December 31, 2006

Up late and working on some other stuff

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Years!

Want to wish everyone a happy new years and looking forward to a fantastic 2007.

Murphy paid us a final visit this morning when my 1 1/2 year old Brittany took himself for his usual morning constitutional in our woods and returned home with a thorn stuck into his eyeball.

A couple hours at the emergency vets and a couple hundred lighter in the wallet and he is home again with a roster of medications that will be fun over the next two days. Basically, he needs several permutations of eyedrops and antibiotics every two hours for the next 48 hours. Good thing we slept in this morning…

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Start your (spam) engines

Comments and trackbacks have been turned on…

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Quote of the day

A liberal is someone so broad-minded that he won't take his own side in a quarrel.
—-Robert Frost

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December 30, 2006

Back home again

Flew into SeaTac airport from Fresno, got our car and drove up to Bellingham and to our house.

The trip was fun but it is soooo good to get back to our stuff, our house, to sleep in our own beds, to be surrounded by our critters.

You don't realize just how much farm life seeps into your being until you leave it even for just a few days…

Comments and Trackbacks will be turned back on again tomorrow.

Hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas and wishing everyone the best of New Years and Eid.

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December 29, 2006

Search engines and weblogs

A lot of people visit here from searching for specific topics on a Search Engine such as Google or Yahoo.

SteveH at Hog on Ice is testing (trolling actually) a search phrase to see what it attracts — here it is, let us see what happens:

MOHAMMED ORALLY MOLESTED PIGS, AND HIS REAL FATHER WAS A RABBI.

You know, the false prophet has a lot more interesting history than that: pederast, murderer, lier, Satanist. I could go on but…

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Neck meet Rope

Saddam is greeting the Ifrit in Jahannum now after a few minutes of hanging around a small room.

The next few weeks will require a lot of strength and patience but his death will prove to a lot of people that his reign of terror is over and that a new beginning is starting.

Next on the list is the little pig-boi Sadr.

note: funny how hell is called Gehenna in Hebrew and Jahannum in Persian but there is no similarity between the two cultures at all… Nothing to see here folks — keep moving.

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December 28, 2006

tick   tock   tick   tock

Saddam's days are numbered. Hell (and this is where he will be going), his minutes are numbered…

From Charles at Little Green Footballs:

Saddam Counting the Minutes
He’s taking the fall this weekend.

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for his role in 148 killings in 1982, will have his sentence carried out by Sunday, NBC News reported Thursday. According to a U.S. military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, Saddam will be hanged before the start of the Eid religious holiday, which begins this Sunday.

The hanging could take place as early as Friday, NBC’s Richard Engel reported.

The U.S. military received a formal request from the Iraqi government to transfer Saddam to Iraqi authorities, NBC reported on Thursday, which is one of the final steps required before his execution.

It would have been nice if he could have been tried for all of his deeds but this would have dragged on for years and years. Best to just get him off the earth now — he will not be missed. He kept his people in repression and poverty while he lived the life of luxury. Well, it is time to pay the butchers bill for that lifestyle.

Here is hoping they go after that fat-boi al-Sadr next. Got one of his top aides recently — need to cut this cancer off at the head though.

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The times climate they are a' changing

Via Tim Blair comes this observation into the inner workings of the recent American Geophysical Union meeting.

From physical oceanographer Kevin Vranes's weblog:

So what happened at AGU last week?
With thirteen thousand people at a confab of geophysicists and geophysicists-in-training, a few thousand of whom work on something related to the climate system, you expect to hear about climate change. In perhaps a short decade, climate change has rapidly surpassed seismology as the primary membrane between the public and the geophysics research world. Climate is now what most makes the American Geophysical Union relevant to non-members; climate is now what essentially drives the meeting despite the presence of dozens of other specialties represented.

As a physical oceanographer (which by definition also means “climatologist”)- become-enviro policy guy, though, I wasn't so much interested in the details of climate science at this year's AGU. What I was (and am) interested in is seeing the conference as a whole. My interest in AGU has strayed from the hardrock science, moving into something more to do with feelings and hunches. That's right, feelings. Hunches. Intuition. The squishy, soft underbelly of the human mind; the part we want to ignore in pursuing geophysical data analysis. What I want to know is attitude. More than the state of the science, I now want to know about the state of the scientists.

Kevin sets the stage and then proceeds:

To sum the state of climsci world in one word, as I see it right now, it is this: tension.

What I am starting to hear is internal backlash. Sure, science is messy and always full of tension between holders of competing positions, opinions and analyses. That has always been the nature of science, and of course extends to climate science. Tensions come out at meetings, on listservs, on letters pages, and in the press. But these tensions normally surround a particular paper, or a particular question. While much more broadly-based tensions have existed for years on the state of understanding on global warming, they haven't really been tensions internal to the climsci community, but tensions between the climsci community and interested outsiders.

What I am sensing now is something much broader and more diffuse, something that has less to do with particular components of the science in the field and is much more about how the field is composing itself.

What I see is something that I am having a hard time labeling, but that I might call either a “hangover” or a “sophomore slump” or “buyers remorse.” None fit perfectly, but perhaps the combination does. I speak for (my interpretation) of the collective:
We tried for years - decades - to get them to listen to us about climate change. To do that we had to ramp up our rhetoric. We had to figure out ways to tone down our natural skepticism (we are scientists, after all) in order to put on a united face. We knew it would mean pushing the science harder than it should be. We knew it would mean allowing the boundary-pushers on the “it's happening” side free reign while stifling the boundary-pushers on the other side. But knowing the science, we knew the stakes to humanity were high and that the opposition to the truth would be fierce, so we knew we had to dig in. But now they are listening. Now they do believe us. Now they say they're ready to take action. And now we're wondering if we didn't create a monster. We're wondering if they realize how uncertain our projections of future climate are. We wonder if we've oversold the science. We're wondering what happened to our community, that individuals caveat even the most minor questionings of barely-proven climate change evidence, lest they be tagged as “skeptics.” We're wondering if we've let our alarm at the problem trickle to the public sphere, missing all the caveats in translation that we have internalized. And we're wondering if we've let some of our scientists take the science too far, promise too much knowledge, and promote more certainty in ourselves than is warranted.

The last emphasis is mine. True words — Climate Scientists have 'invested' so much effort and prestige to promote this natural warming cycle; theyhave staked their careers on their jumping on the bandwaggon and now, now that the unwashed masses are also jumping on the bandwaggon, they are afraid that their juggernaut cannot be redirected.

We have become a people sold on the idea that the current warming trend is the fault of capitalism and that we need to greatly step back our productivity if we are to survive.

To which I reply bullshit. We may have had an influence of a few percent but this is a trend that will happen and whatever we try to do to mitigate it will be 99.999% ineffective. Rather than cutting the output of the free world, how about spending one tenth of the money and provide clean water, sanitation and good cookstoves for everyone in the developing nations — now THAT would be making a change for the good!

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A pinprick

Fantastic if it works out. From The Daily Mail:

The vaccine to cure every strain of flu
British scientists are on the verge of producing a revolutionary flu vaccine that works against all major types of the disease.

Described as the 'holy grail' of flu vaccines, it would protect against all strains of influenza A - the virus behind both bird flu and the nastiest outbreaks of winter flu.

Just a couple of injections could give long-lasting immunity - unlike the current vaccine which has to be given every year.

The brainchild of scientists at Cambridge biotech firm Acambis, working with Belgian researchers, the vaccine will be tested on humans for the first time in the next few months.

A similar universal flu vaccine, being developed by Swiss vaccine firm Cytos Biotechnology, could also be tested on people in 2007 - and the vaccines on the market in around five years.

Importantly, the vaccines would also be quicker and easier to make than the traditional jabs, meaning vast quantities could be stockpiled against a global outbreak of bird flu.

Martin Bachmann, of Cytos, said: “You could really stockpile it. In the case of a pandemic, that would be a huge advantage.

Still has to pass all sorts of tests for human use but…

Here are the websites for Acambis and Cytos mentioned in the article.

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A traffic ticket

Youch! From Philadelphia's NBC10:

True Urban Legend: Trucker Gets $17,000 Ticket
Hefty Fee Levied Because Of Weight Of Vehicle

A truck driver gets lost in the Philadelphia suburbs and winds up with a $17,000 traffic ticket.

It's not an urban legend - it happened and the NBC 10 Investigators have the proof.

William Connell said he couldn't believe his eyes when he got a ticket for $17,751.50.

He said he thought he had been hit by a Mack truck.

“My face just dropped. I couldn't even believe it,” Carroll said. “I said, 'What is this, 1,700?' He said, 'No, 17,000.' I said, $17,000?”

Carroll is an independent trucker out of Philadelphia. Recently, he was taking a load to be dropped off in East Whiteland Township, an area he was unfamiliar with.

“One company that I'm leasing from, they were the ones that gave me the directions,” Carroll said.

The directions told him to get off at the Route 202 South Frazer exit. That dumped him onto Route 401.

Carroll said he missed a cockeyed sign at the corner of 401 and Bear Road where he had to make a right turn. The next thing he knew, he was in a residential neighborhood — Sydney Road to be exact — where the police gave him a ticket.

“But once you get in the there with a 53-footer, its impossible to get out,” Carroll said.

PennDOT spokesman Charlie Metzger said they, along with the East Whiteland Police Department were just enforcing a law that penalizes trucks that are too heavy for certain bridges and roadways, which might be damaged by overweight vehicles.

The NBC 10 Investigators' Vince DeMentri asked Metzger why the ticket was $17,000.

“It's $150 for the fine, and then it's $150 for every 500 pounds over the 3,000-pound weight limit,” Metzger said.

Metzger said there is a reason the fines are so stiff.

“The money can go right back into the repairs of the roadway or the bridge,” Metzger said.

Carroll said it is not fair because the sign warning of the fine was bent and somewhat obstructed.

The East Whiteland Police Department, which has its own motor carrier enforcement unit, isn't playing around. For them, this is a sign of the times that is not to be ignored.

Obviously this will be appealed and lawyers will get their little claws in but sheesh! This is almost as bad as the $217,000 fine that a Nokia Exec got for speeding in Finland.

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Dinner for one...

John F. Kerry went for a fun little visit to Iraq to check up on what was happening there. This was just after he met with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad earlier this month.

Kerry sat down to eat and it seems that a lot of people wanted to talk with him.

j_f_kerry.jpg

From this post at Hottalk:

“This is a true story…..Check out this photo from our mess hall at the US Embassy yesterday morning. Sen. Kerry found himself all alone while he was over here. He cancelled his press conference because no one came, he worked out alone in the gym w/o any soldiers even going up to say hi or ask for an autograph (I was one of those who was in the gym at the same time), and he found himself eating breakfast with only a couple of folks who are obviously not troops.

What is amazing is Bill O'Reilly came to visit with us and the troops at the CSH the same day and the line for autographs extended through the palace and people waited for two hours to shake his hand. You decide who is more respected and loved by us servicemen and women!”

Again I say…”GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS!!”

Hat tip to Charles at LGF

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Back at Jen's parent's farm again

Heading off to Yosemite tomorrow with my Dad (Jen is taking part in a girls-only party) and then, back to Bellingham for everyone.

Moss Bay was a lot of fun — It serves as home port to several oceanographic vessels, a large commercial fishing fleet as well as two research labs. Lots of antique and design shops too so some $$$ was spent.

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Hotel Blogging

Last day on the Monterey Peninsula — high winds (can't seem to get away from this), gorgeous coastline and fun times. Went through the Aquarium yesterday and heading off to Moss Bay today.

Moss Bay is more like what Cannery Row used to be and a lot less touristy so this should be fun. Cannery Row has bit-by-bit become erroded so little of the original buildings and curio shops are left and it's now all franchise chains and chinese crap stamped “Monterey Bay”

Heading back to the Central Valley later today and heading back home on the 30th — it has been fun but it will be great to get back again…

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December 25, 2006

RIP - James Brown

From the BBC:

Soul star James Brown dies at 73
He was admitted to hospital in Atlanta after being diagnosed with severe pneumonia but died at 0145 local time (0645 GMT), said Frank Copsidas.

The star was famous for hits including I Got You (I Feel Good), Papa's Got a Brand New Bag and Living in America.

“He is such an influence, I learned so much from him,” Mr Copsidas told the BBC World Service.

“On Friday he had his toy giveaway, which is his annual toy giveaway in Augusta, Georgia.

“On Saturday, he went to his dentist up in Atlanta, and his dentist told him something was wrong, and he sent him to a doctor immediately.”

Another star has gone out in the sky. He will be missed.

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December 24, 2006

A new Vista

A very sobering text report on just how Big Media has wormed it's way into the new MSFT Operating system and how Digital Rights Management will result in a very unsatisfactory experiance for a lot of users.

From Peter Gutmann:

A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection
Executive Summary

Windows Vista includes an extensive reworking of core OS elements in order to provide content protection for so-called “premium content”, typically HD data from Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sources. Providing this protection incurs considerable costs in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software cost. These issues affect not only users of Vista but the entire PC industry, since the effects of the protection measures extend to cover all hardware and software that will ever come into contact with Vista, even if it's not used directly with Vista (for example hardware in a Macintosh computer or on a Linux server). This document analyses the cost involved in Vista's content protection, and the collateral damage that this incurs throughout the computer industry.

Executive Executive Summary
The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history.

Looks to be very well thought out and comes with a good list of references.

Here is another excerpt — this is the section dealing with the increased hardware costs that everyone will see — Windows XP and 2K, MAC and Linux users included:

Increased Hardware Costs
Vista includes various requirements for “robustness” in which the content industry, through “hardware robustness rules”, dictates design requirements to hardware manufacturers. For example, only certain layouts of a board are allowed in order to make it harder for outsiders to access parts of the board. Possibly for the first time ever, computer design is being dictated not by electronic design rules, physical layout requirements, and thermal issues, but by the wishes of the content industry. Apart from the massive headache that this poses to device manufacturers, it also imposes additional increased costs beyond the ones incurred simply by having to lay out board designs in a suboptimal manner. Video card manufacturers typically produce a one-size-fits-all design (often a minimally-altered copy of the chipset vendor's reference design), and then populate different classes and price levels of cards in different ways. For example a low-end card will have low-cost, minimal or absent TV-out encoders, DVI circuitry, RAMDACs, and various other add-ons used to differentiate budget from premium video cards. You can see this on the cheaper cards by observing the unpopulated bond pads on circuit boards, and gamers and the like will be familiar with cut-a-trace/resolder-a-resistor sidegrades of video cards. Vista's content-protection requirements eliminate this one-size-fits-all design, banning the use of separate TV-out encoders, DVI circuitry, RAMDACs, and other discretionary add-ons. Everything has to be custom-designed and laid out so that there are no unnecessary accessible signal links on the board. This means that a low-cost card isn't just a high-cost card with components omitted, and conversely a high-cost card isn't just a low-cost card with additional discretionary components added, each one has to be a completely custom design created to ensure that no signal on the board is accessible.

This extends beyond simple board design all the way down to chip design. Instead of adding an external DVI chip, it now has to be integrated into the graphics chip, along with any other functionality normally supplied by an external chip. So instead of varying video card cost based on optional components, the chipset vendor now has to integrate everything into a one-size-fits-all premium-featured graphics chip, even if all the user wants is a budget card for their kids' PC.

I used to work at MSFT and am an official MSFT Alumni. As such, I have the ability to buy $600/year of software from their company store at greatly reduced prices. When I heard about some of the junk that was going into Windows Vista, I promptly went out and bought a number of licenses for Windows XP Professional so I can use them on any future computers I build for my own use. Windows Vista will be an interesting thing to follow — I am thinking that it will push a number of people over to Linux since Linux desktops are getting better and better. Should be a fun trainwreck to follow anyway…

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Stick a fork in him -- he is done...

King of Pop, Micheal Jackson is entertaining a comback in Las Vegas baby…

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Michael Jackson landing on Strip?
Ending 18 months of seclusion in Europe, reclusive superstar Michael Jackson was on a plane to the United States late Saturday bound for Las Vegas, where he plans a comeback.

Jackson and his three children, Prince Michael, Paris and Prince Michael II were due to arrive before midnight at a private executive terminal at McCarran International Airport, sources said.

We hear that Jackson's friend, Las Vegas dealmaker Jack Wishna, was instrumental in having the pop icon move back to the United States.

Reminiscent of Howard Hughes' secretive arrival in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving Day in 1966, Jackson's surprise move came after his father, Joe Jackson, vowed his son would not live in the United States again.

The 48-year-old deposed King of Pop has lived in Bahrain and a Celtic castle in Ireland since being acquitted in California of child molestation charges in June 2005.

Wishna, reached by telephone, wouldn't comment, other than to confirm Jackson was moving to Las Vegas and to say, “We are working on several projects.”

Unless he reverts back to his 'Thriller' style, I would not see this show if I was given a free ticket. Well maybe if it was to avoid a root-canal or something…

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Christmas Eve

Slept in until 10:30, went and had breakfast and then saw Apocalypto.

Very good job on casting. It was performed entirely in Mayan with English subtitles but the acting was so good that you didn't really need to read the subtitles after a few minutes. The story was a simple one but powerful.

Minor astronomical glitch in that there was a total eclipse of the Sun during one of the scenes and the next evening showed a full moonrise. Total eclipses only happen when the moon is new, not full.

Haning out for a few hours at Jen's parents place and then heading over to her Grandparents for Christmas Eve dinner.

Wishing all of you a joyous Christmas.

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December 23, 2006

Farm blogging

Arrived in central California today and am at Jen's parents house.

The immediate family is coming over in an hour for dinner (only about fifteen people) so I will not blog much tonight — planning an early night as we have both brrn running on a few hours sleep for the last couple nights.

More tomorrow…

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December 22, 2006

Heh...

Swiped from Mostly Cajun:

Expertise
An efficiency expert concluded his lecture with a note of caution. “Do not try these techniques at home.”

“Why not?” asked someone in the audience.

“I watched my wife’s routine at breakfast for years,” the expert explained. “She made lots of trips to the refrigerator, stove and table, often carrying just a single item. So I suggested, ‘Honey, why don’t you try carrying several things at once?’”

Another person asked, “Did it save time?”

The expert replied, “Actually, it did. It used to take her twenty minutes to get breakfast ready…and now I do it in about ten.”
Posted by DaveH at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pedal Power

Check out these photos of an asian man repairing a bicycle tire.
I don't have the ability to store and forward photos on the hotel computer so I can't offer a preview but it's pretty amazing.

Check it out: Silent Inspiration (Must See)

Posted by DaveH at 08:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Time -IN- my hands

An interesting story about reviving a dying trade.
From Business Week:

Making Time with the Watchmakers
To combat a shortage of skilled horologists, Rolex is underwriting a free school in Pennsylvania to teach the craft to a new generation.

It's just six months until graduation, and in a bright, clinical classroom, 12 students in crisp white lab coats with round loupes attached to their foreheads and glasses pressed to their noses are sitting on low stools at their work benches. In front of them, under Plexiglas lids that look like miniature cake holders, are tiny disassembled parts, some the size of a grain of salt, others no wider than a human hair. Under the tutelage of a master horologist, the intensely focused individuals are being given a lecture on the Lemania caliber 1873 chronograph, a mechanical timepiece with a 30-minute counter and a small second-hand dial.

It's one of five types of chronographs that by graduation, each of the 12 pupils will be able to take apart, diagnose, handcraft a part for, and repair. The individuals, all second-year students at the Lititz Watch Technicum, are in the final phase of studying what until only recently was considered the dying art of watchmaking.

Launched in 2001 by Rolex USA, the U.S. arm of the venerable 101-year-old Geneva watchmaker, the Lititz Watch Technicum was started in an effort to shore up the shortage of skilled watchmakers in the U.S., which had for decades been on the wane due to the popularity of digital and electronic watches. However, a strong resurgence in mechanical watches in recent years, particularly luxury models, has catapulted demand for horologists, a profession that was not so long ago thought to be going the way of blacksmiths and corset makers.

And a bit of the backstory:

“We were facing a situation today where we needed to foster a new generation of watchmakers,” says Charles Berthiaume, the senior vice-president for technical operations at Rolex and the Technicum's president “Thirty to 40 years ago, there was a watchmaker at every jewelry store. That's not the case today,” he notes. Since opening, the school, which is partnered with the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program, has graduated 40 students.

Very cool — I have been having a lot of fun learning blacksmithing and starting to be able to make what I am thinking about instead of turning out a piece of misshapen metal. I see the work of some of the practicioners of the craft and am amazed. Watchmaking must be very similar — doing a bit of what I do but on a much smaller scale.

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

A nice meditation on computing power

Don Lancaster doesn't support permalinks so you have to go here and scroll down to the entry for December 21, 2006 but it is entirely worth it:

Computing power has gotten FUNDAMENTALLY INSANE.
Just realized I was sitting here solving 14 linear equations in 14 unknowns to 64 bit precision. And worrying about how I was going to speed up the algorithm to get under 120 milliseconds. And being upset that 32-bit math, while useful, was not quite good enough to do the job at hand.

That, of course, is while limping along on an ancient ( almost two years old! ) 750 MHz machine. Compared to back in college where I would spend hours with a K&E log log duplex decitrig slide rule along with the Mathematical Tables from the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics to try and solve a simple transmission line problem. To three percent accuracy.

Just about anybody now has personal computing power that is unimaginably beyond the best available to only the biggest schools or corporations a very few years ago.

Which tells us that these days, if you have a problem, throw some math at it. Another ten million calculations is simply not that big a deal anymore. Brute force reigns supreme.

And no telling where it will lead.

And no telling where it will lead. — indeed…

These are fun times to be alive. I'm not much into computer gaming but I am into intense graphics (photoshop, etc…) and it was the business of gaming that drove the R&D into the high-end and relativly cheap video cards we have these days.

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Like DUH???

An interesting observation on movie pricing and theater profits from Science Blog:

Variable pricing of movie tickets could up profits
New research explains how movie theaters may increase profits by moving away from uniform pricing to variable pricing.

The study is being published in an upcoming issue of the International Review of Law & Economics.

Currently, consumers pay the same price for blockbusters and for flops, for a movie on the Fourth of July and for a movie on a rainy day in January, for a movie on Friday night and for a movie on Monday evening.

“We don't pay the same price for apples and oranges or for a hotel room on weekdays and weekends. There is no solid economic justification to charge one price for all movies, seven days a week, throughout the year,” explains Barak Orbach, an associate professor at The University of Arizona's Rogers College of Law and one of the authors on the study. “Under the present pricing model of movie theaters, some money is left on the table.”

While the authors recognize obstacles to variable pricing based on individual movies, they argue that premiums for event movies, on weekends and holidays and during the summer do not raise similar obstacles.

“Movie exhibitors would increase their profits by engaging in variable pricing,” says Orbach. “The industry's argument that uniform pricing must be the best pricing model because it has always governed the industry is logically weak and factually wrong,” argues Orbach, who in another article shows that, until the 1970s, variable pricing governed the industry.

It seems that the fixed pricing scheme was promoted by distributors so they could measure ticket sales by gate reciepts…
The word you are searching for is 'dinosaur'

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Hotel Blogging

It has been a long day. Got up early, finished building the Llama shelter for Marley and Pancho, picked up my Dad in Bellingham and then headed down to Seattle to meet with the reators to sign our side of the papers for the house sale and then on to a motel near the airport to catch an 8:00am flight to Fresno.

It's about 8:00pm and it feels like 11:00

Comments and trackbacks have been disabled until the 30th as some new techniques for spamming seem to be evolving and I will not always have internet access to monitor them.

Posted by DaveH at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2006

Comments and Trackbacks suspended for a few days

Turning off the comment and the trackback features while we are on the road. I will be checking in from time to time but there are enough people trying new techniques and I don't have the time to analyze each and every one. The scripts I have are getting really good — several hundred attempts each day with only one or two successes if that — usually it is zero.

Posted by DaveH at 10:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Two dictators

Interesting comparison of two South American Dictators that have been in the news recently.
From NewsMax:

Castro, Pinochet, and Human Rights
Two former Latin American heads of state have been much in the news lately.

One because he passed away; the other because his death seems imminent. The terms “human rights abuses,” along with “murders and tortures” appear consistently in the articles on one while being almost completely absent from the ones on the other, where the terms “gains in health-care and literacy” predominate.

One jailed more political prisoners as a percentage of population than Hitler and Stalin — and for three times as long. Modern history's longest-suffering political prisoners languished in the prisons and forced-labor camps established by his regime.

According to the Harvard-published “Black Book of Communism,” he executed 14,000 subjects by firing squad. These ranged in age from 16 to 68 and included several women, at least one of them pregnant.

According to the scholar/researchers at the Cuba Archive, his regime's total death toll from torture, prison beatings, machine gunning of escapees, drownings of same, etc. comes to 112,000 and counting.

According to Freedom House, half a million Cubans have suffered in his Gulag and torture chambers. Today — 47 years after the establishment of the totalitarian police state — political prisoners still languish in his regime's prisons for quoting Martin Luther King and Gandhi.

And the other one:

One led a coup to oust a Marxist regime that had been declared unconstitutional by his nation's legislature and Supreme Court. In the “dirty war” immediately following the coup, 3,000 people were killed and 30,000 arrested.

Within a few years all had been released or exiled.

He is the one reviled for “human rights abuses, killings, and tortures.”

The article talks a lot more about Castro and how “human rights” groups ignore the massacres and torture of the Castro regime.

What isn't mentioned that under Pinochet, Chile flourished economically and the previous government was trying to remake it into the same workers paradise that Castro was envisioning for his lucky people.

The Iraqi's really need someone like him now. Someone strong enough to command power and to get the stupid little theocrats to stop playing games and to simmer down while the nation gets rebuilt.

Posted by DaveH at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 20, 2006

Llama blogging - part two

Jen was able to get a good shot of Marley inspecting his new shelter as it was being built.

marley-checkout.jpg

These are such dear creatures — I love our Goats and Sheep but the Llamas are really sweet. It is funny that some people have behavioral problems with them; thinking that this is more an issue with the owner than the Llama.

Posted by DaveH at 11:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Truth in advertising

I had to bring some furniture up from Seattle while closing out my Mom and Dad's house. Rented a U-Haul 14-foot box truck.

I then had to bring some lumber out to our farm to build the Llama shelter and ran into something interesting…

Here are four photos:

uhaul-01.jpg

Here is one of the pieces of lumber in the truck.

uhaul-02.jpg

Here is one of the pieces of lumber in the truck sticking out over the rear of the vehicle. Please note that this is a 12 feet long board and remember that this is a 14-foot truck.

uhaul-03.jpg

Ahhh — the truck has a “Grannie's Attic — could they be measuring the cargo size from here?

uhaul-04.jpg

Yep.

Not exactly a deception but still, if I was renting a truck to carry a specific piece of equipment or supplies and if I got there and found that I was unable to load, I would be very very pissed. I do not see on any of U-Haul's web pages (just checked) the statement that the length was measured at the longest part of the van or that the actual available floor length might be smaller.

A minor nit but one worth remembering if you have to rent a truck…

Posted by DaveH at 09:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Curious...

From the Canadian Broadcasting Company:

Japanese man in virtual 'hibernation' survives 3 weeks without food or water
A man who went missing in western Japan survived in near-freezing weather without food and water for over three weeks by falling into a state similar to hibernation, doctors said.

Mitsutaka Uchikoshi had almost no pulse, his organs had all but shut down and his body temperature was 71 degrees Fahrenheit or about 21.6 Celsius when he was discovered on Rokko mountain in late October, said doctors who treated him at the nearby Kobe City General Hospital. He had been missing for 24 days.

“On the second day, the sun was out, I was in a field, and I felt very comfortable. That's my last memory,” Uchikoshi, 35, told reporters Tuesday before returning home from hospital. “I must have fallen asleep after that.”

Doctors believe Uchikoshi, a city official from neighbouring Nishinomiya who was visiting the mountain for a barbecue party, tripped and later lost consciousness in a remote mountainous area.

His body temperature soon plunged as he lay in 10-degree Celsius weather, greatly slowing down his metabolism.

“(Uchikoshi) fell into a state similar to hibernation and many of his organs slowed, but his brain was protected,” said Dr. Shinichi Sato, head of the hospital's emergency unit. “I believe his brain capacity has recovered 100 per cent. “

Uchikoshi was treated for severe hypothermia, multiple organ failure and blood loss from his fall, but was unlikely to experience any lasting ill effects, Sato said.

Doctors were still uncertain how exactly Uchikoshi survived for weeks with his metabolism almost at a standstill.

In animals like squirrels or bears, hibernation reduces the amount of oxygen that cells need to survive, protecting the brain and other organs from damage.

If they can figure out what happened and how to reproduce this, it would be an amazing addition to a backpacker's ten essentials.

Posted by DaveH at 09:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The MAC doesn't have as many security issues as Windows

BZZZZTTTT!!!

From Infoworld:

Month of security bugs set to bite Apple
Two hackers plan to disclose bugs in the Mac OS X kernel, Safari, iTunes, iPhoto and QuickTime

Apple Computer will soon be a member of the “month of bugs” club.

On Jan. 1, two security researchers will begin publishing details of a flood of security vulnerabilities in Apple's products. Their plan is to disclose one bug per day for the entire month, they said Tuesday.

The project is being launched by an independent security researcher, Kevin Finisterre, and a hacker known as LMH, who declined to reveal his identity.

Some of the bugs “might represent a significant risk,” LMH said in an e-mail interview. “Others have a lower impact on security. We are trying to develop working exploits for every issue we find.”

The two hackers plan to disclose bugs in the Mac OS X kernel as well as in software such as Safari, iTunes, iPhoto and QuickTime, LMH said. Some of the bugs will also affect versions of Apple's software designed to run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, he added.

Going to be an interesting few months for people. And Finisterre, and LMH are just going after the low hanging fruit. Any operating system of this level of complexity is going to have security issues. This was not a big deal ten years ago but now everyone is always-on and always-connected.

Posted by DaveH at 08:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 19, 2006

Meet Graham Owen

Graham ties flies used for fly fishing and he is very good at this.

So good that when he went to 'pose' one of his creations on a branch, a dragonfly decided that it looked really tasty and made off with it.

A wonderful series of photos here: Flies with an Attitude

I've often been asked “why do you enjoy tying realistic flies?”

Typically, I scratch my head, and say hmmm…Well, I enjoy the challenge, artistry, relaxation and therapeutic value, as well as the thrill of fooling large wary old fish that had previously seen it all. The sting of steel seems to provide these large wary fish with an abundance of attitude and likely an adrenaline rush as deep as mine.

That said, I never could have anticipated the reason why I tied the orange dragonfly pictured above, and don't recall ever being in such a rush to get busy at my tying desk. So, I'm going to share my story with you, presented more as a photo essay as opposed to lengthy text.

The story begins when I went to a local stream, with new digital camera in hand, eager to practice taking photos of a few of my realistic flies. The first thing I did was place a realistic fly on top of a dried twig sticking up out of the ground.

After taking one quick snapshot it appeared that noon was not the best time to take outdoor fly photos, the light was too bright, creating unwanted glare on the wings. I moved in a bit closer with the camera, and being unaccustomed to finding and focusing on small objects, I struggled to find the fly in the viewfinder. By the time focus was made, the fly was no longer on the twig. After searching for several minutes, crawling around on the ground, it finally occurred to me that something had taken the fly away.

After pulling another fly from my box, and deeply embedding the hook into the twig, I grabbed the camera, focused thought the viewfinder, and took a photo that stuck me as being rather unusual.

graham_owen_dragon_01.jpg


A bright orange dragonfly seemed rather determined to pull an easy meal from the twig.

One more:

graham_owen_dragon_02.jpg

These are just thumbnails — visit his site for the full story and lots of other fantastic photographs.

Posted by DaveH at 09:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A high pucker factor

A story of a near fatal industrial accident.

From Neanderpundit:

near-fatal crapblogging
Today as I sat on the throne in the bathroom of the manufacturing facility where I’m working, i hear a fairly large crash, and a forklift tong enters the brick wall of the stall where I’m siting, thankfully several feet from me. I get to the paperwork fairly quickly, pull up the drawers and zip up, and step over the forklift to exit the stall.

Outside, a gapers block has begun to form, and eventually the forklift is extracted from the wall.

I can safely say, as a method of making you no longer interested in crapping, this is utterly effective. You couldn’t drive a sewing needle up my ass with a jackhammer. I’ll probably be shitting spaghetti for a month.

Sorry — I just had to share…

Posted by DaveH at 09:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Home Schooling

Kim DuToit and his wife are home schooling their children.
Hi son will turn 18 in May and will be taking an exam. If he wins, he will get his high school diploma from Kim and Connie.

Here is the schedule for the exam:

The examinations will be fairly straightforward:
  • Mathematics (6 hours, divided into three 2-hour periods): Algebra; Arithmetic; Geometry and Trigonometry.
  • Practical Math (3 hours): Budgeting & Forecasting, Basic Statistics.
  • History (6 hours, three 2-hour periods): U.S. History; Ancient History and Modern European History. All essay questions, of course.
  • English Language and Literature (8 hours, four 2-hour periods): Book Reports, Essay Writing, Grammar.
  • Physics (2 hours): Discussion of basic principles (Newton’s Laws, Ohm’s Laws, etc) and basic problem-solving—a combination of essays and problems.
  • Civics (6 hours, two 3-hour periods): U.S. Government; Analysis of other political forms and systems.
  • Philosophy (2 hours): classical theories (including Aristotle, Plato, Aurelius, and Aquinas)
  • Geography (3 hours): Climatology, Oceanography, Cartography.
The exams may also be linked, to a greater or lesser degree. An English Lit. exam on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar may also be tied to an Ancient History question on the emergence of the Roman Empire, a Civics question on dictatorships and democracy, and a Trigonometry question on dome measurements (from the Roman Pantheon), to give but a simple example.

Sounds like a nice several day journey through some fun information.

Ye Gods! If it doesn't kill the lad first…

Seriously, this is what examinations were like when I was going to school — not all at once, but the list of expected subjects to master describes a good basic education. Something that is sadly missing in 90% of today's students.

Kim's Son & Heir will go far…

Posted by DaveH at 08:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Light posting next few days

Getting ready to fly down to California to visit with Jen's parents for the Christmas holiday.

I have internet access down there so blogging will continue, it is just that these next few days will be a bit thin on the ground. Lots of loose ends up here to take care of before we can travel.

Posted by DaveH at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2006

An example of the Main Stream Media

Time Magazine in this case. They posted a photo of Ahmadinejad with a rather inflammatory caption. They edited the website a few hours later:

20061218TIMEAhmadinejad.jpg

20061218TIMEAhmadinejad02.jpg

Champion of the dispossessed?¿?¿
global Everyman?¿?¿

I mean seriously — W.T.F. — this dude is nothing more than a terrorist in a nice suit and a mouthpiece for the theocrats running what used to be the center of a wonderful culture (Persia).

Consider the origin of the name Iran that I posted on December 14th:

So intense was the shah's identification with the Third Reich that in 1935 he renamed his ancient country “Iran,” which in Farsi means Aryan and refers to the Proto-Indo-European lineage that Nazi racial theorists and Persian ethnologists cherished.

Are you starting to get a hint of what we are up against?

Hat tip to Charles at LGF

Posted by DaveH at 10:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cash Crop

What crop accounts for the most money in the USA?

Hint: It ain't Petunias. From The LA Times:

Pot is called biggest cash crop
The $35-billion market value of U.S.-grown cannabis tops that of such heartland staples as corn and hay, a marijuana activist says.

For years, activists in the marijuana legalization movement have claimed that cannabis is America's biggest cash crop. Now they're citing government statistics to prove it.

A report released today by a marijuana public policy analyst contends that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion — far more than the crop value of such heartland staples as corn, soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops.

California is responsible for more than a third of the cannabis harvest, with an estimated production of $13.8 billion that exceeds the value of the state's grapes, vegetables and hay combined — and marijuana is the top cash crop in a dozen states, the report states.

The report estimates that marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past quarter century despite an exhaustive anti-drug effort by law enforcement.

And some numbers:

California ranked as the report's top state for both outdoor and indoor marijuana production. The report estimates that the state had 4.2 million indoor plants valued at nearly $1.5 billion. The state of Washington was ranked next, with $438 million worth of indoor cannabis plants.

California also is among nine states that produce more cannabis than residents consumed, Gettman estimates. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the state's 3.3 million cannabis users represent about 13% of the nation's pot smokers. But California produces more than 38% of the cannabis grown in the country, the study contends.

Nationwide, the estimated cannabis production of $35.8 billion exceeds corn ($23 billion), soybeans ($17.6 billion) and hay ($12.2 billion), according to Gettman's findings.

Got a case of the munchies just thinking about it…

Posted by DaveH at 10:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How not to wire a computer

Comcast was installing this guys internet connection and the installer mis-connected a wire. From The Consumerist:

Powerbook Explodes After Comcast Plugs In Wrong Cable
“I ordered high speed broadband internet from the local cable company. On November 16, 2006 a technician arrived to install it.

He connected the coaxial cable that was coming into the wall from outside into a cable modem for Mac. He then connected an Ethernet cable out of the modem and into my fully loaded Apple 15” Powerbook.

After over an hour, and with the installation CD still spinning in the laptop, the technician said he still could not get the proper signal into the modem/computer. He said he was going to trace the coaxial cable from the wall up onto the roof and see if he could solve the problem.

About 10 minutes later I was standing on the back porch just outside the window of the computer work desk when I saw a bright flash of light accompanied by a very loud explosion at the work desk. It was as loud as an illegal M-80 on the Fourth of July. After being stunned and confused for several seconds, I ran inside my home into a thick cloud of grey smoke which smelled like gunpowder. Then I ran outside and yelled for the technician, thinking that perhaps he had been electrocuted.

Everything on the desk was blackened with soot and burned either partially or completely. Three external hard drives, a digital camera, videotapes, papers, CD's, etc. The floor, wall, and radiator cover were burned, along with the tabletop.

Every cable that was connected to the laptop, Ethernet, Firewire, Power, and USB, was forcibly shot out of each portal, and each portal covered with the black soot. Metal bits and electronic debris from the power cable hub and other cables was scattered around the room and some wires had split apart into copper shreds. Molten silver metal flecks are still lodged in the windowsill.

A supervisor arrived later that day and after surveying the scene and materials, conceded that their company had caused the accident. He noted, in particular, the internally fried coaxial cable.

comcast-laptop-kaboom.jpg

Yikes!

Posted by DaveH at 09:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RIP Joe Barbera

Joe Barbera passed away today. CNN has an obituary:

Yogi Bear's co-creator dies at 95
Joe Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that produced such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, died Monday, a Warner Bros. spokesman said. He was 95.

Barbera died of natural causes at his home with his wife, Sheila, at his side, Warner Bros. spokesman Gary Miereanu said.

With his longtime partner, Bill Hanna, Barbera first found success creating the highly successful Tom and Jerry cartoons.

The antics of the battling cat and mouse went on to win seven Academy Awards, more than any other series with the same characters.

The partners, who had first teamed up while working at MGM in the 1930s, then went on to a whole new realm of success in the 1950s and '60s with a witty series of animated TV comedies, including “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” “Yogi Bear,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Huckleberry Hound and Friends.”

I grew up with these characters and Joe will be missed. Part of my life. Bill Hanna passed away a few years ago in 2001.

Posted by DaveH at 08:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 17, 2006

This sucks...

Remember the big 2004 tsunami at Aceh, Indonesia?

Did you give money (we did)?

Guess what the money is going for — from The Sunday Times Online:

Tsunami survivors given the lash
Disaster donations help Islamic vigilante force impose punishments on women

When people around the world sent millions of pounds to help the stricken Indonesian province of Aceh after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, few could have imagined that their money would end up subsidising the lashing of women in public.

But militant Islamists have since imposed sharia law in Aceh and have cornered Indonesian government funds to organise a moral vigilante force that harasses women and stages frequent displays of humiliation and state-sanctioned violence.

International aid workers and Indonesian women’s organisations are now expressing dismay that the flow of foreign cash for reconstruction has allowed the government to spend scarce money on a new bureaucracy and religious police to enforce puritan laws, such as the compulsory wearing of headscarves.

Some say there are more “sharia police” than regular police on the local government payroll and that many of them are aggressive young men.

“Who are these sharia police?” demanded Nurjannah Ismail, a lecturer at Aceh’s Ar-Raniri University. “They are men who, most of the time, are trying to send the message that their position is higher than women.”

In one town, Lhokseumawe, the authorities are even planning to impose a curfew on women — a move that social workers warn will force tsunami widows to quit night-time jobs as food sellers or waitresses and could drive them into prostitution.

So wrong on so many fucking levels and yet, the “international community” is just standing there, wringing their hands and going tsk, tsk, tsk and fervently wishing that all this nastiness would just go away. And yes, Bush is a moron.

I ask — what constitutes a “Call To Action” for these people?
It was 9/11 for me. What is it for them or are they so self absorbed and clueless that WW3 could start and finish while they were prattling on about the need for free-trade rutabagas from Somalia.

Joseph Stalin called them Useful Idiots while he was murdering several hundred million people. The term “Useful Idiots” does seem appropriate…

Posted by DaveH at 07:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Toying with Genocide

Every so often, Gerard Van Der Leun hits one out of the ballpark.

This time, it went into orbit.

Go here and read this — it will take about ten minutes but it is well worth the time spent.

Not even going to try to excerpt it — this is good and spot on writing.

Posted by DaveH at 06:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sucks to be you -- Robert Mugabe

Schadenfreude on steroids — from The Independent:

Desperate Mugabe allows white farmers to come back
Economic collapse has forced Zimbabwe to reconsider its notorious land reform policy

President Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, which has mounted a six-year campaign to seize white-owned farms, is beginning to allow some white farmers to return to their land as the country faces starvation and economic collapse.

Since November, 19 white farmers who lost ownership of their land have been granted 99-year government-backed leases on resettled farms. “We wanted to come back, because it's home,” one farmer told The Independent on Sunday on his 100-hectare farm outside the capital, Harare, where he is planning to grow maize and tobacco. “Farming has been in my family for generations. We're just happy to be back on the land.”

A bit more:

In July 2005 Mr Mugabe declared that his land reform policy would only be complete when there was “not a single white on the farms”. But a contracting economy, hyperinflation and severe food shortages have forced the authorities to allow some interested whites to return. The Land Minister, Flora Buka, said the government had received more than 200 applications so far from whites to take up farming again.

“It is a radical change of policy at this stage - but the future remains to be seen,” said Eric Bloch, a Bulawayo-based economic adviser. “Are there going to be 19 token whites, or will the government continue?

Emphasis mine — or will the government just take the land back once it becomes profitable again. Just like the diamond mines they nationalized a few weeks ago.

One last bit:

“Farming is dead in the water,” said John Robertson, a political analyst. “The banks won't accept the farms as collateral, and farmers can be removed within 90 days if they fail to comply with government requirements.”

There is no sign that Mr Mugabe is preparing to ease his grip on power. Zanu-PF is about to postpone the 2008 presidential election until parliamentary elections in 2010, officially as a “cost-saving measure”. But a senior loyalist has suggested that he should be made president for life.

How can people like this live with themselves…

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

December 16, 2006

Light posting tonight

Working on some other stuff…

Posted by DaveH at 08:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 15, 2006

Well fine then...

What did we have last night?

Auroras, wonderful auroras.

We also had a lot of light pollution from a nearby city and dense, high cloud cover.

What do we have tonight?

Dead clear and cold sky. And no auroras.

Here are some photos of last nights display — looks like it was delightful!

Here is one of them:

aurora-12-14-06.jpg

sigh…

Posted by DaveH at 11:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Interesting Diabetes breakthrough?

From the Canadian Broadcasting Company:

Canadian scientists reverse diabetes in mice
Researchers working on a “breakthrough” discovery that identifies the role of pain nerves in the cells that produce insulin have prevented and reversed diabetes in mice.

The work “led us to fundamentally new insights into the mechanisms of this disease,” Dr. Michael Salter, co-principal investigator, said in a release Thursday that characterized the findings as a breakthrough.

Researchers concluded that the pain receptors don't secrete enough neuropeptides — chemical elements found in the brain — to keep the pancreatic islets, which produce insulin, working normally. Without insulin, humans die, and even the current replacement therapies cannot prevent side effects, such as heart attack, blindness, stroke, loss of limbs and kidney failure.

But by supplying neuropeptides to diabetes-prone mice, “the research group learned how to treat the abnormality … and even reversed established diabetes,” without bad side effects, the release said.

“The major discovery was that removal of sensory neurons expressing the receptor TRPV1 neurons in NOD (non-obese diabetic) mice prevented islet cell inflammation and diabetes in most animals,” Salter said.

If they can successfully bring this over from genetically tailored research mice to the general human population, this will be an incredible bit of work. Nobel for Medicine and all that…

It will be interesting if this happens, if other researchers start looking at similar pathways to other regulatory problems.

Other examples certainly exist — Helicobacter pylori and Ulcers and Toxoplasma gondii and Schizophrenia

Posted by DaveH at 09:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sweet Windows security widget!!!

Major geek-fu with this one…

Let us say that you are building a windows system from scratch and you then connect it to the internet to download all of the 60+ security patches. The problem is that while you are connected and downloading, your system will be vulnerable to attack before the patches are installed.

This utility allows you to download a stand-alone CD-ROM with all of the security patches for a given platform (W2K, XP and W3K Server) and this can be done from any system — specifically, a system that has been recently patched.

The utility then creates an ISO image that you burn to a CD-ROM. Alternately, it can create an ISO on a DVD with all three operating systems — a handy item for your traveling IT toolbox.

Check out heise Security and their DIY Service Pack:

Installing Windows updates without an internet connection
Looking for manageable Windows updates even without an internet connection? Our offline update 3.0 script collection downloads the entire body of updates for Windows 2000, XP or Server 2003 from Microsoft's servers in one fell swoop and then uses them to create patch packages on CD, DVD or USB stick. Those in turn allow you to update as many PCs as desired.

Have you installed Windows Windows XP fresh from the original CD and then headed over to the update website lately? If not, be ready for an unpleasant surprise. For a system running XP Service Pack 2, the website recommends that you download 60 updates at an overall data volume of around 40 MBytes. And don't forget: that number keeps growing with each Patch Tuesday, as the monthly event of new patches released each second Tuesday of the month has been dubbed.

For its part, the Redmond crew doesn't see the update flood as any reason to rush the release of a third Service Pack for XP - all indications are that any potential SP3 would come out in the second half of 2007 at the very earliest. For better or for worse, until that next service pack does roll off the assembly line, users will have to connect their PCs to the internet to bring their OS up to date.

The update dilemma
Anyone installing Windows fresh from a CD or who acquires a PC with a preinstalled instance of Windows is in a tricky situation: to protect the machine against the various dangers of the internet, one must first install all current security updates to plug the countless holes in Windows and Internet Explorer. To fetch a copy of the updates, however, Microsoft requires that your computer be connected to the internet.

That is risky: anyone using a slow modem to surf the net will have to wait several hours until the 60 updates - some 40 MB in all - dribble their way through the connection. In the meantime, one visit to a rigged website is enough to let a bug get a crucial first toehold in the machine.

The situation is particularly precarious for Windows 2000 and Windows XP without Service Pack 1, as these versions have no built-in firewall and hence are helpless against the omnipresent worms circulating on the internet. A virgin system of this kind brought online can be compromised before you can even install a security update.

Serious geek fu! The only possible issue is that the utility creates an administrative account while it is operating (it deletes it when it is finished) but someone having physical access to the computer while this utility is running could create a backdoor account of their own without you knowing. Don't start the utility and then leave for lunch.

Posted by DaveH at 11:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Oops...

A bad choice of employees as noted by National Public Radio:

Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers
A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company's work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.

After an immigration check in 1999 found undocumented workers on its payroll, Golden State promised to clean house. But when followup checks were made in 2004 and 2005, some of those same illegal workers were still on the job. In fact, U-S Attorney Carol Lam says as many as a third of the company's 750 workers may have been in the country illegally.

Golden State Fence built millions of dollars' worth of fencing around homes, offices, and military bases. Its president and one of its Southern California managers will pay fines totaling $300,000. The government is also recommending jail time for Melvin Kay and Michael McLaughlin, probably about six months.

Nice that the President and managers are getting punished for this. Too often, the illegals are shipped home but the business owners are not touched. It is their fault as well.

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

Generator blogging -- day two

I called the Puget Power emergency line and was greeted with a broadcast message saying that there were over 700,000 customers without power and that it might take as long as one week to get everyone's power restored.

All told, there are about one million people without power in the Puget Sound area according to the Bellingham Herald:

Storms leave three dead, 1 million without power in region
A one-two punch of howling windstorms and heavy rains left at least three people dead and more than 1 million homes and businesses without power across Western Washington early today.

One woman died after being trapped in the flooded basement of her home, while falling trees killed two others.

The Evergreen Point floating bridge across Lake Washington east of Seattle remained closed early Friday and numerous other highways were blocked because of high water or windblown trees. The Hood Canal floating bridge and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge were reopened early Friday after being closed Thursday evening.

“We’re asking everybody to stay home,” Pierce County sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer said. “There isn’t a place in east Pierce County that’s not dangerous.”

Our neighbors to the north in Abbotsford have 160,000 customers in the dark:

Blast of wind leaves about 160,000 in the dark
First it was rain, then snow, now it's the wind.

Commuters crept impatiently along on George Ferguson Way as traffic lights went out and cold suppers were on the table for thousands of Fraser Valley residents Monday evening, as winds gusting up to 115 kilometres in southern British Columbia blew out power service to an estimated 160,000 B.C. Hydro customers in the province.

The Mt. Baker ski area has about ten inches of new snow and it is powder and packed powder — the wind has died down up there so they are business as usual. Great for the local economy for this weekend's skiing.

Today? Bring in some more firewood, head into town to drop off the furniture I got from Seattle and then hunker down and take care of a couple customers computers.

Posted by DaveH at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2006

A long and winding road

From the 1940's to today.
From the San Francisco Chronicle comes this historical timeline:

Denial of Holocaust nothing new in Iran
Ties to Hitler led to plots against British and Jews

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has shot to the forefront of Holocaust denial with his rabble-rousing remarks last month. But it's more like self-denial. The president of Iran need only look to his country's Hitler-era past to discover that Iran and Iranians were strongly connected to the Holocaust and the Hitler regime, as was the entire Islamic world under the leadership of the mufti of Jerusalem.

Iran's axis with the Third Reich began during the prewar years, when it welcomed Nazi Gestapo agents and other operatives to Tehran, allowing them to use the city as a base for Middle East agitation against the British and the region's Jews.

Key among these German agents was Fritz Grobba, Berlin's envoy to the Middle East, who was often called “the German Lawrence,” because he promised a Pan-Islamic state stretching from Casablanca to Tehran.

Relations between Berlin and Tehran were strong from the moment Hitler came to power in 1933. At that time, Reza Shah Pahlavi's nation was known as Persia. The shah became a stalwart admirer of Hitler, Nazism and the concept of the Aryan master race. He also sought the Reich's help in reducing British petro-political domination.

So intense was the shah's identification with the Third Reich that in 1935 he renamed his ancient country “Iran,” which in Farsi means Aryan and refers to the Proto-Indo-European lineage that Nazi racial theorists and Persian ethnologists cherished.

Emphasis mine. And don't forget Arafat's enlistment by the KGB just after the war, the years he spent in Moscow and then returning to the 'holy land' to be the 'leader' of the 'palestine' people despite his being an Egyptian. The Russians didn't like the fact that a Democracy was growing in an area that had lots of oil but was ostensibly ruled by feudal waring tribes. They needed a way to destabilize Israel and they did their job very very well — it is still chugging along today, years after the supposed demise of the KGB and a few years after Arafat's death from AIDS.

And do go and read the article — I posted a short excerpt but it just gets better and better and better — the stuff that conspiracy theories are made of but this time, it is real and documentable from lots of different source materials.

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

Today...

Spent the day down in Seattle getting the last of the furniture out of Mom and Dad's house — the people who staged the house wanted to use a few of their tables.

It has been a day filled with Fnu — Murphy didn't quite visit but just hung around the general area and supervised.

Rent a U-Haul truck. Generally good but this one had an engine that misfired all the time and it went through a bit over 20 gallons of gas for 130 mile trip — this is about 6.5 miles/gallon for a truck that should be getting ten to twelve — I have used the same model (14 foot box truck) and the same trip (home to Seattle and back) several other times and always got the higher gas mileage. On top of that, only one channel on the radio worked and that speaker was broken so the sound was awful.

Get down there and am greeted by this:

Rain batters downtown Seattle as a storm moves through.
SEATTLE - While Western Washington got a good soaking of rain, a powerful storm slammed into the Oregon with winds topping 90 mph.

During the Thursday evening rush hour in Seattle, rain and standing water backed up traffic. On Mercer Street, a BMW and another vehicle were swamped by high water. There were no reports of injuries.

In West Seattle, a 15-by-20-foot sinkhole opened. Another sinkhole in Woodinville has closed part of 132nd Ave. NE.

Five landslides have been reported in various parts of Seattle.

The storm drains were so overwhelmed that the driveway drain was backing up and flooding into the garage. And the worst of the storm is due tomorrow morning…

I get back on the road (helacious traffic — lots of accidents but didn't see any major ones), stop off at the Burlington Outback Restaurant and get back on the road again.

Pull into my town, walk into the store to get a couple of beers for the evening, pay for them and —bink— - the lights go out. Start driving home and there is a tree across the road.

I finally get home (I got my truck and when I got back to the tree, a neighbor was there with a chainsaw clearing — helped him for ten minutes or so) and, of course, I am now Generator Blogging again.

And, to top it all off, the skys are cloudy and the light polution from Abbotsford is to great to see any of the Aurora that may be happening tonight

Ya gotta love the modern industrial age; candlelight and warm fireplaces are nice but it is also nice to have the internet and refrigerated, safe food. And we have the freedom to choose.

Posted by DaveH at 10:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on the Neturei Karta

I had written yesterday about the Iranian Holocaust denial conference being held in Tehran and how there is a contingent of “Jewish Rabbis” there. Those Rabbis belong to a fringe sect (Neturei Karta - about 1,000 to 5,000 members worldwide) and are essentially self-loathing — they seek to destroy Zionism and the state of Israel.

It seems that politics makes for some very strange bedfellows as these seriously misguided idiots are not strangers to the enemy.

From Intelegence.Org:

Arafat uses Rabbi Moshe Hirsch as a tool for propaganda
Among the hundreds of documents (captured from the Muqata during Operation Defensive Shield) dealing with money allotted by Arafat, two were found which related to large sums paid to Rabbi Hirsch for “expenses for activities.” The payments in question, one after an other, were unusually large ($25,000 on January 13, 2002, and $30,000 on February 14, 2002) and may indicate that Arafat paid him monthly. It should be noted that the amounts are significantly larger than those given to other cronies, which varied between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.

For several years Arafat has had regular meetings with Rabbi Hirsch, who is known as Neturei Karta’s “foreign minister.” For Arafat Hirsch serves as an indoctrination and propaganda tool which he uses to demonstrate the cooperation between Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox Jews who hold the same anti-Zionist world view. Thus his readiness to “invest” unusually large sums of money in him.

In 1988, when the establishment of a Palestinian state was declared in Algeria, Palestinian sources stated that Moshe Hirsch would become a minister in the government in the future state. In a Palestinian Authority document dated 1995, Rabbi Hirsch was described as “the Minister of Jewish Affairs.” In a speech given by Arafat in the Ramallah-Al Bireh district on January 28, 2002, he noted the depth of the historical ties between all the Semitic religions and gave as an example the fact that Rabbi Moshe Hirsch was a member of the PLO’s National Palestinian Council.

What a lovely people…

Also, the Intellegence.Org provides scans of the documents that were captured that show the financial tranfers. The logo for the Palestinian group reminded me of something I had seen somewhere else. See if you can spot the similarity:

logo-similarity-02.jpg

logo-similarity-01.jpg

Look familiar?

Posted by DaveH at 09:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 13, 2006

Heads Up

From SpaceWeather:

AURORA ALERT: Sky watchers everywhere should be alert for auroras on Dec. 14th. That's when a coronal mass ejection (CME) hurled into space by yesterday's X3-flare is expected to hit. NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of severe geomagnetic storms.

Solar activity is expected to remain high for days. Sunspot 930, the source of the incoming CME, has an unstable “delta-class” magnetic field that harbors energy for more X-flares. Stay tuned.

Been raining and looks like it will stay raining so dang!

Posted by DaveH at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Iranian Typography

I may not like the theocrats who are ruling Iran but the Persian culture is a very old and artistic one.

PingMag has a nice article on current Iranian Typography:

Iranian Typography Now
The past few years have been quite exciting for Iranian graphic designers. As Iran’s design gains more international attention, the graphic designers face new challenges and rewards. In winter 2002 a poster exhibition by Iranian graphic designers called “Un Cri Persan” (A Persian Cry) was held in the city of Echirolles as a part of the Month of Graphic Design in France. The exhibition exposed a wealth of works that somehow escaped the spotlight for almost two decades. Ever since then Iranian graphic designers, many of them already internationally known, have been sharing more of their magic with the rest of the world.

One of the qualities that makes current Iranian graphic design unique is its typography. The country has a rich history of visual arts and moreover the better part of this heritage consists of calligraphy. Throughout the times calligraphy has been inventing and reinventing itself and has influenced other forms of art. The incorporation of calligraphy into Islamic architecture is a fine example of this union. In recent times these treasures of beauty and harmony have inspired painters, sculptors, and in particular: graphic designers.

In comparison to Europe and North America calligraphy is a far more popular and practiced form of art in Iran and in most other countries around this area. You can spot at least one piece of calligraphy hung on the walls of most Iranian households.

Perhaps these are all reasons why it is not so easy to draw the line where calligraphy ends and typography starts. Some of the masterpieces of Iranian design are often the results of a collaboration between a designer and a calligrapher. One of the classic examples of such collaborations is the logotype of the Reza Abbasi Museum. The late Morteza Momayez (1936-2005) used the brilliant calligraphy of Iranian master calligrapher Mohamad Ehsaei to create this logotype in 1976.

iraniantypo-01.jpg

iraniantypo-02.jpg

iraniantypo-03.jpg

Gorgeous stuff…

Posted by DaveH at 09:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Time Magazine actually gets it

From Lisa Baker writing at Time Magazine:

The Big Lie About the Middle East
Tell James Baker: Arab nations don't care about the Palestinians
By LISA BEYER

No sensible person is against peacemaking in the Holy Land. Applause and hopefulness would seem the reasonable reaction to the Iraq Study Group's recommendation that the Bush Administration “act boldly” and “as soon as possible” to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. But as a front-row observer of similar efforts over the past 15 years, I could muster neither response. In lumping the Iraq mess in with the Palestinian problem—and suggesting the first could not be fixed unless the second was too—the Baker-Hamilton commission lent credibility to a corrosive myth: that the fundamental problem in the Arab world is the plight of the Palestinians.

A bit more:

Yes, it was a great disturbance in the Arab world in the 1940s when a Jewish state was born through a U.N. vote and a war that made refugees of many Palestinians. Then the 1967 war left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and thus the Palestinians who lived there. But the pan-Arabism that once made the Palestinian cause the region's cause is long dead, and the Arab countries have their own worries aplenty. In a decade of reporting in the region, I found it rarely took more than the arching of an eyebrow to get the most candid of Arab thinkers to acknowledge that the tears shed for the Palestinians today outside the West Bank and Gaza are of the crocodile variety. Palestinians know this best of all.

To promote the canard that the troubles of the Arab world are rooted in the Palestinians' misfortune does great harm. It encourages the Arabs to continue to avoid addressing their colossal societal and political ills by hiding behind their Great Excuse: it's all Israel's fault. Certainly, Israel has at times been an obnoxious neighbor, but God help the Arab leaders, propagandists and apologists if a day ever comes when the Arab-Israeli mess is unraveled. One wonders how they would then explain why in Egypt 4 of every 10 people are illiterate; Saudi Arabian Shi'ites (not to mention women) are second-class citizens; 11% of Syrians live below subsistence level; and Jordan's King can unilaterally dissolve Parliament, as he did in 2001. Or why no Middle Eastern government but Israel's and to some extent Lebanon's tolerates freedom of assembly or speech, or democratic institutions like a robust press or civic organizations with independence and clout—let alone unfettered competitive elections.

Emphasis mine — a Palestinian cannot own land in other Arab states, they cannot get a work visa, they are treated worse than the “niggers” were treated in our South 100 years ago.

Lisa's article then goes on to slam Bush but hey, this is Time magazine after all. MSM and all that… Still, it is nice to see the 800 pound elephant put in a public appearance.

Posted by DaveH at 09:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Democratic Majority...

…just got slipped a bit. From BBC News:

Senate control hinges on 'stroke'
A US senator has suffered a suspected stroke, raising the possibility that President George W Bush's party will regain control of the Senate.

Democratic Senator Tim Johnson's office said he was undergoing tests at George Washington University Hospital.

The Democrats captured control of the upper house of Congress by a single seat in elections last month.

If Senator Johnson, 59, stands down, the Republican governor of his state, South Dakota, will name his successor.

That person - likely to be a Republican - would serve until the next general election in 2008.

President Bush wished Mr Johnson a speedy recovery through a spokeswoman who said the president's thoughts were with Mr Johnson's family.

My heart goes out to Mr. Johnson and his family — a stroke is a major health crisis even when it is not fatal. The recovery is never complete and your brain is locked into an unresponsive body for several frustrating years.

But still, this is delicious Schadenfreude for the Democrats who crowed about how they swept the Senate a few months ago. Just goes to show how paper-thin their margin was.

Posted by DaveH at 09:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No cash, no stash

Interesting report from Yahoo/AP regarding the reactor that Russia is building for Iran (for peaceful purposes only…)

Russia asks Iran to pay on nuclear plant
The head of the Russian state company building a nuclear plant in Iran urged Tehran on Tuesday to keep up payments to complete construction as scheduled, news reports said.

The statement from Atomstroiexport's chief, Sergei Shmatko, was the strongest signal yet of financial disputes over the Bushehr nuclear plant.

Shmatko said on a trip to Tehran that his company would start delivering nuclear fuel for the plant in March 2007, prior to its launch in September, provided that the Iranians provide stable financing to fulfill the contract signed in 1995. He said preparations for the fuel deliveries would start in January.

Shmatko said that Iran already had paid Russia $900 million to build the plant, but he added that his company had been forced to provide a $140 million loan to Tehran because the Iranians had dragged their feet on payment.

“We have confirmed that everything will proceed according to plan, but only if Iran provides $20-$25 million for the construction of Bushehr every month,” Shmatko said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

Obviously, for a project this large, every attempt will be made to delay payments for as long as possible. This is a serious chunk of change but still, Iran is paying and Russia is building. I wonder what will happen when Iran detonates their first one — will it be a dud like North Korea's or will they get it right. How will our relationship with Russia be then.

Posted by DaveH at 09:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nice bunch of people

There is a scientific conference going on in Tehran these days. The scholars are looking at whether the Holocaust actually happened.

From ynet News:

Ahmadinejad: Israel to disappear like USSR
Speaking at second day of Iranian Holocaust denial conference, Iranian president says, 'Israel is about to crash. The Soviet Union disappeared, and this will also be the fate of the Zionist regime. Humanity will be free.' US: This is absolutely outrageous

The Tehran Holocaust denial conference entered its second day Tuesday, hosting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man who inspired the conference with his remarks.

“Israel is about to crash,” the Iranian president promised the attendees, “scientists” from across the world working to deny the Holocaust.

“This is God's promise and the wish of all the world's nations,” he added.

According to the Iranian news agency Fars, the audience at the conference applauded the Iranian president's remarks.

And this guy wants nukes — sure, for electrical power while all the time he is sitting on one of the worlds largest known oil deposits.

The article has a photo of Ahmadinejad almost trading spit with a Rabbi and there are several other Jewish scholars at this conference. They all happen to belong to the Neturei Karta and are self-loathing people. They also represent a very small sub-cult of Judaism with only 1,000 to 5,000 followers worldwide.

neturei_karta_nut_case.jpg

Ewwwww…

Posted by DaveH at 08:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Christmas Trees going back up in Seattle

A few days ago, I wrote about how the Seattle-Tacoma airport was taking down their Christmas Trees over a comment from a local Rabbi who wanted to see a Menorah.

They are going back up — no Menorah though… From the Seattle Times:

Christmas trees going back up at Sea-Tac
The holiday trees that went away in the middle of the night are back.

Monday night, Port of Seattle staff began putting up the trees they earlier had removed from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The trees had come down Friday night after a local rabbi requested that a Hanukkah menorah also be displayed, and Port officials had said the threat of a lawsuit left them without enough time to consider all the issues.

A nationwide furor erupted over the weekend as news of the trees' removal spread, with a flood of calls to Port officials and harshly worded e-mails to Jewish organizations.

On Monday, Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky said he would not file a lawsuit and the Port, in response, said it would put the trees back up.

“This has been an unfortunate situation for all of us in Seattle,” Port of Seattle Commission President Pat Davis said in a statement. “The rabbi never asked us to remove the trees; it was the Port's decision based on what we knew at the time. We very much appreciate the rabbi's willingness to work with us as we move forward.”

A menorah will not be displayed this year.

Political correctness run amok.

Posted by DaveH at 08:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2006

Students these days...

Profiling? Your call — from the Boston Herald:

Feds bust truck trainee who balks at back up
A truck-driving student is in custody in Boston after raising suspicions when he wasn’t interested in learning how to back up his rig.

WLVI-TV (Ch. 56) reported last night that the would-be trucker is a 28-year-old Muslim from India and had overstayed his visa. An investigation is under way to see whether there is any connection between his unusual behavior and a terrorism plot. Federal authorities were alerted by instructors at the Nationwide Tractor Trailer Driving School in Smithfield, R.I., WLVI reported.

The student was described as a resident of New York, with driver’s licenses from New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

“Every indicator was there,” R.I. State Police Major Steve O’Donnell told WLVI. “Any one of these things alone is fine, but four or five together…”

And of course, the liberals will scream saying that this is discrimination, that the student was harassed or was confused or just didn't like that incessant beeping sound.

Like Major O'Donnell said: “Any one of these things alone is fine, but four or five together…” There becomes a time where it stops being harassment and it starts becoming basic security.

And how do you get drivers licenses in three different states anyway…

Hat tip to Charles at LGF

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

Ten Christmas Carols

Swiped from George Moneo at Babalu Blog:

  1. Schizophrenia: Do You Hear What I Hear?

  2. Multiple Personality Disorder: We Three Kings Disoriented Are

  3. Dementia: I Think I'll be Home for Christmas

  4. Narcissistic: Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

  5. Manic: Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and…..

  6. Paranoid: Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me

  7. Borderline Personality Disorder: Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

  8. Personality Disorder: You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

  9. Attention Deficit Disorder: Silent night, Holy oooh, look at the froggy, can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?

  10. Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder: Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells…

Heh…

Posted by DaveH at 08:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Follow the money

Very awesome — article at SanFrancisco Magazine about how Google managed the sudden influx of wealth prior to their IPO:

The best investment advice you'll never get
As Google’s historic August 2004 IPO approached, the company’s senior vice president, Jonathan Rosenberg, realized he was about to spawn hundreds of impetuous young multimillionaires. They would, he feared, become the prey of Wall Street brokers, financial advisers, and wealth managers, all offering their own get-even-richer investment schemes. Scores of them from firms like J.P. Morgan Chase, UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Presidio Financial Partners were already circling company headquarters in Mountain View with hopes of presenting their wares to some soon-to-be-very-wealthy new clients.

Rosenberg didn’t turn the suitors away; he simply placed them in a holding pattern. Then, to protect Google’s staff, he proposed a series of in-house investment teach-ins, to be held before the investment counselors were given a green light to land. Company founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and CEO Eric Schmidt were excited by the idea and gave it the go-ahead.

One by one, some of the most revered names in investment theory were brought in to school a class of brilliant engineers, programmers, and cybergeeks on the fine art of personal investing, something few of them had thought much about. First to arrive was Stanford University’s William (Bill) Sharpe, 1990 Nobel Laureate economist and professor emeritus of finance at the Graduate School of Business. Sharpe drew a large and enthusiastic audience, which he could have wowed with a PowerPoint presentation on his “gradient method for asset allocation optimization” or his “returns-based style analysis for evaluating the performance of investment funds.” But he spared the young geniuses all that complexity and offered a simple formula instead. “Don’t try to beat the market,” he said. Put your savings into some indexed mutual funds, which will make you just as much money (if not more) at much less cost by following the market’s natural ebb and flow, and get on with building Google.

The following week it was Burton Malkiel, formerly dean of the Yale School of Management and now a professor of economics at Princeton and author of the classic A Random Walk Down Wall Street. The book, which you’d be unlikely to find on any broker’s bookshelf, suggests that a “blindfolded monkey” will, in the long run, have as much luck picking a winning investment portfolio as a professional money manager. Malkiel’s advice to the Google folks was in lockstep with Sharpe’s. Don’t try to beat the market, he said, and don’t believe anyone who tells you they can—not a stock broker, a friend with a hot stock tip, or a financial magazine article touting the latest mutual fund. Seasoned investment professionals have been hearing this anti-industry advice, and the praises of indexing, for years. But to a class of 20-something quants who’d grown up listening to stories of tech stocks going through the roof and were eager to test their own ability to outpace the averages, the discouraging message came as a surprise. Still, they listened and pondered as they waited for the following week’s lesson from John Bogle.

“Saint Jack” is the living scourge of Wall Street. Though a self-described archcapitalist and lifelong Republican, on the subject of brokers and financial advisers he sounds more like a seasoned Marxist. “The modern American financial system,” Bogle says in his book The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism, “is undermining our highest social ideals, damaging investors’ trust in the markets, and robbing them of trillions.” But most of his animus in Mountain View was reserved for mutual funds, his own field of business, which he described as an industry organized around “salesmanship rather than stewardship,” which “places the interests of managers ahead of the interests of shareholders,” and is “the consummate example of capitalism gone awry.”

What a wonderful idea and I really hope that they videotaped that series of talks. That would be awesome to look at.

The article goes on to talk about the history of market funds and investing in general. A longish read but a fascinating one.

Posted by DaveH at 08:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Whoops!

If one is appointed to head the House Intelligence Committee, you might want to know something about Intelligence…

From CNN comes this story of Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas as he was asked a few questions…

Incoming House intelligence chief botches easy intel quiz
Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam — Sunni or Shiite — Reyes answered “they are probably both,” then ventured “Predominantly — probably Shiite.”

That is wrong. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden as a Sunni organization and views Shiites as heretics.

Reyes could also not answer questions put by Stein about Hezbollah, a Shiite group on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations that is based in Southern Lebanon.

Pelosi seems to be having a hard time filling her roster.

Awww…. (grin)

Posted by DaveH at 07:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Top Ten Scams

Good list from Consumer Affairs of the top ten scams that people reported to them (out of 50,000 reports!)

Top 10 Scams of 2006
As 2006 draws to a close, a review of ConsumerAffairs.com's Scam Alerts archive shows that scammers have had a busy and — we suspect — lucrative year.

Targeting the most vulnerable citizens and using increasingly sophisticated tools, most have been able to easily elude law enforcement as they pick their victims' pockets, sometimes even making off with their life savings.

Scammers scored at will, generating instant cash using lottery and fake check scams. They capitalized on news events and pop culture to catch consumers off guard, and enlisted all kinds of emerging technology to perfect identity theft.

Here then, chosen from the roughly 50,000 consumer complaints we've processed in the past year, are the ConsumerAffairs.com Top Ten Scams of 2006.

The top three:

1. Fake Lottery Scam
2. Phishing-Vishing Scams
3. Phony Job Scam

It's hard when people are not familiar with computers and who don't know how to check to see if links are actually what they seem and who don't know that companies like PayPal, eBay and Microsoft will never send out emails to customers asking them to verify account information.

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

Llama blogging

We just got our first large stock today.

We currently have four goats, two sheep and the assorted chickens, guinea fowl, ducks, dogs, cats, etc… but the chance to get two Llamas came up a week ago and after looking at them, they kinda followed us home today.

Pancho and Marley were previously “owned” by an animal collector who had about 1,000 critters of all kinds on a three acre “petting zoo” a bit south of us. They were not abused, just neglected and poorly fed.

They will beginning their new careers as pasture potatoes starting today.

I'll have pictures up in a day or two…

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

December 11, 2006

Generator Blogging again

We (and about 300 neighbors) are without power again. Wind gusts up to 60 MPH coupled with some rain are responsible — at least the temperature is in the 40s so we aren't shoving logs into the fireplace and cook-stove every twenty minutes.

Running the generator so we have lights and internet (Satellite dish — WildBlue — very good company!). No running water (generator not big enough to pump water from 220 feet down and do everything else) but we do have the refrigerator and deep freezers running so our half-cow and all of our food is secure.

I was in town running some errands and it is interesting to see how many more houses have generators since the last blackout a few weeks ago when it was so cold. Preparedness is a good thing…

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

December 10, 2006

Knock me over with a feather...

From The Telegraph:

'Incompetent' refurbishment costs UN £1bn
The United Nations is facing fresh accusations of bureaucratic incompetence after the disclosure that renovation costs for its vast New York headquarters have rocketed to nearly £1 billion.

The projected bill for the scheme, which includes updating the 1950s building and a makeover for the Secretary General's New York residence, has risen by nearly two-thirds from an original 2002 estimate of $1,170 million (£600 million) to $1,900 million.

Kofi Annan, the departing Secretary General, presented a confidential progress report at a closed-doors meeting of the UN General Assembly last week, of which The Sunday Telegraph has obtained details.

The document's revelations will be seized on by critics of the world body, who have often viewed its sprawling 38-floor offices as a symbol of UN incompetence and inefficiency in the wider world.

John Bolton, the outgoing American ambassador to the UN and one of its fiercest critics, famously once remarked that if the building lost its top 10 storeys, “it wouldn't make a bit of difference”.

And some people in NYC who know what it costs to build a building have expressed a bit of surprise:

The spiralling figures involved have astonished New York property moguls such as Donald Trump, who claimed that the costs were being pushed up by “incompetents”.

“It's the most ridiculous construction development I have ever witnessed,” he said. “It's being run by a bunch of incompetents, and it's a disgrace to this country. It should cost $700 million, but I bet it will now end up costing $3.5 billion.”

Meanwhile, Ban Ki Moon, the South Korean diplomat who is due to take over from Mr Annan in the New Year, will spend the first nine months of his tenure in a hotel while his Manhattan residence receives an urgent $4.3 million makeover.

The only bright side is that this is a fitting capstone for Kofi Annan's tenure at the UN. All of the Oil-For-Food scandals, his son Kojo with the $500K Mercedes and the villa in Switzerland and lavish lifestyle, the horror in Darfur that kept going on for six years until it finally got 'noticed' and now, the UN is unable to stop the slaughter.

Good riddance and let us hope that Mr. Ban Ki Moon will bring some fresh air into that corrupt cesspit.

Posted by DaveH at 11:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Twenty Five Years Ago

Visit here and read about Daniel Faulkner

On December 9, 1981, at approximately 3:55 a.m., Officer Danny Faulkner, a five year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, made a traffic stop at Locust Street near Twelfth Street. The car stopped by Officer Faulkner was being driven by William Cook. After making the stop, Danny called for assistance on his police radio and requested a police wagon to transport a prisoner. Unbeknownst to him, William Cook's brother, Wesley (aka Mumia Abu-Jamal) was across the street. As Danny attempted to handcuff William Cook, Mumia Abu-Jamal ran from across the street and shot the officer in the back. Danny turned and was able to fire one shot that struck Abu-Jamal in the chest; the wounded officer then fell to the pavement. Mumia Abu-Jamal stood over the downed officer and shot him four more times at close range, once directly in the face. Mumia Abu-Jamal was found still at the scene of the shooting by officers who arrived there within seconds. The murderer was slumped against the curb in front of his brother's car. In his possession was a .38 caliber revolver that records showed Mumia had purchased months earlier. The chamber of the gun had five spent cartridges. A cab driver, as well as other pedestrians, had witnessed the brutal slaying and identified Mumia Abu-Jamal as the killer both at the scene and during his trial. On July 2, 1982, after being tried before a jury of ten whites and two blacks, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Officer Danny Faulkner. The next day, the jury sentenced him to death after deliberating for two hours. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania heard the defendant's appeals and upheld the conviction on March 6, 1989.
Posted by DaveH at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Cost of Doing Business / Scope Creep

Some charities are good, some much less so.

An interesting look at the Canadian branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving at The Toronto Star:

MADD's `exorbitant costs' anger charity's volunteers
People who donate to Mothers Against Drunk Driving are told by the charity that most of the $12 million it raises annually is spent on good works — stopping drunk driving and helping families traumatized by fatal crashes.

But a Star investigation reveals most of the high-profile charity's money is spent on fundraising and administration, leaving only about 19 cents of each donor dollar for charitable works.

MADD chief executive officer Andrew Murie defends the expenses, saying the paid telemarketers and door-knockers are actually performing good works because they educate the public as they ask for cash. That's a defence Canada's top charity regulator rejects.

The controversy over squandered millions has many MADD Canada volunteers — typically people whose relative or friend was killed or injured by a drunk driver — calling for the charity to clean up its act.

“These are exorbitant costs,” said Sue Storey, whose mother was killed and father injured when their car was hit by a drunk driver in 1999. Storey is the co-founder of MADD's Dufferin chapter. “I feel like I have been let down.”

Yeah — an 81% administrative overhead is not good. There is a great comment from the MADD founder:

Anti-drunk driving crusader John Bates says the group created at his kitchen table many years ago has “taken a national tragedy and turned it into a fundraising machine.”

This is a perfect example of Scope Creep — MADD was founded with good intent but as it grew, people had to be hired and the administrative overhead took on a life of its own.

Posted by DaveH at 10:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Outgoing Senator Rick Santorum

I had previously dogpiled on Senator Santorum for his efforts to shut down this free and excellent Government Weather Website. Two of my posts (which have links to the other posts are here: Stormy Weather and its followup Rick Santorum in the news again….

Still… I ran into the speech he gave as he left the Senate and his domestic doings may not be very savoury but he certainly understands what we are up against with the Islamofascists.

From The 910 Group Blog comes this post:

Rick Santorum’s Farewell Speech
This is the final word from a good man. His absence from the U.S. Senate is one more reason why the political class in the United States is unlikely to take action necessary to stop the Great Islamic Jihad.
Mr. President, I rise today to talk about why I voted against Dr. Gates and lay out in detail the concerns I have about the security posture of the United States today and how I do not believe that Dr. Gates is the appropriate choice to confront them. While I think he certainly has a lot of positive qualities, and in normal times I would certainly defer to the President’s judgment on this, we are not in normal times. I believe we need a Secretary — and I think we need leaders in this country, particularly the Secretary — who has insight into the nature of our enemy and is willing to provide the vision necessary, not just for our people in the military but the country, on how to defeat them. On one particular vital aspect of that vision I think he is in error, and that error causes me to object and to vote no to his nomination.

What I would like to do is lay out what I see as the problem confronting America and the complexity of that problem, which I think has grown more complex since the last time that we have been in this Chamber, over 6 weeks ago. I would like to go back to two speeches I gave last summer, one at the National Press Club, and the other at the Pennsylvania Press Club — one obviously in Washington, the other in Harrisburg. I gave those speeches because I thought it was important that at a time when our country is at war and our country is struggling with this war that we have a better definition as to who the enemy is and what we need to do about it. I made that issue, the issue I discussed in these two speeches and subsequent speeches during my campaign, the centerpiece of the campaign. Many political advisers suggested to me that this was a wrong tactic in a State where the favorabilities for the war and the President were in the low thirties to make this the centerpiece and, in fact, draw divisions between myself and the President where I put myself in a position which some suggested was to the right of the President. But I thought it was important for the country and for me personally as a U.S. Senator to address the issues that I thought were critical to the time.

So I went out and gave two speeches about the importance of defining our enemy. If there has been a failing — obviously, for the last several weeks and months we have been talking about the failings of the administration with respect to the policies within Iraq — I would make the argument that the larger failing, not just of the administration but of the Members of Congress and leaders in this country, is that we have not had the courage to stand up and define the enemy as to who they are and study and understand them and explain to the American people who they are.

I defined the enemy back at the National Press Club speeches as Islamic fascism. I said that is the biggest issue of our time, this relentless and determined radical enemy that is not just a group of rag-tag people living in caves but, in fact, people with an ideology, a plan, and increasingly the resources to carry out that plan, as well as, increasingly, a bigger and larger presence throughout the Islamic world, these radical Islamic fascists.

The speech is a long one and this excerpt is just the opening few paragraphs but Santorum clearly understands the problem and lays it out point by point by point. There is no lack of thought or clarity of vision, Rick Santorum understands what it is that we are up against and the problems with our failure to understand.

Senator Santorum — I have no apology for my thoughts regarding your actions against the National Weather Service but I strongly support your views on Islamofascism. You have brains and the courage to speak — that is sadly rare in Washington.

Posted by DaveH at 08:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Zimbabwe hits bottom, starts digging

This is unreal.

Not only has Robert Mugabe turned the “breadbasket of Africa” into a financial and political ruin, he is now fucking over the only source of hard currency that Zimbabwe has.

From The Telegraph:

Mugabe joins massive diamond rush
A British-listed mining company, the first to invest in bankrupt Zimbabwe since the political crisis began, was ordered off its valuable diamond claim yesterday.

While President Robert Mugabe has seized thousands of white-owned farms since 2000 he has, up until now, left mining property alone.

The claim, an extraordinary chunk of ancient tribal land in south eastern Zimbabwe, may be one of the richest diamond fields found in recent years.

And the Zimbabwe government wants it.

African Consolidated Resources plc, with about 1,000 claims in Zimbabwe, listed in London in June and says it was granted title by the Ministry of Mines.

The order to leave the dry, poverty-stricken Marange district, about 200 miles south east of Harare, comes after months of drama.

Just great — they are actually able to find one company to come in and invest in Mugabe's workers paradise and as soon as it looks like they actually might start to make some money, they get booted out.

That is going to make the search for another investor really really interesting…

Idiot. And this is insulting a lot of wonderful idiots.
And just where are all the protests from the Human Rights people?



crickets

Posted by DaveH at 08:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Making Tracks

Cool product line.

Do you have a vehicle and you want to travel over soggy ground or snow or fragile environment? The best for this to use tracks like a sno-cat or a tank instead of wheels. Only problem is your vehicle doesn't have tracks, it has wheels.

Check out Mattracks

They make bolt-on track conversions for most trucks and ATVs

mattracks-01.jpg

No price listed so these are not cheap but considering the level of custom engineering that goes into each one, these are probably very worth the price if you have the need. Great use of technology!

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

December 09, 2006

Happy Festivus everybody

Sheesh — from Seattle's King 5

Xmas trees removed from Sea-Tac
All of the Christmas trees inside the terminal at Sea-Tac have been removed in response to a complaint by a rabbi.

A local rabbi wanted to install an 8-foot menorah and have a public lighting ceremony. He threatened to sue if the menorah wasn’t put up, and gave a two-day deadline to remove the trees.

Sea-Tac public affairs manager Terri-Ann Betancourt said the trees that adorn the Sea-Tac upper and lower levels may not properly represent all cultures.

She said that since this is their busiest time of year and they don't have time to add a fair representation of all cultures, her department decided to take down all of the decorations, review their policies, and decide if they need to make a change for next year.

“You know, our focus is on customer service, getting our passengers through the airport, and we thought if we could take the trees down and avoid litigation because we don't want to litigate with this individual, we want to reach some kind of solution,” Betancourt said. “But that is going to take some thoughtful discussion and we would like to have time to have that thoughtful discussion.”

Until then, no Christmas decor at Sea-Tac.

The same decorations have been put up for at least 10 years, she added.

Considering that the winter tree and decorations stems from the pre-Christian German Yule celebration of the Winter Solstice and it was co-opted by the Christians as they took over.

We need to have some Wiccans and Pagans write nice letters to the administration at Sea-Tac and ask to have their trees returned to their proper place. Hand delivered might be fun… (The mental image of about 20-50 Goths and other 'interesting' people standing at Ms. Betancourt's desk brings a smile to my face.)

I must say thought that refusing to have a Menorah shows a remarkable lack of class. Seattle has a large Jewish population and to deny them this is a slap in the face.

And for more on Festivus: Festivus
The Wagner Companies manufacture Festivus Poles

Posted by DaveH at 11:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Food nanny-ism

What makes liberals think they have to 'micromanage' people's lives.

From Slate Magazine:

Tempting Fat
The coming crackdown on trans fats.

Put your hands in the air, and step away from the cookie.

That's the message from New York City, where the health department has just ordered the city's 25,000 restaurants to purge nearly all trans fats from their menus. Restaurant owners are terrified that other cities will follow. In the dough business, like show business, New York leads the way. If you can't bake it there, you can't bake it anywhere.

The whole world is engulfed in a war on fat. On one side are health crusaders. On the other side are food sellers and libertarians. Lately, the health costs of obesity have prodded politicians into the war, shifting the balance of power to the crusaders. Still, Americans draw the line at food. You stamped out our cigarettes, you made us wear seat belts, but you'll get our burgers when you pry them from our cold, dead hands.

And of course, they have the problem all wrong. It is not an issue of trans-fats, the problem is of people eating too much, big portion size in restaurants and super-sizing run amok.

People who eat a well balanced 2,500 calories per day have zero problems with trans-fats — have the occasional bag of McDonald's fries or a couple of cookies but don't make them a component part of your diet.

For a good look at what ti eat and how to manage weight, John Walkers excellent Hackers Diet is a good place to start:

Hackers Diet — How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition

Posted by DaveH at 10:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Total Cost of Ownership

Ever think about buying something like this beauty:

ferrarit5qr.jpg

Well Michael Sheehan writing at Sports Car Market sold one of these to a client and proceeded to track the actual cost of ownership:

I recently sold an unusually well-documented 1998 550 Maranello, S/N 111317, with 36,200 miles to a client in the jet aircraft industry, and comparisons between Ferrari and jet costs inspired this column. Like a private jet that requires three to four hours of maintenance for every hour of flight time, Ferraris are not cheap to own.

FIRST TWO YEARS ALMOST FREE

550 Ferrari S/N 111317 was sold new on March 19, 1998, at $225,000, to a wealthy Santa Monica real estate investor and used for weekend retreats to his ranch in Ojai, a 150-plus-mile round trip. Thanks to an unlimited mileage warranty, the first two years were relatively expense free.

The first bite came in August 2000, five months after the warranty expired. At 13,637 miles, the owner brought the car in for a 15,000-mile service, two rear tires, and an oil, filter, and coolant change for $2,665.70. Two months later, in October, at 17,220 miles, noisy cam belts and bearings were replaced at no cost (thanks to a warranty extension by Ferrari). The windshield washer reservoir was also replaced for $529.25. A month later, in November, at 17,618 miles, the front spoiler and three wheels were refinished because of road-rash, at $1,285. Total for the first year out of warranty, and about 4,000 miles: $4,479.95, or $1.12 per mile.

$1.12 per mile for the first owner courtesy of the unlimited two year warranty. The second owner takes it in the shorts though:

In late December 2004, Ferrari 550 S/N 111317 moved on to her second owner, for $90,000, and no service bills were added to the year. A real estate investor and self-confessed “Porsche guy,” the second owner had always wanted a Ferrari and bought the 550 simply because he knew the car through the original owner.

Only weeks into Ferrari ownership, in January 2005, at 32,945 miles, a 30,000-mile service was again done, under the “while-you're-at-it” theory, because of oil leaks. The front shocks were also replaced, at $6,196.57. Only weeks later, the second owner also had the nose repainted, and his 550 “personalized” with the front fenders modified for fender shields and the calipers redone in yellow, at $7,759.70.

The second owner added a lot of after-market stuff but still, his cost per mile was $10.27! Probably a lot of fun to drive but at these prices, I'm sticking with my eight year old truck…

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

Space Blogging

People have blogged from strange locations but in orbit around the earth is one of the more unusual ones.

Meet Astronaut Bill Oefelein currently on board Space Shuttle mission STS-116. He has not posted post-launch but is expected to:

Dec. 8, 2006 — Here we are, one day after our scrub, but more importantly, one night before our next attempt. From those that were at the launch attempt last night, I hear the anticipation was captivating. There was so much energy in the air that you could feel it. We were inside the shuttle, ready to go. Roman (Mark Polansky) and I were busy getting the systems on line for the launch. I felt good about the weather prospects, but it wasn't meant to be. As much as I would've liked to go, I still enjoyed the moment.

It was dark outside as we approached the shuttle last night. The only thing one could see was this big majestic spacecraft illuminated against a moonless sky. It was an incredible sight. As we stepped out of the van, you could see the shuttle venting. You could hear it creaking and moaning. It was as if it was alive and longing to leave the bounds of the launch pad. I'm certainly not a poet, but I sure felt some serious inspiration last night. We spent a minute in the grasp of the moment, then proceeded up to the 195-foot level where you enter the ship. I took some time to just soak in where we were and what we were going to attempt.

The brightly lit shuttle waited for us on the pad. We took our turns, getting called to the white room, where we put on our parachute harnesses, then entered the orbiter. After strap in, we checked our communication and then waited. Every so often, we were called to perform some task to get the shuttle ready to fly, flipping switches with great care. We entered and came out of several pre-planned launch holds, all the while wondering if the weather would break just enough so we could depart. Our last hold was at T-5 minutes, where we stayed until our launch window closed. Five minutes from space. Much closer than I've been in the five years I've trained for this flight. I had a very brief moment of disappointment, then had to get busy safing all the systems we brought on line for a flight that wasn't to happen. As I left the orbiter nearly an hour and a half later, I paused at the same spot I had prior to entering. Christer came and stood by me. We both just looked. The moment was too special for us to concentrate on what wasn't. We, instead, focused on what was. We had the incredible experience of almost launching into space. We thought we would savor that for a while.

Now, it's another day. Tomorrow, we hope to have the privilege of repeating that experience. Of course, we hope to take it further. Coming out of that T-5 minute hold for a spectacular night liftoff. I am looking forward to that. We are ready to go. We have prepared long and hard. I will be taking all of my family and friends with me. I look forward to sharing that experience.

Please keep in mind all the men and women involved in our human spaceflight program who got us this far. None of this is possible without them.

All my best as we prepare for another try tomorrow.

Godspeed Bill — fun journey and a safe return…

NASA-billsblog.jpg

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

The Word of the Year

From Merriam-Webster Online comes their number one choice for Word for the Year for 2006:

truthiness (noun)
1: “truth that comes from the gut, not books” (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report,” October 2005)
2: “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true” (American Dialect Society, January 2006)

Brought to you by those fine folks at the Main Stream Media…

Posted by DaveH at 09:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Metalworking

Found that WikiPedia has a nice index page on Metalworking with links that jump to specific techniques and equipment.

One of the things I want to start playing with is EDM — Electrical Discharge Machining which can do stress-free taking away of metal for forming dies. The machines to do this are traditionally very expensive but the technology is really simple. Commercial machines are designed to operate at mechanical tolerances far beyond what I need so a simple home-brew system would be perfect.

I am looking at making some spring swages like these but I want my own designs and these are a bit pricey. I talked to the owner of Off Center Forge at a conference last July and he has his own EDM machine.

The cool thing about EDM is that your tool just has to conduct electricity. It can be soft metal like lead or copper or you can even use graphite. Buy a chunk of graphite for $5, use a pen knife to whittle the shape of the object you want and then using EDM, sink that shape into pieces of tool steel time and again without the graphite master showing wear or erosion.

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

Ho Ho Ho

Remember the stop-motion puppet film “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”?
They just found a bunch of the puppets.

From the Western Star:

Rudolph's nose glows again after dark years
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. And you know the most famous reindeer of all.

But you don't know the story of this Rudolph — a 5-inch-high little guy made of wood, wool and wire. Once a star, then forgotten for decades, he's making an unusual comeback starting today at Atlanta's Center for Puppetry Arts.

The Rudolph scheduled to go on display at the center today is the well-known figure used in making the 42-year-old animated TV special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which airs tonight on CBS. The Santa puppet from the same show will join his lead reindeer at the center.

Although Gene Autry's 1949 song set Rudolph on his way to Christmas fame, in many ways the 1964 TV special — with its story of Hermey the Elf (who'd rather be a dentist), the Misfit Toys, Yukon Cornelius and the gang, and filled with original songs like “Holly Jolly Christmas” — has become the Rudolph story many people remember.

And what happened:

Kreiss says an animation company called Rankin/Bass made the special, and when it was done with the figures, stuck them in a closet. When they were about to be thrown away, a Rankin/Bass secretary, who has asked to remain anonymous, got permission to take them home instead. The secretary's children played with them for years at Christmas; no one thought they would ever be of great value.

Very cool! Makes you wonder what else is out there being loved on by some kids. Where is the monolith from 2001?

Posted by DaveH at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

Solar Flare

Look to the sky tonight — there is a big CME heading our way and people in northern latitudes may see a nice Northern Lights display.

Check this out: Solar Tsunami

Posted by DaveH at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Twenty rules for musicians

Great rant from a Sound Guy to performing musicians:

Did your band Suck?
The Rules… (in no particular order, a love letter from your sound guy)

1. Shut the fuck up, seriously… if you wanna chat, see us after the show. We came to hear music not you. If you talk more than 3 times, you suck… However, it helps to at least let us know the name of your band.
2. Tune your guitar before you get on stage and don't do it again. If it falls out of tune during a 30 minute set there is something wrong with your guitar. However if for some reason you need to tune, do it muted… almost all tuners have this function, it's there for a reason… and do it during a break in a song or quickly in between…
3. Don't be a dick. I'm sorry no one came to see your band or that no one is standing up front… Berating the crowd doesn't help.
4. Drums. Drums require a top and a bottom head. Drums require tuning. If you do neither of these things your drums will be quiet and sound like wet mops. It is not the sound guy, it's you.
5. No matter how good you are no one wants to hear more than 30-40 minutes of you. You aren't that interesting. No matter what you mom/girlfriend says.

Fifteen more at the website. Having been on both sides of the sound board, this is very very spot-on. Heh…

Posted by DaveH at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 08, 2006

Too much of a good thing...

It seems that Oscar de la Renta is popular these days. A bit too popular.
And it seems that CBS is just as Bush-bashing as always.

From WCBSTV comes this very snarky story about the White House holiday reception:

First Lady Fashion Faux Pas: Tale Of 3 Red Dresses
Laura Bush Can't Compete, Changes Outfit Mid-Party

It's always one of the biggest nights in Washington for stars and for glamorous fashion, with guests in the spotlight at an exclusive White House holiday reception. The designer gowns are always scrutinized, and on this year's bash, there was plenty to talk about.

Three women donned the exact same $8,500 red Oscar de la Renta dress, a fashion faux pas in itself. But that's just the beginning of this debacle of ladies in red.

It just so happened that First Lady Laura Bush was wearing the very same dress too.

Riiiight… It was just s simple mistake for the other three ladies but it was a “Fashion Faux Pas” for our First Lady.

Laura went upstairs to change into something else and CBS slanted this as well:

Despite the fact that Mrs. Bush changed, the incident won't be forgotten any time soon. That's because she was still wearing the dress when she was photographed for this year's official presidential holiday photo.

Christ on a Corn Dog — the Main Stream Media really needs to put a fscking sock in it. Bush is not my favorite president. I did vote for him as John Kerry would have been a disaster for this country with payback for his cluelessness continuing for another twenty years but jeezzz — this guy and his family is the sitting President of the United States. Show some respect at least for the Office if not for the Man.

And this was just to whet your appetite. Another story is even worse:

From Kim DuToit comes a story about the etiquette of one of the newly elected Democratic Senators (Jim Webb from VA):

Mannerless
I read with interest the little exchange between GWB and Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA), the latter being apparently set on reminding all of us what a bunch of graceless boors the Democrats are.
Invited there with other freshmen members of Congress, Webb refused to stand in the presidential receiving line. He would not have his picture taken with the President. “How’s your boy?” the Washington Post reports the President asking him later during the reception. Webb replied that he would like to get the troops home, a point appropriate for the campaign trail but not at a White House social event. “That’s not what I asked,” the President persisted, “How’s your boy?” “That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,” the unpleasant Webb replied, and he cut his host. This the Post portrayed as part of Webb’s “unpolished style.” “I’m not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall,” he told a reporter. Well, then a gentleman does not accept the President’s invitation to the White House and no one told him he would have to display the picture anywhere.

According to the Hill, Webb even told a source for the paper that “he was so angered by this [encounter] that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief.” Webb claims that one of his heroes is President Andrew Jackson. I too admire Old Hickory, but I at least recognize the rough ways of the early 19th century are not to be reprised in the 21st century. What next, will the junior senator from Virginia being challenging those who arouse him to a duel? What century does Webb think he is living in? Believe me Senator Webb is going to be a vast source of amusement, and he will fit in nicely with the unpleasant pols whose political base is the Angry Left.

Senator-to-be Webb is a Democrat. He is also a decorated US Marine and Kim has a few choice words about this as well:

I’ll bet the Marine Corps is really proud of him right now; so much for the “officer and gentleman” ethos. Frankly, I wish that the Commandant of the U.S. Marines, to which unit the newly-elected senator once belonged, could call this prick up and reprimand him. Yeah, Webb’s a decorated USMC veteran and a former Secretary of the Navy. You know what? That does not give him carte blanche to show disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief: in fact, it should invoke the precise opposite.

Of course, the proper, and mannered, response would have been for Webb to decline the invitation altogether, which is what he should have done if he felt such antipathy towards the current POTUS.

But he couldn’t, really—one does not turn down an invitation to the White House when one is about to become a U.S. Senator. What Webb didn’t figure out, though, is that accepting the invitation carries a further responsibility of reciprocal good manners. Or he knew that, and decided to flaunt his bad manners anyway.

As for his little aside about wanting the deck GWB… that, for a U.S. Senator, is completely beyond the pale, and everyone except the most drooling moron at democratunderground.com knows it.

Webb should be censured for his display of churlish bad manners. Unfortunately, he probably faces nothing of the sort, or worse, he’ll probably be lionized in the Press for his “candor” or some such nonsense.

All I know is, I’d like to deck Webb for being such a scumbag. (That he’s an opportunistic, slimy little political turncoat is just added flavor.)

If the Democrats really think that our government should be “non-partisan” or “bi-partisan”, they ought to be more careful about whom they delegate into such positions. But they don’t, of course, because they’re the Party of Churls.

And we elected this lot to run Congress?

And my choice for President?

As long as we are playing fantasy politics here, I would go for Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Winston Churchill (yeah, yeah - I know) or Andrew Jackson. Ben Franklin would be close but he would rather be puttering around his BenCave™.

To deal with the Islamist shit that we are currently facing and get it done quickly, General John “Blackjack” Pershing would be awesome but he didn't “do” civilian life that well.

Oh well… 2008 will be interesting for sure.

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

RIP - Jeane Kirkpatrick

Jeane was the American ambassador to the United Nations from 1981 to 1985.

Daniel Freedman at The New York Sun has a wonderful obituary, a portion of one of her speeches and several updates:

A few excerpts:

Update IV: 10:51 a.m.: John Bolton was just on CNN. Clearly choking back tears, he said that “it really is very sad for america” and that Kirkpatrick “will be greatly missed.” He said:
“She never forgot who she was representing … she was one of the most outstanding advocates of American foreign policy in American history … She spoke clearly for liberty in the world.”

Bolton also said that Kirkpatrick made it clear at the United Nations that America's cause was advanced when “liberty was advanced.”

From her August 20, 1984, speech at the Republican Convention:

A recent article in The New York Times noted that “the foreign policy line that emerged from the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco is a distinct shift from the policies of such [Democratic] presidents as Harry S Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.” I agree …

When the San Francisco Democrats treat foreign affairs as an afterthought, as they did, they behaved less like a dove or a hawk than like an ostrich - convinced it would shut out the world by hiding its head in the sand.

Today, foreign policy is central to the security, to the freedom, to the prosperity, even to the survival of the United States. And our strength, for which we make many sacrifices, is essential to the independence and freedom of our allies and our friends …

The United States cannot remain an open, democratic society if we are left alone — a garrison state in a hostile world. We need independent nations with whom to trade, to consult and cooperate. We need friends and allies with whom to share the pleasures and the protection of our civilization.

One more from the same speech:

They said we could never deploy missiles to protect Europe's cities. But today Europe's cities enjoy that protection.

They said it would never be possible to hold an election in El Salvador because the people were too frightened and the country too disorganized …

They said that saving Grenada from terror and totalitarianism was the wrong thing to do - they didn't blame Cuba or the communists for threatening American students and murdering Grenadians - they blamed the United States instead.

But then, somehow, they always blame America first.

When our Marines, sent to Lebanon on a multinational peacekeeping mission with the consent of the United States Congress, were murdered in their sleep, the “blame America first crowd” didn't blame the terrorists who murdered the Marines, they blamed the United States.

But then, they always blame America first.

When the Soviet Union walked out of arms control negotiations, and refused even to discuss the issues, the San Francisco Democrats didn't blame Soviet intransigence. They blamed the United States.

But then, they always blame America first.

When Marxist dictators shoot their way to power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don't blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies, they blame United States policies of 100 years ago.

But then, they always blame America first.

The American people know better.

She will be sorely missed.

Posted by DaveH at 08:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stupid Spammies

I have not posted for a while about the work I am doing to block spam for blogs but this was for two reasons.

#1) - when I started taunting them a couple months ago, I got a sudden influx of new spammers and new techniques.

Just how stupid can you be to expose yourself to someone who is actively trying to figure out how you work!!!

#2) - I am working on some techniques to detect and to trap incoming spamming systems while allowing legitimate comments to come through without requiring any kind of visual ID or preregistration.

I am still working on this but I have seen a few shifts in the attempts that are interesting.

I am getting a lot of attempts from Europe. Before the majority were from zombie systems in major US ISP netblocks (Comcast, Road Runner, AOL, etc…); now I am getting a lot from Poland, Switzerland, and Austria. Russia, Africa and China were such fountains of joy that those entire nations were blocked a long long time ago.

Also, I am getting a lot of similar attempts from different IP addresses. There is a marked coordination going on here but these people are failing. Failing miserably.

Tonight, I had 44 attempts at comment spam, 43 of them were an identical attempt (with different wording but the technique was the same). There were 39 unique IP addresses.

None of them got in. Suckaahhhhssssss…

Posted by DaveH at 07:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Service

One of the systems I am working on was connected to the internet by PeoplePC.
This ISP charges very little per month (under $10) but it makes its money in other ways. Using your system and dinging your bank account.

Randy L. Harrington writing over at American Chronicle has an excellent writeup of his experiences with this company:

PART I: People PC and Complaints of Fraud, Deceitful Advertising, and Software Problems
PeoplePC was acquired by EarthLink in 2002 for about $14 million dollars according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed by EarthLink. EarthLink has had a long history of allegations of consumer fraud, bait and switch advertising, and just general poor customer service. It would appear that PeoplePC was also a company in trouble before the 2002 acquisition. PeoplePC is sold as a cheap Internet Service Provider (ISP). There are complaints of consumer fraud, deceptive advertising practices, questionable business practices, and proprietary software that not only disables computers, but installs itself so as to take advantage of personal information on subscribers' computer systems.

BACKGROUND RESEARCH
As research, and background material before I wrote this article, and before I even contacted PeoplePC I checked out some of the consumer complaints on the various consumer protection internet sites. Freedomlist.com, RipOffReport.com, as well as the Better Business Bureau.

A large amount of negative consumer feedback had to do with unauthorized charges to consumer bank, and credit card accounts for services never received, and PeoplePC either not responding to complaints, and not making refunds to subscribers. Most of these charges were under $20, but some of them were between $300 and $500. A quick tally of these complaints indicated alleged unauthorized charges by PeoplePC and losses to consumers of about fifty thousand dollars.

And it just gets better from there with outright lying by the tech support people, bad software and a generally poor customer experience. No sign of Part II yet but Part I is enough of an indictment for me not to ever recommend them to anyone.

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

Light posting today

Working on computer stuff for some clients so posting will be a little bit thin on the ground today.

Snow starting to melt but it's still bloody cold outside — got a nice fire going in the wood stove and the DaveCave™ is a cozy 70F.

Jen is in the house making soap. This has blossomed into a very nice little moneymaker for the farm as well as a fun hobby for her.

Posted by DaveH at 01:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 07, 2006

So true...

Swiped from Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple.

pumping-politicalpromises.jpg

Heh

Posted by DaveH at 10:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A cute hack...

Ever research something with Google, go visit the site and discover that it requires some lame-ass registration to view? But Google could see it just fine — it had to in order to index it.

Be like Google — from the wonderful MainframeGlitch website:

Secret Backdoor To Many Websites
Ever experienced this? You ask Google to look something up; the engine returns with a number of finds, but if you try to open the ones with the most promising content, you are confronted with a registration page instead, and the stuff you were looking for will not be revealed to you unless you agree to a credit card transaction first….
The lesson you should have learned here is: Obviously Google can go where you can't.

Can we solve this problem? Yes, we can. We merely have to convince the site we want to enter, that WE ARE GOOGLE.

In fact, many sites that force users to register or even pay in order to search and use their content, leave a backdoor open for the Googlebot, because a prominent presence in Google searches is known to generate sales leads, site hits and exposure.

Examples of such sites are Windows Magazine, .Net Magazine, Nature, and many, many newspapers around the globe.

How then, can you disguise yourself as a Googlebot? Quite simple: by changing your browser's User Agent. Copy the following code segment and paste it into a fresh notepad file. Save it as Useragent.reg and merge it into your registry.

Very slick. If you are using IE, you need to merge two registry files everytime you switch back and forth but it's pretty simple. Other browsers have this ability built-in Opera does it seamlessly, Mozilla/FireFox has a plug-in.

Posted by DaveH at 10:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Plant database

Wonderful database of plant information from the US Department of Agriculture:

The PLANTS Database
The PLANTS Database provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. It includes names, plant symbols, checklists, distributional data, species abstracts, characteristics, images, crop information, automated tools, onward Web links, and references. This information primarily promotes land conservation in the United States and its territories, but academic, educational, and general use is encouraged. PLANTS reduces government spending by minimizing duplication and making information exchange possible across agencies and disciplines.

One case of “our tax dollars at work” that I really like…

Posted by DaveH at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A word from the Minneapolis airport police department...

Remember the six Imams who were removed from their flight for being disruptive?

Scott at Power Line got an email from someone on that airport's police department:

A word from the Minneapolis airport police
One of the officers of the Minneapolis airport police force has emailed us a message commenting on the case of the flying imams:
I am a sergeant with the Airport Police. I was not working that night with the Imam incident (I work day shift), however I have spoken in great detail to the officers that were involved with the incident. Obviously as you have pointed out, these Imams are lying. Of course the media are eating out of their hands.

First off, none of the Imams were handcuffed in the airplane. They were handcuffed before they were placed in the squad car and the handcuffs were then taken off when they were brought back to our office. This is a standard operating procedure for when we transport anybody that is being arrested or being detained. Unless someone was looking out the window, it is doubtful anyone else would have known these guys were handcuffed.

Second, the claim about police dogs barking is absurd. We had a couple officers who are K-9 officers that were assisting with the Imams, however the only time that the dogs were used was to sweep the airplane after the Imams were taken off. We have 7 K-9's in our department, 2 of which are drug dogs and were not there. The other 5 are bomb sniffing dogs, 2 or 3 of which were there. None of our K-9's are “biting” dogs. THEY DO NOT BARK!!! I have been around those dogs for 4 years now and I have only heard one of them bark once when someone stepped on their tail. The Imams are basing this false claim off the sterotype of a police canine that sits in the back of the squad and barks endlessly at anyone that comes close. This of course is not being questioned by the MSM. Our dogs wouldn't last in an Airport environment with people all over if they barked.

They also claim that religious discrimination. If anyone bothered to do any research they would find out that we have taken many people off of flights for reasons much less than what they did. A couple of times I have assisted in removing people from flights for reasons that I didn't agree, but it is the pilot's decision. One time a guy was kicked off a flight because he fell asleep and his leg fell out into the aisle and the flight attendant tripped over it. Some of these people were obviously upset, but didn't make some major media campaign about it.

Please keep on this kind of stuff that happens at our airport. I have worked their now for 5 years and have been a witness to a lot of nonsense to what the Muslims are trying to push on us. It starts with little things like the alcohol and taxicab issue, then moves on to claiming discrimination. I know it is clear to me and people like you that they are trying to push their ideology onto us as a country. I was told that their “victories” have been posted on Al-Jazeera. I haven't confirmed this, but wouldn't doubt it. As you probably know, we have a large Muslim population here in the Twin Cities and I strongly believe they are using this as a starting point. We as a department have dealt with the Muslim cab drivers and myself have had cab drivers tell me that “Allah” will make me pay for giving them a parking ticket. Incidents like these aren't isolated, almost every officer that works here can tell a personal story about dealing with a Muslim and the religion becoming an issue.

There is so much more going on that I can't share due to sensitive information, but trust me it is serious stuff. I just hope that the media would be critical to it. I don't have much faith in the MSM, but I do in blogs and websites like yours. Keep up the good work. We do post articles that you have done in our office, so most in the law enforcement community know what's going on. It's just the policy makers we have to work on. Thank-you for what you do.

And this shit is just going to get worse before it gets better.
Multiculturalism is a failed theory. Never worked and never will.

Posted by DaveH at 09:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bossy Gadgets

Glenn Reynolds hits the nail on the head with this rant about Bossy Gadgets:

Keep It Quiet
I've used this column in the past as a means of issuing impassioned pleas to product designers. Now it's time for another, at least as heartfelt as the ones in the past: Please, keep things quiet. Or at least give me the option of doing so.

I've noticed that over the past few years, more and more of my appliances want to tell me things, whether I want to hear them or not, something they accomplish via a variety of beeps and buzzes.

My Bosch dishwasher beeps to tell you that the dishes are done. It then tells you, again and again, with five piercing beeps every five minutes, until you open the dishwasher and cycle the “power” button to the off position. Don't want this feature? Tough. There's no way to disable it, short of ripping it open and cutting the wires, something that has crossed my mind more than once. It must be one of those Teutonic discipline things: Ve haff vays of making you unload the dishes.

Likewise, I have most of my more sensitive electronics — TVs, computers, VCRs, DVD players, stereos, cable boxes, etc. — all hooked up to uninterruptible power supply devices, so that they'll keep going even if the power fails. (One nice side effect: With my DSL modem and wi-fi router on a 1500VA router, I can continue to have wireless internet access for days without outside power.)

The downside is that every single one of these devices thinks it has to tell me when the power's out by emitting a series of loud beeps. This seems silly: Generally, if I'm awake, I notice when the power goes out (the lights going off are a major indicator), and if I'm asleep I certainly don't need to be awakened with that news. The computers know to shut themselves down if the power's off for too long, and the other stuff doesn't matter. But not one of the UPS devices I've got has a simple switch or button to shut off the beeping. With some of them, it can be shut off via software commands if you've got a computer hooked up and the proprietary software installed, but that's a really poor substitute. The product designers saved fifty cents by not putting in a simple “off” switch for the beeper, but I'm paying the price — and I'd happily pay ten times that much extra for one that would keep quiet.

Creeping featuritis. They already have the beeper for emergency situations and they have a CPU with some spare cycles but panel indicators and switches are expensive. The outcome is #1) - the control panel is very difficult to work easily as each button has several different functions and #2) - the beeper is used for every imaginable thing under the sun. The dryer shuts off and there is one missing sock. Beeeeep! A leaf falls outside. Beeeeep! Your neighbors dog is pregnant. Beeeeep! Gimme a break!!!

Posted by DaveH at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting times in Iran

Everyone knows the name of Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad but few know the name of it's theocratic dictator, Supreme Leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei.

Turns out the lil' piglet is not feeling that well.
From Pajamas Media:

Ayatollah’s health fails as Iran power struggle grows
by Michael Ledeen

Three days ago, Iran’s dictator, Supreme Leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei, was rushed to the vast medical facility traditionally known as “Vanak” hospital (it now has an Arabic name that means “the 12th Imam Hospital”), a 1,200-room facility that saves half of its beds for the leadership.

Khamenei is known to be suffering from cancer, and taking considerable quantities of an opium-based pain killer. He has lost more than 17 pounds in the past ten months, and was told last spring that he was unlikely to see another New Year (In the Iranian calendar, the New Year begins at the end of March).

Khamenei first complained of chills, and then broke out in a cold sweat. He lay down to rest, and began to lose feeling in his feet, at which point his aides got him to the hospital.

Amidst maximum security, and under orders that the event be kept secret at all costs, the theocrat was placed in one of the luxurious suites reserved for the country’s most important figures. Khamenei’s blood pressure and pulse were alarmingly low, and his physicians at first feared some sort of hemorrhage. But they could find no trace of internal bleeding, and concluded that he had had some sort of cardiac crisis.

Khamenei is still undergoing tests and receiving maximum attention. It is clearly a serious problem because he wanted to leave the hospital, only to be talked out of it by the doctors. The precise gravity of his condition is not known, but the argument over the wisdom of moving him to his own home suggests it may be quite serious.

My sources for this information are a very knowledgeable Iranian cleric plus another Iranian who has previously provided strikingly accurate stories from the highest levels of the regime in Tehran, suggesting that a major crisis may be underway in Iran.

A bit about the power struggle that is going on:

The Supreme Leader has good reason to keep his condition secret, and to seek to demonstrate he retains his ability to rule the country. Khamenei knows that his regime is riven by intense conflict, some of which has been dramatically exposed in recent weeks in the run-up to the election of a new Assembly of Experts (the clerical body whose main responsibility is the selection of the Supreme Leader).

News of Khamenei’s heart problems, especially if they turn out to be life-threatening, would undoubtedly catalyze the battle at the highest levels of the regime to control the choice of his successor. Recent events document both the intensity and the violence of the power struggle.

Could be happening to a nicer guy. I'll be thinking of him when I next eat bacon or pet my dog. Hope he enjoys his raisins…

Posted by DaveH at 08:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Freeman Dyson

Unfortunately, my Dad and I had to be in Seattle for an appointment but Freeman Dyson swung through Bellingham yesterday and delivered a wonderful talk at the local University.

The Bellingham Herald has the report:

Science can fix climate woes, author contends
Freeman Dyson tells students a wet Sahara once supported livestock herds

After branding himself a heretic, mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson told a Fairhaven College audience that fears of global warming are overblown.

Dyson acknowledged that human activity is adding carbon dioxide to the Earth’s atmosphere, and that could raise its temperature. But he said he finds scientists’ climate models unconvincing.

He also expressed confidence that the negative effects of global warming, if any, could be overcome, while some areas of the Earth would likely benefit from the change.

Six thousand years ago, Dyson said, glaciers in the Alps were much smaller than they are today, and the Sahara was wet enough to support herds of livestock.

“Increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will help to bring it (the Sahara) back,” Dyson said. “I’m not saying that particular heresy is true. I’m just saying it won’t do us any harm to think about it.”

He also cautioned that people may be kidding themselves if they imagine it is possible to stabilize the Earth’s climate.

“The biosphere was constantly changing in the past and it will be constantly changing in the future,” Dyson said. “The idea that we can put a stop to change is a dangerous illusion.”

He also contended that with proper management, the United States alone could create enough “biomass” — mainly carbon dioxide-absorbing plants — to absorb all the troublesome gas generated worldwide.

That might require the use of genetically engineered plants, Dyson said, acknowledging that his enthusiasm for genetic engineering would also be considered heretical among “naturalists.” He defined naturalists as those who believe that nature knows best, and natural processes such as plant genetics should be left alone.

He described himself as a humanist — one who believes that humans “have the right and the duty to reconstruct nature” for their own benefit and that of other species.

Just as computers transformed human existence in once-unimaginable ways, biotechnology could one day solve seemingly impossible problems.

“New species of termites could be engineered to chew up derelict cars instead of houses,” he said.

Much of the energy focused on global warming ought to be redirected to focus on what Dyson contended is humankind’s greatest challenge: poverty. Technology, including biotechnology, is the most likely strategy for lifting billions of people out of misery, he said.

A questioner asked him if his optimistic outlook accounted for the problem of human greed.

“The whole point of technology is, it gives more for people to share,” Dyson replied. “They can afford to be a little more generous.”

Another asked Dyson if he would be interested in debating Al Gore, the former vice president who has become the most prominent advocate of drastic action on global climate change.

“That would be fun,” Dyson replied.

The 82-year-old Dyson also admonished his mostly collegeage audience of about 200 to assume the challenge of advancing human progress, including the obligation to do heretical thinking.

“All our fashionable worries and all our prevailing dogmas will probably be obsolete in 50 years,” Dyson said.

Older heretics are limited in their effectiveness, Dyson said, because people often react with, “He’s lost his marbles.”

I had written about both Freeman and his son — Bellingham resident and Kayak builder George here, here and here.

Posted by DaveH at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 06, 2006

Hashima Island

Sometimes known as Battleship Island or Gunkanjima is an amazing site.

I had blogged about it before here and shown some of the pictures that can be found at this site

Another series of photographs can be found here.
Here are four from that set:

hashima-a-01.jpg

hashima-a-02.jpg

hashima-a-03.jpg

hashima-a-04.jpg

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

Productivity Tool

Know someone who is into Jigsaw Puzzles?

Point them to JigZone and watch their productivity take a major hit.

Well done and free — the site is supported by unobtrusive advertising onscreen while you are doing the puzzle. It keeps track of how long people have taken to do it too so there is an element of competition thrown in.

The URL is short and easy enough to remember when you are at work. (Not that I would suggest such a thing but…)

Posted by DaveH at 10:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

13 things that bug scientists

From New Scientist comes this list of thirteen questions that cannot be clearly answered:

13 things that do not make sense

1 The placebo effect
Don't try this at home. Several times a day, for several days, you induce pain in someone. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.

This is the placebo effect: somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful. Except it's not quite nothing. When Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy carried out the above experiment, he added a final twist by adding naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of morphine, to the saline. The shocking result? The pain-relieving power of saline solution disappeared.

So what is going on? Doctors have known about the placebo effect for decades, and the naloxone result seems to show that the placebo effect is somehow biochemical. But apart from that, we simply don't know.

Other questions include:

4 Belfast homeopathy results

8 The Pioneer anomaly

11 The Wow signal

13 Cold fusion

Fascinating stuff. Cold Fusion is still getting a lot of interest and there are some experiments going on that say that Pons and Fleishman may have something real.

Posted by DaveH at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'nuf said...

“One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain” - Thomas Sowell

Posted by DaveH at 12:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 05, 2006

Cell Phone / Cancer Link -- TOTALLY BUSTED!

It seems that some sane minds are prevailing in this myth.

From Physorg:

Study Disputes Cell Phone-Cancer Link
A huge study from Denmark offers the latest reassurance that cell phones don't trigger cancer. Scientists tracked 420,000 Danish cell phone users, including 52,000 who had gabbed on the gadgets for 10 years or more, and some who started using them 21 years ago.

They matched phone records to the famed Danish Cancer Registry that records every citizen who gets the disease - and reported Tuesday that cell-phone callers are no more likely than anyone else to suffer a range of cancer types.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is the largest yet to find no bad news about the safety of cell phones and the radiofrequency energy they emit.

But even the lead researcher doubts it will end the debate.

“There's really no biological basis for you to be concerned about radio waves,” said John Boice, a Vanderbilt University professor and scientific director of the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md. “Nonetheless, people are.”

So Boice and colleagues at Copenhagen's Danish Cancer Society plan to continue tracking the Danish callers until at least some have used the phones for 30 years.

This so-called Danish cohort “is probably the strongest study out there because of the outstanding registries they keep,” said Joshua Muscat of Pennsylvania State University, who also has studied cell phones and cancer.

“As the body of evidence accumulates, people can become more reassured that these devices are safe, but the final word is not there yet,” Muscat added.

Cell phones beam radiofrequency energy that can penetrate the brain's outer edge, raising questions about cancers of the head and neck, brain tumors or leukemia. Most research has found no risk, but a few studies have raised questions. And while U.S. health officials insist the evidence shows no real reason for concern, they don't give the phones a definitive clean bill of health, either, pending long-term data on slow-growing cancers.

For the latest study, personal identification numbers assigned to each Dane at birth allowed researchers to match people who began using cell phones between 1982 and 1995 with cancer records.

Among 420,000 callers tracked through 2002, there were 14,249 cancers diagnosed - fewer than the 15,001 predicted from national cancer rates. Nor did the study find increased risks for any specific tumor type.

Hmmm… Study of cell phone users show they get 14,249 cancers.
National cancer rates show 15,001 cancers.

Want to cut down you chances of getting cancer, get a cell phone and use it a lot…

Posted by DaveH at 09:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Face

Photographer Mr. Toledano has a curious series of photographs on his website.
Here is one:

game-face.jpg

Six more at the website here: Mr. Toledano

The unifying characteristic of all of the portraits are that these people are having fun. What are they doing?

Playing a video game…

Posted by DaveH at 09:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Checkmate (and big iron)

Finally happened — a Computer Program (Deep Fritz) toasted the world Chess Champion in a six game match.
From the BBC:

Chess champion loses to computer
Deep Fritz, a chess-playing computer, has beaten human counterpart world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik in a six-game battle in Bonn, Germany.

Deep Fritz won by four points to two, after taking the last game in 47 moves in a match lasting almost five hours.

Of the six games, Deep Fritz won two and four ended in draws.

The 31-year-old Russian, who received $500,000 (£253,000) for playing the machine, could have walked away with double if he had been successful.

After the game, Mr Kramnik said he was “a bit disappointed” but hoped a rematch could be arranged in a year or two.

A bit more about Vladimir Kramnik:

In 2002, Mr Kramnik held Deep Fritz to a draw after eight games, but the chess software has since been updated, calculating millions of positions every second.

In October, Mr Kramnik defeated Bulgaria's Veselin Topalov to become the undisputed world chess champion for the first time since 1993.

Deep Fritz is an outgrowth of Deep Blue which ran on fairly proprietary IBM hardware.

Deep Fritz runs on a single Compaq 8-processor box.

I didn't know the platform until I checked for this post. I used to work at MSFT and managed hardware test labs. The Compaq 8-proc boxes are gorgeous pieces of engineering. Expect to pay about $75K on up for one with all the bells and whistles but you will have a computer that simply will not fail unless there is an Act of God.

I worked for a few years in a lab that tested the ability of Windows to scale to large enterprise environments. Any more than eight processors becomes a liability as Windows spends more time shuttling stuff around than it does computing. A Unisys ES7000 box with 32 processors costs about $2 Million. You can buy four Compaq boxes and a bunch of fibre hardware for interconnection for under $400K and have much better performance. Plus, if that Act of God happens and you loose one system, you are still up and running at 75% until you can get the replacement.

This problem is not just Windows though, it's all Operating Systems. Why does Google use so many single-proc machines when they are running Linux…

Please note — there are some very specific reasons for getting the Unisys ES7000 system when you are running a very large business. One thing unique to the ES7000 is that it can be partitioned into up to eight segments so you can recover a lot of the system efficiency of the four and eight proc systems. You can also run multiple operating systems on the same box with zero problems. I worked with a few of these and the engineering on them is amazing — Unisys was a major mainframe company and they brought all that is good about mainframes to the Intel platform and made an awesome machine!

Posted by DaveH at 09:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

E2R

E2R — not the name of some science fiction robot but a TLA that stands for Easy To Read.

This is a wonderful manifesto from a Japanese design group called Information Architects.
A few of the opening declarations:

The 100% Easy-2-Read Standard
Most websites are crammed with small text that is a pain to read. Why?

Don’t tell us busy pages look better
Crowded websites don’t look good, they look nasty.

Don’t tell us lots of links work better
Filling pages with stuff has never helped usability. It’s lazyness that makes you throw all kinds of stuff at us. We want you to think and preselect what is important. We don’t want to do your work.

Don’t tell us to adjust the font size
We don’t want to change our browser settings every time we visit a website!

Don’t tell us scrolling is bad
Because then all websites are bad. There is nothing wrong with scrolling. Nothing at all. Just as there is nothing wrong with flipping pages in books.

Don’t tell us text is not important
95% of what is commonly referred to as web design is typography.

Excellent advice for any designer, web or print. When I had my last business in Seattle, I moved from selling computers into being a service house and I did a lot of Desk Top Publishing for my clients. I have a background in traditional printing (I had two offset presses at the store) and it was amazing the work that you would see from someone who bought a copy of Pagemaker and hung out their shingle as a Desktop Publisher/Typographer. I spent a lot of time cleaning up some really messy documents.

Posted by DaveH at 08:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 04, 2006

Snowmelt

The weather has been warming up a bit and the snow is finally starting to melt at our elevation.

Here is a shot of the DaveCave™ with a little cornice of ice and snow overhanging the roofline. It came rumbling down a few minutes after I took this tonight.

ice-cornice.jpg

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

Here again, gone again

Interesting story from the BBC about the rapidly melting Antarctic Ice:

Big ice shelf's disappearing act
Sediments extracted from the Antarctic seafloor show the world's largest ice shelf has disintegrated and reappeared many times in the past.

Fluctuations in the Ross Ice Shelf are revealed by an early look at cores drilled from the seabed underneath the giant ice slab.

The investigation is being carried out by scientists drilling near the US and New Zealand bases on Ross Island.

The team wants to link the data to what is already known about past climate.

The long-term aim of the scientists is to find out what the Ross Ice Shelf - a floating slab of ice the size of France - and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet have been doing over the past 10 million years.

The researchers are part of the first team to drill as part of the international Andrill project to investigate the geological history of Antarctica.

“We're seeing numerous cycles of the ice shelf or ice sheet being present at the site and then being absent,” said Dr Tim Naish, a palaeoclimatologist at New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences and one of the chief scientists for the Antarctica Geological Drilling project (Andrill).

“These are dramatic fluctuations.”

For every greenie-weenie chicken little running around, there are just as many people doing solid hard-science that shows that global warming and cooling is part of the Earth's natural cycle and human input into it is minimal at the most.

We need to get out from under the mind-set that Carbon Dioxide is a killer greenhouse gas — it simply is not. It was what could be measured with some accuracy back 15 years ago when people were ramping up to Kyoto but recent work shows that its effects are minimal, it is needed as a plant food and that the major greenhouse gas problem is simple water vapor.

Posted by DaveH at 10:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Waaaaaaa

From WFTV in Florida:

Teen Murderer Says Jail Is Too Hard, Appeals Sentence
One of the teenagers responsible for beating a Holly Hill homeless man to death asked a judge to reduce his 22-year prison sentence Monday. Warren Messner and three other teens pled guilty to killing the man because they were bored, but Messner said prison is too hard.

A bit more:

“Did you feel bad when you are doing it?” Messner was asked during questioning.

“Not really, no,” he replied.

And the Judge's comment:

The judge and the state both argued that being deprived services and being locked away is precisely the point of prison. Warren Messner will spend the next 22 years in prison without the chance for parole.

Beating someone to death for 'kicks' deserves this kind of treatment.

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

In case anyone was wondering

Found a link to this test at Grouchy Old Cripple and thought I'd give it a go:

I am nerdier than 99% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Quelle surprise!

Posted by DaveH at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

See if that gets adopted anytime soon...

Some followers of the pedophile prophet (pox be upon him) mutilate womens' clitori with the intent of depriving her the chance of pleasure from intercourse. Supposed to keep them from wandering but I always thought that being an attentive husband/lover was the trick…

Anyway, they seem to have 'offishully' put a stop to that practice — from YoursDaily:

Islam Outlaws Female Genital Mutilation
Sensational Resolution of the Scholars' Conference at Azhar University in Cairo on 22 and 23 November, 2006

RAUSDORF, Germany, December 4 — Ten of the highest ranked scholars from all over the world met at the Azhar University under the patronage of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Prof. Dr. Ali Goma'a. After listening to several international physicians, they pronounced the sensational decision to classify the custom of female genital mutilation (FGM) as punishable aggression and crime against humanity. As a result, the custom can no longer be practiced by Muslims. Now awareness of this decision has to be spread in the 33 affected countries.

The religous scholars at the conference were the following: Grand Mufti and Patron of Al-Azhar: Prof. Dr. Ali Goma'a; the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar: Prof. Dr. Mohamed Sayed Tantawi; the Minister of Religion of Egypt: Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk; Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi from Qatar; Sheikh Hissein Hassan Abkar from Chad; Imam Mahammadou Diallo from Mali; Imam Bal El Bechir from Mauritania; Sheikh Mohamed Darassa from Ethiopia, and Imam Tarafa Baghrajati from Austria. Reports were given by medical experts from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Germany.

And the money quote: “Now awareness of this decision has to be spread in the 33 affected countries” Yeah. Right.

Religion of peace indeed…

Posted by DaveH at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ethanol Production

Interesting article about the upsurge of Ethanol production in the US.

Ethanol Production Reaches All-Time High
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has announced that U.S. ethanol production in September eclipsed the record daily production average set in August, setting the new mark at 333,000 barrels per day (b/d). That is an increase of 55,000 b/d since the beginning of the year.

Additionally, demand for ethanol remained strong. The RFA estimates demand for ethanol in September was 380,000 b/d.
“The vast majority of Americans understand the importance of moving this country toward a more energy independent future,” said RFA President Bob Dinneen. “While no one is claiming that ethanol will solve all our energy concerns, it is helping to ease the impact volatile world oil markets have on U.S. consumers. By increasing the production and use of ethanol, we are becoming more reliant on America’s can-do spirit and less vulnerable to the whims of oil producers around the world.”

Currently, 109 ethanol biorefineries nationwide have the capacity to produce more than 5.2 billion gallons annually. There are 53 ethanol biorefineries and 7 expansions under construction with a combined annual capacity of more than 4.2 billion gallons.

Interesting to see such an interest in alternative energy sources but all this comes at a price. The production is subsidized by our tax dollars and the demand for feedstocks is causing the price of corn to go up with the corresponding rise in food prices.

Posted by DaveH at 08:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A change at the top?

Raul Castro has effectively been running Cuba since brother Fidel was diagnosed with terminal Stomach Cancer. it seems that he might see which side his bread is buttered on.
From Yahoo/Reuters:

Raul Castro extends olive branch to U.S.
Cuba's acting president, Raul Castro, departing from his brother's confrontational approach to their arch-enemy the United States, said this weekend he was open for talks with Washington.

The offer made on Saturday was the most direct overture to the United States by Fidel Castro's designated successor, who is running Cuba in the absence of its ailing leader.

Experts on Cuba said the Western hemisphere's only communist country needs to get the United States to lift sanctions enforced since 1962 if it wants to revitalize its battered economy.

At a military parade where Cuba rolled out Soviet-era tanks and fighter jets, Raul Castro railed at increased hostility by the Bush administration and condemned the war in Iraq.

But he added: “We take this opportunity to once again state that we are willing to resolve at the negotiating table the long-standing dispute between the United States and Cuba.”

Ahh yes, the Cuban workers paradise — and how many people are trying to emigrate there?

Good to see some change — it will be nice for Cuba to be a democracy again.

Posted by DaveH at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

9/11 photographs

When the Islamist terrorists hijacked the passenger airplanes and murdered 3,000 people on 9/11, a Russian living in the US and working as a Dot-Com programmer was taking some time off and piloting a Cessna 172SP around NYC. He had a camera and took an amazing set of images.

Check out Russian Pilot Making Photos 9/11 Flying Above NYC

Here is one:

9-11-towers.jpg

An amazing story…

Posted by DaveH at 11:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spaced out...

I would not want to be a Chinese Aeronautical Engineer involved with their satellite program right now…

From Aviation Week:

Advanced Chinese Space Technology Initiative Off To Disastrous Start
The catastrophic breakdown of China's new Sinosat 2 direct broadcast satellite is the worst spacecraft failure in the history of the Chinese space program and a major setback to China's development of a new generation of larger, more powerful civilian and military satellites.

The failure of this largest, most complex spacecraft ever developed by the Chinese—launched by China's most powerful rocket—portends a shakeup in the management of Chinese space system testing and quality control.

The spacecraft's solar arrays spanning more than 100 ft. and its large antennas all failed to deploy as Sinosat 2 was maneuvered toward its geosynchronous orbit station west of Sumatra.

Built by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a huge Chinese military and aerospace contractor, Sinosat 2 was to be operated by the Beijing-based Sino Satellite Communications Ltd. (Sinosat).

The loss will set back Chinese plans to deploy a domestically built spacecraft to deliver direct-to-home television services to millions of Chinese from Tibet in the west to the highly populated east coast.

Sinosat 2 was to transmit television signals to antennas as small as 18-in.-dia. and provide television and digital broadband multimedia services to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan in addition to mainland China. It was also destined to provide television, for the first time, to China's vast rural population unable to access cable. Before launch, the Chinese estimated Sinosat 2 services by 2010 would reach 100 million households, the equivalent of 300-400 million people.

The Sinosat 2 was also key in their plans to broadcast the 2008 Olympic Games.

Ouch!

Posted by DaveH at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Well Crap...

From CNN/AP:

Controversial U.N. ambassador to step down
Unable to win Senate confirmation, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton will step down when his temporary appointment expires within weeks, the White House said Monday.

Bolton's nomination has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for more than a year, blocked by Democrats and several Republicans. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican who lost in the midterm elections November 7 that swept Democrats to power in both houses of Congress, was adamantly opposed to Bolton.

Critics have questioned Bolton's brusque style and whether he could be an effective public servant who could help bring reform to the U.N.

President Bush, in a statement, said he was “deeply disappointed that a handful of United States senators prevented Ambassador Bolton from receiving the up or down vote he deserved in the Senate.”

“They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time,” Bush said. “This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country, and discourages men and women of talent from serving their nation.”

Bush gave Bolton the job temporarily in August 2005, while Congress was in recess. Under that process, the appointment expires when Congress formally adjourns, no later than early January.

The White House resubmitted Bolton's nomination last month. But with Democrats capturing control of the next Congress, his chances of winning confirmation appeared slight. The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, said he saw “no point in considering Mr. Bolton's nomination again.”

President Bush had these words about Bolton's tenure:

Bush said he accepted Bolton's decision with deep regret.

“He served his country with extraordinary dedication and skill, assembling coalitions that addressed some of the most consequential issues facing the international community,” the president said. “During his tenure, he articulately advocated the positions and values of the United States and advanced the expansion of democracy and liberty.

“Ambassador Bolton led the successful negotiations that resulted in unanimous Security Council resolutions regarding North Korea's military and nuclear activities. He built consensus among our allies on the need for Iran to suspend the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium,” Bush added. “His efforts to promote the cause of peace in Darfur resulted in a peacekeeping commitment by the United Nations. He made the case for United Nations reform because he cares about the institution, and wants it to become more credible and effective.”

Trying to reform a willfully corrupt organization must be a Sisyphean task — I would not want that job even when the ringleader (Annan) is out at the end of this month.

Posted by DaveH at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 03, 2006

The matter of a few bones

From Yahoo News comes this story of Church meeting Science head on:

Scientist Fights Church Effort to Hide Museum's Pre-Human Fossils
Famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey is giving no quarter to powerful evangelical church leaders who are pressing Kenya's national museum to relegate to a back room its world-famous collection of hominid fossils showing the evolution of humans' early ancestors.

Leakey called the churches' plans “the most outrageous comments I have ever heard.”

He told The Daily Telegraph (London): “The National Museums of Kenya should be extremely strong in presenting a very forceful case for the evolutionary theory of the origins of mankind. The collection it holds is one of Kenya's very few global claims to fame and it must be forthright in defending its right to be at the forefront of this branch of science.” Leakey was for years director of the museum and of Kenya's entire museum system.

The museum's collections include the most complete skeleton yet found of Homo erectus, the 1.7-million-year-old Turkana Boy unearthed by Leakey's team in 1984 near Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.

The museum also holds bones from several specimens of Australopithecus anamensis, believed to be the first hominid to walk upright, four million years ago. Together the artifacts amount to the clearest record yet discovered of the origins of Homo sapiens.

Leaders of Kenya's Pentecostal congregation, with six million adherents, want the human fossils de-emphasized.

“The Christian community here is very uncomfortable that Leakey and his group want their theories presented as fact,” said Bishop Bonifes Adoyo, head of the largest Pentecostal church in Kenya, the Christ is the Answer Ministries.

“Our doctrine is not that we evolved from apes, and we have grave concerns that the museum wants to enhance the prominence of something presented as fact which is just one theory,” the bishop said.

Bishop Adoyo said all the country's churches would unite to force the museum to change its focus when it reopens after eighteen months of renovations in June 2007. “We will write to them, we will call them, we will make sure our people know about this, and we will see what we can do to make our voice known,” he said.

I am all for freedom of religion but this is ridiculous. How can someone just “preach away” several hundred years of good strong Science and put it on the same level as those who take the words in the Bible (which version?) to be Gospel Truth.

When I was a tadpole, there was this wonderful thing called the Whole Earth Catalog that billed itself as 'Access to Tools' and those tools were not just manufactured tools for making things, they were also social tools for forming and running companies, partnerships (social and business) as well as how to resolve many of the little social issues that pop up in today's life. There were not only written descriptions of tools (complete with pictures), there were also stories and parables.

I look at the Bible (New Testaments) as a precursor to the Whole Earth Catalog, a collection of tools and parables on how to run a tribe and how to interact with other tribes.

Posted by DaveH at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Underwater Logging

Very cool technology from Triton Logging

When Hydroelectric Dams are built, the incoming lake will cover acres of standing timber. The water protects this from decay so wood many decades old is still perfectly good if a bit damp.

Triton Logging built an underwater ROV — the SawFish — that can cut down these trees and attach a float bag (up to 50 float bags are available without having to surface) and then move on to the next tree.

sawfish_launch.jpg

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

December 02, 2006

Benny Hinn needs a plane

Preacher Benny Hinn wants 6,000 of his followers to send in $1K each so that he can keep his shiny new Gulfstream G4SP:

He starts off:

Dear Partner,
I am writing you, as one of my closest and most faithful partners, to let you know about a tremendous and historic opportunity for the Gospel of our wonderful Lord Jesus, and I am praying that the Holy Spirit will speak to you as I share this glorious news!

And the money shot:

And at these partners conferences, I was able to raise the first portion of the down payment, which was another miracle the Lord has provided us.

As a result, we have recently taken delivery on our Gulfstream G4SP plane, which we call Dove One. I have enclosed a beautiful photo-filled brochure to explain more about this incredible ministry tool that will increase the scope of our abilities to preach the Gospel around the globe. Now we must pay the remainder of the down payment, and I am asking the Lord Jesus to speak to 6,000 of my precious partners to sow a seed of $1,000 in the next ninety days. And I am praying, even as I write this letter, that you will be one of them!

The Gulfstream G4Sp seats about 20 people if I remember correctly. Hey Benny, do the math:

You are asking for $6 Million.
It seats 20 people.
That is $300,000 per person.

Considering that you can get a decent business-class roundtrip airplane ticket to anywhere on this planet for about $2K or under, you could fly each person anywhere at least 150 times for the same amount of money and this is without your organization having to pay a stitch for maintenance ($$$) fuel ($$$) insurance ($$$)

What a maroon! And the joke is that there are people who will send in the money. The people I have known who are truly spiritual have been quiet about it. I can see Evangelical or Pentecostal worship as very valid but these people build their church and they worship; their practices are between their God and themselves. They don't go out and buy Gulfstreams. Only 'Hollywood' environmentalists and 'Hollywood' men-of-god™ do that.

Posted by DaveH at 11:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Real conservation

There has been a lot of talk about Carbon Dioxide, Kyoto, Global Warming but little talk about some actual real methods to conserve and what is most efficient overall.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Surprise: Not-so-glamorous conservation works best
Efficient appliances and fluorescent bulbs are easy upgrades that make a big difference, experts say.

When high school science teacher Ray Janke bought a home in Chicopee, Mass., he decided to see how much he could save on his electric bill.

He exchanged incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents, put switches and surge protectors on his electronic equipment to reduce the “phantom load” - the trickle consumption even when electronic equipment is off - and bought energy-efficient appliances.

Two things happened: He saw a two-thirds reduction in his electric bill, and he found himself under audit by Mass Electric. The company thought he'd tampered with his meter. “They couldn't believe I was using so little,” he says.

Mr. Janke had hit on what experts say is perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective place to reduce one's energy consumption: home.

Moving closer to public transportation or riding a bike instead of driving is not an option for many, but changing incandescent bulbs for fluorescent and buying more efficient appliances is not only possible, it quickly pays for itself with savings.

In the end, not-very-glamorous changes like these as well as obsessively sealing and insulating your home will save more than, in the words of one expert, “greenie weenie” additions like green roofs and solar panels. Twenty-two percent of all energy in the United States is used for residential purposes. (Transportation accounts for 28 percent.) And although residences consume only about two-fifths of this as electricity, because electrical generation is inherently inefficient, it accounts for 71 percent of household emissions. A home's electrical use may be responsible for more CO2 emissions than the two cars in the driveway. Ultimately, changes made at home may be the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to reduce one's carbon footprint.

Emphasis mine: “greenie weenie” additions — Hits the nail right on the head. Something expensive (but not too expensive) that the homeowner can do to feel good but there is no clear-cut data on what is being saved, only that 'something' is being saved for the good of the planet. There are some people west of us who are taking cow poop and anaerobically fermenting it and using the methane to run a generator. There has been zero information about how many watts baseload this plant is providing only that it could run the lights for several hundred homes (lights only?¿?).

Our county offers $2 coupons every fall for buying CF lamps;except for where we need PAR lamps or where the circuit has a dimmer on it, CFs are the only lights we use.

The article then goes on to talk about global CO2 production (as if this was the real problem — it's water vapor) and talks about the top CO2 emitters and what can be done:

But the flip side of these numbers is that, of the top five CO2-producing countries - India and Japan are fourth and fifth, respectively - an individual American can have the greatest impact in reducing carbon emissions.

The best place to start is to reduce electricity consumption. Power plants lose two-thirds of their energy in waste heat. For every one unit of electricity your space heater consumes, for example, two units have been lost at the power plant. This inefficiency is reflected in electricity's cost to consumers. Even though more American homes use more natural gas than anything else, homeowners spend more than twice as much on electricity - $100 billion annually compared with $47 billion. Not only is electricity more expensive, but because of its inherent inefficiency, it contributes 21 percent more CO2 annually than does transportation.

Cutting back on electricity used for lighting (9 percent of residential usage nationwide) presents the quickest savings-to-effort ratio. The EPA estimates that changing only 25 percent of your home's bulbs can cut a lighting bill in half. Incandescent bulbs waste 90 percent of their energy as heat, and compact fluorescents, which can be up to five times more efficient, last years longer as well.

Second stop, kitchen appliances, which consume 27 percent of the average US household's electricity. More than half of that goes to your refrigerator. So “any fridge over 10 years old is worth changing,” says Henry Gifford, a New York-based mechanical system designer. “And no, don't put it in the basement and plug it in and leave it there.” Get rid of it.

And of course, if these appliences were running on Nucler Generated Electricity, the CO2 emissions would be effectivly zero.

But the greenies don't want you to go there…

Posted by DaveH at 11:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An anniversary

Missed it by a few days but on December 1st, 1955, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks refused to yield her bus seat to a white rider.

Wikipedia has a nice article on her: Rosa Parks

Posted by DaveH at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Linkers and Thinkers

There are two primary types of Bloggers - Linkers (such as myself) who wander through the internet and share any curious sites or bits of information they find. Instapundit is an Alpha Linker

The Thinkers do not post that often but when they do, prepare to spend some time reading as what they have to say is generally awesome.
Examples of Alpha Thinkers included Stephen DenBeste and current Thinkers include American Digest, Eject Eject Eject and Muck and Mystery.

We can add Paul Graham to this list. From his Biography:

Paul Graham is an essayist, programmer, and programming language designer. In 1995 he developed with Robert Morris the first web-based application, Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. In 2002 he described a simple Bayesian spam filter that inspired most current filters. He's currently working on a new programming language called Arc, a new book on startups, and is one of the partners in Y Combinator.

Paul is the author of On Lisp (Prentice Hall, 1993), ANSI Common Lisp (Prentice Hall, 1995), and Hackers & Painters (O'Reilly, 2004). He has an AB from Cornell and a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, and studied painting at RISD and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.

Paulgraham.com got 8.1 million page views in 2005.

His essays can be found here — be prepared to meet a very deep mind.

Posted by DaveH at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack