, the various relief agencies do have published guidelines for what is needed. For someone sending stuff over there without going through an agency, your basic SHTF bag contents would be best — magnified by about 100 times of course. Jen and I just gave cash to an agency that has a known 6% overhead (some places have up to 30% overhead — nice offices too!!)

Posted by DaveH at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2005

Jumbo Jets

I subscribe to the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

They do have their major articles on-line but they will frequently have “filler” items that do not get included in their on-line edition.

This one is interesting, from the February 2005 issue:

A surprising result of the obesity epidemic.
Because of the increasing weight of Americans — an average gain of about ten pounds per person — US airplanes consumed an extra 350 Million Gallons of Jet Fuel in 2000, CDC researchers recently estimated.

This costs the financially strapped airline industry $270 Million a year. And the extra fuel results in the release of about 3.8 Million tons of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and other pollutants.

Side effects…

Posted by DaveH at 07:20 PM | Comments (1)

Biodiesel give and take

Interesting article at Wired Magazine regarding the growing popularity of Biodiesel and some of the issues surrounding its production:

Backroom Tussling Over Biodiesel
Farmers in the heartland are trying to cash in on America's growing infatuation with biodiesel, the replacement for petroleum diesel that can be made from vegetable and animal oils and fats.

The farmers, soybean growers from Midwestern states, are enlisting the help of environmentalists and celebrities, to give them the hip, eco-friendly image they need to reach young adults and baby boomers.

The relationship between soybean growers and environmentalists is proving a rocky one, however.

Many environmentalists have been making biodiesel in their backyards, basements and bathtubs for years, and promoting the fuel at a grass-roots level.

But the backyarders, as they are known, are also among the leading critics of the soybean growers' practices, particularly their use of GMO crops and herbicides.

Emphasis mine… You want the cheap soybean oil but you want it non-GM. Pick one and stick with it — both is not an option. It is not as though the franken-soy is going to change the characteristics of the fuel you make and for those backyarders who are scrounging from restaurants, etc., you are probably using GM oil already.

More from the article:

One worry backyarders and environmentalists have is that a biodiesel market dominated by soybean growers will promote the use of Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean seeds, which have been genetically altered to resist the company's herbicide, Roundup.

Soybean farmers need to “give some serious thought” to their use of GMO seeds, said Hannah, who attended the NBB meeting. “I can understand the huge temptation to move toward GMOs, but we lack a complete understanding of the effects of GMOs and fertilizers.”

Hey Hannah — you might not have a complete understanding of what's going on in the fields but I bet that Monsanto sure does; that and the farmer certainly notices the improved crop yield/acre…

Try looking at the big picture. It will also be interesting if these small biofuel co-ops have to start charging highway taxes — there are state and federal taxes put on each gallon of regular petroleum fuel sold. These people are skirting under the radar now but the bigger they become, the higher their profile.

Posted by DaveH at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

True Martyrs

The NY Times has an article today on Iraq's true martyrs — those 50 people who were killed by terrorists while voting.

Salim Yacoubi bent over to kiss the purple ink stain on his twin brother's right index finger, gone cold with death.

“You can see the finger with which he voted,” Shukur Jasim, a friend of the dead man, said as he cast a tearful gaze on the body, sprawled across a washer's concrete slab. “He's a martyr now.”

The stain marked the hard-won right to vote that Naim Rahim Yacoubi exercised Sunday, and the price he paid for that privilege.

Mr. Yacoubi, 37, was one of at least 50 Iraqis who died in bomb and mortar attacks as millions of people marched to polling centers in the first free elections in decades. At least nine suicide bombs exploded in Baghdad alone. In one of those, the bomber detonated his device outside Kurdis Primary School near the airport, sending dozens of shards of shrapnel into Mr. Yacoubi.

Posted by DaveH at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

North Korea sold processed uranium to Libya

Interesting news from Libya these days… NY Times has the story:

Tests Said to Tie Deal on Uranium to North Korea
Scientific tests have led American intelligence agencies and government scientists to conclude with near certainty that North Korea sold processed uranium to Libya, bolstering earlier indications that the reclusive state exported sensitive fuel for atomic weapons, according to officials with access to the intelligence.

The determination, which has circulated among senior government officials in recent weeks, has touched off a hunt to determine if North Korea has also sold uranium to other countries, including Iran and Syria. So far, there is no evidence that such additional transactions took place.

Nonetheless, the conclusion about Libya, which is contained in a classified briefing that has been described to The New York Times, could alter Washington's debate about the assessment of the North Korean nuclear threat. In the past, some administration officials have argued that there is time to find a diplomatic solution because there was no evidence that the government of Kim Jung Il was spreading its atomic technology abroad.

The proportions of isotopes vary depending on the geographical location from where the ore was mined.

The article continues:

One recently retired Pentagon official who has long experience dealing with North Korea said the new finding was “huge, because it changes the whole equation with the North.”

“It suggests we don't have time to sit around and wait for the outcome of negotiations,” he said. “It's a scary conclusion because you don't know who else they may have sold to.”

President Bush is expected to mention North Korea in his State of the Union address on Wednesday night. In that speech three years ago, he identified the country as part of an “Axis of Evil,” along with Iran and Iraq. Two weeks ago Condoleezza Rice, in her confirmation hearings for secretary of state, included North Korea in a list of six “outposts of tyranny,” but a senior administration official said Mr. Bush was not planning to use that phrase in his speech.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. Steven DenBeste wrote quite a bit about the multi-country negotiations going on with North Korea. Time to turn up the heat a bit…

Posted by DaveH at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

Multiple computers -- try Synergy

This looks cool… If you have more than one computer on your desktop and they have separate monitors, Synergy will allow you to share one mouse and keyboard for all the systems. The systems can be running different OS's too - MAC, Linux, Windows are supported. From their website:

synergy: [noun] a mutually advantageous conjunction of distinct elements

Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).

Redirecting the mouse and keyboard is as simple as moving the mouse off the edge of your screen. Synergy also merges the clipboards of all the systems into one, allowing cut-and-paste between systems. Furthermore, it synchronizes screen savers so they all start and stop together and, if screen locking is enabled, only one screen requires a password to unlock them all.

Open source…

Posted by DaveH at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

UFO Page

Good website for those interested in Unidentified Flying Objects.

This place actually treats them seriously as opposed to the over-the-top conspiracy theory places.

Posted by DaveH at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

Tools you might have missed

An interesting collection of research tools — most of them are based on Google.

Example searches include:

Actors: What roles does an actor play?
Link cosmos: See backlinks to your blog from Technorati and Bloglines.
AnyRank: Find the CurseRank, GeekRank, NaughtyRank, or IntellectRank for your URL.
Neighborsearch: Searches within pages linked from a site.
Moviebot: See automated movie ratings, like for “Terminator.”

Plus about 25 others.

Posted by DaveH at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

Future of Hubble

Things are not looking that good for the Hubble Space Telescope these days:

From Space.com news: Congress Frets Over Saving Hubble Project

Saving the Hubble Space telescope may be too expensive and dangerous, lawmakers said Wednesday after hearing from scientists who are split on the best way to repair or retire the cosmic camera.

The chairman of the House Science Committee said Congress needs to decide whether the 14-year old telescope, renowned for its inspiring snapshots, is worth the cost of repair — estimated to be as much as $2 billion.

“We have to make hard choices about whether a Hubble mission is worth it now, when moving ahead is likely to have an adverse impact on other programs, including quite possibly other programs in astronomy,” said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y.

Very good point - there is a lot of emotional attachment to the scope but there are a lot of other amazing programs being done and if we spend the money to refurbish the Hubble, what programs will we have to give up down the road. I'd say give it a Viking Funeral and build its replacement — bigger and better!

Posted by DaveH at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2005

How deadly is Asian Bird Flu

Interesting essay from the new Wall Street Journal “Numbers Guy

From the lede to this first article:

This is the first installment of The Numbers Guy, a new column on the way numbers and statistics are used – and abused – in the news, business and politics. I welcome your questions and comments, and will post and respond to your letters soon.

And the article:

Just How Deadly Is Bird Flu?
It Depends on Whom You Ask

The World Health Organization has a big problem: It needs to alert the public to the dangers of a virus that has killed very few people, yet could, in some scenarios, devastate nations across the globe.

So, the group's doctors and scientists have lately been forecasting truly alarming numbers from the so-called Asian bird flu — up to 100 million deaths. One researcher has gone much further, suggesting the toll could be up to a billion people.

But projecting death counts from such a bug isn't just an inexact science; it's more like educated guesswork. The truth is, scientists don't know the rates at which this hypothetical flu — derived from a bird flu that so far in Asia doesn't spread well from human to human — could infect and kill. They base guesses on prior flu pandemics, but there's no way to quantify how much better we're prepared in 2005, thanks to improved vaccine production and antiviral medication, than we were in 1968, when the last flu pandemic struck.

Then again, the next pandemic could be worse than that relatively mild one, and even worse than the deadliest of the past century, in 1918, which killed at least 20 million people at a time when the world had a smaller population which traveled less.

The most responsible answer, then, to the question of how many people the flu will kill is, “We don't know.” But big numbers get headlines while honest uncertainty usually doesn't. And the WHO has been sharing big numbers, like two million to seven million people dead world-wide. At a press conference in Hong Kong two months ago, one official went further, saying this hypothetical pandemic could kill as many as 100 million people. The WHO always cautions that these aren't sure numbers, but the group shouldn't be surprised that the press often skips the complexity.

The rest of the article is just as good and there are a couple emails from readers that are answered with a good level of thoroughness. I'll be following this column from now on.

The “Numbers Guy Central” website is here.

Posted by DaveH at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

Soldier held hostage in Iraq

Hat tip to Charles at LGF for this bit of fact-checking — something which Associated Press failed to do…
First, from this AP Report:

Web Site Claims GI Captured in Iraq
Iraqi militants claimed in a Web statement Tuesday to have taken an American soldier hostage and threatened to behead him in 72 hours unless the Americans release Iraqi prisoners. The U.S. military said it was investigating, but the claim's authenticity could not be immediately confirmed.

The posting, on a Web site that frequently carried militants' statements, included a photo of what that statement said was an American soldier, wearing desert fatigues and seated on a concrete floor with his hands tied behind his back. The figure in the photo appeared stiff and expressionless, and the photo's authenticity could not be confirmed.

captured-gi-joe.jpg
This image of what appears to be a captured US soldier was posted on an Iraqi militant website, Tuesday Feb. 1, 2005. According to the website, the militants threatened to behead the hostage in 72 hours unless the Americans release Iraqi prisoners. The claim could not be verified.(AP Photo)

Charles took one look at the picture and noticed a similarity between the “captured soldier” and this childs toy:

captured-gi-joe-1.jpg

captured-gi-joe-2.jpg

Don't they check anything? Main Stream Media indeed…

Posted by DaveH at 04:45 PM | Comments (1)

Power Labs

Sam Barros has a collection of his experiments at this amazing website:

PowerLabs

He experiments with chemistry (explosives natch!), Tesla Coils, High Voltage, Lasers, Cryogenics, etc…

Loads of fun science (and stuff getting blown up) — very well done.

Posted by DaveH at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

A Leftie gets it!

WOW! Thanks to Sherry at A Western Heart, we can read this article from leftie columnist Mark Brown:

What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?
Maybe you're like me and have opposed the Iraq war since before the shooting started — not to the point of joining any peace protests, but at least letting people know where you stood.

You didn't change your mind when our troops swept quickly into Baghdad or when you saw the rabble that celebrated the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, figuring that little had been accomplished and that the tough job still lay ahead.

Despite your misgivings, you didn't demand the troops be brought home immediately afterward, believing the United States must at least try to finish what it started to avoid even greater bloodshed. And while you cheered Saddam's capture, you couldn't help but thinking I-told-you-so in the months that followed as the violence continued to spread and the death toll mounted.

By now, you might have even voted against George Bush — a second time — to register your disapproval.

But after watching Sunday's election in Iraq and seeing the first clear sign that freedom really may mean something to the Iraqi people, you have to be asking yourself: What if it turns out Bush was right, and we were wrong?

It's hard to swallow, isn't it?

The rest of the column is very well written — Mark acknowledges that Iraq still has a long way to go and that the situation could revert back to a theocratic dictatorship but Mark's overall view is optimistic and he is thinking that what President Bush did was the right thing.

Posted by DaveH at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

Bad editing

This article in the otherwise excellent The Register puts the blame on a lot of innocent machines:

Computing network warns of massive climate change
The world could be as much as 11°C hotter inside 50 years, according to the first results from climateprediction.net, an experimental distributed computing network set up to simulate climate change.

The researchers ran more than 50,000 simulations of the potential future climate, based on a doubling of pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels. What they found has surprised them. David Stainforth, from Oxford University, explains that carbon dioxide levels could have a much greater impact on global temperature than previously thought.

Excuse me — it is not the computing network that is making this claim. It is the application being run on the computing network that is making this claim and the majority of climatologists say that this application is based on a bad model. The militant environmentalists are gearing up for another round of fund-raising and they need to generate scare-headlines to out-shout the people who are doing real work.

If you visit the site (here) you will see that they are doing a distributed computing model similar to SETI@home only in this case, each computer is (from their website::

The climateprediction.net experiment should help to “improve methods to quantify uncertainties of climate projections and scenarios, including long-term ensemble simulations using complex models”, identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001 as a high priority. Hopefully, the experiment will give decision makers a better scientific basis for addressing one of the biggest potential global problems of the 21st century. The results from climateprediction.net experiment will be fed into the work of the Quantifying Uncertainty in Model Predictions (QUMP) team at the Met Office and will form part of the UK contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.

This project's purpose is to fine tune their model.
This project is not for generating predictions.
Why is the prediction being trumpeted in a headline?

Hey Register editors? Wake up and get back to work!

Posted by DaveH at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

A list of things to say

when you are loosing a technical argument: (from here)

Things to say when you're losing a technical argument
    That won't scale.
    That's been proven to be O(N^2) and we need a solution that's O(NlogN).
    There are, of course, various export limitations on that technology.
    The syntax is idiosyncratic.
    Trying to build a team behind that technology would be a staffing nightmare.
    That can't be generalized to a cross-platform build.
    Unfortunately, the license would contaminate our product.
    If we go with that idea, we're going to have Don Marti camped out in the front lobby with 300 angry software jihad supporters.
    Our support infrastructure simply can't handle the volume that change would involve.
    I had one of the interns try that approach for another project, and it scrambled the CEO's hard drive. So I think it's going to be a hard sell.

And there are sixty more.
Print and keep with you as a handy reference for your next tech meeting…

Posted by DaveH at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)